Friday, April 28, 2006


OK. I'm still snotty, but attempting to be cogent today due to an unusual infusion of caffeine. I don't usually do caffeine so the effect is often quite startling for me. Feels like a combination of excitement over the election of a Democratic President combined with a cotton candy high. :-)

So, did you notice that the Wars Against Terrorism (copyright 2002 by GWB) is going to cost us $320 Billion as of this year? That does not include the Department of Defense Budget. That does not include what it will cost next year. And the costs have increased exponentially each year, from $2.5 billion in 2002 to $101.8 billion this year. Here is a horrifying factoid from the WaPo article that brings these figures down to earth for me: "This year, the wars will consume nearly as much money as the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security combined, a total that is more than a quarter of this year's projected budget deficit."

Let's break that down a little bit, shall we? The 2007 budget is going to contain just $54.4 Billion for Education. And almost half of that ($24.4 Billion) is to enforce that weenie eliminate-creative-teaching-so-we-can-teach-to-the-test program , No Child Left Behind.

Homeland Security's budget is to be $42.7 billion. We're THAT worried about terrorism on our continent but spending so little on security? And please note that FEMA is still, at this time, part of this budget.

So, we're spending an almost unimaginable amount killing people to protect our oil interests. The American Prospect points out something almost equally unimaginable: that the Congressional Research Service report on which this is based isn't sure why the costs of war have increased so dramatically each year. Worse yet, WaPo says "Of the total war spending, the CRS analysis found $4 billion that could not be tracked."

Could not be tracked. We don't know where it went, is what that means. The government LOST $4 billion? Where is it? Lining Halliburton's pockets? Paying for gold-plated toilets? More likely, paying for Air Force One's gas use over Earth Day? The expenditures of our nation are a national disgrace, as is the "loss" of this money.

Meanwhile, at least we think we know where the oil companies are putting the billions they're making during this boom time for them: in their pockets. Fat wallets, those oil cats have. And we're so ticked off about it that, naturally, Congress is trying to cash in on our anger. Like that ridiculous Republican effort yesterday to give us a $100 rebate to help cover our ever-rising gas costs. And, oh yeah, let's quietly take on the Arctic oil drilling bill that hasn't been able to pass at any other time in the past few years. Because, as we all know, allowing drilling up in the pristine Arctic will surely resolve this cost crisis for us all.

Ahem. Not.

The oil supply gurus at The Oil Drum have a much more sophisticated response to oil prices rising. It's not too long and definitely worth a read if you'd like to be more informed about why prices are rising so much. They've also pointed out numerous times over there that worrying about gas prices rising is really short-sighted. The more crucial issues are reducing gas and oil usage and finding feasible alternative fuels. Because oil supplies are not unlimited. They are going bye bye. (Go read about Peak Oil.) And the sooner we face that reality, the faster we find ways to deal with it.

Over the next few weeks, Daily Kos will be exploring different alternatives to oil. I look forward to learning more.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

I have a code

Not like Morse code, or some other secret one you might create with your friends when you're 10 years old and love being goofy and elusive. But a code. Said "code". Spelt "cold". I can't actually give it its proper pronunciation. Because I have a code.

Colds are not nice. They are not pleasant. They are snot-filled. They are kleenex-filled. They are filled kleenex. When you have a cold, you look really stupid. I look really stupid. I'm sitting in front of the computer with my mouth hanging open and my eyes at half-mast. I'm reading witty repartee and not quite getting it. I'm certainly not capable of responding to it. The IQ goes down a full 10 points for each sinus that fills with mucus.

Then there's the whole tissue/kleenex thing. When I use the plain, basic brands, my nose gets all sore and red and disgusting. If I go for a moisturing brand, then my nose breaks out. In addition to being sore and red and disgusting. And what am I supposed to DO with all these used tissues? Carry around a little basket to collect them as I go? Constantly run back and forth to the bathroom or kitchen garbage? I'm too freaking tired to run back and forth. But if I make a pile next to me, the dog attacks them.

What is it with dogs and used tissues? My dog thinks finding these little items is a huge game. You'd think it was an Easter Egg hunt, the joy he exudes when he finds another yucky tissue. And the worse the cold, the more disgusting the mucus, the happier that damn dog is. I'd swear it on a stack of Bibles.

And whose fault is it, exactly, that I have this cold? My daughter's fault, of course. I caught it from her. She's 13, so she's not exactly rubbing her little snotty face on me while she's sick anymore. But she definitely was mucus filled and tired a few short days ago. And now I am. Ergo, I have my culprit. Don't I do enough for her that I should be spared this indignity? Isn't that fact that I no longer have a shapely rear end because it spends most of its life in a car driving her around enough to absolve me from all future colds?

I slept in until 10:30am this morning. Not necessarily from the illness, but from the cure. I took an antihistamine last night. And these damn things always make me feel like sleeping for the next week. I used to take them whenever I'd visit a friend with a cat. But now I've decided that I'd rather be itchy and running than dead to the world.

One of the worst things about colds is that they are not serious illnesses. You get no sympathy. No one brings you meals on wheels. You don't get a free pass on all activities. Yet they are a pain in the rear. No one wants a drippy person next to them at a concert, or making dinner. But no one thinks you should miss your daughter's band concert for a mere cold, nor do they think ordering in is a reasonable solution simply because you've got the sniffles. Either way, you can't win.

I'm going to go lie down. I'm going to moan gently. Then, as I know no one in my family will respond to this passive-aggressive approach, I'm going to wash my hands a million times and make dinner.

Or maybe I won't wash at all . . . . Nah. Then I'll have sick people to take care of in addition to being snot-filled myself.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Isn't it a little cold for Snow?

I'm really not getting the Bush upside of hiring Fox pundit Tony Snow as Press Secretary. Does Bush think it makes him look better, somehow more open to new ideas, to hire an outsider? Makes him look better to hire someone who has actually publicly disagreed with a few things he's said? Or will hiring a journalist heal the stormy relationship between the administration and the press?

Perhaps it's all of the above. Perhaps the poll numbers have gotten so low that he's willing to do something, anything new to come in out of the popularity chill. What is he at, a 32% approval rating right now?

For all that has been said about Snow's hacking at Bush, let's not forget that Snow is a conservative, long-time Bush family supporter. Which is why he wanted this job. This particular job for which he negotiated so carefully. WaPo reports that Snow refused to sign on until he was assured an expanded role, including input into policy decisions and lots of access to Bush. Does Snow really think Bush will do more than give him a seat at the table? Certainly not Dubya's style, to listen to outsiders, even inside outsiders.

And, speaking of snow jobs (come on, I get to use it at least once!), what about the reality that, of those sitting on FDA advisory committees (the committees that recommend drug approvals), over 25% have financial connections to drug companies. The LA Times article seemed to spin the study that determined this positively: even though lots have these connections, if you'd gotten rid of those with connections, approvals would have stayed the same. But the WaPo article notes an author of the study who says, "For every additional conflict you have a 10 percent increased probability that the meeting will favor the company more."

I don't know about you, but I'd prefer my drugs conflict-free. I'd like to know that those considering whether or not a drug is safe for the market are completely uninfluenced by cash in any way, shape or form. Otherwise, I really don't trust the messenger.

Of course, as an unrelated op-ed in the LA Times points out, most of us don't trust the drug companies, either. So we can't trust the drug companies, because their research is all aimed at making new and more expensive meds the new norm. And we can't trust the government to oversee the approving of new meds as over 25% of those assisting in this endeavor have financial ties to those same drug companies?

So, who can we trust? Tony Snow? I find both the messengers and the messages suspect, in all of the above.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Green Bush?

The mind boggles. George Dubya calling for alternative fuels? Sounding concerned for the environment? Don't bet on it. He's just talking, as usual. Usable hydrogen fuel cells are decades away, and will take money that Bush has been, thus far, unwilling to invest. The administration actually asked for LESS money in the 2007 budget for advanced biofuel development, $300 million less than last year.

Nah, he's not a Green Bush. He's the same old Bush we've always know. The one who is calling for a bunch of cosmetic changes designed to make it look like he cares about that fact that we're paying up the wazoo for gas.

He's going to temporarily stop deposits to the US Strategic Oil Reserve. Will this give us more gas at lower prices? "It's less than 30,000 barrels a day in a country that consumes 21 million. That's not even rearranging a single deck chair on the Titanic," said Peter Beutel, an oil expert.

He's calling for an investigation into possible cheating in the gasoline markets. Is that really where the money is being made? I don't think so. As Senator Schumer pointed out, "The president today just spoke about high gas prices. And to listen to the president, you'd think that it's the local gas station that's the problem. We all know it's the big oil companies who are causing these massive price increases that go way beyond what supply and demand would merit."

And how much are those oil companies making? Exxon made $36.1 BILLION in 2005. Billion. As in, a lot of moola. A lot of green stuff that's not improving life for anyone except oil company executives, I'd guess.

What about Bush says that we should stop giving some tax breaks to oil companies? Well, it sounds good. But I suspect that $2 billion in 10 years is a drop in the bucket. I suspect, though I haven't yet found info online to confirm it, that there are many other tax breaks these companies take advantage of, such that this will not cause Exxon et al any pain.

As Kevin Drum points out, if Bush really wanted to effect change in our country, he could follow the lead of California (or several other states) and pass legislation that would require lowered emissions and less use of oil. Doing so would put pressure on auto companies to produce cars the like of the Prius, with which Toyota is leaving Detroit automakers in the dust, green-wise. He could be encouraging use of mass transit, with taxes for city dwellers who drive during rush hour (as happens in London, I think?).

But what will Bush do? Most likely, a lot of nothing that might look like something but will ultimately be, um, nothing. That's what he's good at. And why change strategies now?


Monday, April 24, 2006


I've always felt really fortunate, medically speaking. My husband has a good job with benefits. And we can afford (barely) to pay extra for the privilege of having PPO coverage, instead of being at the mercy of HMO coverage. We've been able to choose our doctors, which is important to us, given our son's special needs and our daughter's asthma.

As the years have gone by, we've gotten less and paid more. Much, much more. My husband had a heart attack not too long ago. At virtually the same time, our prescription co-pays shot up from a high of $15 per prescription to a high of $45 per prescription. No big deal if you don't take too many meds.

My husband takes seven different medications due to his heart disease and accompanying issues. My son takes three to help manage his autism, and my daughter three for her asthma. Oh, and add two for me. Most of these are not generic medications. Start your calculators, my friends, and you'll see what we're doing with our money rather than taking the kids to Disneyland or getting a minivan.

But our insurance woes are nothing, NOTHING, compared to so many others. While Wellpoint, owner of various for profit Blue Cross/Blue Shields across the country, makes billions of dollars a year in profit, millions of Americans are going without basic health care during critical illnesses. And Medicare Part D, far from making it all better, is making life worse for many.

The NYTimes had a disgusting article earlier this month about how the various loopholes in Part D are making it nigh on impossible for many cancer patients to afford their medications. People are dying, folks, because they can't afford medication meant to save their lives. Specifically, they can't afford the sky-high copays being required by Plan D. There are supposed to be safety nets in place for those of low income to help cover those copays. But how many of us could afford a copay of $2800? Each month?

And it's the people who are desperately ill, who can ill afford the energy and the time, who must fight the insurance system to get coverage. Why? Because their illnesses cost so damn much. Cancer is an expensive proposition. Read Cathy Siepp's story on her battle with both lung cancer and BCBS (no, it's not her fault, she never smoked). Her insurance coverage is failing her. And she's one of the lucky ones, as she understands the system and is willing to (as she is physically able) fight it.

What kind of country are we, exactly, when we reward corporations with billions of dollars in tax cuts, allow them to earn billions of dollars in profit, and let them literally nickel and dime and dollar people to death? Ah, yes. A Republican Country. A country that is more concerned with money than humanity, more concerned with milking others rather than giving the milk of kindness.

I don't know what my out of pocket cap is. But I think I ought to find out. Maybe you should, too.

Friday, April 21, 2006

All sorts of cool and/or odd stuff

OK. First, you've got to go check out this post on Street Prophet. It led me to these very cool maps that show the concentrations of various religions in our country, broken all the way down into counties. The maps are from a course at Valpo on American Ethnic Geography.

The maps make me want to ask all sorts of questions. I knew that there was a large concentration of Muslims in the area around Dearborn, Michigan. But why a big concentration in one county in Ohio? What's the attraction? No surprise about Baptists dominating the south. But what's the deal with that one county in Nevada? And I guess that the farther west you get, the less you need to believe in something? And maybe the older you get and the more retirement communities that surround you, the less you care about believing because, hell, you're going to die, anyway?

Next in oddities, we've got a Catholic Cardinal talking common sense about sex. Ooo. Ahhh. Cardinal Martini approves of using condoms for married sexual activity when a partner has AIDS. I understand that in Catholicland, sex is for babies. Hey, that's what I'm teaching my teenagers, in an attempt to get them to understand the risks of teen sex leading to pregnancy. But when it's a choice between babies and death between two married people, seems like sacrificing the possible baby would be a wise choice.

Target stole the Marshall Fields' clock. OK. Not really. But apparently Target, Inc. has absconded with the famous Rockwell portrait of the clock being repaired, and now won't give it back to the relatively new owners of Field's, Federated. Why does Federated care about this iconic piece of Chicago history? Money, of course. Didn't I tell you yesterday that money is always the correct answer to any question.

It certainly couldn't be because Federated cares about history. Because if it cared about history, it would leave Marshall Field's name as Marshall Field's, instead of renaming it "Macy's", as it planned in the near future. We Chicagoans suffer so from these types of indignities. The Cubs can't win the World Series (don't talk to me about the Sox, ok?), Frango Mints are no longer made by us. And now that beloved clock will be a New York Macy's clock. Please.

And what's the deal with the mumps? I had them when I was little, I think. Or maybe my mom had them. No, she had whooping cough. But why the sudden upswing in mumps out here in the Midwest? The Times had no light to shed on this issue. What's the deal with vaccinations if they aren't working?

And why are people bothering to give their kids those damn chicken pox vacs anyway? True, a tiny portion of the population, mostly those who have poor immune systems, are going to get complications. But most who get chicken pox are merely inconvenienced and annoyed by them. I firmly believe the reason for the pox vac is, drum roll please, money again. Money as in, I lose money if I have to leave work to take care of a kid with chicken pox. And money as in, I get lots of money if I'm a pharmaceutical company and I convince you to make this vaccination mandatory.

Reminds me of the stupidity of giving babies Hepatitis B shots, which is passed only through sexual activity and drug use. Why not give it at age 10 or 13 or 18, when Hep B is really a possible problem?

Last oddity, idiocy? That would that the hiring of Fox Commentator Tony Snow as Scott McClellan's replacement. That would be even considering hiring Snow is truly astounding to me. Have they no shame over at the White House? Do they care NOTHING for the credibility that the Press Secretary is supposed to have? Perhaps the next step will be making Fox News the Official News (sic) Channel of the US Government.

Off to shower and ponder other oddities,

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I love oil. Olive oil, specifically. Have I ever mentioned that before? My favorite lunch is Pasta with Pesto Sauce. Mmmm. Olive oil. Pine nuts. Basil. Cheese. Olive oil.

So, naturally, given my love for oil, I am interested in the oil in Alaska. Well, under Alaska, to be precise. And to be serious, which can be hard for me on a beautiful spring day like today, BP oil is managing to waste that oil even as we speak. There's been a second oil spillage in as many months up in BP Alaska land. Fines from the first spill, which was huge, could reach $2 million smackeroos.

Yet the oil companies and countries continue to push, push, push to drill up beyond Alaska, in those otherwise pristine Arctic regions. Huge circular reasoning going on: there's less ice up in them thar hills, easier to reach the oil, so let's drill and get that oil out. Hang the cost to the environment of relying on oil. And hang the cost to the environment of exposing the Arctic to possible (nay, probable) oil spills. Let's get enough oil to keep the Hummers running, shall we?

There is at least one leak from an oilfield or pipeline every day. Every day. Every single freaking day. And global warming, though a complicated and surely not one note phenomenon, is a fact that every one acknowledges except George W. Bush. So what are we thinking in our push, push, push to drill?

Hmm. Did I hear you say money? Ding, ding, ding. I'm sure that answer is correct. After all, the oil companies are already doing everything in their power to gauge the hell out of our wallets, making record profits while crying over Katrina and the Iraq War. We've even got our representatives fighting for us in the Senate, feebly protesting the gauge. Oooo, they're going to INVESTIGATE this. Feel the earthquake caused by the Big Oil shivering in their boots?

Go over to The Oil Drum, and hear why we should be darn grateful for the higher cost of oil in the long run (save the environment, don't give us more oil). And they also claim over there in Peak Oil Land, that Big Oil isn't artificially raising prices. They are pretty smart over there, and know much more than me, so I'd give their ideas a lot of thought.

Speaking of Big Oil, one of the slipperiest talkers out there (though certainly not slick--geez, those press conferences were painful to listen to) is outta here. Scott McClellan is no more Bush's Press Secretary. In his non-clean out clean out, Bush has had McClellan resign so that news will have a new face. What, they really think that will help the dire situation Bush is in?

Good job, Scotty. War Room has a nice piece on all the questions Scotty DIDN'T answer during his tenure as the Bush mouthpiece. Think the new guy/girl will give us the answers? Don't bet on it. There are lovely rumors afoot that Fox News Tony Snow is up for the job. Wouldn't that be a slap in the face? We knew Bush was in bed with Fox. Just proves it, is all.

And there's the oily Karl Rove to discuss as well. But alas. My flank steak is waiting to broil and my salad cries to be tossed. A discussion of Karl will have to slip away to another day.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm out the door

On the way to a softball game. But I just have to say, what the bleep? Bush refuses to rule out a nuclear strike against Iran. Because they have "atomic ambitions". Well, that makes tons of sense to me. Because another country wants to have the bomb, just like us, we're going to nuke them. Because another country is run by a fruitcake, just like us, we're going to create a chemical holocaust in their country.

When did we become the sole arbiter of who gets the Big Toys? Is it simply sandbox rules: because I have the most toys, I'm the boss? So the US can decide. And enforce that decision with the very weapon everyone else desires. Why do others desire the Big Toys? So that they can either be aggressive or be defensive. Let's reinforce that desire by threatening to bomb countries into submission. As long as they are submissive, they neither present an aggressive threat nor need to be defensive. Don't worry, Big US Brother will protect you.

Yes, I understand that Iran truly is run by a frightening man with very few holds on him. I understand that peace lovers do not want Iran to have the bomb. But peace lovers don't want George Bush to have the bomb, either. Clearly.

Last time I checked, the UN still existed. Why not use it? Novel idea, I know. Certainly not something Bush has wanted to do in the past.

Anyway. A bit disjointed here, as softball season is underway and Schafer the ScaredyHound is begging for a bit of ball himself before I leave the house.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Iran and Iraq

Did you know that 65,000 Iraqis have had to leave their homes due to the current civil war between the Shias and the Sunnis? And over 1300 people have died in the violence surrounding it? How much thought did the American government give to this possibility? Was a fraction of a second spent considering how our invasion would manage the differing factions that simply do not exist in the US? Sure doesn't look like it.

And having US in Iraq has worked out so well that we're considering doing it all over again in Iran. OK. We know that, this time around, we are dealing with some approaching WMD. You got your uranium. You got your nation claiming it's entered the nuclear (that's nucular to our President) age.

And we need to attack Iran because why? Because Iran is run by bad guys, of course. And it is our job to rid the world of bad guy leaders. Tapped has a nice squib on this. Yet I don't think it goes far enough. There are plenty of other bad guys leaders out there about whom we do nothing. Nada. Zip.

For instance, seems like we've got some bad guy leaders down in Dafur. And, really, we don't want to do squat for those people. Is it because they have black skin? Don't think so. When you examine motives in the US, it's all about money and power, ladies and germs. They don't have oil in Dafur. Therefore, we don't care about genocide in Dafur. We don't care about janjaweed in Dafur. Oh, we'll throw a few million here and there, make appropriate sounding noises. But when it comes right down to it, we're going to let them all die down there. Then Hollywood can make movies about it that makes us all cry.

But we care deeply about Iran. Because there's oil in them thar hills. Black gold. Arabic Tea. The region's a gas can, and we want to control every little square inch of it. We understand nothing of Shiites and Shia and Kurds and martyrs. And we don't give a damn about understanding it. All we want is control over the region sufficient to keep the oil flowing. The people who live there be damned.

And who would be leading the latest charge into Oil Land? Rumsfeld, who is currently being called upon by a group of retired generals to step down immediately due to his incredibly poor management of the Iraq War. I confess to not having a military background. But this seems pretty incredible and meaningful to me, given the limited amount I know. I know that the military prizes respect for authority above all. I know that the military prizes obedience above all. Attacking Rumsfeld, after numerous private conversations among numerous generals, seems an extraordinary step that would only be taken if the consequences of not doing so were deadly serious.

And listen to what these generals have to say:

"(Rumsfeld is) incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically."

"I think we need a fresh start . . . . We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

"(Rumsfeld and his advisers have) made fools of themselves, and totally underestimated what would be needed for a sustained conflict."

Can't think of anyone better suited to lead a war into Iran, can you? A war that will leave thousands more dead and homeless so that Enron can have another banner year of sales.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I'm into genealogy. Following in my mom's footsteps, which is probably appropriate in this field of interest. And I've got a lot of family to work on, as several branches of the family tree have never been explored. So I perk up whenever genealogy is mentioned in the news. And I just finished reading a very interesting article on DNA testing.

The article discusses how DNA testing is being used to determine family ethnic and racial origins, for a myriad of reasons. My dad actually took one of these tests, as we are also victims of the American Indian Princess Syndrome. Ours is Princess Star in the Sky who, if she indeed exists, is my great, great, great, great grandma. Unfortunately, the DNA did not indicate ANY Native American background. But there are new and more accurate tests out. We may try again, as we are very invested in being related to Princess Star in the Sky.

Being interested in genealogy, old papers are important to me, too. I prize my copies of various ancestors' birth certificates and wills. And I am so grateful to have access to these documents. So it makes me kinda jumpy when I read that The National Archives allowed the CIA, Air Force, and other public agencies to secretly classify previously declassified documents. These are documents dating back to the 1940s and 50s. Why on God's green earth would national security, the usual suspect and given reason for the reclassification, be threatened by these ALREADY RELEASED documents?

And I wonder why my son is so paranoid about our government? Perhaps he should transfer his paranoia to the print media today. Cheney throws out the first pitch at the DC Nationals home opener yesterday. He's booed off his keister. Listen to the video yourself. Yet reports from both the Washington Post and Reuters missed the mark totally (like Cheney's shooting, I guess).

The Post described booing as a reaction to Cheney's poor aim. And Reuters actually said "The boos appeared to be little louder than the cheers at RFK Memorial Stadium." A little louder? Try deafening. So, instead of reclassifying history to avoid it, here we have an example of actually trying to change history by misreporting it. Nice. Thanks, guys. I expect of WaPo, whose editorial board has been nothing short of spectacularly pro-Bush of late. But Reuters?

At least we're getting good reporting now from WaPo on the continuing deluge of Bush's lies revealed. The newest one? Back to his favorite topic, Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now we've got more solid evidence that, even as Bush announced trailers that were found were mobile labs for WMD, US intelligence knew otherwise. In fact, a report was issued two days prior to Bush's announcement saying there was no connection between the trailers and WMD.

So far, no one wants to talk about it. There's an ongoing investigation surrounding it. Nope. Oops. Wrong lie situation. It's classified. But Howard Dean attempted to redeem himself with me this morning by calling to declassify the documents surrounding this lie.

History is important. It informs our past, present and future. It will be interesting, to say the least, where this historical fabrication will lead the nation. It's already led us into war and thousands of lives lost. Will it lead us to finally take action against Bush and his Administration? Will Finegold look a little less loony in his censure push?


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I really ought to be out supporting our economy. I've got to find coconut milk, grass seed that will actually germinate in shade and withstand large dogs racing through it, and books about the Renaissance and philosophy for the homeschooled son. All before 3:00pm. And did I mention the aforementioned homeschooled son will be driving me, which adds at least 30 minutes to the process?

So, briefly. Why are folks who were blasted out of their homes by Katrina still living in tents while 10,000 trailers sit in Arkansas? The answer appears to be Hooverian gobbledygook, as in bureaucratic nonsense. Ain't it great to be poor in America? No wonder all those immigrants want to come here.

Speaking of immigrants, amazing the legs this story has, isn't it? That's because it's not a story. It is the lives of millions of Americans and illegals who are tired of big corporations benefiting from their presence without receiving the benefits of citizenship. I'm still trying to absorb enough information on the immigration issue in America to truly have an informed opinion. There's a lot of passionate rhetoric and not enough data out there. But I don't need a degree in economics to know that a guest worker tiered system benefits only business and not people.

And did you catch the latest scandal to reach its little tentacles out to the White House? A phone jamming scheme that occurred in New Hampshire in 2002 during the election appears to have a White House connection. James Tobin, convicted in the case, called the White House 24 times within three days around the Election. Huh. Funny coincidence? I think not.

The number called went to Political Affairs. Head of that Department? None other than the current Chair of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman. White House doesn't want to tell us who actually answered that phone. Wonder if Mr. Mehlman will. Howard Dean has asked him.

Then, of course, there's the other big scandal afflicting Poor President Bush, Leaker and Liar in Chief. Even the Chicago Tribune has gotten all over this one, with an editorial calling for Cheney to come clean and fess up about Wilson/Plame/Uranium. They even suggested the fessing not not occur on Fox News. Both catty and bold from the Republican supporters, eh?

Last thing is MySpace. Got a kid who's between the ages of 12 and 21? Chances are good they have a MySpace. Chances are good they are doing pretty stupid things on MySpace, like posting their names and address, suggestive photos of themselves, talking to 50 year old men posing as boys their age, and saying things they'll regret when applying to college or for jobs.

If you have a kid between those ages, you might want to check the history on your web browser, and have a little chat with your munchkin. Be a parent, for crying out loud, and monitor what your kids are doing, before they do something you'll all regret.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Danger, danger, warning Will Robinson

God, I loved that show. Used to watch it in the afternoons after school. I'd sit curled up over the heat vent eating Capn Crunch while watching bad television all afternoon. Those were the days!

Now, I'm the mom. The mean mom who doesn't let her kids watch bad television all afternoon. The mom of an autistic kid. And we've got two pieces of news today related to autism. First, more research out about how the brains of people with autism work. My Aspergery guy's brain just doesn't perk up at all when he looks at faces, while my neurotypical daughter's brain waves make all sorts of noise when she does. So faces, people, just aren't as interesting to him as they are to her.

Good to have research that confirms what we observe in real life. Jonathan is interested, as a rule, only in topics, not people. If a person shares a topic of interest, then Jon is interested in them. Sort of. He also doesn't recognize people, even those he's met numerous times.

Lately, I've had him writing essays on both the advantages and disadvantages of autism. His personal viewpoint is that autism is a great gift. Well, geez. What's he supposed to say? Autism sucks and so do I? Particularly since he's King of Hyperbole, Mr. Black and White, autism must be the greatest thing ever to happen to him.

And it is, in some ways. He loves his obsessions. So he loves being obsessed. The fact that he doesn't get social stuff doesn't concern him. Because he doesn't love social stuff. Not interested. Boring. Why bother, when you can obsess about things you truly care about, like D and D or video games or There Is No God?

The newest research doesn't shed any light, of course, on what causes this brain difference. Mercury as in thimerosal in vaccines? Don't know. Despite some research to the contrary, though, many parents of autistic kids believe that thimerosal truly is something we should be warning every Will Robinson about.

Whether you believe mercury in the form of thimerosal causes autism or not, doesn't it seem logical that people shouldn't be injected with mercury, a proven toxin? And that, of all people who shouldn't be injected with it, infants shouldn't receive a relatively huge dose of it at developmentally sensitive times--like throughout their early childhood?

Well, you'd think it would be logical. But an article in the LA Times shows that logic apparently isn't strong in the American Academy of Pediatrics or the CDC, either. Even though the AAP objects to other types of mercury exposure, inexplicable it is against state legislation in California banning thimerosal from vaccines. Despite the fact that its policy on mercury is "Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible to pregnant women and children as well as the general population." Huh?

Part of their argument stems from concern that folks like me will stop vaccinating their babies if people get all concerned about mercury. Hmm. Perhaps another solution would work to placate people like me. Like maybe BANNING thimerosal-based vaccines. That would make me feel a lot better about it.

Another argument posed is that the World Health Organization relies on thimerosal-based vaccines around the world. Guess it would look bad if we banned it here, but allowed it overseas. Again. Hmm. Perhaps another solution would work to placate those concerned?

Not surprising to most of us that money is involved here. AAP receives more than a million dollars from vaccine companies. Another organization that is key in the fight against banning thimerosal, the Immunization Action Coalition, receives large quantities of money from the CDC and vaccine companies.

Why are vaccine makers so wedded to thimerosal? Because it saves money for vaccine makers. Makes it easier to make multi dose vials, which are cheaper than single dose vials. What a surprise that business would want to keep using it, even if it might cause problems for babies.

And what about that research that claims autism isn't caused by the increase in vaccine expose to thimerosal? LA Times says "But parent activists and some scientists criticized the report — contending, among other things, that the institute had given too much weight to research in countries where thimerosal exposures had been lower than in the U.S. Either way, the report considered only autism and not potential risks of subtler developmental effects."

Again. I don't care whether or not we can prove autism is caused, in part or whole, by thimerosal exposure. It defies common sense to inject babies, and bigger people, with a known toxin. Danger!


Friday, April 07, 2006


Judas is the quintessential bad guy. Always has been. Geez, betraying someone to their death is bad enough. But betraying the son of God? Nobody plays worse, except maybe Hitler. But now we've got a new Gospel that plays it a bit differently.

A new Gnostic Gospel, the Gospel of Judas, has been translated. And it claims that Judas was Jesus' best bud. Judas apparently did what Jesus and God wanted him to do, relieve him of his earthly baggage--his body--so he could become a God.

It's all about spin, isn't it? It's all about who tells the story, who controls who tells the story, and which story we all want to believe.

Who is George Bush today? Is he the Leaker in Chief? Is he the stand up Boss who was using information to manipulate the press? Is he the All knowledgeable President who knows what should, and shouldn't, be classified? There's so much spinning going on, it's making me dizzy. Looks like a bunch of plates being spun on sticks, with the spinner running hither and yon, trying desperately to keep the plates spinning in air.

Here's Scott McClellan spin, "(T)here's a distinction between declassifying information that is in the public interest and the unauthorized disclosure of classified information that could compromise our nation's security." And those of us who question why Bush would make that distinction, who would question whether this declassification was done for political reasons or because it was a secure release of information, are engaging in "crass politics".

So, it's ok to leak information if Bush says it's ok to leak information. Then it's not a leak, it's in the public interest to distribute information. We must, yet again, rely on Dubya's judgment of when leaking is good for us and when it is it.

For instance, Dubya thinks it's a good thing to leak information to the press when fighting off allegations he doesn't care for, like those of Joseph Wilson's (Valerie Plame's husband). spells it out:

"(T)he document indicates that the White House viewed Wilson's claims as very damaging to public support for the war, and that the steps it took to fight back were extraordinary. Libby testified that "this July 8th meeting was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President's authorization that it be disclosed."

Or, even more bluntly from Rep Maurice Hinchley (and note that we already know that what Scooter said was true, according to the White House):

"If what Scooter Libby said to the Grand Jury was true, then this latest development clearly reveals yet again that the CIA leak case goes much deeper than the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity to the press. The heart and motive of this case is about the deliberate attempts at the highest levels of this administration to discredit those who were publicly revealing that the White House lied about its uranium claims leading up to the war. The Bush administration knew that Iraq had not sought uranium from Africa for a nuclear weapon, yet they went around telling Congress, the country, and the world just the opposite. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband, publicly spoke out with proof that the administration was not telling the truth on uranium, the administration engaged in an orchestrated plot, which now reportedly includes President Bush, to discredit Ambassador Wilson and dismiss any notion that they had lied about pre-war intelligence. "

Spin that one, Scott. And will we be stupid enough to believe the spin?


Thursday, April 06, 2006

My, my

All sorts of things happening today. We've got our first case of avian flu in Great Britain, with a lovely swan swooning from it in Scotland. Not particularly surprising, given that it's been found in fourteen European countries (Italy, France, Denmark, to name a few). It should be encouraging to those of us who are obsessed with the possible spread of bird flu to humans that, thus far, Europe has contained these outbreaks, with no passing onto domestic fowl, let alone humans.

Oops, spoke too soon. Germany confirmed its first outbreak in domestic fowl yesterday.

Speaking of fowl, did you know that there's arsenic in that Chicken McNugget you're so steathily eating at your PC? Apparently, it's been a "government-approved additive in poultry feed for decades. It is used to kill parasites and to promote growth." Guess that makes sense. After all, it makes sense to the federal government to allow small town inhabitants to drink three times the amount of arsenic deemed safe, due to financial difficulties in removing the arsenic. Why not add arsenic to your chicken if it kills parasites? And so what if it might kill you?

Read the NYTimes article on the topic to find out which brands may be arsenic free. Or, better yet, buy organic to avoid the problem altogether.

While a miracle won't remove the arsenic from our fowl supply immediately, miracles may have been in shorter supply back in Jesus' time than previously thought. In a fine example of how people waste time for a living, scientist have apparently spent money and thought considering how, exactly, Jesus could have walked on water. The answer? He didn't. He walked on ice.

Hey. If you're interested in miracles, cook one up for me instead of wasting time debunking them. Grow grass that will be impervious to dog pee. Make leak-proof diapers. Develop microwave pizza that actually tastes good. Don't waste my time with an ice-skating Jesus.

Bet the Bush White House is hoping for a miracle at this point. Things just don't seem to be going Dubya's way these day. I absolutely love the latest Libby disclosure that Bush approved of Libby's leaking classified information to Judith Miller about the Iraq war. What a catch-22 for your commander in chief. The White House has totally denounced the leaking of information in the past. So, apparently it's ok for Cheney and Bush to leak, but not fine for anyone else? Apparently, it's ok to leak classified material for a good cause, if Bush and Cheney say it's good?

There appears to be a technicality that if the President authorizes a leak of classified information, it is therefore no longer classified. Whether that is true or not, this puts Cheney and Bush directly in a relationship with Judith Miller. Doesn't mean that Cheney or Bush leaked Plame's name. But it doesn't look squeaky clean either.

Squeaky clean has never been a look the Bush administration has achieved, though. It's good enough for them to proclaim there's no oral sex going on, then screw the public.

Until sometime soon (what a lame little tag, eh?),

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Let's talk pollution

So the EPA wants to make it easier for small towns to contaminate their residents by granting them an affordability exemption? Yep. The EPA, on hearing smaller towns complain about the high cost of clean water, is suggesting that small towns (under 10,000 residents) could have up to three times the amounts of contaminants in their drinking water before they'd have to clean it up.

Said an EPA official, "We're taking the position both public health protection and affordability can be achieved together." Hmm. Not quite seeing how that adds up in this proposal. If three times less the amount of contaminants is considered healthy water how, exactly, is the government providing public health protection by allowing three times greater the amount of contaminants?

Here's a novel idea. Instead of spending billions killing people in Iraq, let's spend a little here at home to give citizens healthy water to drink. Seems kind of basic, doesn't it?

Fortunately, many state governments continue to be more responsible and responsive to environmental concerns. Wyoming's Governor Gov. Dave Freudenthal is taking a stand against drilling in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, asking the Federal government to stop issuing leases in that area. Or how about Idaho's legislature, which has just passed a two year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in the state? Or California, whose legislature hopes for the Govenator's signature on a new bill designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions even further?

(Those of you who read Grist will see where I got my pollution information today. :-))

Though I've been dissing the federal government's efforts against pollution, there was one major movement forward today. In a surprise move, Tom Delay resigned this morning. And the spinning commences!

Tom, of course, has made this move for love of district and country.
"It was obvious to me that the 22nd District deserved more than an election that was turning into a referendum on me rather than what was important to the district." Obviously, he's cared about those he represents for a long time. I'm sure he was working on their behalf each of the three time he was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee for improper behavior. And I'm sure that the money-laundering charges pending were also part and parcel of his professed love of country and Republicans.

His attorney says that his decision to step down "had nothing to do with any criminal investigation." Right.

Did you know that Tom Delay was a pest exterminator in a previous career? Guess he has exterminated himself, at least in the current political realm. Unfortunately, much pollution remains in the House that Delay built, per Josh Marshall's discussion. Let's hope that, as all that Republican corruptions continues to see the light of day, others will see the light. Vote Blue, folks.

Until sometime soon,

Monday, April 03, 2006

Is the world coming to an end?

We've got grapefruit-sized hailstones pelting us from the sky. We've got George Bush's people telling him to act DUMBER. Is that really possible? Isn't that like telling an albino to look whiter? We've got governing idiots in Arizona who are actually listening to what the Church (sic) of Scientology has to say about psychotropic medication.

Then we've got these other two things that inform my sensibilities that the world surely is collapsing. Or imploding. Or something.

Not that I'm overstating things. I reject hyperbole.

There was that god-awful interview on Meet the Press with John McCain. Now, as Republicans go, I'd always had a little hankering for John, a little thang for his straight-talking persona. Come to find out, it's only a persona. Apparently all the other liberal bloggers in the world knew that except me. Ah well.

So I didn't see the entire interview, just parts. You can view the debacle here. But Tim Russert did a surprisingly good job of attempting to nail Senator McCain to the wall. And old John, he just slid down that wall like nailed-down jello. He slipped. He slid. He did not answer in a straight and forthright manner. I was very disappointed.

Let's see. He slithered around his new-found friendship with Jerry Falwell. He said stupid things about his vote to extend Bush's tax cut. He said that "(n)obody know more about immigration than than President Bush." And he praised--yes, PRAISED--Bush's efforts in Iraq, while saying that many mistakes had been made.

Really, you need to watch the interview, if only to see how uncomfortable McCain looked during it while he attempted to avoid those straight answers.

I'm sorry. I was right in the middle of this blog rant, about to move on to the Padilla case, when my dad called. He told me that my sister-in-law announced to my brother D today that she's leaving him. Lifestyle's too boring, wants to party more. He is devastated. Sucker punch, though there have been warnings that this was her coming bent. I am so disappointed. M and D have gone through so much as a couple, grown so much as people and as parents. I can't believe that she would want a party lifestyle, with two children to raise. She's always been a responsible parent, a hard worker.

Anyway. I repeat. Is the world coming to an end?