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Preserve, Protect and Defend



"Nothing short of an aroused public can change things; nothing less than democracy is at stake." - Bill Moyers



Updated: 2017-04-06T08:42:05.061-04:00

 



Most of this is quite moving. The rest isn't.

2010-03-24T21:49:21.833-04:00

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A Balm in Gilead

2015-07-27T10:10:39.459-04:00

I have a proposition for the ultra-conservatives in this country and for the rest of us. Now, I’m not including all born-again or fundamentalist Christians in this proposal—only those who don’t like the way this country was originally set up and would like to change the direction it’s going. Anyone who wishes to would be welcome to participate and no one would be forced to.Here it is:I propose that the US cede a certain territory--say with the Rio Grande as the southern and western borders, then east along the Arkansas river to the  Mississippi river on the east—as a sovereign territory to be handed over to those who don’t want to live under the US Constitution anymore. For convenience’ sake, I’ll call the new nation ‘Gilead’. The area is not cast in stone—it is simply one possible region to consider.The territory thus created would have abundant farmland, a coast and an already developed infrastructure including a number of urban areas ranging from large cities to small towns and the connecting highway network within it. It would also include the oil reserves of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.Now, before those remaining behind get all up-in-arms—allow me to remind you: the infrastructure was paid for by everyone’s tax dollars. Gilead’s citizens paid taxes while they were US citizens and are entitled to the benefits they would have received from them had they remained in the US.Think about it on an individual level: if you and your family were to move from California to Boston, you would be inheriting the communication systems, roads and water lines set up there before you arrived. The same would be occurring here—just on a larger scale.The two governments involved could, should they choose to, arrange a repayment agreement for the infrastructure inherited by Gilead.As to those oil reserves: as the United States of America proceeds into the 21st century without the ball and chain of the population of Gilead around its ankle, it won't need them anymore.  In fact, ceding them to the infant nation may just spur us to get on with the transition already!Homeowners who live inside Gilead’s boundary who wish to move out could list their homes on the internet. Those who live outside Gilead and wish to move in could do the same. We would then do a 1:1 swap between homes of comparably assessed value. The homeowners would carry their mortgages with them and pay them off on their new properties—or work out appropriate agreements with their respective lending institutions. Those who are renting would simply move to the area of their choice.A jobs exchange could also be set up online and people could apply for jobs which would be abandoned by those leaving the area they wish to migrate to.The area to be included is already populated by a number of people who would want to live in Gilead—so there would be less inconvenience to the general population than would occur if either the east or west coast were the region to be ceded.Even so, this mass migration would take a while—so why don’t we give ourselves about 15 years to complete the move? This would avoid a massive upheaval of the population all at once and give Gilead’s government time to get set up before the Date of Government Transference.Considerably less than one generation after implementation of the plan, those people who believe the Constitution was a mistake could move to Gilead and create their own country. Gilead would have no ties to the United States beyond a common boundary and any ambassadorial and trade functions the two governments wish to pursue—just as we have now with Mexico and Canada.* Inside Gilead, if they wish their legislation to consist of the laws set forth in Leviticus, they could set that up.* If the primary government or that of any city or state wants to put the 10 Commandments or a Nativity Scene on a public building’s lawn or in the lobby, they could do so.* If the people want to ban any religion other than Christianity, they coul[...]



From Ben Sargent of The Washington Post

2010-01-28T10:07:00.067-05:00

Well, THIS hits the nail on the head!
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British health care explained

2009-08-30T15:10:25.222-04:00

How does it stack up next to ours? You decide.
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3 Comments

2009-08-04T10:50:13.447-04:00

Well, as I threatened in the comments on the previous post, I have revived Scattershot Thoughts. And, as luck would have it, my very first post on my return over there was political. Go figure.

Scattershot won't be completely political. It will, though, be generally laced with liberalisms — I know I won't be able to help myself in that department.

Maybe, by broadening my outlook, I'll be able to ease myself gently back into posting here. We'll see. Anyhow, I hope to see you over there.



So Long

2009-08-02T11:12:46.102-04:00

I’m feeling defeated today. I just can’t seem to gear up for another post. I think PP&D is history.

I kept my sanity and my spirits up all during the Bush years by believing that, when actual leadership returned to this country, people would rejoice. They would recognize the fact that crimes had been committed and welcome the return of a lawful administration. They would be happy to be accepted back among the civilized nations our country had alienated for eight years.

Obviously, I was mistaken.

I’ve been cruising the newspapers and a forum I visit and I can’t believe what I’m reading.
People write, “Why do liberals hate so much?” and in the same post, “Blue Cross Blue Shield is good enough for me. Why should my taxes pay for health care for all those illegals and those commie-pinko liberals anyway?”
And call Obama “Obammie the Commie—the teleprompter junkie.” Just as if every president since its invention hasn’t used the teleprompter.

When I hear Pat Buchannan trash Affirmative Action and declare that the US was built by White men who are being discriminated against after all their hard work, I want to sit down and cry. The US was built by White men? Really? Didn’t Pat work in the White House? Who built it? Slaves. Most of the monuments and public buildings in DC were, in fact, built by slave labor. Guess what color they were?
The railroads in this country were built almost exclusively by Chinese immigrants who were treated like slaves, themselves.

And whose schools are crumbling? The inner city schools which are attended by, primarily, Black and Hispanic students. I used to visit those schools every day when I worked with poor children. How does anyone come out of that environment with hope? How does anyone live in the projects and attend a school that is falling down and ‘learn’ from a teacher who uses improper grammar and mispronounces ‘Scheherazade’ and not feel like a second-class citizen who deserves nothing?

Then, when I hear of a Harvard professor being arrested in his own home because he is Black, I throw in the towel. There is no hope for my species.

And Pat says White men are being discriminated against.

It’s hard to keep trying to be a voice of reason in the face of ignorance, hate and bigotry.

Furthermore, I just keep hearing about massive partisanship. Partisanship. Partisanship.
The Republicans say, “Slow down,” when they mean, “Let’s drag our feet and hope the health care bill succumbs to our lies.” “Let’s fight against rebuilding the economy.” “Let’s let the Birthers run riot and refuse to admit Obama’s an American.” “Let’s let the country spiral out of control in the hopes of reclaiming all three houses over the course of the next four years. After all, THAT’S what’s important—not the well being of the country!”

AND—last night I saw a documentary on Bill Moyers' Journal about the good that can be done by religious leaders who work for positive change. And I cried because “religion” in my country seems to just want to grab power. It seems interested only in exclusion, separation and destruction. Not love.

I’ll keep posting at All That Is, I know that. It’s a happier blog—and it doesn’t require me to read newspapers in order to keep it going. That’s a huge plus, right now.

I know that emotions don’t last forever—they just feel as if they will. But this feels pretty overwhelming, right now. If things change maybe I’ll be back.

Or, maybe not.



EMILY'S LIST

2009-07-23T14:49:55.619-04:00

Who is EMILY? The folks at Emily's List are asked that question all the time.EMILY is not a famous feminist, elected official, or the nickname of it's founder. EMILY is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" (it helps raise the dough).The people who founded Emily's List knew that early money made women credible candidates and gave them the best shot at winning. That is still the organization's goal: to help elect pro-choice Democratic women.But, a few of years ago, a candidate delivered a speech about what EMILY meant to her — and to women all across the country.That candidate was Jennifer Granholm, who is now the governor of the state of Michigan and one of the rising stars in American politics. This is what she had to say:Here is the transcript from a few excerpts of then-Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm's speech at the EMILY's List Majority Council Conference in June 2002."EMILY is every woman who has ever sat at a business meeting while someone else took credit for her good work.EMILY is every young professional who's been told to wait her turn and every seasoned one who's been told she still has to pay her dues.EMILY is every working mom who's managed to balance a checkbook, who's managed a clean house, a corporate budget and a 12-year-old's basketball tournament in one day.EMILY is every stay-at-home mom who has ever been asked, 'No, I mean, what do you do? What do you really do?'She is every woman who's ever had to defend her right to be pro-choice. She's every woman who's ever had to explain her choice not to have a child.She's every woman who has ever demanded a raise because she's been doing the same work as the man in the next cubicle for the same number of years, and she's still not getting the same pay. She's every woman who has ever wondered why the company won't cover her contraceptives, but will cover that same guy's Viagra.EMILY is every working mom who has ever fought for quality day care or family leave time. She is every woman who has given up a single day of vacation to care for a sick child or a sick parent.EMILY is every girl in every classroom whose hand was still in the air after the boys got their questions answered.She's every athlete who's ever been told, she 'throws like a girl.'She's every candidate who's ever been asked how she can run for office and have a family at the same time.She is every African American woman who has had to work three times as hard to be considered as good as her white male colleague.She is every Jewish woman who has ever been called a princess.She is every Hispanic woman who has been asked how long her family has been in this country.She is every woman who has been called too soft or too strong or too aggressive or too nice or too ambitious to get the job done.She is every woman who has ever been measured against a glossy picture in a magazine.EMILY is the seamstress who has sewn the graduation gowns for years but has never worn one. EMILY is every woman who helped set up this room today and who will clean up after we leave … and that same woman who only wants her daughters to dream big dreams, because EMILY knows that young girls cannot be what they cannot see.She is you. She may be your next governor … she may be your next vice-president ... she may be your next president.And EMILY doesn't get mad — she gets elected!"xxxEmily's List is a dynamic, important organization.Their primary function has been the same since it's founding in 1985. In 24 years they have been instrumental in electing Democratic Pro-Choice women to offices at every level in the country except the Executive Branch and it won't be long till they reach that goal, as well.And it's time, now, to begin our donations to this worthy cause to be sure we hang onto both houses in 2010. Please go here to check it out.[...]



Dobbs Says There Are "Still Questions". Oh, Really?

2009-07-23T18:38:12.752-04:00

Jon Stewart is the most trusted news caster in America today [according to a NY Times Poll].
Heck, even Kansas and Missouri, 2 Republican bastions, voted for him--how trusted is THAT?
And Jon put out this piece on the "birther movement. Take a look.



An Insider Speaks Out

2009-07-17T08:29:00.483-04:00

Wendell Potter, a former high-ranking PR executive for Cigna wrote an expose of the health care industry. The following is an excerpt. The entire article can be found here.And here is a related article that exposes numerous practices engaged in by the 'health care' industry.xxxI'm the former insurance industry insider now speaking out about how big for-profit insurers have hijacked our health care system and turned it into a giant ATM for Wall Street investors, and how the industry is using its massive wealth and influence to determine what is (and is not) included in the health care reform legislation members of Congress are now writing.[I]n recent years I had grown increasingly uncomfortable serving as one of the industry's top PR executives. In addition to my responsibilities at CIGNA . . . I was in a unique position to see not only how Wall Street analysts and investors influence decisions insurance company executives make but also how the industry has carried out behind-the-scenes PR and lobbying campaigns to kill or weaken any health care reform efforts that threatened insurers' profitability.I also have seen how the industry's practices . . . have contributed to the tragedy of nearly 50 million people being uninsured as well as to the growing number of Americans who . . . are underinsured. An estimated 25 million of us now fall into that category.What I saw happening over the past few years was a steady movement away from the concept of insurance and toward "individual responsibility," a term used a lot by insurers and their ideological allies. This is playing out as a continuous shifting of the financial burden of health care costs away from insurers and employers and onto the backs of individuals.As an industry spokesman, I was expected to put a positive spin on this trend that the industry created and euphemistically refers to as "consumerism" and to promote so-called "consumer-driven" health plans. I ultimately reached the point of feeling like a huckster.I thought I could live with being a well-paid huckster and hang in there a few more years until I could retire. I probably would have if I hadn't made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of years ago that changed the direction of my life. While visiting my folks in northeast Tennessee where I grew up, I read in the local paper about a health "expedition" being held that weekend a few miles up U.S. 23 in Wise, Va. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were volunteering their time to provide free medical care to people who lived in the area. What intrigued me most was that Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group whose original mission was to provide free care to people in remote villages in South America, was organizing the expedition. I decided to check it out.That 50-mile stretch of U.S. 23, which twists through the mountains where thousands of men have made their living working in the coalmines, turned out to be my "road to Damascus."Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I reached the Wise County Fairgrounds, where the expedition was being held. Hundreds of people had camped out all night in the parking lot to be assured of seeing a doctor or dentist when the gates opened. By the time I got there, long lines of people stretched from every animal stall and tent where the volunteers were treating patients.That scene was so visually and emotionally stunning it was all I could do to hold back tears. How could it be that citizens of the richest nation in the world were being treated this way?A couple of weeks later I was boarding a corporate jet to fly from Philadelphia to a meeting in Connecticut. When the flight attendant served my lunch on gold-rimmed china and gave me a gold-plated knife and fork to eat it with, I realized for the first time that someone's insurance premiums were paying for me to travel in[...]



Well, So Much for the Stimulus

2009-07-10T00:19:45.025-04:00

Heard on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:Hartford Connecticut is poor. Two years ago, it’s kids scored among the lowest in the nation on performance tests. Connecticut also has some of the richest communities in the country. As a result, the state has the widest performance gap of all the states among its students.One district in Hartford did a massive overhaul of its schools. With no new money, it redesigned its systems to include 4 separate ‘academies’ within each school. The campus that was profiled had the Freshman Academy, the Law Academy, the Green Academy and the Nursing Academy. Except for the Freshman Academy which serves as an introduction to high school, each provides the basic high school curriculum as well as focusing on its own core area of study. For the first time in a long, long time, 2008/2009’s test scores began moving upward.The kids who were interviewed by the NewsHour reporter sang the praises of their school saying that, for the first time, they believe they have a shot at attending college.When the stimulus came along, the 4 principals of the school were elated. They intended to hire a school nurse, a counselor, a health teacher, a math teacher as well as raising salaries across the school in order to entice better teachers to come to their system.I believe any reasonable person can agree—an increase in college attendance and graduation would, more than almost any other development, serve to bring Connecticut [or any other state] out of its economic doldrums and jump-start the economy. It’s too bad the governor of Connecticut cannot be counted among the reasonable people of the world.True to form, Jodi Rell cut all programs the stimulus would affect by the exact amount of the expected infusion from the Federal Government. What do you want to bet she refunded $300.00 to each of her constituents?Goodbye, new money—hello, status quo. And so long, prospects of bringing in new teachers, raising salaries, adding support staff. In other words, so much for creating new jobs. Gee, thanks, Governor Rell.I guess she’s looking out for her and her neighbor’s kids. After all—we can’t have just any riff-raff in those poor towns going to good schools and getting into college. What if the rich children can't get into those good schools because their poorer counterparts make better grades than they do? And, what will those rich kids do for jobs in such an Alice-In- Wonderland world?Of course, another possibility is that this Republican Governor has joined forces with Rush Limbaugh and simply wants the stimulus to fail. To hell with the country, to hell with her own kids' future if we can see to it that Obama falls flat on his face and we can elect Sarah Palin in 2012.[...]



6 Comments

2009-07-03T21:21:20.237-04:00

Today I received a petition from the Care2 Petition Site asking me to sign a petition thanking President Obama for reversing the previous administration’s policies regarding the U.N. and joining the Human Rights Council within that body.

While this is good news in the matter of our standing among the nations of (image) the world, it is another slap in the face to the 1.5% of the population in this country who are still waiting to have their basic rights acknowledged.

So, I have an idea:
Right now the Obama administration is, most likely, congratulating itself for taking this stand and supporting the U.N.’s Human Rights Council. They are absolutely correct that the only way to make a difference in this extraordinarily important matter is by taking a seat inside the council and working to make changes from the inside. Scolding from the outside has less than no effect.

However, this is a terrific time to remind Obama that a disastrous human rights injustice is happening right here every day.
When people’s careers are being ruined by our government’s misguided policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a matter of course; when our Department of Justice puts out a statement comparing gay marriage to incest and the marriage of children, how can our country possibly act as an arbiter of justice in the U.N? The short answer is it cannot.

So, I appended a personal message to the petition and sent a personal email to the White House to that effect. I attach it below. Please copy and paste it or edit it as you please or write your own and send it along to them.

Now, while they’re focused on worldwide human rights issues, is the time to remind them that they need to get their own house in order before trying to tell other countries how to conduct their affairs, right?

Here’s my letter— please use it as a jumping off point for your own.
And, won’t you pass this ms along to your email friends, too? Thanx.
xxx
I add my personal gratitude for your reversal of the former administration’s policies regarding the U.N. in general and the Human Rights Council in particular.

Now, will you please also address the human rights issue here at home that is still languishing, waiting for your attention?

Please tell the Pentagon to stop enforcing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell until Congress gets around to addressing this miscarriage of justice.
And please speak out against the insult to all LGBT’s put forth by your Justice Department last month.

Human rights are essential for dignity and freedom from fear. The people of the LGBT community still labor under fear for their own safety in this "land of the free". Maintaining their status as second class citizens and publishing misinformation about them do nothing to lift that fear-- in fact such measures increase it.

Thank you for turning your attention to this profoundly important matter.



Food Instead of Tea

2009-07-03T14:16:48.797-04:00

Please note the button on the sidebar linking to the Million Can March.

(image) Food pantries are struggling now as the increase in demand meets the decrease in donations.
(image) So, in answer to the Teabagging Parties scheduled for July 4, Les Enrages.org has launched a drive for 1 million cans of food to be donated to food pantries around the world.

And there's more! [That came out like one of those late-night commercials -- sorrreeee.]
RevPhat has emailed Rachel Maddow asking her to mention the Million Can March on her show. And she's asking the rest of us to do the same. Rachel's e-ddress is: Rachel@msnbc.com

So, let's all get on the stick, raid our pantries and write to Rachel and get this thing rolling! After all, 1,000,000 cans of food [or boxes of cereal or mac and cheese or mashed potato buds] aren't going to march into those food pantries all by themselves, right?



Palin Revisited

2009-07-02T16:37:57.111-04:00

Here are some excerpts: Palin is at once the sexiest and the riskiest brand in the Republican Party. Her appeal to people in the party (and in the country) who share her convictions and resentments is profound. The fascination is viral, and global. Whatever her political future, the emergence of Sarah Palin raises questions that will not soon go away. What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency? Perhaps most painful, how could John McCain, one of the cagiest survivors in contemporary politics—with a fine appreciation of life’s injustices and absurdities, a love for the sweep of history, and an overdeveloped sense of his own integrity and honor—ever have picked a person whose utter shortage of qualification for her proposed job all but disqualified him for his?[Personal insert: There is one answer that will cover the last two questions, at least: Neither McCain nor the Republican Party at large wanted to win the election. Palin was not in on the joke. Just my personal take on the disaster that was the last Republican presidential campaign.] In the aftermath of the November election, the conventional wisdom among Palin’s supporters in the Republican establishment was that she should go home, keep her head down, show that she could govern effectively, and quietly educate herself about foreign and domestic policy with the help of a cadre of experienced advisers. She has done none of this. Palin is a cipher by choice. When she chooses to reveal herself, what she reveals is not always the same thing as the truth. Her singular refusal to have in-depth conversations with the national media . . . has compounded the challenge of understanding who she really is. There has been Hollywood talk that Palin could star in a reality-TV show about running Alaska, but nothing has come of it yet. [**Personal note: Oh, please, oh please do, Sarah! What an efficient method for destroying your next campaign! Please! Please! Please!] Little Shop of Horrors The caricature of Sarah Palin that emerged in the presidential campaign, for good and ill, is now ineradicable. The swift journey from her knockout convention speech to Tina Fey’s dead-eyed incarnation of her as Dan Quayle with an updo played out in real time, no less for the bewildered McCain campaign than for the public at large. It is an ironclad axiom of politics that if a campaign looks troubled from the outside the inside reality is far worse, and the McCain-Palin fiasco was no exception. By the time Election Day rolled around, the staff had been serially pummeled by unflattering press reports about the gaps in Palin’s knowledge, her stubborn resistance to direction, and the post-selection spending spree in which she ran up bills of $150,000 on clothes for herself and her family at high-end stores. The top McCain aides who had tried hard to work with Palin . . . were barely on speaking terms with her, and news organizations were reporting that anonymous McCain aides saw Palin as a “diva” and a “whack job.” [I]n a recent series of conversations, a range of people from the McCain-Palin campaign, including members of the high command, agreed to elaborate on how a match they thought so right en[...]



A Novel Idea: Health Care for the Masses

2009-06-26T12:59:23.913-04:00

Health Care Faces the 'R' Word -- by Michael Kinsley

Even though more and more Americans have no health insurance at all, Americans consider health care to be a right. Not just that: We consider the best possible health care to be a right. Few would find it acceptable for a poor person to die of a medically curable disease for lack of money. Even fewer would find it acceptable that they themselves should die because the system won't spend the money to cure them. This is all in theory, of course. In practice, people die all the time because some effective treatment is too expensive. But whenever an issue gets drawn into the political system and becomes explicit, it becomes harder. That is what health-care reform will do to the question of rationing.

The Obama administration believes that health care can be made cheaper without any reduction in quality. It has evidence to back this up. According to the famous Dartmouth studies, health care costs two or three times as much per person in some places in America as it does in others, with no measurable difference in results. Atul Gawande's deservedly admired recent essay in the New Yorker makes a similar point. So in theory it's easy: Just figure out how the cheap places do it and apply this knowledge to bring down the cost in the pricier places.
~~~
The administration is investing great hopes (and $1.1 billion of stimulus money) in "comparative effectiveness research." Because we don't collect and compare in any systematic way the vast piles of data we have about individual patients and their treatment, we know astonishingly little about which treatments work and which are a waste of money. The administration is touting the figure of 30 percent of all health-care costs as spending that may accomplish nothing.

I suspect that what a billion-plus dollars' worth of research will find is that perhaps 30 percent of what we spend on health care is almost entirely worthless, or just barely better than a much cheaper alternative. Or it might be better and no one knows for sure.

Click here for the complete text.
xxx
Being one of those who has no health insurance ['the great unwashed' as I call us uninsureds], I'll be glad when this thang is settled--though it'll be too late to benefit me. Next year, I become eligible for Medicare.
Still, it's about time the rest of the population can see a physician without breaking the bank, don't you think?



And We Should Care Why?

2009-06-22T02:15:21.412-04:00

I picked this up on All Voices:
US census to count gay and lesbian married couples
By: jonnalagadda3
(image) Washington: The Census Bureau of the USA will recognize married couple of the same sex in the 2010 census.
Same sex couples could not get married in US during the last census. Last y[e]ar, two states approved same sex marriages, and now it became imperative they be taken for head count for statistical purposes. This count will also help arriving at a data of homosexuals, gays and lesbians who are legally married. This would also help the state plan their welfare. President Barack Obama has recently signed a memorandum giving the same rights and facilities to those employees who are married to same sex, on par with other government employees [sic]. Steve Jost, a spokesman of the Census Bureau sa[i]d same sex couples ought to report themselves for the count. He said after the 2010 census, the country will have good data on which to discuss the same sex phenomena emerging in the country.
xxx
Well, the government is counting married gays. So what? It's still perceiving them as second class citizens.
They can't serve in the military unless they lie about who they are.
Obama's Justice Department just compared their marriages to incest and the marrying of children.

Maybe the census will count each of them as 3/5 of a person?



Les Enrag�s.org: Million Can March: Yes We Can!

2009-06-19T23:06:16.505-04:00

Please note the button on the sidebar linking to the Million Can March.

(image) Food pantries are struggling now as the increase in demand meets the decrease in donations.
(image) So, in answer to the Teabagging Parties scheduled for July 4, Les Enrages.org has launched a drive for 1 million cans of food to be donated to food pantries around the world.

And there's more! [That came out like one of those late-night commercials -- sorrreeee.]
RevPhat has emailed Rachel Maddow asking her to mention the Million Can March on her show. And she's asking the rest of us to do the same. Rachel's e-ddress is: Rachel@msnbc.com
Les Enrag�s.org: Million Can March: Yes We Can!



O-betray

2009-06-19T18:42:35.186-04:00

O.K. So last year, Obama said he supported gays. In fact, he said he DID NOT support Don’t Ask Don’t Tell [DADT] and would get rid of it if he got to be POTUS. As a result of that and other statements, a lot of gays supported him. And worked for his campaign. And voted for him.What a difference a year makes. Here we are, almost 5 months into his presidency and DADT is still very much the law of the land. Still enforced. Two hundred fifty three people have, since Obama took office, had their military careers destroyed—just like they did under Bush and Clinton before him.These people want to serve their country. And he kicks them in the teeth.Change We Can Believe In. Uh huh.Then, last Friday the Justice Department took out the trash [a concept you’re familiar with if you religiously watched (as I did) the TV drama, The West Wing.]In case you didn’t, here’s the idea: on Fridays, the government releases information it doesn’t want people to notice.The weekend is coming up and fewer people read newspapers on Saturday and Sunday. So, if you want to put out a story —so you won’t be accused of hiding stuff— but you want it to be used only to line the bottom of the birdcage and nothing else, you sit on it till Friday and release it along with a whole slew of other stuff —all at once.Only, this time, people noticed.Oops.Here’s what was supposed to leak out under the radar —only it didn’t:A statement was released by the Justice Department supporting the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA].~~~Here are excerpts from the Act:Powers reserved to the states:No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.Definition of 'marriage' and 'spouse':In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.~~~Last Friday’s brief was authored by a Bush holdover. A Mormon. And it shows. It equated gay marriage with a marriage between uncle and niece. It equated gay marriage with marrying off children.Do you see why they wanted to release this piece of garbage on Friday? It could just have easily have come from the Bush administration. Except Bush would have been proud of it and released it on Tuesday morning with a flourish of trumpets.They were right in one way —the correct thing to do with it was to line the bottom of the bird cage.Last Friday evening Rachel and others speculated that Obama didn’t know this filth had been released. Even that he doesn’t agree with it.I’m sorry, but I’m of the mind that he is, after all, the president. And I’m with Harry Truman—if he didn’t know it was coming out, he should have known. It’s his buck.It looks from here as if, when it comes to gays, Obama is an empty suit.xxxSo, fast forward to today:All of a sudden, Obama makes the announcement that he is giving ‘many of’ the same rights to gay federal employees and their partners that ‘opposite’ married people have enjoyed forever and ever.This is another of those little items Obama had promised—but not[...]



Our Surrender

2009-06-10T16:24:05.021-04:00

The Bush Hangover: Guantanamo Undercuts Our Protests of North Korea -- by Mitchell BardGeorge W. Bush has been out of office for more than four months now, but I fear that the damage done during the Bush years has inflicted serious injury to the American psyche and reputation, and it will take years, if not decades, to recover.I woke up this morning to the chilling news that two American journalists had been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor by a North Korean court for the "crimes" of illegally entering the country and committing "hostile acts."^^^[T]he international community has to stand against the heinous actions of the North Korean government. Clearly, the United States should be at the head of such international action.But today, I also read about Lakhdar Boumediene, and the truly disturbing story of what happened to him after the 9/11 attacks. An Algerian man living with his wife and two children in Sarajevo, Bosnia, he was working for the Red Crescent in October 2001 when he was arrested and charged with conspiring to blow up the American and British embassies in the city. An investigation revealed no evidence of his involvement in any plot, so a Bosnian judge ordered him released, but the Bush administration intervened, and in January 2002 he was shackled and flown to Guantanamo Bay.^^^In the end, Boumediene was held for 7 1/2 years in Guantanamo, during which time, he says, he was tortured. He says he was kept up for 16 days straight, beaten, "stretched" (pulled up from under his arms while his feet were shackled to a chair) and forced to run while chained to guards, and if he could not keep up, he was dragged until he was bloody and bruised. After he began a hunger strike, he had food tubes put up his nose and, he claims, soldiers would purposely poke IV needles into the wrong parts of his arm, just to induce pain. But the one thing that was not done to him? Nobody asked if he was involved in a plot to blow up the U.S. and British embassies in Sarajevo. Rather, all he was repeatedly asked was about his connections to al-Qaeda and Osama bin-Laden (he insists he had no connection at all to the terrorist group).But there was one thing in the article that not only amazed me but brilliantly illuminated why the U.S. should never torture, and why it is so important that we repudiate what happened during the Bush years and chart a clear and unequivocal new path forward, one that reflects the country's traditional values. Boumediene said:"I thought America, the big country, they have CIA, FBI. Maybe one week, two weeks, they know I am innocent. I can go back to my home."In other words, Boumediene had faith that a country like the United States could not possibly keep an innocent man prisoner with no way to contest his guilt. His view of America is one that many in the world shared before the Bush years . . . .That is supposed to be the difference between a country like North Korea and a country like the United States.Click here for the complete article.xxxThis says it all. The US willingly surrendered what high ground we had had before.Of course, even before Bush, our 'high ground' had been tenuous at best:A country founded on genocide and slavery.Jim Crow and, even now, capital punishment and imprisonment that allows strikingly different statistics depending on race.The sham of The War On Drugs.The only western country which does not offer reasonable health care to its citizens [unless they happen to hold high government office].That has 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' as a very real law and denies marriage to 1.5% of its population.Whose education is falling apart.[...]



In Doctor Tiller's Name

2009-05-31T22:32:56.992-04:00

(image) Hey folks-- I was reading the Article at Huffington Post about the assassination of Dr. Tiller and someone made the suggestion of making a donation to Planned Parenthood in his name.

It sounded like a great idea, to me, so I went to the site and donated. It didn't offer a way to d
onate in the name of a particular person but I figure they'll probably get lots of donations today -- and they'll know why.

So, I just wanted to pass on the idea to everyone here. And please pass it on to your blogs and email address books, won't you?
Thanks.



Global Warming Rethunk

2009-06-04T02:12:20.395-04:00

I just had an ‘Aha! Moment.’For the last decade or more I’ve believed every word the scientists said about Global Warming. After all, the politicians immediately came out swinging, smearing the scientists and declaring their findings ‘pseudo-science.’I mean, who would YOU have believed?I just watched a documentary I’d seen before—but, this time, I noticed something that had escaped me the first time around.I had known for many years about the Little Ice Age that began around the year 1000. It ushered in such innovations as chimneys, multi-roomed dwellings with staircases [the gentry lived upstairs where it was warmer] tapestry-hung beds, buttons on clothing, rotation of crops, an increase in animal husbandry as a result of the mass failure of cereal crops while animal feed crops were better able to survive the cold, etc. etc. etc.The Black Death arrived about three hundred years later and preyed on a population already weakened by the change in climate.The European mindset became paranoid. Surely, the Almighty was calling on the populace to clean up its act. The Church and governments turned on Jews and women and the witch hunts and purges of the Jews brought about thousands of violent deaths.Across the Atlantic Ocean, the Vikings’ great experiment had been underway for several generations.When they arrived, Greenland was a lush and green place—not the glacier-covered mass we’re all familiar with today. For the first century or so of the European settlement, the newcomers derived 80% of their sustenance from the land [goats, sheep and cereal crops] and 20% from the sea. After the Little Ice Age began, that ratio gradually reversed itself and the Vikings, who had never learned the technique of winter-fishing used to tide the Innuit over during hard times, died out.This is the history of the early Little Ice Age. The earth actually began that cycle with a considerably warmer climate than we see today.xxxThe part I hadn’t put together before was the length of the cycle we’re talking about, here.The Little Ice Age didn’t last for two or three hundred years, as I’d always assumed. Its effects, in fact, were being felt when the Pilgrims arrived in the New World in 1620. They were still going on when George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776. All that ice in the painting wasn’t included for effect. It was really there as diaries of the time attest.In 1816, when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, ice imagery abounded in the novel, reflecting conditions outside as she wrote. In short, the Little Ice Age came to an abrupt end in 1850—probably fueled, at least in part, by industrialization.The fact remains, though, that the earth has not, by any means, warmed to the level it was when the cycle began in approximately the year 1000—when Greenland was actually green and England harvested grapes every summer as a matter of course.xxxBut, here’s why this whole argument [the ‘natural warming’ the politicians postulate] is irrelevant:No matter the cause, we are faced with a major crisis or even series of crises as a result of the warming we’re undergoing at the moment.After all, with Greenland locked up in ice for almost a thousand years, with the arctic and the antarctic massively larger than they were 1000 years ago, we’ve been building on coasts that have been dry for considerably less than that amount of time.Whole cities have grown up on land that was covered by ocean before the Little Ice Age began [I live in one of them]. Therefore, it would behoove us to kee[...]



Oh, Yeah—We're In Danger of Forgetting What It Is!

2009-06-01T02:06:04.591-04:00

Congressman Broun [R-Georgia] wants to make the year 2010 the Year of the Bible. This although Ronald Reagan did exactly the same thing back in 1983. If I had known about it then, I would have been every bit as against it as I am now.Broun uses lies to justify his stance. He claims that our founding fathers were in favor of his plan. This although the very First Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”Either he doesn’t care that anyone with the ability to read immediately recognizes his lie—or he is deluded.Let me ask you this: Do you consider yourself a good Muslim/Jew/Buddhist/Christian/Wiccan/Hindu/Atheist/Agnostic? If so, when was the last time you lied in order to espouse your belief? That's what I thought.Broun goes further, even, than that. He breaks the oath he took upon assuming office. You know, the one to Preserve, Protect and Defend that pesky piece of paper, the Constitution of the United States.Hello, Congressman Broun, not all Americans hold the Bible as their holy book. There are those who follow the Tipitaka. There are those who study the Torah and the Talmud. There are those who read the Qur’an. There are those who read the Aranyakas and upanishats. I study ‘The Seth Material’ and ‘The Michael Teachings’. Where is the Congressional Resolution for those books?By singling out any one book, you foster discrimination against all others. This is exactly what our founding fathers warned us against and tried to protect us from. They had studied European history. They knew what a state-fostered religion would lead to. Things like witch burnings, purges, crusades, murder in the name of God.This is not something we want to return to—even if Broun would like to take us there.xxxUpdate—May 31, 2009By the way, this was a rather timely post, wasn't it?Today, we witnessed exactly that. Murder in the name of God. Do you see, Congressman Broun, what comes of promoting one religion/viewpoint at the expense of all others? Of course, you'll denounce the murderer. It's the politically correct thing to do and you'll do it. And it will never cross your mind that you had anything to do with his actions. Wake up.[...]



8 Comments

2009-05-21T13:27:30.875-04:00

Gingrich: Pelosi Not Good Enough Liar to be Speaker -- by Andy Borowitz
Offers Congresswoman Lying Lessons
(image) Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lashed out today at the (image) current Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, calling the congresswoman unfit to be Speaker of the House "because she's not a good enough liar."
Mr. Gingrich, in an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," said that the ability to lie seamlessly is the most important qualification for the job of Speaker, adding, "I've been in the job and I should know."
The former Speaker issued the following ultimatum to Rep. Pelosi: "She needs to get better at lying, or step down."
Mr. Gingrich offered a brutal, blow-by-blow criticism of the House Speaker's lying technique, which he said consists of "pauses, ums and uhs, stuttering - all the hallmarks of an amateur."
In contrast, he said, "When I was in her chair my lying was as smooth as a baby's bottom."
He added that if Rep. Pelosi is serious about remaining in her position, he would be "more than willing" to give her lying lessons.
"Being a good liar requires practice," Mr. Gingrich said. "Fortunately for me, I had years of practice lying to my many wives."
xxx
Newt missed a bit, though. He forgot to mention hypocrisy.
Maybe he has conveniently forgotten the fact that he did exactly what Pelosi is doing nowto the FBI—while he was Speaker. Or the fact that, while he was calling for the impeachment of Clinton, he was having an affair with one of his aides.
xxx
You can subscribe and get your very own, free, Borowitz Report delivered daily to your emailbox here.



Oba-blowing-it

2009-05-20T02:21:00.203-04:00

Believe it or not, back in 1969, Nixon did something right.He didn't just launch the fiasco of the ‘War on Drugs,’ he started a treatment-in-lieu-of-prison option for those who were caught using drugs [though not those who sold them]. And he gave the treatment programs wide latitude to develop their own approaches to the ‘problem’.The fact that he probably added the treatment option because, for the first time, lots of middle-class kids were running into the drug culture doesn’t change the fact that the funding of the treatment option did a lot of good. How much good depended, of course, on the effectiveness of the respective programs.In 1972, I voluntarily entered one such program called Renaissance West [Rennis]. It was a ‘year-long’ program [people could graduate successfully anywhere from 6 to 18 months after entering—as assessed by the individual, the staff and the ‘family members’ within the program]. And the focus was not on drug use.Instead, it concentrated on the fact that the lives of clients involved in the live-in, commune-like program were out of control and they had engaged in a form of self-medication in order to make their lives tolerable.In-depth therapy was practiced and, in fact, the entire program, from house cleaning to meals to the development of personal support systems to the group therapy sessions themselves were used to address the issue of building more effective lives for ourselves.A learning center was included and clients who wished to do so could pursue any courses of study they chose. I picked classes on astrology, creative writing and psychology. A student from the University of Missouri at Kansas City taught several pupils in the writing course and a professor taught the psychology class in which I was the only student.After I graduated from Rennis, I wanted to go back to college. I had flunked out twice before and when I applied, UMKC refused me entry. I solicited letters of recommendation from the directors of the program and that psychology professor who had been teaching me for the last several months. In fact, I wrote the letters and they signed them. Based on those letters, I was accepted on probation.I was the first graduate from Rennis to enter college and I felt the full weight resting on my shoulders. If I didn’t succeed it would reflect badly on the program and on the people who had helped me get in. I HAD to do well.xxxDuring the course of our history, if a White president did a bad job, he was judged as an individual. The next person we elected was also a White Male—because that’s just what we did.But, things are different now. For the first time, we have departed from our standard operating procedure. We have elected a type of person who is ‘different’ from our norm. [No, he’s not really different, but he is perceived as different—and that’s what matters.]Odds are, we wouldn’t have done this if Bush/Cheney had been even remotely competent. They weren’t and, as a result, the people of this country, collectively, made history.And Obama is in exactly the same position I was in in 1973 when I walked into my first class at UMKC. If I did well, I opened the door for other clients of Renaissance West. If I did poorly, I slammed that door in their faces. It was that simple.Obama is what? 48 years old? I was only 25 and I recognized the fact people who I might never meet but who might attempt to follow me from Rennis to college could[...]



2 Comments

2009-05-14T17:12:27.337-04:00

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm—
Tonight I received an email from the **ahem** “Change.gov” website asking for my thoughts regarding health care.

I had just finished writing the post below and was sitting here contemplating setting my hair on fire.
And, I had a thought [a dangerous undertaking, I know, but I’m used to working without a net]:
So, I went to the url included in my email, found the contact button and gave them a piece of my mind about the refusal to release the torture photos. I told them that, while health care is an important issue, it pales in comparison to transparent government—especially in light of what Obama promised while on the campaign trail. And I used the “if they’re not likely to listen to reason, give em shame” tactic. I compared his administration to Bush/Cheney.

So—I’m asking anyone who reads this: Please go to this website and yell at them about the torture photos. And urge others to, as well. If O & Co. get enough of these change-the-subject messages, they just might sit up and take notice. It’s worth a shot, anyway.
xxxxx
Rethinking—
It is just slightly possible that this is more of the same scenario I postulated on 4/21:
Back then, Obama stepped on the Justice Department's toes. And roused a protest from Holder.

Today, he stepped on the toes of the 2nd court of appeals that, in fact, just came out with the exact opposite opinion of what Obama was saying today.

So maybe, just maybe, this is all a political game. Maybe, if he steps on enough toes and gooses enough departments and branches of government, someone somewhere will grab the ball and run with it and Obama can look like the helpless bystander.

I know. I'm reaching again.
But, he gave me hope last year and I'm loath to let go of it—at least, not yet.



Turley Said It Best

2009-05-14T03:03:00.023-04:00

Today, Obama repealed his own policy.No more transparency—even if it has to do with crimes committed by the previous administration.Obama has flip-flopped on releasing the pictures of torture. You know, the pictures he promised to make public on May 28? Those pictures.There is speculation that Obama’s administration fears the pictures will be associated with it instead of the people who actually authorized the torture. WTF? Do they truly think that?I can tell them right now—just in case they’re wondering: The people who already hate them. The ones who call him a socialist. The ones who are still demanding to see his birth certificate. The ones who hope he [and thereby, the country] fails. Those people will say, “See? We knew Obama tortured! We knew everybody does it!” But, no one else will.On the other hand, those of us who used to think he was on the right track, those of us who believed him when he talked about transparency, those of us who are not among the 12% of the population who identify as Republicans, are deeply, deeply disappointed. And we’re heading toward rage.So, here we go yet further down the slippery slope:He asked Rick Warren, a gay-bashing-bigot, to pray at his inauguration.He has maintained Bush’s policies in regard to “Faith Based Initiatives”—even down to allowing discriminatory hiring and proselytizing before dishing out the soup and handing over the cot.He hasn’t repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, as he had promised. Gays continue to have their military careers ruined.And he talks out of both sides of his neck when it comes to torture.Tonight, on Rachel Maddow, Jonathon Turley, a law professor at George Washington University said, “It’s perfectly Orwellian.”And, “What the president said today is diametrically against the Federal law.”And, “If he succeeds, instead of having a transparent government, he would create this opaque government where you could virtually see nothing. The government could say, ‘This is going to be embarrassing. So, whatever is embarrassing to us injures national security.’”And, “It’s just more evidence that this administration is becoming the greatest bait-and-switch in history. He is morphing into his predecessor.”Rachel asked if these hundreds of new pictures suggest that there was an overall pattern that obviously reaches much higher than the ‘few rogue operators’ as both administrations have labeled them—and if that is the case, the whole thing will have to be investigated. And THAT is what Obama does not want to do. Turley agreed that that is exactly how this whole charade is beginning to appear.The ACLU said it for me: When these photos come to light, “the outrage will focus not only on the Bush administration but on the Obama administration’s complicity in covering them up.”Remember how much worse Watergate became after the cover-up started? Apparently, Obama doesn’t remember that little history lesson. And we all know what they say about those who forget history.xxxThere is one [as Rachel would say] “teeny, tiny, tinee, teeeeeneee” little sliver of hope here.Turley came up with virtually the same idea that I wrote about on April 21: that Obama is secretly hoping that he will be forced to release the photos—but that, for political reasons, he can’t just do it.That COULD be the case, of course, but the more he plays these political gam[...]