Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
The kitchen ceiling project is almost done. He was here today, painting, etc. We're still waiting for the fan to arrive. I was a little disappointed in the handyman's finishing off of the minute details. I'll give him an A-. I'm a stickler for details and so I'm going to be doing a little spackling and repainting. I want the ceiling to look perfect. (Kitchen ceiling blog is at right under Links.)
Walked to the gym and back tonight, stopping off at the store on my way home. I've been reluctant to use the truck and I can use the additional exercise anyway.
My career in journalism with a major newspaper chain ended one day when I was threatened to be exposed as a (homosexual) "pornographer" for writing humorous stuff in private, and fired. That was over 20 years ago. I don't think that would have happened to me today. Miami used to be a hell-hole for homos. (Think Anita Bryant.)
How times have changed. The Republican Vice President's wife has written fiction about a steamy Lesbian relationship, and his daughter is an uncloseted Lesbian with an illegitimate baby (no less). (What's with that family?)
And so on, and so forth.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Enjoy the new show on A&E, "Confessions of a Matchmaker." Started watching it last Saturday night. Going to watch this tonight ("John from Cincinnati").
"They’ll Break the Bad News on 9/11," in today's NYT:
BY this late date we should know the fix is in when the White House's top factotums fan out on the Sunday morning talk shows singing the same lyrics, often verbatim, from the same hymnal of spin. The pattern was set way back on Sept. 8, 2002, when in simultaneous appearances three cabinet members and the vice president warned darkly of Saddam's aluminum tubes. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," said Condi Rice, in a scripted line. The hard sell of the war in Iraq — the hyping of a (fictional) nuclear threat to America — had officially begun.
America wasn't paying close enough attention then. We can't afford to repeat that blunder now. Last weekend the latest custodians of the fiasco, our new commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and our new ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, took to the Sunday shows with two messages we'd be wise to heed.
The first was a confirmation of recent White House hints that the long-promised September pivot point for judging the success of the "surge" was inoperative. That deadline had been asserted as recently as April 24 by President Bush, who told Charlie Rose that September was when we'd have "a pretty good feel" whether his policy "made sense." On Sunday General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker each downgraded September to merely a "snapshot" of progress in Iraq. "Snapshot," of course, means "Never mind!"
The second message was more encoded and more ominous. Again using similar language, the two men said that in September they would explain what Mr. Crocker called "the consequences" and General Petraeus "the implications" of any alternative "courses of action" to their own course in Iraq. What this means in English is that when the September "snapshot" of the surge shows little change in the overall picture, the White House will say that "the consequences" of winding down the war would be even more disastrous: surrender, defeat, apocalypse now. So we must stay the surge. Like the war's rollout in 2002, the new propaganda offensive to extend and escalate the war will be exquisitely timed to both the anniversary of 9/11 and a
high-stakes Congressional vote (the Pentagon appropriations bill). . . .
. . .
As General Odom says, the endgame will start "when a senior senator from the president's party says no," much as William Fulbright did to L.B.J. during Vietnam. That's why in Washington this fall, eyes will turn once again to John Warner, the senior Republican with the clout to give political cover to other members of his party who want to leave Iraq before they're forced to evacuate Congress. In September, it will be nearly a year since Mr. Warner said that Iraq was "drifting sideways" and that action would have to be taken "if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function."
Mr. Warner has also signaled his regret that he was not more outspoken during Vietnam. "We kept surging in those years," he told The Washington Post in January, as the Iraq surge began. "It didn't work." Surely he must recognize that his moment for speaking out about this war is overdue. Without him, the Democrats don't have the votes to force the president's hand. With him, it's a slam dunk. The best way to honor the sixth anniversary of 9/11 will be to at last disarm a president who continues to squander countless lives in the names of those voiceless American dead.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
If adults choose to have this procedure, that's another story. But to subject babies to it, unless there's some medical necessity for it, is mutilation.
John Edwards has the best plan. Hillary has no plan so far. See this too.
The French health care system is the best and it's way cheaper than the American system (maybe by 1/3).
I plan on seeing Michael Moore's film myself (I saw the last one and it was good) and I recommend everyone see it. It's got really good reviews.
I still think John Edwards has the best ideas about our health-care problem.
Friday, June 22, 2007
He says the vice presidency isn't part of the executive branch of government, repudiating the U.S. Constitution. If anybody deserves to be impeached, it's Cheney. He's the mastermind of so much of the dark, un-American mischief that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration. The bums will be thrown out. But they have a little more time to work their mischief. Eventually it will be undone and we'll get back to a system of open government ("in the sunshine" as they say in Florida).
Never in the history of the United States has anyone contended that the Vice President is outside the executive branch. Never. Not even during last call at a bar outside of the country's worst law school. . . .
Watched stuff on Logo tonight, including some of "Bad Girls" and the latest installment of "Queer As Folk." Then we watched the part of "Big Love" we had missed. I'd say if people around the country are watching this show, things don't bode well for Mitt Romney. With all the lying and deception (and worse) going on in that show, people are going to wonder about Mormons. We've already had enough lying and deception (and worse) under George Bush, without the added issue of illegal polygamy.
"Queer As Folk" is great. I'd never seen all the episodes since I didn't subscribe to Showtime. (A Sugars regular would tape the first year's episodes and bring them in to Sugars where they would be played on the monitors--illegal yes.) Maybe we'll just buy the whole series and watch it uncut, without ads, and with captions. I have a hard time picking up some of the dialog, esp. in the discotheque. B. insists this is a sign of age. (He is also getting older.)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Al Gore also talks about this in his book, The Assault on Reason:
Well before he began beating the drums for war against Iraq, Bush had already announced that his chosen enemy was evil itself. The day after 9/11, Bush announced, "This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail." Two days later, I was sitting in the audience at the National Cathedral when Bush proclaimed that his "responsibility to history" was to "rid the world of evil." I actually thought that most of the president's speech that day was excellent, and I told him so. But I remember being astonished at the grandiosity and hubris of his odd and disturbing claim that he could and would "rid the world of evil."
The following week, in addressing a joint session of Congress, Bush said God had foreordained the outcome of the conflict in which we were engaged because "freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them."
As others have noted, Bush's view of his policies in the context of a fateful spiritual conflict between good and evil does not really represent Christian doctrine. It actually more closely resembles an ancient Christian heresy called Manichaeism--rejected by Christianity more than a thousand years ago--that sought to divide all of reality into two simple categories, absolute good and absolute evil.
Simplicity is always more appealing than complexity, and faith is always more comforting than doubt. Both religious faith and uncomplicated explanations of the world are even more highly valued at a time of great fear. Moreover, during times of great uncertainty and public anxiety, any leader who combines simplistic policies with claims of divine guidance is more likely to escape difficult questions based on glaring logical flaws in his arguments.
There are many people in both political parties who worry that there is something deeply troubling about President Bush's relationship to reason, his disdain for facts, and his lack of curiosity about any new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the problems and policies that he is supposed to wrestle with on behalf of the country.
Yet Bush's incuriosity and seeming immunity to doubt is sometimes interpreted by people who see and hear him on television as evidence of the strength of his conviction, even though it is this very inflexibility--this willful refusal even to entertain alternative opinions or conflicting evidence--that poses the most serious danger to our country. . . .
My cat apparently has benefited from my treatment of her ears. I must confess I used diluted Dawn to dislodge the ear wax (swabbing it in her ears with cotton balls). I figured if they use it to get crude oil off birds following an oil tanker spill, it would be safe for my cat. I did thoroughly rinse her ears afterwards.
I also used Bactine (as a pain killer), hydrogen peroxide, Caladryl Clear and ear mite medicine.
She's now acting serene and very loving (and forgiving of me).
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I didn't get home from the doctor's appointment (scheduled for 5:40) till almost 9:00. The office was fairly packed when I got there. He was running behind. That's why I try to get the latest possible appointments, so as not to eat up my work day.
Got my Valium prescription for the upcoming dentist visit. He sympathized with me and said he also goes to the dentist "pre-medicated."
He said I've got very high "good" cholesterol, which counterbalances the bad cholesterol. My cholesterol had gone up a bit since the last blood tests, with the good cholesterol going up with the bad (he showed me a graph on the computer in the treatment room). He said, in effect, I was well armed against cholesterol-related heart problems. Was glad to hear that.
While sitting in the waiting room, I read quite a bit of Al Gore's "Assault on Reason." I think it's great, now that I got past the rather boring introduction (which I didn't think was necessary). Some choice quotes to come. Al has lots of firsthand information and intimate insights into our current political situation. He's also got a flair for the ironic (aided by the Bush administration's lack thereof).
The doctor also gave me a 3-month prescription for generic Norvasc so I can save on co-pays by getting it through my health plan. Countries that have decent health care systems do not have co-pays, according to what I've read. We're told that co-pays discourage people from abusing their insurance and getting unnecessary drugs. What if the drugs are indispensable to your survival? No, co-pays are designed to boost the profits of the health insurance companies (and the drug companies).
I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Never like those, but prefer them to dentist's appointments. I'm going to ask the doctor to prescribe me some Valium or something to tolerate the next dentist's appointment (bondings).
I'm not going to get riled up anymore over Andrew Sullivan's blogs. Why he came to this country, I don't know. Most Europeans are content to stay in Europe, and for good reason. Europeans no longer emigrate to this country as they used to. There's no need. They've got good systems in place there (except for England's social security system, which Margaret Thatcher destroyed--see earlier post). The U.S. used to be a magnet for Europeans, but no more. Europe now is a much better place to live than before. About the only foreign people who want to live in the U.S. now are what we call "illegal immigrants." And they would probably prefer living in their native country if it weren't so poor.
Andrew thinks our health care system is hunky-dory. (He's a tool of the American pharmaceutical companies, probably getting free HIV drugs, which are exorbitantly expensive for most people in the U.S.) He likes our system of socialism for the rich. And he calls himself a "conservative."
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Andrew doesn't understand the U.S. Read the review here (free but you have to register).
This is all very British--not surprising, given that Sullivan was born and raised in England. The question is whether it can work in America, or anywhere else, for that matter. . . . Because the idea of "inalienable rights," which Sullivan spurns as pertaining to liberalism rather than conservatism, is woven into American tradition but not the British, it would be surprising if American conservatives did not rise to its defense, as many do.
This failure to understand the way creed and tradition interpenetrate American politics generates all manner of difficulties. . . . [I]t leads Sullivan to mischaracterize the U.S. Constitution as being about only means and procedures, overlooking the Preamble, which declares in no uncertain terms what the Constitution’s purposes are and what they are not (the blessings of liberty but not the promotion of virtue; the common defense and general welfare but not the inculcation of the One True Faith, and so forth). . . .
Monday, June 11, 2007
A source told the newspaper that Hilton worried that guards would snap her photo while she was going to the bathroom and those images would end up on the Internet.
Re: a bill on stem cell research, Nancy Pelosi said this:
“Science is a gift of God to all of us and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, arguing for the bill’s passage. “And that is the embryonic stem cell research.”
I really don't see a problem with it. Nancy Pelosi has a religious background (as do most of us Americans) and has no difficulty reconciling Biblical lore with reason and science. God gave mankind the brains (i.e., reason) to make scientific and medical discoveries to improve our lot--it's all in keeping with God's plan, one might say. What's the stink? Who's to fault Nancy Pelosi for using religious/mythological language to express a point, by Jove!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
"Outing the Out of Touch"
Be honest. Who would you rather share a foxhole with: a gay soldier or Mitt Romney?
A gay soldier, of course. In a dicey situation like that, you need someone steadfast who knows who he is and what he believes, even if he’s not allowed to say it out loud.
Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue, as the gloriously gay Oscar Wilde said. And gays are the sacrifice that hypocritical Republican candidates offer to placate “values” voters — even though some candidates are not so finicky about morals regarding their own affairs and divorces.
They may coo over the photo of Dick Cheney, whose re-election campaign demonized gays, proudly smiling with his new grandson, the first baby of his lesbian daughter, Mary.
But they’ll hold the line, by jiminy, against gay Americans who are willing to die or be horribly disfigured in the cursed Bush/Cheney war in Iraq. . . .
The Republican field seems stale and out of sync. They should have listened to the inimitable Barry Goldwater, who told it true: You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Virginia sucks these days. I went to college there for two years when the state motto was "Virginia is for lovers." (I'm part Virginian from way back and still have cousins there.) Now it seems to be for haters (including gay-haters). Once a great bastion of American democracy--where reason and enlightenment prevailed--Virginia seems to have lost its way in the dark. Too bad for the birthplace of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson et al. Given its history, Virginia should be one of the most progressive places in the U.S. Instead it's one of the least.
Watched a show on William the Conqueror, one on the (coming) Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, and now my favorite, "Sell This House". (I've seen most of them.)
In Florida we just have to worry about hurricanes and eventually being obliterated by the ocean rising due to global warming. The tsunami originating in the Canary Islands is also worrisome. I love the last shot of that show, showing the skyscrapers of downtown Miami poking up out of a vast expanse of glassy water (what happened to Miami Beach?). Here's something interesting.
Check out this article from the AARP.
It’s "actually cheaper for the state to carry the risk," says Chief Executive[*] Christine Farnish, adding that in looking for a system that offers the best combination of modest guaranteed retirement benefits and low cost, the U.S. Social Security program seems the best model. "It doesn’t have to make a profit, and it delivers efficiencies of scale that most companies would die for," she says. . . .
In 1986 the Thatcher government offered to let people divert part of their social security taxes into a personal investment account similar to a 401(k). For help in designing the plan, the government turned to the insurance industry, the main source of long-term investment products in Britain. By assigning this role to the industry that would benefit most, the government had in effect asked the fox to design the chicken coop. . . .
[*of Britain's National Association of Pension Funds, an employers’ group]
As the Bush Administration goes about trying to privatize everything for the sole benefit of his political cronies vs. the American public--an essentially un-American notion when you look at our democratic history--people should be wary. Margaret Thatcher was, like Bush, an ideological capitalist who believed (yes, it's like religion) that unfettered private enterprise would cure all of England's ills. So what did she do but privatize England's social security system, with disastrous consequences.
This Washington Post article is instructive:
A conservative political leader, basking in a second-term electoral victory, announces a plan to rescue the state-funded retirement system from a looming deficit crisis. One of the leader's keystone proposals: allow participants in the system to divert a sizeable chunk of their contributions to private savings accounts where they can get a better return than in the government system.
Sound familiar? What President Bush is proposing for the United States closely echoes the privatization plan that then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher -- an apostle of rolling back the modern welfare state -- implemented in Britain in the late 1980s. Millions of Britons flocked to Thatcher's plan, egged on by government subsidies, by hard-selling private investment funds and by state-sponsored advertisements showing a pair of hands breaking free from the chains of government regulation.
But for many investors Thatcher's plan has fallen flat. Many investment funds charged huge commissions and fees, leaving contributors worse off than they would have been in the state system. The stock market collapse . . . compounded their losses. Meanwhile, many private pension plans have gone bust, after companies drained those plans to pay off rising debts.
. . .
The Labor government in recent years has sought to help out the poorest retirees by offering means-tested benefits to bring them above the poverty line. But critics complain such programs penalize those with personal savings and add another level of complexity to an already confusing system.
Experts say the British experience should serve as a cautionary tale for Americans. . . .
Friday, June 08, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
"The multinational company acquiesces in and enforces the oppression and segregation of women. Man, it's a depressing story," Andrew writes in a post entitled "The Saudi Starbucks."
The story Andrew refers to is not about Starbucks, however, but Saudi Arabia. It's entitled "In Saudi Arabia, a view from behind the veil." No doubt, among all the U.S. companies doing business in Saudi Arabia, Starbucks is not unique in complying with the harsh, backward laws of that country.
The story's author, L.A. Times reporter Megan K. Stack, writes:
I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. I tried to draw parallels: If I went to South Africa during apartheid, would I feel compelled to be polite? . . .
The rules are different here. The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. All U.S. fast-food franchises operating here, not just Starbucks, make women stand in separate lines. U.S.-owned hotels don't let women check in without a letter from a company vouching for her ability to pay; women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes. . . . [Emphasis mine.]
Andrew doesn't like Starbucks because it's progressive. It doesn't conform to his "conservative" notion of what the U.S. should be about (he's from Margaret Thatcher's England, and stuck there in time).
Andrew Sullivan and Saudi Arabia are backwards, not Starbucks (or other U.S. companies). On the basis of the story Andrew links to, he should be dumping on the Bush Administration for embracing Saudi Arabia the way it does. Instead, he dumps on an American company that has a conscience. Maybe he should get with the program.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Andrew Sullivan, who is HIV+, might well be dead today--and in no position to speculate on whether the world would be a better place because of the actions of any government--were it not for the actions of government. Here's a brief rundown on the actions of government in the development of AIDS drugs (up till 2000).
"Speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president is like imagining an alternate universe."
Al Gore is earnestly talking about the long-term implications of the energy and climate crises, and how the Arctic ice cap is receding much faster than computer models had predicted, and how difficult and delicate a task it will be to try and set things straight in Iraq.
You look at him and you can’t help thinking how bizarre it is that this particular political figure, perhaps the most qualified person in the country to be president, is sitting in a wing chair in a hotel room in Manhattan rather than in the White House.
He’s pushing his book “The Assault on Reason.” I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.
The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.
Mr. Gore takes a blowtorch to the Bush administration in his book. He argues that the free and open democratic processes that have made the United States such a special place have been undermined by the administration’s cynicism and excessive secrecy, and by its shameless and relentless exploitation of the public’s fear of terror. . . .
Monday, June 04, 2007
"The Riches" was going to conclude tonight but it was only the last installment for the season. After watching tonight's episode, however, I'm looking forward to next season.
Kitchen ceiling work is looking good. A lot was done today. Lot of light in there now.
Nursing appointment tomorrow -- bunch of blood tests.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
In February, Pastor Ledyaev attended a breakfast at the White House hosted by President Bush. "He's a very good man, a very powerful man. He has many connections with parliament and worldwide connections to the USA and Russia. He agrees with me," says Maslakovs.
Pastor Ledyaev declined an interview, writing instead: "I believe that Christians and their traditional values are discriminated against today, and not the gays and lesbians." In his sermons, he has been more explicit, saying of homosexuals: "God will bring evil upon them! God will drive them out and they will fall!" Many of the counterprotesters at last year's Pride wore "I Love the New Generation" T-shirts.
Read about it on Americablog, here.
The first lesson is this: Take it from me, every vote counts. In our democracy, every vote has power. And never forget that power is yours. Don’t let anyone take it away from you or talk you into throwing it away.
And let’s make sure that this time every vote is counted. Let’s make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president, and that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Fixed New York Strip steaks with garlic-herb butter, baked potatoes topped with cheddar cheese and chives, and a tossed salad for lunch. Not exactly diet food. (I've been watching what I eat and have lost 10 lbs. in about six weeks. Now I don't have to go out and buy new pants.)
I haven't read it but here's a review in the NYT--overwhelmingly positive. Lots of good Amazon reviews here. Good Guardian review here. Gay conservative tool Andrew Sullivan bashes Gore and his book here. I found it odd that he did so in a post about a recurrence in media Gore-bashing.
I'll never forget the outrage I felt as the mainstream media (except Knight-Ridder, now McClatchy) went about mercilessly attacking Gore during the 2000 campaign--and he still won! (That's when I started reading blogs (e.g., The Daily Howler).) If anybody is entitled to settle a score, it's Gore.
He had this right:
Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk-show network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and the others. And then they’ll create a little echo chamber, and pretty soon they’ll start baiting the mainstream media for allegedly ignoring the story they’ve pushed into the zeitgeist. And then pretty soon the mainstream media goes out and disingenuously takes a so-called objective sampling, and lo and behold, these R.N.C. talking points are woven into the fabric of the zeitgeist.
I went ahead and ordered the book.
In the household in which I was raised, the word "liberal" was a dirty word. So I rarely use it. I even wince at the expression "liberal education." I prefer not to get hung up on labels, but if I were to put a label on my political leanings, it would be "progressive."
Here's an article for unabashed liberals, however. But didn't Clinton say, "It's the economy, stupid"? What's “It’s more than the economy, stupid"?!
Friday, June 01, 2007
As a practicing physician, I strongly agree with the main points made in this book, namely, the need for frequent, aerobic excercise [sic] and the importance of eating the right foods. The strong points of this book are its humorous, easy-to-read style, and the emphasis on the fact that exercise and what we eat will not just make us feel better and look younger, but will really help us to live longer. The authors provide ample factual material to bolster their case, and then outline in detail what you have to do to get on board, in terms of the types and amount of excercise [sic], and details about the right foods. I have read several books on health and aging, and this one is probably the best. I don't agree with the underlying world view of the authors, which is decidedly evolutionary, but the basic tenets of the book are certainly valid. The book should inspire you to take better care of your body and to live a longer, healthier, and happier life. There is plently [sic] of helpful information in this book to help anyone who is serious about doing this. We only have one body, so why not take care of it? [Emphasis mine. Does Pat Robertson operate a med. school too?]
The mainstream of geriatric research over the past twenty years has shown that the way we age is largely a consequence of life-style choices, and that a much higher quality of life is available to almost anyone who is willing to work at it. . . . The message of our book, "Younger Next Year," is that most American aging is optional. The science is compelling: exercise, decent nutrition, and emotional and social connections are biological interventions that exceed anything medicine has to offer, reversing most functional aging and giving us strong odds of living well until the end. Be we are ignoring that message. As of 2001, only a third of Americans were getting even the minimum recommended exercise, and fewer than three per cent were following federal dietary recommendations fully. In this context, training more geriatric specialists, urgently as they are needed, is not the solution, any more than training more surgeons to staple stomachs is the solution to our obesity epidemic. It is up to us, as individuals and as a society, to take charge of aging. Most of us can expect to live out our lives with quality and dignity--if we choose to.
Henry S. Lodge, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
New York City
Gawande concludes that there will not be enough geriatricians to care for the large increase in the number of older Americans in coming years. As a geriatrician, I have spent more than thirty years caring for older people, developing clinical and academic programs, and studying the issue of aging; I agree that the way to best prepare our nation for the coming elder boom is to contribute geriatrics training to the education of all medical students, residents, and practicing physicians. It is also important to point out that some of the decrepitude Gawande [who is not a geriatrician, by the way] attributes to aging is actually a function of disease, not aging per se. Upon closer inspection, though, many of the negative phenomena attributed to aging are a result of subtle disease, environmental effects, diet, and behavior, all of which are modifiable.
Richard W. Besdine, M.D.
Chief of the Division of Geriatrics
Rhode Island Hospital
Director of the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research, The Warren Alpert Medical School