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.