lurkitty: (albert)
Go to Google images and type "underwhelmed".

Enshrined there in thumbnails is an illustration of my feelings with respect to the passage of the Iraq war funding bill. I find myself, a lefty of the extremist ilk, quite unable to join in the festival of collective spleen venting against the Congress.

For the record, I do not think the troops should be in Iraq another day. Cutting off funding was a good idea. Adding a timetable was a good idea. Point made, speeches made, no veto-proof majority possible? Move on (to borrow a slogan).

Getting into a high-profile power struggle right now is not a good idea.

The US is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. If you are following Gonzo-gate at all, you may have noted that, in the last few days, concrete testimony of illegal actions by the Attorney General have emerged. In essence, the Legislative Branch is using its oversight privileges to determine if the Executive overstepped its authority over the Judicial Branch.

A standoff right now between Congress and the President would be used to further charges by the Right that these hearings are politically motivated. It would also push coverage of the revelations further off the front pages and out of the lime light. The public needs to be constantly reminded that there is real malfeasance here, that there are members of this administration willfully breaking the law.

Call me barmy, but my eyes are on a bigger prize. We can stop this war by impeaching all the criminals who started it.
lurkitty: (albert)
Today's Baby Blues, a comic by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, struck me as particularly apropos today. SInce I cannot find a link anywhere, you'll have to settle for a description. Mom is sitting on the couch reading a magazine with her young son beside her. He's making a noise like a coyote. In the next panel, she asks, "Would you do me a favor and stop making that annoying noise." The boy says okay. We see him think for a moment, then ask, "What sort of annoying noise would you like me to make?"

Some days I just cannot believe that it is 2007, or even 2000 anything, for that matter.

First, we have the case of Robert Daniels, a 27 year old man sitting in solitary confinement in a jail cell, a light burning both day and night. He is not allowed to take a shower, but must take sponge baths. It is not known if he will ever be able to get out. What was his crime? He didn't commit one. Daniels has a drug resistant form of TB, of XDR-TB, that is considered untreatable. He has been confined for the sake of public safety.

According to an MSNBC article, Daniels was confined as the result of a court order because he failed to follow doctors orders and wear a mask in public. Daniels argues that he did not fully understand the doctor's orders, and that no one explained the consequences of not wearing the mask.

One wonders why they cannot even find a shower the man can use. Because of national news coverage, his television and cell phone have been returned to him this week after guard seized the items in February, saying he should be treated like other prisoners. He has a hearing on April 19th regarding his confinement.

Women in civil service jobs in India are incensed that a new mandatory government health appraisal form contains detailed questions about their menstrual history.

According to BBC News, a federal official said he assumed the questions "will help evaluate the officer's fitness." The form, which comes into effect in March of next year, asks for a detailed menstrual history as well as the dates of the woman's last period and last maternity leave.

Once again, a completely normal function of female anatomy is being treated as a disease. This seems like a giant step backward for women's rights. Kudos to the women who are fighting this nonsense.

And last, but not least, I bring you a bit of good news the latest salvo in the war for a woman's right to govern her own body. The Seattle Times reports that: In a unanimous vote, the state Board of Pharmacy ruled that drug stores have a duty to fill lawful prescriptions, regardless of an individual pharmacist's personal objections to any particular medication.

This ruling was made in response to objections by some pharmacists to selling Plan B, the so-called "morning-after pill". A pharmacist may ask that another pharmacist fill the prescription, but only if the patient is able to obtain her prescription in the same pharmacy visit. It reverses a previous ruling that allowed pharmacists to deny some prescriptions for "personal reasons".

Pharmacists attend a rigorous 4 year course of study to obtain a license, and their coursework covers human anatomy and drug actions. My question is why, then, do some of them believe that Plan B causes an abortion? Plan B does not allow the egg to be implanted in the first place. There is no abortion involved! By their reasoning, any woman who has sex outside of the time she is fertile or has a menstrual cycle is having an abortion.

What this debate is really about is whether women should have any sort of birth control. I'm willing to bet that the same pharmacists who object to dispensing Plan B also object to any other sort of birth control. This is not a free speech issue. It's a medical issue. The pharmacist does not know the reasons the patient wants or needs the drug. There are dozens of reasons that women do not want to get pregnant, and some of them are life-threatening. The pharmacist needs to do his or her job - which is to dispense drugs, not misguided and unscientific morality.

The common thread in each one of these cases is communication. The situation came to the attention of the media, and media is bringing pressure on the authorities to fix problems.

So, what kind of annoying noise would you like us to make?

ETA According to a BBC report, the controversial page of menstruation questions has been dropped by the Indian government.
lurkitty: (albert)
Obfuscation. It's a tactic used when one side has made a decision and the other side wants to push them away from that opinion. I sometimes use my Albert the Alligator icon, taken from one of Walt Kelly's Pogo comics, to illustrate obfuscation. The quote says, "I may not understand what you say, but I will defend to your death my right to deny it."

Case in point. A man comes to my door for the second time in as many days. His buddy sits in a pickup truck idling in the street, a freezer in the back. He offers to give me the freezer if I buy the meat inside. Last time he was here, I politely explained that, not only did I have a freezer, but I am a vegetarian and don't eat meat.

This time, the man got nasty and began arguing that "not all vegetarians don't eat chicken or fish!" Obfuscation. Trying to tell me that I am being unreasonable, that my definition is non-standard. But it is not. You do not come on my property and tell me what I do and do not eat. Carnivores do not define vegetarianism. No sale.

So it is with the impeachment process. Some Republicans want the general public to believe that the Democratic Congress is spineless in not immediately starting impeachment proceedings. This is pure obfuscation. Look at the work of the Judiciary Committee. Slowly, but surely, they are building an airtight case. They are tallying up the offenses, along with the proof, so that when they do bring charges, there will be no wiggle room, no doubt and no way out other than resignation. The net is cast wide so that all of the guilty parties will be indicted.

In overall performance, this Congress has accomplished more in its first few weeks than the last six Congresses did in their entire terms. The next time someone says, "They ought to get off their asses and do something," tell them you don't buy that! They're making so much progress that the Republicans are nervous and getting desperate.
lurkitty: (albert)
I'd like to offer certain members of the media, Glenn Beck in particular, a new accessory: a brown paper bag.

Mr. Beck and other denizens of the conservative media seem overly concerned as to whether or not Barack Obama is Black. They have appointed themselves the arbiters of Negro-ness, saving the African American community from this fakir. Of course, the African-American community doesn't seem to care as much as they do. The discussion there seems to be about policy and performance.

Back in the last century, Mr. Beck, there was a way. It was called the paper bag test. If you held a brown paper bag next to your face, and your skin was lighter than the bag, you could pass as white.

Of course, back then, if you had one Negro parent and one white parent, you were called Colored, or worse.

Not colorless, Mr. Beck, or did you just make a slip of the tongue?
lurkitty: (Default)
One of the stories I loved as a child was The Emperor and the Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen. The story takes place in China, centuries ago. An Emperor, seeking beauty, is introduced to the song of the nightingale and is enchanted. He is then presented with a mechanical nightingale who sang a different type of song, the same song over and over. The mechanical bird was encrusted with precious gems, and the music master declared that it was far superior to the real nightingale. The real bird was soon forgotten, and flew away. The Emperor banished her from his lands.

After a few years, the clockwork bird began to malfunction. The Emperor grew ill. He lay dying, deserted by his courtiers, with no one to wind his musical friend. He cried out in his loneliness for music.

He heard a sweet song from his window. The real nightingale sat in the sill, singing once again. Her song revived him. Instead of singing the same song, she sang of real life, good and bad, rich and poor. In exchange for her song, she bade him promise she would always have this freedom.

Growing up, I was taught that calling people names made them feel bad. Later, I grew to understand that it was far more complicated than that. I learned that it is possible to approach other people in ways that do not invite conflict, but empower both myself ant other people. Coming from the heart and treating every person with dignity and respect is the objective I strive for. I am imperfect, but I genuinely try.

In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, it became quite popular to be racially tolerant. People who previously would never have shaken hands with an African American were suddenly Rev. Jackson's best buddy. They made a great show, and it was very clear that the whole thing was quite disingenuous. These were the people who began to be parodied in comedy routines. These were the people condemned for being "Politically Correct".

It is quite disheartening to note now that racial epithets such as "Beaner" are returning to accepted use. People who are otherwise liberal make blatantly racist statements condemning Hispanics without regard for the fact that not all Hispanics are illegal aliens, nor are they from Mexico, nor are they dirty, poor, uneducated or even non-white. Yes, Hispanics are considered White, for all that it means. It is as sickening to hear people talk about "ragheads" without knowing that not all people who wear turbans are Arab (in all likelihood, here in my neighborhood, the person is a White American Sikh from the Sikh temple in a neighboring city), not all Arabs are Muslim, not all Arabs are at war with Americans, and not all Middle Eastern People are Arabs.

If I object to these false characterizations, however, I am likely to be accused of being "Politically Correct". People have fallen prey to the song of the mechanical bird and have confused it with the real nightingale. We have forgotten that "Political Correctness" is a label slapped on people using racial tolerance for political gain. We have forgotten that we must continually and vigilantly police ourselves in order to remain a society that welcomes all people regardless of race, creed, color or gender orientation.

At the end of the story the nightingale makes this promise to the Emperor: "I will sing to you of those who are happy, and those who suffer; of the good and the evil, who are hidden around you. The little singing bird flies far from you and your court to the home of the fisherman and the peasant’s cot." Let us listen to the nightingale as she reminds us of our fellow human beings.
lurkitty: (Default)
You have to know that something is downright nonsensical when it makes the pages of The finest urban legends have found homes there, from exploding poodles to the latest designer NIgerian scam. Mythbusters gets lots of good material to test.

I did a bit of a double-take when I saw that the latest swift-boat style attack email on Barack Obama had ended up in its hallowed halls.

This email is so flagrantly erroneous it makes your head spin - no wait - that's a different legend... spinning heads.

I love Snopes.
lurkitty: (Default)
The Asylum Street Spanker singing "Stick another Ribbon On Your SUV"

Warning - offensive language and all that. But damned funny and has a point.


Aug. 26th, 2006 05:06 pm
lurkitty: (Default)
Thank God for Katherine Harris.

She's the best thing that's happened for Florida Democrats in decades. In fact, we may go so far as to say that she has helped the Democratic Party on a national level immensely.

While neocons spend millions on focus groups massaging the message and coming up with slogans that are easily swallowed by the masses, our Mrs. Harris* actually comes out and says exactly what she thinks, exactly what we have all suspected that the agenda has been all along. "If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin." There it is, folks. Christians only need apply. No pretense that Jews are okay under the Old Testament grandfather clause.

So, here's to you, Katharine! Keep talking. Slip another veil from the agenda, let us see what the neocons have in store, let us see the America they have shaped for us in the full light of day.

*Ebberson, actually, she doesn't go by her husband's name. Hmm. Why doesn't she "cleave unto her husband?"


Jun. 9th, 2006 08:35 pm
lurkitty: (Default)
There is an old parable about Beauty and Ugliness. It seems that Beauty and Ugliness were both sent from Heaven on the same day. Now, the journey from Heaven is a long one, and the road quite dusty. Both were feeling rather in need of a bath when they came upon a vast lake.

Seeing as they were the only ones around, they both stripped and plunged into the water. Ugliness was the first to finish bathing, and decided to play a trick on Beauty. Donning Beauty's clothing, Ugliness ran off as quickly as possible.

By and by, Beauty emerged from the water. Humans were approaching, so Beauty put on the only clothing available; that of Ugliness. It is said that, to this day, Beauty is still searching for Ugliness in order to change clothes.

I was shopping at a local store yesterday when I stumbled upon Ann Coulter's new book, Godless, The Church of Liberalism. My heart grew sad at the notion that the debate has gotten so out of hand that conservative extremists must try to convince their flocks that liberals are not only tree-hugging, baby-killing, homosexuals, but now they are completely devoid of any allegiance to God.

I was not prepared for exactly how ugly this book really is, nor how ugly Ms. Coulter herself is. In an appearance at Indiana University Ms. Coulter's racist and sexist remarks throughout the evening caused her audience to first heckle and then walk out on her. Calling Iraqi citizens "little brown boys" is far beyond the realm of simply "not being PC," as she puts it.

What is worse, however, is her treatment in the book of the so-called, "Jersey Girls", the 9/11 widows who have spoken out against the Bush administration. Ms. Coulter defends her juvenile name-calling as opening up the debate to include these women, who may have been considered off-limits to criticism due to their status as 9/11 widows. Had she merely done that, I would not be offended. But to state openly that they are enjoying their husbands' deaths and reveling in their status as celebrities without so much as a shred of proof to back herself up is uncalled for, if not libelous.

Now that Ms. Coulter has opened the gates, her conservative cohorts are lapping at her heels. According to Media Matters, the conservative press is actually defending Ms. Coulter's inflammatory remarks. Fox News' Sandy Rios even went so far as to say 9/11was an "accidental bombing" and compare Ms. Coulter's book to Holocaust pictures!

Ms. Coulter's point that it is hard to argue against someone who has lost a loved one is a point well taken. Perhaps there is a reason it is hard to argue against these women. Maybe they remind us of true Christian ideals like mercy and charity. When Ms. Coulter calls Liberals "Godless", I really wonder whose clothes she is wearing.
lurkitty: (Default)
The people of Thailand love their king. Even without the stringent laws against defamation of His Majesty King Bhumibol, no Thai person could think of a bad word to say about him. He has spent his 60 year reign working hard to help his people; the epitome of the enlightened ruler. His accomplishments are many and varied, having familiarized himself with the intricacies of everything from aquaculture to economics.

Having said that, the Thai people despise their Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. He said in April he was stepping down, but he has not done so. People are losing hope that he will ever go away. I have rarely heard Thai people wish ill of anyone. When a rumor spread that he had prostate cancer, however, I heard several women hoping he would die. This sort of thing is not said lightly by practicing Buddhists. His government has been so corrupt, in their estimation, that it is better for the world that he no longer exist in it.

International air traffic is still moving through the over-capacity Don Muang Airport. Its replacement, The Suvanabhumi Airport, was supposed to have been finished in 2004. This state-of-the-art facility has been plagued by scandalous delays and construction errors. The new runways developed potholes before they were used as shady contractors scrimped on materials. The airport building developed cracks and holes, and the concession area was swept by fire last year. They say it will open in September. Most lay the blame squarely on the corrupt Shinawatra Administration, and shake their heads, saying he is a friend of Bush and will never leave.

My first flight left Bangkok airport at 1815 Monday, Bangkok time, or 0215 west coast time. We boarded a bus that took us to our waiting plane, and ascended the roll-away stairs with our carry-on luggage in hand. I was out of breath from the exertion and mingled diesel and jet fuel fumes, along with the general Bangkok pollution. The steward was concerned. [ profile] miladycarol, my trusty travelling companion, explained to him that it was asthma from the climb and that I would be alright if left to recover or a few minutes. The Don Muang Airport is not asthma friendly.

Fortunately, Thai Airways is very nice. They feed you very well. The veggie menu was delectable! Lots of fruits and vegetables. The plane was nearly empty, and we each had a row of our own to lay and sleep on. Little did I know this would be all the sleep I would get... the 8.5 hour flight was pleasant.

I bid a sniffly goodbye to Miladycarol in Sidney. Twice. There was some confusion about whether I had to go through the customs quarantine area, so we said our goodbyes before then. Maybe she didn't tear-up, but my water-sign was hanging out and I started leaking. I met her again in the customs line, and bid her another goodbye.

4 hours of layover in the Sydney Airport was good. I had a chance to eat breakfast and shop for AU t-shirts - something I hadn't gotten before. The Sydney Airport is a lovely facility in contrast to the airport in Bangkok. Having flown out to Thailand a week or so earlier, I was surprised, however, to find an additional security checkpoint after the x-ray. This was at the entrance to the gate itself, and clearly was intended for our gate only. I realized it was for security for US only. Swell. My fellow passengers and I murmured, "Is this for 06/06/06?" For pity's sake, when will we stop being afraid of dates?

The Qantas flight was nearly full. I counted 4 empty seats on the 747. I was in a back, side row on the aisle, which meant I was near the restroom. There were people going by all the time. Since mine was the back row, they would stand behind my seat, often grabbing it or accidentally kicking it as they stretched in the open space behind me.The man in front of me kept his seat reclined the whole trip. The seats were very close together. I had to swing my leg over the arm of my seat to get out. I could not use my laptop - there was no way to open it. The fellow next to me was nice, but first he got drunk on red wine the first four hours of the flight and spilled it on himself (and a bit on me), and then he spent the last three hours of flight time jiggling his leg jonesing for a cigarette. 18.5 hours of fun.

From this idyllic journey, in the worst of moods, not having slept nor having changed my clothes for some 23 hours, I emerged into my least favorite airport, LAX. It seems LA and BKK have much in common. Rather than send a bus, however, we had to walk the length of a football field from the plane to Passport control. At the end of this trek on the wall above us were the smiling visages of none other than George W. and his pal Dick.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the monumental restraint I exercised at that moment is worthy of a medal. No less than half a dozen snide remarks came to mind, but I lowered my head and pressed on, knowing that there were cameras and microphones everywhere.

My plane was late coming in. I had to collect my luggage, go through customs and get to my next flight in an hour. I had been in the last row. I was last off the plane. I could not run up the causeway. I then had to wait for my dijeridoo in oversize luggage, which put me last in the customs line. I got through it at 0830. My flight was supposed to board at 0840. I walked up the ramp and found that I had to join another cueue for another TSA search. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. I'd finally had it. I was licked. A TSA agent said, "Why is that woman crying?"

I showed them my boarding pass, and explained that it had been 23 hours since I'd slept or changed clothes (okay, so I laid it on thick). She said, "You're not going to make it, take your bags to your carrier," and turned away. Then I really lost it. "Where?" I asked. There were no signs anywhere. I had no clue where to go. I had no idea which terminal I was in. "Where do you want me to go?" The supervisor came over, checked my flight number, and decided they could check my bags after all, and gave me directions to the other terminal.

The LA airport is ridiculous. TSA agents should not be left to give instructions to passengers. There should be signs. After all of that, I had to walk outside in the smog to the next terminal. I went through another TSA screening because I had been outside. I then found the gate I was looking for closed and deserted. I found an agent at the next gate, who informed me that the flight had been moved to another gate in the next room.

I made my flight. Prop jets are still very cool if you have noise-cancelling headphones.

Isn't it sad that we live in what is supposed to be the most free country in the world, yet I had to censor myself in the causeway for fear of being put on a secret list somewhere that would at worst prevent me from flying again, at best subject me to search each time I pass through an airport? There are no laws against defaming King George, but I was gagged as severely as if there had been. Why have we given our hard-won freedom to this man? He has not protected us, he has only made us afraid of our neighbors, and given those who were once allies reason to hate us. He has made a simple trip into a nightmare with half-measures that do not protect, but only inconvenience. We are living in a police state. Take a trip outside and see.

The Thai people love their King because he does not act like a King. We hate our President because he acts like a despot. Wake up! We did not elect a King!


lurkitty: (Default)

August 2011

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