Miz Shoes

Not Quite a Meme

Brought to you by the Talent Show


1. Go into your archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
From January 13, 2003 we have:

"Granted, it's been a few years since my high school Americanism vs Communism class, but I seem to recall that elected officials are supposed to govern in accordance with the wishes of those being governed."


That wouldn't be so funny if it weren't so tragically out of date and hopelessly naive. I still hate the Bush family. All of them. The Idiot, the idiot's brother (my governor... who's really packing on the poundage lately), the idiot's brother's children: the coke whore and the drunken, abusive frat boy, the Marie Antoinette clone of their mother, and the desicated old husk of their father. I don't like Marvin, or the fuck puppet twins of the Idiot In Chief. I don't like their wives, and if I could figure out their mistresses, I wouldn't care much for them, either.
Well, sweetiedarlings, now we know where Dumbya (the M is silent) gets his gift of compassion and silver-tongued glibness: his mama.

And we quote:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," she said during a radio interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace.""And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."
Yas, yas. When you're "underpriviledged anyway" sleeping on a cot in the Astrodome with ten thousand of your nearest and dearest, is truly a step up.

As for why it's "scary" that these people want to stay in Texas? Well, your guess is a good as mine, but here's my guess: They are Black and they vote Democratic. And they're poor.

My boss sent this next item to me (another reason why I love my new job, besides the coffee/espresso machine in the break room and the view from the 18th floor):

Broadcast Editorial
The “City” of Louisiana
Keith Olbermann
MSNBC’s Countdown
September 5, 2005
8:58 p.m. ET

SECAUCUS — Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.

Here's a wonderful essay, by Adam Nossiter, reprinted with attribution, but not permission:


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - You could live in a kind of dream-state in New Orleans, lulled into ignoring the crumbling houses you drove past, and their destitute inhabitants. In a city so beautifully green, so full of beguiling architecture, so appealingly laid-back, how easy it was.

I've been there for nearly 15 years now, all the while participating in one of the city's great unspoken rituals: locking out the world of the other New Orleanians, those who were poor and more often than not black.

From your car, they wore a kind of mask, engaging you sometimes with a gaze that might contain anger, if you slowed down. You'd shudder at it a little bit, feel residual guilt but above all, carry on with the dream. You'd turn your head away, and look forward to the next eccentrically-ornamented shotgun house or spreading live oak.

Even before the storm, you were dimly aware that to do otherwise - to awaken from the old New Orleans dream - would be to go half-mad.

Last week, all that changed.

The reality of what New Orleans actually is, was thrown up in our faces: We couldn't turn away now, we couldn't deny that those fellow residents we'd never really known or understood had become refugees, milling and dazed or angry.

Before Katrina, you understood, intellectually, that thousands of your fellow citizens were living precariously - you could cite the grim statistics, wonder about the solutions, hope that something, someday, might happen to change the numbers.

Those of us who lived there and wrote about New Orleans engaged in this exercise. Suddenly, stunningly last week, the arid abstractions became tangible for me. No "someday, something" thoughts or hopes intruded on the here-and-now suffering I witnessed.

How often does such a transformation occur?

Twice in the last decade and a half I've fled other, ostensibly more desirable places, to return to New Orleans. I would tell people that the city had its hooks in me, without going into the details of this devil's bargain.

Turn your head and look what you get in return: a rare American city whose neighborhoods are still scaled to the humane dimensions of the 19th century, banana and palm trees year-round, a place where the vine growing out of the wall, and the crack in the ceiling, might be considered ornamental rather than blemishing, the gentility of the inhabitants.

This extends even to the crooks: Walking up Poydras Street three days after the storm, I encountered a man busily hot-wiring a car amid the debris. He shouted an apology: "Sorry to be behavin' like this, man, but I got to get out of this state."

You also get a nourishing cultural tradition, entirely native to the city, that is often a defining element in the European urban fabric. True, you can walk into some of the fanciest houses Uptown and barely find a single book. But you also know that for 200 years now, men and women in New Orleans have turned their attentions away from commerce, and towards the goal of capturing life in this place, and life in general, in literature and music.

It was partly this tradition that drew me to settle in New Orleans. It seemed to me an ideal place to write a book, so quiet in the leafy neighborhoods during the day, so mysterious and promising at night. And so it proved to be.

Having spent my childhood in Europe, it was evident to me also that the singular fact of the city's birth under the corrupted Latin monarchies continued to reverberate, beneficially, into the present.

The French have a phrase for it: "douceur de vivre," pleasure in living. What other American city is oriented towards this kind of pleasure, where just a simple walk around the block can be restorative (if it doesn't turn out to be lethal)?

For a writer with limited means this is vital. I recall returning on weekends, during an exile in Manhattan a decade ago - coming back to the thick green warmth of New Orleans - and feeling as though I had been injected with the pleasantest tranquilizers.

Sometimes at night, under the dormer window of my house, built 170 years ago by an illustrious free black man who contributed sons to the Union war effort, I could hear gunshots. Best not to dwell on that, though. Don't fall into the paranoia and barely concealed racism of other whites in Uptown.
Over the years, riding the streetcar downtown took on a kind of fetishistic significance for me. I would have at least that minimal contact with my fellow citizens, even though some whites scorned this mode of transportation.

I lived in the Garden District but didn't traffic much with it. I could be detached, I thought. The neighborhood's pleasures could be enjoyed without acceding to the noxious attitudes of many of its denizens.

From that perspective, it was almost amusing, in a sour way, to hear the chatter at the downtown hotel where I rode out the storm and its aftermath along with a colleague, various tourists, and some fancy Uptowners. As the waters rose and the city seemed to be descending into anarchy, their fantasies of insurrection echoed those found in the literature on antebellum New Orleans.

In the plush dining room, dimly-lit by an emergency generator, there was loud, agitated talk of armed gangs marauding in Uptown, looting and pillaging in the elegant abandoned homes. And there was talk of the summary way this problem should be disposed of. I recalled the 1803 memoir of a French traveler in Louisiana, Charles-Cesar Robin, who was struck by the Creoles' obsession with security, with keeping the slaves in check. After the 1811 slave rebellion the heads of the leaders were placed on poles along the River Road.

The Uptowners have lost their world, along with everybody else, though it will be far easier for them to recoup. It was strange, making my way gingerly through the fallen trees to my own home, to find it almost unchanged, the children's toys exactly where they had left them, though you knew that that life had disappeared - whether forever, one can't say.

But listening to Uptowners' talk it was evident that, for them too, the enticements that normally exist to salve the New Orleans reality had been stripped away.

The Garden District was no longer shaded by trees but buried under them. Chunks were missing from downtown office buildings. Streets were eerily deserted.

The veneer was gone. What you were left with was that long line of misery, the other New Orleanians finally hoisting themselves from floodwaters onto buses to leave. The radical assault on their dignity in the preceding days in the unspeakable Superdome seemed to leave them as much amazed as angry.
America had failed them. Yet for those who asked, looking at the TV pictures, "How could this happen in America?" the answer has to be, New Orleans never was America, or at least not the America that equals the national aspiration.

It was hardly the only city that doesn't measure up to this standard. But in New Orleans, your average fellow-citizen was not going to have a healthy bank account, with all the accoutrements. In that respect, the tourists who come to the city with fantasies of exoticism, of otherness, and leave with these dreams more or less intact, get it more right than the band of well-off actually inhabiting the place, bathed in their illusions of normalcy.

Illusion died, as an American city imploded.

New Orleans is now in a kind of state of nature. I noticed, returning to my house mid-week, that all urban sounds had disappeared; only the birds could be heard, and buzzing insects.
An audio version of this story, as told by the author, is available to subscribers of both Custom News and Multimedia Features in the MP3 format in a folder called "katrina_nossiter"

We also have this story in the Salt Lake Tribune", about fire-fighters who volunteered to go to Louisiana to help, and discovered that by "help" FEMA wanted them to hand out fliers, not fight fires. And when the fire-fighters objected, they had their patriotism questioned by the FEMA czars. (Of course. That's the Bush policy, isn't it? Disagree with us and you are a bad American.)
Miz Shoes

Who Taught This Guy English?

Here's another quote from the AP... this is from the head of Homeland Security.

"Earlier in the day, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had declined to estimate the death toll, but conceded that an untold number of people could have perished in swamped homes and temporary shelters where many went for days without food or water.

"I think we need to prepare the country for what's coming," Chertoff said. "What's going to happen when we de-water and remove the water from New Orleans is we're going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood, people whose remains are going to be found in the streets. ... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine.""
DE-WATER??? De-water? Oh, fuck me. What's wrong with the word "drain"? Is it too much of a reminder that the city is sunk?

My friendgirlfriend tells me that's the word (as well as "un-water") that's all the buzz on CNN.

Drain. If you empty the water from a basin, you are draining it. They didn't de-water the swamp to build on it, they drained it. (And we all see how well that works.)

And don't even get me started on the new reports that are focusing on all the dying, starving animals.

There isn't enough Prozac and alcohol in the world to numb my senses enough to listen to the news.
Miz Shoes

I’m Not Finished

Like father, like son.

"I can understand tempers flaring, but I don't want to contribute to that. I'm not going to participate in the blame game." - President George H.W. Bush responding to criticism of slow federal assistance following Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1992.

"The results are not acceptable. We'll get on top of this situation." - President George W. Bush responding to criticism of his administration's assistance following Hurricane Katrina.
And another thing I'd like to see addressed in the press is the ecological impact of all those oil rigs in the Gulf that were tossed around like so many matchsticks.

Of course, anyone who objected to drilling in that body of water was a nut-case, tree-hugging, pinko, patchoulli-wearing looser. (That would be me, yes.)

But now what? Here's a little story from the Associated Press, all four sentences of it.

"NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A huge oil spill was spotted near two storage tanks on the Mississippi River downstream from New Orleans, state officials said Friday.

The oil was seen in a flyover to the Venice area by the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Two tanks with the capacity of holding 2 million barrels appear to be leaking," the department said in a statement.

No further details were given."

Oh, I hate this administration; I hate the ultrarightwingneocons holding his puppet strings; I hate what this country is becoming.

I'm off to have still another drink and see if I can quit grinding my teeth.
Miz Shoes

The Rude Pundit Called It

The Rude Pundit, as usual, hit the nail squarely on the head this morning when he wrote:

"Totally Black" in New Orleans:

Before Katrina, one way that white middle and upper class people in New Orleans used to show that they were hip, cool, and down with the city was to find out where the coolest bars and clubs and the tastiest restaurants were in the black neighborhoods and streets of the Crescent City. White people loved discovering these places (if by "discover," you mean the same thing as "Columbus discovered America") and then bringing their white friends to chow on the soul food at Chez Helene or listen to the funky brass bands at Donna's. When these places showed up in your Fodor's and filled with tourists, the DeSoto-like white people would keep searching for the the Fountain of Authenticity that, of course, only the poorest, blackest places could bring. Chez Helene closes? Move on to Big Shirley's in Treme. Donna's not dark enough to be exotic anymore? Head deep into the Bywater and go to Vaughan's for Kermit Ruffins' Sunday Barbecue and Jazz. Yessirree, nothin' showed how cool you were as a white person than bein' able to come down from Uptown to party where the negroes played.

At Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans, wealthy white people would have their favorite black waiters who could cater to their every whim, who, for that couple of hours of interchange, made those white people feel as if every joke was hilarious, every story compelling. And the Rude Pundit knew young white people who could sit with musicians in the crappiest little dives and have intense conversations about what makes a jazz improv transcendant. Either way, though, at the end of the day, the white people headed off to one New Orleans, and the blacks headed to or remained in another. Either way, for all but a few whites, those in social services, those who chose to live where the rents were cheapest, the real black New Orleans was a hidden place of poverty, gangs, run-down housing projects, and the evidence of the neglect of a society as surely as the unfortified levees surrounding them. And, like the waters that have filled the streets, it is hidden no more.

So when the head of FEMA, a poor bastard who's way out of his league named Michael Brown, says, "The lawlessness, the crime that is occurring, did surprise us," it's just like saying you didn't know the levees would be breached. Hungry people steal food. Parents will feed their children no matter what the niceties of your laws are. As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said in his heartbreaking interview on WWL radio, drug addicts will get their fixes. And, yes, some will be stupid enough to steal TVs, which in a city that won't have electricity for weeks or months, is either the most optimistic or idiotic of gestures. To not anticipate looting and lawlessness is a crime of incompetence, a blindness to the wretched poverty so many in New Orleans attempted to exist under, something real and not just exotic and thrilling for whites to touch on for their entertainment.

And now that the President has been injected with the mad array of chemicals that are needed to jump start his brain like the coughing, oil-leaking lawnmower motor that it is, he declares that "The results [of the relief effort] are not acceptable." And that's great, but they were also unacceptable on Tuesday, when Bush was making one of his worthless piece of shit speeches about how mighty a battle the Iraq War is, just like World War II or some such nonsense. But the Bush adminstration has broken the basic social contract in New Orleans, the one that goes all the way back to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, the one that says we adhere to laws because you agree to protect us, and thus the city and its citizens have returned to the state of nature, which is to survive, motherfuckers, just survive.

Bush is visiting the affected areas as this is written. You can bet he's gonna hug some negro, maybe two, maybe he'll feed a negro child. It's the way of black people in New Orleans, you know, to always be the props and the set dressing to make the white people feel powerful.

(The title comes from a CNN reporter talking about the lack of light in the city at night.)

Thank you Rude Pundit.

And here's the proof:

Miz Shoes

Down In The Flood

I can't watch the news about New Orleans. I don't want to see footage of children crying because they can't take their dog where ever it is they are being sent as refugees. I don't want to hear how the desperate are shooting at the rescuers. I refuse to know about the dead lying in the streets.
Moreover, this is, as Yogi would say, deja vu all over again, because the first Bush in the White House responded with the same total disregard for humanity when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida 13 years ago.

It was exactly the same picture: devastation in the heartland and the overwhelmed locals begging the feds for help. I remember what George the First said: "Oh. Do they need help? They haven't asked for it yet."

Here's a little something from that genius, Reecie:


God, I hate that man.

Anyway, here's a thought: How about we bring home our National Guard troops who are over there building roads and schools and keeping the "peace" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and put them to work here in the Homeland down there in Louisianna?

How's that for an exit strategy? No cutting, no running, nothing except doing what needs to be done for the folks back home, which is what the National Guard is supposed to be doing anyway, not serving as target practice for every militant in the Arab world.

But then, I'm an old bleeding heart, yellow dog democrat who wouldn't vote for a Republican if you put a gun to my head, and frankly, don't I just expect that that is what it'll come to sooner or later if Bush and the rest of his power-mad christian jihaadists get their way.

Well, fuck me, but I'm going to have a stiff drink and go to bed.
Miz Shoes

Sister Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion

In my aimless wandering around the internets, hopping from random link to random link off the usual site listed on the left, I stumbled across the Unitarian Jihad. This is from the mind of Jon Carrol of the San Francisco Chronicle, and it was so painfully funny that it made me spew coffee on my keyboard.

You have been warned. What follows is the communique to Jon from the Unitarian Jihad.
Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism -- 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to ... you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.


Well, I had to join the jihad, of course, and have been issued my new name:

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion.

Get yours.
Miz Shoes


That stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and is the law that allows workers who lose their jobs to keep their health insurance. And these days, that would be me.

Let me tell you how it works.
I can, if I choose, keep my current coverage. The only difference anyone will see is me, who now has to pay 100% of the costs, instead of splitting the cost with my employer. That means, for a family of two, with not the best policy, but a good policy, and a Point of Service plan, not a true HMO, I am now expected to pay $1,400 a month. That's more than my mortgage.

My unemployment benefits are the maximum allowed by law, and pitiable. They don't even come close to paying that premium. And I have to pay income taxes on the unemployment benefits, to boot.

But back to COBRA. I had about ten days to decide whether or not to take the plan. I had about ten days to pay the bill, when it came.

My old employer, on the other hand, had two months to send me the paper work, and they took every damned day of it. That meant that when I finally got to say "Sign me up" for COBRA, I was now a month in arrears. My first bill was for more than three thousand dollars, and that would take us up to May.

So I paid it. Promptly. Don't want to be caught without insurance, now, do we. Because, you know, with health care in the state it's in, and the costs for it so high, one serious illness or accident could bankrupt a person. Or it could if the Republicans hadn't just made bankruptcy harder. Anyway, I paid it in full.

Then I went to get my prescriptions filled. And the pharmacist told me I no longer have insurance. "But I paid," I wailed. Yep. I did. But COBRA now has up to two months to get me reregistered, during which time, I am expected to pay in full, out of pocket. Once the insureance company gets around to reinstating me, then I can try to get reimbursed from them.

Did you follow all that? I had two weeks to elect to remain covered and get my check in the mail, and they have two months to dick me around.

When I complained to the COBRA rep and tried to get the computer to list me as covered, the rep told me that yes, I was paid up, but the letter of the law allows the insurance company so much time to reinstate me. There was nothing they could do to help me. There was nothing I could do to help myself. I was shit out of luck.

If the meds I needed were life-saving, like a chemo drug, then the company rep could have made an emergency override. But these are just drugs I take for chronic depression, so it wasn't an emergency. Wait two months until I'm on a roof someplace threatening to jump, or take someone with me, and then they can put the emergency request in. Welcome to the system.

The compassionate conservative system of being outsourced, unemployed, uninsured (although, technically I am insured) and being tossed less a living wage to get by.

Bite me.
Miz Shoes

Bread and Circuses

The Rude Pundit has all there is to say about the horrible spectacle that has just (I hope and pray) ended. I suspect we'll keep hearing more and more in days to come, but I hope against hope that it's over.

Now that the media circus is shutting down outside the hospice, I hope we can get a little focus on some other stories I've seen buried in the back pages of my local rag.
Item 1: It is important to remember, in the coming days, as the right wing will start to demonize the judge who wrote this, that Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. is generally conservative, and was appointed by President George H. W. Bush. The Shrub's very own daddy, and no milquetoast liberal his own self.

"In resolving the Schiavo controversy, it is my judgement that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the Legislative and Executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people -- our constitution.

"I conclude that Pub.L.109-3[Congress' March 21 law] is unconstitutional and, therefore, this court and the district court are without jurisdiction in this case.

"Because these provisions constitute legislative dictation of how a federal court should exercise its judicial functions, the act invades the province of the judiciary and violates the separation of powers principle.

"When the fervor of political passions moves the Executive and Legislative branches to act in ways inimical to basic constitutional principles, it is the duty of the judiciary to intervene. If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow. Accordingly, we ust conscientiously guard the independence of our judiciary and safeguard the Constitution, even in the face of the unfathomable human tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo and her family and the recent events related to her plight which have troubled the consciences of many."

Got it? Separation of powers. Violating the principles of the Constitution.

Item 2. This was published in yesterday's New York Times. It is an op-ed piece written by a Republican.

In the Name of Politics
By JOHN C. DANFORTH, Published: March 30, 2005

St. Louis — BY a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.

High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.

In my state, Missouri, Republicans in the General Assembly have advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. They argue that such cells are human life that must be protected, by threat of criminal prosecution, from promising research on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes.

It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.

I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations.

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.

When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.

Take stem cell research. Criminalizing the work of scientists doing such research would give strong support to one religious doctrine, and it would punish people who believe it is their religious duty to use science to heal the sick.

During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.

The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.

John C. Danforth, a former United States senator from Missouri, resigned in January as United States ambassador to the United Nations. He is an Episcopal minister.

Item 3. Privatizing the Border Patrol. This story makes me think of Kevin Costner's agonizingly bad "The Postman", because I think that it could be the genesis of that film's army. You know, the cavalry led by the lunatic former copier salesman.


TOMBSTONE, Ariz. (AP) - Hundreds of volunteers, some of them armed, are expected to take up positions along the Mexican border Friday and begin patrolling for illegal immigrants - an exercise some fear could attract racist crackpots and lead to vigilante violence.

Organizers of the Minuteman Project said the civilian volunteers, many of whom were recruited over the Internet, will meet first for a rally in this one-time silver mining town, then fan out across 23 miles of the San Pedro Valley to watch the border for a month and report sightings of illegal activity to Border Patrol agents.

Minuteman field operations director Chris Simcox described the project as "the nation's largest neighborhood watch group" and said one of the goals is to make the public aware of how porous the border is.

Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant from Aliso Viejo, Calif., who organized the project, said that some volunteers will carry handguns, which is allowed under Arizona law, but are being instructed to avoid confrontation, even if shot at.

Still, law enforcement officials and human rights advocates are worried about the potential for bloodshed.

Critics contend the project may attract anti-immigrant racists and vigilantes looking to confront illegal immigrants. At least one white supremacist group has mentioned the project on its Web site.

"They are domestic terrorists that represent a danger to the country and could promote a major border conflict that will have serious ramifications and consequences," said Armando Navarro, a University of California-Riverside political science professor and coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights, made up mostly of Hispanic activists.

Michael Nicley, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector, said the volunteers are "not the kind of help the Border Patrol is asking for."

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he fears immigrant smugglers might open fire on the volunteers.

"I wouldn't anticipate that people of that persuasion would act or react any differently to anybody, citizen or law enforcement alike, if they were confronted and felt like their cargo was in jeopardy," he said.

The project's organizers gave assurances the volunteers will be closely monitored. "If it gets to a situation where someone's life is in danger," said David Helppler, Minuteman security coordinator, "I will end the project."

Project organizers said they expect 800 to 1,000 volunteers. How many might actually show is unclear; similar efforts in the past few years flopped. One of them drew only about a half-dozen people.

On Wednesday, the Homeland Security Department announced that it is assigning 534 additional agents to the porous Arizona border to help keep out potential terrorists and illegal immigrants.

The 370-mile Arizona border is considered the most vulnerable stretch of the 2,000-mile southern border. Of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants caught by the Border Patrol last year, 51 percent crossed into the country at the Arizona border.

Some people in this town nearly 30 miles north of the Mexican border, best known as the site of the 1881 shootout at the OK Corral, are eagerly awaiting the volunteers' arrival.

Tombstone Mayor Andree De Journett thinks of the volunteers as tourists and said they could boost the local economy.

"I've met five or six of them, they haven't been too bad so far," he said, estimating that 500 extra visitors staying for a month could spend $10,000 or more locally per day.

Marilynn Slade, Tombstone's city clerk, said the more attention drawn to illegal immigration, the better.

"The vast majority of the people feel that the feds should be dealing more aggressively with the problem," she said. "There's a huge, huge cry down here."

Item 4: The Draft is Coming, The Draft is Coming. This from Cox News Service.

The United State' all-volunteer military will reach its "breaking point" in Iraq by mid-2006, two experts said, but U.S. and Army officials have rejected plans for a draft

By Bob Dart

Washington - If American forces aren't pulling out of Iraq in a year, a draft will be needed to meet manpower requirements, military analysts warned Wednesday.

With recruitment lagging and no end in sight for U.S. forces in Iraq, the "breaking point" for the nation's all volunteer military will be mid-2006, said Lawrence Korb, a draft opponent and assistant defense secretary in the Reagan administration, and Phillip Carter, a former Army captain and an advocate of conscription.

"America's all-volunteer military simply cannot deploy and sustain enough troops to succeed in places like Iraq while still deterring threats elsewhere in the world," Carter concluded in the March issue of Washington Monthly.

Korb is a seniour fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and a senior advisor to the Center for Defense Information. Carter is an attorney who writes on military affairs for Slate.com and other media. They debated at a symposium on the draft Wednesday.

While conceding that the Army, Marines, National Guard and Army Reseve -- the branches serving most in Iraq -- face recruitment difficulties, military officials have denied any ploans to revive the draft, which was replaced by an all-volunteer force in 1973.

"The 'D-word' is the farthest thing from my thoughts," Army Secretary Francis Harvey said at a Pentagon press briefing last week. He said the all-volunteer force has proved its value and applauded the performance of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When you get over there, there's no difference between the active, the Reserves and the National Guard. The quality is high across the board... It's seamless," he said.

During his reelection campaign, President BUsh declared flatly that he would not reinstate the draft. And there is little support for conscription on Capitol Hill.

"Today, no leading politician in either party will come anywhere near the idea -- the draft having replaced Social Security as the third rail of American politics," Carter wrote.

However, the analysts said that the all-volunteer army is on the verge of "breaking" under current circumstances. The 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 4th Infantry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas, are among the units that are being sent back for a second tour in Iraq.

The National Guard and Reserves historically depend on men and women leaving active duty to fill their ranks, Carter pointed out. But they're not going to join if it means they will be sent right back to Iraq in an activated unit, he said. Military men, women and machines are all suffering from repeated deployments.

Korb, assistant secretary of defense for manpower from 1981 through 1985, said the current rotation is unfair to the "patriotic" men and women who voklunteered for military service and are stuck in a cycle in and out of Iraq. SInce only a tiny segment of the populace is sacrificing, there is no poitical pressure to change the system, he said.

"If you had a draft right now, I think you'd be out of Iraq," Korb said.

The American society "hasn't gotten the message that we're at war," agreed Carter.

"Those at peril are completely divorced from those in power," said moderator Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist and TV commentator.

--- And here I (Miz Shoes) would like to point out that if the Bush administration hadn't made it illegal to show our own war dead, if this war was on TV like Viet Nam was, if President Bush even once went to a single military funeral, then maybe the American public would know that we are at war. A real, horrible, killing war.
Miz Shoes

Terri and the Pirates

Yesterday the Herald featured yet another story about Terri Schiavo and her disfunctional family. Who knew that she had so many sisters and brothers? But there they are, fomenting civil disobedience and giving us such questionable quotes as this:

"If she is in fact dying so peacefully and easily, why not allow a camera in there to videotape it? This is heinous, what's happening, absolutely heinous. This is absolutely barbaric."
And you know what? I agree with him, except I would apply that statement TO him.

Who the fuck would want to allow cameras to film someone you love dying?

Let me tell you people, I was with my father when he drew his last breath. He was not alone. He was surrounded by family. We loved him. It was as peaceful a death as one could have under the circumstances. There is no way in hell or on earth that I or any of my family would have wanted it taped. It was not fucking beautiful. It was heart-wrenching. And private. Private. Maybe the Schindlers should go look that word up in a dictionary and take themselves out of the spotlight and grieve in private.

Then we have the assertion by her parents that she tried to say "I want to live." What she actually "said" (maybe) was "AHHHHH WAHHHHH".

I want to live. I want to die. Water....

AHHHH WAHHHH. Or maybe it was just ahhhwahh, the only verbalization a person who's merely got pinkish jello where their brain used to be can make.

Let me translate: I want you all to go away and leave me in peace.
Miz Shoes

Right To Die, Right To Life

I read all of the comments on my previous post. I watched the video that Allie suggested I watch. My interpretation of that video was light years opposed to hers.

She saw a person capable of relating to the things around her. I saw the random grunts and cries that issue from someone in a persistant vegetative state.

I have been in the hospital room with someone in that condition. It is heartbreaking, and one wants to believe that those noises are coming in response to some stimulus one is providing, but it just isn't so. The groans coming from my father in law were just that. Groans. They were in response to the pain of breathing through a respirator.

If I were asked, and I am not, to decipher Ms. Schiavo's moans I would say that they are pleas to be let slip this mortal coil.
Which brings me to the (once more) faulty logic of the so-called Christians who rally to her hospice to beg for her life. If they believe in a just and righteous G-d, then they should be begging for Ms. Schiavo to be disconnected from life support so that their G-d can grant her healing via miracle.

If they don't think their G-d capable of a miracle, or merely disinclined to prove Himself for the likes of us non-believers, then they should be praying for her death so that she can be granted access to the perfect afterlife that they believe awaits her. Why would they want her to "live" like this when in their version of heaven, she can have her complete body back and attain bliss?

In some way or another, this brings me round to this article:

"Evolution Reference Hurts Volcano Movie"

"CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - IMAX theaters in several Southern cities have decided not to show a film on volcanoes out of concern that its references to evolution might offend those with fundamental religious beliefs." (Read the complete story)

I have a suggestion for all of us not offended by references to evolution (NOT A FUCKING THEORY, asshats) but offended by the ability of a vocal, religious minority to overthrow the rights of the many:

Boycott. Yes. Boycott. If IMAX refuses to show a movie because they don't want to offend the religious right who might boycott them if they do show the movie, then boycott IMAX for being craven cowards. Not just during the run of whatever they show in place of the volcano film, but until they grow a fucking spine. Ditto for anyone and anything else that caves to the right. If some business or other wants to keep the minority among their list of paying customers, then let that be their ONLY customer base.

If the basis for caving in to a threat of a boycott of the religious right is that the money is too great to lose, then let the entity that has caved discover how much more money there is to lose when they lose their integrity.

Which also ties in with this story referrenced in today's Dear Abby:

"The majority of high school students assign little or no value to the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment: freedom of the press, speech and religion." (read the complete story)

And it only gets worse, as 36 percent of them think newspapers should not be allowed to publish without government approval.

Back when I was still a Yellow Puppy, I started an independent student newspaper at my high school. It's title? "The First Amendment" and we published poetry and storied and things that had little to do with what the administration told us was fit to publish.

But that was the 1960s, when the SDS was in full flower, and to question authority was a duty of all youth. Now? Feh. All this latest generation wants is to be, like Ms. Schiavo, force fed what others tell them is the truth. G-d forbid they ever wake up.
Miz Shoes

Separation of Church and State

Would the state of Florida and the United States Congress please get the fuck out of the Terri Schiavo case and let her husband (sanctity of marriage) put her out of her misery?

Would her parents just let her go, already and quit fantasizing that she's gonna wake up? Her parents condemn their son-in-law for wanting to be able to marry his girlfriend with whom he has children. They want him to divorce her and let them keep her alive in her vegatative state until they die. They say he won't do that because he wants the million dollars from her malpractice decision.
Maybe, just maybe, and I'm really going out on a limb here, because I don't personally know any of the parties involved, maybe he won't divorce her because he really does care about her, he really does know what her choice was, and he insists on being her guardian so that he can follow her wishes and let her die.

But let me go back to the rant at hand, which isn't about the husband, or even really about those horrible parents. This is about the separation of church and state. This is about getting government out of the hospital room and out of the bedroom.

This is about the kind of faulty logic and inconsistancy that drives me the most wild.

The Republicans say that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. They say that government should endorse that institution and make it the law of the land. OK. Fine. If so, then any decision between those two parties, the man and the woman, should be sacred and above the reach of government. Which means that Michael Schiavo should have the last word here. He should, by Republican stated beliefs, have rights that her parents gave up when she married him.

But no. They are wringing their hands over what they consider murder. If it was me? I'd want them to pull the tubes out and put a freaking pillow over my face. ASAP, too.

If putting a vegetable out of her misery is murder, then what do you call sending able-bodied American youth to Iraq with inadequate supplies? What do you call it when that same American youth puts a bullet into a native Iraqi woman or child? Is that not state sponsored murder?

What about all those criminals on Death Row here in Florida? Some of them there for crimes they didn't commit, and we all know how frequently that happens: it's in the Miami Herald several times a year. Isn't that state-sponsored murder? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the death penalty in certain extreme cases. Ted Bundy? I would have pulled the lever on Old Sparky my own self.

For a party that is soooo concerned with the rights of the unborn and the undead, they play pretty fast and loose with the rights of the children once they are out of the womb. Cutting funds for education, health care and school lunch programs is good in the Republican creed.
They want to punish single mothers (but what about the fathers?). They are just beneath my contempt.

But they are not above trying to legislate my life according to their own beliefs.
Miz Shoes

Not A Damn Dime Day

This was going around on the internets the past couple of weeks. The concept of not spending one damn dime on inauguration day as a means of protesting the war in Iraq and the Bush administration.

While I applauded the idea, I fell to the side of Snopes.com as to the effectiveness.
In the event, however, I managed to go the whole day without spending any money, so I did participate, not that anyone or anything would have noticed.

I also managed to watch not one damn minute of Bush2.0's inauguration. At least, not intentionally. While I was at the home visiting Mummy, the TV was on, and I was subjected to the sight of "this is NOT a coronation" his new, multi-bajillion dollar, fully armored, 2006 Cadillac limosine. Even the loonies at the home were unimpressed.

Which reminds me of a story, possibly apochryphal, possibly not, where in mentally ill persons were shown silent footage of Ronald Reagan speaking, and they all laughed at him. It had something to do with lying, but I don't remember the details.

Anyway, RJ is spending the night watching the first three seasons of The West Wing, or, as she says: a REAL president. I'm going to visit the sistergirl and her new puppy.
Miz Shoes

An Observation

I have been noticing more and more of those damned W04 bumper stickers around. Before the election, nobody seemed to want to state out loud that they were going to vote for that goober. All I saw were Kerry bumper stickers. Believe me, I was looking and seeing what was out there, because it was my own sort of market research. To go by bumper stickers, Kerry was a shoo in.

Now that the fix is results are in, everybody and their dog has a Bush sticker somewhere on their vehicle, be it gas guzzling Hummer or rust bucket piece of shit.

Beats me.
Miz Shoes

Aidez Moi

I was out and about today, and everywhere I went people were asking me to contribute to charity. Which is all fine and dandy, and I do give, but on my own time, and with my own dime. With my own dime being the operative word here, because most of the people asking for my help today weren't people at all, but corporations.
The clerk at Marshall's asked if I'd like to contribute to tsunami relief, because I could just charge that extra amount along with my purchase of towels and gym clothes. Of course, I couldn't take it as a charitable deduction on my taxes, because the bill would just say Marshall's. Marshall's, by contrast, could then use my contribution as part of their overall expenditure and claim that they, Marshall's, had given x millions of dollars to the relief effort. They could, and they would, and they would never mention that the money came from their customers' pockets and not the corporate bottom line.

You want to donate to tsunami relief? Send clothing and linens and cold, hard cash from the corporate coffers. Use your own net worth to do good, not mine.

The same goes for the grocery store. I'm buying food for my own table, and they are asking me to chip in a few extra bucks for their corporate charity. No. No, I won't. Let your corporate VIPS unlock their own wallets and do the deed.

When I was at the hospital, we were big on the United Way. Every body had to cough up for the public good. Except, I worked on the campaign and I could see who gave what, and let me tell you, those VPs who are still there, collecting their big old paychecks, while I'm out on the street looking for my next job? They didn't give a third of what I did, and they made twice as much. Some of them didn't give at all, or gave a check for a Franklin. But down the line, they were giving orders that the rank and file under them should be giving it up for the poor.

Now that I'm one of the poor, or at least one of the unemployed (and just for the record, I work in one of those fields that the Shrub suggested unemployed people learn how to do at their local community college when they lose their factory jobs) it really rankles me that I'm being asked to foot the bill for corporate America's purely cosmetic acts of charity.

Page 6 of 11 pages    ‹ First  < 4 5 6 7 8 >  Last ›