Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Price of Right, by Alicia Morgan

Alicia Morgan, of Last Left Before Hooterville has raised a compelling question in her book, The Price of Right. The question seems simple: "Why do people consistently vote against their own best interests?" The answer seems simple as well: FEAR.

But Alicia shows us, chapter after chapter, that this response of fear is much more complex than we realize at surface. She talks about the language of fear. She talks about the personalities of self-described Conservatives and self-described Liberals, equating them with Farmers and Hunters in an archetypical sense. Traditionally, the Farmer had to follow a strict schedule as set by nature. The Hunter had to rely on lightening fast reflexes, instinct and the ability to change. These personalities are quite different; the Farmer will respond to an Authoritative figure while the Hunter will not.

Alicia has done her research, and she has written a compelling tale of how the Liberals have lost their "hunting" muscles - how we liberals have gotten lazy with mind-numbing comfort in an essentially "farming" community. How we liberals must begin the hunt for Truth and Change in earnest. But what I like most about Alicia's book is this: she's one of us. She's a musician, a mother, a wife, a blogger. She's struggling to make ends meet. She's not loaded with degrees and credentials and fancy language. She's one of us, and she's channelled her impatience into answering the question. She does it in language that is compelling in its accessibility. Follow the link. Get the book. Read it, and give it to an "undecided" friend. Give it to a Republican who is becoming afraid of his or her own party. Give it to a Hockey Mom who is appalled by Sarah Palin. Give it to a Democrat who puts their dislike of Obama ahead of the outcome of the election. Give it to anyone who can think.

Alicia has spoken for many of us, and I am proud to call her my friend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Henry Paulson, Mortgage Broker

Looks like Henry Paulson's going to have more than 7 houses on his hands. Yes, it's true. Treasury Secretary Paulson is about to become the most powerful mortgage financier ever.

Paulson's plan has gone from an eco-friendly three pages to over 100 pages of detail, supposedly putting all kinds of restraint and oversight on him, but the dead trees give him mostly what he wanted: $700 billion, and the authority to spend it has he sees fit.

(dream sequence: Sarah Palin calls Henry Paulson: "So, Henry, ya know, Todd's back has been killing him and he wants to get out of the oil fields, so can ya give him about a billion to start a bank with? He doesn't know a thing about banking, ya know, but hey, we can see Russia from our house so that's gotta count fer something." Paulson responds, "Of course, Sarah. I'd do anything for you and First Dude.")

Under the terms of the "compromise", and I use that term loosely,
any firm selling troubled assets to the government would have to give Washington the right to take an ownership stake in the firm -- a more sweeping requirement than had been expected.
This doesn't please the administration because they fear that healthy companies will not participate (translation: Paulson can't acquire healthy companies), which will reduce the effectiveness of their attempt at world domination the rescue effort.

On the one hand, the legislation requires him to combat the nationwide wave of home foreclosures by pushing mortgage service companies to rewrite some loans and to cut the interest rates or even the principal for financially strapped homeowners. On the other hand, it gives him the politically explosive power to cut deals with foreign, not just U.S., banks in some cases.

It gives Paulson unprecedented power. And it makes me nervous that the Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush, at the end of Bush's disasterous administration, is being given the reins.
"This is not about a bailout of Wall Street," declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). "It's a 'buy-in' so we can turn our economy around."
Geeze, I want what she's been smoking.
The measure's centerpiece -- its "troubled asset relief program" -- Paulson "is authorized to take such actions as the secretary deems necessary" to carry out the effort, including hiring, contracting and assigning companies to act as agents of the government, as well as buying, holding and selling assets.
This makes me nervous. Very nervous. To paraphrase the kid in "The Sixth Sense", I see greedy people. I see Halliburton. I see Blackwater marching into banks and taking over. Yes, I own a lovely tin foil hat.

And while the measure requires Paulson to "maximize assistance for homeowners . . . and minimize foreclosures," the very same sentence says the Treasury has to make sure that taxpayers are not stuck with any additional costs, which makes any substantial additional aid to homeowners unlikely.

Hey, I thought Republicans wanted LESS government, not more. If this "compromise" bill is approved, it will extend the Government's reach well into the mortgage business. I'm very nervous.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Economy, by Diva Jood

Once upon a time, the US Currency was linked to gold. But on August 15th, 1971, President Richard (I am not a crook) Nixon had the bright idea to close the gold window and take the US Currency off the Gold Standard, to which it had been linked since 1782. The rule was that we could only print up to four times the value of what was in our gold reserves.

By unlinking US Currency from Gold, Nixon effectively defaulted on our promise to foreign lenders to redeem dollars for gold. Now, we could simply print money whenever we felt like it. Need to pay for a new war? No problem, let's go down to the basement and print up some new trillion dollar bills and bomb the bejezus out of Iraq.

Some of our creditors aren't happy. "The Dollar cannot remain solely the problem of others," said Nicholas Sarkozy before a joint session of Congress in November, 2007. Nicky was referring to Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury, John Connally's remark that the Dollar was America 's currency "but your problem." Sarkozy said "monetary disarray could morph into economic war. We would all be its victims."

Did he have a Crystal Ball? Could Sarkozy, that Frenchman, have predicted this current economic meltdown that threatens our very large way of life? I mean, really, what happens when Governor Schwartzenegger cannot afford his Hummer, and has to actually take a fuel efficient car to work?

Whatever. I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I'm stretched pretty thin at the moment. I have bills and sporadic income. Still, I have hope. Didn't Obama tell me to get hope? I did, I went to the store and got me some hope and took a tremendous leap of faith to work independently.

But if McCain pulls this election out of his ass and winds up in the White House, I'm going to sell my hope for gold.

thanks, Dcap

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UN Millenium Project to End World Poverty

At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

Quantifiable, time-bound goals for ending extreme poverty. Today, we are at the mid-way point in achieving these goals, yet progress has been far too slow in many parts of the world. From their site, the MDG Project says that "The crisis is most severe in sub-Saharan Africa where, despite some successes such as increased primary school enrollment, the majority of countries are not on track to achieving the MDGs."

Today, with the United States economy in crisis, with fuel costs at astronomical rates, with food shortages and food costs soaring, with AIDS still unsolved, the question arises: what can I do, as an individual, to contribute to end world poverty? What can I do, currently self-employed and with an uneven income, do to end world poverty?

Well, actually, there are plenty of things I can do. Slow Food supports good, clean and fair food, with a focus on local growers. I can support businesses that are green. I can recycle. If I focus on small, local actions, and put these actions out into the world, that energy spreads.

The cost of poverty is high - wasted minds, wasted potential, wasted lives. We can do better.

Dave Letterman's Take on McCain Suspending Campaign

It's just over nine minutes but worth watching all of it. His point about testing the VP candidate is so on the money.

McCain's act is a Hail Mary pass if ever there was one. (See Randal? I know my football terms.)

Update: Here is Craig Ferguson's take on the issue:

You can't suspend democracy. Hat tip to Dianne for this. Both Dave and Craig point out, through humor, the absurdity of McCain's empty gesture. The power of humor is far reaching. I applaud them both.

A Message from the Secretary of Strawberries

So but gramma has been so busy working for herself that she hardly has time to blog and she thinks she's a meanie because she makes herself work. So but today she isn't going to work much because she has to only drink clear liquids and then she gets drugs tomorrow for a test which people her age hafta get every five to seven years to prevent screens. I'm three.

Gramma's friend, Alicia, she has been writing a book which she's been working on for the past two years, which is almost as old as me but now the book is available and Gramma has a copy of it now. It's about how the Conservative Agenda is bad for America, and what makes people vote against their own best interests. And Gramma is very proud to call Alicia her friend, even though they don't get together very much because Alicia lives about three miles north of where Jesus lost his sandals. And Gramma lives in the port. Not in the port, like she doesn't have a berth and doesn't sit on the water. You should all buy Alicia's book. And then you should vote on November 4th. And Gramma's friend Peggy said that she was not only voting FOR Obama, she was voting AGAINST Sarah Palin. And Peggy is a life-long Republican. Sarah Palin scares her.

Gramma's opponent, Dr. Zaius seems to think Gramma looks good in pink, and that Veeper Nunly should smoke more. Why is Mr. Randal holding that little boy's head? Anyways. Buy Alicia's book and read it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obsession, or Devotion?

Have you seen little man? No, not that piece of crap with Marlon and Shawn Wayans. I mean the documentary by Nicole Conn.

Nicole and her partner, Political Activist Gwen Baba, had been together seven years and had a daughter, Gabrielle. When they decide to have a second child, they opened all kinds of doors. Gwen had carried Gabrielle, and felt she was too old for another pregnancy. So, they decided to use a surrogate.

The pregnancy was fraught with problems and their son, Nicholas, was born 100 days early - a micro-premie. He weighed one pound. His heart was the size of a cashew.
Nicholas goes through medical procedure after medical procedure - because science and medicine "can" keep a fetus alive. But at what price do we hold onto life? Nicole is faced with the question that haunts in the night: When does caring become cruelty?
In the film, Nicole talks about timing. When they learned that the fetus was not growing properly, Gwen wanted to consider abortion. When the baby was born, Gwen was terrified of the efforts that would be required to keep this baby alive. But Nicole said that had Nicholas been their first child, she would have agreed with Gwen - but having their daughter, Gabrielle, changed that. She could not terminate the pregnancy, nor could she turn her back on what she termed "her son's need to be here."

Their marriage is pushed to the edge. How do they manage to keep some semblance of normal life for their daughter, while Nicole spends nearly all her time at the hospital with Nicholas? He was in the hospital for 158 days; when he came home, he was hooked to oxygen, and continued to require special attention. The question is raised, again and again, when is enough, enough?

The film disturbed me to my very core. Oh, man, is that an understatement. It caused me to look at all kinds of philosophical issues, and examine my beliefs deeply. This film was the darling of the GLBT Film Festivals, as well as several other independent festivals. So for me to say I didn't like it one bit will probably label me as homophobic; I am not. The "pro-life" crowd already hates me, because I believe in a woman's right to choose. But guess what? That means a woman can choose to have the child against medical advice, just as she can choose to abort.

In his first month of life, Nicholas endures four surgeries, two codes, chest compressions, ventilators, needles in every vein, collapsed lungs, excreting feces from his stomach which caused 8 centimeters to be removed from his intestines, blood transfusions, intubations, kidney failures, and a spinal tap. How much is too much? How much can a mother watch? Doctors often remark “they don’t feel pain the way we do.” But how do they know? Is it simply a defense against the indefensible? Can anyone define the line between caring and cruelty?

Nicholas survived, against all odds. Nicole and Gwen are still together, their family of four living happily in the Los Angeles area. Nicholas wears glasses, hearing aids, doesn't speak, has all kinds of challenges. He will need constant care for his entire life. The financial cost is huge. The emotional cost was huge. Nicole said the experience truly brought her to faith.

Faith in what? In a higher power? Is that higher power the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit? Because if left to nature, this child would not have survived. He would not have been born. He would not exist.

Remember Terri Schiavo? Of course you do. Her parents set up a foundation that is “Helping Families Fight for Those Who Cannot Fight for Themselves”.
The mission of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation is to develop a national network of resources and support for the medically-dependent, persons with disabilities, and the incapacitated who are in or potentially facing life-threatening situations. Promoting a Culture of Life, “Terri’s Foundation” embraces the true meaning of compassion by opposing the practice of euthanasia.
How much is too much? If someone is terminal, is it really compassionate to keep them alive by extraordinary means? How many of these self-declared compassionate people have no qualms about the death penalty? Hunting? War?

Nicholas lives with his mothers and sister. He is shown in the film laughing, smiling, loved. Yes. Both his mothers love him. Gwen came to terms with his survival, and loves him without regret. In Nicholas's case, science and medicine and Nicole's dogged determination to pull him through gave him life. Nicole attributes this all to God and to Nicholas's will to live, but I don't agree. His life is his because of science, because of her obsession. Don't mix god up with her selfish need to see this child come to be.

Yes. Selfish. That's how I saw her. Forgive me for my harsh judgment, but there it is. I saw her as selfish as Terri Schiavo's parents.

But Terri Schaivo's husband was equally selfish, as was Gwen Baba, who did not want to put Nicholas through that ordeal. Because it is impossible to NOT be selfish in these situations. Nobody has the ability to make an impartial decision - it is your child, your spouse, your partner, your family at risk and you cannot be impartial or dispassionate. And the decisions and choices are so incredibly personal that WE, on the outside, have no right to intervene or make laws or dictate.

I may not agree with your decision, but it is yours to make, yours to live with, yours to process. Just as my decisions are mine. Don't bring god's will into the mix. Not one of us has spoken to god directly - unless you're off your meds - and while we can ask for direction, and ask for guidance, at the end of the day the decision to pull the plug or not rests with an individual, a person. Not god.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A busy day ahead

First, I need to get started on my new job!

Then, I will be busy furnishing my new home!

And Phil Gramm calls us a nation of whiners.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Someday We'll Go All The Way

(thanks for the link, Dusty!)

Cubs clinched the division title today against St. Louis! One scary inning, but the North Side has baseball in October.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The "W" stands for a Cubs Win, not Dubya

This is a fun little test that Fran emailed me this morning. Since I have absolutely not one thought in my Diva brain other than the fact that the Chicago Cubs Magic Number is 4 and they lost to freaking Milwaukee last night. So until they clinch, I am having small bouts of anxiety.

No. The Financial Crisis matters not at all when baseball is on the table. A totally unqualified hockey mom as VP Candidate hardly matters when the Cubs are poised to do what hasn't been done by them in 100 years. I'm sorry, I must focus now on winning vs. heartbreak.

Because if I focus on what really matters, my head might explode.

(image stolen courtesy my opponent, Dr. Zaius)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Musical Interlude

Randal has asked for another salary increase. He's also demanded that I do some work, to prove why I should be President, by listing my 25 favorite tunes on my iPod (I don't have an MP3) and then picking five other people to name that tune as well.

First: I am tone deaf. So asking me anything musical is dangerous at best.
Second: There are tunes I love, but I can't recall the name, or the name of the artist. Hey. I'm a Boomer. I survived the 1960s but killed a few brain cells along the way. Drugs were plentiful.
Third: oh, bugger. I can't think of a 3rd, so here goes. Randal, you are a cruel man. But for threatening me, I quadruple your salary.

The top 25 for me, in no particular order:

1. "More Love" The Dixie Chicks
2. "I Shall Be Released" Bob Dylan
3. "Forever Young" Bob Dylan
4. "Disorder in the House" Warren Zevon
5. "Impossible Mission" Patty Griffin
6. "Baby's Got Sauce" G. Love & Special Sauce
7. "Bamboled" Gipsy Kings
8. "The Very Thought of You" Nat "King" Cole
9. "God Only Knows" The Beach Boys
10. "Hallelujah" John Cale
11. "Old 55" Tom Waits
12. "All Along The Watchtower" Jimi Hendrix
13. "Lively Up Yourself" Bob Marley
14. "Talk To Me of Mendocino" Anna and Kate McGarrigle
15. "Ain't No Way" Aretha Franklin
16. "Dear Mr. President" Pink
17. "Gone Going" Black Eyed Peas
18. "Hello In There" John Prine
19. "The Maker" Daniel Lanois
20. "California" Joni Mitchell
21. "Hurt" Johnny Cash
22. "Southern Rain" Cowboy Junkies
23. "Dome epais - duet from Lakme" Lesley Garrett
24. "Mercy" Duffy
25. "Smiling Underneath" Ani DiFranco

Oh.My.God. I have about 200 things on my iPod. This is insane.

So, here's the deal: Now five OTHER people have to fess up:

1. Veep Mary Ellen
2. Frederick, you can't get out of this so easily.
3. Chief Justice of the Supremes, Utah Savage
4. Okjimm because he lives in the same state as the Bodeans.
5. DK Raed

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dr. Von Monkerstein has tagged me

Yes, it's true. Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein has tagged me for this new meme started up by Jewish Princess, Katie Schwartz. I realize I'm a Diva, and older than Katie, so techinically I outrank her but it is such a good idea, I bow to her wisdom and wit. The meme asks a bunch of questions of Obama supporters, and so (please forgive me) Monkey see, Diva do.

1) What is your name (nickname, whatever you're comfortable sharing), your age (range), gender, occupation, income bracket (range), how you identify (gay/straight/whatever)? Married/Single/Divorced? Kids (how many)?

Real Name: Judith
Nickname: Diva Jood
I am 59, Halloween is my birthday, yikes. Female. Travel Counselor. Income is now up for grabs as I am independent. Cash flow is tight at the moment. I am straight. Divorced. Two kids, both grown and gone, one adorable 3 year old granddaughter.

2) What are the most important issues to you in this presidential election and why?

My issues are Universal Health Care for all citizens, the Environment, and an end to the war for Oil in Iraq.

As an older Boomer, and now self-employed, I am well aware of how Health Coverage bleeds us. The numbers of uninsured Americans, or underinsured Americans, staggers the imagination, and there is no reason for it. Universal Health Care works well in Europe, in Canada, throughout the world - the only thing standing in the way of it in America is Corporate Greed.

And we must now do everything we can to protect the Environment. Again, through greed, we have pillaged the land - over built, destroying natural and needed wetlands; dumped so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere that we've increased global temperatures at a disasterous rate. If we don't act now to reverse this, we will not have a planet to live on. And I can't afford to relocate to Mars.

And what can pay for this? The TRILLIONS of dollars wasted in a needless, irresponsible and illegal war in Iraq, that's what. End the war now, and spend this money at home.

3) Why do you think voters should vote for Obama/Biden, what differentiates this ticket from McCain/Palin?
Roe v. Wade; The Supreme Court; The Environment; Protecting ANWR vs. drilling for oil; Health Care.

4) If McCain/Palin wins this election, where do you see our country going in the next four years?
If McCain/Palin do win, I see this as a giant step backward for the nation. Domestic surveillence will increase; more bank failures; increase deregulation of various industries in the name of Corporate Greed; more airline failures; escalating costs for health care; more home foreclosures; higher prices at the pump; an end to Civil Liberties; end of Separation of Church and State; more fear, more isolation from the world at large.

5) Economically, where do you think this country is today and how do you think Obama/Biden can make a positive impact?
We are in a Recession. With all the deregulation of industry, we are on the edge of a Depression, and economic collapse. Obama's plan would be to increase taxes for the wealthiest 2%, so that they finally will pay their share. He will end Bush's tax cuts. He will encourage companies to go "green" with tax incentives; he will tax companies that outsource. I would hope that he create a service unit similar to FDR's New Deal, to create jobs at home.

6) In the past 8-years, how do you think this country has changed under the Bush regime? Have you been affected by these changes? If so, in what ways?
Loss of international respect; we are less safe as Americans because of his reckless policies and illegal, pre-emptive war.
Loss of civil liberties and increase in domestic spying.
We've become financially strapped as a nation, with home foreclosures at alarming rates; six major financial institutions collapsing; major airlines going out of business. And yes, I've been affected by all of it. I am earning less now than I was before; travel in general is down because people are afraid to go anywhere. I have had horrific health care costs. I have had to deplete my savings. Nothing good has come out of the Bush regime.

7) I have read that Palin is considered the new voice of feminism, which is offensive in my opinion. Of equal concern are her views on abortion and the removal of books from libraries. I'd like to know what you think about all of that and how you feel about McCain choosing Palin as a running mate. And what kind of message you think that sends to women?

When Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla, she made sure that victims of rape had to pay for their own forensic rape kits. And while Ms. Palin supports contraception, she is a member of a "pro-woman" but anti-abortion group called "Feminists For Life". Quoting Cecile Richards:
“Senator McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate makes clear that John McCain is completely out of touch on the issues that matter to American women. The last thing women need is a president — and vice president — who are prepared to turn back the clock on women's rights and repeal the protections of Roe v. Wade.
Ms. Palin's claim to Foreign Policy Experience is that she can SEE Russia on a clear day, from Wasilla. The ONLY thing she and Hillary Clinton have in common is a vagina. Sarah Palin is an insult to all of us.

So. Now I have to ask others to respond.

1. Despite her attempt to not blog about politics, I must as FranIAm to participate in this meme.

2. Dianne rarely blogs politically, so I would love her take.

3. Maria*Maria because, well, Maria Knows.

4. Border Explorer.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sarah Palin, the "Pro-Life" and "Feminist" Governor

(big thanks to Katie Schwartz for the link)

Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor.
Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.

"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," (former Gov. Tony) Knowles said.
Of course, Governor Palin opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, even if the victims are children. So why not make them pay for their foresnsic rape kits?

And she's so pro-life, she offered a bounty of $150 for turning in the legs of freshly killed wolves. She favors the trophy hunting of Grizzly Bears, even though the bear viewing industry (tourism) generates over $100,000,000.00 in revenue for Alaskans.

We cannot risk an administration of John McCain and Sarah Palin. We cannot. She would be worse for the environment than George W. Bush. Please, spread the word. Vote for Obama, do NOT sit on your hands this fall.

There's more. Grizzly Bay has been online since 2007, long before Ms. Palin became the Republican's Rock Star VP Candidate. The owners of the site are Alaskans, and proudly active in protecting Alaska's wonderful wildlife. This woman is bad for the environment, bad for America, and bad for the World. Visit the site, get educated.

Hat tip to Liberality for finding the site.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


First No-Hitter for the Cubs since 1972! I love you, Carlos!

Les Misbarack

With a nod to Les Miserables. Hey, I had to do something besides whinge about how awful Sarah Palin is.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sgt. Pecker's Neo-Con Club Band

image from RobertRouse

It was 27 years ago today
Sgt Pecker taught the band to play
We've been going in and out of style
But you're guaranteed to make us smile
So may I introduce to you
The act we want to really screw you
Sgt Pecker's NeoCon Club Band
We're Sgt Pecker's NeoCon Club Band
We really do enjoy our show
We're Sgt Pecker's NeoCon Club Band
Sit back and let the country go
Sgt. Pecker's NeoCon, Sgt. Pecker's NeoCon,
Sgt. Pecker's NeoCon Club Band.
It's wonderful to be here,
It's certainly a thrill.
You're such a lovely audience,
We'd like to keep the White House ours,
We'd love to keep that home.
I don't really want to stop the show,
And I really don't care what you know,
But the singer's going to sing a song,
And he wants you all to doze along.
So let me introduce to you
The one and only 43
And Sgt. Pecker's NeoCon Club Band.

And if you need more information:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Grandbaby Blogging, with awards

My gramma was visiting me she was stayed here for three weeks, and she kept tickling me her fingers would get stuck in my armpits and so I stole her nose and ate it but it made her tickle me more. Then mommy went to Washtun DC for her work and gramma let me play in things that mommy doesn't and I got to bring a big stick home for doggy. Doggy got sick and went to hopsital because she ate my food. Mommy and gramma and me took doggy to hopsital and they kept her overnight I was sad. Doggy can't eat my food or she go back to hopsital. We don't like Sarah Palin in my house she likes to kill animals and that's not pro life at all. I like spiderwebs. There's a feather on the outside wall it hanging upsidedown from a bird I don't know how it got there. And Gramma got a award from Utah Savage which is pretty.

So Gramma and me gonna give this award to some other peoples. More than two peoples. Five peoples. Gramma thinks these peoples are brilliante

1. Pagan Sphinx
2. Border Explorer
3. Robert Rouse
4. Liquid
5. Fran

All these bloggers are brilliante. They are great to read, great images, thoughts.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Better Days are coming

Turn up the lights. I don't want to go home in the dark.
O. Henry

Susan suggested a contest, that we write about something we'd like to see happen to make the world a better place. So today, on the anniversary of that horrific day Americans became lost in the dark, I will write about my hopes.

I know very few people who were not directly affected by the two planes flying into the Twin Towers. My friend and collegue, Laura Lee Morabito, was in the first class section of AA11, the first plane to hit the first tower. Laura was en route from Boston to Los Angeles for a Qantas Airways sales meeting. I can only hope she didn't suffer. I have other friends, transplants from New York, guys who used to work in the financial district of New York, and who knew many of the fire fighters who died that day. All of us were affected, and we had an opportunity to come together in mourning, to unite in our grief and help to heal each other.

Instead, we got the Kowboy Koward. Where was our inspiration? In his first Inaugural Address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said clearly, boldly,
let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
He was speaking about the Great Depression, of course. It was 1933. He said
Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
Deja Vu all over again.

But back to that September morning, when our lives changed drastically and instead of asking us to be brave, our President played on our fears and plunged us into 8 years of darkness. "We're under attack" he screamed, convienently sidestepping the fact that his administration had ignored warnings. "We're gonna hunt down Osama Bin Laden and kill 'em dead." The attacks happened in New York City, which, amazingly, had no counter-terrorism plans in place despite the fact that Bin Laden's people had previously attacked The World Trade Center with a car bomb. Yep - 8 years was not enough time for Rudy Giuliani to put a plan in place.

Bush invaded Afghanistan to search for Bin Laden. We're still there, 8 years later. He used the 9/11 attacks, and lies, to invade Iraq. We're still there. John McCain is using 9/11 in conjunction with Iran, which, if he's elected, we will invade. And the entire Neo-Conservative movement says that if you oppose their Hawk Positions, you are not a patriot. That only Gun-Toting, hate-mongering, fear-driven people are out to protect America.

Not in my name. No. We have been overtaken by people so driven by greed and self-seeking that we've lost sight of our values. We have abdicated our responsibility to people who lack vision and so we've languished in darkness and fear.

Here is the better world I wish to see: Universal Health Care; clean air, made possible by breaking our addiction to oil and turning to wind, solar power, and water; affordable housing; REAL education, rather than teaching children how to take standardized tests; creation of jobs in order to rebuild our failing infrastructure - restore wetlands, rebuild levees, reclaim land. Teach compassion, and act in compassion.

What will I do to be the change I wish to see? I've left a company headed up by a man who is driven by greed and self-seeking in order to work from home. I use compact florescent bulbs. I recycle. I purchase local produce, at the farmers market, so I buy what's in season. I am voting for Obama.

And yes. I trust that we will see light again. We will be the change we need to see in the world.

Confirmed: Andrew Berens Coming Home

Andrew Berens has been released and is returning the the US. The website says
From what we understand, Samuel George, Andrew’s translator, and another man who was detained with him are returning to the State Security Service (SSS) tomorrow. We hope that they will be fully cleared then. International journalism relies on the work of such trusted friends as Samuel, and we ask you to check in tomorrow to learn of their status. If there’s more we need to do to help them, we will be the first to let you know.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York lead the efforts calling for Andy's release; Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Robert Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and John Kerry (D-MA) all responded quickly calling for Andy's release. Note that all these Senators are Democrats. Not one Republican stepped forward.

This is not over. Thank you for spreading the word.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tic-tac, no trade-backs

this non-political break courtesy Utah Savage, (I love you, Utah).

1. Where was I ten years ago?
In 1998, I still lived in Chicago, had just completed my second Twin Cities to Chicago AIDS Ride (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago on a bicycle), was a featured speaker at a forum for the Travel Trade in Brisbane, Australia at a program called "Unzipped: Unleashing the Potential of the North American Market." I talked about the "distribution chain" and how fractured it had become. And I also spoke at the Chicago International Outdoor and Adventure Travel Expo to a Travel Agent Forum. It was a great year.

2. What was on my ToDo list today?
Get dressed. Go to the San Pedro Court House to pay a small fee for a correction on my vehicle sticker. Get dressed. Oh, did I mention? Get out of my p.j.s and get dressed. And finish a quote for a group.

3. And my favorite number. What would I do if I were a billionaire? Oh, oh, I would do so much. I would fund sustainable tourism. I would fund a grant for women entrepeneurs. I would travel more (and I travel a lot.) I would move out of Los Angeles to a more rural location and grow all my vegetables and fruit. I would have a second home in Chicago. I would paint and write.

4. Five places I've lived.
Kfar Blum, a kibbutz in Israel
Glencoe, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
San Pedro, California

5. Bad Habits.
Are you kidding me? I hate to clean house. I'm lazy. I eat way too much bad food. I'm judgmental, opinionated, and arrogant. I spend more than I earn. Blah blah blah blah blah.

Now the fun part: pick five others to play too.

1. Blueberry
2. Maria*Maria
3. Dianne
4. Randal
5. Border Explorer

We don't have the ability to pick and choose who we can discriminate against

Cecile Richards says it best.
“Senator McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate makes clear that John McCain is completely out of touch on the issues that matter to American women. The last thing women need is a president — and vice president — who are prepared to turn back the clock on women's rights and repeal the protections of Roe v. Wade.
Ms. Richards is the late Governor Ann Richards' daughter, and is Planned Parenthood's Action Fund President.

Richards talks about how this election must be about moving forward, how is must be about change rather than more of the same. But the McCain/Palin ticket wants to revoke Roe V. Wade; Ms. Palin is vehemently anti-abortion. She is even at odds with her own party, "specifically her unwillingness to grant her own child a choice to end a pregnancy induced by rape."

Ms. Palin is pro-contraception and said she's a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life. In 2002, she declared herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be." This begs another question: how can someone call themselves "pro-life" if they support the death penalty and ariel hunting of endangered species?

Andrew Halcro, one of the candidates in Alaska's 2006 Governor's Race, said "You don't have the ability to pick and choose who you can discriminate against." He was referring to Gay Rights, but the statement refers so perfectly to the positions of the far right - the contradictions in their positions baffle me, and probably every thinking voter. How can someone be "pro-life" yet condone the death penalty, condone war as a solution, condone hunting? How can someone approve the use of contraceptives but opposed to sex education in schools? That message really confuses me - is it okay to have sex as long as you use protection, but please, please, don't talk about it, don't learn about it.

Barack Obama offers real solutions that are clear, consistent, and rational. We stand on the precipice of a very steep cliff - are we going to vote for real change, or are we going to let more and more of our freedoms and dignity be erased? November 4 is critical.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

She's like Phyllis Schlafly, only worse

She's the darling of the "Pro-Family" movement. No, not Sarah Palin, Phyllis Schlafly, mother of six, Karl Rove's godmother. Phyllis Schlafly, the woman Ann Coulter calls "amazing." This is the cloth from which Sarah Palin has been cut.

Which begs the question: what makes these UberConservatives "pro-family" and the rest of us not? I look at people around me, none of whom have traditional family set-ups anymore - children being raised in loving, single-parent homes; mothers who work; gay and lesbian parents raising children - aren't these people pro-family too? I don't hunt, which I guess is positively un-American.

Still. John McCain says this woman will be ready from Day 1. From the looks of things, I guess that's true.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The reason I've not been around much recently

I love them both. My daughter, my granddaughter are truly amazing people. To see the world through a 3-year-old's eyes, where everything is a learning experience, has been just incredible for me. The last three weeks have been good/challenging - setting up with a new company, fighting off Napoleon and SlavesRUs (I engaged a lawyer when the schmuck tried to hack into my checking account to stop a direct deposit), two National Conventions, my daughter's strep throat, my granddaughter's gigantic personality.

We had a visit from Spartacus just before the shit hit the fan with Napoleon, so I was a bad friend and didn't get together with him again. I apologize. Truth is, my former employer was so beligerent and threatening that I was actually frightened. I've never encountered anything like this, and now he appears to be focusing his nastiness on two of my former collegues (one of whom is a friend.) When I am afraid, my resources dwindle. I become invaginated.

So Monday, I fly home. Tuesday I will get back on the campaign trail. Sorry to be scarce, but the last three weeks have been interesting.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Andrew Berends Needs Your Help

My friend Karolyn sent me an email about Andrew Berends, a New York-based freelance filmmaker and journalist who was working on a film about the oil-producing Delta region in Nigeria. Andrew was Karolyn's daughter Katherine's high school class. His mother, Polly, is the author of Whole Parent, Whole Child and is a dear friend of Karolyn's. Andrew was arrested on Sunday and accused of spying. His passportand filmmaking equipment have been confiscated. “They didn’t let me sleep or eat or drink water for the first 36 hours,” he said Tuesday night. Polly has asked for help - if you can contact any political heavyweight to intervene on Andy's behalf, please do.

Several other foreign journalists and filmmakers have been detained while working in the region in recent years. In April, four members of a Seattle-based film crew were arrested in the Delta and held for six days on spying charges. Apparently, Nigeria doesn't want the world to notice the economic and ecological disaster that is taking place in the Niger Delta.
Despite its oil riches, the Niger Delta is a desperately poor and increasingly lawless part of the country, where wealth is siphoned away by corrupt officials. Militants demand a greater share of the area’s oil resources and claim to be fighting on behalf of the impoverished residents, but also appear to be engaging in many criminal and opportunistic acts of violence. Hundreds of foreign workers and wealthy Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom, and oil theft is rampant.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded his immediate release, but we need to bring more pressure on Nigeria to stop this wanton censureship of filmmakers and journalists. If you can, please call your Congressional Representative and your Senators.




Andrew has been provisionally released. There are still restrictions.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

You MUST visit this site

Unfit McCain is amazing. Just go there.

Award Season again

The very creative Akelamalu of Everything and Nothing has bestowed another lovelyArte y Pico Award upon me. I know there are rules. The rules remain the same as before, five blogs, yaddayaddayadda, link blahblahblah.

1. Dean Wormer is most definately deserving of this award, although I don't think he will look great in the gown. Perhaps he can do a tuxedo version.
2. Susan, of Phantsythat is a real artist. She has one of these, but she gets another from me.
3. Frieda Bee, hilarious, creative, fierce, inventive.
4. Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein, king monkey of the photoshop, I read him religiously a lot.
5. FranIAm, my friend, with an amazing passion for justice. With humor. With faith.

1)Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award which is here:
Arte y Pico.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Vet forgot to Vett

(image from Frieda Bee)

She's under legislative ethics investigation in Alaska over whether she abused her power when she dismissed the state's public safety commissioner. She was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, which puts Alaska first. Or, to quote Joe Vogler, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

Ms. Palin supports increased oil and gas drilling in sensitive lands and waterways, opposed federal action to list the polar bear as a species threatened with extinction and supports a controversial program to allow aerial shooting of wolves and bears as a means of predator control. Oh, and did I mention? Her husband, Todd Palin, works as a field operator for BP, one of the main operators on the North Slope of Alaska.

McCain was in a hurry, though. He'd rejected both Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty as running-mates, deeming those choices too predictable. He wanted either Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman, both of whom support abortion rights - which made the conservative base of the Republican party furious. So. What's the Vet to do?
He turned to Ms. Palin. He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later. Advisers to Mr. Pawlenty and another of the finalists on Mr. McCain’s list described an intensive vetting process for those candidates that lasted one to two months.


Let me be clear: I will not discuss her children, because god knows I made my share of mistakes raising mine. I WILL focus on the facts, though. The facts about Sarah Palin prove that she has NOTHING that qualifies her to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. When you consider that John McCain is one mole away from being dead, it terrifies me that he would select her as his running-mate. Because, children, he could be elected.

Sarah Palin is anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, pro-oil drilling and advocate of teaching of creationism in schools. Some say she's an exciting choice because she's a woman. Samantha Bee said she would vote for Palin because she has "a vagina … and boobies." I guess that's all that matters, right?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sarah Palin's Foreign Policy Expertise?

Michael Barone, of US News claims that Sarah Palin does have Foreign Policy Experience. He says
Foreign policy experience? Well, Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II.
Hmmm. Living NEAR Russia, it seems, provides one with foreign policy cred. I seem to recall - I even looked at a map and Alaska doesn't actually share a border with Russia - the Bering Sea is between them. Alaska DOES share a border with Canada, though. Perhaps that means Ms. Palin is fluent in French?

Of course, Cindy McCain thinks that proximity to Russia is enough to qualify Ms. Palin's experience.

Of course, there is precedent for this sort of reasoning. During the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush would occasionally claim to have foreign policy experience, by virtue of the fact that his adopted-home state of Texas bordered Mexico. If this is the basis of Foreign Policy experience, then the Shit-From-Shinola Party ticket rocks the house.

I grew up in Chicago, which has the highest Polish population outside of Warsaw. Chicago also has Italians, Irish, and Jews, so I can handle the Eastern Bloc, the Middle East, great food (Italians, c'mon) and whatever it is the Irish are known for. Really, vote Jood/Nunly and we'll turn this government around completely.