Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Trying to get into the mindset of the members of the constitutional convention can be, well kind of hard. When some of them spoke of My Country they weren't talking about the United States. Especially the US as we understand it now. 

When some of the delegates invoked country they were talking about Virginia or Carolina or Massachusetts. Thirteen former colonies founded at different times, under different rules by settlers with radically different ideas about what made a perfect society, what defined liberty. 

I live in Oregon, probably wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But, I am an American. And this country with all its flaws is what I am. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Or it's hard to type while you're either reading seven hundred plus page brick (Washington A Life) or keep your faded trade paperback (Miracle at Philadelphia) from falling apart. Hard to believe we're still arguing over the same things over two hundred years later. Even most of the participants admitted it was the best document they could come up with at the time given all the horsetrading, compromising and arguing that went on. Note to guys like Scalia, I believe our "founding fathers" would be surprised to find their patchwork quilt being treated like Holy Writ. "Hey, we did the best we could do at the time.If you can do better go for it."

The bio on Washington is good. Incredibly detailed, but good. This isn't Parson Weems plaster saint, but a far more interesting, sometimes conflicted man. Quiet, most of the time. Dignified, most of the time. Overshadowed perhaps by the likes of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and a lot more radical as the revolution gained speed than most of us realized. One of the straws that bent the camel's back. Ordering products from England, paying top prices and getting crap in return.

By 1770 he was out of the tobacco business. Just wasn't worth it, prices fluctuated too much. Grew what and corn. Shipped grain and flour to England. Flour ground in his won mill and when the mill wasn't grinding his grain it was grinding other folks, for a fee of course. Went into the fishing business on the Potomac Other mercantile irritation? The best salt for curing fish came from Portugal, but that market was closed. Had to buy from England. Martha Washington supervised the weaving of the cloth for the clothing provided for their slaves.

Yes, he owned slaves. Inherited, purchased and acquired by marriage. By the standards of the times he had the rep as a fairly decent master. And his views on the practice change somewhat over time. But, he was a wealthy Virginia plantation owner with all the privileges and baggage that went with it. Heck I'm only on page two hundred or so. The Americans have just chased the Brits out of Boston. There's a long way to go, what with a shortage of gun powder, one years enlistments and all.

Monday, October 20, 2014


So John McCain, if the senate falls to the Republicans, will probably call for more troops in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State. AND to practice regime change in Syria.

If we're going into perpetual warfare we need to bring back the draft. If the situation is that serious then there needs to be nationwide debate and bringing back the draft will probably bring this on. No deferments, no exclusions. Joe Blow's grandkids go. So do Mitt Romney's. We're going to need them.

Iran stood to one side when we took out Saddam Hussein. He was largely secular and if he was a practicing Muslim, he was probably a Sunni. Assad belongs to a branch of Shiite Islam. I doubt if Iran will stand by while we take out a coreligionist and possibly create another Sunni leaning state near Iran's borders.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Warning, when I started writing this it turned into a mini rant.

The Tea Party is running a candidate for the senate from Iowa. Who just happens to be a woman. Her name is Joni Ernst, and frankly I don’t believe that a degree in public administration qualifies a candidate for anything above dog catcher. And I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. But, you are assuming that you are qualified to walk the same halls where the likes of where the likes of Webster, Clay and even Calhoun could be found. I don't think so.

Her program is the usual mish mash. Get rid of the IRS. Get rid of the Department of Education. Good God woman one of the reasons our country is heading for the crapper is that we DON’T have a national curriculum. Get rid of the Environment Protection Agency. Right. Let’s just hand the country over to the polluters and the frackers. Get rid of the federal minimum wage. And the newest excuse “I’m not a scientist so I’m not qualified to speak about climate change.” I assume you have access to a library and know how to read.

That was snarky, I know. But, damn it when I don’t know something I look it up, verify the sources and dig in. If I can do it, so can anyone else with an IQ approaching the temperature of a warm room.

So what brought this individual to my attention? According to Raw Story she opposes the Affordable Care Act because the churches and the family should be looking after poor people who can’t afford health care. I’m assuming that she reached this position because the constitution doesn’t specifically mention health care.

Lady, the job is bigger than the resources of the “church.” And thanks to corporate America our families have been scattered to the four winds starting with the post WWII boom. Sam went to Akron. Joe went to Boston. Harry went to LA, Joan married a guy who was transferred to Dallas, Texas and the folks retired to Palm Beach. She’s harking back to Golden Age that never really existed.

Heck, my ancestors hugged the Atlantic coast from the 1630’s/1680’s. Then the Erie Canal opened the doors to the west and we were in Oregon within two generations.

And Ms. Ernst I wouldn’t get all “the original intent of the framers” on your constituents. Remember it took an amendment to the constitution to guaranty women the right to vote. It took decades to actually get women elected to state and federal offices. And don’t look know but, there are folks out there, especially in the back ground of the Tea Party ranks who still thank that amendment was a bad idea.

Now that I think about it, some of the same folks are not cool with the idea of direct election of senators either. That should give you something to think about.

So, it’s back to the classroom for me, so to speak. I swear to all the deities I hold dear that I am going to finally finish reading the Federalist Papers. Little did I know that there is a collection from the other side.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Interesting letter to editor in the Guard this morning. Apparently most of the hospitals in Texas are for profits and thanks to so called tort reform signed into law by Rick Perry it's almost impossible to sue them.

In light of the ebola patient who was diagnosed with sinustitis and sent home with a bag of antibiotics whether he needed them or not this letter was written. The writer's mother went to Texas hospital ER. She was diagnosed with a unrinary tract infection after sitting in the ER for two hours. She died two or three hours later of a heart attack.

Now I know that women often don't present the same symptoms as men do when they have heart attacks but I suspect that running a temp isn't one of them. And if you have an infection of some kind you're probably going to run a temp. And I don't know if the cute little instant anaylsis machine they used on the series The Last Ship really exists. Draw the blood, stick in a sample get a DNA analysis of the germ in question. And never having had a UTI I don't know the proticol for diagnosing one but I suspect that a swab and a petri dish are in there somewhere, or used to be.

And Lisa over at Coming to Terms has written about the fun her husband had when he had blood clots in his leg. Sent homw with syringes of Warfarin (blood thinner) and a "let us know if you have any problems." And they have insurance.

Incidentally Mr. Duncan was kept at the Texas hospital for "treatment." And I'm sure they did everything they could with what they had. And he may have been too sick to transport to another facitly. He also didn't have any insurance, In the meantime the two nurses have been shipped to facilities on the east coast that are especially equpped to handle diseases like Ebola. If I was one of Mr. Duncan's relatives I sure as hell would be asking questions.

And a commenter on a story about the original patient suggested that he should have been "euthenized" before he showed symptoms. Didn't really thing that one through did you? However with potential contacts between the original patient and the two nurses pushing nearly a thousand I haven't heard anyone suggesting THEY should be eliminated before they show any symptoms.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Spent some time on Amazon looking for book bargains. IE used in decent condition and no more than a couple of bucks to add to the bios of John Adams, Clay, Calhoun and Webster. Found one of Andrew Jackson that looks promising. One buck, plus shipping. John Quincy Adams, same price.

And like an idiot I let my copy of the Federalist papers get away. Two bucks for that one. Didn't know that there was also a collection of pieces on the anti federalist side. This should be interesting.

Those old men. Flawed, opinionated but giants in their time. Still giants compared to the midgets in office now. I mean how often do we hear of a president threatening to hang someone to the nearest tree. That was Andy Jackson (and I do have problems with amny of Jackson's actions) to South Carolina over efforts to nullify a federal tarriff. The south backed off a bit, something resembling a compromise was reached and nobody got hanged.

I truly wonder if some of these politicians could get elected now. I mean John Adams. Short, plump, irascible at times, definitely prickly and opinionated. He couldn't make small talk if his life depended on it unless it had to do with farming, the law or how to create a new government but he was still a giant. Especially compared to what we're stuck with now. Frankly it's bloody embarrassing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I hate to believe this but, perhaps we’ve done too good a job of eradicating the diseases that used to be an unpleasant backdrop to our ancestor’s existence. Heck we have a letter from my great great grandmother in Kansas around the turn of the last century. She discusses this and that and then it’s “oh by the way there are rumors of small pox in the neighborhood.” Gulp. Theodore Roosevelt lost his mother and his first wife on the same day. Mom to typhoid, wife to kidney disease. Thanks to vaccinations mumps, measles, chicken pox and whooping cough are don’t even clear the horizon for most folks and polio is a distant, unpleasant memory.

So now we have our knickers in a twist over a disease that can only be spread, in this country, by contact with who already has the disease. And in no way do I want to down play the horror of this disease in countries with no money, no training and no medical infrastructure.

Apparently one of the health care workers who worked with the patient from Africa has tested positive for the virus and there’s a full court panic press in the comments section.

One sensitive individual suggested euthanizing a suspected patient before they need treatment. ?!?!?!? Hey, genius, until the patient shows symptoms they probably can’t spread the disease. It’s too bad that in the early stages Ebola acts like several other diseases, say sinusitis. That was the working diagnosis when the late Mr. Duncan went to the ER the first time.

Apparently his admission that he’d recently arrived from Liberia wasn’t flagged the first time. Geez, abdominal pain, a headache that he rated as an eight on a scale of ten and a temp of 103 degrees. What does it take to get admitted these days? The hospital has been accused of racism. Frankly I’d be more interested in his insurance status and whether THAT was a factor in sending him home with a pat on the back, antibiotics and see your regular doctor ASAP. Poor guy was probably feeling so crappy he didn’t think to fire back with “I just here, I don’t HAVE a doctor.”

Fortunately most of the comments on the thread called him/her out as the total idiot that they are. But there are plenty more “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” to go along with this one.

Others want to ban all incoming travel from Africa. I suspect that like Sarah Palin they don’t realize that Africa is a CONTINENT containing many different countries from Egypt to South Africa. Or from Mozambique to Tanzania. Do we close the borders to travelers from say South Africa or Tanzania? They’re hundreds of miles from the outbreak.

Oh, and it ‘s all a plot by America hating, fascist, communist, Muslim loving whatever president Obama to destroy God, motherhood, apple pie and the good ol’ U S of A. Actually the level of scientific ignorance displayed is not only appalling it’s down right scary.

Let’s all take a deep breath, OK? This is a disease spread by direct contact with infected patients. Although on the off chance that somebody might have contaminated the local well I’d boil the water until the outbreak is over. This started last March and coincidentally the two countries hardest hit have histories of civil wars that lasted years. They are dirt poor. The medical infrastructure is almost nonexistent. Hell, they can barely afford aspirin much less deal with this virus.

Yes, they need all the help we can give them. The good news is that the only way you can get Ebola in this country is by being in contact with another patient. There is no reservoir of the virus out in the woods somewhere. The current suspect is a variety of bat, but that’s just speculation. Until it’s absolutely necessary let’s keep our eager fingers off the panic buttons for now. OK?

Saturday, October 11, 2014


No, I didn’t fall off the earth. Again. However, a history of the US from the end of the revolution to the beginning of the Civil War isn’t exactly easy to blog about. I suppose I COULD wax poetic about the Erie Canal. After all, thanks to the Erie Canal my east coast ancestors who had been facing the Atlantic for nearly five generations made it to Ohio in one and the west coast in two. If there had been a state west of Oregon I suspect I’d be living there. Yeah I know Hawaii is out there but there’s a whole lot of blue water between, say, Astoria and Honolulu.

As much as possible I buy used books. I look for reasonable condition for a decent price. And most of the books that make it onto my list were published at least twenty years ago. If not longer. Makes the hunt that much more interesting.

I’m a fan of American historian James MacGregor Burns. When I ran across mention of his latest Fire and Light, a history of the Enlightenment. I went shopping. Didn’t hold out a whole lot of hope since I prefer hardbacks and the book came out early last year. Imagine my surprise when I was able to score a copy of a book that lists for nearly thirty dollars for less than six.

Imagine my further surprise when I discovered it was a library discard. Barely a year old and already sent to the knacker’s yard, so to speak. I really wish this book could talk because I would love to find out why it was shown the door. I’d like to believe that the library ended up with an extra copy. I’d like to but the library ID doesn’t show a copy two designation. I suspect that somebody didn’t agree with the late professor’s politics and a raised a stink.

Burns was an unapologetic supporter of the New Deal. He was an old fashioned liberal and his writing reflected that. Hell, their loss is my gain. It’s joining a small but growing collection of American and English history and biography.

And after reading the one and two star reviews I’m echoing the King in the King and I. It is a puzzlement. /Funny how the right wing fundies can put out their screeds and no one really expects them to present the other side of the argument. But, let a liberal be perceived as even half partisan and stop the presses. He’s a dastard and a rotter who is obviously out to destroy the country. As Bill the Cat would say: Thbbbbbbbp!

Oh, and so far it’s a pretty good book.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


I’m not sure what to call this entry. Sweepings from the “we believe in the sanctity of life except…” perhaps.

Kevin Williamson, a right wing columnist with connections to the National Review, believes that women who have abortions should be hanged. And he isn’t just targeting the patient. He wants to hang the doctor, the nurses, the techs and for all I know the person at the desk who made the appointment. Now that’s “pro life” for you. Never mind that as far as the zygote worshippers are concerned once that fertilized egg hits the uterus it and the mother are on their own. I mean, if they really gave a shit they’d make sure the family could afford decent food, housing, and a job that keeps them off the food stamp and Medicaid rolls.

Rick Willis, a so called Christian, with a radio show believes that Ebola is great. Bring on the pandemic. It’ll take out all the atheists, gays, lesbians, etc. In other words, anyone he doesn’t agree with. Excuse me while I insult a perfectly good brand of lunch meat. YO, SPAM FOR BRAINS all a virus “cares” about is replicating. It doesn’t carry around a check list to be filled out so that it only infects “sinners.” I have to wonder if this apparent ditz brain really believes what he’s saying or if he’s just looking for fifteen seconds of fame. If he really does believe that this is how viruses go about their reproductive lives, then the level of science education these days is worse than I feared.
In the early nineties a couple of right wing fundies started writing what turned a twelve novel series. I think Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders series might be longer but the Left Behind load of compost is in the running. The series actually spawned two or three direct to video/cable films that were eminently forgettable. At least the total of four and half minutes I spent checking one of them out was.

I actually came close to buying a couple of the books. My sister gave me the third book as a gift. I think she either thought it was a fantasy type novel/or didn’t realize it was part of a series. Anyway, I hied myself over to the local Christian bookstore in search of the first two. Found them and headed for check out. There were at least four of us. All with money in hand and ready to do business. I forget what the owner and the clerk were discussing but, it was as if the store was empty. Hell, it saved me from wasting money on a couple of crappy novels. The Umatilla sister has several of the books and I had a chance to leaf through a couple. Saved by the idiocy of store owner who soon sold out to a chain I donated my copy to the church book sale.

NOW there’s a remake of the first film for the big screen with actors whose names you might recognize. Apparantly it’s so bad that even the Christian Science Monitor gave it ½ stars.

Never mind that the whole end times/rapture/tribulation etc. theology is less than two hundred years old. Never mind that the theology itself stinks to high heaven. It’s the egos that get me. It appears that everyone (at least the ones I’ve run across) believes that they will be in the swept into heaven group, not the left behind to face seven years of war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, etc.

Their “reverence” for life is just astounding isn’t it?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


What else can you say to this? Not a damn thing.