“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” ~ James Bryce

   

Happy Independence Day Wherever You Are!   

    

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” ~ José Narosky

With the number of people calling for a second American revolution  increasing, I felt it important to remind everyone of the very real cost of war. I visited several sites to try to get the most accurate information possible.   

Operation Iraqi Freedom

American Deaths (from antiwar.com)
DATE TOTAL IN COMBAT
Since war began (3/19/03) 4409 3491
Since “Mission Accomplished” (5/1/03) (the list) 4270 3382
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03) 3948 3184
Since Handover (6/29/04) 3550 2857
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09) 181 86
 
American Wounded Official Estimated
  31,865 Over 100,000

     

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan):   

It’s a bit harder to find an exact figure for total US casualties in and around Afghanistan (includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan) since 2001. Once source (icasualties.org) listed 1,073 as the total number of US fatalities. The Washington Post lists 1,125 as the total number of US service members who were killed (as of June 27, 2010). Antiwar.com lists the total number of US fatalities as 1,149. But all sources agree that June 2010 was the worst month for US casualties, and 2010 has been the worst year to date in Afghanistan. In 2009, the total number of US casualties was 317; to date in 2010, the number is 203.   

The United States has been in a state of war since 2001. Aside from the financial burden, the emotional toil has been vast. The numbers I listed above do not include civilian casualties, Iraqi or Afghani casualties, coalition casualties, or casualties in the Press.   

“It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.” ~ André Gide, Journals, 13 September 1938

Those who are alluding to and openly calling for a revolution in this country have no idea as to what it is they are condoning: armed resistance that would result in the dissolution of this 234-year-old democracy, increased acts of domestic terrorism, possible military rule, deaths of countless Americans—those are just the most obvious expected results.  Without fail, the people who condone this action cull sections from the  Thomas Jefferson quote about tyranny:   

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”   

Lest you think I am being an alarmist. Here are some verified instances in which people are calling for armed resistance to the government:   

  • A new billboard off Interstate 70 in Missouri provides a short “citizens guide to REVOLUTION of a corrupt government” and issues a call to “PREPARE FOR WAR.” It reads:
    1. Starve the Beast. Keep your money.
    2. Vote out incumbents.
    3. If steps 1 & 2 fail….
  • Bob Basso, a former actor, is making a name for himself by dressing up in period costume and calling for a second America revolution. His videos have gone viral:
  • ResistNet.com posted the following in October 2009: “In 5 months, we will STOP working at our jobs, paying our bills, watching tv, buying things, and otherwise supporting the Empire of the United States (note the flag with gold tassle trim) that is, the bankers, corporations and politicians which have taken over our once free republic. They’ve replaced it with a socialist/fascist, taxing, warring, credit-based, fake-money regime which has taken most of our American freedoms and liberties away. We will gather in Washington indefinitely, to insist our government provide us with real homeland security by: repealing the Federal Reserve Act, regaining control of our monetary policy and economy, returning to non-interventionist foreign policy, and recalling our troops from so many war-ridden places in the world.” That was nine months ago . . .
  • Sharron Angles, republican nominee for Congress (Nevada), has said, “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
  • Speaking to the Reno Gazette in May of this year, Angles said, “The nation is arming. What are they arming for, if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways? That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”
“Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.” ~ John W. Gardner
  • In a March interview, Rep. Michele Bachmann said, “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people—we the people—are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”
  • In Glenn Beck’s War Room broadcast of February 23, Beck and friends discussed a potential future (2014) in which there has been a complete financial meltdown, taxes are near the 95 percent rate, rampant crime has made cities uninhabitable, and civil liberties have been trashed. Says Beck, “Some people will listen to the government, but others—and I’m seeing it already—they know the Constitution. They know the writings of the founders, and they feel that the government, or they will in this scenario, and I think we’re on this road—the government has betrayed the Constitution. And so they will see themselves as people who are standing up for the Constitution . . . This is the scenario that would tear this country apart, and spiral us into something that maybe we have never even seen before, including the civil war.”
  • At a How To Take Back America Conference last September, conservative speaker Kitty Werthmann (right hand to Phyllis don’t-ever-call-me-a-feminist Schlafly) had this to say: “If we had our guns, we would have fought a bloody battle to the last person. So, keep your guns, and buy more guns, and buy ammunition . . . Take back America. Don’t let them take the country into Socialism. And I refer again, Hitler’s party was National Socialism . . . And that’s what we are having here right now, which is bordering on Marxism.”
  • And finally, there are the Oath Keepers, one of the fastest-growing “patriot” organizations on the right. Founded last April the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan are among the well-known names who praise the group, which consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. Members have vowed to disobey “unconstitutional” orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government. In the belief that the government is already turning on its citizens, Oath Keeper members are recruiting military buddies, stashing weapons, running drills, and outlining a plan of action.
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” ~ Aldous Huxley
  


      

You may wonder what this post has to do with the 4th of July, Independence Day. Two things: Many patriot groups plan to use this day to speak about their perceived current state of affairs, one in which President Obama is planning a coup sometime in the future, and we (American citizens) are at risk of losing our civil liberties.   

My other reason for focusing my post on this idea of a second revolution is that too many people dismiss this kind of talk as “ranting,” or “crazy talk,” or “posturing by right-wing crackpots.” Just remember, the founding fathers, who first began to make noise when England thought to extend its arm to her colonies as a source of revenue, were considered traitors, their actions treasonous. This is the exact comparison that many of the individuals involved in this movement love to bring up when justifying their ilk.   

I, myself, often dismiss people like Bachmann or Palin as being loony and think that no one out there could possibly take either of them seriously. This is a mistake. None of us should ever forget that hate speech and rhetoric, if left unchecked, can blossom into violence. Eugene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post put it this way in a March 2010 column:   

For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary and anger from the far right . . . It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are “crazies on both sides.” This simply is not true  . . . There has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, “constitutionalists,” tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold “Christian” values.   

The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day—and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies—is calibrated not to inform but to incite. Demagogues scream at people that their government is illegitimate, that their country has been “taken away,” that their elected officials are “traitors” and that their freedom is at risk.   

Crazy, paranoid, fringe, or whatever—these people have a right to speak, but they do not speak for me. My own failure to at least acknowledge that the threat is real would be foolish. This movement is real. How much momentum it gains depends upon those of us who look on but do not take sides, hoping that it will dissipate on its own.   

It won’t. At least not while so much hatred, bigotry, racism, and animus continues to pervade those vocal segments of our society, the ones among the gathering storm. Jefferson’s quote can be read in two ways: the perceived call to arms, or the admonishment not to sit idly by in silence while things around you are going to hell.  

More later. Peace.   

Music by Simon and Garfunkel (Concert in Central Park), “American Tune”   

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“You simply cannot make more (reefs), unless you have a few thousand years to wait.” ~ Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund

  

Laughing Gull Coated in Heavy Oil

  

“The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men’s apples and head their cabbages.” ~ Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656
Oil-Coated Brown Pelican Floating Near Grand Terre Island

Forty-five days ago (April 20, 2010), a catastrophic explosion at Deepwater Horizon set into motion this country’s worst environmental disasters. I have yet to write about the oil spill not because I do not care about what is happening, but because I am so enraged that I cannot gather my thoughts into a cogent post that is nothing more than ranting. But I suppose what really set me off and got me to post finally is the latest from Sarah Palin on the spill. With her usual flow of illogic—which I have stopped trying to analyze—Palin blames extreme environmentalists for the massive spill:  

With [environmentalists’] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you’re doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You’re not preventing environmental hazards; you’re outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.  

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.  

That’s right, Palin. It’s the environmentalists, you know, the same ones who claim that there is global warming. Preposterous, right? I mean, it did snow this past winter, didn’t it?  

“I do not think there should be a limit on the rig’s liability, because they are sitting on top of unlimited amounts of oil, and thus, there could be an explosion occur that could do untold damage . . . The amount of damage that an offshore oil rig can do is infinite.” ~ John Chafee, Senate Floor Debate (3 August 1989)
Dying Young Heron Amidst Oil in Barataria Bay

Stinking statistics and ridiculous rhetoric related to Gulf oil spill:  

  •  U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt recently stated that two separate teams of scientists calculated the leak to be between 504,000 and more than a million gallons a day. Original estimates were 210,000 gallons a day
  • Picture this: If 39 million gallons of oil has spilled, the oil would fill enough jugs to stretch from the Louisiana marshes to Prince William Sound in Alaska. That’s where the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, spilling nearly 11 million gallons.
  • According to a report by the Interior Department’s Inspector General, Mineral Management Service Employees, those tasked with oversight of offshore drilling,  allowed industry officials to fill in their own inspection reports, accepted gifts of meals and tickets to sporting events from oil and natural gas companies, and viewed porn on government computers. Not surprisingly, Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum stepped down from the job she has held since July 2009.
  • According to BP CEO Tony Hayward, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
  • Also from Hayward:  “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.”
  • And of course, there’s the pity card: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” and then this gem: “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” Oh. Poor baby.
  • Spill workers have been falling ill with flu-like symptoms, which has led to concerns about hazards and whether or not the workers may be affected adversely because they are not being provided with enough protective equipment, as many in the Gulf have been spotted without goggles or respirators.
  • In response to the hospitalization of seven workers, humanitarian Hayward questioned the cause of their sickness: “I’m sure they were genuinely ill, but whether it had anything to do with dispersants and oil, whether it was food poisoning, or some other reason for them being ill.”
  • In the Florida panhandle and on nearby Alabama beaches, waves of gooey tar blobs have been washing ashore
  • On the too obscene not to be true, a website has gone up so that people can bet on which species become extinct first. No. I’m not providing the link.
“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.” ~ Henrik Tikkanen

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching aspect of this whole thing is that even when BP finally manages to stop the oil flow, the ramifications will continue for years. Economically and environmentally, this spill will wreak havoc for decades. Need proof? A 2001 survey by NOAA surveyed 96 sites along 8,000 miles of coastline and found that a total area of approximately 20 acres of shoreline in Prince William Sound are still contaminated with oil. This was 12 years post Exxon Valdez spill.  

  

River of Crude Oil Floating atop the Gulf (aerial picture 6-2-10)

  

I had wanted to include an incredible slide show that I found on Huffington Post, but could not figure out how to get that show into this post. The best I can do is to offer the link: Gulf Oil Spill (PHOTOS): Animals In Peril.  (If anyone knows how to embed a slide show, directions would be lovely.)

Oh. And just because, I must include that “Drill Baby Drill” mantra that Palin loves . . .

Ignorance must indeed be bliss. I can think of no other reason why this woman smiles so much.  

That’s all for now. The Internet is acting up and may be getting ready to go away. I just wanted to get this post up tonight.  

More later. Peace.  

Music by Cyann & Ben, “A Moment Nowhere”  

“Stupidity is better kept a secret than displayed.” Heraclitus of Ephesus

Fire and Smoke Chugach Foothills Anchorage by JJ

Smoke Blankets the Anchorage Bowl (Chugach Foothills) by Janson Jones

One can realise a thing in a single moment, but one loses it in the long hours that follow with leaden feet.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” ~ Confucius

Today was a pain doctor day: Only 10 shots in my neck, shoulders, back and other places. Not too bad, especially since I wasn’t feeling that bad. Kind of a weird statement, I know: Only 10 shots! Came home and crashed for several hours. What is up with my tolerance and my body? I am not liking the way that I have felt for the past two weeks or so. Absolutely no energy. Feels like someone comes into my bedroom at night and walks across my body. Okay, so maybe that’s just the dogs, but I have been just useless as far as accomplishing anything, and I really hate that.

j0395964Not that I’m the Tazmanian Devil on my best days, but feeling and reacting like Elmer Fudd is kind of a downer. Seems like I don’t really get good sleep until about 8 in the morning after the dogs have decided that I’m not going to get out of bed anymore for a while. Bizarre, totally bizarre.

My doctor says that someone in his group received funding for trials on a new pain med, wanted to know if I was interested. Sign me up. I’ll try pretty much anything at this point. Short of wearing patches all over my body to lessen pain and improve cognitive abilities, I seem to be at a standstill.

I had planned to write about something else today, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it was. Perhaps it will come to me sometime tonight, or maybe never. It’s not exactly ennui that overshadows me, something less debilitating but still keeps me from being able to puncture this thought bubble that leads nowhere. Oh well.

Heard but Not Seen:

So in the meantime, I thought that I would just throw out a few quotes from people who have been in the news lately. There has just been too much going on to pass this up, what with the governator resigning and politicos cheating and a Supreme Court nominee, who can choose? I know that I’m not quite current in my selections, yet, these little gems were just too good to let go without at least a little nod from Lola.  

“Americans will respect your beliefs if you just keep them private. Keep it private.” ~ Bill O’Reilly, Fox News

Brian Kilmeade on “Fox and Friends” had this to say recently when discussing a study dones in Finland and Sweden that shows that people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s: “We are — we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other . . . See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes . . . Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society.”

Okay. Well, other species huh? Woman marries jackass? I don’t think that that’s exactly what Kilmeade had in mind, but who can decipher exactly what this braniac had in mind when he plummed the depths of interspecies marriage. Maybe he’s been watching a little too much Star Trek, or maybe no one ever bothered to explain the term eugenics to Kilmeade.  Maybe Brian should have listened to sage Bill O’Reilly. Things that make you say hmm . . .

“Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford on his relationship with Maria Belén Charpur: “This [relationship with Chapur] was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story. A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.”

Gee governor, I’m sure that your spouse is delighted to hear that your illicit affair with the Argentinian woman was a “love story.” That makes what you did so much easier to accept. You and John Ensign should get together to discuss how to humiliate your spouses, families, and party, especially since both of you have been so openly critical of others who misstepped on the moral line, like Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, to name but a few. Just glad that neither of your wives joined you for your mea culpa speeches at the microphones.

“It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful.” ~ Anton LaVey

Dorothea Lange photo
Photograph by Dorothea Lange, Great Depression

Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis stepped into the national spotlight with her finely crafted logic regarding the state’s summer food program: This one was so good that I thought that I would include most of the State Representative’s motivational message:

Who’s buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted . . . Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another. Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.

You go woman. With logic like this, I see a position in Congress in your future. Abolish those frivolous programs that give food to the hungry. Who needs them? Only one in five children in your state, but what the hell? I see your point. I really do. Let those poor people huddle around the table at dinnertime and dine on their togetherness. The arid taste of nothing on the tongue is akin to sweet, sweet honeydew if a little bit of imagination is applied.

I simply cannot wait to hear your reasons for abolishing state-supported programs for providing heat for the poor during the winter: Hypothermia can be a great motivator for physical fitness. Two hundred jumping jacks can produce enough body heat to sustain an individual for an hour. Disabled? Crippled? Pshaw. Use those walkers as weights.

By the way, Ms. Davis, when did you last go without a meal?

“I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.” ~ Sarah Palin

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska: Where to begin? At the beginning? Nay, too much fodder for this little forum. Let’s just pick up where she left off on her Facebook page: “How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country . . . Though it’s honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make.”

Far be it from little me to question the decision of Palin to leave her term in office with 17 months to go, but I’m having a little bit of a problem in understanding exactly how her resignation is “about country,” that is, unless Sarah the Obtuse has finally realized that going far, far away would be good for her state and the country. But this “higher calling” business really has me perplexed.

Is her higher calling to join a seminary? Will she, too, learn how to cast out demons as her pastor has done? Is her higher calling to join “Fox and Friends” as a pundit? That might work because I believe that there is a wardrobe allowance for Fox’s motley cast of characters, and we all know how Palin loves her clothes. Or maybe she’s taking time to regroup and write her memoirs.

I can see it now: I Was Robbed in 2008 Because the Liberal Media Didn’t Understand Me. Of course, since Palin is so well-read and a Constitutional scholar to boot, there won’t be any ghost writing for her. No sirree. She’ll just use that can-do spirit of hers to churn out those pages. Perhaps she could take a tip from Cynthia Davis and forego eating while writing. That way, Palin will be super motivated to dissect her interview with Katie Couric.

(Do you think the publishers will be able to include pop-up pages showing Palin winking at key points? Just a thought.)

“People before the public live an imagined life in the thought of others, and flourish or feel faint as their self outside themselves grows bright or dwindles in that mirror.” ~ Logan Pearsall Smith  

I’m not going into the hinterlands of the whole Michael Jackson may or may not have been murdered/abducted by aliens/followed in the footsteps of Elvis. Too much there, and too many people are way tooo serious about it. King of Pop. Boy who would be man. Pedophile. Jacko. Doubtless, we will be pulled into the morass that may or may not have been Jackson’s true story for months, nay years to come.

Books from those who purport to have known the real Michael Jackson. Tell-alls in the National Enquirer by his housekeeper, his nurse, his pool man, his Neverland gameskeeper. It’s all so tawdry, and really, really beyond the pale. He was an entertainer not a god, a singer who reached his artistic apex with Bad and Thriller. He was a man who was obviously plagued by such incredible insecurity that he completely changed his physical appearance over the years. What he did or did not do to himself, to others, we will probably never really know.

Andy Warhol Artificial by Billy Name
Andy Warhol by Billy Name

Anyway, the real tragedy here, folks, is how we continually put people onto pedestals, raising them to greater heights than perhaps they ever wanted or maybe they ever deserved. Lest we forget:

“Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.” ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

Well, I’m sure that there are others who I have missed in my latest Heard but Not Seen compilation. I hope that they won’t be too terribly put out that they didn’t garner a mention this time. Never fear, though. There will always be another.

More later. Peace.

 

 

Brutal Honesty in the face of Inane Lunacy

 We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

 We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine . . .

  

And our friends are all on board,

Many more of them live next door

To those of you who care, I know that I have been lax in my blogging of late. It comes from being a teenager and passing along teenage angst and teenage idiocy to said teenagers’ mumsy. That I can still string sentences together on the approaching graduation of elder son and end of the year IB work of younger son speaks volumes of my ability to have courage under fire.

That being said, I decided that I would dedicate my afternoon to catching up on reading my blogrolls as I have been waiting eagerly for new posts on some of my favorite blogs and haven’t had time to peruse them. What’s wonderful about belonging to a blogging community is that you get the chance to stay on top of things all over the world. For example, my friend in Australia not only writes about her life, but she also shares political and social information. One blog is by a researcher in the UK who is a newly-published author, and the conversations that ensue on his blog are always enlightening and simultaneously hilarious.

Of course, a visit to Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana made my day as he has been updating his blog with photographs of his recent trip to Florida. I plan to do a feature post on these beautiful images in a few days, but feel free to visit his blog and check out his masterful photographic skills.

Dropped by White Orchid where my lovely Australian friend has been updating everyone on the loss of her poor aunt and the travails of traveling to a funeral. Maureen’s writing is always so inviting that it’s as if we are sitting at the table together sharing a cup of tea.

And then I made the usual rounds to everyone else, but what really caught my interest today were the posts that I read on three of my favorite left-leaning political blogs: Willpen’s World, Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezin’s, and The Mudflats.

During the 08 election, I spent most of my time writing about political topics, especially the fractured logic that seems to rule the far right, but once Obama was elected and we took back the Senate, I have tried to go back to writing about various topics, from my dogs, to my kids, to photography, to poverty, with stops in between on important issues that I feel I must answer in some way. After reading several of today’s posts and articles, I decided that today was one of those days on which I needed to focus on issues that won’t go away and the people who continue to beat the carcass of the horse that has been on America’s front lawn for about three decades.

Perhaps the best theme for my post would be Ship of Fools, but I decided to use another one of my old favorites: The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”

And the band begins to play (cue horns)

Ultimately, I felt that I just had to do a Lola’s List of Brutally Honest Observations. Let the finger-pointing begin: 

Finger PointingLet me not beat around the bush about this: Rush Limbaugh is a racist, sexist, anti-abortion, far-right conservative Republican. However, that does not qualify him for the Supreme Court, no matter how much he spouts off about Obama’s nominee. Rush needs a gentle reminder that one must have a law degree at the very minimum to sit on the highest court in the land, and unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, Rush failed ballroom dancing. 

Michele Bachmann (of the one l) is still running around the halls of the Capitol making outrageous claims about subjects of which she has absolutely no knowledge, or at least, not knowledge in the traditional sense (you know, book learning and knowing when to get out of the rain kind of knowledge).  I’m not even going to touch the fallacies in her pronouncements about carbon dioxide being a natural product of the earth (even though I could go on for pages about natural products of the earth that, while they are natural, are also harmful and deadly, like arsenic). My suggestion to the Minnesota Congresswoman is that she go buy herself about 10 more truckloads of Mountain Dew so that she can keep C-Span electrified with her stand-up routine. What’s that? She’s serious? No really? Really . . . Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Sarah Palin’s running mate in 2012. 

Bill O’Reilly . . . what can I say? For years the man carried on a personal war with Dr. George Tiller, the doctor who was recently murdered while serving as an usher at his church’s Sunday services, the doctor who was murdered by a fanatic, the likes of whom I will address my next remarks. But let’s get back to Bill, shall we? Over the years, O’Reilly has vilified Tiller with statements such as [Tiller] “destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000.” 

O’Reilly has also compared Tiller of being guilty of  “Nazi stuff” (June 8, 2005). The snarky pundit also said in June of 2007 that there was “No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands.” O’Reilly did not put the gun in Scott Roeder’s hands, but O’Reilly did mark George Tiller as “Tiller the Baby Killer” again and again and again. This self-serving spewer of vitriol bears the burden of placing a target on George Tiller’s chest.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
 

To Sean “The Manatee” Hannity I offer the following advice: Please go to an ENT sooner rather than later so that you can get your hearing checked. It’s just becoming a drinking game now to see how many times you can misconstrue the words on a television clip featuring President Obama or any other liberal. For example, on June 3 of this year, you had the stones to claim that President Obama called the U.S. a Muslim nation when he addressed representatives of the Turkish government on April 6. Here is what President Obama actually said as compared to your interpretation 

President Obama: If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.

Sean Hannity: He honors the national day of prayer behind closed doors. Now, on his Middle East apology tour, the President calls the U.S. a “Muslim nation.”

President Obama: We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens, who are bound by ideals

Sean Hannity: The same president who insists the U.S. is not a Christian nation is now calling us a Muslim nation.

Really, it’s embarrassing just to mention your name any more, at least for me. I cannot do it without snorting my Pepsi up my nose and making a big mess all over my computer screen. 

A word on Nat Turner. Who is Nat Turner you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked that because I didn’t know about this fine human being until Starshine, a commenter on WillPen’s blog left a link to a Daily KOS article on Turner. Seems that Turner, a self-avowed white nationalist and white supremacist from North Bergen, New Jersey has been arrested for “asking his audience to kill two elected officials and an official from a regulatory agency.”  The article by Pavlov Dog reveals that Capitol police Chief Michael J. Fallon said that “Mr. Turner’s comments are above and beyond the threshold of free speech . . . He is inciting others through his website to commit acts of violence and has created fear and alarm. He should be held accountable for his conduct.” The offending comments? Get a load of this: 

“It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally,” the blog stated. “These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die . . . If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this; I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down too.”  

You don’t say? That just warms the cockles of my heart. Except for the whole killing and putting people down with bulletss part. Unless I’m much mistaken, those are the words a terrorist would use, and let’s not soften it with the modifier domestic. A terrorist is a terrorist, and adding the word domestic does not alter that fact, nor does it make the rhetoric less sinister. Mr. Turner is exactly where he deserves to be. Good one on Chief Fallon.

And to be fair, I must not forget the Governator (yes, I do realize that Governator is what most people call Arnold Schwarzenegger; however, I have been calling Palin this since the election; you see, not matter what, she’ll be back). No matter how much I may want to ignore the aspiring presidential candidate and former beauty queen, I must not, for it seems that some on the far right side of sanity still regard her as charismatic, charming, and a real contender for 2012 (oh yes, pleez……….). The Mudflats had a glorious article on the Governator that I must share with you: “‘Screw Political Correctness.” Sarah Palin In Her Own Words.” Trust me, you do not want to miss this wonderfully insightful piece.

Sky of blue, and sea if green, in our yellow submarine

And now, since I have spent the better part of the evening consorting with the other side, I will cleanse my palate with an aperitif of the eloquent Keith Olbermann, whose insights are always spot on, especially when it comes to Rupert Murdoch’s gang:

 

 

As always, there will be more later. Peace.

I just wanted to say for the record that I have been trying to fix the screwed up formatting in this blog for the last four hours. I have no idea what I did, or how I did it, but everytime I read it, sentences are moved around, some starting in the middle, the first paragraph ending up after my signature. I don’t know what the hell was/is going on, the wine, the lack of carbon dioxide to my brain . . . whatever. Just let me know if things are seriously out of whack when you read it because I can’t look at it one more time.

“Truth is not determined by majority vote.” ~ Doug Gwyn

black-hole-by-nasa-dana-berry-skyworks-digital

Black Hole (picture by NASA/Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital): Where Political-Speak Goes to Die

“I think politicians are so far out of step with what people really want.” ~ Paul Weller

“I think people are tired of politicians trying to poke each other in the eye.” U.S. Senator Mark Warner (and former governor of Virginia)

I read the news today, oh boy . . .

Apparently, Virginia’s Republican representatives in our state legislature (with the exception of two House Republicans) are taking a page out of the Governator’s book and are refusing to accept $125 million slated for expansion of unemployment benefits. This money was to come to the Commonwealth from President Obama’s stimulus plan.

Yep, just as the extremely beneficent and perceptive (decoded as self-serviing and clueless) Governor Sarah Palin is rejecting much-needed stimulus money in Alaska, the Republicans here in Virginia are turning their noses up at $125 million worth of hope for out-of-work Virginians.

I read all about this political fiasco in an e-mail from Stand Up For Virginia, in which I could sign a petition and/or leave a comment. I receive a lot of political e-mails, and when I agree strongly with something, I will sign petitions. If I had the money, I would make small contributions. But this particular e-mail knocked me for a loop.

Here is a sample of the information contained on the site:

black-hole-blowing-gas
Black Hole Spewing Gas: Politicians Pontificating

Nearly 300,000 Virginians are unemployed—with unemployment rates in places like Martinsville as high as 20.2 percent.

Yet on Wednesday, April 8, Virginia’s Republican-dominated House of Delegates followed the lead of gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and rejected $125 million in federal unemployment funds for Virginia.

As news media reported GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell “favored rejecting the jobless money  and  McDonnell opposes unemployment stimulus,” all but two House Republicans voted to reject expanding unemployment benefits for struggling Virginians.

The $125 million is money from the federal government paid for by Virginians’ tax dollars. These funds, which are part of President Obama’s stimulus plan, would have gone to displaced workers in Virginia and helped to stimulate our economy.

Despite the highest unemployment rates our state has seen in decades, the Republican-dominated House chose to play political games instead of protecting our future.

“When are we going to tell the Congress of the United States that they don’t set the public policy of Virginia on a state administered and a state run program like unemployment insurance,” said Republican Delegate William Fralin in remarks from the floor of the General Assembly (Available on YouTube).

In these tough economic times, rejecting $125 million will hurt both businesses and families in Virginia. As the state unemployment trust fund approaches insolvency, these funds could have delayed rate hikes for businesses. At the same time, the funds would have helped Virginians who have been laid off get the job retraining they need. http://www.standupforva.com/

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”  ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

I will have to admit, I was completely blown away by the position that the Republican representatives took. I would have thought that accepting $125 million in taxpayer money for a state that has an unemployment rate of 20 percent in some areas woud be so obvious that considering rejection would be moot. Obviously, I was thinking with a completely different mindset from Virginia Republicans.

My mindset is based on facts. For one thing, there is no cost to Virginia for two years. The total cost to employers for unemployment tax would be approximately $4 per person, an increase of $1. Nevertheless, look at the following statistics which detail Virginia’s long-standing trend to support businesses over citizens (all facts taken from Stand Up for Virginia website):

291,000 Estimated number of unemployed people in Virginia
6.6 Percent Statewide unemployment rate in Virginia
20.2 Percent — Unemployment rate in Martinsville, the highest rate in the state 
$125,000,000 Amount of federal funds for unemployment that Republicans rejected
49th Where Virginia ranks among the fifty states in unemployment taxes paid by businesses
$4.58 Cost per worker per year to expand the unemployment program
$.01 Approximate cost per worker per day to expand the unemployment program
8,000 Number of people seeking part-time work and unemployed people training for work who would have been covered under the expanded benefits proposed by Governor Kaine

“Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence.  Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.”  ~ William E. Gladstone, 1866

I am perplexed as to why Republicans in the Legislature fail to see the necessity of accepting this stimulus money, especially in light of Virginia’s unemployment figures.  But then again, I should not be surprised by the way that politicians neglect the needs of their constituents—if only to prove a point. To them, it’s all a big game.

Sure it’s all fun and games until someone falls and puts an eye out . . .

I cannot help but wonder if Virginia’s Republicans are living in some kind of bubble, one that does not allow penetration of  the reality of our state’s rapidly increasing socio-economic problems.

“What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.” ~ Edward Langley

black-holes-merging
Two Black Holes Merging: Politicians Speaking at Each Other

In an editorial, The Washington Post called out “Virginia’s let-’em-eat-cake Republicans,” saying that the GOP “would rather give lip service than genuine financial relief to the states unemployed.”

But let’s let the words of these political jackasses speak for themselves:

“[The federal government is] going to dangle this money in front of us to tempt us to change some sound policies that have worked so well for this commonwealth for so many years.(Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell County; also posted on YouTube).

Okee dokey, then. Virginia ranks at almost the bottom of the list for the unemployment taxes paid by businesses. Sound practices for business but not necessarily the unemployed.

Here’s another one that I like, just for the sheer lack of logic behind it: 

“I have a lot of people who are unemployed, and I feel we have made an effort to address that.” (Del. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson County), who has an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent in his district).

I understand perfectly, now. You have made an effort to address it, and I’m certain that all of the individuals who are making an effort to survive truly appreciate it.

But the best one has to be this:

“We are being used. Actually our constituents . . . who are now unemployed are being used by this administration to hold a gun to the head of this General Assembly with the assistance of the governor to force through a bad bill.” (Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, also a candidate for Attorney General).

Excuse me, Senator, but did you just have the audacity to say we are being used? So we should refuse this money because you want to prove a point to the Obama administration even though the unemployed of whom you speak actually feel that you and your fellow Republicans are the users?

“In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.”  ~ H.L. Mencken 

Of course, I had to respond; although I’m certain that my response was much longer than what they had hoped to receive. Here are some highlights from my dissertation: 

We are regular, hard-working, law-abiding citizens just like anyone else. We do not use or deal illegal drugs, use 10 credit cards, or live in an especially large house. In fact, our house is an old brick rancher, built in the 50’s. We do not go out, throw extravagant parties, buy clothes, jewelry or cars. Of our two vehicles, one is completely inoperable at the moment because the repairs will cost about $400.

I’m not sure what the Republicans in the Commonwealth’s Legislature are thinking by refusing this much-needed funding for unemployment. We have families who are living in cars, people at grocery stores who are counting every penny and putting things back, and everywhere you turn, people have that hollowed-eyed look of desperation because they have lost their jobs, their homes, or fear that they may lose everything tomorrow.

I campaigned for the Democrats in the 08 election. In the next state election, I will do everything in my power to make sure that we can replace as many Republicans in the legislature as possible, even if it means traveling to small counties and knocking on doors.

This kind of political posturing is inane. Exactly how is this decision by the Republicans benefitting Virginians? How are those in need who have turned to their government for help supposed to feel? That we do not matter enough? That our concerns are paltry in comparison to making a point to President Obama’s administration? That only those who are financially secure should be able to survive in this economy?

I’ll tell you what I believe this posturing truly reflects: a complete and total disconnect with what the American public wants and needs, and in particular, a total disregard for the welfare of the constituents of Virginia.

Telling the Congress of the United States that “they don’t set the public policy of Virginia” is so ludicrous as to be deemed on par with Governor Palin’s refusal to accept all of her state’s stimulus money. Sarah Palin cares about Sarah Palin, and obviously, Republican Delegate William Friam, Bob McDonnel, and their Republican cohorts are as unqualified to lead and represent as the Governor of Alaska.

. . .  these people need to stop generalizing about people on unemployment and assistance. Most of those on unemployment want to work, provide for their families, improve their quality of life.

Do not assume that you are dealing with the dregs of society who will not challenge you. Do not make the mistake of believing that you are dealing with a populace that will blindly follow you into the abyss. Do not underestimate the power of grass roots movements in removing from office those who do not truly represent the people.

To close, I will use the words of the inimitable Albert Einstein: 

“All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.”   

More later. Peace.

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My Apologies for 2008

These are the people and events that I would like to apologize to and for in the past year:

The General Apologreed-gargoylegies:

To Virginia Natural Gas, for getting so behind in our payments that you felt the need to reclaim your meter. I’m sure that it is doing you more good than it was doing us. After all, we only need it for heat, hot water, and cooking. You must have needed it for something for more useful, say storage. Glad we could help. And just as soon as the economy takes a turn for the better, we’ll be getting back to you on the huge past due balance and deposit that you mentioned.

To Homecomings Mortgage for being so understanding when I’ve called to try to work out some kind of payment plan. I guess you didn’t get any kind of notification on the TARP money and how they are trying to use that to help financially-troubled mortgages. We’ll wait until you get the memo and get back to you on that.

Speaking of TARP money, my sincerest apologies to the Wall Street Bankers and Financiers who may have to do without bigger bonuses this year, or at least have pretended to do without pay cuts and bonuses until Congress finally figured out that there is actually a loophole. I just wouldn’t want anyone’s house in the Hamptons to go into foreclosure or anything. Warmest regards to all. Ta Ta.

To all of the bill collectors, it’s not that we don’t want to pay our bills, really. It’s that we can’t pay them. When a family of four is living on my disability income, and the primary breadwinner, my husband, has been out of work since January of 2008, it makes it very tricky to stretch those dollars to cover the mortgage, my health insurance, food, and just about anything else. I apologize. I sincerely do. We will be getting back to you on that as soon as we can figure out alchemy.

To my eternally snoopy next door neighbor on the left: No, we haven’t finished the soffet and fascia in the back because we have to pay someone to finish that particular job. We have, however, put up a new roof, finished the privacy fencing on almost the whole perimeter, leaving your back gate on our property (which, if it had been up to me, would not be there, but my husband is kinder), cut back most of the trees, gotten rid of the old truck, gotten rid of the old landscaping trailer. The only thing, unfortunately, I cannot accommodate you with is our own disappearance. So sorry. Maybe next year when we might be able to finish our renovations and move to a place where the neighbors actually talk to you.

To my former employer’s Human Resources department, I apologize for calling you with pesky questions about my personnel benefits as a long-term disability employee. If I could actually get answers that made sense without having to call and leave messages, believe me, I would. Trying to get someone in your department to be helpful is akin to asking for someone to drill my teeth without benefit of local anaesthesia.

To the Republican Party, nah, not really, but thanks so much for Sarah Palin. She gave me enough material for two months.

The Sincere Personal Apologies:

To my mail carrier, I apologize for never being quite as happy to see him as he is to see me. I wave and say hello even though I know that he is bringing more bad news, but I still hope that he has a good day.

To all of the people who put up with me at the pain management center, I apologize for being late, showing up on the wrong day, at the wrong time, or forgetting about appointments altogether. You are very kind for working me in because you realize that my pain has made me batty.

To my family as a whole, thank you for accepting the fact that I’m batty. Pain does weird things to people. Constant pain makes you want to be more sarcastic than usual.

To Corey, I’m sorry if I don’t always say thank you for all of the things that you do. If it seems that I take you for granted, believe me when I say that nothing you do is ever taken for granted. I’m also sorry that’s it has been such a rough year, but I know that 2009 will be better because honey, it can’t be worse.

To Alexis, I’m sorry that you have had to pick up some slack for me, which isn’t really fair since you have your own place now. But I appreciate it.

Eamonn, I’m sorry for being overbearing, but not really. I know that you don’t believe it, but you really will look back on this someday, and wonder why I didn’t come down on you harder.
my-dearhearts
For My Dear Hearts

Brett, I’m sorry for the gene pool lottery. It sucks. I know.

James, I’m sorry you just had to endure weeks of hell and that I wasn’t closer by to help you through it.

Mari, I’m sorry that we have drifted apart, and that I’ve let it happen on my end as well.

Sarah, I’m sorry for the years, and it won’t be a pine box. I promise.

Rebecca, we both should be sorry: we don’t live that far apart. Let’s make more of an effort.

And Finally, Apologies For The Rest:

To the rest of the world, let me be the first to apologize for eight years of George W. Bush.

sand-from-non-biodegradable-plastics
Vog: sand from plastics

And let me apologize to all living creatures in the Pacific Ocean for my ignorance about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has now exceeded the size of Texas, a humongous, man-made floating garbage dump that many are now calling the eighth continent.

It makes me utterly ashamed to be part of this society’s vapid, disposable mentality, which has caused sand to now be formed of non-biodegradable plastics like plastic utensils, toothbrushes, and disposable razors. There is a beach on the big island of Hawaii, Kamilo Beach, also known as ‘Plastic Beach’ where this sand, known as Vog, is almost a foot deep. It makes me want to weep for Hertha, Earth Mother.

To the person on eBay who bought the turkey that was slaughtered behind Sarah Palin while she was being interviewed, let me apologize for your obvious lack of sensitivity and just add eww.

To the world, I’m sorry to have to be part of the world’s least green country (according to National Geographic’s May 31 Greendex study), but it does not surprise me. And for the record, India and Brazil tied for first as the world’s greenest countries. Go here for the complete study: http://event.nationalgeographic.com/greendex/assets/GS_NGS_Full_Report_May08.pdf

And finally, to Tina Fey: I’m so sorry that you no longer have that dimwit to impersonate, but honestly, isn’t it a relief not to have to dumb yourself down?

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I know that I feel much better . . . somewhat. More later. Peace.

On The Wings of an Eagle*

golden-eagle

Golden Eagle in Flight

We Dare to Dream Again of Friendly Skies As We Give Thanks

Okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a blog about what I’m thankful for. A Charlie Brown blog, if you will. I debated whether or not this subject matter would be too trite, too overdone in the blogging world, but then I decided that my cynicism would prevail, especially in light of my recent entries, which admittedly, have been a tad on the nostalgic side. I’ve decided to write about unlikely things for which we, as in the collective we, can be grateful, in spite of the dire times we seem to be facing.

Here goes:

  • The nation’s first president of color, a man of incredible presence, intelligence, and insight. I can only hope that the fates are good to him and surround him with good karma. If he runs his presidency with just one half of the calm, executive demeanor that surrounded his campaign, then there is hope that his White House will never be likened to a college fraternity without any adult supervision.
  • A new administration, one headed by a president who won’t mangle the English language. No matter what your political leanings are, you have to be grateful for a man who is articulate
  • An apparent real goal for an end to the Iraqi war, or at least a major draw down of troops in that country, even if it means that we will have an increase of troops in another country
  • An attempt to provide access to some kind of health insurance for everyone in the country, even if it takes a couple of years. Hillary Rodham Clinton first attempted this during Clinton’s first term in office and was roundly criticized for not sticking to her role as first lady. After that aborted attempt, nothing has ever been done nationally until now.
  • A chance to regain our status in the world as a nation that can be respected as a leader
  • A chance to turn our economy around and stop the practice of “Trickle Down Economics.” The plan, of course, was that everything would trickle down in an equitable manner. Um, so sorry, but WRONG. When Ronald Reagan took office, our country could be described as a diamond, with most of the country falling in the middle of the socio-economic ladder. What we have now is an hourglass, with almost no middle class, an upper class and a very bottom-heavy lower socio-economic part of the ladder. Anyone who tells you that America is a class-less society is still in their naive idealistic phase.
  • A commitment by an administration and apparently a nation to harness alternative energy and preserve resources. A long overdue wake-up call has finally been answered, and more and more people are doing what they can, in big ways and in small, to help the environment. As someone who has been recycling for over almost two decades, it is refreshing to see the changes all around. I don’t care if it’s trendy, as long as it makes an impact.
  • More awareness of post traumatic stress disorder as a real problem with far-reaching issues that can affect people for years
  • The fact that Sarah Palin and her family are back in Alaska, at least for most of the time, but the governator still can’t seem to find enough work to do as governor, so she hits the road every other week.
  • A big win in the House and Senate, but the pressure is on to deliver. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility Spider Man.
  • Law & Order, the original, is back on Wednesday nights.
  • Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC is kicking butt big time.
  • Virginia went blue for the first time since 1964, and Thelma Drake lost her seat in Congress to newcomer Glenn Nye thanks in large part to a grassroots effort.
  • The first amendment allows people like me to write things like this whenever I want, which still makes this the best country in the world in which to live.
  • colorado20river20from20deadhorse20point
    The Colorado River from Deadhorse Point
  • With any luck, President-elect Obama will be able to reverse some of the more egregious laws that Bush has signed into law, in particular, those that allow drilling near state parks in Utah and Colorado, and those that ease pollution laws. Because after all, it would be nice to leave a legacy to our children, you know, something like majestic trees, clean rivers, the Grand Canyon, some Golden Eagles, and maybe some uranium-free land. Or maybe I’m being naive and full of youthful idealism in spite of my age.
  • And finally, with any luck, the next few years we will see some glimpses of that hope we held onto so tightly when we stood in line to get into those rallies. When we stood at those rallies waiting to hear the words we needed to hear. When we heard those words of hope and better days and we actually allowed ourselves to dare to believe, even when our cynical hearts did not want to. Yes, we can dare to hope. Yes, we will believe.

These are the things that I am thankful for as an American this Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for personally later, or maybe not. But it’s nice to think that maybe this time next year, there will be a change a coming.

Peace be with you.

*On the Wings of an Eagle, song by John Denver