Archive for July, 2009

Humah Me

July 17, 2009

Another weekend is upon us and I figure we all could use some laughs.

Our dear Sarah is still in our thoughts, as if we could get rid of her even if we wanted to.  Her spotlight continues to shine, although not very favorably.  The best headline this week was “QUIT HAPPENS” , Shannyn Moore’s (of the Huffington Post) take on a new plateau of Palin ineptitude:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannyn-moore/sarah-palins-constitution_b_230390.html

The new, unofficial Alaska motto: Quit Happens.

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One of the ten best childrens’ books, “A Hole Is To Dig”, written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, entered into my radar scope this week.  This book is a child’s first book of definitions, and is funny and beautiful in its simplicity. Why, you may ask, did this particular book pop into my head?  The title flashed in my memory banks when I observed Senator Jeff Sessions and his Republican, white, male cronies interviewing Judge Sonia Sotomayer for confirmation to the Supreme Court bench.  These oppositional fellows, who do not see any value of a female, non-lily white perspective on the Court, kept digging their own hole deeper and deeper as the hearings progressed.  Their lack of appreciation for diversity on the Court, which should mirror the diversity in our population, demonstrated THEIR prejudicial mantra.  Dig, Senators, dig:

http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780064432054

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Yo Mama has been feeling her age lately.  Maybe that is due to the dog day’s of summer, or maybe it is just a fact of life.  I got a little thrill out of this bit of humah:

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, living in Florida, are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll  to discuss the wedding,
and on the way they pass a drugstore.  Jacob  suggests they go in.  Jacob addresses the man behind the counter: “Are you the owner?”  The pharmacist answers, “Yes.”

Jacob: “We’re about to get married. Do you sell heart  medication?”Pharmacist: “Of course we do.”

Jacob: “How about medicine for circulation?”

Pharmacist: “All kinds ”

Jacob: “Medicine for rheumatism?”

Pharmacist: “Definitely.”

Jacob: “How about suppositories?”

Pharmacist: “You bet!”

Jacob: “Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, and  Alzheimer’s?”

Pharmacist: “Yes, a large variety. The works.”

Jacob: “What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol,  antidotes for Parkinson’s disease?”

Pharmacist: “Absolutely.”Jacob: “Everything for heartburn and indigestion?”

Pharmacist: “We sure do.”

Jacob: “You sell wheelchairs and walkers and canes?”

Pharmacist: “All speeds and sizes.”

Jacob: “Adult diapers?”

Pharmacist: “Sure.”

Jacob: “We’d like to use this store as our Bridal  Registry.”

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And finally, my President Obama tossed the first ceremonial pitch at baseballs’ All Star Game.  In line with his relentless preparation for anything and everything, I betcha he practiced his pitching for three days before the game.  As adorable as he is, just the way that he is, I must say that his jeans made him look like he just left the farm.  Research has taught me that his look was the look of “Mom jeans”:

Many thanks to my friends, like the Seven-Striper and Lilleyhope,  for sharing their humah with me.  Enjoy the weekend.

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A Clear and Present Danger

July 15, 2009

Once again, it is imperative that we recognize the clear and present danger of going outside of the circle of comfort and model of authority, occupied by that stalwart white male, who has held sway for two and a half centuries in this country as the bulwark of progressive thought, enlightened social equality and exemplary morality:

Can you imagine?  A Puerto Rican woman who, with the help of her dedicated, pro-education, focused family, threatening our very being as the United States of America.  The nerve of that Latina to alter the legal and social fabric of our nation.  After all, if what our country is and has been is not good enough for trespassers such as Sotomayor, why doesn’t she go back to where she came from?  There, there.  Then we will be all whole again.

Read Maureen Dowd today.  Mo and I had din-din together last night in Spanish Harlem followed by late drinks in the Bronx.  And yes, we lived to tell about it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/opinion/15dowd.html?_r=1

GO GET ‘EM, SONIA!!!!!!!!


Court Confirmation: American Affirmation

July 14, 2009

Over the last number of weeks since President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to sit on the Supreme Court bench, there has been consistent partisan criticism against her.  At first, I doubted my own anger to these unfounded attacks and chose not to react because I thought I was just being as emotional as the offenders were.  Now that I have watched the scenario unfold, allowed my thoughts to percolate a while and done some historical research, I can safely say that Sotomayor’s critics are way off base, reactionary, racist and just exhibiting behaviors that can be chalked up to sour grapes about our last Presidential election.  My initial instincts have legs.

I have news for you: the Supreme Court DOES legislate and each individual Justice DOES bring their lifetime of genetic heritage, environmental experiences and life perspecitve to the bench.  I call that the sum of a person’s life.  What? Should we do a lobotomy on each (especially the non-male, non-white ones) Supreme Court nominee to excise precisely those attributes that make a person himself and to falsely ensure that no personal, life long experiences enter into the judicial decision making process?  Nonsense.  The fact that almost all of our Justices have been male and white does not make that historical court make-up the gold standard.  When the authors of our Constitution drew up that document, they very deliberately used generalities, knowing that future times and circumstances would call for timely adjustments.  For example, I do not know what the ethnic census was in America almost 250 years ago.  But I daresay it was very different from the population we have today.

So it is true with the legal issues facing our nation.  The Supreme Court is the last stopping place for important cases to be heard.  Logic dictates, despite all the fancy semantics, that yes, a law will be made today when that specific case is presented to the Supremes.  Then the only path to negating that law would be renewed activism on the part of citizens and Congress to enact oppositional legislation.  In more recent times, our lawmakers have stood back, abrogated responsibility for passing new laws due to their fear of upcoming electoral pressures: another example of democracy’s complications.  The Court’s verdicts though, will be tempered with judicial concern, consideration for the Constitution and respect for the law.  We can call the Justices “arbiters” rather than “lawmakers”, but the bottom line is that they DO change our legal horizons.  The important thing to remember is that the framers of our Constiution knowingly and deliberately designed that document to be a fluid philosophy.  Thus, our sitting Justices must also be fluid in their consideration of and sensitivity to what our current times demand so they can judge appropriately.

Bruce Weber of the New York Times wrote an insightful piece, comparing and contrasting Supreme Court Justices with umpires:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/weekinreview/12weber.html?_r=1

Sonia Sotomayor’s female gender and Hispanic heritage are only some of the elements that define her as a person.  If confirmed, she will be the most judicially experienced Justice in 100 years.  Even Justice Ginsburg, in her interview with the New York Times this past weekend, cites the unbreakable bond each person has with their past development:

Q: Did you think that all the attention to the criticism of Sotomayor as being “bullying” or not as smart is sex-inflected? Does that have to do with the rarity of a woman in her position, and the particular challenges?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: I can’t say that it was just that she was a woman. There are some people in Congress who would criticize severely anyone President Obama nominated. They’ll seize on any handle. One is that she’s a woman, another is that she made the remark about Latina women. [In 2001 Sotomayor said: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”] And I thought it was ridiculous for them to make a big deal out of that. Think of how many times you’ve said something that you didn’t get out quite right, and you would edit your statement if you could. I’m sure she meant no more than what I mean when I say: Yes, women bring a different life experience to the table. All of our differences make the conference better. That I’m a woman, that’s part of it, that I’m Jewish, that’s part of it, that I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I went to summer camp in the Adirondacks, all these things are part of me.

Each Justice brings to the Court his or her WHOLE BEING.  Why is that acceptable for white male Justices but not for  female or ethnic minority Justices?

The Republican response to President Obama’s choice of Sotomayor is nothing less than sour grapes and reactionary posturing due to fear of not maintaining the status quo.  The epitome of this antagonism is Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, that repository of enlightened, progressive thought.  Who knew?  In light of the many recent incidents of GOP, staunchly religious, strictly embodying family values politicians who fell on their own swords, I did a little research into the history of Mr. Sessions.  I was not surprised, or disappointed, by what I discovered.

His attack on the nominee is based on his belief that “empathy” is the exact same thing as ethnic bias and prejudice.  Here are the words from the horse’s mouth:

“Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it is not law. In truth it is more akin to politics. And politics has no place in the courtroom,” Sessions said.

http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/003171.html

Have a look at Sessions’ own past professional history and HIS bias and prejudice.  The irony is astounding:

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=8dd230f6-355f-4362-89cc-2c756b9d8102

More specifically, Janet Shan of the Hinterland Gazette, makes a surgical strike on Sessions’ failure to get confirmed as a U.S. District  judge in 1981 due to his racist policies and beliefs:

Twenty-three years ago he was engaged in the fight of his life. He was appointed a U.S. attorney in Alabama in 1981 and was nominated to become a U.S. District judge by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. J. Gerald Hebert, a career Justice Department lawyer, testified that Sessions had once called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” He said that they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” He sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as “un-American” when “they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions” in foreign policy. He is said to have made remarks that he thought the Ku Klux Klan wasn’t so bad until he found out that some of them smoked marijuana. He said these comments were made in jest. Right.

Sessions faced a heated round of questioning from Sen. Edward Kennedy, who called him “a throwback to a shameful era,” and our current Vice President, Joe Biden. How ironic. The committee held four hearings during one of which Sessions pleaded that “I am not a racist.” Hebert also testified that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases. His nomination failed in committee on a 10 to 8 vote, with Specter joining the nominee’s original patron, Sen. Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) in dooming the nomination. In 1994, Sessions won a state attorney general’s race, and then won election to the Senate in 1996 after Heflin retired.

Sessions is certainly the pot calling the kettle black.  He has taken HIS own lifetime experiences and used them against Sotomayor.  His strategy is twisted and distorted and thankfully, reflects only back on his own pathetic, prejudiced self. This is because, while his core is based on exclusion, Sotomayor’s whole being is based on inclusion.  Whom would you rather have sitting on the Supreme Court bench?

I wish Sonia Sotomayor speed and fairness in her pursuit of confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice.  The successful outcome would surely be an affirmation of where we have come from, where we are going and what America is today.

POSTSCRIPT

Lo and behold!  Looks like Jeffrey Toobin, CNN political analyst, had the same observation today as Yo Mama did.  At the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on Sotomayor, Toobin likened Senator Sessions’ comments to my comparison of white, male experience as being the “gold standard” against which all other Court nominees should be evaluated:

In some respects, Sessions’ questioning has already become the defining feature of Tuesday’s hearing. As CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin argued on air: “What’s worth noting about what Jeff Sessions — the line of questioning, was that being a white man, that’s normal. Everybody else has biases and prejudices … but the white man, they don’t have any ethnicity, they don’t have any gender, they’re just like the normal folks, and I thought that was a little jarring.”

Of course, way back in olden times when our Constitution was drafted, the only people who had the vote were the white males.  Wake up!  We ARE living in a different world today and thus, the Supremem Court should reflect that.  DUH!!!!!

Backup

July 13, 2009

As a follow-up to my post yesterday, “Ever Vigilant”, I include the articles below as a kind of “backup” to my ideas.

As I said previously, I am appalled at the inertia demonstrated by our legislators to face our crushing issues, specifically energy dependence and health care reform.  In order for effective change to occur, we must assume a new mind set.  Keeping in the forefront of our thoughts, although not for the sole purpose of, expediency and cost, it is urgent that we view our economic chaos and needs of our population in new and more situation-sensitive ways.

What we have seen so far, are old, outdated methods of dealing with new, more emergent issues.  There has been a sea change in the realities of our nation that is not being properly addressed.

First, Paul Krugman in the New York Times today speaks about “boiling the frog”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/opinion/13krugman.html?_r=1

He addresses the tendency for crisis to sneak up on us, bit by bit.  But then, if we step back and look at the big picture over time, we find that we are way out of sync with the issues at hand.  Our country, as we know it, is crumbling, falling apart. Plus, there is a paralysis in devising new programs to alleviate our chaos.

Secondly, please read the following article by Ross Douthat also of the New York Times, regarding this same issue of accomplishing pertinent change in response to today’s issues.  Even though he uses the Pope and his most recent encyclical, don’t be put off lest you miss the greater meaning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/opinion/13douthat.html

Yesterday I wrote about our current fence-sitting on the energy and health care fronts.  I still do not know if the culprit to relevant change is due to Americans’ lack of patience with allowing a process to run its natural course or if the actual blame is due to a reluctance to overhaul policy, based on our present needs.  For example, over the last two weeks there has been some hysteria generated by the ever-increasing rate of unemployment.  Stop: even the dimmest bulb in the room knows that the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator i.e., the figures are “late bloomers” in the life of a recession.  Yes, our unemployment figures continue to rise, plus the actual rate is probably not a true indicator of the real existing hardship because there are pockets in our country where the out of work people are much more numerous than the figures would have us believe.  Likewise, the stock market index is a leading indicator, i.e. the markets’ actions can tell us in anticipation of an economic trend.  I daresay that within the next four to six months, the unemployment rate will top out (but with no guarantee that it will recede in a short period of time thereafter) and cause a knee-jerk reaction in our equity markets to plunge.  In theory, that should be the perfect entry point for investors to enter the investment gambit. In today’s crazy world, I do not think I will have the guts to jump aboard then, even though in theory, the time will be correct.  I like sleeping at night better than the prospect of making a killing.

At any rate, I am back to the same dilemma regarding our destructive energy policy and health care reform: time versus policy change.  It is probably a combination of both factors, but I am inclined to favor the argument that our lawmakers and citizens refuse to adjust to changing times and circumstances.  They will not consider alternatives outside of their lifelong comfort zones.  Thus, our stagnation just might be our ultimate downfall.

I certainly hope not.  There is still time for our ship to be saved.  Cautiously though, we must start to alter the underpinnings of our ideas.  Once we accept that our major policies of the past are not relevant to our current status, the appropriate policies will follow.

Next post: the wonderful being of Sonia Sotomayor.  Tune in.

Ever Vigilant

July 12, 2009

It is high time for the United States of America to act on the inclusive directives of our Constitution rather than the exclusive  policies of our partisan lawmakers.  An ideological overhaul must precede any major policy alteration.  Therein lies the rub.

Once again, Frank Rich of the New York Times brings home the bacon.  His piece today is magnificent, saying perfectly what I have tried to say in drips and drabs.  The danger of Sarah Palin and her ilk is very simply, that she might one day actually become our President.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/opinion/12rich.html?_r=1

How can this possibly come about?  Sarah Palin’s popularity derives from and feeds on the anger, the ethos of the American people.  Their cultural character goes deep and especially in hard economic times,  will rear its ugly head in a backlash against perceived sinister forces, such as minorities, immigrants, the educated and a status quo that has shown some progressive growth .  Rich uses the words “resentment and victimization” to describe this head-in-the-hole attribute of Palin and what remains of the GOP.  Here is my favorite part:

That’s why Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops.

The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage. But family-values politics, now more devalued than the dollar by the philandering of ostentatiously Christian Republican politicians, can only take her so far. The real wave she’s riding is a loud, resonant surge of resentment and victimization that’s larger than issues like abortion and gay civil rights.

During the last week, I have done some serious thinking about the state of our economy, where we are coming from and where we are headed.  The Palin furor, wrapped up in its ignorance and repudiation of anything substantive and instead playing on the deep-seated fears of the American people, has only served to crystallize my thoughts.  My premise is that there are two issues that have historically dragged us down: foreign energy dependence and health care reform.  We are trying to repair those problems with an insufficient band-aid when a total re-design is needed.

President Obama knows these two problem areas are of the utmost importance and the bane of our very existence. However, along with the full plate he was handed on January 20th, 2009, these specific realignments take time.  I dearly hope that he realizes his words and theories will work if and only if he has the guts to truly re-vamp these problem areas, to “go deep” and actually alter attitudes, and not succumb to compromise, which will act like just a band- aid again.

First, we must minimize our dependence on foreign oil as totally as possible.  In a very unscientific manner, sort of like a mental monitoring, I have tracked the price of a barrel of oil and watched a definite correlation with economic weakness, individual, corporate and institutional financial hardship, and a significant decline in public confidence.  America must waste no more time in developing as much of an alternative energy program as possible.  Natural gas, solar, wind and even nuclear energy are there for the taking, if we so decide to actually spend the money.  These sources of power are within the borders of our own country.  In order to fully develop these possibilities though, we need to embrace a new mind set.  That is the difficult part.  Imported oil is poison for us.  Further, the jobs potentially created in establishing these alternative forms of energy would also provide new life for our nation.  Thus, we have a double, positive whammy that could inject new life in to our faltering, outmoded, wasteful downward spiral.

The second issue that likewise needs to be totally redesigned is our health care “system.”  As it stands now, the waste and corruption fueled by our patch, patch, patch strategy is a disaster in the waiting.  Over 50 million Americans have no health insurance at all, and of those that do, many are teetering on the brink  of being able to afford such coverage (i.e. health care should not be a contest between spending one’s money on insurance, medications, or food on the table).  How many more medical insurance company executives are going to have to go public about the greed, corruption, and illegal refusals to honor their policies before we realize that what we have is just a facade of benefits for a wisp of a population?

Our current health care quagmire is very complicated and each new option carries with it a domino effect.  The answer is simply not just reducing doctors’ and hospitals’ fees; that by itself would serve only to create an exodus of qualified professionals and much needed points of service.  Rather, health care professionals and patients need to be re-educated about the benefits/costs relationship.  “If you build it, they will come” might be a good description of a ball field, but certainly not of a health care system.  Just because we have the existence of, for example, MRI’s, does not mean that physicians must prescribe such tests across the board.  Of course, their intention is to avoid any liability punishment.  It is defensive medicine.  So the domino continues to roll: until we have reform in the area of medical liability, we can not realistically expect the caregivers to become more prudent in their requests for more, often unnecessary, testing.  Thus, the waste inherent in our current program will continue to grow.  And so on and so forth.

This piecemeal approach to health care will not be changed by the current proposals in front of Congress.  Nothing less than a major overhaul will suffice to provide all Americans with decent health care.  Universal, mandatory, single payer health care is really what is called for.  Yet, I would settle for a “babying-in” of such policies at this point, in which case we must offer a public option.  Americans must be realistic as well; it would be foolish to expect the Cadillac of health care coverage on a minuscule budget.  That is just not going to happen because it would seal the fate of  financially burdened businesses and government.  If people want fantastic benefits, they will have to pay fantastic premiums.  If they so desire overall coverage for for the cheapest cost, they are going to have to realize that restrictions and yes, even rationing, will be the the order of the day.  We are at a crossroads now, and while it is imperative to adequately and fairly cover all citizens, that notion must be tempered with the  reality of overuse, abuse, expectations and entitlement.  Once again, a mind set change is called for.

Yes, under President Obama’s leadership, we have avoided total financial collapse.  Is this the best we can hope for? Or can we also better our future outlook?  Optimistically, we are on a corrective path.  However, these major changes take a lot of time.  Paul Krugman has been hollering for quite a while now that the stimulus will not be enough to recoup our sure economic footing.  We need more.  Granted: only 10% of the $700 billion designated as stimulus funds has been spent.  Of course, capital projects such as road building and major infrastructure improvements take a considerable chunk of time to implement.  So is the rehabilitation and renovation of our economy stymied by the typical American trait of a lack of patience, or a lack of new, viable policies?  Will we settle once again for the band-aid approach or have the courage of our convictions to alter our attitude and thereby update our American world?

If we truly want to alter our past policies, we need to admit and then restructure  our energy policy and health care coverage and delivery system.  The first step would be to acknowledge the ethical and moral void that permeates our system of government and private enterprise.  Democracy is a funny thing: while providing for freedom and justice, it also allows for capitalistic corruption.  There  exists a fine line between total economic freedom and abuse.  President Obama is on the right track, but a new mind set regarding our needs and wants versus their cost must be squarely faced.  Whether our present economic lethargy is due to just a factor of time or real, long-term faults in the system is moot.  We must initiate corrective policies with the underlying emphasis being on a more equitable system of values.

This is the point where Sarah Palin and the GOP fall flat on their faces.  They have no regard for all the people.  Instead, they think every American should be on their own and not at all reliant on any government assistance.  Those that can afford necessities will receive them and those that can not, will not.  Less government, more for the top 5% of the population.  Instilling fear and prejudice against the have nots is one way to ensure the continuation of this dominance.

As my husband wisely warned our children upon Barack Obama’s election, “You must continue to be vigilant lest we have another Bush.”  The fight goes on, for Sarah Palin could well be our next Bush.  There will always be another scoundrel waiting in the wings, draped in self-righteous, hypocritical, blind faithfulness expected from the general population but not from himself.  We need President Obama to do more than just lay the groundwork, both ideological and actual, for drastic policy change; he must get the job done.  There is little distinction between capitalism’s well-intended aims and its discriminatory, selfish, often destructive ends.  The same holds true for democracy.  That is why we must pursue significant, meaningful and long-term policy changes at this time.   Our constitutional ideals and timbre of our society can be protected only if our policy implementations take precedence over our  leaders’ selfish ambitions our own personal agendas.

So my loyal readers, consider me vigilant.  I will continue the fight for what is good, right and just for the sake of my children and future generations.  If I do not pursue these lofty aims, I might as well just up and join the GOP.  And the American people will maybe get what they deserve: President Sarah Palin.

Hey, It Was Good For ME

July 11, 2009

Here are some follow-up pieces to my posts last week, i.e. our frolicking, finagling and fish-stinking (my apologies to fish everywhere) public servants.  Once again, the strategy we can best implement to get these jokers and crooks out of office is continuous digging for the truth, supplemented by a large dose of ridicule, embarrassment and humor.  Despite the hypocrisy demonstrated in all of these cases, there is yet an even worse aspect: the colleagues, present office holders, friends and family of these offenders back them up.  They do not have the inclination and guts to kick them out.  So Yo Mama must step in here.  As I live and breathe, I will dish all the dirt necessary to get these jokers out of office.

MARK SANFORD:

In all fairness to his aides, “I’m striking some Argentinean tail,” sounds a lot like, “I’m hiking the Appalachian trail,” when you’re on a fuzzy mobile phone connection.Who hasn’t had that kind of innocent misunderstanding?

SARAH PALIN:

Maybe the scandal has to do with her murky methods of building her house in Wasilla:

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/the-house-that-todd-built/

At any rate, Peggy Noonan ripped into the very core of Palin.  Noonan summarizes this woman who almost, and still might be, our President some day:

In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. “I’m not wired that way,” “I’m not a quitter,” “I’m standing up for our values.” I’m, I’m, I’m.

In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.

JOHN ENSIGN:

Today, this particular incident of sleaziness offends me the most.  Imagine: a God-fearing, family values proponent, right wing politician stepping outside of that well-defined aura he created for himself and acting on exactly opposite premises.  Just imagine!  Gail Collins of the New York Times spits it our perfectly:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/11/opinion/11collins.htm

Rachel Maddow goes Collins even one better:

http://tpmtv.talkingpointsmemo.com/?id=2922328

http://tpmtv.talkingpointsmemo.com/?id=2922322

Finally, a little timely laughter:

One day Harry the Eagle waited at the nest for Mary, his darling of 10 glorious years.

After a while when she didn’t return he went looking and found her.?

She had been shot dead!Harry was devastated, but after about six minutes of mourning

he decided that he must get himself another mate, but since there weren’t any lady eagles available he’d have to cross the feather barrier.??

So he flew off to find a new mate.

He found a lovely dove and brought her back to the nest.

The sex was good but all the dove would say is ….

‘I am a DOVE, I want to love!

I am a DOVE, I want to love!’

Well, this got on Harry’s nerves so he kicked the dove out of the nest

and flew off once more to find a mate.

He soon found a very sexy loon and brought her back to the nest.

Again the sex was good but all the loon would say is…….

‘I am a LOON, I want to spoon!

I am a LOON, I want to spoon!’

So out with the loon.

Once more he flew off to find a mate.

This time he found a gorgeous duck and he brought the duck back to the nest.

This time the sex was great, but all the duck would say was….

NO, The duck didn’t say THAT

…… Don’t be SO disgusting!


The duck said….


‘I am a DRAKE,

You made a MISTAKE !!!!!!!!

Sarah Palin: Progressin’ Down

July 10, 2009

I am about to stoop to the lowest level.  Not in my defense, but simply an explanation, I am doing so because if there is any iota of a chance that Sarah Palin might one day hold our highest national office, that prospect needs to be nipped in the bud NOW.  Trust me: despite all the inappropriateness of Sarah Palin, there is always that opening for her to be our President someday.  Not on my watch.  We will always have that 25% of Americans who will vote for the most right wing, extreme religious and yes, dumbest people out there.  Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people who constantly demonstrate the need to elevate pop figures to the Presidency, as if being a great entertainer, mother figure or folk hero makes them qualified to be our President.

So here I go succumbing to and propagating gossip, speculation and inflammatory provocation.  The Internet is still rife with reports that Trig Palin is not the biological son of Sarah Palin, but the offspring of her daughter, Bristol.  This rumor first surfaced right after John McCain named Palin as his running mate.  Deep down, I believe this rumor to be just that: a provocative lie.  The time table of Trig’s birth, coupled with the subsequent birth of Tripp (Bristol’s and Levi’s acknowledged son), makes the rumors hard to believe —– but not, mind you, an impossible event.  Let us not forget that while Trig was a month premature, Tripp was two weeks late.  But, I must admit, there are a few weird inconsistencies that I can not make hay of and that smack of conspiracy and cover-up.  Rather than list the details here, you may want to take an hour or two out of your lives (wasteful time) and read all the gory details for yourselves:

http://www.palindeception.com/blog

The inconsistencies supporting the rumor mill, just to cite the few that I can not reconcile, are the absence of Bristol from high school, supposedly due to mono, during her mother’s pregnancy, the svelte appearance of Sarah all through Trig’s gestation (not very likely with the fifth child), and once Sarah started leaking amniotic fluid at eight months while she was out of town at a speaking engagement, the fact that she took an eight hour plane ride home and the airline personnel did not even notice that she was pregnant.

Finally, the most damning omen was her sudden resignation last week; her closest colleagues and family members were not even told about this until a day or so before it happened.  This, to me, is the main reason that the speculation might be well-founded.  Levi Johnston was in New York at the time of the resignation announcement inking a book deal, with promises of new, enlightening bombshells.  Could this have scared Sarah so much, the fear that Trig’s true parentage might be revealed, that she cut and ran?  On the other hand, perhaps Todd is not really Trig’s father.  Just a possibility.  Sarah Palin has never offered up to the public a copy of Trig’s birth certificate.  That, coupled with her unexpected and unanticipated jump from office makes me suspicious.  But of what specifically I can not say.

As to whether this conspiracy theory and cover-up are real, I will let you decide for yourselves.  Meanwhile, my best strategy to keep Sarah Palin’s total lack of fitness for public office on the front page is through the use of ridicule and humor.  First though, let me cite an article written by Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe way back on November 14, 2008:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/11/14/for_women_its_not_the_gender_its_the_agenda/

What was true then is even more true now.  Goodman’s thoughts serve to remind us of our ongoing folly.

Here are the laughs, both from David Letterman, a person non grata in Sarah Palin’s eyes.  Is there no higher compliment?

Realignment

July 8, 2009

Quick! Quick!  Call the doctor!  Republican politics are in dire need of a urologist.  Bill Kristol, being his own best friend, is back to defending the life and times of Sarah Palin:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/06/AR2009070602251.html

Surely it is not his mind speaking, but the organ of his gender.  He has fawned and drooled over Sarah Palin ever since John McCain plucked her out of the great Alaska wilderness of obscurity.  This is why we need a good urologist to put an end to Kristol’s misogyny, which is disguised and distorted as a defense of sexism.  How come Kristol never regaled us with such an advocacy of Elizabeth Dole or Harriet Miers?  Could it possibly be because they aren’t hot lookers like Palin and thus, do not arouse the organ of his manhood?

Quite frankly, I am fed up with men and women who defend unqualified, uneducated, over-the-top ambitious political hypocrites, such as Palin.  Her political life just does not add up, nor does she seem willing to better herself in order to serve her country in a more effective way.  We have scoundrels and heroes, pirates and patriots, in every walk of life: whites, people of color, men, women, gays and straights.  Minority status does not allow a rascal to avoid  criticism and condemnation.  Maureen Dowd in the New York Times and Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post both take Palin to task today.  Neither writer has any sympathy for Palin, despite the fact that they share the same gender as she.  No excuses for ineptitude, greed and narcissism here.  These women journalists show no such protection and excuse-making for Palin just because she is a female.  A bad seed is a bad seed.  An idiot is an idiot.  An attention seeker is an attention seeker.  Only Kristol would defend Palin based on her gender, and I daresay the word “sex” rather than “gender” is more appropriate in his case.

Hillary Clinton was also subject to the sexism argument.  Even though Clinton is a totally different story than Palin due to her incredible smarts and old fashioned work ethic, the sexism tableau was used to describe the failure of her Presidential bid.  Garbage.  Barack Obama had a better strategy, was the better person for the job and was what our times called for.  No sexual politics here:  the best person won.

At any rate, I wish I had written what Maureen Dowd did today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/opinion/08dowd.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

In a like vein, Kathleen Parker’s piece today is very funny and appropriately cutting.  Please note that she also came up with the exact idea that Yo Mama had (“The Sarah Chronicles”, post of July 4, 2009) regarding Palin’s political motive, i.e. “follow the money”:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/07/AR2009070702338.html

These women are strong enough and smart enough to call a spade a spade.  They do not need to support a fellow female just for the sake of sexual validation.  Kristol, on the other hand, needs to get himself to a urologist and neurosurgeon (one and the same for Kristol’s malady)  as soon as possible and have the wires from his brain and his penis realigned  in their proper, originally intended manner.

Rx For Reform: The Health Care Balancing Act

July 7, 2009

Let me finally get down to some of the issues involved in health care.  This piece will not be a treatise on the nuts and bolts of the variously proposed facts and figures.  I will leave that to the policy wonks.  Rather, I will, through my experience as a consumer of health care in our country, an insurance policyholder and an employee in a medical office for over 25 years, attempt to give an overview of the changes we need to provide health care worthy of our nation’s ideals.  Keep in mind that my recurring theme has always been a fair, just and ethical government, no matter what specific issue is at hand.  First I will address the process of designing this system, the political and financial mechanics.  Then I will deal with some basic principles that are a “must” for our health care to be effective and relevant.  And finally, I have to mention some of my own pet peeves.

I understand President Obama’s focused aim to get this health care policy from the Congress, rather than from his own office; the mandate would be larger and more meaningful.  The Clinton’s health care initiative came from the White House, and was slammed down from the get-go.  However, our President  must be careful about certain procedures.  First, as soon as Al Franken is seated as the junior senator from Minnesota, there will be a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate.  I urge him to rely on that majority and not waste time and effort on coaxing the GOP to add their line items.  That would be a fruitless course.  The Republicans simply say “No” to all bipartisan proposals because their only game plan is to destroy the party in power.  Secondly, it will be important for President Obama to stand firm on the specifics of the policy once they are laid out.  If he chooses to dilute the policy and introduce drastic changes in the spirit of bipartisanship, consensus and compromise, he might then lose some of his initial supporters who would correctly view the altered policy as totally different from the one they supported at the beginning.  So I urge our President to listen to all reasonable ideas, work through them while trying to overcome the opposition’s destructive tendencies, and then go with what makes the most sense in terms of coverage and costs.  Content and substance should have a higher priority than speed, although history had shown that a new President will never have as much power as he has in his first year in office.  So President Obama is faced with yet another careful balancing act.  Under no circumstances should the GOP and, I might add, rogue Democrat lawmakers looking out for their own personal electoral popularity and rewards from health care lobbies , be allowed to high-jack a national health care coverage program.

It is high time for the United States to have mandatory, universal health care coverage for all of our citizens.  We are the only industrialized nation in the world which offers no such program.  It is a blight on our reputation as a fair democracy and outright neglect on behalf of our citizens.  We have never had a health care “system”; rather, medical coverage has been a slapped together, change-the-rules-in-the-middle, cover-your-ass hodgepodge of exclusionary, discriminatory, greedy and vengeful non-policies.  The time is now and President Obama must be very firm about his leadership goals.

There are a number of aspects that must be included in any viable, beneficial health plan.  To begin with I am of the mind that supports a public option.  In my more volatile moments, I tend to back a single payer system.  Knowing that that will never happen at this time, I believe that the public option is a necessity for a successful program.  Why, you might ask?  As directly as I can state, there must be the public option in order to keep the private insurers honest.  The private insurers are greedy and  dishonest about paying for one’s designated benefits and ignorant about what health care delivery signifies.  They think that health care delivery is keeping as much money as possible for themselves.  They are not interested in positive health outcomes for their policyholders.  Their overriding concern over and above all else is their bottom line.  These private entities are in no way, shape or form health care insurers; they are simply loss minimizers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/opinion/29mon1.html?_r=1

Yes, we do need competition to ensure that medical care gets delivered as promised.  The public option would also help reign in the waste inherent in our current jumble of services rendered.  Our Medicare system is the largest health insurer in the world and overall, it has been quite successful, both in the medical care it provides and cost containment.  There is a term that Medicare uses as the holy grail of their coverage: adjusted average per capita cost (AAPCC rate).  This figure is computed for every county and/or zip code in the nation.  Medicare knows exactly how much health care will cost any citizen at any given age in every county in America.  There are pockets of very successful, cost-effective  health plans throughout our country and then there are other pockets of wasteful yet restrictive plans.

Before we can morph into a single payer program, we need to test the waters.  Why not set up some regional plans, using the AAPCC information, and actually see if such a proposal has legs?  Americans will have to make compromises.  Perhaps higher taxes are in the future picture to help defray the costs of health care.  Rationing will occur to a certain extent.  However, with all the waste in our current model, it will not be as bad or inflammatory as the opposition politicians would like us to believe.  Here is an interesting article on rationing:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062503360.html

Furthermore, the health care “system” that is in place now is like throwing good money after bad.  Reform will be expensive, but hopefully,  more financially streamlined, democratic and beneficial.  We certainly can not continue on the doomed path of wasteful care and overwhelming costs we are on now.  Our consumption of health care must be tempered with, on the part of patients and care givers, a reasonable allowance and realistic expectations.  The takers must also be the givers:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/opinion/07tue1.html

Regarding cost-containment vis-a-vis rationing, hospitals will also have to bite the bullet.  Don’t kid yourself by the designation “non-profit organization”, which many hospitals embrace.  In my county, the non-profit status of our hospital system pays its chief executives well into the seven figure range, similar to the exorbitant wages earned by our health insurance companies.  Of course, if I charged $10 for an aspirin or $20 for a sanitary napkin, I too would be pulling down a one million dollar salary.  So there is going to have to be a careful balancing act on all sides: the patients, the caregivers, the insurance companies and the associated sideline enterprises such as malpractice insurers and drug companies.  We are all in this together and every single one of us must make sacrifices.

Our expectations must be tempered.  For example, regarding liability insurance for physicians, there needs to be a state cap on damages, such as we have here in Virginia.  I am well aware that some medical malpractice is real and murderous.  However, frivolous litigation should not be rewarded by huge, punitive payments based on purely emotional reactions.  Until the cost of liability insurance comes down to reasonable levels (which can happen only if caps are put in place for damages), physicians will be scrambling to cover those costs, sometimes in gluttonous and greedy ways.

Which brings me to my most strongly held pet peeve: the minimization of our physicians by referring to them as “health care providers.”  The title “Doctor” has been conveniently removed from their names, as if by omitting their title not only would their personal value be minimized, but also their professional worth.  Does this invalidation mean that health costs would also diminish?  I think not.  Our physicians spend close to ten years in post college education and spend around $200,000 just for medical school.  Unless a person has enlisted in the military to cover their education, no one, absolutely NO ONE, contributes to their medical education besides themselves and perhaps their parents. So yes, you damn well better call your health care provider by his or her  well-earned title of Doctor.

In the New York Times, David Brooks said it all:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/opinion/07brooks.html?_r=1

Our search for dignity, morality and everything that should be sacred to us, like children, is embodied in this attempt at providing health care for all Americans.  Can we pull it off effectively and cost-consciously, or will it be yet another victory for the haves and to hell with the have-nots?  As usual, my opinion on health care is couched, like everything else I write, in the hope for a just and moral benevolence for all Americans.  In our quest for universal medical coverage, and as it should be in government, politics and life, we have the best possible man on the job.  President Obama’s temperament, intellect and moral demeanor is just what the doctor ordered.  President Obama needs to rely on himself, his instincts, his character.  I know I do.

Super Glue Journalism

July 6, 2009

Roger Cohen of the New York Times wrote this Op-Ed today.  His thoughts are very close to my heart.  He gets it:

A Journalists'”Actual Responsibility”

By ROGER COHEN
Published: July 5, 2009

NEW YORK — Shortly after World War I, the great German sociologist Max Weber gave a lecture in Munich in which he turned his mind to journalism.


Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Roger Cohen

“Not everyone realizes,” Weber told students, “that to write a really good piece of journalism is at least as demanding intellectually as the achievement of any scholar. This is particularly true when we recollect that it has to be written on the spot, to order, and that it must create an immediate effect, even though it is produced under completely different conditions from that of scholarly research. It is generally overlooked that a journalist’s actual responsibility is far greater than the scholar’s.”

Yes, journalism is a matter of gravity. It’s more fashionable to denigrate than praise the media these days. In the 24/7 howl of partisan pontification, and the scarcely less-constant death knell din surrounding the press, a basic truth gets lost: that to be a journalist is to bear witness.

The rest is no more than ornamentation.

To bear witness means being there — and that’s not free. No search engine gives you the smell of a crime, the tremor in the air, the eyes that smolder, or the cadence of a scream.

No news aggregator tells of the ravaged city exhaling in the dusk, nor summons the defiant cries that rise into the night. No miracle of technology renders the lip-drying taste of fear. No algorithm captures the hush of dignity, nor evokes the adrenalin rush of courage coalescing, nor traces the fresh raw line of a welt.

I confess that, out of Iran, I am bereft. I have been thinking about the responsibility of bearing witness. It can be singular, still. Interconnection is not presence.

A chunk of me is back in Tehran, between Enquelab (Revolution) and Azadi (Freedom), where I saw the Iranian people rise in the millions to reclaim their votes and protest the violation of their Constitution.

We journalists are supposed to move on. Most of the time, like insatiable voyeurs, we do. But once a decade or so, we get undone, as if in love, and our subject has its revenge, turning the tables and refusing to let us be.

The Iranian Constitution says that the president is to be elected “by the direct vote of the people,” not selected through the bogus invocation of God’s will. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Revolution, said in 1978 that: “Our future society will be a free society and all the elements of oppression, cruelty and force will be destroyed.”

The regime has been weakened by the flagrance of its lie, now only sustainable through force. No show trials can make truth of falseness. You cannot carve in rotten wood.

I was one of the last Western journalists to leave the city. Ignoring the revocation of my press pass, I went on as long as I could. Everything in my being rebelled against acquiescence to the coterie around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose power grab has shattered the balances of the revolution’s institutions and whose goal is plain: no eyewitnesses to the crime.

Of course, Iranians have borne witness — with cellphone video images, with photographs, through Twitter and other forms of social networking — and have thereby amassed an ineffaceable global indictment of the usurpers of June 12.

Never again will Ahmadinejad speak of justice without being undone by the Neda Effect — the image of eyes blanking, life abating and blood blotching across the face of Neda Agha-Soltan.

Iran crushes people with its tragedy. It was unbearable to go. It remains so. Images multiply across the Web but the mainstream media, disciplined to distil, is missed.

Still, the world is watching. As we Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence, let’s stand with Iran by recalling the first democratic revolution in Asia. It began in 1905 in Iran, driven by the quest to secure parliamentary government and a Constitution from the Qajar dynasty.

Now, 104 years on, Iranians demand that the Constitution they have be respected through Islamic democracy and a government accountable to the people. They will not be silenced. The regime’s base has narrowed dramatically. Its internal splits are growing with the defection of much of the clerical establishment.

One distinguished Iran scholar, Farideh Farhi, wrote this to me: “So I cry and ask why we have to do this to ourselves over and over again. Yet I do have hope, perhaps for purely selfish reasons — because I don’t want to cry all the time, but also because of the energy you keep describing. We have a saying in Persian, I assume out of historical experience, to the effect that Iran ultimately tames the invaders.”

That transported me to Ferdowsi Square, on June 18, and a woman who, with palpable passion, told me: “This land is my land.”

She called Ahmadinejad “the halo without light” — a line from the anthem of the Iran demanding its country back, the Iran still saying “No” by lifting its unbending chorus into the night.

From far away, I hear it, and this distance feels like betrayal — of those brave rooftop voices and of a journalist’s “actual responsibility.”