Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday Post for Peace

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The goal toward which all history tends is peace, not peace through the medium of war, not peace through a process of universal intimidation, not peace through a program of mutual impoverishment, not peace by any means that leaves the world too weak or too frightened to go on fighting, but peace pure and simple based on that will to peace which has animated the overwhelming majority of mankind through countless ages. This will to peace does not arise out of a cowardly desire to preserve one's life and property, but out of conviction that the fullest development of the highest powers of men can be achieved only in a world of peace.

Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977)

A truly free society must not include a "peace" which oppresses us. We must learn on our own terms what peace and freedom mean together. There can be no peace if there is social injustice and suppression of human rights, because external and internal peace are inseparable. Peace.is not just the absence of mass destruction, but a positive internal and external condition in which people are free so that they can grow to their full potential.

Petra Karin Kelly (1947-1992)

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.

John Lennon (1940-1980)

Peace will be victorious.

Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995)

I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.

Mother Theresa (1910-1997)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Define "Politic"

Barak Obama bidding farewell to Emil Jones, President of the Illinois Senate

1. Using or marked by prudence, expedience, and shrewdness; artful.
2. Using, displaying, or proceeding from policy; judicious: a politic decision.
3. Crafty; cunning.

I grew up in Chicago. I grew up a Democrat with Independent, Liberal overtones in Chicago. I was an activist, and a campaign worker for Democratic Congressman Abner J. Mikva who taught me a lot about what is right, and what is possible. I also grew up in a time when people actually debated issues and discussed, and still went into smoke-filled back-rooms to hammer out a compromise that wasn't perfect, but often worked.

Just back from a week in Chicago visiting my daughter, and my granddaughter - two evenings, when Ellie Bean was safely in bed, sitter at home, my daughter and I went out touring the city which has changed so much in the six years I've lived in Los Angeles. Mayor Richard M. Daley (the Younger) has turned the entire lakefront into a park - it is magnificent. And when I'm back there, away from blogging, safe in thoughts of my granddaughter and her perfect, immediate world, I look at things with a more politic eye.

Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)defines Politic for me. He grew up politically as an activist on the streets of Chicago, and he doesn't shy from compromise. This is not an endorsement of Obama, nor is it a criticism. I simply think he can get things done. He's one of several Democrats running for President who I think could get things done. And no, he's not perfect.

But he is a consensus-builder. He believes in bi-partisanship, and compromise, and pounding out a solution, and he gets things done. He is practical, and right now, we need practical.
Paul L. Williams, a lobbyist in Springfield and former state representative who is a supporter of Mr. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, characterized Mr. Obama’s attitude as, “O.K., that makes sense and sounds great, as I’d like to go to the moon, but right now I’ve only got enough gas to go this far.”

We want peace. We want an end to the destruction of our Constitution. We want so much, but perhaps we only have enough gas to go so far? We have a lot of work cut out for us, and we need to find a leader who is capable of building bridges and finding solutions. Is it Obama? Is it John Edwards? Is it Mike Gravel? I ask this in all seriousness. I want solutions. I want an end to the arrogance of greed that the present administration wields like a club, and I want decent, affordable health care for all US Citizens, and I want affordable housing for all US Citizens - how best to achieve this? I ask, in all seriousness. How best to get a POLITIC solution, how to find a solution?

(cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

First, I call my mommy Mommy, and I call my gramma Mama. So last night I was sitting on Mama's lap looking at her pictures of me but I didn't have my diaper on so Mommy got a little mad at me and I threw a tantrum and Mama said it was her fault so I cried more but I got my stories anyway and went to bed right away. Mama has been here all week and we play when I am not at school which is really day care but I learn all kinds of things and gave my Mama paintings that I made. Tonight after school Mama is meeting me and Mommy and we are having dinner out at my favorite place and then we'll go home and Mama will watch me and Mommy will go out to play with her friends and Daddy will be at work. Tomorrow we have swimming class and that's my favorite. I blow bubbles.

Okay I have to go to school now, bye bye.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Al Qaeda's Press Agent

I apologize to regular readers for not visiting your blogs this week - I'm visiting Ellie Bean, and she's a bundle of energy - I'm loving it, but I'm exhausted. She is hilarious.

Dan Froomkin hit the nail on the head when he labeled President Bush Al Qaeda's best publicist. Apparently, Bush named Al Qaeda 118 times in a 29 minute speech yesterday at a South Carolina Air Force Base. This speech has got to be Bin Laden's wet dream come true - make no mistake, Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that wants people to be terrorized, particularly US Citizens - and it wants people to think it is more powerful than it really is - and what better use of PR than a President who constantly speaks their name, and tells his own citizens how powerful they are? I mean, you can't BUY this kind of publicity.

Which begs the question: Does Bush want the citizens of the United States to be terrified? Is he a member of Al Qaeda? Doe Al Qaeda work for Bush, and Cheney? I'm just asking, is all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday Post for Peace

"I am only a child" - in 1992 13 year old Severm Suzuki, pleads for the future of her generation, and future generations.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

What's the plan for withdrawal?

“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.”

“Such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.”

Thus spake Eric Edelman in a
letter to Senator Hillary Clinton, a woman who rudely asked the Pentagon if it had a plan for withdrawal from Iraq. How unpatriotic of her. I mean, she hasn't given the surge time to work at all, and she's asking for a plan. No wonder people don't like her.

Eric Edelman is Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; he snuck in as a recess appointment August 9, 2005 after his nomination was blocked by the Senate. So Bush made a recess appointment.

This is not Edelman's first dance by any means. He has a long history of serving the Neo-Con agenda:
  • U.S. Defense Department: Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, 2005-current; Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Soviet and East European Affairs (1990-1993)
  • Office of the Vice President: Principal Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (2001-2003)
  • U.S. State Department: Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey (2003-2005); Ambassador to the Republic of Finland (1998-2001); Executive Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State (1996-1998); Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, Prague, Czech Republic (1994-1996); Ambassador-at-Large and Special Adviser to the Secretary of State on the Newly Independent States (1993); Special Assistant (European Affairs) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1989-1990); Head of External Political Section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (1987-1989); Head of Soviet Policies in the Third World at the Office of Soviet Affairs (1984-1986); Special Assistant to Secretary of State George P. Shultz (1982-1984); Staff Officer on the Secretariat Staff (1982); Watch Officer in the State Department Operations Center (1981-1982); Member of the U.S. Middle East Delegation to the West Bank/Gaza Autonomy Talks Delegations (1980-1981)

  • Edelman advised Cheney in the months leading up to the US invasion of Iraq; he was appointed Ambassador to Turkey shortly after the invasion. It was thought that his close family ties to Turkey (his grandmother fled Russia in 1920, settling in Turkey; his mother was born in Turkey) might help sway the growing anti-American sentiment there and gain a backdoor entry into Iraq through Northern Turkey. It seems that then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was not having any success convincing Turkey to let us use them for our dirty work; Edelman was also unsuccessful.

    Edelman's two-year stay in Ankara turned into a lightning rod for deepening anti-U.S. sentiment in Turkey. The Turkish columnist Ibrahim Karagul wrote: “Edelman is probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history” (quoted in K. Gajendra Singh, “U.S.-Turkish Relations Go Wobbly Now Over Syria,” Al Jazeerah, March 23, 2005).

    Edelman was also part of the group that crafted the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, an early formulation of the neoconservatives' post-Cold War agenda. The "shop" included I. Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Albert Wohlstetter (former mentor to Perle and Wolfowitz), and Andrew Marshall. Oh, and lest we forget, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney was at the helm.

    The DPG was eventually rejected by President George H. W. Bush (41), and evolved into The Project for A New American Century, one of the most blatantly evil "think tanks" ever created. That's my opinion, I could be wrong.

    So now what? A guy with a career in Foreign Service insults Senator Clinton for asking a valid question: "What's the plan for withdrawal? Is there an exit strategy?" He attacks her for being dangerously unpatriotic! I assume you all saw Keith Olbermann last night, so there is no need for this little blog to run the video. I have to tell you, right now I'm with Senator Clinton: what's the plan? When are we going to withdraw?

    Peacechick Mary said she wrote a thank you email to Senator Harry Reid. Not a bad idea. I will email Senator Reid, and Senator Clinton, and anyone else who is standing up and demanding an exit strategy. We need to bring our troops home. And we need to end our long, national nightmare.

    If not for us, then for our grandchildren. See below.

    Friday Grandbaby Blogging

    So but I really like to play in my bath. After bath time my mommy reads me stories. But if I have a tantrum she doesn't read me stories. So but I REALLY like to play in my bath, and the other night I didn't want to get out so I cried and screamed and made a big mess. So mommy said "No stories, Beanie" and put me to bed. So but I really really got mad, and threw my binky on the floor. So my mommy came in and gave me back my binky and said "Good night now, Beanie, I love you, but when you have a tantrum, we can't read stories" so then I got really really upset and started to cry really hard, like when you can't catch your breath and just make that "huh huh huh" sound and then I cried "stories, stories, stories" so mommy picked me up and cuddled me and said if I was really good the next day, I would have all my stories. Then she said "That's enough, Beanie, I love you, but you have to go to sleep now. Say goodnight." So I got all huffy, and made a mad face at her and said "GOOD NIGHT MOMMY" and put my binky in my mouth and went to sleep. She was tough, I couldn't make her change her mind at all.

    My gramma is coming to see me on Saturday. She will take lots of new pictures of me.

    I have to play now, bye bye.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Mary Mary, Quite Contrary, Has Created a New Meme

    I love Peacechick Mary's idea for a new award! She writes:

    We hold a final runoff and select the Greatest Thinker of All Time (for the moment) and the Biggest Fat Ass Schmoozer.Now tell me you aren't lusting for one of those fabulous titles? All you have to do is write a post using two keywords (see below) linked to ending the war in Iraq. Our distinctive panel of judges will select the winners and post the results by the end of the month.



    So, here is what I have to say about it. I lust after Russell Crowe. But he's a New Zealander who lives in Australia, and therefore isn't responsible for the war in Iraq, and can't possibly end it. This despite the fact that he won an Oscar for playing a gladiator.

    And my cousin has a friend who once protested the enslavement of honeybees. I wondered if she made little picket signs to tape to the bees' legs, or wings, which made my cousin hit me. My friend's cousin protests the enslavement of bees, but not the war in Iraq, so she's useless.

    As for me, I have gone to Jenny Craig, like Kirstie and Valerie, so I am loosing my fat ass, which might make me ineligible for Biggest Fat Ass Schmoozer. I am completely in favor of ending the war in Iraq, and impeaching Bush, and Cheney. I've been awarded the Schmoozer AND Thinking Blogger awards which makes me a Schminker, and I have very nice hair. Whew. Now my brain hurts, because I am blond, after all.

    Update: Betmo has re-schmoozed me. So I will tag five others, just because.

    There are four professional schmoozers over at Live at the Gay Agenda. Pursey Tuttweiler, Lola Heatherton, Bobby Bittman, and Woody Tobias, Jr. Have at it, kids.

    Mary at Get Your Own is terrific!. She gets to be a Schmoozer, too.

    SB Gypsy at Gypsy's Caravan is a consistently great writer.

    Alicia at Last Left Before Hooterville got me started blogging, and she's fantastic. She might not play, because she's insanely busy, but we shall see.

    And if you aren't reading Proud Progressive at Some Notes on Living, you should be.

    He's Not a Terrorist, But He Plays One on TV

    First of all, I want to know why anybody needs to make up a terrorist figure? And then, I want to know who did the fabrication? Omar al-Baghdadi was the purported leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Iraq, except he didn't exist. His statements were read by an Iraqi actor named Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, according to US Military. Al-Mashandani was captured by US forces on July 4, and has been propoganda chief for the Islamic State of Iraq, which is a Sunni insurgent group that claims allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. Now, it should be noted that this group did not exist prior to the US invasion of Iraq. This group grew specifically out of our presence there. WE created al-Qaida in Iraq. We did it.

    So this begs the question - does Osama bin Laden exist? I mean anymore. His death has been reported, and reported, and reported, never confirmed, but I wonder.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    It's my birthday!

    6939 Days of Continuous Sobriety doesn't sound like much, does it? Today, July 18th marks 6939 Days, or 19 years, for me. Makes me grateful - but as I said in a comment on an earlier post, my brain wakes up as a crazy alcoholic woman with rage - and I have to do so much just to be house-broken enough to get out the door.

    My alcoholic brain, if left untreated, wants to
  • drive my car like a weapon
  • key the doors of anyone's car sporting a W bumper sticker
  • help myself to money that doesn't belong to me
  • help myself to husbands who don't belong to me
  • lie about things when telling the truth would actually be easier
  • get in the middle of everybody else's chaos and make it worse
  • and then walk away, pointing my finger at what idiots they are

  • But sober, I don't act that way. My late sponsor, Meri, used to tell me that 95% of life is none of my business - and the 5% that is my business is just about showing up. So that's what I do today. I show up, and I give my boss a dime for his nickle. I show up, and care about making your day a better day. I show up, and try to be a decent person (even when my brain is screaming at me.) I just show up.

    And you know what? My life is good! I am surrounded by what Grateful Patty calls "The Cotton Balls of AA", the love of good friends, and a family both Calabash and Natal. I feel incredibly lucky, and incredibly grateful.

    After all, it is all about me!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Tuesday Post for Peace

    The 16th Century Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, used the term "Tikkun Olam" to describe the role of humanity in the ongoing evolution of the world. "Tikkun Olam" is a Hebrew phrase that means "repair the world." This is both an inner, and outer journey, that requires acts of service to society and service to the spiritual life. For my atheist friends, you can indeed have a spiritual path that doesn't include a god. This is not a religious post.

    What are we doing, as US Citizens, to repair the world? What? I live in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, and each day we read about local young men and women killed in Iraq. Is this repairing the world? Is our presence in Iraq repairing the world?

    We pollute our atmosphere, we pollute our waters, we pollute our bodies, we pollute our minds. Daily. Is this bringing peace to our world? Hatred fills our rhetoric. Fear is the order of the day. One day last week, driving home from work, windows open - the car next to me has a talk radio station blaring - the guy on the radio is attacking Michael Moore for being a socialist and not understanding health care. I look at the driver - he's a black man, listening to a hate-spewing white guy. It made no sense to me.

    Where have we gone so wrong? And how do we change? For me, it means I have to be willing to listen to other points of view, and treat others with the same level of respect I want for myself. It means dialogue. I need to be the example I wish to see. How can I "Fight" for "Peace"? It seems to be an oxymoron. Rather, shouldn't I live a peaceful life? If I disagree with you, will I be able to change your mind if I call you a pinhead? Probably not. And so, and so, it goes. More questions than answers, once again. Question everything. Question everything.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Thinking Blogger Award

    The incomperable, passionate Tina of Fuzzy and Blue has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. I'm really touched, because she always makes me think.

    The rules are simple:

    1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

    2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

    3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

    Now, the hard part. There are so many blogs that make me think, so I really hate to winnow it down. But I will try.

  • Robin and Roger of New Dharma Bums are incredible. Weaving images of nature, with their day to day observations, they make me think about the world we live in.

  • Alan at The Jewish Atheist is a secular humanist and he's quite articulate. I was supposed to interview him but got sidetracked by my friend Meri's death, and still owe him questions. I promise!

  • Betmo always makes me think. Her passion, her intelligence is powerful. I don't always agree with her, but I absolutely respect her.

  • Thorne is another courageous blogger. She's got a lot going on, and I really enjoy her blog.

  • Liberally Mirth has become my favorite blog. Mirth and D-Day have won this recently, but I don't care. I don't always agree with them, but I respect their integrity and their intelligence. This is the way it should be - disagreement and real debate should open minds and they have had that effect on me.

  • That was tough, because there are a lot of blogs to choose from. But there we are.

    The Schmooze Award

    Well, this is interesting. Let's Talk has honored me with A Schmooze Award. What's interesting is that I grew up very shy, unable to talk to people until I discovered better living through chemistry (drugs and booze.) And now, sober, I seem to be able to talk to people and listen to people without being shy.

    According to Mariuca, schmoozing is the natural ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well.

    Here are my 5 recipients of the Power of Schmooze Award:

  • Coffee Messiah weaves images, sound, humor, and insight with a heaping dose of politics. He's really a gentleman, and I love his blog.

  • Peacechick Mary of Knock, Knock is a real hero to me. She's forthright, she's funny, she's intelligent, and she's kind.

  • Lulu Maude of Take Your Medicine is wonderfully funny, and spent the month of April with a real focus on Poetry. National Poetry Month, of course. She's well worth a visit.

  • Sagefever is a blogger I'm JUST getting to know through The Sirens Chronicles. She's quite courageous, and she's a peaceful person.

  • WeezieLou is a blogger who struggles with the day to day of life, and does it well. She's a seeker of truth, and I like her blog.

  • Well. Tough to limit to just five. But there you are. Now THEY have to pass it on.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Code issues from a Blonde Blogger

    I sort of understand the code for "read more here" but it seems to appear on ALL my posts. So here's the thing: if you click on the link and more appears, groovy. If you click and nothing more appears, it's because it was a short post. Like this one. It's short. But the one below? Click on the link and a lot more will appear.

    So I suggest you try it on all my posts, because I'm too damned confused to fix it.

    R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me

    Bill Wilson and Ebby Thatcher

    Alcoholics Anonymous has been called "the most significant phenomenon in the history of ideas in the twentieth century." (from the introduction, The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham)

    On a chill, rainy afternoon in November 1934, two men sat catercorner at the kitchen table of a brownstone house in Brooklyn, New York. On the white oil-cloth covered table stood a pitcher of pineapple juice, two glasses, and a bottle of gin recently retrieved from its hiding place in the overhead tank of the toilet in the adjacent bathroom.

    The visitor, neatly groomed and bright-eyed, smiled gently as his tall, craggy-faced host reached for the bottle and offered him a drink.

    "No, thanks," Ebby said. "I'm not drinking."

    "Not drinking! Why not?" Bill was so surprised that he stopped pouring to look with concern at his old friend. "What's the matter?"

    "I don't need it anymore," Ebby replied simply. "I've got religion."

    Religion? Damn! For a fleeting moment, Bill wondered about his friend's sanity. Ebby, after all, was a drinking buddy from way back. Now, apparently, he had gone off the deep end - his alcoholic insanity had become religious insanity!

    Bill gulped a slug of gin. Well, dammit, not him. Religion was for the weak, the old, the hopeless; he'd never "get religion."Spirituality of Imperfection

    Ebby Thatcher died thirty years later, destitute, drunk. He remained a periodic alcoholic. Bill Wilson never did "get religion." But he became sober, and, in June of 1935, with Dr. Robert Smith, founded Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill realized that to remain sober, "we must find some spiritual basis for living, else we die." Bill knew at his core that religion with its rules, pronouncements, and commandments would not work for him, nor would it keep him sober. He also knew that without help from a power greater than himself, he would be unable to keep himself sober by his will power alone. And here is the great paradox of AA.

    Alcoholics Anonymous works because of a process of identification, through the telling of personal stories and experiences. Although AA insists on the spiritual for recovery, it is not religious. Bill Wilson once said that the problem with organized religions "is their claim how confoundedly right all of them are." And what makes Alcoholics Anonymous the most successful program of recovery for alcoholics is that the spirituality found in AA is more concerned with questions, with imperfection, than with rigid answers. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

    I've twice participated in The Blogswarm Against Theocracy, because I am appalled at the rigidity of theocracy in any guise. And I've come to a conclusion: militant atheism is as rigid as the religious right. Intolerance is intolerance under any guise.

    Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the acceptance of human limitations and powerlessness. It grows out of testing ideas not on the basis of some dogma or "revelation," but against the realities of everyday living. Through shared experiences, through the realities of daily living, a spirituality of the mundane evolved. It works, it really does. And membership in AA includes devoutly religious people, atheists, agnostics - the umbrella is huge. There are no rules. Perhaps it is a case of the inmates running the asylum, but it works.

    But here's the deal: our nation has been overrun with hatred that has grown out of fanatical religious belief. We are reviled by people who have fanatical religious belief. And those of us who have a spiritual path are lumped into the pot by atheists who are as fanatical in their hatred as the religious right. When did atheism get all the answers?

    Here's what I know. I know that I used to drink when I didn't want to, and now I don't drink even when I DO want to. If I don't drink over the next few days, on Wednesday, July 18th, I will be clean and sober for 19 years. One of my dearest friends died on July 10th with 25 1/2 years of graceful sobriety and faith that God's plan for her was solid. She had the spirituality of imperfection in her soul. We are imperfect beings in an imperfect world, and the best I can do on any given day is to try to be tolerant of your quirks and foibles, because god knows I have plenty myself.

    So here's the deal: your belief is yours and I respect you for it. If that belief is that there is no god, that's fine - it's your decision. If you believe that there is a god, that's fine too. It is your decision. Don't tell me how, or what to believe. Don't call me stupid, or an idiot, or a sheeple, for having a belief in god. Hatred does not solve problems, intolerance in any cloth does not solve problems. Name calling does not solve problems. Intolerance is a form of fear, and fear is the fertilizer for ignorance. Let's put an end to fear, intolerance and hatred, and let it begin with me.


    (cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles)

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Friday Grandbaby Blogging

    Gamma can't put me on her shoulders like this. I'm too big.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Calabash Family

    A friend of mine, who is Japanese-American, talks about her Calabash Family - the family that grew out of shared meals and experiences, and close friendships. Calabash Family in many ways is closer than one's family of origin, because of the choice involved. My friend's relatives (origin and Calabash) are Hawaiian, where the expression "Komo E Kaukau" (come and eat) is the mose common greeting you hear. I tell her that they are really all Jewish, like me, because of the food thing. I tell her she's really an Alcoholic, like me, because of the food thing. She says I'm really a JAP like her, because of the food thing.

    But so it is in AA - we go to meetings, and then we go eat. We go to coffee. We gather in each other's homes, and we share meals, experiences, tears, laughter, friendship, joy, sorrow, pain, and strength. Meetings? One to one and one half hours per day - all the rest, hours. Friendship has no time limit.

    Since I moved to Los Angeles, quite a few of my Calabash AA family from Chicago have died. There was Jimmy F., who died in his car listening to a questionable home run call during a Cubs game - heart attack. There was Mary, and Frank, both from cancer. Rosemary, who had a stroke. There was Alan, who, after recovering from 3 separate cancers, had a heart attack - they say he was dead before he hit the floor. And now Meri.

    Today, I have a smaller perspective on the world. I feel powerless, and know that I am a small voice. I am strong within my Calabash, but in a larger scale, I am small. What seems important today is simple: how do I treat my fellow travelers? How do I behave at work? My goal is to be compassionate, kind, and tolerant. To be loving, and to not take myself too damn seriously - Rule 62.

    Today, all I am going to do is focus on what is within my control and not worry about what is out of my hands. If I am a positive example, it spreads. That's what these people taught me, my Calabash Family. Be the change I want to see in the world. Be peaceful, be tolerant, be loving, be compassionate. Not so easy, if you're a self-centered alcoholic, like me. But nearly 19 years of recovery has shown me that change is inevitable, and so it has been with all of us who remain sober and useful.

    Today, I will not wallow in anger or resentment. Today, I will follow Meri's example of joy in the small things. It's the best I can do, today.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Remembering Meri

    The bad news about long term sobriety is that you develop deep, loving friendships with people. They become your family.

    The good news about long term sobriety is that you develop deep, loving friendships with people. They become your family.

    Meri was my sponsor in Chicago, and a dear friend. She was like a big sister, and I always looked forward to seeing her when I was back home. She was a breast cancer survivor. And on June 13th, when I was at the Anchorage airport getting ready to board my flight to LA, she called to say that she'd just been diagnosed with Stage Four Esophogeal Cancer. She started radiation that week; she started chemo on Monday, July 9th. She died yesterday morning, July 10th, after several days of incredible pain. I just found out (although I think I knew) and I am devastated. We were so excited to get together in two weeks when I'm back in Chicago. This was a great lady, she was so full of life and acceptance and grace and kindness and tolerance, a living example of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I adored her. She was hilarious, she was patient, and she was so loved by so many people.

    My heart is breaking today. And here I sit, at work, hearing her voice telling me to "suck it up, kid. Do the next indicated thing." Sometimes, that's all we can do.

    Three US Surgeons General Testify

    Three former Surgeons General, C. Everett Koop, Richard H. Carmona and David Satcher testified on Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. All said they had felt political pressure. Somehow it doesn't surprise me at all.

    Dr. Richard Carmona, ex-Surgeon General during W's administration, said that he was not allowed to issue reports on stem cell research; emergency contraception; sex education; nor prison, mental or global health issues. Reports on the dangers of second-hand smoke were delayed for years, while top officials tried to water down the report. Dr. Carmona said he was instructed to mention President Bush at least three times in his speeches, and was also supposed to make speeches in support of various Republican candidates. He was discouraged from attending the Special Olympics, or even mentioning the Kennedys, who are prominent in their support of the Special Olympics.

    Dr. Carmona was Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006, and was not asked to serve a second term. His designated successor, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., has not yet been confirmed, and faces opposition in the Senate from a report he issued in 1991. In it, Dr. Holsinger "concluded that homosexual sex was unnatural and unhealthy. Dr. Carmona’s testimony may further complicate Dr. Holsinger’s nomination."

    Dr. Carmona is a Viet Nam Veteran, and has two Purple Hearts from that war. He's not a coward, and he's not stupid. He admitted to being politically naive, and said that after a while, he consulted several former Surgeons General. All of them told him that he was facing more political interference than they had faced. Dr. C. Everett Koop said the Reagan administration discouraged him from issuing a report on AIDS, but he did so anyway. Dr. David Satcher said that the Clinton administration discouraged him from issuing a report that demostrated how needle-exchange programs reduced disease, but he issued it anyway.

    The Bush Administration has been far more diligent in silencing the Surgeon General. But Dr. Carmona is no Alberto Gonzales. He is neither incompetent, nor a liar, nor is he stupid. Dr. Carmona's testimony yesterday, along with the testimony of Drs. Koop and Satcher, really shines a light on how this administration is politicizing everything.

    The US Surgeon General is the doctor for all US Citizens, not just a few. The Justice Department is the defender of the law, and the Constitution, not a political arm designed to circumvent the law. The Supreme Court is there to be a check and balance and uphold the Constitution; it is not there to be a puppet for one President years after he leaves office.

    But this Administration has weakened and destroyed everything it has touched. Only the Surgeon General seems willing to speak the truth, and uphold his oath as a Doctor. Will it be through this office that the House does its job and Impeaches this President? Or will the United States continue to slide toward decay.

    On a side note, if you're having trouble selling your house, you've probably priced it too low. Of course, the very wealthy don't have the same concerns as you or I have. Do they need a needle exhange program? Do the very wealthy need worry about prison health issues? No. Not really. Money buys a lot. Of course, if someone has Alzheimer's, even money won't buy a cure - unless it goes into stem cell research, which might find a key to this horrible disease.

    Oh, well. Same shit, different day.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    For Sale: Just Listed!

    The Beverly Hills Mansion once belonging to William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies can be yours! The 1920's-era, 29-bedroom, pink stucco spread is for sale for an asking price of a mere $165,000,000.00 - which, by the way, is the nation's single most expensive piece of real estate. Now, the estate boasts six separate residences: four houses, an apartment and a cottage for staff; three pools; a disco; and a state-of-the-art movie theater. After all, this is Los Angeles.

    The compound is part of the "Platinum Triangle" which includes Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and Holmby Hills. New residents include Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, David Beckham and Victoria Spice Girl, and a few others. Hearst bought the place in 1947 for the paltry sum of $120,000.00, so clearly it has increased in value, proving once again that real estate is the way to make your money.

    The New Colossus

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

    "Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Oh, wait. Not anymore. Not anymore. No, now we want to send them all back. Or dump them in front of homeless shelters. Or deny them health care. Or deny them education. Or housing. Or food. We can spend close to $450,000,000,000.00 on a disaster of a war in Iraq, but we cannot care for our needy. But we sure as hell can list a house for $165 million dollars. And you know what? Some self-centered yahoo with more money than heart is going to cough it up.

    I'm deeply saddened by what this nation has become.

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    An Rx for Health Coverage

    Over the weekend, I saw SiCKO. Now, regular readers know that I've been going through some health challenges for a while. The biggest challenge I face is actually financial. I have insurance, but my prescriptions seem to all be "non-formulary" so that means a $50 co-pay per prescription! That's $300 per month on drugs. Then there are the doctor visits ($35 copay each time for in-network, a lot more for out of network). And the CT Scans, and the biopsy, and the blood tests, and the blah, blah, blah, blah blah.

    What it means, is that at almost 59 years of age, I am struggling financially and I earn a respectable income. This sucks. This should not happen in America. Now, there are programs. Walgreens, for example, has a variety of ID cards to help defray costs of prescriptions but you have to figure out what you are eligiable for. They don't replace the card you might have, they merely help to defray the costs. But they also don't really let you know about it, you have to do some digging.

    This should not happen in America. And we can demand better. Here is where our revolution should begin - a contemporary Boston Tea Party - we need to do better.

    Friday, July 06, 2007

    Friday Grandbaby Blogging

    When Gamma was visiting she tried to give me lots of booper kisses and I had to escape because they tickle but I always let her catch me. She's really tired because mommy called her after midnight the other night and woke gamma up because I had a cold and woke mommy up and mommy thought I was really really really sick but I just wanted to play and so gamma said to put me on the phone. So mommy helped me blow my nose and I said "alldone alldone alldone" and took the phone and said "hi baba nose nose all done" and then I said "iddle poopy all done" so gamma asked me if I just went poopy and I said "nooooo." And then I said "nose nose" and then I said "byebye". Sometimes I like to call her baba and sometimes I like to call her gamma but I don't call her elmo anymore. I have a stuffy nose.

    Bye bye. It's hot and sunny and I have to go play now.

    Pursey Tuttweiller is playing tag with me and so I hafta list 8 random facts about me. I don't know what random means or facts either. Is that like telling the truth? Like when I say poopy all done when I haven't gone poopy that's not a fact? Okay. So I had to copy this:

    1. All right, here are the rules. 2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts. 3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves. 4. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. 5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

    But do I have to really tag people, because I don't read any blogs only Gamma's. And Gamma played.

    1. I know all my letters. I can say the alphabet in order, and I can look at a letter and say what it is even when it's not in order.

    2. I have a cold, and so I like to say nose nose nose nose nose a lot because it's all stuffy. But even though I have a cold, I had a really big breakfast of 1 1/2 eggs, some honey bunches of oats cereal, and some strawberries.

    3. My doggie is fun and she lets me sit on her. I like to sit on doggie, and I like to play in her doggie bed. I like Elmo too, but I can't sit on Elmo.

    4. I think that making raspberry noises is really really really funny and I do it to my uncle and make him laugh. It's fun to see people laugh, they are happy when they laugh and I like happy people.

    5. I have my own golf clubs. I have a driver and a wedge and a putter. They're plastic and they're my size and I play golf a lot and when I'm bigger I will go golfing with people on a real golf course and not doggie's bed.

    6. I like insects and leaves and seeds and birds and flowers and when I go for a walk it's really slow because I have to stoop down to look at everything and try to touch everything.

    7. I like to wear my dresses that Gamma bought me. I like to put diapers on Elmo. I like to change Elmo, but Mommy won't let me put diaper cream on him, it messes up his fur.

    8. I like to get booper kisses on my tummy, but I run away and make people play chase before they give me a booper kiss because it makes me laugh harder and them too they laugh harder too when I laugh.

    Okay alldone alldone. Tag, you're it, okay?

    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Are you feeling lucky? Are you?

    Governor Schwarzenegger's Office of Protocol is a 501 (c) (3) organization and raises funds from individuals, corporations, and other foundations that will be used to pay for State events that a particular department of the government would pay for traditionally. Those state events include paying for top-of-the-line private jets like the plush Gulfstream models Governor Schwarzenegger uses for his travels; and the hotel suites he likes to stay in, such as The Royal Livingstone Hotel. Here, he not only stayed in the Presidential Suite, he had them install floor to ceiling mirrors for his stay.

    Nonprofit watchdogs say using charitable write-offs to pay for sumptuous travel is an abuse of tax codes.
    "Wow, that's a problem," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy. "Why should our tax dollars subsidize his lavish lifestyle?"

    AH-nold is a very wealthy man - and still he bills his overseas travel to this nonprofit group. The Office of Protocol can qualify its secret donors for full tax deductions, just as if they were giving to skid row shelters or the United Way. Charities are not governed by the same disclosure rules as campaign donations are, so people can contribute to this obscure little non-profit in order to influence the Governor, and obtain favors from him. What a nifty little trick he's got going for himself! I can see it now: "You want me to approve that? Sure. I'm taking the family to Europe for the summer, just make a donation to the OOP."

    Or should that be "OOPS?"

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    The Peace Train is One Year Old Today


    Happy Birthday to The Peace Train. Like so many others, I am participating in the blogswarm to celebrate - and promised Glenda I would write about Peace through Travel.

    However, Monday and Tuesday saw a security scare that led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights. This seems to be an ongoing pattern since 9/11/01 - around holiday time, or peak travel periods, both the UK and the USA find some terror plot to foil and thus delay travel. Last September, The TSA issued this edict restricting Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (LAGs) on flights - a relaxation of an earlier, total ban on these same LAGs. I recall having my NARS Lipgloss confiscated as I went through security.

    H. L. Mencken once said:
    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.

    And what better time to scare people than when they are about to get onto an airplane? A confined space, with 300 strangers, hurtling at breakneck speeds through the air. Why, anything could happen to you, right? You could get a variety of diseases. You could be sitting next to the crackpot who thinks he can blow up the plane using shampoo, or a tennis shoe.

    Fear is the greatest enemy we have. Fear gives birth to hate, to resentment, to apathy, or to acts of unspeakable violence. Religious fundamentalists fear anyone who does not believe as they do, and lables them infidel or heathen. People with narrow political ideologies fear anyone who disagrees, and labels them unpatriotic. People without education fear "the man" because they are unable to get ahead in the world. Education is power. Knowledge and an open mind are powerful tools. But an open heart is everything.

    For me, I find it impossible to hate anyone with whom I have broken bread. I do not hate Muslims - I've eaten at their tables, in Israel, when I lived there. And when my son was 13, my family traveled to Israel again as a Bar Mitzva present to him. One day, in the Old City of Jerusalem, we hired a guide for the day. He was a young Palestinian man, about 20 years old, spoke excellent English, and Hebrew - he was our for the day. He gave us the "non-sanctioned" view, but said that the people wanted a peaceful solution. He said it was the leaders who fueled hatred. Eventually, he left us at a fantastic restaurant - he was ready to go hang out with his friends (we invited him to dinner, but he was 20).

    When we left the restaurant, we got lost - and wound up in the Arab Quarter after dark. There was our guide, with a group of about 15 young men his own age. And they walked up to us and said, kindly, that as American Jews, we were in the wrong place after dark - that it was dangerous for us to be in that sector - we could be robbed, or killed, for being rich American Jews. They did not want to do that, so our guide and three of his friends escorted us to the gate where the car park was, bid us good night, and we went back to our hotel.

    When I create a trip for one of my clients, I have an underlying hope that they will spend time with local people. I cannot always arrange this in advance; but I do try. I don't do the "sun" destinations - those "package deal" spots that have so degraded local culture that they are "Mini-Miamis". I don't sell Mexico (except the Colonial Cities); I don't send people to the Caribbean; I rarely send folks to Hawaii. I create trips to destinations which are not "Westernized", where local culture remains intact, where people can really find out what it means to be part of this earth. And I have my own favorite places, and places I'm not so fond of.

    When a person travels expecting nothing to go awry, they will be disappointed. Travel must leave room for the happy accident. I have clients who, whenever they travel, they keep their hand outstretched in friendship. This is good and bad news for me, because they now have friends everywhere, and it means I do less and less for them - they are always staying with people they've met. On the first trip I did for them, one day a planned excursion was cancelled due to rain. They were at their hotel, and saw another couple who appeared despondent. My clients went over to them and said "Hi, we're T & B, and we're going to rent a car and do our own adventure - join us?" That's what they do. They believe in peace.

    I've lived in Israel; I've traveled to six of the seven continents; I've broken bread with local people everywhere I've been. And you know what? We're all the same. We all care about our children. We all care about our home, our neighbors, our community. We all have health concerns. We all want to put food on our tables. We are all the same. So how is it possible that we wind up making war on our brothers and sisters?

    If you travel, please travel with an open heart. If you travel, consider the environment, and that your own ways of doing things might be different than someone else's, but your ultimate goals are the same. Don't impose your will, just travel with an open heart and you might be gifted with friendship.

    Happy birthday to the Peace Train! Let's all get on it.

    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    The New Vision

    (hat tip to Sumo for this.)

    Washington Monthly called Ted Sorensen and asked him to write a speech for the potential Democratic Presidential Nominee. Some background: Sorensen was a young aide to Presidential Nominee John F. Kennedy in 1960, at a time when we lived in constant fear of the Cold War. Together, the young Kennedy and younger Sorensen crafted a speech of hope, vision, and honor to be given at the Democratic National Convention as Kennedy's acceptance speech. When Kennedy later became President, the nation received a call to action: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!" Kennedy spoke those words to us, and we responded. We had hope, and thus launched the most tumultuous decade of my lifetime.

    Sorensen complied with the Washington Monthly's request. He has written a speech of hope, vision, and honor - and I can only hope that whomever the Democratic nominee will be that they read this speech, heed it, and take it to heart. That he, or she, follow what Sorensen has written. Because Sorensen has given a viable plan to restore honor and dignity to this Nation. I am putting the entire text of the speech below:

    My fellow Democrats: With high resolve and deep gratitude, I accept your nomination.

    It has been a long campaign—too long, too expensive, with too much media attention on matters irrelevant to our nation’s future. I salute each of my worthy opponents for conducting a clean fifty-state campaign focusing on the real issues facing our nation, including health care, the public debt burden, energy independence, and national security, a campaign testing not merely which of us could raise and spend the most money but who among us could best lead our country; a campaign not ignoring controversial issues like taxation, immigration, fuel conservation, and the Middle East, but conducting, in essence, a great debate—because our party, unlike our opposition, believes that a free country is strengthened by debate.

    There will be more debates this fall. I hereby notify my Republican opponent that I have purchased ninety minutes of national network television time for each of the six Sunday evenings preceding the presidential election, and here and now invite and challenge him to share that time with me to debate the most serious issues facing the country, under rules to be agreed upon by our respective designees meeting this week with a neutral jointly selected statesman.

    Let me assure all those who may disagree with my positions that I shall hear and respect their views, not denounce them as unpatriotic as has so often happened in recent years. I will wage a campaign that relies not on the usual fear, smear, and greed but on the hopes and pride of all our citizens in a nationwide effort to restore comity, common sense, and competence to the White House.

    In this campaign, I will make no promises I cannot fulfill, pledge no spending we cannot afford, offer no posts to cronies you cannot trust, and propose no foreign commitment we should not keep. I will not shrink from opposing any party faction, any special interest group, or any major donor whose demands are contrary to the national interest. Nor will I shrink from calling myself a liberal, in the same sense that Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, and Harry Truman were liberals—liberals who proved that government is not a necessary evil, but rather the best means of creating a healthier, more educated, and more prosperous America.

    They are the giants on whose shoulders I now stand, giants who made this a better, fairer, safer, stronger, more united America.

    By making me your nominee, you have placed your trust in the American people to put aside irrelevant considerations and judge me solely on my qualifications to lead the nation. You have opened the stairway to what Teddy Roosevelt called the “bully pulpit.” With the help of dedicated Americans from our party, every party, and no party at all, I intend to mount that stairway to preach peace for our nation and world.

    My campaign will be based on my search for the perfect political consensus, not the perfect political consultant. My chief political consultant will be my conscience.

    Thank you for your applause, but I need more than your applause and approval. I need your prayers, your votes, your help, your heart, and your hand. The challenge is enormous, the obstacles are many. Our nation is emerging from eight years of misrule, a dark and difficult period in which our national honor and pride have been bruised and battered. But we are neither beaten nor broken. We are not helpless or afraid; because in this country the people rule, and the people want change.

    True, some of us have been sleeping for these eight long years, while our nation’s values have been traduced, our liberties reduced, and our moral authority around the world trampled and shattered by a nightmare of ideological incompetence. But now we are awakening and taking our country back. Now people all across America are starting to believe in America again. We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America’s proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace.

    The American people are tired of politics as usual, and I intend to offer them, in this campaign, something unusual in recent American politics: the truth. Neither bureaucracies nor nations function well when their actions are hidden from public view and accountability. From now on, whatever mistakes I make, whatever dangers we face, the people shall know the truth—and the truth shall make them free. After eight years of secrecy and mendacity, here are some truths the people deserve to hear:

    We remain essentially a nation under siege. The threat of another terrorist attack upon our homeland has not been reduced by all the new layers of porous bureaucracy that proved their ineptitude in New Orleans; nor by all the needless, mindless curbs on our personal liberties and privacy; nor by expensive new weaponry that is utterly useless in stopping a fanatic willing to blow himself up for his cause. Indeed, our vulnerability to another attack has only been worsened in the years since the attacks of September 11th—worsened by our government convincing more than 1 billion Muslims that we are prejudiced against their faith, dismissive of international law, and indifferent to the deaths of their innocent children; worsened by our failure to understand their culture or to provide a safe haven for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees displaced by a war we started; worsened by our failure to continue our indispensable role in the Middle East peace process.

    We have adopted some of the most indefensible tactics of our enemies, including torture and indefinite detention.

    We have degraded our military.

    We have treated our most serious adversaries, such as Iran and North Korea, in the most juvenile manner—by giving them the silent treatment. In so doing, we have weakened, not strengthened, our bargaining position and our leadership.

    At home, as health care costs have grown and coverage disappeared, we have done nothing but coddle the insurance, pharmaceutical, and health care industries that feed the problem.

    As global warming worsens, we have done nothing but deny the obvious and give regulatory favors to polluters.

    As growing economic inequality tarnishes our democracy, we have done nothing but carve out more tax breaks for the rich.

    During these last several years, our nation has been bitterly divided and deceived by illicit actions in high places, by violations of federal, constitutional, and international law. I do not favor further widening the nation’s wounds, now or next year, through continuous investigations, indictments, and impeachments. I am confident that history will hold these malefactors accountable for their deeds, and the country will move on.

    Instead, I shall seek a renewal of unity among all Americans, an unprecedented unity we will need for years to come in order to face unprecedented danger.

    We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our values and not merely our weapons.

    If I am elected president, my vow for this country can be summarized in one short, simple word: change. This November 2008 election—the first since 1952 in which neither the incumbent president’s nor the incumbent vice president’s name will appear on the national ballot, indeed the first since 1976 in which the name of neither Bill Clinton nor George Bush will appear on the national ballot—is destined to bring about the most profound change in the direction of this country since the election of 1932.

    To meet the threats we face and restore our place of leadership in the free world, I pledge to do the following:

    First, working with a representative Iraqi parliament, I shall set a timetable for an orderly, systematic redeployment and withdrawal of all our troops in Iraq, including the recall of all members of the National Guard to their primary responsibility of guarding our nation and its individual states.

    Second, this redeployment shall be only the first step in a comprehensive regional economic and diplomatic stabilization plan for the entire Middle East, building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine, halting the killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides, and establishing two independent sovereign states, each behind peacefully negotiated and mutually recognized borders.

    Third, I shall as soon as possible transfer all inmates out of the Guantanamo Bay prison and close down that hideous symbol of injustice.

    Fourth, I shall fly to New York City to pledge in person to the United Nations, in the September 2009 General Assembly, that the United States is returning to its role as a leader in international law, as a supporter of international tribunals, and as a full-fledged member of the United Nations which will pay its dues in full, on time, and without conditions, renouncing any American empire; that we shall work more intensively with other countries to eliminate global scourges, including AIDS, malaria, and other contagious diseases, massive refugee flows, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and that we will support the early dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to halt the atrocities in Darfur. I shall make it clear that we do not covet the land of other countries for our military bases or the control of their natural resources for our factories. I shall make it clear that our country is not bound by any policies or pronouncements of my predecessor that violate international law or threaten international peace.

    Fifth, I shall personally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and seek its ratification by the United States Senate, in order to stop global warming before it endangers all species on earth, including our own; and I shall call upon the Congress to take action dramatically reducing our nation’s reliance on the carbon fuels that are steadily contributing to the degradation of our environment.

    Sixth, I shall demonstrate sufficient confidence in the strength of our values and the wisdom and skill of our diplomats to favor communications, negotiations, and full relations with every country on earth, including Cuba, North Korea, Palestine, and Iran.

    Finally, I shall restore the constitutional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconstitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11.

    We need not renounce the use of conventional force. We will be ready to repel any clear and present danger that poses a genuine threat to our national security and survival. But it will be as a last resort, never a first; in cooperation with our allies, never alone; out of necessity, never by choice; proportionate, never heedless of civilian lives or international law; as the best alternative considered, never the only. We will always apply the same principles of collective security, prudent caution, and superior weaponry that enabled us to peacefully prevail in the long cold war against the Soviet Union. Above all, we shall wage no more unilateral, ill-planned, ill-considered, and ill-prepared invasions of foreign countries that pose no actual threat to our security. No more wars in which the American Congress is not told in advance and throughout their duration the true cost, consequences, and terms of commitment. No more wars waged by leaders blinded by ideology who have no legal basis to start them and no plan to end them. We shall oppose no peaceful religion or culture, insult or demonize no peace-minded foreign leader, and spare no effort in meeting those obligations of leadership and assistance that our comparative economic strength has thrust upon us. We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might.

    In the final analysis, our nation cannot be secure around the world unless our citizens are secure at home—secure not only from external attack, but secure as well from the rising tide of national debt, secure from the financial and physical ravages of uninsured disease, secure from discrimination in our schools and neighborhoods, secure from the bitter unrest generated by a widening gap between our richest and poorest citizens. They are not secure in a country lacking reasonable limitations on the sale of handguns to criminals, the mentally disturbed, and prospective terrorists. And our citizens are not secure when some of their fellow citizens, loyal Islamic Americans, are made to feel they are the targets of hysteria or bigotry.

    I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines.

    In my administration, I shall restore balance and fairness to the national tax system. I shall level the playing field for organized labor. I shall end the unseemly favors to corporations that allow them to profit without competing, for it is through competition that we innovate, and it is through innovation that we raise the wages of our workers. It shames our nation that profits for corporations have soared even as wages for average Americans have fallen. It shames us still more that so many African American men must struggle to find jobs.

    We will make sure that no American citizen, from the youngest child to the oldest retiree, and especially no returning serviceman or military veteran, will be denied fully funded medical care of the highest quality.

    To pay for these domestic programs, my administration will make sure that subsidies and tax breaks go only to those who need them most, not those who need them least, and that we fund only those weapons systems we need to meet the threats of today and tomorrow, not those of yesterday.

    The purpose of public office is to do good, not harm; to change lives, help lives, and save lives, not destroy them. I look upon the presidency not as an opportunity to rule, but as an opportunity to serve. I intend to serve all the people, regardless of party, race, region, or religion.

    Let us all, here assembled in this hall, or watching at home, constitute ourselves, rededicate ourselves, as soldiers in a new army. Not an army of death and destruction, but a new army of voters and volunteers, in a new wave of workers for peace and justice at home and abroad, new missionaries for the moral rebirth of our country. I ask for every citizen’s help, not merely those who live in the red states or those who live in the blue states, but every citizen in every state. Although we may be called fools and dreamers, although we will find the going uphill, in the words of the poet: “Say not the struggle naught availeth.” We will change our country’s direction, and hand to the generation that follows a nation that is safer, cleaner, less divided, and less fearful than the nation we will inherit next January.

    I’m told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes, who explained the principle of the lever by declaring: “Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world.” My fellow Americans—here I stand. Come join me, and together we will move the world to a new era of a just and lasting peace.

    I've been tagged

    I have the honor of being tagged by The Jewish Atheist via email. It's the 8 random facts meme. Here are the rules:

    • We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
    • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
    • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
    • At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
    • Don’t forget to leave them each a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

    OK, that's the skinny. Now here the facts:

    1. I have a MFA in sculpture from University of Illinois at Chicago, but I no longer make any sculpture. My sculpture was really big, and as I got older, my work became physically smaller. I paint; I draw; I make photographs; I write comedy; I write poetry; and I don't show it to anybody. From exhibiting extensively to hiding my work. Full circle.

    2. I am phobic about spiders. I don't trust them - despite loving Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. They sneak up on you and bite you. They're scary. And I also loved the movie, Arachnophobia

    3. On my first trip to Australia, back in 1993, the moment I stepped off the plane in Sydney, I felt like an arm had wrapped itself around my shoulder, with a hand placed over my heart. It felt like I was being protected. I was traveling alone; I was newly divorced; it was a big deal. At one point in my trip, I was on a camping trip in the top end of the Northern Territory. We were in Kakadu National Park, and we'd climbed to the top of Nourlangie Rock. Our guide, an Aboriginal man, was telling a story about his people's beliefs about the Rainbow Serpent. He said to me that all living things have a Rainbow Serpent, that it is the creative force in all living things. Rainbow wraps itself around everything, and with people Rainbow wraps around our shoulders and puts its head over our heart. I was sitting there, quietly listening. He looked me dead in the eye and said "You know what I'm talking about. Rainbow's wrapped around you, I can see him." You could have knocked me over with a feather.

    4. As much as I hate housework, that's how much I love clean laundry. I love the smell, the feel of it when it comes out of the drier. I love everything about clean laundry, so it's the only bit of housecleaning I don't mind doing. When I was a young girl, I went to overnight camp at Camp Chickagami for Girls. We all had to be on a crew, and for three years, I was on the Laundry Crew. I loved it, just because of when it came back from the laundry and we had to sort it.

    5. I have never, in my lifetime, voted for a Republican. If the Democrat is really bad, and there is no viable alternate person running from another party, I will not vote for the office rather than vote for a Republican.

    6. I cannot carry a tune if it had handles. I love music, I love to sing, and people BEG me to not. Tone deaf would be a step up.

    7. I also have two left feet. Not literally, like Gerry Fleck in Best in Show. But after years of ballet classes as a child, and jr. high mandatory dance classes, it was discovered that I have no sense of rythm, either. I can't dance. So, I love to entertain my son and daughter, both adults, by singing and dancing for them. They stare at me as if I was demented, with that look of "Are you SURE you gave birth to me?"

    8. I love to bake bread. Kneading bread dough is theraputic, it makes me calm, it's like a meditation. I hate bread machines, as it takes the intimate process away. But actually putting together the right balance of ingredients, and then kneading it the right amount, and then letting it rise, and punching it down to rise again, and then a third time - and then the smell of it in the oven - nothing like it. (Except clean laundry.) It makes me feel at peace.

    Okay,that's me. Now, who to tag?

    1. Enigma at Watergate Summer

    2. Naj at Neo Resistance

    3. Intrepid Flame

    4. Sumo

    5. Peacechick Mary

    6. Larry at Suzie-q


    7. Suzie-q herself

    8. Annie at Cozie Shack


    Monday, July 02, 2007

    You knew it was coming.

    Bush Commutes Scooter Libby's Sentence

    From the Associated Press

    with snarky comments by me

    3:01 PM PDT, July 2, 2007

    President Bush's statement today in sparing former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 21/2-year prison term:

    The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby's request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.

    Big Dick Cheney, the REAL President, told me that if I didn't commute the poor bastard's sentence, he'd take me hunting. We all know how that ends.

    I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby's appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.

    Because Dick's got the shotgun ready.

    From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame's name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department. Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.

    A whole lot more people didn't cooperate, these were just the canaries we keep around to sort of cover our asses.

    After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a special counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.

    We put a whole lotta names into one of them spinning devices. I pulled out a name, and it was Fitzgerald. I never met him before in my life.

    This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak. Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.

    Man, that was a lot of words and sentences. I hope nobody asks me any questions bout what I just said, because I ferget.

    Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.

    Personally, I don't believe any of this, not for a New York minute. Why, if you tell the truth, people find out what a scumbag you are. Nope. Much better to lie, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. I have made my own evaluation. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.

    Well, I weighed all these arguments for about a nanosecond, then did what Dick told me to do.

    Mr. Libby was sentenced to 30 months of prison, two years of probation and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.

    I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison.

    My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting.

    Snort. Who're we kidding? It's a damn wrist slap. He's got enough stashed away in shoeboxes to let him retire. Prolly buy hisself a boat. I think the hardest thing Lewis Libby had to face was when Libby Lewis from NPR interviewed him.

    The Constitution gives the president the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby's case is an appropriate exercise of this power.

    Because I'm the Decider, and I'm the President. Hey. Where's Angie Merkle? I wanna pinch her butt.

    What we CAN do

    Over at America Weeps, there's a post asking the question: Why have the Signatories of the Geneva Convention not filed War Crimes charges against Cheney, Bush, and this current Administration? He provides the answer with THIS article by Elizabeth Holtzman, published Sept. 23, 2006 in the Chicago Sun-Times.

    She writes: Thirty-two years ago, President Gerald Ford created a political firestorm by pardoning former President Richard Nixon of all crimes he may have committed in Watergate -- and lost his election as a result. Now, President Bush, to avoid a similar public outcry, is quietly trying to pardon himself of any crimes connected with the torture and mistreatment of U.S. detainees.

    I urge you to read the full article, and, more importantly, spread the word. Contact your Congressional Representative, urging them to bring articles of Impeachment. Get the truth out.

    (photo lifted from America Weeps who lifted it from DebsWeb -- thank you both)


    over at Liberally Mirth, D-Day and Mirth have come up with the proposal to literally clean house. Elect people who actually will restore our Bill of Rights, Habeus Corpus, and decency to the proceedure. Mirth says "We must do two things in 2008: Vote out this congress. Elect a Dem Prez and a Dem congress….or Independents if that becomes an option."

    I agree. And they've created an image we can all use:

    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Blogs against Theocracy

    Watching our nation plunge farther and farther into an abyss of Religious Fundamentalism is rather like watching a bad train wreck. I feel powerless to stop it. The Creation Museum presents a “walk through history.” Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, this state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life. That is THEIR description, not mine.

    There are other voices far more eloquent than mine, schooled in law, schooled in science, who can say more clearly than me why we must protect the First Amendment. I thought about focusing on the 1925 Scopes Trial which was a test case on The Butler Act of 1925 which prohibited teaching that mankind had evolved from a lower order of animals in the state of Tennessee; or, more specifically, it prohibited teaching anything that conflicted with the description of man being a direct creation of God as written in Genesis.

    I thought about this, and then I think, why? Right now, I would simply be singing to the choir - all of us who are participating in the blogswarm know the dangers of a theocracy. Some of us are atheists; some agnostic; some are Christian; some are Jewish; I hope there are Islamic bloggers participating as well. We know that any theocracy that demands strict adherence to a narrow religious path will severely punish non-believers.

    Here's the thing: I believe in a higher power. I have a god of my own understanding. I don't want, or expect you to believe as I do. I expect you to do your own thinking, and to reach your own conclusions. I have come to my own path because of a personal descent into addictions, and the road to recovery which I have been on for nearly 19 years. And my personal path is just that: I am deeply grateful that the program of recovery that I belong to is NOT allied with any religious sect, nor does it demand a specific belief out of me. If it did, I would not be able to participate. For me, the god of my understanding is often as simple as Good Orderly Direction.

    So it was intended in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    This separation of Church and State is the essence of freedom in the United States; or it was. What we see instead is a train wreck of thinking. We have an administration that terrorizes its own citizens with repeated lies and misdirection; people stop thinking when they are in fear. We become paralyzed with fear.

    I am not anti-religion. I am against the teaching of hate and suppression in the name of religion. I support First Freedom First, which is diligent in protecting our First Amendment Rights. And I am a proud participant in The Blogswarm Against Theocracy.

    (cross-posted at The Fat Lady Sings and The Katrinacrat)