September 28, 2006

An Open Letter to John McCain:

dogDear Senator McCain,
This morning on NPR I overheard your fellow Senator and Republican, Trent Lott, say that using dogs for torture was understandable and acceptable. It was not a big deal because as he said they were simply barking at the detainees and haven't we all had a dog bark at us when we delivered a paper or something else to a neighbor? Sure, there are reports of a few cases where people have died from heart failure after receiving this treatment, but that isn't the intent.

It was this insight from Senator Lott that lead me to understand your change in position on torture. After all, many of the things we are "squabbling" about are really nothing more than everyday occurances.

I would like to straighten this out for my fellow Democrats after the break - if they have a strong stomach.

strappadoFirst, the process of hanging someone on hooks by their shoulders to break their shoulders. This was a very popular method of "coersion" in the Vietnam era, but should we consider it torture? I mean, who among us hasn't taken a hit in a sporting game that caused a "stinger"? This really isn't any different than that, as described here.

Two homemade metal handcuffs (made of reinforced steel bar and an iron lock) are put on the victim's wrists. Then, the victim's arms are lift up, parallel to the shoulders. The palms face down. The arms are twisted and pulled to the back. At this point, the palms have turned 270 degrees . The victim's arms are pulled back forcibly and unnaturally at the shoulder joints, until both arms form a 90 degree angle with the body. After that, the handcuffs on the two wrists are tied together with a shoelace.

...In the best case, the victim's arms are numb, the shoulder joints have no strength and the victim feel jolts of pain for more than one year. In the worst case, the victim's arms are disabled permanently.

Now, I know that many of you in Vietnam had this carried out until that stage where their arms were permanently damaged and disabled, but remember that isn't the intent. The intent is to do no permanent harm and to gain valuable intelligence information. Here's such a case.
When my senses returned I discovered I had been blindfolded and trussed into the "pretzel" position. Thick leg irons shackled my ankles, my wrists were tied behind me, and a rope bound my elbows just above the joints. The guards tightened the bindings by putting their feet against my arms and pulling the ropes until they couldn't pull any harder. Then they tied my wrists to my ankles and jammed a 10-foot pole between my back and elbows. After a few hours the leg irons began to press heavily on my shins and feet like a vise. The ropes strangled my flesh, causing searing pain and making my arms go numb and slowly turn black.

In the middle of the night, one of the less hostile guards, whom we called Mark, sneaked in and loosened the ropes a little. If he hadn't, I'm sure I would have lost both arms. In this case I would have vanished with the other badly injured POWs who never were repatriated.
Of course, they didn't get any information from this fellow prisoner.

water_boardingOkay, for number 2. Everyone's favorite, waterboarding. In waterboarding, well, why not let the same fellow prisoner describe water boarding.
Then I was told to write a war-crimes confession, saying I was sorry I'd participated in the war. When I refused, I got to serve as a stress reliever for about 20 guards -- each took his turn beating me to a pulp. They pounded me for six or eight hours. By then I was getting pretty shaky. Then they got serious. I was introduced to a bowl of water, some filthy rags and a steel rod. The guards stuffed a rag in my mouth with the rod, then, after putting another rag over my face, they slowly poured the water on it until all I was breathing was water vapor. I could feel my lungs going tight with fluid and felt like I was drowning. I thrashed in panic as darkness took over. As I passed out, thinking I was dying, I remember thanking God that we had made a stand against this kind of society.

Again, sure somebody might die from this kind of thing accidentally, but that isn't the intention. But, perhaps most importantly, this is really no different than getting knocked down by a big wave at the beach on a hot sunny day. Or, playing tag in the pool and getting an accidental mouthful of water, or even blowing milk out your nose. Now, I know there are some former POWs that say things like:

johnmccainpow2For instance, there has been considerable press attention to a tactic called "waterboarding," where a prisoner is restrained and blindfolded while an interrogator pours water on his face and into his mouth—causing the prisoner to believe he is being drowned. He isn't, of course; there is no intention to injure him physically. But if you gave people who have suffered abuse as prisoners a choice between a beating and a mock execution, many, including me, would choose a beating. The effects of most beatings heal. The memory of an execution will haunt someone for a very long time and damage his or her psyche in ways that may never heal. In my view, to make someone believe that you are killing him by drowning is no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank. I believe that it is torture, very exquisite torture.

But, that guy, pictured here, probably doesn't understand how today's world has changed the "math" of torture.

And, of course there are other torture methods that are really no worse than other everyday occurances, like Senator Lott says.


For instance, Admiral James Stockdale was "physically tortured no fewer than 15 times. Techniques included beatings, whippings, and near-asphyxiation with ropes". But, is that really so different than what happens to frat brothers during rush each year?

And, as for beatings, well...


No, all in all, I guess ol' Trent Lott is right, many of these torture techniques are nothing more than good old fun. It makes a person wonder why so many people are up in arms? But, at least we understand now why you are not against torture, because you've lived through the fun and games and understand that it's just another barking dog, another mouth full of water, and another broken kidney. No biggie.mccain


Robert P.

September 27, 2006

Matthew Dowd, Bless His Heart.

On MSNBC Matthew Dowd just said that people don't care about the macaca comments, the "n" word, or any of that stuff. That it is only the press. Well, bless his heart.

In Virginia's U.S. Senate race, a new SurveyUSA poll finds Sen. George Allen (R-VA) with a slight edge over challenger Jim Webb (D), 49% to 44%.

Key findings: "Day-to-day data shows that the race is volatile. On Sunday 9/24, after Allen had been accused of using racial slurs in college, he led by 7 in SurveyUSA Sunday-only data . On Monday 9/25, after Allen strongly denied the accusations, he led by 11 in SurveyUSA Monday-only data. On Tuesday 9/26, after more people corroborated the accusations, Allen trailed Webb by 3 points, in Tuesday-only data. The 5-point Allen advantage shown here, when the 3 days of data are combined and averaged, cannot be considered stable."

UNC Best Value

According to the Herald-Sun, UNC was once again named Kiplinger's Best Value, the Costco of schools you might say.

CHAPEL HILL -- Kiplinger's Personal Finance once again has named UNC the best value in public colleges.

Carolina has topped the list each time the magazine has surveyed public colleges. The ranking rates the top 50 values in public colleges, using a quantitative ranking system, to find schools where students can receive a top education without accumulating significant debt.

The schools on Kiplinger's list were ranked according to academic quality, cost and financial aid. Public schools that made the top 50 keep costs down through creative financing, such as using funding from lottery tickets, university-branded apparel and private fundraisers.
I will come out here with something that is completely against the grain in CH. I think the University should cost more to attend. AND, I think the increase in costs should occur hand-in-hand with the creation of more high-quality universities in North Carolina. UNCA is considered a great undergraduate college. Other than that, the state is hurting for high-quality state schools. Why?

I would like to see UNCW, UNCC, UNCG, or ECU molded into a top-50 public institution. There is too much pressure to keep UNC-CH a great school and a cheap school. If we would work to create two or three EXCELLENT public colleges in North Carolina, we would be in a lot better shape.

Orange County coming to Cumberland?

The OCDP is organizing a GOTV effort with Cumberland county. It is supposed to happen the weekend of Oct. 21st, which I might not be able to make, unfortunately.

Stay tuned and as I find things out, I'll let you know.

September 25, 2006

What the Country/Senate Map Looks Like

This is a population map of JUST the Senate races in 2006 with a 50-50 final split of the Senate.

This is what it will look like if we have a big wave and win TN and VA.


Add to that seated Senators in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota and you've got a nice blue/purple map.

A welcome to it's a librarian thing...

any site that starts off with the Colbert On Notice board, is okay with me.

Lack of Responsibility

I just dropped my mom off at the airport after a wonderful week-long visit during which both of our kids had their birthday parties. It was great and I could write a lot about this week. But, something happened at the airport that I thought I would post a short blog on, because it seems indicative of what is wrong with our society.

As I dropped my mom off I overheard a woman discussing her flight with the valets at the curb. They told her that her 9:30 flight was delayed until 11:00. She was extremely upset and haughtily huffed, "Uh! They should have called." To which the valet replied, well they would have to call everyone. To which the woman said, "Exactly."

Now, the valet played it perfectly and said how that was just about right and he was sorry, etc. And, you know what? If she bought her ticket through Orbitz she would have gotten an automated phone call. But, to me the point was, "Who the hell do you think you are that it is someone ELSE'S responsibility to tell you your plane is late? What, you don't have a cell phone?"

Lack of responsibility. That is the problem with our country.

Personal responsibility.

Corporate responsibility.

Government responsibility.

September 22, 2006


I just found out my grant for shared instrumentation to the NIH got a lousy score. Not triaged, hopefully not bottom 50%, but lousy. Grrrrr...

Worked hard on this, thought it had a chance to get funded on first submission. I won't get back reviewer comments for a couple weeks and the program officer is out of the office. So, I'm left to...

September 21, 2006

Why has good news.

This site seems to be accepted by many in the blogger-know. I'm not sure. But, I do know this. Their results are good for us. Reasons why.

1. They give NJ to Republicans and I don't believe that will happen.

2. They have the Senate split 50-50, but take away the NJ red state and you have us in the lead 51-49.

Their map with linky

UPDATE: St. Thomas More - Intersection of Faith & Fordham

I read in the Orange Herald today that there was a discussion about the traffic problems caused/related-to St. Thomas More. As anyone who lives in Chapel Hill knows, events at the church cause a huge congestion on the surrounding roads as people try to get in and out of the "grounds". An interesting aside, I had no idea that the St. Thomas More site was 20.5 acres, so I googled it.

Wow, that is big. I'm not sure of the boundaries, maybe I can find a map later on the town site.

Anyway, the problem is:

The concept plan before the Town Council from St. Thomas More calls for a new Parish Center, gymnasium, library, classrooms, art and music building and athletic field.
Add that traffic to the traffic already there and Bam! you've got a problem. Okay, you already have a problem, but you have a BIGGER problem. While I think there are solutions, I have another question. Most Sundays and at least some other days (I'm not there when their school lets out) I see local police parked at the intersections manually running the traffic signals to ease the traffic congestion. On one hand, the traffic congestion is a "danger". On the other hand, I would imagine that it wouldn't interfere with 15/501 traffic if the signals were run as usual. It is the people leaving the church that would have long waits. Does that mean the town is paying its police officers to sit there for hours each week and operate a traffic signal so the church can empty out quicker?

Thanks to the fast footwork & phonework of Citizen Will and the CH staff.

From: Gregg Jarvies
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 9:20 AM
To: Roger Stancil
Cc: Carol Abernethy
Subject: RE: St Thomas More School

We do not provide officers to direct traffic on school days at St. Thomas More except for one or two days per year when a special event takes place. On Sundays officers are hired by the church to direct traffic. Our policy stipulates that any officer providing police services to a non-Town organization or for a function not sponsored by the Town must be hired by the organization through the police department, must be paid by the organization, and such work must be performed by the officer while he or she is in an off-duty status.
Officers working off-duty for non-Town functions are paid directly by the organization, not through Town payroll.

Well, of course the Chapel Hill Police handle this professionally. There is a reason we pay them so well, it keeps up retention, which means we have a very seasoned and professional force Serving & Protecting.

September 19, 2006

Speaking of the Catholic Church

I swear I am not on a crusade. I followed another link to the BBC and this story jumped out at me. It wasn't until I was finished with the post below that the connection to my previous post popped into my head.

I haven't followed the Pope v. Islam fight going on, because I'm not Catholic or Muslim I guess. But, this article caught my eye. It's an interesting question about papal infallibility.

Commentators have described Pope Benedict's recent expressions of regret as close to a rare papal apology. But how, they ask, can a man believed by Catholics to be "infallible" make a mistake?

According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Bishop of Rome IS infallible - but only in specific cases. The current furore over remarks made by the pontiff about Islam does not fall into this category.

Papal infallibility only comes into play with issues of faith that concern the whole Church. It doesn't apply when the Pope is expressing a personal opinion or, in this case, quoting from a historical text.

Papal infallibility was hotly debated for centuries within the Church after the notion that the Pope was the preserver of apostolic - derived from the apostles - truth, was set out in the early 6th Century. But according to Catholic historian Peter Stanford the word infallible wasn't used because it was believed only God could be infallible.

Well, there you go. He's right when it matters, but not on the little stuff. And, don't call youns infallible says Him.

September 18, 2006

New Rasmussen Polls. What they mean.

The new Rasmussen polls now have their Senate prediction looking like this:

7(Lean D)
3 (Toss-up)
1(Lean R)
That makes a total of:
48 - D
49 - R
3 - Toss-up.

The three toss-ups are Tennessee, New Jersey, and Missouri. New Jersey is safe. As my only proof of that I bring you this commentary.

I am from there. (1+ / 0-)

New Jersey.
And every single election, whether it's for the President, Senator, Governor, Senator, you name it.

This is what happens.
So not making this up.
You can do the research.
I'm too lazy right now, tired from work.

But every single time, polls come out showing the D in the lead months ahead.
Then the lead shrinks.
Then the R even gains a few points.

Then the NJ media goes beserk screaming TIGHT RACE tight race tight TIGHT tight WOW! could it be?? Yes, this is one hell of race.
Then they keep this up to election day.

Then kossaks and everyone outside of NJ goes OH SHIT. is Blue NJ going Red? Purple?

They said Gore was locked in a tight one with Bush.
Right up until days before.
Then Gore takes the state by like what?
They said Bush might take NJ over Kerry by like four points?
Kerry wins it.

The polls showed a tight race for Corzine for Gov. with the R.
RIGHT up until the polls opened they said the R (Forrester) could very well win.
According to the polls.
And Corzine wins by double digits (two years ago).

It never ends.
I don't get it.

I am SO not worried about NJ going for Kean.
It ain't ever EVER ever going to happen.
I promise you.

I've lived here all my life.
I don't care what anyone says, Kean loses to the D, period.

  • * [new] I'm from there too (0 / 0)

    I think Kean is not gonna make it either. If he was running for da guvner, maybe, but not for the Senate. New Jersey voters realize that there is much more at stake here. Note the large number of undecideds. I would bet most of those have actually already made up their minds, but people in Jersey like to pose like they can be swayed even when they can't.

  • * [new] Menendez vs. Kean (0 / 0) this year's version of Knowles vs. Murkowski (AK-Sen) in 2004, only with the parties reversed.

    Lisa Murkowski was an unpopular appointed incumbent and Tony Knowles a very likable challenger. Knowles led in many of the polls leading up to the election. However, party affiliation meant enough to Alaska's voters to make Murkowski the winner.

    I suspect the same reasoning will put Menendez over the top. NJ is as blue as AK is red.

Add New Jersey to our side and you have:
49 - D
49 - R
2 - Toss-up.

The two toss-ups are Tennessee and Missouri. All signs look bad in Missou, we are going to lose that one. However, Ford is starting to produce a steady lead and is putting out a good ad buy.

That leaves us at 50-50. However, the lean-R race is Virginia. If you saw Meet the Press this weekend, you know we have a good shot at taking down Mr. Macaca, which means we are closing in on 51-49. And, that my friends, is why we never give up.

September 16, 2006

Race in the Blogosphere

I was reading through the race wars going on within the blogosphere, starting over here and with a response over here. My take is probably a little different than anyone else. I wouldn't know an African-American blogger from a Swedish supermodel blogger if they smacked me in the keyboard with a flaming comment. Sorry, I read your stuff, agree or disagree, but I don't really consider race or religion unless that is the point of the post. Now, over at Pam Spaulding's place, which I used to have homepaged on my Mozilla tab, but really haven't read lately, you would be hard-pressed to miss the fact that she is an African-American. But, for instance, over at MyDD, it wasn't until the rubber-stamp video that I had any idea what any of those fellas looked like. Even at BlueNC, I've only seen Lance once, and Anglico maybe twice.

So, I guess my take on this is that perhaps the person doing the inviting was doing it based on what they liked and not out of concern for fairness to people of different races. Maybe not.

This was interesting timing because I just finished Tavis Smiley's What I Know For Sure (of which I managed to get an Advanced Reader's Copy). It was an excellent read of a man who has lead an extraordinary life. It is a perfect beach book or long weekend book or nightstand book if you have two kids, like I do. I'm left wondering how he would have handled this situation. First of all, I have this feeling that he would not have allowed himself to not be invited; as he seemed, from his own telling, to have pushed himself into every opportunity that arose. There were times when he admits that he "pulled the race card", but more often it seems that he simply outworked everyone else and pushed for what he wanted harder than anyone else. In this case, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Tavis Smiley calling for a minority blogger conference with the former President.

Maybe not, because after all, This Much I Do Not Know Is True.

There is hope for Democrats.

I don't know whether this is happening in NC, and we are four years behind the RNC, but at least we're making strides.

Catalist, a private information firm founded by veteran Democratic strategist Harold Ickes, is providing the raw data. The firm has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to add demographic and commercial data to entries for each voter, often purchasing the information from information vendors.

In Michigan, EMILY's List asked Garin Hart Yang, a Democratic polling firm, to survey more than 12,000 Michigan voters with an in-depth battery of lifestyle and issue questions. From the massive poll, EMILY's List and Garin Hart Yang were able to profile distinct clusters of voters. These groups were then given names like Educated Postgraduate Democrats or Downscale Union Independents. Each cluster was scored for how likely it'd support Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, their affinity toward the Democratic Party and the likelihood they will vote.

September 15, 2006

And, if you think vote rigging is a thing of the past...

this from the Washington Post about the debacle in Maryland last Tuesday.

Workers on Valette's staff inexplicably forgot to include the plastic cards needed to cast electronic votes when they prepared green canvas bags for election judges. The mistake -- discovered 45 minutes before polling places were to open -- delayed thousands of voters and sparked calls for the top two Elections Board officials to resign or be fired.
He said he doesn't know how the 13,000 blue-and-white access cards got left out of the voting materials assembled in the Board of Elections warehouse last Friday. The cards should have been in the security bag, which remains zipped and fastened with a red plastic padlock until 6 a.m. on primary election day, he said. The sealed bag contains passwords and other sensitive material.

Now, perhaps this is just an innocent mistake. Perhaps. And, perhaps George Bush is a compassionate conservative after all.

Liquid Armor - Fact or Fiction?

If true, it is a GD crime that we do not have NC textile mills being opened to create this stuff for the military. In WWII we took over the auto plants to create tanks.

Today, we should be opening every closed textile mill to make this liquid armor clothing.

The most important story you'll never hear.

I just did a Google News search and only one major traditional media source, NPR, was covering this story. Princeton computer scientists got their hands on a Diebold voting machine and showed how easily it could be hacked. The video is only a few minutes long. In the end, there is no way of knowing whether a machine has been hacked. But, I take you back to this:

Auglaize County: in October, a former employee of Election Systems and Software (ES&S), the company that provides the voting system in Auglaize County, was allegedly on the main computer that is used to create the ballot and compile election results, which would go against election protocol.

September 14, 2006

Sen. Allen, Stupid or Racist?

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) was videotaped calling a young Indian man a 'macaca', a racial slur common in his neck of the woods. He then went on to make excuses, like that he said "mohawk" referring to the kid's haircut. Finally, he gave up and gave an apology.

...Allen again apologized for the remark. Then, for the first time, he expressed regret for his longtime infatuation with the Confederate flag.

"The point is, symbols matter, they should matter, and this is something that I wish I learned a lot earlier," Allen said. "Even if your heart is pure, the things you say and do and the symbols you use do matter because of the way others may take them."

Oh man. I wish you had learned earlier too George, early enough to realize you were a racist, maybe then something could have been done for you. Now, it is too late.

He hung a noose from a plant in his Charlottesville law office in the 1980s and a Confederate flag inside his home. As governor in the mid-1990s, he alienated some by signing a resolution that designated a Confederate history month in Virginia but did not acknowledge the evils of slavery.

Allen, 54, said he did not see racial overtones in the Confederate flag.

That is because you've never seen it as the end of your life, as the thing that took away your father, your mother, your son or your daughter.

He said he was a rebellious youth and viewed the banner as a "symbol against authority." As a history major at the University of Virginia in the early 1970s, he said, he also began to see the flag as a proud heritage symbol for those with ancestors from the South who fought in the Civil War.

Well, Sen. Allen, you must have been a lousy history major. The "Rebel Flag" is actually the Confederate Navy Jack and is not the flag of the Army of Virginia. You see, that flag is square. Today's flag makers like the one-size-fits-all production value of the Naval Jack. So, all you racist maroons have been flying the wrong flag because flag makers in China prefer to use a rectangle instead of a square.

Kalling for Kissell

The other day I did some phone calling for Larry Kissell in NC-08, where he is running against Robin Hayes. The thing that amazed me was this, of the people who answered the phone, all but 1 were undecided. That one was viciously anti-Hayes.

I think this race will come down to cash. If the DCCC does not give Larry cash and soon, then the undecideds might swing back to Hayes or not show up at all. If they give cash, people get to know Larry (who has no background for Hayes to smear, what are you going to do, put him down for being a mill worker and a school teacher?). If people get to know Larry he wins.

End of story.

September 13, 2006

Orange County: If you restrict it, they will build it.

I see that at last night's council meeting there was a debate about a new development idea in Meadowmont.

Health Decisions does pharmaceutical trials and is located on Quadrangle Drive in Durham County. On about four acres along West Barbee Chapel Road in Meadowmont, the proposal calls for two floors of office space totaling 52,000 square feet, and a third floor with 11 residential units.

The question the council centered on was whether it would want the developer to build two officially "affordable" condos out of the 11 units, working with Orange Community Housing and Land Trust, or to accept a chunk of money from Rosenberg and his partners instead to go toward building affordable housing elsewhere. It's the same question that comes up with many projects in Chapel Hill.

The problem in a nutshell?

Mayor Kevin Foy suggested the council probably could go ahead and decide Monday night if Rosenberg were willing to commit to paying $150,000 toward affordable housing.
Rosenberg said he thought he had a basic understanding that a payment-in-lieu of $112,500 would be acceptable, based on an estimate from the land trust's Robert Dowling that that was the cost for 1.5 affordable units. Foy and some of the council said they still had some interest in actually seeing two units included within Castalia, or at least for Rosenberg to make a payment of $150,000 for two units.

"You're asking a difficult question, because I'd have to go back and look at the economics of this," Rosenberg said. "This may just be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

Fine. Let it break. Orange County, Chapel Hill, and Meadowmont are good locations. If you restrict it, they will build it. If not this guy, then the next. Developers have been crying foul over building restrictions in Orange County since before I was born, but it is still built out isn't it? I have lived in a number of coastal areas, where growth is accelerated, so let me give you a heads up on what is coming.

1. Sprawl until every allowable inch of ground is covered in a development.

2. Teardowns of the smallest houses and businesses to make larger houses and businesses (already happening with houses in town, go to top of the hill and see the old gas station that used to sit on that site).

3. Teardown of larger businesses to create even bigger businesses (in Daytona Beach, five story hotels were torn down to create ten story hotels, in Miami Beach, 10 story hotels were torn down to create 40 story condo highrises).

Many years ago we lost the opportunity to do something special at Eastgate and out along MLK. Now, we have this.

Instead of something like this.

Starving the System

If you are against Universal Healthcare/Single Payer Healthcare, your biggest enemy is Medicare. Medicare is an excellent single-payer system that covers a huge number of people with lots of serious medical conditions for a reasonable price and with low low overhead (2% versus 30%). So, if you are a Republican in the White House and in the Legislative Branch, what do you do?

You starve the program into submission. You don't come right out and say you are going to kill off Medicare, because no one will support that. But, you start trimming benefits here, making more paperwork there, donut-holes for you, and then you slowly undercut the whole program by making it unattractive to doctors. That is the secret plan if you will of the Republican Congress. Undercut medicare so that less doctors accept it, talk about what a lousy plan it is, and suggest privatization.

Physicians issue warning over Medicare pay cut
By Jeffrey Young

With the number of legislative days dwindling and a stiff Medicare pay cut on the horizon, interest groups representing physicians are again warning that lower rates will cause doctors to treat fewer beneficiaries.

Groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) sound this alarm every time Medicare├é’s complex and much maligned payment formula calls for a cut in their fees, as it has for several consecutive years. For 2007, doctors seeing Medicare patients will get paid 5.1 percent less than this year if Congress does not act.

The plan is already in action, your social security benefits have already been cut. How? Because for each 5% cut in payment, doctors must schedule more patients, which means that your time with the provider becomes limited, your care suffers, your health suffers, you suffer. Don't fall for it.

Healthcare for All is our only option for good health in this country, our only option for those who believe healthcare is a fundamental right and not aprivilegee given to the wealthy few.

Fight for Healthcare For All.

September 12, 2006

North Carolina, Immoral When It Comes to Children

This is a statistic that ticks me off, and it shows that when you think North Carolina, you really need to think "mediocre". You need to think, "aiming for third-world status".

North Carolina's infant death rate continues to exceed the national average. In 2005, 1,077 babies died before their first birthday - a rate of 8.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Based on provisional data, North Carolina ranked 45th in the nation in infant mortality in 2005.

In this case, we aren't even mediocre, we are below mediocre, we are bottom of the barrel. But, let's look outside the US, let's see how we rate compared to other "modern" countries. These are the countries that have infant mortality rates BETTER than North Carolina. That is, the infant mortality rate for the WHOLE COUNTRY is better than for North Carolina, with UNC Hospitals, Duke Hospitals, Wake Med, Rex, etc. We have, what four medical schools? UNC, Duke, Wake, East Carolina? Anyway, here you go.

163 Chile 8.80
164 Guadeloupe 8.60
165 Hungary 8.57
166 Bermuda 8.53
167 French Polynesia 8.44
168 Cayman Islands 8.19
169 Virgin Islands 8.03
170 Estonia 7.87
171 Reunion 7.78
172 New Caledonia 7.72
173 Saint Pierre and Miquelon 7.54
174 Slovakia 7.41
175 Poland 7.36
176 Montserrat 7.35
177 Cyprus 7.18
178 Northern Mariana Islands 7.11
179 Martinique 7.09
180 Israel 7.03
181 Guam 6.94
182 Lithuania 6.89
183 Croatia 6.84
184 United States 6.50
185 Taiwan (Republic of China) 6.40
186 Cuba 6.33
187 Korea, South 6.28
188 Faroe Islands 6.24
189 Italy 5.94
190 Man, Isle of 5.93
191 Aruba 5.89
192 New Zealand 5.85
193 San Marino 5.73
194 Greece 5.53
195 Monaco 5.43
196 Ireland 5.39
197 Jersey 5.24
198 United Kingdom 5.16
199 Gibraltar 5.13
200 European Union 5.10
201 Portugal 5.05
202 Netherlands 5.04
203 Luxembourg 4.81
204 Canada 4.75
205 Guernsey 4.71
206 Liechtenstein 4.70
207 Australia 4.69
208 Belgium 4.68
209 Austria 4.66
210 Denmark 4.56
211 Slovenia 4.45
212 Spain 4.42
213 Switzerland 4.39
214 Macau 4.37
215 France 4.26
216 Germany 4.16
217 Andorra 4.05
218 Czech Republic 3.93
219 Malta 3.89
220 Norway 3.70
221 Finland 3.57
222 Iceland 3.31
223 Japan 3.26
224 Hong Kong 2.96
225 Sweden 2.77
226 Singapore 2.29

I highlighted those that stand out in my mind, not because they actually ARE third-world countries, but because in America we look down on these nations as below us. Not as good as us. Yet, here they are, MUCH better at keeping their babies alive than we are.

Where are the pro-life activists?

Where is your indignation?

Or, are you merely pro-birth, do you care not for what happens to those babies once they are born?

Shame on you.

September 11, 2006

Black Lung

I've just seen on Keith Olbermann's Countdown and read on the N&O that many/most of the people that worked on the pile after 9/11 have developed lung problems.

The Mount Sinai study indicates that workers, many of whom were volunteers, inhaled a caustic, pulverized dust that reached deep into their lungs and sinuses. The dust contained "trillions upon trillions of microscopic shards of glass," asbestos and other carcinogens, the co-author of the study told the Los Angeles Times. Among the ailments encountered are asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease, according to guidelines released by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

I watched my granny die from a similar malady. She had worked her whole life in a shirt factory and the years of breathing linen fibers clogged her lungs like asbestos or coal. The doctors of Central PA were amazed at how similar it was to Black Lung. These men deserve our immediate attention, their health needs deserve our every effort. These were the men and women who fought to claw bodies, living and dead, from the mass that had been the center of commerce in America. So soon we forget. There is no GI Bill for these citizens. There is no VA for their care. There is nothing, but platitudes.

Whitman said in a "60 Minutes" interview to be aired this weekend that the EPA did not have authority over the Ground Zero site, and claimed she provided an accurate assessment of the air quality following the attacks. She distinguished between the air in lower Manhattan, which was considered safe, and the air at Ground Zero, which was not. "The readings [in lower Manhattan] were showing us that there was nothing that gave us any concern about long-term health implications," she said. "That was different from on the pile itself, at ground zero. There, we always said consistently, 'You've got to wear protective gear.'" (AP, Sept. 8)

But this a bogus defense, given that she failed to make this rather critical distinction at the time. New York Newsday saves this Sept. 18, 2001 Whitman quote from the Memory Hole:

"We are very encouraged that the results frpm our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances. I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington DC that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink."

Yet she has the chutzpah to tell "60 Minutes": "We never lied." Ommission is a form of lying, Christine. Ask any lawyer.

Now, the President sits in a tie that is too tight, that makes him look like a bobble, and spouts off about WMDs. He is so full of shit that it makes my head itch.

Starving our Children

I love that the newspaper publishes what our kids are eating for lunch. Have a look.


Chicken tenders w/roll or sloppy joe

SIDE DISH: Green beans; creamed potatoes; peaches

Chicken tenders or sloppy joe. It was the chicken tenders that got Jamie Oliver involved in Britain, and resulted in better meals for the kids throughout the country. The peaches are probably canned in corn syrup, so they might as well be a Snickers bar for the high sugar content and lack of nutritional value. Same with the creamed potatoes, which probably have a thumb-sized dollop of fat in each serving.


Chicken sandwich or corn dog

SIDE DISH: Steamed broccoli; corn; applesauce
Steamed broccoli and corn are good. Applesauce is okay, unless it has sugar added, then it's a desert. Chicken sandwich is probably breaded and full of fat; and, corn dog...seriously, you're giving them corn dogs???


Pizza or quesadillas

SIDE DISH: Spanish rice; fresh carrots & cucumbers; oranges
The side dishes are not bad except that a serving of rice has about 40 grams of carbs and no fiber, so it is basically like eating a Snicker's bar. The pizza is probably nutritionally deficient, but tons of simple carbs in the crust, fatty cheese and oils. Quesadillas could be a great meal, but I doubt these are packed full of peppers, onions, eggplant, and the like.


Taco salad or turkey hoagie

SIDE DISH: Shredded lettuce/diced tomatoes; pintos; pineapple
Nothing really redeeming here, again.


Hot dog w/trimmings or fish sandwich

SIDE DISH: Baked beans; coleslaw; apple

Again with the hot dogs? Fish sandwich is probably deep fried, but at least has some nutritional value, if it isn't a garbage fish that they are buying on the cheap. Baked beans have lots of protein, but these probably have high carbs because of the sauce. Same with coleslaw, probably lots of mayo with bad fat content.

I want you to ask yourself if this is good enough for our kids? Is it? Because I don't think it is. I think it sucks. To prove my point, I was going to show the prison menus for this week because everyone knows that prisoners eat better than students. But, lo and behold, I couldn't find the prison menus anywhere online.

Do you wonder why the majority of Americans are fat? You've just stared it in the face. We feed our kids fat, we cut down on their exercise, we put TVs in their rooms, video games in their rooms, and drive them a block to see a movie. Our kids are fat because of us. The least we could do is give them a shot at good health by teaching them good eating standards, but no, we've got them eating crud from start to finish. Way to go us!

September 10, 2006

Bad with names, getting worse with age.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I am horrible at remembering names. But, I think it is getting much worse now that I am in my mid-30s. Yikes!

Anyone have any suggestions?

September 09, 2006

George C. gets it right on Carolina North

George C. is a common user over at Orange Politics. In an article from today's Herald-Sun, he gets it right on transit for Carolina North.

Chapel Hill delegate George Cianciolo reiterated the town's stance that the new campus should be oriented around using public transit right from the start. But Holden Thorpe, chairman of the UNC Chemistry Department, said one of his concerns was that scientists would need to have access to Carolina North labs during off-hours, when public transit wasn't an option.
Dr. Thorpe, in my opinion, is using Republican tactics here. No one, well, almost no one, is saying there should be no parking available on Carolina North. But, that the majority of movement should be through personal transit and public transportation. That doesn't change at night. If we create places to live on campus for grad students and postdocs, then they walk to work. One local professor I know thinks that is the BEST reason for having housing on campus, because he can get his workers to come in at night to transfer that blot into primary antibody instead of waiting a whole day. The parking at night will free up, just like it does now. Go to any building on campus at night and you will find student and postdoc cars filling the service slots and reserved tiny parking spaces. It seems to work. I've never had to park at the Cardinal or Dogwood deck in order to work at night.

I think, and this is just a guess, the reason many OFFICIALS are against public transit is because they are used to parking right in front of their buildings and scooting right inside. Many faculty in the medical school start out parking down by the Dean dome and taking a shuttle or hiking up. Then, they can get a pass to the Craig deck, still a walk. I've talked to many that wish public transit was more widespread and more timely so they could ditch the car and travel by bus.

Personal and public transit doesn't solve all ills, but it is a good answer for many people. Deal with it.

My Nobel Connections...

Several years ago I did a month stint in the lab or Sydney Brenner. He was always very busy, but we had some nice chats about molecular evolution. Then, he won the Nobel Prize.

On Monday, I will be working with Oliver Smithies. Who is Oliver Smithies you might ask?

CHAPEL HILL -- Oliver Smithies, a UNC professor of pathology, has been named a 2006 Thomson Scientific Laureate in the field of physiology/medicine. The 27 laureates named by Thomson are likely contenders for Nobel Prizes in the near future, according to the company.
Want your name up in bright lights, just hang out with me baby.

Just kidding of course.

Republicans concede in Rhode Island

This brings my prediction that much closer.

In an extraordinary pre-emptive announcement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will concede Rhode Island to the Democrats should Stephen Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, defeat Mr. Chafee in the primary.

Citing poll data, Republican leaders said they saw no way someone as conservative as Mr. Laffey could win in a state as Democratic as this; as it is, they are increasingly worried about Mr. Chafee’s hopes in a general election.

My Senate Prediction and Progressive Leaning

Why not, everyone else is doing it. I've been reading all the polls, all the other predictions, and fooling around on this page at the NYT.
My predictions are:
Pennsylvania - Win a close one (Casey is a lousy campaigner, Santorum is good, but he is too loony for PA).
Ohio - Win a close one (Ohio corruption stains the Imperial Republic Party).
Rhode Island - Win a blowout after Laffey wins the Primary.
Montana - Win with a fairly good margin (5-6 points) because everyone there is looking to hate Burns, and he is providing them the opportunity.
Virginia - Win a nail-biter, perhaps with a recount it is so close.

Tennessee - Again, a nail-biter, but I don't think we win Tennessee (yet).
Missouri - This race was trending nicely for us, but now is going the other way. I think Talent keeps his seat.
Nevada - I think Carter positions himself well for another run, another day, but loses by 2-3 points in Nevada. The only way this race turns is if the unions prove themselves to be like the unions in the 40-50s and create huge turnout for Dems. If Democratic turnout is much, much higher in Las Vegas than ever before, then Carter might win.
Arizona - I don't know why people are even polling this race anymore. Unless we have a huge scandal, like happened with Obama's opponent, Pederson loses.

Outcome - 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, 1 Indy, which means a 50-50 split with Cheney having deciding vote.

HOWEVER, there is a huge upside to this. We replace:
Jeffords in VT with Bernie Sanders. Former Republican replaced with self-described Socialist. Progressive +1.

Lamont beats Lieberman in CT. Replace an Imperial-appeaser with a progressive Democrat. Progressives +2.

Tester is an organic farmer with all the right positions. Progressives +3.

Casey is conservative, but Santorum is man-on-dog conservative. Progressives +4.

George Allen is a racist KKK-appeaser. Jim Webb used to serve Reagan, only in this race could we say...Progressive +5.

Ohio and Rhode Island. We are replacing Republicans with Democrats. Those Democrats are not left-wing, but they are Democrats. Progressives +6, +7.

I'm not sure about Amy Klobuchar, she seems fairly progressive, but Dayton did too based on votes. So, in the end the Senate leans Progressive +7 compared to previously.


Anyone know how to kill off a whole yard-infestation of ants? I have them everywhere and I think they are based on this tree that has about a million ant embryo cases.

I don't wanna use pesticides.

George Bush isn't Crazy...

he's freakin' Goofy.


September 06, 2006

Is Orange County going to hell or is it just the Herald

Here are some of the top stories on the website.

Drunken driver sentenced for hitting blind woman, guide dog
HILLSBOROUGH -- The man who hit and injured a blind woman and killed her guide dog was sentenced to four months in prison Tuesday in Orange County Criminal Superior Court.

Stephen Coffee stands with assistant public defender Sherri Murrell at a sentencing hearing Tuesday at the Orange County Courthouse.
The Herald-Sun/Christine T. Nguyen

Man draws 25-30 years for killing romantic rival
A judge sentenced Henry Atkins Jennings to 25 to 30¾ years in prison Tuesday for shooting and killing a romantic rival and for three other drug and weapon charges.

Woman receives judgment of $20M against killer
A judge has awarded $20 million in damages to a woman whose common-law husband killed their daughter, a friend and a toddler.

Crime Log: Shooting deemed suicide

So, what is it? Is Orange County having a rash of violent crime or is the Herald Sun turning to the popular practice of sensationalizing death?

September 05, 2006

Baghdad vs. Lebanon

More than three years into the Iraqi occupation and we still don't have things under control in Iraq. The residents of Iraq hate us and with good reason, they still have limited electricity and water and "frills" like food and gas are hard to come by and can get you killed. Children are dying in the bombings every day, women are afraid for their lives, and men cannot find work to provide for their families.

So, how are things working out in another country that has been bombed "back to the stone ages" as Republicans like to say? Let's take a look at Lebanon after the break.

It is three weeks into a truce in Lebanon and the government still has no reconstruction plan.
"If it does not deliver the services it's just simply a name and in this case it's just simply an empty shell," publisher of the Daily Star newspaper Jamil Mroue said.

But in the South, it's a very different story - bustling with money and energy.

Mustafa Bedredine is mayor of Nabatiyeh - a stronghold of the Shi'ite militant group, Hezbollah.

Pummeled during the 34-day Israeli bombing what was rubble has now been cleared. Electricity and water are already restored.

When asked where the money for this reconstruction will come from, the mayor answers flatly that Hezbollah will provide the cash. Throughout South Lebanon, Hezbollah has deployed its team of bankers and engineers - keeping promises to rebuild lives.

Even in the worst-hit parts of Beirut, 'Construction Jihad' - 1,000's of Hezbollah volunteers led by Bilal Naim are at work.

How long before Construction Jihad takes over in Iraq? How long before they sicken of our lies and war and simply start rebuilding the country themselves with money coming from Iran and the Taliban?

The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that people in the beleaguered city (ar-Ramadi) had been eagerly awaiting the assistance, having been cut off by the Americans for several months, not only from supplies, but from running water and electricity. Women and children had already lined up to wait for the convoy. But with the Americans determined to keep all aid out of the city, the convoy was obliged to turn around and head back to Baghdad before sunset, when the hours of curfew set in.

We've spent billions and years on Iraq and we can't come close to the improvements that Hezbollah has made in Lebanon. Many say that when we pull out the situation will dissolve into chaos, but I say look at Lebanon where a puppet government is ineffective, but Hezbollah has taken over. The same will happen in Iraq, whether we leave now or in ten years. The majority will fall back on their roots and join forces with Iran based on how things are going right now. It might have been a different story if Bush had allowed the UN to run the country immediately and had used bidded-contracts with deadlines and goals to rebuild Iraq. But, no.

We could have had an Iraq with an international force keeping out the way while the Iraqi military ran things, but we disbanded them.

We didn't protect the cities after the fall of Saddam because we didn't have enough troops and from that chaos was born the state of chaos we have today. Where US troops are seen as too few to make a difference.

When we leave, and we will leave, Iraq will erupt in conflict, it will become a state not unlike Iran, it will sell its oil and have a lot of money, and it will hate us with all its being.

Thanks Republicans.

September 02, 2006

I'm back.

It's going to take a little while for me to get up and going. Some rewrites and such, but I am going to use this platform as a personal blog, not just politics. I will be discussing Orange County politics here.

So, I'm off to the Chapel Hill park to let the kids play, then to hit Caffe Driade for a cup of coffee. Maybe I'll stop there first...