Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Colorado shootings and religious abuse

Matthew Murray, a troubled 24 year old Coloradan, who killed four people at a mega church and a youth center and then killed himself was no stranger to Youth With a Mission training center where the killing began. Five years ago, Murray signed up for the program, but was told he wasn't stable enough to travel with other students for field training, according to the Rev. Peter Warren, the program's director.

According to Marlene Winell, a Berkeley psychological consultant, educator, and writer in Oakland with 28 years experience in human services in both community and academic settings, "
We don't know exactly what Matthew Murray was going through that led to the Colorado shootings. But he apparently wrote the agonized postings of "Nightmare Child," on He was suffering a lot of pain and rage, partly about his upbringing in the church and his continuing frustration with Christians. (Some of this was in May, 2007, when I invited him to contact me for help.)" She never heard from him.

" Matthew Murray, the son of a prominent neurologist, grew up in Englewood, Colo., and was home-schooled in what's been described as a deeply religious family. A computer enthusiast, Murray had only one previous brush with the law — a traffic ticket earlier this year, according to

But according to the Joe.My.God Blog (click on title of this post for a link) , "After trying to "go all out for God" and failing, Murray wrote he fell into a deep depression." It goes on, "Last summer, he wrote, "People like us are going to go to hell, according to Christians." He lists several reasons why. Reason number seven is bluntly stated, "I'm bisexual." In other postings, Murray wrote, "...
I can never get a female date. I am at least able to get some male action.""

Later he wrote about confronting his Mother on the issue of his bisexuality. Murray wrote that he told her, "Using drugs, alcohol and having gay sex, I'm just trying to do what any Christian pastor would do. At least I'm not doing meth like Ted Haggard." Murray also noted that the Church forgave Haggard and wrote, "I want to know where was all the love, mercy and compassion for my supposed imperfections?"

It is important to note that Youth With a Mission has been described as "associated with the ex-gay organization Exodus International," which has been criticized by some as a 'cult' and attacked for 'brainwashing' members and promoting anti-gay messages."

Psychologist Winell, who holds a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State and is the author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion, suggests that fundamentalist religion, and in particular fundamentalist Christianity, may bear some responsibility for his state of mind at the time of the shootings. She describes something she calls religious abuse and says it's traumatic, in that it teaches small children they are a) bad and incapable, b) responsible for the horrible, bloody death of Jesus Christ, and c) in danger of burning in hell for eternity. Winell calls this abuse of the worst kind.

According to her website, "
Children at an early age do not have the cognitive ability to evaluate this, nor are they given any alternatives. If they are indoctrinated young, the ideas become deeply held assumptions that are very hard to change despite intellectual changes later in life. Hence the secret anxiety and sometimes terror that is too shameful to talk about. (People who convert at an older age are usually in a vulnerable state and the dynamic is similar.)

Winell's website ( continues, "
Fundamentalist, authoritarian religions teach that it is a sin to doubt, to question, to think for yourself. This is the most insidious of many examples of circular reasoning that keeps people trapped in the system. Another is the idea that if the religion is not working for you, it must be you that is not doing it right, and the solution is for you to try harder not to disappoint God."

So, did Matthew Murray kill because he had been indoctrinated to believe his bisexuality was evil and that there was no redemption for him? If so, what do we do about it?

"Our society (the U.S.) venerates "freedom of religion" along with freedom of speech, and therefore turns a blind eye to toxic teachings," according to Winell.

If Matthew Murray's actions were precipitated by religious indoctrination can we afford to shelter such acts under a "freedom of religion" rubric? I say it's time to call out the elephant in the room: fundamentalism is dangerous and should not be permitted to operate in the U.S. any more than in Afghanistan.

A full investigation of the incidents in Colorado should be undertaken including the religious teachings that may have prompted them. And I hope the American Psychiatric and American Psychological Associations will weigh in on this phenomenon. Further, I believe that Congress should investigate this situation. A country that calls itself a world leader should take the lead in protecting vulnerable children from psychological indoctrination/brainwashing regardless of who does it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't Back Down!

I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about what's happening vis a vis our government but this just blows me away:

In Boulder, two days ago, a rosy-cheeked thirtysomething mother of two small children, in soft yoga velours, started to tear up when she said to me: `I want to take action but I am so scared. I look at my kids and I am scared. How do you deal with fear? Is it safer for them if I act or stay quiet? I don’t want to get on a list.’ In DC, before that, a beefy, handsome civil servant, a government department head — probably a Republican — confides in a lowered voice that he is scared to sign the new ID requirement for all government employees, that exposes all his most personal information to the State — but he is scared not to sign it: `If I don’t, I lose my job, my house. It’s like the German National ID card,’ he said quietly. This morning in Denver I talked for almost an hour to a brave, much-decorated high-level military leader who is not only on the watch list for his criticism of the administration — his family is now on the list. He has undertaken many dangerous combat missions in his service to his country over the course of his career, but his voice cracks when he talks about the possibility that he is exposing his children to harassment.

"Jim Spencer, a former columnist for the Denver Post who has been critical of the Bush administration, told me today that I could use his name: he is on the watch list. An attorney contacts me to say that she told her colleagues at the Justice Department not to torture a detainee; she says she then faced a criminal investigation, a professional referral, saw her emails deleted — and now she is on the watch list. I was told last night that a leader of Code Pink, the anti-war women’s action group, was refused entry to Canada. I hear from a tech guy who works for the airlines — again, probably a Republican — that once you are on the list you never get off. Someone else says that his friend opened his luggage to find a letter from the TSA saying that they did not appreciate his reading material. Before I go into the security lines, I find myself editing my possessions. In New York’s LaGuardia, I reluctantly found myself putting a hardcover copy of Tara McKelvey’s excellent Monstering, an expose of CIA interrogation practices, in a garbage can before I get in the security line; it is based on classified information. This morning at my hotel, before going to the airport, I threw away a very nice black T-shirt that said `We Will Not be Silenced’ — with an Arabic translation — that someone had given me, along with a copy of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo."

This is part of a BLOG post on Firedoglake written by Naomi Wolf, well known feminist author. I'm not sure what to do with it so I'm looking to you for advice.

Please click on the title of this post and read the full account, then post your thoughts here; tell us what to do with this information. Should we act on it? How? And perhaps even more important, how does it make you feel? If you believe this is information that should be shared widely I invite you to forward it to friends and family. If our republic is at risk, the more people who know it the better. Speak out! Don't Back Down!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

$400 nets you a computer and one for a needy child

This is the coolest opportunity you're likely to have this year to do some good and get a unique payback. For $400 you can buy a new XO laptop for a needy child and get one for yourself.

TerraPass's Adam Stein writes today about the new XO laptop you've probably seen on television or read about recently. Designed solely for internet use it operates on solar power and is intended to benefit needy children in other countries; even countries where people don't have electricity. I know, I know, you're saying, But what about water damage? And sand or dirt damage? The manufacturers have thought of all that.

But let's just by-pass my sales pitch and go directly to the horses mouth. Click on the title to this post and read Adam's short column. Then click on the link near the bottom of the column and watch a short video blog by David Pogue of the NY Times. He shows you the laptop and demonstrates its near indestructibility. He also explains that
for a two week period in November you can buy one and get one for yourself for $400; get a tax break and ensure that a child in a developing nation has access to an education. Such a deal!

While you're at it check out TerraPass. They're the folks who invest in alternative energy. I buy carbon offsets for my car and air travel from them every year (you may have seen the sticker on my car). It's an amazingly inexpensive way to neutralize your carbon use, help protect the planet, and feel good about it. What's not to like?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Lesbian Servicemember Murdered in Afghanistan?

Editor and Publisher Magazine is reporting this week that a woman serving in Afghanistan may have been murdered because she was a lesbian.

The military first reported that Ciara Durkin, 30, (of Boston MA) who served in the National Guard, had died “in action,” then revealed that she was killed in a “noncombat” incident that was being investigated."

E&P continues, "
Her family was told that she had been killed by a single gunshot near a church. They are charging that the military has been dragging its feet in giving them more details. They reject any chance of suicide and suspect friendly fire or murder.

"A new twist emerged today in a Boston Globe article: Her family says she had told them to push for an investigation if anything ever happened to her. She was in a finance unit and may have found some improprieties, according to a story in the Patriot-Ledger, which also disclosed that her family had notified the military about her concerns about her safety three weeks ago."

The Globe reported that the family wondered if, as a lesbian, she may have been targeted. E&P reports, "She did say to us that she had concerns about things she was seeing when she was over there," her sister, Fiona Canavan, told WGBH-TV in Boston. "She told us if anything happened to her, that we were to investigate it."

Does any of this sound familiar? Does Pat Tillman's name come to mind? I'm not suggesting that Pat Tillman was gay but that our government is perfectly capable of covering up murder in order to avoid scrutiny of its conduct of the war.

If Ciara Durkin was murdered it may have been because she had uncovered wrongdoing or because she was a lesbian. But we must rely on the Dept of Defense's honesty to find out and if the Pat Tillman case is any indication of how things are being done today we will never know. At least Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy have demanded an investigation.

Continuing the E&P report, "
The Globe article observed: “(Sen.) Kerry said the Durkin family desperately needs answers to three questions: Why has the Army not responded to the Durkin family's request for an independent autopsy? Why, after not responding to the family's request for an independent autopsy, did the Army fail to contact the Durkin family with the Army's autopsy results? The family was told to be available to receive a phone call between 1 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, and the Army never called. Why has the Army refused to make Durkin's will and paperwork available to her family, so they can respect her wishes as they plan her funeral and burial?”

A Boston Patriot Ledger editorial declares, "
The initial reports of Ciara Durkin’s death in Afghanistan are a byproduct of the Bush administration’s wrongheaded intent to shape the public perception of this fight and the war in Iraq."

The circumstances of Ciara Durkin's death should be made public and any improprieties dealt with post haste. If the motive in her death was sexual orientation
it raises questions regarding the impact of Gen. Peter Pace's homophobic statements and provides further ammunition (pun intended) to kill Don't Ask Don't Tell. If she was killed because of shenanigans she had uncovered it signals the depth of corruption pervading the DOD and begs for a full investigation of our Afghanistan operation.

Ciara Durkin's family and all Americans need and deserve to know who/what caused her death. Anything less will signal that the DOD is more interested in covering its ass than in protecting its own soldiers.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Should We Kill ENDA if Transgendered People Aren't Included?

John Aravosis of Americablog has posted a thoughtful piece regarding ENDA, the legislation that would outlaw job discrimination against gays and lesbians. I commend it to you (click on title above for full piece):

"There's a debate raging in the gay community over an upcoming vote on the most important piece of civil rights legislation to the gay community, ever. We are on the verge of passing, at the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would make it illegal for an employer to fire, not hire, no promote an otherwise qualified employee or job candidate simply because they're gay. Some are now arguing that if transgendered people are not included in ENDA, the gay community should not support its passage.

"Most Americans, including lots of people in the gay community, do not realize that under federal law it is LEGAL to fire someone for being gay. It is also legal in most states. Contrary to popular belief, "discrimination" is not illegal in America, and it's not illegal under the Constitution. It is only illegal (more or less) if your particular class is specified in legislation. If you read the existing civil rights act, you'll see it lists very specific categories that are covered (race, religion, national origin...). It is not a blanket protection against "discrimination." That is why ENDA is needed. And that is why ENDA is not "special rights" or extra rights being granted to gay people and not other Americans - we are not included under the current civil rights laws, and that's unfair. Currently it is legal to fire someone for being gay under federal law and in most states. Don't believe me? Look it up yourself."

My take on the subject? I see the answer to this debate in the knowledge that many people have come to accept gay and lesbian people as equal to themselves while most Americans are unaware of what a transgender person is and/or how that does or does not relate to homosexuality.

Our country has obviously reached critical mass in support of gays and lesbians while it is clearly not yet ready to accept gender identity as a class to protect. Amercans have not been exposed to nearly enough information nor have they been exposed to nearly enough transgender people to make an informed decision regarding their inclusion in ENDA. Meantime we have a good chance of protecting a substantial percentage of Americans from legal job discrimination.

The question is, Do we go forward to protect 10% to 20% of the American population or do we wait until we achieve critical mass in support of transgender people? My preference is that all sexual minorities be included in ENDA and I'm torn knowing that so many people will continue to be fired, not hired, or not promoted on the basis of sexual orientation if we insist on it.

After much consideration I support ENDA exclusive of gender identity while vowing to work very hard to help educate the American public and Congress regarding gender identity issues. A full 10-20% of Americans should not be asked to continue laboring in economic apartheid until the country is brought up to speed on gender identity when having gay and lesbian Americans treated with equality in the work place may have a beneficial effect on the issue. I say pass ENDA and get on with gender identity education in America.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Want to know where the Speaker stands on an issue?

Several people have asked me where Nancy Pelosi stands on a specific issue and I couldn't tell them so I did some research. She has a website at which carries comprehensive information about her roll as Speaker and how she plans to deal with issues. It includes a blog tilted The Gavel .

Today the site carries her statement regarding the president's speech last night. To read it click on the title to this post. Under Latest News you'll see a link to her statement.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Black and White and Re(a)d All Over:

So much for the liberal media scourge., a web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center which comprehensively monitors, analyzes, and corrects conservative misinformation in the U.S. media, has completed a study of syndicated columnists published by nearly every daily newspaper in the country and guess what?

"The results show that in paper after paper, state after state, and region after region, conservative syndicated columnists get more space than their progressive counterparts. As Editor & Publisher paraphrased one syndicate executive noting, "U.S. dailies run more conservative than liberal columns, but some are willing to consider liberal voices.

"Though papers may be "willing to consider" progressive syndicated columnists, this unprecedented study reveals the true extent of the dominance of conservatives:
  • Sixty percent of the nation's daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists every week than progressive syndicated columnists. Only 20 percent run more progressives than conservatives, while the remaining 20 percent are evenly balanced.
  • In a given week, nationally syndicated progressive columnists are published in newspapers with a combined total circulation of 125 million. Conservative columnists, on the other hand, are published in newspapers with a combined total circulation of more than 152 million.2
  • The top 10 columnists as ranked by the number of papers in which they are carried include five conservatives, two centrists, and only three progressives.
  • The top 10 columnists as ranked by the total circulation of the papers in which they are published also include five conservatives, two centrists, and only three progressives.
  • In 38 states, the conservative voice is greater than the progressive voice -- in other words, conservative columns reach more readers in total than progressive columns. In only 12 states is the progressive voice greater than the conservative voice.
  • In three out of the four broad regions of the country -- the West, the South, and the Midwest -- conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists. Only in the Northeast do progressives reach more readers, and only by a margin of 2 percent.
  • In eight of the nine divisions into which the U.S. Census Bureau divides the country, conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists in any given week. Only in the Middle Atlantic division do progressive columnists reach more readers each week."
What more can I say except, I wonder why this hasn't been reported in the MSM? Hmmmm...

Note: you can read the complete study by clicking on the title above.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wife Beating OK; Dog Fighting Not So OK

Here's an interesting piece by Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle. It makes a good point that could be made stronger if it recognized the wife beating that pervades professional sports. It's not unusual to read of a professional athlete who was convicted of beating his wife but I can only recall one instance of a league taking notice - a $600 fine and two game suspension for Ron Artest of the Sacramento Kings. Oh but he got a 72 game suspension for fighting fans in the stands. Guess you have to hit your wife during the game to get the league's attention. And how would that work?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

U.S. Presidential Candidates' Healthcare Plans in Detail

Today's Huffington Post published a comprehensive, detailed comparative look at the healthcare proposals of all Presidential candidates; Democrat and Republican. It is compiled and written by healthcare professionals whose intent is that we be fully informed regarding whom we're voting for.

If you read it in full (click on title above) you cannot fail to see the stark differences between the parties, and the substantive disparities between the second tier and first tier Democratic candidates. Further, you will gain insight into the priorities of the candidates and their approach to problem solving, willingness to make real change, and realistic proposals for success.

I doubt that anyone would honestly be able to deny that John Edwards offers the deepest, most detailed proposal with Hillary Clinton a close second and Barrak Obama hot on their heels.

Our healthcare problem is perhaps the most intractable domestic issue we face and, I for one, want to be dead certain that my choice for President gets it. That s/he understands the issues involved and is willing to go outside the box to design a system that will rival those of other industrialized nations. It simply isn't acceptable that we continue spending 18% of our GDP on healthcare and still have 47 million people without healthcare coverage, and are way down the list on infant mortality, and life expectancy.

Susan Blumenthal, M.D. says, "
While many Americans feel uninformed about the views of their elected officials on scientific, medical, and health research, most seem to understand the importance of providing necessary funds for medical studies. A poll conducted by Research!America in February 2007 found that the vast majority of people in the United States believe that science is very important to our health (86%) and competitiveness (78%) as a nation. Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe that scientific research is critical to our economy, 97% of Americans think it is important for the United States to be a global leader in scientific research, and 91% believe that it is essential in eliminating diseases, such as cancer. It is not surprising, then, that 83% of those polled in a 2006 survey indicated that they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supported increased funding "to find cures for and to prevent disease"."

We are losing people every day. Citizens who choose to live in other countries where they have access to full healthcare coverage via a national healthcare plan funded by their taxes.

I urge you to read this article and share it liberally with your e-list. What we do with healthcare in the next five to 10 years is crucial to the longevity of our population and, I believe, our nation. We've lost credibility throughout the world over the last six years as a result of an indescribably bad foreign affairs posture. We can't afford to continue with our heads in the sand on the most important domestic issue we face.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

So, Vice President Cheney is having his heart pacemaker replaced tomorrow. I guess that means that George W. Bush will actually get to be President for a few hours.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rough Justice

George W. Bush is one slimy dude. His view of justice thinks it's OK to;

a) permit Karla Fay Tucker to be executed and then laugh,

b) sign the death warrant for a man whose lawyer slept through his trial and then snicker when asked about it,

c) execute a great-grandmother who murdered her abusive husband.

He even thinks it's OK to invade a country that posed no risk to us, resulting in nearly 4000 American deaths and 25,000+ injuries - to date - and then cut funding to the VA that takes care of the injured.

But when one of his own lies to the FBI, obstructs justice, and is convicted in a court of law he just can't stand to see him pay the price (30 months in jail) meted out by that court. This gives new meaning to the phrase compassionate conservatism. He's only compassionate toward conservatives.

It's clear his lawyers have been working on Scooter Libby's commutation of sentence for some time. He issued a statement within a couple of hours of the appeals court deciding - unanimously - that Libby must go straight to jail. And of course he didn't have the backbone to deliver the news in person, choosing to issue a written statement instead.

It's now time for Congress to find out what Libby knows that George W. Bush doesn't want us to know. Clearly, it must be enough to endanger his tenure as President and/or Dick Cheney's Vice Presidency to risk short circuiting the legal process. John Dean reminded us, the other day, that he knows all about stonewalling from personal experience via Watergate. They only do it when they have something to hide. This administration is stonewalling Congress. They have something to hide.

Libby should be subpoenaed before the House Judiciary Committee, granted immunity, if necessary, and questioned about what really happened re the outing of Valerie Plame's status with the CIA. I'm convinced that Dick Cheney is behind all of this and should be impeached. While they're at it, it's time to get tough about the politicization of the Justice Department: institute impeachment proceedings against Alberto Gonzales.

Remember 50 Republican Senators voted to convict Bill Clinton of lying over a sexual liaison which, although sleazy, was not illegal. They wanted to remove him from office. But when one of their own lies and obstructs justice, is convicted, and sentenced to 30 months in jail, George W. Bush sees it as "excessive."

Hello!!!! Wake up, Republicans! Do you really want to be associated with an unprincipled, holier than though cretin who not only believes he is above the law but isn't even smart enough to learn that our constitution is what separates us from other 'sort-of' democracies? It's what demands that we be a nation of laws, not of men (and I use MEN advisedly).

I've had it with this mess and demand that Congress take action - NOW! I'm calling Nancy Pelosi's office and the Whitehouse. And I'll continue calling until I see some results.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I just emailed Chris Matthews' show, Hardball, the following:

"Well, you've succeeded in sinking to a new low in television "journalism." You gave Ann Coulter an HOUR of air time to spew hate speech and sell books at the expense of our country. Elizabeth Edwards is right, hate speech drowns out a serious discussion of the issues and America's voters desperately need to learn about the candidate's positions on the issues.

Although I don't let Coulter off the hook this message is about those responsible for this situation. I completely blame you, Chris Matthews and Tammy Haddad, for using Coulter to stir up controversy and attract attention to the show. Keith Olbermann named Coulter as the "Worst Person in the World" following this shameful episode when you should have been the recipients of the award.

Serious people could do a lot of good given a full hour of airtime yet they're lucky if they get 5 minutes on this show where the host construes rudeness as hardball. Interrupting people doesn't constitute hardball. That requires tough questions and follow up questions asked in an atmosphere where the interviewee is treated as an adult and viewers can hear what they're saying.

I've written to the show before but I suspect this will be the last time I do because I simply can't stomach the crass commercialism that masquerades as journalism, and because I have no respect for personalities who trade in controversy rather than real journalism. I don't read the National Enquirer so why would I watch "Hardball?" "

Tammy Haddad is the Executive Producer of Hardball, a position that carries weight. A quick Google of her name reveals that she has Executive Produced The Maury Povich Show and Larry King Live. She has also been a Senior Broadcast Producer on the Today Show. I guess that helps to explain why Hardball looks like a tabloid. You can watch this gutter dwelling swill if you want but I'm out'a here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Best Editorial Cartoons of the Week

Bob Geiger offers his weekly compilation of the best editorial cartoons. Tell us which one you like best. (click on title above).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Don't We Have a Constitution, Not a King?

"Bush has issued a directive that would place all governmental powers in his hands in the case of a catastrophic emergency" according to Marjorie Cohn of AlterNet. "If a terrorist attack happens before the 2008 election, could Bush and Cheney use this to avoid relinquishing power to a successor administration?

"Bush quietly issued an unconstitutional bombshell that went virtually unnoticed by the corporate media.

"The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007, would place all governmental power in the hands of the President and effectively abolish the checks and balances in the Constitution." Cohn goes on.

In case of a "catastrophic emergency" the new directive reads, "The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government" continuing, the President proposes that the three co-equal branches of government would be "coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers." The Vice President would help implement these plans. says comity means, "mutual courtesy; civility." In other words, the Congress and the Courts would be treated with courtesy but would have no power. I don't know about you but I don't trust George W. Bush, or any president, with so much power and surely even the poor souls who voted for him would have to concede that we fought a revolution in 1776 to get rid of King George and don't need another one.

Bet you didn't even know our president had issued such a directive back on May 9th. Probably because the MSM was too busy worrying who Anna Nicole's 'baby daddy' is, or whether Paris Hilton would serve out her 45 day term, or Harry Reid had called Peter Pace incompetent (although he is).

Read the full story (link under title above) and post your thoughts as to what you plan to do about this signing statement?

a) ignore it and hope for the best
b) demand that Congress confront him and take action (I'm not sure what)
c) pack up and move to Canada

A nod to David Pollak for ferreting out this story.

The day that was in Massachusetts

Massachusetts made history this week: its lawmakers refused to allow fundamentalist extremists to place on the ballot an initiative challenging the right of gay and lesbian people to marry in their state. The scene was suspenseful and emotional and I commend to you a "blow by blow" description of the action provided by John Aravosis of America Blog (click on the title of this post).
I'm not a person who wants to marry but I certainly want the right to chose, and be assured that as I read John's narrative tears came to my eyes.

Gays & lesbians in America have struggled long and hard to gain every one of the civil liberties they enjoy against a very vocal, well funded, fundamentalist minority who do not speak for the majority in this country. It is gratifying to know that a state legislature stood up to protect one of the most fundamental rights our country can offer. Deval Patrick, Mass.'s new Governor, deserves a pat on the back for his very vocal support of the LGBT community. He stood shoulder to shoulder with them in pushing back a cynical bid to relegate gays & lesbians to permanent 2nd class status.

The Governor of California certainly wouldn't have provided such leadership. Our State Assembly and Senate passed a bill last year to legalize marriage for gay & lesbian Californians and he vetoed it. Mark Leno is carrying the same bill (AB43) through the Assembly again and it should pass that body and the State Senate. Our Governor promises to veto it again and I hope the State Legislature keeps sending it back to him until he gets the message.

In the meantime we could support his efforts by sharing this blog post with every Californian we know and urging them to pressure their State Legislators to sponsor the bill and lobby the Governor to sign it. Many non-gay Californians support marriage equality and their voices carry weight. A call or email to the governor (916-445-2841 or in support of AB43 from our non-gay family members, neighbors, and friends will take just a few minutes and you'll feel better about yourself for doing it, trust me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Witnesses to Alleged rape speak out

I am outraged! A 17 year old girl was raped, perhaps gang raped, by members of the De Anza College baseball team and although three witnesses saw it happen and rescued her from the scene the DA says there is insufficient evidence to bring charges.

"One of the guys who was in the room said 'This is her fault. She got drunk and she did this to herself,'" said April Grolle, one of her rescuers. Lauren Chief Elk didn't believe him: "You have to be conscious to consent to something, and that was not the case at all."

Watch video of these two young women as Lloyd LaCuesta of KTVU Chanel 2 reports this horrible story (link under article's title above) and then decide whether you think these eye witnesses are credible.

It is simply unbelievable that this case isn't going to be prosecuted.

The parents of these men should be examining the values they imparted to their sons. What kind of man believes that a woman who gets drunk and gets raped did it to herself? Bottom line he isn't a man at all. He's an animal.

Friday, May 25, 2007

89% of California parents favor sex ed for their teens

Well, well, well, who knew?

"Politicians and evangelists may push abstinence-only sex education -- the nation's policy for the past decade -- but according to the state's first-ever sex education poll, a startling 89 percent of California parents want their children to receive a comprehensive education that includes information about contraception and STD protection."

According to the Contra Cost Times (link above)
a random-dial telephone poll conducted last year by Quantum Market Research and funded by the California Wellness Foundation revealed that fully 89% of California parents have come to realize their kids need information.

To further quote the CCTimes:

"A long awaited study of more than 2,000 teens who had gone through federally funded, abstinence only programs was delivered to Congress last month. The findings? Abstinence-only doesn't work."

I commend the Contra Cost Times for bringing this information to our attention. Now let's pick up the ball and run with it. Let's pass along the information to parents everywhere and encourage action to ensure that our teens have the information they need about sex,
STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and how they intersect.

Shaha Ali Riza dumps Paul Wolfowitz

Small wonder. This is a case, once again, of a competent woman being pushed aside to accomodate a man.

Shaha Ali Riza was employed at the World Bank when Wolfowitz came there. I'm not surprised that she was angered at her treatment. I would be too.

By all accounts she is a brilliant woman who had a job that she liked and didn't want to be moved out of the way. I would have demanded consideration, too, if I were being required to give up a job I loved because of a situation I didn't ask for, or cause.

When is society going to stop viewing women as appendages to men who can be moved around as pawns on a chess board?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Separation of Church and State

What has happened to the separation of church and state in the U.S.? I would argue that it has nearly been abolished. Although we still say that we separate church and state, we have come to accept co-mingling of faith and policy. If you think I exaggerate I urge you to watch the first segment of this week's Bill Moyers Journal (link above).

Ironically, the religious rights' success may lead to its downfall. Some Americans are beginning to "sweep the scales from their eyes;" recognize the danger in blurring the line between church and government.

Over reaching has historically lead to the failure of popular movements, e.g., the Salem witch trials. I choose the witch trials deliberately because of the similarities it bares to the religious extremism we see all over the world today - and that includes some of the extremists heard on Sunday mornings here in this country.

A recent poll revealed that the fastest growing ' religious' group in the U.S. is atheists. So the pendulum (a hallmark of democratic societies) is beginning to swing in the other direction and may lead to a time when an agnostic or atheist is elected to national office. The arc of the pendulum will have swung from puritanism to secularism. I hope I live to see it.

Fascism? You Be the Judge

I can't add anything to the message offered at (link above). I urge you to watch a short video and then decide whether fascism lives in the U.S. today.

The Cost of the Iraq War

The Iraqi Parliament, last week, voted to demand that the U.S. give them a time line for leaving their country. I know, the MSM didn't pay much attention to it but I did.

The Iraq War is costing us so much that it's hard to keep up with: 3,372 combat lives; 25,000+ injured; 100,000+ Iraqi lives and on and on... (link above) offers a graphic demonstration of the cost in dollars. Learn what we could be buying with the money, e.g.,

a) Healtchare for 255 million children
b) 7.3 million additional teachers
c) Head Start for 53 million children
d) Four year scholarships at public universities for nearly 21 million students, or
e) 3.9 million additional public housing units

Take a few minutes to check out how much the cost of the war could buy in your community. Just in San Francisco it would pay for:

a) 70,000 college scholarships
b) 13,000 public housing units
c) a year of Head Start for 190k children
d) Healthcare for 860k children

We don't even have that many people in San Francisco. It would pay for Healthcare for everybody in San Francisco for a year.

If Iraq wants us to leave, why are we staying? This is stupid, let's just stop it.

I believe that the Iraqi people must continue their civil war, or not, based on their own imperatives, and that the presence of "Coalition" troupes encourages growth of radical extremist factions. Until the U.S. pulls its troupes out of Iraq the Iraqis will have no incentive to negotiate seriously with one another.
In other words, I believe that we are the problem.

If you agree with me call, email, or write your Congressmember and Senators. Remind them of the cost of the war and assure them that you expect them to stop it! No ifs, ands, or buts, just STOP IT!

And feel free to use any of the statistics provided above.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pot Luck

I see the Vatican has just decided that unbaptized babies can now go to heaven. It's amazing that these men believe it is so, just because they say it.

It's been disclosed that the network hosting the emails involved in the US attorney firings was the same network that hosted Ohio's 2004 election results. The "
...official" Secretary of State website -- which gave the world the presidential election results -- was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors." according to And all we hear about is the "stolen election" in Nigeria. Why am I not surprised? And they wonder why people turn to the "alternate" media.
I recommend and They cover America better than our MSM does.

So the White House Special Council is looking into potential violations of the Hatch Act which requires that all official communications must be preserved and that officials must not perform political duties while working. This because White House officials used a private email system hosted by the RNC (probably by the same guys mentioned above) for political communication from the White House and apparently used it for some official communication. Some say it was done to cover up political decisions regarding the US Attorney firings. Somehow I can't imagine the Bush White House knowing the difference between politics and policy.

So the U.S. Supreme Court has decided what kind of abortions doctors cannot use and this bunch of old farts doesn't hesitate to make such a decision. Even more appalling is that in the process Justice Anthony Kennedy opined that the court had to protect women from making bad decisions. What gall! What balls! What ignorance! What arrogance! Hello!!!! Women and their doctors are perfectly capable of deciding how to manage their reproductive health.

This week on muni: A #37 driver couldn't get the wheelchair pickup to work. She permitted the passenger to drive onto the plate and when she couldn't get it to work began yelling at the passenger. She even said, "Are you deaf?" I explained that he was obviously a quadraplegic and probably couldn't turn around. She finally got off her ass and walked three feet to explain that the passenger would need to wait for the next bus. She's the same driver who refuses to drive into the bus zone; stops in the line of traffic so passengers have to walk into the street to board. I think her driver number was 7170. Today I had a driver on the F-Market line who ran a red light and then a block later waited for a green light to turn red. He was looking right at it. I can't tell you his number because there wasn't one on his sleeve. And it's only Tuesday. But Nate Ford, the head of Muni says the worst of the trouble is over. I guess he just means the trouble with the Metro.

So it's Sego v Sarko in France. I understand Segolene Royal is considered an "empty suit" in France while Sarkozy is scary conservative. Not a good scenario. Of course countries don't elect male empty suits so why would they elect a female one? Right? On second thought maybe it won't be such a difficult decision. It would be nice to see France elect a woman.

Mary & Kevin Tillman and Jessica Lynch had to go to Washington to tell the truth about Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan and Lynch's capture by the Iraqis. Too bad we can't depend on the chain of command to take care of that.

Will Fredo resign? Will W fire him? I don't see W firing him. He doesn't have the balls. And Fredo will hang on until the bitter end even though he is an embarrassment and will be a drag on his party during the '08 political races. Talk about clueless.

So, what do you think?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sex Education Done the Right Way

Thanks to the Contra Costa Times for an informative article about how sex education should be done:

Our Whole Lives, a joint product of Unitarian-Universalists and the United Church of Christ, has proved a popular draw at both churches. Executives could not provide an exact number of the churches that offer the program, but each has trained more than 1,000 teachers...

"Our Whole Lives stresses the value of abstinence, but unlike some faith-based programs, it also includes extensive discussions of birth control, safe sex practices and sexual orientation."

" Today, Unitarian and United Church of Christ youths from California and 12 other states will lobby their congressional representatives to free up more money for comprehensive sex ed programs in public schools."

It's about time we have a responsible approach to teaching children about reproduction. Kudos to the CC Times. Read the full article via the link above.

Firing of US Attorneys

Say what you will about bloggers but some of them are dogging this story to our advantage. Josh Micah Marshall is leading the way. Today he says,

"This isn't about the AG's lies. It's not about the attempted cover-up. It's not about executive privilege and investigative process mumbojumbo.

This is about using US Attorneys to damage Democrats and protect Republicans, using the Department of Justice as a partisan cudgel in the war for national political dominance. All the secrecy and lies, the blundering and covering-up stems from this one central fact."

Read his full post (link above) on Talking Points Memo. You might want to Bookmark his sight.

Josh seems to have more spine than the NY Times. Today's edition went way out of its way to avoid using the L word. An article by Eric Lipton and David Johnston reads, in part:

"An accumulating body of evidence is at odds with the statements of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales...
The conflicts between the documentary record and Mr. Gonzales’s version of events have contributed to an erosion of support for him in Congress...
The disparities are giving Democrats in Congress a rationale...
As attorney general, Mr. Gonzales has become a central figure, and increasingly, critics say, the emblem of ineptitude, in the swirl of contradictions, memory lapses and conflicting testimony that has defined the unfolding story behind the removal of the prosecutors.
Mr. Gonzales also said, more explicitly: “I never saw documents. We never had a discussion about where things stood.” This directly conflicts with documents released late Friday..."

What does Gonzales have to do to get the main stream media to call a spade a spade?

This is one of the reasons I turn to blogs for the real story these days. Main Stream Media (MSM) is way too skittish about legalities; much more so than our CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, Alberto Gonzales.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What is the real reason 8 U.S. Attorneys were fired?

Things we know to date:

a) Alberto Gonzales was talking with the White House in January 2005 about firing all of the U.S. Attorneys at a time when he was still the President's Council,

b) Alberto Gonzales was subsequently nominated to be Attorney General,

c) Gonzales has claimed he was opposed to firing all of the U.S. Attorneys and he swore to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in 2005, he would set aside politics and act a-politically as A.G.,

d) One of the fired U.S. Attorneys was apparently contacted by a Republican Senator and a Republican Congressmember about investigating Democrats in order to shore up that Congressmember's re-election campaign,

e) One of the fired U.S. Attorneys had successfully prosecuted a Republican Congressmember, sending him to prison, and was pursuing further action in the case,

f) One of the fired U.S. Attorneys was in Arkansas - where Sen. Hillary Clinton lived for many years. He was replaced by Karl Rove's assistant.

g) Karl Rove is the President's "political brain,"

The Patriot Act contained a little known provision permitting the White House to replace U.S. Attorneys without Senate confirmation, and

i) We know that the firings, although originally proposed in 2005, were pared to a more manageable number and actually completed in 2006-07.

Does this appear to constitute a LOT of coincidences? or

a) Was Alberto Gonzales appointed A.G. to ensure that the firings would happen at a strategically advantageous time and sufficiently prior to the '08 Presidential race to avoid speculation?

b) Was Karl Rove's assistant appointed to the Arkansas post in order to disrupt Sen. Clinton's '08
Presidential campaign efforts?

c) Were the other U.S. Attorneys replaced by people the White House knew would be helpful during the next Presidential race?

d) Did Alberto Gonzales ever stop representing the President? Does he understand that the Attorney General represents the people?

Just wondering...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sentinels of Freedom help Wounded Warriors

The Sentinels of Freedom, founded in late 2003 by a father of three soldiers, is a non-profit that offers disabled service members comprehensive assistance to help ease the process of re-entering civilian life. And founder Mike Conklin, a resident of Danville CA and a realtor, told the Contra Costa Times (link above) that his employer, will help take the program national. "RE/MAX pledged to commit whatever it takes to cover all expenses for at least five years," said Sentinels co-founder Dan Coleman.

A quick review of Sentinels' website reveals their mission is: " provide life-changing opportunities for men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have recently suffered severe injuries and now need the support of grateful communities to realize their dreams."

"...scholarship recipients receive housing, transportation, employment and education assistance, and are connected to a team of caring volunteers who provide guidance, mentoring and friendship during the four-year program."

"You get a financial planner, an educator, a doctor, a military officer, maybe someone from the clergy, all working together," Conklin said. "They basically walk at the person's side for four years."

The Army's Wounded Warrior program said they believe Sentinels is the first group of its kind. Tim Poch, their spokesman, told the CC Times, "Some groups help with jobs, some with housing, but (Sentinels) is the first that has offered an entire package." They've done some great things for several of our soldiers" he continued.

This looks like a great example of the private sector taking up the slack where our federal government fails to meet its obligation to take care of our troops.

If you have expertise, and a desire to help our wounded warriors, check out some of their success stories at, then call them at 888-888-9193.

Evangelicals slam torture, support green living

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), "the group that was run by Ted Haggard, the gay-prostitute-frequenting meth-buyer," which represents 30 million people, half of all evangelicals, (that's huge) "take a stand for something Jesus would do - oppose torture and embrace being a true steward of the earth" according to John Aravosis of AmericaBlog.

The more extreme elements of the religious right, tried to get the spokesman of NAE fired for issuing pro-environmental statements (link to Reuter's story above). At the same time "...Jerry Falwell has publicly questioned the science of global warming", Dr. James Dobson..."regards climate change as a distraction from issues such as abortion," and Carrie Gordon Earll, spokeswoman for Focus on the Family says, "We also agree that God's creation needs to be protected, but we disagree over whether global warming is man-caused and can be man-corrected."

I guess protecting "God's creation" is a matter of interpretation - but that's consistent; this bunch typically says one thing and does another - until now.

Does this mean civil war in the religious right?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How Can We Help the Troops?

I've heard many people criticize the Iraq War effort saying that the only people who have a stake in it are the troops who are actually fighting - and their families. I refuse to accept that and have found one way to make a difference:

The Semper Fi Fund, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, provides financial assistance to:
  • Marines injured in combat and in training
  • other service members injured while in direct support of Marine units
  • their families to defray the expenses incurred during hospitalization, rehabilitation, and recovery.
Their goal " to alleviate the financial burden placed on the family so that their focus can be on their loved one's recovery."

I know that many of us expect the Pentagon and Veteran's Affairs Departments to provide such service but that isn't happening and we can bitch about it or we can do something about it. Here's what I suggest:

1. Let your congress member and senators know that you expect them to do something to change the situation, and meantime

2. Contribute to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (link to their website above). I'm sure we all know of someone in whose honor, or memory, we can make a cash contribution.

And there's one more thing you could do: if you live near a VA hospital - volunteer.

Vountourism: an idea whose time has come

Athough people have been spending their vacations volunteering for many years it is now the thing to do. It's called "voluntourism" and so many people are doing it that the Los Angeles Times features an article about it in today's edition (link to article above).

Kim Yoshino's story quotes "voluntourists" who've provided everything from physical labor for victims of Katrina to one San Franciscan who went to Africa on safari and spent two days at three orphanages "where he played with children and dropped off suitcases full of clothing."

Even Orbitz and Cheap Tickets are getting into the act: teaming up with United Way to launch a website today that will link travelers with volunteer opportunities all over the world. And although it isn't required, they're only too happy to make the travel arrangements for you. But even more telling is that United Way is on MTV, MySpace, FaceBook, and YouTube; offering travelers a mixture of "a good time with good deeds."

Voluntourism is here to stay and people of all ages are interested in doing something for others while doing something for themselves. It's about time.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

For the life of me I don't understand why Ann Coulter is the darling of the ultra-conservative movement. I wouldn't want to be associated with her gratituitous fabrications. I realize that some find it acceptable to say or do anything to sell books but I think it speaks to the difference between right wing radicals and progressives: integrity and conscience. We have both, they have neither.

It's gratifying to see that Coulter is losing some advertisers as a result of her attacks on John Edwards but conservatives should take care not to get too close lest her smut rub off on them. As of this morning her website still carries an attack on David Bonior, Edwards' campaign manager: "It's always good to divert Bonior from his principal passtime which is fronting for Arab terrorists."

David Bonior is a respected former congressmember from Michigan and a person of high integrity. If Republican members of Congress, and more particularly Republican candidates for the Presidency, don't denounce her and take steps to divorce the Republican establishment from her, the Democratic Party should not hesitate to make note of the fact.

The Democratic Party should rethink its decision to air the first Presidential debates (in Nevada) on the Fox News Network - given their cozy relationship with Coulter. Their stated strategy: reaching conservative voters who rely on Fox for their political news coverage, exposes the candidates to unprincipaled commentators (read right wing hate mongers) who are likely to distort, if not outright lie about the content of the debate. I'm not sure it's worth the risk.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

So Dick Cheney thinks Don Rumsfeld was one of the best Sec Def's the U.S. has ever had. Tell me, why would anybody believe anything Dick Cheney has to say given the myriad lies he has told over his 1-1/2 terms as V.P.? He's such a liar that it would laughable if not so tragic.

His lying and influence over the President contributed to, a) The invastion of Iraq and subsequent debacle (read occupation), b) his own enrichment via an improper and unethical relationship with his former employer, and c) a devestating energy policy written by the energy industry at his bidding and to the detrminent of our environment, and fiscal health.

I have thought for some time that he might be suffering from PTSD. I believe he was truly traumatized by the events of 9/11/01 and fearing that the bad guys were out to get him, descended into a paranoid state from whence he began to see the enemy everywhere.

I'd say it's time for Mr. Cheney got help from mental health professionals and, failing that, be brought up on charges. That's right, he should have to answer for his profligate lies and secretive dealings via impreachment proceedings. There is ample evidence to support charges and the American people have the right to be rid of him. And while I agree it may not be possible to get a conviction, given the makeup of the Senate, it is important that his nefarious activities be exposed and the administration stripped of any further plausible deniability. Sunlight cures many ills and this is one that could use a good dose of sunshine.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I am outraged that our President isn't outraged about the mess at Walter Reed. Building 18 should be shuttered and all vets moved away from there immediately. This is just one more example of the administration's incompetence and lack of care for the citizens of this country.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate, very much, how hard Secretary Nicholson is working and especially honor his willingness to talk candidly about the VA's need for more funding. But, he can't possibly do an adequate job unless his boss gives him the support he needs.

The Bush Administration is completely removed from the real world, the one we live in, and seemingly not interested in changing the situation: Our President picked a fight with a bully who wasn't threatening us, committed other's children to fight him, tried to do it on the cheap, and then had the audacity to neglect their care in the aftermath.

If you presented a work performance like that, what would your boss do? S/he would have long since demanded that you clean up your act or fired you. So, why hasn't that happened? Becuase those we hired to monitor his performance were 'sleeping' with him. We tried to head this train wreck off at the pass last November when we changed management in Congress but a ship the size of this country doesn't turn on a dime. It will take years to clean up this mess and, in the meantime, good men and women are paying a horrible price for the CEO's incompetence.

As I see it, the first priority is to get adequate care for the wounded troops caught in the middle of this mess. Some ideas: 1) close Building 18, 2) move all of the wounded to other facilities - private ones, if necessary, 3) provide them with everything they need to reintegrate into society, 4) don't even consider questioning their right to disability payment. Concurrently determine what is actually needed to put things right at Walter Reed and make it happen.

If all of this sounds expensive it's because it will be, and we simply have to suck it up and find the money. I would suggest a tax increase on the wealthy - you know, the ones who got a nice tax break a few years ago so they would invest capital and create jobs. The kinds of jobs that would, ostensibly, generate sufficient taxes to replace those the rich were excused from. It might have worked - eventually - if the CEO hadn't, concurrently, given his buddies a fire-sale price on government.

I just have a few questions for you, Mr. President. Where's your outrage? Why aren't you demanding accountability? What are you going to do to protect the troops you're so willing to send into harm's way? Oh, and DON'T SEND AND MORE TROOPS INTO HARM'S WAY!!!

Step up to the plate, Mr. President. If you really admire Harry Truman model his favorite saying, "The buck stops here."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In case you missed the interview, John Edwards recently stated that "Don't ask, don't tell" doesn't work and that if he were president he would repeal it. When asked whether he would permit gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the U.S. military he answered, "yes."

When asked whether he believes in equal marriage for gay people he said, "no." He explained that although he believes that gay people should have access to civil unions, his upbringing as a Southern Baptist has rendered him "not there" on equal marriage. I disagree with him but respect his honesty.

Those are some of the reasons I am supporting his bid for the Democratic nomination for President at this time. Other reasons?

1) He has a universal healthcare plan. I would prefer single payer but he, at least, has a plan,
2) He has a comprehensive plan for ending the war in Iraq,
3) He created the "One Corps" which enlists Democrats to take action locally; to make change locally; not to wait for the next Presidential election to turn the country around,
4) He is not afraid to answer questions directly even when the answer may not be favored by many people (see above),
5) He has integrity.

I encourage you to choose a candidate and support him/her. Some of us may switch our support to different candidates before the Democratic Convention next year but if we want to have the best possible candidate representing us in the general election we need to get involved now before someone sucks up all the contribution money and buys the nomination.
So, Tim Hardeway hates "gays." I wouldn't care what he thinks if he didn't have a soapbox from which to bash people like myself. Because he does, I choose to use my own soapbox to say to him,

Tim, in my experience we hate most in others that which we fear most in ourselves. Are you hiding from something in yourself? Just a thought...

For those who haven't seen the story, Tim Hardeway stated on a Miami radio show that he hates gays, and he repeated it, apparently in response to former NBA player John Amaechi coming out.

You can get the story at: or wait long enough and it will hit the national news.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

So, our Mayor dipped his wick in the company inkwell. Crude, I know, but true. I guess it means he's not perfect after all. Go figure.

Actually I was just reading C.W. Nevius' column in the Saturday 2/3/07 Chron titled, "Unforgivable breach of Man Code." I'd like to suggest an alternative headline: "Unforgivable breach of Cave Man Code."

Apparently men all over the Bay Area are bent out of shape because our Mayor had the temerity to have sex with his buddy's wife. They aren't concerned about Ruby (the wife), or about whether it was a relationship between consenting adults. They're simply outraged because Alex Tourk's manhood was called into question. How? Our Mayor breached Cave Man ettiquette by trespassing on Tourk's property. Yep, that's right, his property: his wife.

Come on guys, lighten up. Get over yourselves. It's the 21st Century. Consenting adults have relationships all the time. Some of them are illicit and the fallout can be messy but unless a minor or subordinate was victimized we should be able to chaulk it up to bad judgment on the part of both parties and get on with life.

As for the Rippy-Tourks, what they need is some privacy so they can try to repair their relationship. What say we give it a rest? Move on to issues of import and relevance to the lives of San Franciscans. You know, stuff like a) Why don't we have Wi-Fi yet? b) What's happening with SFPD's overhaul? c) What's the plan for getting these potholes filled? d) How are we going to pay for healthcare for 82,000 people? e) What can I do to help reduce global warming?

I know, it requires that we behave like adults and that's a stretch for some of us. But I have confidence that, given healthy alternatives by the press (both print & electronic), Bay Area adults will find much more important issues to concern themselves with.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Here's the elephant in the room: we need healthcare NOT insurance.

Nobody will acknowledge that there's something ghoulish about making a profit from illness and that healthcare should be the right of every American, even though providing it would solve the biggest economic problem of the middle and working classes, and wipe out more than half of the country's bankruptcies.

In the 1940s Henry J. Kaiser offered healthcare coverage to attract workers because we were at war and needed to build ships. It worked. Sixty years later the world has changed and tying healthcare to one's job no longer works. It's time for the federal government to step up to the plate and solve the problem by expanding Medicare. The administrative savings alone would likely yield sufficient revenues to provide comprehensive healthcare services including vision, dental, and prescription drugs to everybody in the country.

But, you argue, The market place is the best provider of such services - except that flies in the face of the obvious: if that were true, it would already have happened. The fact is, "market forces" can't handle the job. Administrative costs for Medicare are less than 2% while the insurance industry causes up to 1/3 of revenues to be spent on same.

Compare: The Austrian government spends 9.6% of its GDP on healthcare and everybody in the country is covered. We spend 15% of our GDP on healthcare and 47 million of us have NO healthcare. I am convinced that by expanding Medicare to cover everybody the cost of healthcare in the U.S. could be provided for about 10% of our GDP.

The pols and corporate community still don't get it - or they just don't have the guts to do what's right. Talk truth to power: a) Remind the insurance industry that causing 1/3 of revenues to be spent on administrative costs has priced them out of the market, b) Acknowledge that single payer healthcare is NOT socialized medicine.

With single payer healthcare every American would still choose their favorite doctor, hospital, dentist and drugstore - each of whom would continue to operate independently. The only difference? They would receive payment from one source rather than from 50 (or more) sources. The cost savings would be HUGE.

The time has come. America needs single payer healthcare and there no longer exists any logical argument against it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Well, well, well. It seems that Iraq has begun diplomatic talks with Iran against the wishes of the U.S. And they're sending their Foreign Minister to Syria for diplomatic talks. It would seem that Iraq's new Govt. knows more about diplomacy than the Bush administration.

The LA Times is reporting today that the Iraqi Govt. is demanding the U.S. release five Iranis they captured in Irbil saying that they (Iraq) have been working to designate the Irbil location as a consulate. Apparently Kurdistan depends on Irani tourists to support its economy. The U.S. insists that the Iranis are from the Revolutionary Guard and have been importing bomb parts for use in attacking American troops.

It appears that Iran's Revolutionary Guard controls the border between Iraq & Iran and anyone wanting to do business with Iran has to deal with them. Further, "Iraq's Kurds share a storied history with the Revolutionary Guard, fighting side by side against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War." says the article in the LA Times. They further report Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad saying, "There cannot be and there should not be relations with security institutions of neighboring states that work against the interests of this new Iraq."

So the U.S. has gotten on the wrong side of Iraq because of its paranoid fear of anything Irani, and because when it says that Iraq is running the show and we're supporting them, it really means that the U.S. is running the show and Iraq had better step in line. Or, to put the best possible face on it, Iraq's interests are different from the U.S.'s.

I guess it proves one should be careful what they ask for, they might get it: A democratic, independent Iraq.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I've been stewing ever since the Prez spoke to the American people Wednesday night. He seemed tentative, sad, defeated - definitely not in a frame of mind to be insisting that "the way forward" is to add 21,500 more troops to the mix.

I suspect he finally realizes he's painted himself (and us) into a corner. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't escalate. Democrats, and increasingly greater numbers of Republicans, condemn him for putting even more American troops in harms way while the 30% of Americans who still support him believe that redeploying our troops would be an admission of defeat, and uacceptable.

Here are some questions it has raised in my mind. Is he saying:
a) To Maliki, Get your act together by November because if you don't we're out of here,
b) To us, Don't look behind the curtain (at Iraq), look over here at Iran where I just might invade,
c) To himself, I've got to find a way to salvage this mess so I'll give Iraq one last chance and then I can say that I've tried everything and the Iraqis hate each other more than they want 'freedom,'
d) All of the above.

Whatever the answer, it appears that the administration is turning to some of the skeptics who left Iraq in 2003 disillusioned by the direction the "reconstruction" was taking. The Washington Post is reporting, today, that Timothy Carney, a retired American Ambassador, has received a call from David Satterfield, the State Dept's Iraq coordinator asking whether he'd be willing to go back to Baghdad as the overall coordinator of the U.S. reconstruction effort.

It "represents a fundamental shift in the Bush administration's approach to stabilizing the country" says the article by Rajiv Chandrasekaran . Ryan Crocker (Ambassador designate) and David Petraeus, widely acknowledged to be one of the best military minds America has today, were skeptics, as well. Yet Crocker is returning to Iraq from his posting in Afghanistan, and Gen. David Petraeus is taking over command of "all coalition forces in Iraq" at a time when our backs are to the wall and there are no good choices.

Carney, Crocker & Petraeus may make as strong a team as this administration could put together at this stage. But will it be too little, too late?

It strikes me that the "surge" is not just a Hail Mary pass but the President's last best effort to save his legacy. I hope he's right.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's official: conservatives are deserting the sinking ship like rats. In fact all six NY Times columnists (both liberals and conservatives) now agree "it's over." This may be a first: Brooks, Krugman, Friedman, Dowd, Kristof, and Rich are all against escalation of the war in Iraq. Plus, George Will, in today's Washington Post says that a surge is too little too late. But even richer, Oliver North opposed the idea in his syndicated column on Friday (I know, who knew he had one?).

It makes Nancy Pelosi's appearance on Face the Nation, yesterday, even more powerful. Madam Speaker laid out the NEW rules: If the President wants to escalate the war he will have to justify it to Congress. No more blank checks. You can watch her interview at

But check out George Will's column at He says that a surge recalls the Vietnam policy of Robert MacNamara and Gen. Westmoreland and recommends Bush move toward Mel Laird and Creighton Abrams' strategy: phased withdrawal of U.S. troops along with economic aid and increased numbers of advisers. Frankly I'm not sure that even that will save Iraq.

An aggressive economic reconstruction project should have been launched immediately after Baghdad was taken in April 2003. It might have forestalled the sectarian violence providing we had resisted the urge to debathify the country as well.

But there may not be anything, at this stage, that can turn this sow's ear into a silk purse. Still I'll keep my fingers crossed that W has an epiphany and comes to Jesus - sorry I just couldn't resist the religious reference given Bush's mesianic approach to the Presidency.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Today is historic: Nancy Pelosi will become the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. I plan to watch the entire day of festivities on television.

I confess I am a fan of hers: have enthusiastically voted for her at every opportunity and in 1991, when my son was in Iraq with Desert Storm, I'm proud to say, I volunteered in Speaker (to be) Pelosi's district office here in San Francisco. I worked on constituent issues and found her staff to be every bit as caring as she.

Don't mistake the Speaker's well publicized ventures to be stumbles or mistakes. She is very bright and seldom does anything that hasn't been thoroughly thought out, eg,

a) She knew that Jack Murtha couldn't win the party leadership post he coveted but she wanted to support a loyal colleague while making a statement. Murtha is known for his outspoken call for redeployment of our troops out of Iraq and Nancy agrees with him. Her support for his candidacy simply highlighted that support and signaled that getting us out of Iraq is at the top of her agenda. Nancy Pelosi didn't get where she is without being able to count votes.

b) Her decision not to enact full bipartisan processes before the six in '06 are enacted makes sense: until the House has re-established civility it wouldn't be productive to open every piece of legislation to full participation. Her edict that the House will work a five day week is intended to restore civility while giving the American voters their money's worth. She envisions a House like the one we had under Tip O'Neill; when members lived in Washington, socialized together, became friends, and recognized their commonalities as well as their differences.

Don't let the MSM lead you around by the nose. Pay attention to events as they unfold and interpret them through your own filters. You'll be better for it - have a fuller understanding of events and avoid the heartburn that can result from listening to the chattering class.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gerald Ford was a thoroughly decent man; perhaps the last of the REAL Republican Presidents. My favority Jerry Ford quote: "There can be no justice without mercy, no peace without forgiveness." It explained his decision to pardon Richard Nixon.

Too bad the citizens of Iraq can't/won't internalize and live the sentiment. Unfortunately "we" have so thoroughly f***ed them up that the Shiites can only see revenge and the Sunis still think they're the majority.

Somebody do something before W sends more troops over there to be killed. It feels like it did before Nixon went into Cambodia and I don't know whether we can survive the loss of tens of thousands more of our men & women to a small man's ego. Use your telephone, email, or snail mail and demand that your Congressmembers stop him!

The myth of Free Trade is a disaster for the American economy and its workers. Unless we enact Fair Trade regulations promptly, American jobs will continue to move offshore and formerly middle class workers will continue to slip beneath the poverty line.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D) Ohio, offers a reasonable comparison of "Free" and "Fair" Trade in his book, "Myths of Free Trade: Why American Trade Policy Has Failed." Published by The New Press in 2004 and updated in 2006, Publishers Weekly says, "Brown's fact-filled argument is a cogent critique of American trade policies in a punchy left-populist style that is rarely heard in Washington these days." I recommend it.
Unless Congress increases the minimum wage, repeals the President's disastrous tax breaks for the rich, and finds a way to provide healthcare services for minimum wage workers, I fear the deficit will continue to rise while worker's real wages and the middle class continue to shrink.

Small businesses and the American worker are the backbone of our economy and it's long past time we paid attention to their needs. A real leader wouldn't be afraid to tell small business owners they shouldn't fear an increased minimum wage, and s/he would help them grow and prosper by expanding Medicare to cover their minimum wage workers.

Remember, America's workers must be able to purchase consumer items if we are to avoid further erosion of the middle class and slipping into 2nd world status.