Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Herbal Remedies Anyone?

I talked with a friend today who was depressed and desperate. He had come from his Doctor's office with prescriptions that would cost him $1500 per month, more than his monthly income. He is looking for information about herbal remedies to substitute for pharmaceuticals, as a cost saving move. I counseled him that might be ill-advised, considering the seriousness of his ailments.

U.S. government figures show that medical care costs have spiked since 2000, with total spending on prescriptions nearly doubling.

The quote above is from AlterNet, a story by Holly Dressell, Yes! Magazine contrasting our health care system with that of Canada. She makes a good case for universal publicly funded health care.

As I veg in front of the TV for awhile, seems most of the commercials are touting some drug or other, followed by ads from law firms soliciting clients for class-action suits against drug companies.

Medical treatment gone awry (iatrogenic) is now one of the leading causes of death.

in 1995, a report in JAMA said that:
"Over a million patients are injured in U.S. hospitals each year, and approximately 280,000 die annually as a result of these injuries. Therefore, the iatrogenic death rate dwarfs the annual automobile accident mortality rate of 45,000 and accounts for more deaths than all other accidents combined." quote from

This is another damn sorry state of affairs, all fueled by the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies; then neatly wrapped up in ribbons and bows and delivered to the U.S. citizens by the providers of health care.

A bumper sticker caught my eye the other day that said:

If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention

I'll leave you with that thought.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Right Back At Ya--WRONG

Will Durst posted comments on the recent Presidential press conference on AlterNet. He identifies a new buzz word in the GOP lexicon-- Wrong.

Dubyah introduced the new official buzz phrase of the Iraqi occupation: the word "wrong." Cutting and running is "wrong." The Democrats are patriotic but "wrong."

So, here's it comes, Bush administration, right back at ya-

Wrong to ignore intel warnings and continue your brush-cutting vacation
Wrong to mislead Congress, the nation and U.N. about WMD
Wrong about "shock & awe"
Wrong about the Iraqis welcoming us with open arms
Wrong about "collateral damage" and the loss of thousands of innocent civilian lives
Wrong to send our troops in with inadequate equipment resulting in unnecessary loss of life and limb
Wrong about the number of troops needed to secure Iraq
Wrong to not anticipate the influx of terrorist insurgents in Iraq
Wrong about nation building in Iraq and anywhere else for that matter
Wrong about leaving your mess for the next president to clean up
Wrong to put the needs of Haliburton before the needs of Americans
Wrong to allow record profits for your friends in Big Oil, at the cost of
the precious lives of our military forces
Wrong to squander the nations' resources in record-breaking deficit spending
Wrong to squelch and slant media coverage of your administration's pathetic
Wrong about conducting illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens without a warrant
Wrong about the environmental crisis
Wrong about diverting to Iraq, Louisiana National Guard personnel and equipment needed to rescue Gulf Coast residents from the
devastation of hurricanes and floods, resulting in lives lost
Wrong to cripple FEMA and put an unqualified person in charge
Wrong to condone the outing of a CIA agent for your own political gain
Wrong to label your critics as traitors and unpatriotic for the last six years, only now to change your mind and make like Mr. Nice Guy

Readers, you fill in the blanks. This list could go on forever and a day.

What Would You Do If You Were President?

This is the title of a post I have borrowed from Rock at Truth, a conservative blog that I visit regularly. He asks readers to list five things they would do if they were President, right now. For me, this assumes that I am playing the fantasy role of Commander In Chief (picture Geena Davis), after W has been impeached and imprisoned for crimes committed while in office. I couldn't do it in five, but I have hit the high points in this Twelve Point Plan. So here goes.

1. I would convene a summit of all the nations in the Middle East, including Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and all the other vital players in the region, plus a representative from Palestine. The summit would be ongoing until satisfactory compromise was reached between all players, for a plan to restore peace and prosperity . It's framework would be left in place, to deal with future problems in the region.
A plan for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq would be first on the agenda.

2. A push for clean, alternative energy sources would be the priority for domestic policy, giving a boost to the economy, and freeing us from all oil terrorists, both corporate (ours) and unfriendly oil producing nations (theirs).

3. A campaign finance reform initiative, with financing for primary campaigns *only* by indiviual donations capped at $1,000. General elections would be financed by the federal government using funds formerly used for corporate welfare handouts, in addition to individual donations, again capped at $1,000. Candidates would be guaranteed air time on public access TV, in which civility would be adhered to.
Lawmakers would be prohibited from taking any perks from lobbyists, or face jail time and ineligibility for future government service.

4. A balanced budget would be adhered to, and the tax code would be simplified, giving tax relief to lower income taxpayers and closing loopholes and offshore tax schemes for corporations and the wealthy. Money put into non-profit foundations, by wealthy m(b)illionaires would be taxed first. Social Security funds would be invested and kept separate (Al Gore's lockbox) to be used for future retirement benefits, rather than looted and squandered.

5. An equitable immigration plan would be formulated to deal with the millions of economic refugees who have illegally entered the U.S. Heavy fines would be imposed on employers who hire those without proper documentation. All guest workers would be given work visas and ID by thumbprint database (or some other high-tech system) used to track entry and exit into the U.S.

6. Free trade would be abandoned. A Fair Trade policy would be implemented that gives U.S. workers well-paid jobs and benefits, and gives U.S. companies a level playing field on which to compete. SBA loans and support for small business would be increased. The WalMartization of the U.S. would be curtailed.

7. Healthcare would be made available to all U.S. citizens. Primary Care Doctors and Nurse Practitioners would be held in the highest esteem, and given educational priority and financial incentive. Every public school would have an adequate nursing staff, and health, nutrition and physical fitness education would be required for all students.

8. Public education assistance would be given to states with equal emphasis given to pre-school, elementary, secondary and higher education. All qualifying students desiring training beyond high school would be given access to college or vocational training, through a combination of grants and loans, or scholarship for lower income families. Salaries for teacher will be increased commensurate with educational status and importance of the vocation. Vouchers for people who want religious or private instruction for their children will not be considered as a viable option.

9. Poverty is addressed with emphasis on giving shelter and assistance to the homeless and disabled. Able bodied families are given assistance in job training, transportation to work/school, and child care issues solved by pre-school programs attached to every elementary school.

10. Separation of church and state will be adhered to, giving religious freedom to all, and favoritism to none. Tax exempt status will be granted only to church buildings and educational institutions; business enterprises run by churches will be taxed. Non-profit charitable organizations who give a religious sermon with their aid will not be eligible for government funds.

11. Workers would be guaranteed the right to organize and unionize to advocate for their working conditions, wages and benefits. Any interference with these rights would be met with enforcement of fines and jail time for offenders.

12. Our honor and status in the international community would be restored with an increased emphasis on diplomacy and dialogue. Support for and participation with the United Nations to address corruption within that organization, peacekeeping efforts, human rights abuse and global environmental issues that affect us all. Support for Peace Studies programs in every college and university would be initiated, plus a strengthened Peace Corps, and humanitarian aid programs to combat famine and disease.

There are a few other areas of concern that would be high priorities, including free and fair elections, equal rights for all citizens, rational homeland security, restoring FEMA's independent status to deal with aid in disaster relief, an approach that works to the drug problems that are so hurtful to our country, and a reform of the prison system focusing on rehabilitation to break the cycle of violence that we are experiencing. Maintenance of a strong military would be accomplished by a doubling of National Guard units who would be willing to be activated in times of national threat or emergency. Military and civilian lives would not be sacrificed needlessly in pre-emptive wars or military action, and all-out diplomacy would be used to address any external threat before force is considered.

I would invite all bloggers to pay it forward and formulate their own presidential scenario. I've had it with reality, let's create the platform for a new golden age.

With hope and optimism for the future,

Betty B.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Savage Nation Hallucinates

On the way home from work this evening, I caught a bit of Hate Radio's Michael Savage ( Savage Nation) introducing apocalyptic evangelical John Hagee. Hagee is on a promotional tour for his book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning To The World. Hagee jumped right into his assertion that a nuclear showdown in the Middle East is alluded to in the old testatment Prophecy of Zacharias, quoting chapter and verse.

Some say that Hagee has the ear of the White House. Media Matters reports yesterday, that Neil Cavuto, host of Fox News' Your World, interviewed Hagee August 15, 2006, soliciting his view on Middle East policy, while conveniently omitting reference to his apocalyptic hallucination.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thoughts on Propaganda and Brainwashing

According to Jás Elsner, in Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph (1998), "Power is a far more complex and mysterious quality than any apparently simple manifestation of it would appear. It is as much a matter of impression, of theatre, of persuading those over whom authority is wielded to collude in their subjugation".

Just a bit of reflection on Doc Larry's post today on the use of hate speech by Pres. Bush in a recent campaign stop in PA. Every word of this hate speech is carefully crafted by the RRR (Radical Religious Right) linguistic experts to have the desired effect on Republican voters, with the added bonus of infuriating those of us who disagree with the current administration.

d r i f t g l a s s, one of my favorite bloggers, pens long poetic rants like his recent Plan Asinine which perfectly outlines my frustration. But at the end of it I'm usually a bit depressed, and feeling like I need some version of a Democrat's Take Back The Night rally to get me headed back in the right direction.

I've been reading the Frank Luntz Republican Playbook which outlines strategy for the 2006 campaign. The tone and language of Talent's ads suggest that his managers have studied this handy little booklet like the Bible. Luntz sells his services to corporations, as well as politicians, staying mostly within the conservative arena, which appears to mirror his own belief system. Luntz clones (wink!) are replicating his clever lines in RRR speak everywhere. We liberals are internalizing it, often without conscious realization that we are using Luntz terminology.

George Lakoff talks about the concept of framing for the progressive viewpoint in Don't Think of an Elephant, 1994. His language suggestions should be considered by every progressive candidate running for office in '06, and also by those of us who want to wash Frank Luntz out of our brains.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Voter Suppression in Missouri

Today's edition of Fired Up Missouri has a link to the Washington Post's Op-Ed columnist and Missouri native Jabari Asim criticizing Matt Blunt's signing of the Voter ID law. also highlights the Missouri Voter ID dilemma today in Salon's Shameful Six, which has details of voter suppression schemes in five addtional states.

The Voter ID law, according to Salon, could disenfranchise as many as 200,000 voters, most of them black, poor, Democratic voters from the urban areas. It also points out that many of these voters are the same people affected by Blunt's cuts in Medic-Aid benefits to poor and disabled Missourians. This would most likely assure Jim "Bi-Partisan" Talent an easy win over Claire McKaskill.

A similar law was struck down by the courts in Georgia, but upheld in Indiana (appeal pending). Missouri courts have the matter under consideration. Let's hope they see the light, and throw it out.

I Dream of Sinkholes

When the sinkhole in Barry County formed last year, I followed the story with fascination. Underground Ozarks has a picture posted of the end result, a pond about the size of a football field.

The Nixa sinkhole began to form Sunday morning, with no forewarning. The resident had just come home from shopping and was reading the Sunday paper. He heard a rumble that he thought was a tornado, and took refuge in the bathtub. A few moments later, another rumble, and he realized that something else was afoot. He went outside to find his garage, car inside, a goner.

My friend, who lives two blocks from the sinkhole, says the end is not in sight and that neighbors have brought lawn chairs to watch as the rest of the house slowly topples inward. Another smaller sinkhole at the north end of the Nixa city park also appeared recently, which city employees have been attempting to fill, but to no avail.

There is a huge sinkhole near where my Mother grew up in Webster County. They called it the Devil's Den, and she told us the bottom had never been found. You could look way down in it and see debris floating around. She said a team of horses and a wagon were lost in it long ago, and stories circulated that the mob disposed of their dirty business there. Great material for a bad dream.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Avoided Military Service

I'm currently reading 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Fight The Right, by Earthworks Action. Their list of Radical Right talk show hosts and prominent Republicans who did not serve in the military bears repeating, and gives pause for reflection.


George Will: Did not serve
Bill O'Reilly: Did not serve
Paul Gigot: Did not serve
Bill Bennett: Did not serve
Pat Buchanan: Did not serve
Michael Savage: Did not serve
Bill Kristol: Did not serve
Sean Hannity: Did not serve
Rush Limbaugh: Did not serve (4-F with a "pilonidal cyst")


Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert: Avoided draft, did not serve
Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay: Avoided draft, did not serve
House Majority Whip Our Very Own Roy Blunt: Did not serve
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-KY): Did not serve
Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Did not serve
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS): Avoided draft, did not serve
Rick Santorum (R-PA) third-ranking Republican in the Senate: Did not serve
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA): Avoided draft, did not serve
Jeb Bush, Governer (R-FL): Did not serve
VP Dick Cheney: Several deferments--the last by marriage (in his own words "had other priorities than military service"). He really could have benefited from the firearms training!
Karl Rove: Avoided draft, did not serve

Friday, August 11, 2006

Voter Registration--Voter ID

Often, I ask friends, relatives and even total strangers if they are registered to vote. If the answer is no, I try to steer them to the nearest place to get registered.

Now, the task is two-fold, because for the first time this November, Missouri voters must have a VALID photo ID card. Many people I know are having a difficult time getting the paperwork together to renew their driver's license.

Every candidate's web site should have Voter Registration and Voter ID information.

Nancy Hagan has a great page on Voter Registration. In Greene County, all branches of the Springfield-Greene County Library have voter registration forms.

For Voter ID requirements scan this page on the Secretary of State's website. In order to get your ID you will need social security card, birth certificate and marriage license or supporting evidence if you have had a name change. These must be official documents, copies will not do. All branches of the Friends of Matt Blunt Revenue Department should have this information, and help with problems you encounter.

It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the November election, but it has the potential to prevent many of the chronically disorganized from voting.

Please ask the people close to you if they will be eligible to vote and help them through this process should they need assistance. Time is of the essence.

Thank You In Advance,


Thursday, August 10, 2006

ABC's of Iraq

Like most working people today, I get the news in small bits and pieces , a few minutes here and there. Everything swirls around in my head and it eventually forms my opinion on the situation.

I saw on the news the other day, a General explaining to his troops that their year long tour of duty in Iraq was being extended for four more months in order to re-secure Baghdad. My heart goes out to these men and women, as I know how fatigued they are and how much they need time at home with family.

I recall reading somewhere that the majority of soldiers going into Iraq in the beginning, believed that Iraq/Saddam was directly involved in the 9-11 attacks and was actively supporting Al-Quaeda. Then, recently I read that more than half of American voters still believe this falsehood that was so widely promoted by the Radical Right media.

Then I catch another bit of news, that the new Iraq government is considering a partition of Iraq into Kurd, Shiite and Sunni sections in an attempt to halt the civil war that has erupted.

I see that we have blasted Iraq (which in history classes we called the Cradle of Civilization) to smithereens. And now we are obligated to rebuild it, by means of funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of Dick Cheney's buddies at Haliburton, and a few more billions that have just disappeared. We have basically bankrupted the country in financing this war without allied support, and according to reports it will take billions more to refit our military and National Guard after the conflict is over.

The Al-Quaeda terrorists do not reside in Iraq. They have not all travelled to Iraq to fight against us there. They have small cells throughout the world, and are patiently planning their next act or terror. They wish to destroy the infidels, especially Americans, because we support Israel as a Jewish state in the midst of Islamic nations. (I think Israel has a right to exist, but deplore the continual violence that goes on there)

Also noted is the disbanding in late 2005 of the CIA unit dedicated to the apprehension of Osama Bin Laden. I was in favor of using all resources at our disposal to find Bin Laden and destroy his network of terrorist training camps, so this has me a bit puzzled. Do we have him on ice somewhere?

Then we have the matter of the vacationing George Bush, who surpassed Reagan's 8 year record total of Presidential vacation time in 2005 with 3 1/2 years left to go. I have to ask, who is really in charge of running the country?
Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld, the Old Boys With War Toys, and billions of (dollars worth of ) reasons to make war?

I'm sure that some of the complexities of the situation have escaped me, but I was never in favor of the war in Iraq, not from day one. Shock and Awe did not impress me. I do not think we are "making the terrorists come to us (in Iraq)", I do not think we have improved the lives of the Iraqi people, and I do not think the world is a safer place because of the war.

My family has a long history of patriotism and service to country. My father was in the Navy and was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. He survived and served through the end of WW II. My brother-in-law was a Marine and served two tours in Vietnam, receiving the Navy Cross for heroism. My nephew was Air Force and served in Desert Storm. Please do not call me a traitor or say that I don't love America.

In the Vietnam war we had 50,000 body bags. The Iraq war has its 2,500+ flag draped caskets (which we aren't supposed to photograph) and its thousands of deaths due to "collateral damage".

It is time to formulate an exit strategy for this ill-thought-out war and bring our troops home.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ann Coulter: Demagogue

I watched the Ann Coulter presentation, with rapt attention focused on her preternaturally long neck and the bobbing adam's apple I've heard so much about. She did not disappoint, mentioning kindergarteners, fisting and anal sex in the same sentence. Liberals she says, are like roaches who run when you shine the light on them--yada, yada, yada, same old hate speech we hear every day. Her audience was a group of bright young college women who listened adoringly, none of whom hard-questioned the load of crap that had just been heaped upon them.

About a third of her new book "godless..." she tells us, is devoted to debunking the Darwiniacs. That must make for scintillating reading. I should have taken better notes about the rest of her remarks, but I was feeling like a lefty fly caught in the web of her clever radical right machination.

Ann joked about how she is often compared to Hitler. I pondered this awhile, and then I did discern the slightest bit of family resemblance. Hitler, according to the Wikipedia definition of demagogue, is the quintessential example of a demagogue, rising to power by appealing to the fears and prejudices of the German people. Like the demagogue, Ann has mastered a variety of methods of influence including half truths, false dilemma (the liberals are not in agreement with us, therefore they are with the terrorists), demonization and scapegoating, straw man arguments, loaded questions in a carefully practiced and witty manner. She effectively uses emotional appeal (they compare pathetically skinny and wasted moi to Hitler) and tops it off with non-stop personal attacks of liberals in particular and the left in general.

I can imagine Ann, laughing all the way to the bank (probably more at the sweet little girls who have bought her books, than at the liberals snared in her game plan) because they have made Ms. Demagogue very rich.

Picture Betty and Ann in the ring... Ann is down for the count...

Ann Coulter on C-Span Book TV

Ann Coulter will appear on C-Span Book TV this evening at 6:00 PM.

Yesterday radical right talk show host Kevin McCullough was on the Book TV channel, discussing his book MUSCLEHEAD REVOLUTION with a group of young people. He intimated that he and Ann Coulter were good friends, and she had confided to him that when her current book GODLESS: THE CHURCH OF LIBERALISM (a further demonizing of liberals and the liberal viewpoint) was released, that liberals did not respond or protest in any meaningful way.

I did not buy the book, because I do not wish to contribute to making this woman even one dime richer. I'll try to check it out at the library. You can watch Book TV on streaming video if you don't have it on your TV programming.

Every one of us who sees the erosions of the freedoms that make this country great needs to speak up in defense of liberal/progressive values which are the real middle class values. Put on the boxing gloves and score a few points for ultimate common sense.

And while you're at it, get out your checkbook and support the candidate of your choice.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday To Do List

1. Send a check to Doug Harpool

2. Send a check to Claire McCaskill

3. Buy a Dixie Chicks CD

4. Send a check to Emily's List

5. Buy five copies of CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER DITTOHEAD to give to certain friends

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hillary Versus Rumsfeld

Hillary questioned Rumsfeld before an open Senate hearing yesterday. I thought she did rather a nice job.

Is the situation in Iraq F.U.B.A.R or a Fiasco? Take your pick. It's time to retire the old boys with war toys, and get someone on the job who can clean up the mess they've made.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

GOP Funds Green Party in PA Senate Race

This interesting little tidbit from exposing GOP supporters as the major donors to the Green Party's senatorial candidate who would oppose Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania this fall. Of $66,000 in contributions, apparently only $30 came from a Green Party supporter.

It is disheartening to see the Green Party stoop so low and take this money. In a close race, a few votes for the Green Party could send Rick Santorum back to Washington for six more long years. Third parties should not allow themselves to be pawns in Rove-style tricky maneuvering.

Net Neutrality Update

I don't want to be a nag about net neutrality, but we really need to weigh in on this issue. This from " Ted Stevens wants his bill, and he's pushing like crazy to get it. It's going to be very hard for him to lobby Senators during the August recess, so he's looking to sign up 60 Senators who will commit to cloture during the lame duck session before the recess starts. In case you're wondering, that's unusual and somewhat sleazy."

The internet could have a new world order before you know it. In this case, that means funneling megabucks from the pockets of internet users into the pockets of phone and cable internet providers, and the possiblity of interferring with content

Please go to for a list of senators who have not committed. Jim Talent is among them.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Solar Power to the People

The world's largest laundromat, located in Chicago is solar powered. Why can't we begin to retrofit homes and businesses to use solar power? If solar is viable in Chicago, it would work almost anywhere in the U.S. It would give a boost to the economy and solve our problem of dependence on terrorist nations for our "oil addiction". An elegant solution. During the oil crisis of the 70's, one of my friends in Connecticut installed a solar hot water system with partial tax credits. Reagan dismantled that incentive program as not being cost effective. Just think where we would be now if that program had been given wings and we had continued with solar development at that time. At some point in the near future we will be forced to abandon fossil fuels.

We just voted to spend $700 million on another coal fired power plant for Springfield. (Well, as you might expect, I voted no.) Imagine that money spent on solar power, and the energy independence that could have given us. The technology will improve over time, but only if we begin to seriously invest in it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Chatter Stirs Up A Little Blogstorm

When Ron Davis copied my Boycott Hate Radio Sponsors suggestion over at CHATTER, unleashed a flurry of emotional responses. A boycott seems like a most reasonable and civilized response to hate radio. The ability to look at both sides of an issue, and express our viewpoint without having attack dogs loosed on us, is what sets us apart (or used to) from the totalitarian regimes we have battled in two world wars and the focus of our current war on "terror".
To quote Gandhi "Let us not become the evil that we deplore".

Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

The senate is considering expanding oil drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps they could just drill in the "dead zone" which now covers an ominous 6,662 square miles, an area the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Read more at