Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The States Save the Feds

Medicaid Expenditures (N.Y.)

Perhaps the greatest problem with the new Medicare Part D benefit concerns those 6 million clients on Medicaid. When the "benefit" went into effect, the Medicaid folks were arbitrarily placed on random Part D plans. Previously, Medicaid paid for drugs needed by those in direst need, particularly the disabled. Now these people must pay the $250 deductible and whatever copayments are set up by whichever Part D plan they were placed on. Who is to say whether they have the bucks to do this ? By definition, if you qualify for Medicaid, you don't have the money. They may be forced to deal with costs incured should they reach the "donut hole" where they must pay full costs for a stretch. In some cases, the new plan has so confused, distressed, and disserved Medicaiders that they have gone off their meds (especially in mental health areas) requiring a hospital stay, which naturally costs more. Some states ,like Maine and California, have begun emergency plans to help these people and save the Federal program. Heckuva job, Dubya.

Monday, January 30, 2006

How to Read the Bible

On NPR's Fresh Air today Terry Gross interviewed Mark Zvi Brettler, a Biblical scholar, about his book, How to Read the Bible. The Jewish scholar offered some very modern, non-fundamentalist viewpoints. For instance, he argued that Genesis is certainly not meant to be taken literally, especially as scientific fact. He said the Bible was more like an anthology of stories and myths using several viewpoints to arrive at the truth. He pointed out that these myths can certainly be true, but not in the same way that literal fact is expressed or scientific hypothesis is examined.

Brettler also expressed his concern with any representation of the "Ten Commandments" being displayed in a courthouse. In Hebrew the so-called "commandments" translate as "sayings", not quite as imperative as Christians have made them. The Greek translation is "decalogue", also a lesser term than "Commandment." And he explained that different religious groups place these sayings in different order, depending on their denomination. He said that placing any particular set of commandments in a public building would favor one interpretation over another unfairly.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Plan for the War on Terror

Back in September of 2001, in a meeting with four Senators in the Oval Office, Howard Fineman reported this statement in Time (9/24) as offered by our President:

"When I take action I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt."

It's obvious now that he was planning on something a little bigger, like a full scale preemptive war against a former enemy jeopardizing 140,000 of our soldiers in order to make himself look like he was actually doing something.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Another Presidential Quote

George W. Bush explains Medicare Part D :

"Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate uh, --the
benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed, uh, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."

Is that all clear now, Seniors ?

Quote of an Earlier Day

Richard Nixon, speaking to David Frost in May 1977 :

"...When the President does it, that means that it it is not illegal"

I wasn't convinced then, and I'm not convinced today.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Fun War Started by a Hero

Acute political analysis by "Centrist" Chris Matthews -

"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple."

Women like this war ? A hero as our president ? Really,the most heroic thing Dubya ever did was give up the drugs and booze. Does this Matthews guy have any idea what kind of crap is coming out of his mouth ?

Miyazaki Sensei

From Spirited Away

Turner Classic Movies, a movie channel that is usually so stingy with their treasures, has a great feature this month. Every Thursday night TCM is showing two features by Hayao Miyazaki. His works are sort of like anime, but not really. They are imaginative fables, often environmentally conscious, done in a very non-Western style. Some of his work would be rather disturbing to young viewers.

Pictured above is Chihiro,an endlessly courageous little lady, in Spirited Away. She deals with the transformation of her parents into pigs by a witch when her family wanders into a magical world of spirits and monsters, all created with marvelous invention.Miyazaki's characters, even his monsters, seem to possess several layers of ambiguity.

Watch for future showings of all these Miyazaki gems.Link to the trailers on this page.
Kaonashi, "No Face"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hope for Us All

The caretakers at the Tokyo Zoo gave the above snake this hamster as a little snack in October. The snake, as you can see, refused to eat the creature. They are still friends.

ICR Adventures

You, or your children, may be interested in a creationism site for kids, called ICR Adventures. ICR stands for The Institute for Creation Research. Its proponents expect a much more literal interpretation of the Bible in our schools than most current scientists can appreciate.

For instance, in a question and answer session with "Dr. John" the query is raised about how it is possible to have geologic rock strata that appears to be billions of years old if the Bible leads us to believe that the Earth is really at most 10,000 years old ? Well, according to ICR, during Noah's flood, layers upon layers of rock were laid on in a super quick fashion. It does make one wonder how Creation Researchers would actually construct a scientific experiment to settle this one.

Here is your welcome to ICR's site:

Welcome to the Institute for Creation Research
We believe God has raised up ICR to spearhead Biblical Christianity's defense against the godless and compromising dogma of evolutionary humanism. Only by showing the scientific bankruptcy of evolution, while exalting Christ and the Bible, will Christians be successful in “the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4,5).

Billionaires for Bush

I recently enjoyed a photo album of a sparkling little get together of an organization called "Billionaires for Bush" on Majikthise's site. I wonder how many members there are ?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

NSA/Meade Center

"After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration." - from an unnamed FBI official on the NSA wiretapping

Repeal This One

From Evan Blass at Engadget, I've learned that the 3% excise tax that we all pay each month on all our phone bills is a relic of the Spanish American War.It seems that in 1898 this tax was added on to help pay for that struggle.I think we won that one, didn't we ? Nowadays, no one seems to be forthcoming with the info on where that tax money is going exactly.

Beyond My Understanding

More Body Armor

Americablog reports that the DOD has rejected all privately bought armor for our soldiers. They have threatened to cut death benefits of soldiers killed while wearing armor like "Dragon Skin", (pictured above) so named because it contains many silver dollar sized ceramic plates like scales to stop armor piercing bullets.The DOD claims that it affects mobility. How can this be possible that our sitting ducks soldiers are treated like this ?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quote of the Day

After he was forced to retract two of his examples for lack of proof (at recent hearings at Temple University on professors' purported liberal bias),David Horowitz pronounced for all to hear:
“As Ms. Neal said,we already know what is true. Whether or not it actually happened is irrelevant. You don’t need evidence for things you already know are true. That’s just nit picking. Everybody knows that."

That's a good one.

A Trip to the Marianas

It looks like we've finally found a Democrat who got one of those free trips from Jack Abramoff, Rep. James Clyburn of North Carolina. So, instead of chastising him, what do the Dems do? They've selected him to lead their ethics investigation !

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Totally Republican Scandal

MSM types like Tweety Bird Chris Matthews and Glenn Reynolds have been struggling to portray the Abramoff business as a bipartisan scandal, repeating their ledes that Dems like Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton received donations from Native-American tribes, some of whom were Jack Abramoff's clients.

It's as if these well paid pundits have absolutely no understanding of the charges in this case.As we all know, these tribes were Abramoff's victims; they are not being charged with doing anything whatsoever wrong, except overpaying Scorpion Jack by about a kajillion dollars.

Democrats were not paid money by Abramoff to encourage them to side with his clients, period. The FEC notes that Jack Abramoff only contributed to Republicans. In any case, if any Democrat ever meant to vote favorably on Indian matters, they were trampled in the Republican stampede to get their choices on the record.

Quote of the Day

"Only love can conquer hate." - Marvin Gaye

Thursday, January 12, 2006

One or Two More Witnesses

Digby says it might be a good idea for Ted Kennedy to bring into the hearings several of those ten year old girls that Judge Alito said were OK to strip search.Perhaps they might bring a tear of shame to Mrs. Alito's eyes. Check that, I've since learned that she never took her husband's name - she's Ms. Bumgardner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Quote of the Day

From a song by George Harrison, "Inner Light" -

"The farther one travels, the less one knows."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Arrogance of Power

Just when you think George Bush can't really surprise us anymore with his secrecy,his incompetence, or his contempt for our country and its laws, he always comes up with a new one. It turns out that although he has not vetoed a single bill or provision, he has reserved what he feels is the President's prerogative to do as he pleases and disregard the laws he signs. Now he didn't just do this once, as we recently learned about the torture provision in the last expenditure bill. He must think this is his own personal safety valve, because he has done such "signing statements" 500 times !Apparently this little trick of his does not have the force of law, but it's enough to muddy any further court rulings on constitutionality.No other president has taken so many liberties with our legislation.

A Poll That Really Says Something

Isn't interesting that 69% of respondents to a poll by The JohnBirch Society believe that the current President should be impeached ? That's The John Birch Society!

The John Birch Society is pretty much isolationist, for instance demanding that we reject the U.N., but on the current situation they end up aligned with many liberals.

On the War: "The Iraq War is an unconstitutional, unjustifiable conflict devouring innocent lives and abetting the growth of an increasingly lawless leviathan state. It must be ended --- now."

On the President: "A president, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be a leader of a free people."

Amazing views from the far,far Right.I never thought I would be putting links from the Birchers on my site. Curiouser and curiouser.

Abramoff's Contributions

Here is a handy dandy link to the FEC's account of Jack Abramoff's political contributions. Choose Campaign Reports,then individual and finally type in Abramoff, Jack. I don't see any Democrats on his list, do you ?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Alito Nomination

My take on the Alito nomination is about the same as my view on John Roberts - neither is acceptable and what's more, there is no reason to respectfully cooperate with the President. Since he was first placed in office by the Supreme Court five years ago, Bush has never once cooperated or compromised with the opposition party. His arrogance, especially considering his life-long lack of accomplishment, is purely amazing. Even as the President was signing a bill restricting torture, he reserved what he thought was his right to break it, in a kind of sidebar statement. Beyond arrogance ! There is nothing to be gained by going along with the President's prerogative, but rather, several freedoms we can lose with a solidly right wing monolith voting on the interpretation of our laws.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Photo Opportunity

This get together was obviously a phony, meant only as a penultimate photo opportunity. Above we see the participants, 13 secretaries of defense and state, after they had consulted with Bush about the world situation. Unfortunately, what they got was 40 minutes of upbeat briefing about how beautifully things are going in Iraq, followed by a rigorous, no-holds-barred interchange with the President lasting no more than 10 minutes. This then led to the picture as posed above.

Calling Osama

The right wing blogs would have us believe that lots of us Americans were calling Osama on his cell - he only had to unhook himself from dialysis and step outside of his cave to access that Cingular tower !

Better Body Armor is Needed

In the three years that our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq, we have often heard claims that they didn't have enough (or effective) body armor. It's no urban myth that some Moms and Dads shelled out to buy their kids in the service their own personal armor.Recently Bare Knuckle Politics commented on the story in the New York Times that there is a secret Pentagon study that shows that 80% of upper body injuries could be avoided with better armor. The armor shown above is the kind that is just inadequate; it lets in shrapnel at the shoulder and neck.

Isn't it difficult to understand how it is possible that our leaders have not taken care of this ? They rush through tax cuts for their political contributors, but don't take care of our soldiers.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sports Inspiration

Too amazing! For a modest price, Catholic Shopper is selling inspiring statuary like the baseball one above to spur on the little ones.Take a look at the link which shows Jesus nicely handing off a football, or the one where the Son of God is holding a basketball out of the kid's reach (I think he's got the height advantage).

Jesus not only backs the regular,common sports, but on page 2 of Catholic Shopper's ad, he picks up a hockey stick and mixes it up with the kids. I think however, that they may have crossed the line when they have Jesus statues sort of officiating a martial arts match between the kids. I was taught that he was more into turning the other cheek.