Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's not good when even Fox News criticizes the Republican VP Candidate's Speech

Check out Sally Kohn's critique of Paul Ryan's speech:

As a Fox News contributor, we know she's likely to be out there in right field.  Instead, she refreshingly identifies Ryan's lies as lies and holds him accountable.  Othe rmedia sources are doing the same, and I hope the American people pay attention to figure out the truth.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

National Medicaid story cites TennCare issues

Most of you know that I've written a book manuscript on TennCare.  I've been struggling to get it published, but it has been used at Vanderbilt Law School as a text in a course.  Anyway, here is a national news piece on the dangers of cutting Medicaid, and it cites what happened in Tennessee when the state cut TennCare:

I urge you to consider this piece and the real lives affected by Medicaid.  Often, it's the sick, the weary, the poor who are trampled on by the healthy and the wealthy.  Congress has already said that it is going to protect those most in need (and those who literally cannot protect their own interests against major companies because they are busy trying to stay alive).  Make sure that your vote this election doesn't act as a death knell to many of the neediest in America.

Healthier School Lunches!

This year, school lunches will be healthier.  Because of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, school lunches must now:
- offer both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
- substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods
- substantially increase offerings of low-fat or fat-free milk
- limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size
- reduce saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.

(See USDA announcement  

This is wonderful news!  While I grew up without eating school lunches (they turned my stomach then, and they make me queasy thinking about them now), so many children are dependent on school lunches.  Not only are parents working harder than ever, but good, quality food is scarce at home.  Lunches at school may be the only time children experience whole, real food.  I'm proud of America for taking this step.  Our kids have been eating over-processed unidentifiable mush for too long.  It's time to go back to the days when the lunch ladies actually peeled potatoes to make mashed potatoes, and they cooked actual chicken, and their jobs involved more than defrosting and heating.  My grandma was a lunch lady for my mom's school, and we still eat some of her "school recipes" as part of our normal meals (I'm particularly fond of her yeasty rolls --- yum!).  Let's get back to that and find our waistline, our energy levels, and our concentration again.  Here's to healthy kids!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The feds are warming my heart ---

Last week, the US Department of Agriculture issued a statement in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac about what people should do with their livestock and their pets when the storm comes.  Obviously, since Katrina, people's attachment to their pets has become an issue when considering natural disasters.  I know that I could not and would not leave my pets.  If it was a choice of staying with them through a storm or leaving them and ensuring my own safety, I'd stay with them and hope for the best.  They have brought both Sam and me through some rough times, and I am not about to abandon them.  Anyway, this USDA message warmed my heart (the line about "favorite toys" really got me) --- the government is recognizing that it is a government of people, real people who care about their families, whatever species they are.

Read the announcement:

USDA Offers Livestock and Pet Safety Tips In Advance of Tropical Storm Isaac

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2012 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing guidance for residents in states who have livestock and pets that might be affected by Tropical Storm Isaac.  USDA is offering these tips to help residents protect the health of these animals in the event of power outages, flooding and other issues that can be associated with strong storms.

Follow the direction of state and local officials and stay tuned to your local Emergency Alert System television or ra­dio stations, and fire, police and other local emergency response organizations for relevant emergency information.
Livestock Safety
Make sure barns and structures where live­stock can be sheltered are in good repair. If more space is needed for your stock, make arrangements for the use of other sheltering facilities in close proximity to your facilities.
Calculate the feed and water requirements to maintain livestock and poultry during an emergency.
Make preparations for protecting feed and water supplies and providing emergency electrical power if necessary.
If possible, cover feed and forage stored outdoors with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Routinely cover open water supplies, such as troughs and stock tanks.
Pet Safety
If you have not been ordered to evacuate, make sure you have enough pet food and water on hand to feed your pets during an emergency. 
If you have been ordered to evacuate by state or local authorities, take your pets with you when you go.  If you need assistance, such as persons relying on public transportation or with medical special needs, contact your emergency management agency for instructions.
An emergency pet shelter might be available near the human emergency shelter, check with your local emergency management agency to find the nearest emergency pet shelter to you. Do not stay behind with your pet if state or local officials order you to evacuate.
Pet owners should be prepared to provide the following information to pet shelter workers if possible: name; species and breed; sex; color; distinctive markings; age; microchip identification number; vaccination records; health conditions and required medication.
Other useful items to bring to a shelter are:
·          a clear and current photo of you with your pet
·         an extra collar, leash, and/or harness that fits
·         favorite toys
·         any medications and special diets for their pets
·         information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets
·         a pet carrier/kennel large enough for your pet to sleep in comfortably
More information about pet preparedness is available at:

Additional information and updates about USDA's hurricane relief efforts are posted at  And information about the U.S. Government's response efforts is available at

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Revenge of Mother Nature???

How ironic is it that Tropical Storm Isaac may hit Tampa at the exact time of the Republican National Convention, which is when Mitt "There is No Such Thing as Global Warming" Romney will be nominated???  This make me cackle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some Light Reading: Satirical Piece about SCOTUS

Here's an enjoyable piece about the Supreme Court of the United States that pokes fun at the justices.  It's a rare gem considering the immense secrecy that clerks keeps for the justices.  Enjoy:

Eve Ensler's Repsonse to Akin's "Legitimate Rape"

By now, I hope that we are all aware of Missouri GOP Senate-Candidate and current Represenative Todd Akin's remarks concerning rape.  For those of you not aware, Akin stated, "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."  (

While Akin's remarks have left a wide swath of outrage across the country, and I hope the world, I wanted to point out one particular response:  Eve Ensler's.  Ensler is the playwright of The Vagina Monologues, and she is an activist on behalf of women's rights.  Here is her response, kindly posted by The Huffington Post:

Dear Todd Akin,
I am writing to you tonight about rape. It is 2 AM and I am unable to sleep here in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am in Bukavu at the City of Joy to serve and support and work with hundreds, thousands of women who have been raped and violated and tortured from this ceaseless war for minerals fought on their bodies.

I am in Congo but I could be writing this from anywhere in the United States, South Africa, Britain, Egypt, India, Philippines, most college campuses in America. I could be writing from any city or town or village where over half a billion women on the planet are raped in their lifetime.
Mr. Akin, your words have kept me awake. 

As a rape survivor, I am reeling from your recent statement where you said you misspoke when you said that women do not get pregnant from legitimate rape, and that you were speaking "off the cuff."
Clarification. You didn't make some glib throw away remark. You made a very specific ignorant statement clearly indicating you have no awareness of what it means to be raped. And not a casual statement, but one made with the intention of legislating the experience of women who have been raped. Perhaps more terrifying: it was a window into the psyche of the GOP. 

You used the expression "legitimate" rape as if to imply there were such a thing as "illegitimate" rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape. 

When you, Paul Ryan and 225 of your fellow co-sponsors play with words around rape suggesting only "forcible" rape be treated seriously as if all rapes weren't forcible, it brings back a flood of memories of the way the rapists played with us in the act of being raped -- intimidating us, threatening us,muting us. Your playing with words like "forcible" and "legitimate" is playing with our souls which have been shattered by unwanted penises shoving into us, ripping our flesh, our vaginas, our consciousness, our confidence, our pride, our futures. 

Now you want to say that you misspoke when you said that a legitimate rape couldn't get us pregnant. Did you honestly believe that rape sperm is different than love sperm, that some mysterious religious process occurs and rape sperm self-destructs due to its evilcontent? Or, were you implying that women and their bodies are somehow responsible for rejecting legitimate rape sperm, once again putting the onus on us? It would seem you were saying that getting pregnant after a rape would indicate it was not a "legitimate" rape. 

Here's what I want you to do. I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you are on your bed or up against a wall or locked in a small suffocating space. Imagine being tied up there and imagine some aggressive, indifferent, insane stranger friend or relative ripping off your clothes and entering your body -- the most personal, sacred, private part of your body -- and violently, hatefully forcing themself into you so that you are ripped apart. Then imagine that stranger's sperm shooting into you and filling you and you can't get it out. It is growing something in you. Imagine you have no idea what that life will even consist of, spiritually made in hate, not knowing the mental or health background of the rapist. 

Then imagine a person comes along, a person who has never had that experience of rape, and that person tells you, you have no choice but to keep that product of rape growing in you against your will and when it is born it has the face of your rapist, the face of the person who has essentially destroyed your being and you will have to look at the face every day of your life and you will be judged harshly if you cannot love that face. 

I don't know if you can imagine any of this (leadership actually requires this kind of compassion), but if you are willing to go to the depth of this darkness, you will quickly understand that there is NO ONE WHO CAN MAKE THAT CHOICE to have or not have the baby, but the person carrying that baby herself. 

I have spent much time with mothers who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. I have watched how tortured they are wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child.

I am asking you and the GOP to get out of my body, out of my vagina, my womb, to get out of all of our bodies. These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.
Why don't you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction. 

And by the way you've just given millions of women a very good reason to make sure you never get elected again, and an insanely good reason to rise.

Eve Ensler

Bukavu, Congo