Monday, March 21, 2005

Republican Duplicity vis a vis Terri Schiavo

The duplicity of the radical Republicans regarding the Terri Schiavo matter is appalling. Consider these truths:

While governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed a law that gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes.

Republicans have voted to end the Medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terri Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

The tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terri Schiavo's care thus far.

The bankruptcy bill, pushed by Republicans at the behest of the credit card companies, will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terri Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

While proclaiming the virtues of one man-one woman marriage, the Republicans are working day and night to deny one of the most fundamental rights of marriage – the power of attorney that a spouse has to make decisions for an incapacitated partner.

This issue gets to the essence of the difference between the radical right and the majority of mainstream America. The radical right supports allowing the state to interfere in the most personal matters of life, death and health, deferring to a minority radical religious constituency that wants its belief system to override each individual's right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. Note that it isn't the left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die.

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube has been removed because the Florida courts have determined that she would not have wanted it. She is not being deliberately killed; she is being allowed to die the death she would have wanted. This is the central issue of the case, despite the purely political grandstanding by radical Republican congressmen to appease the religious right.

(Much of this stolen from two great blogs: Digby and Majikthise.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Borg

The company I work for was bought by another several months ago. The department I work in stayed under the radar for a long time, but was finally assimilated last week. Now that I am integrated into the new company's systems, I am more paranoid about blogging while at work. So I am doing so sparingly, if at all. Unfortunately, since I work a second job in the evenings, I do not often have time to blog from home. Hence, the light blogging.

I'm verklempft. Here's a topic: Bush's claims to be a "war president" is a little like a kid flooding his own house with bathwater and claiming to be a sea captain. Discuss.

What Kind of Society Should America Be?

That's really what the whole Social Security thing is about. Krugman:

The argument over Social Security privatization isn't about rival views on how to secure the program's future - even the administration admits that private accounts would do nothing to help the system's finances. It's a debate about what kind of society America should be.
And it's a debate Republicans appear to be losing, because the public doesn't share their view that it's a good idea to expose middle-class families, whose lives have become steadily riskier over the past few decades, to even more risk. As soon as voters started to realize that private accounts would replace traditional Social Security benefits, not add to them, support for privatization collapsed.

Read him every Tuesday and Friday -- well worth registering.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Nothing Could be Finer than to be in Carolina...

On ACC Friday. No one works. No one is expected to work. Everyone is watching the ACC tournament games. People who have to work generally have TVs or radios at work so they can keep up with the games. Its an interesting phenomenon, one I have not experienced in any other city I have lived in. Basketball is truly a religion around here.


Democrats -- The Majority

Read this in The New Yorker just now:

  • Regarding the Senate, Democrats (44 senators) represent 161 million people while Republicans (55) represent 131 million.
  • In the last 3 elections (2000, 2002 and 2004), the total vote for Democratic senatorial candidates was 99.7 million while the total vote for Republican senatorial candidates was 97.3 million.

I wonder how it works for the House.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Krugman has it right (as usual): what the Repugnicants want is a serfdom.

Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors. The bankruptcy bill won't get us back to those bad old days all by itself, but it's a significant step in that direction.

When Bush talks about an ownership society, I see it as owe-nership. One of my goals for this year is to get out of debt-- completely.

Dems or No?

These so-called Democrats voted to allow cloture on the bankruptcy bill. Are they really Democrats? Or corporate idiots?

Biden (D-DE)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO) (keeps proving himself an idiot)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Terri Schiavo

This blog documents the lies the right wing has been telling in the incredibly sad Terri Schiavo case.

Two comments: one, the woman has been essentially dead for 15 years; only modern medicine has kept her alive. So if the right is all about God's will, what they're doing is interferring with it. Two, while I believe Terri should be allowed to die, its horrific that it will be done by starving her. We show more compassion toward our dying animals, which we euthanize, than human beings.

I think this whole case is also part of the weird way Americans try to deny death. People die. Its sad, but its part of the circle of life blah-blah. Learn to accept it. Learn to let go.

Take Action Against GOP Moral Bankruptcy

Contact your senator and any others you would like urging that they vote against ending debate on the morally bankrupt bankruptcy bill now moving very, very quickly through the Senate.

From the Al Franken Show website:

The Senate Switchboard is 202 224 3121--but if it’s jammed, you can look up your
individual Senator’s phone numbers with this directory.

90% of American bankruptcies are the result of personal crises: medical emergencies, job loss, divorce, or deaths of family members. What can the Bush administration do to ease these people’s pain? Take their money and give it to credit card companies. The more America learns about this bill, the more it will become a political liability for Republicans. When the facts are on the table on this bill, the difference between the core of the parties is crystal clear: the GOP is the party of special interests, and the Democrats are the party of the people. That’s why it’s crucial that the Senate not cut off debate today by invoking cloture. Call your member of Congress and insist that the debate be allowed to continue. Dial (202) 224-3121 to reach the Senate Switchboard, ask for your Senators’ offices, and leave a clear message: “Do not cut off debate on the bankruptcy bill.”

I emailed my senators today (a whole lotta good that'll do) and also Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, who is of course backing this since his state allows credit card companies to practice their usury by incorporating there.

Atrios is all over this today, too.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Passing of a Master

Hans Bethe has died. Don't know who he is? You should.

Bethe (pronounced Bay-ta) was the last survivor of the remarkable group of mostly German physicists of the early 20th century — a group that included Einstein, Dirac, Fermi and Heisenberg- that deciphered the fundamental laws of matter and energy and set the stage for the remarkable technological developments of the last half of the century.

Hey World -- F*ck You!

Bush has named John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the UN -- the guy who said this:

At a 1994 panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association Bolton claimed "there's no such thing as the United Nations," and stated ''if the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of

And the guy who did dirty work for Jesse Helms:

Sen. Jesse Helms on John Bolton: "John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon." Speech at American Enterprise Institute, 01/11/01

Digby has more. Atrios, too:

It's okay if you hate the UN and think it's useless or evil or should be destroyed. That's your choice. However, such opinions do not make you a suitable candidate for Ambassador to the U.N.


Tar Heels won, Duke lost. ACC Tournament this week. March Madness is underway. Joy!

(I tried to explain the beauty of all of this to a co-worker yesterday who does not care for sports. Impossible. At least we can still discuss how Genghis Khan has been screwed over in western history.)


I've often had conversations with co-workers about the failings of the jury system. Yesterday, it was me saying there was a very reasonable doubt in the Scott Peterson case, where flimsy evidence and shoddy investigative work should've caused a not guilty verdict. And, as happens so often, the reply was something along the lines of "well, I just know he's guilty."

That's not how its supposed to work. In fact, the system fails if jurors make decisions based on feelings, emotions, prejudices, omens, etc. You have to look at the evidence, the facts of the case, and make a logical, impartial judgement. That's what being a juror is about.

In this particular case, I've also heard (numerous times) "well the fact that he dyed his hair and was getting ready to run says to me that he's guilty." Really? Given that Scott had pretty much already been convicted in the media and given the crappy decisions made by juries in this country you're gonna trust your life to one? Not me. I'd definitely think about running if I were ever charged with a heinous crime. So that in itself is not any evidence that he committed any crime.

I know I'm a bit of a Vulcan about this and I do sometimes rely on my gut instinct, but in a situation as serious as a murder trial, I sure wish people could act in an unemotional, analytical manner.

Bankruptcy Bill

This is a disaster for everyone but the credit card industry.

Here's a wealth of info: Talking Points Memo Special Bankruptcy Edition

Read this and ponder how credit card companies really make money.

Bottom line: credit card companies now make half their profits from penalties and late fees. They actively seek out customers who are likely to miss payments and end up in a penalty fee spiral, and they make a fortune from them. In a normally functioning market there's at least a small incentive to limit loans to these high-risk customers, namely the possibility that they might go bankrupt, and the bankruptcy bill before Congress is a brazen attempt to remove even that small but annoying incentive to act responsibly.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Global Flyer

Watched Global Flyer land this afternoon, via live webcast. Very cool. While watching I thought how great it was to hear the towers, crews, pilots talking instead of the bobbleheads on CNN or wherever.

Favorite moment: hearing the pilots of the various commercial planes holding over Salina giving congrats to Steve Fossett right before landing.

My daughter was watching Apollo 13 last night -- a favorite of mine. I really love the pre-launch check off ("guidance, go") so you can see why I loved the crosstalk on the Global Flyer landing. In the didja know category, the idea for the TV show Junkyard Wars came from the film Apollo 13. The producer said she felt the audience excitement during the scene where the guys on the ground figure out how to make a square air filter fit into a round receptacle, and from that developed the idea for Junkyard Wars.

Crackdown on Bloggers?

Regulating blogging -- its being talked about.

Josh Marshall comments, as does Atrios.

On a related topic, some idiot senator (redundant, I know) has proposed imposing FCC regulations on cable television. Ridiculous. The only justification for the FCC regulating broadcasters is that the the public supposedly owns the airwaves, so the government can regulate it on our behalf. (Which begs the question, then why are broadcasters able to use those public airwaves basically for free? Why aren't they charged huge licensing fees for that right?) That doesn't apply to cablecasters.


Sorry I haven't posted in awhile -- just haven't felt up to it (family problems).

Also, I came away from the blogger's conference annoyed and upset, and yet unable to coherently write down why. It has to do with the naiveity (SP?) of some in the room, plus the completely moronic things said by one of the speakers. Both had to do with blogging and traditional media and how most Americans get news information. But I'll get to that later.

So here's a batch of random thoughts and sorry I don't have time to do a lot of links.

I still believe, as I have from the start, that Dan Rather and CBS were set up. Explain to me how a Republican operative, who is known to have done dirty tricks in the past, suddenly became an expert on '70s era typewriter fonts about an hour after the news broke about those memos. It stinks, people. Congressman Maurice Hinchey wonders about this too.

Syria is next, then Iran. And there will be a draft.

What happened in Lebanon reeks of manipulation. Sorry -- but having read All the Shah's Men, about the CIA's very first job which was overthrowing the democratically elected govt of Iran in 1953 to reinstall the Shah and doing so by fomenting a people's revolution, I'm ultra-suspicious.

Bush will not give up on Social Security. He doesn't care about the polls. He will just keep plugging away and some idiot Dems will break.

Howard Dean is the best thing to happen to the DLC in a long time. He's a fighter. He's exactly what we need.

The Daily Show bit on the whole Jeff Gannon thing was the most hysterical thing I've seen on TV in a long, long time. Ted Hitler, indeed.

Hunter Thompson is the true blogfather.

US Casualties Top 1500

Sad. When will it end?

PS Today more people seem upset about Bubba's death than the deaths of people in Iraq.


A US congressman (albeit a nutcase) says liberals should be human shields in Iraq and is completely unapologetic about it. David Neiwart explains why this eliminationist rhetoric is so dangerous. Read, and give him some money (I already did) for his great work.