In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill, Socialist, Atheist, and Humanist
Wonderful Speech by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s Speech Today 12/31/07

Don’t miss this marvelous speech by Michelle Obama in Iowa on behalf of her husband. If you think Barak is a good speaker, “you ain’t heard nuthin’ yet,” as the saying goes. So far as I could see, she had no paper or electronic reminders of what she was going to say. Everything she said was what was in her own brain, and it was delivered with both grace and conviction. The speech lasted 1 hour and 3 minutes, and you just didn’t want it to stop. (It didn’t do any harm that she is a lovely looking woman and knows how to speak.)

But it was what she had to say that was riveting to a roomful of white men and women in their 60’s to 80’s, as well as many younger people, and they were both charmed and educated by what they heard.

Her speech can be heard by going here. I watched it live on C-Span this afternoon, and I am sure it will be rebroadcast sometime in the near future.


Merry Christmas

Christmas Letter 12/25/07

For weeks, I have been intellectually hibernating. But this morning, instead of watching crappy Christmas programs on TV, I watched a Bill Moyers program which I had taped several months ago in which he interviewed Maxine Hong Kingston about her group of writers and poets and their writings about their experiences in past and present wars, and it got me thinking again.

Rather than writing a few pleasantries about the Yuletide season, I have chosen to write about the world I see from the comfortable home I presently live in and am fairly well confined to now (though I also choose to be here and find great joy with my pets.)

Starting with the Democrats, our main concerns are:

The environment, which will either save or end all life on earth.

Growing population, which cannot be controlled with fences, only with humane and intelligent control.

Religious freedom, which was promised in our Constitution and applies to all forms of spiritual thought.

And War, which applies to all of the above and can only be controlled by the most humane and universal values of human beings as a whole.

Republican concerns, on the other hand, tend to be largely negative, in that they seek to control the values of others:

I received a voter’s guide from the League of Conservation Voters the other day regarding the Environment, and while all the Democrats supported a strong environmental policy, the Republicans either gave very weak support to such a policy or did not even articulate a position on it.

With regard to over-population, the Republican solution is to “protect” us by walling off the rest of the world, while at the same time feeling free to travel the world whenever and wherever we please. This has produced a steadily growing animosity between us and our neighbors.

Religious freedom has become an enormous cancer on the souls of human beings. President Bush and his advisers craftily took advantage of the Christian religion, particularly the evangelical Christians, most of whom are indoctrinated in their beliefs in very early childhood, to build their political party. And their most sacred belief is that they, and only they, know the true God. This, in turn, has led to an “us” against “them” separation both among Americans and between Americans and the rest of the world.

As for War, isn’t it odd that Pres. Bush, the devout Christian should be leading a crusade that may eventually end all life on Earth? His Christians value human beings (only some human beings) over all other life on the Earth, the Earth that their God created. And about the war, isn’t it also odd that most of those who have laid their lives down for his war are people with little education or future, while most of his true believers have chosen to stay home? And many more of the “others” have been killed, guilty “terrorists” as well as innocents.

Which brings me back to Kingman, and the story one of her group wrote about the war he was in. He said that the worst memory of all his terrible memories was of a comrade being burned alive, and that he, the survivor, actually salivated at the smell of his friend’s burning flesh.

An odd way to end a Christmas letter, I’ll admit, but this is the way I see the world from here. By the way, a Christian friend here was surprised that I said Merry Christmas to him. Not only did I mean it, but I am happy to have it said back to me.

Merry Christmas from Anne, the atheist and socialist.


Merry Christmas

Jon Carroll on Huckabee & Romney

I have become obsessed with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Not that I would ever vote for either of them. Mitt Romney looks like the typical high school suck-up, the kid whom everyone hated, although everyone also conceded that he'd go far. He also had Daddy's money, and he looked as if he had Daddy's money.

There is also the Mormon thing. One part of the American experiment that I really agree with is that everyone should be free to believe any damn thing they want, and to worship any damn thing they want, as long as it doesn't scare the horses. People say,

Oh, that Joseph Smith, what a hoaxster; can you believe people actually bought into that 'golden plates in the backyard' thing?
Well, yeah. Can you believe that people actually bought into that "it's really the blood of Jesus" thing? Can you believe people bought into that "the Prophet went into a cave and the angel Gabriel dictated an entire book to him" thing? Can you believe that people bought into that "here's a holy imaginary elephant - build a shrine!" thing?

I mean, it's a religion. It's not supposed to make sense. It's a matter of faith, and I just ain't going to get into the business of weighing faiths. Let a thousand Mormons bloom, not that they need my permission. Or want it.

The trouble is that Romney does want to weigh faiths. Or, at least, lack of faith. Here he is in the famous speech about his Mormon religion that mentioned the word "Mormon" only once:
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
Jeez, I'd think just the opposite is true - that freedom rather specifically does not require religion, because freedom concerns the right to be, you know, free. Mitt is free to believe in Joseph Smith's revelation and wear his holy singlet; I am free to believe in charity, kindness and peace without attaching it to any supernatural being.

I am free to use anything at all to open the windows of my soul. If it happens to be the sight of a golden retriever on the beach at Limantour at sunset, they're my windows and it's my soul and government has nothing to do with it. Mitt Romney does not get to define the terms of my enlightenment - or, indeed, my freedom to ignore enlightenment if that's what I choose to do. Because it's freedom.

I am not yelling.

I have to say that Mike Huckabee won my heart for about 30 seconds. It was at the You Tube-CNN Republican debate, and all the candidates were taking turns decrying immigrants as vile and loathsome criminals and perverts, and if we could only get rid of them then all our country's problems would be solved. (How to get rid of them? Oh, don't bother me when I'm demagoguing.) One part of the anti-immigrant package was to deny the children of illegal immigrants education, health care and common human decency.

In the middle of the hate fest, Huckabee said:
With all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did.
And he got booed! And I thought: Two hours of blather, one guy says something that makes him sound like a human being, and he gets attacked. Lordy, these are dreadful people.

But then I read other things that Huckabee said:
I didn't get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn't have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.
That's going to be a little tricky when monetary policy is being discussed, because Christ's position on reducing Chinese imports is not entirely clear. That's all right: Huckabee had not even heard about the National Intelligence Estimate's report on Iran's nuclear program; probably he was so busy letting Jesus Christ into his life that he forgot to let current events into his life.

Huckabee also said he wanted to "answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ." I'm not sure what that means, but it can't be good for the Jews. Or the gays, for that matter. Huckabee is opposed to gays in the military because they would "destroy unit cohesion," which is actually what people said about African Americans in 1947, until Harry Truman said, "Cohesion this, pea brains" and integrated the armed forces for good.

It's a measure of where George Bush has taken the Republican Party that only nut jobs can run for the GOP nomination. The sanest one out there is a former POW, and he thinks the Iraq war is a great idea. And you think Hillary Clinton is going to have trouble running against one of these guys? Please.

I love it when the mean kids get on television and yell at each other for a while. Keeps them out of the playground.
San Francisco Chronicle
I hear the human race is falling on its face and hasn't very far to go, but every whippoorwill is selling me a bill and telling me it just ain't so. I could say life is just a bowl of Jello, and appear more intelligent and smart, but I'm stuck like a dope with a thing called hope, and I can't get it out of my

War On Greed

A Home for the Holidays? A Realestate Shopocalpyse Movie
What would you do if you lived in one of Henry Kravis' mansions for a day during the holidays?

Would you feed the homeless? Throw a huge party? Sell everything on eBay?

For more on Henry Kravis and other borrow-and-buyout corporations, check out the FACTS page.

The War on Greed hits the New York Times! "A Movie and Protesters Single Out Henry Kravis" and director Robert Greenwald discusses issues raised in the film on CNBC's "Closing Bell".

The Bush & Cheney Legacy


Japanese Whale Science Is Nothing but Murder on the High Seas

A Japanese whaling fleet has set off for its biggest hunt since commercial whaling was officially banned, aiming to add to its haul Australians' favourite whales, the humpbacks. Yesterday's departure from Shimonoseki, in southern Japan, of the factory ship Nisshin Maru and three chaser ships brings the environmental dispute over whaling to a new level.

The Japanese whaling fleet had delayed its departure to the Southern Ocean for its annual whale hunt to avoid political embarrassment when Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda meets with US President George W. Bush.

Not since 1963 have humpbacks been legally hunted in the Antarctic, and not since the moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986 have so many whales been intended for the harpoon.

Under the International Whaling Commission's scientific research loophole, 50 humpbacks are being added by the Japanese to their program, along with 50 giant fin whales and up to 935 minkes.

Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) argues that the lethal research is needed to understand the whales' biology. ICR claims there is evidence of a "shift in dominance" of baleen whales in the Antarctic, which might mean humpbacks and fins are out-competing other baleen whales.

Greanpeace's ship the Esperanza is currently positioned just outside Japanese territorial waters and will be following the Japanese whaling fleet after it leaves the port of Shimonseki for its passage towards the Antarctic. Greenpeace will display the location of the whaling fleet as it is tracked south by the Esperanza on the same map on which it is tracking humpback migration routes from their breeding grounds in New Caledonia and the Cook Islands.

Karli Thomas, expedition leader aboard the Esperanza, states,
The Japanese government's "scientific" whaling program is a sham and a source of diplomatic tension between Japan and countries that support whale conservation, like the United States. Whaling has no place in Antarctica - it's a place of peace and science, and this is not science.
Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader.
Japan's whalers are deceiving the Japanese public by painting the word "research" on their ships. Real scientists don't need to kill whales to study them. This is commercial whaling poorly dressed up as science."

The Japanese Government should already know that information about whales can be gained without killing them. The Antarctic whale hunt is an expensive waste of Japanese taxpayers' money and goes against public opinion in Japan and overseas. The time has come for the Japanese government to end this hunt.
Japanese gunners have no direct experience in killing humpbacks, according to Philippa Brakes, a senior biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Brakes says,
This season is set to become a gruesome experiment in how long these large and magnificent animals may take to die.
An opinion poll carried out in Japan by the Nippon Research Centre, in June 2006, showed that 95 per cent of Japanese people never or rarely eat whale meat. More than two-thirds of Japanese do not support whaling on the high seas.

Another study recently conducted by Julia Bowett, a PhD student from the University of Tasmania, found that among Japanese students approximately 65 percent agreed with the view that scientific research on whales should only use non-lethal methods.

To prove that you don't need to kill whales for research, Greenpeace is collaborating with a team of scientists on the "Great Whale Trail" project.

Data from satellite tagging of whales, harmless skin biopsies and fluke identification has already yielded valuable information about the migration patterns of threatened humpback populations, without a single harpoon being fired.

The bottom line:

Japan has close to 4,000 tons of whale meat from its "scientific" whaling program in cold storage - uneaten, unsold, and unwanted.

Support Greenpeace!

Rocky's Mad as Hell at Bush!

. . . .and he won't take it any more!

Address by
Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson
Salt Lake City, Utah
on October 27, 2007
Today, as we come together once again in this great city, we raise our voices in unison to say to President Bush, to Vice President Cheney, to other members of the Bush Administration (past and present), to a majority of Congress, including Utah’s entire congressional delegation, and to much of the mainstream media:
You have failed us miserably and we won’t take it any more.”

While we had every reason to expect far more of you, you have been pompous, greedy, cruel, and incompetent as you have led this great nation to a moral, military, and national security abyss.

You have breached trust with the American people in the most egregious ways. You have utterly failed in the performance of your jobs. You have undermined our Constitution, permitted the violation of the most fundamental treaty obligations, and betrayed the rule of law.”

You have engaged in, or permitted, heinous human rights abuses of the sort never before countenanced in our nation’s history as a matter of official policy. You have sent American men and women to kill and be killed on the basis of lies, on the basis of shifting justifications, without competent leadership, and without even a coherent plan for this monumental blunder.

We are here to tell you: We won’t take it any more!

You have acted in direct contravention of values that we, as Americans who love our country, hold dear. You have deceived us in the most cynical, outrageous ways. You have undermined, or allowed the undermining of, our constitutional system of checks and balances among the three presumed co-equal branches of government. You have helped lead our nation to the brink of fascism, of a dictatorship contemptuous of our nation’s treaty obligations, federal statutory law, our Constitution, and the rule of law.

Because of you, and because of your jingoistic false ‘patriotism,’ our world is far more dangerous, our nation is far more despised, and the threat of terrorism is far greater than ever before.

It has been absolutely astounding how you have committed the most horrendous acts, causing such needless tragedy in the lives of millions of people, yet you wear your so-called religion on your sleeves, asserting your God-is-on-my-side nonsense – when what you have done flies in the face of any religious or humanitarian tradition. Your hypocrisy is mind-boggling – and disgraceful. What part of “Thou shalt not kill” do you not understand? What part of the “Golden rule” do you not understand? What part of “be honest,” “be responsible,” and “be accountable” don’t you understand? What part of “Blessed are the peacekeepers” do you not understand?

Because of you, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, many thousands of people have suffered horrendous lifetime injuries, and millions have been run off from their homes. For the sake of our nation, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world, we are morally compelled to say, as loudly as we can, ‘We won’t take it any more!’ ”

As United States agents kidnap, disappear, and torture human beings around the world, you justify, you deceive, and you cover up. We find what you have done to men, women and children, and to the good name and reputation of the United States, so appalling, so unconscionable, and so outrageous as to compel us to call upon you to step aside and allow other men and women who are competent, true to our nation’s values, and with high moral principles to stand in your places – for the good of our nation, for the good of our children, and for the good of our world.
In the case of the President and Vice President, this means impeachment and removal from office, without any further delay from a complacent, complicit Congress, the Democratic majority of which cares more about political gain in 2008 than it does about the vindication of our Constitution, the rule of law, and democratic accountability.

It means the election of people as President and Vice President who, unlike most of the presidential candidates from both major parties, have not aided and abetted in the perpetration of the illegal, tragic, devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq. And it means the election of people as President and Vice President who will commit to return our nation to the moral and strategic imperative of refraining from torturing human beings.

In the case of the majority of Congress, it means electing people who are diligent enough to learn the facts, including reading available National Intelligence Estimates, before voting to go to war. It means electing to Congress men and women who will jealously guard Congress’s sole prerogative to declare war. It means electing to Congress men and women who will not submit like vapid lap dogs to presidential requests for blank checks to engage in so-called preemptive wars, for legislation permitting warrantless wiretapping of communications involving US citizens, and for dangerous, irresponsible, saber-rattling legislation like the recent Kyl-Lieberman amendment.

We must avoid the trap of focusing the blame solely upon President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. This is not just about a few people who have wronged our country – and the world. They were enabled by members of both parties in Congress, they were enabled by the pathetic mainstream news media, and, ultimately, they have been enabled by the American people – 40% of whom are so ill-informed they still think Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks – a people who know and care more about baseball statistics and which drunken starlets are wearing underwear than they know and care about the atrocities being committed every single day in our name by a government for which we need to take responsibility.

As loyal Americans, without regard to political partisanship -- as veterans, as teachers, as religious leaders, as working men and women, as students, as professionals, as businesspeople, as public servants, as retirees, as people of all ages, races, ethnic origins, sexual orientations, and faiths -- we are here to say to the Bush administration, to the majority of Congress, and to the mainstream media:
You have violated your solemn responsibilities. You have undermined our democracy, spat upon our Constitution, and engaged in outrageous, despicable acts. You have brought our nation to a point of immorality, inhumanity, and illegality of immense, tragic, unprecedented proportions.”

“But we will live up to our responsibilities as citizens, as brothers and sisters of those who have suffered as a result of the imperial bullying of the United States government, and as moral actors who must take a stand: And we will, and must, mean it when we say ‘We won’t take it any more.’
If we want principled, courageous elected officials, we need to be principled, courageous, and tenacious ourselves. History has demonstrated that our elected officials are not the leaders – the leadership has to come from us. If we don’t insist, if we don’t persist, then we are not living up to our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy – and our responsibilities as moral human beings. If we remain silent, we signal to Congress and the Bush administration – and to candidates running for office – and to the world – that we support the status quo.

Silence is complicity. Only by standing up for what’s right and never letting down can we say we are doing our part.

Our government, on the basis of a campaign we now know was entirely fraudulent, attacked and militarily occupied a nation that posed no danger to the United States. Our government, acting in our name, has caused immense, unjustified death and destruction.

It all started five years ago, yet where have we, the American people, been? At this point, we are responsible. We get together once in a while at demonstrations and complain about Bush and Cheney, about Congress, and about the pathetic news media. We point fingers and yell a lot. Then most people politely go away until another demonstration a few months later.

How many people can honestly say they have spent as much time learning about and opposing the outrages of the Bush administration as they have spent watching sports or mindless television programs during the past five years? Escapist, time-sapping sports and insipid entertainment have indeed become the opiate of the masses.

Why is this country so sound asleep? Why do we abide what is happening to our nation, to our Constitution, to the cause of peace and international law and order? Why are we not doing all in our power to put an end to this madness?

We should be in the streets regularly and students should be raising hell on our campuses. We should be making it clear in every way possible that apologies or convoluted, disingenuous explanations just don’t cut it when presidential candidates and so many others voted to authorize George Bush and his neo-con buddies to send American men and women to attack and occupy Iraq.

Let’s awaken, and wake up the country by committing here and now to do all each of us can to take our nation back. Let them hear us across the country, as we ask others to join us:
We won’t take it any more!
I implore you: Draw a line. Figure out exactly where your own moral breaking point is. How much will you put up with before you say “No more” and mean it?

I have drawn my line as a matter of simple personal morality: I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has voted to fund the atrocities in Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who will not commit to remove all US troops, as soon as possible, from Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has supported legislation that takes us one step closer to attacking Iran. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has not fought to stop the kidnapping, disappearances, and torture being carried on in our name.

If we expect our nation’s elected officials to take us seriously, let us send a powerful message they cannot misunderstand. Let them know we really do have our moral breaking point. Let them know we have drawn a bright line. Let them know they cannot take our support for granted – that, regardless of their party and regardless of other political considerations, they will not have our support if they cannot provide, and have not provided, principled leadership.

The people of this nation may have been far too quiet for five years, but let us pledge that we won’t let it go on one more day – that we will do all we can to put an end to the illegalities, the moral degradation, and the disintegration of our nation’s reputation in the world.

Let us be unified in drawing the line – in declaring that we do have a moral breaking point. Let us insist, together, in supporting our troops and in gratitude for the freedoms for which our veterans gave so much, that we bring our troops home from Iraq, that we return our government to a constitutional democracy, and that we commit to honoring the fundamental principles of human rights.

In defense of our country, in defense of our Constitution, in defense of our shared values as Americans – and as moral human beings – we declare today that we will fight in every way possible to stop the insanity, stop the continued military occupation of Iraq, and stop the moral depravity reflected by the kidnapping, disappearing, and torture of people around the world.

Is this the way Adam Smith envisioned the wisdom and workings of the 'hidden hand' of the Free Market?

Turn up your speakers!

Religion at Its Worst

Recently, I received an email article evidently being circulated widely on the internet, and I’m madder than hell. It was written and read by Ben Stein on his CBS Sunday Morning Commentary recently.

In the article, he quoted Billy Graham’s daughter as saying in an interview that “for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives...” Stein, a Jew, agreed with her, blaming it chiefly on Madeleine Murray O’Hare, and saying that it was no wonder our children don’t know right from wrong. It is hard for me to believe that a man of his probable education and experience knows so little about non-believers.

There are at least five major places where religion is not only permitted, but entirely appropriate:

1. In the home.

2. In the church or other house of worship.

3. In a religious school.

4. In public school, (hopefully for all) teenagers, the history and tenets of all religions and beliefs, including those of non-believers. It is extremely important that this is taught by people who know what they are talking about and ubiased about their subject. Indoctrination is not OK in such a class.

5. And most important, by the way their parents live their lives.

Non-believers do not flaunt their values, but do not confuse and equate them with those who have no values at all.

Help for the Hurting

There have been numerous TV interviews following the devastating fires in Southern California with members of religious congregations regarding the charity work they have been doing with fire victims. This is laudable.

As an atheist, I would like to point out, however, that religious groups are always interviewed, while probably few members of the public are ever aware of the donations of time and treasure made by the many nonbelievers in this country and this world to those in need. In fact, we outcasts undoubtedly contribute to a far wider circle, because we include animals, birds, fish and even insects and earth and water and air in our moral and spiritual values.

The Fire This Time

I do so hope that Bush will come out for a number of photo-ops, especially in San Diego and Orange Counties. They mean so much.

An Appreciation Of Al Gore

Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate, is founder of the Green Belt Movement, a member of Kenya’s Parliament and the author of Unbowed: A Memoir (Anchor, 2007)

Here is
her testimony
Al Gore's contribution.

Pete Stark's Remarks

My congratulations to Congressman Stark for telling it like it is. It’s about time someone in our government had the courage to stand up and say what needs to be said.

This president is a mediocre man with the values so popular among his supporters, those who espouse freedom and the value of all human life, while this nation, under his rule, is destroying life on an incredible scale.

It is time that those who are our leaders dispensed with the niceties of polite language and began to speak to the citizens of this nation about the dangers facing us as a nation at the hands of a man who can think only in terms of “winning,” no matter the cost.

Remember This Story the Next Time You're Wondering

If you should acquire a pet and wondering if it should be a dog or a cat!

Dog saves owner's life after cat starts fire!

October 12, 2007

GREENVILLE, Maine -- Thumper, a black Lab, is getting credit for saving a Greenville man when a fire swept through his home.

When a fire started Sunday in Roland Cote's converted two-story garage, Thumper grabbed him by the arm to wake him.

Cote said the fire investigator believes the blaze was started when Princess, the family cat, tipped over a kerosene lantern.

Cote says he and his pets escaped safely, but he says Princess did get her tail singed by the flames.


Killing Unborn Babies Ethic

Killing Unborn Babies Ethic

If Bush is so adamant in his belief that killing unborn babies in the womb is against God’s will, why is it OK with him that he is responsible for the following:

1. Killing the unborn, as well as the born, children by the thousands as long as they are associated with the enemy and qualify as “collateral damage?”

2. Killing the “children” of any age by the hundreds of thousands as long as they also qualify as “collateral damage?”

3. Killing as many as possible of “the enemy” by the untold thousands as possible, regardless of the fact that his will is surely superceded by the will of his God?

4. Subjecting thousands of his own citizen soldiers to death and/or horrific physical and psychological injury to satisfy hia personal view of what the citizens of this country really want and his standing in his own mind as our Leader and Decider.

Surely he and his evangelical supporters profane the House of God each and every time they enter therein.

Rumsfeld Called it "Old Europe"

The Republicans would like Americans to think that everything in Europe is falling apart, but too bad the truth doesn't quite match up to their stories. Compared to other regions in the world, including the US, Europe is looking pretty good.

Here are 5 myths about sick old Europe:

  1. The sclerotic European economy is incapable of leading the world.
  2. Nobody wants to invest in European companies and economies because lack of competitiveness makes them a poor bet.
  3. Europe is the land of double-digit unemployment.
  4. The European "welfare state" hamstrings businesses and hurts the economy.
  5. Europe is likely to be held hostage to its dependence on Russia and the Middle East for most of its energy needs.

Right On, Mahmoud!

I listened to Ahmadinejad’s entire speech to the United Nations this afternoon and, with one slight exception, I agreed with everything he said. The exception was his rather long references to religious values. They did not bother me, however, because as an atheist I did not feel personally threatened. I share many of the values espoused by religious groups, though I find that Christian groups are very likely to show their contempt for the beliefs of others and less likely to live the values they espouse.

Back to Mahmoud. His speech today was much more coherent than his speech yesterday. He might have been affected by the curve of rudeness delivered to him and the lack of attention to some of the points he was trying to make yesterday, especially with regard to the resettlement of Jews by the more powerful nations in land usurped from nations in the Middle East. (Incidentally, I find CNN the likeliest of the commercial news channels to be fair in their reporting, but most of its news staff and the people they interviewed after his speech today continued to berate him for what he said. They must have been prepared in advance to belittle him, or they were watching another film, not the one I was watching. The Iranian president deserved and received a very large ovation from the members of the United Nations.)


Ahmadinejad in Wonderland

Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University was a huge success for Bush—and he didn’t even have to be there!

Columbia President Lee Bollinger led off the debate by verbally attacking his guest even before allowing him to speak. He said that Ahmadinejad was either totally evil or very uneducated. I’m afraid I must be the latter, because I cannot imagine a tactic which could have made Bush look any better.

Bollinger led the attack on Ahmadinejad like the leader of a pack of dogs surrounding a terrified cat. This led, in turn, to the audience following like the rest of the pack, with jeers and laughter. And their victim’s response can only be to hate us even more.

If the Iranian leader had been treated with respect and allowed to get himself into trouble with his remarks, he would have had only himself to blame. But, like Bush, the members of this distinguished intellectual university chose the path of humiliation and designation as an even greater menace to the rest of the world.

Ahmadinejad may be an uneducated fool, but, like Bush, he is an uneducated fool with the tremendous power which only an uneducated fool can possess. And now this forum has handed both men and their followers an even greater power to move in reverse.

Non-Violent Civil Resistance in Burma

Whatever your persuasion, pray or cross your fingers!

The international community fears a repeat of 1988, when government troops brutally suppressed a popular uprising, killing some 3,000 people.

Truck loads of soldiers have been seen moving into the center of Rangoon. The government is blaming rogue dissidents for the unrest.

The protesters came out even though the junta warned it would "take action" after some 100,000 people marched

They have been joined by large numbers of students and supporters who until Monday had stood on the sidelines cheering the monks.

Along with Buddhist flags, some marchers carried flags bearing the image of a fighting peacock, which was used by students in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.

In Rangoon, monks led the way from the revered Shwedagon Pagoda, which has become a focal point of the growing protests.

Tens of thousands of Burmese defied warnings by the military junta, and staged another day of marches in cities across the country.

John Edwards Does Not Betray Us!

3 Minute Ad Rebuts Bush, Petreaus & Crocker

Excitement with the Invalid!

Just to let all of my friends out there know that I’m still here – that’s the trouble, I’m still here. As a person who loves to be at home with my dog and cats and the computer, life is great. But if you HAVE to be at home, that’s another matter.

But I do have news to impart. With the permission of my physical therapist and my occupatonal therapist, each of whom came on Wednesday, I have now put my walker away and am now walking with a cane!! They will both be back on Friday, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon for more fun and progress.

Among other things, I have now been given permission to clean the FIVE litterboxes that are placed strategically around the house. My daughter’s men came every day or so for the past two months to clean them, but they are not as expert at it as I am, and the cats and dog have begun going to potty in various forbidden spots around the house, which is not good, as well as a helluva mess to clean up.

In addition to being allowed to use a cane (and I must say that not having the walker around is like having half the furniture moved out of the house, a great blessing), I am now allowed to CLEAN THE FIVE LITTERBOXES myself!! I had my first go at it this morning, and will do it morning and night.

If this is not enough fun for you, my old pull-up garage door broke a month ago and had to be propped open all day and night. Instead of fixing an old door, I decided to get a newroll-up door with windows in it, and it was just installed yesterday. That, for me, was so exciting that I can hardly control myself.

Any of you who have read my five chapter story of the terror I experienced at the convalescent facility (AND IT WAS TERRIFYING! I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be a nonbeliever in a small southern town, but that was a hint.) will not find the story above too exciting unless you have been sidelined with an injury, but you might hark back to it when you are injured or at least up in years.

Be nice to others...

...because . . as time goes on, it will make a difference!

Any questions???

(Don't forget to click for expansion.)

Safe at Last!

No sooner had I moved to my new room than my attending doctor, who had been disturbed by the fact that my leg pain persisted, sent me to the hospital for an MRI of my hip. It was there that it was discovered that I had an internal fracture in the neck of the femur. I was operated on the following morning, at which time the surgeon inserted 3 very long screws into the femur. (I saw the x-ray yesterday. Ouch!) I stayed in the hospital for four days and was then sent to another convalescent home, where the care and personal attention of the staff were far superior to my previous experience.

Above all, I treasure my relationship with my roommate’s husband, and through, him, with her. She was a very lovely-looking woman who, I gathered, had had a stroke some six years before and suffered from aphasia, the inability to speak words, although her husband told me that she was mentally alert. He spent most of his time with his wife, either in our room or taking her down the hall for the entertainment provided for patients. He told me that he was 91. What a long, sad end to two vibrant lives!

I watched C-Span most of every day on the TV in our room, and found that he was watching it also. We gradually learned that we had a great deal in common. Our conversation, as with so many people these days centered mainly around the war, the Bush administration, and immigration. I told him that I had my own views about immigration, which do not coincide exactly with either those firmly against, or those firmly in favor. As those of you who read my posts on the subject will realize, I blame most of the problem on this country and on those of us (and there are many) who are glad to take advantage of the situation for our own benefit.

This, of course, turned to talk of prejudice, and my friend told me that he and his wife knew a great deal about prejudice, as they are both Jewish and atheists. And the latter in turn brought a whole change in my way of thinking. I have always referred to myself as an agnostic, not knowing about how we got here, and not feeling it is knowable. But, as best I can explain their belief, they do not think there is any great, thinking force up there somewhere which is planning and creating the universe. This comes much closer to what I really feel, so henceforth I shall refer to myself as an atheist.

This experience and association is one which I would not have missed, and it will remain in my memory.

End of Chapter 5, and the end of my story.


One day I came back from my physical therapy session to find a joyous party going on in our room. There were five or six support staff members enjoying the usual leftovers from patients’ trays, and the Reader was the delirious hostess. “We found it,” she told me. “It was in your drawer.” And behind her I saw the blue blanket, ostentatiously arranged at the foot of her bed.

That means, of course, that someone had gone through my drawer and found it buried beneath the white towel and whatever else there may have been there. This was done when I was out of the room and without my permission. Between this incident and the previous encounter with the staff members examining my adding machine with the thought that I might have stolen it also, I had had enough.

So I wheeled myself down to the nurses’ desk, but no one was there, so I waited, with the wheels of my chair pointing obliquely toward the desk.

All of a sudden my wheelchair was hit so hard at the side that it nearly fell over! I couldn’t imagine what had done it, and I hadn’t heard anyone coming. When I turned around, I saw a woman I had never seen before. She remained where she was in her wheelchair, and looked at me with hatred on her face. Not only that – when I looked beyond her, there stood Smiley in the hall, watching us, and grinning the biggest grin I had ever seen.

Across the lobby from the nurses’ desk was a large alcove about 10 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Half of the alcove was taken up by a very large plant in a very large bowl. This strange woman had not moved, so I quickly wheeled my wheelchair over and backed into the other half of the alcove and closed my eyes in relief. But she hadn’t finished; I felt something bump my toes, and there she was again, toe to toe with me, looking even more malevolent than she had before. And through all of this, not a word passed between us.

Just then, a nurse came back to the station, and I demanded that I be moved to another room immediately. I did not even stay to collect my clothes and possessions, leaving it to an assistant to bring to me. (Incidentally, one of my nightgowns was lost in the process.)

And as I left the room for the last time, the very religious Reader who had learned love from Christ waved her arms from side to side above her head and exclaimed, “God loves me! Thank you Jesus, thank you!”

End of Chapter 4

Third Movement of the Symphony

I’ll digress a bit to give you a flavor of living in such a care home. All such facilities seem to have a hard time being adequately staffed, but this somehow seemed to be worse.
The more menial the work, the less training they seem to receive.

For example, after one young man gave me a hair-raising ride down the hall in my wheelchair at top speed, dodging oncoming old people walking toward us within inches of hitting them head-on, I asked if he had had any training about that. He said that, no, he hadn’t had any training about that or anything else. It scared me to death, so you can imagine the reaction of people who are barely ambulatory. It was also common for staff members to open doors with the toes on your foot when navigating in close places and not to notify the passenger in advance about when they were going to turn, so that they could adjust their bodies accordingly.

There was one old man who wandered the halls saying that he had never received his breakfast. I was told by a staff member that he had had his breakfast already and that he had done that for years, so they just ignored him. I realize that they are overworked, but it is terribly sad to me that they couldn’t just have given him something to chew on or at least a kind word so that he knew someone cared for him.

The cords to our reading lamps and our red light calling for assistance were often left hanging at the wall, so that you couldn’t reach them if you were unable to get up, and the red lights often stayed on for some time before they were answered. There was also a woman down the hall who called for help almost ceaselessly. She may have had mental problems, but her plight was pathetic in any case.

Caring for the old and infirm is tough work, no doubt about it, but no tougher than being the old one being cared for.

End of Chapter 3. (Two more to come.)

Horror Continued

Horror Continued

The three of us in my room shared a bathroom with one toilet with three women on the other side. One of them was very ill and required a lot of time there, often. The polite custom was to wait at the door until you heard the opposite door close, and then go in.

On this particular occasion, I had been waiting at the door in my wheelchair for about an hour. Just as I was about to go in, Smiley leaped from her bed, saying that she was faster than I was, and pushed ahead of me. I was furious, but didn’t say anything.

But the next night, she did the very same thing. So I asked her if she went to church. As I suspected, she said she did, so I said, “I could tell,” thinking of the many people who are loyal worshippers, but lose their values upon exiting the church door.

At this point, the Reader, who was not involved in this, and to whom I had never talked about religion, shouted, “Do you go to church?” and when I said no, she shouted back, “We could tell.” I did not really expect Smiley to understand what I was trying to tell her, but my slur against the Church was more important to the Reader than the lesson I was trying to convey to Smiley.

That was the real beginning of the descent.

A number of the service personnel were in the habit of coming to the Reader’s bed to enjoy breaks, during which they imbibed leftover food and drink from patients’ trays. The Reader spoke more often of the blue blanket which had been a gift to her and which she could not find. On just such an accasion, I woke from a catnap to find a man and a woman standing over my table. My daughter had brought me a plastic drawer with get well cards, bills, my checkbook and my adding machine. Before they became aware that I was awake, I heard the woman ask the man, as she pointed at my adding machine, what it was. When she saw my eyes open, she apologized and said it looked something like a tool which some of the staff used.

End of Chapter Two