Sunday, November 27, 2005

The House of What?

Non-representational art has always come easy to me. Since ever I was quite young I've liked the paintings of de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, and especially Kandinsky.

Our household will probably never be able to afford original artworks by any of those painters, but we do have some things like this painting, but by different elephant artists, for example. We also have things done by actual humans who are not even close relatives of ours.

Good and enjoyable art doesn't have to represent anything. It can be like music.

This aesthetic, however, does not at all apply in American politics.

I hereby proclaim that we call the House of Representative the House of Abstract Expressionists, especially in light of recent polls. Like this Harris survey taken a week or so ago.

This scientifically-conducted poll taken by one of this world's premier pollsters concludes that 63% of the Americans who were asked favor pulling our troops out of Iraq in the coming year.

Well, somebody, like Becca maybe, should set this winger straight:

"Congratulations to House Republicans and Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth for finally standing up and making the anti-war Democrats put up or shut up.

On Nov. 18, the Republicans forced the House to vote on a bill that simply said it is the consensus of the House that we immediately remove our troops from Iraq. It was very plain to see on C-SPAN that the Democrats were hopping mad to be forced to choose between their rhetoric and what is best for the country. They wanted this as an issue and did not really want a real solution, but the final vote was 403-3 to keep our troops in Iraq."


That is just so pitiful. Poor thing.

Hey, wait there just a dog-gone minute. Becca already did straighten out this issue, and in the same exact newspaper in which this guy had his letter printed, but hers was up the day before!


"To be accurate, the 403-3 votes were based on a wholly irresponsible and blatantly partisan GOP reinterpretation of Rep. John Murtha's remarks. That it came to such a shattering defeat says more about the GOP's ability to rewrite the views of Democrats in their own image than it does about the Democrats' ideas."


I guess the guy must have missed that.

He probably misses a lot of things. Like reality.

Anyways, a 403-3 vote. Sheesh. Just who are these people representing? I don't think they are "representing" anything. Certainly not the 63% of Americans who are currently maintaining their sanity.

Paintbrush-wielding elephants would be more responsive to the current political leanings of the American citizenry than either our own House or the people who write the loopy pro-Iraq-war letters to newspapers.


It was cold but not too bad. I didn't need a hat. Wool gloves were fine. It was early spring of 1977 and the leaves had not yet begun to sprout but there was no snow.

I walked to the bus station, wrote them a check for a few dollars, and was on my way to Fredonia outside Buffalo. I had a ticket to see Valdimir Horowitz the next afternoon, at Kleinhans Music Hall in the big town.

The man was a lion. He was in a second prime period of his career. There had been a number of years, a decade-plus, in which he did not concertize. It was said that for one year-and-a-half period he never even left his apartment in New York, preferring to stay at home with his ever-protective wife, who herself was the daughter of the legendary conductor Toscanini.

There is a story about Toscanini at some famous opera house about to conduct some three-hour-long major work, whatever, let's just say it was Aida for effect, though it well could have been Fidelio for all I know.

Anyways, the story goes that just before the opera, the bassonist of the orchestra madly approached Toscanini and said "Maestro, I'm in a fix. The low E-flat key on my bassoon is broken, and I don't have time to go home and get my other instrument."

Toscanini ruminated for a moment and replied "Don't worry about it. You don't have any low E-flats in Aida."

He knew his stuff, that Toscanini. Good memory. He obviously didn't smoke a lot of reefer.

Anyways, I stayed with a college friend. His mother had corralled me into singing and playing in her church choir, which was the best one by far in my home town. Later I would be best man (but not best shoes,) at his wedding.

The next day we drove to Kleinan's to hear Horowitz, who always played afternoon concerts after eating a meal of Dover sole.

He opened with an obscure Clementi sonata, did some Rachmaninoff etudes-tableax, then the Chopin B-flat-minor Funeral March sonata. My brain was on "wow" the whole time. After the A-flat Polonaise I thought the piano was going to collapse, because somehow Horowitz was able to play very, very loudly, but it held up for three encores, including Mozskowski's "Etincelles" or "Sparks," and Schumann's "Traumerei."

I heard him play that on TV on the "live from Moscow" concert in real time a few years later. Two of my beloved dogs, a red Saluki and a black-and-white Borzoi, died that same morning. I can't stand hearing it anymore. I have the CD but it's dusty.

The next day I found that the Buffalo bus station, unlike the provincial college-town station I came from, did not take checks. Naive was I. Sheesh. I ended up pounding on the door of the local Methodist church, because I assumed they were all as nice a bunch of people as my choir-mates back home.

They just happened to have a bus of hyperactive old ladies heading east out of Buffalo to go to a quilting festival or something, so they gave me a ride. They also gave me doughnuts and cashed a $10-dollar out-of-town check. Bunch of sweetie-pies. No Horowitz fans among them though, but they were impressed I had travelled hundreds of miles to hear him.

I mailed them a thank you note and small church donation a week afterwards.

They turned south before the highway back to college turned north, so I had to do a little hitching. My first and shortest hitch was just to get through the Thruway Exit Booth, because they wouldn't let me just walk out onto the Thruway. That was a ride of about a hundred yards. I continued east after the guy dropped me off on his own way west.

Some guys in a van got me as far as the highway north, where a beer-guzzling mullet-cut wild-and-crazy pothead took me all the way to Watertown. He could drive and moon other cars at the same time. But he didn't kill me and drop my body in a ditch, so it all worked out okay.

Another short hitch got me into town to the Greyhound station, where I paid my three dollars and took a bus for the final stretch.

My friends, almost all pianists themselves, cheered me as I walked into the dining hall. They pawed me. Well, at least Janine did, she was just like that, and they asked me all about Horowitz, and I talked about the absolutely weird electrical thing that spread though the air of the auditorium the moment he walked on stage.

Later we all went to the big concert hall at Crane and heard the Juilliard Quartet play Ravel.

Back in those days, that was a big weekend for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Three Days in One

The day before, the patient had gone to radiology specials to have a pocket of fluid drained. Yesterday, the 22nd of November, they got news that the fluid contained malignant cells.

I knew so the minute I knocked gently on the patient's usually-closed hospital room door only to be politely shooed away by the doctor, a guy I really respect. Though I went to the desk to chart, mentally I was preparing a cocktail of p.r.n. medications I was going to offer the patient as soon as the door opened.

Before I had a chance to go get those, the patient's spouse came out and requested some pain medicine for the patient, and they were about due anyways, and I suggested that maybe I'd bring the anti-anxietal too and they thought that was not such a bad idea.

Though the patient, younger than me and just handed a death-sentence, broke my heart, I held it together and they did not shower in my own tears. Much, anyways.

Earlier in the day I had mentioned that it was Saint Cecilia's Day, but we all know it was another day, different from the celebration of music's patron saint.

Some of us nurses discussed where we were on that day. So-and-so was in 7th grade. Another was home sick from school and watched it all unfold on television. I was at school. Many nurses noted that at that time they had not yet been born.

People say I think about death too much. My family says so, and so does my analyst. I protest that I myself think about death just the right amount of time, but that everybody else thinks about it too little.

Long ago when I was attending nursing school I worked as a monitor-tech-slash-nurse-assistant-slash-unit secretary. They had me do things that the nurses were just basically too busy to do. Sometimes I set up sterile fields for Swan insertions, sometimes I did computer order-entry, sometimes I just sat in front of the monitors and watched cardiac rhythms float by like slow minutes on a lazy summer day out-of-doors.

Sometimes I wrapped up people who had passed on.

This one old guy was someone I had worked with several times over the years, first on the medical-surgical floor where I had worked previously, then later in the ICU where he died. I got the shroud kit and closed the door and curtains to the room, and washed his breathless pale corpse.

He had gone quietly, with some family members present who did not want him desperately coded. They had stepped out for me to do my job after they had said final good-byes. For some reason the television in the room was still turned on. I could barely hear it. Once in a while as I worked to prepare his body for the morgue I could not help but look up at the picture.

It was Denise Austin's fitness show. She was doing a rodeo with her legs and performing a soft-core wide-open split when the door to the room opened.

It was a family member who had not yet gotten the news that the patient had died. They must have just walked into the ICU without going through the usual process of calling in from the waiting area, and they missed the relatives who had just gone home. They gave me a shocked and disgusted look and abruptly left.

At least I had the patient somewhat covered at that point. But spread-eagled Denise on the television must have seemed quite inappropriate to them.

I tried to chase them down to see how they were doing, but they had disappeared out of the unit. Then I explained to the nurses what had happened. They seemed unconcerned about the emotional state of the family member who had just found out, in a peculiarly bad way, that their loved one had died. The nurses were more alarmed that their perimeter had been broken and that the person had just strolled into the unit without proper announcement.

Me too.

That's one dead body story. Nurses have those.

Anyways, back to the day at hand. The patient and their family kept telling me how much they appreciated the comfort I was providing for their grimly-diagnosed loved one. They were one-and-all a very gracious and lovely bunch of people, and I made sure to tell them that a lot. But the patient's news of the day changed things.

Like that day changed us all back in 1963. We struggle still to regain what we lost then.

And like the voice of Saint Cecilia resounding with comforting music we can all hear and feel.

How we need that music. How we need to change back, in some mysterious way that I cannot begin to explain.

Be Somebody's Thanksgiving

In some states it's as simple as checking a box on the back of your driver's license card. But in practical terms, the process is a little more complex, and upon your demise your family will be asked about it and some simple paperwork will need to be processed.

One of the best movies that you will probably never get a chance to see is Jesus of Montreal. I was lucky enough to see it with a devoutly Catholic friend when it first came out back in 1990 or so. A great retelling of the story we all think we know anyways, it's worth hunting down.

In it, a struggling actor is asked to perform the yearly re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross outdoors on the hill that signifies the beautiful city of Montreal. There are many scenes in the movie that are synonymous with events from the story as told in the Bible, such as the trashing of the money-changers. Near the end, in the play-within-the-film atop Mount Royal, the lead character of the film is injured while upon the cross.

He dies. One of the memorable closing scenes of the movie includes a woman whose eye bandages are removed, and who can then see because of tissues donated from the body of the lead character. Another person receives the heart.

I think you know what I'm getting at here.

And you know what they say. "Donate Life."

Hey, it's free.

Does anybody out there recall the old Doonesbury sequence in which a conservative character gets a heart transplant and the donor was a liberal? If I had a few hours I'd search their archives for the correct link, but then I'd just get lost reading all the old strips. It's amazing what you find there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rhymes With Fall

In Gilbert, Arizona, this is what they do for fun on weekends. They wrestle cows. No, they don't buy them dinner first. No movie afterwards.

Deep in my mind's recesses, somewhere under a pile of old Herman's Hermits vinyl records, is an early memory I have of going to Gilbert. I was a little kid, and dad piled the family into the 1960 Ford Falcon station-wagon, then only a couple-few years old, and we went for a Sunday afternoon drive.

Such a thing will soon be indeed a thing of the past, as fuel prices inhibit purely recreational motoring.

Anyways, we went to Gilbert and there was nothing there really except a ditch alongside some railroad tracks which passed by an old water tower. It's all still there, but now within the midst of about a couple hundred thousand people. People who weren't there a few decades ago. A town that was open fields those few decades ago.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Textbook Examples

Another shiny nugget from the mother of all lodes, the Arizona Republic Letters-to-the-Editor page, don't you know. These come out on such a regular basis that somebody should start a blog just for the sake of dismantling these things for frequent fun, education, and entertainment.

A letter full of fallacies indeed. Well, not full full, just a little full. Just two fallacies are cited for, but then also perpetrated on, the reader.

In criticism of a previous letter-to-the-editor, this writer asserts the following:


"He says Rosa Parks has done more to change the U.S. than many other famous persons. He also argued that she is one of the only people who symbolized the true meaning of our Constitution."

On the face of it those are two perfectly logical and acceptable statements. Rosa Parks is all that. I think the letter-writer is assuming, note assuming, that the original statement was a fallacy of the all-instead-of-some variety. Unfortunately the wording defies the argument. "Some" and "one of the only" are not "all." So the writer of the letter sees a fallacy where there is none.

Rosa Parks has done more to change the U.S. than many other famous people, like Kevin Bacon, for example, or Cindy Lauper, who are both very widely known.

And Parks is one of the only people who symbolized the true meaning of our Constitution. Of course she's not the "only" person to have done so. Many people have, and she is one of them. She is an icon for many of us who value civil rights for all, myself included.

Then the young student of logic continues with these observations:

"The fallacies I found here are overgeneralization and pity. Steve overgeneralizes when he writes that Rosa Parks has done more than any other individual since Martin Luther King. Katz also uses pity in his letter. But if Katz wants to catch the reader appropriately, he should lay down facts and avoid pity. "

Maybe the first letter, to which the young writer refers, does make the rather overgeneral claim that Parks "has done more" than so-and-so, but without an actual citation from the original we will not know. (My albeit brief search could not exhume the original LTTE by Steve Katz from the Republic's archives, so I can do no better that the young writer herself.)

Likewise, the critic herself includes no citation of the "pity" she says should be avoided in logical argument.

By injecting such an emotion-laden word, though, isn't she herself committing just that fallacy, the use of emotionally-charged words? Especially in light of her neglect to provide of an example of such, ignoring her own admonishment to "lay down facts."

Hey, there's another thing. The young critic has tried to apply two logical fallacies to Katz's letter, and these just happen to be the first two listed in one of the most-commonly cited texts on this subject, "Straight and Crooked Thinking" put out by Robert H. Thouless back in 1930, but a popular college standard still for those who study such things. Hmmm. The first two. Well now.

Mere coincidence? I do NOT think so!

And maybe I should not be so rough on a young and perhaps impressionable high school student, but the very fact that she chose Rosa Parks to pick on just scares the hell right out of me. Maybe she could start like someplace here and do a philosophical analysis of the people who attacked the freedom marchers on Bloody Sunday back in 1965, continuing to mix a little modern American history in with her studies of the principles of logic.

There are better targets on which young cubs can sharpen their logical claws, like Virginia Abernethy, for example, who perhaps actually deserves some criticism for her views, which straddle the line between "separatism" and "segregation."

Maybe that's it. Maybe that's the real problem here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Facts Are Stupid Things

Some people may be surprised to find out that Arizona has a State Legislature. Yes, this is apparently so, and it turns out that the people elected to that political body actually do things sometimes, which is why, I suppose, they are paid. Not much. I hear it's about $20K a year. They must make up the rest of their income on tips, I guess. Who, besides say a freshman Phoenix policeman, can live on such a paltry salary?

You may be thinking that perhaps there is a reason why the people of the Grand Canyon state are so frugal with their compensation for their political representatives, or whatever they are. Well, there is. You see, some of those representatives appear to be sometimes quite stupid, in my humble opinion.

For example, take this "My Turn" column appearing in the local paper of record, the Arizona Republic. It was written by legislature member Steve Tully, who I am sure is a very good and adequately groomed person, despite obvious errors. In this piece he wrote:

"I wish to respond to Talton's comments by paraphrasing Ronald Reagan. It is not that Talton knows so little, it is that he knows so much that isn't true. "

Well, Ronald Reagan said a lot of things but he never said that. Mr. Tully gets it absolutely reversed, and a little twisted up, to boot. I think he, like Reagan himself, was struggling with his memory, because it was Mondale who said this in response to Reagan in their first presidential debate way back in the B.I.B.P. (Before Ipods Became Popular) Era:

"Well, I guess I'm reminded a little bit of what Will Rogers once said about Hoover. He said it's not what he doesn't know that bothers me, it's what he knows for sure just ain't so."

This was in response to Reagan's absurd claims regarding the social "safety net" when he had proposed, as he had done for almost his entire political career, to cut Social Security. I recall watching this on television, and this was the crux of the debate. How Mr. Tully could mess this up is something I will never know, and perhaps I fear knowing.

Now here are some examples of some things that Reagan did actually say:

"My name is Ronald Reagan. What's yours?" –introducing himself after delivering a prep school commencement address. The individual responded, "I'm your son, Mike," to which Reagan replied, "Oh, I didn't recognize you."

"What does an actor know about politics?" –criticizing Ed Asner for opposing American foreign policy.

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles."

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."

Maybe that was part of his problem.

And of course, Reagan said this:

"Facts are stupid things." –at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

You know, everybody make mistakes. There is an entire industry, for example, that profits from the tongue-slips of our current brain-deficient president. But then Mr. Tully ends his words with this admonishment:

"Talton closed his diatribe with three suggestions. I have three for Talton: Soften your heart, open your mind and do your research."

"Rut-ro," as Astro would say.

I think that Mr. Talton, whose article here was the spark for Mr. Tully's rubber-tire-fire, will be preparing a follow-up of some kind. The guy's just asking for it.

Popcorn anyone?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Big Things

Most of these places, that is to say, "urban-density" in-building, condo/loft-style homes, have yet to be actually put up. There are many currently under construction, a few that are new and ready for occupation, and some that have been around for quite awhile.

I do not think it is too soon to abandon the suburbs to return to town or city living. When the era of cheap carbon fuel begins to wind down, like right now, shorter commutes and smaller living spaces will become premium and unless somebody decides to build a giant pharmaceutical factory requiring five thousand highly-paid employees out in Queen Creek, nobody will be able to sustain a home there. Same goes for Estrella, Fountain Hills, and those knock-up fake towns north of Peoria, for example.

No, we are not going to go Japanese.

By Western standards, the typical Japanese home is very small. In the major cities, most families live in tiny apartments. One third of the housing in Tokyo averages only 121 square feet while the average Japanese home is 650 square feet.

That's small. Consider this:

In recent years, the trend on Long Island certainly has been toward larger, aggressively un-claustrophobic houses. In Nassau County, planners say, new and renovated housing is typically in the 2,800- to 3,500- square-foot range -- with luxury homes of 4,000 square feet and more becoming ever more common. In the Northeast, the median new house size in 1973 was 1,450 square feet, according to annual U.S. Census housing surveys. Last year, that figure was 2,361 square feet.

That's big. Probably too big for most double-income families (and what family isn't these days?) to clean and maintain, so such tasks become "out-sourced" to the not-so-merry-maids, handymen, and the like.

A few posts back I commented on a LTTE found in a Northeastern newspaper, written by a woman bemoaning her high heating bills. Those, of course, are only going to get much much worse. Another writer submitted his own comments in a LTTE which appeared a day or two later:

A 2,500-square-foot house in Rensselaer is not average. That Bonny Parsons decided to buy a 2,500-square-foot house that is heated by oil shows her poor judgment. Everyone knows oil is the most expensive form of energy around. Now she wants to heat up her bedrooms with electric heaters, thinking her bill will not top $1,000 a month. Yes, she's average -- in her own mind.

Well, that's a bit harsh. I am more sympathetic, and concerned. It's the math. Math, and the economy.

Heating (or in the case of the Valley of the Sun, cooling) a 2,500-square-foot home is simply a lot more expensive than heating a 200-square-foot Tokyo flat. That's one part of the formula.

Then multiply the cost of heating a large home by the total number of such big domiciles, and subtract that total cost from other areas of consumer spending. Voila: recession. A big long no-end-in-sight hit on consumer spending.

It's like gasoline. Every three bucks you put in your gas tank is one less vanilla latte. So to speak. It's just more money sucked out of the economy and sacrificed on the glowing funeral pyres of Exxon/Mobil.

So I am stuck asking myself if it's just too late.

For the suburbs, probably yes, it is too late. Like, way.

Big mortgages, big commutes, big homes, big yards, big fuel bills, big plasma televisions, big car payments, big credit card bills...

No money for Barbie and Ken at Christmastime, no money going anywhere except to Uncle Sam and Uncle Halliburton and cousin Big Oil, who, by the way is a Saudi prince. Did you know you owed him money? Your Chinese cousin gets a piece of your mortgage, too, you know.

Yes. You have a Chinese cousin. Lots of them, actually, and if they need oil, they can walk to the Middle East to get it.

But can you walk to work, or to get a gallon of milk?

Can you even sell a gallon of milk to a family that has no money left over after paying their home heating bills this winter?

We should have paid more attention to President Carter's energy plan back when we actually had the chance. And maybe thought about living in a smaller place a little closer to work.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Bahia mi rumba.

Me personally, I like firefighters, teachers, nurses, prison guards, and public employees. Generally speaking, they help people. You might not think so if you are an arsonist or inmate, or even perhaps a delinquent junior highschool student. But me, I like 'em.

And I want them to be able to have some say over their work, for they know it best.

Take firefighting, for example. You would never stop a fireman in mid-task, say for example, rushing into a burning home to retrieve a trapped toddler, to criticize his work style, promotion structures, and union politicking. Yet many people (beware the link) rail on and on about teachers, as if they know as much about the work as teachers themselves.

Then such people might even riff upon the term "trapped toddler" with scathing remarks about the so-called indoctrination of school students. As if that would be funnier this time than the last eight million times some libertarian griped about public schools.

Anyways, bravo for the people of California, for rejecting the Anuhld's many propositions in the recent special voting.

It must have been some party:

Dogging the governor, as it has for months, was the California Nurses Assn., which organized a luau at the Trader Vic's in the same hotel. As Schwarzenegger's defeats mounted, giddy nurses formed a conga line and danced around the room, singing, "We're the mighty, mighty nurses."

When you're sick in a hospital bed, you will not be able to petiton your government for redress.

The nurse-staffing law, signed by former Gov. Gray Davis, was the first in the nation to require hospitals to have a certain number of nurses for each patient on all wards. The regulations took effect in 2004. This past January, ratios on busy medical and surgical units were scheduled to increase. But in November Schwarzenegger blocked those new increases, causing tensions with nurses to rise.

The California Nurses Association immediately took the matter to state court, arguing that Schwarzenegger could not halt the law by using an emergency regulation, a little-used rule that allows the governor to suspend state laws during emergencies, such as an earthquake. The judge ultimately ruled that the nursing shortage did not constitute a dire emergency and the administration had therefore overstepped its bounds.

Old news, but good news.

That Arnie is so clever. As the article from Women's e-News shows, he tried to declare the nursing shortage an "emergency" so he could suspend laws that mandated safer hospital nurse-patient ratios. Brilliant, that.

In the face of rising floodwaters, he would attempt to halt the deluge by drooling.

Propositions that would affect union politics and teacher tenure were defeated in this special election, and Scharzenegger was made lame. As if he weren't lame enough already.

Thank goodness for the nurses of California, as well as many other people, for their principled opposition to this lug. It gives hope to all of us who move and shake, make the coffee, transfuse the blood, grade the homework, mind the convicts, and get the stuck cats out of the trees.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Come Again?

This shows up probably on a monthly basis over in the Eschaton comments, and I've always liked Yeats, so here it is in its entirety:

The Second Coming   
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?  
William Butler Yeats
Printings: The Dial (Chicago), November 1920; The Nation (London), 6 November 1920; Michael Robartes and the Dancer (Dundrum: Cuala, 1921); Later Poems (London: Macmillan, 1922; 1924; 1926; 1931).

For those that may be further interested there is some useful commentary here and some insights down in the posted comments, here.

Lines 7 and 8 seem to see the most action these days.

I will leave with one observation of my own about the poem: falcons have no need for falconers.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Another Proud Bush Supporter Speaks Out

Can somebody translate this into plain English for me, please?


"Of course liberals never need a rationale for cowardice. Few leaders have ever been called to task for showing their yellow streak in the face of terror and tyranny. "

Really? I guess all those stories about Clinton avoiding the draft by winning a prestigious scholarship to study in England were examples of "liberal media bias." then, eh? Well, the writer did say "few."

Let us refresh our memories regarding those who have served in their country's proud military forces:

Prominent Democrats

* Representative Richard Gephardt, former House Minority Leader - Missouri Air National Guard, 1965-71. (1, 2)
* Representative David Bonior - Staff Sgt., United States Air Force 1968-72 (1, 2)
* Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle - 1st Lt., U.S. Air Force SAC 1969-72 (1, 2)
* Former Vice President Al Gore - enlisted August 1969; sent to Vietnam January 1971 as an army journalist, assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade headquartered at Bien Hoa, an airbase twenty miles northeast of Saigon. More facts about Gore's Service

* Former Senator Bob Kerrey... Democrat... Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam (1, 2)
* Senator Daniel Inouye, US Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, World War Two (1, 2)
* Senator John Kerry, Lt., U.S. Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat (1)
* Representative Charles Rangel, Staff Sgt., U.S. Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea (1, 2)
* Former Senator Max Cleland, Captain, U.S. Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam (1, 2)

* Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) - U.S. Army, 1951-1953. (1)
* Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) - Lt., U.S. Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74. (1, 2)
* Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) - U.S. Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91 (1)
* Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) - served as a U.S. Army officer in World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. (1)

To cite just a few.

In interest of fairness, let us also name some from the other side of the aisle:

Prominent Republicans

* Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - avoided the draft, did not serve.
* Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey - avoided the draft, did not serve.
* House Majority Leader Tom Delay - avoided the draft, did not serve (1). "So many minority youths had volunteered ... that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself."
* House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
* Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve. (An impressive medical resume, but not such a friend to cats in Boston.)
* Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-KY - did not serve (1)
* Rick Santorum, R-PA, third ranking Republican in the Senate - did not serve. (1)
* Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott - avoided the draft, did not serve.

Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld - served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. (1) Served as President Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East and met with Saddam Hussein twice in 1983 and 1984.

* GW Bush - decided that a six-year Nat'l Guard commitment really means four years. Still says that he's "been to war." Huh?
* VP Cheney - several deferments (1, 2), the last by marriage (in his own words, "had other priorities than military service") (1)
* Att'y Gen. John Ashcroft - did not serve (1, 2); received seven deferment to teach business ed at SW Missouri State
* Jeb Bush, Florida Governor - did not serve. (1)

* Karl Rove - avoided the draft, did not serve (1), too busy being a Republican.

There's this and a lot more over at that real blog, Required reading, which I guess explains why the guy who wrote the LTTE to the Arizona Republic which I snipped above is so bloody unfamiliar with the simple facts of the matter.

He said another little thing, too:


"I love how the liberal media turn everything, including Scooter Libby's lying, into a convoluted attack on our president's "rationale for war."

Somehow having every intelligence agency in the world reporting exactly the same condemning information is not rationale enough."

Apparently he has never heard of Hans Blix nor Scott Ritter. You know, a couple people who were actually there on the ground in Iraq looking around for themselves, instead of home listening to hate radio and drinking cheap fizzy urine-colored watery plonk, which some devout Republicans call "beer."

The letter-writer flatly concedes that Libby has lied, though. Funny, that.


It must have been something like twenty years ago, back when it was "The McNeill-Lehrer News Hour" weeknights on PBS. As a political junkie even before the explosion of the number of cable networks (CNN was just a baby at that time,) this was the best source of political information on television for me then.

I recall an episode that featured a story on "the nursing shortage." Funny that. Did you know that there was a nursing shortage twenty years ago?

But now, decades later and thanks to the Sacred, Wondrous, and Infallible Free-Market Laws of Supply and Demand, we still have a nursing shortage.

A couple of keys notions snipped from a Consumer Reports article, now two years old:

"(snip)... The shortage of nurses--particularly registered nurses--and other staff at the nation's hospitals has reached critical proportions. On average, 13 percent of nursing positions at U.S. hospitals are unfilled, with some hospitals reporting vacancy rates of more than 20 percent. And the pressures of working in understaffed units is making hospital jobs less desirable. Hospital administrators report that despite strenuous recruiting efforts, higher salaries, and sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000, they are having more and more trouble filling their nursing positions."

If a hospital offers you $10K to take a job there, I assure you that you will regret it. That's another story, though. Remind me to tell it someday.

Any ways, this talking head on the News Hour had apparently studied the amount of time it takes a hospital nurse to respond to a patients' call, and the number they came up with was twelve minutes, which they described as some kind of statistical average for U.S. hospitals in general.

You can die in twelve minutes.

And that was decades ago, during the old, not-so-bad-as-it-is-now nursing shortage.

It doesn't take me that long, but I count myself as fortunate as one is likely to be as a staff nurse. My nurse-patient ratio is very good, considering the current political climate regarding health care in this god-forsaken mess of a country, and in a political "red state," at that, with certain problems in health care relating to undocumented workers, among other issues.

As a result, the costs of medical care for immigrants are staggering. The estimated cost of unreimbursed medical care in 2004 in California was about $1.4 billion per year. In Texas, the estimated cost was about $.85 billion, and in Arizona the comparable estimate was $.4 billion per year.

Personal note of criticism: the article that I snipped that from appears on the Federation for American Immigration Reform website, and from what little I know, those numbers, namely $400 million a year here in Arizona, seem reliable. But I do not think that all undocumented immigrants bring with them the risk of tapeworm, so don't lay that on me, if you please.

I have my own ideas about border control. Like just stop it. Open the borders completely and let the free market allow people to decide for themselves where they want to live and work. I am sure there is a nursing shortage in Cancun as well as here. Let us address that urgent need promptly. Oh, the humanity.

Immigration is a very good thing for The Great SouthWest, but politically we just do not know how to handle it, because we are governed at the federal level by idiots, morons, and gangsters.

Anyways, there's a nursing shortage and it takes a while for a nurse to get to you as a sick and nearly helpless hospital patient, so what do you do? Consumer Reports has this radical suggestion:

Bring your own help. Patients, nurses, and national quality experts concur: Given the shortage of nurses, the most important thing to bring with you to the hospital is a reliable family member or friend to run interference for you.

"No one who is basically helpless--a child, a person with a cognitive impairment, a person who cannot ambulate, a person who is sedated--should be left alone in the hospital unless they are in intensive care," says Kathleen Maynard, a Florida nurse who saw her Alzheimer's-afflicted father through four hospital stays in three years. "I am speaking as both an R.N. and a family caregiver. Hospital staffing is so strained that patients do not get the care they need."

Bring your own help.

Well doesn't that just sock it to me, a registered nurse in a hospital setting, right in the old codependent gut. Oh well.

I am supposed to be able answer all the needs of all my patients all the time. This is like having many jobs all at once, and I simply cannot be in more than one place at a time. That is the most difficult thing about hospital nursing, by the way: Juggling multiple tasks.

You must hyper-task at all times. No single one of those tasks need be clinically difficult nor even interesting, really. But for example, if two patients call for pain medicine at the same time, then one of them isn't going to get their medication as soon as the other. Ah... the laws of physics apply to nursing, too. Who would have ever considered that seriously?