Friday, September 29, 2006

A Horse of a Different Color

This from an article regarding the teenager who shot his school principal to death earlier today:
“He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids,” she said at a gas station nearby where students and townspeople gathered.

A couple of conservative bloggers have thought it funny in the past to mock threaten a few with weapons. I'll not mention names. If you are regular cheddarsphere bloggers, you know who I am talking about.

This shooting is another reason why it is not funny.

Hamsters Are Woosies

Hamsters are such woosies. My son's gerbils would have hijacked the plane and forced it to the Mongolian Desert where they originally came from.

We Don't Need No Thought Control

More propaganda from the friends of Mark Green and Mr. Comic Relief (yeah, it's a gratuitous shot). If you didn't think the press was sidling over to the right, this should convince you.

h/t Robola

(click picture to enlarge)

Nah. There's no such thing as right-wing press (though "right-wing" and "press" are really contradictory).

Road Less Traveled

August 20, 2004
Speech at Robert Frost's Farm in Derry, New Hampshire
by Granny "D"

Thank you.

Robert Frost is connected to that strong spiritual and ethical river that flows through Whitman and Hawthorne, Melville, Cather, Dickinson, Clemens, Wilder, Muir, Douglas, Foster, Gershwin, Joplin, Sousa, and the almost countless others who were charmed and inspired by the musical words of our Founding Fathers and of our great and eloquent Native American leaders.

And from these voices onward, up to our own time and through the eloquence of Bernstein, Cohen, Copland, Ellington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Capra, Ginsburg, Pete Seeger, Ansel Adams and so many others of the modern era's great minds and writers, an idea for who we are and who we want to be as Americans has been shaped in our hearts.

We want to be a just and honorable people, trustees of a beautiful land and gardeners of a great democracy. We want to be a fiercely free people--good providers to each other and good neighbors to our townsmen and to the other people of the world.

This American spirit is an ideal that defines not only who we are to ourselves, but to the rest of the world in how they want to think of us. It is what they love about us, and they do.
And despite all our hard times, our wars, our depressions, our genocides, our suppressions and oppressions, our experience with slavery itself, we still stand at the edge of woods dark and deep with our future ahead of us and this dream still in our hearts. We still are perched at Half Dome Rock and along the grasses of the Hudson and the forests of the misty Olympic Peninsula and in the mud of the Mississippi at Hannibul. It is still a most beautiful country filled with most wonderful people. And we are still young.

Yet we have come to a new time. We and our natural world are poised now at a parting of the road. One path leads where powerful nations have gone before. It is the road of silver and blood--the short, noisy road of empire. The other is a path no great nation has taken before. The only way we can take this less traveled road it to blow the ashes off the still living fire of our American Revolution--where the people naturally rise against great and oppressive forces and reassert the human heart, human freedom and our highest values as a people.

Click here for rest of speech

Please, Don't Pass the Syrup

Patrick McIlheran is at it again. In a column appearing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sept. 24 entitled “Check here to opt out of another social revolution,” McIlheran argues for voting to ensure that “…marriage remain what everyone thought it was until about 10 minutes ago.” Leaving aside the fact not everyone thinks in the same way as McIlheran claims, his snide comments throughout the piece reveal that the old saying, “If the shoe fits …,” is an apt description for his bigotry.

It’s not really about the wording of the amendment. And, it’s not really about an issue being forced upon the populace as he would claim. Don’t let him kid you. It is all about McIlheran saying that a man/man, or woman/woman relationship should not be legal because marriage … (wait for it) …

… is the public's grant of a privileged position for relationships that often involve love but have mainly to do with producing the next generation.

Ah, now we get to the nub. The heck with the previous ten or so paragraphs in which McIlheran couches his bigotry in unassuming words and dips them in syrup to make the result sound sweet to the ears. No, what he is really saying is that marriage is reserved only for those who can impregnate and those who receive their seed.

I could add he should say that to the faces of the thousands of children abandoned as a result of illicit heterosexual unions, and who were lovingly adopted and raised by homosexual couples.

Or, I could add that he should speak to the children many did not wish to be burdened with; those with birth defects and other abnormalities, who were also adopted and raised by homosexual couples.

And, I could joust with him and tell him to say it to the faces of interracial couples living in today’s society.

What? What does being a part of an interracial couple have to do with this?

Well, it wasn’t too long ago that interracial marriage was against the law, too (1999 in Alabama). Back then, as is now woofed about homosexual unions, interracial marriage was said to be “contrary to God’s will.” Interracial marriage was “unnatural.” Interracial relationships were seen merely as illicit sex … even those that were committed and longstanding. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

You see, McIlheran and his cohorts oppose the cause of marriage for homosexuals not because of any real legal reason to oppose it, not even a religious one. They oppose homosexual marriage because they are afraid. The thought of a man sleeping with another man is loathsome to them. It’s unnatural … a perversion.

This fear has often coalesced into anger and the result has often been violent. While it is probably true that today’s modern conservative scribes would never resort to violence (nor to fighting in a war they prop up with patriotic gargles), I do believe it is true that their current fears are no different that the ancient fears of black sexuality. Fears of black sexuality have been responsible for some of the most notorious incidents of anti-black violence and persecution, from the Scottsboro Boys to Emmett Till.

In the same vein, fears of homosexuality have been responsible for notorious incidents such as the murder of Matthew Shepard, left to die hanging on a fence after being beaten by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney.

It was in Massachusetts (in a weird twist of history repeating itself) that a group of “radical abolitionists” argued that the law against interracial marriage went against the American ideal of equality and succeeded in having that law repealed in 1843.

One hundred and sixty three years later, Wisconsin citizens have a chance to tell the rest of the country that bigots and conservatives be damned … Wisconsin IS a Progressive state and its citizens do not discriminate. It’s a straight-forward choice.

No gimmicks.

No syrup!

Just vote NO.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Temperature Rising

Just to keep busy and to earn a little extra spending cash, I work for a local gas merchant. He's a fairly well-known fellow in the Brookfield community. A church-going guy (who's apt to ask everyone who enters his establishment if they went to church on Sunday), he believes the world was created in 6,000 years and the stars in the sky are purely decoration ... there is no other life in the universe.

He is also a Mark Green fan, which is his absolute right. I enjoy working for him. He is funny, is a font of oral history, and he is generous to his employees, providing free health care to two of them, a college student and the other a woman who supports her father.

Anyway, it isn't clear who did this, but someone placed one of those large Mark Green signs on the lawn next to the intersection that this establishment is located. No one is sure if the land is city property or his, either. I could care less. What Mark Green stands for is revolting to me, but that my boss agrees with his beliefs is no concern of mine. We've discussed it briefly in passing and have come to an understanding that we'll agree to disagree.

Back to the sign: Today, a man came into the place and asked if I was the owner. I said "No," but pointed to the woman on my right and said she was his wife. He proceeded to tell her that he had been patronizing this establishment for years, but could no longer do so because of the Mark Green sign outside the place. I almost started laughing. She said she was unsure who had placed it there, and anyway, wasn't it city property? He didn't think so. I shrugged my shoulders when he looked at me.

Finally, he said he could not in good conscience patronize any place that supported Mark Green. The owner's wife shrugged her shoulders and said that she was sorry he felt that way. He turned and left.

After he left, I thought: "What a pompous ass." I mean, I'm as liberal as they come and will likely be voting for Jim Doyle this election. I agree that Mark Green is a slime bag and does not deserve election. However, to say that you will not patronize this place because of a sign is absolutely ridiculous.

The fact is, after this election is over and passions have cooled, we still have to live with another. I'll bet even that old, crusty barnacle, dad29, would agree with me.

Global Warming Dangerous

Who are you going to believe. Evangelical nutjobs whose mission in life is to tell you they've read the Bible and determined that the world is 6,000 years old ... please send us money to spread that message.

Or scientists, with no possible agenda, who tell you that global warming has reached a dangerous level?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Believing in Togetherness Itself

November 16, 2004
by Granny "D"

Thank You.

My recent campaign for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire was a great adventure, and its eventual outcome was fairly well-known even before we began--though we worked hard to win. Would I have decided to run had I known in advance that I would not win? The answer is yes, I would have still done it, for life itself has a predictable outcome, and it is not in our final day that meaning comes to our lives, but in the days spent along our way.

As to the politics of my effort, I will tell you that I am an old Progressive-Populist, and that tradition has crossed both the Republican and Democratic lines, and now the Reform and Green lines, too, but it is considered more of the left, now, than the right.

I understand that many of you hold far different political beliefs, and, rather than bend my remarks to the agreement of all, let me instead help you see inside the thinking of a particular kind of belief system that has been important in America since just after the Civil War, when farmers banded together to fight the railroad, banking and meat packing monopolies by forming their own political party.

That party, the Populist Party, which was largely based in rural America, joined forces with the more urban-based Progressive Party at turn of the 20th Century. The leaders of this powerful new movement, which sprang for the most part out of the town of Madison, Wisconsin, included Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, whose seat in the U.S. Senate is now held appropriately by Russ Feingold, a solid reformer whose campaign finance reform bill I walked across America to support. When La Follette raised the Progressive movement to great power in America, leaders like Theodore Roosevelt were quick to see the future and danced quickly in front of that parade.

Out of that movement we got the monopoly-busting anti-trust laws, which largely came undone in the Reagan Administration, the labor laws which gave America the strongest and most prosperous middle class the world had ever seen—also which came undone in the Reagan Administration, with later help in the Clinton Administration. And from the Progressive-Populist Movement we got environmental clean-up laws, worker safety laws, and the Social Security System, which ended the long era of elder destitution that had been increasingly a fact as industrialization overran the family agrarian roots of our nation.

My father and mother were solid Republicans, and they celebrated and participated in many of these reforms. Most Americans, through most of my lifetime, have seen the federal government as a necessary tool for working Americans to provide for justice and its prosperity.

All those beliefs and accomplishments are now coming undone or are under attack. Social Security will be the next to fall, perhaps, and we see it coming, as America becomes again what it was in the first days of industrialization: a nation of the very rich and the very poor--the exploiters, who own the politicians, and, on the other side, the exploited, whose great power to move history smolders silently, waiting for the oxygen of leadership and political opportunity.

It is interesting to those of us on the left that the American vote no longer breaks down as a division of the exploiter and the exploited. People seem happy to vote for those who do everything possible to export their jobs, give their common wealth to the already too-wealthy, and undermine their social safety net programs, their right to organize, right to privacy, and on and on.

The division in the electorate is now between those who see government as a place where practical solutions are forged among people of different interests, and those who see government as an enforcer of their own private belief systems, regardless of the costs to themselves.
Both groups are willing to make a sacrifice. The first group is willing to not impose their personal belief systems when they are operating on the common ground of civic life, as when John Kennedy declared that the Constitution, not the Catholic Church, would be his guide in the civil matters of the presidency. The second group is not willing to lay down their private beliefs to find common ground in civil affairs, but they are willing to sacrifice their jobs, their health care, and the good name of their country in the world, and, more significantly, they are willing for all other people to suffer as well, in order that the government might be an enforcer of their personal spiritual beliefs.

Now, if this strikes you as a less than objective analysis of the situation, I told you going in that I am not bending my language to suit the audience, but only to express how the Progressives feel about things today.

If you look at the red state – blue state map of the recent election, it doesn’t tell you much. If you look at the red county – blue county map of the United States, you see a more useful picture. You see that urban areas voted Democratic and rural and suburban areas voted Republican, on average. It is meaningful to some degree, because where one lives is more a matter of personal choice today than ever before, and one might generalize that antisocial people tend not to live in dense communities, and social people do. The word anti-social well describes the dismantling of social systems, environmental protections, job protections and all the rest that has been going on with a vengeance during the Bush years. You might agree with what has been done, but I would bet that you also believe that government is too big, that it is the problem, not the solution, that minorities have too much given to them, that women should not have too much power, especially over their own bodies, and so on and so on. You tend to favor systems of authority over systems of shared power, and so the word Democrat doesn’t appear anywhere in your wallet.

If this is a useful observation, then Progressives like myself must wonder what it will take for us ever again to have a common ground where we work out our common needs in a civil--meaning non-religious and non-ideological--manner. How do you do that when half the population does not believe that government is our venue of cooperative action?

Well, I may be overstating my case in order to make my point come into focus, but let me look around at the human situation, not just the deadly abstractions.

The fact is, we are, each of us, both kinds of people: we believe in individualism and we believe in cooperation. When I pay my taxes, ask me if the government is too big or too small. When my Social Security check is late, ask me again. We all have our belief systems that inform our words and actions, but the real world is a beautiful negotiation between our needs and our beliefs, and that is also the case at the larger scale, where we act as the American people.

The Republicans have a great duty to do in this nation, and that is to guard the rights of individual action. The Democrats have a great duty to do in this nation, and that is to guard the necessity of cooperative action. If the pendulum of power can but swing freely, we do all right on both fronts. But it must operate in a civic atmosphere of mutual respect, or the swings will become wildly erratic and the machine may fly apart. I sense that rumbling now and pray that we can reason together as one people.

What happens when it swings too hard and too long to the right? We have seen that in the world, and we sent our young men and women off to die to end it several times in the last century. I have felt those sacrifices in my lifetime.

What happens when it swings too hard and too long to the left? Cruelty and oppression thrive at the extremes; we have seen that you can go around to the dark side of life from either the right or the left.

Both swings crush the freedoms of individuals and destroy the diversity of culture and human life that define higher civilization.

The right wing of American politics is now moving toward such a crushing of diversity, and it is doing so in the name of religion. If you cannot see the danger in that, you have either not lived though as much world history as I have, or you have not read your history, or you have no imagination. The danger is perfectly real and anything can happen here that happened in other places, and it has already begun.

But the saving grace for us, I think, is the fact that Americans are richly complex, and we are for something one minute and against it the next. We have an abiding, deep-set love of justice, even when we allow it to be unevenly applied to others. There is no opinion that we do not all share at least a little bit, and there are enough facts in the world to justify about any opinion.

We will move through this time, neighbor-to-neighbor, and friend-to-friend. We have seen the divisions in our own families, and it isn’t because one side of the dinner table is out in farmland and the other is in the city. Our divisions of opinion are more personal than that.

Are we all trying to have a democracy? I am not sure of that, but I hope it is so.

Are we willing to let our religious beliefs guide our private and family lives, but leave them aside when we work with people of other religions in the problem-solving civic arena? Your answer to that question answers whether or not you are trying to have a democracy, and the answer, given my millions of people, will tell us if we will still have a democracy to leave to the next generation, or not.

As for me, the future is one day at a time, and the joy of democracy is in that old democracy road, not in any shining destination. Being with people who care, who love each other and their country--that is such a blessing! It is why I ran for office, to meet more people and to share more adventures on that great road.

We Americans have to walk it together, or we shall only remember the great nation we once had, and the greater nation we could have built together, had we indeed believed in togetherness itself.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Disease of Moral Intolerance

October 23, 2004
by Granny "D"

The light and soul of America is respect .

Given on the steps of the Peterborough Town Hall, after a walk to town with her townspeople. Peterborough was the town where Thornton Wilder wrote "Our Town."

Thank you.

I would like to share two thoughts with you today. The first regards the special character of the American community that makes us strong and, indeed, very special in the world. The second idea regards the special moment in time where we find ourselves right now.

The special character of the American people isn’t the fact that we have a Constitution and its Bill of Rights, although we are blessed by that document and blessed by the way it has been improved by wisdom and humanity over the centuries.

The words of our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, while special indeed, only reflect something that was already deep in the emerging world dream that America is.

Here is a hint of that special aspect: Let me ask you a question—why is it that the first ten amendments to the Constitution are the Bill of Rights? Why didn’t they just put the Ten Commandments in there from the Bible?

Why, indeed, did they go to so much trouble writing this new Constitution when they already had a guide book to living--their Bible? For they were, most of them, religious people.

Why did they create a strong and well-stated separation between their religious lives and their civic lives?

The word that gets to the answer is the word Respect.

They understood that different people have different belief systems, and that the civic square is where we come together to make our lives work well together in spite of our different beliefs.

That respect for our differences is the key to understanding the genius of America. They certainly had not perfected a notion of the brotherhood of all people, as it took us, as a people, another century to eliminate human slavery on our shores, and generations more to accept the equality of all people. But the seed was there, and it remains—though it is now under attack as if by a serious disease.

If we look around the world at the most frightening and dangerous places, we see, first of all, the failure of respect for differences. The Taliban perhaps represent that in the American mind. But we do not have to look that far to see the disease of moral intolerance infecting cultures and governments. It is all around us now. It has sprung from our own soil, as it has elsewhere.

In its most fatal form, the disease of moral intolerance somehow bestows the power of heaven on our humble human institutions of government. And so, where in a previous generation we might have been willing to let some great moral issues be decided between a person and his or her God or conscience, we now demand that institutions of government represent themselves as God’s attorneys. The problem with that, of course, is that government institutions are what we share across the entire community, and religious beliefs are not. So the only way that government can speak for God is if large parts of our community have a religion not of their choosing forced upon them, not as beliefs, but as oppressions.

This is easy for the women of Afghanistan to understand precisely. But it is not far away from us now, as an immoral element of our society, cloaked in false morality, move hard on us to destroy that word that underpins our Constitution and its Bill of Rights and that is the bright little light that shines in the American soul and can be found in the torch of the Statue of Liberty. It is the flame of freedom, yes, but its truer name is the flame of respect for others and their beliefs, for that is where our freedom comes from, and that is where our nation comes from.

If there is one idea we must not tolerate, it is intolerance. If there is one position we must not respect, it is disrespectfulness itself. It is, in short, not acceptable for people to push their own religious beliefs onto our civic institutions, and they must please look in the mirror and see if they do not see some image more from an Afghan desert staring back at them. We do not tolerate intolerance here. We do not respect disrespect on these shores, where the world is still having a dream of a better life for itself.

Now, you fight fear and intolerance with courage and love, but it is not always a matter of sticking flowers in the muzzles of their guns. Sometimes we must act with strength and force, as we do with laws against hate crimes, and so we should. Sometimes love means you lock somebody up, or take them outside for a little discussion. But it should never be a battle between two different belief systems, it is a struggle to preserve the civic square as a place where all people and beliefs cooperate in a better kind of world, and where bullies to the contrary are dealt with.

It is my personal opinion that bullies to the contrary are what this political season is all about. It is my view that a wildly unamerican intolerance has infected the far right wing of American politics and, as with any tumor in a body, it endangers the entire American system. The coming election is an opportunity to escort the bullies outside.

Just as a disease will attack the weakest part of the body, the moral bullies come in through the issues we are least comfortable defending. But if we do not defend even these areas, we will soon find the entire body infected.

So lend your support to those who do that defending. They are people like the ACLU, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and the organizations that protect the individual freedoms of women, gays, ethnic and racial minorities, and others on the first line of defense against moral bullies.

Do not be afraid to be intolerant of intolerance; show no respect for disrespect; be the bouncer at the door of the better world we are dreaming and working for, and do not be afraid to do what bouncers do. But whatever you do, do it in love and for love, not in hatred for hate, and do it in defense of our mutual respect, the beautiful light of the American soul.

What I have just said could have been said at any time in our national history. But it has greater meaning to say such things at this moment, for we are assembled here as people who are bracing for battle on the eve of great changes in our history. For many of us, the coming election means much. But the struggle for America’s soul and for our shared dream is just beginning, as it always is, and you all are the warriors in this struggle, which is the greatest struggle on the planet. So many lives are at stake, so much happiness is in the balance. If you like to think of yourself as the hero of a book or movie, I tell you that no book or movie is a dramatic or as meaningful as the story you now find yourself living. This life is perhaps a moral stage for the acting out of great struggles between the forces of light and the forces of fear. There are no sidelines, only those who fight for love and those who fight for fear. Only those who stand up for tolerance and respect and love, and those whose sad fate is to stand on the other side.

If you look around this gathering, you cannot see where we all are going. To demonstrations? To Congress? To courtrooms where we will fight for respect and justice? To prison camps? The young to great universities where they will help keep ideas advancing to serve our people? We go from this place and this moment onward to great lives in a great time. But let us always know who we are—remember who we are. We are Americans, and we are for freedom, and for respect, and for love.

Thank you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Taking a Break

Going to take a break for a while. Family, pregnancy of wife, personal health (need to lose weight and get into shape after hospital visit) and guiding second floor addition to a satisfactory conclusion preclude continued regular blogging. I recommend the following blogs:

Good Reading Regardless of Political Affiliation

Pundit Nation
Xoff Files
Wigderson Library and Pub
Brew City Brawler
Shark and Shepherd


Texas Hold 'em Blogger
Milwaukee ID10T


Spotted Horse 2


View From the Cheap Seats
Mixter's Mix


Patrick McIlheran

Annoying and Not Very Bright

Jessica McBride

I'll come back here and there and eventually full-time again. Ta ta.

Friday, September 15, 2006

F. James Sensenbrenner has called Milwaukee the murder capital of the United States. Nontwithstanding that he is statistically wrong, the reason for his comments is quite evident ... he is facing a tough re-election campaign and so he has decided to play on the fears of his white, conservative constituents. One way to get out the voteit is quite evident what is the reaosn for his comments

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Not Really

Saying that he hadn’t eaten in 20 minutes, a man who Milwaukee police identified as F. James Sensenbrenner was arrested and later released for taking five pizzas from a pizza delivery man.

According to the police report, the pizza man pulled up to a house in the 2400 block of Fiebrantz Avenue. He said this large man called him over as he got out of his delivery car, a Toyota, and then demanded he hand over the pizzas. When the pizza man demured, police say, Sensenbrenner pulled a toy gun from his suit pocket and waved it under the delivery person's nose. The man gave the pizzas to Sensenbrenner, who turned and tried to run off.

The pizza delivery man immediately contacted police. Even though it took the police approximately 20 minutes to get to the scene, Sensenbrenner was still in sight approximately 20 yards away, struggling to lumber down the sidewalk.

When police apprehended him, they found no pizzas. They had apparently been devoured, along with the containers.

A National Rifle Association lawyer arrived later and arranged for Sensenbrenner's release. There was insufficient evidence to hold him.

Asked for a comment, Sensenbrenner could only say, “Urp.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Auf Weidersehen Herr und Frau Bucher

What a pathetic performance from Paul Bucher. I saw his concession speech and came away with the feeling that he doesn't get it. The voters said no to his vile message of division. The author of the despicable "Catch and Release Kate" website had the audacity to say shame to those he stated had said mean things. He should look at himself and his wife, Jessica McBride. The two took shameless and mean-spirited self promotion to new heights.

Thankfully, the voters get it. It wasn't his opponent's money that did Bucher in, it was his poorly run campaign and it was the man ... a little man ... that did the trick.

Good riddance.


Imagine if George W. Bush had actually led this country, instead of dividing it. Imagine if George W. Bush had been all the things he claimed he was ... what a wonderful world it could have been.

Click here for an alternate post 9-11 vision by Jonathon Alter. It boggles the mind, the missed opportunities that we as a nation might have embraced if only George had shown some real leadership. He could have been our greatest president.

Of course, none of this happened and this is just fiction ... still ... .

No More Health Care for Card-Carrying Republicans

A Plan To Save The Country, By Garrison Keillor

It's the best part of summer, the long, lovely passage into fall. Aprocession of lazy, golden days that my sandy-haired, gap-toothed little girl has been painting, small abstract masterpieces in tempera and crayonand glitter, reminiscent of Franz Kline or Willem de Kooning (his earlyglitter period). She put a sign out front, "Art for Sale," and charged 25 cents per painting. Cheap at the price.

A teacher gave her this freedom to sit un-self-consciously and put paint onpaper. A gentle, 6-foot-8 guy named Matt who taught art at her preschool.Her swimming teachers gave her freedom from fear of water. So much that has made this summer a pleasure for her I trace to specific teachers, and soit's painful to hear about public education sinking all around us.

A high school math class of 42! Everybody knows you can't teach math to 42 kids at once. The classroom smells bad because the custodial staff has beencut back. The teacher must whip his pupils into shape to pass the federalNo Child Left Untested program. This is insanity, the legacy of Republicans and their tax-cutting and their hostility to secular institutions.

Last spring, I taught a college writing course and had the privilege ofhanging out with people in their early 20s, an inspirational experience in return for which I tried to harass them about spelling and grammar andstructure. My interest in being 21 again is less than my interest in havinga frontal lobotomy, but the wit and passion and good-heartedness of these kids, which they try to conceal under their exquisite cool, are the hope ofthis country. You have to advocate for young people, or else what are we here for?

I keep running into retirees in their mid-50s, free to collect seashells and write bad poetry and shoot video of the Grand Canyon, and goody forthem, but they're not the future. My college kids are graduating with a20-pound ball of debt chained to their ankles. That's not right, and you know it.

This country is squashing its young. We're sending them to die in a war wed on't believe in anymore. We're cheating them so we can offer tax reliefto the rich. And we're stealing from them so that old gaffers like me, who want to live forever, can go in for an MRI if we have a headache.

A society that pays for MRIs for headaches and can't pay teachers a decent wage has made a dreadful choice. But health care costs are ballooning, eating away at the economy. The boomers are getting to an age where theirknees need replacing and their hearts need a quadruple bypass -- which theyfeel entitled to -- but our children aren't entitled to a damn thing. Any goombah with a Ph.D. in education can strip away French and German, music and art, dumb down the social sciences, offer Britney Spears instead ofShakespeare, and there is nothing the kid can do except hang out in the library, which is being cut back too.

This week, we mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the Current Occupant's line, "You're doing a heckuva job," which already is in common usage, a joke, a euphemism for utter ineptitude. It's sure to wind up in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, a summation of his occupancy.

Annual interest on the national debt now exceeds all government welfareprograms combined. We'll be in Iraq for years to come. Hard choices need to be made, and given the situation we're in, I think we must bite the bulletand say no more health care for card-carrying Republicans. It just doesn'tmake sense to invest in longevity for people who don't believe in the future. Let them try faith-based medicine, let them pray for their arteriesto be reamed and their hips to be restored, and leave science to the rest of us.

Cutting out health care to one-third of the population -- the folks with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers, who still believe the man is doing a heckuvajob -- will save enough money to pay off the national debt, not a badlegacy for Republicans. As Scrooge said, let them die and reduce the surplus population. In return, we can offer them a reduction in the estatetax. All in favor, blow your nose.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Couple of Links to Good Reading

Two amazing posts by Xoff and folkbum (who does ramble and rant, but he can be forgiven considering the topic) about the deceit of Patrick McIlheran. Shame on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for continuing to provide space for this bald-faced liar.

Meanwhile, kudos to Rick Esenberg for a well written piece about 9-11 and five years later. One thing: Rick does go on about radical Islam and its rage somewhat. This is somewhat simplistic. I believe and history supports: Western civilization must take a huge portion of the blame for Islamic rage. Our deceit was instrumental in arousing Arab anger to a fever pitch.

And let us please not call all of the peoples of the Middle East radical Islamics. Just as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the rest of their ilk do not represent true Christianity in America, nor does al-Qaeda and the other radical groups represent true Islam.

The Arrogance of the Right

The arrogance of some conservatives is breath-taking. Regarding the detention of innocent people (Arabs in this case), one conservative blogger recently said it’s a risk he’s willing to take. Some risk, sitting in his nice, warm home while some poor shlup languishes in a detention camp, thousands of miles away from home. He is willing to take this risk, he adds, because:

"... we are not killing any of these folks. We’re just making them uncomfortable for a while. I have some faith in the human decency of the American character that if we do sweep up an innocent, that they will be released as soon as we are comfortable that they are innocent."

Ah, the human decency of the American character. So, according to this blogger it’s perfectly legitimate for our armed forces to go merrily marching here and there sweeping up innocents as long as we let them go eventually, after, of course, ascertaining they truly are innocent. How does our blogger propose innocence is determined? He doesn't say. Perhaps a little torture of the innocent to make sure … you know … the innocence of the innocent.

How far does this slippery-slope risk-taking go ... American minorities, liberals ... them?

I heard this from another conservative some years ago while debating the death penalty:

“I’m sure there have been a few (my emphasis added) people executed who should not have been … who were actually innocent of the crime they were accused of committing. But I’m okay with that as long as the most serious, dangerous offenders are put away.”

My god, I thought. What an incredible display of the shallowness and emptiness of conservative thought. To actually think it's perfectly acceptable for a few innocent people to lose their lives so others benefit, to provide satisfaction for conservative blood lust.

This sort of thought is prevalent in the conservative movement today. Mark Green provides a fine example with his disinterest of the rights of women. He cares not a whit about a woman raped, because the result of that violent ripping away of a woman's rights may become a child. It is not that child's fault, he says. Like our conservative blogger, Green is ready to take that risk, though he is safe from actually having to suffer the consequences.

This base neglect of the most basic of human rights … life … is also evident these days in the spoken views of conservatives. Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, etc. are some of the more egregious examples of the emptiness of conservative rhetoric. Selling books, making money, disenfranchising and imprisoning innocent people ... anyone who disagrees ... has become the new patriotism for conservatives.

This coming election is an important one. I believe it will determine whether the American ideal still has a real chance. It will determine whether we, as a people, can survive this onslaught on our freedoms, reclaim our heritage and again become that shining light that the innocents of the world look to for hope. We cannot let conservative extremism rule us. We cannot become disinterested in the welfare of others, even while we battle those who would seek our destruction.

It is the height of arrogance to assume that we will be met with open arms by forcing our standards, our culture, our idea of democracy on other lands. When we are asked for help, we must be sure not to try to turn other peoples into clones of ourselves, to turn their lands into petri dishes for corporate greed. We must remember the reason why we offer to export democracy. We do this for purely altruistic reasons. We do this because it is the American ideal. We export democracy because freedom is something that should be shared.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Blogging Takes a Back Seat

Blogging took a back seat to health, family and my 8th grade science teacher the other day. And it may do so for a while into the future, which I’m sure will make some very happy on the right side of the cheddarsphere. I only mention the incident to provide some thoughts about mortality and making the most of the time we have here.

About 1:30 am Wednesday morning I woke up with what I thought at first was a sore throat. I felt pressure on the sides of my neck, precisely where those big arteries are (hey, I’m not a doctor) and my felt pressure in my head as well. In general, I felt uncomfortable.

Kelly woke up and asked if I was all right. I checked my pulse (as one gets older, checking the pulse becomes something regularly done). It did not feel regular, not the usual lub dub, lub dub. Instead, it felt choppy and fast.

Not knowing what was going on and not willing to raise an alarm yet, I went to the bathroom and retrieved the portable blood pressure unit a neighbor had loaned us a couple weeks earlier. I finally figured how to make it work and it returned a blood pressure reading of 128 over 115, with a heart rate of 57. The heart rate did not seem right, though mine is normally that low. And, I thought, the blood pressure reading had to be incorrect because I have never had blood pressure issues.

I couldn’t get the unit to work properly after that, so I went back to bed and tried to fall to sleep again. I couldn't, though, because now I could feel my heart pounding in my chest … I rolled over to the other side … this didn’t help.

At this point I asked Kelly to check my heart rate for me. She couldn’t find a pulse. This would have been cause for some fun jokes about being dead, but I wasn’t feeling funny. I was becoming worried. I checked it again and still found it to be jumpy and fast. I went out to the living room and tried to pull the recliner out from the corner. My intent was to sit up for a while and perhaps I’d fall asleep. The effort of pulling the recliner out almost made me swoon. At that moment I decided that perhaps I should go to the hospital.

I went back to the bedroom and informed Kelly of my intentions. We debated calling 911, but I thought I was feeling okay to drive and I didn’t want to alarm the kids, so I drove over to Froedtert, about 5 – 10 miles away. I almost turned back on the way because I thought I was feeling better. However, I continued on to the ER and went inside.

A nurse came over and asked what the problem was. I said I was sure it was nothing, but my heart felt strange. She checked my pulse and immediately had me sit down. She said my heart rate was very fast and called for someone to bring a wheelchair.

Next thing I know, I’m in an emergency room, with two doctors and three or four nurses, two IVs puncturing my skin and with electrodes connecting me to a heart and blood pressure monitor.

I’m somewhat in a daze, not from feeling ill, but from how swift I was moved from ER entryway to being totally plugged in. One of the doctors is talking to me. The initial tests are confusing and so they’ve decided to try a drug that would essentially slow my heart almost to the point of stopping. This does not sound like fun. I am told the procedure will be unpleasant, but it is safe. I’m told this a number of times. By now the population in the small room has swelled to about fifteen. Why do I feel they are witnesses to something unpleasant?

The nurse on my left has a plunger that he will push in to insert the drug. The nurse on the right has a similar instrument filled with a saline solution that is supposed to usher the drug through the heart quickly. I’m about to find out why.

“On three,” the nurse on the right says. He counts and injects the drug. She counts and injects the saline solution. I ready myself by watching the faces of the two doctors who are intently avoiding my hopeful gaze and are instead watching the heart and blood pressure monitor.

One of the doctors says, “Hmm. It didn’t work.”


Then, a moment later, “Oh, there it goes.”

He’s referring to my heart which has finally been introduced to the drug. All of a sudden, both arms become to feel very, very heavy. Then my legs, and finally my chest. Later, I was asked to describe the feeling. The only word I could think of was “BLACK.” I asked later if this is what it felt to have a heart attack. I was told it was worse. I wonder how that person knew.

Anyway, this procedure did not work. My heart continued beating erratically away at 180+ per minute. For the next few hours I was introduced to a few other drugs. None made quite the impression of the first, though. One finally worked about 7:30 am while I had dosed off.

My wife arrived about 9:00 am after dropping the kids off to school. In response to their questions of where daddy was, she simply said I had gone to the hospital because I wasn’t feeling well. They ingested this with their cereal and went off to school none the worse and not worrying.

I was very glad to see Kelly. We had a few teary moments. Later she confessed to being a bit mad at me. With a baby on the way and two youngsters, she would have been left in an unenviable position if I had … you know … left the scene. I didn’t mention that I would not have been very happy either.

Numerous EKG tests, an ultrasound of my heart and a stress test determined that my heart was in fact very strong. The issue had to do with a disruption of the normal functioning of the electrical system of the heart.

Normally the atria and ventricles work well together. Electrical impulses are sent from the sinoatrial node to the atrioventrical node … these impulses induce the valves to contract and pump in unison.

In atrial fibrillation and flutter, which I was experiencing, the atria are stimulated to contract very quickly and differently from normal activity. This results in an uncoordinated contraction of the atria. The condition can be caused by impulses which are transmitted to the ventricles in an irregular fashion or by some impulses failing to be transmitted. This makes the ventricles beat irregularly, which leads to an irregular (and usually fast) pulse.

Fun stuff.

I was finally okayed to depart about 7:00 pm. Before I left I noticed that a newcomer had been added to the cardiac intensive care unit. He had suffered a heart attack. I looked at the name posted next to the room and wondered if it was just a coincidence. I got a nurse to talk to the man’s wife and discovered that indeed he was my 8th grade science teacher from 37 years ago (for the sake of family privacy, I will not mention his name).

Before I left I asked if I could speak to him. He was conscious, but obviously dazed and in some pain. I told him who I was and that he surely did not remember me, since 37 years had passed. I remembered him, though, I said, and told him that he had been a good teacher and he had made a difference to me. He smiled.

It was a good ending to a day that had begun with much uncertainty and fear.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Essential McIlheran

New York Times book reviewer, Orville Prescott, in “ A Literary Personality,” said of Faulkner’s style:

The famous Faulkner style was more than many could put up with. Its marathon sentences, its peculiar words used peculiarly, its turgid incoherence and its thick viscosity repelled.

He could just as easily been describing the dense, gooey discourse of a Patrick McIlheran column.

We at the Other Side appreciate the difficulty inherent in perusing the screwed up word play of a McIlheran piece. So, the authors of Mindless Automaton (a simplification of that which is named McBride), in the spirit of providing healing to those who have been caught in the sticky, oily web of McIlheran profundity offer the Essential McIlheran.

-- Working for Change

Sunday, September 3, 2006

McNamara-McGraw Comments Wrong

At the risk of being called a groupie of Xoff, which is where I first happened to see this, let me say: Larraine McNamara-McGraw’s (a Democratic candidate for Milwaukee Count district attorney) speculation that police might have been involved in the murder of 13-year old Candace Moss is absolutely, unequivocally wrong!

Milwaukee police may have been involved in many disturbing incidents over the past two years, but her comments are extreme pandering for which there is no excuse. I for one cannot vote for someone who misuses the public pulpit in this manner. I will not vote for her because if this is how she acts on the campaign trail, I must question how she would act if given prosecutorial powers.