Monday, January 24, 2011

Random acts of kindness...


Hello all! Sorry that I've been away for a few days. I'm here in France and away from the political climate in the U.S. right now. Rather than politics, I will share a little story from my journey today. I was departing my hotel in Paris and heading to Lille. I decided to take the metro to the Gare du Nord station. Well - with two large bags and a laptop, it was a rather intensive workout with the bags going down numerous flight of stairs to get to the line. Then I had to switch lines and more stairs. When I reached Gare du Nord, a small rather polite nun saw me lugging the bags and she offered to help. I thought she would help take one of the bags down the flight of stairs, in which she did. But she also went out of her way to take be to the TGV lines at the Gare du Nord. I asked her if I could give her anything for her act of kindness but she said 'non'. I was so amazed but the genuine good in people sometimes. All who follow this (if you are religious or not) say a little prayer for the sweet little nun that helped me along my journey today. I will have to attend mass now so I can say a little prayer for her.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Long live wiki-diplomacy - CNN.com


This opinion article is right on the mark. WikiLeaks is all about information. Information for all. And governments and corporations and other multi-national organizations will have to deal with the new frontier that is now the information age. The WikiLeaks reporting is the same as what is happening in Tunisia. The speed information is passed today makes governments, corporations and other multi-national organizations more responsible for their actions. This is good for all. It brings accountability.

Long live wiki-diplomacy - CNN.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Health Care Reform Claim From Republicans Appears Shaky


So the GOP repeals the health care legislation on bogus numbers? Fitting for a party that has no alternatives for proposal just a flat no to any progress that us progressives can make in creating a better country for you and me. They are furious that the 111th congress got it right. And the American public will now see that the GOP is simply the party of 'no'. No constructive criticism. Just no. No alternatives. Just no...

Health Care Reform Claim From Republicans Appears Shaky

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Tunisia the first domino to fall? - Telegraph


The voices of the people must be heard. Yes, other regimes in the Arab world should take note. People will not be silenced...

Is Tunisia the first domino to fall? - Telegraph

Obama a one-termer, says Cheney – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs


Not so fast Dick! There are still two years to go and anything can happen in that time. We will wait and see - but you may be eating your words. Too soon to tell...

Obama a one-termer, says Cheney – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Domestic Terrorism and the New Schizophrenia

Between the holidays and an extended work assignment, it's been awhile. Grab a cup of something relatively strong and have a seat.

So one of the stories that received relatively little play in the domestic mainstream media is this.

For as progressive (and beautiful) a community that Washington west of the Cascades is, Washington east of the Cascades is not. From a tax and revenue perspective, you can guess which third of the state supports the other two thirds, but I digress, as the hypocrisy of what types of areas of the country support which others via tax revenue is a topic for another day. (I'll give you this much of a hint though, if you pulled all of the federal money out of South Carolina, there would be no more South Carolina. Which is a shame because Charleston is a really nice city).

The main point here is this. If there's one resolution or goal that I have/would like to see for 2011 it's that we start calling a spade a spade. From the above article about the parade bomb:


"At that point, it falls directly in the realm and sphere of domestic terrorism," (FBI Special Agent Frank )Harrill told the Associated Press. "Clearly, there was some political or social agenda here."This country has developed an accelerated domestic terrorism problem, where people with political agendas seek to enforce those agendas through the use of violence.

They do this by shooting up Unitarian Churches because liberals attend them, crashing their planes into office buildings because they don't like the tax code, or shooting police officers because Obama is coming to take their guns away. That is, if they aren't leaving bombs at polling places or, shooting a Congresswoman.

But to pay attention to contemporary media, this country doesn't have a domestic terrorism problem. It has a lone gunman/he was always such a quiet neighbor who kept to himself problem. Terrorism is reserved for those people of non white races and non-Christian religions who would seek to harm those who, implicitly, are white and are Christian. Terrorism in common vernacular is reserved for those groups who are needed to justify foreign military action, or the potential for foreign military action.

The reality is that we don't begin to make progress on all terrorism related issues until we begin calling a spade a spade. And until we redefine terrorism as acts of violence by all types of people on or toward all types of people as part of our daily discourse, both domestic and foreign, we won't begin to acknowledge and address the increasing problem we have in this country of people resorting to violence to get their point across. At least in this case, the FBI calling a spade a spade is a good start.

***
Extra Points
There are a couple of offshoots of the recent shooting of Congresswoman Giffords that generate worthy discussion points. The first, which is well covered, is the accelerated degradation of our public political discourse in our country by the Sarah Palins and Sharron "2nd Amendment Remedies" Angles of the world. It finally appears as if the swarming of sentiment on this issue means the expiration of Palin's 15 minutes of fame, which is at least 13 minutes overdue (Although a final act of tanking in the 2012 Republican primary may be in order to complete the job).

The second involves mental illness. Of the four most recent examples of domestic terrorism I've described above, at least three of them involve mental illness, specifically a schizophrenic derivative. A significant segment of our society suffers from some degree of this, either medically or in an intellectual void in the way we perceive the world around us (which I call Casual Schizophrenia). If you're told the world around you is increasingly violent (despite ample evidence to the contrary) or that a specific subgroup of society is out to get you, you become susceptible to an ever larger and more ridiculous series of messages about just how "bad" things are. Or how deep the conspiracy (which really doesn't exist)against you or your subgroup actually is. (

What gets little play is that the people telling you these things are usually just in it to sell you something. Glen Beck has advertisers. Goldline is hawking a service based on a perpetually pending economic collapse. Politicians telling you Obama isn't a citizen want you to make donations and get your vote, so they can continue to collect donations and profit personally from your ignorance. If you haven't listened to your local AM Radio station because the programming is 99% Republican rubbish, flip it on for an hour or so, less so for the pointless programming than for what the commercials are and what's being sold. So the call to "improve our political discourse" is nice, but there's a lot of money being made in stoking casual schizophrenia, and since that's one of the last remaining sources of income for at least one form of communication (radio), I wouldn't look for it to change any time soon.

The third also involves mental illness. Again, referring back to the four examples of domestic terrorism listed above, at least three of them were most likely carried out by legitimate schizophrenics. This lead in no small part to the sad state of mental illness treatment in this country.

Now, there are hundreds of reasons why Ronald Reagan was far from the saint that Baby Boomers make him out to be (mainly because he's all they have to cling to as a generational leader in recent memory, and as Boomers get older and more conservative they hold him in increasing esteem), but one area in which his administration clearly deserves scorn is it's treatment of the mentally ill. For example, the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980, which was rapidly defunded upon his taking office, would have expanded funding of treatment programs for the mentally ill at a community level, the consequence of and need for are now, based on the recent examples above, being laid bare.

The defunding was carried out in a manner consistent with the Reagan administration's CBO's modus operandi in these matters (and one the Harper government repeats in Canada today); provide continually shrinking "block grants" to states to distribute in the manner they see fit, while simultaneously removing any real substantive oversight on how those shrinking budgets are administered. This is a good primer on the topic.

That wasn't even Reagan's first kick at the can of cutting off funding for mental hospitals, he attempted to do so after the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967 was signed into law as governor of California, in the early 1970s. This is an example of the state level implementation failures of what his administration replicated at a federal level.

The end result is two generations of decreasing availability of mental health services for those who need them the most. In addition, as states received less funding and the Mental Health Systems Act was effectively gutted, states essentially no longer had the funding to allow for the involuntary admission of patients by other family members where they were still committed to legally. Michigan, for example, eliminated these type of involuntary admissions without court order in late 1981, in accordance with the ruling in O'Connor v. Donaldson (which, in fairness, was unanimous and had terrible consequences for large numbers of mentally ill).

I've ventured into incredibly abstract territory here, and I appreciate your indulgence. Tying everything back to more recent events, when you have:

  • An environment where people who are prone to schizophrenia, either casual or medical,
  • A mental health infrastructure that is ill equipped to assist people because it is defunded and lacks standards,
  • A system by which people with real problems but no criminal record who can no longer be involuntarily committed, particularly paranoid schizophrenics,
  • An environment in which these people are eagerly sold a fraudulent bill of goods that feeds their schizophrenia and
  • An environment in which these types of people can legally or illegally acquire the means by which they can cause harm to large numbers of people,
The end result is the upswing in domestic terrorism that permeates the news cycle. And until we address the root causes of the problem, it's only going to get worse. And unfortunately, it took the near assassination of a Congresswoman to kick start the conversation.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pakistan's Lesbians Live In Silence, Love In Secret : NPR


I know that this blog mostly concerns domestic issues but here is a story I felt was worth sharing. Especially on a day like today in which we are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legacy. There is still so much hatred towards those "others" is this world that I can not accept. We should be mindful of our neighbors and let them live the life that they seek. We should embrace the differences and the gifts from those differences that we each individually possess. Be that you are Caucasian, African American, Muslim or gay does not matter. You are you. Be who you are. Accept the differences that make us unique. Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He states "Hate can not drive out hate. Only love can do that." Live that phrase today and tomorrow...


Pakistan's Lesbians Live In Silence, Love In Secret : NPR

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Meet Reince Priebus, The New RNC Chairman : NPR


Well - any moderates for the Republican party are officially now out. The Tea Party has succeeded in their plan to move the party more conservative and this will ultimately be their downfall. Booting out the more moderate members of your party is a huge disadvantage. They will move further to the right and alienate the majority of Americans that are either liberal or moderate. Their ultra-conservatism is a fringe movement. Most Americans want to see policy towards the middle. This election of Reince Priebus as the RNC chair is absolutely against ANY moderation. The polarization of the American political system just moved a further bit apart. It's surprising with the wish of the American public for more civility in our political process from the events of last weekend that the RNC elects someone against this movement.

Meet Reince Priebus, The New RNC Chairman : NPR

Friday, January 14, 2011

Is Toning Down The Rhetoric All Talk? : NPR


I think this is true. I don't think the right wing media (most notably Fox News) will tone down their propaganda. It's just a hunch but one I'm sure the rest of you agree with too...

Is Toning Down The Rhetoric All Talk? : NPR

Thursday, January 13, 2011

President Obama in Tucson: "The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us" | The White House


Here is the rather moving speech from from President Obama at the memorial event in Tucson yesterday evening. This is a full video of his speech including the remarks about how we all should strive to be more like nine year old Christina Green. It was a touching moment. He also states for moderation in the political rhetoric.

President Obama in Tucson: "The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us" | The White House

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarah Palin's 'Blood Libel' Charge Stirs New Controversy : It's All Politics : NPR


Another reason why Sarah Palin or her staff can not be taken seriously for any public office (including President of the United States). Either she or her staff should have known better to use such comments. In light of this tragedy, Sarah Palin has come out the complete loser. Her "crosshairs" image and now these comments solidify her position as just a fringe character...

Sarah Palin's 'Blood Libel' Charge Stirs New Controversy : It's All Politics : NPR

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arizona enacts funeral protest legislation - CNN.com


I find it absolutely disgusting that Westboro Baptist Church would protest the funeral of Christina Green. Ms. Green was the young aspiring nine year old girl killed in the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this weekend. She was a young girl that had interest in the American political process and yearned to know more. Her life was cut short from this senseless act.

I am happy that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will sign legislation to keep these hateful people at least 300 feet away. Christians are supposed to love thy neighbor. This hateful rhetoric from this church is not love. It is NOT God's will. It is hate and should be pointed out as such. The congregation of Westboro Baptist is NOT Christian. Hate is not Christian.

Arizona enacts funeral protest legislation - CNN.com

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Realities

New Realities are emerging from the aftermath of this weekend's assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Like them or not, they are here. Yes, I initially claimed Tea Party involvement in this action and claimed responsibility for this act of from Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. While, yes, they did not have any DIRECT involvement in the assassination attempt from Saturday - they DEFINITELY have an indirect impact. Here, Mark Mardell claims the same on a BBC blog.

It's interesting that foreign blog posts see the issue in the same light as here. So when Fox News claims there is some sort of spin from the left, I guess that argument doesn't carry much weight. It is a new reality here. Sarah Palin used the "gun" crosshairs on her PAC site. That message has ramifications. Those played out Saturday. She claims they are "surveyor crosshairs" but anyone who knows her "Don't Retreat, Reload" comment know that those crosshairs are NOT a surveyor symbol. With all the hatred spewed towards the left from those right wing commentators at Fox News, one can not simply stay put and not direct some of the blame towards them. They created the hyper-partisan political climate we are in now. So Sarah Palin et al., deal with the consequences...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Congresswoman still sedated after gunman's attack - Yahoo! News

Congresswoman still sedated after gunman's attack - Yahoo! News: "'For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,' Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC."

Exactly, the right wing media is partly accountable for this. Their hateful words have consequences and here it was played out. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity have been spewing this hate for moderates and liberals for some time and enough is enough. Moderates and liberals stay strong in this troubled time. Keep those who spew this hate accountable...

I also find it interesting that NPR, CNN, MSNBC all have the hateful rhetoric listed as possible incitement to this weekend's shooting but Fox News has it buried. Hmm...

Yfrog Photo : yfrog.com/h6hb5tqj - Shared by auwebmanager


Here is the disturbing image from Sarah Palin's PAC that contained the gun target on Gabrielle Gifford's district. I you think that this message did not incite today's unimaginable act then you have to either be completely crazy or blind...

Yfrog Photo : yfrog.com/h6hb5tqj - Shared by auwebmanager

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords shot: War of words rages on Twitter - Maggie Haberman and Meredith Shiner - POLITICO.com


This is the issue with the hyper-partisan political climate we live in right now. I as a liberal feel as though I am misunderstood and hated for my ideology. I thank Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity for this. Their rhetoric against liberal thought has provoked a lot of this hatred. Although I agree that all the details of this morning's unfortunate shooting in Tucson has not been released as of yet, I do feel that the hyper-partisan speeches from the right have promoted an environment is which this despicable activity in Tucson is acceptable.

Gabrielle Giffords shot: War of words rages on Twitter - Maggie Haberman and Meredith Shiner - POLITICO.com

Arizona congresswoman among 12 shot at Tucson grocery - CNN.com


This is absolutely disgusting. This is America and everyone has a right to have a different opinion. I know the details are not out right now but since Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in a tight election against a Tea Party candidate, something smells fishy here.  It was definitely premeditated. You do not get the right to go out and shoot someone just because you don't agree with them. What about the rest of the electorate that votes for Ms. Giffords? Do you go out and shoot them too? I know that the Tea Party made big gains in November but you don't see me carrying a gun to shot them? No, I voice my opinion via this blog. I think the best way to get my point across to others is to state my beliefs. You may not agree with them but they are still MY beliefs. With this, everyone is different. Everyone has different beliefs. I support my beliefs here but you have every right to support your beliefs on your blog, webpage, paper, meeting, book or pamphlet. I hope and pray for Ms. Giffords' condition to improve. My thoughts and prayers are with the others either injured or killed by this exchange. This is totally unacceptable...

Arizona congresswoman among 12 shot at Tucson grocery - CNN.com

Friday, January 7, 2011

House Takes Step Toward Health Care Repeal Vote : NPR


Really? Is this the best use of your time? Disgusting. I give the House an F on Health Care and Fiscal Responsibility. The first F's of the academic year... Way to go GOP. You have already failed!

House Takes Step Toward Health Care Repeal Vote : NPR

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pentagon To Cut $78 Billion From Budget Over 5 Years : NPR


Well - I am surprised that the sacred cow defense budget will potentially be cut. This is a step in the right direction. We need to focus our funds on building this country domestically (education, health care, employment, the environment and so forth...).

Pentagon To Cut $78 Billion From Budget Over 5 Years : NPR

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Report Card

Okay - with the 112th Congress, I will establish a Report Card for their efforts or lack thereof...

The following courses will be graded. I may grade on a liberal curve but that's why we are here. Class is now in session.

Classes are:

Education-
Equal Rights-
The Environment-
Health Care-
The Economy-
Bipartisanship-
International Relations-
Fiscal Responsibility-

Whoa. It seems like Congress will have a full class load...

GOP Faces Uphill Climb To Undo Health Law : NPR


Good thing we still control the senate and executive branch of government. This should be nothing more than a formality...

GOP Faces Uphill Climb To Undo Health Law : NPR

Monday, January 3, 2011

Major endorsement in battle between GOP official and Tea Party organizer – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs


I'd like to see the GOP and the Tea Party implode. We need to see more of these rifts to expose the extremists of the Tea Party movement. This is just the start to the bitter divorce of the Tea Party freaks and the GOP...

Major endorsement in battle between GOP official and Tea Party organizer – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Sen. Harry Reid Sets Record As Filibuster Killer : It's All Politics : NPR


Well - this is some surprising news. If the Republicans could actually meet in the middle of the road, this wouldn't be necessary. Maybe I should set up a report card for the 112th Congress. I don't think the House will score that well...

Sen. Harry Reid Sets Record As Filibuster Killer : It's All Politics : NPR

Sunday, January 2, 2011

California Stays Blue Amid GOP's Rise : NPR


Well, this is good news for 53 electoral votes and the state with the most representatives in the House...

California Stays Blue Amid GOP's Rise : NPR

Saturday, January 1, 2011