Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How To Break a Terrorist

The best book I've read this year is "How to Break a Terrorist" by Matthew Alexander (a pseudonym) with Jim Brunning.

According to the publisher, "Matthew Alexander served for fourteen years in the U.S. Air Force. As the leader of an elite interrogations team in Iraq, he conducted more than 300 interrogations and supervised more than 1,000. He is a veteran of three wars and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 2006."
You see, he uses "soft" interrogation skills. He builds a relationship with the person he is interrogating instead of beating him half to death or water boarding him. And it works.

"...a riveting, fast-paced account that reads like a first-rate thriller," says Publisher's Weekly. "...an absorbing behind-the-scenes look at the secret intelligence war within a war," says Military.com.

The publisher says, "In the wake of the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, the U.S. military overhauled its approach to interrogation. How to Break a Terrorist documents the struggle of a task force to replace torture with cunning. Alexander and his team got to know their enemies, carefully questioning a rogue's gallery of egomaniacs, fanatical adolesents, and smug clerics, as well as a number of people for whom collaboration with terrorists was a financial rather than an idological decision. Before long, negotiation and manipulation had yielded stunning results and allowed them to ferret out one of the world's most elusive criminals. How to Break a Terrorist reads like taut true crime but also serves as a timely reminder that we do not have to become our enemy to defeat him."

But don't start reading this book if you only have a few minutes to kill because you won't want to put it down. I was reading a biography and began reading "How to Break a Terrorist" just to get a break in the pace. I could not put it down. It is a real page turner and it's all true.

If you want to know what's really going on with interrogations in Iraq get "How to Break a Terrorist" today.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Playing for Change: Peace Through Music

I watched Bill Moyers' Journal today and saw a replay of a segment I had missed earlier. Boy am I glad.

Mark Johnson, a music producer, traveled the world to produce a truly remarkable documentary about music and its power. Over ten years he recorded musicians playing and singing, then mixed it all into a wonderful short film that brought me to tears.

I invite you to click on the link above and watch this segment then post your comments here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tammy Duckworth to Veterans Affairs?

As President Elect Barack Obama continues to fill out his cabinet with seasoned veterans and experienced politicos I suspect that Tammy Duckworth may have an inside track to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

An Iraqi War Vet who lost both of her legs there, Duckworth has a deep and rich background in veterans and international issues. You may recall that she ran for Congress (unsuccessfully) in 2006. Well she was later appointed to head up Veterans Affairs in Illinois and is reportedly on the list being considered to fill out Barack Obama's freshman term in the Senate.

But I sincerely hope that the President Elect will appoint Duckworth to what I see as the perfect post for this woman of English/Asian background who grew up in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia and Hawaii, because of her father's work with United Nations development programs and international corporations (I suspect you're recognizing the personal connection she has with President-Elect Obama who grew up around the world and was born in Hawaii). She has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Hawaii and a master's in international affairs from George Washington University and was working toward a doctorate in political science at Northern Illinois University when she was sent to Iraq.

"Duckworth Is linked to Mr. Obama by: The 2005 State of the Union address, which Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois invited her to attend as a veteran still recuperating in Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There, she says, she met Mr. Obama, who later visited her at the medical center and went on to support her unsuccessful 2006 campaign for Congress (as did Mr. Durbin and Rahm Emanuel, the representative who led the House Democrats' fund-raising efforts that year and has been tapped to be Mr. Obama's chief of staff)" according to Veterans for Common Sense.

Click on the link above and read more about her and I think you'll agree that Tammy Duckworth is probably the best qualified individual to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs at a time when record numbers of veterans are returning home sans limbs and with traumatic brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder.

After you've read the article I hope you'll browse the Veterans for Common Sense website and decide to support this worthy non-profit organization.

Friday, November 28, 2008

2,700 Year Old Marijuana Found in Chinese Tomb


Guess I don't need to comment on this story about a"light haired, blue eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman..." whose 2700 year old tomb, found in remote north west China, contained the world's oldest stash of cannabis which was clearly "...cultivated for psychoactive purposes." All of this was documented in a newly published paper by American neurologist Ethan B. Russo, a "...full-time consultant with GW Pharmaceuticals which makes Sativex, a cannabis based medicine approved in Canada for pain linked to MS and cancer."

What made me chuckle was that "The company operates a cannabis-testing laboratory at a secret location in southern England to monitor crop quality for producing Sativex, and allowed Russo use of the facility for tests on 11 grams of the tomb cannabis."

Guess you can't be too careful when cannabis is involved.

Ironworkers Ritural Touches the Heart

Call me sentimental but this story tugs at my heart strings. I've always respected ritual and this one in particular gets to me (click on the title above).

I think these guys are really smart and brave. Maybe it's because my Dad was a rigger. He worked for Armco Steel for 35 years and I remember his crew were really dedicated to him.

When Armco built a new blast furnace (after my Dad's death) and families were invited to tour it I met a supervisor who knew my Dad well. He took us around to see some of the equipment my Dad had designed and built, and talked about how Armco bought it's safety equipment readymade after Dad retired; there weren't any in-house riggers left who had his skills.

Many years later Armco Steel was bought out by the Japanese and it's now called AK Steel. Guess the changes just keep coming - Progress, they call it. Click on the title of this post to read the whole story.

Might this be a new job for Blackwater?


These pirates are really out of hand. Click on the title above to read the latest on this scary scene.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Army Uses Video Games in Suicide Prevention

I've just read a really encouraging article that originated with the Christian Science Monitor and was republished on Veterans for Common Sense's blog.

Apparently. "The Army is conducting new training, handing out "buddy cards" to alert soldiers to problems among their friends, and recently announced a new five-year study to be undertaken with the National Institute of Mental Health."

But what I find most interesting is a new interactive game called "Beyond the Front," a kind of modern-day morality play.

" Users of the interactive video watch a drama unfold on screen and then make decisions that affect the outcome for the characters. In one scenario, Norton receives a "Dear John" letter, and then a roadside bomb kills a buddy, setting off a chain of events that require players to make decisions for the main character. Players who repeatedly choose to reach out to fellow soldiers and family members within the scenario get a happy ending. Players who opt - in their character - not to tell anyone about their problems will steer the game to a sad end.

"Another scenario focuses on a soldier's role in preventing a buddy's suicide."

The article goes on, "The service plans to send out thousands of copies of the game - part of an Army suicide prevention program costing almost $1 million - to educate soldiers about the dangers of not seeking help when they most need it." Taxpayer dollars well spent, I'd say.

Click on the title to this post and read the entire article. I hope you'll take the opportunity to browse the Veterans for Common Sense website while you're there and learn how to support this worthy organization.


OK, so I'm joining the 21st Century

Hope you like my blog's new look.

I invite you to sign up as a follower: look for "Followers" in the left hand column and click on "follow this blog."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When Are Your "Privately Held Religious Beliefs" Not So Private Anymore?

"When you donate $1500 to a political campaign to strip other people—people who are not your co-religionists—of their civil rights. "

Blogger Dan Savage expressed my sentiments on Proposition 8 perfectly.

"Richard Raddon is, or was, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival. All hell broke loose after it emerged that Raddon, who is Mormon, had donated $1500 to the "Yes on 8" campaign. The LA Times:

"After Raddon's contribution was made public online, Film Independent was swamped with criticism from "No on 8" supporters both inside and outside the organization. Within days, Raddon offered to step down as festival director, but the board, which includes Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker, Lionsgate President Tom Ortenberg and Fox Searchlight President Peter Rice, gave him a unanimous vote of confidence.

"Yet, the anti-Raddon bile continued to bubble in the blogosphere, and according to one Film Independent board member, "No on 8" supporters also berated Raddon personally via phone calls and e-mails. The recriminations ultimately proved too much, and when Raddon offered to resign again, this time the board accepted.

"Raddon released a statement that said, in part, "I have always held the belief that all people, no matter race, religion or sexual orientation, are entitled to equal rights." Except for when they're not—and Raddon also believes that the religious should wield a veto over other peoples' civil rights. He goes on to whine about being a "devout and faithful Mormon," and about how his contribution to "Yes on 8" was a "private matter." Uh... no. A donation to a political campaign is a public matter; and civil marriage rights for same-sex couples did not infringe upon the religious freedom of Mormons, devout or otherwise.

"Bill Condon, the gay guy who directed of Dreamgirls, attempted to get Raddon's back: "Someone has lost his job and possibly his livelihood because of privately held religious beliefs."

"No. No. No. Raddon lost his job due to criticism of his public political actions, not his private religious beliefs, and his public political actions were a part of the public record. If Raddon wanted to go to church and pray his little heart out against same-sex marriage, or proselytize on street corners against gay marriage, or counsel gay men to leave their husbands and marry nice Mormon girls instead, that could be viewed as an expression of his "privately held religious beliefs." Instead he helped fund a political campaign to strip a vulnerable minority group of its civil rights.

""Millions of Californians definitely lost their civil rights," says John Aravosis. "But I'm not hearing a lot of concern about any of those victims, only sympathy for their attacker. When you use the power of the state to rip away my civil rights, and force me to live by your 'values,' you are no longer practicing your religion. You're practicing politics."

"In the wake of Prop 8 millions of gays and lesbians all over the country have decided that we're no longer going to play by the old rules. We're not going to let people kick our teeth down our throats and then run and hide behind "Nothing personal—just my private religious beliefs!" That game's over."

And Dan speaks for me.When you contribute to a campaign to strip away my civil rights, "...and force me to live by your values, you are no longer practicing religion." You are practicing politics.

And frankly I'm none too happy about those Hollywood types who protect bigots' jobs. I'll remember the next time a movie with either Don Cheadle or Forest Whitaker comes out. And I'll watch for the next film out of the Lionsgate or Fox Searchlight studios. Don't expect me to pay good money to see them.

We've been Mr. and Ms. Nice Guy for too long. No More. If you want to impose your religious practices on me - That game's over!

Joe Klein at his Best. Bush's Last Days : The Lamest Duck!

"By mid-November, with the financial crisis growing worse by the day, it had become obvious that one President was no longer enough (at least not the President we had). So, in the days before Thanksgiving, Obama began to move — if not to take charge outright, then at least to preview what things will be like when he does take over in January....

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks....

[H]is ridiculous, preening appearance in a flight suit on the deck of the aircraft carrier beneath the "Mission Accomplished" sign. The flight-suit image is one of the two defining moments of the Bush failure. The other is the photo of Bush staring out the window of Air Force One, helplessly viewing the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This is a presidency that has wobbled between those two poles — overweening arrogance and paralytic incompetence....

In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one."

He never understood that an ideologist surrounded by more of the same did not constitute a healthy atmosphere for vetting an issue. Nor did he ever understand that arriving at a conclusion via his "gut" and working backward to justify it was a recipe for disaster. Put simply, George W. Bush, whom I believe stole two elections, sat in the White House for eight years, and we're paying for it. I now believe that the pardon of Richard Nixon left the theory of a "unitary" presidency unchallenged for Richard Cheney to take up as a sword against our constitution. He literally appointed himself Vice President with a plan to expand this pernicious vision of a virtually unfettered chief executive.

I keep seeing that video of Nixon saying, "But you see if the President does it, it isn't illegal."

It's exactly why I've urged Speaker Pelosi to put the weight of the Speaker's Office behind an investigation of the illegal, unethical, and immoral activities of this administration; not via a "Blue Ribbon" 9/11 type commission but a real Congressional investigation that will exact accountability. Anything less threatens to leave a cancer on our government that will metastasize and lay in wait for a future charlatan to take advantage of.

I invite you to join me in this action.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Those Wacky Canadian Socialists!

Cynthia, a Canadian reader of Americablog recently wrote:

"I just thought I would write you and tell you what it is like as a Canadian with Health care. I am 53 yrs. old, female and I am a Registered ER nurse. I am married, with 2 grown children. For all my life, I have never known a time where I could not go to a Doctor, a hospital, or a clinic, or a specialist. I have never had to worry about paying up front.

"We do pay taxes, but then so do Americans and get no Health care for the taxes they pay. I have seen during my career, many Americans and illegals (we get them too!) come to Canada to get Health care. They think it is free, but far from it. They forget that we pay taxes for it. I have one good friend who was born in Detroit, and lived in Toronto, and then moved to Texas. While there, she got pregnant. She moved back to Canada to have the baby, as she told me she could not afford to have it in Texas. She still lives here now. Do I think I live in a Socialist country? Not anymore Socialist than the U.S. We are a democracy, just like the U.S., we have "Fat Cats" on Bay Street in Toronto just like your Wall Street. We have capitalism, just like the U.S., we have poor, middleclass, and rich, just like the U.S., I have heard so many republicans put down Canada and England's health care system, and say we are Socialist countries. Well, we are exactly like the U.S., except that we get Health Care for our tax dollars, whereas, the U.S. citizens get taxed, but no Health Care for that tax.

"I think every American should "rise up" and DEMAND a universal Health Care system. Why should Americans pay Insurance companies that more than not, find ways not to pay for a "sick" person. I find that disgusting! We all want to be healthy, and be able to go to a Doctor and a Hospital and receive care without going "Bankrupt", and it would even be better to pay a little more tax to the government than to pay taxes and Health care premiums to Insurance companies who are only in it for the money. So, no matter what they say about our Canadian Health Care system, I have to say, I feel great that if I have to pay taxes, at least I am getting something for the tax that I pay. No one in the U.S. should be without Health care, and no one should have to go bankrupt and worry if they can pay premiums. I do hope that President Obama ends up putting in a "Universal Health care program", I think it is every American's right!."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

So, what do we do with this piece of information? I plan to forward it to the President Elect and hope you will do likewise. Remember, it's our responsibility to communicate to our government what our priorities are.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Have a Marriage Proposal

I'm tired of all the wrangling over prop 8 and don't want to face another long, costly initiative campaign so I propose that we eliminate marriage as a legal construct; that the state be authorized only to grant civil unions and that marriage be an optional, private, religious option. Or if people insist on the word marriage that there be two: civil marriage (legal) for everybody, and religious marriage (extra legal) for those with a religious affiliation.

Let me be clear. I'm suggesting that any two adults who wish to be married would be required to have a civil ceremony and those who have a religious affiliation could have an additional, private, religious ceremony.

Let's face it, religious people fear their churches will be forced to marry us so let's eliminate that as an issue by granting that religious marriage is a private, extra legal ceremony. We all know that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted churches the right to set their own rules so nobody should object.

Click on "comments" below and let me know what you think and if you agree with me, contact your state legislator and congress member and tell them.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Beautiful Poem

Rosa Parks sat, so that
Martin Luther King could walk, so that
Barack Obama could run, so that
America could fly
- Anonymous

I think this says it all.

If you are moved to respond to this sentiment please click on "comments" below and share your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We Did It!

After nearly eight years of the most radical, reactionary, government in our history, the USA has elected the most progressive president in its history.

Barack Obama is progressive and pragmatic, a conciliator, and a persuader. He values bottom-up economics, a strong infrastructure, a healthy environment, energy independence, healthcare for all, education , and perhaps most important: a strong defense and demilitarized international relations.

Although he inherits the most challenging economic situation our country has faced in 80 years he has the even temperament, intelligence, knowledge, and strength to bring us through it with minimal fallout.

Barack Obama values wise council and surrounds himself with it. He is a listener and he is decisive. President-Elect Obama has a plan; his skills as a community organizer will stand him in good stead. It is the singular skill that brought him to where he is today and we are fortunate that he brought our country along with him.

We have been told that his cabinet will look different from any before. It will contain no retreads, and will be the most diverse we've ever seen, including attention to age, color, gender, and political party. It will be populated with the most skilled people he can find; people who will hold the country's best interests uppermost in their minds; political patrimony will play no roll in President Obama's cabinet.

I did not think I would live to see this day; I am profoundly grateful for the wisdom of the American electorate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Out of the Mouths Of Babes!

From the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A twelve-year-old girl from Canada addressed the plenary session of the Rio summit. The camera would occasionally pan to the audience of environment ministers from all over the world, who could be seen listening to her every word with rapt attention:

"Hello, I'm Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. - The Environmental Children's Organization.

We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference:
Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.

Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.

I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.

I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.

I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don't know what chemicals are in it.

I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going exinct every day -- vanishing forever.

In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterfilies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.

Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age?

All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I'm only a child and I don't have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!

  • You don't know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
  • You don't know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream.
  • You don't know how to bring back an animal now extinct.
  • And you can't bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert.

If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!

Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians - but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, aunts and uncles - and all of you are somebody's child.

I'm only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil -- borders and governments will never change that.

I'm only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.

In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.

In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share.

In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter -- we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: "I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter and love and affection."

If a child on the street who has nothing, is willing to share, why are we who have everyting still so greedy?

I can't stop thinking that these children are my age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the Favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia; a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.

I'm only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. You teach us:

  • not to fight with others,
  • to work things out,
  • to respect others,
  • to clean up our mess,
  • not to hurt other creatures
  • to share - not be greedy.

Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget why you're attending these conferences, who you're doing this for -- we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying "everything's going to be alright" , "we're doing the best we can" and "it's not the end of the world".

But I don't think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says "You are what you do, not what you say."

Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words. Thank you for listening"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Economics Sweepstakes Quiz

"Guess which presidents since WWII did best on these eight generally accepted measures of good management of the nation's economy," That's the lede on a San Francisco Chronicle story by Arthur L. Blaustein, dated Oct. 19, 2008 and the results are fascinating.

The article asks us to choose which president excelled on a given economic measure. Match the president with the measure below.

The presidents are six Republicans: Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and G.W. Bush; and five Democrats: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton.

The questions are:

1. The highest growth in the gross domestic product?

2. The highest growth in jobs?

3. The biggest increase in personal disposable income after taxes?

4. The highest growth in industrial production?

5. The highest growth in hourly wages?

6. The lowest Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment)?

7. The lowest inflation?

8. The largest reduction in the deficit?


"The answers are: 1 Harry Truman; 2 Bill Clinton; 3 Lyndon Johnson; 4 John F. Kennedy; 5 Johnson; 6 Truman; 7 Truman; 8 Clinton.

In the Economic Sweepstakes, Democratic
presidents trounce Republicans eight times out of eight!"

During the 20th century, the Dow Jones Industrial average rose 7.3% per year on average under Republican presidents; 10.3% under Democrats. Investors gained a whopping 41% more under Democrats.

Democratic presidents have increased the national debt by an average of 3.7% per year. Republican presidents by 10.1%. During the same time period, the unemployment rate was on average 4.8% under Dems; and 6.3% under Reps.

Real middle class wage growth is double when a Democrat is president according to research by Professor Larry Bartels of Princeton University.

The Clinton-Gore administrations presided over the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history and left us the biggest budget surplus in history.

The Bush-Cheney administration has brought us the weakest job creation cycle since the Great Depression, record deficits, record household debt, a record bankruptcy rate, a substantial increase in poverty and the largest deficit in history.

The Bush administration, supported by a Republican Congress enacted a sweeping tax cut in 2001. The wealthiest 1% of Americans realized 43% of the gain.

In less than 18 months, the federal government's 10-year projected $1.6 trillion budget surplus just vanished.
This reversal is the direct result of Bush's tax cuts!

Let's keep this taped to our bathroom mirrors so we won't forget it when we enter the 2012 election season.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Woman Should Be Forced to Have a Baby!

It is my firm conviction that when talking about a woman's right to control her own reproductive rights we MUST assert that termination of a pregnancy is a private, medical, personal matter; that NO government should have the right to force a woman in America to have a baby.

John McCain's sneering, snide, reference to "a woman's health" when expressing his opposition to late term abortion in the last presidential debate was the last straw. We have to take control and seek to get government out of this issue. I urge everyone who reads this to get busy and educate the American public about this bottom line issue.

Nobody in this country would question a man's right to control his reproductive rights. It should be the same for women. Women must have the right to control their own bodies.

We have to stop accepting the right wing's language when discussing the termination of a pregnancy. The issue is not whether a woman should have a right to an abortion. It is whether a woman should be forced to have a baby. Women's health and, in particular, reproductive health must be returned to its rightful place in our society; to the private realm.

This issue is non-negotiable. Return a woman's reproductive health to her own control or we will launch a campaign to abridge a man's right to the same.

If you are reading this and you agree with me, let your congress members know it. Better yet, send a copy of this letter to them with a note saying you agree.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Keating Economics: John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis

Today, at noon EST, the Barack Obama campaign released a short documentary explaining what happened several years ago in the Keating Savings & Loan scandal - a scam that John McCain was involved with. I hope you'll click on the title to this post, watch the video, and share it with everybody you know because this campaign has gotten ugly and it's time to take off the gloves.

Why is Barack Obama releasing this video at this time? Because the McCain campaign persists in lying about Sen. Obama and airing television and internet ads that distort the truth about Sen. Obama, and because the stakes are waaaaay too high to turn the other cheek.

When I decided to vote for Obama in the primary I had one doubt about him: that he would be tough enough to fight with all the tools in the tool chest to win the presidency. With this video I know that I voted for the right person.

The Keating scandal landed Charles Keating in prison and cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. That scandal had some of the stench of the current financial crisis we find ourselves in. It is for that reason that I urge you to watch this video and share it widely with friends and family. The voters of this country deserve to know that John McCain hasn't learned; that he persists in associating with people who game the system, and that he continues to advocate for them.

Sen. McCain is either not very smart, or is thoroughly unprincipled. I leave you to decide which.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama Campaign sues to protect voting rights

The Republican Party is a bunch of thugs; they are unprincipled and completely without moral character. They are without honor. What more can I say? Oh yes, John McCain and Sarah Palin are Republicans. Why am I so pissed?

The Michigan Messenger is reporting that The Obama Campaign and Democratic Party have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Michigan to stop the Michigan GOP's plan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls.

Bob Bauer, General Council for the Obama Campaign, called the plan to use foreclosure lists, "A new and especially repellent version of caging." You may recall from 2000 that caging is the practice of sending a mailing to a person's address labeled "do not forward" with the intent of removing them from the voting rolls. If a mailing is returned or undeliverable for any reason it is assumed that the person no longer lives at the address and therefore is not eligible to vote in that precinct. That voter is then challenged when they try to vote. It puts the voter in the position of having to prove a negative; that they have not moved to a different address.

"Bauer noted that using foreclosure lists to challenge a voter’s address is “false and illegal” for several reasons. First, because getting a foreclosure notice is not evidence that the person’s address has changed. In Michigan, homeowners have the opportunity to redeem the foreclosure even after a sheriff’s sale has occurred, which means they can stay in the home for many months after a foreclosure notice has been sent. Second, because under Michigan law a person can vote at their old precinct if they lost their home within 60 days of the election."

Mark Brewer, Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, "...noted that in July alone 11,000 Michigan residents received foreclosure notices. The McCain campaign, he argued, “wants to add insult to injury” by denying those residents their right to vote. “The right to vote is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans,” said Brewer, “To try to strip our fellow citizens of their right to vote is un-American and unconscionable.

"Last week, James Carabelli, chairman of the Macomb County GOP, told the Messenger’s Eartha Melzer in a phone interview: “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.” The Michigan Republican Party has denied that Carabelli made the statements that the Michigan Messenger reported, but Bauer said that the complaint includes quotes from Republican operatives in Ohio and other states saying much the same thing Carabelli said and defending the legitimacy of using foreclosure lists and voter caging techniques.

"Bauer also said that they expect that the lawsuit will allow them to subpoena emails and memos from the state and local GOP officials that will prove that they had obtained foreclosure lists and were planning to use them for this purpose."

I don't even want to live in the same country with such bottom feeders. There should be criminal penalties for illegally depriving Americans of their right to vote. This is not something that should be adjudicated via civil law.

So, Michigan and Ohio, two very important battleground states where the Republican Party will do anything to win!

I was born and raised in Ohio and much of my family lives in Michigan. I spent most of my summers in Michigan as a child and I am sad to say that I have no problem believing that the Republican Party is up to such sleazy behavior.

The 8th congressional district where I lived is represented by John Boehner, the Minority Leader of the House. If he were a man of honor he would put a stop to this crap! But that won't happen because Boehner is a machine politician; a sealzy bottom feeder who will conveniently look the other way while his party breaks the law.

And now you know why I'm FROM Ohio and live in San Francisco. And they call us the fruits and nuts. Go figure.

Don't Forget to Cancel Your Credit Cards Before You Die

I received this in an email from my niece. I wasn't a witness to it but certainly have no problem believing it.

This is so priceless, and so, so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and march for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

Here is the exchange:

Family member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family member: 'Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.'

Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'

Family member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'

Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'

Citibank: 'Excuse me?'

Family member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'

Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'

Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'

Family member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)

Family member: Would you like her new billing address?'

Citibank: 'That might help...'

Family member: 'Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69,'

Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'

Family member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???

Priceless!! (wonder if it is was a Master Card).

Underwear with pocket for condoms

The Local, Sweden's news in English, is reporting today on a fashion school that challenged its students to come up with something new and different. Two of the top winners of the competition were:

Fashions for women prisoners, a population that had previously been relegated to unisex t-shirts and jogging pants. In pastel colors and made from organic cotton in a range of styles they are a big hit with the women at Faringso Prison.

But the winner is underwear with a pocket for condoms.

"Three high school students from Helsingborg received the national Young Enterprise (Ung Företagsamhet - UF) award in a ceremony held in Stockholm on Tuesday, Dagens Nyheter reports.

"A little mistake can have major consequences. It's important to have a condom at the ready when it's needed. It's no use if it's in your jacket pocket," Nick Larsson told the newspaper.

Larsson is one of the co-founders of S.T.A.T (Sooner Than Already There), a UF-funded company that has so far managed to sell 350 pairs of underpants."

I don't know about you but I think this is really smart and predict it will be a HUGE success. And if I'm right there will be underpants with pockets for women in the future. Click on the title to this post and read the whole story.

Wonder if the daughter of a certain vice presidential candidate might have benefited from this product.

A tip of the hat to Jan Rosenqvist iin Yterrby, Sweden, for putting us on to this story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin Warned by Court

Yesterday, 9/9/08, Newsweek Magazine posted a story (click on title above) on its website about how Sarah Palin was warned three years ago by an Alaskan judge to "...stop "disparaging" the reputation of Alaska State Trooper Michael Wooten who at the time was undergoing a bitter separation and divorce from Palin's sister Molly."

"Court documents show that Judge [John] Suddock was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten's behavior and character. "Disparaging will not be tolerated—it is a form of child abuse," the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005, according to typed notes of the proceedings. The judge added: "Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives."

The McCain campaign knew this was coming and launched a preemptive strike: a fallacious ad stating that Sen. Obama pushed legislation that would have subjected kindergartners to sex education. They know this is a lie; that there is no truth to it. Sen. Obama supported legislation that would protect children from sexual exploitation.

John McCain has lost all sense of propriety. He has gotten so desperate to win this election that he has sold his sole to the Karl Rove machine.

Newsweek's story continues: Judge Suddock
"...heard testimony from an official of the Alaska State Troopers' union about how Sarah Palin—then a private citizen—and members of her family, including her father and daughter, lodged up to a dozen complaints against Wooten with the state police. The union official told the judge that he had never before been asked to appear as a divorce-case witness, that the union believed family complaints against Wooten were "not job-related," and that Wooten was being "harassed" by Palin and other family members.

But this is not about Michael Wooten; his behavior was apparently pretty dumb. It is about John McCain and whether there are any limits to the slime he is willing to produce in order to gain the highest office in our land. I say there is no limit else he would not have invited onto the ticket with him a person who does not respect the rule of law.

Remember, the State Troopers had investigated Michael Wooten's behavior and disciplined him for it but that didn't satisfy the governor. She wanted his head and continued to go after him. And since she came onto the McCain ticket she has requested that the investigation into her behavior be removed from a bipartisan legislative commission and turned over to the state personnel operation which answers to - that's right, herself - the governor.

The Newsweek story continues:
"Allegations that Palin, her husband Todd, and at least one top gubernatorial aide continued to vilify Wooten—after Palin became Alaska's governor and pressured state police officials to take action against him—are at the center of "Troopergate," a political and ethical controversy which has embroiled Palin's administration and is currently the subject of an official inquiry by a special investigator hired by the state legislature."

I don't know about you but I want a president and vice president who can focus on my needs: a healthy economy, good public education, universal healthcare, energy independence, respect for our planet, and a responsible foreign policy; one that doesn't consist only of a strong military (although that's important) but that utilizes both hard and soft power to relate to the rest of the world and that leads by example.

And above all I want a president and vice president who respect the rule of law, accept the judgment of our courts, and when they lose can suck it up and behave like adults. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Eve Ensler says: Drill, Drill, Drill

Eve Ensler wrings her hands about how to deal with Sarah Palin, the feminist, in today's Huffington Post. I invite you to read her column (click on the title above), then read my response to it below and then if you agree with me post a response on this blog and share it with everybody you know including the Obama campaign. We have no time to lose.

Eve, I'm an unapologetic, unreconstructed modern feminist who spent the 70s and 80s in the streets and political organizing. My feminist credentials are unquestioned and here's what I think about this situation.

There are feminists and there are feminists. Not all feminists are good people and we make a BIG mistake if we assume that they are.

We're fighting to save the planet, to preserve women's reproductive rights, to save public education, to establish a rational energy policy and to engender a mature foreign policy that isn't just a robust military, (although that is important), but one in which the United States employs both soft and hard power; that leads by example.

If we make the mistake of giving Sarah Palin a pass because she identifies as a feminist we give up the fight. On the other hand if we permit her to dominate this campaign we do the same. We have to take her on without permitting her to appear as the presidential candidate. Treat her for what she is: a demagogue who wouldn't know the truth if it hit her in the face. Treat her just as though she were Karl Rove while remembering that John McCain is the candidate.

Call him out for hiding behind her skirts. Take him on for putting a woman out there to lie on his behalf and name the lies: that she told congress no thanks to the Bridge to Nowhere etc. Put it back on McCain. Don't give him a pass on this. Name her for what she is and place the responsibility for her candidacy squarely where it belongs: with John McCain, a candidate who was losing the battle on experience and who threw a hail Mary pass at the 11th hour (putting Palin on his ticket) because he had nowhere else to go.

And finally, remember: McCain-Palen: a Bridge to Nowhere!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Memes and anecdotes to Share

John Aravosis shared this one via Americablog:

McCain-Palin: a Bridge to Nowhere. "It's a catchphrase that will stick right into people's skull once it starts spreading. It ties together that freakin' bridge she was on both sides of (hey, there's ANOTHER metaphor)!" Thanks, John.

This morning McCain said Palin sold that jet on eBay for a profit! Not even. She put it up on eBay but couldn't sell it so she sold it through a dealer at a half a million dollar loss. Geeze, McCain can't event subtract so how in hell will he balance a budget? Oh, that's right. He doesn't have to do it, he just has to say it. Pa dum bum.

Palin sneered at Barack Obama for being a Community Organizer. Guess she's more ignorant than I thought. What else could you call a political neophyte who advocates small government and slams private sector non-profit activists who do the government's job?

I give Palin credit for a good joke: What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick. Pa dum bum.

McCain tried to win with experience and when it didn't work he switched gears to "Change is coming." Well I'd call that some real change. Pa dum pum.

Palin claims she told Congress "Thanks but no thanks to that bridge" but she actually was for it before she was against it and then took the money and kept it.

Mayor Palin left her hometown $20 million in debt. That's $20 million for 7,000 people. Guess she can't subtract either. Pa dum pum.

And finally, if John McCain were to die before the election do you think the Republican party should elevate Palin to the top of the ticket? Your answer will tell you a lot.

Pass it on!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From Nuanced to principled: The Lessons of Pastor Rick, and Why & How Obama & Democrats Should make Abortion a Voting Issue

If you read my blog regularly you know that I respect Drew Weston and won't be surprised that I'm recommending you read his column on Huffington Post today (click on title above). Weston is a Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry at Emory University and I completely agree with his approach to this most freighted of all issues. Basically, abortion should not be a political issue and here's how to talk about it with respect for both sides of the issue.

I took the time to post a response at HuffPo and hope you'll read it and, perhaps, do the same. Below is my response as posted online:

You're on the right track. I suggest that Obama and other Democrats frame answers to hot button issues by disavowing the zero sum game that right wingers use so effectively, eg:

"Abortion isn't a zero sum game and Americans don't have to accept all or none, even on this most difficult of issues. In fact it would be wrong to do so. It is our responsibility as Americans to reach consensus on ways to reduce the number of abortions while preserving a family's right to protect the mother's life and/or health. That might involve some economic support for childcare, healthcare, and it might include new rules for adoption.

The American people understand that abortion is not an either/or issue and we owe them the leadership it will require to achieve the best possible answer to this toughest of questions."

Then, every time his opponent pulls out the zero sum game, perhaps Sen. Obama should begin his reply with, There you go again; relying on the either/or of negative politics. The American people don't agree with that - they deserve real leadership on this issue, and I pledge to provide that to the very best of my ability.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Obama Has to Fight to Win

Drew Westin, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Emory University, posted a brilliant analysis of the Obama campaign on today's Huffington Post. I recommend you read it (click on title above) and then send it to the Obama campaign. I've done so and the more they get this message the more likely they are to internalize it: You can't bring a knife to a gun fight and win!

I voted for Barack Obama because I want a new kind of government. Unfortunately we may have to use old politics to win so let's just get over the idea that genteel politics work and get tough! The one advantage a Hillary Clinton candidacy would have had over Obama is that she knows how to street fight and isn't afraid to do so.

Obama needs to stop putting John Kerry on television to represent him and he needs to get a quick response team. Negative attacks should not be allowed to survive even one news cycle. Every time the McCain campaign puts out a negative and/or false attack there should be an immediate response in kind and Obama should follow it up on the stump! Failure to do so will consign us to the ash heap of defeat and we CAN NOT afford to lose!

So send a link to Drew Westin's column to the Obama campaign (http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/contact2), post it on your blog, email it to your friends and family... You get the idea. Obama believes in grass roots movements so let's give him one. Now let's get going!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've Had It and I'm Flaming Mad

I just read a blog telling of a jerk in St. Cloud FL who has paid for billboards around Orlando reading, "Please Don't Vote for a Democrat." This idiot claims that Pres. Clinton should be blamed for the 9/11/01 attacks and "I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time," Meehan said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning."

Bisbah, a Florida Blog, has the whole story and you have to read it to believe it (click on title above). There just doesn't seem to be any bottom to the pit these jerks live in. In what world does any American who can read and write actually believe that a Democrat was president when the 9/11 attacks took place? I tell you the Democratic Party has to fight back! If we don't expose the incompetence of this president, publicly blame him for his failure to even try to prevent the attacks of 9/11, we might as well fold up the tent.

I'm so fired up about this I looked this jerk up and sent him a copy of what I posted on Bisbah and here it is:

"Mike Meehan needs to read Vince Bugliosi's new book: The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. He lays out everything that our REPUBLICAN president DIDN'T do between Jan. 20 and Sept. 11, 2001 to prevent the attacks. Further he posits that after Bush leaves office he should be prosecuted for murdering more than 4,000 U.S. troops by lying us into the war in Iraq.

If the Democrats don't pick up this ball and run with it they deserve the "wimp" label the republicans have tagged onto them. It's long past time for the Democratic Party to expose George W. Bush for the incompetent, lying, sack of crap that he is.

Nancy Pelosi, get off your butt. Put impeachment on the table. It may be too late to achieve impeachment but at least it will re-establish what warrants it. It's time for the Democratic Party to show this country what real gonads are.

P.S. If you'll send me your address I'll send you a copy of the book."

So are you fired up? If so I recommend you send him an email too. Send it to: pleasedontvoteforademocrat@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Open Letter to Senator Obama

Senator Obama, I voted for you in the California Primary and want to weigh in on the VP selection.

As I see it, Sen. Clinton is not worthy of the honor, nor would she be a good Vice President. To wit: her campaign held a rally last night in a room two floors below street level where no cell phone or television reception were available. Then her campaign chair proceeded to introduce her as "the next president of the United States." It's clear the intent was to shelter the people in the room from the final results of the SD and MT primaries so that she could make a speech that seemed logical to them. As a result they cheered her on to Denver as she refused even to congratulate you on an historic achievement, being the first African American to earn the Presidential nomination of a major political party, and then seemed to be negotiating a spot on the ticket via the press. Not a good idea.

Her performance was disgraceful and should demonstrate clearly what sort of president or vice president she would have been: one who is willing to hoodwink Americans in order to achieve her ends. It's frightening to think that she would have become the next president if you had not happened along. I am sad because I believe the way she has run her campaign and the disappointing way she has responded to losing has set back feminism.

Senator, I am a 69 year old white lesbian; an unapologetic, unreconstructed, modern feminist who wants to vote for a woman for president before I die and yet I voted for you because I could see that you were the better choice. I yearn for the bottom-up, consensus building approach to government that I believe you espouse and want nothing to do with the top-down, secretive, ego driven government that I perceive Sen. Clinton represents.

I urge you to look elsewhere for a vice presidential running mate and offer a quote to guide you. The late Jimi Hendrix once said, "Knowledge talks, wisdom listens." Please seek a person who shares your willingness to listen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Barak Obama Said

Barak Obama's speech of yesterday brought me back to a time when I was the only white member of a small town Ohio church where a firey, liberation theologist sounded a good bit like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright sounds today. Jim Holloman was unafraid to speak truth to power and in that time the words he uttered were viewed as heretical. Today we recognize the truth in what he said as we celebrate the changes that have taken place in the interim and as we continue to struggle for the changes still needed.

What Barak Obama said yesterday could only have been said by him. And it could only have come from his core. I honor, respect, and celebrate his words and commend his speech to you. If you haven't yet heard it click on the title to this column and watch it. You'll see a politician risk it all to speak truth to power. We hold the power of the ballot box, and his willingness to reject the politics of division while holding out a call for unity was gutsy and the right thing to do. It signaled that he wants to be president but not at any cost. That he chooses to live what he advocates: unity above divisiveness.

Barak Obama refused to throw Jeremiah Wright under the bus while he likewise refused to do the same to his own white Grandmother whom he knows loves him as much as anything in the world and who has sacrificed for him over and over, but who once revealed to him that she felt fear when passing black men on the street or who had uttered stereotypes that made him cringe.

We can choose to recognize the truth in his words and accept the possibilities they offer or we can return to the scorched earth politics of the past where the kitchen sink philosophy reigns: throw everything at the wall and something will stick.

Imagine a world where we choose to aid countries with economic development rather than munitions. Where we encourage centuries old combatants to acknowledge their commonalities rather than succumbing to the impulse to fight over their differences. Where we value the health of every person on earth and the earth herself. Where we see the possibilities offered at a time of transition rather than lament the loss of the same old same old...

I choose a future where we talk with one another rather than at one another; where we celebrate the wholesome potential of our country rather than the destructive impulses of earlier generations. I choose to support the candidacy of Barak Obama because we've tried the other way and it hasn't worked; because if we squander this opportunity at a new way of living we aren't likely to have another soon - perhaps not for another generation. I invite you to join me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keith Olbermann's response to Geraldine Ferraro's comments are over the top

Keith Olbermann's response to Geraldine Ferraro's comments (click on title of this article) about Barak Obama's candidacy are heart felt and yet over the top. He's both right and wrong, but more important, he missed a chance to call for reason from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns in this divisive contre temps.

I believe that Geraldine Ferraro meant to say that sexism is more deeply ingrained in our society than is racism - but she didn't. I believe that Senator Obama could have taken a pass on this controversy by acknowledging that both racism and sexism are insidious and hateful; and that he wants no part of either.

I also believe that Ferraro's comments emanate from a lifetime of put downs at the hands of men who don't see sexism for what it is - an assumption of entitlement that women must work twice as hard to achieve, and must wait in line for the chance to attain. Let us not forget that black men got the right to vote in 1870 while women had to struggle an additional 50 years for the same - and had to achieve it through a constitutional amendment as opposed to a Supreme Court decision.

Finally, I believe that Keith Olbermann is passionate about what he sees as a blunder by the Clinton campaign - and I agree with him, but I see that both campaigns have bungled this situation and that the Democratic Party may pay a price for it.

My bottom line comes down on the side of Obama because I am concerned that Sen. Clinton insists on using Karl Rovian tactics to fight for the presidency at a time when we are sick of such crap. It is precisely because Barack Obama promises a new way of governing that I voted for him.

Can we not recognize that both Geraldine Ferarro and Barak Obama are right (or wrong)? There is no place for racism in our society. There is no place for sexism in our society and unless we acknowledge and eradicate both from 21st century America we may be consigned to live yet another century filled with hatred and divisiveness - a prospect that I do not want to face.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Healthcare Proposal

You know, I've been thinking. Since the State of California doesn't seem able to enact single payer healthcare legislation, and now doesn't even seem able to enact a "free market" plan, let's just spit it out: the reason we can't get any changes is because the healthcare industry (Big Pharma and profiteers) is so powerful.

The overwhelming majority of Californians know that profit making should be eliminated from the healthcare system; making a profit on one's health (or illness) is ghoulish. It is counter to every instinct of humanity. So let's attack the issue from a different angle.

First: let's deal with cost containment. I don't have the magic bullet for this one but it seems to me that we could start by mandating that Big Pharma negotiate drug prices with the State and that those prices apply to everyone. And perhaps we should put an annual cap on the amount of increase permitted throughout the healthcare industry.

Second: we must mandate parity between mental and physical illnesses. Illness is illness and it's time we recognized it.

Third: we must mandate that every healthcare provider (or insurer) must accept any Californian who applies for coverage without regard for pre-existing conditions, and they must not cancel one's coverage because of same. In instances of "experimental" treatment, funding should be provided by a special fund administered by the State. The fund would determine what is truly experimental. In a federal scenario this would be the National Institutes of Health.

Fourth: Healthcare "premiums" would continue to be paid by consumers, employers, and the state.

My hope is that not-for-profit healthcare would prevail. It's just not acceptable that for-profit insurers continue paying out 30% of their revenues for administrative costs when we know that Medicare's administrative costs are less than 3%. Profiteers would have to stop fighting their customers over what benefits they are entitled to and probably would realize a substantial saving in administrative costs as a result. Of course it would weed out companies that are not in the healthcare business but whose bottom line is their bottom line.

And that would serve us all.