Archives: January 2006
Tue Jan 31, 2006
Comments are ON
By the way, I turned comments back on, after installing a bloggy update that should keep the spammers out. Fell free to comment away, citizens of upright moral character.
an upright moral citizen
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State of the Union
I am listening to George W. Bush's state of the union speech on the TV in the next room (I cannot stand to look at his face), I noticed the DailyKos posted the whole speech. Before it was being read. So I can read outloud along with him, just shrub and I hitting every word, together, as one.It's a weird feeling, like Bush and I are reading from the same tele-prompter at the same time.
Too Bad Cindy Sheehan, who was supposed to be there as Lynn Woosley's guest got arrested outside, for, uh, being Cindy Sheehan.
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSMore...
As Prepared For Delivery
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.
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Mon Jan 30, 2006
Monitoring Human Rights in Iraq Newsletter - No.1, January 29 2006
I recieved the following very rough english translation of a newsletter from Muhamad T. Al-Deraji who is director of Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq(MHRI). Deraji became a media source in discussing the U.S. use of chemical phosphorus in Fallujah and has been working to get the world to know the human rights violations that have been happening in Iraq.
So, I'm posting it here. It's been translated from arabic. I'm not offering any commentary on it. click 'read more' to go on.
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State of the Union 2006 - Bush Impression
Be sure and watch this State of the Union as a bracer for tomorrow night.
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Wed Jan 25, 2006
Is this "Strict Constructionism" in Action?
As the president now tours the country to defend his warrantless spying on Americans, we get a meaningful glimpse into how much of a role principle plays in the Bush administration.
The answer is, not much.
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Tue Jan 24, 2006
power of nightmares
Good to be back. I've not been very upright lately....anyway, I recently started watching the BBC-produced Power of Nightmares documentary that traces the current battle of necon vs. islamic terrorists as an ideological siamese twin, birthed by intellectuals in the 50's. It has a bit of the "paranoid version" going for it, as it sort of surmises that we are all victims of fear produced by the powerful controlling their minons, but it's pretty good food for thought. Becuase of its controversial content, it's not shown in US here, and becuase of clearing-of-content hassles (lots of footage and music that would need to be cleared and licensed), it's not on DVD. However, the good ol' interweb can unravel a copy. I can probably point you to some places....
Here's some links discussing the documentaries:
i'm still gettin' thru them all myself....
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Sun Jan 22, 2006
medicare switch effects on small pharmacies : overwhelmed by "glitches"
Here is a follow-up to a previous post I made on medicare debacle in the SF Chronicle.
This plan is a small business killer. Expect far more small pharmacies in small towns to go out of business under these kind of 'reforms'. Under the new medicare plan:
'Pharmacists say they have been unable to fill prescriptions or have given out drugs without knowing if they will be paid..'
Far from being the privatization wet dream that the conservatives imagined, it's been a steamroller for the small business person who can't keep up with the glitches:
'"This is the biggest glitch that ever happened," said Potashnick, owner of Leo's Pharmacies, who has been in the business for 55 years. He and his staff said they have spent virtually all their time this week trying to sort out problems that were blocking patients from getting their medications.'
'Potashnick estimated his pharmacy filled about 70 prescriptions Wednesday instead of as many as 300 that would normally be filled following a holiday weekend.'
Small pharmacies that know their patients are doing everything they can - spending sometimes hours on the phone with insurance company run medicare 'hotline' on their patients behalf because nobody else will help them figure out the new system, yet, in many cases these small pharmacies are not eligible to serve their patients under the new plan:
'Ed Derderian, a pharmacist and owner of United Pharmacy in Dinuba (Tulare County), discovered this week that he was signed up by a third party with only seven of the 10 plans available in the state to people with both Medicare and Medi-Cal, as Medicaid is known in California. That means customers assigned to plans that Derderian has not contracted with must go elsewhere for their medication.'
'"I can't afford to give these people medication out of my pocket. It's breaking my heart to tell them to go down to Wal-Mart or Rite Aid," said Derderian, referring to the two other pharmacies in the small town between Fresno and Visalia.'
'Derderian said he was worried about both the health of his patients and his business.'
So, under the new medicare, which was written by big pharma and the insurance industry - mom and pop pharmacies are losing business to big mega pharmacies like WalMart - simply because they aren't included in every version of the plan.
And yet, small businesses are the ones most apt to help those most in need because they actually know their patients personally:
'At Galloway's Pharmacy in San Diego, the state's largest independent retail pharmacy, pharmacist Fadi Atiya said he has handed out about $30,000 worth of medication this week without knowing whether he will be reimbursed.'
"You can't access the patient's ID. When you call (the insurer), the wait time is 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes," Atiya said, describing just a few of the problems. "It's a comedy of errors, but it's not funny, because there are people's lives at stake."
I sincerely hope 2006 brings a backlash against the party that wrote and executed 'reforms' like this.
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Sat Jan 21, 2006
Al Gore, Taft Conservative
Justin Raimondo asks Has Al Gore become a conservative?
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According to the U.S. National Debt Clock the outstanding public debt as of right now is:
That's Eight Trillion One Hundred and Ninety Two Billion Six Hundred and Twelve Million or so some odd dollars.
The estimated population of the United States is 298,316,868
so each citizen's share of this debt is $27,462.79.
So Naturally, that calls for tax cuts of the very wealthy. I've never really understood the GOP deal with running up massive debts. Is it mismanagement or design?
Bush is cutting more taxes, but the government isn't really trimming the pork - it's just being shifted around by those in power. This is truely conservative?
This entry by a (old style) conservative columnist on Foxnews.com states "governments that pursue an aggressive, grandiose foreign policy have never held the limited government line at home."
"Early 20th century journalist and World War I protester Randolph Bourne famously wrote that 'war is the health of the state'¯ The reason why politicians declare 'war' on intangibles like drugs or poverty is because a 'war'¯ mentality implies that the problem in question is so serious that the traditional rules of interaction between the governing and the governed need to be suspended. The greatest periods of growth of federal power in American history have come in wartime, or in crises like the Great Depression. These expansions are nearly always justified under the premise that national crises require more state power. They're always sold to the people on the promise that the power requested will only be temporary, or limited to certain circumstances (see the PATRIOT Act, for example)."
"Of course, the powers are almost never temporary or limited. Instead, government retains its new powers once we find peace, usually finds new ways to use them, then asks for more at the onset of the next war..."
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Tue Jan 17, 2006
I just got off the phone with my dad, who is a pharmacist and small businessman. He manages and is the sole pharmacist in a small town store he owns with 2 employees who work part time.
Seems this medicare switchover that happened on January 1 is more than a little headache. He is spending every available waking hour dealing with medicare - the whole system is so screwed up it's got most people enrolled in medicare baffled, plus the person behind the counter at the drugstore.
For my father what has gone from a demanding job that requires long hours in managing the store, ordering, doing the books, and finally being there as the staff pharmacist (after all, it's a pharmacy and there always has to be a registered pharmacist present in a pharmacy) to now dealing with the medicare switch has turned his normal 10+ hour days into 16 hour days plus both days on weekends to straighten it out. After 40 years working as a pharmacist he is reconsidering - talking about selling the store, something.
I really can't believe it but this was supposed to be a reform. I don't know much about medicare - and I haven't got all the details from my dad about why exactly this is taking so much time, just that what was a fairly simple process before has become a nightmare. The government has help lines, but you can spend an hour on hold, disconnected, or transfered. All for the pharmacist to actually get paid for the medicine he or she dispenses.
As I have read, the new medicare plan is a step on the way to privitization - 'consumer driven'. I read that in New Hampshire there are 41 different plans you could sign up for. I also read that an entire class - barbituates - were cut out under the plan. So just don't plan on getting any seizures if you are on medicare.
Bush's Medicare plan is going to cost 750 billion dollars, and is turning out a nightmare for a small business person. Seniors get out of this plans that are in many cases less comprehensive than what they had before, with the full deductible hitting in the 'doughnut hole' in the plan when you've spent more than $2500 and less than $5000. Hmm.
The weird thing about this is, why? It seems like it's engineered for failure. Did they consult anyone when writing this? Yes, maybe someday there will be an educated populace making good decisions about their choices in healthcare. As I understand that's what this plan is supposed to do - make people make choices about what plan is right for them, and saving the insurance companies lots of money. What do seniors get out of it? Well, just be sure and don't get sick with an illness that is not covered by your plan. And save up for the part in your plan where the full deductible kicks in.
Maybe these kind of bills written by the Republican congress is a big wet kiss to the big Pharmacutical companies and big business, screw the consumer, and screw the small business owner who has to make sense of it.
It would seem to me that the small pharmacy is set in front of a firing squad in an atmosphere that already favors big business in attempting to decode this.
Someone told me Bush said that the elderly who are having problems with the new program should "have their children help them, ask someone at their church to help them or someone at the community center.."
[Followup: I posted more on medicarehere in this post
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Thu Jan 12, 2006
Bush Drinking Again? I'll have another WMD highball.
Huh. Here's a nice theme. Bush. On. Drugs. Er, Drink. Could it be?
It is my belief that President George W. Bush is drinking again. Even worse, he may be mixing alcohol and anti-depressants -- a dangerous combination for anyone, let alone the so-called leader of the free world. [...]
I've run across a lot of relapsed drinkers who show the same symptoms as the President, including:
* Blacking out while watching television alone;
* Slurred speech and stammering responses to simple questions;
* Anger and hostility in front of staff members;
* Unexplained bruises on his face;
* Trouble remembering recent events or comments.
Yes, there's alot of conjecture here. But the "dry drunk" theory does make sense, accounting for shrubs extended absences, verbal flubs, irritable behaviour, pretzel choking, narcisissm, Bible thumping absolutism.
Because after all this wedding video from 1992 shows, he's definitely not drunk at all here 6 years after he gave alcohol up after his 40th birthday in 1986. No way. He jibes the newlyweds for no drinking or smoking while taking slugs of *brown kool aid* is actually just a show of well developed sense of irony.
He reminds me of the total alcoholic living underneath in the floor under my room in the rooming house next to Johns Grocery in Iowa City who used to place those little evangelical chick pamphlets in the shared bathroom, stare at people, and inevitably have a 3 day long alcoholic binge every couple weeks, wanting to party, falling down, and then going in hiding.
Another from 'Capitol Blue' last year (no I checked it wasn't April fools) on the theme of anti-depressants:
The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President's mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.
It's a double-edged sword,¯ says one aide. We can't have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.
Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.
Keep those motherfuckers away from me, he screamed at an aide backstage. If you can't, I'll find someone who can.
Multiple federal agents having direct knowledge and access to Bush's medical records say the President has switched from using Ritalin to taking Prozac while also succumbing to periodic alcoholic binges which have led to tirades and explosive personal conduct among White House aides, absent required random drug testing of all public employees and elected officials.that from here.
Federal law enforcement agents have at different times witnessed President Bush doing lines of cocaine in the early morning hours at the White House and drinking straight shots of whiskey in the evening hours on other occasions, according to U.S. intelligence sources who confirm multiple stories appearing in the tabloid press which say the First Lady is assigned to "keep an eye on him."¯
Coming back to this year, and the one terrorist named Luis Posada:
How did a judge's decision not to deport the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela connect to the report that George W. Bush has again hit the bottle?
The answer begins in the fact the Bush never entered a recovery program for his alcohol and drug addiction, which he supposedly gave up at age 40 while jogging. God talked to him, or Jesus or some envoy.
later.. and moving on to the next grotesque sideshow.
...according to the The National Enquire ("Bush's Booze Crisis," Sept. 21), Laura Bush caught George throwing down a drink at his Crawford ranch. Drinking began after aides informed him of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and FEMA's failure to deal with the aftermath.
Laughing about the source? Before the "respectable" press got wind of it, The Enquirer revealed Rush Limbaugh's oxycontin habit ("Limbaugh Caught in Drug Ring," Oct. 2, 2003).[/url]
I don't know, maybe a little drinking would loosen him up, allow him to tell the truth - as whenhe actually took a question from a unscreened audience after a press conference - in which the question 'how many Iraqis have died? was asked" and he actually answered with IraqBodyCount's average of 30,000.
So here's another Bush Quote - actually one that I wholeheartedly agree with:
"The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder. Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account" (Speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, Oct 6, 2005).
Ok, What about Luis Posada, who escaped prison in Venezuela, committed a whole bunch of other "really bad things with bombs" (uh, like blowing up a plane full of people), in fact bragged about a bomb that went off on a Cuban street it to a NY Times reporter (among a long long list of other things listed here at the GWU archives) then got caught brazenly entering the U.S. seeking asylum while Venezuela is asking for his extradition for killing their citizens aboard that flight?
At his Texas trial, the White House and Homeland Security collaborated with Posada by failing to counter his lawyer's virtually unsupported claim that Venezuela would torture him. Indeed, the State department's most recent report exempted Venezuela from the list of states that practice torture.
Must be hard staying sober and covering up for Daddy. Tack the Secrecy thing onto the above list of alcoholic traits.
Who knows, Even if they aren't boozing it up, they are sure acting like it. And that's uh, irresponsible. Yeah.
Here's a picture of Orlando Bosch - just because, damnit.
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the "war on christmas"
A relative of mine sent me the following "war on Christmas" forwarded email spam from an upright citizen named Debbie Daniels called "I'm Offended That You're Offended . . . Merry Christmas Anyway!", reprinted below - one of those 'take back our country from political correctness' fundementalist tirades. Ah, these things hurt me, especially when they are sent to me by relatives, who have learned now to always send things like this with the other recipients in blind carbon copy so I can't email them all back and tell them how their narrow minded fundementalist crap is exactly like something that the Taliban is trying to put into place. So anyway, instead of that passive agressive flame in email I'll just thought I'd post my response here:
Dear _____ (name omitted),
You must live in a rough area of the country indeed if you feel like people that aren't christians are on a politically correct rampage to stomp out every last instance of the mention of 'Christmas'. I must say that in the metropolitan area where I live, nobody gives a hoot. My Christmas card said "Happy Holidays"l, because it's just easier that way. I for one celebrate New Year with my friends of every religious background - so it's nice to get that in there.
The last couple days I've watched some saved recordings of TV shows that aired around the holidays - and there seemed to be some big deal going on about the "War on Christmas" (ahem Bill O'Really). I had previously been insulated from in a media-free holiday week (thank you Jesus), and enjoyed my Christian heritage celebration.
But anyway, I have a number of Jewish friends and Muslim friends. No one of them would feel like saying 'Merry Christmas' is a threat to them, or would feel offended in any way if someone said or if they went into a church or school. One Muslim guy that I talked to before Christmas ended our conversation with a "Happy Hanukkah" bending over backwards to try to make sure that he was acknowledging my heritage (I was amused as I am not Jewish). I wished him a "Happy Holidays" - searching my mind as to if there is an equivalent Muslim holiday. Anyway, my point here is that people in general are way more tolerant that emails like this tend to portray people as.
I'm sorry, no one is offended by Christmas. Much of what is being talked about as an alledged as a war on Christmas are lies. What stuff like this seem to do is to reinforce a sense of victimhood that I don't think is justifiable.
And then again, SO WHAT if somebody says 'Happy Holidays' or calls the Chrismas tree a 'HOLIDAY TREE'. Being Inclusive, and yes, 'politically correct' does not mean that someone is attacking your religion. You are being led by wing nuts that are reinforcing your sense of victimhood - this is not a Christian trait by the way - for their own personal gain.
I think real Christians would be concerned with other things.
here it is:
Subject: Merry Christmas!!!!!!!
I don't know who this perceptive lady is, but HOORAH for her. I am sending this along in hopes that we all have the courage to say .................. She did a spectacular job!
By Debbie Daniel
I'm on a "Merry Christmas" mission and I'm in full throttle. My little yellow VW Beetle has turned into a Christmas billboard with Merry Christmas written across the back window. Yes, I've decided to trek off to work everyday on the public highways with a message that seems to offend people.
At stop lights, I even turn my music up a little louder, and to top it off, I sing along with it. Don't I know that stopping at a red light to roll my windows down only to share the joy of Christmas carols on public streets is a No-No? Don't I fear the Christmas Gestapo and those who would have me remove the written message from my car? More...
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Sun Jan 08, 2006
Fuck the 'New York Times'
"Those assholes have known for over a year that Bush has been taping our phone calls and we're just finding out about it now? Good thing we weren't making any important decisions 14 months ago. The next person who starts bitching about how hard the so-called "liberal media" is on the president is gonna get a jackboot upside the head. And don't get all excited that the Times finally did get around to telling us about this little caper. They only printed it because they found out they were about to get scooped by their own reporter. All the news that's fit to print on my ass."
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Wed Jan 04, 2006
When Dave Thinks You're an Asshole, You're One Big Asshole.
Bill O’Reilly: “I think that the Iraq thing has been full of unintended consequences and it’s a vital thing for the country and it's brutal, it’s absolutely brutal. We should all take it very seriously. This simplistic stuff about hating Bush or he lied and all this stuff, does the country no good at all. We've got to win this thing. You have to win it. And even though it's a screw-up, giant, massive, all right, right now, for everybody's protection, it's best for the world to have a democracy in that country functioning and friendly to the West, is it not?”
David Letterman: “Yes, absolutely.”
O’Reilly: “Okay, so let's stop with the lying and the this and the that and the undermining and let's get him. That is putting us all in danger. So our philosophy is we call it as we see it. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you don't. Robust debate is good. But we believe that the United States, particularly the military, are doing a noble thing, a noble thing. The soldiers and Marines are noble. They're not terrorists. And when people call them that, like Cindy Sheehan called the insurgents 'freedom fighters,’ we don't like that. It is a vitally important time in American history. And we should all take it very seriously. Be very careful with what we say.”
Letterman: “Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also.” [audience applause]
O’Reilly: “Give me an example.”
Letterman: “How can you possibly take exception with the motivation and the position of someone like Cindy Sheehan?”
O’Reilly: “Because I think she’s run by far-left elements in this country. I feel bad for the woman.”
Letterman: “Have you lost family members in armed conflict?”
O’Reilly: “No, I have not.”
Letterman: “Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?” [applause]
O’Reilly: “I’m not speaking for her. Let me ask you this question.”
Letterman, referring back to O’Reilly’s examples of a war on Christmas: “Let’s go back to your little red and green stories.”
O’Reilly: “This is important, this is important. Cindy Sheehan lost a son, a professional soldier in Iraq, correct? She has a right to grieve any way she wants, she has a right to say whatever she wants. When she says to the public that the insurgents and terrorists are 'freedom fighters,’ how do you think, David Letterman, that makes people who lost loved ones, by these people blowing the Hell out of them, how do you think they feel, waht about their feelings, sir?”
Letterman: “What about, why are we there in the first place? [applause] The President himself, less than a month ago said we are there because of a mistake made in intelligence. Well, whose intelligence? It was just somebody just get off a bus and handed it to him?”
Bill O’Reilly: “No.”
Letterman: “No, it was the intelligence gathered by his administration.”
O’Reilly: “By the CIA.”
Letterman: “Yeah, so why are we there in the first place? I agree to you, with you that we have to support the troops. They are there, they are the best and the brightest of this country. [audience applause] There’s no doubt about that. And I also agree that now we’re in it it’s going to take a long, long time. People who expect it’s going to be solved and wrapped up in a couple of years, unrealistic, it’s not going to happen. However, however, that does not eliminate the legitimate speculation and concern and questioning of ‘Why the Hell are we there to begin with?’”
O’Reilly: “If you want to question that, and then revamp an intelligence agency that’s obviously flawed, the CIA, okay. But remember, MI-6 in Britain said the same thing. Putin’s people in Russia said the same thing, and so did Mubarak’s intelligence agency in Egypt.”
Letterman: “Well then that makes it all right?”
O’Reilly: “No it doesn’t make it right.”
Letterman: “That intelligence agencies across the board makes it alright that we’re there?”
O’Reilly: “It doesn’t make it right.”
Letterman: “See, I’m very concerned about people like yourself who don’t have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ.” [audience applause]
O’Reilly: “No, I’m sorry.”
Letterman: “Honest to Christ.”
“O’Reilly: “No way. [waits for applause to die down] No way you’re going to get me, no way that a terrorist who blows up women and children.”
Letterman: “Do you have children?”
O’Reilly: “Yes I do. I have a son the same age as yours. No way a terrorist who blows up women and children is going to be called a ‘freedom fighter’ on my program.” [mild audience applause]
Letterman: “I’m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. [audience laughter] But I don’t know that for a fact. [more audience applause]
Paul Shafer: “60 percent.”
Letterman: “60 percent. I'm just spit-balling here.”
O’Reilly: “Listen, I respect your opinion. You should respect mine.”
Letterman: “Well, ah, I, okay. But I think you’re-”
O’Reilly: “Our analysis is based on the best evidence we can get.”
Letterman: “Yeah, but I think there’s something, this fair and balanced. I'm not sure that it's, I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.”
O’Reilly: “Well, you’re going to have to give me an example if you're going to make those claims.”
Letterman: “Well I don’t watch your show so that would be impossible.”
O’Reilly: “Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don't watch the program?”
Letterman: “Because of things that I’ve read, things that I know.”
O’Reilly: “Oh come on, you're going to take things that you've read. You know what say about you? Come on. Watch it for a couple, look, watch it for a half hour. You'll get addicted. You'll be a Factor fan, we'll send you a hat.”
Letterman: “You’ll send me a hat. Well, send Cindy Sheehan a hat”
O’Reilly: “I’ll be happy to.”
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