Today has been chocked full o’ news. I say that more as an observer of journalism rather than plying that craft, at least for now. I haven’t written for a newspaper or other media outlet in almost 10 years. These days I still work for Uncle Sugar and plan to retire either this fall or the next.
I have been working on a book, a biography of a former director of a government agency. It is, as I still reckon, an approved bio. I would like to wrap it up this year, find an agent and a book contract. Or, preferably, go straight to a publisher.
This blog has kind of fallen from the wayside. I really need to write more, not just to reinstall some discipline, but as well, to make the $8 I spend a month for a web host count.
Back to the day’s news. I woke up to see President 45’s old buddy Roger Stone being released on bond for a host of charges. This afternoon, I watched our Orange President agree to a bipartisan agreement from Congress that will reopen the government for more than 800,000 employees who have been either locked out of their job or forced to work for no pay, for now, two paychecks. The agreement will last three weeks during which time the president may cause another lockout or furlough, or do something so stupid as declare a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Emergency? What emergency? Well, the Prez had to have a little face-saving since his caving like the Mammoth, and put in his place by a woman, no less. Nancy Pelosi is that woman.
I don’t know why El presidente has invested so much in a wall, gate, barrier. First, it’s a f***ing stupid idea. Prez had his rallying dolts eating up his campaign promise to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. A wall from sea to shining sea. Or at least from the Gulf of California to the Gulf of Mexico. Although lately, he said it wouldn’t be built where there were natural barriers, like the hundreds of feet of canyon wall in Big Bend National Park.
I am sure the Border Patrol would like a wall built and more agents hired. Their union went big for this dipshit president. I guess our brothers and sisters in the union can agree to disagree. But these guys need to wake up and smell the café.
Speaking of café, I suppose I should take my five-minute Spanish lesson with Duolingo. I wonder how many five-minute Spanish lessons I should have until I am fluent in español?
The Pentagon is reportedly sending some 5,000 active duty soldiers to the U.S. border with Mexico. This deployment to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California is being pushed by President 45 because of several thousand Central Americans who plan to legally seek asylum in the U.S.
Just what the troops will do once they get to the border states is still unclear. A few thousand federalized National Guard troops were deployed earlier this year. Some 2,100 guard members are still operating along the border.
The role of active duty troops on the border, especially in such large numbers, have both national and border state implications.
What the soldiers might and might not do depends on what are the president’s intention and what nutty ideas comes to mind once he awakens each morning.
A 19th century law known as the Posse Comitatus Act generally limits what U.S. troops can do in a civil role. The law states: “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” — Title 18 U.S.C. › Part I › Chapter 67 › § 1385
This law has been amended several times, the most glaring being the addition of the Air Force in 1956. Some key exceptions to the law:
–National Guard forces operating under the state authority of Title 32 (i.e., under state rather than federal service) are exempt from the Act.
–Pursuant to the presidential power to quell domestic violence,federal troops are expressly exempt from the prohibitions of the law.
–Aerial photographic and visual search and surveillance by military personnel were found not to violate the Posse Comitatus Act.
–Congress created a “drug exception” to the Posse Comitatus Act.
Under recent legislation, the Congress authorized the Secretary
of Defense to make available any military equipment and personnel necessary for operation of said equipment for law
enforcement purposes. Thus, the Army can provide equipment,
training, and expert military advice to civilian law enforcement
agencies as part of the total effort in the “war on drugs.”
–Use of a member of the Judge Advocate Corps as a special assis-
tant prosecutor, while retaining his dual role in participating in
the investigation, presentation to the grand jury, and prosecu-
tion, did not violate Posse Comitatus Act.
–The Coast Guard is exempt from Posse Comitatus Act during
–Although brought under the Act through Defense Department regulation, described above, the Navy may assist the Coast Guard in pursuit, search, and seizure of vessels suspected of involvement in drug trafficking.
That U.S. military forces are generally limited to what they can do –would the military or other law enforcement use unprovoked force? — are among the national concerns.
As for my state, Texas, the more than 1,000 active duty military troops that may end up at the Mexican border from near Brownsville to El Paso might seemingly end up tripping over the other authorities sent there.
Some news reports have quoted local residents along the lower Rio Grande saying that after being stopped by the DPS for questionable reasons, those same folks might get stopped again a mile down the road by another trooper.
As this border arms race isn’t sufficient, airborne assets add to what may seem to be a cramped existence on the border. Texas DPS, game wardens and Border Patrol have their own planes and helicopters. That is not to mention those aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Air National Guard.
It will be interesting to see what kind of useless crap this administration dreams up for the border. The only way one can see **45s actions is that of political overkill. Hopefully, the “kill” part will be absent from the duty of U.S. military and law enforcement.
**This blog refuses to use the president’s name as a means of separation from him and the office he holds.
I am being involuntarily removed from my methadone prescription for chronic pain. I was taking 5 mg three times a day. The doctor says she is “weaning” me off of methadone. She didn’t say why.
Some months ago I went to the so-called “Pain Evaluation Clinic” at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Medical Center in Houston. I saw a psychologist for about an hour and spent about the same with a physician assistant who proceeded to make clear that I would be taken off methadone. I have taken the drug for more than 11 years. I had a couple of medical tests on the horizon that concerned me so I was spared from the weaning for the time being.
I never really received an explanation why I was being taken off methadone. The PA told me that my prescription for 15 mg was equivalent to 60 mg morphine equivalence. In extensive reading this afternoon, I found nothing to indicate whether this equivalence is accurate due to the medication itself.
The PA, I suppose, tried to scare me out of my methadone prescription. She gave me the impression that I could all of a sudden overdose while taking just a normal dose. I found nothing to support such claims.
It is true that methadone overdose deaths represent about 1-of-4 total fatal ODs. I found this on one government medical site:
“Methadone is a very strong painkiller. It is also used to treat heroin addiction. Methadone overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medicine. This can be by accident or on purpose.
“Methadone overdose can also occur if a person takes methadone with certain painkillers. These painkillers include oxycontin, hydrocodone (Vicodin), or morphine.”
Look Ma, no spontaneous overdose from normal dosage for years.
Here is some additional illumination about methadone overdose from CRC Health Group, a West Coast addiction and behavioral treatment group based in California:
“Between 1999 and 2004, deaths attributed to methadone increased by 390%, an effect primarily related to increased utilization in pain clinics , as well as diversion.
“Methadone accumulation can lead to sedation, respiratory depression, respiratory arrest and even death. Lethal respiratory depressive effects can occur in doses as low as 30 mg in non-tolerant persons
“Initial efforts to characterize risk factors derive largely from Australia, where deaths related to methadone tablets prescribed for chronic pain increased markedly between 1984 and 1994. Diversion of methadone tablets accounted for about half the deaths, whereas deaths from prescribed methadone declined over this period. “
As CRC quite succinctly pointed out:
“You must take methadone responsibly and with respect for its power, but the careful and considered use of methadone has proven quite safe, even for long-term consumption. Methadone has been proven not to harm the lungs, heart, brain, liver, kidneys, or any other organ.n 4,000 deaths. However, many of these deaths did not involve methadone treatment for opiate addiction — instead, they involved individuals who were using methadone without medical supervision for pain treatment, or who were otherwise abusing methadone.
“Methadone use saves far more lives than it endangers. According to the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA), opiate addicts who are not on methadone are more than three times more likely to die than are individuals who are using methadone as part of a supervised addiction recovery program.
“Methadone, much like any strong opiate analgesic, has a respiratory depressive effect. If you take too much methadone, you can stop breathing and die.”
A registered nurse friend of mine said recently:
“You’re right that it’s the fentanyl and oxy and it’s the serious main-liners fucking it up for all of us. This entire thing is blown up by big pharma – I’m sure we could follow the $ and figure it all out, but the guy in pain is paying the real cost of trying to make it without his pain meds. It’s a mess,” she said. “It’s horrible and I can’t believe the medical system is letting them interfere with medical practice like this. It’s illegal and malpractice not to treat a patient with the correct medication when it’s available. Period.”
My weaning is in a rapid fashion. It makes me wonder if VA practitioners receive a bonus for cutting off opioids for some old vets with severe pain.
I started with being prescribed 10.5 mg three times per day. This month I received a prescription for 5 mg twice a day. Next month it will be 5 mg once a day and 2.5 mg once a day.
I was never given a firm reason why I should quit taking methadone. I don’t have to though. It seems most VA top leaders want to look good for their boss in the White House. I doubt he could tell an opioid from a hemorrhoid.
Even worse than how I will fare without methadone from a withdrawal standpoint — almost 12 years is a long time on an opioid — is the pain.
I have not been offered a firm solution to the often severe chronic pain from spinal stenosis in my cervical spine, this despite having two surgeries. I also suffer from excruciating lower back pain that doctors at the VA have never seemed to agree on the reason. It limits my walking and the problem has never been substantially addressed, with the exception of a diagnosis of arachnoiditis. The condition is a pain disorder caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord. The diagnosis seems dubious after seeing a number of different doctors.
Most disturbing are the VA pain strategies involving high doses of over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. For real? Do they seriously believe such OTC drugs will help after taking methadone for almost 12 years?
Other VA “pain control” suggestions include physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and group therapy. I just know sitting with a group singing “Kumbaya” will kill the pain.
I don’t know what will happen in the future. Most certainly, I am scared. I was put on methadone by a VA pain doctor in Dallas who suggested methadone after he told me there was nothing he could do to help. I have tried all the VA has had to offer since 2006 and those strategies that do not work for me have only grown 12 years later.
I can certainly understand why many VA patients may go elsewhere for help with pain. I don’t plan to seek black market opioids. Beyond that, I will do what I need to do to survive severe pain on a daily basis.
Indictments of Russian military spies that were announced today by the U.S Justice Department give a direct link to President Vladimir Putin and efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections.
The 29-page document spells out how 12 Russian military members of the federation intelligence service, GRU, hacked Democratic National Committee as well as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee computers. In addition, the e-mail accounts of some state and local election officials, and voting machine contractors were infiltrated. Information of about a half-million voters was stolen by the Russians.
President 45, who was in England today, had been briefed on the indictment by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but still called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and “an obstacle” to a good relationship with Russia. The orange-hued U.S. president is set to meet with Putin on Monday, July 16, in Helsinki, Finland. Some Democrat and Republican lawmakers both are pushing for the president to cancel the summit with the Russian president in light of today’s indictments.
The announcement by Rosenstein today was good news to me as I feel the Special Counsel is making some progress in determining whether President 45 is directly involved with Putin in election meddling in 2016. The U.S. president won the all-important electoral college vote although his opponent Hillary Clinton had some 3 million more popular votes. The news is certainly uplifting compared to that ugly display yesterday in Congress when joint committees questioned and many badgered former FBI Agent Peter Strzok.
Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were removed from the Special Counsel after anti-Trump emails between the two, who had a one-time extra-marital affair, were discovered. Strzok had previously testified in a closed hearing before the two committees for some 11 hours. His televised testimony on Wednesday also lasted 11 hours.
The hearings was no more than a beat-down of the agent by Republicans who are seeking to discredit the investigation of the Trump campaign and its ties with Russia. Some former Trump officials including former National Security Advisor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort have been charged with crimes in the Mueller probe.
The circus that was the Strzok hearings was both disgusting and an embarrassment to anyone who cares about our government. It was especially a forum for the certified assholes and generally worthless human beings in the House to show what substance they are not made of. This included an exchange between Strzok and Rep. Trent Gowdy, R-S.C. in which an objective (and nonobjective viewer) could conclude that the dickweasel Gowdy had his ass handed to him by the FBI official.
Several lawmakers shouted at Gohmert over his uncalled for “question.” One member, Rep. Bonnie Coleman, D-N.J, shouted: “You need your medication!”
That is what life has become in these United States — only worse — under the imbecilic, narcissistic prick of a President. I will take today’s success by Mueller and his team over our dark days. Perhaps there will be some happiness if 45 is indicted or impeached. While that will make me happy, it will also make me sad. The sadness is for our nation and how family and friends have become divided over Trump. How they will react, one only knows.
*EFD Note: Because the current president of the U.S. is a lying, corrupt, immoral piece of detritus, his name will not be mentioned while he is in the White House.
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans! This American birthday is always as good a time as any to remember the figures who made American so great that exhorting my fellow citizens to “Make America Great Again” is redundant. I suppose if we were to make America great again such a start would be to send our present president packing.
Some of our forefathers were perhaps as reprehensible as our 45th. But some were incredibly bright and innovative. For instance, Benjamin Franklin is credited with organizing the first fire department, bifocals, the Franklin stove among other accomplishments.
Franklin was known for his wicked wit, as well. During his time as U.S. Ambassador to France, Franklin penned an essay known as “Farting Proudly.” The essay was a satiric piece in response to a call for scientific papers by the Royal Academy of Brussels that Franklin found as pretentious and mostly useless. Here is some July 4th humor by one of America’s best. Note: A passage in French was translated using Google. I cannot guarantee complete accuracy. Also, Franklin never submitted the essay.
I have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year, viz. , that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, “Any given figure, one asks to register there as many times as possible another smaller figure, which is also given”. I was glad to find these words, “The Academy has judged that this discovery, by extending the limits of our knowledge, would not be without utility.” Translated from French (Google Translation.)that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, because you could not at the time think of a physical one that promis’d greater Utility.
Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age.
It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.
That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.
That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.
That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.
Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.
My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.
That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these Considerations. That we already have some Knowledge of Means capable of Varying that Smell. He that dines on stale Flesh, especially with much Addition of Onions, shall be able to afford a Stink that no Company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some Time on Vegetables only, shall have that Breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate Noses; and if he can manage so as to avoid the Report, he may anywhere give Vent to his Griefs, unnoticed. But as there are many to whom an entire Vegetable Diet would be inconvenient, and as a little Quick-Lime thrown into a Jakes will correct the amazing Quantity of fetid Air arising from the vast Mass of putrid Matter contain’d in such Places, and render it rather pleasing to the Smell, who knows but that a little Powder of Lime (or some other thing equivalent) taken in our Food, or perhaps a Glass of Limewater drank at Dinner, may have the same Effect on the Air produc’d in and issuing from our Bowels? This is worth the Experiment. Certain it is also that we have the Power of changing by slight Means the Smell of another Discharge, that of our Water. A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour; and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?
For the Encouragement of this Enquiry, (from the immortal Honour to be reasonably expected by the Inventor) let it be considered of how small Importance to Mankind, or to how small a Part of Mankind have been useful those Discoveries in Science that have heretofore made Philosophers famous. Are there twenty Men in Europe at this Day, the happier, or even the easier, for any Knowledge they have pick’d out of Aristotle? What Comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels! The Knowledge of Newton’s mutual Attractionof the Particles of Matter, can it afford Ease to him who is rack’d by their mutual Repulsion, and the cruel Distensions it occasions? The Pleasure arising to a few Philosophers, from seeing, a few Times in their Life, the Threads of Light untwisted, and separated by the Newtonian Prism into seven Colours, can it be compared with the Ease and Comfort every Man living might feel seven times a Day, by discharging freely the Wind from his Bowels? Especially if it be converted into a Perfume: For the Pleasures of one Sense being little inferior to those of another, instead of pleasing the Sight he might delight the Smell of those about him, & make Numbers happy, which to a benevolent Mind must afford infinite Satisfaction. The generous Soul, who now endeavours to find out whether the Friends he entertains like best Claret or Burgundy, Champagne or Madeira, would then enquire also whether they chose Musk or Lilly, Rose or Bergamot, and provide accordingly. And surely such a Liberty of Expressing one’s Scent-iments, and pleasing one another, is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press, or of abusing one another, which the English are so ready to fight & die for. — In short, this Invention, if compleated, would be, as Bacon expresses it, bringing Philosophy home to Mens Business and Bosoms. And I cannot but conclude, that in Comparison therewith, for universal and continual UTILITY, the Science of the Philosophers above-mentioned, even with the Addition, Gentlemen, of your “Figure quelconque”and the Figures inscrib’d in it, are, all together, scarcely worth a