Sorry about going MIA for a little while, but I needed to take a break from blogging and focus on some other things. Sadly, one of my cats has started having seizures and that has been causing a good deal of stress. Not sure if you've ever seen a cat having a seizure, but it can be quite disturbing to witness. My older cat, Stinson (pictured left), will freeze where he's at, lie down, drool uncontrollably, and let out a very scary wail, when he is having a seizure. The whole thing can last up to 30 minutes, and he seems rattled for a long time after that as well.
I took him to be tested to see what the problem was, and it turns out that he has a growth inside his skull. If I understood the doctor correctly, it seems that this growth is blocking up to 80% of the electrical activity in the cat's brain. He is able to function as normal with only the 20%, but occasionally, he will have conflicting signals from his brain, and this causes the seizures. Bottom line is that veterinarians know little about cat neurology (at least less than they know about a dog), and we are embarking on an experimental path to make the seizures stop. I now give the cat three different medicines, twice a day and one of the medicines is Valium (which I had to get at a real pharmacy as vets don't keep it on hand). There is no way to correct the problem, unfortunately, so the goal is just to stop the seizures or drastically reduce them. If the medicine does not work, I will have to decide whether he should be euthanized. Keeping him alive with these seizures is not beneficial to anyone, and it comes down to a quality of life issue. I hope the medication does work because I don't want to have to make that call.
In other news, the all-ages music venue proposal passed the City Council with a vote of 5-2. Tim at Lazy-I has more details here. The measure is not perfect, but some of the more outrageous suggestions were voted down (i.e. a security guard for every 50 patrons), and it seems the folks from Waiting Room and Slowdown are okay with the results. The Omaha music community can breathe a sigh of relief.
In addition to taking a blogging break, I took a break from politics for a bit. I was getting so upset by the media's coverage of the presidential campaign that I considered taking a self-imposed exile from all cable TV news until after the election. In all my years of watching political coverage on television, I have never seen a case of media bias as extreme as what is happening now. Every major media outlet is so in the tank for McCain ("the maverick" "the war hero" "Mr. Straight talk") that I seriously wonder if they are being paid by the RNC.
I wish my break had extended beyond last night's Democratic debate because I should not have seen that ridiculous spectacle. The debate was broadcast on ABC, but the questions were supplied straight from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. It was disgusting. The entire first hour of the debate had the moderators (Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous) essentially challenging Barack Obama with Republican talking points. They asked no substantive questions whatsoever. But they found time to ask about Obama's pastor, what he wears on his lapel, the "controversy" over Obama's comments about economically distressed voters, and his extremely tenuous "connection" to Louis Farrakhan (despite Obama's repeated denouncement of the man) and some guy who was in the Weather Underground 40 years ago (who Obama once sat on a charity board with).
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pointed out after the debate that two days prior, Mr. Stephanopolous appeared on the wingnut Sean Hannity's radio show, and Hannity gave George the question, verbatim. Nice to see that Fox's "fair and balanced" approach has made its way to ABC.
But ABC is hardly the only network to have been infected by this disease. In just the last two days since I have started watching news again, I have seen, on average, 10x the coverage of Obama's so-called controversial comments (which have had a more damaging effect on Hillary Clinton than on Obama) than on the chaos that is consuming Iraq, the revelation that the President and all of his top advisers personally approved of detainee torture, the fact that John McCain has been unable to distinguish between Sunni and Shia Muslims on at least four separate occasions (of course if a Dem did this it would be discussed for days) and that McCain's economic agenda is telling distressed homeowners to go fuck themselves. There is no liberal bias in the media. Anyone who says otherwise is a dangerous demagogue. That is a fact.
It is enough to make a reasonable, thinking person sick to his or her stomach. In an election year where polls show that nearly 80% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, the media still acts as though those who want change are part of some radical fringe. They frame every news story and every debate question as if the Republican party and its leader, George W. Bush, had the approval of the people - which it does not. The Bush regime has ignored the will of the people and broken a number of laws, yet the media reports his lawless behavior as though it is the Democrats who are causing the problem (why won't they just leave poor George alone, he's trying to "make us safe").
How many times have you seen a news story about the disaster that has been the last seven years framed as a "bi-partisan" problem, rather than the fault of the one-party control of government that we have been living under? Why do reporters and pundits fault the Democrats for the continuation of the Iraq War when it is the president and the Republicans that have blocked every effort that pointed to reasonable disengagement from the disaster? The media calls Afghanistan the "forgotten war," yet fails to point out who has forgotten it -- the Republican party! Democrats have been shouting to anyone willing to listen that the problem of Al Queda does not lie in Iraq, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan, yet their calls are met with nothing but the same old refrain from the GOP-dominated media -- that only Republicans "understand" the threat, and that only Bush knows the right course of action. You can read and hear this nonsense on every cable network, in the NY Times and the Washington Post, and even from the Associated Press!
This disease of viewing every problem as equally the fault of the Democrats and Republicans has not just infected foreign policy coverage, but also every domestic issue as well. Why no in-depth coverage of the Republican party's climate change denial and its blocking of even the most minimal attempts to correct the problem? Bush says now, in 2008, that we must do "something" and the media hails him as an environmentalist. They ignore the previous seven years of intentional tampering with and altering the reports of government scientists that concluded that drastic action needs to taken.
What about New Orleans? Have you seen a story on the reconstruction (or lack thereof) lately? Of course not. While an objective media would report this as one of the greatest failings of any US president (one of the country's largest cities is destroyed and the administration offers little if any help or leadership), there is a tone in the minimal coverage of the story that has a "what could he (Bush) possibly do?"
I know this for certain...Bill Clinton would not have left the citizens of New Orleans to fend for themselves after such a massive disaster. And that is what the Bush Administration has done -- left the people to largely fend for themselves. Tens of thousands of people are still living in other cities or living in trailers, and are still, almost three years later, no closer to having their lives return to normal. This is a big deal people! A bigger deal than who Barack Obama once served on a charity board with, that's for sure.
There are so many other examples I could offer (the countless scandals of the Bush Administration, the abuse and fraud in the military's contracting system, the instability in the Middle East due to our haphazard bungling in the region and ignoring of the Israeli/Palestinian question, the obvious incompetence of Condoleeza Rice and many other top administration people, etc. etc. etc.) but hey, The Pope is town, so I guess there is nothing else to cover but 24-7 prayers from his holiness and a discussion of how the Democrats do not sufficiently brown nose "people of faith." UUGGHHHH!!!