Archive for June, 2011

Congressional Recesses and Other Excesses of Power

June 30, 2011

There is talk about cancelling Congress’s July 4th recess so that the debt ceiling talks can progress.  What a crying shame to take away our lawmakers’ holiday vacation from them so that they may actually legislate.  I am crying in my soup.  Here is an interesting video, with a great graphic calendar, showing just how much time our legislators spend in Washington, D. C. enacting laws:

As President Obama mentioned in his press conference today, even his young daughters are better at time management and getting the job done with their homework than our Congress is at their tasks, vacating themselves from their jobs that have serious import over all of our lives.  Did you notice all the red X’s on the calendar in the above video?  It is amazing how few days per year they work in our halls of government.  I might also add that it is about time for our President to become engaged as well.

This greater issue, that of public malfeasance while receiving  government salary is probably the larger issue of the civil riots in Greece.  Sure: the Greeks are upset over the austerity measures being applied to their benefits, but they are furious that the powers that be are so corrupt, themselves immune from the cuts and neck-deep in corruption.  Arianna Huffington, who I regard as a sensationalist hell-bent on upping her readership above all else, has actually penned quite a good article on the real fight going on in Greece, that for democracy:

As if our own leaders and leader-wannabees are exempt from such corruption, look again.  Michele Bachman, the current star babe of the GOP, addressed the fact that her psychologist husband accepted over $137,000 in federal funds from Medicaid.  While “too much government” is her mantra for all of us, apparently it is the Bachmann’s anathema for their own personal asset enrichment.  If Mr. Bachmann accepted these payments so poorer patients would be able to be treated, why isn’t his dedication to equal access to treatment a part of his and his wife’s political agenda for all of us?  I find it amazing that altruistic actions exhibited by right-wing ideologues are usually apparent only when the benefits wind up in their own pockets.  This double standard of government involvement — less for the majority of the population and more for those in the upper echelons of sovereignty and wealth.  This is a blatant abuse of power and money; hypocrisy all the way to the bank.  As I wrote yesterday about Rick Scott: even if Florida recalled him from office, there is a line a mile long of new officers of corruption just waiting to take up where he left off.

I repeat myself: the United States needs to take a lesson from ancient as well as modern Greece.

Rick Scott Redux

June 29, 2011

Man oh Manishewitz!  I am observant.  All true perception requires is for one to pay a little attention, educate oneself a bit and never ignore what came before.  On August 25, 2010, I wrote this post on Rick Scott, then candidate for Florida Governor and today, indeed the Sunshine State’s head honcho.  Read the following and weep:

True to his sketchy, conniving corporate record, he is running Florida into the ground.  However, his back story of heading up a national health care company that, while he personally escaped legal conviction and punishment, his company took on the chin.  Scamming and defrauding Medicare was their choice of business as usual.  Lo and behold, the fine people of Florida nevertheless elected this crook to be their governor. What would cause an entire state, the home of a huge number of Medicare participants, to vote for a guy who led a company and then watched its downfall due to its actions of Medicare fraud?

And today, Florida is reaping the rewards based on their blatant stupidity.  Who in their right mind, would elect a person to be their governor, who had a public record and employment history of abusing Medicare, of a state with one of the largest populations of citizens on Medicare?  The irony is just too much:

So far, Floridians are none too pleased with Scott’s governorship.  They got what they deserved.  This scenario has been played out over and over again in this great country of ours.  This particular story about Scott assures us that democracy is working: no matter how base, selfish and “semi”-criminal a candidate is, he can still get elected to very high office.  In addition, should that official be recalled due to voter remorse, there is always a long line of ambitious, greedy poseurs to replace him. Yeah!  Onward America!



Our Spoils System: Convenient Conflation or Careful Coordination?

June 27, 2011

Do tell: how is our Congress, in all of their apathy towards the needs of their constituents, and our President, demonstrating his love of the fight by avoiding the issues as well, and our all-too-willing population in their acceptance of this nonsense going to put America back on track again?  In terms of international relations and domestic policies, we are headed for the same tragic outcome that befell ancient — and modern — Greece.  Shall civil unrest be our downfall also?  Shall our desire to dominate the world be our death knell at home?  Do tell.

Our aggressive agenda abroad is weakening us at home.  America’s place in the world has lost much of its dependability and role-model relevance.  What is the point of engaging in wars to protect our country from foreign invasion or global political dangers if we refuse to pay attention to our domestic situation, allowing it to crumble?  There is no rationale in saving America on a global scale if what we actually are left with at home, i.e. chaos, mega-debt, unemployment, childhood poverty, reduced (if not eliminated) job benefits, no viable health care system or energy policy, is really not a damn thing left to save.  We are fighting three wars across the globe toward what end?  To benefit our international interests and standing?  Shortly, if we continue on this bankrupt path, we will be faced with incredible civil unrest and our global battle will have been all for naught, since internally, we will cease to exist.

Our legislators obviously have not viewed the Sixty Minutes segment on childhood poverty.  In the last two years, the numbers of needy children have grown by two million to a current number of 16 million poor children.  I suppose such respected politicians as Eric Cantor, who had the nerve to grandstand and walk out of budget talks at the mere mention of raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans, would argue that by NOT increasing taxes, we are actually helping preserve our nation’s viability for future generations.  Total fairy tale, and here is why that is true.

It is not the fault of these children living in poverty that they have come upon such hard times.  Rather, their parents bought homes that they knew they could ill afford, spurred on by the banks, seeking killer fees and mortgage rates, who also knew damn well that these buyers could not afford the properties and mortgages.  Isn’t financial deregulation wonderful?  On one hand, then President George W. crowed about how every American is entitled to own a home, while on the other hand, he eliminated any semblance of financial regulation to protect the consumers.  So while our children in poverty are blameless for their plight, there is ample blame for their parents, the lending institutions and our government.  The interdependence of the lack of personal responsibility and institutional greed and corruption is inseparable, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And our children are the saddest victims.

Civil unrest may result in reaction to the severe cutting back of job benefits.  Surely, contracts were inked for public employees that were disproportionately out of whack with projected future revenues.  Do tell: for governments to cut the benefits of teachers, police and firefighters, not to mention that a huge number of our military families are on food stamps (yup — those same brave Americans who we praise with lip service every day for sacrificing their lives for America), is disgusting when we discover that our Congressmen’s benefits are deep and untouchable.  Federal lawmakers receive a pension FOR LIFE, based on their highest salary, regardless of how long they served.  A flash-in-the-pan politico who held a legislator’s job for six months will reap the same retirement benefits as one who served for 60 years.*  Financial housecleaning must start at home, in our halls where the laws are made.

For our leaders to offer up the excuse of “states’ rights” as a means of quelling any anger and unrest towards these benefit cuts is merely a method of ignoring the plight of most Americans and avoiding a higher moral ground in relation to their own federal benefits.  Public riots and major unrest would be warranted if our federal, elected public servants do not cut their own benefits to mirror those cuts made for the general public.  It is a grave injustice to assume that our legislators are above the needs of our country, and that their benefits are untouchable.  In fact, is there any justification, any at all, to cutting the benefits of our every-day government workers and not those of our elected, supposedly elite officials?  What is the reasoning to slash the benefits of our teachers, police and other keepers of the peace yet maintain even more generous and luxurious benefits for our lawmakers?

This is the hypocrisy, the unbalanced and unfair principles at play, in creating economic and class warfare.  Lesser government workers were promised excellent future benefits in part as a method of accepting lower salaries.   Reform is needed in re-assessing the ability to deliver those benefits.  However, there has not been even a whisper to the same reform being applied to our Congressmen’s benefits.  What gives?  Do tell.

My husband, rightly so, has told me that I ‘”conflate” issues; I often mix apples and oranges and stray off topic.  I admit to going off on tangents, especially when the issue at hand is so precious to me, like the well-being of America’s children.  So here I go again.

My one burning question is this: how could a person, at the height of one’s intellect, life experience and financial success, have voted for McCain/Palin in our last Presidential election?  Had McCain been elected, he would have been our oldest President ever.  Then to add insult to injury, the GOP nominee went ahead and picked a total airhead as his running mate.  Frightening.  This voter to whom I am referring simply offers up the non-answer that all politicians are corrupt and both parties are useless.  Sorry.  I refuse to fall for that empty answer.  If one truly believed that, one would not vote at all.  The voting public has a decisive hand in perpetuating our political inertia, in rewarding the powerful, the wealthy and our corporate entities to the detriment of our middle class and impoverished children.  Furthermore, we have our system of government, for better and worse.  We must find a way to work effectively within that framework or have the courage to change it.   How in all tarnation could that voter have given Sarah Palin a nod to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency?  Do tell.

And while I am conflating issues which in all honesty are interrelated more than you or I care to admit,  I will conclude by making this observation.  If our leaders, lawmakers and voting public believe that the unjust, two-tiered status quo of our ruling process is a truth,  then they might as well believe that while Bristol Palin’s virginity was supposedly “stolen” from her, there was also someone  holding a gun to her head to continue having sex with Levi.  Talk about bending the truth of the matter and spinning events to justify one’s behavioral choices and principles.   Put that in your hat.

And then —- consider this: is my tendency to conflate the issues more noteworthy because everything is interrelated, or less worthy because of illogical thinking?  Despite my habit of jumping from issue to issue, I do believe that my efforts to connect the dots in the larger pattern are warranted.  Whatever the truth may be, we are the victims of a spoils system that just might be the undoing of our nation due to our spoiled, rotten pattern of government and a willing citizenship.



It takes five years for a Congressman to be fully vested in his retirement package:


Playing Chicken With Our Children

June 26, 2011

With the debt ceiling decision looming hugely in front of our eyes, Congress is now in a week and a half recess.  What can one say?  America has become the laughing-stock of world governments, essentially because we cannot govern.

Our international reputation and economic dominance has severely been diminished.  Oh yes: our spirit of individual entrepreneurship is still intact, but our government is paralyzed, and that is the message that the world is observing —- and acting on.  As far as I can determine, America’s role in world affairs has deteriorated to that of war monger.  In Iraq, in Afghanistan and in the U.N. effort in Libya, we are the main supplier of manpower, actions and arms.  Whereas our supposed allies like Britain or France, who might contribute 5,000 to 10,000 troops to these conflicts, the U.S. has sent over 100,000 troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the great majority of soldiers and equipment to Libya.  Our allies have our number, and they are using it to their advantage and our disadvantage.  Of course, if we want our international role to deteriorate to simply being the world’s army, we are there.

However, if we want to set the example for fiscal responsibility, effectiveness, heeding the needs of our citizens, upholding democratic principles and maintaining our strength at home, we had better come to the party and actually govern.  When Eric Cantor walked out of debt ceiling talks last week, headed by Vice President Biden, it was nothing short of a slap in the face for our President and any attempt at running our own house.  Cantor was totally unreceptive to the possibility of raising revenues by eliminating some tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations.  He was only interested in cuts, not raising our sources of funds.  The spoiled little brat thus walked.

This posturing is just another effort of the GOP to discredit President Obama.  Their goals of real problem solving are not at the top of their agenda.  Instead, their one, focused motivation is to evict Barack Obama from office.

My biggest complaint is the President Obama seems to be playing the same game of chicken.  Of course the job of U.S. President is terribly stressful, and I often wondered how President Obama kept up the frenetic pace he did during his first two years in office.  However, in the last four to six months we have witnessed an impasse in legislation.  Is the President answering the GOP’s obstructionism with a similar effort at a stalemate?  We know the intent of the GOP, but it is not acceptable for our President to assume the same empty agenda in retaliation.

Sixty Minutes did a segment tonight on childhood poverty, which has grown from 14 million to 16 million over the last two years.  They focused on Seminole County in Florida, near Orlando.  Families often have to make the choice between feeding their children or paying for housing in local motels or electricity.  Too many of these kids readily admit to going to bed hungry.  Yet, they and their parents are dedicated to keeping the family together above all else; if they succumb to the system and the only recourse are shelters, often these families wind up split apart.

So President Obama, Mr. Cantor and the whole GOP, have a look at what your stubbornness and obstructionism is creating.  Our nation’s children are suffering.  Certainly their plight would be somewhat eased if you took the bull by the horns and actually addressed the issues eating away at our society.  By eliminating some of the tax breaks of the wealthy might be a great way to start alleviating our nation’s woes.

And Mr. Cantor, politician extraordinaire, how would you like to raise your children in a shelter or motel and send them to bed hungry every night?  Shame on you and your political party for not bending your elitist ideology favoring the top one percent of our earners  for some consideration of the bulk of our nation’s children.  You and your phony, empty Republicans are maneuvering the recession to even greater detriment for our population, just to ensure a GOP success in the next election.  It is high time you acted like a decent public servant instead of a political pimp.  What fantasy world are you living in?  The solutions, even partial at best, are not easy to come by.  However, your leaving the table is inexcusable and irresponsible.   Get your ass back into those budget talks, you and your damnable GOP.

And while you are at it, get our President to put his money where his mouth is regarding our children’s predicament.  If President Obama keeps sitting on the fence rather than choosing and fighting for the side he believes in, he will wind up emptier than even the GOP.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Clinton or Bachmann?

June 25, 2011

My son keeps me informed and well-read.  He sent me the following article on Hillary Clinton written by Jonathan Alter for Vanity Fair a number of weeks ago.  Then yesterday, he sent me Matt Taibbi’s piece for Rolling Stone on Michele Bachmann.  Wow!  The juxtaposition  in these two women’s outlooks, education, accomplishments, religious bearings and possible effects on our country are quite astonishing.  I wish I had the expertise and time to edit out of both articles all references to these women’s’ names.  You know —- keep the articles anonymous.  Probably an impossible task.  But then, I would have had you tell me who you would trust and respect more as a national leader: Clinton or Bachmann.

If you are so inclined and interested in our political future, do read both of these profiles.  The glaring discrepancies between these two women, either of which may someday hold the highest office in the land, is like night and day.  Their popularity is also exemplary of the ideological, economic and religious division of our voting public.

And never forget: it is just as important for us to educate ourselves on the politicians we dislike and disagree with as it is to familiarize ourselves with those that we support.  In fact, it is probably more urgent for us to learn about our antagonists.  Remember the old adage: keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.

I recognize the ideological (and partisan) backgrounds of both of these authors, and keep that in mind when I assess both women.  But honestly, who would you rather have break that glass ceiling: Clinton or Bachmann?

Hail! Decorah Eagles Tribute

June 24, 2011

The world is too much with us.  Granted.  However, as we review the journey of the Decorah eagles, let us be newly inspired to live up to our own challenges as admirably as these raptors have.

We can all learn a lesson from the dedication, focused purpose and caring demonstrated by the Decorah eagles this season.  The tenacity of the parents and the cooperation of the babies (often accompanied by sheer luck) have been a wonder to watch.  I have been keeping you informed of their well-being since the three eggs hatched around early April. The eaglets have now flown the nest, but do return frequently.

This tribute is a wonderful piece to watch, surely much more heartening and uplifting than recent events in our own world of Homo sapiens.   Revel in the simplicity, yet challenges, of the Decorah eagles.  Stroll down the story once again that warmed our hearts and reawakened our hope:

$arah’s End Game

June 23, 2011

So why has our $arah quit her bus tour?  Could the answer simply be that she’s a quitter?  Perhaps a more refined, detailed explanation is that she was not getting the immediate gratification, i.e. bucks in her pocket, good press, public adoration and a quick, easy nod for the GOP Presidential nomination, that she had anticipated.  Oh yeah: also a run for our highest office just might entail her having to hit the books on subjects other than fluff.  Wait there’s more: daughter Bristol massacred her face by recent plastic surgery and this daughter’s memoirs are out there now for everyone to enjoy.  Could our $arah be a wee bit embarrassed by the lack of depth of Palins other than herself?  Whatever.  Enjoy Huffington’s take on all of this:

I’m From Missouri: Show Me

June 23, 2011

So I just finished watching President Obama address the nation to tell us of a  troop reduction in Afghanistan: 10,000 troops to come home by year’s end.  Big whoop.

What did catch my attention was the President’s comment that we must stop nation building abroad and nation-build right in our backyard.  Did he channel Yo Mama?  Will he follow through and reduce our foreign obligations so we can funnel those assets into our homeland?  I am tired of rhetoric.  Make believe I am from Missouri: show me.


Government and Global Paralysis

June 22, 2011


The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

William Wordsworth, 1803

The world is too much with us.  On a personal scale, while driving to work this morning, I counted seventeen stop lights during the twelve-mile trip between my home and office.  This is just a petty annoyance, with no serious implications to my health and welfare.  However, the big, important issues are also clogged in a giant Pandora’s box, resulting in mega-sensations of helplessness.

My cousin, who is very well politically read and informed, also felt this frustration just the other day.  She concluded that the problems that have befallen our nation are “bigger than we are, bigger than ANY President.”  She is so correct.  This statement is not offered as an excuse for our current predicaments, but rather as an acknowledgment to spur us on to find new solutions.  Our economic crisis based on an overabundance of what we want versus what we can afford, our denial of climate factors that are certainly destroying our planet, the crush of big business over the little guys, the enormous and still growing gap between the top 1% of American earners and the rest of us, our refusal to institute any cohesive immigration policy, our fairy-tale wish that the old jobs in the old industries are actually coming back and finally, please note that all of these issues are underscored and magnified by a vacuum of individual values and standards deemed acceptable by public figures,  all contribute to a nation paralyzed by the present and in denial about the future.

Historically, part of this gridlock may exist by design.  Here is a great article explaining that while it appears that our government is lazy and ineffectual, perhaps the Founding Fathers wanted it that way when they wrote the Constitution.  The United States is a nation politically divided almost perfectly in half.  The founders wanted every safeguard, layer upon layer of checks and balances and ongoing protection against a possible power play of one party over another.  Did they go too far in their visions?  I do not think so.  In fact, our leaders today have used that prophylactic, constitutional template as an excuse to not legislate but use their offices as a means for personal fulfillment.  That is the real crime going on here.

Where has President Obama been the last few months?  Are the international and domestic situations really out of his control, much less anyone’s?  Why have we agreed to contribute funds, equipment and manpower to finance a third war?  Why are we still in Afghanistan when we have met our goal of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice?  How can we justify building hospitals, schools and militaries in Iraq, Afghanistan et al when we are slashing funds here at home for the same needs?

Likewise, most of the globe is experiencing the same hardships that America is undergoing.  We cannot, we must not, justify the gifting of our assets to offset the austerity measures of other nations.  We are all in the same boat and those assets are needed here at home.  Whether it is giving a handout to Greece, other hard-hit European nations, or our ideological allies and enemies in the Mideast, Asia and Africa to help win them over to our side, we must focus more on our own homeland.  There is just so much approach-avoidance behavior that our President and legislators can get away with.  Political spin is not going to fill the bill.  Likewise, an admission that the job IS bigger than any one person or government, while perhaps true, cannot be ceded to.  A happy medium between getting things done and attracting the vote must be found.  Without that balance, we truly are a “standstill nation.”

Another huge problem is the ever-widening gap between the rich and the middle class.  People in the U.S. and globally are feeling the injustice, both ideologically and economically, and are reacting to it.  Whether or not it is of our ideological belief, the world is boiling over.  The Arab Spring is an example.  However, so too are the supporters of al Qaeda and the Taliban; just because we do not agree with their ideas, does not mean that they are any less devoted to their philosophy.  Economically, the ever-burgeoning abyss between the wealthy and the middle class is causing demonstrations and an even deeper divide here and abroad.  This article is quite an eye-opener about the financial profile of Americans.  Our level of financial inequality is below that of such developing countries, such as Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.  How’s that for enlightenment for ya’?

Nationally, where does the President get off, all of a sudden yesterday, stating that gay marriage should be decided by the states?  That was the biggest copout I have seen.  His intention was not to offend the largest voting population as possible.  However, clearly he knows that ultimately, gay marriage will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Citing “states’ rights” is invariably a ruse for avoiding a current question honestly, thus avoiding any political fallout.  I am embarrassed that he stooped to that strategy.

Yes, President Obama has a very important election coming up in 2012.  Does that mean that he will avoid all the hot-button issues that need to be addressed immediately?  Does that also mean that our Congressmen and Senators will likewise shy away from the problems that need to be tackled?  It looks that way.  I do not think that this was the intention of our Founding Fathers when they designed the Constitution.

As for our President, I daresay that he will meet with a formidable presidential contender in Jon Huntsman.  In fact, there is not too much criticism that President Obama can direct at Huntsman because it was President Obama who chose Huntsman for that highly placed diplomatic assignment as Ambassador to China.  The president would be dissing himself if he comes down too hard on Huntsman.  So our president better start taking chances, taking specific sides and getting our government to do what they were elected to do: legislate.  Every time I turn around, our Congressmen are yet on another two-week hiatus.  I wonder how many weeks they have had off since they voted on a piece of legislation.

As Wordsworth wrote, the world is too much with us.  Couple that inertia with an absence of personal responsibility and a void of standards, both of which our elected officials are  perfectly willing to have spill over into their professional lives, and the world doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of overcoming that inertia.  Nevertheless, what is our alternative?  That is the battle we must continue to recognize and fight.

Or, we could just spin the truth the way Harry Reid did in the following story.  I readily admit that this is a petty distortion in the scheme of things, but nevertheless, incidents like this one run rampant in our halls of government, stemming of course, from the twisted, lying characters of those that occupy those halls of government:

And Anthony Weiner has a disease.  Right.

The world just might be too much with us.  On my way to eat lunch today, I counted twenty-four traffic lights in the eight-mile trip between my house and the Pho restaurant I frequent.  I would surely settle for these daily frustrations as a trade for progress in the wider scope of things, i.e. an effective, caring and just government.


Please try to find the time and make the effort to read the five links I have included above.  They are great explanations of why things are the way they are.  Thanks.

Sliding Into Home

June 19, 2011

Dear President Obama and Congress:

This is going to be short, sweet and a direct hit on your fun and games played at the expense of our country’s well-being.  So straighten up and listen.

The term “the full faith and credit” of the United States has a much more serious and pointed meaning than your political futures.  Our international and domestic standing is dependent on our ability to honor our obligations.  The time to raise the debt ceiling is now, so that we can be responsible in paying off our indebtedness.  The time to curb our voracious appetite for spending was yesterday and tomorrow.  Once we have incurred debt to other countries, we are obligated to service that debt.

The rioting in Greece over the austerity measures  that country has had to assume in order to repay their ridiculous debt is well and good.  The people are livid at the cuts in benefits that they are experiencing.  Likewise, the continent of Europe is also a bit pissed at the consequences of their (and Greece’s) fiscal irresponsibility.  Greece’s woes definitely have a domino effect throughout the entire EU.  But that continent has to face up to their own problems and quit bellyaching that once again, the United States should “save” them.

Hell, the U.S. cannot even save itself.  We have our own disasters to deal with, having ignored the writing on the wall for decades.  We have no viable health care system, our educational programs are failing, our infrastructure is falling apart and our social safety net is dwindling every day.  Certainly I would be willing to pay higher taxes for fewer services —- for my country.  No way am I agreeable to doing that for Greece or other countries of the EU.

As things stand, we are already engaged in three wars and three attempts at nation building abroad.  My tunnel vision is to concentrate what assets we have left right here at home.  Europe is going to have to take it on the chin and make whatever cuts they need to in order to fiscally survive.  We should not save them yet again.

Americans likewise are battling against the need to institute austerity measures.  This is not a popular political policy, but it must be undertaken.  We would have to be crazy to assume other nations’ austerity measures as well.  So get with the program: raise our debt ceiling to make good on the obligations we have already assumed.  Then take that budget knife and cut, as kindly as you can, all the fat from our government and entitlements.  But do not ask Americans to pay for the cuts of other countries.  That would be the last straw.

Today is Father’s Day.  Perhaps you ought to start treating your country as firmly and responsibly as you would your own child.  Otherwise, you should not be a father or a national leader.  Get on with it.

Yours but not Europe’s,

Yo Mama



Lo and behold, after writing this post I opened up the Washington Post.  Look what I found: