“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” ~ Ernest Benn

Rush Limbaugh as seen on The Daily Show (3-5-12)

                   

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” ~ H. L. Mencken

I must confess that I haven’t thought about Rush Limbaugh too much in quite a while. I mean, El Douchebag is not on the top of my things to think about. Unfortunately, maggot-head opened his mouth recently and spewed forth some vile that simply cannot be ignored. I’m referring to, of course, the Sandra Fluke tirade.

Sandra Fluke

For those of you who don’t know, let me summarize (for a full timeline, click here): Sandra Fluke is a Georgetown law student. Georgetown is a Jesuit school, by the way. Fluke, a co-president of the Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, testified before a Democratic forum on February 23, having been denied by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) the opportunity to speak before House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s session on health reform law’s mandated coverage of contraceptives. The committee was probing whether the provision violates religious liberties. In her testimony, Fluke shared experiences by other Georgetown law students regarding access to female contraception, something the Jesuit institution does not believe that it should provide for its non-Catholic students seeking access:

Students who pay as much as $1,000 a year out-of-pocket for a birth-control prescription, a married woman who stopped taking the pill because she couldn’t afford it, and a friend who needed the prescription for a medical condition unrelated to pregnancy but gave up battling to get it.

“We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that we should have gone to school elsewhere” to receive contraception coverage, Fluke’s testimony stated.

“We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health.” (Washington Post)

Enter El Douchebag.On February 29, Limbaugh joined other right-wing politicos who likened Fluke’s testimony to women wanting to be paid to have sex. Said Limbaugh:

“She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

The next day, Limbaugh again brought up Fluke on his show, saying to Fluke and other women, “Here’s the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” (Washington Post)

Really Rush? Are you really that stupid or have the past decades all been an act? I would like to think that no one can be that stupid, but I know better, especially since you were not alone in the rush to judge the law student as sex crazed. Witness a headline on Hot Air: “Georgetown co-ed: Please pay for us to have sex … We’re going broke buying birth control.” In this particular post, Tina Korbe states the following:

Craig Bannister at CNSNews.com did the math — and discovered that these co-eds, assuming they’re using the cheapest possible contraception, must be having sex about three times a day every day to incur that kind of expense. What Fluke is arguing, then, is that her fellow law students have a right to consequence-free sex whenever, wherever. Why, exactly, especially if it costs other people something? When I can’t pay for something, I do without it. Fortunately, in the case of contraception, women can make lifestyle choices that render it unnecessary.

Five Male Witnesses Testifying Before House Oversight Committee

Hello? Again, really? Lifestyle choices? I know two young women who began taking birth control not so they could have sex but because they had health-related issues that could be eased with contraception.

To put it plainly, this issue, which until recently was being discussed by a group of men, is about women’s health (for more on how this issue is being discussed, click here). Women, informed women, are asking that they have access under their health insurance coverage to birth control, which is still legal in this country as far as I know. These women are not asking for someone to hand them money when they have sex. These women are not suggesting that access to birth control will make it easier for them to have sex with a wild abandon and without any thought to the consequences.

Under President Obama’s compromise, the religiously affiliated institutions that do not wish to go against their principles are not being forced to do so. The compromise calls for the contraceptives to be made available directly through the health insurer. Of course, this compromise is not good enough for those who view the issue as religious rather than health-related.

“We must . . . guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.” ~ Henry W. Kendall

And as for picking people’s pockets to pay for something they don’t support, let me put this in a way that you might be better able to understand:

Viagra. Yep, I’m going there. Viagra is available under prescription coverage with almost every health plan. Viagra is taken by men to help them to get and sustain erections. I’m pretty sure that erections are used for . . . shall we say sex?

And hey, I can do math too, and unlike some people, my math is based on facts: Viagra costs between $10 and $11 per pill. Using information found on just about any site on birth control pills, I calculated that the average of cost of one month’s worth of pills would be $32.50; divide that number by 28, the number of pills in a pack, and the average cost of one birth control pill is $1.16.

Now, I pay a lot for my health insurance each month. I know that my insurance plan covers the cost of both bc pills and Viagra. This means that if I look at it in the same way as Limbaugh and his cronies, which I don’t, my pocket is being picked so that some man can get an erection and have sex.

Ewwww. But let’s continue in this vein:

If I’m helping to pay for unknown males to get erections, then by Limbaugh’s logic, these same men should make videos of their sexual escapades and make them available to everyone for viewing, just like Sandra Fluke. Personally, I have no desire to see such videos.

And further, since my health insurance prescription coverage includes my medications for health issues over which I have no control, I’m not going to complain about the people who have access to Viagra any more than I’m going to complain about women having access to birth control.

As Jon Stewart points out in the video below, we all pay for things we don’t support. Our taxes are used for all kinds of things that we might find abhorrent. But trust me when I tell you that paying for birth control is a lot cheaper than paying for unwanted pregnancies. Paying for birth control is a lot cheaper than paying for surgeries to remove ovarian tumors. Paying for birth control is a lot cheaper than the time lost in productivity in the workplace by women who are completely incapacitated by their monthly periods.

And just remember when you accuse women of wanting special treatment: Viagra, for men only.

More later. Peace.

                   

Jon Stewart takes on Rush Limbaugh:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Norma Desmond

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

 

Joe Gillis: “You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.” 
Norma Desmond: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

No post yesterday as I could think of absolutely nothing interesting to say.  Hate it when that happens.

A few bits and pieces for my Friday Leftovers:

One of my favorite bloggers has taken down her blog. I deleted it from my blogroll today and have to say that it gave me a pang of sadness to do so. She is a wonderful writer and has a great turn with words. I’m hoping that she will reconsider and come back with a new iteration. Although I must admit that I understand too well her comment about how she feels that her blog has become too whiney. I often feel that way myself, although, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to whine and post. Perhaps she has the right idea . . . Just a thought.

I’ve been reading the latest on what Junior Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is doing, and boy am I glad that he was finally sworn in. The man is incredibly intelligent and is working quickly to make a name for himself. In one article, Franken took to task conservative economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth for claiming that the Democrats’ healthcare reforms would increase the number of bankruptcies filed for medical reasons. As Franken pointed out, countries with national healthcare, such as Switzerland, Germany, and France had exactly zero bankruptcies due to medical crises last year. So nice when sweeping generalizations are countered with cold, hard facts.

Sunset Boulevard Movie Poster
Movie Poster for Sunset Boulevard

In my ongoing quest to add new titles to my music playlists, I have downloaded some songs from the movie Across the Universe, which features covers of Beatles’ songs. Even though the Beatles still rank as one of my favorite bands, I am not a Beatle elitist, and I really enjoy a good cover. I’m including one of my favorites at the end of this post. It’s by Fiona Apple, who has a wonderful voice. The song is actually not from the movie but from the television show “Smallville,” but it is a Beatles’ cover nonetheless.

I have asked Corey to go through the storage bins again and find me some new-old reading material. I haven’t read a book in almost two weeks, and I’m going through withdrawal. Of course, for most of those days, I couldn’t read because of the blasted migraine, but the pain has settled into just a general tight discomfort, so I want to read. In particular, I’m craving my Ann Rule books. If you like a tightly-written true crime novel, she is the best in her genre.

Speaking of migraines, I think that I’m clenching my teeth again. Actually, I’m sure of it. When I first wake up, my jaw is very tight, and it hurts, just like it used to years ago when I was clenching and grinding in my sleep. I actually had two jaw surgeries because of my TMJ. I hope that just by being aware of it now I can reteach myself not to clench. No more surgeries for me.

Last week this time it was about 46° F outside. Today it’s about 80° F. I love this area. It’s just a hotbed for extremes, which wreaks havoc on the sinuses. Common saying about Tidewater/Hampton Roads: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours.”

I glanced at the calendar today, and am completely mystified as to how it is October already, let alone almost Halloween. I am so not ready for the holidays. I hope to make it through November reasonably well this year, but I never know. November is such a horrible month for me—too many bad anniversaries. Here’s hoping that I don’t crash and burn like I did last November.

Norma Desmond: “There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn’t good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

Another political aside: Darth Dick Cheney received the Center for Security Policy’s Keeper of the Flame Award. Looking on and listening to Cheney were convicted felon Scooter Libby and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Great company. Essentially, the speech was filled with more of Cheney’s nonsensical commentary about how life was safe under Bush and Cheney (for, and I quote, “seven years, four months, and nine days”) and life is horrible now because . . . well . . . Obama hasn’t resolved the war in Afghanistan that Cheney started . . . This administration isn’t using the former administration’s review of the eight-year-old war. I believe the word dithering was used. Hmm, if Cheney had such a great plan to end the war, why didn’t he do it when he was in office? Why did requests for more troops sit unanswered for eight months? Why was Afghanistan clearly relegated to secondary status after Iraq? But most importantly, why is this man still speaking, and why are people still listening? “Keeper of the Flame”? More like perpetuator of flaming discord. Beh.

One more: When I mentioned earlier that I didn’t think that President Obama’s White House should openly engage in a fracas with Fox Noise, I said that the publicity would only encourage them. Boy was I right, and not in a good way. People: Calm Down. Some of you need to be reminded that the Bush administration regularly neglected to allow commentators and news people from networks and radio stations that were perceived to be too liberal or anti-Bush. Whenever W. invited talk radio hosts to the White House, liberal hosts were never included, but conservative braniacs like Glenn Beck were. In the last two years of the administration, NBC, and MSNBC were regularly left off lists. And dare I mention that little tidbit about how W.’s communications people paid journalists to ask questions? Remember Jeff Gannon of the questionable Talon News? ‘Nuff said.

Sending good luck wishes across the world to Australia for Maureen of White Orchid, who is waiting to hear about her new job, and her daughter Prue, who is scheduled for surgery. A stressful time for everyone. Hoping that everything turns out well.

On this front, still waiting to see if Social Security is going to approve my disability claim this time. Had to send them additional information. Have I mentioned before how much I love bureaucracies and paper work?

Someone please explain to me why it would be bad to have healthcare for everyone who needs it? I know that we aren’t going to get exactly what we need, but if we get nothing again this time, then I am going to work my butt off in the campaign to rescind healthcare for Congress at no cost. Why do they deserve healthcare, but everyone else does not? And don’t try to tell me that this statement and the one above contradict each other. I would gladly fill out forms if it meant that I was getting somewhere. It’s the constant completion of forms without any forward progress that irks me.

President Obama is coming to Virginia on Tuesday on behalf of Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds. About time, I say. I’m not really sure why Obama waited so long to get involved in this race as it’s a big one. Virginia almost always goes with a Republican governor when the President is a Democrat. This time, we had a chance to keep a Democrat, yet Obama has not done much in the way of supporting Deeds. You would think that he would have worked harder to retain a state that went blue for the first time since 1964.

Windows has come out with Windows 7. Excuse me, but I still can’t use this frigging Windows Vista without my computer locking up at least once a day. Windows XP was a wonderful operating system. I loved it, loved everything about it, considered it the best since Windows 95. What is it with Windows? I know, Macs are better, but who can afford a Mac? If they weren’t so blasted expensive, I’d say convert all of the PC’s to Macs, but of course, that is completely out of the question. Corey likes to remind me that he has no problems with Vista. Yep. Okay. Whatever.

Norma Desmond: “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond
Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond

When I proofed this post on Sunday, I realized that an entire paragraph was missing, the one that explains the whole Sunset Boulevard theme: In case you did not recognize the quote “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,” it is taken from Sunset Boulevard, a classic movie starring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, an aging, delusional movie star. That particular line comes at the end of the movie. Some of you may remember Carol Burnett’s hilarious turn as Norma Desmond on the old “Carol Burnett Show.”

Nothing yet on the job front for Corey. He did submit his application to Newport News Shipbuilding for their apprentice program, but we have no idea as to how long that process takes. If he gets in, it would be a great move. He would get a decent salary as an apprentice with full benefits, plus he would finish the program with an Associate’s Degree. I’m really hoping that this works out because the whole tug boat thing is at a standstill.

Mom decided not to replace her roof right now, this after weeks of calling us every couple of hours about what to do. My mother is decidedly single-minded once she is focused on something, and then, she turns on a dime. Not even trying to figure her out any more.

By the way, any more is technically supposed to be two words all of the time. Over time, anymore as one word has been substituted, but it is not preferred grammatically. The difference is that any more as two words signifies any longer. When used as one word, it is a colloquialism for nowadays: Not a day goes by without a headache anymore. Yuck.

Other than that, everything else is pretty much normal. Tillie is fine after her last episode. Brett is trying to stay caught up in school, and Eamonn is still working on his construction job until the new school semester. Not hearing a lot from Alexis these days. Not sure if she is in one of her moods, or just extraordinarily busy. Such is life when everyone is busy with their own things. Oh yes, the van is still running nicely, and the truck is still dead.  Good and bad, as usual.

Here’s hoping that nothing else too dramatic happens in the next few days. However, I’ve been on the phone (currently on hold) with my retirement fund for the past 20 minutes regarding a withdrawal, and I don’t think that I’m going to hear what I want to hear; this after speaking to three different people about this transaction and being told that everything was fine. Why oh why, I am whining to myself.

 

More later. Peace.

“A doodle. I do doodle. You too. You do doodle, too.” ~ Willow, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Spike

Buffy and Spike (Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters)

 

“And then I was being chased by an improperly filled in answer bubble screaming ‘None of the above.'” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Today I took on another project: I cleaned my desk.

Buffy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Now I know that many of you would not consider such a thing a project, per se, more of a task. Let me explain: I have always had a propensity for cluttered desks, and now that I am working on a desk that is about one third the size of my last desk, it is very easy for me to amass a mess in very little time.

But since I need to take care of some forms and make some telephone calls, the only way that I could do that efficiently was to find the forms that I needed. Unfortunately, by the time I tried to make some calls, it was already 4:50, and very few people want to talk to people at the end of the day. At least, I know that’s how I felt when the end of the day rolled around and the telephone rang. I would look at the caller ID and decide if it was a call I really had to answer or if I could let it go to voice mail.

So, one telephone call later, I went back to the actual physical desk which needed to be dusted. I mean reallydusted.  Finished that without giving myself an asthma attack, oh happy day for small things. The only thing left is to finish putting a pile of night-clothes back in the top of the closet; they were unceremoniously dumped out of the closet in order for me to gain access to the left side of the closet.

After that, if I’m still standing, I need to do some laundry. I’m exhausted just writing about it.

“I’ll see your numbness and I’ll raise you a lower back pain.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Xander
Xander (Nicholas Brendan)

Poor Corey is sick today. I think that he might have a stomach bug of some kind. He has spent the better part of the day in bed. Of course the dogs like it. I really didn’t realize that he felt as bad as he does until he came in and looked longingly at the bed, upon which was strewn my papers and notes from my desk. I finished quickly so that he could crawl back inside.

Corey doesn’t get sick very often, so when he does, it’s a really terrible, awful thing. I’m not mocking. He’s just beside himself when he doesn’t feel well, as if his body is directly offending him in some way. It’s cute, in a silly way.

The dogs have been enjoying his rest, of course. Shakes is cuddled up next to him, and Alfie is on his pillow above his head. Earlier, when I had the bed covered with papers, Alfie came in and gave me a dirty look. He then proceeded to jump on the bed and walk through the papers. My dogs are quite obnoxious at times. I have to remind them that the bed does not actually belong to them.

“Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.” ~ Angel from Angel

Angel
Angel (David Boreanaz)

Have my recently updated “Music to Work By” playlist running in the background. Just had to pause to identify a song. It was Joan Baez, “Diamonds and Rust.” Don’t know what possessed me to download that, but I remember when I was younger, it was one of the songs that I would sing full out when I was depressed, which was quite often. I’m sure that my neighbors were not amused, but they never complained. Thankfully.

I also downloaded a few Jackson Browne songs, and Janis Ian’s “Seventeen.” I suppose I was in a terribly nostalgic mood yesterday when I did all of the downloading and updating.

Yes, I know that I can be quite anal about somethings, and my music is one of those things. When I have my CDs on a shelf (not in storage), they are arranged alphabetically by genre: classical, jazz, etc. My music library on my computer is also very well organized: I have made sure that each song has been categorized, and that the name of the album is included (that is, whenever I can remember the name).

Anyway, I have four basic playlists: working music, sleeping music, country music (yes, I like country music, not the old style, though, more the crossover stuff), and a “This and That” category that has a little of everything in it.

“Haven’t you figured it all out yet, with your enormous squishy frontal lobes?”  ~ Spike,  Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Alexis came by earlier on her way home. She delivered some homemade Lumpia, which is the name of small Filipino eggrolls. I love good Lumpia. Don’t really like regular eggrolls.

Lumpia can be strictly vegetarian, or it can contain meat, depending upon what the cook wants to do. Alexis and Mike make good Lumpia. She has begun to teach herself how to cook Filipino dishes, which really impresses me since I haven’t taught myself anything new in the kitchen in ages and ages. I am trying to convince Corey to learn how to cook Adobo, which is usually made with chicken or pork and has a delicious sauce.

He’s thinking about it, he says . . .

“That’s not Proactive Guy. That’s Sit-Around-And-Wait-For-The-Rest-of-His-Life-To-Turn-To-Crap Guy.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Another interesting thing has happened. Brett decided to join the Improv Club at school. To say that I am happy about this move is an understatement. It was completely his idea (even better), and it means that he is actually willing and able to do an extracurricular activity this year. Such a change from last year.

Monday is parent/teacher conference at his school. Corey and I will be going, of course, and I’m hoping that I will be hearing better things than last year.

Brett’s new schedule of having four classes every other day seems to really be making a difference as far as his stress level is concerned. He has the one day off to do assignments and to just chill. Of course, it’s only October, but I’m keeping a good thought that he’ll make it through his senior year without too many problems.

“Wait. Handbook? What handbook? How come I don’t have a handbook?” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow
Willow (Alyson Hannigan)

Tomorrow I must make the telephone calls that I didn’t get to today. I also have an appointment with my regular doctor to make up for the one that I couldn’t go to last Friday. She is probably going to chastise me because my thyroid levels were off when I had my blood work done. My levels were off because I have run out of thyroid medicine, and I am still at an impasse with my prescription coverage.

I am trying not to pin too many hopes on the government’s idea of healthcare reform, but I swear I just don’t understand what the big deal is. How many countries around the world have government-sponsored healthcare? And these aren’t all wealthy, developed nations. I mean, if Thailand could institute universal healthcare in 2001, why can’t the United States.

Universal healthcare is not going to take us on that road to communism. Please, give me a break. What it will do is make sure that our infant mortality rate goes down, that our seniors get the medicine that they often cannot afford and that people like me who are disabled are able to afford our health insurance premiums.

I’m not asking the government to pay for everything, and I don’t believe that the majority of Americans are asking for that either. We just want options. We want not to be denied automatically for pre-existing conditions over which we have not control. For example, people who have had asthma since childhood, and that asthma has nothing to do with cigarette smoking.

Or consider the individuals who have had suffered bad side effects from a medication that has led to other health problems. How is it fair to deny coverage in such a case, especially since if the pharmaceutical companies had better oversight, then we wouldn’t keep letting medications onto the market that cause problems later. For example, the latest one that I know of is the medication Reglan, which, apparently has caused numerous problems. Well guess what? At one time, I took Reglan. Not for long, and it was years ago. But Reglan is just the latest in a long line of medications that infiltrate the market only to be recalled a decade or less later.

But the individuals who have health problems as a result of taking these medications can be denied coverage because of that wonderful catch-all classification—a pre-existing condition.

“Been there, done that, and deja vu just isn’t what it used to be.” ~ Angelus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike
My favorite vampire: Spike (James Marsters)

Oops. Slipped onto the soapbox for a moment. But I’m sitting here at home without medication that I really need but cannot afford because it’s a matter of paying my health insurance premiums or pay for other things. Same old story. Really tired of singing this song. Nevertheless, don’t think for a second that I let it slide whenever I hear of another outlandish comment by a Senator or Representative regarding healthcare. I’m sending e-mails, signing petitions, letting it be known that I do want healthcare, and it is an issue for me.

For example, Republican House Leader John Boehner contends that he has never met a single person who supports the public option as part of health care reform. Last week, Boehner said that he was “still trying to find the first American who’s in favor of the public option.”

Hello? Hello? Is anybody in there? 

Here’s an updated version of “Diamonds and Rust.” Yep. It’s Judas Priest.

More later. Peace.

(Just a note: In a Buffy mood. No particular reason. There was some great philosophy on that show, in a silly vampire slayer kind of way.)

 

“We must live together like brothers, or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Civil Rights tshirt

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.” ~ A. Philip Randolph

Apparently, the protests against Ordinance 64 in Anchorage have gone the way of many American protests in recent years: The reds are bussing people in from churches in nearby cities. By doing this, the antis are creating the appearance that the majority of people in Anchorage are against Ordinance 64.

Children Bused in for Protests by AK Muckraker of Mudflats
Children Bused in for Anchorage Protests by AK Muckraker of The Mudflats

Just in case you didn’t read my previous post, this ordinance is intended to expand the anti-discrimination law that is currently on the books by adding wording that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Now let me pause here. I am a big believer in free speech and the right to protest, but I am sorely dismayed by two things: Individuals who are not actually living in Anchorage are being allowed to voice their opinions in the open forum. This hardly seems to be fair play. The forum was created as a way to allow those individuals who live in Anchorage to voice their opinion before a vote is taken. The people from outlying areas are forcing an outcome that is not based on real data.

Now you may be thinking, ‘why doesn’t the pro side bus in some people?’ Well, I could respond that such a move is not normally employed by the pros, or if you will, those for the ordinance guaranteeing basic civil rights to all people. But that isn’t entirely true, and we all know it. Which brings me to the second things that dismays and disheartens me: Why do people who feel strongly about passing this ordinance not get out and join the protests?

As Janson commented on my earlier post:

I think the blue-crowd needs to remember that you have to show up and you have to be present to push for change. The reds know this. Every year I see anti-abortion demonstrations on campus. This is fine by me; they have a right and frankly I love to see students taking an active political stand in support of their beliefs (even if I disagree with them or disagree with the Rhetorical strategies they sometimes deploy). But when’s the last time I’ve seen a well-organized, effective Pro-Choice rally? Just for the sake of supporting Pro-Choice rights? How about, um… never? Maybe back at Florida State? Around 1994?

I rarely see proactive liberal demonstrations. A few Bush or Iraq protests are all I’ve seen in recent years. How about instead of arguing against something or someone, we argue for something? More pro-actively, more civically?

He’s right. The left doesn’t just protest for the sake of protest any more, and those of us who call ourselves liberal, pro-choice, pro-human rights need to remember that the opposition shows us time after time just how well organized they are. That type of willingness on their part to rush to the site of any protest is something that we on the other side should take note of.

If homosexuality is a disease, let’s all call in queer to work:  “Hello.  Can’t work today, still queer.”  ~ Robin Tyler

Ordinance 64 anti protest sign4Nevertheless, I still hold that some of the opposition’s signs are more ludicrous than effective. This one strikes me as particularly funny: “I was born Asian. You choose to be Gay,” as the picture  on the right shows. My response, as partially posted on Janson’s blog is twofold: “Well, I was born Asian, and I choose not to be stupid, uninformed, closed-minded, and bigoted.”

(And what’s with the peasant hat?)

And let’s not forget our science, people. Homosexuality is not a choice for most people. It is something with which they are born. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how homosexuality tends to run in some families. And I would contend that that is a strong case for nature not nurture, because in some of the families that I know of, those who are gay, hide it out of fear. These people will come out to their friends, but not to their families because they are afraid of becoming outcasts.

We still have so much more to do until more of those people on the anti side of the fence realize that homosexuality is not an abomination before god.  If the god of the New Testament is a loving god, how then do these people justify the hatred that they spew in the name of god?

 “When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.” ~ Marquis de Lafayette

June 20 protest image
Image from June 20 Protest

As for protests, the situation in Iran seems to be taking a turn for the worse. Approximately three thousand protesters defied the ban imposed by the Supreme Leader, and took to the streets once again. The police responded with tear gas, water cannons and guns, but no fatalities have been reported. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghadam said on state television that officials “acted with leniency but I think from today on, we should resume law and confront more seriously . . . The events have become exhausting, bothersome and intolerable.”

An MSNBC report from around 3:30 EST states that Mousavi has indicated a willingness to become a martyr. Mousavi is still demanding an annulment of the June 12 elections:

In a letter to Iran’s Guardian Council, which investigates voting fraud allegations, Mousavi listed violations that he says are proof that the June 12 vote should be annulled. He said some ballot boxes had been sealed before voting began, thousands of his representatives had been expelled from polling stations and some mobile polling stations had ballot boxes filled with fake ballots.

“The Iranian nation will not believe this unjust and illegal” act, Mousavi said in the letter published on one of his official Web sites.

The Supreme Leader Ayatullah Khameini has ordered the crackdown. Accordin to Britain’s Times Online, Khameini declared that “‘those politicians who somehow have influence on people should be very careful about their behaviour if they act in an extremist manner . . . This extremism will reach a sensitive level which they will not be able to contain. They will be responsible for the blood, violence and chaos.” 

As to Khameini’s assertions that the protestors are being motivated by the West, President Obama, in the face of mounting criticism, is still taking a cautious stance, which I believe has allowed the protestors more freedom than if our President had come out in full support of the opposition. According to White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs, the administration’s view is that Iranian leaders would use fiercer U.S. support for the protesters to paint them as puppets of the Americans.

In spite of this, Republicans led a Congressional Resolution that expresses support for “all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law” and affirms “the importance of democratic and fair elections.”

John McCain on IranCertainly the U.S. embraces the values of freedom and human rights (sometimes), but coming out in open support of the Green Party will only escalate matters. Hawkish John McCain took the opportunity to slam President Obama on the Today Show and on Fox news, saying that the President isn’t doing enough and the U.S. should be more involved in the crisis. McCain must have a short memory.

The Congress is making statements that the U.S. should speak out because the protestors deserve their democratic rights. Iran is not a democracy. This is one important fact that those in favor of more harsh statements seem to be forgetting.

We must not forget how high tempers run in this country, and that Iran has never forgiven the U.S. for interfering in its politics by helping to establish the Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlavi as leader of the country during the Cold War. The repercussions for U.S. involvement in Iranian politics led to  the 1979 Iranian overthrow of the Shah and the subsequent capture of 52 U.S. diplomats who were held for 444 days.

 “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.” ~ Alice Walker

Hendrix, Jimi
Jimi Hendrix in Concert

On a final note, Corey and I were discussing Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which was written by Bob Dylan in the 60’s. We were talking about possible interpretations of the song, and I suppose since I have protests on the brain, I was telling Corey that I thought the song, as Hendrix sang it, was about alienation. Dylan may have written it as a folksong, but how many people actually listen to the Dylan version?

“Watchtower is a Hendrix song, and it speaks to me of the great disillusionment felt by that generation, an entire group of young people who felt let down by their country, let down by the system, misunderstood by their parents, and greatly alienated from white bread society.

I’ll leave you now with two versions of the song: Jimmi’s, of course, and a pretty cool version by composer and musician Bear McCreary (music for “Battlestar Galactica”).

More later. Peace be with you.

 

 

 

Why We Need This Recovery Plan: An Op-Ed Piece

The Action Americans Need

By Barack Obama

Thursday, February 5, 2009; Page A17

By now, it’s clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished. People everywhere are worried about what tomorrow will bring.

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives — action that’s swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

That’s why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress. With it, we will create or save more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, provide immediate tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, ignite spending by businesses and consumers alike, and take steps to strengthen our country for years to come.

This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending — it’s a strategy for America’s long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care and education. And it’s a strategy that will be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability, so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent.

In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We’ve seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.

Every day, our economy gets sicker — and the time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now.

Now is the time to protect health insurance for the more than 8 million Americans at risk of losing their coverage and to computerize the health-care records of every American within five years, saving billions of dollars and countless lives in the process.

Now is the time to save billions by making 2 million homes and 75 percent of federal buildings more energy-efficient, and to double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy within three years.

Now is the time to give our children every advantage they need to compete by upgrading 10,000 schools with state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries and labs; by training our teachers in math and science; and by bringing the dream of a college education within reach for millions of Americans.

And now is the time to create the jobs that remake America for the 21st century by rebuilding aging roads, bridges and levees; designing a smart electrical grid; and connecting every corner of the country to the information superhighway.

These are the actions Americans expect us to take without delay. They’re patient enough to know that our economic recovery will be measured in years, not months. But they have no patience for the same old partisan gridlock that stands in the way of action while our economy continues to slide.

So we have a choice to make. We can once again let Washington’s bad habits stand in the way of progress. Or we can pull together and say that in America, our destiny isn’t written for us but by us. We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We can act boldly to turn crisis into opportunity and, together, write the next great chapter in our history and meet the test of our time.

The writer is president of the United States.

Source: washingtonpost.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/04/AR2009020403174.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Following Your Muse Is Sometimes Like Following a Bumper Sticker

calliope-by-troy-pillow2

“Calliope” by Troy Pillow

Conversations With My Brain

save-darfur-logo I used to work with a woman in the English department at ODU who ascribed to the adage, “Follow Your Muse.” I always thought that it was a terribly wise saying, but never really thought about how a person could actually go about doing so in real terms until years later. I mean, it’s a nice sentiment, something lovely that you might see on a bumper sticker, like “Whirled Peas,” or “Impeach W,” or “Save Darfur Now,” or “Not On My Watch.” All of these aphorisms are accepted as meaningful, and who would actually argue against any of them?

You sit behind a car in traffic that is bearing a sticker calling for World Peace, and are you actually going to think, ‘no, I’m not for world peace. Screw it. Let’s all go to war’? Of course not. But do you actually take action?

In sociology classes, wearing a button, or putting a bumper sticker on your car is classified as the first level of social/political participation. In other words, you have participated, but on the most passive level. You have made a statement that shows the rest of society that you believe in something, but unless you move on to the next level, say contacting your representative in Congress, you remain at that actively passive level. That is not to say that your level of participation is not good, because usually to get the bumper sticker or button, you have contributed some money to the cause in which you believe, and those funds will go in support of that cause.

But how about how I end my blog entries, with the word peace?  What exactly is my point? What am I trying to prove? That I’m a throwback to the days when everyone used the word peace as a word of departure instead of goodbye? No, that’s not it. Perhaps I thought that “Live long and prosper” would be too pretentious even though I think that it happens to be a wonderful statement? No, that’s not it either. I just happen to be so tired of conflict, so tired of the conflict that this country is mired in that I thought that using the word ‘peace’ as my closing could be my small statement towards following my muse and being true to myself.

For me, the word peace is not a throw away word. It is filled with significance, and I do not close with it lightly. It is my benediction, my way of saying to you, my reader, ‘thank you for taking this journey with me, and I wish you well until the next time that you visit.’ Like the Quaker who says “Peace be with you” upon departing, it is my fond farewell that you remain safe, inviolate when you go out and about in the world.

But getting back to following my muse . . . My muse is Calliope, the muse of poetic inspiration and oratory, sometimes called the muse of epic poetry and eloquence. I used to think that my muse was Erato, but she is actually more closely associated with erotic poetry and mimicry, as well as song and dance. I just don’t see myself as being inspired by dance. I mean, I love the ballet, but I love rhetoric more. Of course, all creative people are supposed to be a blend of the muses; supposedly, I am a mixture of predominantly Calliope, with some Erato, Terpsichore, and Polyhymnia mixed in. All righty then.

But to follow your muse, truly follow your muse, you must first know your muse, and as I said, it took me a while to determine who mine is, and I have yet to begin to know her truly. But to decide to take the journey to follow your muse takes some real dedication on your part. I mean, following my muse means that I will actually dedicate myself to finding my inner creative being, my inner source of poetry, eloquence, inspiration, and oratory.

Consider the ramifications of this for a moment. Following your muse isn’t something that you actually take on lightly. You must be willing to look inside yourself and find those pieces of you that actually are being driven by your muse. Do you realize how crazy this sounds? Looking around inside yourself, opening those spaces inside your brain, your memory, those hidden places, saying hello through the cobwebs . . .

Don’t mind me. I’m just looking for some inspiration here?

Some what?

Some inspiration. You know, my muse sent me.

Your what did what?

My muse, Calliope. She said that I had some creativity stored in here somewhere, some eloquence or something like that. Said I might be able to use it.

Have you lost your mind? This section has been closed off for a good decade or so. What in the hell are you bothering us for?

Wasn’t my idea, really. Some bumper sticker thing, or maybe repressed memory, something about . . . give me a sec . . . oh yeah, “follow my muse.”

You’re kidding right? You’re dusting us off for a bumper sticker?

No. It’s not a bumper sticker. I told you. It’s a repressed memory, and quit giving me such a hard time. It took me a while to remember this. Trust me. This is going to be a good thing. Following my muse is going to let me write even better, be more creative.

What in the bloody hell are you going on about? In all of these years, you’ve written what, maybe five good pieces, and how many have you sent out for review? And you can’t even be honest about that. Can you?

Mind your own business. This isn’t about how many pieces I’ve sent out. This is about what I’m going to do now. Calliope is calling. I’m going to write like the wind. Now open your doors, and let me through.

Bloody hell. Some twit named Calliope rings you up, and now we have to come out of a perfectly good hibernation. For what? Waste of time, if you ask me. Bet you anything she’s off her meds again. Dee-loosions of grandeur, that’s what this is all about.

I heard that.

Okay, so maybe it will take a while for the whole muse path thing to really work for me. But I think that perhaps I am closer to understanding what my colleague actually meant by her statement on a real level, not just on a superfluous level. Following your muse is a way of life, not just dabbling here and there. I’ll have to give it more time for it to become second nature.

In the meantime, the next time you see a bumper sticker that makes you think, consider giving some money to the cause. That takes you up one level from a passive activist to a level one activist, and that can give you a nice warm feeling, even it’s only a $5 donation. I know, even $5 is a lot in this economy, but in Darfur, $5 can be the difference between life and death.

For more information about this particular ongoing world crisis, please visit this site: http://www.savedarfur.org/content. And please believe, a crisis such as the one in

save-darfur-pix

Darfur is not regional. What is happening to these people is a human crisis of epic, global proportions. No one remains untouched.

More later. Peace.

 

The Great Gatsby: Past is Present

So Much More Than a High School Assignment

“What Foul Dust Floated in the Wake of His Dreams”

Without fail, everyone in high school is assigned The Great Gatsby, and almost without exception, everyone hates it, or at least, fails to appreciate it. My youngest son and I were discussing this subject months ago, and I agreed with him that this particular book is wasted on someone in high school. I mean, I realize the idealism of trying to introduce the young mind to F. Scott Fitzgerald. At one time, I, too, believed that this was a worthy exercise.

But as they say, time is a great teacher. Gatsby is not a character who can be appreciated by youth, certainly not by an egocentric youth whose only concern is the world that rotates around his axis. Now I know that there is a contingent out there who will argue vociferously that that in itself is the very reason that Gatsby should appeal to a 17-year-old boy: because Gatsby never grew up and the world seemingly revolves around him. But Gatsby never grew up only in the sense that his love for Daisy has never aged and the world that revolves around him is completely superficial. But everything else that happens in the novel is moving in real time, leaving Gatsby behind.

I was remembering that particular passage in The Great Gatsby when Nick remembers Gatsby looking across the water at the blinking green light: “I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out Daisy’s light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city” (chapter 9).

“The Colossal Vitality of His Illusion”

I don’t remember how many times I have read Gatsby, or what new things I find each time I read it. I loved great-gatsby-bwthe original movie with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford. They were perfectly cast—Farrow with her breathless voice and wide eyes, and Redford with his impossible good looks in his ice cream suits. It was a case of the book being brought to the screen perfectly, with Sam Waterson as narrator Nick Carraway.

I suppose I am reminded of Gatsby for many reasons this cold afternoon: the time in which it was set—the 20’s immediately before the Great Depression, when things were still seemingly golden, but the veneer was starting to wear off. Fitzgerald’s narrative reveals characters who are so out of touch with their surroundings that they fail to notice the suffering of others. They fail to stop for a dying woman or to care that she was run down in the road like a dog. All that matters is Daisy’s suffering, which is superficial. Only Nick notices because only Nick has a real job, works for a living, and has any sense of connection with the rest of the world. In the book, only Nick is actually invited to Gatsby’s party. Everyone else just drops in as they please, which in itself is very telling. Nick is mired in reality. He is the touchstone.

As the book closes, Daisy and Tom move on, careless of what they have left in their wake: Tom’s mistress Myrtle Wilson is dead because of Daisy. Gatsby is dead, killed by George Wilson, spurred on by Tom. But the Buchanan’s take their little girl and their servants and their money and move on, as if life is a mess to be taken care of by the less fortunate: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (chapter 9):

“A New World Material Without Being Real”

In high school, a sophomore or junior will probably take something like this away from the book’s plot: Gatsby made a lot of money and had great parties but still didn’t get his woman, so he must have been pretty lame. (I know, I’m being very simplistic.) But will they see the Buchanans as AIG, Shearson Lehman, and all of the other people on Wall Street? Daisy and Tom are the people who continued to collect multi-million dollar golden parachutes and head off to Cabo as thousands and thousands of people watched their retirement funds decrease in worth by 60 and 70 percent. In essence, the Buchanans are part of the $700 billion bailout package; you have to wonder what their cut will be, because undoubtedly, people like Tom and Daisy will come out on top.

Can a 16-year-old have an appreciation for George Wilson as a metaphor for Addie Polk, who, at 90 years old, shot herself in the chest rather than be evicted from her house? After all, all George Wilson wanted was a better life for himself and his wife. After George lost Myrtle, he had nothing to live for, so he killed the person who he thought was responsible for ruining his life, and then he shot himself. Addie Polk is recovering in the hospital, and her mortgage will be forgiven, but at what price the human heart?

eyes-of-t-j-eckleburgAnd then there are the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, always looming on the side of the road. He seems to be watching, but just how effective is he? He sees Myrtle’s death. He sees Daisy fleeing the scene. He sees everything that happens in the Valley of Ashes, that long stretch between the Eggs, where nothing prospers. But he does nothing. He is impotent because he is only a symbol. We know about impotent symbols. Oh, I’d say Dr. Eckleburg is about as effective as Congress and W. in their oversight of what was happening in the years leading up to this massive economic meltdown?

Which leaves Nick Carraway and Gatsby. I tend to think of the American people as Gatsby for the most part: looking for that green light, that signal that everything is essentially okay, never realizing that perhaps, the good days are in the past for now. Gatsby so wanted to believe that he could throw parties and buy new shirts and have great meals, and not have to answer to his past as Jay Gatz. But in the end, that’s who he was.

The only one standing was Nick Carraway, and he was left with the mess. Nick was always the smart one. He didn’t overindulge. He wasn’t taken in by Daisy’s cousin Jordan, even though she was beautiful and sensual. In the end, Nick was a changed man, not the innocent who entered the lives at the beginning of the story, yet he still grasps a tenuous kind of hope that things will get better:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . And one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (chapter 9)

So who does Nick represent? The American people when all of this is over? The American People who voted for Barack Obama hoping for change, for better things to come. I suppose that we’ll just have to wait and see.

“The Incarnation was Complete”

When I began this entry, I really wasn’t certain where I was going. I just knew that The Great Gatsby was on my mind, and as I continued to write, the connections to real-time events just fell into place. It’s odd how that happens sometimes: two seemingly disparate subjects meeting and connecting. Maybe it has something to do with that String Theory that I’m trying to wrap my head around, but I have to admit that physics is just beyond the edge of my relative intelligence, so we aren’t going there today.

The Great Gatsby remains one of my favorite classic reads, as do most of Fitzgerald’s works. I also find the whole Zelda Fitzgerald story incredibly intriguing, but I’ll save that for another time. But Gatsby himself is such a tragic portrait of a man, and I am only half kidding when I say that high school students cannot appreciate this story. More, it’s a matter of how much they want to put into the book in order to get something out of it. But as with many stories, the reveal does increase significantly with time.

Let me close with this wonderful passage from Chapter 6, one that I missed on the first few readings:

“He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way.  No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

Man, if only I had created the phrase “ghostly heart.” More later. Peace.