No More Apples
"Adam ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's a shame we ran out of apples." -- The Sage.
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
"Reality has a liberal bias." -- Stephen Colbert
We are proud members of the resistance.
Friday, February 10
SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST
So the Air Force has reneged on its promises to curb religious right proselytizing at the Academy. It caved to pressure from the religious right.
So now commanders can feel free to “express their faith” by trying to convert undergraduates whether those students are receptive to the message or not.
In my view, this is akin to the CEO of my company calling me into his office and sharing his religious views with me. I may not be fired for declining to be converted or attending his church, but I will surely feel that my rejection of his offer may be detrimental to my future advancement in the company and thus feel pressured to “join up.” This is a totally inappropriate action on the employer’s part, and especially so on the part of a governmental institution such as the Air Force Academy.
"This does affirm every airman's right, even the commanders' right, to free exercise of religion, and that means sharing your faith," said Maj. Gen. Charles C. Baldwin, the Air Force's chief of chaplains.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group whose investigation of the Air Force Academy helped spark the controversy last year, said the revisions "focus heavily on protecting the rights of chaplains, while ignoring the rights of nonbelievers and minority faiths."
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, an Albuquerque lawyer who is suing the Air Force over its policy on religion, questioned the sentence allowing commanders to share their faith when it is "reasonably clear" that they are speaking personally, not officially.
"Reasonably clear from whose perspective, the superior's or the subordinate's?" asked Weinstein, a 1977 Air Force Academy graduate. "When a senior member of your chain of command wants to speak to you 'reasonably' about religion, saying 'Get out of my face, sir!' is not an option."
Tags: Air Force Academy, freedom of religion
Thursday, February 9
PORTER GOSS IS A GAS(BAG)
In light of Plamegate, this is the height of something-or-other. We now know that not only very senior administration officials Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were aggressively involved in disclosing the identity of covert CIA agent specializing in weapons of mass destruction Valerie Plame, but also that vice president Dick Cheney spearheaded the effort.
And while Goss denounces those who leak “classified information” as criminals putting “American lives at risk,” Scooter Libby is testifying before a grand jury that his “superiors” (let’s see, who was superior to Libby? Dick Cheney was his boss) ordered him to disclose classified information to reporters.
Imagine, CIA chief Porter Goss insisting that the CIA is winning the war on terror but that unauthorized disclosure of Bureau secrets, techniques and successes or failures is undermining the administration's efforts and endangering our spies.
Like most Bush administration pronouncements, Porter's is up-is-downism. Looks to me instead like the administration's efforts to endanger our spies is undermining the war on terror.
The headline is a hoot: "Loose lips sink spies." We know whose lips were loose, and we know exactly which spy was sunk. And the lips weren't really "loose," they were feral and deliberate.
Tags: Porter Goss CIA, Valerie Plame, classified information
THANKS FOR CARING
I'd like to thank everyone who commented or e-mailed me their concerns and prayers for my daughter's recovery. Her prognosis, as I said before, is excellent, but she's going to take a lot of healing before she's back to normal. She's making progress every day, and we hope to take her home from the hospital soon.
God bless you, Motherlode and The Sage
GAMMAGE FOR TEXAS GOVERNOR
Sunday, February 5
WHY I HAVEN'T BEEN POSTING...
I haven't posted in the past few days because my middle daughter is in the acute care unit of Parkland Hospital in Dallas with a double skull fracture (basilar and temporal) and assorted other injuries (blood on her brain, a broken facial cheek, broken bones behind her nose that allowed air into her brain, bleeding behind her eardrum, a severe gash to the back of her head, and more), all the result of an auto accident. Her prognosis is excellent, but her suffering is extreme. I only take these few moments to comment because I covet your prayers for her rapid recovery, and because we have had an experience I think relevant and important to us as a family and a nation.
An event like this is soul-expanding and eye-opening, to say the least. Aside from our personal spiritual and emotional turmoil and triumph, it has been a revelation to witness ordinary people facing the most devastating of injuries and battling for dignity and recovery.
For instance, Skye's roommate is a black woman paralyzed from the waist down, her head and neck screwed down to immobilize her, on one of those rotating beds you've seen in the movies. Yet she's worried about our girl because she's so young, and persistently asks about her condition. Down the hall are a young man who lost a hand in an agricultural accident and a middle-aged man suffering from burns so severe he doesn't appear to have what you would call a recognizable face. Yet I've seen them both laughing. The young man next door who lost a leg (I haven't found out how) keeps apologizing to the staff for causing them trouble.
It's time for me to explain that all these people have no medical insurance. They're tormented by the fact, not exhilarated by it. Parkland, one of the primary trauma hospitals in the country (JFK was taken there, and died, after being shot), has a remarkable program by which working people can register for retroactive insurance with them. Otherwise, it's a free hospital. The doctors here get the best trauma training in the world -- in a single hour with Skye in the emergency room, rolling past her door were persons with a stab wound in the stomach, a gunshot to the head, a broken neck from an auto accident, and who knows what else I didn't catch. I overheard a conversation of several doctors and nurses outside Skye's door that included the remark, "Someone should tell the media that George Bush is interfering with healthcare in Dallas." I wondered what that meant -- then I remembered that Dubya was passing through Dallas, and thought that maybe it meant nothing more than that the president's entourage was causing traffic difficulties interfering with ambulance service. But who knows?
There are no frills at Parkland -- the rooms are tiny, the wallpaper and amenities nonexistent, and in some ways it reminds me of the terrible scenes of the VA hospital from the film Born on the Fourth of July. In the ICU waiting room, the televisions played only Spanish-language programming. Not willing to leave our daughter alone, we tried to sleep sitting up in the waiting room (now that she's in acute care, I'm allowed to sleep on a chair in her room and attend her as needed). A huge black woman pumped up an air mattress and slept on the floor. Many there in the crowded room spread blankets and pillows on the floor just to be near their loved ones if needed. Others, like us, sat in the dark. We were the only white family there.
As a solidly upper-middle-class WASP family, we're accustomed to private hospitals, private doctors and excellent medical coverage. Skye is at Parkland because the ambulance determined that it was the best place in Dallas for a severe head trauma case (it is), not because of her economic status. But guess what. In the past few months she lost her coverage under my employer's plan because she exceeded the age for minors covered, and her employer doesn't offer medical coverage until she's been with them for a certain time she hasn't reached yet. Parkland didn't know that when she was admitted -- they didn't even ask until her second day in ICU. Yet she's receiving the best treatment in the world. In any other hospital, we'd expect to be impoverished by the costs of her treatment, or forced into a bankruptcy that is no longer an option, thanks to recent legislation.
So suddenly my tirades about the need for universal healthcare have taken on a reality I never expected. We're so very blessed to have Parkland and that Skye was taken there. But how many Parklands are there in this country? So very, very few. What does a desperate parent do when their child is injured and they have no insurance? Can you imagine, in your protected, privileged world, being faced with such a situation? For me, it was always an abstract compassion, motivated by my personal Christian faith, that moved me to align with progressive social action.
In the past few days, I've been immersed in the smells of poverty, the sights and sounds of human gallantry, the real compassion and sensitivity of dedicated healthcare workers who take no measure of a person's social or economic status, and I've been uplifted. In this hospital, there is no race for elevators or in the cafeteria line at the expense of others -- generosity, civility, helpfulness is the norm -- THIS is the picture of America I've treasured and believed in for all my life, and I'm reassured that a remnant of it still exists.
But if George Bush, Grover Norquist, and other anti-government social supremacists have their way, such outposts will be extinguished forever in a complete separation of the privileged from everybody else.
And unless you are uber-wealthy, someday you may find yourself in the category of everybody else.