Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Go To Work For The Census

My first thought when I read about the September 12th death of substitute math teacher and part time census worker, Bill Sparkman, was " Don't go to work for the census" Since Sparkman was found hanged near a cemetery in rural Kentucky, with the word " Fed" scrawled on his body, I imagined a bunch of moonshiners or xenophobic small town good ol' boys doing him in just to spite the Federal Government.

His body was found in a remote part of the Daniel Boone National Forest-- moonshine country for sure and a place where for 300 years independent whiskey makers have nurtured a hatred for " revenuers" in particular, and the Federal Government in general. The fact that the FBI has been called in and is still on the case two weeks after the body was discovered speaks volumes. Clearly foul play is suspected and clearly something of national importance is being investigated. The press has already suggested that an innocent Sparkman may have stumbled upon a crystal meth lab or a still by accident and ended up dead for his mistake. The liberal press is hinting that he may have been killed by extreme right wingers ginned up by Rush, Bill, and the Fox News Crowd.I put this last supposition down to left wing paranoia. It's a little too pat for this liberal. I don't like it. I have a feeling that something more personal is going to come out of the woodwork as the investigation continues. I don't know what, but the anti-government angle just doesn't smell right to me.

The Personal Angle

While Sparkman, from what I have read about him, does not sound like the type to commit suicide, he also sounds almost too good to be true. His bio describes him as a single father who worked two jobs and went to school to get his teaching certificate at the same time. He did all this while overcoming Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Very laudable, but I am wondering about a few things. Is he divorced or a widower? Where is the mother of his young son? Does he have a mother? Does the boy have grandparents? Where are they and where were they during all of Sparkman's travails?

What did he do before he became a teacher? Who are his friends? Where did he grow up? Where is his family. He sounds like a wonderful man, but I'd like to follow the chronological thread of his life a bit more closely. Somewhere it says that he volunteered for the boy scouts. Call me crazy, but I am always a bit suspicious of un-married men who have anything to do with the boy scouts. I know. He's a loving dad and lots of fathers do the scouting thing with their sons. Even so, I'd like that bio filled out a bit more and I bet the FBI would too.

The world is full of serial killers and total whack jobs who were good to their mothers, taught Sunday School and were model citizens on paper. So while it may be that he was an innocent victim ambushed by anti-government wing-nuts, it may also be that somebody killed him for more personal reasons. Most murders are committed by people who know their victims, after all.

Murder is always sad and horrible, and most often it is personal so let's wait and see what happens next.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busy Week in the Big Apple for Obama

It's a busy week in the Big Apple for President Obama. You have to admire his guts and his willingness to take on the issues. Today and tomorrow he is going to be busy non stop at the United Nations. In the evenings he'll be at official social events and at night he'll be resting his tired Presidential head in the Presidential suite at the Waldorf Astoria

This morning he got right to work. He addressed the special one-day climate change conference being held at the UN before tomorrow's opening of the General Assembly. This afternoon he will meet with a dizzying array of world leaders and focus on nuclear dis-armament and world peace. Well, good luck is all I can say.

Tomorrow, President Obama will address the General Assembly. He will also chair the meeting of the Security Council -- the first sitting American President ever to do so. There should be lots of shmooze time not to mention tons of photo ops.

Then on Thursday, it's good bye Big Apple and off to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G20.

The airwaves and the internet are already abuzz with comment and speculation. Obama's speech on climate change this morning( see the video below) was an emphatic clarion call to action filled with beautiful glittering generalities, but short on specifics. In it he called not only on the developed world, but also on the developing nations like China and India to take a larger role in cleaning up the environment. A good move, I think. I'll be watching as tomorrow unfolds.

At the very least, President has now sent a message loud and clear, that unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, he sees the United Nations as an important player on the world stage and a place where a real exchange of ideas is possible. So far it doesn't look like he is going to get anything going with the Israeli's and Palistinians, nor does it look like he will be able to pull any rabbits out of his hat when it comes to Iran and Afghanistan, but you never can tell.

Like they say in New York, " you gotta be in it to win it" and President Obama is signaling that as far as the United Nations is concerned, the USA is back in the game. It's a good start.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dancing With the Russian Bear

Something really important happened yesterday that passed almost unnoticed amid the domestic din here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
While most of us were distracted by the healthcare debate here at home, President Obama announced to the world that the missile system proposed by the Bush Administration to be built in Poland and the Czech Republic( nicknamed son of Star Wars,) will be scrapped and a water based missile program aimed at monitoring doings in Iran will be substituted.

This is really important stuff. It is the opening step in a complicated dance that will lead to a key collaboration between Russia, NATO and the United States when it comes to dealing effectively with the pressing international problems of Iran and Afghanistan.

You are going to hear lots of moaning and groaning from the right on this,but pay no attention. Obama has not lost his mind. We have much more to gain by working with the Russians than by antagonizing them, something the Bush Administration with its macho posturing,failed to grasp. It's not that Russia is a participatory democracy or that Vladimir Putin and his puppet president, Dmitry Medvedev are teddy bears. Not at all. It is just, as my grandmother used to say, that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Abandoning the missile program proposed for Russia's doorstep is part of a quid pro quo program of diplomacy and not, as the Bushies would have you believe, a sign of weakness.

I am sure that President Obama's announcement was part of an orchestrated ballet negotiated and agreed to before the event. It sparked an immediate response from Russia. No sooner had President Obama spoken than the Kremlin announced that in response to the American position, Russia would cancel the medium range ballistic missles slated for Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania. See? Quid Pro Quo:-)

The next announcement came from Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who called for a new strategic partnership with Russia. and urged both Russia and the United States to study the possibillity of a joint missile defense system.

Next week, President Obama will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York-- the very first American President to do so. Nuclear dis-armament and non-proliferation will be on the agenda.

I hope Tehran and Kabul are taking note. There is a new strategic alignment in the offing, one that bodes well for keeping the peace and preventing nuclear disaster. It's the old " enemy of my enemy is my friend" routine. Nobody wants to see nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran or the Taliban back in the saddle in Afghanistan.

One way or another, the world simply won't let it happen. And that is why America is dancing with the Russian Bear while Nato calls the tune.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Too Gay to Adopt in Ukraine

There will be no celebrity adoption for Sir Elton John and his partner, David Furnish in Ukraine. Both Church and state are firm about that.

At 62 Elton John is too old to adopt under Ukranian law, and at least as far as the Church is concerned, he is also, evidently, too gay. I read about it this morning online. " Elton John Is A Sinner" the headline screamed. A Church spokesman had this to say about gay marriage and the proposed adoption of a 14 month old HIV positive Ukrainian orphan by the celebrity couple.

"People pretend to have good intentions, create semi-marriages and so-called families, and moreover they dare to adopt children. Unlike people who are blessed by God to create natural families, these are people who succumb to their passions."

The harshness of the remark made my hair stand on end. Who does this guy think he is making judgements like that? It's not like heterosexuals make wonderful parents just by virtue of being heterosexual. I was married for more than 30 years. My husband and I had two children. I am now divorced. I was an OK mother, but I sure made my mistakes. I wouldn't call my marriage a brilliant success, especially considering the way it ended. But according to this priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church my marriage was blessed by God and Elton John and his partner are only "succumbing to their passions."

I wish he could meet two gay men who live just a few blocks away from me. They have an adopted daughter from China who is about seven now. She came to them from a Chinese orphanage when she was an infant. She is a happy kid and they are responsible, excellent parents, respected in the community and active in local civic and charitable affairs.

Just a few blocks away from me in another direction lives a traditional family of mother, father, and two boys, ages 8 and 10. They are not happy campers. The neighbors can hear them fighting and screaming at each other all the time. There is lots of stomping in and out and slamming if doors, not to mention yelling and threats. On a couple of occasions the cops have been called by worried neighbors. The older boy is angry and troubled and the younger one just looks lost. Is the wife a battered woman? I suspect so. Is her union blessed by God? I wonder.

There may be good reasons why Elton John and his partner should not adopt this particular child. I have to say I am not a big fan of celebrity adoptions in general. This kid seems to have a living, if sick mother and a brother who is in the orphanage with him. Perhaps there is extended family. He's not really alone after all. When I watch the video below, I'm not even sure how serious Elton John really was. It sort of seems like he was just carried away by the moment. Whatever. Maybe it was a slow news day.

My point is only this. Love comes in many forms and so does family. It seems to me that in the name of human compassion, we ought to honor them all and not be too quick to judge who is doing God's work and who is not.

source: Mail Online

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Teabagger Serenade

The Teabaggers took it to the White House today. It was a white bread crowd from flyover country that spread out across the lawn this morning. Both the outfits and posters were whacky. The event seemed half county fair and half dance in the day room. It was quite a show.

The teabaggers are venting their rage-- how dare the " socialists" try to change their healthcare system. The United States ranks number thirty seven in the world and they are proud of it (although they keep saying we have the best health care in the world. It's part of their alternative vision of reality) Whatever.

Here's a little serenade in celebration of the teabaggers and their fight to preserve their freedom, no matter what it costs them-- or the rest of us. Have a look,a listen, and a laugh. What else can you do?