Saturday, October 3, 2009

Helen's Still Swinging

Have I mentioned that I love Helen Thomas? She's been a thorn in the side of every president since Kennedy. The dictionary definition of "tenacious" should have her picture.

Helen Thomas is 89 years old and requires some assistance to get to and from the daily White House briefing. Yet her backbone has proved stronger than that of the president she covers.

On Thursday afternoon, Thomas gave a clinic in fortitude to President Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, during the briefing. "Has the president given up on the public option?" she inquired from her front-row-middle seat.

The press secretary laughed at this repetition of a common Thomas inquiry, but this questioner, who has covered every president since Kennedy, wasn't about to be silenced. "I ask it day after day because it has great meaning in this country, and you never answer it," she said.

"Well, I -- I -- I apparently don't answer it to your satisfaction," Gibbs stammered.

"That's right," Thomas snarled.

"I -- I'll -- I'll give you the same answer that I gave you unsatisfactorily for many of those other days," Gibbs offered. "It's what the president believes in --"

"Is he going to fight for it or not?" Thomas snapped.

"We're going to work to get choice and competition into health-care reform" was Gibbs's vague response.

Thomas took that as a no. "You're not going to get it," she advised.

"Then why do you keep asking me?" Gibbs inquired.

"Because I want your conscience to bother you," Thomas replied. The room erupted; Gibbs reddened.

89 years old, and still speaking truth to power. When Helen says "you're not going to get it" Mr. Gibbs (and by extension, Mr. Obama) would be wise to listen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Rethug Idiot on Health Care

OK, it's not news, but Rep. Broun sinks to a new low:

One of the most radical opponents of health care reform is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). He has said that a public option would “kill people.” Last Tuesday, Broun was confronted by a constituent at a health care town hall who explained that he has has gone into debt because he can’t afford insurance for his major depressive disorder. In response to his constituent’s story, Broun said that “people who have depression, who have chronic diseases in this country…can always get care in this country by going to the emergency room.” That comment prompted boos from the crowd. Towards the end of Broun’s answer, a constituent yelled, “That’s why we need a public option!” which brought cheers from the audience. (video at link)

As a former mental health counselor who's suffered bouts of depression myself, I'm outraged at this. Chronic depression (like all chronic diseases) requires long term treatment. Ideally, a combination of counseling and medications are used, but currently it's mostly just medications. They're cheaper. Emergency treatment of depression usually comes as a result of a suicide attempt or serious suicidal ideation. So the congressman was basically saying "go attempt suicide, and you can get treatment". If you survive.
Perhaps the most stunning part of the whole health care debate is how blatant the rethugs have been about there lack of compassion for their fellow human beings. It's one thing to be a cold heartless bastard, another thing to proudly publicly proclaim it.

Party in Rio

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympics. Sounds like a great choice, since the Olympics have never been in South America. Rio beat out Madrid, another really fun city. And, no offense Chicago, but Rio knows how to throw a party.
Of course, the right-wing will celebrate Barack's failure to secure Chicago's bid. It's what they do.

A Flying Boobie

Looking good!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nose Blowing

So, I'm just sitting with the bird and I start having a minor case of rhinorhea. So I grab a tissue, and blow. Grizelda reacts like I've just fired off a shotgun. She's currently hiding in her (open) cage.
I didn't know that I blew my nose that hard.

Jimmy Carter turns 85

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter addresses the crowd during the museum's Oct. 1 grand reopening as Carter Library and Museum Director Jay Hakes looks on. Watch the ceremony >

Former President Jimmy Carter turned 85 today. Most analysts consider Carter's presidency a failure, as he only lasted one term and was unable to pass much of his agenda while in office, but his humanitarian work since leaving office has been magnificent.
I've always felt the Carter was the kindest and smartest president of my lifetime, but that he was a very ineffective politician. I wonder how history might have been different if Jimmy had gotten his alternative energy program passed.

The PRC Turns 60

China 'celebrates' 60 years of communist rule today:

President Hu Jintao inspected China's defense forces in Beijing on Thursday, as the country held celebrations to mark the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

About 200,000 soldiers and civilians -- from veterans and athletes to space heroes and young people -- gathered in Tiananmen Square for the National Day military and mass parade showcasing achievements of the last 60 years, Xinhua reported.

The packed square resembled a carnival as colorful crowds marched, cheered and waved. A 60-cannon salute rang out as the nation's flag swept over the square.

The army showed off its latest weapons, which officials touted as made in China. Weapons on display included China's new generation of tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite communication devices, Xinhua said.

More than 150 fighter jets, bombers, helicopters and other aircraft were to fly over the square, including a fly-past by China's first batch of female fighter pilots, state-run media said.

A 1,300-member military band were also to make an appearance, according to Xinhua.

China's history is rather unique in the world. Now a manufacturing and economic behemoth, China is a very different place from the one Mao declared 60 years ago. One could even question whether China today is truly "communist", given the amount of business enterprise going on. But the evolution over the past 60 years has been bloody and brutal, and the regime is still repressive.
History is prone to taking strange turns, and the history of relations between the PRC and the USA is a story with many twists. From the cold war and the Korean war, to Nixon's opening of relations (one of the few good things Nixon ever did), to Tiananmen Square, to their current status as America's underwriters.
Of course, from a historical perspective, 60 years is a very short time for the Chinese. Compared to some of the Dynasties, the Communist regime is just a pup.
additional story: China 60 years on: From Mao to today

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Take Your Guns to the Bar Day

Starting today, you can take your guns into bars in my home state of Arizona, unless the bar has specific signs prohibiting firearms:

Starting Wednesday, those carrying concealed weapons are allowed to enter Arizona's roughly 5,300 establishments licensed to sell alcohol, as long as they don't drink. If those bar and restaurant owners don't want guns on the property, they must post a sign indicating that they are not allowed.

My favorite watering hole put up the "no firearms" signs weeks ago. As the owner said "are they nucking futs?". In fairness, the law prohibits consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm. But the key word "concealed" makes that rather difficult to enforce. Knowing some of my fellow Arizonans attitude toward gun laws in general, I have a feeling that the "no alcohol" provision will frequently be ignored. As may be the "no firearms" signs.
Mind numbingly stupid, if you ask me (and I'm a gun owner). Guns and alcohol don't mix well (although I do have a great story of the time I got drunk and went target shooting with Doc Thompson) and I don't see this ending well. Strange the things we legalize, while marijuana is still illegal.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Or rather, the lack thereof. Lost power to half of my little grotto on Sunday. Resetting the circuit breaker didn't work, nor did replacing it. So yesterday the landlord sent a real electrician (which I certainly am not). Four hours later, he identified that there's a short deep inside my walls. Since the wiring in my little dump is from the Ben Franklin era, he's coming back today to basically rewire the whole place (I'm running off a long extension cord right now), so my world is going to be disrupted today.
The joys of modern living.
(added: the electrician said he'd be here at 9:00 am, called to say he'd be here by 10:00, and it's now electrician. What is wrong with these people?)
Double added: it's all fixed now. Nice guys tore my place apart, but they did their best to put it back together. Bottom line: it works.