Tuesday, February 28, 2006

An Example of Stream of Consciousness Writing

It is not that surprising since it has been the tactic for the past six years or so, but I still find it so exceedingly distasteful. When someone disagrees with you, it is one thing to engage in debate, which accredits both sides as being worthy opponents. However, it appears that the standard operting procedure in regards to dissent is a full frontal assault. Those who don’t agree with the ports who just happen to be in the minority as far as power is concerned can’t possibly be concerned about security because the repub neocons have the market on that, thank you very much. Sorry! We called it! Like a “shotgun” kind of deal.
Instead, the dems are either a) taking every opportunity to assail the president or b) are anti-Arab. If a republican is against this whole port thing, they simply don’t have the facts and must do what all good republicans do – fold their arms in front of them, close their eyes and fall backwards. Don’t worry! You can trust us!
What it seems is being missed is the number one problem. This is a country that sells out to the highest bidder. There have been court cases basically accusing this country’s government of trying to be all things to all people. I don’t have it in front of me, but what basically happened was during an undercover operation where the covert guy goes and says he wants to get arms into Iran, the contact person essentially says don’t worry, we have connections everywhere, we can get anything you want anywhere you want. I don’t care if you are from Ireland. Canada. Istanbul. Or Montana. You have that sort of mentality, you need to be scrutinized.
It’s not an Arab thing.
It’s not an Islamic thing.
It’s a corporate no conscience thing.
You cannot claim security as a partisan issue. That’s like saying children are a partisan issue. We all care about our kids. We all care about being safe.
This ridiculous slap and dash style of counter opposition is getting on my last nerve.
What I see is a president that wants to do things his way, rules be damned. Normally this sort of thing appeals to me. I believe in individualism. I believe in rebels, most of the time. What I do not believe in is people who have a crapload of power who believe they are above the law.
Going into a country on a pre-emptive strike is against the law.
Torturing people, cutting a man’s penis with razor blades, is against the law (no matter what you label him).
Taking people that have done nothing to countries where torture is legal is morally wrong.
Spying on American citizens is illegal.
Bypassing checks and balances is very, very scary.
Bypassing procedures because they hinder you getting what you want is infantile.
I don’t understand how anyone can keep from bursting into guffawing gales of uncontrollable laughter when Chris Matthews equates bush with Atticus Finch, the guy that defended the African American guy in To Kill A Mockingbird.
Oh, Chrissy!
Crazy, crazy Matty!
That would be Boo.
Boo Radley that you’re thinking of.
But actually Boo was a harmless guy that was a little shadowy.
Bush is far from harmless but he is very, very shadowy.
I find the thought of bush laying a wreath at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial not just a smidge hypocritical.

In the meeting last night, one board member said that she went to Washington for some conference. I didn’t pay much attention initially, but she started talking about how sick to death she was with people who claim to put kids and their education first, but all of their actions scream the opposite. She said that bush’s budget was indicative of this. It cuts education across the board, except for testing. Because as we all know, the “no child left behind” program has been such an incredible success that we need to expand it. You cannot begin to grasp what kind of pressure these kids are under. The rating of the school and therefore the funding, as well as the jobs of administrators and teachers falls squarely on the backs of these children. From third grade through graduation. Third graders. What is that – an eight year old? From eight to eighteen, these kids have to struggle not only under the burden of whether the schools gets a positive rating, cash is allocated to the school and teachers continue to teach for another year, they also have to pass their own freaking classes as well as think about their future.
What the heck is this all about?
They take practice DAKS (district testing), then the DAKS, practice TEKS (state testing), then the TEKS, IOWA testing, as well as quizzes, tests, exams and finals for their classes. Then in high school, let’s just tack on the flippin’ SAT. The pressure is unbelievable. And they expect these kids to act like robots when they are shoveling all this crap into every available opening. It’s outrageous. I have to admit, I agree with the board member. She is so fed up, she’s one of the ones quitting.
And that is a problem. Over and over, we are seeing the best people, the people that care the most, the ones that put their heart and soul into their work, leaving in disgust. Leaving because the wrong thing is being done. There was little to no acknowledgement of her announcement at the meeting by the other board members, she might as well have sneezed, she would have at the very least gotten a “bless you”.
Here’s another one that gets me. Somehow, the neocons, repubs have not only “called” national security, they have also decided that they own the exclusive rights on morality. Isn’t that weird? In a climate of corruption where every time you open a newspaper – cyber or real- every magazine and every news outlet has yet another story about someone in the ruling party being busted for doing something so objectionable it makes you a little more nauseated. Yet, they are the ones that have the corner market on ethics and family values. That’s that “picture” being sold again. That Norman Rockwell painting. That innocent Americana we all want to believe exists. The thing is, how moral is it to point at the poor and scream “lazy!”? How moral is it to stand on a pedestal and judge those who haven’t done as well, for whatever reason? Where is it written that it is some kind of value to equate dark skin and different belief systems with all the adversity in the world? It seems to me that if you have ever experienced addiction or poverty or the cycle of abuse or any of the other societal conditions that exist, you would have so much more empathy for those caught in it. But it seems to be the opposite. I know people who have been consumed by addiction, who fortunately had family and friends that got together and helped them to get better, and the former addicts turn into the biggest critics of those unable to get off that path. I find that amazing. I have been there. I fortunately had family and friends that helped me. And my feeling is, what if I didn’t have that family? What if I didn’t have those friends? What then? Where would I be? I count myself blessed that I have family and friends that stick with me. I have an enormous amount of compassion for those that don’t have such a luxury.
It is not weak to experience emotions – especially the kinder kind like empathy, compassion, caring. Denying the existence of what is real does not make you strong or powerful, it makes you delusional and not just a little dangerous.
My boys are allowed to experience their feelings. If they are sad, mad, hurt, happy, whatever, they experience their emotions. Has societal pressure and peer judgment given them the guidelines in regards to where and when expressing those emotions is acceptable? You betcha. Does allowing my son to sob his heart out in the privacy of our home make him weak…somehow incapacitating him in his journey to manhood? Oh no. My eldest has always been very sensitive. They both have actually, but for example’s sake we’ll focus on Josh. He gets his feelings hurt pretty easily, he used to cry a lot but not so much anymore. But he still does. Is he somehow less than a man?

We were at the dog park and a German Shepard got over excited and started snapping at our Yorkie. Josh jumped in and scooped up our yorkie. German Shepard started jumping up snapping at Josh’s face and at Baxter in Josh’s arms. Josh continuously positioned himself to be in between the attacking dog and Baxter. He was bitten on the arm several times (oh, I was screaming hysterically the whole time. Didn’t want you to think that I was somehow not being effective in this horror show.) but he never ever stopped protecting Baxter. That’s a real man. At age 14, he stepped up and put himself in harm’s way for another being totally dependent on him. Regardless of injury to himself. Being allowed to be a whole person – a complete being – acknowledging the many facets of ourselves that make us the unique individuals that we are is the only way to break away from stereotypes and to see people as more than one dimensional.

Recently I saw a question that I found to be fascinating. Who had the most to gain from the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque?
There is also the nauseating revelation lately that Halliburton is going to get a huge payoff on the disputed overcharges and misallocations.
72% of the troops want to see troops sent home this year.
Shutting off the tap of financial support to Palestine is sending a terrible message. Why is my opposing the whole port deal Anti-Arab, but the admin’s office of shutting off aid to a Muslim nation considered sound policy? This is how we reward democracy? We only support democracy if you vote in the people we want you to have? Does that make any sense? It’s kind of like the Hugo deal. He thumbs his nose at us at every opportunity, making him an enemy of the state. But he too was democratically elected. I find it refreshing that Russia can go in when all the alarms are being pulled in regards to Iran, and work out a deal to avoid a catastrophe. Not much has been reported on this because it lacks the news stories key ingredients – controversy and sex. It’s simply not packed full of drama - this crazy working out solutions like grownups – it’s actually a bit boring (yawn). Much more juicy to come up with a bunch of maybe legitimate reasons to go in there and k some a! It’s good to know that there are still some that believe things can be worked out through diplomacy.

And finally, when you have a terminal illness in the family it is a huge asset to have not only people in your family trained in medicine but who are acutely aware of symptoms and reasons for those symptoms. My mom, one of the best nurse in, yes, in history, put together that my brother’s anniversary was Thursday, the day that he got really bad. She thought it had to do with stress. Then his daughter went off to Washington for a school trip, and sure enough, he had a very adverse reaction.
One of the hardest things has been the not knowing.
Not knowing what to do.
Not knowing if you should venture any distance from your home in case the call comes.
Not knowing if you don’t act, if you will regret that inaction.
I guess that’s why fortune tellers, psychics, and other such readers of the future are so popular. It’s difficult walking through this landmine laden area know as life without any indication as to what the next step will bring.

School Board
So I went before the board last night. There was a flurry of activity including two board members stating hostility being the reason to not run for re-election. It was a packed house. Loads of re-zoning issues and budget cutting problems. One eight year old boy got up and spoke for about a minute and a half. He wants his bus back. He walks in the rain. His books get wet. He gets in trouble. He walks past shootings and stabbings. Give him his bus for crying out loud. He was the only one to get applause.
At that point.
Several more speakers. It's now nine o'clock. I have been waiting now for 2 and a half hours. I don't get more calm with waiting.
They call my name.
Besides the vibrating in my right leg that made me sound like I was about to burst into tears, I did manage to pull myself together halfway through and finish strong. I had everyone's attention. Applause broke out the moment I finished and continued as I strode out the door. I got two thumbs up from board members, and from several people waiting in the hall who were watching it on closed circuit tv. I ran out to my car in the hope that I would get to my son's baseball practice just as it ended. I got to my car, turned around to see a woman running towards me.
"Thank you." she said breathlessly.
She hugged me spontaneously.
"I'm so glad someone finally said something. I couldn't have said it better myself!"
That was pretty awesome.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Heavy Heart

I understand that expression today. It’s easy to say about flippant things, non-crucial things. But to have a heavy heart, a truly heavy heart, well, I get that.

Thursday night I got a call from my mom, she was on her way to my brother’s house. Instantly the ice water slap shocked my being.
Mom doesn’t drive at night.
She had received more news on Paul.

My immediate reaction. No. No I can’t go. I can’t go and watch my brother slowly suffocate. I cannot go and watch my spiritual mentor gasping for breath. I am right with him. I am not ready. I cannot.

The physical and emotional rush that comes from news like this is hard to explain. Uncontrollable, to the depth of my soul sobbing emanated from me. Regardless of the unavoidability. Inevitability be damned! When your life progresses at a regular clip. When you have incorporated the hurdles, the potholes, all the different obstacles, like some crazy video game, dodging and weaving the many obstructions in your life, even adapting your life to a terminal illness that steadily eats away at the life of someone you love, it is impossible to be mid-jump over one of the daily hurdles and suddenly adapt to the steel wall that appears from nowhere. Even if you were anticipating it. It is an all-consuming shock to the system on every conceivable level.

No I can’t go and watch him die. I repeated in my head. No. I won’t.

But slowly, my mind and body adapted to the freezing chill of reality.
And I thought, wouldn’t I want him with me if the situation were reversed?
I would understand if he weren’t, I thought to myself, but I would want him there.

I called my little brother and told him.
I called my sister and told her.
I drove up to my big brother’s house that night.

I got there and went into his room. Curled up on his bed, his legs the size of my arms, I laid with him and cried.
I cried for not being able to make it better.
I cried for it being him and not me.
I cried for the unfairness of it all.
I cried because I love him so dearly and I will miss his essence here on this earth.

He looked really bad.

I slept over and got up the next morning.
I thought he wouldn’t make it into the afternoon. He was completely out. He was on continuous oxygen. I thought he would just slip away.

I was sitting there with my little brother, my mom, my niece, my sister in law, and the endless loop of people who adore him who have over the past six year sustained the family in every imaginable way.

His eyes fluttered.
And he woke up.
He seemed to be in a fog for quite some time. I was glad to have the opportunity to let him know I was there. At one point, he was looking at his daughter, and I felt, I cannot explain it, his heart. He was looking at her, I saw his chin begin to quiver, and he began to cry. I knew what he was feeling. I knew that if it had been me, I would be looking at my sons wanting to tell them what was in my heart, trying desperately to somehow telegraph these intense feelings of love to them. I would want to tell them how they had brightened my existence on this earth, how proud I am of them, how sorry I am that I wouldn’t be there to see the life milestones. I knew that, at that moment, his heart was over flowing for his daughter and breaking apart to not be able to see this beautiful girl go into the world. He would never pace the floors wondering where she was. He would never go over college applications and argue over the best school for her to go to. He would never walk her down the aisle. He would never kiss the top of the head of a grandchild. He would never be able to hug her or look at her with the love that he has for her. I was moved at that moment to tell him that we had her. We had her, his wife and his son and we wouldn’t let them go. I promised him. I told him that he was a great dad, a great husband, a great brother and a great son. We all know what’s in your heart. We all know. She knows. You did a great job. His tears washed over me. I held him and wiped his eyes.

If I hadn’t been there I would not have had that moment with him. I am grateful for the moment I was given.

The day was a roller coaster. Another expression that is so easily said but so difficult to feel. Up and down, fast, slow, dread-filled anticipation. His fever, pulse and blood pressure all came down. His oxygen was modified to keep him comfortable. That’s the thing about hospice care. They ensure that the patient is comfortable. There will be no gasping for air. No one will allow that. He will slip away under heavy medication.
But not today.
I left last night.
I said aloud while we all watched the Olympics, following a commercial “nsaid aleve. What the heck is nsaid anyway?” to everyone and no one.
Paul caught his caregiver’s eye. For the next three minutes, he spelled without the use of his voice just his eyes. Starting at a letter and going up and down from there, he spelled out:
n-o-n-s-t-e-r-o-i-d-a-l-a-n-t-i-i-n-f-l-a-m-m-a-t-o-r-y.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.
That’s what “nsaid” is. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.
That’s my Paul. Carrying this heavy burden, struggling to breath, enduring a bedsore, itches he can’t scratch, continuous muscle cramps and twitches, complete immobility, slowly departing this world and the wife, children, family and friends he loves so dearly, he leans over to pick up a tiny bit of information for me.
This world will be a lot darker without him in it.

But heaven will be a whole lot brighter.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Paul
I believe it has begun. My brave brother is slowly slipping away. I am at his house, I came last night after struggling with the thought of watching him die. My mind couldn't get around it, initially. I couldn't sit back and watch him suffocating, gasping for breath.
But if nothing else, I had to be here for my mom, sister in law, niece, nephew and brothers.
If nothing else.
It doesn't matter how much you prepare for this sort of thing, no matter the inevitability, it is a physical electrical shock to the body to know that a loved one, a precious loved one, is leaving this place.
I know where he's going.
I know I'll see him again.
He's not suffering.
But my heart is broken into a thousand little pieces that I will never quite put back together again.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Geeeeeeeeeeeeeett Oooouuuuuuuut
It is time. With the bombing of such a hugely important mosque and the repercussions following, every indication points to us, yup, cuttin’ and runnin’. We cannot make this work. There’s no need to say that we shouldn’t have been there in the first place, because we are there now. But it is time to leave Iraq. We have pretended for long enough that we understand the Middle Eastern culture and faith. Civil war is imminent. Bring our kids back NOW NOW NOW!

Momma don’t let yer babies grow up…
Without you. A lot of “hoopla” about educated women leaving their careers to be moms.
Silence.
I’m not sure I understand the problem. I guess because I felt the absolute fundamental drive to not let anyone else raise my boys and wanted to ensure that I savored every conceivable ounce of joy in the experience of being with them, I don’t really understand why anyone would have a problem with this choice. It is, once again, a woman’s right to choose. If you want a career and you have kids, it’s up to you to choose. There’s an opportunity cost in every single action of every single day. Regardless of what you choose. If you choose a career, you’ll miss out on key milestones in your child’s life that will never be repeated. If you choose to stay home with your kids, you’ll miss out on opportunities presented in your particular area of expertise, professionally, that will undoubtedly never present themselves again. Life is choices.

Speaking of choices, now that the Supreme Court is hopelessly listing to the right, South Dakota has begun the drum beat (hopefully not the same drum that was laced with anthrax causing that one dude to get ill – gosh, that so stinks!) of overturning Roe v Wade. They have created legislation to ban abortions, unless the mother’s life is at risk. Pretty gracious of them to add that last part.
Sigh.
Here we go. The ball doth roll. Hopefully not on the incline, but it’s looking that way. How about we listen to what women want? Since, frankly, they are the ones involved.
What if the child’s health is so dire that the family would be crushed under the financial medical burden? What about the family’s right to life? What if it’s a little questionable if the mother’s life were in danger? Don’t you think that if a woman wanted an abortion she would shop around until she found a doctor that would say her life is in danger? It just seems to me that when you start legislating something, again, focused solely on one segment of society, it’s a bad, bad thing.
I wouldn’t have an abortion. That’s just me. I don’t think any man should have an abortion. That might sound very neo con, right-wing, evangelical of me, but that’s me being honest. As far as women go, they should decide for themselves. Like they don’t have enough to deal with. With the slashing of funding for battered women’s shelters women, who have finally found that last thread of strength, gathered her belongings, children and escaped an abusive household, are being turned away in droves. Thousands are being turned away from shelters. Funding which was steady and strong for this kind of service have dwindled to less than a trickle. Women and children’s services, the safety net for those in desperate need, are like schools of fish on a dried up ocean floor. Flippin’ around, desperately trying to hold on. And now we add this. Perfect.

Port - U galled?
Being called a racist because you don’t agree with the decision to hand over ports to a UAE corporation?
Welcome, friend!
Welcome to the world of those called unpatriotic, pro-terrorist, and anti-troops because they disagreed with the war. You are welcome here. We know how you feel. It stinks, doesn’t it? You end up feeling like a hamster on a metal wheel, desperately trying to get somewhere while those in power laugh and point and say “awww, so cute yet so stupid”. It’s not a racist, anti-Muslim issue. It is a “what will the UAE do for money” issue. It appears that, sure, the UAE have been exceedingly cooperative with the US for a couple of years. Is it because they are behind the policies or is it, rather, like those fish that follow sharks – knowing that if they stick with the huge predator they will reap some of the rewards? It seems that this coalition of countries is more involved with money than with principles. Here’s the thing. The UAE have a) refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel and b) recognize the Taliban (know where I’m going with this?). And we give them access to six major ports in our country. Palestine democratically elects Hamas into power who a) refuse to acknowledge the existence of Israel and b) have been labeled a terrorist organization. And we cut off financial aid and work to undermine them. Just seems kind of unfair and unbalanced to me.
From an administration that constantly paints the Middle East with broad brushstrokes of “terrorists”, this makes no sense. What’s even more unbelievable is the claim yesterday that bush didn’t know anything about the agreement until after it was made. This deal was supposedly reported on in newspapers at the end of October of last year. It makes me shudder and throw up a little bit that I am in the same car as Sean Insanity, that Savage freak and Tom DeLay. It helps a bit that I am as usual at the polar opposite position as Lush Pimp-pa.
My feeling is this. Just because your buddy has a business interest with a company inside a group of countries that supposedly have been “helpful” in the war of terror, the countries were still involved in 9/11. This all can’t be pushed through because “hey! He’s a buddy! We go way back!”

I’m just trying to think POST 9/11 –ish.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I am so annoyed.

Cody came home yesterday and told me that he was with his broadcasting class in the computer room. Another student was sitting a couple of computers away. Cody tossed him a pencil, the teacher sees and sends him to the AP's office. He gets Saturday detention. Let's just take a quick gander at the "discipline" form that was sent to my house that I received today.

"Cody stood up and threw a SHARPENED pencil AT another student across the room (two computers away) over the heads of the three students."



It sounds like a knife.


It sounds like an assault.


It actually said across the room and immediately following stated - two computers away. These computers are stationed right next to each other, maximizing space. So "across the room" was in fact, maybe, four feet.

This is exactly the kind of distortion of reality that the schools paint of events involving boys. There's no opportunity to discuss what happened, the teacher & AP generally disregard anything the students say about the event, claiming that bullies often intimidate their victims into backing them up. Regardless of what actually happened they slam the hammer down. Zero flippin tolerance. It's inane. I am so telling the director of student support that I am meeting with on Friday about this.

Another Saturday detention.
Geez.
What A Bizarre Week!
I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe. All this “war of terror”, “keep our country safe”, “we’re listening for your protection!”, “getting them there so we don’t have to get them here”, “weak on terror”, “staying the course”.

And then the ports. And the promise of a veto if anyone sends out legislation so that it can be thoroughly investigated.
What?
What the heck?
This is that “trust us” hymn this administration has been humming since it took office.

Sooooooooo. Ok. Let’s see. You’re ok if you have money and a capital interest in our country? Regardless of where you’re from? Even if your affiliates are tied to the actual terrorist attack on 9/11?
I simply do not get it.
What did I hear bush say yesterday? That it’s pretty discriminatory to not allow a corporation to conduct business in our country just because of where it is located. There’s also the little bitty tiny fact that Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government- owned Dubai Ports World, the other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the US Maritime Administration. (are you seeing that cross contamination thing I’ve been talking about?) Gush Limp-paw said that when he was there (uh huh) it was more western than…Europe! Wow. There was even an allusion to Britain. How many terrorists does Britain have…are we going to cut all business dealings with them? Huh? Huh? Thought not. We would have to stop conducting business with ourselves if that were the criteria. The reasoning is like that crazy “twilight zone” spinning black and white spiraling thingee. I’m a bit dizzy now. The fact of the matter is simple. For herr bush free market business practices supercede EVERYTHING.

We have the very convenient indictment of three– is it Ohions, Ohionions, Ohionans…I’m not sure. Anyway we have three guys from Ohio conspiring to inflict havoc not only in the US but also abroad…to our troops. I feel like such a cynic. I do! I feel like no matter what’s offered up, I wrinkle my nose and get all squinty eyed. I don’t know if it’s because of the “LA saved from terrorist attack (four years ago)” or from what I heard yesterday that these guys have four or six indictments against them. Now, I’m no lawyer, but have you ever noticed how people get indicted on just an incredible number of infractions? This is mostly because a) they’ve done a lot of really really bad stuff and/or b) there is the distinct possibility that some of those violations will be dropped with a plea. Having a bunch of broken laws leaves you with a much better possibility of something sticking. So, if these guys were planning on not only national but also international mayhem, why so few counts? I think it doth smell quite fishy.

Of course, there is also the timing. Talk about your needle in a haystack! After listening to all of us talk for the past four years with our best friends or moms or partners or whomever, they found the three guys who were planning something. Hip hip hooray for the demise of privacy! It saved our lives! It saved the lives of our troops! And from all reports, it saved bush from getting whacked…..yeah. Hooray for that too.
I sure hope they don’t work at the ports.
Gulp.

That would be…awkward.

German prosecutors are investigating whether their government was involved, secretly, with the US in a case of rendition. Well, duh! Of course not! Bush, rice, cheney, and rummy all say we don’t do that! Big sillies!

The Clean Water Act is coming under fire in the Supreme Court. At least, publicly. The environment and the laws put in place to protect it, and those dependent on it, have taken huge KO’s under this administration. When smaller organizations finally win against these huge conglomerates, the CEOs head to their buddies in Washington and the laws are changed for them. Making the win for the little guy moot. Now we have some punk developer who defied everyone, refused to get a permit, and dumped a bunch of sand into a wetlands area. Because God knows, we need another strip mall. There’s the legal wrangling and finagling about the definition of a “tributary”. What is a tributary? Any body of water that runs into a navigable waterway. So, is a ditch a waterway? Even if it gets a drop of water per year?
Sheesh.
I wonder why I didn’t go into law.
That would drive me nuts.
The way I see it – does any part of that water go into any other waterway? If so, it’s a tributary. Considering the incredible jump in water pollution over the past six years, this is a huge deal.
But I’m telling you right now, this is going to be the demise of clean anything if the people don’t start paying attention. You might not see it now, but by the time you do see it, it’ll be too late. The dismantling of protections for the common good is absolutely unacceptable. Period. Read Crimes Against Nature by Robert Kennedy…I am losing valuable sleep over the facts in this book.

Documents in the National Archives are being sent back into “classified” status.

Airtight meat packaging is being pumped with carbon monoxide to keep it “red” for weeks. Yum yum.

And finally, now that the fervor has died over the veep shooting, I think it is important to analyze why such a big deal was made. Sure, cheney shot someone, didn’t have the right seven dollar sticker on his permit and on a Saturday afternoon had only one beer at lunch– all completely believable and understandable.
The thing is – the administration should look at this seriously because as silly as all of it may have seemed (and it was a bit silly at times) a very crucial sentiment is there. The secrecy, the denials, the dismissal, the trivializing, the lack of checks and balances and accountability in every aspect of this administration is getting really old. There is no trust. Acknowledging that the force-feeding of hunger striking prisoners in Gitmo Bay is not some grand sweeping “right thing to do”. It was the admitting of something we already knew. The problem has been, from the onset, a message of transparency but a reality of a black shroud over every conceivable tributary of our government. Covertness in government mandates suspicion, that’s all there is to it. I see it in my kids when they suddenly clam up and refuse to make eye contact. They won’t engage and they try to dismiss my suspicions with minimizing statements. Doesn’t work. Why? Because I know them, and I know when someone is trying to pull one over on me.
And someone is definitely trying to pull one over.

On all of us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I wonder what the Vegas odds are on Halliburton getting the port security contracts?

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Few Musings...
Living in the post 9/11 era…the era of homeland security… of the war of fear….suicide bombers….we have made the most crafty and cunning of decisions. Have the Arabs guard our ports! Slush Lockjaw claimed that they won’t blow up their own stuff, what sane property owner does that?
Crazy.
Crazy like a fox!
That’s right rush! You tell’em. I got an even better idea. Let’s sell it all! That’s it! We can sell everything the ports, the statues, the national parks, heck, we can sell the borders off by the foot! - kind of like a rummage sale. We’ll be able to pay a fraction of a day’s interest on all the money we owe everyone and we can rest with our never ending brilliance of incorporating all the countries we have insulted, invaded, harassed, whose citizens we have swept up, imprisoned and tortured into our melting pot of a country. They can guard our stuff from…well, from them. It’s the same sort of monitoring we have now in Washington, with everyone policing themselves. That’s gone so well I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t apply it to every conceivable model possible.
Once again our fab Homeland Security leader Chertoff has broken any and all barriers on out of the box thinking.

Way to go Mickey C!

Is it me or does the word “homeland” bring up images of Germany during the Nazi years? It sounds so, I don’t know, 1984-ish.

Meanwhile we could not rid ourselves of pictures of all those school buses under water after Katrina with right-wingers shrieking – what about the buses! What about the buses! Yet 11,000 FEMA mobile homes sit rotting in, is it Arkansas?, while those affected by Katrina live in tents?

Damn liberal media.


China Keeps Fur Its Dirty Little Secret
If you don’t know, then you need to. Cats and dogs, millions of them are being killed for their fur. The items that contain the fur will not identify the product as belonging to a domesticated animal. It will either have some exotic non-name (no not “liger” but close) or not even be listed at all. If it’s under, I think, 10% of the garment, it does not need to listed. Look for the fabric content and find what the “trim” is made of. If it’s real animal, then it is probably cat or dog fur imported from China.
Let’s be honest for a moment.
Fur.
I mean, seriously.
The coat of another being.
What is so hard to understand about the cruelty in this?
Honestly.
Most of these animals are skinned alive.
So you can what?
Feel the luxuriousness of another animal’s skin?
So that you can live a life of seeming opulence?
Exactly how does the carcass of a tortured animal draped across your shoulders connote higher learning and societal augmentation?
Didn’t the gold rush era guys do that?
I mean, trappers weren’t exactly considered the pinnacle of society, from all I’ve read.
So, as long as you don’t sully your hands with the act of killing an animal, you just wear the finished product, that’s the mark of success?
Would that be true for headhunters as well? Are they up there with the societal upper echelon? Because I don’t understand stripping another being not only of his skin but of his life for that skin. That to me is so primordial. I suppose it’s because we have so removed ourselves from the reality of life, we have factory farms containing our meat in some sterile out of the way place that we don’t have to look at, we have people in basements punching monkeys in the face who expose these captive beings to the most Frankenstein –esque experimentation, we have no idea that most of our fish come from undulating “bathtubs” full of a greenish pond scum and stacked with crazed “catches of the day”. We have every conceivable being removed from our path from ants to roaches to mosquitoes to mice to coyotes to birds. We only have them there if they are invited in by us.
We don’t live a natural life, no matter what those cereals and shampoo commercials might tell you. We live a life so devoid of nature and what lives and breathes around us that for all our studying, for all our access to information, we are more ignorant and thus more frightened of the natural world than we ever were.
Not those that have decided to learn about it.
The average guy or gal.
We are thankful that someone is protecting our delicate sensibilities.
We don’t strain to look around the curtain to get a peek through the fence.
We walk by, looking straight ahead not deviating.
Because if we deviate, we might see something Upsetting.
Or that might make us Sad.
Or might make it Difficult to Sleep.
And then we will have to go to the doctor to get the little fairy pill depicted in commercials that will help you sleep for eight hours, despite the side effects.

You don’t have time for the doctor, nor do you have time to deal with the Emotional side. If you see something you might have to re-evaluate. Everything. You might even need to (gasp) change. That will not do. Everything was going along so well, we had no problems, we were sailing through. Why did you have to go and spoil it!?
Sigh.
I wonder if your dog or cat is not just a tad bit put off by that piece of relative you wear inside your gloves. Maybe Binkie isn’t playing with that cat toy shaped like a mouse because it smells exactly like all his relatives.
Maybe.
It doesn’t matter how much disposable income you have. If you wouldn’t pick up roadkill and wear it, if you wouldn’t pop Fluffy over the head for her skin, why wear it at all?

Fur is dead.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wakey, Wakey. Anything Happen While We Were Asleep?
I wonder what will make the difference. When action will finally become a reality. You can only deny reality for so long. For as long as no one is affected, I suppose. But when the truth becomes so stark, the denial of reality bleeds into insanity. You can call it el nino. You can dismiss with a flick of the wrist and a lofty, seemingly “scientific” evaluation that sounds good. But the truth is upon us. We are experiencing global warming. Now that we have seen a hurricane season like no other, a twistedly bizarre winter, the absolute certainty that the 2 mile thick ice in Greenland is melting at twice the rate that was predicted we can now say – gosh. Our actions do have an effect. Reducing or eliminating all these emission standards and pollution controls was probably, yup, probably not such a great idea. Billy Bob got rich, but gee you can’t breath while driving through factory farming areas because of the pollution. Polar bears are starving. You can’t swim in 70% of the waterways in America. This is not Armageddon this is global warming, and we can do something about it now. We have everything within our grasp to turn this out of control runaway locomotive around.
Yet bush talks with Crighton, author of a book I won’t bother to mention that states unapologetically that global warming is an overblown theory. And he is in full agreement with him. Bush has been, as stated by those in the know, the worst environmental president ever. He has removed all restraint from those wanting to pilfer the planet for their own greed.
A scientist recently resigned from NASA because he had been gagged by this administration. It reminds me of my pediatrician telling me that he cannot practice medicine anymore. The insurance companies tell him what he can prescribe, what tests he can run, etc. A punk in some other state with, maybe, a bachelor’s degree in business is going to tell a guy who spent 8 to 12 years studying this particular field of expertise that he can’t run a test on a kid in his office, because of cost effectiveness? Is this insane?
What can we do now? There’s a lot of talk, and usually by people who use too many words and make it seem like it is someone else’s responsibility. Like I can do anything to stop the ice from melting in the Antarctic!
But you can do something.
Daily.
You can start making an impact.


The thing is – it’s not a huge gesture. We all like noticeable, big statements that scream “this matters to me!’ “I am involved with the change!” “I am making a difference!” But affecting the environment can be mind numbingly boring. Once you start incorporating these mundane actions into your life, you will wonder why you didn’t start doing this a long time ago.

The three R – the environmentalist anthem.
Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.
This means using the blue or green bin for recycling material. If you don’t do this, then start. If you don’t have it, contact your local reps. If no one says anything to them, they don’t think you care. Get a recycling program in your area, and use it. We have one bag of trash every two weeks. One bag between four people, four dogs, and two cats. We recycle all aluminum, paper, glass, and plastic. And as my mom says – what else do they use to package stuff? Great question! Almost everything you buy now is recyclable.

We do not bag our lawn clippings. We either leave them on the lawn or compost. Composting is a great, great thing. It doesn’t have to be a pain. We put all our kitchen scraps into the pile along with leaves, branches, some newspaper, and grass. We end up never having to buy mulch or potting soil.

Reduce. This is all about caulking and insulating your home. This is all about turning the water off when you brush your teeth for the mandatory two minutes. This is about getting low water usage toilets and fixtures for your water taps. Soaker hoses are so much better than sprinklers. Look at packaging. Do you need the item that not only has plastic but paper as well – like the boxed cereal? Or would the plastic bag of cereal be just as good? Can you take cloth bags for your groceries instead of using the paper or plastic ones offered? You don’t have to have ten bags, even two is a good start. I can’t say I always do this, but it is something I am trying to remember.

Cycling or walking. As hot as it gets here, I still think that we can cycle a lot more than we do. I have noticed since the gym opened near us, that a lot more people are walking. The amount of fuel saved is staggering. I tell you, it is nauseating how many SUVs and vans are waiting in line at the elementary school at 3 o’clock to pick up one kid. We live, and I kid you not, two tenths of a mile from the school and almost every single neighbor drives their kid into school. Walk! Cycle! Scooter! Anything, for crying out loud, just stop driving! What a waste! My youngest son cycles the five miles back and forth to the middle school. He has a phone so I can contact him. It gives him responsibility, a little freedom, and exercise. My eldest son has to be driven because of the lack of sidewalks for cycling. I think they are coming, it’s just taking some time.

Plant trees. We have planted four trees in our yard. I adore trees. I could live in the woods happily. Each one is different. Each one is grand in its own way. They are a silent, sustaining force for humankind. We need to put in as many as possible.

My next car is a Prius. In fact, we will never buy another “gas only” car. I think that thumbing your nose at the world and tooling around in a hummer or other such vulgar display of apathy should be grounds for charges. The rest of us are not recycling, reusing, reducing, walking, cycling, and composting for you to come along and not only flip the bird at us but spray a thick wall of dirt and oil over us like a blanket as you peel out. Arnold turned all his hummers into enviro friendly autos. If you can’t do that, get an Insight or a Prius. I think there are Corollas, Camrys, and other Honda cars that are hybrids.

When buying appliances always check the energy rating. If nothing else, the better the rating the less money it will cost to operate.

And finally. Gulp. People hate to hear this. You cannot be a true environmentalist and a carnivore. Perhaps in a time gone by you could. But not anymore. With the proliferation of factory farming and the demise of the family run farms and ranches, the impact on the environment is so great that consuming their products makes you part of the problem.

There are areas in this country that are so polluted by these corporations that human beings cannot live there anymore. The sight of a massive greenhouse bursting with plants does not upset me. But the sight of a massive metal building with no windows sends a shudder to my soul. The fact that this is even allowed to exist causes such lamentations for me. How have we come to this? I cannot shake the images of a sow in a two foot by four foot pen for eight years – never allowed to turn, filthy and covered with skin diseases. The chickens packed in so tight that their feathers have fallen off, their wings never allowed to extend, their feet on wire mesh. The cruelty these animals endure by the billions is beyond comprehension. If we were to look at our beloved kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, our companion animals and imagine their faces on these animals confined in darkness, concrete, metal and ungodly abuse by uneducated, frustrated workers we would never allow this to exist. As we sit down to a meal we are shielded from the horrors that the animal on our plates endured during its voyage. We want to believe that it is all humane.
It is no longer humane.
It is agribusiness.
They are not animals anymore.
They are units.

The alarms are being raised everywhere – from vegetarian and animal rights activists (not too surprisingly) but also from ranchers and farmers and industry watch-groups who are gravely concerned not only about the conditions within these massive enclosures but also the impact of these factories on the people living near them and that are consuming the products. This is a bad, bad problem.

I drive my son to school and I see the individuality, the vulnerability of the little calves kicking up their heels in the pasture. Josh says that animals are God’s perfect creation. They are what we should aspire to be. I agree with him. Yet we have seen an influx globally on the assault on animals – from the horrific seal hunt in Canada to the great whale massacres going on in the name of “science” in Japan to the concentration camp conditions of this country’s meat industry. The way we treat our animls is also deeply affecting our environment.

And finally, contacting those pesky rascals in Washington. Getting hooked up with the different efforts addressing the issue of global warming – say with Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund – there are many with many different degrees of intensity and involvement. Sign on. Hop onto their website and make several clicks showing that you care about this issue. It’s so easy and it is effective. The more people that make an effort to voice concern become part of the data. That percentage figure you hear on the news or radio will reflect your input. Be a part of the conversation. There is no need to point fingers right now. What we need to do is focus on changing what our children, our grandchildren will inherit.
No more sitting around waiting for someone else to do it.
It is up to us now.

Insight
You know my injured finger is "boy" cool if my son took a picture of it with his phone.
He did.
It is.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Well, it seems that I should have introduced the term "klutz" or "accident prone" to the title as I have yet again managed to cripple myself.
Evil recliner.
Innocent pointer finger.
Not pretty.
Black/blue left pointer, revoltingly cracked fingernail.

So once again, it's slow going.

Plus, I went up to my brother's house to help my mom with her anniversary gift to my bro and his wife. We planted colorful flowers in pots on the patio. Perfect gift, really, adding beautiful vibrant plants on a gray, cold, winter day.

I find it absolutely devastating seeing him like this.
I want to be stronger, more self-less, more loving. I know I will regret it, not seeing him as much as possible now, and I know it must hurt him that I don't go more often.
That's truly the hardest part, I think.
Knowingly hurting someone you love because of your own need to self-protect.
I find that I am in a hundred different pieces when I get home and it seems to last such a long time. It definitely varies from visit to visit, but it is crushing having a family member with a terminal illness.

I wonder why I can't be like all these lovely people who come and sit with him, care for him, massage his atrophied body, who sit and look him in the face as he works to spell out with eye movement and exhales that are becoming more and more difficult whatever single word will surmise the brilliance he has to offer.
I suppose because they might have the present and a bit of the past, but they don’t have the origins, they don’t have the history.
I still flash on Paul teaching me gymnastics, listening to music with me, sitting at Swenson’s Ice Cream with him and feeling girls looking at me with envy that I was with this older, handsome boy, who drove…and played along. He opened the car door for me and winked at the girls, and I thought he was the coolest.
I remember his singing Christmas Carols and being wickedly funny.
I remember always wanting to beat him across the pool swimming freestyle, and never doing it.
I only jumped off the fifty meter high dive when I was eleven because he said I could do it.
I remember coming back from my dad’s funeral and Paul walking ahead of me humming a Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney song “the girl is mine” but belting out “I don’t believe it!” loudly and somewhat lyrically.
I remember his sitting next to me when I signed my divorce papers, crying and his patting my shoulder, understanding the conflicted emotions I was feeling.
I remember the looks he gave me - of pride, of love, of peace and favor - in the Dominican Republic when we went on a mission trip together.
I have so many bits and pieces that all come flooding out of my locked memory and they consume me for days after visiting him.
I feel like I will spontaneously combust with grief and rage and disbelief. What must it be like in there? I cannot even begin to fathom every single second of every single day trapped inside a frozen body - with a colorful, opulent mind waiting to be released. My own breathing betraying me.
I cannot imagine that sort of bravery.

That sort of faith.
I don't have a tenth of it.

ALS sucks.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New EPA Deal Lets Factory Farms Pollute Air without Restriction
The EPA is ignoring public opposition and approving a bush administration proposal that allows factory farms to freely violate any and all clean air standards for the next four years, while forgiving these same companies from paying massive fines for past air pollution violations. In exchange for the freedom to pollute without any restrictions, the deal simply requires that factory farms agree to allow the EPA to monitor their air pollution. The deal will forgive more than 6,700 factory farms from having to pay fines of up to $27,500 per day for violating clean air standards in the past or over the next four years. The EPA claims this arrangement is needed in order to gather data necessary to further refine air emissions regulations for egg, chicken, turkey, dairy and hog industries. According to the
EPA's rule, the main goal of this deal is to "reduce air pollution."

Bush's "Dirty Air" agreement is outrageous, given that the Clean Air Act already requires factory farms to provide air pollution data, while also requiring facilities to adhere to clean air standards. One of the companies that will benefit the most from this arrangement with the bush administration is Tyson Foods, who also happened to be one of the largest donors to the bush inaugural festivities.

THANKS BUSH!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bush Administration Details Billion Dollar Plan for Public Land Sales
By Matthew Daly
The Associated Press

Washington - The Bush administration on Friday detailed its proposal to sell more than 300,000 acres of national forests and other public land to help pay for rural schools in 41 states. The land sales, ranging from less than an acre to more than 1,000 acres, could total more than $1 billion and would be the largest sale of forest land in decades. Western lawmakers immediately objected, saying the short-term gains would be offset by the permanentt loss of public lands. Congress would have to approve the sales, and has rejected similar proposals in recent years. Forest Service officials say the sales are needed to raise $800 million over the next five years to pay for schools and roads in rural counties hurt by logging cutbacks on federal land. The Bureau of Land Management has said it also plans to sell federal lands to raise an estimated $250 million over five years.
Dave Alberswerth, a public lands expert with the The Wilderness Society environmental group called the plan a billion-dollar boondoggle to privatize treasured public lands to pay for "tax cuts to the rich."

"This is not going to be politically acceptable to most people," Alberswerth said.
But Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who directs forest policy, said the parcels to be sold are isolated, expensive to manage or no longer meet the needs of the national forest system. The administration expects to have to sell only about 200,000 of the 309,000 acres identified Friday to meet the $800 million goal, he said.
"These are not the crown jewels we are talking about," Rey said in an interview. The public can review the land parcels that are up for sale on the Forest Service's Web site, Rey said; Maps of just four national forests were posted as of Friday, but Rey said all the properties should be posted by month's end. The public will have until late March to comment on the proposed sales.
"This is a reasonable proposal to take a small fraction of a percentage of national land which is the least necessary and use it for those in need and achieve an important overarching public purpose," Rey said.
The proposed sell-off would total less than half of 1 percent of the 193 million-acre national forest system. The money would be used for roads, schools and other needs in rural counties hurt by sharp declines in timber sales, in the wake of federal forest policy that restricts logging to protect endangered species such as the spotted owl. A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management, which previously said it will sell another 125,000 acres, said BLM land to be sold would be identified at the local level. The lands are typically part of a checkerboard pattern of small parcels surrounded by suburban or urban areas, Interior officials say, and have been identified as holding little natural, historical, cultural or energy value. BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington said much of the land would be near urban areas with high market value. In recent years, the government has sold parcels for tens of millions of dollars in Nevada, for example, she said.
"Lands formerly remote are now abutting metro areas. That is certainly the case in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah," she said.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, said that is precisely the reason the land should not be sold.
"Our hunters, anglers, campers and other recreational users benefit from - and depend on - access to public lands," Bingaman said. "In my view, selling public lands to pay down the deficit would be a shortsighted, ill-advised and irresponsible shift in federal land-management policy."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the plan "a terrible idea based on a misguided sense of priorities." Not only is the administration proposing to sell off public lands to help finance the president's budget, the move also won't sufficiently fund the rural schools program, which has helped California and other states, Feinstein said. "I will do everything I can to defeat this effort," she said.
Nearly 500 parcels totaling more than 85,000 acres in California are identified for possible sale. The proposal follows a failed move last year to allow the sale of public lands for mining. Western senators had criticized the idea, as well as a plan by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., to sell off 15 national parks.
Continued Musings -
More Photos

Well, I went and looked at the most recent photos (http://smh.com.au/photogallery/2006/02/15/1139890768970.html)
It sickens me that we are involved in this. My take is, what if we weren't involved? What if we were a completely disengaged party observing from the outside? What if it were German or Israeli or Pakistani troops doing this? Would our feelings change? We are being defined by this sort of thing.

Hamas Revisited
I heard on NPR that the previous leaders in Palestine did nothing to build up the infrastructure - hospitals, schools, etc. - and that Hamas has already started working on these societal requirements.

Damn terrorists.
One of their spokespeople said that they didn't want to destroy Israel, they just wanted to end the occupation. Not exactly what I'm hearing out of the mouth of Mr. Sean Insanity.
I still say, wait and see. Most people scream and yell and end up taking drastic action because no one in power is listening. Now they are in power. Let's see what they do. Not exactly "John Wayne- esque" but it does kinda make sense, don't you think?

Cheney's gotta gun....
I'm sorry the guy is hurt. I just want to know 1. were they drunk, thus the delay? 2. are there Halliburton connections that have been breached?
Otherwise, I just think that hunting should be banned, especially when it involves pen raised animals and cars.
Just my vegan opinion.
National security whistle-blowers allege retaliation
By JAMES ROSEN, McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (SH) - Military and intelligence officers told spellbound lawmakers Tuesday that their careers had been ruined by superiors because they refused to lie about Able Danger, Abu Ghraib and other national security controversies. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, wearing a crisp olive Army uniform with the Bronze Star and other awards, delivered his first public testimony about his central role in Able Danger, a Pentagon computer data-mining program set up long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to infiltrate the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Shaffer told a House Government Reform subcommittee that he and other intelligence officers and contractors working on the top-secret program code-named "Able Danger" had identified Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, but were prevented from passing their findings to the FBI.
"I became a whistleblower not out of choice, but out of necessity," Shaffer said. "Many of us have a personal commitment to ... going forward to expose the truth and wrongdoing of government officials who - before and after the 9/11 attacks - failed to do their job."
Shaffer contradicted recent statements by Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the Sept. 11 commission, who denied having met with Shaffer and other Able Danger operatives in Afghanistan in October 2003.
"I did meet with him," Shaffer said. "I have the business card he gave me. I find it hard to believe that he could not remember meeting me."
The commission set up by Congress to probe the Sept. 11 attacks didn't mention the Able Danger project on al Qaeda in its final report in July 2004.
When former Able Danger operatives began to talk with reporters and lawmakers about the program last year, the commission's chairman and vice chairman, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, released a statement saying the panel had looked into the work of Able Danger and found it "historically insignificant."
Shafer was to testify today (Wednesday) at a separate House Armed Services subcommittee hearing devoted to Able Danger.
Spc. Samuel Provance, also dressed in Army green, said he was demoted and humiliated after telling a general investigating the Abu Ghraib scandal that senior officers had covered up the full extent of abuse during interrogations of detainees at the U.S. military prison in Iraq.
"Young soldiers were scapegoated while superiors misrepresented what had happened and tried to misdirect attention away from what was really going on," Provance said. "I considered all of this conduct to be dishonorable and inconsistent with the traditions of the Army. I was ashamed and embarrassed to be associated with it."
The Abu Ghraib interrogations caused an international uproar in 2004 after the release of photographs of Iraqi prisoners in sexual and other degrading positions.
Provance made a new allegation about the Abu Ghraib controversy, saying that U.S. forces had captured the 16-year-old son of an Iraqi general under Saddam Hussein, Hamid Zabar, to pressure the general into providing information.
"I was extremely uncomfortable about the way General Zabar had been treated, but particularly the fact that his son had been captured and used in this way," Provance said. "It struck me as morally reprehensible, and I could not understand why our command was doing it."
Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and chairman of the national security subcommittee that held the hearing, told Provance: "It takes a tremendous amount of courage for someone of your rank to tell a general what they may not want to hear."
Asked what his current military duties are, the former computer specialist replied," The only thing I've been doing since being demoted is picking up trash and pulling guard duty."
Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst who was a New York Times source for its reporting on domestic wiretapping, told of having been classified as mentally ill and then fired in connection with an earlier episode at the espionage agency.
Tice said he would have to testify in closed hearings about the details of the eavesdropping program, which President Bush authorized soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. But under questioning by lawmakers, Tice suggested that other NSA programs also raised concerns for him.
"Some of the programs that I worked on I believe treaded on illegalities and, I believe, unconstitutional activity," Tice said.
In one of the hearing's most dramatic moments, Tice read aloud the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects Americans against "unreasonable searches and seizures" without a court warrant. Tice also read an NSA policy that limits the signals agency to monitoring foreign communications.
"As intelligence officers, we take an oath and swear to protect the Constitution," Tice said.
Michael German, a veteran FBI agent, said he was punished after reporting his bosses in Tampa, Fla., for having altered documents in a counter-terrorism investigation.
"They produced false documents and literally took Whiteout to change official records," German said.
Richard Levernier said the Energy Department pulled his security clearance after he complained that the agency was glossing over security problems at nuclear weapons sites.
"These agencies are out of control," said Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican. "If we don't take action we're all in trouble."
Shays said he convened the hearing because military and intelligence employees don't have the same whistleblower protections the government affords other federal workers or even employees of private firms.
"Whistleblowers in critical national security positions are vulnerable to unique forms of retaliation," Shays said. "There is nothing top secret about gross waste or the abuse of power."
Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, criticized Defense Department officials for directing "trumped-up charges" against Shaffer. Duncan ridiculed the Pentagon for having accused the decorated intelligence officer of misusing small amounts of money while the government was wasting billions of dollars on rebuilding Iraq.
"If they really wanted to go after me, I had millions of dollars of equipment I was responsible for," Shaffer said.
After he began speaking out about Able Danger, Shaffer said, the Pentagon leaked personal information about him, including allegedly inflated expense reports for $67 in extra phone charges. Shaffer said the charges were to cover calls transferred from his work phone to his cell phone on weekends, so that he could be available at all times.
As the overflow hearing room grew silent, Weldon asked Shaffer to respond to separate Pentagon allegations that the colonel had been romantically involved with one of his aides.
"Have you ever had an affair with anyone on my staff, male or female?" Weldon asked.
"No, sir, but that was what DIA (the Defense Intelligence Agency) put out," Shaffer replied.
Bus-ted!
Yow! You know for a FACT that there are some seriously pissed off people in the white house right about now. I can’t believe that anything infuriates this administration more than leaks. Actually, I can rest assured based on history that this admin gets very aggravated by what they see as “disloyalty”. So I can only imagine how ballistic some are over the whole leakage of the Israel-US effort to undermine Hamas using money (shock horror) or rather the lack thereof, sending Palestine into poverty, forcing another election that would reinstate Fatah. They say Hamas will be given a choice: recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements — as called for by the United Nations and the West — or face isolation and collapse.
Oh dear. What do you think will be the result of all this?
Golly. The US and Israel are telling us, says the Palestinian populace, what to do (hand wring, hand wring). We better comply or or .
Or what?
Do you honestly think that the Arab world will let the US bully (again) another Muslim country without some kind of recourse? Don’t you think this will give the Islamic world an opportunity to show how well they can do without anyone else’s money?
Can we just butt the hell out, please?
We can look at history. We can look at the present. We can look at it upside down between our legs. There is so much to all this, and frankly, I think that all the thumping of chests and hoopin’ and hollerin’ is, once again, so puerile. None of it gets us anywhere.
They say – you don’t exist.
We say – you won’t exist.
They say – you can’t make us.
We say – yes we can.
They say – no you can’t.
Yes we can
No you can’t.
Ohmigawd!
Our foreign policy is like driving with kids in the backseat.
Don’t make me pull this car over! Give it a rest! Enough already!
Here’s the point. This is democracy in action. They voted and Hamas won. You have leaders in a country that you can’t stand? Welcome to our world, mate! We’ve been dealing with it for over five years! We don’t plot and plan. Not seriously, anyway. You know what we do? We wait for the true colors to be revealed. We wait, however painful it is, and believe me it is so very painful, for the leaders to demonstrate for all the citizens to see how very very wrong they are for the country.
They take stuff that doesn’t belong to them!
They show little to no regard for the general public!
They pollute our air!
They pollute our water!
They allow toxins on our food!
They give their friends jobs they don’t deserve!
They allow their friends to write legislation that benefits only them!
They lie!
And then, the people let out a collective sigh and vote again.
So, follow our lead.
And try to remember who led you back from the brink of chaos.
You’re welcome.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Understanding Boys….the saga continues

Cody came up to me yesterday while I was at the school selling popcorn (athletic department fundraiser). He said that two boys had been written up for wearing tight pants to school. They had been forced to change clothes.

Huh?

Hi Mrs. Hornsby – I look over and it’s a group of about six girls who are saying hi to me in order to attract Cody’s eye to them. They are all in wetsuit tight jeans.

Hmmm.

Boys, it turns out, cannot wear “excessively baggy pants”. They also cannot wear “excessively tight pants”. Girls, however, can wear either. Can you say “discrimination”?

Oh. I can.

I told Cody that he had my permission to wear tight pants to school the next day in protest. He was to call me the minute someone said anything and/or he was written up. He told me that just the threat of calling me would probably make them back off.

Huh. I can’t imagine why that is.

Ok. Maybe I can.

But seriously! What the heck? This is exactly what I am talking about! This sort of ridiculous and blatant persecution of one group of children. You can’t do this. You can’t say – oh, all redheads can wear whatever they want, but all brunettes have to wear a uniform. Because, well, redheads are better behaved. It is out and out discrimination and of course, I cannot have it.

So here’s the three minute speech I was supposed to deliver last night. Foiled in the lobby! I was told that last night’s meeting was a “closed workshop”, and no speakers were allowed. I was also told that I can return on February 27th to talk to the elusive board, oh, and believe me! They will not get rid of me that quickly! Moihahahaha!

Anyway, here it is:

The vast majority of boys are struggling and suffering in our society. They are often misunderstood, isolated and stereotyped. From the time they enter elementary school boys are inundated with the message that who they are, what is innately “boy” behavior is bad. The way they think creatively (blood guts and death) is wrong, the things they find funny (bodily functions and bathroom humor) are stupid and gross. When I am informed by a principal at an elementary school that “boys can not longer be boys anymore. They have to sit and learn this stuff”, I know that there is something wrong. When we are fighting the very nature of a person, in this case a boy’s inherent “maleness”, it is not the child that needs correction; it is the attitude of the adults. Boys are, by nature, active and physical. Yet our schools expect them to be different. In essence, we are telling lions to fly like birds. No matter how hard they try, no matter what they do, they will never, ever be birds. All this creates is frustrated, resentful, self doubting lions. Boys have emotions. They have emotional lives. In fact, it has been proven that they are more emotional than girls. But they disguise these lives in ways that frustrate us and force us to see “attitude” or “disruptive behavior”. Recently, on PBS, I watched “Raising Cain” from the book of the same name. It is a two-hour documentary about the physical, spiritual and emotional development of boys, and how they are in crisis in our country. I would like to make a plea to our board to have this documentary shown to every staff member in every school in our district. I think a link should exist on the FBISD home page to the comprehensive guide labeled “understanding boys” and the ideas in the section dealing with boys in our schools should be implemented. I believe that every parent in the district should be made aware of this book and film, perhaps even offering to show the film on campuses throughout the district with some kind of discussion afterwards. Why? Because our boys are desperate for positive reinforcement, validation and acceptance but don’t know how to get it. They are caught between being in dire need of nurturing and the intrinsic need of attaining manhood. It breaks my heart to see so many boys absolutely convinced that who they are is not ok. We are the adults, it is up to us to make things different for these boys. I am not here to say “do something about this”. I am here to say that I ready to volunteer. What do I need to do to make this happen? Get signatures on a petition, I can do that. Write letters? hand out flyers, I can do that. Buy and copy the video, I can do that. Tell me what I need to do, and I will do it. I am ready to be part of the solution.

I'm still waiting on the call from the school.


Gitmo - Refusing to Shutterdown!

I want to know how we justify this. Sure there is the war on nightmares, oh sorry, fear, goshdarnit, terror. There is also the blanket label of “enemy combatants” and “terrorists”. And of course no information is being released. There is yet another report, this one being the UN report that is a direct result of 18 months of investigation. This administration wouldn’t allow access to the prisoners but offered the press tour of the facility which the UN declined. The standard refrain used in response to the illegal wiretaps has been if you don’t have anything to hide, if you aren’t conversing with terrorists then you have nothing to worry about. Well, then, why not let the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the UN and any other legitimate agency or individual into Gitmo to talk to these guys? Why the refusal? Sure. We don’t want people wandering in and out, journalists or others that might give away critical information. But something is amiss. For over four years, people have been forced to live their lives in cages. Never charged with any wrongdoing. When they try to express their desperation through hunger strikes they are forcibly tied to a chair and a tube is jammed through their nose to their stomachs. As some of the prisoners were fainting, vomiting and bleeding going through this brutal exercise twice a day, those in charge opted to keep the tube in place, and keep the prisoners strapped into these chairs continuously, all the while forced to sit in their own excrement. What a proud moment. Five hundred people. These are not terrorists. Well, they weren’t when they were picked up. They might be now, but they weren’t before we got our hands on them.

I know we are better than this. I know we are. How can we allow this in our name? A business man in Yemen is swept up by the Egyptian police and handed over to the US. Transported from prison to prison. Spending over a year in total darkness, with metal music pumped in 27/7, chained to a wall, the only light is a strobe light in his eyes during interrogation. They wanted his Yemen contacts. He refuses to talk about his time in Bagram – where it is believed he was sodomized with a broomstick. This presumption is based on other prisoner testimony claiming that sodomy, the use of dogs, being suspended from the ceiling for up to four days by their hands, twisting of handcuffs as well as horrendous beatings were happening daily. Two of the prisoners that died there, were beaten so severely that had they lived, their legs would have been amputated.

I suppose I will be accused of having a pre-9/11 mentality. Sigh. How is that possible? How is it possible to witness the horror of people jumping out of buildings, watching that disaster unfold and still have a pre-9/11 mentality? That’s just plain stupid. It is stupid because it is a typical baseless allegation that distracts away from the fact that we are targeting a group of people and labeling them – all of them – as enemies. We keep throwing gas on the fire and then screaming and pointing, dancing around saying look! the flames! The flames grow bigger! It’s out of control! It’s spreading! Arrrgghhhh!

What are we doing?

What on earth are we doing?

Not only is this simply moronic but do you have any concept of how outnumbered we are? And with our terrible mistreatment of completely innocent people we are managing to turn those who might have sided with us, against us. As much as this administration clings to secrecy, there is no way you can keep all this stuff concealed. Inevitably you will have someone who witnesses something he cannot stomach. You will get someone who cannot sit by and watch as babies are blown apart, women are tortured, teenagers are beaten, men are sodomized and humiliated and the story gets out. It is met with the usual dismissal of exaggerations by the “enemy”, claims of uncorroborated testimonies, attacks of the messenger, etc. But at what point do we as a people say, no more?

No more torture in my name.

No more families torn apart on baseless allegations.

No more beatings.

No more destruction.

I don’t know how anyone can equate this fiasco to any prior wars, especially WWII.

A. Yes, Hitler was invading other countries and conducting genocide in his own country and in other countries. Are we equating Saddam with Hitler? Saddam was sitting on his ass in his own country. He had nothing to do with 9/11. That was Osama. I realize that there is an s, an a, an m and an o in the names, but that’s all I can give you as to why the focus shifted.

B. Didn’t they call WWII the war to end all wars? Why would they say that? Because war is no answer. War does nothing but destroy. Oh, sure, many corporations and conglomerates profit quite nicely during times of conflict but generally speaking war is pointless.

C. We were hit by a terrorist attack. That’s a fact that no one can deny. Should we have retaliated? Absolutely! We should have attacked the people who attacked us, instead we move from Afghanistan to Iraq.

D. Wasn’t it called a world war because so much of the world was involved? What countries did the “coalition” for this war include? This has been an unpopular war from the onset.

If this war did mimic WWII, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor we would have invaded Japan, then turned around and attacked the ominously threatening country of Liechtenstein. There is no equating of this war to any others because this one set a precedent. It was the first preemptive war ever waged. Hooray for us! We’re number one! Woohoo.

We are holding innocent people, who have families and lives thousands of miles away from them. Every day they are brutalized and humiliated. Is that ok with you? If you can, put your son, your husband, your uncle, your brother in that situation. Innocent. Beaten to death. Kept in subzero temperatures with no blanket, naked, ice on the chain that holds him for months. In a cage. In darkness. For being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At some point our society, which claims to be Christian will have to answer to not only our God but also to our children why this was allowed to continue. I will hang my head in shame at the travesty of justice which has prevailed during this dark time. But at the very very least my children know that I have spoken out and done something to resist this ground-swelling of brutality, arrogance and intolerance in my country.

Monday, February 13, 2006

No......too easy

I won't say anything about the whole cheney shooting his pal this weekend thing except now the guy knows how it feels to be a quail.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Cartoon that launched a thousand Protests

Ah. The cartoon. The dreaded Danish cartoon. The Danes are always stirring things up.

Anyway, here's my long awaited perspective.
You have a splinter. That splinter gets infected. Now, every single brush of motion in the vicinity causes wincing and pain. You can get punched in the arm, no big deal. But someone passes you in the street and their windbreaker glides over the affected area, and you are in excruciating pain. Are you exaggerated in your response? Are you being incited to howl in pain?

Muslims are feeling just a tad bit persecuted. If you go to any website that favors Islam or Muslims, you will be privvy to another world. I don't want to become any more of a target for a wiretap than I already am, but I do, occassionally peek at the "other" side. Should you venture into this realm, be prepared, you will see sights that will sicken you. It is mostly children and women. Pictures. Recent pictures of babies with their heads blown open, children screaming in hospitals with no arms and no legs. Mothers wailing while holding what looks like a shredded rag dolls. Horrible horrible pictures. Unfortunately, the Arab world doesn't understand the whole concept of a free press and they think that it's ok to do this sort of thing. Our press on the other hand shows heightened degrees of decorum and protects our delicate sensibilities. As mandated by the administration.
The fact is, these guys are pissed. They are seeing babies, toddlers, teens, girls, boys, women, grannies and grandpas being blown to smithereens. They see these guys with chemical burns, the obvious victims of chemical warfare. They see that we are there when we have no right to be there. They see us running around telling everyone what to do, when we can't get it right ourselves. They see arrogance and intolerance and they see their people being decimated in a war that had NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. Their religion is being tied on an hourly basis to terrorism as a blanket statement.
I think that the splinter is infected and the cartoon depicting their prophet as a terrorist was just another slap. One slap too many. You can isolate it and make a big deal about how easy they are to incite and how the extremists are taking advantage but the question is, who is fanning the flames of this controversy? Sure we can answer who started it...but the question is..who will end it? Who will be the bigger person and step up and solve this problem so that we don't bring about armegeddon. Because that would suck. I want to see my kids graduate. I want to see how they do with the skills they have been given.
With the way the world is being incited to violence, not by Muslim aggitators, but by right wing neo cons who insist on this ridiculous cowboy bravado, painting anyone who dissents as a hater of freedom, anyone protests or speaks out against this administration as an enemy of the state, it is no wonder the world has become a dangerous place. When people in one country wage a brutal attack against another, but another country gets the wrath visited upon them, well, that tends to annoy and upset people. If my neighbor went out and shot up her postal office, I would be pissed off if the police went into her house, couldn't find her, then decided that I needed to be invaded.
Hate radio is screaming about invading Iran. Right wing news is screeching about closing our boarders and stirring up aggression with Mexico. What is the purpose of this? What are we trying to accomplish? That might makes right? That we are stronger than everyone else? Isn't that the most vulgar display of bullying you have ever seen?
It is time to put an end to this. Distracting away from key, vital issues such as lobbyist reform, voting reform, spying on Americans, our leader's inability to tell the truth, throwing out false statements and allegations in order turn attention away from the true goings on within the administration. It has all got to stop. What's it going to take? How much more are we going to tolerate?
I find it shockingly funny that so many on the right are absolute aghast by the continuous onslaught of attacks on bush. "Let him do his job" "attacking our leader during a time of war! Shame on you" "he hasn't had a moment's rest" (well, yeah, he has. He's vaca-ed more than any other president in our history). What short memories! The difference between him and Clinton is that Clinton was slapped with something new - from his past - on a regular basis. Whitewater. Flowers. I can't even recall all the sludge that was hurled at him repeatedly. Now bush is being confronted with what he has done WHILE IN OFFICE, and the right is upset? Golly. That's a little confusing. Are we not supposed to point out his illegalities? Are we not supposed to point out baldfaced lies? Are we not supposed to care about the continuous stream of evidence that is coming to light that proves bush manipulated data so that he could justify his invading Iraq? Are we supposed to overlook witness testimony that ties this administration with the purposeful outing of a CIA operative? I wonder what would have happened if Clinton had done that?
They still do lynchings, don't they?
The point is - we had thousands - hundreds of thousands of people protesting this war, amassing for candlelight vigils for the soldiers - and they barely got two seconds on the news. Australians went on a massive tirade of racist killings and attacks just a few months ago - did we see it and hear about it relentlessly? Yet Muslims protesting the depiction of their prophet as a terrorist - with some fringe members causing property damage - that is on an endless news loop.
We need people who understand that others have a right to practice the religion of their choice without obstruction. We do not define Americans by the clowns that blew up the building in Oklahoma. We do not paint all Christians by those that shoot abortion doctors or blow up the clinics. We do not need to define an entire group of people - billions in fact - by an fringe extreme. God knows, I don't want anyone to do that with us. We need a rational mind right about now. We need someone who doesn't see diplomacy as weakness.
What truly frightens me is the slow infiltraition of hate towards mosques on our own soil. I heard stated as fact on, yes, hate radio, that 80% of mosques in America are preaching hatred. They need to be shut down.
Say what?
This is how it begins.
I am hoping that my son's assessment is wrong, but I think he might be right. He said that most people that care about these issues are comfortable. People are not taking to the streets because they aren't hungry, they aren't feeling the effects of an environment being polluted at an unprecedented level, they aren't tasting the arsenic in the water....but if they are, they can still afford to buy bottled water.
There has been a string of church fires in Alabama. It has been determined that these are predominantly arson.
At some point we have to look up and start putting all this stuff together. All this anger. All this intolerance. All this bravado and swaggering. Is this who we are?
Is this the new America?
I sure hope not.