Saturday, June 30, 2007

it could happen to you, too

I've just returned from a screening of Sicko and I am convinced that this should be mandatory viewing for everyone in this country. If you've ever worked for a living, if you've ever had the comfort of health insurance, if you are a part of the vast American middle class, lower to upper, please see this documentary.

If you think you don't have to worry about health concerns, you may change your mind. I never worried either, not until my husband got sick. I've talked about his ailments before and I won't go into them again, but I want to clarify, for all of you working folks, that Mike and I worked too. Together, we had a very comfortable life, financially secure, no worries. Our house was paid off. We had health insurance, life insurance, dental, vision. We owned stock, mutual funds, cash accounts. We collected investment quality antiques. We were in every way, the two of us, far better off financially than many of our friends and people with whom we worked. No kids at home, two nice incomes. American dream.

Mike got so sick he couldn't work and we lost the bigger portion of our monthly income. No worries, I said, I'll do something else and I started a business. By the time he couldn't work, we were looking at medical bills of around $8,000 ~ not too bad, we had savings. The bills mounted as his condition deteriorated.

We had the best policy offered by the State of Oklahoma, a preferred provider plan, a blessing. But we had co-pays. They don't seem like much when you see the doctor once every six months or once a year. But those co-pays begin to add up when you're seeing the doc almost daily, when new meds are prescribed at least weekly, when tests and exams and treatments are being conducted constantly and every new encounter ~ doctor, hospital, pharmacy ~ requires another co-pay.

It was okay, though. There was a cap on the yearly out of pocket ~ $3500 for pharmacy and $6000 for hospital and, well, no cap on the doctor visits but those were only $25 a pop, and oops! that test isn't included in the out of pocket and, well, this test is not approved by the insurance company. ER visits were never less than $1800 except the single time he was admitted to the hospital. We were seeing the docs 3-4 times a week, and then there were the drugs. The most expensive drugs weren't approved for payment under the formulary. The $1400 monthly for interferon and ribavirin wasn't covered because the combination was considered experimental. It was the only treatment for one of his worst ailments, and yet it was experimental.

My health insurance was paid by my agency; Mike's was $440 a month. I'll break it down a little, these monthly expenses:

$ 440 for health insurance
$1400 for unapproved meds
$ 680 for approved meds with co-pays
$ 400 minimum co-pays for office visits
$ 300 average co-pays for various treatments, hospital stays, ER tx and the like

That's over $3000 a month for medical bills alone and we were insured. Some months were worse, some were better. With less than half of our usual income, it was a disaster in the making. I refinanced the house we'd paid off the year before he became ill. Most of it went to medical bills. I started a business and it was an instant success. I had extra money from the business to put toward medical bills, but I was working 80 hours a week. I sold stock I'd had forever and put it toward the ever increasing costs. This went on for almost five years, bills and bills and bills and bills.

People said "you're lucky you could start a business and have it do so well." Other people said "wow, you were lucky you had your house paid off." Lucky. Yes, I was lucky. Really, I believe that. But how much luckier I'd have been if I'd lived in a country where my husband's care would have been assured, where it wouldn't have driven us nearly to bankruptcy to try to make him well, where I wouldn't have had to work two full time jobs to keep up, all the while worrying about him and grieving and tending to his needs. Yes, I was lucky that I had the energy to work like that. I was lucky that my business went so well. I was lucky to have good credit and lots of it, and I am lucky that I've just finished paying off over $35,000 in credit card bills from that awful time. Lucky, too, that the money borrowed on the house is nearly paid back and I almost really own my home again. Lucky, lucky, lucky. That's me.

I am lucky, of course, because my husband is stable and doing so well. He did not die and I've got a lot of years left in me, and I've been able to get out from under this debt again. We're starting to do the things we used to do ~ travel, saving for retirement, saving for college for the grandkids. But lucky as I am, I worry about the next time. What if, God forbid, I could not work? We'd be out of luck because Mike can't work any longer and could not do for me what I did for him.

Michael Moore's Sicko is about people just like us. It is heartbreaking and infuriating and if it doesn't make you angry and fired up and ready to work toward revolutionizing healthcare in this country, nothing will. Please go see this film. It is important. It speaks to every one of us, all of us regular folks, the vast majority of American citizens who are working, living our lives, trying to make it and do well in life. Doing well in this country is an illusion until we have universal health care. All it takes is one illness, one injury, an accident, and it can happen to any one of us. I feel as strongly about this as I've ever felt about anything. It's an opportunity we have right now to change this system, to make our voices heard, to practice compassion for everyone, to take away the constant worry for those of us who have lived through a health crisis.

It's not going to come from our politicians. Of the current crop of presidential candidates, only three Republicans even mention health care on their websites, and those three are looking for private solutions, the very private solutions that have taken us to this point. The Democrats are little better, with only Kucininch proposing single payer insurance for every American citizen. Congress is owned by the health care lobby, so if there's any way out of the disastrous place we're in now, it is going to come from us.

I am enough of a rah-rah cheerleader for my country and my people that I don't believe there's anything we can't do if we put our minds to it. Universal single payer health care is good government, it is good policy, it is compassionate, and caring, the right thing to do. Let's do it. Start by seeing Sicko.

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cure for AIDS in 10 years?

Joachim Hauber of the Heinrich Pette Institute for Experimental Virology and Immunology in Hamburg, Germany, is guardedly optimistic.

"We have rid the cells of the virus," Hauber said on Thursday. "No one else has done this before." He called it "a breakthrough in bio-technology."

Hauber said it was his "cautious" hope that a cure for AIDS could be found within 10 years.

The new procedure actually removes the virus from the cells, leaving them healthy again. Exciting stuff. Requires work with stem cells. From Germany's Deutsche Welle.

Update: After I posted this, Brion from New Zealand wrote with the text of an address he's giving at a fundraiser in NZ. I thought it was appropriate to add his words here, as he speaks from the view of being a person living with HIV and having experienced the plague and so many deaths:

"There are any number of reasons why peer support groups, for any number of conditions, medical or otherwise, are the most useful and multi accessed, but also the most underfunded.

One of the purposes of running a peer support group such as 'POZ PLUS' is to increase the options available to positive people, whatever their gender, age , race or sexuality.

Having a condition such as Hiv can seriously limit some of your options. Not everyone with Hiv is able to continue in full time employment. Even part time employment, when suitable and available, doesn't really help to alter the equation.

With the activities we already operate, the most important the monthly luncheons, we hope to involve our members with some of the options they may no longer have the ability to access.

There's a comment I read recently on the internet that has a certain resonance for some of us who have survived fifteen or more years with HIV. When we were told back in the 1980's that we would be "lucky" to live another 10 - 15 years and there are some now past the twenty and mid -twenties mark, we might feel justified in asking for our money back! Certainly the pharmaceuticals that began to become available in
the late 80's and early 90's have made enormous changes.

Some of us can remember those 1980's. It sometimes felt like being at a dinner party when every now and then someone left the table and never returned. Without wishing to sound like it's over egging the custard, there are some of us who look back on those times and mourn the loss of so many of our friends, lovers, companions. We perhaps feel a certain responsibility, perhaps a little guilt, that we survived when so many didn't. I know that for me and some of my colleagues, there is this inner need to do something useful to commemorate those who are no longer with us........."

Maybe in 10 years, more or less, there really will be a cure for this nightmare of a disease. Thanks Brion!!

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breath of fresh air

In a post here a week or so I ago, I expressed my disgust with Dick Cheney and his lawlessness. In response to that post, sweet Willym commented and suggested that I check out the news program Fifth Estate which runs on Canadian National TV.

There are a number of 40 minute videos available on the website and I have taken the time to watch most of them. They are, without exception, excellent, thought provoking, investigative works. It is interesting and humbling to get an outsider's view of this country, and it is refreshing to observe a real journalist in action. These are fine programs and I am grateful to my friend for suggesting them.

That's not to say they won't piss you off. Watching Ann Coulter insist that Canada joined us in Vietnam and observing Bill O'Reilly screeching "shut up!" repeatedly to anyone who disagrees with him is sickening. But I haven't found much television news in this country which provides criticism of either of those two asshats or any of their compadres, nor have I seen much which delves deeply into the events leading up to the war in Iraq. Good stuff when you have some extra time.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

emotion free crisis management

Um . . . no thanks. What a heartless creep.

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just . . . really unbelievable

Okay. As I understand this, it's okay for me to ~ ahem ~ have relations with a horse or, oh, a rat or something. Just not another woman. Wow.

Human-animal hybrid embryos conceived in the laboratory - so-called “chimeras” - should be regarded as human and their mothers should be allowed to give birth to them, the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday.

It's all about the embryo, people.

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google is spying on me (and you)

I don't know how this works, suspect it has something to do with cookies and other seemingly tasty things that are actually bits of confusing techni-code-whatever.

But Google is on the job, busily reading every email I send. Just to test it, I sent an innocuous note to myself from one Gmail account to the another . . .

Dear Belle ~
My dear, I am so disturbed about what is happening. It seems dickheads abound and there's nothing we can do to change course. Please share with me your thoughts on these matters.
Most lovingly,

My sidebar links in the email I received from myself, each of which Google believes will be of interest given the text of my email, were more limited than usual, but included an outfit selling Labradoodle puppies and another selling wilderness homesites in Montana. Google hears my pain and responds with solutions. Despairing about the state of the nation? Get a dog and move to Montana.

This offends me on many levels, but one annoying example is that every conversation I have via email with my customers, all buyers of my antique furniture, results in a vast amount of linkage to others selling antique furniture. In these difficult times, I feel a bit proprietary about my longterm relationship with these people and the money I put into marketing my product. What right has Google to attempt to interfere with my business? (Yes, I could switch email accounts, but it is an enormous undertaking with an online business and, having done it once, I am most reluctant to do it again.)

Does this bug you? Am I hypersensitive in this era of Big Brother Bush and his band of wiretapping thugs? Do you think BushCo receives copies of this stuff in the same way AT&T assisted the National Security Agency in data-mining our telephone conversations?

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

oh, poor thing

The jackass-in-chief is looking a little whipped in this brief post-immigration bill press conference. Not a smirk in sight. Looks tired, grim, old. That makes me inordinately joyful. As it is so crudely put in this part of the world, he looks like someone just pissed in his Post Toasties. At last, a more appropriate demeanor considering all the hell he has brought upon us.

the A word

Have you thought it? Not seriously, of course, but has it crossed your mind? For me, yes.

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raped? pregnant?

Having that baby will make you feel better. This sickens me. How dare he? And why is he not booed and hissed off the public stage? Mr. Sam Brownback of Kansas, potentially your next president:

"Rape is terrible. Rape is awful. Is it made any better by killing an innocent child? Does it solve the problem for the woman that's been raped?" the Kansas Republican asked at the St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers gathering.

"We need to protect innocent life. Period," Brownback said, bringing the crowd of about 500 to its feet.

Five hundred men rising to their feet to cheer this ass? This issue is very, very (very) personal to me. I despise this man. He has no idea what it's like to even be pregnant, let alone pregnant as the result of rape. Oh, and pumpkins? He's got a riff on gay marriage too. Pig.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Don't eat unless you know it's produced locally. Anything for the sake of profit, including passing off poison as food. Fuckers.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Missing in action. I used to have one of those bracelets, wore it into the late '70s. Don't know what ever happened to my Vietnam serviceman. My commitment to wear the silver until he was located fell victim to an excess of vodka and nights spent wilding in the bars.

I have a sense of being adrift, without focus, missing in action from my blog and my life. Must be time for a getaway, but the best deal I can find is in Jamaica and I am not sure I can stomach a retreat to such a homophobic country. I've been looking at international properties ~ something more permanent ~ thinking I can run away from the fascists in Washington, find a little nook high in the mountains, celebrate life in a country which minds its own business and flies under the radar.

I am as disgusted with this Cheney thing as I've been with any of the Bush era travesties beyond the lies told to get us into Iraq. I don't know how this could happen to my United States, this country I've pledged allegiance to since I was four years old, and I find myself just wanting out.

Do you ever dream of running away? If so, where do you imagine yourself ending up? My dreams take me to a country with beaches and mountains; I'll be on the beach when it's cold in the mountains and in the mountains when it's too toasty in the sand. Costa Rica is looking good, Panama. You?

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

impeach dick cheney now

Vice Thug Cheney says he's not a part of the Executive Branch of our federal government and thus is exempt from public scrutiny. It is late, and it's possible I'm confused, but I'm fairly certain the Constitution places the offices of President and Vice President squarely in the Executive Branch. I think I learned that in 3d grade.

But hey, since Thuggish Dick says he's not a part of it, let's boot the arrogant bastard out! Put him on the street, do it now. I suspect the vast majority of the blame for the disaster in Iraq, for the rampant thieving of the war profiteers, for the plan to attack Iran and so many more disastrous decisions and foreign policy debacles lies squarely at the feet of Dick Cheney, master puppeteer of George W. Bush.

Congressman Henry Waxman's office has put together a document detailing this man's refusal to comply with the laws of this nation, with the policies of the federal government of which he is a part. He insists, though, that that the rules don't apply to him and after repeated efforts to gain his cooperation in safeguarding classified national security information, the National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department. You know, the one headed by Alberto Gonzalez, criminal-in-chief, and staffed by idiots and fools from a right wing 4th rate law school. Not surprisingly, Gonzalez did nothing.

It's ironic, really, because one thing I've noticed generally about the far right Rethugs is that they tend to be very rule oriented, very stringent about requiring adherance to standards, guidelines and the like. (That's one of the screeching points on immigration: They are here illegally!!!!) But when it comes to Dick Cheney, the rules simply don't apply. That is outrageous, infuriating and wrong. Impeachment seems the only option for one so dismissive of law, of the Constitution, of the American people.

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Michael Moore addressing health insurance execs

exercise = happy

I have been stuck in such a gloomy spot, descending in a kind of hopeless spiral fueled by pain in my feet and the state of the world and anything else I could find to take me even further down. I haven't worked out in 11 days. It's been hell, and I knew that I missed it, but I didn't realize the tremendous positive effect exercise has on my state of mind until last night. I went into the gym in despair and left an hour later with a feeling of excitement and good cheer. The good effect continued all evening and still today. I feel like myself again; hope you are happy today as well.

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intuitive eating

I abandoned dieting a week or so before we went to Padre Island, around the first of April. My abandonment of my constant companion was the result of being so completely weary of the obsession with food, dieting, not dieting, eating, not eating, restricting, how to restrict even more, shall I get rid of what I just ate? or no, I'll start tomorrow, have I gained weight, lost weight, what can I do to get rid of this madness that's consuming my life. It all seemed so hopeless and I was losing the same 10 pounds over and over and over ad nauseum.

I am not sure where the idea came from; I've heard of it over the years, but never imagined that it would work for me. I'm a food addict. I can't allow myself to eat anything at all any time I want, I'd weigh 1000 pounds if I did that. But the sense of there being nothing at all left to try made me willing and so I just quit dieting. I told myself I'd be fine if I could stay where I was, though the IE folks tell you to expect a weight gain. That was difficult, and it was difficult to give up weighing every day and writing down every molecule of food that went in my mouth.

When I went to the gym last night for the first time since my toenails were yanked off (hallelujah!!), I wasn't going to weigh because I've been sitting around for 11 days, haven't worked out at all, have walked very little because of the pain. Before that I spent a week tending to my daddy and his health concerns, stuck in a hospital much of the time, where there's no access to anything decent to eat.

But can I ever stay off a scale?? Nope. Between the treadmill and the elliptical, I had to run out there and the miracle is that I was just the same as a month ago. Just. The. Same. Stunning, for all of the aforementioned reasons that I should have gained 10 pounds, plus the fact that in that month I have eaten lasagna and chocolate and strawberry shortcake and roast chicken and salad and vegetables and a hamburger and lots of healthy food and lots of not healthy food and chocolate. And chocolate. And I've not gained any weight.

This is incredible. It's unprecedented. I didn't think it was possible. IE theory suggests that after the initial mad scramble to eat everything you've been deprived of for years, there will be a rebalancing of the internal want-to-eat switch. I've experienced some of that in finding myself hungry for good food, healthy food. In allowing myself to eat absolutely anything, I find that I don't want to eat only crap. When I tell myself I'll never eat chocolate again, it's all I can think about. I am so grateful and I feel so relieved. It's as if I have my head back after too many years being lost in the insanity of an eating disorder.

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George Bush is not a racist jackass. He's a just plain jackass. Antonio went beyond the printed remarks to find video of Bush at the barbeque on the south lawn. In the video, the asshat-in-chief is shown turning away from the African-American musicians before telling folks to clean up after themselves. The link to the video is here, courtesy of Antonio.

On another Bush note, I nearly choked this morning listening to him explain that he vetoed the stem cell research bill again, because it is "ethically wrong." Ethically wrong, from the conscienceless thug who has sent thousands to die for his lies. So there you have it. He's not racist. Just a murderer.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

CBS v. whitehouse

CBS reports on the Whitehouse picnic this way:

"You all enjoy yourself," said President Bush, who ambled out on the lawn with first lady Laura Bush to greet his guests, including many of his longtime political adversaries.

"Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over," he joked just before Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers struck up a rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching in."

The Whitehouse website reports this:

I want to thank our Chef, Paul Prudhomme, from New Orleans, Louisiana -- one of the great chefs in America. Thanks for coming, Paul. (Applause.) I thank Tony Snow and his bunch of, well, mediocre musicians -- (laughter) -- no, great musicians. Beats Workin, thanks for coming. (Applause.) Kermit, come up here. Kermit, we're proud to have you.

MR. RUFFINS: Well, thanks for having us.

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We're glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you're here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over. (Laughter.)

God bless you, and may God bless America. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

In the Whitehouse version, George Bush looks like a racist asshole, for telling the African-American musicians to "pick up all the trash after it's over." CBS's version gives it a different spin, one which puts Bush in a better light. Good grief.

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you black folks from new orleans

Be sure to pick up all this trash we're making. Good Lord, just when it seems he could not expose himself as a bigger buffoon than he already has, our racist in chief:

Congress joined the Bush Administration for a nice little barbecue on the South Lawn last night. The theme was Mardi Gras, so everybody could enjoy memories of New Orleans being destroyed by the Bush Administration and then pretty much left in that same condition years later.

Famous NOLA chef Paul Prudhomme catered the picnic and New Orleans jazz band Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers played Dixieland.

And then Bush told the black musicians to clean up after the politicians. (From Wonkette)

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We’re glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you’re here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it’s over. (Laughter.) (From

From Wonkette, George Bush Would Like the Negroes to Clean Up, by way of Standard Newswire and the White House official website.

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something to smile about

Since I've been overtaken by gloom and hopelessness, I went back to Willym's recent post about his ever-so-handsome puppy, Reese. In this post, Willym notes the striking resemblance between Reese and the great John Barrymore. It is quite remarkable and Willym is certainly the alert observer to note the similarity between the two. In the photo of his profile, Master Reese strikes a regal pose which would seem to indicate he's known all along that he's a stageworthy fellow.

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fair elections right now

Congress is right now holding hearings on S.1285, the Fair Elections Now Act. Kos has the details, but most important is an opportunity to take action today by calling your congressperson to find out where s/he stands.

If you haven't time to read the entire post, scroll to the bottom and you'll find the means of contacting your reps. There is NO reason for any congressperson to fail to support this act. Calling congress is a way to separate the wholly corporate owned representatives from those who are just on layaway.


something to do to help stop this war

Cameron Penny, a 12 year old poet from Michigan, wrote this and then read it at a meet-up of Poets Against the War in New York City.

If you are lucky in this life
A window will appear on a battlefield between two armies
And when the soldiers look into the window
They don’t see their enemies
They see themselves as children
And they stop fighting
And go home and go to sleep
When they wake up, the land is well again.

What a beautiful dream that is. As another means of stopping the fighting, Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, writing for The Nation, suggest a monthly Iraq Moratorium Day, an adjunct to the periodic anti-war gatherings in this country where so many are opposed to what's happening in Iraq.

I remember the Vietnam War moratorium days when I was a baby activist. This is something we can all do, every 3d Thursday beginning September 21. Call congress, email the Whitehouse, rabblerouse, speak up, practice patriotism. Doing something is far better than doing nothing, and it just might help.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

liar. murderer. fool.

bloomberg abandons rethugs, runs as independent

He hasn't been my kind of candidate, affiliating himself with the rethuglicans, but what if he's actually viable as an Independent? What if he, as The Agonist suggests, were to team up with a Democrat. Does that give anyone else a freshening of hope? I'm desperate for anyone who might be able to wrest control of our country back from the bought-and-paid-for corporate operatives masquerading as elected representatives. It's probably not him. And he's likely still a rethug at heart, just hastening now, like a long-tailed wharf rat, to abandon the sinking ship that is George Bush. I know little about him, just that NYC-living JMGers don't screech in outrage at the mention of his name; that's somewhat encouraging but clearly not enough.

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laptop: macbook v. everything else

Do you use a laptop? If so, what kind and how do you like it? I despise those little rolly ball mouse things on the one or two laptops I've ever worked on, but it seems I'm going to have to make the plunge if we're going to continue to travel every couple of months. I have researched online until my face is blue. Now I'm wondering about the actual experiences of others. My two computers now are just regular PCs, nothing special. I never do games, don't need a lot of software. I take a lot of photos and upload them to an internet host, email, this rambling, and that's it.

Part II of laptop: Do you have wireless capability? Do you use a wireless card or do you just grab a connection out of the sky? I am such a technophobe, I don't even know the terminology. Help?

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Monday, June 18, 2007

ouch! part II

Miserable toes. They're constantly aching, burning, throbbing, sending shooting pains up my legs. Everyone I meet says "well I lost a toenail and it didn't hurt." The difference, I assume, is when you lose a toenail it's ready to come off and doesn't have to be pried up from the nail bed. Doctor says "okay, leave the bandaids off at night," which feels exactly as I imagine it would feel if someone were lightly sanding my eyeballs. Wish I'd never done this. Still can't wear shoes. Haven't worked out in over a week. Boo hoo hoo.

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trained to fight, speak arabic, willing to serve

but . . . This is an opportunity for action now. Watch the clip. Do something.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

circle of love

Michael won't look at me. His dark eyes scrunch shut above the white mask and he tenses as I approach. A few minutes and a slit of eye, then a turning of the head. He's furious with me, still, two weeks after I rescued him from certain death and confined him to this lonely room where he must stay until the tuberculosis wracking his lungs is no longer contagious, while he's pumped full of drugs to combat the virus that's destroying him. He hates the mask, he hates the gown, he hates me and this room and he wants his mother and she doesn't want him.

I am angry too. I am angry with this child's mother, a woman dying of AIDS and tuberculosis who refused to give her son the meds he needed to survive. When I took him from her care, it had been 14 months since he'd seen a doctor. His TB was active and he coughed constantly and his T-cells were nonexistent and his viral count sky high. He is five years old and he has AIDS. She says the meds make him feel bad and they do. That's clear in this tiny tiled room on the second floor of a crappy hospital, the only place in the state that would have anything to do with this little boy. Now that he's dosed up, he's lethargic and his tummy hurts and he sleeps all the time.

He doesn't know it, but his mother's in the hospital too. She is refusing treatment and hospice is giving her comfort and care and attention. It's more than her son is getting. I can't be with him all day and the hospital staff can't spare anyone to sit with him all day and this little boy's soul, it seems, is shriveling while his physical health improves and he's watched, but not touched, by the camera in the corner of his room.

I am at my office late that same afternoon when the call comes in from Lisa. That's not her real name; her real name's unique enough that I won't share it here and unique enough that that I am reminded, when I hear it, of a 17 year old permanent foster care child I met in 1989. She was losing her care, her foster parent booting her the day she turned 18. She was an A student, a soft-spoken child who wanted to go to college, to learn to help people as she'd been helped. I spent half a summer with her as I did my practicum in child welfare. We tried to find pre-college housing so she'd have someplace to go. We got her terrible underbite fixed and more work done on her cleft palate. She told me that her mother never wanted her and abandoned her over and over until the state finally kept her. The foster mother's abandonment was just another verse in the tragic song of her life.

I ask this woman on the phone if she's the Lisa I knew from 1989 and she laughs and says yes. She's a social worker now, just finished with her MSW and back from a trip to Africa where she spent two months trying to trace her ancestors. She is full of joy and pride and deservedly so. She tells me she heard about Michael and then she utters words I never imagined hearing: I want him, I want to keep him. I love that child.

Lisa told me that she had provided respite care for Michael through a local agency, then directly, while his mother was in the hospital or was tired of caring for him. She knows about the AIDS, about the TB, and she wants him. Adding to this impossibly good news, she assures me she is an approved foster parent, another gift, as the process of approval takes months. She wants, immediately, to be allowed to see him. I immediately arrange that.

A week later, I am back in Michael's room. Lisa is there. He looks directly at me and smiles. I can see his lips turning up behind the mask and I can see the sparkle in his eyes, the lifting of their corners as the invisible grin rearranges his face. We all look at one another in our hospital gowns with our white masks and we smile and our eyes connect and I feel as if I can exhale for the first time since I met this tiny little boy.

He's working a puzzle with Lisa and I watch them, seeing two children and a miracle in progress. One is a grown up child, a fine young woman, and the other a little boy, desperately ill, but smiling. One is evidence of what hard work and intelligence and resiliency and a little help and a boatload of compassion from a host of social workers can do, and the other is evidence of the immeasurably powerful effect of love.

It's a little trite and certainly a cliche, but that doesn't take away the truth of it: love given freely to others can expand in a huge ever-widening circle, like concentric rings surrounding a single drop of rain in the center of an ocean. One tiny act of love happens and then the waves of it expand and go on and on and on touching others in ways we'll never know. A drop of love, of kindness, compassion, it seems like nothing; yet it was enough to carry one child through a tragic life and into adulthood, buoyed on the tiny waves of love from this social worker and that one, from a teacher, a minister, a therapist, a doctor, even from a summer practicum student. With nothing but rejection from her family, from the pseudo-parent hired by the state, she still thrived on drops, on waves, on the buoyancy and solidity of caring and compassion. In doing so, she preserved her own goodness and the hope that exists in all of us unless it's stamped out by indifference.

She saved herself and turned right around and saved this little boy. Michael is 10 now and he's got T-cells and the TB's gone. He goes to school and he has friends and he has the kind of life every child should have. Five years of neglect and lack and now five years of love and the kind of cherishing that heals and nourishes body and soul. I don't know if one can entirely make up for the other, but looking at Michael's eyes, at his strong young body, at the way he is with Lisa, I can believe.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

monster pit

Mike and my babies out for a late night walk. Rounding the corner a few blocks away from the house, they're confronted with a growling, advancing monster of a pit bull. I know this dog; it killed a cat a month or so ago on this same street. It's constantly out in the front yard while its owner dicks around in his garage. He is a monstrous animal, muscular beyond any pit I've seen, and obviously aggressive.

My sweet Betty immediately cowered behind Mike. Even Bill, who just this week backed off a huge and surprisingly aggressive St. Bernard, tucked behind Mike without so much as a snarl. Bill, the wee short-legged Jack Russell, is pretty certain he's a Doberman or Rottweiler, but the viciousness of this pit bull scared even my stout-hearted boy.

Mike was not afraid, likely because he was rising to the defense of his kids. He had a piece of Bill's very heavy and very long leash with which he kept striking the pit in the face. The dog kept trying to get around him. Mike said he came within about a foot of Betty who, being deaf, could not hear this beast's threatening growl.

I am so grateful it wasn't one of those fast dog attacks, else my dogs would be dead and my husband surely injured. Two neighbors heard Mike yelling at the dog to get back, came out into the street to join in backing this monster back to his yard. Finally, his owner strolled out onto the porch to ask what was going on. My ex-hippie, live and let live husband said "get your dog or I'll call the law."

"The law," just like in those westerns he loves so well. Mike is not a law-calling kind of person. That's me. But he loves his puppies and can see the danger for everyone in an immense, threatening dog like this one roaming the streets.

I'm not opposed to pits as a breed, but I'm opposed to the current pit culture which indoctrinates irresponsible kids with the idea that they're big men if they have a vicious dog. Viciousness is created in all sorts of inhumane ways, and the result is a serious threat to life.

My family escaped. Hope the next one does. Mike hasn't called "the law" but I'm going to. Don't know what kind of action I'll get, but the neighbors say this dog's out all the time, it has killed other animals in the neighborhood (that sweet kitty!), and now my people ~ all three of them ~ have been endangered.

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Another set of clips from Michael Moore's upcoming Sicko, with a cast of characters (the second clip) ranging from Richard Nixon to the AMA to Ronald Reagan. The first clip tells the story of a woman, an ICU nurse at a major hospital, who fought to get her husband's treatment for kidney cancer. It contains the confession of a woman whose job it was to deny care to sick people, even when it was an unnecessary death sentence.

If the second clip doesn't piss you off, you're brain dead. The juxtaposition of Richard Nixon meeting with a corporate medical man to discuss limiting care for the American people, then telling us the very next day that he has a "new plan" for improved care for all is sickening. If you're unconcerned about health care, or if you think you've got yours, so all is well, please watch these.

I think we are about as safe as we can get with my vested self-pay insurance from the State of Oklahoma (at $750 a month) and my husband's Medicare. But I worry about the rest of you, about my extended family, my friends. I remember my stepdaughter's inability to get treatment for a broken neck ~ no insurance ~ and I think this could happen to anyone. Private company, one of the chronic ailments, and *poof* you're uninsured and broke and maybe dead. Please care about this issue, people. It affects all of us.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

michael moore, sicko and oprah

Michael Moore appeared on Oprah Winfrey's afternoon program to discuss his latest documentary, Sicko, a thorough dissection of health care and insurance in the U.S. Though insured, my husband and I faced steep medical bills when he became ill several years ago. The expenses were shocking ~ beyond anything we would ever have anticipated ~ and we were fortunate that our insurance company moved from a $1 million lifetime payout to an unlimited payout two years after he became ill. Had that not been the case, we'd have been uninsured by the 4th year of his being sick. I am grateful we had insurance. It was actually considered to be a top notch policy, and the fact that we had a preferred provider plan ~ meaning we could see any doctor on the list, at any time, without having to get approval or go through committee ~ probably saved his life.

Michael Moore discusses horror stories far worse than ours in his newest work. It is a timely piece, this country being the only industrialized "first world" nation not providing single payer universal coverage to its citizens. It is time, truly, and this is an issue that really cannot wait any longer. None of the candidates from either party are suggesting anything that will really help. As Moore notes, when healthcare is a profit-making venture, service to the sick will suffer.

When you have a minute, check out TruthDig's post on the Moore-Winfrey encounter. Then come back and tell me whether or not you wanted to smack Oprah Winfrey? She never thought about the uninsured? Miss Generosity herself? Something about her attitude in this interview really gets under my skin. As far as I'm concerned, Moore's an American hero for this work. I am hoping Sicko, opening nationwide June 29, generates some serious discussion and, even better, some real action on this critically important issue. Meanwhile, y'all stay healthy.

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never forget!

Until you, um . . . forget. Jiminy Christmas, these people! And they're New Yorkers!! I have to admit, as one of those dumb and ignorant southern okies, I take a degree of pleasure in observing the stupidity of Yankees, only because y'all are generally convinced of our stupidity (I'm not defending our brand of stupid, just pointing out here that we're not alone). Amazing. The only good thing is with more nitwits like these, the power of the Republicans screeching 9/11 9/11 9/11 will diminish.

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sleep deprived

I can't sleep since I had the toenails ripped off. I can't sleep most of the time, but it's been worse since then. Any little bit of light, any sound at all keeps me tossing and turning. Now the puppies have abandoned their usual cuddling and have begun tightly wedging me in, one on each side, so there's no way to turn over. Is this old age?

Mike prepares midnight snacks and invariably leaves the kitchen light on, which light glows beneath the crack of my bedroom door leaving me wide awake and irritated. Get up and turn it off, thus losing any sleepy relaxation I've managed to accrue? Or lie still sending psychic threats to rip off his toenails if he doesn't turn off the freaking light? Such a dilemma, but lots of time to consider my options, because sleep just doesn't happen for me anymore.

I'm getting one of these (though I'd like the old fashioned Hollywood glamour girl sleep mask). You? Do you sleep, and if so, how?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

bush drops the gay bomb

Right here, and then there's love. Cute.

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fathers, forgiveness, love


Since finding out about Bush's private mercenary army, far better paid and better equipped than our U.S. soldiers, I have been nervous. I bat away the nervousness by telling myself "never here, not in the US, never would we have a dictator who would simply usurp the Constitution and take over the country." I continue to be anxious about Blackwater, and today I find this from Chris Hedges of the Philadelphia Enquirer.. Read, then toss and turn all night.

"Erik Prince, who founded and runs Blackwater, is a man who appears to have little time for the niceties of democracy. He has close ties with the radical Christian Right and the Bush White House. He champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is dishonest, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. But what he and his allies have built is a mercenary army, paid for with government money, which operates outside the law and without constitutional constraint. . .

If the United States falls into a period of instability caused by another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown that triggers social unrest, or a series of environmental disasters, such paramilitary forces, protected and assisted by fellow ideologues in the police and military, could ruthlessly abolish what is left of our eroding democracy. War, with the huge profits it hands to corporations, and to right-wing interests such as the Christian Right, could become a permanent condition. And the thugs with automatic weapons, black uniforms and wraparound sunglasses who appeared on the streets in New Orleans could appear on our streets."

I have said before that I think the neocons and their puppet George Bush will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, and Blackwater, one of the babies of Donald Rumsfeld, is a handy tool. Most days I think I'm paranoid, and other days I imagine the death of the republic in my lifetime, something inconceivable five years ago.

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My 52 year old sister didn't recognize a picture of Dick Cheney, yet she joyfully settled in for a three hour Anna Nicole special a few nights ago. My 63 year old sister pickets for (yes that's for) the war in Iraq. My stepmother never misses an opportunity to castigate Hillary and Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi, while admitting she's disgusted with her Republican party and doesn't recognize these asshats in office. My precious nephew, the one with the softest heart, the most generous nature, is a rabid Glenn Beck fan. My other sweet nephew believes O'Reilly and Beck make a lot of good points. I have a nephew very hostile to me who's crossed the line from conservative to wing nut.

The point of all of this is that none of these individuals, with the exception of the eldest sister and her husband, are able to converse in depth on any of the issues facing us in this country. Those two don't read much, just take their news from Fox. When I press any of these folks, my loved ones, on their convictions, asking for explanations behind their views, they just laugh it off and change the subject. These are intelligent, college-educated people. They are not religious crazies, most of them are pro-choice, pro-equal rights, for gay marriage or at least civil unions. When I am surrounded by all of this I begin to doubt my own sanity. Do you ever feel insane in the midst of those who love you best?

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Monday, June 11, 2007


Nobody talk to me; I'm not going to talk to any of you. I'm really going to work. Don't do or say anything fun without me.


your dog used for target practice

The horror of Katrina and the aftermath was hideous and impossible to watch without feeling sick. I remember weeping for days and almost screaming at the images of the idiot in chief glad-handing while residents of New Orleans were trapped with no help coming. It was and is an outrage. The mismanagement of that disaster is of historic proportions. And as an animal lover, I could only imagine how heartbreaking it would be for people to have to leave their homes, to separate from their families, and to be forced to leave their beloved pets behind. Now this, from ABC.

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president pottymouth

And I said I should stop cussing. Maybe he should too. From Time. I love the bit about disappointing his family values base. It will be a fine day when we can all see that the emperor has no fucking clothes.

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gay bomb

200 suspects

Larry Flynt reports he's received over 200 tips in response to his offer of a million bucks to "anyone who could provide proof of an illicit sexual encounter with a high-ranking government official."

I'm no fan of Larry Flynt for all sorts of reasons, but I am always happy to see hypocrisy regarding sexual matters exposed. It's especially satisfying when it's a government official who's condoning abstinence and marriage while getting regular blowjobs on the side.

Let's start with this guy. Look closely (closely) and shudder:

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Are you? I'm soaking and rebandaging my toes every morning and I can hardly bear to do it. I don't know how nurses can stand dealing with wounds. Not sure why I thought those toenails would just lift off to expose smooth, sleek skin beneath.

I'm squeamish about other things, too. Worms writhing on the concrete in the sun. I can't touch them, but I can run get Mike to throw them onto the grass so they don't burn up. Dead animals by the side of the road. Just. Can't. Look. Any effluent from just about any orifice (just about) gives me the willies. The sound of particularly wet and virulent coughing wherein something might be rising up out of the lungs. Heebie jeebies.

I will never forget a kid I sat next to in first grade. He was always sniffling and hacking. I could see up into his nose when he stood to read and there was a horrid green solid block that split open with each breath to expose a red interior, like a slit opening into hell. I couldn't take my eyes off it, though it made me sick.

You? Are you squeamish about things or can you simply view blood and gore as if it's nothing?

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the truth about george bush

From The Assault on Reason:

I’m convinced, however, that most of the president’s frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with his right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible…. Now, with the radical Right, we have a political faction disguised as a religious sect, and the president of the United States is heading it. The obvious irony is that Bush uses a religious blind faith to hide what is actually an extremist political philosophy with a disdain for social justice that is anything but pious by the standards of any respected faith tradition I know.

The truth about this particular brand of faith-based politics is that President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged…

Make no mistake: It is the president’s reactionary ideology, not his religious faith, that is the source of his troubling inflexibility. Whatever his religious views, President Bush has such an absolute certainty in the validity of his rigid right-wing ideology that he does not feel the same desire that many of us would in gathering facts relevant to the questions at hand.

By way of DU.

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perhaps this will swing the wingnuts?

Such money to be made on gay marriages! This is what's been missing from the discussion: hard facts regarding the benefit of marriage for all. Couched in these simple terms, the most ardent wingnut should be swayed.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007


Oh the shame. I think, or maybe it's residual anger. Took the grandkids to family swim at the health club. It's over at 4:00. At 4:01, the two high spirited little boys were getting out of the pool, laughing and splashing each other and some geezer starts shouting at them from across the room. Then he starts in on "their parents don't care what they do, they're just little animals, they're not even supposed to be in here, ought not to have any family swim, this is ridiculous" and on and on ad nauseum.

I think it was the "animals" thing that got to me. My grandbabies are of mixed race. My health club is lily white upper crust-ish. Writing this, I'm pretty sure it was the animals remark that set me off. Plus the fact that the old bastard just wouldn't quit. So I turned on him like some kind of foul-mouthed wolverine and let loose. That is not something I do, but the strangest thing happened when that old fuck wouldn't let up on the little boys: it was if my head suddenly expanded and it actually got physically hot in there, and then bleeeeeehhhhhhhhhhh, right out the mouth, all of that fury, just like that crusty faced wench in The Exorcist.

It was awful and I shouldn't have done it and I have much better control than that 99.999% of the time. He could have been ranting at me and I'd have turned on my heel, given him a shattering look of complete disdain and left him floundering in the pool. And worse, Jackson said to his mother, "Mama! Grandma Net hollered at that man!" I didn't holler. I was hissing, like a crazed, possessed thing, venomous improprieties like motherfucker and bastard flying off my tongue. Fine role model I am. I have to stop cussing. Have to.

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boston bears dancing with chairs

Tony, you know any of these guys? Very cute.

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what the world eats

A photo essay by Peter Menzel from the book "Hungry Planet. Link to these beautiful images at Time. So many of these photos show the infestation of American processed foods and the ever present Coke. My favorite is The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village. Slooooooow food is my goal. Slow, local, organic.

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the art of living: epictetus

In these words, I hear echoes of AA and every shrink I've ever gone to. Some gems from this recent interpretation of the wisdom of Epictetus by Sharon Lebell:

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not... and once you learn to distinguish between the two inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

Whereas society regards professional achievement, wealth, power, and fame as desirable and admirable, these are incidental and irrelevant to true happiness. What matters most is what sort of life you are living; a life of virtue, caretaking the present moment. Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions…your happiness can be found within.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

14 points of fascism


Five years ago, I was picking up boxes of ceramic tile for the kitchen floor when one of them tumbled off the shelf and crushed half of my left foot, especially damaging the big toe. Ouch doesn't begin to describe the pain of 40 pounds of tile hitting a very bony part of the body. When people say "tears sprang into my eyes," I now know what that means. It was instanteous and without thought. My foot was crushed and my eyes erupted.

My foot healed, but my toenail was oddly painful thereafter. About a year ago, I was "taking the waters" in Hot Springs, having regular baths, massages, facials, a manicure and a pedicure. The woman doing my pedicure mentioned I should have the left big toe checked out, there might be something wrong there. The nail was a bit soft on top, she said, and then she mentioned the F word.

The only experience I have with F is living in proximity to men who have F-infested toenails. I have, over the years, watched in horror as my husband sheds one toenail after the other. My father's toenails are as thick as a parrot's beak and have to be cut with a special clipper. Fungus. It's dreadful.

I continued to paint my nails whore red and ignored the technician's suggestion until last November, when I was trimming my nails and it was apparent that there was something under that left nail. It hurt to push on the nail and after I trimmed it, it (eeeewwww) leaked. It's giving me cringey toes just to write this; I'm sensitive about my toes, can't really stand to think about something under the nail. Makes me all quivery inside.

But there was something under that nail. If you've seen the old version of The Blob, it looked very much like the moment when the creature is oozing under the door of the grocery store. And it hurt. I hoped that it would go away, but apparently cutting it gave the thing a growth spurt and it began to rise up, pushing the nail up in the center, causing the nail to shrink in from the sides.

Quelle horreur. I was forced to go to a podiatrist. The charming and funny Dr. Finkelstaedt told me the injury likely gave an opening to the unspeakable F thing. He trimmed the nail waaaaaaay back, noted the other toenail had a touch of F too, and gave me a bottle of Pen-Lac to paint on the nails nightly. The oral meds were out with my liver still recovering from years of alcohol abuse, or I'd have taken the easy route of swallowing a pill every day.

I painted. I soaked. I explored alternative cures. It got no better and I went back. Other options include temporary nail removal and permanent nail removal. My toes curled in horror and I renewed my efforts to effect a cure.

No improvement and two weeks ago, I found myself looking at toes which were polish-free for the first summer in 35 years. What is summer without whore red nails? Not much, I can assure you, so I bravely called the doc to make an appointment for nail removal, temporary variety.

It's done. With the husband holding my hand, a 10 mg valium and shots in my toes (ugh), he ripped off my big toenails using hammer, chisel and pry bar. It will be a year before I have any paint-worthy nails, he says, and meanwhile I can get prostheses at the beauty supply store.

But OUCH! Fuck, this hurts. My toes are throbbing and have been ever since the anesthetic wore off. I don't know what I thought, but I didn't expect this. I guess there's a reason torture is accomplished by diddling around with peoples' nails. I'm thinking bamboo shoots pounded underneath couldn't hurt any worse. And I am reminded horribly of that scene in some movie (was it 1984?) where the character's teeth are removed with pliers.

But what price beauty, eh? I am having a hard time accepting that here in my dotage I was vain enough to go have my toenails ripped off just so I could paint them red again. Yes, there was a little pain with the fungus, and they were just not very pretty, and there was the overarching fear that I'd get parrot beak nails like my father, but the real motivation was red enamel. I am in agony for red enamel. But I can't wait to have my nails back.

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anti-abortion folks savage dobson

It's kind of sweet, really, to see the anti-abortion people turning on hater-in-chief, James Dobson. They were misled, you see, and they're blaming Dobson. I'm sure there's some blame to be assigned there, and I have no doubt Dobson managed to profit significantly by beating the anti-abortion drum while the Supreme Court was recently considering the case which would ban partial-birth abortion. But I have little sympathy for people who don't bother to research an issue and who simply take the word of another because he's allegedly Christian. Boo hoo hoo, he sold you out, live and learn.

As we all know, the Supreme Court's recent ruling on partial birth abortion does nothing to stop late term abortions, it just eliminates the safest option for accomplishing one. I know for the most part that the right wing nuts love you until you're born, but banning partial birth abortion just increases the chances of death for the fetus and the woman.

Brian Rohrbough, president of Colorado Right to Life and a signer of the ads, disagreed.

"All you have to do is read the ruling, and you will find that this will never save a single child, because even though the justices say this one technique is mostly banned -- not completely banned -- there are lots of other techniques, and they even encourage abortionists to find less shocking means to kill late-term babies," he said.

Another signer, the Rev. Bob Enyart, a Christian talk radio host and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, said the real issue is fundraising.

"Over the past seven years, the partial-birth abortion ban as a fundraising technique has brought in over a quarter of a billion dollars" for major antiabortion groups, "but the ban has no authority to prevent a single abortion, and pro-life donors were never told that," he said. "That's why we call it the pro-life industry."

In Rohrbough's view, partisan politics is also involved.

"What happened in the abortion world is that groups like National Right to Life, they're really a wing of the Republican Party, and they're not geared to push for personhood for an unborn child -- they're geared to getting Republicans elected," he said. "So we're seeing these ridiculous laws like the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban put forward, and then we're deceived about what they really do."

Yup, you've been sold out, folks. Sold out in the interest of collecting your money and sold out as a means of gathering support for the Republican party. Sucks, doesn't it? The WaPo has the complete article.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

another sick puppy

Willym's sweet puppy Reesie on the way to the vet and Willym's alone with it because Laurent's out of the country. My Billy is well, so thoughts and prayers for Reesie, please?

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more mike jones

Damn. My heart is broken.

NYT: Are you politically active?
Mike Jones: I’m really not this left-wing liberal like some people have tried to paint me. I think I’m very moderate.

NYT:Even so, your disclosure came just days before the midterm election and gave the Democrats a boost by tarnishing the Christian right. Are you a Democrat?
Mike Jones: I’m a registered Democrat, but I’ve voted Republican. I voted for Bush in the last election.

If you want to read it the NYT article and it's requesting login, the signin eatabagofdicks and password eatabagofdicks from BugMeNot worked for me.

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Here's a tip from one AA member to another purportedly sober person: beer counts, even for presidents, even for idiots. But wait, he got sober through religious conversion, right? Found the Lord, met with Billy Graham. In 24 years of doing beginners' meetings, I have discovered that really doesn't seem to work. Ergo . . .

This explains a lot. Heaven help us over the next 591 days. It's been bad enough while he's (allegedly) been sober. Now he gets drunk and calls in sick to the G8 conference? Courtesy of Culture Kitchen. Your president, hard at work.

Does this scare the shit out of you? If he's a drunk like I'm a drunk, we're in even bigger trouble.

More from the Times Online:

Yesterday afternoon Mr Bush was photographed sipping something that resembled beer, while sitting around a picnic table in a small group with Ms Merkel, but as the President has not drunk alcohol for more than 20 years it is unlikely that it was anything stronger than a fizzy drink.

Um . . . okay, right. But then he couldn't get up and out of his room the next morning because of a tummy ailment? I've had that very kind of tummy ailment. That head thrown back in the chair posture is one with which I am intimately familiar. My tummy ailment was generally better the morning after, as I always ended up puking by end of evening. But okay, it was a "fizzy drink" and we're not all at the mercy of a drunken madman. I believe it. You?

Update: SK and Ms. Nator report it's a nonalcoholic beer. So we're back to his being just a dry drunk.

Dry Drunk symptomology:
Grandiose behavior
Exaggerated self-importance
A rigidly judgmental outlook
Childish behavior
Irresponsible behavior
Irrational rationalization

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better not to know

I'm all about being informed, but some things may be better unknown while my puppy love is confined to hospital and I'm fretting about him. Had I read the description of small Bill's affliction ~ hemorrhagic gastroenteritis ~ while he was hospitalized, I wouldn't have slept a wink.

Billy is home and looking lively. Is there anything as sweet as a puppy practically turning himself inside out with joy? I. Love. Dogs.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) starts as sudden onset vomiting and diarrhoea with blood in both the vomit (called haematemesis and in the diarrhoea (see dysentery) described as looking like raspberry jam. Some dogs are already in shock because of blood loss into the lumen of the bowel when they are presented to a veterinary practice. Swollen fluid-filled intestines can sometimes be palpated in the abdomen. This disease can result in rapid death due to shock even if treatment is commenced immediately signs are noticed.

Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy can develop in advanced cases, also leading to death.

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pushing the boundaries of what we know

Stunning walking sculptures from an engineer. The word amazing is overused and I am guilty. But these are amazing. Magnificent. Uplifting.

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can this be true?

criminal elements

The elements Sneerium and Moron are particularly deadly.

Very amusing (if it were not so tragically true) and highly creative periodic table of criminals, sociopaths and thieves from And the Horse You Rode In On.

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betray us petraeus

Okay, more troops were sent to Iraq even before that poisonous toad in the oval office announced the "surge" in January. Troops already in Iraq have had their duty extended, creating an overlap and a much larger number of soldiers in Iraq than even the surge was intended to supply. Now Petraeus abandons responsibility to the troops and tells us the surge hasn't even started? And that he won't be able to make a definitive assessment of effectiveness even in September? Meanwhile, May's the 3d deadliest month in the entire misbegotten war and there's no sign of things getting better for the Iraqis either. From Think Progress, though it just makes me think hopeless.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


Daddy is communicating by spelling words, as in "May I have some o-a-t-m-e-a-l p-l-e-a-s-e?" or "Shall we go o-u-t for p-a-n-c-a-k-e-s?" He's also making vigorous sign, though he's no ALS wizard and frequently becomes frustrated when his longsuffering wife does not understand.

Little Billy is all alone at the vet's office, still attached to fluids. He has not thrown up or pooped anything painful and horrid all day. Vet told me he "is not going to die, I'm actually feeling good about his progress." Then he gave me a weird look and said "think positive," but when it's raining fucking toads, who knows what's next? He probably didn't have a grandmother who would shriek "quit laughing, something bad will happen!" Easy for him to think positive.

I am so tired I think I may implode, having had six hours of sleep in the last 72 hours. Regardless, I am going out to my favorite chair and I am going to watch one of the loves of my life, Jon Stewart, even if I have to prop the eyelids up with toothpicks.

I am so grateful for your kindness expressed here in thoughts and prayers and commiseration. Amazing to get that from this flat glass and metal thing that sits on my desk. Hugs and nighty night to all of you.

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stop! thief!!

Tried to log in to one of my retirement accounts today, just to see how things were progressing. Couldn't do it, had a message to call. Called. "You have to talk to a supervisor." Passed to the supervisor, who ran through half a dozen questions to verify my identity, including stuff I never gave them, which must have come from a credit report.

Bottom line, someone got into my account on May 22, sold all of my stock and transferred the money to their own account. I was distressed. I expressed my displeasure at such a turn of events. The supervisor assured me that the investment company's software caught the "unusual activity" and halted the transfer of funds, though the sales were completed.

All of my responses to the questions were negative: no one has access to my password information, no one has watched me access the account, I've not done it in a public setting, I've not done it from another computer blah blah blah blah blah. So what is it? Apparently some kind of virus has invaded one of my computers and is operating a keystroke capture. I checked one of Mike's brokerage accounts and could not log in because of too many attempts. I'm annoyed and a little concerned, because I manage ALL of our financial life online, including a business account which pretty regularly gets good sized chunks of money in it.

Ever happen to you? What did you do?

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thank you . . . and

Now it's the dog. Daddy's okay. Heart rate dropped to 24 before surgery. Seems to have had a little bit of a setback with the dementia, but hoping, hoping it's just the stress and being away from home. Sleeping in a chair sucks. My papa is a trickster, having sent me away at 3 a.m. to get a blanket "because my arms are cold." After I covered him up, I managed to briefly close my eyes before startling awake to the scriiiiiiiiiitch of velcro fasteners being undone. He only wanted a blanket to cover his efforts to undo the brace holding his arm down. An 89 year old bad boy, my sweet daddy.

But the dog? Does it ever end? I get back to find the dog ~ little Bill ~ scrawny and vomiting everywhere, bloody poop. We're at the doggy ER most of the night, now back to the regular vet at 8:00 a.m.

But I meant to say thank you for your kindness and your prayers, so much appreciated. Now . . . well, the little dog is right up there among the top loves of my life. Here we go to the vet.

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Monday, June 04, 2007


My father's heart has suddenly stopped beating normally. Pacemaker installation at the crack of dawn Tuesday. Prayers, positive thoughts, much appreciated. Not ready for him to go anywhere.

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unlikely hero

Larry Flynt offering $1 million for anyone who's had sex with a current member of Congress or other high ranking government official. Flynt says: "I've been called a bottom feeder. I say, 'Yes, but look at what I found when I got down there!'"


no fun for our soldiers

. . . UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] basically says that . . . none of our soldiers, gay or straight, can have oral or anal sex, period, with anyone, same or opposite sex, even their married spouses (really).

John Aravosis at Americablog tells the tale.


are you annoying?

Tony hit a nerve with a recent post on the annoying habits of others. A number of us ranted on and on about spitting and picking and smacking and other revolting things.

It started me wondering about my own annoying habits. I drop my socks wherever I take them off. Rarely in the bedroom. I know it irks my husband. Oh, and I pinch one nostril shut and blow my nose on the ground. Just kidding, though I've had the misfortune to see that done more times than I can count. Aside from the socks, I'm close to perfect. Do you think there's anything folks find annoying about you?

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a dick. with teeth.

You just have to wonder what God, nature, whatever was thinking with the naked mole rat.



I am a Sopranos addict. So last night, Tony's in his shrink's office waiting to see her. He's looking at a magazine and finds a recipe he likes, tears it out. He neatly folds it, tucks it in his jacket pocket. For the shrink, this is further evidence that he's a sociopath.

You? Do you ever surreptitiously tear out an article, an ad, a recipe, from public reading material in a waiting room? Ever walked out with an entire magazine? Magazines will fit in purses, of course, but for you guys, it's a simple matter to tuck it under a coat, head briskly for the door. Me, yes, and I am ashamed, at least a little bit. I used to sashay out with entire magazines, then went through a period of taking them back when finished. But I hate reading half of something and not the rest. Do you? Are you an occasional page thief?

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

namenda + aricept = daddy

The Alzheimer's/Dementia drug Namenda in combination with Aricept has combined to give my Daddy back to me. Up until about a month ago, when I made this post about his having started Namenda alone, our conversations were extremely limited and repetitive, as he'd forget within moments that he'd already asked about the sister, husband, dogs. He'd call me 6-8 times a day, always to ask the same questions over and over and over. It was heartbreaking and tedious, but I could never skip his phone calls as my sisters have done (for their own sanity, no judgment, I just can't).

Friday night we had a lengthy conversation during which he gave me advice based on his experience. An hour or so later he called again and he said "just to reiterate what we discussed previously" and launched into more detail, reasons why I should not do the thing I was considering (have grandkids live in, sigh), possible outcomes and on and on and on. I appreciated the advice but the stunning thing was the nature of the conversation. After 10 minutes of this lucid, intelligent discussion with my father, I realized we have not talked that way with each other in 8-10 years. It was magic.

I know he'll never recover what he's lost, and it's only supposed to stop any further loss, but we have seen amazing things and it is a blessing beyond measure to have him back, if only for a while.

Namenda + Aricept = A Miracle

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and food?

There's that food thing. My lifelong addiction craving insane bingeing purging starving over-exercising just giving up and giving in eat everything in sight take pills and don't eat dance all night and drink and fuck around a lot so I don't have to eat eating thing.

That food thing is just fine. It seems impossible. It is peaceful beyond anything I could have hoped for. There's no obsession to get on a diet, no punishment. I'm not hunting down the next insanely restrictive plan to follow. Just working out at the gym regularly, walking every day, eating only when I'm hungry, quitting when I'm full and I haven't gained any weight and am slowly losing a pound or two here and there.

The thing that is so fine and magnificent I really can't even put it into words is that I am at peace. Whole days go by that I don't even think about eating except when I'm hungry. If I eat a cupcake, it doesn't trigger a binge because the cupcake's not a relapse and there's no diet to start in the morning. Peace. Sanity. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced with food and very much like the relief I found in AA with alcohol. I am so grateful.

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torture, refined

Mr. Christian, you know, the born again do-right motherfucker in the oval office, that guy is putting the finishing touches on the United States' new torture plan. Well, that guy, the one who doesn't read, probably actually has no awareness of it beyond the dilute "here's what we're going to do" summary provided by the neocons in charge of what used to be a constitutional form of government. Read, weep, gnash and rend. When I think things can't get any worse under this asshat, they do.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

who needs a fat president?

Maybe we do. The WaPo's Richard Cohen writes of the current crop of candidates, their weighty issues, and how fat is increasingly viewed as a moral issue. Who would you prefer: Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt or George Bush? One of two fat boys? Or a trim, athletic monomaniacal conscienceless dictator?

The sum total of pounds lost in the great cause of democracy has now clearly exceeded 150. Mike Huckabee's down about 110, Bill Richardson's down more than 30, Rudy's looking trim and, as pundits galore have told us, if Al Gore sheds more than a pound and a half, it will be universally taken as a declaration of candidacy.

What Winston Churchill would make of this I cannot say. He might reach for yet another drink.The great American pastime is not baseball, but moral crusades. This accounts for why we once made booze illegal, why we continue to make war on all drugs, and why now we have turned to obesity – morbid obesity, as it is sometimes morbidly called. . . .

This explains why a presidential candidate must be trim. To be overweight, even pleasantly so, suggests a lack of self-discipline. That, of course, is utter nonsense, the previous president being an example of all such. Bill Clinton went on his daily jog, more or less maintained his weight, and yet strayed morally in ways that two entire congressional committees and a special prosecutor documented for no really good reason. Maybe Mr. Clinton should have stayed fat. . . .

But the aforementioned Churchill smoked, drank and was overweight. Teddy Roosevelt, a remarkable president, was a wee 5-feet-8 and weighed about 200 pounds. Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor who presided over the peaceful reunification of his country, favored a dish called saumagen – pig's stomach stuffed with lard. His tenure was the longest of any chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, hardly a skinny himself.

I recognize, of course, that for most of us willpower is what we sadly lack, and nothing in our genes commands pasta instead of veggies. But I would still choose a TR or a Churchill over the trim President Bush any day. And I would point out that Mr. Gore, overweight though he may be, was right about Iraq and global warming.

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Me: Hello?
Him: I'm calling about the ad you had in the paper for a registered sex offender to work in your warehouse? Are y'all still hiring?

I thought "what the hell?" and then I heard the laugh. It was Mick, calling for the first time since he got out of prison and he sounds good. Sober and cheerful, going to meetings, and as funny as he always was. If you are a praying or a positive thoughts person, please send one up or out or sideways for Mick to stay sober.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

white house recognizes gay parents

And right wing nuts despair. Read and rejoice.

We erred in blaming the liberal media (USA Today) for the caption describing the photo of Dick and Lynne Cheney and their new grandson, Samuel David, born to self-identified lesbian Mary Cheney.

It turns out that the caption — identifying both Mary Cheney and her lesbian partner Heather Poe as Samuel David’s “parents” — was the official work of the White House, a point eagerly seized upon by homosexual blogger John Aravosis. In the link below, Aravosis exults in the White House photo as proof of President Bush’s official embrace of “gay” parenting. Of course, the Cheneys’ grandson does not have two lesbian “parents” but one — Mary Cheney, whose lesbian partner, Heather Poe, only creates an artificial, fatherless “family.”

From Americans for Truth (hard to type that without my fingers seizing up), a "newly reorganized national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda."

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god help us

Read, weep, gnash, rend.

But by all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness. . . .Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."

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