Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you could attend any concert, what would it be?

Jimi Hendrix opening for the Doors.

Ask me anything

What would be the best workplace perk?

Well, the PG-13 answer would be free coffee. At priceline we had Starbucks machines in the break rooms - that was awesome!

Ask me anything

If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?

That's a toughie... I'd have to say 1984. I squandered my senior year taking too many easy courses. Plus the decision not to go to college right after school is probably one of the worst I've ever made in my life.

Ask me anything

Who's the most underrated athlete?

Beattie Feathers! He was the first back to ever run for 1000 yards in a season. That happened in 1934. He held the record for highest average per run in a season (8.44 y/att) until Michael Vick broke it 58 years later!

Ask me anything

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ask me anything

If you could wake up as anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

Can I be myself, with Bill Gates' money, with Justin Timberlake's talent and Ryan Reynolds' good looks? If not, I'd rather just wake up as myself.

Ask me anything

Would you rather get up early or sleep late?

I'd much rather stay up late, so the later I have to wake up the better.

Ask me anything

Do you believe in God?

I do believe in God; I just hope that he believes in me...

Ask me anything

Do you believe in luck?

I believe in luck, absolutely. The world is a pretty random place, but you can create your own luck by being prepared, in the right place at the right time.

Ask me anything

What was the worst concert you went to?

David Bowie's Glass Spider Tour, but only because I was sick.

Ask me anything

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fear and Hatred Do Not Equal Patriotism (Updated)

If you really knew me, you would never send me a message like this:

One Pissed Off Housewife

Thought you might like to read this letter to the editor ~ ever notice how some people just seem to know how to write a letter?.

This one surely does!

This was written by a Canadian woman, but oh how it also applies to the U.S., U.K. and Australia


Written by a housewife in New Brunswick , to her local newspaper.

This is one ticked off lady . . .

'Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not, started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001 and have continually threatened to do so since?

Were people from all over the world, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from the capitol of the USA and in a field in Pennsylvania?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a few Taliban were claiming to be tortured by a justice system of a nation they are fighting against in a brutal insurgency.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East, start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere belief of which, is a crime punishable by beheading in Afghanistan ..

I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head, while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called 'insurgents' in Afghanistan, come out and fight like men, instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques and behind women and children.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana, care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the Canadian media stops pretending that their freedom of speech on stories, is more important than the lives of the soldiers on the ground or their families waiting at home, to hear about them when something happens.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a CANADIAN soldier roughing up an Insurgent terrorist to obtain information, know this:

I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank:

I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed 'special' food, that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being 'mishandled,' you can absolutely believe, in your heart of hearts:

I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled 'Koran' and other times 'Quran.' Well, Jimmy Crack Corn you guessed it, I don't care!!

If you agree with this viewpoint, pass this on to all your E-mail friends. Sooner or later, it'll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior!

If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete button. Should you choose the latter, then please don't complain when more atrocities committed by radical Muslims happen here in our great Country! And may I add:

'Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering, if during their life on earth, they made a difference in the world. But, the Soldiers don't have that problem.'

I have another quote that I would like to share AND.......I hope you forward all this.

One last thought for the day:

Only FIVE defining forces have ever offered to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ

2. The American Soldier

3. The Australian Soldier

4. The Canadian Soldier

5. And the The British Soldier

One died for your soul . . . the other four, for your freedom.

 I responded... you know that I cannot keep my mouth shut.

"I found this disgustingly bigoted and xenophobic. We live in a country founded on religious tolerance and embracing immigrants, not persecution of foreigners and people of other religions, although our history is rife with examples to the contrary. Muslims are simply the latest victims of our fear. Shame on you for perpetuating and promoting this irrational fear. From the Catholics to the Chinese to the Japanese during WWII to communists in the 50's there has always been some group, be it the KKK or Joseph McCarthy who have played on our fears of those who are different or seem foreign to concentrate power for themselves. I refuse to give into those fears" which I got the following response:

"Hey Matt go open a cell phone store in one of those counties!
Doubt they'll accept you like we accept them!
i woulD say ask Nicolas Berg. but he lost his head to those assholes! Just because you have those views don't mean they wouldn't kill your ass in a heartbeat. Just because your not Muslims.
Just galdd [sic] you not drawing my blood again! lol!"

Since they doubled down, I felt inclined to respond in kind:

"And that is exactly what makes this (or if we actually practiced what we preach) such a great nation. I am not allowed to even travel to and step foot in Mecca because I am not a Muslim and Saudi Arabia is a nation that has a state religion. But we, in theory, welcome everyone with open arms. I know Muslims, I've worked with Muslims and I have never, ever thought twice about their ideology or wondered if I should be afraid of them.

"But we don't live up to that ideal. There are many who are trying as hard as they can to make sure that we don't keep the promises we've made to ourselves and have stated to the rest of the world. We have an open society, which invites that which is foreign to come and find a home with us. We have told the world for centuries that we are a nation of immigrants and that immigrants and the diversity they've brought to our national fabric is what makes us strong. But there are those in our country that play on peoples' fears that manifest from things that they don't fully understand or feels different. And sadly our country has a long history of persecuting its own citizens for being different. In 1790 we passed an immigration law that stated that only 'free white persons' can become naturalized citizens. In the 1850's the Know Nothing Movement sprouted out of a hatred for Irish Catholics who had come to this country after the Irish Potato Famine. In the 1880's it was the Chinese Exclusion Act, which disallowed Chinese to enter the country... After that was the California Land Act which precluded people of Japanese descent from owning property. After the Civil War the KKK formed to persecute Blacks, Catholics and Jews. During WWII we forced over 100,000 Japanese-Americans into internment camps out of fear. Senator Joe McCarthy used fear of Communism to grab power for himself and destroy his enemies in the 50's.

"Islamophobia is only the latest manifestation of this darker side of the American psyche. In 30 years or so we will look back at this time in our history and we, as a country will feel ashamed that we allowed our fear to allow our own government to spy on our own citizens... that we allowed ourselves to be duped into invading a country that was in no way a threat to us... that we have allowed our fears to make seven million of our fellow Muslim citizens feel unwelcome in their own country. I, for one, will be able to look back at that time, shake my head in shame at the fear and hatred that a good portion of the country allowed itself to get caught up in and rest easy in the fact that I didn't allow myself to be swallowed up in the ignorance that blinded so many of my fellow citizens.

"And I have to say that I am damn glad that I am not drawing your blood any more either..."
 What happened to Nicholas Berg was a real tragedy. But just like every white southerner is not a member of the KKK on the prowl to lynch African-Americans, not every Muslim is a suicide bomber trying to become a martyr. People who try and perpetuate this fear and doing this country a great disservice. This fear can only weaken us, paralyze us and allow us to too easily betray the principles upon which this country was founded. I will have no part of it and I will not sit idly by and let this ignorance go by unchallenged.

- - - - - - - - - - -
The idiocy continues...
"Are you a fucking Idiot? Read the fucking thing again!
and thanks for the history lession! [sic] NOT!
The point is if you hate me and want to kill me I will not sit back and say 'Oh they are miss understood [sic]' Man up ya mamby pamby candy ass! Now we know why you didn't serve in the military.
Go protest so they can open the mosque at groung [sic] zero too!
And I bet those radical muslims [sic] would surly [sic] like to draw your blood!

My reply:
"I DID serve in the U.S. Army for four years. My old unit has been in and is still Baghdad since 2002. I served my country. I am not an idiot nor do I claim to be the smartest person I know. But I know that I am not naive enough to think that Muslims are the only ones committing inhumane atrocities in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have no claim to the higher moral ground - at this point we have far more innocent blood on our hands than any terrorist does.

"If you want to ignore history, go right ahead. Wrap yourself up in your fear and ignorance if it makes you happy, safe and secure. I would rather go through life with my eyes open. I am proud of my country is spite of its flaws. If it takes demonizing someone else to make you feel more American then I pity you."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Free Speech vs. Idiotic Speech

All of these pundits and politicians on the right who are calling for the de-funding of NPR over the firing of Juan Williams simply do not understand what the first amendment is about. As his employer, NPR has the right to set the tone of their broadcast, not Juan Williams, and not any other journalist or commentator in their employ. To go on another "news" outlet, as a representative of NPR and say things that run counter to the tone that the network tries to set is a flagrant showing of disregard for his employers. If an employee of Burger King went to McDonald's after work in his uniform, sat down and ate in the dining room and told everyone within hearing range that he eats there because BK sucks would be employed for very long?

Juan Williams has the constitutional right to say whatever may be rattling around in his empty head. But as a paid commentator for a news outlet trying to set a tone that is free of sensationalism and grounded in fact if he goes on another show and makes statements that run counter to that aim he has to deal with the fact that there are repercussions for that kind of behavior. He works for NPR, not the other way around. If Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly did a 360 on Fox and start endorsing the president's domestic agenda, pointing out the racism in the Tea Party and trying to point out that all Muslims are not terrorists they wouldn't be working for Fox much longer. And their firing would not be a suppression of their free speech, it would be an employer exercising their right to make sure that the tone of their programming suits their vision or agenda. Period.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Government is NOT the problem

"...government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."
- Ronald Reagan,  1981
I have a real beef with this idea. I have a real beef with the G.O.P., and I am not talking about the loonies on the fringe who say that the Department of Education should be done away with. I have a beef with the ones who have disparaged the stimulus act while attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects, paid for by the stimulus, while taking the credit. ...with the ones who complain that the stimulus didn't work and that they have a different approach whose emphasis would be tax incentives when the makeup of 40% of the stimulus was tax incentives. I'm tired of the lies, the sheer, bald-faced dishonesty and the doublespeak. And I am frustrated that people cannot see the stupidity of this. At the Foley/Malloy debate, Tom Foley pledged not to raise taxes until the current budget deficit of three billion dollars in the state of CT has been remedied. If it takes X number of dollars to run the state and you are three billion dollars short of that number it seems ludicrous to say that you are not going to consider a tax raise. His reasoning? If the Democrat-controlled state legislature gets any additional funds they will spend them. Well I should hope to hell so! It's not like the state has a big piggy bank we're trying to fill up!

I'm tired of people complaining about paying taxes. I hate the idea of "starving the beast." Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that "taxes are the price we pay for civilization." We have the GOP constantly talking about how Social Security is a ponzi scheme, how unemployment benefits make the jobless lazy and unwilling to get a job, and on and on. They are more concerned about getting tax breaks for corporations and millionaires than providing a safety net for the people in the worst financial predicament. They are dying to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans but unwilling to extend unemployment benefits for people hit the hardest in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. I've been on unemployment for quite some time now and let me tell you something: It sucks! This is not something that anyone in their right mind would want to milk for any period of time. We've had make some serious cuts, swallowed a lot of pride and make some moves that while helpful in the immediate are going to hurt in the long term, like cashing in my 401k. But the unemployed are the greedy ones... not the hedge fund managers and millionaires and billionaires whose tax cuts' lost revenue make up over 50% of our current deficit. While we're on the subject of the deficit, how can anyone in their right mind complain about the deficit while wanting to extend those tax cuts? That's an idea that a ten year old can consider at realize that it's not logical.

To me, if you have a problem with our government, you have a problem with our country. I would call you un-patriotic. I am proud of our government and think it is disgusting how the GOP senators have done everything in their power to block, delay or derail legislation, confirming federal appointees, and so on. Come November I am going to pull the Democratic lever on every single nominee, not because I vote blindly along party lines but because I feel that the GOP and its ideas are dangerous and un-American. The moderates of the GOP have been pushed aside by the clowns and the crazies. I don't like the idea of deficit spending but I'd rather have that than a group of legislators who are willing to screw over the least fortune in our country to help the richest and have the nerve to call it fiscal responsibility.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tea Party Fast Food

Yesterday I had the most bizarre fast-food dining experience I've ever experienced.

I live in Norwich and do not get down to Groton very often. When I am there it is very rare that I will stop to eat there; if I do stop anywhere in Groton it's more likely than not that it would be Starbucks. But, I happened to have a coupon in my pocket for a free Whopper, so I stopped in to the Burger King there. When I first went in it didn't hit me at first. All I noticed initially was that it was clean and quiet - not too busy even though it was just a little before one in the afternoon. I place my order, get my food and go sit down. I notice that there was a large flat screen TV at the other end of the dining area with the sound all the way down and the captions on. The station was taking a commercial break and I thought to myself how nice it was that they had a TV for people eating there.

...and then the commercials ended.

After the advertisements Fox News came on, blasting the cover story for the current Newsweek about how President Obama can fight back against the smears and lies and the negative image that right wing "news" outlets such as themselves had forced upon him. Most of their arguments centered around Newsweek being bankrupt and how that therefore makes them irrelevant and incorrect about everything. (I've searched for an image of the cover to include here but could not find it. I guess it's still too new...) After that they went to an advertisement featuring G. Gordon Liddy trying to scare people into buying overpriced gold coins.

And that's when it hit me.

I looked around me. Everyone in the restaurant was white. Everyone behind the counter and working in the back... white. I finished my food, threw away my trash and walked outside. As I headed to my car there was a customer coming in for whom I held the door open... white. I drove around the building and passed three people waiting in the drive through lane... all white. It was Tea Party dining at its finest.

I eat in fast food restaurants probably more often than I should and I have never had a comparable experience. Maybe if I went to eat in a Burger King in Montana or Utah I might have a similar experience, but Groton is one of the larger cities in South Eastern Connecticut and is racially diverse. To me, the odds of an all-white staff serving an all-white clientele in a city like Groton seems statistically impossible. I was honestly shocked and dismayed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Unemployment Blues

In all honesty, it's not altogether horrible. My last job has been the only job where I have taken so much on my own shoulders, voluntarily taken on extra duties above and beyond what my job description (and pay grade) called for. I was writing procedures, doing some marketing work and training employees. I made myself and the knowledge I had accumulated from working for almost fifteen years in the medical laboratory field at almost every level and at almost every job from microbiology tech down to phlebotomist and specimen processor - from LIS analyst to client service representative. I was, I now realize, pretty stressed out on a day to day basis. I am not affluent by any stretch of the most vivid and fertile imagination and vacations consisted mainly of just being away from the desk. I haven't gone on any kind of trip any further than a two to three hour car ride in well over a decade. So that's akin to what this feels like - a staycation. Only this is a stretch of time off that also includes trips to the food bank, strict budgeting and cutting back on un-necessities (such as Gamefly,) and is completely not of my own choice.

For now, I do not mind it so much. It's a lot tougher than it normally has been to make ends meet and we have to be much more cautious in nearly every decision we make. It's going to start weighing on me very heavily soon though. Men need to be doing something; we define ourselves, in part, by what we do. One of the first things you want to know about a man after you know his name is, "what do you do?" Until I have a long-term answer for that question I feel unsettled and incomplete.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I have kind of withdrawn as of late, and I apologize. I haven't really felt like being plugged in, sharing every thought, blah blah blah...  I am having a hard time thinking about anything other that what is going on with my health. I just want to feel "normal" again. Thankfully, it seems that all the medical probing and prodding is starting to show something finally. It appears that I have sleep apnea. I went for a sleep study and I had enough instances where I stopped breathing, fell out of REM sleep, etc, and so forth that they woke me up halfway through the night and put a CPAP on me. It will still be a couple of weeks before I go back to see the pulmonologist and get fitted for a CPAP to use at home, but hopefully that makes a difference.

I am tired of being tired...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Today is not a good day. It's not a bad day; I don't feel ill. I went down to the medical records department and got a copy of the report for mt CT scan from Tueday (I didn't want to wait till July 12th for my follow-up) and it's all normal. On the surface everything is normal - copacetic... But the reality is that I feel like crap. I ache all over. I feel run down and tired - almost sleepy. My back is sore and I am stiff in my hips. WTF is wrong with me!? I think I could tolerate being ill; I mean seriously ill... I am generally optimistic enough that a serious illness or condition would not drag me under. Hell, I had open heart surgery when I was in my 20's - I've spent plenty of time in hospital beds in the course of my life. It's feeling like this and the doctors having no clue what is wrong with me is what is killing me. If I knew what was going on I could steel myself and face it. Not knowing what I'm up against is frustrating and makes me feel
even more powerless.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Laugh If You Want To...

...but I have to admit to a bit of a new man-crush: John Krasinski.

I just finished watching Away We Go with him and Maya Rudolph and loved it. I liked it but I think the odd choice of having the whole movie scored with Alexi Murdoch songs simply did not work.

There is just something so completely endearing about Krasinski. He's comes across (in The Office too) as the kind of guy you'd want to hang out, drink beer with and shoot the shit. He's the perfect best man for a thousand weddings.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm Worried for Bobby Jindal...

The other night on the evening news I saw Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal very angrily raging against the environmental disaster that ravaging his state's shores and threatening to destroy a way of life for a great number of people for many years to come. A moment later he was criticizing President Obama and calling on him to lift the moratorium on issuing offshore oil drilling permits. Does the governor have an undiagnosed aneurysm or perhaps an as-of-yet undiagnosed schizophrenic personality disorder? thoughts are with him and his family - I hope that they quickly diagnose whatever the hell is wreaking havoc with his brain.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Update on the health situation

I meant to do this earlier... sorry. So I met with Dr. Dulala, my new Hematologist/Oncologist last Friday and she basically confirmed everything that I already didn't know. She looked me over, asked a bunch of questions and we talked about what might or might not be going on with me. She's ordered a whole buttload of lab testing, most of which is still pending: BCR/ABL mutation analysis, Flow Cytometry, a couple of electrophoresis tests... I meet with her next Friday to discuss the results. If those results are inconclusive, the next step is extracting bone marrow for analysis... *SHUDDER*

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American I-dull

The honeymoon is over. I officially no longer give a crap who wins Idol.

I've noticed for a while that the show had been becoming more and more formulated and predictable, which is a shame. For the first few seasons I was glued to the TV but over the years it seemed that they started picking contestants more for their ability to fit into a convenient niche or their ability to predictably appeal to marketable demographics and the fact that they could (not always capably) carry a tune was a secondary consideration. It seems like every year there MUST be an ambiguously gay man, a rocker chick, a rocker dude, a cute kid, the perky girl, the black guy and girl, the Latino/Latina, the sob story, etc... I think with Taylor Hicks winning a few years back the producers had a shocking "OMG" moment and realized "This guy is easily not marketable and selling his records are going to be difficult." Since then they've seemed to have stacked the deck so that at the end they would stand a better chance of having a winner who could sell records. The result has been a string of safe, non-controversial winners who are easily forgettable. Honestly, do you find yourself saying, "I simply could not live without my David Cook CD?" Me either.

And now that Simon is leaving as well the only highlight for me during the "critique" part of the show is going to be Ellen's occasional one-liners. The snarkiness at the end of the line of drivel was usually some of my favorite part of the show. Randy's "Dude! Dog! What?!" and Kara's overwrought mental contortions do nothing for me. If they do not find someone who is absolutely ruthless and nasty to replace Simon (for me they will have to out-Simon Simon) I don't know if I will actually watch it next season.

And what the hell is going on with Seacrest? Is the strenuous schedule the man keeps causing him to crack? He does realize he's just an emcee, right? The moments where he transformed into Contestant Advocate Man were awkward and unbecoming. His responsibility should be to make sure that the show flows along at an acceptable pace, not to ensure that the judges are giving adequately constructive feedback.

If Idol wants to keep me as a viewer next year they have to go back to what they were during season one: an open competition where anyone with a great voice can get a shot at a record deal - not a controlled marketing machine pandering to the largest possible demographic mix.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rand (I'm not a racist - I only pander to racists) Paul

Joe Conason had an excellent article in about the candidate from Kentucky:
"To understand Rand Paul's agonized contortions over America's civil rights consensus, let's review the tainted pedigree of the movement that reared him. Specifically, both the Kentucky Republican Senate nominee and his father, Ron Paul, have been closely associated over the past two decades with a faction that described itself as 'paleolibertarian,' led by former Ron Paul aide Lew Rockwell and the late writer Murray Rothbard. They eagerly forged an alliance with the 'paleoconservatives' behind Patrick Buchanan, the columnist and former presidential candidate whose trademarks are nativism, racism and anti-Semitism."

. . .

"The last time that anyone examined the details of the Paul family's gamy history was back in 2008, when the New Republic dug up copies of newsletters sent out under Ron's name to raise money, and found that they were replete with ugly references to blacks, Martin Luther King, homosexuals and other targets of the racist far right. At the time, Reason magazine, a libertarian magazine that opposed the 'paleo' deviation, gave the most revealing account of its movement's degenerate element.

"Following Ron Paul's dismal performance in the 1988 presidential campaign as the Libertarian Party candidate, Rockwell and Rothbard 'championed an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist "paleoconservatives," producing a flurry of articles and manifestos whose racially charged talking points and vocabulary mirrored the controversial Paul newsletters' uncovered by the New Republic. Rothbard died in 1995, but in 2008 Rockwell was still at Paul's side as a top advisor, 'accompanying him to major media appearances; promoting his candidacy on the blog; publishing his books; and peddling an array of the avuncular Texas congressman's recent writings and audio recordings.'

"According to Sanchez and Weigel, the tone of Paul's newsletters shifted to reflect his political circumstances. Between his first presidential campaign and his return to Congress in 1996 as a Republican, they were filled with slurs against blacks generally and Martin Luther King Jr. in particular, including the accusation that the civil rights leader 'seduced underage girls and boys.' Rothbard hated King deeply, describing him in November 1994 as 'a socialist, egalitarian, coercive integrationist, and vicious opponent of private-property rights ... who was long under close Communist Party control,' and concluding that 'there is one excellent litmus test which can set up a clear dividing line between genuine conservatives and neoconservatives, and between paleolibertarians and what we can now call "left-libertarians." And that test is where one stands on "Doctor" King.' (Then again, he hated Lincoln too, whom he disparaged in the same essay as 'one of the major despots of American history.')"

. . .

There is a reason why Rand Paul is choosing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as his primary example of the government over-stepping its boundries. There are a lot of other pieces of legislature at which he could have taken aim: anti-trust laws, OSHA, the newly-passed financial reform law... But in speaking out against the Civil Rights Act he's secretly winking at the far, far-right wing racist factions of the GOP. This is just like Reagan giving his first major campaign speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi where civil rights workers were killed in the 1960's. In speaking about the importance of "State Rights" at that speech he was giving a little wink and nod to racist southerners in a code that they clearly understood.

This veiled, secretive embracing of racism is present at every level of GOP campaigning. From the '08 presidential campaign where McCain did nothing to dispel or disavow the rampant racism that infected his campaign. It was only when he couldn't put the genie back in the bottle that he actually took the trouble to address the xenophobia and racism that began to overshadow his message. Just look at the TV ad campaign Linda McMahon is pushing in Connecticut: the whitest, white people in the whole state talking about how Linda is "one of them" and "understands their concerns." It may be a bit more innocuous than Sarah Palin blathering about "Real Americans" in redneck central but it essentially sends the same message.

Rob Simmons, We Hardly Knew Ya...

...well, not really. Anyone who has lived in Connecticut for a while knows who he is. He is getting another fifteen minutes of fame on the national level now that he is bowing out of the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate. Which is a real shame. I actually kind of like Rob Simmons (OK, not really. but I do not loathe his very existence which is saying a lot for a Republican politican.)

I would rather he got the nomination over WWE CEO and general slimeball, Linda McMahon. He would have had broader appeal, is more moderate and falls more into the mold of the prototypical New England Republican. He would have fared MUCH better against Blumenthal than McMahon. Neither one of them stands a snowball's chance in hell of beating AG Rich Blumenthal, but if I were to choose who would be more representative of my state's values, I would have chosen the former congressman and decorated Vietnam War veteran over the "lady" who has appeared on national TV kicking wrestling commentators in the groin and sharing a beer with Stone Cold Steve Austin. ...not to mention the scandal swirling around her and her stable of wrestlers' steroid use.

Simmons is dropping out of the race after the GOP state convention chose McMahon over him and endorsed her. She's spent sixteen million dollars on the campaign thus far and with the election still over a year away is on pace to break records with her spending. Supposedly, she has set aside fifty million dollars of her own money to campaign for the seat. Simmons just could not match that pace of spending and is, like I am, that the GOP chose McMahon's over-stuffed war chest over the character and record of someone who has served his country in the Army and the CIA as well as in Congress.

"I'm not a multi-millionaire," Simmons said in an interview with the CT Mirror. "I own my home. I've got some property in Vermont that has some value. My wife and I are what you might call a middle-class family, and we have chosen to enter politics at this stage in our lives and have been successful without being multi-millionaires."

This is just further evidence of the continuing erosion of the Republican middle ground to the out of control, torrential flood that is the teabaggers. Simmons would have gone to the Senate and would have worked with members on both sides of the aisle. He was fairly moderate when he served in the House of Representatives. He's widely respected in the state for the work that he did to keep the sub base in Groton open. But that took bipartisan cooperation and that is an affront that simply will not be endured by the teabaggers. McMahon's message, on the other hand, is that she's going to D.C. to shake things up and implement "real change" whatever that means. To show that she's just a "normal person," a Beltway outsider she's running ads in Connecticut (and they have become rather ubiquitous) with "normal people" saying that Linda is one of them; that she understands them; blah blah blah... The only problem is that she's somehow corraled the whitest looking group of people possible. They all look like they've just walked out of the lounge at the Greenwich Yatch Club.

That's certainly not the Connecticut that I live in.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's Not Every Day...

...that I agree with Ann Coulter:

"Republican consultants are doing a wonderful job raising expectations sky-high for the November elections, so that now, even if Republicans do smashingly well, it will look like a defeat (and an across-the-board endorsement of Obama's agenda). Thanks, Republicans!
"That's what happened in the 1998 congressional elections, nearly foiling Clinton's impeachment. It's what happened to the Conservative Party in Britain a week ago.
"And that's what happened this week in the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, formerly represented by Rep. John Murtha.
"Note to Republicans: Whenever possible, victory parties should be held after the election, not before it."
I'll go a step further, though.
The Democratic victory in PA's 12th district and, more importantly, Rand Paul's (I still cannot get over the fact that idiotarian Ron Paul named his son after Ayn Rand) defeat of the establishment GOP candidate in Kentucky's primary on Tuesday does not bode well for the G.O.P. at all. There were at least three other primary races, none of which got the attention that the Kentucky race recieved where a Tea Party-backed candidate defeated the establishment-backed G.O.P. candidate. It only illustrates how far to the extreme right the party is migrating. While it's true that usually only the die-hard, semi-fanatical part of either party votes in the primaries, what happened on Tuesday, I think, is a pretty clear sign of the direction in which the Republican Party is headed. The Tea-Party is highjacking the G.O.P. The inmates are now running the asylum.
This is nothing but good news for the Democrats. Fewer and fewer people outside of the fringe are really taking the nonsense being spewed by the far right very seriously. Most sane, normal people know that President Obama is not a Muslim, Socialist Manchurian Candidate poised to overthrow our way of life. The teabaggers polls lower than both the G.O.P. and the Democratic Party. The more mainstream candidates that fall to their burn and purge, the greater that chance that those seats will wind up being held by Democrats. The name Dede Scozzafava ring a bell for anyone?
Not to mention that Rand Paul has already shot himself in the foot... and we're not talking with some paltry .22 pea shooter. He pulled out a .357 Magnum and blew his damn toes off. One whole day after winning the primary he went on national TV and said that he supported the Civil Rights Act of 1965, but... ...thinks that the ignorant bigots of the time had the God-given first amendment right to tell African-Americans to get the hell away from their damn lunch counters and out of their frickin' store.
Yes, that's right. While he's all for making sure that the government doesn't discriminate against an individual because of the color of their skin but that they have no right to tell a privately-owned business that they cannot discriminate for the same reasons. To his credit, he did say that he, as an individual, would protest such an abhorrent practice. He's not bigoted; he's just an idiot. Just like his whack-a-doodle father he's all for abolishing income tax, the Department of Education, repealing laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act that protect individuals from being exploited by employers. In short, all the usual idiotic Libertarian ideas that would send us back in time to a point where child labor would be tolerated, your meat and produce isn't inspected to make sure it won't kill you and monopolies like Standard Oil run the country instead of the voting populace. Doesn't that sound quaint!?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No manners

Via Balloon Juice:

"This kind of pointless, macho posturing is no doubt part of the reason Rand Paul is a teabag icon: 
"After winning Kentucky's Republican primary Tuesday night, Bowling Green ophthalmologist Rand Paul refused to take the call of congratulations from opponent Trey Grayson, according to Grayson's campaign manager Nate Hodson.

"Hodson did not elaborate, except to say 'it happened.'
"'This is truly a classless act in politics,' said Marc Wilson, a Republican lobbyist and friend of Trey Grayson."
 . . .

I'm sorry, but Rand's behavior isn't "macho posturing" or any such thing. It's just rude and asshole-like misbehavior. I guess that what comes with being named after an idiot, misguided author (Ayn Rand) by a father who is just as big an idiot (Ron Paul).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Euclid Would Be So Proud!

Alabama math teacher uses potential assassination of President Obama as an example to explain geometry problem.
Secret Service pays him a visit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Over-reaction to the new Miss U.S.A.

Via Tapped:

"Apparently, the new Miss USA, Rima Fakih, is of Lebanese descent. For the anti-Muslim right, her winning is a sign of the apocalypse.

"Michelle Malkin is savvy enough to mostly cloak her freak-out behind horror over Fakih's politics (although she can't resist a dig at those 'identity politics' people), while other conservative bloggers just go ahead and call her a terrorist. Professional Islamophobe Daniel Pipes combs the internet for other instances in which Muslim women have won beauty contests, and concludes there's some kind of 'an odd form of affirmative action' going on. Because how could anyone choose a Muslim over a 'real American' in a beauty contest?
"I'm not really a fan of beauty contests, but the tone and substance of the fever swamp's reaction to an Arab-American winning a beauty contest is at least useful for pointing out how some people's political opinions aren't based so much in questions of policy as anti-Muslim animosity. The level of anger is just so plainly disproportionate to the matter at hand as to be self-implicating. These people aren't worried about terrorism -- they're offended by the idea of Muslims being integrated into the most mundane and banal aspects of American society."

My Health

Some of you know that I have been struggling with low energy levels, intermittent low grade fevers and the like. My primary care doc has a theory and a lead he's following up on. The theory is that this is all related to a possible sleep apnea problem. I snore like someone trying to outroar a lion... I don't really ever get a decent night sleep and cannot honestly remember the last time I slept through the night without waking up at least once or twice. So, I have an appointment next month to see a pulmonologist to start working through and testing for my possible sleep apnea.

The possible lead, however scares me a little bit. I've had a slightly elevated white blood cell count for at least a year now with my monocyte count being high as well. Monocytes are macrophages. They way they work, unlike other white cells, is by consuming and enveloping cells that invade the body and sort of doing a suicide bomber kind of move, destroying the antigen and itself all at once. It's usually elevated in viral infections and, hence the name, Mononucleosis. But an elevated monocyte count could also be an indicator of monocytic leukemia...

He's referred me to the local Hematology/Oncology group for a consultation. I'm waiting to hear from one of the two offices as to when my appointment is going to be. In the mean time, I sit and imagine the worst.

Crazy 101

According to TPM:

"Texas textbook proposal would require teaching high school students about 'alternatives regarding long term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare' and 'efforts by global organizations to undermine U. S. sovereignty'."

Yeah... and we liberals are the crazy ones? Aside from the Larouchies and truthers, the left is pretty devoid of paranoia or at least paranoia of this magnitude.

Friday, May 14, 2010

File under WTF!?

"28% of Republicans said the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico made them more likely to support drilling off the coast to an equal 28% who said it made them less likely to be supportive."

Any group of which 28% says that a catastrophic environmental disaster is going to make them more likey to support the methodology that created the disaster needs to be locked up in an asylum, en mass.

GOP Commiting Political Suicide?

From the Washington Post:

" would be absurd to deny that the Republican ideological coalition includes elements that are anti-immigrant -- those who believe that Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, are a threat to American culture and identity. When Arizona Republican Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth calls for a moratorium on legal immigration from Mexico, when then-Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) refers to Miami as a 'Third World country,' when state Rep. Russell Pearce (R), one of the authors of the Arizona immigration law, says Mexicans' and Central Americans' 'way of doing business' is different, Latinos can reasonably assume that they are unwelcome in certain Republican circles.

"The intensity of these Republican attitudes is evident not just from what activists say but also from what Republican leaders are being forced to say. Sen. John McCain, a long-term supporter of humane, comprehensive immigration reform, has run a commercial feeding fears of 'drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder' by illegal immigrants."

"Never mind that the level of illegal immigration is down in Arizona or that skyrocketing crime rates along the border are a myth. McCain's tag line -- 'Complete the danged fence' -- will rank as one of the most humiliating capitulations in modern political history."


"Republicans have now sent three clear signals to Hispanic voters: California's Proposition 187, which was passed in 1994 and attempted to deny illegal immigrants health care and public education before being struck down in court; the immigration debate of 2006, dominated by strident Republican opponents of reform; and now the Arizona immigration law. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 49 percent of Hispanics said that Democrats had more concern for people of their background; 7 percent believed this was true of Republicans. Since the Arizona controversy, this gap can only have grown. In a matter of months, Hispanic voters in Arizona have gone from being among the most pro-GOP in the nation to being among the most hostile."

"Immigration issues are emotional and complex. But this must be recognized for what it is: political suicide. Consider that Hispanics make up 40 percent of the K-12 students in Arizona, 44 percent in Texas, 47 percent in California, 54 percent in New Mexico. Whatever temporary gains Republicans might make feeding resentment of this demographic shift, the party identified with that resentment will eventually be voted into singularity. In a matter of decades, the Republican Party could cease to be a national party."

Monday, May 10, 2010

AZ Governor's Over-Heated Rhetoric : No More Than Hyperbole for Political Gain

Via the Wonk Room:
"This weekend, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) lashed out at President Obama for employing dark humor when joking about new Arizona immigration law SB-1070 at last week's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. In his comedic speech, Obama stated, 'We all know what happens in Arizona when you don't have ID — adios amigos!' Brewer, apparently, did not find Obama's comments very funny.
"Brewer has repeatedly cited drug related border violence to justify signing off on the likely unconstitutional SB-1070. 'The drug trafficking and border violence is out of control in Arizona and demands serious attention,' said Jan Brewer for Governor campaign spokesman Doug Cole in a statement released this weekend. 'Mr. President, this is not a laughing matter.' In a video released by her campaign, Brewer outlines a variety of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants that she characterizes as plaguing Arizona in the past year.
"Brewer has a right to be unamused by Obama poking fun at the absurdity of her state's new immigration law, but her self-righteous attack doesn't add up. FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics show that 'while the nation's illegal-immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2004, according to federal records…the violent-crime rate declined 35 percent.' If anything, 'cartel operatives pass through border communities as quickly as possible, avoiding conflicts and attention.' The Arizona Republic reports that crime rates in Arizona border towns 'have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line.' ' While smugglers have become more aggressive in their encounters with authorities, as evidenced by the shooting of a Pinal County deputy on Friday, allegedly by illegal-immigrant drug runners, they do not routinely target residents of border towns,'
the investigative report concludes.
"It's curious that Brewer still chose to release her video even after the Arizona Republic's widely disseminated article was published. However, some Arizonans aren't fooled as to what her motives are. Leo Federico, a retired teacher, told the Arizona Republic, 'That's politics…It's all about votes.' Yet while Brewer courts immigration hardliners, Latinos are overwhelmingly flocking to her opponent, State Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) — who is now leading in the polls.
"Brewer also hits Obama on federal inaction on immigration. Yesterday on Al Punto with Jorge Ramos, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responded to similar criticisms, stating, 'it's illogical to hear the state of Arizona complaining about the federal government not doing anything and the two Republican senators from Arizona [Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl] won't join with us to do anything.' On her campaign website, Brewer also doesn't cite a single commitment to working with the federal government to solve the problem comprehensively by enacting immigration reform.
"Opponents of Arizona's law meanwhile claim that SB-1070 will make the state less safe by forcing police to prioritize immigration enforcement over violent crimes, draining strained financial and manpower resources, exacerbating civil rights violations, and fueling costly lawsuits."
. . .
As is usual with all Republicans, the truth or honest representitation of the issues is the first casualty in the quest for political gain. To claim that drug-related, violent crime is "out of control" when it's actually decreased by 35%, simply to inflame the residents of her state into supporting this unconstitutional law is reprehesible at best, utterly vile and disgusting in respect of a civil rights viewpoint.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Vant To See Your Papers! Schnell! Schnell!! (Updated)

Via Balloon Juice:

"Race and racism has nothing to do with it:

"Just a week after signing the country's toughest immigration bill into law, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer now must decide whether to endorse another bill passed by her state legislature — one that outlaws ethnic-studies programs in public schools.


"Arizona's superintendent for public instruction, Tom Horne, has said he's backing the measure because ethnic-studies programs encourage 'ethnic chauvinism'; he's also suggested that such programs could breed secessionist sentiment among Hispanic students.

"Since when is secessionist sentiment bad? Also, apparently accents will soon be verboten:

"The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English.

"State education officials say the move is intended to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. But some school principals and administrators say the department is imposing arbitrary fluency standards that could undermine students by thinning the ranks of experienced educators.

"Arizona wants to make it clear that the only acceptable accent is a proper German one."


Update: Added the link to the original post on Balloon Juice and corrected formatting.

Do you have any scars on your body? If so, how'd you get them?

Lots of scars. The biggest ones from heart surgery.

Ask me anything

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What if...?

Here is a quote from a blog that has been cited quite a bit in the last few days (I'll put up a link to it later:)

"Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn't like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that's what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation's capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country's political leaders if the need arose.

"Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tea Party Hypocrisy

Eugene Robinson from the Washington Post nails it on the head:

"Activists for Latino and immigrant rights -- and supporters of sane governance -- held weekend rallies denouncing the new law and vowing to do everything they can to overturn it. But where was the Tea Party crowd? Isn't the whole premise of the Tea Party movement that overreaching government poses a grave threat to individual freedom? It seems to me that a law allowing individuals to be detained and interrogated on a whim -- and requiring legal residents to carry identification documents, as in a police state -- would send the Tea Partyers into apoplexy. Or is there some kind of exception if the people whose freedoms are being taken away happen to have brown skin and might speak Spanish? "

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Palin distorts the President's words ... will the media notice?

Palin distorts the President's words ... will the media notice?:

As long as the traditional media is going to report on every utterance from the former half-term governor of Alaska, will they bother to fact-check her?

Via The Plum Line, the latest distortion from the hand of Sarah Palin:

Mr. President, is a strong America a problem?

Asked this week about his faltering efforts to advance the Middle East peace process, President Obama did something remarkable. In front of some 47 foreign leaders and hundreds of reporters from all over the world, President Obama said that “whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower.”

Whether we like it or not? Most Americans do like it.

Here’s what the President actually said:

But what we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it’s also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.

Well, that's quite a bit different, isn't it? The President wants to resolve conflicts because of the cost to the United States both in money and American lives, and Sarah Palin distorts his words for personal political gain.

There's only one person with a problem here.

Monday, March 29, 2010


From a campaign rally where Sarah Palin was appearing in support of John McCain:

"Kaylie Chriss, a registered Republican, said she remained undecided about who to vote for in the primary election but felt Palin's appearance would boost McCain.

"'It definitely helps him,' she said. 'It gets him a lot more support from people who may not have heard of him.'"

Really? He's running for what? ...his forthieth six-year term as a U.S. Senator? He was um... let me think... the Republican nominee for president or something like that, right? The name is familiar but I cannot quite put my finger on how I know him...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Decision Time

Via Ezra Klein

"Looks like David Frum has been fired from the American Enterprise Institute. The sin appears to be his recent criticism that lockstep Republican opposition to the health-care bill sacrificed conservative policy goals at the altar of short-term electoral incentives. This, apparently, is out of bounds. But he should know that: This dismissal comes after he left the National Review on the heels of bitter arguments over whether Sarah Palin was qualified to be president.
What you're seeing here is the tension between being a conservative and being a Republican. It's not that you can't be both at the same time, but that you have to know which wins when ideological push comes to electoral shove.


"Moreover, there was no doubt the bill looked like the reforms Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts and that the conservative Heritage Foundation advocated in the early Aughts. There's no doubt that it was more ideologically conservative than any major reform bill that had come before it. But none of that played any role in the party's rhetoric. Any time you heard someone calling this bill a 'takeover of one-sixth of the economy,' it was pretty good evidence that you could write that commentator off entirely.

"As Frum saw clearly, if you were interested in a conservative health-care system, there was room for compromise in this bill. If Republicans had cut a deal on revenue, we could've capped the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance and there would've been no increase in Medicare payroll taxes. Health savings accounts and tort reform could've been much larger parts of the bill. A system of reinsurance for catastrophic costs, as Sen. Chuck Grassley once proposed, was certainly on the table. If Republicans had offered 40 real votes for Wyden-Bennett, I would've been on their side in this debate."

I cannot agree more. There are a lot of conservative ideas present in this law and not a single conservative Republican would get behind it. Their political aspirations trumped their policy philosophy and they lost on both counts. Concessions were made numerous time to try and build bipartisan support for the bill - mostly by moderate Democrats. This bill is not just centrist, it's centrist leaning to the right. Is it perfect? No. Would Republican input have made this law better? That is debatable, but it certainly would have made it more comprehensive.

They rolled an awfully big pair of dice playing the obscure and obstruct game and came up bust. The gamble only would have payed off if they could have stopped the legislation from becoming law. If they had succeeded, the defeated bill and its details would have become a memory recalled as only a closely-contested, nail-biting defeat of government intrusion into peoples' health care; the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship kept pure from an over-reaching federal authority with shades of socialism.

What's going to happen though is that as aspects of the law are enacted one after another and people see how horrible the GOP distorted the facts and tried to derail the debate public opinion is going to turn against them. It's already happening. Public opinion polls already have the new law, the Democrats and President Obama tracking higher than before passage. The big question is do they reconsider their strategy and stop the obstruction that they are already ratcheting up? they give up the heated rhetoric designed to whip their base into a even greater furor? Or do they start reaching across the aisle as Lynsey Graham has on immigration reform? Or do they stay ideologically pure and further relegate themselves to the sidelines?

Enough already...

This blog is an outlet for me to blow off steam, vent my frustrations and hone my writing. Nothing that appears here is directed at any one individual, with the exception of this one post. This blog is tied into my notes on Facebook and I do not plan on severing that connection.

If you're offended, stop reading my little rants. I don't do this for your edification and I certainly do not get paid to write this blog. I am willing to talk policy if you're willing to discuss actual facts and nothing that comes from Glenn Beck's chalkboard. I am willing to engage in intelligent, fact-based conversation but don't talk to me about stupid tripe like President Obama is unpatriotic because he "refuses to wear a lapel pin."

I will not suffer conservative rhetoric or talking points in conversations I have with anyone. Terms like "apology tour," "Obamacare," socialism in relation to our government's policies will immediately throw a wall up between us. It only tells me that you are willing to let someone else put their words in your mouth and their thoughts in your noggin. It leads me to believe that you are unwilling to think for yourself. There has been a gross amount of misinformation and outright lies spread by conservative politicians - I expect it from them. I expect better from my friends and family. Maybe that's not a realistic expectation... who knows.

You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am. Do not feel obligated to point out the fallacy of my point of view. If you do feel compelled, in your disagreement, to point out what I say to be misguided, misrepresented or ill-conceived, consider yourself warned that I will argue my point vigorously. Be aware also that I will not argue my point with anything other than substantiated, broadly-accepted facts and expect the same from you.

This is my playground and those are my rules.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Crazy Never Goes Out of Style in Some Circles

In 1961 when Ronald Reagan was campaigning against Medicare he said, "[I]f you don't [stop Medicare] and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." That's pretty much the jist of the message the GOP has been hammering non-stop since Health Care reform passed in the house. According to them, we are now one black-booted goosestep away from becoming a totalitarian, socialist country. On April 19th (the anniversery of Wako and the Oklahoma City bombing) there is a march being planned in Washington D.C. - and the organizers are encouraging its participants to come armed. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is tweeting "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page." Bricks have been tosesed through the windows of local Democratic Headquarters and the office of Representatives Louise Slaughter and Gabrielle Giffords in reaction the HCR becoming law. Some Tea Party leaders gave out (what they thought was) the address of a Virgina congressman who had voted for reform so that they could "drop by and say hi and express their thanks regarding his vote for health care." They slashed the propane line leading to the home. And just a few weeks ago a batshit insane, anti-tax reactionary flew his fully-fueled plane into a federal building.

...and they accused President Obama of palling around with terrorists?

For me, the G.O.P. lost all relevance and any claim to the moral higher ground when they courted disaffected southern Democrats who felt betrayed when the party turned their backs on them and enacted civil rights legislation for black Americans. From that point on they have been on the wrong side of history with very few exceptions. H. W. Bush's showing restraint during the first Gulf War and leaving Saddam Hussein in power is good example. An infinitely unpopular decision at the time but one that the last eight years on the ground in Iraq have show to be a prudent one. Many, many conservative consider dear, old Ronnie not just one of the best presidents in recent history, but in the entire history of the United States - more than Lincoln and Washington combined. To them, he is the very epitome of what the president should be. According to them, He should be added to Mount Rushmore and replace Grant on the $50 bill. Reagan was an amazing politician and an horrific president. Decried "tax and spend" Democrats while burying us in a huge deficit with runaway military spending. He liked to talk tough about America protecting and defending democracy while selling weapons to the sandinistas and secretly empowering Iran and the mujahideen in Afghanistan (who eventually morphed into the Taliban.)

And not much has changed since the days of the Gipper. least not for the GOP. And they want to keep it that way. The bad news for them is that the world has changed around them, the country's values are and have been shifting without them even noticing. Why else would they call natural progress toward a more pratical (and universal) healthcare system treasonous and socialist? Is it any surprise that they're still the using the bogeyman of the shadow of the red menace of Communism (thank you Sen. McCarthy) to try and scare people into opposing issues?

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am way too fat. Too fat for my own good and my own health. When I step on my digital scale at home the slightly annoying voice intones the damage: Two-hundred and sixty-eight pounds. As my drill seargent in my Army basic training used to say, "That's too much Coburn..." This isn't the heaviest I've ever weighed, but it's damn close. In the mid to late 80's I was hovering around the 300 pound mark. Now, I can carry quite a bit of weight easily; I have broad shoulders and wide hips - a frame built for abuse and heavy loads. If I were an automobile, I'd be a small, practical pick-up truck.

My cardiologist wants me to lose 100 pounds, which is bit much in my opinion. I think I weighed more than that after basic training. Personally, if I could lose the sixty-eight and make it an even 200 I'd be a happy camper. I know I would feel a lot happier and be a lot healthier.

But here's the rub...

I seriously lack the motivation. Yes, I want to be around for my children and granchildren; I want to feel better physically; I want to reduce the strain on my back; I want to fit into the majority of my wardrobe again; yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah... I am more than fully aware of the benefits to be reaped by dropping the weight not only through the generally-accepted common sense thinking on the subject but through practical experience as well. Here is the problem: My work life sucks. My career has morphed into a job. The wonderful institution for which I used to work has been reduced to simply the place I go to punch a clock everyday. My preoccupation with the misery of my workplace that it overwhelms and pushes aside the care I need to give myself.

Give me some encouragement, please...

Monday, March 15, 2010

@!*#! Daylight Savings Time

Do we really need this still? Isn't it time to do away with this antiquated, asinine custom? I know it's supposed to (in theory) help save energy, help promote retail business, lessen automobile accidents in the afternoons, yadda, yadda, yadda... I don't care. I want a good night sleep.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Harry Reid has discovered his spine. In a letter he sent to Mitch McConnell he told him in no uncertain terms that the Democrats in the Senate are going to pass the healthcare bill via reconciliation. ...or Ezra Klein from the Washington Post put it, "Reconcile this!" Here is part of the letter Reid sent to the Senate minority leader:

"Though we have tried to engage in a serious discussion, our efforts have been met by repeatedly debunked myths and outright lies. At the same time, Republicans have resorted to extraordinary legislative maneuvers in an effort not to improve the bill, but to delay and kill it. After watching these tactics for nearly a year, there is only one conclusion an objective observer could make: these Republican maneuvers are rooted less in substantive policy concerns and more in a partisan desire to discredit Democrats, bolster Republicans, and protect the status quo on behalf of the insurance industry.[...]

"60 Senators voted to pass historic reform that will make health insurance more affordable, make health insurance companies more accountable and reduce our deficit by roughly a trillion dollars. The House passed a similar bill. However, many Republicans now are demanding that we simply ignore the progress we've made, the extensive debate and negotiations we've held, the amendments we've added (including more than 100 from Republicans) and the votes of a supermajority in favor of a bill whose contents the American people unambiguously support. We will not. We will finish the job. We will do so by revising individual elements of the bills both Houses of Congress passed last year, and we plan to use the regular budget reconciliation process that the Republican caucus has used many times.

"I know that many Republicans have expressed concerns with our use of the existing Senate rules, but their argument is unjustified. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the use of reconciliation. As one of the most senior Senators in your caucus, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said in explaining the use of this very same option, 'Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so.' Similarly, as non-partisan congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein said in this Sunday's New York Times, our proposal is 'compatible with the law, Senate rules and the framers' intent.'

"Reconciliation is designed to deal with budget-related matters, and some have expressed doubt that it could be used for comprehensive health care reform that includes many policies with no budget implications. But the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform – that bill already passed outside of reconciliation with 60 votes. Instead, reconciliation would be used to make a modest number of changes to the original legislation, all of which would be budget-related. There is nothing inappropriate about this. Reconciliation has been used many times for a variety of health-related matters, including the establishment of the Children's Health Insurance Program and COBRA benefits, and many changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

"As you know, the vast majority of bills developed through reconciliation were passed by Republican Congresses and signed into law by Republican Presidents – including President Bush's massive, budget-busting tax breaks for multi-millionaires. Given this history, one might conclude that Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class. Alternatively, perhaps Republicans believe a majority vote is appropriate only when Republicans are in the majority. Either way, we disagree. Keep in mind that reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health
care costs, fills the prescription drug 'donut hole' for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so."


Friday, February 26, 2010

So, my workplace has been invaded by consultants. Of course there are myriad rumors and stories circulating throughout the hospital as to what kind of recommendations are being doled out. None of them are very popular. This is no shock. No big surprises. What really hurts about the whole process is that the rank and file employees look around and we realize that we are the only ones suffering the cuts. The lab has been told we have to "lose" three-four FTE's (Full Time Employees), that our couriers are going to be outsourced and that the registrars are going to be pulled from our outpatient drawing stations... In the middle of all this the hospital installs a 50'+ flatscreen HD TV as a "message board" that plays the hospitals advertising in a loop.

Our president and CEO of our president when he took the job a few months ago said that he wanted an open dialog with the employees. In this vein he started a blog and invited the staff of the hospital to comment. Today, on the blog, he announced that hospital will no longer be awarding the employees longevity bonuses. Well, I took him up on his invitation and commented on his blog post.

Here is what I told him:
"Look, I understand that we are in tight financial times. I understand that we want to become a leaner organization in anticipation of loss of revenue that might occur because of healthcare reform.

"What I do not understand is the places we’re (and when I say we, I am certainly not included, nor are most of the employees of the hospital) choosing to make cuts. We’re losing our longevity bonuses… fine. We’ve lost our pensions in favor of a more volatile, market-driven 403b… fine. We’ve lost our annual employee picnic… fine. We cannot even get coffee served during our annual in-service… I could go on and on about all the things the employees have and are forgoing for the financial health of the hospital. I get it; it’s not unreasonable. We’ve enjoyed a lot of benefits and perks you just don’t get at other jobs. But on the flipside, you’ve basically done away with any incentive to excel or enticements to retain your employees.

"This wouldn’t be so unpalatable if we didn’t have these efficiency "experts" here (whom we are paying assumptively a hefty sum for their sage advice) telling us we cannot keep blankets on the floors for the patients; cannot give them Italian Ice for their parched throats after surgery; that we have to shed FTE’s; that we might have to close laboratory drawing stations; that we’re going to outsource our couriers just as we have our employee health services; that we’re going to send out our Lyme testing to a third-party lab; that we’re going to centralize registration, increasing patients’ waiting time; and probably plenty more we’re probably not privy to just yet.

"So we’re cutting back on employee benefits and cutting corners in addressing the needs and comfort of our patients. This would be understandable if we were falling on hard financial times. But we’re not really, are we? Not yet… The hospital operated in the black this past year, in the face of the worst financial downturn in generations. I’m sure there are lessons we can learn from this economic slow-down; cuts to waste and improvements in efficiency we can implement that this recession opened our eyes to.

"All that would still be a bitter pill for most of us to swallow but I would like to think that if the need presented itself the staff of this hospital would make painful sacrifices. Well, that bitter pill becomes a slap in the face when the employees walk throughout the hospital and see the waste that’s evident everywhere we turn. The big-screen HD TV (and the man hours need to install it and pay the designers who create the content), the plexiglass signs everywhere; the fact that we’ve added two new members to the board of directors; the two new departments (”Organizational Excellence” and “Philanthropy and Development”); the fact that we have not only a Communications Dept but also a Corporate Communications dept, each with their own department head; the fact that the hospital employees a photographer and two graphic designers; that the physicians can still have their meetings catered while the employees cannot get coffee during our in-service; and on and on…

"I love this organization. It’s been one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever labored at. But, sadly, those days and those feelings are behind me now."

This was his response:

Dear Matt:

Thank you for openly raising these issues. That’s the culture of openness we need.

You raise some issues, but there are facts that need to be addressed.

">> 'you’ve basically done away with any incentive to excel or enticements to retain your employees.'
Really, we’re trying to create greater incentives to excel. When everyone gets the same raise regardless of performance, that’s hardly an enticement or a reward. So we’re moving to a pay-for-performance model. When no one knows how or why the hospital makes (or loses) money, that’s no impetus to help us succeed. I want to make sure everyone understands what is important and what is expected. Retention is rewarded through solid performance and reflected in our ability to provide a very competitive retirement plan. The best retention plan we can provide is to continue to position ourselves in uncertain times for job preservation.

">> 'if we didn’t have these efficiency “experts” here…'
I have been here 10 years, and have seen any number of good ideas for efficiency and effectiveness get discussed, but too few get implemented. So, yes, we’re using experts (of course, they get paid), so we can grow more efficient and stay solvent. These “experts” are here to help all of us understand the data that drives decision to improve effectiveness through increased efficiencies. Direction 2010 is our program, not theirs. We have rejected certain ideas that may have worked elsewhere and might not be best here. Among those are some proposals to outsource services.

">> cannot give [patients] Italian Ice for their parched throats after surgery…
Maybe not Italian ice, but Popsicles, yes.

">> if we were falling on hard financial times. But we’re not really, are we? Not yet… The hospital operated in the black this past year.
We had a solid year last year, and many hospitals did not. We’re not off to a solid year this year (we’re $2,614,000 behind budget). The recession may be winding down, but uncertainly, and not for healthcare — and we are getting hit harder than ever with pressures to reimbursement. We saw, for the first time, surgical volume significantly drop-off in December. The burning platform is here, and the time to take action is now, when we can use an X-Acto knife, not when it’s too late and we need a chainsaw.

">> The big-screen HD TV (and the man hours need to install it and pay the designers who create the content)…
The Message Board has generated some question. Allow me to explain: It cost $1,500, which will be sponsored by a local business. The folks who design the content were designing posters, banners and flyers beforehand. They work for us, and they’ve retooled their jobs to make this messaging possible. The people who installed the Message Board are the people we pay to install items all over the hospital. This is a modern, very inexpensive, way to get our message out. This is a strategic communication investment and it is also a waste reduction initiative and “green” initiative. Through the use of sponsored message boards the goal is to reduce the high number of 8.5×11 flyers that get distributed, and unfortunately, taped to walls throughout the hospital and our off-site locations. The printed flyers cost money and use a large quantity of paper.

">> the plexiglass signs everywhere
As to signs, these are a direct result of employees’ comments following the Town Hall meetings where they felt it was important to display the pride we all share in being Backus team members and wanting the general public who visit us and our patients to understand “what we stand for.” This is a strategic investment in our team strength goal. These take the place of unsightly easels everywhere. They cost about $70 apiece. I think they send an important message to our staff, our patients and our visitors.

">> we’ve added two new members to the board of directors
Board members are volunteers. They don’t get paid. We are fortunate to have their expertise and commitment of their time.

">> the two new departments ('Organizational Excellence' and 'Philanthropy and Development')
These are new names for existing departments that have been re-focused: Quality Improvement and Backus Foundation, Inc.

">> we have not only a Communications Dept but also a Corporate Communications dept, each with their own department head
Corporate Communications is (and has been) a Division that includes Marketing, Public Relations, Volunteer Services and Development. It is, and has been, overseen by a Vice President. Communications is a department with one department head, when it formerly had two: one each for Marketing and Public Relations.

">> the hospital employees a photographer and two graphic designers
Starting last year, we hired a photographer and one designer and began to produce all our communications materials (newsletters, ads, videos, signs, magazines) in-house. We no longer use an external advertising and marketing agency. We are saving a great deal of money and producing high-quality work.

"We will continue to look for ways to improve our effectiveness with increased efficiencies and make the necessary strategic investments to be the leading source of healthcare services for the communities we serve, for decades to come.

"I hope this helps. I appreciate this chance to respond, and say thanks for putting these issues out there.


Frankly, no it doesn't help and no, I am not reassured...

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I had an active day... aside from work and cooking dinner, I found the time to write two Senators about job creation legislation. One of them was Senator Dodd, which is understandable - he is my senator, after all... The other one was John Kyl of Arizona, whom I loathe. The letter to Senator Dodd is below; my letter to senator Kyl is included in the body of my letter to Senator Dodd:

"I sent a message to Senator Kyl through his website, but since I am not from Arizona I am not going to hold my breath for a reply, action or even acknowledgement. I'm not even sure that his staff will actually show it to him, since I am not a constituent. But the obstructive action he is pursuing has far-reaching ramifications - it impacts unemployed workers in every state of the union, so I feel I have a right to make my displeasure with him known. Would be so kind as to read my letter to him on the floor of the Senate to let the Senator from Arizona know that the obstruction he is putting in the way of extending unemployment insurance and COBRA has enraged voters two thousand miles away. Here is the test of the message I sent to Senator Kyl:

"'Are you really blocking extensions of unemployment insurance and COBRA, which is going to expire in three days, because you want to talk about estate taxes? What is wrong with you? What is wrong with your priorities? You're willing to delay helping those most in need during these tough economic times to help the most privileged and affluent in this country? Are you that out of touch and removed from the stark reality that everyday people are facing in this country? You're more worried about multi-millionaires getting a tax cut than unemployed workers losing their benefits?

"'You should be ashamed of yourself. Your job is to represent the people of your state, not just the people of your state who are in a position to contribute the most to your campaign fund.'

"Thank you."

As of this moment, I haven't heard back from either one of them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The essence of Republican Politics

Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican and governor of Florida is running for the Senate to represent the state in the upcoming elections. His opponent in the primary, Mark Rubio, is considerably more conservative and is getting support from prominent Republicans and the party in general. One of the more prominent Republicans coming out to attack Crist on Rubio's behalf is former governor, Jeb Bush. In particular, he's been bashing Crist for his support of the 2009 stimulus bill, which has been more popular among (non-hypocritical) GOP governors than with conservative pundits and GOP congressmen, because when the rubber hits the road every state is, to a certain extent, dependent on federal funding - even more so in tough economic times. They are not as insular in their relationship to their constituents as members of congress are.

But Jeb Bush isn't bashing Charlie because the stimulus bill didn't make sound economic sense (it did) or failed to create jobs in Florida (it did) - Jeb Bush, despite all his rhetoric, would've taken the stimulus money as quickly as Crist did because Florida needed the money. Even for all their preening and preaching about the evils of the stimulus even Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford took the money offered to their states. No, Jeb Bush on the attack because Governor Crist's support of the stimulus is tantamount to "giv[ing] the president a huge victory."

Monday, February 22, 2010


So the whacko who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin... you know the one who set his house on fire and filled his plane's tanks with gasoline so there would be a nice, big explosion? ...the one who killed an IRS office worker in the act of crashing his plane into a federal building? Well, his daughter, who lives in Norway, says that while his last actions may be inappropriate that he is a hero for his opposition to the government.

"...if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished," she said in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America. "But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government."

I'm sorry, but I don't care how righteous your cause may be or how angry you might be at the government. When you fill a plane's gas tank with highly-combustible fuel and fly it into a federal building, with the intent of harming the people who work in that building, you are not a hero. You're a terrorist. There is no level of populist rage, righteous indignation, etc., that would justify such an action. It doesn't matter if your cause is as justified as the civil rights movement, equal voting rights for women. The moment you cross the line and decide that violence against your fellow Americans is your chosen course of action you stop being a protestoe or activist and you become a vigilante, a terrorist. Joe Stack is no more a hero than Timothy McVeigh or Mohammed Atta and there should be no equivocating about that fact.

What really infuriate me however is that fact that Ms. Bell, Joe Stacks daughter, live in Norway and is saying that her father is a "hero" for standing up to the government. Norway? And you're spouting anti-government rhetoric? From Socialist Norway? Where the government pays for your healthcare and your education and you pay taxes as high as 49% of your wages? This person has room to talk about government controlling their life?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010


Originally uploaded by BigMisterC
Just playing around - seeing if I remember how to actually do anything. I would love to update my program (I am still using version 6.0 which more than 10 years old) but since I don't work as a designer any more it's a purchase that would be difficult to justify.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"My Stupid Mouth"

You would think John Mayer would have to write that song only once... perhaps it's time for a sequel, "My Stupid Mouth Has Gotten Me Into Some Really Deep Doo-doo This Time" might be an appropriate title.

Even though I really cannot come to his defense over the absolutely, bat-shit, insane comments he made in that Playboy interview, as a fellow white boy who is some times to clever for his own good I know how he feels. Thankfully, my mouth hasn't ever gotten me in quite as deep as this but I've pulled off my fair share verbal faux-pas's.

"Oh, another social casualty
Score one more for me
How could I forget?
Mama said "think before speaking"
No filter in my head
Oh, what's a boy to do
I guess he better find one soon"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Will you please just shut the hell up?

RNC chirman Michael Steele, über-tool and one-man running joke has been consistently and very vocally been complaining about the assertations that a great deal of the criticism directed toward President Obama have been motivated by racism. While I do not think that most criticism leveled at the president is racially motivated there is no question that the birthers and people claiming that he is a muslim/socialist/communist/marxist/etc. are motivated primarily by bigotry.

"I'm kinda sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country when they get in trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is their trying to do, they go to that card, they play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card.

"Proud Americans, black and white, fought for too long and too hard to have the claim of racism be used in such a cavalier fashion. Blind charges of racism, where none exist, not only are an affront to those who have suffered the effects of racism, but it weakens our efforts to address true acts of racism and makes them more difficult to overcome.

I don't play the race card, I don't play the race game, the way some tend to want to do."

So, Michael Steele is against playing the race card. Got it. Check!

Interstingly though when addressing why he seems to garner so much more criticism and media attention than his Democratic counterpart the reasoning he uses is both familiar and ironic: "I don't see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is the chairman?" Personally, I think it's because Michael Steele is the chairman and Michael Steele is an obnoxious buffoon.


Click for a larger version
I've been wanting to show this graph from the Washington Post for a while but have kept forgetting to do so. It shows that the average country spends about $3,000 per person annually on healthcare. We spend over $7,000 per person with about $4,500 being spent by the government and $3,000 coming from private insurers. The return on our investment is sad... South Korea spends a quarter of what we do per citizen, has a higher life expectancy, while allowing their citizens to, on average, see a doctor more often and has universal coverage.

The debate shouldn't be about if we need healthcare reform. At the rate we're going it's going to bankrupt the country...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Any new ideas?

Why is it that the worst ideas just never seem to die? Michael Lind writes in about the two new ideas to come from the bright, new stars of the G.O.P.: attacking Iran and privatizing Social Security.

Sarah Palin suggests that if President Obama were to show stronger support for Israel and attack Iran that voters might perceive him as being "stronger." She says that he's not doing enough to make Americans feel safe and that he should pull out the "war card." I guess escalating the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban isn't enough. I guess that it's not enough that we're already occupying two Muslim nations in the Middle East. Let's make it a nice, round threesome! I'm sure that will resonate great with voters who are already tired of thousands of Americans dead in Iraq (for no good reason) and years of trying to tame Afghanistan (when no other nation in all of recorded history couldn't) and going into a trillion dollar deficit in the process. Is this what she would do if she were elected president in 2012!? "Gosh darnit, our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have done so much to make 'real Americans™' and our neighbors and friends in Israel and around the world, we need to continue the good work of the Bush Doctrine and declare war on every Muslim nation in the Middle East."

The other bright idea, privatizing Medicare has been around for so long that I actually laugh when I hear it. I was simply and utterly shocked when the GOP's ranking member on the House Budget Committee actually announced the contents of the party's "shadow bill." It privatizes Social Security, has vouchers for Medicare and completely does away with Medicaid.

"That's what Americans are demanding, Rep. Ryan. Millions of Americans are not content to have lost much or all of their 401K and other private retirement savings in the stock market in the last decade, with nothing but Social Security remaining to rescue them in their retirement years. No, Americans are angry because they weren't allowed to lose all of their Social Security money, as well, in the stock market." You'd think with all the populist backlash against Wall Street giving themselves big bonuses after driving the economy into a ditch the last thing you want to do is give them all the government's money for Americans' retirements. That's like arriving at the scene of an accident caused by a drunk driver and instead of arresting them you give them a bigger, more expensive car and a case of liquor and send them on their merry way.