Monday, June 30, 2008

The Operation Was A Success, But The Patient Died

Four million people were admitted to California hospitals last year. That's a lot of people. And of those 4M, 1,002 cases of serious medical harm were disclosed by California hospitals between July 2007 and May of this year.

Officially, these cases are called Adverse Events. They are also referred to as "never events," because they should never happen. In California, patients are being seriously injured at a rate of 100 per month.

Examples range from technicians placing a CT scan of one patient into the electronic file of another. The result: physicians removed the wrong person’s appendix; to nurses giving incorrect medications (unprescribed medications) causing death. The father of one of my co-workers went to have a fairly simple operation; during surgery, his kidney was perferated causing infection. The original operation was a success, but the patient died.

In California, Insurance Companies are considering not paying Hospitals for these accidents. Yet Hospitals are for-profit businesses; I wonder if we will be forced to pay extra for these non-services? Pay in advance and take it up with our insurance companies later (if we survive at all?)

Did the woman who died from the wrong medications have to pay a co-pay on those medications? Who covers her bill? On the wrong appendix, did he have to pay out of pocket for a surgery he didn't need? Because his insurance probably didn't cover him for this bit of cutting and sewing - it hadn't been pre-approved.

Our system is broken on so many levels, not the least of which is patient care, that I cannot begin to cover it all. I am mad as hell. Beyond angry, I am appalled at rising costs and sinking care.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

This Is Why I Maintain Hope

Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the two IDF reservists abducted by Hezbollah two years ago in a raid that sparked the Second Lebanon War, are to be released in a prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah approved by the cabinet yesterday. In exchange for the captive soldiers, Israel will release jailed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who murdered a Nahariya family in 1979, and four Hezbollah militants, the remains of Lebanese civilians and several dozen Palestinian prisoners.

The vote in the Israeli Cabinet wasn't close, 22 in favor and only 3 opposed. While many people believe Regev and Goldwasser to be dead, and information about Israeli Airman Ron Arad sketchy at best (his plane was shot down over Lebanon), it is still a significant step toward peace. The cabinet ministers were influenced by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who said: "I am the commander of all the soldiers ... of the living and the dead, and therefore I say to you the deal must be approved."

The deal will take place in four stages:
  • first, the signing of the agreement, which should happen in the next two or three days
  • next, Hezbollah will hand over a report on efforts to obtain information on missing airman Ron Arad, MIA in Lebanon since 1986. In exchange, Israel will give Hezbollah a report on the fate of four Iranian diplomats kidnapped and murdered during the Lebanon war in the 1980s.
  • Stage three requires United Nations hostage negotiator and intelligence expert Gerhard Konrad's approval of the reports. If he approves, Hezbollah will return Goldwasser and Regev - or their remains if they are no longer alive, along with the remains of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. Israel will return Kuntar to Hezbollah, along with four Hezbollah militants who were captured in the Second Lebanon War and the remains of a few dozen bodies
  • Stage four will occur within a month of the exchange, as Israel releases a number of Palestinian prisoners of Israel's choosing.

It matters. It matters for any number of reasons, not the least of which is a step toward normalizing relationships and putting an end to hostilities. It matters, because sworn enemies are talking to each other. It matters, it matters.

Moshe Dayan said: If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.

Splotchy, always one with a good cause

I just discovered Splotchy's blog - and he's got such a good cause going with Adopt an Actor. I mean, they might not eat otherwise, right?

At any rate, I really wanted to adopt the absolutely dishy Alan Rickman:

However, dguzman beat me to it. I mean, I am a year late, fer god's sake.

So instead, I have adopted the extremely talented Chris Cooper:

As long as he doesn't smoke in my house, we're fine.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why Los Angeles Makes People Sick. Literally.

Why does basic health care cost so much? This question plagues me, and countless others in the USA. Over the last three years, the cost of medication and tests that I have undergone has put me on the edge of bankruptcy. So, yes, I have fibromyalgia - and there is fuck-all I can do about it - but it's all the rest of what I've undergone that is wiping me out. And that's when I read this tidbit: in 2007 the total U.S. health care bill came to $2.3 trillion—more than we spent last year on food.

And what do we get for all this money? Not much. Despite claims that we have the best health care in the world, when we shine the light of reality on that claim we find this simply is not true.
By every conceivable measure, the health of Americans lags behind the health of citizens in other developed countries. Our life expectancy is shorter than that of citizens in Canada, Japan, and all but one Western European country. We rank 43rd in the world in infant-mortality rates, behind Cuba, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. We are no less disabled by disease than citizens of most developed nations, and our medical care is, with few exceptions, no better at helping us survive specific diseases. For instance, the mortality rate from prostate cancer in the United Kingdom is virtually the same as it is in the United States, despite the fact that the disease is treated far less aggressively in the U.K.
But a huge factor in the rising costs is that we in the USA spend far too much on unnecessary tests. Of our total $2.3 trillion health care bill last year, a whopping $500 billion to $700 billion was spent on treatments, tests, and hospitalizations that did nothing to improve our health. And I have fallen into this trap.

And actually, that trap has a lot to do with the geography of health care. I live in Los Angeles, where everything does cost a bit more - we pay higher prices at the pump, we pay more for restaurants, we pay more for all kinds of things, including health care. Why? Because doctors and hospitals in Los Angeles tend to give their patients more tests, procedures, and surgeries, and their patients tend to spend more days in the hospital.

Now, when I don't feel well, and the doctor starts recommending and scheduling a variety of tests, I tend to become very blond and say, "uh-huh," and go along like a good girl. And then the bills start coming in. And coming in. And then I wake up and go, whoa, wait a minute. Did I really need to get tested for Vitamin D deficiency? Did I really need to get tested for a rare liver disorder that I may or may not actually have? Do I need to take those pills for this liver disorder that the expensive testing could not confirm or rule out?
Patients undergo back surgery for pain in the absence of evidence that the surgery works. They contract lethal infections while in the hospital for elective procedures. They suffer strokes when they undergo a surgery that, ironically, is intended to prevent stroke. And each year they undergo millions of tests—MRIs, CT scans, blood tests—that do little to help doctors diagnose disease.
Doctors put the blame on patients, of course, saying we demand every little pill we've seen advertised on television - and I think that is part of the issue. But in my own case, I'd been taking a lot of Tylenol for pain - this is before I was diagnosed with Fibro - and my gynecologist decided to do a ton of blood tests. She didn't ask, she just said I needed to have them all, including liver functions. No symptoms, just she decided. My liver functions were sort of whacked - she said I had numbers normally seen in a drinking alcoholic. I haven't had a drink since July 17th, 1988, so that was weird. So she started to do all kinds of research, and decided I had PBC, a rare, hereditary liver disorder and sent me to my Gastro doctor to have more tests. A liver biopsy (the 30 seconds of drug induced high were great) and the biopsy was inconclusive. And the horse pills, which are not covered by my insurance and were $100 a month.

Now, the simple answer: stop taking Tylenol, it messes up your liver.

The reality is that we have a badly broken system. This is pressing issue that will not be fixed overnight - and if McCain is elected, won't be fixed at all. But there are things we can do as individuals, and here is a checklist provided by AARP:

1. Find a doctor who communicates Most of us need a primary care doctor who can clearly explain what ails us and the possible ways to treat it. If you have a physician who does this, stick with him or her. If your current doctor tends to rush you or doesn’t explain things well, tell him or her you need more time.

2. Coordinate your own care Talk to your primary care doctor about making sure he or she sees copies of your medical records from all your various doctors. Somebody besides you needs to know what all your physicians are doing—including all procedures, tests, and drugs they’ve prescribed. This is especially important if you are on multiple drugs or have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or an autoimmune disorder, that requires visits to multiple specialists.

3. Get the right specialist If you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, find yourself a palliative-care doctor. Physicians trained in this specialty have a particular expertise in the control of pain. They are also trained to coordinate the care among your various doctors.

4. Find out what difference a test or procedure makes Ask your doctor what he or she expects to learn from the test and whether the results will make a difference in your treatment.

5. Weigh the benefits and risks If a physician recommends a surgical procedure, ask what will happen if you decide not to do it—or if there is a less-invasive treatment option.

Cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Granddaughter Blogging

I'm playing with Molly LUCY who is a puppy and she's younger than me and I am in her bed outside which is an inside bed but I took it outside to play with and her toys too. I like little puppies and big dogs my dog is a big dog and she's not a puppy anymore. At school only two peoples in the bafroom two peoples only. I brush my own teeth.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oh, Goody. Another planet for the Right Wing to trash

Yes, you can grow all kinds of things on Mars. I mean, they've found ice, which means water, and they've found nutrients in the soil.

So if you save your frequent flier miles, Sir Richard might let you save $20,000 on your flight to Mars. Yes, 200,000 miles will save you $20,000 of the cost of a Virgin Galactic flight. Real Estate is going to go quick, and I suspect that Halliburton has the no bid contracts, but what the hey.

Lung ta - "Wind Horse"

As the sun bleaches the images on the prayer flag, as the wind kisses each strand of cloth away into the universe, so life moves on and is replaced by new life.

  • Blue is the sky, infinite space
  • White is the air, white is the wind
  • Red burns as fire
  • Green is the rushing water
  • Yellow is our mother earth

With these prayer flags, I hope for peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. I pray the wind carries these prayers out into the world, to spread peace and good will to all who walk this earth. May we learn to heal our wounds, to hold each other in high regard despite our differences. Let us find what makes us connected, rather than separate so that we can heal our earth together.

Thank you to everyone who sent such lovely healing energy my way the last couple of days. While fibro never goes away, it's back to being manageable. Namaste.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wexler on Olbermann tonight

Well, Wexler was on fire, no doubt about it. He and Kuchinch could really bring Bush and Cheney to be held accountable, I have no doubt they've got the passion.

And, yes, Bush really did insult Phillipino Americans when he said that he know how talented they were every time he dined in the White House.

What an ass.

Update with the complete quote:
I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that -- in which there's a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.
George W. Bush, referring to White House chef Cristeta Comerford while meeting with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Having a Really Bad Day

I haven't typed about having Fibromyalgia in a while. Although I have been dealing with it for years, it was only fairly recently diagnosed and I still have trouble wrapping my head around the idea of having a condition that has no cure, no known cause, and hurts like a motherfucker. It's depressing, and at times I just want to cry from the constant, relentless pain. Most of the time, I am able to manage it well through exercise, rest, and eating right. Then there are days that nothing at all helps - and since I am unable to take Vicodin; Lyrica didn't help; and I won't take other addictive meds, when those bad days happen upon me, I am, in a word, fucked.

Yesterday was one of those days. Today is worse. My hands and wrists feel like they are on fire, my fingers feel like they are being given little electric shocks. Same with my feet, ankles and toes. My back feels like I'm being beaten with an iron pipe. My head throbs, not like a normal headache, not like a migraine, it's more like the reverberation from being beaten on the back with an iron pipe. I cannot tolerate odors, they make me nauseated today.

I hate this, because I feel helpless to do anything to make it stop. I hate this, because it makes me feel weak, vulnerable, and lost. On days like this, I think I should never have divorced my ex-husband, and that is absolutely untrue. On days like this, I believe the lies my mind tells me, the things that want me isolated and alone. On days like this, you could say I am in a really bad mood, but that would not quite be accurate. Today, I am having a really hard time of it. I don't feel well and it contains a mental and emotional component which I dislike. I know it will not always be this way, yet I am in the thick of it today.

I'm lucky. I am not one of those people with Fibro who is unable to get out of bed on bad days - I am always mobile, and I am always able to get up and keep moving. This is luck, I believe, and I think the years I spent as a long distance bicycle rider helps me a lot in my ability to manage the pain. But the emotional and mental component makes me NOT want to manage - on days like today I want to give up, and crawl into bed, and never get up.

This is not depression - it is pain. I have clinical depression, which is managed by Zoloft, and I know the difference. Zoloft is also used to help manage Fibro, which is interesting. When I get depressed, there is a physical symptom that is scary: I feel like my face is sliding off my cheeks - like my face is melting. I haven't had that symptom in years. Lucky me. Today, though, I am having a really bad day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Exposed Nerve

"To me, Gaza embodies the entire saga of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it represents the central contradiction of the state of Israel—democracy for some, dispossession for others; it is our exposed nerve."

Amira Hass, Israeli journalist and author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shrub as a Young Republican

All that smokin and drinkin.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I love you, Aramis Ramirez

Home run, bottom of the 9th in a tie game wins it! Nothing like a man with a big bat.

Text of an email from Cong. Robert Wexler

Dear Diva Jood,

It has been a busy day in Congress today and while our movement for accountability for the Bush/Cheney White House just took a major leapforward with the testimony of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, we also unfortunately took a terrible step backwards with the tragic approval of new FISA legislation. I voted against this awful FISA law that degrades the privacy guarantees of our Constitution.

McClellan's Testimony

What we heard from Mr. McClellan was confirmation under oath of what we have long suspected: the President, Vice President, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and others purposefully conspired to mislead Americans for political gain and at the cost of the lives of our soldiers, the security of our nation, and the sanctity of our Constitution.

Today, Scott McClellan said that he considers it a likely possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney was the person who authorized the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert status. Mr. McClellan also said that he believes more White House officials should come before Congress and reveal the truth about this Administration's actions.

McClellan's testimony underscores a simple reality:

We must dig deeper. As I said today in the Judiciary Committee hearing, the facts we know now are more than enough to justify impeachment hearings for President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. You can read my entire testimony today below.

There is no higher agenda than protecting the Constitution. The Separation of Powers principle is being threatened, our Civil Rights are under attack, and must pursue accountability no matter what the political cost.

The FISA Vote

Today I voted against the so-called FISA "compromise" bill, as the only thing that is really being compromised is our civil rights.

In spite of the earnest, hard work of many Members of Congress, the President has continued to demand that Congress rubber-stamp his illegal wiretapping program.

Every American wants to protect our country from terrorists; but the President is not asking for tools to thwart terrorists. He is demanding unchecked power. He expects the Congress to throw out even the most modest, expedited court review on the absurd premise that a specially designed court with over 30 years of experience handling surveillance requests is suddenly going to bring our nation's intelligence operations to a standstill.

The rights of everyday Americans are at issue here, and full accountability needed. A court that is given full and appropriate review of the particular circumstances in each case is the only appropriate venue for making decisions about immunity for actions that may or may not have violated the civil liberties of some individuals.

In addition, while I am sympathetic to the difficult position telephone and Internet service providers, who may have thought they were doing their patriotic duty, the fact remains that I simply cannot support offering retroactive immunity. I have had the opportunity to view some of the documents in question, and I can say that my position on this subject is unchanged.

I will continue to support the March 14th House bill that preserves the appropriate court review of all surveillance of US citizens and gives judges the discretion to review all the necessary documents related to telecom lawsuits without offering blanket immunity.

Continue Our Fight for Accountability

I also want to thank the thousands of Americans who sent emails to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel defending my position in favor of impeachment. I can assure you I will not back down.

In fact, over the next week I will appearing on numerous television programs where I intend to raise these issues as often as I can. You can see me on the following television shows:

• Sunday, June 22nd at noon (EST) on CNN's Late Edition,
• Tuesday, June 24 at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm (EST) on Hardball on MSNBC,
• Wednesday June 25 at 3:30 pm (EST) on CNN's the Situation Room,
•Thursday June 26 at 11:30 pm (EST) on Comedy Central's the Colbert Report
•Friday June 27 at 7:30 am (EST) on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

I am grateful for your continued support and advocacy.

Congressman Robert Wexler

Friday Granddaughter Blogging

Well, my gramma is uspet because the Chicago Cubs have lost three games in a row to Tampa and now they have to play the Chicago White socks at home and we don't like the white socks at all I like pink socks but they don't play baseball. But the Cubs and the white socks are both in first place and Carlos can't pitch cause his shoulder is sore so it is Ted Lilly and my gramma is neeresvos worried. I am learning how to catch a big beach ball its fun and I like water aboons more than blow up aboons. You can throw water aboons, but regaler aboons you have to tie on a string and they float.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obama Opts Out of Public Financing

For the first time since 1976, a major party US Presidential candidate is opting out of Public Financing for the general election. Using John McCain's candidacy as the example of how the current public financing system is broken, Obama said
If we don’t stand together, the broken system we have now, a system where special interests drown out the voices of the American people will continue to erode our politics and prevent the possibility of real change.
McCain's campaign is beholden to Washington Lobbyists like his economic advisor, Phil Gramm, and special interest PACs.

Obama's decision is nothing short of refreshing, especially since the last 7 1/2 years have been driven by special interests and greed.

Greed and oil lust have driven the current administration. I am convinced that Bush's cronies have been deliberately manipulating the price of oil, raising the cost at the pump, just so he can railroad through the ban on offshore drilling. Bush faces opposition in Congress, but he really hopes to leverage the soaring pump prices to get Congress to cave in before election day. And when they start drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, I wonder who will get the no-bid contract?

But Barack Obama is not afraid of the big bad guys on the other side. He presents genuinely alternative points of view and ways of doing things, and he does not back down from a fight. Funding will come from people like you and me rather than the likes of UBS. Yes, we can.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fruits of Endurance

Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an Egyptian-brokered Gaza truce. While Hamas has observed previous unilateral truces and cease-fires with Israel in the past, all of which broke down within a short period of time, this truce is different for two significant reasons.
  • First, the truce means Israel has given Hamas de facto recognition, acknowledging that the US-backed blockade has not worked.
  • Second, although Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel, with this truce Hamas showed a willingness to co-exist with Israel as Hamas's leaders have said they will pursue a long-term truce in order to build a Palestinian state.

Hamas has said that all militant groups in Gaza have promised to abide by the terms of the truce, which calls for Israel to ease restrictions on blockade against Gaza.

Skepticism abounds on both sides. However, both Israel and Hamas need this cease-fire. The Gaza strip has become an intolerable burden for both parties. Israel's economic blockade against Gaza has worsened a horrific humanitarian crisis. Israel has allowed only the most basic foodstuffs and medical equipment in, and virtually nobody out. Hamas is finally admitting the blockade is really hurting them.

What escapes notice is the people who live in Israel's border communities, who have also been suffering. Palestinian militants fire crude rockets into the border towns, killing and injuring Israelis, which then brings down massive retaliation from Israel's military. However, Israel has no effective defense against these rockets.

For Hamas, the lifting of the economic embargo and the subsequent improvement of daily life might persuade Gaza's leadership that negotiation is the best response. Why do I have hope it will last? Because of these words:

"We believe that what was agreed upon will last and the Palestinian people will see the fruits of their endurance," said Ismail Haniyeh, the senior Hamas political leader in Gaza.

It's a first step.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

March 18, 2003 on Good Morning America

Babs and the modernized version of "Let them eat cake." This callous disregard for our military men and women, and their parents, bears remembering. It bears repeating. Barbara Bush lacks compassion, she lacks integrity, and she lacks a soul. For if her son can send these young men and women off to war, then she and her family should have the decency to honor them when they fall.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cost of War in Iraq

I thought I would take a look at the local cost of the War in Iraq. The National Priorities Project has a page where you can get the costs as it pertains to your locality. Taxpayers in California's Congressional District 36 (Harman) will pay $1.3 billion for total Iraq war spending approved to date. For the same amount of money, the following services could have been provided:

  • 550,963 People with Health Care for One Year OR
  • 2,385,106 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
  • 23,915 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
  • 18,911 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
  • 201,177 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
  • 4,007 Affordable Housing Units OR
  • 500,391 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
  • 160,123 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
  • 19,226 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
  • 16,907 Port Container Inspectors for One year

I am rendered speechless. We need to bring all our resources home: our soldiers, who don't deserve the horrors they've been handed; and our tax dollars so we can repair the soul of our nation by providing the services we lose daily due to Bush's arrogance.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

My father died March 10, 1996, at the age of 85. He died after suffering five years with pulmonary fibrosis, a calcification of the lungs. Over the five years, his ability to breathe became more and more impossible, and eventually, he suffocated to death. It was not pretty. Twenty-five years earlier, he'd been treated for what was diagnosed as an incurable lung cancer and given six months to live. Dad was put on an experimental form of treatment which involved radiation, and then chemo. Two and one half years later, he was still alive, and cancer-free. Quite a miracle.

Dad was one of those hale-fellow well met kinds of guys: always quick with a joke, and quite charming. His friends loved him, and so did I. He was the one who encouraged me as an artist, although he could not understand why I didn't want to be a commercial artist. He was the one who I told when I decided to drop out of college and move to Israel. He was my dad, and I adored him.

His funeral was small, because he'd outlived all his friends and all but three of his sisters. Of those, one had become a recluse and we never saw her again. She died last month. Still, as small as the funeral was, my cousin's eulogy was telling - people loved my dad.

He used to let me sit on his lap and drink sips of his beer or scotch when I was a little girl. We'd sit at the kitchen table playing cards if he was in a good mood (beer nights) or me in his lap if he was in a bad mood (solitare and scotch.) He let me get away with everything (although he did want to take my bag of weed to the police to have it analyzed after my brother and I told him it was oregano.) He was kind, and he was liberal and he was intelligent, but he was also a mess.

One year, he decided he wanted to buy a turkey farm in Zion, Illinois. I was about seven years old. Here we were, a Jewish family who knew nothing about farming (I thought milk came from glass bottles) and he piled us into the car, drove us to Zion (a very fundamentalist Christian city) and went to look at the farm. My mother cried her eyes out. I was afraid of the turkeys and my brother (he was twelve) started to chase them around. We didn't get the farm. Instead, the week later, he bought my mother a pink and black Ford (she didn't know how to drive). It was hideous. It was her first car.

The night he died, we were sitting shiva at my brother's condo. A man came in, and sat with my brother and me to tell us a story. Years before, when this man was down and out, my father helped him out with a job. No one else would take a chance on this guy, but my father did. The young man became incredibly successful; he never forgot that my father helped him. He missed the funeral but he said he would never have forgiven himself had he not come to pay his respects. I still don't know the man's name, but I was moved beyond words.

Dad never had financial success. He was a business mess - he was just a mess, not another way to describe it. But he was kind, and loving, and charming, and I miss him. Happy Father's Day to my father, and to all the fathers whose children love them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lake Delton, Wisconsin

Local resident Steve Zowin said the water drained like a bathtub. The Wisconsin Dells calls itself the "waterpark capital of the world," but on Monday, when torrential rains caused Lake Delton to tear through an embankment, ripping apart Highway A and draining into the Wisconsin River, that waterpark capital is now a disaster area. Resorts are seeing cancellations - Zowin said his business is down at least 75%, which is huge - and another resident said that fishing will be gone for at least the next five or six years from Lake Delton.
But there is more bad news for local residents. Yes, not only did they lose homes, not only are they losing business because of the empty lake. Yesterday they learned that Lake Delton is Not Covered by National Flood Insurance.
The homes would have been covered by the National Flood Insurance program since 1975, but the village didn't adopt a new floodplain map. The village lost its floodplain designation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and its eligibility to participate in the National Flood Insurance program.
So even though Lake Delton is a disaster area, it's not a Federal Disaster Area, and won't receive funds from FEMA. FEMA suspended the village from eligibility in the program seven years ago after the village failed to formally adopt an updated floodplain map called a Flood Insurance Rate Map, or FIRM. Lake Delton's village clerk and engineer said the map was not adopted because of "gross inaccuracies" in how FEMA expanded the floodplain.

FEMA said the village had three years to appeal the map, but never did file such an appeal. There is no record of a formal map revision petition from the village; Lake Delton was suspended, making homeowners inelligiable for flood insurance. And in a classic case of government officials pointing fingers at each other, the people suffer. This flood is not a flood. This flood is a Catostrophic Event. Yet the people suffer.

As we look at weather events globally - I'm only talking about hurricanes, cyclones, torrential rains, all causing these catastrophic events - I have to wonder at how much we have contributed to weather gone wild. Even more, I am appalled at government's callous disregard for the citizens whose lives are devastated by these events. But when that disregard is further impaired by misjudgment, mismanagement, greed and just plain stupidity, I become angry.

There are solutions that the United States can implement. Frankly, with a serious recession upon us, we could look to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's example of programs put forth in The New Deal. I think we could specifically look at The CCC, or Civilian Conservation Corps, which put unskilled, unemployed young men to work building roads, levees, and repairing the infrastructure. Perhaps, if we stopped spending money we don't have on an illegal war in Iraq, we might get to spend some of it on our failing infrastructures at home.

We've got a clear choice between Barack Obama and John McCain. McCain is more of the "heckuva job, Brownie" school of disregard. Obama will get things done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

McCain: Bush Warmed Over

Opps. McCain voted twice against an amendment offered by Sen. Hillary Clinton in 2005 and 2006 to set up an independent commission to look into the government's actions regarding Katrina. McCain also told the reporter
I also voted against one of the bills that came down that was loaded with pork barrel projects that had nothing to do with New Orleans too. It had billions for projects and programs that had nothing to do with the recovery of the city of New Orleans.
This simply isn't true. The Clinton Amendment would have allocated $3M for the independent investigation, but no money for any other project.

Barack Obama's campaign sent an email to reporters in response to McCain's blatant falsehoods:
"Whether he simply wasn't aware of his voting record again or he was intentionally misleading the people of Louisiana, John McCain certainly isn't offering us 'leadership you can believe in.' "
The email quoted McCain, and gave the dates and Senate numbers of the votes. This email, along with Senator McCain's gaffes, put the McCain campaign on the defensive. Their tactic? Accuse the Obama campaign of "the same old negative attacks that the American people are so sick and tired of."

I don't know about you, but I am actually sick and tired of being lied to. The Bush Administration has managed to destroy everything I hold dear about my country through a policy of lying even when the truth would be easier, even when the truth would be in their own best interests. It seems to me that McCain is patterning himself on the Bush/Cheney method - lies, damn lies, and more damn lies.

Cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Strategic Voting

Steve Bates, The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, has a great post that needs reading. It really talks about the big picture. I applaud him.

He says:
When I was 25, I probably would have felt the same way. Voting was a personal thing, and my vote was for the candidate about whom I felt most strongly. Now, at the end of almost six decades of hard experience, I pursue voting as a strategic matter, and my vote is determined almost entirely by what I perceive to be the larger outcome, the consequences of the election in the broader context. If that vote happens to coincide with my personal preference for a candidate, that's nice... but my personal preference is not the determining factor in my vote. And I will argue that your personal preference should not be dispositive of your vote, either. Voting is, first and foremost, a civic duty, not a vehicle for personal satisfaction.

I cannot agree more. My first choice for a Democratic Candidate was Dennis Kuchinich. He dropped out, I moved on to John Edwards. He dropped out, and I moved on to Barack Obama. And if Hillary Clinton had become the nominee, I would have moved on to her. Voting is a resposibility, not a popularity contest. It is about a bigger picture. So to those people who say "Clinton lost, I'm not voting", I congratulate you in advance for helping hand the election to McCain. To those who intend to vote for a 3rd Party candidate, someone as unviable as Ralph Nadar or Ron Paul, again, this is a wasted vote. It is NOT making a statement. If you want to change the system, do it from within. It is possible.

Go read Steve Bates' full post. The Diva has spoken.

Oh, the horror!

Why did nobody make a fuss over THIS fist bump? Oh, I know. It's because he's a hateful White dude in a suit, who also would just as soon knock your door down and have you disappeared as look at you. So the Cheney Fist Bump gets a pass.

But, oh, the HORROR: The first Black Presidential Nominee in the US of A and his wife do a playful fist bump, and people get their knickers in a twist over it. I don't know what the issue is. My 3-year old granddaughter Beanie has been fist-bumping ever since her daddy cut down a golf club to her size.

Internet access has been restored

Wild weather and who knows what else - I've been out of touch since Thursday afternoon with only intermittent access. But it's back up now, and I will get caught up. In the meantime, I've missed all y'all.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday Granddaughter Blogging

Gramma didn't have internet for two days. It made Gramma fortstated, because she couldn't work. She couldn't do much. Now it's fixed. I sit on her lap and look at slide show pictures of me. Now it's bedtime. Bye bye.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What's Next?

The Washington Post reports
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is likely to suspend her presidential campaign on Saturday and endorse Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, according to informed sources.
The New York Times reports
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will endorse Senator Barack Obama on Saturday, bringing a close to her 17-month campaign for the White House, aides said. Her decision came after Democrats urged her Wednesday to leave the race and allow the party to coalesce around Mr. Obama.
An Associated Press report says
Clinton, in an e-mail to supporters, said she "will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise."

The AP report also says that Mrs. Clinton is exploring ways to retain her delegates in order to promote her issues which include her call for universal health care. This is an issue dear to my own heart. I was pleased to hear Obama, in his speech Tuesday night, declare that Hillary Clinton would be at the forefront of solving the health care crisis in America.

Mrs. Clinton will endorse Obama on Saturday, which is essential as we go into the November election season. Okay, the conventions are still ahead. Running mates have yet to be selected. But really, at this point, the match-up is Obama vs. McCain, and we need to focus on the issues that matter. Issues, not personalities. Issues: health care; the disaster in the mortgage and housing arena (thank you Phil Gramm, McCain's chief economic advisor); getting us out of the Civil War we created in Iraq; social security; the environment.

The differences between the candidates are quite distinct, and I challenge all of us to focus on these issues on our blogs each week. The more we clarify the distinctions between Obama and McCain, the more likely we will reach people and motivate them to take action and vote.

Really, I have hope for the first time in 40 years.

cross-posted at The Sirens Chronicles

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama vs. The REAL Enemy

Last night, I listened to two very different speeches: the first, John McCain's speech in New Orleans, was chilling. Chilling because he was patronizing, arrogant and calm. He twisted Obama's theme of "Change" to a dark, shadow usage of it, in order to instill fear. Even in his opening remarks, congratulating Obama and Clinton, his congratulations were dismissive, as though they are just petulant children who should be patted on their heads and ignored.
Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach.
Why do I find this dismissive? Because it doesn't speak to issues. It struck me that McCain was saying that they both gave it the old college try, isn't that cute?

Then he launched into his attack on "change," saying
The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas.
As he continued, I thought for a minute he'd channelled Ronald Reagan and his attack on "big govimint". Oh, wait, he did:
Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn't trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It's the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that's not change we can believe in.

Dismissive. We live in a "representative democracy" which means by definition that we elect our officials to represent us. That is the type of government we have. So McCain's dismissive attack on "change we can believe in" is based upon disinformation and innuendo. What does he really want? Anarchy? The way the Bush Administration has ignored existing government agencies and plunged forth, depleting all our resources, is the end result of the "small government" that McCain and his ilk like. Secret governments, with the Big Daddy making decisions for us all. This is NOT "leadership we can believe in" which is apparently McCain's new campaign slogan.

The other speech, delivered with passion and committment, belonged to Barack Obama. Yesterday, Obama clinched the Democratic Nomination for President - a Chicagoan who happens to be African-American. A Chicagoan who makes me believe that we can make a real difference. A Chicagoan who listens to people, and who is known in Chicago as someone who builds bridges and makes coalitions that work (not unlike Senator Edward M. Kennedy has done in his 40 years in the Senate.) I am not going to quote it here, nor am I going to put up the streaming video - lots of other bloggers have done so already.

Obama's ability to fire up a crowd is amazing. He makes me feel I can do more to heal America. He has inspired young people. He has inspired people who had become so jaded and tired that they no longer paid attention. He has done the very thing John F. Kennedy did in his Inaugural Address, when Kennedy said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He has asked us to commit to a better way of doing things.

McCain is the one who presents old and tired ideas. He's the "father who knows best" and we're the uninformed children. Obama trusts Americans to work for the greater good. He will end our involvement in Iraq - a war we should never have waged. He will probably make Hillary Clinton the point person to get Health Care for all Americans. He will re-instate environmental protections. He will encourage us, the citizens, to do our patriotic duty and ask the hard questions. And to act.

History was made last night. Let's help make history again in November.

My cousin's project

My cousin has been working on this project for a while - she's a therapist, a wonderful woman, someone we all look to in our family as being the heart and soul. She married into the family and we embraced her immediately, because she's who she is. This project helps lift one more layer of the shroud of silence around child abuse, telling boys that it is okay to seek help if they've been abused. Apparently it is much harder for boys to come forward than it is for girls. The billboards are around SoCal, and I am intensely proud of her and her work.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Facing November's Election

The June issue of Vanity Fair has an article by James Wolcott that focuses on one of my main concerns: the absolute viciousness of the Clinton-versus-Obama supporters as we all eat each other alive. I am not talking about the candidates; I am talking about the supporters of the candidates. As we flay the skin off of each other, it keeps the focus off of what really matters: the White House and McCain.

Wolcott's article focuses mostly on the rift at Daily Kos, and other liberal blogs. Wolcott writes:
The rancor was disproportionate in intensity and extravagant in invective, a fervor worthy of ancestral foes. Months-old grievances seethed and erupted as if they had been bubbling for centuries in a lake of bad blood. On the most egoistic plane, it seemed like a clash of entitlements, the messianics versus the menopausals. The Obama-ites exuded the confidence of those who feel that they embody the future and are the seed bearers of energies and new modalities too long smothered under the thick haunches of the tired, old, entrenched way of doing things. The Hillarions felt a different imperative knocking at the gate of history, the long-overdue prospect of the first woman taking the presidential oath of office. For them, Hillary’s time had come, she had paid her dues, she had been thoroughly vetted, she had survived hairdos that would have sunk lesser mortals, and she didn’t let a little thing like being loathed by nearly half of the country bum her out and clog her transmission.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush polishes his cowboy boots, completely obtuse to the fact that he's destroyed the economy, the environment, Iraq, our standing in the world, the Bill of Rights, absolutely everything he's touched. He's probably secure in the knowledge that with all the Democratic infighting, he's not going to be Impeached, and probably has a nice parcel of land in Paraguay just waiting for him. VP Cheney's response to just about any tough question is his curled lip, "So?" Because he's also secure in the knowledge that he's going to slide out of office unscathed.

Meanwhile, Obama is likely going to declare victory tonight - which is fine with me, let's get on with it, let's focus on November, and McCain. Please. Let us stop doing the Republican's job, let us stop making this easy for McCain. When we consider that McCain's chief economic advisor is Phil Gramm,, vice chairman of a U.S. division of Zurich-based financial giant UBS and former advisor to Enron. UBS is currently the focus of congressional and Justice Department investigations into schemes that allegedly enabled wealthy Americans to evade income taxes by stashing their money in overseas havens.

So I ask you: does it matter if Hillary wears pantsuits, or if Obama's former pastor is a jerk? When you consider the constant barrage of information, candidates are under a level of scrutiny that is beyond human endurance. We can focus on minutia or we can focus on the issues that matter, and elect a Democrat.

Monday, June 02, 2008

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships

An amphibious assault vehicle leaves the USS Peleliu, which was used to detain prisoners, according to the human rights group Reprieve. Photograph: Zack Baddor/AP

Human Rights lawyers claim the USA is using floating prison ships to detain those arrested in the so-called war on terror. How convenient for an administration that cherishes secrets and lies. According to human rights organisation Reprieve, the USA has as many as 17 of these floating prisons. Detainees are interrogated at sea, and then sent to undisclosed locations.
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: "They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been 'through the system' since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them.
This practice is an obscenity on more levels I can begin to list. The Human Rights violations this administration condones is contrary to everything our nation was founded upon and it must stop. The whole world is watching, in these final days of the Bush Administration, most likely wondering what prevented Congress from actually impeaching him. How have we been so unable to police our own?

In fact, it has been our nation's collective paralysis, brought on by the mind-numbing horrors of 9/11, that has allowed this Administration to operate without regard to what is right, decent, or even legal. And now, what frightens me the most is watching the supporters of Obama and Clinton eat each other alive - effectively doing the work of Republicans to ensure that McCain will be elected. More of the same, as we sink to the levels of the worst violators of human rights.

I am ashamed of my country. I love my country, and I am deeply ashamed and humiliated. We must demand an accounting - nothing short of a complete list of names of these prisoners, and locations they are being held. We must demand they be charged, or released. We must demand fairness, and decency. And we must completely clean house in November.