A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Another year has come to an end. And what a difference from a mere year ago! It's hard to capture the rage and despair of 2008, the craziness of the elections, the culmination of eight years of suffering through the policies of the demented cabal of the Naked Emperor in Washington, with its know-nothing appointees, its grand pooh-bahs with degrees in various ludicrous offshoots of fundamentalist theology from various ludicrous fundamentalist "shcoolz."

Thanks to the endless drumbeats of the Republican media machine, we could be forgiven for thinking that the masses are bitterly dissatisfied with President Obama's first year in office, but in fact it seems the masses are too busy dealing with daily life and bad teevee to cast more than an occasional glance at the goings-on in Washington.

Which is really not very good at all, but after years of being wound up to fever pitch and suffering the horrors of unbridled Republican greed (which seems to be getting worse, or exposed more often, or something), I can understand people wanting to take a break. And there is no denying that the President has worked wonders in foreign affairs. There is a new response that Americans traveling abroad excite, a new comity. While Republicans at home continue to froth and fume, growing increasingly rabid, turning over more and more of their power to shrill idiots like (ins)Hannity, Blech, and Limpballs, the whole world seems to be willing to relax a little and offer the new guy a much friendlier and more accepting demeanor than we've seen in nearly a decade.

Russia joining the US in sanctions for Iran? Who'd'a thunk?

This year has been rife in challenges. The collapse of Wall St., the taxpayer bailout, the stalling of the closure of Gitmo, the fight after fight after fight for healthcare, the destruction of Main street mortgage values ... no one can say it wasn't arduous and, at times, wretched. But — we made it. There's a spirit of caring and sharing in the air which has not been diffused by the hit our incomes took. Yahoo is offering its employees a chance to do good as a year-end bonus; Hairdressers are offering free haircuts to job seekers; and organizations of volunteers have teamed with restaurants and chefs in some cities to donate and deliver food to those who need it.

Enjoy your friends and families, this New Year's Eve. If you're going out, stay safe and wrap up warm. Make sure your designated driver carts your drunken asses safely home. Or better yet, snuggle up with your sweetie in front of a blazing fire, or a warm heater, and play a friendly game of, I dunno, Scrabble? Monopoly? Something fun.

La Casa de Los Gatos is dining on Mongolian beef with lots of dried red chillies in it; sauteed Chinese greens in Xiaohsing rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, chicken stock, with a couple drops of sesame oil; and plain rice.

Tomorrow we break out the Merlot with dear friend and fellow blogger Ms. Manitoba, and grill/broil filet steaks with different seasonings. It's our steak taste testing New Year's celebration.

Details to be posted later.

Thanks for your visits, your comments, your friendship. May the New Year be much kinder to you and yours than the old has been. And a very Happy New Year to all.

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Health: Kidney Donations and Transplants

Today's health story is about a kidney donation.

I can't use the real names of the people featured in this story, so I'll call them R1 and R2. They served together in Vietnam as young men forty years ago.

As young draftees, they were part of a tight-knit group that repeatedly risked life and limb in the course of duty.

Yes, we all have strong opinions about that "war" that was never declared a war, about the millions of Vietnamese peasants and farmers who lost their lives, their homes, their farms, their families, their limbs; and the 58,000 Americans who came back in body bags. But the young draftees were not to blame for any of this, even if a few of them went on to commit war crimes. By and large, they were serving in the military for a myriad of reasons and most of them conducted themselves decently.

They are now in their sixties. Silver-haired men who continue to stay in touch, forever connected by the ties that bind, watching friends and old comrades drop away due to the ravages of old age.

So R1, a man who suffered many grievous wounds in the course of service, suffered a recent insult to add to all his injuries: his kidneys started shutting down. For close to two years now, he's been on dialysis. If you have healthy functioning kidneys, you probably don't know what dialysis is. Thank your lucky stars. It's not for the faint of heart.

Essentially, because your kidneys can no longer filter harmful wastes and extra fluids out of your body, you have to go to a location (a clinic or hospital) where you get hooked up to a machine that slowly filters your blood for you. This is called hemodialysis. Because only a few ounces can be filtered at a time, the procedure takes up to five hours. And you have to do this three times a week.

In addition, you don't get to eat tasty stuff anymore. No bacon, no salt, no cheese, no ketchup, no crackers, no chips, limited quantities of potassium-containing fruit and vegetables, or items high in phosphates (like chocolate), or protein (meat, dairy products, whole grains, nuts).

Fun, huh?

In the event, R1, after suffering through this and waiting patiently for a kidney donor, was finally told he didn't have much time left if he couldn't get a kidney replaced. So he put out the word to his old buddies: can ya spare a kidney for a fellow trooper?

Unbelievably, to this old cynic, at any rate, replies came pouring in. Yes, they would spare a kidney if they could, said his brothers in arms. Dutifully, they submitted to the tests required to determine if any of them qualified — and if they didn't make a perfect match, they'd donate anyway, if they could, just to bump their old buddy up to the top of the list so he could have the next kidney that did match his needs.

There is a special deity for old soldiers, methinks, and s/he lent a hand. After much trading of insults (which, really, is just another way of saying, "Hey, man, I fucking care,") one of his brothers in arms was found to be both in good enough physical shape to spare a kidney and to be a match for R1. So R2 (the trooper with two good kidneys and a clean bill of health) signed up to give one of his to his fellow serviceman, R1.

Sometime in January, the swop takes place. R2 goes home with one less kidney, and R1 emerges with one working kidney, to a life of, hopefully, no more dialysis. Send some good thoughts their way, peeps. Just because it's so fucking heartwarming that somebody would give up a vital organ for someone else, in commemoration of bonds forged four decades ago.

The deity of old soldiers would like both these fine men to know the following information, published in Science News (175:5):
The Jan. 29, [2009] issue of NEJM (the New England Journal of Medicine) has reported that Hassan Ibrahim and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have found that kidney donors have the same probability of survival over several decades as the general population, including adequate kidney function and — surprisingly — even less risk of severe kidney disease. The data was derived from studying kidney transplants performed at U.Minn between 1963 and 2007, including selecting 255 of the donors to undergo kidney function tests. The test results were then compared with similar tests on individuals with two functioning kidneys, and donors were matched for race, gender, body weight, and age.
So, R2, for your great generosity in donating one of your healthy functioning kidneys to R1, the deity of old soldiers wants you to know that you're giving away nothing but your love, man. Power to you both, continued health and long life.


And as for those who are all, like, supporting the troops? Consider donating an organ. Especially you rich young Republicans who don't ever plan to sign up for military service but support all wars with your mouths. Now you can show that you *really* support the troops. Sign those organ donor cards and carry them at all times. And if you have two healthy kidneys, go see if there's someone who could use one.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

OK peeples, I know this blog is more about cats than dogs but ...

... 100 years ago John Muir published a story about a dangerous adventure he had on an Alaskan glacier with a bunched up little toy of a dog named Stickeen that is a delight to read. The entire short story is available at the link for Google books. What I found so endearing about it was the full range of understanding, emotion, and feeling this ultimately triumphant little dog expresses in facing down his own fears and conquering them. It broughts a tear to my eye! No really, it's sweet and I don't even think the kitteh's will mind. You have to scroll down through the bio on John Muir to get to the story but his bio is worth reading as well. Enjoy.

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It's Xmas!

Of course it's ICHC, geez.

No, we don't celebrate it. And we aren't going out for Chinese food, either. (Although, to our credit, we did think about it.) The denizens of La Casa de Los Gatos have joined forces with our northern neighbour, Ms. Manitoba, to roast a leg of lamb, highly spiced, and serve it with sauteed chard (cooked with red onion and pine nuts in olive oil), baked yams (or sweet potatoes; we can't remember what the fuck they're called — them mealy orangy potatoey thingies); and a sauce of olive oil, red wine, nutmeg, pepper, cumin, coriander, ginger, a smidge of North African spices; with chocolate cake for dessert, and a nice Merlot for them as wants to get soused.

Since your guest feline has been suffering the nasty side-effects of Augmentin for two weeks now, the lamb might well remain uneaten, but at least it'll be cooked and looked at, all pink inside with the joyous pink of rareness.

For those who do celebrate this holiday, have a good one, y'all. I hear the Nature deities dumped a shitload of snow and ice and cold winds on those in cooler climes. We'd like to take this opportunity to laugh out loud in public at the Global Warming Deniers once more. Hey, pinheads: the ambient air temperature has to be somewhat above freezing in order for snow to fall. So yeah, dimbos. It's warming, alright.

Enjoy what's left of your lives while you can, assholes. Thanks for refusing to do doodly about global warming for the last four or five decades.

To the rest of youse:

Yup. ICHC again.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

D. L. Hughley says it about Tiger Woods ...

about Tiger's alleged multiple mistresses ... all pinky-white ... D. L. Hughley said:

"He needs diversity training."

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

President Obama's Speech in Oslo

If you'd like to read the text of President Obama's speech in Oslo, go here.

It's quite a good speech. It gives me lots to think about.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Politics: Republicans

need to step away from their talk-show-host leaders and mascots, like Flush Rimbowl, Shown Insanity, Gwen Blech, and the like.


Because these morons are busy offending and insulting every single demographic that could possibly keep the Republican Party alive over the coming decades. And much as this blog supports President Obama, we also believe there needs to be more than one political party to keep those in power honest. And neither the Libertarians nor the Green Party have shown any ability to captivate the electorate, yet.

In case you didn't know it, peoples, these talk show bloviators — the de facto heads of the Republican Party these days, since their erstwhile choices are blowing up like pufferfish — can't let a day go by without shooting the Repugs in a foot or other body part.

It is seriously getting embarrassing. Your latest bucketful of filthspew is courtesy of Gwen Blech, world's biggest crybaby and mentally-ill fearmonger. And it's aimed at South Asians. Indians, to be more specific. Let him tell you himself. This is Blech, responding to an American woman who decided to seek surgery in India, where it cost her a great deal less:
... some of that money seems to go to the 1 million SEIU workers in the healthcare industry that make slightly more here than in India. Because, you know, they have an American lifestyle, maybe a couple of cars, great union benefits, and homes with something that we in America like to call flush toilets.


I don't want a discounted doctor. I don't want discounted wages. I don't want any of this stuff. If I wanted to live in India, I'd live in India. I want not the Indian lifestyle, I want the American lifestyle. I'm sure, no offense to India, I'm sure it's beautiful and everything. I've heard especially this time of year, especially by the - you know that one big river they have there that sounds like a disease? Come on, it does. I mean, if somebody said, 'I'm sorry, you have a really bad case of Ganges,' you'd want Cipro."
Excerpted from Media Matters, which goes on to say:
Thus, within the span of a few minutes, Beck implied that there are no quality medical schools in India; implied that medical care in India is a shoddy imitation of real health care; implied that the entire nation is an undeveloped backwater without even so much as indoor plumbing; and compared the Ganges River, a holy body of water for one of the world's oldest and largest religions, to a disease.
Now, I know a lot of our South Asian brothers and sisters like to think of themselves as Republicans, you know, because they're all into getting ahead and making money and being successful.

Well, you read Gwen Blech and some of his co-leaders in the Republican Party, and you think about what it means when they call someone who looks like you "macaca," and you think about why exactly you would want to be members of an organization that thinks you're good enough to clean their shit but not much else.

You think the glass ceiling in the corporate world is a joke? Just about the only Desis who hold high offices are entrepreneurs. If they're working for a corporation, the Old Boys' network doesn't let more than a few tokens through. Go talk to your fellow Desis and find out for yourself. And then talk to your Party and insist on some goddamned respect. Unless you like the taste of shoe leather. Surely you're fit for more than licking the boots of these millionaires, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and O'Reilly. Let the Republican Party know that you won't put up with this, and they'd better step away from these poisonous people.

Because they're doing everything they can to destroy the Republican Party on the national level. And if you let them trash-talk you like this, then you're part of the problem, too.

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Republican Party Finds New Chairman


OK, it's been pretty depressing stuff on this blog lately, with war crimes and death to homosexuals and what all, so we figure you, dear friends and readers, are owed a little fun.

But first you have to read Michael Steele on climate change. Srsly.

See, Professor Doctor Michael Steele thinks we need to get rid of all existing climatologists/climate scientists and replace them with dudes who will help us "appreciate" climate change.

Fuck me, this is the kind of thing that drives your hosts at this fine blog to imbibe cheap rum at ungodly hours of the day. Here, in his own words, Professor Doctor Climateologist Science Dude Michael Steele:
"Let's get the smart, right scientists in place to help us understand and appreciate what's happening. I'm still trying to find the brother who told me, 'This is the temperature it should be.' So, you know, we don't know. The earth is a living organism and it changes. We all know what that is about, right?"
Jesus fucking J.H. Christ on a pogo stick, Mikey, can I be the first to slap the stupid right outa ya? Ya fucking blivet!

That's all I need, dude, is a "brother" to tell me "This is the temperature [the world] should be." This is worse than his cow-catcher remarks. Is this guy on drugs? Because if he is, and they're legit, the fucking bastard should be sharing them so the rest of us can groove on what he's saying. Right now he sounds like The Brother From Another Planet. (Inside joke: The Brother From Another Planet is a fine, fine, movie, if you haven't seen it, get off your fucking ass, already; oh, and the lead character has no dialogue at all. Not a single word.)

So this is the deal, Mikey. They're gonna replace your ass. You thought your shuckin' and jivin' would get you this gig and keep it, din'tcha? First they took away your power to sign checks for the party (you KNOW they don't trust the cullud wit' da money, fool, wha'dja think, they'd trust you? After your money scandals?). Then they rehired the people you fired, to keep an eye on the books. Now it's "Byebye, Mikey." They'll gladhand you out the door. Maybe you can get a job on the weather channel.

Or posing for pitchers wif Young Rethuglicans.

Behold the NEW Chairman of the Republican Party!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009


From our dear friends at www.icanhazcheezburger ...

Have a great Caturday! December is a great time of year to snuggle with your favorite felines. (No, no ... I'm not forgetting the Hemispheres and the differences in weather ... I'm basically saying that no matter what the weather, snuggling with your felines is cozy.)

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Free the Cuban Five

Friday night, December 11, I went to a soul-enriching experience at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco. It was a rainy night, I took BART (and survived ... no testosterone-poisoned BART police in sight), and read a wonderful essay by Wendell Berry in The Best American Essays 2009. That’s one of the great things about taking BART -- you can read.

Former San Francisco Poet Laureate, Jack Hirschman read a couple of his poems, followed by Puerto Rican singer/guitarist Ronald Rosario. Then the part I was waiting for .... wearing a black baseball cap with CHICANO NATION in large letters on the front -- Jimmy Santiago Baca -- one of my favorite writers -- read a couple of poems and a couple of passages from his new novel, A Glass of Water. He has a wonderful voice and he’s so natural, so confident when he’s speaking. Joy!

What was all this about? It was a fund-raiser for the Cuban Five. Who are they? I hadn’t heard about them until I got the invitation to go from my friend, Pat. So, here’s what I found out about them. They are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González. They are five Cuban men that were sent to the U.S. to infiltrate some anti-Castro organizations in Miami. (I guess they were sent by Cuba's equivalent Department of Homeland Security.) They were not targeting the U.S. government in any way -- that must be clear. The Cuban Five were falsely accused by the U.S. government of committing espionage conspiracy against the United States, and other related charges. They were arrested in 1998 and have been in prison since.

Why were they infiltrating Cuban immigrant organizations in Miami? Well, the Cuban goverment (and many other people) believe that these organizations are terrorist organizations ... these organizations allegedly plan attacks on Cuban citizens, Cuban airlines, and other Cuban targets. Here’s what the web site for NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO FREE THE CUBAN FIVE says:
For more than 40 years, anti-Cuba terrorist organizations based in Miami have engaged in countless terrorist activities against Cuba, and against anyone who advocates a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. More than 3,000 Cubans have died as a result of these terrorists’ attacks.

Terrorist Miami groups like Comandos F4 and Brothers to the Rescue operate with complete impunity from within the United States to attack Cuba—with the knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA.

Therefore, Cuba made the careful and necessary decision to send the Five Cubans to Miami to monitor the terrorists. The Cuban Five infiltrated the terrorist organizations in Miami to inform Cuba of imminent attacks.

The aim of such a clandestine operation by the Cuban Five—at great personal risk—was to prevent criminal acts, and thus protect the lives of Cubans and other people.
To read more, visit their web site.

Can you tell me what law they violated? They committed no violence. They just went to meetings to listen about plots against their own people -- then reported back to their government. Is that a crime?

I’m old enough not to be shocked that innocent people have been in prison since 1998, but I am outraged.

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Human Rights: Why Reproduction Should Be

A Licensed Activity. Alternative title: Vagina — It's NOT A Clown Car.

Poster Girl for the Clown Car Veejayjay Award, Michelle Duggar, just popped her 19th sprog — three months early. If you know anything about these revolting wastes of skin, you'll know that Michelle and her husband Jim-Bob are part of the "quiverfull" movement, i.e., they fuck like bunnies without thought or planning and then go all "How'd That Happen? when preggers. HTH, as it is called in the common parlance, works as an excuse for not knowing what causes pregnancy if you're a teenage girl or boy, preferably home-schooled by frighteningly ignorant and tight-arsed ninnyhammers.

But after you've popped 1.5 dozen sprog, girlfriend, it is so fucking past time to get a clue. Even uptight Roman Catholics know how to count the number of days between one period and the next so the woman does not get pregnant. And in many parts of the world (including, incidentally, among Christian teens in the USA), couples opt for anal sex so they won't be greeted with yet another "blessing" in the form of a screaming, spewing, pissing, pooping bundle of, er, "joy."

These two seem to be bound and determined to populate their whole town with their offspring.

Incidentally, their oldest, at 21, has already popped a sprog of his own. Goodness only knows if any of the other Duggarlets are baking buns in their ovens (or their wives' ovens, although most of the boys seem a little young to be spawning as a source of entertainment, unlike their parents).

The sprog is three months early. In other words, gestation is around 24-26 weeks. At that age, a sprog is pretty unformed. This particular unbaked bun can look forward to a lifetime of health problems — at the taxpayers' expense, of course.

You see, Jim-Bob and Michelle are religious. They have therefore declared their home a "church," and pay no taxes. Presumably their congregants are those they spawn themselves. Jim-Bob used to be a state legislator in Arkansas, which is probly the only state that want a hardcore breeder like him representing them. Even Texas had the good common sense to give "Rusty" Yates the hairy eyeball for treating his wife like a brood sow. (I don't know why that miserable walking spermatozoon got the nick of Rusty, cos it sure wasn't his dingdong that was rusting.)

The couple makes their living owning, managing, and selling property. One can only hope that the downturn in the real-estate market will put them out of business. At least the babymaking business. When you have a kid that's younger than your grandkid, there's something seriously wrong with your life.

Fortunately MOO-my had pre-eclampsia, and gallstones, which may put paid to her life of breeding. Although the poor kid suffers the most. At less than 37 weeks' gestation (but more than 28 weeks), a premature infant has a ten per cent chance of death. This loaf is even younger. Its chances are, to put it mildly, not good.

Assuming it gets through the "survival" part of the obstacle course, Duggar 19 can look forward to:

* Anemia
* Bleeding into the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage of the newborn)
* Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)
* Cognitive or motor disability or delay
* Delayed growth and development
* Infection or neonatal sepsis
* Heart disease
* Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
* Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome
* Newborn jaundice
* Retinopathy and vision loss or blindness
* Severe intestinal inflammation (necrotizing enterocolitis)

Gee, sounds like fun. Not. And why is this poor kid sentenced to this hideous mess? Because these two dim bulbs, its parents, don't know how to use birth control. Or don't want to. Same thing.

Another sad-making factor: This woman is getting less than 2 years' rest in between pregnancies, which is the minimum time the human body needs to recover from such a stressful event, according to obstetricians. Pre-eclampsia is not a good sign, and neither are gallstones. And if she dies as a result of all this babymaking, Jim-Bob, just like "Rusty" Yates, will find a new, younger broodmare and continue breeding his army of Xtian soldiers, won't he?

These people disgust me.

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World: Uganda Wants Death Penalty For LGBTQ

The Huffington Post is reporting that, following visits by conservative American Christians, lawmaker David Bahati of Uganda is proposing a sweeping law aimed at LGBTQ Ugandans that includes life imprisonment or the death penalty for being gay, as well as severe penalties for those who rent homes to, employ, or fail to report homosexuals to the authorities:
The Ugandan legislation in its current form would mandate a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. "Serial offenders" also could face capital punishment, but the legislation does not define the term. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act faces life imprisonment.

Anyone who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage of acts of homosexuality" faces seven years in prison if convicted. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to homosexuals also could get seven years and anyone with "religious, political, economic or social authority" who fails to report anyone violating the act faces three years.
While some African journalists and bloggers are characterizing the proposed legislation as aimed at those who knowingly infect others, especially children, with HIV, it is not clear that they are referring to the same legislation as the bill sponsored by Bahati. A request for clarification has not received a response.

Although Bloomberg has since reported in an update from its Kampala bureau that both the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment have been dropped from the bill, this might well be a reaction to the outcry in other countries against this hideous legislation.

Peter Kent, Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has characterized the bill as "vile and hateful," and has stated that Canada would raise the issue with its Ugandan counterparts at a Commonwealth summit held in Trinidad and Tobago this weekend.

This blog agrees. The proposed legislation is against all ethics and all human rights laws, nationally and internationally. You simply *cannot* execute people for being who/what they are. Science has shown that homosexuality is genetically determined.

What You Can Do

The United States currently gives Uganda approximately $60 million annually in aid. Please contact your legislator and request that such aid be made contingent upon Uganda's observation of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please also contact the Ugandan Embassy in your country and voice your opposition to this law *politely*. You can reach the Ugandan Embassy in the U.S. here. You can also contact the Uganda Human Rights Commission to urge them to act on this. According to, Uganda is a signatory to the UDHR. Thank you.

Under Article 51 of the Constitution of Uganda, the UHRC, among other functions is mandated to monitor the government's compliance with Constitutional provisions and international human rights instruments on human rights. It is their duty to ensure that Mr. Bahati and President Museveni adhere to human rights standards.

Gay Americans are taxpayers, and we resent our taxes paying for the oppression and murder of our brothers and sisters anywhere in the world.

Christians, if you believe what Your Teacher taught, now is the time to speak up and stand with your gay brothers and sisters. Jesus would not have condoned the killing of people who have committed no wrong. If you feel it is wrong for a person to love someone of the same gender, remember that it is for your God, and not you, to judge. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I shall repay.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, said your Jesus. Do not let your brethren in the fundamentalist church drag you all into opprobrium by condemning others to death.

In case you haven't seen it, Rachel Maddow has done a yeoman job of reportage on the event.

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Dellums: The Do Little Mayor

One of my strongest regrets is that I voted for Mayor Dellums (mayor of Oakland, California). Chip Johnson who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle calls him The Quiet Mayor. I call him the Do Little Mayor. I invite you to read Johnson's column in today's edition of the Chronicle: "Oakland Mayor - pompous, not politic." I have many reasons for disliking the job that Dellums has done. Here's a small sample from Johnson's article:

Dellums seems to have a blind spot when it comes to understanding how his own conduct and behavior - from excessive spending on lavish travel to his steadfast refusal to publicly discuss a $240,000 federal tax lien - reflects the very worst that exists in Oakland government.

From September 2008 to September 2009, Dellums and his wife spent nearly $60,000 in city funds on travel. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed spent $5,800 in the same time period, said Michelle McGurk, a spokeswoman in Reed's office. And, in calendar year 2009, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom spent $5,400, said Joe Arellano, Newsom's press secretary. In Sacramento, Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, pays for his own travel and accommodations, said a staff member.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Book Review and Reading List 2009

I know I already posted it. I just had to get the taste of that last post out of my mouth.

Besides, that's a hella cute kitteh.

Book review.

Reading list for 2009.

Next project: Post reading list for 2010.

Also, a review of Quick Gun Murugan. If you haven't seen it already, you should. It is to larf.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

War Crimes: Never Forget

Ishii Shiro

If you want to know why this Cat hasn't posted much of late, you should read about Ishii Shiro. Who, you might ask, is Ishii Shiro? And why should he keep a Cat from blogging politics?

WARNING: Graphic subject matter.

The preceding link takes you to a Wikipedia entry on Ishii. The information there is scant, and only linked so that you, should you choose to follow the link, will know who this man is. However, the article glosses over the fact that Ishii Shiro was a monster equalling any the world has ever known, in depth of depravity if not scope. He may not have murdered as many people as Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, but that was for lack of opportunity, not intent.

For those who don't want to click the link, here are a few basic facts: Ishii Shiro was a microbiologist who joined the Japanese Imperial Army before its criminal aggressions in World War II. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of General. He started a military unit tasked with bacteriological and chemical warfare. In the course of his tenure at this unit (the infamous Unit 731), Ishii authorized and conducted experiments on living human beings, including babies. These experiments included bombing live humans, then observing their sufferings for weeks as the shrapnel from such bombs infected the test subjects with various bacteria, including plague, cholera, typhus, and the like. He authorized and performed vivisection on political prisoners and prisoners of war and unfortunate people seized for various reasons, or for no reason at all, by the Kempeitai, that group of sadists and malign misanthropes often miscalled "the Japanese military police."

Vivisection at Unit 731

Note the unfortunate subject's hands, bound, as he is being cut open while still alive and conscious.

You will ask why I chose to read about Unit 731. Quite honestly, I put off reading the book as long as I could. It was not pleasant reading. However, I highly recommend that anyone who would claim the label of pacifist, anyone who believes in non-violence, or ahimsa, anyone who opposes war, do the same.

We cannot fight a thing if we don't know what it is. Saying "war is evil" without knowing anything about war is mere bloviation.

War has been part of the human condition since the first proto-human brained his brother (literal or otherwise) with a rock as they fought over access to scarce resources.

Today our capacity to make war threatens every living thing on this planet. We could destroy our entire planet many times over, although it only needs destroying once to make the issue moot.

It bothers me that, of late, nearly every article on astronomy I read in scientific publications seems to contain the assumption that we are looking for a new home, a new planet to house our discordant species. Are we so close to the destruction of this, our home? Is there some plan afoot about which we, the labouring masses, know nothing and guess little? And, should we find it necessary to leave this planet, are we only taking with us the seeds of our future destruction?

We are still involved in two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we elected Barack Obama to the highest office in the land, he promised us that the troops would be coming home soon.

I have plenty of respect and admiration for President Obama. He's doing a great job, given the mess he inherited. But while we are drawing down troops in Iraq, and finally bringing them home; while we are closing for good that monument to the fall from grace of America The Once-Beautiful, the torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay Prison; while we have finally resolved the amorphous and overly-broad scope of the "War Against Terror" into a mission to seek and destroy Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, his evil stepchild — I cannot but be troubled over our sending more troops to Afghanistan.

I understand that in order to safeguard itself and attain its objective, the US/NATO force currently in Afghanistan does require reinforcements. And it will be no easy task to finally clean up the mess that our Former Dear Leader Dick "they call me Dick for a reason" Cheney/Gee, Dumb? Yeah! Bouchebag and that ambulatory purulence, Donald Rumsfeld, left behind in Afghanistan.

I understand we can't just pull our military out all over the world and "bring the troops home" en masse, no matter how much we want to. We must ensure that those troops have something to come home to — jobs, or opportunities therefor, at least; the rescaling and restructuring of the military; training that will allow members of the military to do something very different than what they've been doing for the past X years. Medical issues, contract issues, benefits, all have to be managed, and with minimum disruption.

Most importantly, I believe that, although a standing army is pretty much required of any nation in this day and age, we need — we all need — to learn how to be a nation at peace. The military budget is destroying this country. We are spending millions on machines that have only one purpose: to kill or maim other human beings.

Most of us find the thought of killing and injuring other people distasteful. If we did not, there would be no need to demonize the enemy. Apparently, we don't find it distasteful enough to stop our country from becoming a vast military-industrial Moloch that grinds our own children to death in its jaws. We sacrifice the best of ourselves, our humanity, our health, our lives, and the lives of others, casually, to feed the beast. And the same people who support the burgeoning military budget complain at having to spend less than one-fifth of that amount to ensure the nation's health. (FYI: 2009 military budget: $515 billion. Estimated yearly expenditure on the public option: $90 billion annually.)

The time has come for that to end. This means we all need to learn, to see, to feel, to think, without equivocation, without flinching, about war. About exactly what it is.

And this is what it is. Torture, sadism, cruelty, inhumane acts, evil. War represents the worst in the human spirit, that allows us to justify killing old men, blowing up pregnant women, blowing limbs off little children.

Could you cut open a living human being? Dr. Ishii could. He did. He ordered his subordinates to, as well. You might say, "But I am not responsible for Dr. Ishii. This happened many years ago, and I was not even alive, at the time."

This is why you cannot plead that defense: Dr. Ishii and the scientists of Unit 731 were never prosecuted for their crimes. In return for access to their research on live human subjects — experiments forbidden by any code of ethics — Douglas MacArthur, and through him the United States of America, offered these war criminals full immunity from prosecution.

What Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, and their cohorts authorized in Iraq and Afghanistan bears plenty of resemblance (perhaps they didn't go as far as vivisection, although we don't yet know) to what was done by Unit 731. And these war criminals continue to walk among us, scot-free.

Here, for your delectation, some excerpts from this exceptional chronicling of Unit 731, Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II, by Peter Williams and David Wallace:
The unit was referred to under a number of different names at different times: Ishii Unit; Manchuria 25202 Unit; Kwantung Army Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Unit.


One of Ishii's dreams could come true — doctors in combat alongside the glorious infantry.
Doctors in combat. Those who take an oath to preserve health and life, serving alongside, and assisting, those sworn to take both health and life from anyone they, or their superiors, identify as "the enemy." Ishii set up his headquarters at P'ing Fan, in Manchuria. It was by order of the Japanese Emperor of the time, Hirohito, that the size of the detachment was fixed at 3,000 personnel.
Ever since his trip to Europe, plague had fascinated Ishii. ... Plague could create casualties often out of all proportion to the number of bacteria disseminated. Ishii deduced, therefore, that it would make an efficient weapon and set about preparing the most dangerous strains. He looked to history, to the great plagues that had ravaged continents and delighted in the chaos that such a weapon would create. ...

Plague had another advantage for Ishii. Its origins could be concealed.


Russians from Hogoin were only one source of human guinea pigs. Most, around 70 per cent, were Chinese soldiers, intellectuals and local worker agitators apprehended by the Kenpeitai and Secret Service throughout Manchuria.
Such human experimental material included those designated as
suspected spy, saboteur, or ideological criminal, perhaps an opium smoker, pro-Soviet and anti-Japanese, "disloyal," of no value for "enlistment," unwilling for "re-education," of no fixed abode, or simply whose release was "undesirable."


Unsuspecting and innocent people were also tricked into the clutches of Unit 731. Some were lured by the prospect of employment. Young boys, mothers and children, even pregnant women were trapped.

Prisoners were referred to as "maruta," which is the Japanese word for a log of wood.
Talk about dehumanization!
A maruta was just a number, a piece of experimental material. They were not even regarded as human beings.


The prison was a vision of hell. Through the spyhole cut in the steel doors of each cell, the plight of the chained marutas could be seen. Some had rotting limbs, bits of bone protruding through skin blackened by necrosis. Others were sweating in high fever, writhing in agony or moaning in pain. ... An infected person would be put with healthy marutas to see how easily diseases spread.


Marutas were "used up" at the rate of two or three per day.
Among the prisoners on whom such inhumane tests were performed were 88,000 American and Filipino PoWs captured during the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. Some of these, together with Australian, British, and New Zealand PoWs (a total of 1,485) were sent to Manchuria. How many White Russians perished at P'ing Fan is not clear. At least the Chinese and the Allies have some record of how many of their people died.

The Soviet Union prosecuted those members of Unit 731 that they captured for war crimes. They were sentenced to lengthy terms but not put to death. Eventually, they were released and repatriated to Japan. Those who evaded capture by the Soviets ended up under the military authority of the United States. In exchange for their experimental data, Douglas MacArthur and, through him, the United States Government, shielded these war criminals from prosecution, essentially giving them a free pass. Many of them went on to win high honours in their quickly-resumed professional lives.

And the U.S. government took the data from Unit 731 and conducted bacteriological warfare against the North Koreans. Uninformed Americans wonder why the North Koreans are so paranoid. In their place, wouldn't you be? Information has only now, 50+ years later, begun to surface about war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Korea. But the truth about bacterial weapons used against the Koreans is not yet common knowledge even in the U.S.

While civilian Japanese paid with their lives and health at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Ishii Shiro and his cohorts lived in comparative wealth and splendour to the end of their days. While his countrymen starved and suffered, Ishii Shiro and the commanders of Unit 731 lived well. Some of these monsters — perhaps all of them, by now — are dead. But their crimes must never die.

Chinese and Japanese protest war crimes of Unit 731

We must never forget that we human beings are capable of doing such things to each other. We invoke war as our excuse to dispel the last shreds of our humanity. It has often been said of humankind that we are "midway between angel and ape." The deeds of Unit 731 put the lie to that claim. No ape could, or would, cause such suffering to its fellow apes, and justify it so disingenuously.

In all honesty, although this book took weeks to read, and more weeks to recover from, this Cat has actually also been occupied with the monumental task of editing several books. That task is now drawing to a close, and this blog will resume its regular assault upon your consciousness.

Thank you for your attention.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Meta: Back At Last!

ICHC's Xmas Kitteh Carolers

Well, I'm back from a mostly work-related trip to far-off lands. On the plus side, I did get some reading done despite trying circumstances. On the minus side, my reading list appears to have grown like a fungus.

I did try not to acquire so many books. But the little buggers seem to sneak into my luggage when no one's looking. On the other hand, some of them were fine, fine books, and I'm going to heartily urge all and sundry to consider buying some of the better items on this list as gifts for themselves or their loved ones, you know, now that that great big commercial season called Giftmas is upon us.

Srsly, what better gift than a book? You don't have to worry about the recipient exchanging it for something stupid; you don't have to worry about the recipient not finding it to their taste; if it's regifted, it'll still get read by someone, which is the whole idea; you can get it for a minimum outlay, used, at FlimFlamazon or Bores & Ignoble; and you get to feel all ennobled and warm and stuff, especially if you get it used (Used Books! A Tree's Best Friends!), even if you give it to yourself.

I know it's a little early for season's greetings and the war against the war against Xmas, but hey. We were sojourning in a part of the world where every inch of every building was covered with tacky Xmas red and green and glitter. Even the fecking cabdrivers had silly little Santa hats on. (Remember, kids, Santa transposed equals SATAN! Or, for the spelling-impaired, SATIN! As fine a fabric as I've ever handled, though a complete bitch to sew, tack, or otherwise use for interior displays.) Having hopefully heard my last HO-HO-HO of the season (except for my idiot neighbour who seems to think that yelling this at the top of his lungs to his three year old is somehow not subject to the laws of neighbourly behaviour and public nuisance; too much eggnog, methinks), unless we all start screaming at Sairy Failin', I'm willing to be less than normally curmudgeonly at this here blog.

So merry fucking Xmas, y'awl. Regular posting recommences tomorrow.

Damn, jet lag sux, don't it?

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Caturday! It's a Glorious Day!

From those wonderful folks at

You know, here at The Political Cat, we post lots of pieces based on our strong opinions. But we still retain a sense of humor ... and admit that sometimes (not very often at all), we might be wrong. In fact, one of my favorite sayings is this: Never in Doubt, Often Wrong. I wish some of our leaders embraced that saying as well.

And ... about the photo below ... ISN'T HE ONE OF THE HANDSOMEST CATS YOU'VE EVER SEEN? Ms. Manitoba can shout this from the rooftops AND retain her humility because ... she did not contribute one iota of genetic material to Boomer's creation. Two other beautiful creatures did that. (Probably in a back alley.)

Boomer, trying to figure out how to get beyond the window
to capture
some of those delicious looking treats that fly around

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009



This word was coined by the wonderfully irreverent Tom Lehrer about President Lyndon Johnson's increasing military involvement in Vietnam.

I created a T shirt back in August of 2007 for Bush's regime that said:

I guess I'm gonna have to rummage around and find it.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Obama: You Can Only Steal from the People For So Long ...

Like many people, I am so very disappointed in President Obama. He’s just not listening to the Peacemaker inside of him (shouting to come out!) -- but who is he listening to? Definitely not former President Eisenhower.
“I hate war,” said Dwight Eisenhower, “as only a soldier who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

He also said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

-- Using that quote from Pres. Eisenhower is how Bob Herbert started his column called “A Tragic Mistake” in today’s New York Times. It’s a very good essay. I recommend it to you.

Then there is Michael Moore’s letter to Obama. I recommend that you read that one too, dear Reader.

Mr. President, I’m just so disappointed -- even while I also held the thought that you were a centrist politician, nowhere near a progressive, really. Disappointed that you don't have the courage of your convictions. Or ... maybe you're just too tired for another fight. It’s been said recently that you are looking very very tired.

Plus, I guess you’re worrying about your re-election. In that sense, you are like every other politician. I guess that’s why I’m so disappointed. Because, even though you are not progressive, I thought you were different than other politicians.

War. It steals from us, the people. It has been bringing us down for a long time. Have we paid off the Vietnam War yet?

How can we pay for yet another war? And I mean in every sense of the word “pay.”

To many of us, we believe that this country is going the way of the Roman Empire ... the British Empire. Maybe that’s as it should be. We’ve had more than our fair share for a long time.

And, you, my president (for I did vote for you) ... you are going the way of all those other presidents who don’t know what regular folks’ lives are like. We are terrified. We are terrified for our children and our grandchildren. WAR STEALS FROM THE PEOPLE. It was that radical person, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would have said that. You can only steal from the people for so long.

Plus, Mr. President, I think it was really weasly of you to give your address at West Point. Why didn’t you come to Oakland, California, where I live, and give it here? Weasly. Can’t take the heat, eh? Come and look into the faces of regular folks, and the homeless and unemployed, and tell them that we will be making more bombs and armaments -- that’s how we’ll be spending our limited amount of money. Not on our beloved children who deserve the best education -- they too -- all of them -- deserve an “elite” education. (See this great article about all children deserving an elite education.)

A tragic mistake for all of us. You can only steal from the people for so long. It's always us regular folks who suffer, though, from the tragic mistakes of our arrogant leaders.

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