“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

AWARD--Honest_Weblog_Award

Me? Seriously? You Shouldn’t Have But I’m Glad That You Did

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

This is a little late in coming, but I would like to thank Zirgar for bestowing upon me the Honest Weblog Award. I have been told by several people that one of the better qualities of my writing is its honesty; I know that I do write from my heart, which is not always a good thing, I realize, but it is my way of being true to myself. So many thanks Z and all of the other wonderful regular readers who stop by here to read and sometimes comment.

Chesapeake Bay
End of the Day, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

As we all know, no award comes without a few strings, and the Honest Weblog Award is no exception. Here are the rules: 

  1. You must brag about the award.
  2. You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to that blogger.
  3. You must choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
  4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Weblog Award.
  5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

Then pass along the award with the above instructions.

Top Seven

So here are the blogs to which I have chosen to pass along the Honest Weblog Award. The blogs are listed in no particular order, and their content is as varied as their owners. I try to visit these blogs daily or as often as possible, and my interest in each of them is evidenced by the fact that you can find them listed under the different categories of blogrolls to the left of my site.

  1. White Orchid: This blog is written by one of my dear online friends, Maureen, who lives in Australia. Maureen’s blog covers a wide range of topics—family, friends, work, Australian politics, and much more. Maureen has a very loyal group of followers, and she is diligent about responding to comments and e-mails.
  2. Supersense: Written by Bruce M. Hood, the Director of the  Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol in England. Bruce recently published Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable, an incredible book that I found immensely enjoyable and informative (I promise that I’ll get around to posting my review soon). Part of what makes Bruce’s blog so interesting is the comment section: His regulars are a diverse bunch with very strong opinions.
  3. Floridana Alaskiana v2.5: This blog is written by Janson Jones, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. If you appreciate fine photography, then you definitely need to visit this blog. Janson, who recently celebrated the birth of his daughter Aurelia, fills his posts with beautiful images of landscapes, wildlife, and people. He also comments occasionally on political issues in which he is interested.
  4. Islamorada Florida by JJ
    Islamorada, Florida by Janson Jones
  5. My Sweetest Downfall: This pseudonymous blog is beautifully written by a woman with incredible wit and enough sarcasm to keep me entertained. She doesn’t post daily, but the content of her posts makes up for the wait between. I think that what I probably enjoy most about JaneyLynn’s blog is that I can totally relate to it, to the craziness of her life, and to her occasional funks.
  6. Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezins: Zirgar, who presented me with this award, describes his blog as “a place to vent and find catharsis.” Very left of center, Z takes on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the whole Fox circus, as well as most far-right politicians and politicos. Be warned, he doesn’t censor himself, so if you are offended easily, then this isn’t the blog for you. That being said, I greatly enjoy his rants and screeds on closed-minded racists and bigots, as well as the regulars who comment on his posts. Very glad I found this particular blog, and many thanks again Zirgar for remembering me.
  7. Leaving Lilac Sky: Another pseudonymous blog written by a very talented poet. I have been following this writer’s blog for almost a year now. As with most poets, she has her dry spells, and then she goes into periods in which she is incredibly prolific, turning out a poem a day. A confessional poet, her poems deal with heart-rending emotions, but at the same time, she celebrates life.
  8. Willpen’s World: This is another blog that I have been following regularly since I began blogging last year. Another kindred political spirit, WP is not afraid to voice her opinions about the state of affairs in this country. Worth noting: Several of the blogs that I now read regularly I found through the comments section of WP’s blog.

A few honorable mentions: November Fifth (intelligent, articulate, and a college-level English prof), Really . . . Really . . . Seriously (music and movies), David Bridger (writer with a lot to say about writing, life, and lots of other things). There are a few other blogs that I read as much as possible, but these are the highlights.

Ten Honest Things About Myself

  1. I am hypersensitive, although I try very hard not to be. Just how sensitive I am depends upon the state of my life, which means that currently, I can tear up upon hearing a song or watcing a commercial.
  2. I believe in reincarnation. I know that this is not logical (Bruce), but it is something that I have felt very strongly about since I was very young. No, I was not Marie Antoinette, but my affinity for and knowledge of things that I don’t have a logical reason for knowing has to come from somewhere.
  3. I was a daddy’s girl. As an only child, I was spoiled, and my dad labeled me as a “Want-Whiney” when I was a little girl. If I am to be completely honest, the label still applies. 

    Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay
    Catamaran on the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
  4. I love to wear boots, long skirts and sweaters. I should probably live in a cooler climate as this is how I would clad myself everyday if I had somewhere to be.
  5. My biggest personal regret is not going for my doctorate in English.
  6. I am a collector: books, stuffed bears, boots, office supplies, and watches probably being the top five.
  7. I don’t do things half way. It’s either all in or nothing.
  8. I have become too much of a recluse in the past two years, and I really need to get out of the house more.
  9. I love words. I love to find new quotes by writers I have been reading for years. I love to find new writers. I love to put words together and push them around until I have created something of which I can be proud.
  10. I love the man who has been the biggest part of my life for the past 10 years unconditionally and completely, and my children are my joy. Never try to come between me and my family.

Okay, a couple of other tidbits: I am not afraid of spiders, but am terrified of snakes and centipedes. I love the colors red, black and purple. I really enjoy nature: backyard birding, mountains, waterfalls, and sunrises and sunsets. I am very insecure about the way that I look. I do not have tons of friends, rather, a select few. I love them and miss them every single day, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for one of my friends.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” ~ Lionel Hampton

So, gentle reader, this ends my conferring of the Honest Weblog Award upon some of my favorite online sites. I hope that you take the time to visit a few of these worthwhile and diverse sites.

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.

“There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Pentagon War Dead

Fallen Troops on Transport Plane Arriving at Dover Delaware

“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” ~ John McCain

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

(Yes, I—screaming liberal that I am—have begun my post with a quote by John McCain. I know that this choice probably surprises those of you who have read me on a regular basis and know how much I opposed McCain’s bid for president. That being said, I will in no way dishonor the service that Senator McCain gave to this country, nor diminish the sacrifices that he and his family made. And as I was searching for the perfect quote to begin my post, I happened upon this one by McCain. I believe that his quote, spoken as someone who has seen war firsthand, sums up exactly what I am trying to say.)

Yesterday was Good Friday. I did not post. I was absorbed in my own little world, sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine and reading a book. Days like that are meant to be enjoyed and appreciated. And that is what I did.

But then, I went to bed early as I was not feeling well. How many times have I written that in this blog, “not feeling well”? I’ve lost count.

Today when I finally got myself moving, I was trying to think about what I wanted to post. What’s on my mind? What am I thinking about? What might catch a reader’s interest? So I sat down and began my usual routine by reading my comments first, always something from Maureen on White Orchid, and an interesting comment by my friend Sarah. Then I went to My Comments section in my dashboard.

This section on Word Press lets you keep track of threads of which you have become a part. So I was thinking about how aggravating it is to continue to see comments on a thread in which I have absolutely no interest, when I saw a thread from WillPen’s World (http://willpen.wordpress.com/), one of my favorite blogs.

“I finally saw that the story was not about the media at all. It was about honoring the heroes who sacrifice their lives to serve us all. ” ~ Courtney Kube

The comment made in the thread, which was regarding a previous post on WillPen’s site, was posted by regular visitor, Starshine, who always shares interesting tidbits and feeds to good posts. But this one brought me up short. It was a link to two different Daily KOS posts, both about U.S. casualties in the wars.

The first post, by greenies, was entitled IGTNT: With A Family’s Permission We Bear Witness. IGTNT, which stands for “I Got The News Today,” marked a bittersweet anniversary with this post: five years of posts in memory and gratitude to our fallen service members and their families.(http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/9/718378/-IGTNT:-With-a-Familys-Permission,-We-Bear-Witness).

The second post, entitled No One Could Have Asked For A Better Brother, was by noweasels (see link below), and although quite long, it was heart wrenching. Nevertheless, I would strongly recommend both posts to anyone who cares about our troops. The post brought to mind that the first anniversary passed in February of the death of one of my friend’s fiances. He was a U.S. Navy Seal, and he had already been in Iraq and Afghanistan far too many times. But it was what he did, what he loved to do, and he died serving his country in the company of his brothers, his Seal unit.
 

 

“In war, truth is the first casualty.” ~ Aeschylus

military-flag-draped-caskets1In February of this year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the lift of the 18-year ban by the Pentagon on media coverage of the flag-draped coffins of war victims arriving at Dover Air Force Base. The ban was imposed by Bush senior during the first Iraq war. Many people argued that the ban was the administration’s attempt to hide the very human cost of war so that the country would stand behind the president’s actions.

Others, Republicans and Democrats, have argued vociferously that the ban should be lifted: “We should honor, not hide, flag-draped coffins,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. “They are a symbol of the respect, honor and dignity that our fallen heroes deserve.”

Sunday, April 5 marked the first time that the media was allowed to witness the ritual of returning the remains of fallen U.S. service members.

While I have long been vocal about how this imposed cloak was a disservice to our fallen warriors, there are others who are still opposed to lifting the ban, citing the possible misuse of the images for anti-war propaganda. Apparently, those families who do not want any pictures to be taken or any videos shot will have the final say in their participation. I can respect that need for privacy and hope that the media does as well.
 
Courtney Kube, Pentagon Producer for NBC News, movingly comments that “While the family witnesses the event just a few yards away from the media, the Dover rules strictly prohibit the media from taking any photos of them. Even though we all do our best to avert our eyes and give them their privacy, their presence is palpable and heartbreaking.”  (http://fieldnotes.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/04/08/1885755.aspx).

“If we let people see that kind of thing, there would never again be any war.”  ~ Pentagon official explaining why the U.S. military censored graphic footage from the Gulf War

But we must remember, the images of war help to educate the public. During the Viet Nam war, the images sent back home from war photographers and the footage beamed into American living rooms became the initiation of the American public to the stark realities of war. No heroic songs. No heroic slogans. Only young men dying in a brutal war that divided the nation in every conceivable way: class, race, and politics to name but the obvious.

That is why I was completely dismayed by the continued non-coverage during this Iraqi war and the war in Afghanistan. My belief is that if the people in our society and societies of other countries participating in these wars—regardless of political party affiliations— see the ultimate sacrifices made, then the war will cease to be an abstract idea, something thousands of miles away in a distant land that doesn’t really affect our day-to-day lives.

“In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.” ~ Herodotus

But war isn’t distant. It isn’t abstract. War is ugly, and it is brutal. And it should affect our day-to-day lives. As Americans, we should always be mindful of the prices paid to keep our country free, that these prices affect families in our own hometowns and neighborhoods every day of every week of every year that we are involved in battle.

The following statistics are taken from a Daily KOS post by noweasels:

To date, 4266 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Iraq. The death toll thus far in 2009 is already 45. More than 31,000 members of the military have been wounded, many grievously. The Department of Defense Press Releases, from which the information at the start of each entry in this diary was drawn, can be seen here. The death toll among Iraqis is unknown, but is at least 200,000 and quite probably many times that number.

To date, 676 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The death toll thus far for 2009 is 46. 452 members of the military from other countries have also lost their lives. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/10/718820/-IGTNT:-No-one-could-have-asked-for-a-better-brother).

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

army-bugler1
Army Bugler at Military Cemetery

My father’s own casket was draped with the U.S flag at his funeral. He had a 21-gun salute. A veteran of World War II and Korea, and a non-military veteran of Viet Nam, he fought for a country that was not his original homeland. He earned a Bronze Star with valor. He earned the right to that flag-draped casket and that salute. And as much as it tore my heart out, he earned the right to have “Taps” played when he was laid to rest.

Fading light
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky
Gleaming bright
From afar
Drawing nigh
Falls the night.
 
 

Major General Daniel Butterfield

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” ~ Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

The wars in which our country has been immersed since Bush 2’s declaration of victory continue today. Tomorrow, someone may have a knock on the door that they never could have foreseen and have prayed intently against ever hearing.

For too long, the citizens of this country have not been allowed to grieve collectively about our fallen military men and women. Without imposing upon the rights of their families, I believe that the lift of this ban could be healthy for our country. As one person commented on Kube’s story:

When you cry for and mourn a fallen soldier (especially one that you didn’t know), I believe that you are really mourning all of the soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom. I think that witnessing and really feeling these moments allows us to realize just how much the sacrifices these men and women have made actually mean to us.

and another:

I caught myself wanting to stand during the ceremony in my den.  This is something that this country has been missing since the war in Iraq started—honoring those who have given their lives.  We need never forget the sacrifices of the fallen heroes and their families.

“If we don’t bear witness as citizens, as people, as individuals, the right that we have had to life is sacrificed. There is a silence, instead of a speaking presence.” ~ Jane Rule

boots-and-rifles-memorial
Soldier's Cross: Boots, Rifles, Helmets, and Dogtags of the Fallen

We must continue to bear witness, as painful as that may be. We must continue to hold in our hearts and our thoughts our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and school mates. It is the very least that we can do.

So the next time I complain about not feeling well, about having a headache, or how my back is in so much pain, I need to remind myself that I am here in my house, writing what I want to write, when I want to write it because of the men and women who haven’t had a real shower in weeks, who sleep without pillows and soft mattresses, who wear the same dirty clothes day after day, who carry with them the smallest of talismans to remind them of home.

I must admit that they are doing what I could not. Many are over in that desert for the third or fourth time. Living in a community filled with military families, I am aware that people all around me are waiting for their loved ones’ safe return, and hoping against hope not to get  the letter and the knock on the door.

And so I will leave you with this quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a video to remind you that your bad day will never be as bad as those who have been sent to war:

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.

 

 

If the content on this post has offended anyone in any way, I apologize.

More later. Peace be with you and yours.