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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Will The Next Election Be Hacked?


Folks, this is a must read for anyone concerned with the election this November and the ’08 Presidential Election. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. presents a thought provoking article in the October 5, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Zoom Zoom Zoom


When I decided to start blogging I wasn’t sure if and how often I would write about my feelings, moods, or daily adventures. My personal delusions of adequacy prevented me from taking any real time to contemplate how much bipolar depression content to include in this blog. I did some shameless self promotion with sites that I frequently visit. I believed that I could occasionally generate some clever or profound thoughts about Michigan and national politics and other issues of the day. So far, I have one fellow blogger that liked something I wrote. No problem.

As I have begun to better understand my bipolar mind, my concern has also been that I may not be consistently adding to my blog. I want to make a serious effort at writing. My personal history of projects started and abandoned makes me worry a little. I once was all gung ho about buying and selling rice pattern china on eBay. I made some good money selling my coin collection and assorted memorabilia. I have a great eBay seller’s rating. But, I stopped that enterprise about a year ago and I haven’t had the enthusiasm to continue.

My life has had a series of starts and stops. Interruptions and what I thought was procrastination seems to have always been a significant part of my freaking roller coaster life. I was within 3 semester hours of completing my Master’s Degree Program in Educational Psychology when I just quit. That was about 10 years ago. I have not been able to fully explain why I haven’t tried to finish that degree. Money is one factor – but …

I do know what the trigger was that sent me down a dark hole before ending my studies. One fucking horrible stressful and career altering event crippled me. Then while I was being counseled and starting what I knew would be a life-long course of anti-depressants I was the victim of two automobile accidents. I didn’t deserve nor earn the despicable and slanderous attack on my character and livelihood that sent me to see a shrink. It happened. I survived. And, I will forever be pissed at a bully, bigot, and _________ that was a former colleague.

So, I am concerned that this blog may be one more project that is set aside and left incomplete.

I have an appointment tomorrow with my psychiatrist. He will tell me that I am improving because I have taken care of one more of the things in my life that has been a major source of depression – my neck. He doesn’t know that I had surgery or that it was ever scheduled. My visit to the orthopedic surgeon was two days after my last head shrinking. My surgery was scheduled two weeks later and now I am recuperating. It happened so fast that I am still processing it. I may finally be free of most of my physical pain.

My meds will be adjusted tomorrow. A new med may be added to the psychiatric cocktail that I take each day. I will show him the fresh scar on my throat and tell him that I have been manic all month. I didn’t even sleep in the hospital after waking up in the recovery room. I wanted to – but couldn’t. I can’t remember when I last slept more that two or three hours.

Diana and I have been cat napping together in a recliner in our formerly cat-free guest bedroom since my return home from the hospital. The oddest thing about napping with this cat is that Diana has not slept with or on top of me since she was a kitten. She and her litter mate, Fergie, are nearly 12 years old. Fergie frequently sleeps beside me in bed or at my feet. Diana never did.

We always describe Diana as being special. She has a few behaviors that make us wonder about her sometimes. These past weeks have been extraordinary for me as she has insisted upon sleeping with me. She cries at the door until we let her in the bedroom. As I have been wearing a neck brace since my surgery, I have been sleeping in a recliner for support and ease. Having our Di Baby purring on top of my blanket has been very comforting.

Well, so much for my version of “Friday Cat Blogging” and this slice of my bipolar life.

What a ride!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Senator Stabenow Says Yes

Dear Senator:

Shame on you.

Your vote for the tribunal and detainee treatment bill does not reflect what my parents and church have taught me about Christian and American morals. I am appalled that you voted to allow un-American values to be a part of our laws. You, the Republican Party, and our President have allowed the forces of evil to change our great American traditions of fairness and decency.


I am not a single issue or values issue voter as are most [Republican and Christian] conservatives -- I am a Democrat that has supported you. I am disappointed in your vote. You no doubt will have my vote in November, however you are losing my respect.


Can you explain your vote?

We Don't Shoot Horses

Our high moral standards are reflected in the protection of horses by the recent Congressional legislation outlawing the killing of horses to provide horsemeat for human consumption. This European delicacy will no longer be exported from the United States. During a meat shortage in the 1970’s a few Americans tasted horse meat as an economical substitute for beef.

Horse meat was once sold in many major city butcher shops, including one in Detroit. My parents, sister, and I were invited for a Sunday meal at the home of my brother, Alan, and his wife. Following our roast beef dinner, Al got down on all fours and asked us to guess what we had just eaten for dinner. He didn’t wait for an answer. He simply started to whinny like a horse.

None of us freaked out. We were amused and not grossed out by the experience. I thought the meat seemed a bit dark red, but it tasted good. I look back fondly at the experience as just another testimony that, in the words of my mother, my family is a little flakey.

Today the moral standards of our great nation were further displayed by the cowardice of the United States Senate in its passage of legislation that will allow the President of the United States the right to interpret the meaning of torture. Our Congress has given in the Bully-in-Chief. Our Congress has sacrificed our nation’s reputation for being the most fair and decent democracy on this planet. The far right Christians may now celebrate the fact that we will degrade ourselves as we strip away the dignity of anyone we perceive to be an enemy. We will humiliate our brothers and our neighbors for the cause of peace, justice, and freedom.

The country of Good Samaritans will not just pass by the man in the road, we will be willing accomplices in his suffering.

We have confronted the specter of terror -- and the terrorists have won.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Let's Review



My postings on Bipolar Depression and Insurance Parity:


September 19, 2006 -- Snake Pit

September 22, 2006 -- Flights of Fancy From a Dark Closet

September 26, 2006 -- Still on the Mend

Reality Check

I need to thank David Sirota for the thump on the back of the head for this one. The Sirota Blog has the link back to this Daily Kos piece on Movement Politics. I do not cut and run – so the Democratic Party is going to be stuck with this uppity retiree. The leaders in the Democrat Party have to develop a stiffer spine – I have a titanium plate to help mine however, we could get creative with all those picket sign handles we have in our garages.

Time on Task

The Michigan Legislature enacted laws a decade ago to make several so-called improvements in the public school education of our children. They had a particular epiphany that led them to believe that Michigan students were not spending enough time in school. They adopted laws to mandate the exact number of hours that kids must be in school for any given school year.

It seems to me that what is good for the goose should be good for the State Senate and House of Representative Michiganders. There should be a law requiring each individual legislator to be in his or her seat in legislative sessions for at least the same amount of time that they require public school children and their teachers to be in their classrooms. And, just like teachers, their committee work, continuing education, and mandated self-improvement hours have to be done outside of the school or legislative day.

Now, it seems that the Michigan Legislature has gone home and left their work undone.

I would give them an “incomplete” if they were not already failing the citizens of Michigan with their inexcusable lack of “time on task”.

Read more here in a post on the Michigan Liberal.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Your Government Failed You

Watch this.

You may also wish to read "Against All Enemies" by Richard A. Clarke.

Still on the Mend



I saw the coolest x-rays at Dr. Montgomery’s office today. Within minutes of shooting two views of my new and improved neck, the x-ray technician had the x-rays displayed on the computer screen in the examination room. Way cool.

I love technology. I have my July MRI “films” on a CD-ROM and now wish I had brought a floppy disc to the doctor’s today so I could have copied the x-rays. Anyway, the titanium plate and 6 screws were clearly visible in the x-rays. The implant is there to insure that the donor bones fuse well with the cervical bones.

I am on the road to recovery and hope to put those long years with chronic pain and fatigue behind me. I am very confidant that the anterior cervical discectomies and fusions at C5/C6 and C6/C7 have increased the likelihood of an extraordinary reduction in pain. It is all about the quality of life.

I am thankful that both my primary insurance coverage from the State of Michigan, as part of my public school teacher retiree benefits, and my auto insurance company pay all of my neck injury related bills. Unlike my insurance coverage for my organic brain disease (bipolar depression) – my neck injury is guaranteed to be covered for my lifetime. If the State of Michigan doesn’t renege again on retiree health insurance coverage, I should always be able to afford treatment for my dysfunctional thyroid and hypertension.

I just don’t understand why 39 of our 50 States have insurance parity for mental health and organic brain diseases and our Great State of Michigan does not. Is it the stigma? Do the men and women in the State Senate and State House of Representatives believe that those of us with physical defects that cause mental illness are somehow personally responsible? Am I at fault for the roller coaster mood swings that my brain’s chemicals induce? Why, when the vast majority of the citizens in Michigan favor insurance parity, does the Legislature drag its feet?

I was taught that elected leaders are supposed to be acting for the good of the people of Michigan. If insurance company and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce campaign contributions and political support are more important to Legislators than the health of Michigan’s populace, then…

I guess I should stop here.

I might write something really crazy.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jobs for Michigan Workers


While Dick DeVos reaps his rewards for having invested in China and creating jobs for Chinese workers, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is working for Michigan workers and bringing real jobs to Michigan.

Watch the newest Granholm ad below.

I thank our friend Zack Pohl at Pohlitics for this link. Zack’s site is on my daily MUST READ list. Check him out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Joey Has the Flu


Every elementary school teacher can tell you great stories about the numerous excuses given for late, lost, and incomplete homework. When one of my kids tried to tell me that her baby brother spilled juice on her math assignment she had the wherewithal to bring in the evidence. No problem.

Absence and early dismissal notes can be quite humorous as well. The school office has always handled the tardy or sick calls from parents. My friends in the public school office should all write books. And, I say my friends because after 25 years of teaching in several different school buildings I can confidently advise every new teacher that there are only two people in an elementary school that you never ever piss off – the school secretary and the head custodian. Learn their names, always smile, always be polite, and always thank them for even the most mundane assistance. They should be the first folks you greet in the morning and the last folks you say good night to as you or they leave the building. Be a friend and your school life will be easier.

Here is a link to a Ned Lamont radio ad. Holy Joe Lieberman has missed a few important U.S. Senate votes and had to call in about his absences.

Give it a listen. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

October Surprise


The word is slowly leaking out. Rove and Company is salivating at the prospect of a giant boost in the opinion polls’ job approval ratings for King Bush. Prepare to see the approval ratings for the handling of the Wars on Terror and Iraq soar. Shortly after the November elections we will learn that the Torturer and Chief, George W. Bush, has moved in the Navy forces needed for the opening salvo in the next war -- code name – Desert “Roll the Rug Up” Freedom Farce.

Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish has the latest on the rumors about Osama Bin Laden. Andrew also provides us with this link to where we may discover what really happened to OBL.

Meanwhile, Dr. Donald Mallard from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is traveling to Afghanistan with the rest the team following shortly. The NCIS team has to detour to retrieve retired Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs from his beachfront shack in Mexico. The NCIS team is expected to present the definitive report that will shock and awe the world. Government sources predict that we will learn the truth sometime in early October. Stay tuned for further reports.

Stop DeVos Commercial #1

Wow! This was easier than I thought. I figured our how to bring you the direct connection to those YouTube videos and political ads that catch my eye.

Here is one that I told you about the other day. It is from Stop DeVos.


Lil' Bush "Evolution"

This is the third episode.

Enjoy!

Lil' Bush "Nuked"

ENJOY!

My Letter to the Editor of the Port Huron Times Herald

Dear Times Herald Editor:

Torture is a cruel and inhumane act of aggressive immoral behavior. There never is nor will there ever be any excuse, emergency, or threat that would allow Christian people or others with high moral standards to stoop to this depraved and indifferent action. Anyone that approves of torturing and assaulting the human dignity of another man, women, or any “neighbor” whom God has set before us on the path that we walk, denies the goodness, mercifulness, and honorable call from God to be like His Son.

The lessons of love and forgiveness have been disregarded by any that claim that our great nation should allow our secret police or military to torture. Our freedom is not defended by sacrificing the soul of our great nation. I would rather die a martyr’s death than bring myself or allow others to torture in my name for my defense.

No religious activist that decries the immorality of gay marriage, abortion as birth control, or capital punishment should ever raise their voice again in descent or protest if they do not loudly and forcefully object to this evil that our President and the Congress are considering approving.

We do not torture. Not in my name. And, certainly not in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Is torture truly something that Jesus would do?

Respectfully yours,

J. Lee Harris

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pitchfork Peasants


I admire sane rabble rousers. David Sirota offered the following videos and his own 2004 Plan to reform the Democrats in a post today.

Here is a video clip of Tim Ryan (D) from Ohio.

We all need to become “pitchfork peasants” – an apt observation by Craig Crawford from the Congressional Quarterly. He chatted with Keith Olbermann last night about Tim Ryan.

Fledgling Blogs


Please let us welcome a new blog -- stopdevos.com. Their mission is one that is truly vital to the health of my neighbor and nation. Literally.

Welcome to the blogosphere. Many thanks to Zack at Pohlitics for the heads-up. This new blog does know how to embed a YouTube video. I soon will have the patience and a few neck-pain free hours to figure it out. So, for now, please follow the link.

I am also hoping that I can figure out a way to get noticed. Yes, I know that my blog is too unprofessional– too eclectic – too folksy – too bipolar depressing – too autobiographical – too unfocused. I don’t have enough Michigan content nor am I young and hip. I am just a discontent and grumpy retired teacher trying to fill a void in his life.

I remember the days when as a leader in the teachers’ union I felt the need to defend and support the classroom teachers’ aide and library aid union. The pompous asses in the school administration had once characterized this group as a “dime a dozen”. They were of the opinion that the paraprofessionals were just a bunch of desperately bored housewives.

The school administrators were so wrong and so out of touch with reality. Every parapro that I knew was a dedicated caring hard-working underpaid friend. No Kelly Girl could just walk off the street and do the job that they were asked to do every day. The motherly compassion of Mrs. Howard wasn’t something you should ever take for granted.

Margaret was one of my childhood neighborhood parents. What she brought to the classroom that I once subbed in and to the school where I eventually taught full-time could not be found in just anybody. Her wit, wisdom, and willingness to go the proverbial extra mile were inspiring. In fact, her parenting of her actual children and her adopted neighborhood kids was indirectly responsible for my having become a teacher. Her daughter, Maggie, was the wise older sister that talked to me about her dream of dedicating her life to teaching. She told me all about this thing called the Peace Corp and how she dreamt of becoming a volunteer. She wanted to make a difference in this world. She was willing to give of herself to her community, her nation, and to those struggling people in a far off distant land where they once welcomed the enthusiasm and dedication of young Americans.

I once thought of being a Peace Corp volunteer. My life took many turns and that dream faded away. My dedication to teaching never faltered.

Anyway, my writing will be folksy and autobiographical. I don’t seem to be able to make a point about some things without giving a real life illustration. It is my nature. I can’t help it – I am a teacher.

From a favorite mug (You wouldn’t believe the number of mugs that I have been gifted with over the years!) says, “Those who can, Teach. Those who can’t -- yeah, yeah – you know the rest…..

Run Dick Run

The Michigan Democratic Party has another good advert about the Republican candidate for Governor of Michigan.

Mr. Amway claimed in one of his first ads that he wasn't a politician.

Yeah, right.

My thanks for the heads up to Zack at Pohlitics.

t8k it <<

Here is another great ad showcasing the culture of corruption in Washington, D.C.

Montana deserves better than the likes of Conrad Burns.

Watch it here.


Good Luck, Mr. Tester!

I Feel So Used



Get real. The proud Democrats in the Senate stood by as a few so-called maverick Republican Senators challenged King George’s Freedom through Torture Bill. After only a short few days it seems that McCain and Company have a “conceptual” agreement. That seems to be code for “We don’t know what the hell we’ll do – but we scored some points for the Republican’s bid to maintain their majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives”.

The Democrats were thinking that they could watch the Senate Republicans self-destruct, but instead got caught with their pants down. It was all a show. The Republicans will preserve and support the President’s and our republics stumble from the high road of human rights and the preservation of human dignity. We will parse the meaning of torture and continue to lawyer our way to disaster.

The Democrats failed to jump into the fake fray and make it real. Too many defense contractors padding your pockets, so you won’t take a real stand for what is right and decent and American? The Democratic Party’s inaction is further proof that the fish rots from the head down. Our Democratic Leaders are truly out of touch with the Americans that they should be serving. The Do-Nothing Congress and the Imperial Presidency are serving the needs of the big corporate puppeteers.

I saw an advertisement the other day for a book about net activism. We know it – don’t we? The jackass on the other end of the tug of war rope gets a hard kick in the behind. Would someone tell me how we are to really do that? Is the blogosphere just another distraction for one demographic group within the “masses”? Sex, drugs, rock’n roll, and television just doesn’t work for everyone. Computers, broadband connections, Google, YouTube, Blogspot, and email – are they just another opiate for the bipolar, hyperactive, and intellectually over-sexed?

Would somebody please pass me a valium?

I received a campaign packet from the DNC today which further fueled my anger and disappointment with MY party. I got the usually Rah Rah letter, plea for money, and mini-poster. A really cheesy set of 5 “Liberty Postcards” was included. I am supposed to take these informative cards, apply postage, and mail them to 5 voters that I am to “adopt”. What freaking information is there? Six bullshit talking points that say absolutely NOTHING!

No plans. No substantive goals. I would be painfully embarrassed to send that crap to anyone.

It says – “Together, America Can Do Better”. Well, folks – I was a teacher and I need some concrete lessons plans. No stupid conceptual language.

Stop jerking your voters, supporters, and activists around. Give us a real plan. Fight for what is decent and right or WE won’t be staying with this lame ass party much longer.

Flights of Fancy From a Dark Closet


In recent months I have been treated for profound grief and depression triggered by the death of my father and the then eminent death of my older brother. Gary passed away 3 months after our father died. He lost his battle with cancer not for the lack of a will to live but for the strength and viciousness of a murderous disease.

My eventual and inevitable diagnosis of bipolar depression was not so much a surprise but strangely a relief. Finally after 51 years, my depression had a name and an explanation.

That explanation helped explain the whys and wherefores of a life that included suicide ideation, two serious overt attempts of suicide, and episodic flirts with death through self-destructive behaviors. Those self-destructive behaviors began sometime following my 14th birthday. An unspeakably traumatic experience set in motion my journey down the path (with promiscuity and the use of drugs and alcohol) to self-destructive addictions.

The lessons of thriftiness taught to me by my depression era parents were “lost on me” due to the bipolar compulsion to spend money that I didn’t have. My binge buying sprees were attempts to make myself happy. Both Mom and Dad parents whose cultural heritage was stereotypically true. Mom’s German father and Canadian-Reserved bipolar mother passed down a peculiar legacy of intractable stubbornness, neat-freakish homemaking, and the conservative use of money. Dad’s Canadian-Reserved and Scottish parentage resulted in an incomprehensible work ethic, emotional distance, generosity, and an uncanny ability to successfully squeeze a dime.

The encouragement to seek satisfying and successful life goals came from my public school teachers and counselors. The encouragement to choose a servant ministry and a humble “life path” was attempted because of selfless and caring role models. I choose a career that was intrinsically rewarding yet poorly compensated – teaching in a public school district. Though I was encouraged and expected to become a school principal, I chose to always remain a teacher. I never wanted the responsibilities of administration because I endeavored to serve both my community and church in the most direct and effective manner.

My bipolar personality traits helped me remain confident of my skills and creativity through long periods of my life when I was imprisoned by worthlessness and despair. My moodiness was even projected in a Freudian naming of a beloved stuffed monkey. I didn’t have a blankie, binky, or love-worn teddy bear; I had “Helpless”, a brown fuzzy monkey with an infectious, plastic smile of joy. After my 50th birthday I asked my best friend and life-companion to take Helpless out from my childhood collections and dispose of him. “Just take him and don’t tell me what you did with him.”

My frequently “racing mind” was seen by me to be gifts of inspiration and clarity of thought. I was and have been forever grateful for the confidence and the intelligence granted to me by nature and/or nurture. Whether or not my moody roller coaster disposition resulted from bipolarity or was a gift from God, I am thankful that I had the wherewithal to cope with wobbly eyes (congenital Nystagmus) and an equally jerky life. I have coped. And, I have been successful.

I have a lust for life. My experiences while traveling through life (and the United States and Canada, with excursions to Mexico and northern Europe) have been incredible. The road from childhood to middle age (I do have an AARP card – so does Billy, hehehe) has been… what it’s been. The fact is -- I have and I will survive.

“So it is with minds. Unless you keep them busy with some definite subject that will bridle and control them, they throw themselves in disorder hither and yon in the vague field of imagination ... And there is no mad or idle fancy that they do not bring forth in the agitation.” -Michel de Montaigne

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Drumbeat of War


While most of the nation was focused on the speeches at the United Nations and the wrangling in the United States Senate over how we will torture our enemies, the U.S. Congress fell lock step behind President Bush and his GOP War Machine. Three resolutions passed through Congress, seemingly without comment from the media.

All three resolutions are pretty much meaningless unless you recognize the context in which they were presented.

You will remember that on Tuesday King George spoke directly to the people of Iran in his UN Assembly speech. He declared to the people of Iran that:

“The United States respects you.

We respect your country. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture and your many contributions to civilization.

You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential.

The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons.

The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Despite what the regime tells you, we have no objection to Iran's pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program.

We're working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis. And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom, and America and Iran can be good friends and close partners in the cause of peace.”

As GWB attempted to win the hearts and minds of the Iranian people, the House passed a concurrent resolution with the United States Senate (H.Con.Res.415) that:

“ (1) condemns the Government of Iran for the October 29, 2005 letter, calls on the Government of Iran to immediately cease such activities and all activities aimed at the repression of the Iranian Baha'i community, and continues to hold the Government of Iran responsible for upholding all the rights of its nationals, including members of the Baha'i community; and

(2) requests the President to--

(A) call for the Government of Iran to emancipate the Baha'i community by granting those rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants on human rights;

(B) emphasize that the United States regards the human rights practices of the Government of Iran, including its treatment of the Baha'i community and other religious minorities, as a significant factor in the foreign policy of the United States Government regarding Iran; and

(C) initiate an active and consistent dialogue with other governments and the European Union in order to persuade the Government of Iran to rectify its human rights practices.”

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed two additional resolutions. One resolution (H.Res.976):


“(1) condemns the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and strongly urges the international community to bring pressure on Iran to halt discrimination and violence toward its citizens, in particular women, religious and ethnic minorities, and vocal opponents of the regime;

(2) urges the Government of the United States to continue to pressure the Government of Iran into making measurable improvements in the human rights situation for the Iranian people; and

(3) expresses its unity with all Iranian people and shares their desire to see Iran become a free country with transparent, democratic institutions and equal rights for all.”

The third House Resolution (H.Res.942):

“(1) recognizes the centennial anniversary of the Iranian constitution of 1906;

(2) is mindful of the democratic revolution of 1906 that lead to the drafting of the Iranian constitution; and

(3) expresses its profound hope that the people of Iran will once again enjoy a democratic government in the spirit of the Iranian constitution of 1906.”

I admit that I am a true novice in the research of congressional legislation. I just happened to be looking for any significant House Bills that my U.S. Representative Candice Miller (R-10) had broke ranks with the Great GOP Machine. It seems she hasn’t seen a House Bill supporting clean water for the poor that she likes and voted “NO” on three HB’s despite the fact they were supported by her Grand Old Party. What’s the phobia with water all about? Candice is a veteran of the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race.

Candice Miller also defied the GOP by voting against energy conservation, broadband networks and services, and rural housing assistance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Candice must not like our cats and dogs, as she voted against a bill “to insure that State and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency.” She apparently doesn’t care that I want my cats (Diana, Fergie, and Jadzia Dax) to be rescued with me in the event of some disaster. Sink or swim, eh, Candy? Sure, get on your sailboat and save your own butt.

Anyway, it seems that the drums are getting louder. We are “in a crisis” and Congress is willingly skipping along with Boy George and his Neocon Draft-Dodgers. It’s a good thing that I am old and disabled; I won’t be eligible for the new Freedom Draft to Fight Terrorism. You never know – 51 could be the new 40. If we need to leave -- my cousins in Canada are just across the river from my house.

Aaaww crap, we don’t have a boat.

Hot Dog Day


Watch this Lil' Bush cartoon.

It is worth the click for this chuckle.

Hot dogs, anyone?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hero



Here is a link to a political ad for Tammy Duckworth.


Tammy is an Iraq War veteran running to represent the people of Illinois in the 6th Congressional District.


I found her ad to be compelling. I urge you to watch it and consider donating to her campaign.


My thanks to the good people at the StakeHolder for pointing me to her website.

Mr. Conservative



I mentioned the other day that I planned to watch an HBO Special Documentary about Barry Goldwater. It was great and I recommend that those with HBO On-Demand watch the documentary.

Andrew Sullivan wrote a summary of the show and spells out the essence of what it means to be a Barry Goldwater Conservative.

I fancy myself to be a Goldwater Conservative.

Please read Andrew's post at the Daily Dish.

Apology


Keith has done it again.

Please follow this link to see the video -- "Bush Owes Us an Apology".

Well, Mr. President?

WWJD

I am not willing to cut the Bush Administration and our do-nothing Congress any slack over the issues of torture and convicting alleged terrorists using secret information that the defendant is not allowed to see or confront. Currently both issues are working their way through committees. It seems that compromises have been offered and proposed laws may soon find their way to both Houses of Congress. I urge Candice Miller (R-MI-10th), Senator Levin, and Senator Stabenow to do all that they can to kill these outrageous morally-corrupt proposals. The bills should never make their way out of committee.

Any proposal, which redefines and allows even a jot of torture that is debated and voted upon, will demonstrate to the world that we have abandoned our nation's high moral standards. We must not forsake our cherished fair trial principles. We must not be willing to compromise neither our freedom, our liberty, nor break the sacred promises we have made to one another and the world because we fear thugs and zealots.

The blood of patriots has been shed to preserve our republic and we must not give George W. Bush the tools to erode our democratic way of life. If we allow torture or conduct unfair tribunals -- the terrorist win.

Will we be courageous? Will we do what is right?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Malice?


Sorry. I just can’t help myself. I have a twisted sense of humor sometimes. And, as much as the onslaught of negative political ads has disgusted me over the last 10 years – I just get a real kick out of the ads that really nail some incumbent politicians.

Yes, I promised myself that I would frequently reread the dictionary definition of the word “malice”. I do need a reality check from time to time to make sure that I can honestly say that I have not made malicious remarks in my little essays or quick jabs at whomever or whatever has caught my attention.

Malice – a desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness: the malice and spite of a lifelong enemy.

Naaaaa – not yet. I admit that I deploy sarcasm as a cheap shot. And, I tease. But, as the scorpion said to the frog – it is my nature. I do not desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another human being. I am a conflicted pacifist at heart. I rarely have hostile impulses and I am not a mean person. I do sometimes enjoy seeing bad guys get their comeuppances.

And, now to my point – here are links to three stinging political ads that I came across in my Required Reading.

Enjoy! I did.

These ads were found at Daily Kos.

Look here,

here, and

here.

Snake Pit


I am a life-long learner. My thirst for knowledge, my passion for exploration and travel, and my obnoxious know-it-all obsession [that’s a joke] has taken me on many rewarding journeys. My life was teaching, child advocacy, and political activism.

In November of 1997 I was driving the lead vehicle in a 4 car collision. I was just starting to leave a changing traffic light when a lady in a brand-new Dodge Durango failed to slow and struck a small sedan which struck a mini-van which struck my Dodge Dakota truck. The impact was so sever that the jaws-of-life were needed to rescue the woman in the sedan. When the police and ambulances arrived on the scene the investigating officer was surprised to learn that my truck was involved in the crash. I had been pushed about thirty feet ahead of the mini-van. Upon closer inspection it was apparent that the impact had caused the box of the truck to buckle and create a sizable dent in the truck’s cab. The frame of the truck and the rear bumper were bent out of shape.

My life changed. I had to abandon my union positions and most social activities due to the fact that by the end of a normal teaching day I was drained of all energy and overcome with muscle strain and pain. Eighteen months later, in June of 1999, my Dodge minivan was struck from behind by an elderly man with failed brakes. My mending neck was further injured

I am not seeking sympathy with my narrative. I am simply trying to help others to understand the effects of traumatic injuries, endless medical testing and treatment, and a life with chronic and debilitating pain.

A change in Michigan’s Public School Employee Retirement Act allowed me the opportunity to use most of my tax-deferred 403b savings to purchase 5 years of service credit towards a full 30 year teacher’s pension. When I retired in 2003, I had a severe reduction in income and an increased burden of having to pay for insurance premiums and a greater amount of money for deductibles, office visit co-pays, medical testing co-pays, and prescription co-pays. The minor increases in monthly pension benefits given to MIP Plan retirees each October have been taken away in each following new calendar year by increases in insurance premiums; annual insurance deductions; and office visit, testing, and prescription co-pays.

To literally add insult to injury – the co-pay for mental health medical expenses went from 10% under my old MESSA Blue Cross coverage to 50% under the State of Michigan’s Public School Employee Retirement System.

I have had a life-long struggle with depression. I have managed to live a full and successful life with only having had to be under the care of mental health professionals through 4 short episodes in 50 years. My last round of treatment was coming to an end when the 1999 accident occurred. After a few more months of counseling my doctors discharged me. My primary care physician was advised to keep me on an atypical anti-depressant thereafter.

On July 1st, 2003 I became a retired teacher. My former life was now completely gone. After an entire year without work I tried to do some limited amount of substitute teaching. After a few weeks I realized that I could no longer work without either bearing severe pain all day or spending a part of my school day slightly stoned from the medications needed to get through each day. I couldn’t be effective and I wouldn’t cheat my employer or the children entrusted to my care.

My only recourse was to finally accept my disability and file a claim for Social Security Disability. After a ton of paperwork, two independent medical exams and months of waiting, my application was rejected. Today, after another long 10 months, I am still waiting for a court date to be scheduled to hear my appeal.

Sorry, it takes some time to tell the key points of my story.

In January of 2005, my 79 year old father had his second heart attack. Dad had his first attack 19 years earlier and it was followed by a double bypass surgery on his heart. After the January heart attack, Dad’s health began to fail. Within months, I became the primary care giver to my father. For 5 days a week, I woke Dad in the morning, fed him breakfast, dispensed his insulin and heart medications, and set aside food for his lunch. I returned each evening to prepare dinner and dispense his medications. Fetching the mail, doing the dishes, doing small loads of laundry, and performing minor household chores were also part of my role in Dad’s care. My sister and an older brother took care of Dad on the weekends. They also took care of the housecleaning, grocery shopping, and other tasks that I was physically incapable of doing.

Taking care of Dad became my life.

My father passed away on February 28th of this year.

My oldest brother’s yearlong battle with cancer ended three months later on May 22nd, 2006.

My profound grief was a trigger for a serious battle with depression. My primary care physician referred me to a psychiatrist in early April. And, after 51 years – I was FINALY and CORRECTLY diagnosed as having Bipolar Depression. I will write more about this malady at another time.

Today, I want to focus on one of the major obstacles that I must overcome in order to manage my disease. Money- more precisely, insurance coverage parity.

Michigan is one of eleven states that do not require insurance coverage for mental health disorders to be on par with the coverage of other health problems. As I noted above, my doctor office co-pays for visits with mental health care professionals is 50%. In-hospital coverage is limited to a small number of days per year and a small number in a lifetime.

Now, consider for a moment that someone’s child, brother, sister, or parent is limited to only 60 LIFETIME visits to a cardiologist for a severe heart condition. Or that a family member is only allowed to be hospitalized for just 20 days in a one year period for cancer treatment. How fair would that be? I have an organic brain disease. It is no different than my high blood pressure, neck, and thyroid problems. My insurance coverage to help me combat my disease should be on par with all other health conditions.

Presently, my pension is the primary source of income for a two adult and three feline household. I fear that I may not find enough money for both counseling and the short and costly visits to a medical doctor during the trial and error process involved in drug therapy. Finding the right mix of medications to stabilize my severe and frequent mood swings may be a long long trek. I am presently cycling from mania to depression several times a week and sometimes cycling up and down in a 24 hour period. This freaking roller coaster ride is not thrilling. As my brother would say, “it’s f@#*d up”!

Unfortunately, if I lose my Social Security Disability appeal, my STATE OF MICHIGAN pension income level will continue to prohibit me from qualifying for any government assistance. My income also places me over the threshold for assistance from most, if not all, charities.

Parity. That’s all I am asking for right now. Give me a fair chance and I will manage. I must.

Please write your State Representative and State Senator. And, please go to the Michigan Partners for Parity website for more information.

Monday, September 18, 2006

News You Can Use


I've been working on a somewhat personal piece about insurance parity. I will post it sometime tonight (read -- Tuesday morning) after I watch all my TV shows.

Add Keith Olbermann to the list that I have already published and tonight's HBO Special on "Mr. Conservative", Barry Goldwater. I can't wait to watch it. Lou Dobbs has interviewed one of the producers of the documentary, Senator Goldwater's granddaughter, twice now. Barry Goldwater is an American hero and patriot.

I just got Keith Olbermann's book today and a copy of John W. Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience".

I have some great books to read while I recover from last week's surgery.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Moral Basis


Freedom Campaign


After watching a televised debate between incumbent Senator Allen(R) of Virginia and his challenger, ex-Navy secretary Jim Webb (D), I have a better understanding of the controversy on the subject of allowing women to enroll in the Virginia Military Academy (VMI). I never quite understood the mindset that fueled the debate about women in that academy, in particular, and women in the United States armed forces, in general. I think I now understand one of the factors that were considered then and still today.

Senator Allen once voiced his concern that should women be allowed into VMI, the treatment of those women would have been “ungentlemanly”. I believe that implies that men were treated differently in their military training. Men were disciplined and motivated by “tougher” or more aggressive ways. The theory being that it was how you shaped boys into manhood.

I literally had a flashback to an incident that occurred in my 6th grade physical education class. I remembered the day that our male teacher told the entire class that we were “pansies”. That degrading statement troubles me to this day. To call an eleven year old boy a pansy in 1966 was the same as calling him a faggot or queer. Mr. E’s remark was inappropriate.

The mindset then and today is that subjecting boys and men to that sort of macho treatment is acceptable.

I have always rebelled against any double standard or discriminating treatment of girls and boys. In my public school classrooms, I consciously worked to be fair and firm in the treatment of all children. I even went to the “extreme” of never having boy and girl lines of students when taking my class to recess, to lunch, or to any other room for music, art, or school assemblies. I never ever wanted to catch myself comparing the boys to the girls neither in how they queued up nor in any other behavior. Girls and boys were motivated, disciplined, and cared for equally.

Not too many years ago, I had a 1st grade classroom that was adjacent to the doors to the playground. During the 3rd grade recess period an angry colleague brought a male student in from the playground and bellowed, “Bend over and grab your ankles,” then proceeded to give the child a rather forceful whack on his behind. I was shocked and appalled. Not only had the teacher violated the Michigan law prohibiting corporal punishment, he also obviously assumed that his discipline measure would be quietly accepted by the boy’s parents. After all, “he was a boy”.

I do not believe that Teacher X would have ever ordered a female student to “bend over and grab” her ankles. She would have been bullied and humiliated in some other “acceptable” manner.

It seems that in our culture “equal justice under the law” may be interpreted in different ways. Our children, our brothers and sisters, our friends and our enemies are subject to inconsistent and inequitable standards. Our highly moral country still allows exceptions when it comes to evenhandedness, civility and preserving human dignity.

How can we continue to brag that we have the fairest and freest democracy in the world? Is our brand of freedom truly "God’s gift to the world"?

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Road Not Taken

I am stunned. I am absolutely speechless. And tonight, I do want to cry.

We have lost so much ….

Please read this.

Thank you, Andrew.

Thank you.

Please Define Torture


Josh Marshall has written his view of the King George and Torture Law debate. He supports my view about our country’s moral authority. In today Talking Points Memo, Josh writes that:

"Karl Rove is certainly playing high stakes poker on the Kangaroo Courts. Set aside for the moment the merits of the underlying questions of whether our country should continue to abide by the rule of law and the principles our founders based the country on. Hard I know, but for a moment, put that to one side.

The aim here was to unite Republicans behind a bill and then force Democrats either to vote for or against -- demoralize the supporters of those who vote for and crush with 30 second ads those who vote against.

But if the White House actually gets tripped up in a fight with members of his own party over what kind of torture we should use, and that's the last legislative story out of Washington going into the election, that really seems like it would be a big disaster for the White House.

I don't pretend that it's a clear political shot to argue, in a highly polarized electorate, that there are certain rights we should afford to anyone in our custody, no matter how bad they may be.

If there's some division over a president who wants to sully our national honor by enshrining torture as national policy, I don't think there's much division over a would-be torturer-in-chief who's so feckless that he can't even get his bills through congress -- and this while he's twiddling his thumbs as Iraq goes to hell."

What will they do next?

Going Down the Wrong Tracks


A month ago or so, I watched a History Channel presentation about INTERPOL. The documentary described the difficulty that the American and European governments had had in investigating and apprehending known terrorists. It seems that at one time, the leader of INTERPOL had determined that dealing with terrorists and their actions was beyond the purview of that organization. INTERPOL’s valuable skills and resources could not be used.

When a change in leadership occurred, the mission of INTERPOL was reinterpreted to view terrorists as criminals and their terrorist acts as violations of local, national, and international law. A murderer is a murderer. Assassination is murder. Making and using a bomb to kill one person or twenty is murder. Terrorist cells are just another group of criminals that conspire to disrupt commerce, possess illegal weapons, forge documents, and murder.

So what the hell is the big deal with apprehending, interrogating, prosecuting, and punishing one terrorist or twenty?

How many times do Americans and the citizens of the world need to be reminded that the events on September 11, 2001 did not CHANGE a damn thing. We do not erode our Moral Authority by allowing torture. We do not erode our Moral Authority by convicting anyone with secret evidence or evidence procured by unethical means. We must not use confessions or evidence obtained by mistreating another human being in our pursuit of justice. Terrorists are not lesser beings, as some bigots declare. Whether your criminal behavior was inspired by vengeance or some fractured interpretation of a religion – you are still a criminal. We have always had terrorism and terrorists. If our local, state or provincial, national and international laws are violated then let’s hunt down the criminals and bring them to justice.

President George W. Bush has been using smoke and mirrors to effectively hamstring this nation for far too long. We do not need to clarify the interpretations of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. We do not need to use lawyers to justify our actions. Legal opinions are just opinions. We have a justice system that demands that COURTS interpret the law and that judges rule during the proceedings of a trial.

It has been suggested that Article 3 may be outdated. Is our Constitution outdated? Are International Laws outdated? Do we pussy foot around the World Court because some prostitute lawyer says we can? Bullshit!!

If the United States needs a NEW law to deal with the “enemy combatants” in our custody, so be it. However, the moral and ethical principles that have tempered our nation must not be sacrificed. President Bush has released 14 terrorists from secret CIA prisons and has had them taken to Gitmo for trial. This cynical ploy is meant to help him justify the moral and ethical step backwards that his administration has taken.

If taking those 14 terrorists to trial would expose “national security” issues, then close the courtroom to the public. If taking them to trial would expose our corrupted government’s torture practices, then President Bush must be held accountable for permitting the CIA or the military to violate international law.

Good Golly. If we don’t change the law to fit this situation that GWB created – then we will have failed the American people. We will be less safe and the terrorists win.

Bullshit!!

The terrorist win if we sacrifice our moral principles. The terrorists win if we allow our government to suspend our Constitutional rights so they may spy on foreign criminals. The terrorists win if this Do-Nothing Congress and Imperial President keep taking us down the tracks to nowhere.

Democrat and Republicans need to reaffirm their oaths of office and get about the business of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen – you work for me. You answer to me. So stop screwing around and do something for the people and forget your corporate and special interest campaign contributions and get the job, we elected you to do, done.

You can protect us from the terrorists by continuing to apply existing law. Trust our judicial system. Trust our system of checks and balances. We have been working really hard over the past 230 years to get it right.

Get back on the right track. GIT-R-DONE!!!

Theory of Government

Good Morning!

My timer is set for just over an hour. I will make this post and begin some of my Required Reading. I must not sit too long at the computer. I want the vertebra and bone grafts to heal well.

Yesterday, I came across this little gem while reading the Democratic Underground. Our friends at DU posted a blog from Plaid Adder who had written about one his blogs becoming a short film. Here is the link to Plaid Adder’s posting.

Please follow the links to his essay and resulting short film.

Watch the film, then read the blog or vice versa.


Enjoy!

Boldly Going


My foray into the world of blogs has been interesting and somewhat uneventful. As a student of history I have been fascinated by internet activism and the real-time chronicling of current events. Toss in opinions, historical references, passionate debate, comedy, and bullshit -- this new world disorder is akin to pioneering. Yes, I’ve come along a few years after this quadrant of the universe had been explored, terra-formed, and colonized. And, as a technology geek and early adopter, I am surprisingly blogospherically retarded. I am here, now, and ready to be aggravated, amazed, and amused.

This adventure has been uneventful. No one knows me. And, no one I know reads this blog. Oh, yes, I have had three emails from three of the authors of blogs that I read, but as for advice, acceptance, or assurance that my writing has some potential – I have yet to have anyone give me any feedback. The only folks that have complemented my real or imagined writing skills have been colleagues, family, and friends that took note of one or more of my Letters to the Editor published in our local newspaper.

I have written some damn good professional contract language that has assisted both my union and former employer to navigate through the realm of working conditions, wages, and benefits. The insertion of the word “equivalent” in a clause in the union’s contract successfully stymied the local Board of Education from eroding the teachers’ health benefits at a time when wages and benefits were being reduced. At the bargaining table, the opposing team thought they had a “win” and only realized that my team had a “gotcha” when they attempted to secure cheaper and less generous dental and vision insurance coverage. I once was successful at bargaining and writing contract language.

My teaching career and union hyperactivity was my entire universe until two automobile accidents disabled me. I will likely write about that detour at a later date. It is literally too painful to blog right now.

I am on the mend.

I want to continue to share my local and world views. I want to share the wit and wisdom that I discover in my daily reading. The Required Reading highlighted in the sidebar is not a joke. I faithfully read each blog each day. And whether or not I have any real or imagined audience to share with – I will continue this journey.

Right now it is time for some pain medication and sleep.

Have a good night.

No one who has not pioneered can understand the fascination and the terror of it. -- Laura Ingles Wilder

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Have You Had Enough?


Please check out this television ad by Vote Vets.

Follow the Daily Kos link here.

We sent our troops to Iraq without the best body armor, the best helmets, the best up-armored vehicles, and the best leadership.

There must be a special section of Hell for .......

Another Great YouTube

Please head on over to Pohlitics to see this great video about Mike Bouchard.

I still don't like him.

But, this is so sweet.

Dear Ann


From the Daily Dish -- Here is Andrew Sullivan's "YouTube of the Day" for Tuesday, September 12th.

If you can't handle some bad language -- don't watch it.


It is funny.


Yes, I can't help myself.


If you ain't laughin' -- you ain't livin' Carlos Mencia

From the BBC

This morning the BBC is reporting that the United States has warned that Afghanistan is at risk of becoming a failed state unless NATO countries remain actively involved. Condi Rice was in Canada yesterday trying to convince our ally to commit more troops to fight in Afghanistan. NATO commanders have called for an additional 2,500 troops to join the American, Canadian, British, and Dutch forces in southern Afghanistan.

The BBC further reports that member countries are unwilling to support the war in Afghanistan. About half of the 20,000 troops are in the south where fighting has escalated in recent weeks. While another 14 flag draped coffins have arrived in Great Britain, European leaders remain concerned about the rising casualties. The BBC also pointed out that the German and French troops in the north have a less robust set of rules of engagement and have less fear of losses in the war.

In Iraq, in the last 24 hours, 60 bodies have been found in Baghdad. Most of the victims had been shot in the head and many of them appear to have been tortured.

32 Iraqis were killed in a bomb blast in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, a British defense firm, BAE Systems, has reported a 15% rise in half-year profits. US defense sales, namely a big order for fighting vehicles to be used in Iraq, and a Saudi contract for aircraft were credited for BAE’s first half financial performance.

King George has stated that we will remain in Iraq as long as he is the President. It seems he needs another two years to help his corporate friends bring in greater earnings.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Another Patriot


You may file this one under the heading of "unkept promises".


Please read Keith Olbermann's "Special Comments" from Monday night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.


Thank you, Crooks and Liars for this link to the video and transcripts.