Saturday, April 25, 2009

Montgomery County Medical Clinic

I spent the day out at the Home Show at the armory. I had a booth there to advertise the Montgomery County Medical Clinic. I had one hundred brochures when I set up and nine are left. There were so many people who have no insurance. One woman was laid off this week and she had been with the hospital for 18 years.

Another woman told me about having to go to the emergency room for a sore throat. The bill was $880. She said she would be paying that off for awhile.

Another told me her aunt and uncle were both taken to Wichita by helicopter for heart attacks at the same time. It turned out there was a carbon monoxide leak in their house. The woman's bill was $60,000 and the man's was $80,000. His veteran's insurance doesn't cover helicopters. What do these people do?

My sister was taken by ambulance to the hospital after breaking her hip. The hospital is two blocks away and they billed Medicare $1300.

It's no wonder we need healthcare reform in the United States.

The Montgomery County Medical Center is located in the Tatman Cancer Clinic at the hospital. They are charging us $1 a year rent. Doctors are volunteering and so are nurses. They are open Tuesday evenings from 4:00 until 7:00 right now but will soon expand their days. You go through the doors on the west side of the hospital to get in there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm disappointed!

I am disappointed in the Obama administration for this reason:

The president has refused to abide by treaty obligations:

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed a treaty called The Convention Against Torture. It was ratified by Congress in 1994. According to the US Constitution, this is now the law of the land. It requires all signatories in cases where parties have committed or been complicit in committing torture to: "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution" (Art. 7(1)) and, in anticipation of just the sort of thing the Obama Administration is doing, it also states: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." And, further anticipating the arguments of the Obama Administration: "an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture" (Art. 2 (2-3)).

The UN's top torture investigator reminded us of this.

You might remember Spain instituting criminal actions against Bush officials. It may sound petty, but under the treaty - they are legally obligated to do so- and have stated that if the US investigated (as they are required to do) then they would drop their proceedings.

Obama also argued against habeas corpus.

In pushing Bush to provide due process to Guantanamo prisoners, Obama spoke eloquently about habeas corpus and the rule of law:

"Current procedures under the CSRT [military commissions act kangaroo trials] are such that a perfectly innocent individual could be held and could not rebut the Government's case and has no way of proving his innocence.

I would like somebody in this Chamber, somebody in this Government, to tell me why this is necessary. I do not want to hear that this is a new world and we face a new kind of enemy. I know that. . . . But as a parent, I can also imagine the terror I would feel if one of my family members were rounded up in the middle of the night and sent to Guantanamo without even getting one chance to ask why they were being held and being able to prove their innocence....

Most of us have been willing to make some sacrifices because we know that, in the end, it helps to make us safer. But restricting somebody's right to challenge their imprisonment indefinitely is not going to make us safer. In fact, recent evidence shows it is probably making us less safe.

...This is not just unhelpful in our fight against terror, it is unnecessary. We don't need to imprison innocent people to win this war. For people who are guilty, we have the procedures in place to lock them up. That is who we are as a people. We do things right, and we do things fair."

So Obama agreed (a) that everyone should have at least one chance to challenge their accusers and (b) arguing that, just because they are off shore, in a place like Guantanamo, doesn't free the US from that obligation.

Until now.

Sure, Guantanamo is closing (eventually) but Obama still has prisons, like in Bagram, Afghanistan. When those prisoners tried to obtain access to the courts like the Guantanamo prisons, Obama supported the Bush defense. The court rightly ruled against the Obama administration on the same grounds as Gitmo - so what did Obama do? He appealed.

The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release. The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight.

In a court filing, the Justice Department also asked District Judge John D. Bates not to proceed with the habeas-corpus cases of three detainees at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Judge Bates ruled last week that the three — each of whom says he was seized outside of Afghanistan — could challenge their detention in court.

Tina Foster, the executive director of the International Justice Network, which is representing the detainees, condemned the decision in a statement.

“Though he has made many promises regarding the need for our country to rejoin the world community of nations, by filing this appeal, President Obama has taken on the defense of one of the Bush administration’s unlawful policies founded on nothing more than the idea that might makes right,” she said.

On the subject of keeping "dangerous" people locked up:

Indeed, Obama said he would close Guantanamo. But he wasn't going to let everyone go. He said he would try many in US courts - others he would continue with the kangaroo courts he argued against when he was running for President, and still others who were "too dangerous" to be released, but couldn't be tried (mostly because evidence against them, if any, was obtained through illegal torture) he would create a "specialized" tribunal to deal with them.

Translation: I'll try people I know we can prosecute, and if I think we can't, I'll do something else with them.

How is that different than what Bush did?

Then instructing the DOJ.

In fact, all Obama "backpeddled" on was trying higher up officials - Obama continues to say that those who "acted in good faith" in following orders shouldn't be prosecuted. This in itself is what we all got mad at Bush for doing - hiring political cronies in the DOJ to carry out what he wanted. Now, hopefully Holder is more independent, but the Pres still shouldn't be making it known to his appointee who he thinks should or shouldn't be prosecuted.

Moreover, the thought that those who were just following orders shouldn't be prosecuted is repugnant. Aside from being against the Convention Against Torture (above) - it's how we've prosecuted (rightly) since Nuremberg. Here is Principal IV of International Law recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal:

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

In the closing argument of the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg:

"One of the chief reasons the defendants say there was no conspiracy is the argument that conspiracy was impossible with a dictator. The argument runs that they all had to obey Hitler's orders, which had the force of law in the German State, and hence obedience could not be made the basis of an original charge. In this way it is explained that while there have been wholesale killings, there have been no murderers.

This argument is an effort to evade Article 8 of the Charter, which provides that the order of the Government or of a superior shall not free a defendant from responsibility but can only be considered in mitigation."

And remember - these people would have been disobeying a direct order from Hitler with the SS looking on. Do you suppose the CIA had the same pressure?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Heck of a Note

Boss pay in the U.S. in 1982 was forty two times that of the average worker pay. In a 2007 report it was 364 times greater. The U.S. has the greatest gap between the rich and the poor of the developed nations. Its middle class is the smallest and the U.S. suffers the greatest concentration of both income and wealth in the hands of the few when compared with other affluent democracies. Income inequality has significantly increased in the last thirty years. Recent tax cuts overwhelmingly benefited the rich and increased further inequality. The extent of poverty in a nation is measured by the United Nations Development Program using the poverty index. Among the developed nations for which statistics are available, the U.S. has the worst poverty and ranks seventeenth in the world.

How can this possibly be a fair system? And what executive in the U.S. is worth bonuses of millions of dollars?

Economic well being is central to a peaceful world. And poverty is the worst form of violence. A people of God will want to work to abolish poverty among themselves and in the wider world.

What a day!

This has been a busy day. Bob and I went out to church this morning and I washed down the two sheds with a Clorox solution to get the mildew off of them. Now tomorrow morning, we will go out and paint them both after we scrape them.

We then went to the nursery and bought our geraniums and asparagus plants and I planted my hanging baskets. We had lunch and then I mulched everything in the back flower beds. I have yet to plant the front impatiens and geraniums. Then I will mulch those. Perhaps I will get it done tomorrow after we paint. The photo you see above is the patio flower bed with the peonies and the hanging baskets above them.

I need to go down to Sherwin Williams and get the paint yet today. Or I may get it tomorrow morning since Bob has a Red Cross board meeting this evening at 6:00.

My brother-in-law (my sister's husband)learned today that his non Hodgkins Lymphoma has not grown or changed. So they will continue to just watch it. I was so relieved for him.

It has been a beautiful day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Quieter Wednesday

Today I will go get my hair done then come right home again. I canceled breakfast with Juanita. Bill will be leaving today and Bob and I will go out to Hain's Greenhouse and get our hanging plants and geraniums. I am really interested in getting some color in the back of the house. The front looks nice with the phlox in full bloom and the pansies still blooming. I planted those last October and they made it through the snows of winter and the cold weather and are still blooming beautifully.

This evening I have the church small group meeting here. It will be interesting to see how many make the effort to come. I will play the DVD "Rain" from the Nooma series I have purchased.

I need to make brownies and buy some vanilla ice cream for the dessert.

Above is the photo I took of the front yard.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lovely Tuesday

It has been a lovely day today. First I went to visit my sister and stay with her while my brother-in-law went to have breakfast with his friends. Bob and Bill slept in awhile and then fixed their own breakfast.

When I got back we visited awhile, I showed my brother-in-law the scrapbook I am making for our daughter and son-in-law and then we took a drive so he could see the town following the eradication of much of the east side after the 2007 flood.

Then we went to Dearing to The King restaurant for lunch. After that, he went to visit his nephew, who is very ill with cancer. I took a couple of pictures of him with my Bob before he left.

This evening we will go to eat at the Tavern on The Plaza downtown. It's always good food.

I have a book to mail off. It is a used one I sold on I will do that before dinner. Bob napped this afternoon.

Later we went to dinner and had a great dinner.

The man on the right is our brother-in-law. Bob is on the left.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nice Day Today

This has been a nice day. I got up this morning and fed Slinky who spent the night in the kitchen since it got down to 30 degrees here last night. I washed his bedding and when I took it out of the dryer he laid himself right down on it. He loves warm bedding.

Later I got my Sunday letters out and also mailed off a card to Scott with $100 in it. He needs to get a new starter on his car. He saves money in a money market account I manage for him for just such emergencies.

Then I fixed breakfast and we called to arrange to take Leslie to lunch. We had a nice visit over lunch.

After lunch we went to the market to buy a few things for the week. When we got home Bob put the first of two tomato plants in an upside down planter. It will be interesting to see how those work out.

Later in the afternoon, Bob's brother-in-law called to say he was in town. He wanted to take us to dinner but we couldn't find a nice restaurant open in town on Monday. So I invited him out here for hamburgers and french fries. I fixed iced tea and a pudding and that was dinner. It seemed to be enough. He has a Cadillac that is a year and a half old. It is loaded with features. He is getting a new one in August. We took it out to John and Leslie's home.

Then I called my son-in-law to ask if we could bring Bill (Bob's brother-in-law) out to see Fisherman John's Outpost and the new house. John seemed happy to have us come so about 7:30 we went out there. The men are in bed now and I am trying to finish up the day's work.

I will go over to my sister and brother-in-law's in the morning and stay with my sister while he goes to breakfast with his friends and classmates. I never did hear today how his biopsy came out. I guess I'll hear in the morning.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Huge Weekend

It was a huge weekend but everything went off smoothly. One fellow coming by bus got as far as Colorado and the bus got stuck in that awful snowstorm out there. So we had one opening.

Other than that all the papers went well, and the symposium went seamless.

I presented my paper on Saturday afternoon and tried to speak slowly and distinctly so I could be understood. There were several questions and three people asked me for copies of my paper.

We drove home after noon and I got here about 4:00. I made a folder with the e-mail addresses of everyone who helped and sent out a general "thank you" to all.

Then Bob and I went to our "Living the Questions" group. It was at Joyce and Keith's tonight. We had a good group and a good discussion. Joyce served brownies and ice cream afterward.

Slinky will sleep in the utility area tonight. It is going to be 40 degrees tonight...maybe colder. I noticed his bedding was damp from the air so I put it in the dryer for awhile and warmed it up.