Friday, August 31, 2007


From Paul Krugman's NYT column today ("Katrina All the Time"):

There’s a powerful political faction in this country that’s determined to draw exactly the wrong lesson from the Katrina debacle — namely, that the government always fails when it attempts to help people in need, so it shouldn’t even try. “I don’t want the people who ran the Katrina cleanup to manage our health care system,” says Mitt Romney, as if the Bush administration’s practice of appointing incompetent cronies to key positions and refusing to hold them accountable no matter how badly they perform — did I mention that Mr. Chertoff still has his job? — were the way government always works.

And I’m not sure that faction is losing the argument. The thing about conservative governance is that it can succeed by failing: when conservative politicians mess up, they foster a cynicism about government that may actually help their cause.

Future historians will, without doubt, see Katrina as a turning point. The question is whether it will be seen as the moment when America remembered the importance of good government, or the moment when neglect and obliviousness to the needs of others became the new American way.

"Down Low"

In light of the Craig situation, I've been reading stuff on the "down low" phenomenon in the black community. These "down low" people may not consider themselves "gay", but they don't do their "down low" stuff with women--they like to do it with men--so in my book they're bisexual.

I have no problem with being bi as long as they don't give the gays a bad rap, since they're using gays for their sexual gratification. But even if they're using fellow "down lows" for their sexual gratification, it's still homosexual behavior. So give the self-avowed homos--the "gays"--a break. Don't be hypocritical.

I was reading an argument that the "down lows" are not homosexual for having sex with males just as homosexual males are not straight notwithstanding their ability to have sex with females. Homosexuals, however, do not seek out sex with females, while the "down lows" seek out sex with males. So they are bi, if not closeted homosexuals (or, Heaven forbid, "gays") themselves.

At any rate, I have no empathy for people who engage in homosexual behavior while reviling gays. And that goes across the board, from "down lows" to Craigs.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thomas Jefferson

Tonight was a "night off" -- no gym. I watched a PBS program on Thomas Jefferson I'd not seen before. In wrapping up the program, they said Thomas Jefferson thought that the U.S. would always be the beacon of freedom and enlightenment vis-a-vis oppressive Europe and all its problems (though Jefferson himself didn't emancipate all his slaves--he needed them to preserve his genteel lifestyle to the end--and believed Africans to be inherently inferior to whites). I'm afraid the tables have at last turned, however, much to my chagrin. But don't blame me--I didn't vote for George W. Bush. I can only imagine where we'd be now if Al Gore had rightfully become president.

So Europe is now more enlightened than we are, but the tables are turning here too. The calculated deception of the public, the cronyism driven by greed for money and power, and the rank ineptitude of the Bush administration are coming to light, as is the hypocrisy of his Bible-thumping, gay-bashing minions. For Thomas Jefferson, organized religion was antithetical to his concept of individual freedom and enlightenment. He lived in a time when religion enforced tyrannical governments. (Thus we have our constitutional separation of church and state.) He was to the end, his own prejudices notwithstanding, a revolutionary. I'm left to wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think of this horrible government we have now in the U.S, the country he helped conceive.

Wednesday Night -- Not for the Squeamish

Things are looking up. Doctor called tonight right when I got home from work. Had some good test results. I'd been a little worried about some possibly skewed test results.

Next I have to deal with a dental problem--a tooth has to go. I don't like getting teeth pulled--who would?--and it's a first molar. But it's loose and basically useless and is now causing pain. (The oral surgeon administers Valium before the procedure.) I'm afraid if I don't get this attended to ASAP, I'll get an abscess, which I've had before.

Two years ago, while we were vacationing in San Francisco, I woke up one morning with one side of my mouth swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. That day we were scheduled to take a really nice guided minibus tour of the local wine country (Napa and Sonoma Valleys). We went on the tour anyway, though I was basically out of commission and couldn't really enjoy it. After the tour, I went to a dentist next door to the Inn on Castro, where we were staying, and got prescriptions for an antibiotic and a pain killer (Vicodin). (Fortunately, this was toward the end of our vacation.) The Vicodin made me nauseated and I stopped taking it. The swelling went down, though, and a few days later I had a wisdom tooth and a 2nd molar extracted back in Miami. Now the first molar must go. Apparently the teeth in that particular region don't do well, for whatever reason.

In any case, all of my wisdom teeth have had to be extracted except for one (and they all grew in correctly). Maybe it's best to get them extracted right after they grow in. (A dentist once told me that.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Paul Krugman's Latest on Health Care


August 27, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

A Socialist Plot


Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a press release attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents could afford to send them to private school should be entitled to free government-run education.

They’d have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes do send their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-age children subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace the private sector: if public schools weren’t available, many families would pay for private schools instead.

So let’s end this un-American system and make education what it should be — a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and we shouldn’t have any government mandates that force children to get educated, either. As a Republican presidential candidate might say, the future of America’s education system lies in free-market solutions, not socialist models.

O.K., in case you’re wondering, I haven’t lost my mind, I’m drawing an analogy. The real Heritage press release, titled “The Middle-Class Welfare Kid Next Door,” is an attack on proposals to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Such an expansion, says Heritage, will “displace private insurance with government-sponsored health care coverage.”

And Rudy Giuliani’s call for “free-market solutions, not socialist models” was about health care, not education.

But thinking about how we’d react if they said the same things about education helps dispel the fog of obfuscation right-wingers use to obscure the true nature of their position on children’s health.

The truth is that there’s no difference in principle between saying that every American child is entitled to an education and saying that every American child is entitled to adequate health care. It’s just a matter of historical accident that we think of access to free K-12 education as a basic right, but consider having the government pay children’s medical bills “welfare,“ with all the negative connotations that go with that term.

And conservative opposition to giving every child in this country access to health care is, in a fundamental sense, un-American.

Here’s what I mean: The great majority of Americans believe that everyone is entitled to a chance to make the most of his or her life. Even conservatives usually claim to believe that. For example, N. Gregory Mankiw, the former chairman of the Bush Council of Economic Advisers, contrasts the position of liberals, who he says believe in equality of outcomes, with that of conservatives, who he says believe that the goal of policy should be “to give everyone the same shot and not be surprised or concerned when outcomes differ wildly.”

But a child who doesn’t receive adequate health care, like a child who doesn’t receive an adequate education, doesn’t have the same shot — he or she doesn’t have the same chances in life as children who get both these things.

And insurance is crucial to receiving adequate health care. President Bush may think that lacking insurance is no problem — “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room” — but the reality is that the nine million children in America who don’t have health insurance often have unmet medical or dental needs, don’t have a regular place for medical care, and frequently have to delay care because of cost.

Now, the public understands the importance of health insurance, even if Mr. Bush doesn’t. According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, an amazing 94 percent of the public regards the fact that many children in America lack health insurance as either a “serious” or a “very serious” problem.

So how can conservatives defend the indefensible, and oppose giving children the health care they need? By trying the old welfare queen in her Cadillac strategy (albeit without the racial innuendo that made it so effective when Reagan used it). That is, to divert public sympathy from people who really need help, they’re trying to change the subject to the supposedly undeserving recipients of government aid. Hence the emphasis on the evils of “middle-class welfare.”

Proponents of an expansion of children’s health care have, as

they should, responded to this strategy with facts and figures. Congressional Budget Office estimates show that S-chip expansion would, in fact, primarily benefit those who need it most: the great majority of children receiving coverage under an expanded program would otherwise have been uninsured.

But the more fundamental response should be, so what?

We offer free education, and don’t worry about middle-class families getting benefits they don’t need, because that’s the only way to ensure that every child gets an education — and giving every child a fair chance is the American way. And we should guarantee health care to every child, for the same reason.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Truck Is Fixed

Finally. It wouldn't start last night so I called AAA tonight and they came and replaced the battery (for $121.45). The guy also fixed an ignition problem on the steering wheel shaft (the keyhole had got out of alignment to the point I couldn't even put the key into it and was starting the car without the key). It's funny (to me at least) that describing mechanical things always sounds sexual. I even took down a post in which I described how I'd fixed a hole in my bathroom ceiling caused by a plumbing leak (since fixed) upstairs; I was laughing out loud as I re-read it.

The fluorescent light above my parking space was out (not my fault), so the AAA guy insisted that I pull the truck into an empty, well-lit parking space directly across the lane in the parking garage. Wouldn't you know it, the proprietor of that space came home just as I was having the ignition problem and unable to move the car. I told her I was sorry and said she could use my space. She seemed pissed, but actually my space is better than hers (it's closer to the door). We'll switch spaces back tomorrow, I guess. I put a note on her car after I'd come back from the grocery store and bought a bunch of stuff.

If Senator Craig Isn't Gay...

Then he must be bi. Nothing wrong with that. I'm not bi so I don't know what that's like. But I wouldn't think you'd have to live your life like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde--in his case, fighting the gay menace by day and then turning into one at night (or whenever the gay demon seized him). What a wretched life.

Now watch him (as other blogger(s) have mentioned) go into some Christian soul-salvaging program to fix him when what what he probably needs is a good psychologist.

New Gay Bar in North Dade?

B's boss has his eye on a couple of locations in North Dade, with the prospect of opening a gay bar. He's a shrewd businessman and straight, and wouldn't even be looking into it if he didn't think it would be profitable. He approached B. about managing the bar but B. declined--too much temptation with all the drugs. Also, B. has basically quit drinking. Both locations are former restaurants on Biscayne Blvd. Since Sugars closed, there's nothing up here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Message to Closet Cases

"Know thyself" -- Oracle at Delphi

"Kick not against the pricks, lest thou shouldst fall." -- Aeschylus

"To thine ownself be true" -- William Shakespeare

The View from "Old Europe"

Now, for the first time, it’s possible to imagine modernization as something independent of Americanization: when people in Paris talk about ambitious kids going to study abroad, they talk about London. (Americans have little idea of the damage done by the ordeal that a routine run through immigration at J.F.K. has become for Europeans, or by the suspicion and hostility that greet the most anodyne foreigners who come to study or teach at our scientific and educational institutions.) When people in Paris talk about manufacturing might, they talk about China; when they talk about tall buildings, they talk about Dubai; when they talk about troubling foreign takeovers, they talk about Gazprom. The Sarkozy-Gordon Brown-Merkel generation is not unsympathetic to America, but America is not so much the primary issue for them, as it was for Blair and Chirac, in the nineties, when America was powerful beyond words. To a new leadership class, it sometimes seems that America is no longer the human bomb you have to defuse but the nut you walk away from.

Sarkozy's message to Condolezza Rice:

“With America, he wants the normal relations we’ve always had. But he is capable of candor there, too. When Sarkozy met Condoleezza Rice, she said, ‘What can I do for you?’ And he said, bluntly, ‘Improve your image in the world. It’s difficult when the country that is the most powerful, the most successful—that is, of necessity, the leader of our side—is one of the most unpopular countries in the world. It presents overwhelming problems for you and overwhelming problems for your allies. So do everything you can to improve the way you’re perceived—that’s what you can do for me.’" . . .


"Big Love"

Reviews of last night's final episode: Here, here and here. I'll try to find more.

Republican U.S. Senator Busted for Lewd Conduct in Airport Men's Room

See Pam Spaulding's story at Americablog here.

(Art by Adam Fox from DownWithTyrrany.Com)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Keep Passing the Open Windows"*

I have a couple of phobias, one of which is heights, which by the way doesn't extend to flying in airplanes. That I love (as long as I have enough leg room). But I could never live way high up in a building. (Presently I live on the 5th floor, with my windows and terrace facing the pool deck one floor below, so it's like living on the 2nd floor. That's perfect for me and the safe for the cats, too.) You couldn't pay me enough money to live high up in the air. I'm afraid I'd fall out of a window or off the balcony and die (not that I'm particularly clumsy, but there's always a chance).

I'll never forget The Hotel New Hampshire* in which people are falling or jumping out of windows. Or this from the "Splat!" episode of Sex & the City, which takes place in a fabulous New York apartment:

Also at the party is former "it girl" Lexi Featherston, an old running partner of Carrie. Unfortunately, Lexi is a 25-year-old party girl in a 40-year-old body, and she quickly wears out her welcome at the event. Coked up and craving a cigarette, Lexi denounces all of the people at the party, utters the immortal words "I'm so bored I could die," then trips over her Manolos and falls out of a window to her death.

I could see me doing that. And then there's the episode of Will & Grace in which Beverly Leslie is swept from the terrace of his gorgeous penthouse by a gust of wind. (That was the end of him.)

Manhattan apartments in particular evoke a kind of a fatal fascination--not that I could ever live in one, much less afford to. So you can imagine I found this article in The New Yorker--"Past Perfect: Retro opulence on Central Park West"--fascinating. (The most expensive apartment in the building, a penthouse, cost $45 million.) But the article doesn't mention square footage. Is it too gauche to ask?

I can't get enough of it

I have some pictures we took but I can't find them. You're spared.

"The Golden Gate, Brought to You by ..."

By JESSE McKINLEY at The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 25 — There are no naming rights on the table and there will not be any logo-bearing neon signs, tower-to-tower banners or screaming billboards put up, either. That might ruin the view.

But on Friday, a committee of the board that runs the financially strapped Golden Gate Bridge did pass along a plan for a so-called corporate partnership for the structure, sending a proposal to a vote in front of the full board next month.

Even as it did so, however, activists here were already preparing for the possibility that the Golden Gate — the engineering wonder, international tourist attraction and perpetual suicide magnet — might soon be brought to you by Coca-Cola, for example.

“We understand that it’s not going to be Google Gate Bridge,” said Marcie Keever, the program director for San Francisco Beautiful, a nonprofit group devoted to protecting “the unique beauty and livability” of San Francisco. “And while they are saying it’s going to be this understated thing, we’re still worried it’s just a further distraction and blight on our public spaces.” . . .

Article here.

"'Castro dead' rumours send Miami wild"

Story in the Guardian. Where I work, the rumor was that, in the interest of traffic safety, the media were waiting till after the evening rush hour to announce Castro's long-awaited demise.

Dennis Hartley on "Big Love"

Big Love (HBO)-I never thought I would get hooked on a show about a Utah fundamentalist Mormon family engaged in a plural marriage! Bill Paxton plays the perpetually exhausted Bill Henrickson, just your average home improvement store owner with a house, a house, and one more house in the ‘burbs. Oh, and three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifir Goodwin). And seven kids. And they’ve got to be discreet (although by the end of Season 1, they have been “outed” at least half a dozen times). The predictable domestic squabbling gets a bit tiresome at times, but what keeps things moving (in Season 2) is a subplot involving Bill’s father-in-law (the great Harry Dean Stanton), a “prophet” and leader of a cultish desert compound, who is attempting to muscle in on his business. Good acting all around, and earns extra points for originality.

More TV reviews here. We're totally hooked on this show. It keeps me in stitches every time.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Clinton on Health Care (So Far)

While rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards have proposed detailed health care overhaul plans, Clinton is taking an incremental approach. She started with a speech in June on reducing costs, followed by Thursday's address on quality, and will outline her plan for universal health care coverage next month.

''My order here is deliberate,'' said Clinton, a New York senator. ''In order to forge a consensus on universal health care, we need to assure people that they will get the quality they expect at a cost they can afford.''

. . .

Speaking later in Manchester, Clinton said her universal health care plan would not involve a single-payer government system. Instead, she said, she would consider expanding Medicare and allow people to join the federal employees insurance program.

''I think you don't want to take choices away from Americans. We're big on choice here. But you've got to have some framework so the choices work better,'' she said.


Withdrawing from Iraq

Barry McCaffrey, a retired Army general who was a division commander during the 1991 Gulf War, said in an interview Friday that he has no doubt the U.S. will begin pulling some forces early next year.

"We're going to draw down, one way or the other, or they'll wreck the armed forces," McCaffrey said. He cited mounting strains on troops and their families from repeated and lengthy deployments.

"The only right answer is that we've got to be down to 10 brigades by next November," he said, referring to 2008 and describing a force total somewhat below 100,000. "That's from a military, not a political, perspective."

Source (emphasis added).

"Gay Activists to Protest NY Reggae Fest"

From Salon:

The issue of anti-gay lyrics in reggae and other Jamaican music surfaced years ago when Banton released "Batty Rider" and "Boom Bye Bye," which glorify the shooting of gay men. The Beenie Man song "Han Up Deh" calls for a lesbian to be hanged, while T.O.K's song "Chi Chi Man" suggests the burning of gay men.

Freedom of expression is great, but I doubt any artist would make it in this country by writing songs about lynching blacks, let alone be welcome to perform at a public festival.


What an intense last couple of days at work, and right when it was getting to be time to leave. Glad the week's over. Whew!

Right now I have a meat loaf in the oven for tomorrow. Haven't made one in a while. I'm not really much of a meat loaf fan myself but B. likes them. So I've spent a lot of time experimenting with different recipes to create one that I really like. (B. likes them all, except the one I put hard boiled eggs in.) I use a basic salsa meatloaf recipe (a Betty Crocker recipe from the Internet) but use Italian bread crumbs (not a whole lot) and also add Worcestershire sauce and regular prepared mustard. It's got loads of flavor. And I like the way the salsa bakes on top into a thick goo (much better than ketchup). Also, I bake the meatloaf free-standing in a regular roasting pan lined with slices of bread, rather than in a loaf pan, in which the meatloaf sits and boils. I prefer a little crust on the outside. Tonight I added some fresh thyme I had in the refrigerator. We'll see what that does.

Believe it or not, I got a lot of meatloaf pointers from Steve Gilliard's blog (before Steve passed away).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jeff Gannon + Karl Rove?

Yesterday morning on her radio show, Stephanie Miller referred to a story they'd found about a possible liaison between these two.

And then today Stephanie read a letter from Jeff Gannon (who as you might know had a career as a man-on-man prostitute) threatening legal action if she didn't back off.

I'd always wondered about all those visits to the White House at odd hours of the day.

Anyway, here's a recent item from Wonkette. (Maybe this is what Stephanie was referring to--I don't recall but get this.) Here's something else I found from a while back. This too is really on point.

[The Wonkette link apparently doesn't work. Do a Scroogle search ("jeff gannon" "karl rove") and you'll find the story at around item 12 ("No More A-roving Dept.: Karl Rove's Gay Dad Made His Son Fall in ...").]

My point is that closeted gays hate themselves and, as a part of that, actively embrace anti-gay political and religious agendas. So you see why closeted gays today are Republicans, prominent ones no less. Another example would be Ken Mehlman, who used to be Chairman of the Republican National Committee. I'm all for exposing closeted gays who endeavor to make life difficult for their more well-adjusted, self-accepting brethren.

"Historians Question Bush’s Reading of Lessons of Vietnam War for Iraq"

Read the story here.

Wednesday Night

Getting back in front of the eight ball, hay fever notwithstanding. (And there is no hay anymore in Miami, except maybe in Miami Lakes. Hmmm. Where is this hay coming from!?) Took several sprays of my gold-plated nosespray tonight and right now am doing better. I just don't want to get addicted to it, since, aside from being a steroid, it costs $50 for 120 metered sprays on my healthcare plan. I guess I shouldn't bitch that some advanced countries have universal healthcare and basically free drugs. Also not to be bitchy that I assume our pharmaceutical companies make loads of profits by charging Americans over full price while negotiating lower costs with the foreign countries' healthcare plans, while we don't even have one. How American is that. Hmmm.

Bought three new pairs of shoes tonight, all the same but in different colors. I hate shopping for clothes. My shoes were practically destroyed (by hurricanes, etc.), however, so it was about time. I was starting to feel ashamed at work. Well, no more! I've got some lovely boat shoes to wear to work.

In Case You're Wondering Where Some of the Republicans' Whacky Theory Comes From

Read this article on Herbert Spencer in The New Yorker.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Anglo-Irish academic enjoys surprise hit with novel in Spanish"

(Yet another item I found in the Guardian, by Edward Owen in Madrid.)

The novel, which has won favourable reviews, is published by Almuzara. A thinly disguised autobiography, it tears into British society, examining class, religion, loveless families, vice-ridden public [i.e., private] schools, as well as stiff upper lips and even the cricketer's googly.

By contrast the author eulogises the unfettered freedoms to be found in post-Franco Spain.

"I couldn't have published this book in English because of the hurt to my relatives and schools," Gibson said.

The 68-year-old, who has had Spanish nationality for more than 20 years, was born into a Methodist Dublin family. He graduated from the city's Trinity College and became a professor of Spanish literature at Belfast and London universities. His writing includes biographies of Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí.

Viento del Sur is the fictitious autobiography of a character named John Hill, an English linguist and academic who hates his Methodist upbringing in Cornwall and then suffers at his prep and public schools before finding fame and fortune in liberated Spain. Eventually he has to flee his paradise in Granada because it is invaded by "ghastly" Britons after his book, A Year in Andalucía, becomes a bestseller.

"What I really loathed in Britain was the snobbery, the silly way of talking, putting people down and so on," said Gibson, "I've never liked the private system, I believe in a state education."

Author's Blurb (A Lee Martinez)

I'm not acquainted this author's work, but it sounds like a lot of fun. He's got a Canadian literary agent. Here's his blurb on the Harding Agency's website:


A. Lee Martinez lives in Dallas, Texas, where he divides his time writing, juggling, playing video games, and generally wasting his time. He may or may not be a secret wizard, and he enjoys gardening. He does not enjoy writing biographical blurbs about himself. Nor does he really enjoy gardening.

Everything else in this bio is absolutely true.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday Night

I've been a little behind the eight ball lately. Today after work, I finally called AAA about the truck. I'd been dreading that. A serviceman came almost immediately, however, and boosted the battery, and I was able to go to the store and buy a few bulky, heavy items after letting the truck run a half hour or so--it started right up after I'd turned it back off. The guy said the battery and alternator were fine but that the battery could possibly have a bad cell if I have trouble starting it again. (I didn't tell him I'd already had trouble.) Anyway, if it doesn't start again, he said I'm to call AAA back and he'll come with a battery for $100+, cash or check. I said fine. He was very nice, unlike the last AAA guy I dealt with. It does sound like a bad cell to me, which is what my father suggested. God, I hate dealing with automobiles.

Tonight we watched "Color Splash" and the latest "Big Love" we'd recorded (B. watched it late last night and recorded it.) This was the penultimate episode of the season. Can't wait for the finale next week. Last night we watched "Design Star" after B. came home. (I'd watched it earlier and recorded it.)

Audio: Wesley Clark on Stephanie Miller Today

Heard the interview this morning. I trust Gen. Clark's assessment of what has to be done in Iraq.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

British Take on Karl Rove and Much More

Guardian story here.

British Take on Bush's New Spying Law

Guardian story here.

Frank Rich on Karl Rove etc.

From "He Got Out While the Getting Was Good" in today's NYT:

BACK in those heady days of late summer 2002, Andrew Card, then the president's chief of staff, told The New York Times why the much-anticipated push for war in Iraq hadn't yet arrived. "You don't introduce new products in August," he said, sounding like the mouthpiece for the Big Three automakers he once was. Sure enough, with an efficiency Detroit can only envy, the manufactured aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds rolled off the White House assembly line after Labor Day like clockwork.

Five summers later, we have the flip side of the Card corollary: You do recall defective products in August, whether you're Mattel or the Bush administration. Karl Rove's departure was both abrupt and fast. The ritualistic "for the sake of my family" rationale convinced no one, and the decision to leak the news in a friendly print interview (on The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page) rather than announce it in a White House spotlight came off as furtive. Inquiring Rove haters wanted to know: Was he one step ahead of yet another major new scandal? Was a Congressional investigation at last about to draw blood?

Perhaps, but the Republican reaction to Mr. Rove's departure is more revealing than the cries from his longtime critics. No G.O.P. presidential candidates paid tribute to Mr. Rove, and, except in the die-hard Bush bastions of Murdochland present (The Weekly Standard, Fox News) and future (The Journal), the conservative Commentariat was often surprisingly harsh. It is this condemnation of Rove from his own ideological camp — not the Democrats' familiar litany about his corruption, polarizing partisanship, dirty tricks, etc. — that the White House and Mr. Rove wanted to bury in the August dog days.

What the Rove critics on the right recognize is that it may be even more difficult for their political party to dig out of his wreckage than it will be for America. Their angry bill of grievances only sporadically overlaps that of the Democrats. One popular conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin, mocked Mr. Rove and his interviewer, Paul Gigot, for ignoring "the Harriet Miers debacle, the botching of the Dubai ports battle, or the undeniable stumbles in post-Iraq invasion policies," not to mention "the spectacular disaster of the illegal alien shamnesty." Ms. Malkin, an Asian-American in her 30s, comes from a far different place than the Gigot-Fred Barnes-William Kristol axis of Bush-era ideological lock step.

Those Bush dead-enders are in a serious state of denial. Just how much so could be found in the Journal interview when Mr. Rove extolled his party's health by arguing, without contradiction from Mr. Gigot, that young people are more "pro-life" and "free-market" than their elders. Maybe he was talking about 12-year-olds. Back in the real world of potential voters, the latest New York Times-CBS News poll of Americans aged 17 to 29 found that their views on abortion were almost identical to the rest of the country's. (Only 24 percent want abortion outlawed.)

That poll also found that the percentage of young people who identify as Republicans, whether free-marketers or not, is down to 25, from a high of 37 at the end of the Reagan era. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, found that self-identified G.O.P. voters are trending older rapidly, with the percentage over age 55 jumping from 28 to 41 percent in a decade.

Every poll and demographic accounting finds the Republican Party on the losing side of history, both politically and culturally. Not even a miraculous armistice in Iraq or vintage Democratic incompetence may be able to ride to the rescue. A survey conducted by The Journal itself (with NBC News) in June reported G.O.P. approval numbers lower than any in that poll's two decades of existence. Such is the political legacy for a party to which Mr. Rove sold Mr. Bush as "a new kind of Republican," an exemplar of "compassionate conservatism" and the avatar of a permanent Republican majority. . . .

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Hot Guy" from Advocate

Saturday Afternoon

I made the absolute best spaghetti sauce last night with those GreenWise chicken sausages. The sausages were actually bit players. The secret's in the sauce (as they say), which was intense. We had it for lunch today. B. loved it, and he's not really a big fan of spaghetti and meat sauce.

The basic sauce itself consisted of a large container of Ragu meat sauce; two large cans of regular tomato sauce; a can of tomato paste; 1 1/3 lbs. ground sirloin; a large onion, a green pepper and approximately four cloves of garlic (chopped coarsely in the food processor)--to which I added a tablespoon of dried rosemary (ground up in a mortar), a tablespoon of dried oregano, and a tablespoon of fennel seeds (also ground up in the mortar, or at least smashed to bits), along with two bay leaves, about a tablespoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, a few sprigs of fresh thyme (although you could use dried), and a generous amount (approximately 1/4 cup) of freshly grated Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese. After all that was bubbling in the pot, I added the sausages (10 of them), which I'd first browned in olive oil. (Actually the sauce began in the olive oil after the sausages had been removed and set aside.) I simmered the sauce for about 2 hours, stirring often.

I served it over Barilla angel hair pasta (2 lbs. for the price of one at Publix).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Almost TGIF

I did go to the gym tonight on foot and went shopping afterwards. I'll deal with the truck this weekend maybe. There's a Publix in the same shopping center where the gym is. Bought some "GreenWise" chicken Italian sausages (never saw them before)--raised without antibiotics; no artificial ingredients; air-chilled; and with natural preservatives. I just hope that when one of these chickens gets sick, they do give it antibiotics if necessary, rather than let it suffer.

I read the ingredients on the package. I guess the natural preservative is salt. These are hot Italian sausages, so I figure the hot spice also acts as a natural preservative. There was also some sodium lactate in it, but my research indicates that this enhances the flavor.

I'll make a nice spaghetti sauce with these for the weekend and also use some regular ground sirloin (which I assume has antibiotics in it).

We watched "Queer As Folk" on Logo tonight. (I'd never seen all the installments.) Last week they bumped it for the presidential debates. We were very disappointed. I already know where the candidates stand on almost every issue, but I'm still a little worried about Hillary's stand on healthcare, now that she's getting big financial backing from the healthcare industries. As far as I know, John Edwards still has the best plan, but obviously he's not going to win the nomination.

No more vitriol from this podium. As angry and frustrated as I get sometimes, it's not worth it to sit here and lash out when frankly I should be going to bed. Plus, if I've had a cocktail or two (as I do on occasion), it comes across as a freakish, paranoid rant. Then I have to delete it the next day. I'm tired of doing that!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Life Is A Dream

I remember reading a play by that title by a Spanish playwright--Calderon de la Barca or Lope de Vega, I can't remember which. It was very memorable.

Anyway, I had a dream yesterday while I was taking a nap, and the name of one of the characters--a deceased Southern gentleman--was (get this) Panis Tantey Pussey. How weird is that! (I spelled it phonetically.)

Car Troubles

Part of reality. Truck wouldn't start tonight when I was heading out to the gym. I think I need a new battery. I could have walked to the gym--it's a little over 5 minutes away on foot--but by the time I'd fiddled with the car, it was getting a little late to go to the gym. I should probably walk to the gym anyway, but often I do grocery shopping afterwards and use the truck for hauling. When I wasn't driving I rode my bike to the gym and hauled groceries on the bike. Having the truck makes life a little easier, but I'm definitely not getting the exercise I used to get. But then again, I'm not single anymore and have less time to kill and more groceries to haul. (That's kind of a cop-out, I admit.)

Anyway, I had an inkling the battery was going out; a few weeks ago I was having similar problems. Per Dad's advice, I cleaned the corrosion off the battery terminals with a baking soda solution and that seemed to do the trick. Perhaps it helped. But the battery is getting old. So I'll just call AAA and have them come and install a new battery.

I'm glad this happened at home rather than at the gym or the grocery store.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More on Karl Rove's Departure

Sidney Blumenthal has a really good piece which puts the entire Bush nightmare into perspective.

Digby at Hullabaloo has this. He begins: "Nobody is ever more passionate than an apostate. Here's Andrew Sullivan . . . ."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Karl Rove's Resignation

The link to the abstract on the Lesch-Nyhan story contained a link to George Packer's blog. This is good. There's a link there to an article on Rove in The Atlantic, which also sounds good. This 2003 article from the The New Yorker (which I did read) contains more information on Rove than you'd probably care to know. Here's a snippet:

Rove had come out of nowhere—to be specific, Utah, from a nonpolitical and not very well-established family that he didn’t talk about much. . . .

I asked Rove if he remembered his first impression of the Bushes. “The father was incredibly gentle,” he said. “Great character. Very thoughtful. Really generous in his openness and attitude. Clearly pained by Watergate as it unrolled.” His first memory of George W. Bush was more precise. “It was the day before Thanksgiving, 1973,” Rove said. “Chairman Bush’s chief of staff called me and said, ‘I’ve got to be at a meeting on the Hill, the chairman’s got to be at a meeting at the White House, the other people in the office have already gone, and the eldest son’s going to be coming down from Harvard. He’s going to arrive at the train station, early afternoon. He’ll call over here when he gets to the train station. Meet him down in the lobby and give him the keys to the family car.’ I can literally remember what he was wearing: an Air National Guard flight jacket, cowboy boots, bluejeans, complete with the—in Texas you see it a lot—one of the back pockets will have a circle worn in the pocket from where you carry your tin of snuff, your tin of tobacco. He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have.” . . .

It still makes be gag when I read that last part.

Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome

The August 13 New Yorker had a story on this disease, which is caused by a genetic mutation. I'd never heard of it before. The article is not available online but here's an abstract.

I've typed up a couple of paragraphs:

A few hundred boys and men alive in the United States today have been diagnosed as having Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. . . . One boy, known as J.J., ended up living in Nyhan's research unit for a year, when he was eleven. He was a gregarious child, whose hands seemed to hate him. Over time, his fingers had got inside his mouth and nose and had broken out and removed the bones of his upper palate and parts of his sinuses, leaving a cavern in his face. He had also bitten off several fingers. J.J. died in his late teens . . . .

A Lesch-Nyhan person may be fine for days, until suddenly his hands jump into his mouth with the suddenness of a cobra strike, and he cries for help. People with Lesch-Nyhan feel pain as acutely as anyone else does, and they are horrified by the idea of their fingers or lips being severed. They feel as if their hands and mouth don't belong to them and are under the control of something else. Some Lesch-Nyhan people have bitten off their tongues, and some have a record of self-enucleation--they have pulled out an eye or stabbed it with a sharp object. . . .

Here's an article in Wikipedia which includes a photo of a person who has it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

R.I.P. Pierre-André

Notice in French here.

Good Show Tonight

On A&E, "American Justice" about the dog-mauling in San Francisco. I'd not seen that one. I'd read about this case in the papers. The owners of the mauling dogs were both attorneys. The "maulee" ended up dying. After she was dead and of course unable to defend herself, the dogs' owners asserted the maulee contributed to her own mauling by wearing perfume or taking steroids. They also said she could have entered her apartment and slammed her door against the dogs (there were two of them, each weighing more than she, i.e, well over 100 lbs.). She was obviously mauled in the hallway while carrying groceries. In photos you could see the groceries strewn about the hallway, including an Old El Paso taco kit (our favorite). How dumb can these attorneys be?

We also watched a hilarious episode of "Sell This House."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday Afternoon

About time for a nap. Meanwhile I'm taping "Sell This House" on A&E. HGTV has also come out with a "staging" show called "Get It Sold." It's good but I prefer watching Tanya and Roger. We don't like the new HGTV show "Color Correction." It's really tacky. The new "Design Star" is fun, although the reruns are eating up the schedule.

Made some decent beef stew, starting last night and finishing it off today. Followed pretty much the "Gaston Beef Stew" recipe in The Joy of Cooking. (It'll be better tomorrow.) Added a can of tomato paste towards the end. Had to walk over to the nearby convenience store to get it. Man is it steamy out there.

Our friend who moved to North Carolina called this afternoon. It's over 100 degrees where she is, in Fort Bragg, but not humid (she says). Her former condo is across the street, next to the store, so I was thinking about her, and then she called (for B.). Her cat is doing well, by the way, up in Hollywood with a friend of mine. Talked to him (the friend) today, too.

"U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span"

From Salon:

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER Associated Press Writer

August 11,2007 WASHINGTON -- Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries.

For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles.

Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.

"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from
the National Center for Health Statistics.

Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Maucau, San Marino and Singapore.

The shortest life expectancies were clustered in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been hit hard by an epidemic of HIV and AIDS, as well as famine and civil strife. Swaziland has the shortest, at 34.1 years, followed by Zambia, Angola, Liberia and Zimbabwe.

Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.

But "it's not as simple as saying we don't have national health insurance," said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. "It's not that easy."

Among the other factors:

-- Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

"The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. "We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times."

-- Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.

Black American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years, slightly longer than the averages for Iran and Syria and slightly shorter than in Nicaragua and Morocco.

-- A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.

Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.

"It really reflects the social conditions in which African American women grow up and have children," said Dr. Marie C. McCormick, professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health. "We haven't done anything to eliminate those disparities."

Murray, from the University of Washington, said improved access to health insurance could increase life expectancy. But, he predicted, the U.S. won't move up in the world rankings as long as the health care debate is limited to insurance.

Policymakers also should focus on ways to reduce cancer, heart disease and lung disease, said Murray. He advocates stepped-up efforts to reduce tobacco use, control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

"Even if we focused only on those four things, we would go along way toward improving health care in the United States," Murray said. "The starting point is the recognition that the U.S. does not have the best health care system. There are still an awful lot of people who think it does."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sad Week

Two nights ago I found out from a friend in Canada, who used to live here, that his younger brother of 44 years is terminally ill. He had a thrombosis in an artery supplying blood to his intestines and, despite losing weight and being in pain over a period of several months, never went to the doctor about it. Finally, when he did go to the doctor, and they ultimately cut him open, his intestines were necrotic and had to be removed. Plus his blood vessels in that region were destroyed.

This is a very rare condition for a person of his age, a textbook case. To survive, he would not be able to eat--he would have to be fed intravenously for the rest of his life (and he's a gourmet cook). He has two ostomy bags. Furthermore, the chances of his survival with an intestine implant are very slim. So, in accordance with his own wishes, he probably won't be around much longer.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Crazy Monday

Well, back to work. Had a dentist appointment this afternoon. Took my Valium before leaving the office in anticipation of more bonding. Made the short bus ride to Omni Station and exited the bus during the height of a violent thunderstorm. I lingered under the shelter a bit but didn't want to be late for my appointment. By the time I'd crossed Biscayne Blvd. and reached the dentist's office--a stone's throw from Omni--I was drenched, even carrying an umbrella. The rain was coming sideways and the water at the curbs was deep. Even my socks got soaked.

As it turned out, the dentist didn't even do anything but look inside my mouth. He's got a couple more projects to do but thinks it's better to wait till the beginning of next year, when the new insurance cycle begins.

Went back to the office--the storm by then had subsided but it was still raining--and, still under sedation, after I took my shoes and socks off and set them aside to dry (which they didn't), got a few things done before it was time to go home.

Paul Krugman

From today's article, "The Substance Thing", wherein he derides the Republican candidates for their lack thereof and further states:

Whatever the fate of the Edwards candidacy, Mr. Edwards will deserve a lot of the credit if and when we do get universal care in this country.

Mr. Edwards has also offered a detailed, sensible plan for tax reform, and some serious antipoverty initiatives.

Four months after the Edwards health care plan was announced, Barack Obama followed with a broadly similar but somewhat less comprehensive plan. Like Mr. Edwards, Mr. Obama has also announced a serious plan to fight poverty.

Hillary Clinton, however, has been evasive. She conveys the impression that there’s not much difference between her policy positions and those of the other candidates — but she’s offered few specifics. In particular, unlike Mr. Edwards or Mr. Obama, she hasn’t announced a specific universal care plan, or explicitly committed herself to paying for health reform by letting some of the Bush tax cuts expire.

For those who believe that the time for universal care has come, this lack of specifics is disturbing. In fact, what Mrs. Clinton said about health care in February’s Democratic debate suggested a notable lack of urgency: “Well, I want to have universal health care coverage by the end of my second term.”

On Saturday, at the YearlyKos Convention in Chicago, she sounded more forceful: “Universal health care will be my highest domestic priority as president.” But does this represent a real change in position? It’s hard to know, since she has said nothing about how she would cover the uninsured.

And even if you believe Mrs. Clinton’s contention that her positions could never be influenced by lobbyists’ money — a remark that drew boos and hisses from the Chicago crowd — there’s reason to worry about the big contributions she receives from the insurance and drug industries. Are they simply betting on the front-runner, or are they also backing the Democratic candidate least likely to hurt their profits? . . .

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Paul Krugman

From his column on Friday ("A Test for Democrats"), wherein he discusses the hedge fund loophole, inter alia. According to Air America, even John Kerry has backed off on closing this loophole. It's time for some of that campaign finance reform.

It’s been a good Democrats, bad Democrats kind of week. The bill expanding children’s health insurance that just passed in the House makes you want to stand up and cheer. Reports that Senator Charles Schumer opposes plans to close the hedge fund tax loophole make you want to sit down and cry.

Let’s start with the good news: The House bill, which the Congressional Budget Office says would provide coverage to five million children who would otherwise be uninsured.

The bill is so good that it has Republicans spluttering. “The bill uses children as pawns,” declared Representative Pete Sessions of Texas. Yes, the Democrats are exploiting children — by providing them with health care.

The horror, the horror!

What’s especially encouraging is the way House Democrats were willing to take on the insurance companies. The bill pays for children’s health care in part by cutting subsidies to Medicare Advantage, a privatization scheme that yields big profits for insurers, but that the budget office estimates would cost taxpayers $54 billion in excess payments over the next five years.

Earlier this year I worried that many Democrats would be taken in by the insurance industry’s disinformation campaign in support of its subsidies, which included the pretense that Medicare Advantage offers big benefits to minority groups. In the end, however, House Democrats refused to be rolled.

All in all, the bill is both a fine piece of legislation and a demonstration that Democrats can stand up to special interests. Happy days are here again.

Or maybe not.

The hedge fund tax loophole is a crystal-clear example of unjustified privilege. Because of a quirk in the law, the people who run these funds don’t pay taxes like ordinary mortals.

For example, the salaries that pension fund employees receive for managing other peoples’ money are taxed as ordinary income, at rates up to 35 percent. But if that money is invested with a hedge fund — and 40 percent of the money in hedge funds comes from public, corporate and union pension plans — the fees the hedge fund manager receives for his services are mainly taxed as capital gains, with a maximum rate of 15 percent.

The arguments usually made on behalf of this unique privilege make no sense. We’re told that the tax rate on hedge fund managers has to be kept low to encourage risk-taking. But the managers aren’t risking their own money. The only risk they face is the uncertainty of their fees — and as any waitress who depends on tips or salesman who depends on commissions can tell you, most people with uncertain incomes don’t get any special tax breaks. . . .

Frank Rich

"Patriots Who Love the Troops to Death"

GERALD FORD spoke the truth when he called Watergate “our long national nightmare,” but even a nightmare can have its interludes of rib-splitting farce.

None were zanier than the antics of Baruch Korff, a small-town New England rabbi who became a full-time Richard Nixon sycophant as the walls closed in. Korff was ubiquitous in the press and on television, where he would lambaste Democrats and the media “lynch mob” for vilifying “the greatest president of the century.” Despite Nixon’s reflexive anti-Semitism, he returned the favor by granting the rabbi audiences and an interview that allowed the embattled president to soliloquize about how his own faith and serenity reinforced his conviction “deep inside” that everything he did was right.

Clearly we’ve reached our own Korffian moment in our latest long national nightmare. The Nixon interviewed by the rabbi sounded uncannily like the resolute leader chronicled by the conservative columnists and talk-show jocks President Bush has lately welcomed into his bunker. For his part, William Kristol even published a Korffian manifesto, “Why Bush Will Be a Winner,” in The Washington Post. It reassured us that the Bush presidency would “probably be a successful one” and that “we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome” in Iraq. A Bush flack let it be known that the president liked this piece so much that he recommended it to his White House staff.

Are you laughing yet? Maybe not. No one died in Watergate. This time around, the White House lying and cover-ups have been not just in the service of political thuggery but to gin up a gratuitous war without end.

There is another significant difference as well. Washington never drank the Nixon Kool-Aid. It kept a skeptical bipartisan eye on Tricky Dick throughout his political career, long before the Watergate complex had even been built. The charmed Mr. Bush, by contrast, got a free pass; both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and both liberals and conservatives in the news media were credulous enablers of the Iraq fiasco. Now a reckoning awaits, and the denouement is getting ugly.

The ranks of unreconstructed Iraq hawks are thinner than they used to be. Some politicians in both parties (John Edwards, Chris Dodd, Gordon Smith) and truculent pundits (Peter Beinart, Andrew Sullivan) who cheered on the war recanted (sooner in some cases than others), learned from their errors and moved on. One particularly eloquent mea culpa can be found in today’s New York Times Magazine, where the former war supporter Michael Ignatieff acknowledges that those who “truly showed good judgment on Iraq” might have had no more information than those who got it wrong, but did not make the mistake of confusing “wishes for reality.”

But those who remain dug in are having none of that. Some of them are busily lashing out Korff-style. Some are melting down. Some are rewriting history. Most seem more interested in saving their own reputations than the American troops they ritualistically invoke to bludgeon the wars’ critics and to parade their own self-congratulatory patriotism.

It was a rewriting of history that made the blogosphere (and others) go berserk last week over an Op-Ed article in The Times, “A War We Just Might Win,” by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack. The two Brookings Institution scholars, after a government-guided tour, pointed selectively to successes on the ground in Iraq in arguing that the surge should be continued “at least into 2008.”

The hole in their argument was gaping. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said honorably and bluntly in his Congressional confirmation hearings, “No amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference” in Iraq if there’s no functioning Iraqi government. Opting for wishes over reality, Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack buried their pro forma acknowledgment of that huge
hurdle near the end of their piece. . . .

Tax Advantages for Hedge Funds?

No. (More to follow.) I'm going to quote from an article by Paul Krugman and also speak about some remarks I heard on the radio tonight on Air America. The hedge fund people (who are contributing most heavily to Democrats now) pay tax only on capital gains rather than full income tax.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


We watched this movie tonight on Comcast On Demand and highly recommend it. We're a big fan of Laura Linney anyway, from "Tales of the City," "Kinsey," etc. She was pretty much the star of the movie.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Fat or fiction?"

This story on this morning's Today Show has some pretty good information. Here's some additional perspective: one can of V-8 juice equates to two servings of vegetables (according to the label on the can). (No, I have no financial stake in V-8 juice.)