Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trickle Up For A Change

The Feds want us to bail out Wall Street. This makes no sense. It leaves taxpayers in the hole and does absolutely nothing for the millions of homeowners who are in foreclosure. One would think that there is a way to help business and banking and help all the folks you bought into the American Dream.

I think there is. Let's call it "Trickle Up."

First, take that 700 billion (probably less) and pay up every bad home loan in the country. No more toxic loans. Next, a institute a 1 or preferably 2 year moratorium on house payments for single family residences or even small residential income properties where a unit is occupied as a residence by the owner. At the end of that period, all of the loans are renegotiated based on the then current value of the property at reasonable (that is, government regulated) interest rates. If some loans require balloon payments, put them 10 or 15 years out, so the market recovers and people can prepare. The moratorium allows people and businesses to get back on their feet. It does not provide a safety net for those who worship avarice; no golden parachutes. Yet it would still put truckloads of cash into the system. Give the taxpayers a stake in the paid up loans. It would restore confidence on Wall Street, but more importantly , it would restore faith in the system in the heartland. It would give a hand to everybody's hurting neighbor. It would say. "You're not heavy. You're my brother." It is about healing the problem, one mortgage at a time. It would work.

It would be a solution of, by and for the People. I would imagine that would be an easier sell for our Congress.

And by the way, if this, or something like it, were to be done, what effect would it have on the World's view of America? Hmmm...? People come first. We are our brothers keepers. Gee, wouldn't that be a change.


This may not be the only way, but it is a start. Unless you can come up with a better idea, send a link to this to everyone you know. Send it to your Congressman and Senator. Heck, send it to Paulson. Have them start thinking outside the establishment box.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sami or Houdini?

The veterinarian told me I needed to start brushing my animals' teeth. I was successful with my dog since she's been trained. But, the cats? Are you kidding? I tried and tried but their claws and teeth got in the way.

I went back to the vet with one of my cats so she could demonstrate. What a catastrophe! My cat squiggled and squirmed his way off the exam table onto the floor and out the door that was partially ajar and into the back of the hospital where animals are kept in cages. We looked all over for him and finally found him hunched way under one of the cages. He was one mad cat! He hissed and growled and showed his claws. After a lot of coaxing on my part, I was able to grab him and place him back in his carrier but not without a terrible struggle.

End of demonstration! What a melee! Now when I make an appointment for Sami they say,"Oh, you mean the Great Houdini"?

A Poem For The New Year

At This Narrow Bridge Again -- A Poem
by Mary Walker Baron © 2007

Here we are again at this narrow bridge
Ready to begin our annual crossing --
Returned to this moment by ancient migratory
Patterns mapped in stone.
For a month we’ve wondered
What to bring – how best to pack and what to wear -- .
Difficult preparations even though
We try to make them every year.

I always over pack and now at this
Pre-crossing liminal moment I wonder –
Will I really need a flashlight?
If I haven’t yet read that issue of ‘Scientific American’
I bought on impulse last year at the Jet Blue
Terminal of JFK maybe I should admit
That I’ll never read it
And leave it behind.

I open my pack for a final inventory before
Stepping on to the bridge. Does my Zip Lock
Bag of anger weigh too much? Is my Nalgene
Bottle of tears absolutely necessary? Did I pack
Enough hope and forgiveness? Where is that
Stuff bag of patience I meant to take? Is there
Time to repack before I cross to the other side?
Is anyone less prepared than I?

Rav Nachman -- our tour guide – said that
The important thing is to not be afraid.
I just heard a scream. No wait. We’ve heard
That sound before -- our shrieking
Hollow filled with awe horn
Reminding us to watch our steps.
This bridge between our sunsets is, indeed,
Narrow. Each year we journey together we

Become better packers. We learn to travel
Lightly. The anger was too heavy. Tears once
Shed are gone forever. Maybe the flashlight is
Still a good idea. We make these crossings
Together to steady and prepare for the moment
We must cross the bridge alone – comforted by
Our yearly migrations to sacred moments at this
Fearless time.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Fine Mess

Well, this is a fine mess.

The powers that be would have us think that the folks on Wall Street deserve our help for the sake of the folks on Main Street. I wonder about that. I wonder whether the folks on Wall Street would give a rat's rectum if the tables were turned? I doubt it.

Now, mind you, I don't want to see anyone's retirement account tank. But I do not now, nor will I ever, have the least bit of sympathy for the brokers, the investment bankers and hedge fund folks who have blithely raked in their very lucrative compensation without caring one whit about the folks in the rest of our great land. Where in this bailout proposal is the relief for the beleaguered homeowners who are going down in flames? Without keeping them in their homes, I say screw 'em. Use that 700 billion to pay up every delinquent loan in the country, It is the taxpayers' money, the money that millions of homeowners pay the government. It is not their money. It is ours. It is not Congress's money. It is ours.

Some years ago, the comedian Jackie Mason suggested that the government be put on commission. I think if he were to revisit the issue, he would still say the same. For their incompetence they all should be fired. A rather large proportion belong in jail.

If this is what America has come to, then we are a stone's throw from anarchy. Competent, caring government is what we need. Make sure every family stays in their home. Period. That is the key here. Let the rich absorb the loss. It is, by and large, their fault we are in this mess. Company failing? Give it to the employees. Let them choose how to run it. It has worked for airlines, why not auto manufacturers? Why not banks? You want to restore trust in the system? Take the system out of the hands of the rich. Simplify. Give the power, as they used to say, to the People. I would trust my neighbor before I would trust some smart guy who only cares about the bottom line.

And, for the record, the bottom line belongs to the People. Give it back or it is likely that they will take it back myself. Think like Thomas Jefferson, but for God's sake, think.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

A California Icon

Have you seen the Hollywood sign atop Mt. Lee in Griffith Park? Ever thought of the history surrounding it?

The sign was constructed in 1923 as "Hollywoodland" and was secured by simple barbed wire. In 1932, an aspiring actress, Peg Entwhistle, made headlines when she jumped to her death from the "H".

In 1939, a man was hired to maintain the sign and lived in a shack under the sign. His main duty was to replace any one of the 4,000 light bulbs when they burned out.

In 1978, the sign was comletely reconfigured and rebuilt with the low bid ($278,000) going to Pacific Outdoor Advertising. Funds were underwritten by individuals such as Hugh Heffner, Andy Williams and Alice Cooper to name a few and were collected by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Telephone poles were put in place by helicopter and tin was used in the construction. The names of the indivduals who worked on the sign are welded into the side of the "H".

The sign has been changed by pranksters over the years. Pranksters came from another state in 1985 to promote a rock and roll band and changed the name to "Raffeysod". In 1987, Caltech students changed the sign to "H Caltech D". The "H" and "D" were covered with black plastic and "Caltech" was covered in white plastic. In 1976, someone changed the sign to "Hollyweed".

Needless to say, greater security measures have been taken to discourage vandalisim. Surveillance cameras are in place and helicopters survey the area several times a day.

Next time you drive by the Hollywood sign, I believe you will appreciate it more now that you know a little of its history.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Go, Dodgers!

What a motley crew. Some really cute kids, some falling apart old greats and one kooky superstar. Oh, and an amazing manager. And now they are in the playoffs. Of course, the last time this happened, the Mets walloped them in the first round, causing immense hilarity in the Met-fan section of my family. By this time next week, the Dodgers might not be looking so good. But the anticipation is wonderful.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mystery of the Vanishing Pots and Pans

I went to the cupboad where I usually keep my pots and pans. I wanted to hard boil an egg. I admit the last time I used my pots and pans was to cook a big Christmas dinner last year, some nine months ago. I'm a microwave junkie -- if I can't fix a meal in five minutes, then I won't cook it - I'll fix something only if it takes five minutes or less. I'm no longer a cook - I did my motherly/wifey duty years ago.

Much to my surprise after opening the cupbord, there wasn't a single pot or pan - only a lid or two. I looked in the lower cupboards. I looked in the upper cupboards. I looked in the pantry. I looked in the oven. I looked in the dishwasher. I even looked in the refrigerator - no such luck! I don't understand how they vanished. Did they develop feet and run off with the spoons? I can't imagine someone coming into my house to help themselves to my pots and pans. It was a cheap set anyway bought solely because they were light weight. I even have nightmares of a pot and pan thief coming into my home stealing my pots and pans. What could be the attraction to my pots and pans? I just don't know their whereabouts. They've simply vanished! Has anyone seen my pots and pans?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bail Out!

Why does the average American citizen have to bail out big financial institutions and their CEO's? Are we making their big bucks? Are we getting all their benefits? Do we live in mansions, have chauffeurs, maids, etc.? Do we dine at expensive restaurants and have front row seats at the Music Center? Do we have fabulous vacations? Do we fly first class? Do we buy expensive clothing and jewelry? Of course not -- we're average American citizens and not the privileged few who rely on the average citizen to do the hard work. We scrimp and can no longer save because the privileged few need more expensive assets so prices are raised on everything to accommodate these thoughtless few. The average citizen doesn't have access to $700 billion to dwindle away. There's no more middle class - just rich and poor.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rock me on the water.

The plan proceeds apace. Each day, it seems, the wealth of the nation concentrates more and more in the hands of the few. The banks, brokerage houses and insurers are propped up at the expense of the people. Who speaks for the millions who will lose their homes? No one speaks for them.

I am no Lorax. I speak for no one, not even the trees, but I hear it in the wind. Listen with me. How does the song go?

Oh people, look around you
The signs are everywhere
You've left it for somebody other than you
To be the one to care
You're lost inside your houses
There's no time to find you now
Your walls are burning and your towers are turning
I'm going to leave you here and try to get down to the sea somehow

What action should we take? What then must we do? Can we bring this destruction of the American dream to an end? There is a way, my brothers and sisters, but have we the will?

You are loosing your home. So, in all probability are some measure of your neighbors. What if we, (your family, your neighbors, your friends), were to send your bank a letter saying, "No, enough is enough." This is the home of my children or of my mother and father. Clean first your own house. Not one penny more until we are dealt with fairly. No more billions at our expense. Two years we give you to change your usurious ways. If you come back in fairness with equity in your heart and Cain's question firmly in mind, then, and only then shall we go forward with you. In a fair and decent way, as befits the men and women of this free nation. You work for us. We do not work for you.

"They will send sheriffs to claim the land," you say. Then I, you and your neighbors shall meet them upon the road, standing fast, shoulder to shoulder, ready to take back that which is ours, our lives, our freedom, our country and the peace our children deserve. You will say to them. "You shall not pass. You shall not degrade yourself by following the rule of these thieves. You will stand with us and serve them no more. They care naught for you or us. They are about the dollar. We are about human justice. Listen to the song upon the wind. The song on the wind will say to them:"

The road is filled with homeless souls
Every woman, child and man
Who have no idea where they will go
But they'll help you if they can
Now everyone must have some thought
That's going to pull them through somehow
Well the fires are raging hotter and hotter
But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now

And we shall be, as one, the ship that floats upon the waters. Replace your lawns with gardens, grow what you can. Trade in fairness with your neighbor. Remember why those came before us came to this place. That is how they lived. "This land," as a wise one said, "is your land, this land is my land." There is hope in the song. Remember it.

Oh people, look among you
It's there your hope must lie
There's a sea bird above you
Gliding in one place like Elijah in the sky
We all must do the best we can
And then hang on to that Torah vow
When my life is over, I'm going to stand before the Father
But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now.

Keep your neighbor safe and whole. Their fear is your fear. Their hope is your hope. We are, none of us, alone if we choose not to be. We are greater than the men of wealth. This is our country. This is our childrens' land. They shall not take it. We will show them what is greater than a human standing alone. We will show them the power of the people. We shall do this because we must. What is greater than you or me alone? We are greater.

Think on this. Dwell on the wisdom. Seek out your neighbors that you may see that their needs are not so different than yours. They live in fear as do we. But this is not how it should be, oh my brothers and sisters. The time has come. Seek the sunlight and its sisters.

Go in peace and stand firm in righteousness. The line in the sand must be drawn. It is time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Joining The Ranks

There I was walking down the cereal aisle of the local supermarket talking to myself. Oh, wait! I wasn't talking to myself. I was talking on my cell phone using my blue tooth hands free device. I was stunned into silence. Whoever the hell I'd been talking to assumed by my silence that the conversation was over and hung up.
I had become one of them! One of those seemingly psychotic people wandering around in pointless conversations. Or one of those people who appear so important that all calls must be answered immediately because world peace depends upon instant communication.
In my defense, it's a hassle to take off all of that stuff when I get out of the car, go into the store to buy the quart of milk, return to the car and plug it all back in again so I can not miss a single ring of a single incoming call while I'm driving because, after all, I am so important that world peace depends upon instant communication with me. And if I'm that important, I certainly don't want to get a ticket for driving while saving the world by talking on my cell phone.
But I have become one of them. And I didn't even want to.
Of course, I could just leave all of my communication paraphernalia in the car while I run into the store. But what if world peace really does depend on instant communication with me? Huh?
Okay, you're right. I'll leave the cell phone in the car the next time I need milk. Maybe I'm not the person the peace makers want to talk to, anyway.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dancing With Matt

So even though I pre-scheduled this post and shut down my computer, you clearly did not turn yours off. As long as you're here, relax and enjoy the music and Matt, who travels the world dancing and inviting people to join him in his joyous movements.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Stress? What stress?

It's the traffic and the trains and the economy and this crazy presidential election and the constant bombardment of catastrophic possibilities on the television and on the radio and in the newspapers and oh yes a war in which families are buying bullets for their children and husbands and wives because the country for which they are fighting can't afford to outfit its army and how long will health care be available at all and will my home have any sort of resale value this time next year sort of stuff. Then the dog got an infection because he got nervous and licked his paw raw. When the ordinarily mellow dog becomes so stressed that he can't stop licking his paw, it is truly time to take a break.
Tonight about an hour before sunset the computers and the television and the radio go off. They will not be turned back on until about an hour after sunset Saturday. We will make a concerted effort toward calm.
Stop. Let go. Slow down.
Come a couple of hours after sunset tomorrow evening we will take a deep breath and again focus on helping each other step back from the edge.
And together, we can do it.

Not Everyone In Alaska Loves Her

They held a rally and people came. A lot of people came. Keep holding. Keep coming.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thanks, Governor Moon Beam

The folks who are pushing passage of Proposition 8 in California's November election aren't too thrilled with Attorney General Jerry Brown. In fact, they are accusing him of trying to influence the voting.
In order to make the intention of Proposition 8 as clear as possible, Brown changed some of the wording in the measure.
It now reads, in part: "Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry". The original text read, in part, that the bill would place a 'limit on marriage'.
Thanks to Brown people can now see that there is a huge difference between placing a 'limit on marriage' (whatever that means) and taking away rights.
I've always liked Jerry Brown.
Clarification, however, is not enough to guarantee the bill's defeat.
In November, if you are a registered voter in California, get out and vote 'no' on Proposition 8 because it's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Much of Nothing Matters, Anyway?

I was thirsty. I admit it. The desire for instant gratification out weighed my nutritional and dietary common sense. I bought a Diet Snapple Iced Tea. It was a big bottle. I drank some and then I filled the bottle back up with water. And so it went throughout the day. Whenever the contents of the bottle dropped below, I don't know, say a 'p' in Snapple I'd refill it from the filtered, reverse osmosis water thing where I work. The Diet Snapple Iced Tea eventually became the Diet Snapple Water. It was about at that point that I read the label. Even at the beginning when the bottle actually contained something bottled if not manufactured by Snapple, there were no calories and no protein and not much of anything else inside the it. However, the bottle contained only four servings. I'd gotten at least a dozen servings out of the thing.
So here's my question.
If something has nothing in it, what difference does it make how much of nothing one consumes?
The question may or may not be rhetorical.
Just something that, in spite of the spins and chatters slamming into my head, my mind has wrapped itself around.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beauty Takes All

or does it?

Good looks can get you everywhere. When you are beautiful, you are considered sexy, smart and personable. If you are a celebrity, you get celebrity privileges and are referred to as an "A lister" obtaining first class, first rate treatment wherever you go seemingly carrying a "halo effect". Beauties are overwhelmed with freebys. The prettier a person is, the more privileges that person gets. Beauty affects whether a person gets a job. Hollywood "A listers" are loaned million dollar jewelry to wear to hollywood extravaganzas without a moment's hesitation. It's unfair, but beauty seems to get it!

However, beauties should be warned, beauty can be taken in a flash - so - if you're an "A lister", live it up while you have the chance because life of privileges does come with an expiration date.

Subliminal Messages

I was watching a lecture hosted by a well-known psychologist who has written many books on knowing yourself and knowing when others are trying to fool you. The subject was emotionally-driven and held the attention of the audience. When it ended, he had a "few words" for the audience. His "few words" referred back to his lecture and then to his sponsors. The audience was so enamoured with the subject of the lecture that most didn't realize he had slipped in a commercial.

Subliminal messages that pray heavily on our emotions from experts or someone we hold in high esteem to sell products, services, etc., is downright underhanded. The ad agencies are getting more and more cleaver in using these messages. We are living in an age of subliminal messages and I hope we haven't become so used to messages infiltrating our brain that we can't think for ourselves. Is there a message here?

Here's To You, Pepper

An old dog.
A gentle dog.
A neighbor's pride and joy.
A frequent visitor in our home.
Barney's friend.
Our friend.
Now with good company in that place
where all dogs eventually journey.
We miss you, Pepper.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monk For President

Once again, thank to RAVAJ for bringing this outstanding candidate to our attention.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dumb Is Good

It isn’t something your elected representative will talk about. You won’t find it mentioned in the campaigns for change. The democrats, republicans, and independents all would rather not talk about it. It’s universally a non-item. No, we’re not talking about torture in the United States - they talk about that some. And we’re not talking about how Americans lock up more citizens than any other industrialized nation. Election rigging, religion as government, mobster - canning the wife and family of ambassadors - that’s all part of what they do talk about. But there’s one thing, a dirty little secret, that they really don’t like you knowing about.
In 1996 California pioneered the “US Constitution Freedom of Choice Waiver”, a cute little piece of legislation that makes it possible for the government to control where MediCaid patients go for care. That place is the county of residence. When the county government took over the care of the indigent in California, restricting patients to their “catchment area”, the federal government noticed that it was a violation of freedom to choose your doctor. The experience patients had was they got a piece of mail saying “tell your doctor you are our patient now, and report to your county government for your counseling”. To gain approval with the DHHS this system would have to be better for patients and cost less money, both. Ingenious! The first medical system in the world that did better work while spending less! And with the government now auditing itself, the books look clean as a whistle. Turns out, any Constitutional Freedom of Choice Waiver need only be signed mutually by the president of the United States and the Governor, at the time Bill Clinton and Gray Davis in California. Didn’t know that I bet, did you? And you thought there needed to be a Constitutional Convention.
It was just the beginning. It started as a psychiatry “carve out”, where psychiatric care was separated from all other medical care, done at government facilities, and completely under the auspices of county government authority. A physical exam was no longer a part of psychiatric care. Medical doctors became psychologists with the prescription pad, while psychologists argued with more thrust that they could do just as well. Ruling out disease became a drug screen, something curiously useful to government clinics, a test that is never refused by “insurance“. The patient population is now completely monitored. The medical chart is the property of the government, and everyone makes a “confession” to the “confidential chart”, like what they smoked when they were a kid, and their sexual orientation. On the walls of county clinics hang posters which say you have a right to choose your own doctor (as long as it is one of theirs). The prisons began to fill up with substance abusers, and the patients began to display a paranoid delusion that somehow they were being watched. The professional journals began to report the statistics of substance abuse within the various catchment areas among “schizophrenics“.
But most important, it brought the health care dollar back to the county, where “the buck stops here” (just before it gets to the patient, that is). Huge new facilities and administrations cropped up, and if there was money left over after “patient care” it went straight into the surplus. For the first time in American history medical care became a government business that made profit when care was not provided. It was a big boom for rusty old docs who were languishing in the early 80’s because no patient liked going to the old farts. But the issue of big brother being your mind monitor is subject for a future essay.
So it caught on. The block grant from the feds came to the State, went to County, and didn’t leak out to the indigents, who just ended up costing more money anyway. Pretty soon Freedom of Choice Waivers were everywhere, not just in California, not just in psychiatry. Thirteen years later, the county controls it all, and squeezes out the health care dollar to providers it sees as fit, across specialties and across states, without the nuisance of doctors under some damn Oath.
The result is seen everyday in the papers. Michael Moore made an elegant description of the results in “Sicko”. Patients are dying in the waiting rooms. AIDS is getting called depression and the treatment is an antipsychotic and no physical exam or tests. Every AIDS patient that has no insurance, who gets tired and feels sick, who gets sample packs of antidepressant from the drug company for medical care below the radar of the CDC, saves the county about 50 grand a month. Every death is a budget boom. The money saving insurance company is the county, who is the politician, who is the pharmacy, and who tells the doctor what is proper medical care. They take out doctors who make straight calls. There is no tuberculosis in the USA, and we don’t torture prisoners here. When the USA castrates a prisoner, it is a compassion, doncha know. Many good doctors have chosen as an undeniable matter of conscience to leave the USA, but they would be run out if they were dumb enough to stick around. The USA is no place for old docs who speak their mind.
OK, so lousy medical care, for whatever reason, is no news. And as one prison psychologist said, prisoners go to jail just to get a doctors sometimes. Even Michael Moore pointed out that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have better medical care than the average citizen in “Sicko”. And historically the poor have always had lousy access to medicine. As Jesus said, “the poor you have with you always”, so why the beef?
Here’s why. Not only does the issue raise the fact that the president and governor co-signing can sign away any “inalienable” constitutional right (in this case the right to choose your own doctor). But if your right to choose can be taken away with regards to medical care, that could include other future rights. Rights that people will notice missing. Like the right to choose your gynecologist. The right to a doctor who will do an abortion when you get raped. The right to choose your representative. Any other issue that your choice is an active ingredient can be taken from you.
There’s something sinister in both universal health care, and in so called “private” systems when they don’t let you make the fundamental choice of whom your doctor is. Something grossly paternalistic. It pervades the political spectrum, corrupting both major parties. It results from executive order, and is enforced by no less than the powers of the executives in government. Any politician in their right mind knows better than to cross those lines, if you want to survive in politics. And, if you are a good politician, you can go to whatever doctor you want.
Why isn’t freedom to choose an election year topic? Because they don’t want you to know. You’re better off if you just read the poster that guarantees you Freedom of Choice. Don’t ask yourself why you are reading that in a county clinic. Dumb is good in the 21st century USA.
What else don’t they want you to know? More to follow. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The choice is a clear one....

Well, for me at least. I don't expect unflagging agreement on this but I will tell you why I favor the ticket of Senators Obama and Biden.

But first, a bit about who Prodigal is. I am white, Jewish, a senior to some. My views are not as far to the left as once they were. I have been called a person of faith and I would not argue against that view. I am a writer and a teacher, among other things.

I am also a member of the NRA and I certified rifle shooting instructor. I teach Boy Scouts to shoot. I am for gun control, especially hand guns and I do not hunt, although I have-usually with a bow and for something that I intended to eat.

I consider myself a smart guy. Most of those I know consider me either a wiseguy or a smartass. You are free to choose either of those or any other description from the lengthy list of names I have been called over the years (pinhead comes to mind).

I campaigned for Adlai Stevenson as a very young boy. I campaigned for Jack Kennedy in high school and for Bobby in college. I marched with Dr. King and campaigned for Dick Gregory when he ran for Mayor of Chicago. I had an uncle who was blacklisted and my mother used to say, as I walked out of our house north of Chicago "Don't sign anything." I was a hippie (and still am, I like to think). I opposed the war in Vietnam and the one in Iraq. I would gladly have enlisted to fight in WWII.

All of those days are long past. I have voted for a bunch of Democrats in the span from then to now. I have not campaigned for any of them. I couldn't get all that excited. Things are different this time. Why?

Well, to put it simply, Sen. Obama is the brightest Democrat I have seen in years. Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and that is impressive, but I would put Barack in the same class with the brothers Kennedy. I would not and could not say that about Bill Clinton. Regardless of his level of "experience", Barack will attract a great team. Senator Biden was the first. There will be, I am sure, others. It is precisely because of that ability, that charisma, if you will, that I think he will be able to do great things for this country. Things that have been on back burners or off the stove for far too long.

For the record, I consider myself a patriot and because of that, I would not and could never say "My country, right or wrong." That is not what the Founding Fathers were about. That is not what this country is about. This country is about doing what is right and what is righteous. We are arguably the most powerful nation on Earth. That power is meaningless if it is not used to promote peace, understanding, freedom and tolerance universally. We should lead by example not by force.

I am not one tell others how to think, dress, eat or vote. If you like the way things are going, knock yourself out.

If you don't, then you know what to do. Get out and make it happen.

See you in the streets.

In The Words of Einstein the Parrot

Meanwhile, back to what's really impressive, Einstein is an African grey parrot with a vocabulary of more than 200 words and sounds. She can perform nearly half on cue. In this bizaare and endless presidential race, who would you rather listen to?

And as this Einstein says, we protect living things because 'they are special'.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's In The Bag

At least twice a day I walk the family dog. Essential tools for walking the dog include bags into which a primary purpose of the walk is picked up and carried for later disposal.
In neighborhoods where dog owners regularly walk their dogs no one gives the bag a second thought. Carrying around a sack of shit is not only normal, it's expected. Neighbors stand and chat while holding those bags.
Aside from responsible dog owners, the only other group of people I can think of that routinely lugs around sacks of shit are politicians.
Of course, the species from which their bags are filled differs considerably from man's best friend as do the purposes of the bags' contents.
We responsible dog owners properly dispose of our sacks of shit. We don't want anyone to be inconvenienced or offended by our dogs' digestive garbage.
Politicians, on the other hand, glibly remove their bullshit from their bags and spread it around hoping that eventually we will think its the best thing since sliced, white bread.
By the way, if you feed a dog enough sliced, white bread, it will go into convulsions.
So when will we go into convulsions from all the stuff we're being fed?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

But They Had Good Lives, She Said

Have you ever heard of aerial hunting? It's a brutal practice. Wolves are shot from low-flying aircraft or chased to exhaustion, then killed at point-blank range.

Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President, promotes this barbaric practice, exploiting a loophole in the Federal Airborne Hunting Act to allow private wolf killers to shoot down wolves using aircraft. We have to get the word out about this!

The above message and the following video are provided by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

CAUTION: This video is graphic and disturbing.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Than Numbers

In this age of hysteria and hoopla every sneeze rocks the country with portents of pandemic. Because we are currently so inclined to live in the world of orange alerts, it's easy to forget the true meaning of danger and the true causes of alarm.
In 1918 the Spanish flu killed an estimated one hundred million people. It spread to nearly every part of the world from the Arctic to remote Pacific Islands. Five per cent of the human population at that time died of the flu.
I have lived my life in the wake of that pandemic.
In 1918 my paternal grandmother was twenty-six years old. Just before her death from the Spanish flu she gave birth to a daughter -- her sixth child. The infant died moments after my grandmother. My Aunt Cassie was nine years old at the time. My father was six. His other three sisters were all younger. Cassie cleared off the kitchen table and washed the bodies of her mother and her new born sister and prepared them for burial. At age nine, Cassie had been so busy tending to the dying and the dead that she had not yet fed her younger siblings. There were no neighbors or other family members to help. Too many people were sick and dying.
My father once commented that he spent his life hungry. Any armchair psychologist can easily figure out the root of his hunger.
When I look at the few photographs of my grandmother I consider the notion that this woman is a number in the greatest pandemic to sweep the planet. She is a number among millions of other numbers. She is also the gaping hole that left my father hungry his entire life. And she is the face in the faded photograph always on my wall and in my soul.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Spreading the Word

Thanks to RAVAJ and, yes, we will spread the word.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Choice For the Sake of Life

It is estimated that one fourth of rapes against women of child bearing age result in pregnancy. To oppose abortion even in cases of rape or incest would be unthinkable if it were not for the fact that so many people not only think about such opposition but champion it.
At least for the sake of human dignity allow a woman so violated to choose whether or not to abort that pregnancy.
Recent reports indicate that the number of Alaska Native or Native American women who are raped is three and one half times higher than the number of women in any other racial group in America. Almost fifteen percent of Alaska's population is Alaska Native or Native American.
At least for the sake of human dignity allow a woman so violated to choose whether or not to abort that pregnancy.
If not at least for the sake of human dignity, then at the very least for the sake of human intelligence allow a woman to make that choice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This Is Not Monkey Business

On March 13, 1925, the State of Tennessee passed a law which made it illegal in any state funded school to teach any theory that denied the Biblical narrative of creation. On May 5, 1925, a high school teacher named John Scopes was charged with the crime of teaching evolution from a chapter in a textbook which presented ideas contained in 'On The Origin of Species' by Charles Darwin. The prosecution was headed by William Jennings Bryan. Clarence Darrow defended John Scopes. The trial lasted for eight days. The jury returned with a guilty verdict in nine minutes. The judge fined John Scopes one hundred dollars. The guilty verdict was later set aside in appeal because of a legal technicality. The jury not the judge should have decided the fine. In 1968 the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Tennessee law and all other such laws because their primary purpose was religious.
Creationism challenged so many years ago is once again on the political scene.
Be very careful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Call Me Stupid But...

So this Republican VP almost candidate opposes sex education and favors abstinence education. Seems to me that people should know from what they are abstaining before they can say 'no'. And sex education in adolescence does not mean kids are necessarily going to 'go at it'. And if or when they do 'go at it' perhaps they will have learned, oh for example, safe sex and perhaps dare I say birth control.
But no, our Annie Oakley does not believe in educating teenagers about their own bodies. Better to people the world with unexpected 'little blessings' because, of course, Annie could not even consider abortion as one way to allow pregnant teenagers to have their childhoods and, possibly, their dreams.
You go, girl.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jed Clampett for President

With the winds created by Gustav's rampage coming at us from one direction and the winds created by heads spinning as more and more outlandish information about the Republican possible VP candidate buffets us from another direction I no longer know whether to laugh or cry or run for my life or sit back and enjoy the show.
It certainly is breezy lately.
I never saw the 'Beverly Hillbillies' when it was a popular television show but from what I've heard about it, this certainly seems like a good time to run Jed Clampett for something essential. Perhaps a Supreme Court Justice at the very least.