We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing

At this point, I’m writing my senators at least once a week and sometimes more. That Americans pay more attention to Survivor than the dismantling of our government’s system of checks and balances is shocking to me. That our trade imbalance may be even worse than we think, that our debt is growing at a mind-boggling rate, and that our news media is staggeringly slow to get the point that gas prices at the pump are the very tip of the oil industry’s exploitation iceberg enrage me. I find it hard some days to compose sentences without fuck, fuckhead, and fucking pigfucker, which won’t get me very far in political discourse except in the Vice President’s office, where I get the feeling the most ruthless women in the world go to work after they discover eating their young requires only dipping sauce and razor-sharp fanaticism.

Today’s reason to write letters comes, believe it or not, from Pat Buchanan, and you can look that up on your own. He’s still a soulless bastard, even if this time he’s finally right about something. Anyway, a few days ago, Buchanan said it was time for Congress to show some backbone and remind the administration Congress declares war, not the president. I have to tell you, when I read that Pat Buchanan was thinking roughly the same thing I was last week, I almost swallowed my tongue. Of course, then I wondered what he thought about white and black polka dot curtains for my bedroom but he was curiously silent on that.

At Middle Earth Journal, Jazz puts it all together in one neat package I’m shamelessly stealing. We’re using our powers for Good here. That requires us to put aside our personal feelings. In this case, I’ll send him a nice goat cheese or something and we can all get on with saving the world, because that is what we are doing, and sending someone cheese is a small price to pay. Here’s Jazz’s letter:

Dear (insert name of Senator or Representative here),

As an elected official, you have a duty not only to the people who elected you, but to the Constitution of our country which provides the framework for our government. As is stated in Article 1, Section 8 of that document, Congress – not the executive branch – shall have the authority ” To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on land and Water.”

While we remain embroiled in an increasingly dismal quagmire in Iraq, with our military forces stretched thin to near the breaking point, it appears that President Bush is edging closer and closer to ordering military strikes against the nation of Iran because of their alleged nuclear ambitions. It further seems apparent that he feels that he can order such strikes – effectively declaring war on Iran – without the previous consent of Congress or the United Nations, and without the support of any of our international allies. (What few we have left at this point.)

Whether or not you believe that military strikes against Iran are needed or justified, I must appeal to you to step up and perform your duties as mandated by the Constitution. The President has the power to wage war, not to declare war. That heavy burden falls squarely on your shoulders and is one which you accepted by taking the oath of the office you now hold. After the fact will be too late for any Congressional hand-wringing and moaning to do any good. Now is the time for Congress to stand up and formally declare that this President does NOT have the authority to launch military strikes against Iran or any other nation or to start any war without first coming before Congress and having them consider the matter and cast a vote to be recorded for public perusal. Simply stating that I shall not vote for any Senator or Congressman who stands idly by and lets the Executive branch once again usurp the power to declare war is not enough. The next election cycle shall likely be too late to have any effect. Rather, I call on you to take a stand NOW and do the duty you swore to undertake when we elected you.

As to how you should vote, I would urge you in the strongest tone possible to consider the points made by so many authorities on mid-East matters. An attack on Iran – a significantly larger and more militarily capable nation than Iraq – would, without a doubt, result in retaliatory strikes at our troops, interests and allies across the globe, probably including both direct military assaults on our forces and resources as well as terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Iran also has the ability to deliver a savage blow economically which will be felt around the world and especially strongly here at home. Russia and China are also notably sympathetic towards the interests of Iran and it is possible that they might become involved in ways that we not only didn’t anticipate, but could not prevail against. Another unilateral, “go it alone” attack by this President on yet another mid-East nation will further alienate us from our former allies and damage our position in the international community, possibly beyond repair. Most experts concede that it would be at least a few years, if not decades, before Iran could produce a working nuclear weapon, assuming that is even their intention. And to claim that such a possibility is some sort of Casus Belli while we allow other nations in that region, including Israel, to sport nuclear weapons smacks of hypocrisy and calls our motives and rationale into question for all to see.

I am requesting that you act NOW, while sanity and reason might still prevail, to draft and pass a resolution on both houses of Congress, declaring that the President does NOT have the authority to launch an attack on Iran without the prior consideration and consent of the Congress in the form of a declaration of war on that country. And God help us all should you and your colleagues decide to do so.

Regards,

Totally worth the cheese, yes? I’m going to email my senators and a few extras. It never hurts to remind Senator Lieberman he works if not for us then for people like us, and certainly not for President FratBoy.

Listen, you can’t save the world or even innocent civilians you’ll never meet without licking a few stamps or kicking a few butts out of Congress. Sure, it’s time-consuming and annoying but the effort be totally worth it if thousands more young Americans don’t march off and die for – die for what? Affordable oil? What, do you think China and India are going to wake up tomorrow and say, “That’s okay, you take it all, we’ll just sit here in the dark with the grandmothers you sold down the Mississippi, you selfish whores”? No, and bombing Iran isn’t going to make America any safer or more secure. In fact, there isn’t a single desirable outcome possible in a war-with-Iran scenario – for us. For the American people. Not one.

Don’t be fooled. Don’t be seduced. Send those letters. Demand that our common sense and cool heads prevail. That may be the only way we get to keep them.

Cross-posted at Blanton’s & Ashton’s.

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Miss Your Company

Sad news from Dad’s wife Darla, no stranger to the Blogosphere:

Samara, aka Sam, aka Squidge died yesterday afternoon in the kitty ICU of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Virginia Tech. It was relatively sudden. We took her to the vet last Wednesday for a checkup because she’d been lethargic. They diagnosed anemia and sent her home with antibiotics and steroids. She improved for a couple of days, then got worse again on the weekend. When we took her back in on Monday morning, the vet sent us to the nearest veterinary teaching hospital. They diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy: apparently her heart was functioning at about a quarter of its normal power. They did what they could, but she died about two hours after we reached the hospital. We buried her in the garden this afternoon.


As you can imagine, I’m a wreck. But it’s a comfort to know that she was nearly 13, that she’d had a very comfortable life since she was rescued from the street at the age of six months, and that she didn’t suffer. I keep blaming myself for not noticing it earlier, but I suppose if a licensed vet didn’t spot it in an examination five days before she died, there wasn’t any way for me to guess it was there. It had probably been progessing slowly for months.

Nearly five years ago, Squidge came within a whisker of dying, and was saved at the same veterinary hospital. So, I’m trying to think of the last five years as a bonus; we could have lost her so much earlier.

She was adorable, and an utter pain in the butt, and I loved her madly.

As you might expect, I wrote back to assure Darla that giving one’s cats mental MRIs was not something humans should undertake, and omniscience also means you have to keep planets in orbit, which is exhausting. One would think. Still, it’s very hard to lose one’s cat friends, and blaming oneself is very tempting. Let’s look at this moment another way.

Recently, my friends Linny’s and Mark’s last little old cat passed away. They buried their friend, and a suitable period of time elapsed. One day, Mark said, “Linny, we’re out of cats.” Linny went to the animal shelter in her town and picked out three black kittens, brothers. They’ve always been together so they’re fine, and they’re lovely company but, Linny says, they are dumb as socks.

Linny carries pictures in her wallet of the cats staring at each other like they’ve just met.

Friday Cat Blogging: Light That Is Reflected

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is especially handsome as he lounges, otter-like, on the green-green living room rug in warm afternoon sunlight.

Sometimes, I am an especially slow learner. A woman who works in my building is a local character an observant person may notice walking at a vigorous pace in New Brunswick or Highland Park. We share a birthday, so it was inevitable that I would notice everything she does and wonder when I’d start doing it. In this case: when would I take to speed walking in six-inch heels?

Well, that’s not going to happen but about five weeks ago, I threw a bit of a tantrum about working in the library basement’s fluorescent glow while actual sunlight was just outside. I pushed back my chair and went for a walk on the small, narrow streets in front of the library. There was sunlight, and trees were budding, and pollen dust fell on every surface. I felt giddy, and decided this going-for-walks thing had potential.

For the past three weeks, if it wasn’t pouring outside or a Tuesday, I spent my morning break and most lunchtimes walking around the same grid between the library, the hospital and the park. A few things happened right away:
1. I stopped shoveling food into my mouth;
2. Sunlight made me feel healthier;
3. I’ve had fewer sleepless nights.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost any weight because I feel as if I am still expanding. I don’t know. I’m working up the nerve to weigh myself.

People outside in sunlight talk to each other. A woman in scrubs walking casually down the middle of the street with a cigarette in one hand says, “Isn’t it beautiful?” I say, “It’s beautiful.” A man is walking along the side of his house with gardening tools. I say, “The pink trees are spectacular.” He says, “The mild winter made them flower more than usual.” A woman in business attire and heels closes her eyes to let sunlight fall evenly on her face. “It’s gorgeous out,” I say. “Gorgeous,” she says. Outside the senior center, I smile and wave; a block down, the letter carrier smiles and says, “Hello!” The college students who live in these houses, some of which are a few hundred years old, have this spring vitality I love seeing. Everyone is very nice, which is odd in a city where student and resident populations live in conflict. I’m sure each of these nice people would run me over in a heartbeat if I stole their parking space, but still.

Over the winter, my arthritis moved into my hips, which had not given me trouble before. At work, I can’t sit for an hour anymore without pronounced stiffness that is not as much fun as it sounds. Going for walks doesn’t solve this problem, but it helps. I get to think by myself and without commercial interruption. I meet the local stray cats, who seem well-fed and not at all fearful. Honestly, I can’t say enough about this going-for-walks thing.

I feel like I know a secret and I can’t keep those. So I’m telling you.

Fight the Urge To Breathe

I’m very close to my upstairs neighbor, and by close I mean near. He seems like a nice man. Almost every time I’ve seen him he was wearing pants. Each morning, he flushes the toilet twice before 6:30 and twice more while I shower. I’d tell him to lay off the bran muffins but leaping away from boiling water is good for the girlish figure.

Last night, Daria called while I was washing dishes, and yes, I wash dishes with my hands at great risk to my personal manicure several times a day.

Daria: Hear this?

I hear FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT! I’d know that sound anywhere. Daria’s husband went to Orlando on a business trip, leaving her with three children under seven and a can of ReddiWhip for company. My sister’s hitting the ice cream hard.

Tata: Yup. What’s doing? You never call me at night.
Daria: I got a story for you and no, I didn’t run myself over again.
Tata: I love a story with a happy ending!
Daria: So I was talking to Angela and I said, “Did I tell you I almost ran myself over?” She said, “No, but I got a story for you.”
Tata: I can’t wait!

Angela is Daria’s best friend. Angela is level-headed and detached; as things spiral around her while she smiles and cracks wise. Angela almost never breaks a sweat. I love Angela stories with my whole black heart.

Daria: Angela was out running errands with the kids and she stopped home just to pee. So she left the kids in the car and ran inside. She said she’d just unzipped her pants and started peeing when she heard screaming. She said, “You know that kind of screaming that makes you stop mid-pee and run outside?”
Tata: No, she didn’t!
Daria: Right, so she runs outside and her car is rolling down the driveway toward the street and Tina jumped out of the car and stopped it!

Angela is married to a giant man whose family is still in Holland. He is simply not drawn on the same scale as other humans of my acquaintance. Their children are also growing at an exciting pace.

Tata: GET OUT! The seven-year-old was big enough to stop a rolling SUV? Thank God for the giant Dutch children!
Daria: Angela said, “Needless to say, I have since shown her the location of the brake.”
Tata: I can’t breathe!
Daria: Hear this?

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT!

Tata: This is like that time you called to tell me what a delicious sandwich I wasn’t having, am I right?

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT!

Daria: Ben & Jerry’s has a new flavor. I’m celebrating.
Tata: Good thing your husband comes home tomorrow or we’d have to engineer an intervention.
Daria: Can I just tell you my tiny, delicate little daughter trashes my kitchen every single day? Every day, she pulls all the pots and pans out of three of my cabinets. Every day, I put them all back. She only looks delicate. You know that big wooden island in my kitchen? Her new trick is to pull herself up to standing so she can gnaw on the wooden drawer pulls.
Tata: Fifi’s teething on the furniture? That is awesome!

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT!

Daria: Stop calling her that!
Tata: What, Fifi?

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT!

Tata: Okay, so I went to the orthodontist today and because of the Route 18 construction I have to be a genius to get there now. I picked Route 27, sailed across the Albany Street Bridge and up Raritan Avenue with straight green lights. I couldn’t believe it! There wasn’t even anyone else around me until Third Avenue. I got the orthodontist to put purple rubber bands on my teeth this month. They look great!
Daria: …Purple…
Tata: Very exciting for me! While I was in that shopping center, I went over to the Pathmark but by that time, the only thing I’d eaten since breakfast at 7 was 6 ounces of yogurt and I was getting progressively more stupid with every passing moment.
Daria: Half an hour before, you were a genius!
Tata: Yes, but then I spent ten minutes in front of the Cool Whip case, staring at the many magical forms of frozen topping.
Daria: They don’t jump into your cart all on their own, I find.
Tata: Finally, I looked at the ceiling, and said to the security cameras, “I can’t justify this even by my own tortured logic.” Because I was sure they were placing bets in the store security Death Star.
Daria: Yeah, that’s when I leave the store with $150 worth of red Jell-O.
Tata: So I knew if I didn’t leave soon and eat something I might wander the aisles aimlessly. And this is dangerous. That’s a 24-hour Pathmark.
Daria: If you turn up missing, that’s the first place we’ll put posters.
Tata: After fifteen minutes in the baking aisle, I picked out mixes to bake for the bridal shower Saturday and I was so dumb by then I didn’t even read the recipes on the back. Good thing I have eggs.
Daria: My husband is so the designated driver on Saturday. After a week in Orlando? If he comes back tan, I’m switching from wine to margaritas. Ooh! Make Mom be your designated driver.
Tata: You know what? There it is: the very last thing I need. That’s outstanding. The last thing I need is to get tanked in front of Mom and make her drive me home. No words express the embarrassment of that “you’re my besssshhhhht friend” episode.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT!

Daria: If you say so.

My Life Would Depend On the Morning Sun

Two things of note in my job-related Inbox this morning.

1. Via Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology Newsletter:

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT, BABEMBA STYLE
“In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and everyone in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, recalling the good things the person has done in his life. Every experience that can be recalled with detail and accuracy is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully. This ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.”
-Jack Kornfield, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

At last, we’ve found some real diplomats, the kind we might want to be when we grow up. And speaking of way-grown:

2. At last, the note from Julienne I’ve waited for with baited breath:

Hello! Last week, [baby] graced us with his presence, weighing 9 pounds, 9 ounces! He had a rough week starting with an emergency Cesarian birth due to a placental abruption, and spent several days in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit. The night before we were discharged from the hospital, [my partner] and I had our first “up all night” as new parents!

We came home a few days ago and now everyone is much happier for it. He is a happy, sweet boy and we are excited. OK, I am going back to bed.

Just over two years ago, Julienne appeared as if by magic, in time to be introduced in Poor Impulse Control’s second tentative entry written by me. Paulie Gonzalez, disguised as me, wrote that first entry. Neither of us has a mustache so, you know, you can’t tell us apart online.

Anyway, Julienne found me through a series of highly improbable occurrences and one breathtaking case of mistaken identity. At the time, she was a strong single woman who thought she was done with men who weren’t Jimmy Choo. Today, she sent baby pictures. For Julienne, it is the kind of good fortune she did not imagine possible. Such, we are reminded, is life.

In honor of our new human friend, how about simple steps for all of us toward a greener world?

Hot Ashes For Trees

I am Queen of Beverages. I have them all. Sitting next to me at my desk, I have a can of V8, which I love with my whole black heart. Recently, I was walking through Costco looking for a bale of cat litter and in the next aisle I saw a flat of V8 juice, and I thought, ‘Of all dumb things, why am I denying myself the delicious vegetable juice? It’s not – like – tequila and a five gallon tub of Heath Bar Crunch.’ So I bought it. My can of juice is about half empty. It’s next to a Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey travel cup I’ve drunk coffee out of at the office since Miss Sasha was even teenier than she is at full adult size. The travel mug was not a hit in my last office, where my co-workers felt it was inadequately adult, but that’s nothing next to the 1-pint Wesson oil measuring cup full of cooling Earl Grey tea. I used to sit at staff meetings and slurp just to annoy the Grown Ups. I hate slurping. It is no surprise that my popularity suffered a slight dip along the lines of those suffered by persons on their way to Medieval public executions.

About the bale of cat litter: the giant bag boasts, “Lasts as long as 58 pounds!” This provides us a new measure of time: The Litter Scale. If 5 lbs. of cat litter lasts 1 week before it must be disposed of with great vehemence, 58 lbs. would represent the passage of 11.6 weeks tolerably stinky weeks. I don’t think this will replace my Giovanni Paolo II calendar but if Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, would cross his legs and hold it once in a while, I could buy bales of cat litter on a more or less quarterly basis. Some sacrifices are worth it.

A friend forwards the URLs of interesting news stories, usually with a one-word reference. This one was called Paper.

The topic can be delicate: what to wipe our hands, noses and, yup, rear ends with when the need arises. With Earth Day celebrated this Saturday, environmental groups are asking Americans to switch to recycled paper towels, napkins, tissue paper and toilet paper as a way to save virgin forests and the wildlife they shelter – even if it means a slightly rough touch on the backside.

Ain’t that a kick in the pants! Wait – he doesn’t mean recycling toilet paper, does he? After it turns out he does not, I stop chanting my new mantra, “Ew…ew…ew…” and read on. Author Miguel Llanos holds his (presumably biodegradable) cards close to his vest through the first third of the article, then gets down to – pardon me – business.

Seventh Generation, one of the largest recycled producers, estimates that:
* One million trees would be saved if every U.S. household replaced just one 250-count package of virgin fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones.
* 544,000 trees would be saved by replacing a 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels.
* 424,000 trees would be spared by replacing a 500-sheet roll of virgin fiber toilet paper.
* 170,000 trees would be saved by replacing one 175-count box of virgin fiber facial tissue.

Hundreds of thousands of trees? I don’t need to hear another word – and yet, the article goes on.

Paper industry giants like Kimberly-Clark, which makes Kleenex, dismiss the campaign on several grounds.

Most of its products are made with sawdust and wood chips left over by the timber industry, Kimberly-Clark says, and consumers have already decided that you can’t beat virgin fiber for softness.

“The options are out there for consumers,” says Kimberly-Clark spokesman Dave Dickson, referring to the fact that recycled products are on store shelves but have only won a 2 percent share of the market. “They have voiced their preferences through their purchases.”

Even though most hotels and offices use paper with 40 percent to 60 percent recycled content, Kimberly-Clark believes that consumers would rebel at even adding a small percentage of recycled fiber to home products, Dickson says.

Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing recycled products in the paper aisles. At least, I don’t remember recognizing specifically recycled products. I don’t use tissues because everything I own has sleeves – kidding! Paper towels work better for me and efficiently exfoliate the tender nostrils at the same time. Yes, I’m a brute. I use regular kitchen towels, sponges and mops most of the time but for what I use paper towels, I could switch to recycled. In fact, bring it on! Llanos enlisted his family in comparison tests:

Toilet paper: Here too, my wife and daughter were quick to pick the non-recycled brand out of the five tested. Gabriela had one word for her favorite: “Beautiful.” In equally dramatic fashion, Alexis worried about getting paper cuts from the recycled brands. I agreed the non-recycled brand was softer in one’s hand, but insisted it made no difference on the receiving end of the transaction. We did agree on one thing: Every recycled brand, all of which were double ply, beat the single-ply paper we’ve been using in our guest bathroom.

Eek! They must not like their guests much. I hope they didn’t skimp on the soap.

Next time I’m in the store, I’ll forage for recycled paper towels and see about the toilet paper. On that point, I’m a little less certain. I mean, really. Paper cuts on my sweet patootie are a sacrifice too far.

A Masterpiece Who’s Glimpsed the Artist

Our Santa Fe News Desk reports on the status of our newest cat friend:

Bubbahotep has a lot of games, all of them annoying, but his worst is running into the bedroom every time the door opens, sticking his fists into Leon the Pigeon’s cage, and trying to eat him, despite Leon’s being twice his size. We’ve spoken to him time and again, but he persists. He’s hopeless. This prompted a name change to Bubbahopeless.

That’s…a big pigeon. And speaking of pigeons:

Yesterday [the wife] and I bought a hydrid. She drives two hours a day, in a minivan, and in view of gas prices, it was an easy decision economically and environmentally. Roman, the salesman, told me they were hiring and that I should apply. The way I carried myself, he said. How easily I struck up a rapport. My reflex was to shrug it off, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m not so sure. Before I worked the two animal hospital reception desks, I thought I would never be able to work with the public. I thought I’d be too shy. You’re probably the only person who wouldn’t laugh at that, although I forgive you if you do. But I was surprised to find out in those jobs that I wasn’t shy, not any more. I could sell cars. I could ask people how I could help them, and call them “folks.” The shop would teach me about cars and what the steps are of selling. All it would call for on my part would be a firm handshake and not smelling bad, which I have covered. I know, it’s ridiculous. I would never in a million years have thought of myself as a car salesman. How could I look at myself in the mirror without laughing? Imagine all the cuts I’d get shaving. But really, at probably double what I’m making now, even in my first year, and with their busy season just starting, what the fuck? I’ve got nothing to lose. If I don’t like it, reception jobs are always there. And I’ll have taken a chance, made a leap, that I know I’ll be sorry later if I don’t. I’ll have acted like a man, and you of all people know how satisfying that is. So I filled out the application Roman gave me. I have an appointment to stop by tomorrow and introduce myself to the manager, who is of course named Don. Only bosses are named Don. When in real life have you ever known anyone named Don?

As an Italian woman in New Jersey, I was assigned an Uncle Don. Later, it turned out his name was Dante but I didn’t know that until well after a tractor trailer ran him over very well in his Italian sports car on the far-from-Italian-made Routes 1 & 130 Interchange. Ah, the circle of life. In this case, it was replaced by a series of picturesque bridges and exit ramps.

And speaking of well-traveled cats, Katrina-survivor Tom and his human Jazz entered a contest at the Tribeca Film Festival site and need our help. Rate the effective little film five stars; handsome Tom’s got fame written all over him.