Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remember The Fallen on Memorial Day

This long week-end we celebrate in the United States at the end  of May isn't about the beach or the picnics and parties or even the parades.  It isn't even about soldiers who are off fighting today.  It is about the soldiers of our nation who have fallen in battle.  It came out of a bitter civil war-- a war that tore us apart.  Decoration Day( as it was originally called) was a way of healing the wound and cementing our unity.

It still is except that today we are not Union or Confederate, we are Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat, or even Socialist or Libertarian and only a few of us are actually out there putting our lives on the line.  Memorial Day is still a day when we can put our differences aside and remember that however we differ in our political opinions and visions for our nation, we are all still Americans and the soldiers who  have died in every war deserve our respect and we have an obligation to remember them.

Happy Memorial Day everybody

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell? Don't Care, Do You?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is about to move out of the Senate's Armed Services Committee and onto the floor for a vote as early as today. Yes, folks, Congress may finally repeal the 1993 law that represented Clinton's compromise between the gay community and the military establishment.

  It was a stupid law that offended many and pleased few  from the very beginning but it replaced a prior policy that made it  totally illegal for soldiers to be gay in the first place which made it a step in the right direction at the time. Now, just in time for Memorial Day, when we honor all our fallen soldiers, would be a good time to get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Don't you agree?

There has been a sea change both in society and in the military since the Clinton era, and while there is still much resistance to repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in some quarters,  ordinary soldiers don't much care whether their buddies are gay or straight.  They are more interested in a soldier's ability to watch a buddy's back in battle than who gets turned on by whom. In a world which recognizes civil unions, gay marriage, and even gay adoption, DADT seems like a real anachronism.To anyone under 40, who grew up with gays out of the closet, it seems dumb.

Polls indicate that 75% of the American public wants the law repealed, I find it interesting that statistics also indicate that as many as one out of every three women soldiers gets raped in the military-- a situation about which a military establishment that is outraged at the thought of homosexuality remains remarkably silent.  According to Time, a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by the enemy in the field.

Isn't it fascinating that the military brass that sweeps rape under the rug, still wants to make a big thing out of homosexuality? Could it be that all those macho men  are afraid they might get attacked if they drop their soap in the shower?  Or could it be they are afraid they might do the attacking. 

Think about that for a minute, and ask Congress to repeal " Don't Ask Don't Tell."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The News from Bangkok

This Sunday morning I came across a fascinating post in Dropout Nation ( a blog worth following for those who don't know) which I am reblogging here-- Just follow the link to read it.. It contains two eyewitness reports on  what is really going on in Bangkok as opposed to the over simplified , good guy vs. bad guy coverage of the news from Bangkok by BBC and CNN.

  Have a look.  You'll find it very interesting. Have a nice peaceful Sunday everyone and just thank your lucky stars you are not in Bangkok.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bristol Palin Sells Sex Talk for Money

No,no, no...... this is not what you think.  Bristol  does not have her own sex hotline. She is a strong and principled young woman and that sort of thing is definitely not her style.

You remember Bristol, don't you?  She and her intended followed Mommy and McCain all around the campaign in 2008 projecting family values.  Bristol ,at age 17 was, at the time, 5 months pregnant by Levi Johnson ( unfortunate last name, but never mind).A wedding was planned in the indefinite future but things fell apart as soon as the McCain campaign bit the dust and Levi started peddling his story all over town. To add to the fun, Levi's mom ended up in the pokey for peddling drugs.

Now Bristol is a single mom with a son to support so she's exploring her options. Recently she made her acting debut on ABC Family's The Secret Life of An American Teenager and just yesterday, it was announced that Bristol has been taken on by Single Source Speakers. She's about to hit the lecture circuit and will get from $15,000-30,000 a pop to talk  about teen pregnancy and how to prevent it. I can tell you how to prevent it for free-- either keep teens sexually segregated or teach them about birth control. It's a no brainer.  Wonder if the word condom will cross Bristol's lips?  Hope she likes creamed chicken in patty shells.

Never has getting knocked up paid so well. Just goes to show you, no matter how you slice it, sex sells.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday Quote: Ben Franklin on Democracy

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
                                                --Benjamin Franklin


Friday, May 14, 2010

Checking Out Elena Kegan with Joe Biden

I got an email  from Joe Biden today-- me and about three million of his closest friends I guess.  It was about Elena Kegan and what an inspired choice she is for the Supreme Court.

Well, I know that and I hope she will be confirmed.  She's got stellar credentials, legal and educational.  She has a track record that shows me that she is not an idealogue but a jurist and is not about to legislate from the bench.  I'm a firm believer in the separation of powers and so, it appears, is Elena.  I wondered why I was getting this email, since Congress not the electorate approves Supreme Court Justices.

 Did Joe Biden want me to email my Senator and urge him to support Kegan?  Why did someone in the VP's office take the time to dash off this email?  It soon became clear-- Joe was asking me for money -- AGAIN.  I gave to the Obama campaign and I've contributed to the Democratic Party over the years but really-- fundraising for a Supreme Court nomination is a new wrinkle and I think it is a bit much.

Here's the windup:
As a young attorney, Elena clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall. She often calls him her hero. Now, she's following in his footsteps as the Solicitor General of the United States, the chief legal advocate for our government. If Justice Marshall were with us today, I'm sure he'd be proud of the clerk he used to call "Shorty."

To see why, look no further than her role in the Citizens United case. It was a legal battle that most experts agreed would be impossible for the government to win. But as Solicitor General, Elena chose this as her first case. She recognized that rolling back bipartisan election law would allow special interests to dominate campaigns across the country and drown out the voice of the American people. Though she knew she'd probably lose, she chose to make it her fight all the same. That's character.

That kind of decision defines Elena's career. With her resume, she's had no shortage of lucrative opportunities. But her parents were both public servants -- her mother a school teacher and her father a housing lawyer who fought for tenants' rights -- and she has always followed their example. Like her dad, she's used her legal knowledge to serve others, and like her mom, she's been an educator, working to pass her knowledge on to another generation. Now, it's time to bring that heartfelt, principled commitment to the Supreme Court.

In these crucial early days, help us show that public support for this extraordinary nominee is overwhelming:
And here's the Pitch:Click through to see what I'm talking about.
 Will you stand with the President and me to support Elena Kagan? Sign on to help us show that the American people back her nomination.

Looks innocent enough, but the minute you put in your name, address and zip code, you are directed to a please donate page. Sorry Joe.  Not this time. I'm not giving and I'm not sharing your pitch on Facebook and Twitter.  I support Elena Kagen and think she is a brilliant choice, but  I don't see why you are asking me for money and frankly, I resent it.  I gave to  the Obama campaign and I think he and you are doing a great job( for the most part), but I don't think that the selection of a Supreme Court judge is a legitimate fundraising opportunity. In the words of the younger generation-- this email sucks!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

BP and the OIl Spill

This post came to me as an email from a friend. It was written by her friend, Steve Gallop, a Behavioral Ophthalmologist who also has a definite way with words. My friend passed it on to me.  It is just such a great opinion piece I had to share it. Below is the email, unedited and reprinted  just as it came to me.

Gulf of Messico

Full disclosure: I like the environment and am in favor of protecting it. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with an I-told-you-so. But this time it’s different. This time we’re staring down the throat of what could be the worst man-made environmental disaster in history. The explosion of BP’s oil platform off the Gulf of Mexico, unlike an exploding refinery or leaking tanker, is a live well run wild, spewing oil that would otherwise be sequestered under the Earth’s crust, safely quarantined from being burned and causing air pollution or from doing what it is now doing – gushing, uncontrolled into an environmentally sensitive and economically important waterway.

BP has a proven track record of negligence. March 23, 2005 – a BP refinery in Texas City killed 15; the government levied the largest fine ever – some $23 million. In 2009 officials fined BP almost four times that amount for failing to correct hundreds of safety violations at the same refinery.

Add in Halliburton, who finished cementing the well to protect against explosions just 20 hours before it exploded, exactly as they did with an Australian offshore well that blew last August. Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s old company was previously responsible for countless disasters and rip-offs in their role as king of no-bid contracts in Iraq during the Bush/Cheney years, including the electrocution of over a dozen U.S. troops because of faulty wiring in showers. BP and Halliburton comprise a dream team of profit and perfidy.

Ex-FEMA director, Michael “Heck-of-a-job Brownie” Brown, in charge of managing the man-made disaster that followed hurricane Katrina, who was more put out by having trouble getting fed than by being clueless about what to do while New Orleans drowned, emerged from his hole to say this of Obama’s administration, “This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, ‘I’m gonna shut it down because it's too dangerous.’ This president has never supported big oil, he's never supported offshore drilling, and now he has an excuse to shut it back down."

Brownie must have missed Obama praising offshore drilling on April 2, 2010 saying, “Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.” Brownie must also be unaware that Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar is a long-time friend to offshore drillers who exempted BP from doing a detailed analysis of the potential environmental impact of drilling at the Deep Water Horizon site now bleeding oil like a stuck pig. Another heck of a job Brownie. You too Salazar.

Rush Limbaugh in his infinite –we’ll call it wisdom though it’s clearly unmitigated idiocy – said the explosion was likely the work of environmentalist saboteurs. Mr. Limbaugh seems not to understand the purpose of being an environmentalist. Perhaps because the word environmentalist contains the word mental within it. Typically, environmentalists do things like putting themselves between whalers and whales, between helpless baby seals and brutes who club them to death for their fur. As far as inflicting damage, some have gone as far as spray painting said baby seals to render their fur unmarketable. Admittedly some radical environmentalists sabotaged Earth-damaging equipment and spiked trees – which does no harm to the tree but poses risks to lumberjacks – a very bad idea in my opinion. They’ve never risked damaging the environment. What if someone on the Left insinuated that Halliburton purposely did shoddy work to cause the rig to blow and make Obama look bad?

In another statement that makes his sabotage conspiracy look like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Limbaugh came out with a true stroke of – let’s call it genius, though in fact it is the unmistakable refuse of whatever severely drug-damaged substance resides within his ample skull, the OxyContin King said, "The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there. It's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is."

To prove his point Mr. Limbaugh should offer to lick clean the next bird coated in this natural substance, the next endangered sea turtle that washes up dead on shore or perhaps volunteer to take a straw to the black goo to assist the clean-up effort.

If such pronouncements are not held in the same regard as those who called the attacks of 9/11 an inside job, then this nation is in deeper trouble than any man-made environmental disaster, terrorist attack or natural disaster could ever wreak.

Apparently Sarah “Drill Baby Drill” Palin can see Russia from her house but not Prince William Sound, Alaska – where the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill remains environmentally and economically toxic, with the exception of Exxon's shareholders who are making out like bandits.

True, there is no free lunch. But what would have happened to the public discourse on nuclear power if Three Mile Island had turned out more like Chernobyl? What if the horrific explosion at the Upper Branch mine in West Virginia, the worst American coal mine disaster in forty years had been more like some of China’s? Don’t be so foolish to think it can’t happen here. With lobbyists and executives from Big Coal, Big Oil and Big Nuke writing laws and regulations and people like Ken Salazar aiding and abetting them, it’s only a matter of time. And that time may be right now as we await the final outcome of the latest man-made underwater geyser of oil.

So I won’t say we told you so, but I will plead that we start thinking before we act. This is the only planet we have for the foreseeable future. To paraphrase words attributed to Chief Seattle: The Earth does not belong to people, people belong to the Earth; what we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. If you truly believe that oil is safe to have in our water, then I challenge you to drink a glass of oil, then we will talk again. For now I say, the heck with ‘drill baby drill.’ It’s time to Think People Think.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Faisal Shahzad, The Bomber Who Bombed

surveillance camera photo from Times Square

Since September 11th, 2001, we've been treated to a series of stumble-bombers of whom Faisel Shahzad is just the latest example.  For all the shock and awe of the World Trade Center take down, the guys who followed seem to have been a pretty lame lot-- laughable if they weren't so stupid and potentially dangerous. 

First we had Richard Reid aka the shoe bomber . (FAIL.) now languishing in an American jail.   Just last year the Nigerian underpants bomber  gave us all a good laugh while bringing new meaning to the old childhood taunt "liar, liar, pants on fire".  And let us not forget Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan , an army psychiatrist, who opened up on soldiers at Ft. Hood and managed to kill 12 before being wounded and captured himself. He had meant to commit "suicide by cop" and collect his 72 virgins in paradise, but oops he ended up in jail facing a court marshal instead.  And now, the latest member of the gang that couldn't shoot straight, is Fiasal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber.

Not a suicide bomber this time-- oh no.  This brilliant guy bought an SUV on Craig's llist, stuffed it full of firecrackers and home-made bombs and timers that didn't work, then he set the timers and walked away under the watchful eye of surveillance cameras...ooops and on top of it all, the bombs just smoked but didn't explode, attracting lots of attention from bystanders.    Turns out Faisal was no rocket scientist.  New York's finest and the FBI made short work of him, but still.  What is it with these guys?

The 30 year old Faisal was arrested on his way out of the country. He was dragged off a flight to Dubai at JFK .  Since he is a naturalized American citizen, he will be tried in the good old USA and probably end up spending the rest of his life in a maximum security American prison.  Hope so anyway.  What a jerk. His Times Square terrorist attempt really bombed.