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Insane Musings

Pictures I feel like posting
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

No real point to this. Just some pictures I have lying around in my photobucket account that I want to post here. :-)

I spent the last weekend with my parents in Hilton Head, SC. They have a beautiful home there.

I spent part of the time poking around in their yard. The bottlebrush was in full bloom and was simply lovely.

The view from the room they had built for me is also breathtaking. In the background across the water you can see Paris Island.

I did my day at the beach and it was SO peaceful - I needed that relaxation.

Is everyone aware that the FDA has put out a new food pyramid? I find this version slightly more user-friendly than the official version.

I also found a picture of a grungy toilet that was just fascinating.

Finally, I love animal pictures. I don't know what this kitten did, but he sure looks guilty to me.

THIS is why having more than one cat is a joy.

posted by RenaRF @ 10:16 PM, ,

My latest ShoeBlog

A little frivolity is welcomed in these trying times... Posted originally at DailyKos.

So I'm a little late with ths week's shoe diary. Frankly, I thought that there would be only ONE shoe diary until the response was just... overwhelming!! It makes me realize that me and my 90 pair of shoes really aren't a bad thing.

So last week I realized that many Kossacks have a secret shoe passion. We're so busy being brilliant activists and serious thinkers that we supress our inner Shoe Goddesses and Shoe Gods. I'm aiming to rectify this aggregious supression.

Here is my dream shoe of the week:

Are those not awesome? I would wear those with my black power suit and express my individualistic side through Shoe Power... At a retail cost of $430, I better do more power meetings.

I have also concocted a little shoe haiku for you fine folks.

Oh summer sandals
I dream of you on the beach
Sand in toes, water warm

Not great, but not hideous.

Here's a neat site on the history of shoes in ancient Egypt. It's not enough to love shoes - you must learn of their history and partake of learning.

Finally, I'll feature a pair of my shoes (my favorites this week) and shoes of a few other family members. I wore these all weekend at the beach:

Purchased for $10.99, they raise me to about 6 feet tall and I just love 'em.

My mother generally scoffed at my Shoeblogging. She thought it was "silly". However, when asked if she would like a pair of her shoes featured, she couldn't rush to the closet soon enough, where she spent an hour agonizing over her favorite "funky" shoes. Here they are, courtesy of my mom and Bruno Magli:

NOTE: She keeps all of her shoes in little custom shoe bags. Wonder where my obsession came from, huh?

And hopefully this will give all of you a laugh. Here are a pair of MR. RenaRF's shoes:

I'm not making this up. I pulled them out of his closet, which is remarkable because he prefers them on his feet. He wears them all the time. Somehow I think that precludes him from chiding me about my shoe obsession.

I have also realized that shoes really do say something about their owner - the owner's personality, flamboyance, preferences, demeanor and what have you. So I perused my shoes and came to the conclusion that I am schitzophrenic. :-) Got some shoes that perfectly express who you are today? Fantasy shoes? Some shoe poetry or article about shoes? Share!

posted by RenaRF @ 10:13 PM, ,

And the best new addition: SHOEBLOGGING
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A strange thing has happened on dKos. The subject of shoes, pictures of shoes, discussions of shoes, lamentations about shoes has popped up in the strangest of places. Cheers and Jeers seems to have been the first place that shoe fetishes snuck in to the otherwise topical posts (see related thread here). Most recently, lengthy discussions of shoes have appeared in Carnacki's Got a Happy Story? series (check here for the comment thread). It's time that we put shoes and things shoe-related into proper perspective. Shoes deserve their own diary and shoe-lovers deserve a place where they can share their podiatric passions. It's time for us shoe-lovers to put them on and come out of the closet with them.

So here you go. First, I'm going to feature a shoe that I desire, one that I would LOVE to acquire. This week it's:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

AHHHH. Manolo Blahnik "Flower Bag" summer mules. At $300.00, it's a bargain and these are obviously a must-have. Note the reasonable heel size, the sleek lines, and the abundance of colors leaving a variety of coordinating outfit options. As far as I'm concerned, it's an investment worth making.

Check here for the shoe site of the week. Surprisingly, it's difficult to find a site dedicated to shoe lovers as opposed to shoe shoppers, but this one's a peach. It takes you through, well, a century of shoes!! Shoe history, fashions, examples, etc. It's a priceless shoe site!!

I also think that shoe poetry is approrpiate. I am NOT, however, adept at poetry just yet, although I am envisioning a bit of shoe haiku. While I get those poetic juices flowing, however, I HAVE found a shoe poem to contribute to this little diary:


She took off her green pastel shoes,
"What shall I do with them?"

She held her shoes in her hands.
I was wondering why this concern
Over a matter so commonplace.

I replied, "Throw your green shoes
On the white rug, green and white
Often make exciting combinations."

She looked at me, puzzled and perplexed.
I thought it might be something psychological,
Her giving all this attention to shoes.

So I suggested that if she did want
To confront the evidence that she was barefooted
To throw the shoes under the bed.

She said, "You do not understand."
I could not understand what she referred to,
What was it that I could not understand.

She threw the shoes into the air;
The green shoes stayed suspended in the air.
Then I knew I did not understand. I did not understand.

~ Duane Locke

And finally, I'm going to highlight a pair of my own personal shoes as a part of this diary. Extracted from Thursday's C&J post, I choose to feature these shoes:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

These are 7" lucite platform shoes, bought in South Beach, Miami. I remember being down there for a conference, about a month before a band in which I sing was to premiere. The band is a funk band, so super retro platforms are oh-so-appropriate and I wanted to find a pair. Lo and behold, I'm walking by this store in Miami and the entire front window is wild platform shoes. I walk in - funky clothes are on the racks and the walls are lined with shoes. Now, my feet aren't small - depending on the shoe, I wear a 9 1/2 or a 10. Sometimes those are difficult sizes to locate. Well, this store had tons of 10s... and 11s... and 12s... and 13s... Plus all the funky hip dresses were too big. Didn't figure out until one the fellow conference-goers who took the walk with me pointed out that it was a drag queen store!! So I own drag queen shoes... AWESOME.

Share your shoes.

posted by RenaRF @ 2:48 PM, ,

Catching up: Diary from April 25 (posted at dKos)

Gulf War POWs get F'd.

This story has been low on the radar screen today.

It shouldn't be.

I remember where I was when I saw the Gulf War began. I was on a treadmill in a gym in my apartment complex and the TV was tuned to CNN. What ensued was a spectacular display of military pyrotechnics, and one which left the viewer with the impression that American service personnel were far from the action and largely out of harm's way.

More on the flip.

Not all of them were, of course. American soldiers were captured and taken prisoner by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Ironically, one of the places they were held was Abu Ghraib prison, but I digress. These POWs were repeatedly subject to torture - some were starved, beaten, suffered broken bones - they received intensely inhumane treatment.

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, however, granted these POWs the right to sue Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein. In 2002, they leveraged this legal opportunity. They were awarded $653 million in compensatory damages and another $306 million in punitive damages. If you're counting, that's just under $1 billion awarded to the POWs for the harm they suffered and that many of them continue to suffer, both emotional and physical. In a report done by Mike Wallace of CBS' 60 Minutes (find the text here), the POWs explained that a large block of assets seized by the US when sanctions against Iraq were put in place would have more than covered any anticipated award. The seized assets totalled $1.7 billion, so it turns out that their assumption was correct. Moreover, the court, in awarding damages to the POWs, cited more philosophical reasons than simply compensating the POWs. Here's what the presiding judge, Richard Roberts had to say about the decision:

POWs are uniquely disadvantaged and deterring torture of POWs should be of the highest priority. Only a very sizable award would be likely to deter the torture of American POWs ... in the future.

Let's recap: US military service personnel, in fulfilling their duty to their country, were taken prisoner and tortured as a result of the 1991 Gulf War. These service personnel continue to suffer emotional and physical effects of that torture. After the Gulf War, the US imposed sanctions on Iraq and seized $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets. Iraq was, at the time of the seizure, under the control of Saddam Hussein. The US Congress passed legislation in 1996 that enabled military personnel to sue foreign governments and regimes for their treatment while in captivity. 17 such personnel did exactly that, and were awarded just under $1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages for the harm they suffered, all of which was payable out of the money seized from Saddam Hussein's Iraq and was not going to be paid out of US taxpayer dollars.

So - all's right with the world, yes? No. Fast forward to 2003 and the US invasion of Iraq and subsequent toppling of the regime of Saddam Hussein. This is where it gets ugly.

When Saddam Hussein's regime fell, the Bush Administration had the $1.7 billion in seized Iraqi assets frozen and transferred them to the US Treasury Department. The POWs were shocked but undaunted. They filed a lawsuit against the US Treasury Department to collect the compensatory and punitive damages awarded to them by the Federal court. Enter the Justice Department. Their argument? That once the President had confiscated the frozen Iraqi assets they were no longer assets of Iraq. From the 60 Minutes report:

And that money, said the president, was needed to assist the Iraqi people and to rebuild Iraq. The government did acknowledge that the president had the authority to use that money to pay the POWs but that he did not choose to do so.

Nice. Through a sleight of procedural hand that would be revered by Houdini himself, the Bush Administration stepped in to legally deny these POWs the restitution that they not only deserved, but that the law had allowed. The POWs, however, were not upset and not greedy. The 60 Minutes report tells us:

"I support that reconstruction. Take the money, give it to Iraq. But give us a process to settle these claims," says Tice [one of the POWs]. "We made an offer that was completely ignored by the Justice Department."

Molly Poag, a lawyer for the POWs, explained the offer:

"Our clients came forward and said, `Please, use the money now, as long as you, the U.S. Government, agree to replenish this fund later from Iraqi funds.' Because Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, in the future there will be funds. And we need not shut out the POWs."

Would the POWs accept less money? Yes, Poag says.

Not only would they take less, but, if they were to get any money at all, the POWs had set up a foundation to help future POWs, and had committed a chunk of the award to that foundation.

The Administration not only denied them their award but sought to have the original judgment thrown completely out. No compromises, no future promises - just erased. Gone.

Today the POWs lost their final legal battle. Says an article in today's Los Angeles Times:

The justices heeded the advice of the Bush administration and let stand an appeals court ruling that threw out a nearly $1-billion verdict won by the Gulf War POWs two years ago.

The court's refusal to hear the case spares the administration from having to go before the Supreme Court to argue against American POWS who were tortured.

And THAT is how we treat our service people.

Our government, my government, just reinforced their agenda for military personnel:

  • You were a POW? FUCK YOU. We value tax cuts.
  • You were a POW? FUCK YOU. We're too busy blocking gay marriage.
  • You were a POW? FUCK YOU. We want to break the filibuster.
  • You were a POW? FUCK YOU. We're going to give you nothing. We're not even willing to promise you something at some future date. Your suffering means nothing.

I, for one, am disgusted - and ashamed.

[editor's note, by RenaRF] I wrote this diary because I know one of the POWs in question. I can't believe it's come to this, to such bald-faced abandonment of the people we rely on to put themselves in harm's way.

posted by RenaRF @ 2:29 PM, ,

Catching up: Diary from April 21 (posted at dKos)

Children Better Off in a F**cking ORPHANAGE than w/Homosexuals

I was scanning recent diaries posted and was stunned to see that this item hasn't been written about yet. If I missed one, let me know and I'll delete this.

Today, under the umbrella legislation to revamp the Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) agency, Robert Talton (R-Pasadena) introduced legislation that will ban homosexuals and bisexuals from becoming foster parents.

More on the flip.

'It is our responsibility to make sure that we protect our most vulnerable children, and I don't think we are doing that if we allow a foster parent that is homosexual or bisexual,'' said Republican Rep. Robert Talton, who introduced the amendment.

Well then. Perhaps we should also ask prospective foster parents if they ever argue, raise their voice, or curse. Those would be protective actions as well.

From Texas Says Gays Can't Be Foster Parents,

Under the Texas House bill, anyone who applies to be a foster parent or a foster parent whose performance is being evaluated must say whether he or she is homosexual or bisexual. Anyone who answers yes would be barred from serving as a foster parent. If the person is already a foster parent, the child would be removed from the home.

My emphasis added, and hopefully for obvious reasons.

Talton further went on to say:

They (gays) are teaching something that is not conducive to our traditional families," Talton said Wednesday. "God created man, and he created woman, and he created marriage, and there is a reason for that. It's a tried and true method.

Here's the kicker: It passed the Texas State House by a vote of (brace yourselves) 135-6. Mind you, that is the total CPS bill of which the ban on gay foster parents is a part. The legislation now moves to the Texas Senate.

Naturally, this is getting a lot of attention - it caught mine through a report on CNN. Various homosexual advocacy groups are getting in on the action and putting voice to their outrage.

Ultimately, it's the children in the Texas State foster care system who suffer, and the system itself would suffer financially from such a move. Moreover, adoption by homosexual parents is not illegal in Texas (at least not yet). Children currently in the foster care system would suffer a lessened chance of being adopted under this new legislation.

There's a good summary article in The Houston Chronicle on the subject, and I'm sure more coverage will be forthcoming.

Now for my rant:

HOW do the Republicans consistently get away with donning the mantle of morals and values when they act to harm children in such a way? Be very clear on what this legislation proposes: Foster children already in foster homes where the parent(s) are homosexual or bisexual will be removed. I have looked everywhere online and can't find the quote that originally caught my attention. Paraphrased, the quote indicated that children would be better off in orphanages than in home where the parent(s) is homosexual or bisexual.

Of course, there's a way around it - it's a question on the application to be a foster parent. The individual can simply select "no" when asked the question. There's Texas - shoving gays RIGHT back into the closet. Further, is it Constitutional to ask someone their sexual orientation as a means of qualification for fitness?? I'm not an expert, but this just seems wrong to me.

I don't usually use strong language in diaries (though I'm not opposed to it), but FUCK THOSE HYPOCRITICAL ASSHOLES that would take a child out of a stable and caring home to feed their political advancement. Fuck all of them who think that children are better off in a lonely, anonymous orphanage. Fuck them if they think they're doing any good towards stabilizing or solidifying the "traditional" family.

My only hope now is that the Senate sees the light, and/or other similar laws, struck down on Constitutional grounds in other states, turn the tide on this terrible, inhumane law.

posted by RenaRF @ 2:26 PM, ,

Catching up: Diary from April 17 (posted @ dKos)

ACTION ALERT: The Thematic Imperative

I am a firm believer in the idea that, when defeated, an initial post-mortem action should be to determine
how you were defeated and then promptly steal the tactics of the winning side and adapt them to your cause.

As Democrats, we should be no different. I know there are a laundry-list of items that we could/should deal with in accord with my statement above. I'm only going to deal with one such issue and then I'm going to ask for participation from the Kossack community.

Throughout the '04 Presidential election you would constantly hear the talking heads comment on how disciplined the Republicans were in staying "on message". So much so that they put Kerry and other campaigning Democrats in the position of being continually poised in reactive mode. I am fully aware that the majority of the dKos community has borderline contempt for the media and the talking heads that front the media, but they're a reality. As we seek progressive change across institutions we must also deal realistically within institutions as they exist today. Therefore, what the talking heads say and the impressions that they plant in the minds of Joe and Jane America matters - they are a means to an end if we walk the talk.

With the '06 elections looming, can you (without looking) articulate the central organizing theme of the Democratic Party? What is the one, unified message that all Democratic candidates can use in their campaigning to add cohesion and organization to individual campaigns and the goals of Democrats and their constitutents while simultaneously hitting Republicans on their weaknesses? Do you think the DNC has a central organizing theme?

I asked myself that same question without going to the DNC website to see what (if anything) they were saying. I couldn't name the DNC's theme. I know what I think the theme should be, from my perspective:

Give Power Back to the People
tagline: Stop the Republican Abuse of Power

It's a theme that generally resonates across all areas where Democrats can hit Republicans hard. A few ideas:

Give power back to the people: protect individual choices for peope and their families

Give power back to the people: Ensure that ruling parties don't disenfranchise millions of Americans by eliminating the voice of the minority party

Give power back to the people: Guarantee that the real issues of real Americans have a voice in Congress

Give power back to the people: Stop the assault on your rights and those of your children

Give power back to the people: Protect your sacred right to vote and the integrity voting systems

Give power back to the people: Turn the tide of anti-individual pro-business legislation that erodes your ability to work and to be paid fairly for that work

Give power back to the people: Say "no" to those in Congress who feel it's all right to assault working class families

Give power back to the people: Ensure the free exercise of your morals and values without government interference or influence

Give power back to the people: Protect the air you and your children breathe, the food you eat and the water you drink from Corporate pollution

The theme sets the overarching strategy of the Democratic party as a whole. Tactics will specifically hit the Republicans on unpopular issues and stances, as follows:

Give power back to the people: protect individual choices for peope and their families
- Invoke Terri Schiavo and general disapproval of the American public at this extreme over-reach.

Give power back to the people: Ensure that ruling parties don't disenfranchise millions of Americans by eliminating the voice of the minority party
- Multiple purposes: The filibuster can be invoked here. So, too, can the issue of DeLay, ethics, and the rules committees that set the agenda for when Congresspeople are investigated.

Give power back to the people: Guarantee that the real issues of real Americans have a voice in Congress
- Invoke pocketbook issues: the price of gasoline; the rise in inflation; the stagnant growth of jobs and wages; outsourcing. Republicans have given little time to these issues while they have intervened in right-to-die legislation, nomination of judges, and Social Security privatization.

Give power back to the people: Stop the assault on your rights and those of your children
- This opens a discussion on the Patriot Act and a host of other legislative items that can be adapted to a candidate's individual needs.

Give power back to the people: Protect your sacred right to vote and the integrity voting systems
- This can be used to demand paper trails in electronic voting systems and can generally address disenfranchisement and voting reform.

Give power back to the people: Turn the tide of anti-individual pro-business legislation that erodes your ability to work and to be paid fairly for that work
- This is a catch-all which will allow Democrats to hit hard on the issue of tax reform, Corporate welfare and healthcare to name only a few.

Give power back to the people: Say "no" to those in Congress who feel it's all right to assault working class families
- This opens the door for discussion of taxation, Bankruptcy reform, and wages.

Give power back to the people: Ensure the free exercise of your morals and values without government interference or influence
- This one's tricky. The goal is to set the stage for a values/morals argument from the perspective of not allowing values and morals to be legislated.

Give power back to the people: Protect the air you and your children breathe, the food you eat and the water you drink from Corporate pollution
- It may be obvious, but it's a point that needs to be made over and over again. Our water supply has not be secured. Our air is being polluted by Corporate greed and has also not been secured from biological/chemical attacks. Our food is not being adequately secured and our children are being poisoned by pro-Corporation legislation that eases restrictions on food producers.

Those just kind of came off the top of my head. For every point, which I tried to frame positively at the strategic level, Democrats can cite real efforts on their part to deliver these powers and point out real intrusions on the part of Republicans at the tactical level. I tried to keep the list primarily to what I consider the "weak spots" in the current Republican regime.

The list is not exhaustive - I am not a PR person so chances are it's not even very good. That is where the ACTION ALERT part of my title kicks in.

I would welcome (hell - beg for!) input from the dKos community. What should the central theme of the Democratic party be as we move towards the '06 elections? The theme should be broadly applicable to the platforms of Democrats campaigning at the local, State, and national levels. Personally, I adhere to the 80/20 rule. 80% should be common to all National issues, it can be applied at State and local levels with very little effort while always having the national issue (which will be better-known) to fall back on for emphasis.

I would like to send this to Howard Dean and the DNC once (if) I get enough comments to make it worthwhile. I'm sure I'm not alone in the general eye-rolling every time a Republican mouthpiece comes on the TV and spews yet another litany of talking points. Often these points are only barely relevant to the questions they are being asked. But I'm big enough to recognize that it's an effective strategy, and would love for Republicans to be rolling their eyes at the degree to which Democratic candidates and mouthpieces are on-message.

I did wind up visiting the DNC website to see if I could find a theme. Ironically, "Stop the Abuse of Power" is one of the headlines on the DNC front page, but only as it pertains to the filibuster. As far as an over-arching theme is concerned, I didn't find one.

Our adversaries have given us plenty of winning tactics which we can steal and then adapt. I think the theme, being consistently on-message across all Democratic campaigns is a good one that we can easily 1) identify; 2) adapt; and 3) turn against the Republicans and build a winning strategy.

Your turn. I would appreciate ideas as to theme/strategy and, if you so choose, associated tactics.

posted by RenaRF @ 2:16 PM, ,