Monday, January 28, 2008

May We Please Just Enjoy The Moment Together?


No, seriously. I couldn't even get past the headline.
Don't you want to just cry from the joy of it?
The end is nigh.
~C~

Letter to the Former President

Dear Bill:

We've always been able to talk, haven't we? I mean, we've always been more or less on the same page about stuff, right? You know I got nuthin' but luv for ya, don't you?

So, please, since we've been so close, and since we've always been so simpatico, I'm going to take the liberty of making a little request. For the love of God and all that's holy, please just do what any political spouse whose partner is running for President is expected to do -- sit down, cross your ankles, and keep your trap shut.

Before I have to start hating you.

Thanks.

~C~

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pardon My Accidental Blood Type

This was a featured story in Yahoo! News this morning, and I was so intrigued I just wanted to share it.

A nine-year-old girl dying of liver failure received a liver transplant, and, after some minor complications, including a post-transplant infection, seemed to recover fully. It turns out that she recovered more fully than any of her doctors had anticipated. Seems some of her donor's stem cells found their way into her bone marrow and began replicating. Now the girl has switched blood groups and adopted her donor's immune system. This has reduced the odds of her body rejecting the new liver considerably. The now-healthy 15-year-old is seen by her doctors only occasionally on an outpatient basis. This, for a girl who spent the better part of her childhood in hospitals.

The reason this is so fascinating to me is that it is the best possible transplant outcome that anybody, doctor or patient, could hope for. Back in the days when organ transplantation was a pie-in-the-sky, theoretical pipe dream, this is what doctors imagined, before they ever considered the hazards of angry immune systems that would treat the new organ as an invading enemy. Transplant pioneers dreamt of a host body that not only fully accepts the new organ, but adapts to it and allows itself to become one with it to the point where the organ and body become something entirely new and apart from both the original donor or the recipient.


This could be the precipice of something really amazing and spectacular in science of organ transplantation. If researchers can find a way to replicate this girl's post-transplant scenario in a more controlled manner (like, minus the post-surgical infection, for instance), it could open a whole new door to people -- especially kid-type people -- who must endure the ordeal of organ transplantation to live. Instead of being forever trapped on powerful immunosuppressant drugs (some of which have some nasty side effects*), cultivating this post-surgical scenario could lead to patients having near-normal lives, free of the ill effects of their original disease and the complications following transplant surgery. People, this could be HUGE!

And it happened completely by accident.

Because, for all of our self-congratulatory brilliance and creativity, for all of our cleverness and ingenuity, every now and then, nature comes along and likes to teach us a thing or two about all the things we have left to learn, and everything we don't know yet, and that maybe we're not as smart as we think we are. Because this is the Planet Earth, and right now, it's just a weird and wonderful time to be alive.


~C~

* Surgicalencyclopedia.com lists the following as potential side effects of immunosuppressant drugs:

"Increased risk of infection is a common side effect of all immunosuppressant drugs. The immune system protects the body from infections; when the immune system is suppressed, infections are more likely. Taking such antibiotics as co-trimoxazole prevents some of these infections. Immunosuppressant drugs are also associated with a slightly increased risk of cancer because the immune system plays a role in protecting the body against some forms of cancer. For example, the long-term use of immunosuppressant drugs carries an increased risk of developing skin cancer as a result of the combination of the drugs and exposure to sunlight.

Other side effects of immunosuppressant drugs are minor and usually go away as the body adjusts to the medicine. These include loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, increased hair growth, and trembling or shaking of the hands. Medical attention is not necessary unless these side effects continue or cause problems."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Here, In a Nutshell, Is Why I Will Not Be Voting for Hillary Clinton

On MEET THE PRESS this morning, and because the "Hindsight" talk is being bandied about left, right and center, she was asked about the 2002 vote on House Joint Resolution 114. You remember that one, the one that sent us into war. Yet again... YET AGAIN... she goes on and on about the Congress, and what we all thought at the time, and what we knew at the time, and "everyone thought..." and everyone was doing it...," and "9/11...." We had to get tough, we had to do something, we were sure he had weapons. Well, all of us were sure... except for 153 members of the House and Senate who voted "no." Guess they were just stupid but lucky.

Then she proceeds to say that, gee, we figured if we voted "yea" on a resolution to the President -- that President -- the power to start a war, then Saddam Hussein would just back right down and allow and allow weapons inspectors into Iraq.

Wait. Hold up a minute. There were weapons inspectors in Iraq at about that time. But, you know what, let's come back to that later.

During the interview, Clinton whines that MEET THE PRESS didn't show her entire speech supporting a "yea" vote on HJR 114 -- as if, by doing so, we missed the part where she explains it all to us. She doesn't, but feel free to read the entire speech for yourself, so you can see what she actually did say, because I think that's important.

One of the things she says is this:

"It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security. Now, this much is undisputed."
However, this was simply not the truth. It was being disputed. Clinton makes the point in the first paragraph of her speech (in order, clearly to cover her ass, in case it should all go horribly wrong) that she imagines a world where the President will only use force if diplomatic means fail. Three points about that. Point No. 1, the President had proven in just the first few months since his inauguration that his would never be a diplomatic Presidency. This became especially obvious with all of his "hawk-speak" toward Iraq in the months following September 11th. Point No. 2, the international community -- the people I'm presuming we were counting on to assist us in the diplomatic negotiations with Iraq that she'd envisioned -- was being resoundingly ignored by the entire United States government, including the White House and the Senate. The Germans, who had contributed to the UN inspections team that had completed inspections shortly before the vote on HJR 114, were saying they were pretty sure, based on what they'd seen, that there were no WMD. How do you imagine that there'll be a diplomatic resolution if your government has given you every indication that it has no intention of engaging in any meaningful diplomacy thus far? The single greatest predictor of future performance is... what?

Clinton wants us to believe that there were no inspectors in Iraq. But the last inspection was completed shortly before the vote on HJR 114, and the leading UN weapons specialist, Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, was still vetting a 12,500 page report about what that inspection had found. Once he finished vetting the report, shortly after the vote, and immediately before Bush marched troops into Iraq, his results were this: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor did he have the capability or materials with which to make any.

Clinton would like to continue to remind you about false reports, now clearly generated by the White House, that Hussein had attempted to acquire yellow cake uranium from Niger. But several knowledgeable sources, from Joe Wilson, who'd been sent on a "fact-finding" mission to Niger by the White House, to ElBaradei, who was and is the world's leading expert on all things nuclear* were quite vocal almost immediately after the Niger rumor was first spoken that it was a lie based on falsified documents. The Brit who is suspected of creating the document itself put a bullet in his own brain almost immediately after the Niger story was made public.

She also refers to Saddam Hussein's connection to Al Qaeda, which was a lie wholly cut from White House whole cloth for the benefit of the press. There was not only NEVER a connection between Hussein and Osama bin Laden, but every expert on the Middle East said the very idea was laughable to anyone who knew either of the megalomaniacal leaders. So either she was knowingly imparting wrong information, or she simply decided that her mind was made up and she was not to be confused by facts. Either way, I think the last seven years has proven that a President with that attitude can be devastating.

Point No. 3, last, but not least is, that if Senator Clinton is so hellbent on reminding us of the climate that surrounded the passage of HJR 114, then let's really get down to it. It was eighteen months after 9/11. We were a bit battered and bruised, and some of us, aroused apparently from some naive, idiotic notion that this country was untouchable to terrorists (clearly, people who'd never left the soft confines of their American borders), were downright NUTS. More importantly, the mention then of anything that might go against the White House, that might come across in the least as a voice of disagreement or deviation from the "party line" was being viewed as near-treason. Only a handful of elected officials appeared to be strong enough to weather the tumult that resulted from doing so, and Hillary Rodham Clinton was not one of them. Finally, President Bush's approval rating at that time was hovering around insanely around 75%, and it is absolutely my direct recollection that Senators and Congresspeople couldn't wait to line up behind him and hitch their little red wagons to his seemingly rising star.

Now, she's caught up in it. She'd like us all to just forget about that whole nasty business, please, and take her word for it that she meant no harm. But her words, spoken from the Senate floor, her speech made to sway her fellow Senators, which she claims she spoke on behalf of 19 million New Yorkers who stood solidly behind her, was made in favor of invading Iraq. Her words only mention diplomacy in the sheerest, meerest passing. Her words -- her very own words -- spoken at the time, indicate that she thought this war would be just fine and dandy, thank you very much. And she can say anything she wants about Barack Obama might or might not have done.

The fact is, we'll never know how Obama would have voted on HJR 114. I know what I'd like to think. But I don't know, and neither does Obama, and neither does Hillary Clinton. But what we DO know is how Hillary Clinton would have voted -- did vote -- when given the opportunity to do something hard, something that might be unpopular, something that might have rewritten history and saved the lives of nearly 4,000 dead American soldiers. How will look herself in the eye over those soldiers? I have no idea, nor do I care. I'm not her Jiminy Cricket. Here's the bottom line. She was a Democratic senator, and she was supposed to be listening to us, standing up for us, speaking for us. And she didn't.

I remember, Senator. All too well. I will never forget. Or forgive.

~C~

*But don't take my word for it -- he was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his efforts in preventing the use of nuclear energy for military proliferation.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stop It, George... You're Killin' Me!!!

In order to end Isreals occupation of Palestinian land, George Bush... that's George W. Bush... our current President... has offered what teh White House is referring to as a "peacemaking checklist." Oh, don't fall on the floor laughing just yet, my lovelies.... wait til you get a load of what he had to say at the press conference today.

He said that now was the time for the Israelis and Palestinians to "make difficult choices," and that lasting peace in the Middle East would require "painful concessions" on both sides. Bush even gives his opinion of the scenario that will need to take place before talks can even begin (sit down now, please, we can't have you all falling down and hitting your heads on something sharp, can we?):
"There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent."

I'm not making this up. Read the article.

The part that kills me is, why are the Israelis and Palestinians even letting him in their country to talk about it. Why don't they just say, "Go away, MoFo, til you can figure out how to run your own country"? I can't figure it, unless they're all still scopin' for the big weapons deal, which they're not getting because, haven't they heard we're in a war at the moment?

We really just need to take the country away from this dull, thoughtless, spoiled little boy. God, will January 21, 2009 EVER get here?

~C~

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Sense of Irony... Who Knew?

It appears I've underestimated President Bush's capacity for higher level thought processes, particularly with regard to irony.

Today, he concocted a perfect example of the form by declaring that Iran was a threat to world peace.

World peace? Which world would that be then? That the peace is in? Cuz, uh, that's the world I'd like to be in, thanks much.

Bush... what a jokester, huh? That guy just slays me....

~C~

They'll Get Right On That, I'm Sure

Oh, sure, it's all fun and games, until somebody gets a magistrate to issue an order....

This time the White House has gone too far, I tell you. They've kicked sand in the face of the wrong 90 pound weakling. Now, by golly, somebody's gonna have to pony up and pay the piper, because this time, the White House has pissed off...

The National Security Archive.

Yep, that's right. After defying orders to turn over documents pertaining to the political firings of federal judges to the United States Congress, after flying in the face of direct orders of a federal court to preserve and hand over thousands of hours of CIA interrogation tapes (and, instead, destroying those tapes), the White House has finally gone and done tangled with the big, bad... librarians.

After all, if anybody should know how dangerous a wounded, cornered librarian is, it should be George W. Bush. Yessirree, Bob, I tell ya. Those librarians don't take kindly to people deleting their archivable materials, especially prior to the microfiche/Dewey decimal assignment process. They're quiet, sure (and they want YOU to be quiet as well), but once riled, those horn-rimmed be-spectacled, red-lipsticked guardians of the public record are forces to be reckoned with.

And these folks are SECURITY librarians, so you know how militant they probably are. If you're two weeks late returning your checked out archives, I'm pretty sure there's a waterboarding in your future.

So, my advice to the White House would be as follows:

Dudes... do not fuck with security librarians. Turn over the e-mails, keep your hands in sight at all times, make no sudden movements, and back away slowly. I say that for your own good.

Hell hath no fury....

~C~

Monday, January 07, 2008

SHHHH... DON'T TELL MISSISSIPPI, BUT....

At the moment... it would seem that... a black man might actually have a legitimate shot at being leader of the free world.

Part of me is afraid to even go there, lest I be the one to jinx it. I mean, there's a long way to go yet, and I suppose that anything could happen between now and then. But this is what happened with Bill Clinton in '92. No one thought he had a chance until he started winning the smaller states and building momentum, and then....
I realize that if Obama were elected, it wouldn't end all the racial problems in the world. If Hillary Clinton were elected, it wouldn't solve all the problems in the world with regard to income inequities and sexism, either. But that's not the point. The point is that, somehow, whne we weren't looking, at a certain place in the past few years of history, minorities and women have started having a voice in the conversation (to steal one of Senator Clinton's campaign slogans).
I also wonder how many of the black folk who thought Obama wasn't "black enough" will start to think, in the next few weeks, after the next couple of primaries, that he's sufficiently black to suit their catholic tastes.
I will say it here and now. Ever since the day back in the summer that I became sure that I couldn't have Al Gore as my next president, I was rooting for Obama. But I never believed that he could actually win. I had hope, but no faith.
Hope is still in the lead, but Faith is gaining by every turn.
~C~

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oh, I Get It! They're Hiring Thirteen-Year-Olds to Cover the Campaign!

I understand now what's wrong with modern journalism. Why, I have so often asked myself, don't we have any Woodard-and-Bernsteins anymore? Where are the hard-hitting questions? The relevant, in-depth interviews? The exposès designed to start healthy political dialogues and inspire deep, philosophical debate? Now, I have my answer.

As originally posted in Lois Romano's column online at washingtonpost.com, and later picked up by a number of blogs and other online outlets, the chilly reception that Hillary Clinton received when she stopped by the press bus to deliver coffee and bagels was like something out of a John Hughes movie. The members of the press, when confronted by one of the two (maybe three, we'll see) candidates with the most chance of becoming the Democratic Presidential nominee, didn't ask a single question, didn't attempt a single communcation, but simply waited for her to leave, making clear their disdain for the Senator. After she left, someone commented that the situation was so awkward, it was like "running into an ex-girlfriend."

Excuse me?

Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com tells the story, and makes an interesting point that we can blame a lot of things for the slow, sordid demise of the 21st century American press, but we mustn't for a moment forget that these pandering, simpering, infantile idiots are mere children at heart -- the ones everyone hated in high school, no doubt -- still looking to be accepted and stroked by their current "Big Men On Campus."

Hillary Clinton is not a lot of things. She is not my first choice for President. She is not a particularly warm and fuzzy, cookie-baking kind of Mom-type-person. She is not (in my humble opinion) publicly very empathetic or compassionate*. All of this is moot. Because she is also NOT the ex-girlfriend to any member of the press on that bus. She is neither their wife, nor their mother, nor their prospective prom date.

What she is is a candidate for the highest office in the land, and the fact that she hasn't warmed anybody's cockles is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever. Digby's blog reported the incident and she speculated that every one of the reporters should be fired for failing to his/her job, which is ask the tough questions when you get a chance. Which they didn't, the lazy, blithering morons.

Is this what journalism schools are pumping out these days? Slow-witted, dull little sophomores who lack the gumption to do their jobs if it doesn't get them a date with the prettiest girl in school? Christ ahmighty, people. Nobody's asking you to French kiss her! Just do your fucking jobs!!!!

Amateurs! CHILDREN!!! IDIOTS!!!

~C~

* I believe it bears noting that, as the first viable female for President, there may be many an emotional issue that Hillary Clinton chooses to shy away from, or cover up by being "mega-manly." As much as I wish this weren't the case, I do understand why someone in her position might feel that such a move away from anything "touchy-feely" or "intuitive" might be the strategically best move to make. That being said, she's still not getting my primary vote.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Baby Steps: The Launching of an Investigation

In September of 1972, a grand jury convicted five men -- Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martinez and Frank Sturgis -- of attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications. The charges stemmed from their efforts to break into the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C. Along with the actual participants of the break-in, two more indictments were handed down -- for E. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy -- for conspiracy.

For months, despite pressure from the media and the DNC to come clean about the extent of the conspiracy, the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and the White House hemmed and hawed, dragged their feet, spoke of conducting "internal investigations," promised results and, instead, attempted to bury all connection between the indicted conspirators/perpetrators and the Committee to Re-elect the President (aptly referred to as "CREEP"). The judge who sentenced the burglars -- John Sirica -- suspected that there was more to this break-in than five ridiculous men with "black ops" aspirations. It was Sirica's determination to get to the truth that cracked the case wide open. He pressured the burglars to come clean about the higher connections and influences that were in play at the time of the burglar. One of them -- James McCord -- finally relented and wrote a letter to Sirica that ended the charade and began the official investigation into the Watergate break-in.

Today, the Justice Department, bowing to pressure from Congress and to negative media exposure, has agreed to commence with a criminal investigation into the destruction of two taped interrogations of Al-Qaeda suspects by the CIA. The CIA had been ordered to preserve all such evidence as part of the House Intelligence Committee's investigations into torture techniques being used by the CIA to extract information from uncharged "enemy combatants" being held by the US and its allies. Allegedly, the tapes show the suspects being "waterboarded" and other interrogation techniques that might be considered torture by anyone other than George Bush.

Unwillingly, under duress, begrudgingly, the United States Attorney General, Mukasey, has appointed counsel to handle the investigation, John Durham (previously known for his efforts in establishing gang task forces in New England). Will he do what needs to be done? Who knows? But little by little, without any discernible contribution by a lackluster puppet media, Americans are starting to make the government respond.

How successfully they follow through is another matter. But I have hope. It only took one judge with a sneaking suspicion to crack Watergate. Maybe....

~C~

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Starting the New Year Off Right... Er... I mean, Left.

This is it. It is finally 2008. After eighteen months or so of shameless campaigning by the contenders in both parties, this is the year the primaries and the elections will actually take place. Now is the time to start asking the tough questions. And I'm not talking about who is going to get custody of Britney Spears' children, though I have heard that's been on everyone's mind a lot lately.

I'm talking about things like the war in Iraq ("why, is that ol' thing still goin' on?"). And the environment ("I thought Al Gore was handling that.") And the economy ("Well, it feels like a recession, but if it were a recession, wouldn't someone have mentioned it?"). Note from author: As someone trying to sell a house in California, I can tell you, we're in a recession, people, whether BillyBobJoeDon Bush bothers to mention it to you or not.

Most important -- at least to me, anyway -- is that, since the beginning of the holiday, we've lost at least 30 brave souls in the Iraqi War. There are at least thirty families this year who not only had this Christmas and New Year ruined, but doubtless every forthcoming holiday season sullied as well. Someone has to own that. Someone has to say they're sorry. And I guarantee you, neither the President, nor the Vice President, nor either of their wives are prepared to do that. Hillary Clinton is still busy making excuses for her "yes" vote on HJR 114. At least John Edwards has said, in a nutshell, "Fucked up. So sorry. Please forgive." I accept his apology*.

Now, it's the New Year, and a time to look forward, and I'm ready to do just that, by golly. I need someone to get into the White House and end this freakin' disaster of a war, ASAP. Yeah, I saw Charlie Wilson's War, too. And I'm not proposing we totally end our support of the burgeoning new democracy (and I use that word with something less than a straight face) in that country. I say, let's do what Charlie Wilson wanted to do in Afghanistan. Let's get the troups gone, then build some schools and some hospitals. Let's provide farming implements and equipment to repair their devastated infrastructure. Let's show them -- as we did in Dusseldorf and Tokyo -- that we not only have the power to bomb them back to the Stone Age, but to build them back into the 21st century, complete with rights for women, religious and cultural freedom and fiscal self-determination and solvency.

First, though, let's got our children out of there and bring them home. Let's not have any other American spouses, children and parents receiving knocks on the door. Let's vote for the people who have promised that they will end this crazy treadmill of a thing that's going nowhere and getting us nothing.

It's 2008. It's time. Ready. Set. Go.

~C~

*I confess this is as much due to my persistently distrubing fantasies involving John Edwards, a jar of hot fudge and a can of Redi-Whip as it is to any abiding compassionate forgiveness on my part, but, really, it's the New Year, people. Why quibble?