07 June 2009

My Weekend of Activism

As those of you that read this blog are aware, an assassination took place in my community a week ago today.  Like many I have sat on the sidelines and watched as our rights have been eroded.  Bill after bill has been passed restricting abortion.  Pharmacists refused to fill valid prescriptions.  Clinic after clinic has closed.  Doctor after doctor has been vilified and harassed.  Our lone clinic in this area is now closed because a zealot decided to execute Dr. George Tiller.  Let me be clear for my readers that might not get it.  I see no difference in what Scott Roeder allegedly did and what the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Hamas do.  There is NO moral justification for this crime.  This type of fanaticism is unacceptable no matter which religion’s brand is on it. 

In a statement to the Associated Press today, alleged assassin Scott Roeder claimed "I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal," Roeder said. He would not elaborate.”  That is terrorism my friends.

On Friday, the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women organized Speak Out: a Community Discussion on Choice.  State board members from Kansas NOW, Attorney Pedro Irigonegaray and Attorney Gloria Allred participated.

IMG_0767 Ms. Allred felt the need to be here in Wichita after hearing of the “horrific assassination of Dr. Tiller”.  Having been forced to endure a pre-Roe illegal abortion – and almost dying from it.   Ms. Allred is acutely aware of what is at stake.  She was very nice, by the way (I even got my picture taken with her). Many there  just wanted to know – what do we do now?  And many of us are still trying to figure that out.

Saturday was Dr. Tiller’s funeral – I arrived at the church at 8:30 a.m. thinking that a hour and a half before would be enough – but the parking lot was already nearly full.  Members of the American Legion Riders (many of whom are also part of the Patriot Guard) were already there with their motorcycles and their American Flags.  When word spread that Fred Phelps and his band of morons would be making an appearance and out of fear that other groups might choose to disrupt the service – KS NOW organized a “Martyr Guard” to protect the friends and family of Dr. Tiller.  Nearly 100 of us stood at the curb attempting to shield them as much as we could from those driving by with a bible out the window, the press and protesters.  ******EDIT:  I should say that people came from Iowa, Colorado and New York to take part in the forum, as well as stand in the Martyr Guard with us.



Luckily, the service was not disrupted, the press while pushy was not particularly bad – and Phelps cult was relegated to a corner about a block or so away.  I have only seen that many security personnel in one place before and that was the Democratic convention in 2004 – they were everywhere.  And it’s sad that they had to be.

I guess what I take from this weekend is that those of us that value our reproductive rights have a responsibility to step up and fight for them. 

Here are some statistics that I bet you didn’t know: (emphasis added – info is global in nature not just U.S.)

World Health Organization research shows that abortion rates are consistent regardless of prohibitive law, and demonstrates that where the procedure is illegal, women turn to unsafe means. Women in lower income brackets, who cannot afford the high prices of underground providers, or the travel costs to countries where abortion is legal, are especially vulnerable.

Complications due to these unsafe methods - for example inserting coat hangers into the uterus or drinking turpentine - cause upwards of 67,000 deaths and 5 million hospitalizations, and orphan a quarter-million children, every year. These statistics suggest that the global abortion debate is not about whether or not abortions happen; it is about whether or not they happen safely.


06 June 2009

Speak Out: a Community Discussion on Choice

Kansas NOW hosted a forum this evening discussing the assassination of Dr. George Tiller and where we go from here.  Attorneys Gloria Allred (yes, that Gloria Allred) and Pedro Irigonegaray (Fmr Atty for Dr. Tiller and Planned Parenthood), as well as Marla Patrick (State Coordinator for NOW) and Kari Rinker (State Lobbyist for NOW) were on the panel.  I will have a full rundown of the forum, plus some info on my Saturday, later.

I leave you with this thought:  Make-up worn by famous people is way better than what we get at the store. 



31 May 2009

R.I.P. Dr. George Tiller

Today, Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in the church he attended every Sunday with his family.  Dr. Tiller is survived by his wife, his four children and his ten grandchildren.  This is a day that many of us feared was inevitable – but always hoped to be proven wrong.

I wish that I were more eloquent, so that I could adequately convey the outrage, anger, sadness and hopelessness I feel by what has transpired today.  Sadly, I’m not.  My anger clouds my ability to write this in a way that is uplifting.

After his clinic was bombed, he was shot, his name and address was listed on right-wing websites, his clinic vandalized and he was targeted for prosecution – he still came to work everyday and provided a service that women needed, that they requested.

IMG_0683Dr. Tiller trusted women.  He felt they were competent to decide the direction of their lives.  He was compassionate enough to understand that for some women, giving birth to a dead or dying baby was worse than having a late-term abortion.  He was one of only three doctors providing these procedures.

Women came from far and wide for the services that Dr. Tiller courageously provided. 


Tonight they came from far and wide to pay tribute to an assassinated champion of women’s rights.

I think it is important to call this event what it is.  This murder was a political assassination.  Dr. Tiller was gunned down in his house of worship for the beliefs he held, as much as for the services he provided.

While Operation Rescue and other groups scramble to absolve themselves of responsibility for this tragedy, my hope is that they are not allowed to.  Many of them (Randall Terry I’m looking at you!) are just as guilty in this as the shooter. 

I can only hope that this tragedy will end the complacency regarding reproductive rights.  Everyday, every legislative session – the ability for women to control their destiny is under attack.  We must stand, we must fight.


13 May 2009

Confessions of a SCOTUSphile

court_front_med I have been fascinated by the Supreme Court since I was a kid.  Yes, even then I was a political nerd.  Between the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor, the Bork and Thomas hearings, the Pelican Brief – I watched it all! 

Now brings us to another such pivotal moment in our nation’s history.  As you are all aware David Souter has decided to hang up his robe and bid the town he despises adieu. 

Souter’s tenure has been interesting.  Nominated post Bork and Thomas – Daddy Bush, was looking for an easy sell.  He found a judge that he thought was pretty conservative, but one that had very little in the way of a paper trail.  In the end, Bush was very surprised by the judge he got.  Honestly, it was a lucky mistake for those of us that prefer a progressive court.  Souter has never liked D.C., and if you believe certain reports he was brought to tears by the deciding of Bush v. Gore (as anyone with a shred of judicial integrity should have).  So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Souter would wish to cut his time on the bench a bit short. 

What we all should be asking ourselves now is – Who will it be?  Not that President Obama probably cares, but my advice would be to make this a “swing for the fences” kind of pick.  This is a situation where you have a near filibuster proof  majority – go for it.  The court tilts conservative – balancing the court is very important.  While he will probably have the chance to nominate at least one, probably two more justices, but who knows what the congressional make up will be at that time or how support will be for the President at that time. 

Here’s what I want:  Sorry guys, but I want a female justice.  I want an unashamed liberal, who will reaffirm Roe and that believes in the rights of people.  Who believes in the Separation between Church and State.    Basically, I want the kind of justice that will make Eric Cantor’s nog pop off. 

So Mr. President, Swing for the Fences. 


08 May 2009

Please Veto! (A.K.A. Huelskamp is a Tool!)

 veto.jpg The healthcare of Kansas women is once again imperiled by men with an agenda.  I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m really not.  Well – I’m not surprised by the action, so much as the lack of rationality displayed by the supporters. 

State Senator Tim Huelskamp again brought an amendment to the budget that defunds Planned Parenthood.  This time instead of being removed in committee, it is in the final bill that our new (and somewhat questionable) Governor will be signing.  The only hope now is that Governor Parkinson realizes the damage this will do Kansas women.

Huelskamp’s reasoning for offering this amendment was clear, Planned Parenthood provides abortion services (at limited clinics and as far as I know only one in the state) and being the good little zealot he is – he doesn’t want a dime of state money going to the big, evil Planned Parenthood.  What seems to be lost on Sen. Huelskamp is that funding from the state is used for education services only.  I’m sure Sen. Huelskamp is a member of the abstinence-only crowd, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. 

If Governor Parkinson doesn’t veto this bill – Kansas will become the 7th state to defund Planned Parenthood.  Wow, we should be so proud (yes that was sarcasm). 

At times of economic hardship family planning services become even more vital.  Studies have shown a strong uptick in abortion rates at times of economic struggle – how is this so hard to understand?  We are having a severe downturn in our state and they pick now to defund family planning education?  If they are as anti-abortion as they claim, they should be increasing funds for family planning.

“I am excited that both chambers of the Kansas Legislature have approved my amendment to remove taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. With Kansas facing a budget crunch, this would be a big victory for the taxpayers," he told LifeNews.com.

Senator Huelskamp obviously doesn’t understand (or is willfully ignoring) is that unwanted pregnancies cost the taxpayers of Kansas way more than funding education services at Planned Parenthood.

I strongly urge my Kansas readers to reach out to Governor Parkinson and urge him to veto.

It is disgraceful that one man’s vendetta against women’s reproductive freedom has gotten this far.


07 May 2009

Beating a Dead Horse?

I realize that I tend to talk a lot about healthcare on this blog – I really feel like it’s one of the most important issues facing our nation.  I also realize I’m preaching to the choir for most of you – so thanks for humoring me.  LOL

Senators Baucus and Grassley held committee hearings on Tuesday.  On the agenda was “Expanding Health Care Coverage”.

From Senator Baucus’s prepared statement: (Emphasis Added)

First, the U.S. is the only developed country without health coverage for all of its citizens.  Approximately 87 million people – one in three Americans – went without health insurance for some period during 2007 and 2008.  And the situation is only getting worse.

Second, the economic climate has caused even more people to become uninsured.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, for every one percent increase in the unemployment rate, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment increases by one million.  And the number of uninsured Americans increases by one point one million.

In today’s economy, that means a lot of folks are affected.  In March 2009, the unemployment rate rose to eight point one percent.  According to the Center of American Progress, 14,000 more people lose their health insurance coverage every day.

Third, why is covering all Americans so critical?  It is because people without health coverage generally experience poorer health and worse health outcomes than those who are insured.  The Urban Institute reports that 22,000 uninsured adults die prematurely every year because they lack access to care.

In addition to the uninsured, another 25 million Americans are “underinsured”.  They don’t have enough coverage to keep their medical bills manageable.  Despite their insurance coverage, medical debt keeps these Americans from feeding their families, paying their rent, or heating their homes.”

From that statement – it would seem that Senator Baucus “gets it”.  Unfortunately, the Senator chose to ignore the possibility of a single payer system.  He and Senator Grassley refused to allow a representative of a single payer system a seat on their panel. Several organizations decided to protest this “oversight”, resulting in a minor disruption of the events.

The most popular argument against government sponsored single payer healthcare is “I don’t want the government choosing my doctor!”  How exactly is this different that the current insurance system?  Doctors credential themselves with insurances in order to be “in network” – if the doctor you “choose” is not in network your benefit is severely reduced.  The best example would be an employer provided health care plan that locks you into a Catholic hospital system.  Your access to reproductive healthcare (hysterectomy, vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc.) is reduced because of this “choice”.  

Of course single payer detractors never mention that.


05 May 2009

Sick and Tired

I really don't even know where to start this post.  I'm a big ball of frustration and that doesn't lend itself well to eloquent writing, but well here goes.

When will our elected officials get it?  While we all expect our Government to accomplish things, if it requires completely abandoning the principles that got you elected - it probably shouldn't be done.

For example: Healthcare.  Tomorrow (well actually later today) there will be hearings on the hill regarding our healthcare crisis.  Unless the line up has changed - single payer healthcare will not be represented.  Why?  Because it isn't popular with politicians that line their pockets with insurance money.  (Ben Nelson - you are a tool!)

For those that don't get it:

1) A lot of people cannot afford the astronomical premiums charged by the insurance companies.

2) Not everyone's employer assists them with healthcare costs. (In fact more and more companies are not offering group coverage)

3) Most insured people do not understand their policies and will be in for a rude surprise, should they actually have to use it.

4) If you have a pre-existing condition - you are probably S.O.L. in finding your own coverage.

The people of this country NEED help!  It is the responsibility of our elected officials to work for US - not for their re-election or for their next campaign donation.

Our Congresspeople do not understand the issue as it effects average Americans.  

How many of them are worried about paying for food because they need to get a prescription filled?  
How many of them have missed a check up because they just didn't have the money/coverage? How many of them are one illness away from losing everything?  

Not a single one.


30 April 2009

H1N1...A Wake Up Call

Picture courtesy of Whack'd.com

While I will not pretend to be an H1N1 (Swine Flu) alarmist, I must admit the possibility of a virus of unknown (at least officially) origin bothers me a bit.  Otherwise healthy people dropping dead from a flu virus is odd - so while not panicked I am concerned.

However, I am more troubled by the fact that cases in the U.S. are probably greatly under-reported.  Not because of a lack of testing equipment, but because of an inadequate healthcare system.  

How many people are suffering but will never see a doctor and be counted?  
How many people could be saved if we had universal health care?  
How many infected will forgo Tamiflu because they need to buy food? 
How many people will go unvaccinated because they have no healthcare coverage?  

Obviously, this is an exercise in "what if", but we are kind of in that type of situation.  While the number of infected is relatively low, we are being warned that a pandemic is imminent.  

Why don't we the people have access to all the weapons we need to fight?

President Obama has been quoted as saying that universal health care would be his preference if we were building a system from scratch.  I would humbly submit to my President that sometimes you have to cut your losses and raze the house.  Our system is inherently corrupt (see Donald Rumsfeld's profits off of the SARS scare if you don't believe me), it rewards greed and that is not healthy for those of us subjected to it.

I have mentioned in previous posts my wish that our Congresspeople relinquish their tax-payer funded healthcare, if they feel that we do not deserve the same.  I stand by that demand.  If they feel that their constituents should face a pandemic on their own - well then they should be down in the trenches with us.  


26 April 2009

An Answer...

I have been trying to figure out a way to write this, so that I don't alienate or offend anyone, well anymore than I usually do...

In regards to the torture argument, I have heard two things repeatedly.  1) It worked, 2) There are bad people and we have to protect ourselves.

For the first argument,  there is little evidence to say that "torture" worked in any substantive way.  Maybe we got a couple names, but I really haven't seen evidence of anything more than that.  Now there was a lot of bogus information extracted - which is the real problem with these illegal tactics.  Our own military warned the powers that be against torture, they were also concerned that it would increase the chance of our soldiers experiencing poor treatment if captured.
"The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency."
For the second argument, it's a bit more difficult.  Yes, there are people that would love to see the American way of life damaged - there always have been.  That's one of the prices we pay for being a superpower.  
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin
It's important not to forget that a number of the people that were subjected to these "enhanced interrogation techniques" or to the degradation of Abu Ghraib were nobodies, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were sold out by some greedy warlord.  

Consider this:
Someone you know does something bad - lets say they are a drug smuggler.  Would you support the Federal government knocking down your door, throwing a hood over your head and sending you half a world a way so that they can "extract" information from you?  Now imagine that you repeatedly tell them that you don't know where the person is or what they do - you haven't seen them in years.  They tell you they have witnesses that you have been seen with this person.  They decide that the only way to get the information they need will be to use harsher techniques - they keep you awake for days, they strip you of your clothes and your dignity, they keep you in a small, cramped box, then they strap you to a board and pretend to drown you.

Is this right?  Is this what you would want done to you or your family?  Is that American?  I honestly think that very few Americans would wish this on any of their neighbors - so why do we have so little regard for those around the world?

When I was little, my mom always used to tell me "Two wrongs, don't make a right".  I think the Government and the American people could use a refresher on that lesson.


23 April 2009

No Excuses

Today in defense of both her father and the techniques outlined in the "torture memos", Liz Cheney said something rather interesting:
CHENEY: Everything that was done in this program, as has been laid out and described before, are tactics that our own people go through in SERE training.

Thanks to Thinkprogess.org for the video!

SERE is an acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape.  The program was developed as a way to prepare our soldiers for the possibility of capture.  Soldiers are subjected to simulated interrogations to prepare them for what could happen.  This includes the use of questionable and torturous techniques - so that our soldiers are prepared for what the "bad guys" do.  

So let me spell this out for Ms. Cheney - if you are going to say that we are not "bad guys" then we can not be seen doing in anger what the "bad guys do".  Got it?  

How hard is that concept for the Hannitys, O'Reillys, Limbaughs, Becks, Scarboroughs to understand?  Do they have such a low opinion of our nation that they feel this isn't something to be ashamed of?  Or are they so scared that something might happen to them or their gated communities that they are blind with fear, rage and hatred?  Or is it that they are just perverse fratboys that get off on the idea of humiliating, breaking down and hurting another human?  

These memos illustrate a battle for the soul of our nation.  

Either you believe that we must rise above the tactics of madmen and be what we say we are.  
Or you feel that the ends justify the means, no matter how barbaric.

Which side are you on?


22 April 2009

Shep Smith...a voice of reason

Shep Smith gave a rather passionate response to the possibility of our nation torturing people, while he straddled the fence a bit - his reasoning is correct.  You can not claim the moral high ground, while wallowing in the gutter.

Here's a link to an uncensored Shep Smith:  NSFW, but EXCELLENT! (it's the 2nd video)


21 April 2009

Open Letter to Senator Sam Brownback

Dear Sen. Brownback

Thank you for responding to my recent correspondence.  It's always nice to feel like my views are appreciated by my elected officials.  Too bad you utterly fail in this regard.  If you are not going to respond to what a constituent has actually written to you - don't bother to respond.  You are obviously completely out of touch with the people you serve.  I can only hope that our state isn't idiotic enough to elect you Governor.   

Now, on to the reason for my writing.  I wrote you a letter stating that if you felt that government run healthcare was not a beneficial thing for the American people, then you should forfeit your taxpayer funded healthcare.  Not a hard concept to grasp I wouldn't think, something that you should probably have your interns actually respond to.  Instead - I get your average drivel about Health Savings accounts and how the big bad government shouldn't be in charge of my health care.  Well, Senator - if I had access to decent health care that might make a bit of a difference to me.  I don't think you realize how many people you marginalize with those type of ideas.  It is very easy to say you are for choice in the healthcare system - when you have a buffet's worth of choices.  Your constituents are hurting, Senator and dismissing their valid concerns as something that isn't politically advantageous is against your duties as an elected official.  

From your letter: "That is why I believe the best way to address  health care costs is to let consumers choose the policies that best fit their specific needs."  Why didn't you just say "YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!" because that is really what you are saying.  People tell you they can't afford premiums...your answer is "Sucks to be you".  Also from your letter:  "With greater competition between private insurers and less government regulation, consumers will ultimately be offered more choices, better services, and overall lower health care costs."  Do you honestly believe that?  Increased competition is a joke - health insurers have a responsibility only to their shareholders.  You should never have the health of another person in the hands of a company that would benefit from that person dying.  By denying care, by restricting access, by claiming a pre-existing condition - insurance companies are able to improve their bottom line while screwing the people trusting them.  You should be ashamed of yourself. 

I hope that you sleep easy knowing that thanks to taxpayers you will never have to live with the idea that a serious illness could ruin you.  I hope that you can rest easy knowing that if you get cancer you will get the very best medicine our money can buy. 

For a man that claims to travel a certain level of moral high ground - your lack of compassion for your fellow man is astounding.


19 April 2009

Torture...Part 2

It is very disheartening to me that so many people in this nation seem to be justifying the treatment outlined in the newly released "torture memos".  Talking heads (you should be ashamed Joe Scarborough) seem to think that this is an "all is fair in love and war" type of situation and that couldn't be further from the truth.  This is a "we lost our soul" situation.  In our history we have supported multiple trials against people and countries for this type of behavior.  Please do not give me the Geneva convention argument - Yes, I am aware these are not traditional troops, however, that is nothing more than a semantic justification for something that is wholly unjustifiable.  

Lets talk Waterboarding....

This is a dumb story, but it's applicable.  When I was little (maybe 6 or so) - I was learning to do underwater somersaults in my local pool.  I opened my eyes and saw blue and thought I was facing toward the surface, so I went what I thought was up and started to take a breath - soon it was OBVIOUS that I was not headed up.  I was disoriented, I couldn't breathe, I was freaking out - I seriously thought I was drowning.  I was struggling trying to figure out which was was up - finally, someone grabbed me and pulled me out.  That type of reaction is instinctual.   

At some point, humans decided that this type of panic could be exploited.  The Japanese were tried for war crimes for doing it.

I guess it's a "nothing new under the sun" moment for our intelligence gathers. 

The memos reveal that the CIA was concerned about the effects of repeated Waterboarding, that they suggested that a saline solution be used instead.   You might be asking - why at this point.  The CIA hired doctors realized that the potential for water poisoning existed.  THIS CAN KILL PEOPLE.  You might remember a few years back, a woman died after a radio show promotion that involved chugging water (she was trying to win a Wii) - the human body can only process so much water before the balance of minerals are upset.  Water intoxication/poisoning can happen after ingesting around 2.6 gallons of water in a short amount of time.  

Think about that for a minute - they were concerned that the detainees could ingest enough water to be poisoned by it.  This doesn't sound like a harmless technique to me.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was waterboarded 183 times in 1 month.
Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in 1 month.

These abuses of power CANNOT go unpunished!  Our nation claims to be a fair, civilized nation (notice I said claims...) - we cannot afford to lose further credibility by sweeping this under the rug.  It's unacceptable, against international law and is un-American.


18 April 2009

Torture....Part 1?

In 2002, Jay Bybee (now a Federal Judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) wrote a memo as part of his duties with the Office of Legal Council.  This assignment became the infamous "Bybee Memo".  It made a legal argument for moving particular interrogations into an "increased pressure phase".  This memo dealt with the treatment of Abu Zubaydah.  His name should sound familiar.  He was sold to most of us as an al Qaeda mastermind, more recent evidence suggests that he was more of a hanger on and should have never been considered a high value target.  However, operating under the assumption that they had a meaningful intelligence target the CIA wished to use techniques that weren't "approved".  This memo gave them (written to John Rizzo, Acting General Council to the CIA) the fuzzy legal rationale for doing things that were not only illegal, but were against the ideals of this nation.  Or at least I think it is. Others seem to not be so sure.

Just so we are clear.....
When this memo was written - Torture was ILLEGAL under the United States Code.  (It still is, but the code has been tweaked a bit).
United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 113, Section 2340 -- Definitions

As used in this chapter --
(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from --
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, or mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) "United States" includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.

United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 113, Section 2340A -- Torture

(a) Offense.--Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.--There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if--
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender


Contrary to what Rush seems to think, the outrage over these memos and the conduct of these interrogators is not about them slapping people around - or in the case of Joe Scarborough, we aren't upset by them throwing a little water in someone's face.  The outrage is over waterboarding, over convincing detainees that the would be killed if they didn't talk, sleep deprivation (that according to the memo could be as long as 11 days), stress positions for hours upon hours, being crammed into a small dark, dank box for hours on end....these are things that we would not want to be done to American soldiers/citizens and as such we should under no circumstances use these techniques, no matter what kind of legal "loop holes" can be found.

One of my biggest issues with this is that these detainees often were subjected to these types of tactics, without being proven guilty of ANYTHING.  Warlords turned people in for money - and we took their word for it.  People were rounded up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  If you would like more information on this subject: I highly recommend the film: Taxi to the Dark Side.

If this film doesn't make you sick and angry at the conduct depicted, please seek help from a mental health professional.

Many seem to think the disclosure of these memos some how "weakens" our country.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  Conducting ourselves and governmental affairs under the rule of law has been an important principle of our nation since its founding.  We have not always lived up to that principle - but I do not believe we should ever abandon the pursuit.

The disclosure of these memos is a step in the right direction. We must purge this and the rest of the demented frat boy behavior that has permeated the military/contractor/intelligence ranks. Bottom line...if we wouldn't want it done to one of ours, we shouldn't do it.

I was distressed that President Obama stated that the interrogators would not be prosecuted for their role in detainee abuse and torture. I hope that this does not mean that the legal minds that perverted our law to allow this will get off the hook. These people KNEW this was wrong - they ignored the spirit and bent the word of law to allow this. They must be held accountable, if there was pressure from above to make the case, they should be held accountable as well.

I have only read the first memo - I'm still trying to get through the others and the Red Cross report - so this will probably end up as a bit of a series.  I am very interested in your input on this issue, so please don't be shy!

16 April 2009

Kansas State Senator Susan Wagle

Appearing at the 4/15 Wichita Tea Party

Thanks again to @thekarmichammer

Senator Sam Brownback

Addressing the Wichita, KS TEA Party.

Video courtesy of @thekarmichammer Thanks for all your hard work! :)

Wichita Tea Party 4/15


15 April 2009

Tax Day/Tea Party Day

Are you a fellow patriot?

That's how I was greeted today, upon arriving at my local area Tea Party. I answered "yes, I am". I knew that it was code she was using (are you one of us?), but well, why not use that to my advantage.
I do consider myself a patriot - I'm an honest patriot. I feel the way to be truly patriotic is to speak the truth about your nation.

Let me say that I completely understand how someone could be exasperated with their government. I understand the idea of being upset over unnecessary spending - I remember the stories of the $3,000 hammers and $500 toilet seats. I can understand being upset about huge deficits. What I'm trying to figure out about the Tea Party movement is: What exactly are they protesting? Higher taxes? The Bailouts? Huge borrowing? Pork Barrel Spending? or are they protesting the election of a Democrat to the White House?

On higher taxes, I guess they all must make a helluva lot more than I do. It seemed to me that only the highest tax bracket was going to get an increase and it was only about 3%. Or are they protesting the "possibility" of new taxes?

On the Bailouts, where were they last fall when the Bush administration was in charge of this?

On Deficit Spending, do they not remember Reagan? Do they not remember a hugely expensive war? Again, where have they been?

On Pork Barrel Spending, I saw many Democrats named - but where were the Republican names to go with them?
On Obama - The hosts of our local event, stated that this was not a partisan movement, but I fear they do not realize they have been co-opted.
Over the past 8 years, I have been called a traitor, un-American, an America-hater, a commie - you name it. All because I voiced my feelings about my country and my leaders. Now the same people that harassed and scorned people like me - are protesting a President that has been in power for less than 100 days. But it's not partisan.

I guess my biggest issue - is when "protecting" the Constitution is mentioned. George W. Bush and his cronies used the Constitution to wipe their asses for 8 years - where was the outrage then? No, these were the same people that would tell you "I have nothing to hide" when it came to warrant-less wiretapping - or would say "I don't care what you do to the terrorists" when confronted about torture. I don't understand how that can be reconciled.

14 April 2009

A Plea...


This is a plea to all my media friends, please stop talking about what the First Lady is wearing. If she "recycles" outfits or pieces, or wears something that Oscar de la Renta doesn't like - IT'S NOT NEWS! Put that crap in Cosmo or People magazine, but please stop polluting my news sites with it.

We have a person, a real, breathing, thinking human being in the White House and he has a person, a real, breathing, thinking, human being as his wife. Instead of treating her like some Hollywood starlet, maybe focus on the things she's trying to do. The only story I've enjoyed ready about FLOTUS and her clothes, was the gardening story - where she had dirty kneed pants and velco sneakers. That was awesome...I can't imagine any of the other First Ladies that way.

The President and First Lady are not royalty - this idea that they are somehow breaching protocol by being human, is absurd.

*Yes I realize this is a fluff post about a fluff issue - but well, it happens (I have an excuse, I'm not a professional). I am hoping to get some video footage of my local Teabagger party tomorrow, assuming we don't get assaulted lol.


11 April 2009


I must admit I'm a fence-rider when it comes to the existence of God. I'm a skeptic, I think it's a story with some really good parts - but I also feel like there is way too much that has been tainted by the hands of men (the compilation of the Bible, for instance). But it was a bit comical this morning when I awoke to tapping on my screen door. Two Jehovah's Witnesses had chosen my house today. I wouldn't have really thought much of it if I hadn't posted my Blog Against Theocracy post last night - I thought the timing was funny. I guess I was being "punished". LOL.

On to other random things:

Notre Dame -
To those protesting the appearance of the President at Graduation. Please shut up. He's coming to address your commencement, not to become a Bishop. Your school has hosted several speakers who's views do not gel completely with Church doctrine...this is not a special circumstance. If you had an issue, you should have thought of that before you invited him to speak.

Arizona State University -
First off, it's an "honorary" degree...quit being stupid. While I disagree with the idea that the President is not "deserving" of an honorary degree, I have to admit I think the Scholarship program fits much better with what this President is about.

The Vatican -
Any one that knows me, knows that I am not a fan of the Vatican - it is nothing personal against followers of the Catholic faith, it is the Vatican itself. The repressive and regressive nature of it's doctrine, is something I can't agree with. Guess that's why I'm not Catholic. Anyway, the Vatican has decided that Caroline Kennedy is not worthy of being our Ambassador to the Vatican. My first thought is, why do we have an ambassador to the Vatican? My second thought is, fine - you don't like Caroline Kennedy because she's pro-choice, then well - you don't get an ambassador. Period.

Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying the Blog Against Theocracy, I realize that I'm not a very good writer when I read these posts...lol I have some work to do!


10 April 2009

It Wasn't Supposed To Be This Way

Our founding fathers understood something...power corrupts everyone. To protect both the government and the church, they intentionally made sure to eliminate religious entanglements from our country's founding documents. So much of that wisdom seems lost now.

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."

- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, 12/6/1813

Compared with:

"I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."

- Mike Huckabee, January 2008

What Mr. Huckabee and others like him do not seem to understand, is that our government was INTENTIONALLY created devoid of religion. Not just devoid of Christianity - but ALL religion. Aside from the date line, there is no mention of "God" in the document.

I have a feeling that Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson have been spinning in their respective graves, since at the very least the 1950s. Our money, our oaths of offices, our Pledge of Allegiance, offices of "faith based initiatives" - it wasn't supposed to be this way.

"Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and tese are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation."

- James Madison, "Detached Memoranda"

Madison was concerned about Chaplains - and look where we are now.

During the Presidential elections of my lifetime, I cannot recall one where the candidate didn't feel the need to affirm his/her Christianity. Ask someone if they would vote for an Atheist for President - 53% of the time you'll get a "NO". So while we do not have a law that violates Article VI of the Constitution, we have a national attitude that does.

Article VI clearly states (emphasis added):

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

So what are we doing?

How is it that the same people who believe that the Constitution should be interpreted in the strictest manner are the same ones who focus only on the "freedom of religion" but ignore the "no law respecting the establishment of religion"? The people that believe in "intelligent design" can't see the intelligent design in our Constitution. The wall of separation between church and state is for the protection of ALL of us.

Our founding fathers understood this and they took measures to prevent religious arguments from damaging our Republic. We should be infinitely thankful for that.

Check out other Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm posts!

Awesome Art Courtesy of TheKarmicHammer


09 April 2009


1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.

3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
So there it is folks, the new boogieman. This definition and those that might not see it as a bad thing are to be feared. They are coming for you. They are in your government. They wish to take your Plasma screen TV and put it up in the Town Square.

In case you haven't heard - our House of Representatives is besieged by Socialists! Now before you say "OMG! Our Country is Doomed!", please take a breath and realize, our country has ALWAYS had socialists. While not a card carrying member, I do have socialistic tendencies. I believe in Public Works, the Commons, the Government working for the benefit of its people (all of us - not just those of that can plunk down a giant donation). So the breaking news that we have socialists in our House - well, it didn't really bother me. What did bother me, was that someone felt the need to "flush" them out, make a list and then tell people about it.

I wasn't alive in the era of McCarthy, but from what I've learned in school and research, this should sound strangely familiar.

Republican Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama claims to be the listmaster...

"But he said he is worried that he is being steered too far by the Congress: "Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists."

Asked to clarify his comments after the breakfast speech at the Trussville Civic Center, Bachus said 17 members of the U.S. House are socialists."
Lets do the math on this folks...17 out of 435 members of the House...a whopping 4% of our House of Representatives MIGHT be Socialists!

Here's the bigger issue are we really headed back to the days of interrogations and blackballing? Why can't we have a free flow of information and ideas? Why is it okay to have voices from the absolute right, but not from anywhere that is deemed "fringe" on the left?

Our Government, especially the House, should represent the people. That means Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Libertarians, Socialists....everybody.

I would like these 17 members of the House to come out and proudly proclaim their Socialism, but instead one of two things will happen. 1) We will find out that this guys idea of a Socialist is anyone that believes the Capital Gains tax is okay or 2) Fear will prevent it.

So to Rep. Bachus: Focus on the people of Alabama, the people of this country, not on grabbing headlines and furthering your political career - ya know, do your job!

08 April 2009

Newt Gingrich Doesn't Get It.

Newt Gingrich is an asshole, there I said it. I mean it. The guy has done nothing but pander and lie throughout most of his life. Well apparently, someone pulled his string (emphasis is mine):
Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is "intensely secular" and "anti-religious," the former House Speaker's second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week.

In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama's choice of Harry Knox — an outspoken activist for gay rights — to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.

"I think their goal is to have a very secular America in which government dominates everything," he said. "Why wouldn't you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based group? It's a perfect pattern for this administration."

Well, Mr. Gingrich - our nation is secular. Our government is a secular entity. While I would not characterize the Obama administration as "intensely secular", I am happy to have a President that does not believe he was chosen by God to lead our nation.

Here's some fun from tonight's Hardball on this subject:

This weekend is the annual Blog Against Theocracy! Make sure to check out all the great posts!

07 April 2009


I hope everyone is crafting their letters to their legislators! We have a RIGHT to healthcare! As much of a RIGHT as they do and it's time we show them!

I am requesting information from my readers, friends, family - their friends and family, random strangers - anyone.
What has your experience been with your health insurance? Did they deny services? Did they rescind your policy? Do they make you pay for pregnancy riders? What kind of problems have you had getting care? Are you uninsured and sick? Are you uninsured and scared?
I want your story!

Please email your stories to healthcarefairness@gmail.com or if its something you don't mind sharing please leave comments!


Brownback Must Have Been Jealous!

My last post was directed at Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), well, now Senator Sam Brownback is rearing his ugly head regarding Obama's nominee for the Ambassadorship to Iraq. As you might imagine, that position is a bit important... Here's Rachel Maddow:

So - am I understanding this correctly? The party of the "up or down" vote, is holding important nominations hostage due to their need to keep the transgressions of the Bush Administration hidden? As TexBetsy at Relaxed Politics posted on Friday with more fun from Rachel Maddow - the problem of torture will haunt us for the foreseeable future, unless of course we have the intestinal fortitude to investigate and punish those responsible for this mess. The Capitol Beat has a good article on the need for investigation and prosecution.

It is time for the American people to make our elected officials understand that we will not have torture used in our names, we will not hide their skeletons in our closets and we have a need to know.

05 April 2009

Senator Pat Roberts - Position Paper vs. Response

I have a couple posts I'm working on, but they really aren't ready to see the light of day yet - but I did want to touch base regarding the letter writing campaign.

As you know, I wrote to my Senators & to my Representative last week - regarding my feeling that they should forfeit their taxpayer funded healthcare, if they didn't support government funded healthcare for everyone. This is the response I got from Senator Roberts:

April 2, 2009

Dear Nicki:

Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform in the 111th Congress. I appreciate your taking the time to get in touch.

I agree. The cost of health care is simply unbearable for many Kansas families. This is why I am working to provide access to quality, affordable health care for all Kansans. As a member of the Senate Health and Finance Committees, I have long supported efforts to give consumers better choices and more control over their health care. I support expanding tax incentives and health savings accounts to help individuals purchase health care. I am working to expand and improve health options for small businesses. I also support efforts to strengthen and improve the Medicare program for Kansas seniors.

We must also take steps to get at the heart of growing health care costs. One such improvement would be the adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT) by health care providers. Congress recently approved, and the President signed into law, P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which included $20 billion for HIT standards development and adoption incentives for providers and hospitals. Although I cosponsored HIT legislation in the 110th Congress, I have serious concerns about the HIT provisions in ARRA which were rushed through Congress so hastily that I fear the $20 billion for HIT will be wasted on initiatives that were not fully considered. In addition, many would argue that these funds, most of which will not be spent until 2011, are not sufficiently timely or targeted to stimulate the current economy.

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) is another idea that many have advanced as a way to drive down health care costs. CER is the evaluation of the impact of different treatment options for a given medical condition and a particular set of patients. While I understand that CER holds promise for improving the quality of health care outcomes, I am concerned about the use of CER for the purpose of lowering costs. This strategy has led to the rationing of health care in countries that have adopted it. The ARRA included $1.1 billion for CER, with virtually no directions or restrictions on its intended use. I worry that such vague CER policies will ultimately result in fewer choices for patients and doctors. For these and other reasons, I could not support ARRA or the healthcare provisions contained within that bill.

Again thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at http://roberts.senate.gov. You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter that will provide additional updates on my work for Kansas.

With every best wish,


Pat Roberts


Well, here's my problem Senator Roberts, I wrote to you with a real concern and a real request, I did not request your position paper on Healthcare, I can get that on your website.
Tax incentives don't help people that are choosing between medicine and food, electricity, rent. It is easy to worry about "rationing" when you have access. Most uninsured people do not. The average doctor will not see patients if they know they can't pay. Isn't that "rationing"? Do you really need this explained to you?
Thanks for avoiding my request for you to forfeit your gold plated health care...nice to know you read your letters.
Who exactly is this man representing? Freakin' pathetic. Now of course I have to call his office.

Please take this seriously readers! Write/Call/Harass your legislators - until you get an answer!

04 April 2009

Be Careful.

This morning, in Pittsburgh, PA - a disgruntled man shot and killed three police officers after they responded to what they thought was a domestic disturbance. The man was wearing a "bulletproof vest and armed with an AK-47, a long rifle and a pistol, Poplawski fired about 100 rounds during the standoff". Friends have been reported as saying the suspect (who is in custody) was convinced of a coming gun ban. (For the record, the only "gun ban" that has been mentioned is a ban on assault weapons sales).

Now, where would he get such an idea?

Think Progress has an excellent post this evening dealing with the right-wing hysteria and how it has resulted in an excellent sales for gun shops. The rhetoric coming out of the right has been at a fevered pitch lately. With Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann claiming that the world as they know it is going to end at the hands of the evil "liberals". It's no wonder that people get upset, these type of blatant lies and the campaign of misinformation has led to an entire section of the population being convinced of their truth. There are still people fighting the "Obama is not a citizen" fight, for pity's sake.

This reminds me a little bit of the militia activities after the Waco incident in the early 90s. It's always the same, "the government is coming for your guns, they are coming for your jobs and they are coming for you and your family". Then Oklahoma City happens - and it's all denials "Well, that guy was just crazy, I never meant anything like that..."

If I were to write on this blog repeatedly that I thought people who wear blue socks are bad and will be taking over the country and turning us in to a blue socks only nation* - and some lone nutjob read it and went out to kill someone wearing blue socks, I would expect some reprecussions for my rhetoric. But I fear many of the talking heads and a few Congresspeople - do not get that idea.

*This blog in no way endorses violence against blue socks, in fact I have a couple pairs. LOL

02 April 2009

The Fragility of Law

Yesterday, the Justice Department announced that it was moving to reverse the conviction of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. The reason was the prosecutorial misconduct of those in the Bush Justice Department. Anyone that has watched much Law & Order can tell you that Jack McCoy can't withhold evidence from the defense attorneys if it is exculpatory in nature. Obviously, the officials in the Bush DOJ should have watched a bit more TV.

Really this incident is just another in a string of disturbing occurances dealing with the rule of law. We had Justice Department lawyers - justifying torture, extraordinary rendition, warrentless wiretapping, permanent detention with out trial...why has no one been disbarred?

We can not claim to be the "shining beacon on a hill" while treating Lady Justice like a cheap whore. I think it's very important that Attorney General Holder establish a new beginning in the DOJ. Annouce publicly that these programs are unacceptable and illegal and will not be used anymore. While a lot of us will never fully trust the government - it's just our tin-foil hatted nature - I want to be able to trust in the intentions of my government and this would be a good place to start.

Healthcare Fairness Update

I've received some pretty good feed back from people regarding this idea...I hope that people are contacting their legislators - if nothing else, just to see what they'll say.

I did have one person point out that Republicans would be wise to forfeit their policies, because they have enough money to buy insurance and they would get political capital from such a maneuver.

My take on that would be, they would have to admit that they would take their ball and go home rather than share with the other kids. That type of attitude is not something we want in our elected government.

Please let me know if you have any ideas for getting the word out!

31 March 2009

Sick Around America

This is a really good Frontline...

Please consider reading Healthcare Fairness (yesterday's post). Please take action! It's important!
Please email any responses you receive to healthcarefairness@gmail.com

30 March 2009

Healthcare Fairness

We the people of the United States of America deserve to be secure in our health and well being. As such, we have the RIGHT to low cost, high efficiency health care. Much like that which our Legislators and other elected officials enjoy.

Many of our elected officials seem to feel that we, the people, do not deserve the RIGHT to our health. As such, I respectfully request that they forfeit theirs.

Any elected official that feels that health care is not a RIGHT of all Americans, feels that our "for profit" health care system is fair, should be willing to live by the same standards as their constituents. They must forfeit their government supplied health care policies.


I would like my readers that agree with this idea to meet with/write to their elected officials. Letters to the editor/blog posts, etc.. are also encouraged.
If you do not know who your Senators or Representative is please click here.

It is important to make the letter personal. Make sure to include the fact that you feel they should forfeit their policy if they do not support universal healthcare. Explain your circumstances, why this issue is important to you. Many legislators will tell you that form letters get discarded fairly quickly into the "form letter" pile.

It is important that we convey the absolute necessity of this. We must bring equality into the health care process.

I would like to keep a record of those letters sent out, if you use e-mail, please consider a BCC to healthcarefairness@gmail.com Also, please forward any responses you receive to the same address.

  • Over 46 million U.S. citizens are uninsured. That number is growing every day with layoffs.
  • The average family policy cost exceeded $12,000 this year and continues to increase. Who has $1,000/mo plus the cost of medicine?
  • Low wage workers do not CHOOSE to be uninsured, it is not economically feasible.
  • The United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Single payer healthcare would increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies on the global market.
EDIT********** Here's a sample of the letter I wrote to my Senators and Representative.

Senator Brownback,

I am writing to you to express my support for single payer health care. As our economy struggles, more and more of your constituents are joining the ranks of the uninsured.

As you can imagine, being without health insurance is a very scary thing. You wake up every day hoping that today isn't the day that something bad happens. You try every home remedy known to man - all because our healthcare system is broken. Personally, I have been forgoing medication for my chronic asthma for over six months, since losing my job.

It is very frustrating to hear members of your party talk about how health care is not a "right". We spend more money on healthcare than any other nation, yet people die because they can't afford access. There is something very wrong with that.

I have a proposal for you. If you truly believe that government provided healthcare is not the best way to answer our growing healthcare issue (not to mention global competitiveness), I ask that you publicly forfeit your taxpayer funded healthcare plan. Senators and Representatives have access to the best healthcare in the world - their constituents should too. If we can't have it, you shouldn't either.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Wichita, KS