No More Medicare

It looks like the Medicare Privatization bill is going to pass. Senate Votes to End Medicare Filibuster:

“Twenty-two Democrats and independent Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont joined 47 Republicans in voting to end Kennedy’s filibuster.”

I’ll see if I can find out who those 22 Democrats are. I think recall campaigns are in order here. I was counting on Medicare being there for me, and now it won’t.

Prescription Drug / Old Man Humor

In honor of my 50th birthday last week, AND in honor of the Republican Medicare Privatization bill using the mask of prescription drugs for seniors (see how I got politics into this?), I’ll post this that came in the mail today:

D A M N I T O L

Take 2 and the rest of the world can go to hell for up to 8 full hours.

ST. M O M M A’S W O R T

Plant extract that treats mom’s depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to two days.

E M P T Y N E S T R O G E N

Suppository that eliminates melancholy and loneliness by reminding you of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn’t wait till they moved out.

P E P T O B I M B O

Liquid silicone drink for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and prevents conception.

D U M B E R O L

When taken with Peptobimbo, can cause dangerously low IQ, resulting in enjoyment of country music and pickup trucks.

F L I P I T O R

Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.

M E N I C I L L I N

Potent anti-boy-otic for older women. Increases resistance to such lethal lines as, “You make me want to be a better person . Can we get naked now?”

B U Y A G R A

Injectable stimulant taken prior to shopping. Increases potency, duration, and credit limit of spending spree.

J A C K A S S P I R I N

Relieves headache caused by a man who can’t remember your birthday, anniversary or phone number.

A N T I-T A L K S I D E N T

A spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers in elevators.

N A G A M E T

When administered to a husband, provides the same irritation level as nagging him all weekend, saving the wife the time and trouble of doing it herself.

I took out all the forwarded ‘>>’s

Turkeys

Please read this: About a Turkey:

“It probably hatched in an incubator on a huge farm, most likely in the Midwest or the South. Its life went downhill from there. A few days after hatching — in the first of many unnatural if not necessarily painful indignities — it had its upper beak and toenails snipped off. A turkey is normally a very discriminating eater (left to its own devices, it will search out the exact food it wants to eat). In order to fatten it up quickly, farmers clip the beak, transforming it into a kind of shovel. With its altered beak, it can no longer pick and choose what it will eat. Instead, it will do nothing but gorge on the highly fortified corn-based mash that it is offered, even though that is far removed from the varied diet of insects, grass and seeds turkeys prefer. And the toenails? They’re removed so that they won’t do harm later on: in the crowded conditions of industrial production, mature turkeys are prone to picking at the feathers of their neighbors — and even cannibalizing them.

After their beaks are clipped, mass- produced turkeys spend the first three weeks of their lives confined with hundreds of other birds in what is known as a brooder, a heated room where they are kept warm, dry and safe from disease and predators. The next rite of passage comes in the fourth week, when turkeys reach puberty and grow feathers. For centuries, it was at this point that a domesticated turkey would move outdoors for the rest of its life.

But with the arrival of factory turkey farming in the 1960’s, all that changed. Factory-farm turkeys don’t even see the outdoors. Instead, as many as 10,000 turkeys that hatched at the same time are herded from brooders into a giant barn. These barns generally are windowless, but are illuminated by bright lights 24 hours a day, keeping the turkeys awake and eating.

These turkey are destined to spend their lives not on grass but on wood shavings, laid down to absorb the overwhelming amount of waste that the flock produces. Still, the ammonia fumes rising from the floor are enough to burn the eyes, even at those operations where the top level of the shavings is occasionally scraped away during the flock’s time in the barn.

Not only do these turkeys have no room to move around in the barn, they don’t have any way to indulge their instinct to roost (clutching onto something with their claws when they sleep). Instead, the turkeys are forced to rest in an unnatural position — analogous to what sleeping sitting up is for humans. “

BUT you can get natural, humanely raised turkeys:

“What to do? One solution is to bypass Broad Breasted Whites altogether. A few nonprofit groups — including my own, Slow Food U.S.A., and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy — are working with independent family farms to ensure that a handful of older, pre-industrial turkey varieties, known as heritage breeds, are still being grown. These varieties are slowly gaining recognition for their dark, rich and succulent meat. (My group, which encourages the preservation of artisanal foods, sells turkeys on behalf of these farmers, but we don’t profit from the transactions.)

While it might be too late to get your hands on a heritage bird this year, there are some other options available to consumers who would like a turkey raised in a more humane fashion, even if it is a Broad Breasted White. Farmers’ markets often have meat purveyors who raise their turkeys the way they should be, free ranging and outdoors.

At the market, you can often meet the person who grew your turkey and ask about how it was raised. Many independent butcher shops have developed relationships with local farmers who deliver fresh turkeys, especially for special occasions like Thanksgiving. A few environmentally conscious supermarkets get their turkeys from small family farms.

But as you shop, you need to look for more than just labels like “organic,” “free range” and “naturally raised.” They have been co-opted by big business and are no guarantee of a healthier and more humanely raised bird.

The key word to keep in mind is “traceability.” If the person behind the counter where you buy your turkey can name the farm or farmer who raised it, you are taking a step in the right direction. You’ll help give turkeys a better life. You’ll be kinder to the environment. And you might even wind up with a turkey that tastes, well, like a turkey. “

My message is think about what you eat. You can get meat that is raised humanely. Or you can support the corporate culture that only treats EVERYTHING according to its value as a monetary unit – inlcuding you.

Republican "Under The Radar" Smear Campaign In The South Begins

Here is how the Republicans get votes in the South — tell them that Democrats are JEWS: Ann Coulter: The party of ideas, (published at the Heritage Foundation’s Townhall)

“In addition to having a number of family deaths among them, the Democrats’ other big idea – too nuanced for a bumper sticker – is that many of them have Jewish ancestry. There’s Joe Lieberman: Always Jewish. Wesley Clark: Found Out His Father Was Jewish in College. John Kerry: Jewish Since He Began Presidential Fund-Raising. Howard Dean: Married to a Jew. Al Sharpton: Circumcised. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have unearthed some evidence that she was a Jew – along with the long lost evidence that she was a Yankees fan. And that, boys and girls, is how the Jews survived thousands of years of persecution: by being susceptible to pandering. “

And, in case there is any doubt at all about whether this is targeted to white Southern voters:

“Their humble-origins claptrap is designed to disguise the fact that liberals think ordinary people are racist scum.”

If you think this stuff isn’t effective, you haven’t been in the Bible Belt.

It doesn’t matter WHO the Democrats nominate, it matters how that candidate responds to Republican character assassination. That’s what Republicans DO.

I discovered this at Atrios’ site. I’m posting about it here because I want to make the point that this should not be dismissed as the rantings of wingnut Ann Coulter: this is the Republican machine at work. This is Bush doing this, and must be seen as BUSH and Bush directly.

More Miami madness… "snatch squads"

Just found this in my email inbox…

Laura Raymond, NLG Student Organizer, has just sent this update from Miami:

I can’t emphasis how crazy we all feel this is. People who have been doing legal support for mass demonstrations for years and years–even R2K legal folks who have dealt with Timoney before–are amazed at how unprecedented and overwhelming it is.

The unusual thing is that there are no mass arrests! Arrests are mostly being made of small groups or individuals for seemingly nothing. Random people are being pulled behind police lines that may be 3 rows thick and legal observers can’t access them for names and descriptions, nor can medics access people who are hurt in the process. Also undercovers are snatching random people in the crowds and pulling them away. A huge thing is the tactic of unmarked “snatch squads” patrolling the city and grabbing people off the streets. We have 3 Legal Observer’s that have been picked off thisway in separate incidents, and for these we have we have witnesses reporting that the LO’s were beaten by the police. It is really eery and frightening.

Many arrest reports we receive include brutality, beatings and such–tasors,wooden and rubber bullets, many cops beating one person, concussion grenades,electrical shields, etc.–so it seems as though arrest numbers are down but the intensity of the arrest and the complexity of defending all these cases is high. This seems like a good media tactic on the part of the police-the small arrest numbers won’t put the actions in much mainstream media.

Legal Observers and defense and support people are overwhelmed and we have a lot on our plate. We have a big problem coming up as many of us are leaving this weekend and we will have alot of unresolved legal issues remaining. Plus the precedent all these new tactics set-especially this quote in our press release that this is being referred to by city officials as a “blueprint for homeland security.”

As is the case with nearly everyone here, I got 45 minutes of sleep last night and 2 hours the night before. We are so maxed out but we just cannot stop. I am going to be careful and try to not get arrested but if I do they know to call you.

Laura Raymond

November 21, 2003

-Thomas Leavitt

"This is not an enemy that can defeat us militarily."

[DOH! Neither were the Vietnamese! How blind can you be?!? -Thomas]

Monday, November 24, 2003 – Page updated at 12:29 A.M.



2 U.S. soldiers meet grisly end at hands of Iraqi mob

By Seattle Times news services

MOSUL, Iraq — Assailants killed two U.S. soldiers riding in a civilian car yesterday in this northern city and, in a bloody scene, crowds then reportedly mutilated their bodies, trashed the vehicle and made off with the soldiers’ belongings.

[... descriptions of various and sundry other attacks against everyone under the sun... ]

Despite the surge in both the scope and ferocity of the attacks, [Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military deputy director for operations in Iraq] dismissed any threat posed by the guerrillas, whom he described as occasionally clever but overall “a pretty poor group of insurgents.

“We have nothing at this point that causes us to be concerned,” he said. “This is not an enemy that can defeat us militarily.”

[...]

-Thomas Leavitt

FTAA protests: Miami Police Out of Control

I was talking with folks at Dave’s birthday party last night (great bash) about the absurdity of Miami spending $16.5 million dollars on security, because “rioters” in Seattle caused $2 million in damage. Economically speaking, it would be more rational to set aside a few million to pay business for any damage caused by “rioters” (assuming any would be caused at all, especially in the absence of police provocation)… but really, we know that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the powers that be attempting to discourage and suppress protest, it’s about their total fear that the average people of this and other countries are going to wage up and realize that the agenda of unrestrained capitalism is destroying their quality of life, standard of living, and threatening the very viability of life on this planet, it’s about how the “Seattle coalition” represents something new and different … it is about the efforts of the Secret Service to systematically exclude (link to Google search) any and all protestors from the Presidential presence, and what that says for the health of democracy and protest in our society at this point.

… everything I heard in advance of the protests against the FTAA in Miami was pretty bad – this included police sweeping in and arresting protest organizers and seizing equipment in advance of the protest. And all my expectations have been fulfilled – even exceeded.

Yesterday, I received an email outlining how a producer for Democracy Now, Ana Nogueira, had been arrested as she covered the protests against the FTAA in Miami. And wrote a letter of protest.

Today, I received this (links to full posting on my personal weblog), an email describing a series of atrocious abuses by police and jail administrators. I haven’t been able to obtain independent confirmation (god forbid the mainstream media cover this – try finding out anything about the treatment of protestors in jail via Google News, for example – nothing), but Democracy Now says “the day was marked by extraordinary police brutality against demonstrators”, and mentions that two of the people working with them were hit by rubber bullets. According to the Miami Herald, there were “almost as many police as there were protestors”… massive overkill; as has been the case at almost every event since Seattle… weeks and months of fear mongering, followed by… nothing. But, what do you read in the New York Times? “Demonstration Turns Violent”

Here’s a Miami Herald quote on the theme of the first paragraph:


AFL-CIO leaders said police kept busloads of demonstrators from participating in the march by blocking access to a pre-march rally.

”They were simply not allowed to enter the protest area,” said AFL-CIO spokeswoman Debra Dion. “Police officers in the perimeter just told them to turn back and go home. These were retirees who had prepared for this for weeks and had gotten on buses at 4:30 a.m. to come to Miami.”

Here’s a New York Times quote:


Lt. Bill Schwartz, a spokesman for the Miami Police Department, said the police did an excellent job maintaining order, with some officials noting that there was not the broken windows and other property damage of the Seattle protests.

“Everything that we’re doing is falling into place like a well-oiled machine,” Lieutenant Schwartz said. “I believe we have been having success so far, which means minimal violence, because of the show of force. Folks who have been around here for a few days see that we are well trained and well manned.”

A “well-oiled machine”. Yo gotta love it. Not.

The Miami Herald also reports on a massive over-reaction by the Miami-Dade police to a protest outside a court house, quoting the police as blandly denying what all observers appeared to confirm: that the police moved in and arrested scores of people for “failing to disperse”, when they were in the process of doing exactly that…


it was the Miami-Dade County police who recorded the single largest number of arrests: 62 people near the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building late Friday.

The standoff began when protesters blocked Northwest 14th Street in a show of solidarity with other protesters facing bond hearings inside the courthouse.

Eventually, protesters moved to the sidewalk, turned from the police and began walking away.

A Herald reporter smelled pepper gas; then, a squad of Miami-Dade police moved in on the protesters, herded them together and began making arrests.

Sgt. Dennis Morales of the Miami-Dade Police Department said undercover police agents had reported that some protesters were picking up rocks.

”We informed leaders to disperse or they would be arrested,” Morales said. “They were not dispersing.”

Told that television images from news helicopters appeared to show the group dispersing on its own, Morales said: “They were becoming unruly.”

Orwellian! Also see the FTAA IMC reports on this assault.

Starhawk says (a report from her is included in the posting on my personal blog):

“This action has truly seen some of the most blatant abuses of police power I¹ve encountered in a long time.”

Thea Lee, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s top international economist, said “I’ve never seen anything like this show of force and the abuse of ordinary people.” (NYT) and “‘The Miami Police Department disgraced itself with an outrageous use of force.” (Miami Herald)

… this says to me that we need to step up our level of commitment, that we need to turn out tens of thousands of protestors to the next event, that we need to hound and harass these bastards from one end of the planet to the other, give them no rest, until they broaden their agenda to reflect the real concerns and needs of the people of this planet.

-Thomas Leavitt

Voting Machines – California To Require Voter-Verified Paper Trails

State changes rule on electronic voting machines:

“In an effort to prevent fraud, California’s top election official Friday ordered all counties using electronic voting systems to provide voters with printed receipts by 2006.

‘As the state progresses with new technology, all Californians must have confidence that every vote cast is a vote counted,’ said California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. ‘These new requirements will provide this confidence.’

Shelley’s decision could prompt other states to adopt similar rules as they update their balloting systems. That’s because California has more than 10 percent of the nation’s voters, and companies that sell the machines here likely will offer them elsewhere. “

The Medicare Privatization Bill

I want to say this to Democrats in the Congress as they prepare to vote on the Medicare Privatization Bill. If you are thinking of voting for this so the Republicans won’t campaign against you, saying you opposed prescription drugs for seniors, they’re going to ANYWAY!

If you voted for the war, they campaigned against you as unpatriotic ANYWAY!

If you voted for Bush’s tax cuts, they campaigned against you as being a “tax and spend” Democrat ANYWAY!

If you voted for the education bill, they campaigned against you as blocking education reform ANYWAY!

If you voted against the minimum wage, they campaign against you as “anti-business” ANYWAY!

If you voted to let 98% of Bush’s judicial nominations through, they say you are an obstructionist blocking Bush’s judicial nominations ANYWAY!

You need to start listening to talk radio, and hear what they are saying about you. It is worse than anything you can imagine, and it is in the public’s ears 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Radio is unabashedly pro-Republican and ridiculing Democrats, and it is repeated and repeated and repeated until even Democrats are repeating their anti-government, pro-corporate messages.

Voting with them isn’t going to help, not even a little bit.