Saturday, June 10


The Medicare prescription drug "benefit" is still confounding patients, doctors and pharmacies.

A CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in early May found that, of people 65 and older, 75 percent said the new program was difficult to understand.

They're not the only ones. Doctors don't have time to get prior authorization from insurance companies, pharmacists are spending most of their day trying to help customers get the drugs they need, and few are really happy about the program. That is, with the exception of the pharmaceutical drug and insurance industries.

It's the typical Bush administration clusterf***.


Friday, June 9

Disgusting. Chris Matthews, ending his Hardball interview with a departing-from-the-Congress-under-indictment Tom DeLay, says, "I hope we'll be doing many more interviews" or something to the efffect.

Hardball, indeed. Chris continues to pander to the most corrupt federal legislator extant.


Re the ridiculous debate in the Senate over defense of marriage: Congressman Jim Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma, who is so proud that none of his family in "recorded history" has experienced a divorce or homosexual.

Well, Jim, The Sage and I have five children and (we're only just early-50-ish) so far four grandchildren (we're currently waiting on our next!), so maybe we can't compete in numbers. And no, we don't have a divorce or gay yet... but in our larger family we have multiple divorces (including one impending painful one with our oldest son and his wife), the loss of a beloved step-nephew and a very close first cousin of mine to AIDS and thank goodness, a very well-adjusted lesbian niece whom we all love and support.

You think it's a cause of celebration and mark of virtue (as long as there's no proof otherwise) that your family is exempt from the challenges that so many American families have to face? Well, we're not weirdos. We are America. We love our children, we love those they love.

The Sage and I married while we were still in college. I was a (forgive me, I did it for my mother) beauty queen, a Miss Florida finalist, a Florida Citrus Queen, Florida Seafood Queen, etc., while The Sage was recruited all over the nation as a compeittive swimmer and ultimately became the cutest Florida State University cheerleader ever. We are not WEIRDOS, we are a 30-year-plus happily married couple who have grappled with kids with HDHD, drugs, premarital sex, and every other challenge faced by normal American families.

Sure, I wish the kids could have skimmed through life without having to face more than the mimimum challenges. But that's not the way it worked out. And it's not the way it is for most American families. The Sage and I have spent a lot of time during the past 20 years counseling families about the same things we encountered in raising our own five kids. And I guess without going into the personal details of each family, I'd have to say that the bottom line that we always get to is that, forget what you've been told. Every night when the kids are abed, creep into their rooms, watch them in their sleep and remember how much you loved them when they were born, when they were most adorable in later times, and realize that they are real human beings apart from their parents and have challenges of their own.

I remember the day I discovered a sexy Christie Brinkley poster behind our "handicapped "(cerebral palsy) oldest son's closet, was relieved that he was heterosexual -- not because hetero was a superior lifetstyle, but because it was easier. He already had so many challenges, I was glad. But if he had been a "homo" I could not have loved him less.

Okay, I'm finished with this rant. But I felt I must register a most heartfelt opposition to Rep. Inhofe's smug assertion of non-divorce, non-homosexual "superiority."

Boy, his kids must be under a tremdous pressure to conform to his prescious ideal.


This painting by an Iraqi artist says so much.

The photo both enraged and inspired Muayad Muhsin: U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sitting back in an airplane seat, his feet — in heavy army boots — stretched out in front of him.

"It symbolized America's soulless might and arrogance," said Muhsin, whose painting of Rumsfeld in a similar pose is to be unveiled in an exhibition opening in Baghdad on Monday.

A painting entitled 'Picnic' by artist Muayad Muhsin, who was both inspired and enraged by a photo of Donald H. Rumsfeld slumped on an airplane seat with his army boots up in front of him, is displayed in Baghdad, Iraq Monday, June 5, 2006. The painting, which is expected to be unveiled at an exhibition in Baghdad next week, illustrates the simmering anger of Iraqis with the United States three years after it rid them of Saddam Hussein, whose ouster has been followed by an enduring wave of violence, sectarian tensions and crime.

That painting and the rest of the exhibit illustrate the simmering anger of Iraqis with the United States as the country continues to endure violence, sectarian tensions and crime three years after Saddam Hussein's ouster.

After President George W. Bush, most Iraqis see Rumsfeld as the man behind the invasion of their oil-rich country and the chief architect of U.S. military actions in Iraq.

Those who closely follow Rumsfeld remember his infamous comment — "Stuff happens" — when asked why U.S. troops did not actively seek to stop the lawlessness in the Iraqi capital in the weeks that followed the city's capture in April 2003.
Another memorable Rumsfeld comment, also made in 2003, was his suggestion that Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction were deeply hidden in Iraq. "It's a big country," he said.

Muhsin first saw the Rumsfeld photo about 18 months ago. He went to work right away, but did not finish the painting — titled "Picnic" — until recently.
The oil-on-canvas work shows Rumsfeld in a blue jacket, tie, khaki pants and army boots reading from briefing papers. His boots are resting on what appears to be an ancient stone.

He sits next to a partially damaged statue of a lion standing over a human — a traditional image of strength in ancient Babylon. The statue's stone base is ripped open, revealing shelves from which white pieces of papers are flying away, later turning into birds.

Muhsin said the symbolism has to do with Washington's repeated assertions before the U.S.-led invasion that Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction, the cornerstone of the Bush's argument for going to war.
No such weapons turned up, but the Bush administration maintained that removing Saddam's regime alone justified the decision to invade Iraq."Rumsfeld's boots deliver a message from America: `We rule the world,'" Muhsin, 41, said in an interview. "It speaks of America's total indifference to what the rest of the world thinks."

Muhsin said he signed the painting in the middle, instead of the customary bottom corner, to avoid having it under Rumsfeld's boots.

"The Americans brought us rosy dreams but left us with nightmares. They came with a broad smile but gave us beheaded bodies and booby-trapped cars."


I'd like to have the time to discuss at length the pernicious influence Wall Street has on publicly held companies and their employees. I don't. But I will vent for a minute in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way on the way the Street works to the detriment of both.

My company has revenues of approximately $14 billion. Last year's operating earnings amounted to just barely under $2 billion. Pretty profitable, wouldn't you say? We've never declared a quarterly or annual loss since going public in 1969, never had a major write-off. We're one of the nation's top (according to the Fortune 500 listing) 200 companies, one of the world's top (again, according to the Fortune Global 500 list) 500 companies. Yet we're forced to make decisions regarding profitablity and long-term investment according to the short-term thinking of Wall Street analysts or face losing shareholder value.

Last week I was informed that a project we had in development that would have netted $400 million over the next four years had to be sold off for a paltry $40 million. And why? Because the division responsible wouldn't otherwise meet their projected quarterly numbers, and Wall Street would react negatively! And even though our industry has been a vital component in driving the prosperity of the overall economy for the last decade, all the major players in that industry have been valued at a paltry 7 or 8 P/E (price vs. earnings) ratio while underperforming industries have P/E's in the 30-40's (the very range that experts such as Michael Porter have suggested is rational for our company and industry sector. We've hired any number of famous economists and experts who have validated Porter's opinion, but to no avail -- Wall Street won't budge.

So the boards of directors of companies like mine force decisions based on what Wall Street likes to see -- short-term profits (which we have!) favored over sound long-term growth strategies. That results in layoffs, terminations of contracts with subcontractors and vendors and the like, all of which affect real people with real expectations and obligations of their own.

I'm sick of it. That's no way to run a company, much less an economy. Wall Street has become a crap game, and it's doing no favor to anyone except the high-rollers.



Boy, wingnut radio talk show hostMike Gallagher must have raised his blood pressure about a hundred points today with his tirade against "liberal treason." Mike said he "wish[ed] we had the guts" to stand Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michael Berg, Jerry Springer, Randi Rhodes, Al Franken and the entire Air America staff "up against the wall, give them a cigarette, tie them to a pole and shoot them for the traitors they are." Gallagher asserted at different times that liberals are just plain evil, traitors, "Bush-haters" and as crazy as any mental patients in a psychotic ward.

Seems Stark and McDermott's less-than-celebratory remarks about the killing of al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi sent Mike over the edge, and statements on their Air America radio shows by Jerry Springer and Randi Rhodes on the same subject further inflamed him.

I heard all this driving to a photo shoot location. Driving BACK, I heard O'Lielly going off on the same subject. (I would listen to Air America more, but the signal in Dallas is so weak, half the time I can't get it at all and the other time I have to tune out incredible static to understand anything. So alternatively I tune in to the wingnuts to laugh -- or cry -- at their rants.)

Here's the way I see it. Zarqawi was a murderer of innocents, so I won't lose any sleep over his death. But who are we kidding, really, to believe that taking him out is going to be a magic bullet (no pun intended) to improving the situation in Iraq? We may not be big on martyrs in the U.S.A. but in the Islamic world, they are. For every terrorist that we might demoralize by Zarqawi's death, at least one (or more) will be created or re-energized to avenge the "prince of Al-Qaeda in Iraq." If you take away anything from watching Steven Spielberg's Munich, it should be recognition of the fact that the cycle of violence is never-ending -- one terrorist act spawns an act of revenge that inspires retaliation that leads to more acts of vengeance ad infinitum. So how are we in the United States, or our servicemen and women in Iraq, going to be any safer as a result of Zarqawi's death? I'm not saying we shouldn't have tried to take him out -- of course we should, and I'm glad we did -- but what really will change as a result? Not much, say experts.

Zarqawi was a murderer. That's a fact. But who can honestly dispute Jerry Springer's assertion that, "We never should have gone in from day one. Now — and I understand tens of thousands of people have been killed because we chose to go into Iraq. That is true. We killed a hell of a lot more people just by the decision to go into Iraq than ever died at the hands of Zarqawi." That's also a fact.

UPDATE: Eric Boehlert elucidates on the Pete Stark remarks.

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Thursday, June 8


This is very long, but trust me, just read it. This is our (?) shadow government in action. When I say shadow, I don't mean it in the British term of opposition party readiness, I mean the reality that we have a whole cadre of influential policy makers who hold no office and are accountable to no-one, yet wield great influence upon our questionably-elected adminstration.

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Al-Zarqawi killed, defense and interior ministers approved.

For Mr. Maliki, the killing of Mr. Zarqawi brought immediate political results in the form of parliamentary approval, immediately after the news conference, of Mr. Maliki's nominees for the vacant security posts in the cabinet, the ministers of defense, interior and national security. After the prime minister's repeated failures to win agreement of contending groups within the government on earlier nominees, he stood at the podium in the parliament chamber and presented the three men who emerged from weeks of overlapping vetoes by the main Sunni and Shiite political groups.

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Wednesday, June 7


Ann Coulter is a whack job. Much has been written about her hateful comments about the 9/11 wives, but I've missed any commentary on the hypocrisy of one particular passage in her vitriolic tirade, when she declared that their victim status precluded them from the right to comment or protest because it protected them against criticism. Ann said the widows should "shut up and let Bill Clinton make the point."

By that standard, the Vietnam vets (in particular, the Swift Boaters) who derided and attacked John Kerry's military service and his candidacy should have "shut up and let [George W. Bush] make the point." Those who believe their marriages are "under attack" should "shut up and let [Bill Frist] make the point.

On another note, Matt Lauer was clearly adversarial with Ann despite his parting "always fun to have you here" comment. But the more important point is that Ann's book is now #3 on, due in large part to the publicity her outrageous remarks on his show generated. This despicable polemicist who touts her "Christianity" while dressing like a tramp and preaching a gospel of hatred is continually given air time (nearly eight minutes ALONE on Today) by network and cable news and talk shows to promote her radical right beliefs and fact-deprived books.

After talk show host Michael Savage made his ugly remark to a gay caller, "get AIDS and die," he was fired by MSNBC and has been almost completely dropped from even conservative television shows. Yet Coulter continues to make frequent appearances in mainstream media outlets.

She may continue to be embraced by Rush, Sean and their ilk, but this latest outrage should finally and forever end her sweetheart status among people of any conscience, making her a pariah and a byword among reputable people.

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