Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Are You Registered To Vote???

If you want to vote in this year's Rhode Island general election and you haven't registered yet, you're cutting it kind of close.

Saturday is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election.

To register, you must be 18 by Nov. 4, be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Rhode Island, and have a valid Social Security number or Rhode Island driver's license.

There is no charge to register.

Rhode Island law does not permit voters to register online. For more information, contact your community's Board of Canvassers or visit the R.I. Board of Elections voter registration page.

Waiting For Thursday

I am so looking forward to the VP debate on Thursday night - that is, if they have it. I wouldn't doubt that some "emergency" comes up and Palin can't make it.

Because if she is there, lots of questions need to be answered: Just what is her grasp of the huge issues that we are facing? Does she actually believe what she has been saying? Why does she always wear those jackets?

How she has made it to where she is confounds all.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Failout

Today is one of those rare days where those of us who have no money are glad they have no money.

I can only speak for myself, but knowing that I don't really have to worry unless the federal treasury fails, makes me breathe a big sigh of relief.

My money market is what it is and I can't imagine that there is a whole lot of room for it to drop much.

I do, however, feel for those of you who are saving for retirement or college. It's a hard time and looks like it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Good Luck

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What The Hell Is Going On

Republicanism: A mechanism for causing a device to destroy itself.

It seems that the republican party is self-destructing tonight! All hell has broken loose and the bailout plan seems to be in peril.

Earlier today both parties had said that a bailout was very close. Then John McBush showed up and not only didn't he help, he made things much worse. The republicans have left the table, showing their true colors. And they are not planning on returning.

As much as you'd think that I'd be all happy and gleeful about this, the problem is that our economy is hanging in the balance.

Should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Going Commando

Vanessa and Jaelyn came for dinner tonight. It's the first time I've seen Jaelyn since she started school (which lately she hasn't liked at all) so we had a lot to catch up on.

As they were walking to the house, Vanessa told Jaelyn to tell me what she had on. It seems that she was wearing panties instead of a diaper! She has been using the potty more and more lately. Crazy, because she will just be 2 on December 26th.

Patrick had called and told me he was bringing dinner home - stuffed fish. So, it was nice not to have to cook. Though I did make some pasta roni to go with the fish.

Jaelyn was in rare form tonight, and she was very funny. We discovered shortly after they got here that she didn't have any panties on! She was with her dad today and she may have had an accident. Vanessa didn't have a diaper so there was the mad rush to the bathroom at least a couple of dozen times tonight. She did pee three times, so there was some success. Jaelyn would say pee or poop and then she would freeze herself as she was holding it and Vanessa, and then Veronica, would hurry her away before she let go. She never did have an accident tonight.

As we were sitting around talking, Vanessa got me laughing harder than I had in a long time. She was taking out the trash at her house this morning and a squirrel dropped a donut on her head! Actually, it was half of a Dunkin Donuts rainbow sprinkled donut! She literally didn't know what hit her. She looked up at the tree and the squirrel had the other half of the donut.

Vanessa called once they got home, Jaelyn went right into the bathroom and closed the door. She peed and pooped on the potty and wiped herself! What a funny kid.

Palin Takes Questions...

...and barely gives answers or gives barely answers. Pictured above, the close-mouthed Palin.

NEW YORK (CNN) — Sarah Palin took questions from her traveling press corps Thursday for the first time since being tapped as John McCain's running mate. That was August 9th!!

Speaking to a small pool of reporters following a visit to Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, Palin made a statement and then answered four questions, addressing the war on terror, the re-election bids of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, and the bailout legislation currently in front of Congress.

See if you can figure out just what she is saying here:
PALIN: Every American student needs to come through this area so that, especially this younger generation of Americans is, to be in a position of never forgetting what happened here and never repeating, never allowing a repeat of what happened here. I wish every American would come through here. I wish every world leader would come through here, and understand what it is that took place here and more importantly how America came together and united to commit to never allowing this to happen again. And just to hear and from and see these good New Yorkers who are rebuilding not just this are but helping to rebuild America has been very, very inspiring and encouraging. These are the good Americans who are committed to peace and security and its been an absolute honor getting to meet these folks today. Huh?

CNN: On the topic of never letting this happen again, do you agree with the way the Bush administration has handled the war on terrorism, is there anything you would do differently?

A: I agree with the Bush administration that we take the fight to them. We never again let them come onto our soil and try to destroy not only our democracy, but communities like the community of New York. Never again. So yes, I do agree with taking the fight to the terrorists and stopping them over there. So we know she'll invade if given the chance.

POLITICO: Do you think our presence in Iraq and afghan and our continued presence there is inflaming islamic extremists?

A: I think our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to further security of our nation, again, because the mission is to take the fight over there. do not let them come over here and attempt again what they accomplished here, and that was some destruction. terrible destruction on that day. but since September 11, Americans uniting and rebuilding and committing to never letting that happen again. See above statement.

POLITICO: Do you support the reelection bids of embattled Alaska Republicans, Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens?

A: Ted Stevens trial started a couple days ago. We’ll see where that goes. He's going to jail!

POLITICO: Are you gong to vote for them?

[no answer.]

JERSEY JOURNAL: What do you think of bailout package before congress?

A: I don't support that until the provisions that Sen. McCain has offered are implemented in Paulson's proposals. Good answer, McBush will be pleased with this one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


President (Idiot) Bush has issued a regulatory change that lets health care providers define abortion, which could threaten access to birth control and broader reproductive health care, and allow federal funding for so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" that refuse to inform patients of or provide patients with a full range of reproductive health care options.

There's a 30-day comment period before the new regulation takes effect, during which Planned Parenthood and other groups are raising a massive outcry in defense of women's health care.

THAT OFFICIAL COMMENT PERIOD ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON SEPTEMBER 25. Can you submit your comment right now?http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/frcp08af_adv1

When more and more families are uninsured and having difficulty accessing health care at all, and when at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease -- implementing a rule that will limit access to services is utterly perplexing, unconscionable, and just plain wrong. It will only hurt the women who most need help at times when they are most vulnerable.

I absolutely believe it's our job to help stop it. Please join me in telling that Idiot President "NO" which is something he isn't used to hearing!

Thanks so much!

He's At It Again

President Idiot has issued a regulatory change that lets health care providers define abortion, which could threaten access to birth control and broader reproductive health care, and allow federal funding for so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" that refuse to inform patients of or provide patients with a full range of reproductive health care options.

There's a 30-day comment period before the new regulation takes effect, during which Planned Parenthood and other groups are raising a massive outcry in defense of women's health care.

THAT OFFICIAL COMMENT PERIOD ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON SEPTEMBER 25. Can you submit your comment right now?http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/frcp08af_adv1

When more and more families are uninsured and having difficulty accessing health care at all, and when at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease -- implementing a rule that will limit access to services is utterly perplexing, unconscionable, and just plain wrong. It will only hurt the women who most need help at times when they are most vulnerable.

I absolutely believe it's our job to help stop it. Please join me in telling that Idiot President "NO" which is something he isn't used to hearing!


BREAKING NEWS: McCain asks that Friday debate be postponed to focus on financial crisis

This email made me laugh right out loud! It seems that he thinks he's needed in Washington to help get through the financial crisis we find ourselves in. All he has to do is look to his financial advisor Phil Gramm who is one of the irresponsible people who got us into this. How absurd is McBush?

McBush also has had so many gaffes lately, my thinking is this is the real reason that he wants to hold off on another humiliation. After saying last week that Spain was in Central America, and wanting to fire the SEC chairman, which can't be done, maybe he's realizing that he won't be able to sound at all coherent when he's up against Barack Obama, who not only knows what he's talking about, he's also very good at getting his point across.

Hah, what a joke McBush is - he's suspending his campaign until this is resolved! If only it was for good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slacker Uprising

I admire the people who are the voice for those of us who have no voice against the Bush Administration. People like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Roseanne Barr and Michael Moore among others

Here is the link to Slacker Uprising, the movie by Michael Moore that has been exclusively released to the internet. It's about his efforts to get people, mostly young people, to vote in the 2004 election to rid the world of Bush and his cronies.

It's entertaining, funny, sad, thought provoking and very entertaining. The link is below, I recommend getting a nice cold (or hot) drink and spending an hour or so watching it.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Nation Of Village Idiots

This article helped me to understand the current banking crisis more than anything else I have read.

by James Moore
Huffington Post

Don't let them tell you this economic meltdown is a complicated mess. It's not. Our national financial crisis is readily understood by anyone who has seen greed and hypocrisy. But we are now witnessing them on a profound, monumental scale.

Conservative Republicans always want the government to stay out of business and avoid regulation as long as they are making lots of money. When their greed, however, gets them into a fix, they are the first to cry out for rules and laws and taxpayer money to bail out their businesses. Obviously, Republicans are socialists. The Bush administration has decided to socialize the debt of the big Wall Street Firms. Taxpayers didn't get to enjoy any of the big money profits on the phony financial instruments like derivatives or bundled sub-prime paper, but we get the privilege of paying for their debt and failures.

Let's just consider the money. The public bailout of insurance giant (becoming a dwarf) AIG is estimated at $85 billion. According to one report, that's more than the Bush administration spent on Aid to Families with Dependent Children during his entire time in office. That amount of money would also pay for health care for every man, woman, and child in America for at least six months.

How did we get here?

That's pretty easy to answer, too. His name is Phil Gramm. A few days after the Supreme Court made George W. Bush president in 2000, Gramm stuck something called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act into the budget bill. Nobody knew that the Texas senator was slipping America a 262 page poison pill. The Gramm Guts America Act was designed to keep regulators from controlling new financial tools described as credit "swaps." These are instruments like sub-prime mortgages bundled up and sold as securities. Under the Gramm law, neither the SEC nor the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) were able to examine financial institutions like hedge funds or investment banks to guarantee they had the assets necessary to cover losses they were guaranteeing.

This isn't small beer we are talking about here. The market for these fancy financial instruments they don't expect us little people to understand is estimated at $60 trillion annually, which amounts to almost four times the entire US stock market.

And Senator Phil Gramm wanted it completely unregulated. So did Alan Greenspan, who supported the legislation and is now running around to the talk shows jabbering about the horror of it all. Before the highly paid lobbyists were done slinging their gold card guts about the halls of congress, every one from hedge funds to banks were playing with fire for fun and profit.

Gramm didn't just make a fairy tale world for Wall Street, though. He included in his bill a provision that prevented the regulation of energy trading markets, which led us to the Enron collapse. There was no collapse of the house of Gramm, however, because his wife Wendy, who once headed up the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, took a job on the Enron board that provided almost $2 million to their household kitty. And why not? Wendy got a CFTC rule passed that kept the federal government from regulating energy futures contracts at Enron.

If John McCain gets elected and chooses Phil Gramm as his Treasury Secretary, which many politico types see as likely, they will be able to talk about the good old days when Gramm was in congress and McCain was in the senate and they were in the midst of the Savings and Loan crisis.

The S and L scandal, which may look precious when compared to our present cascade of problems, isn't hard to understand, either. But it is impossible to take John McCain seriously on our current financial Armageddon since he was dabbling in the historic collapse of 747 S&Ls that occurred during Ronald Reagan's era. In the early 80s under the Republican president, congress deregulated the savings and loan industry in much the same way that Gramm made sure there were no laws hindering our current financial malefactors on Wall Street. S&Ls simply lobbied until they had less regulation and then began making rampant, unsound investments.

The guy who was going the wildest with financial freedom was Charles Keating, who headed up Lincoln Savings and Loan of California. Because the S&L industry had managed to get congress to increase FDIC insurance from $40,000 to $100,000 on deposits, the irresponsible investing of people like Keating began to put taxpayer insurance funds at great risk of loss. Keating placed money in junk bonds and questionable real estate projects and because so many other S&Ls started acting the same way the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) began to push for a regulation that limited these dangerous speculative "direct" investments to 10% of an S&L's assets.

And Keating didn't like it; he called on a private economist named Alan Greenspan, who promptly produced a study saying that there was no danger in "direct" investments.But that didn't convince the FHLBB and as further scrutiny showed Lincoln Savings and Loan was making even more historically bad investment decisions, a federal investigation was launched.
So Keating called his home state senator John McCain.

McCain and four other US senators (known to history as the Keating Five) met with Edwin Gray, then chairman of the FHLBB. McCain had been hesitant to attend but had reportedly been called a "wimp" behind his back by Keating. The message to the FHLBB and Gray from the Keating Five was to lay off Lincoln and cool the investigation. Gray and the FHLBB did not relent but Lincoln stayed in business until 1989 when it collapsed with the rest of the S&L industry. The life savings of more than 20,000 elderly investors disappeared with the failure of Lincoln. Keating went to prison for five years.

Charles Keating was John McCain's pal. They met in 1981 and Keating dumped $112,000 in the McCain campaign bank accounts between '82 and '87. A year before McCain met with the FHLBB regulators, his wife Cindy and her father, according to newspaper reports at the time, invested about $360,000 in one of Keating's shopping centers. The Arizona Republic reported McCain and his wife and their babysitter took nine trips on Keating's private jet to the Bahamas to stay at the S&L liar's decadent Cat Cay resort. The senator didn't pay Keating back for the plane rides until years later when he was under investigation.

McCain wasn't found guilty of anything but bad judgment, which is an historic understatement. Republicans, who led deregulation of the S&L industry, delayed the bailout until after the 1988 election to make sure George H. W. won the White House. The cost to taxpayers for helping these 747 bad actors in the S&L industry was finally estimated at $1.4 trillion. If the bailout had begun in 1986 instead of after the presidential election, the cost would have been contained at $20 billion.

And now the Republicans who engineered our present crisis and got us into the S&L debacle of the 80s are before us saying the markets need regulation. No, actually, they don't need regulation. Why don't you Republican capitalists who believe in the free markets get out of the damned way and let them work and allow these various financial nuthouses be crushed by the weight of their own stupidity? When it is all over, we'll have sane and sober people create laws to make sure it doesn't happen again, assuming we survive this chaos.

Also, while you are handing out our tax money to idiots on Wall Street, save a little of the long green for the unemployed auto and construction workers and all of the other people who have lost their jobs because you were too stupid to notice what Phil Gramm was doing and you were convinced everything was going to be just fine because the markets work.

These, then, are the people -- the Republicans -- who want to run our government for four more years. John McCain isn't just one of them. He rides their jets. He takes their campaign donations. He makes them his campaign advisors. And he tells us to trust him.

He must think we are a nation of village idiots.

Hell, maybe we are.

James Moore is an Emmy-winning former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. His second book, Bush's War for Reelection included his groundbreaking ten year investigation into the president's National Guard record. He has been writing and reporting from Texas for the past 25 years on the rise of Rove and Bush and has traveled extensively on every presidential campaign since 1976. He is also the author of The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power. His political columns and insights have been published in leading newspapers and periodicals around the globe. Moore is also an award winning documentary film producer. His current book project, When Horses Could Fly: A Memoir of the American Dream is a narrative examining the hopes and dreams of southerners in the aftermath of World War II.

This Is Confusing

Let me see if I have this straight.....

If you grow up in Hawaii raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you are well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed 17-year-old daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate laywer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

Does that clear up anything?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blocking Care For Women

By Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic senator from New York,
and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

LAST month, the Bush administration launched the latest salvo in its eight-year campaign to undermine women's rights and women's health by placing ideology ahead of science: a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that would govern family planning. It would require that any health care entity that receives federal financing — whether it's a physician in private practice, a hospital or a state government — certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable.

Laws that have been on the books for some 30 years already allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further, ensuring that all employees and volunteers for health care entities can refuse to aid in providing any treatment they object to, which could include not only abortion and sterilization but also contraception.

Health and Human Services estimates that the rule, which would affect nearly 600,000 hospitals, clinics and other health care providers, would cost $44.5 million a year to administer.

Astonishingly, the department does not even address the real cost to patients who might be refused access to these critical services. Women patients, who look to their health care providers as an unbiased source of medical information, might not even know they were being deprived of advice about their options or denied access to care.

The definition of abortion in the proposed rule is left open to interpretation. An earlier draft included a medically inaccurate definition that included commonly prescribed forms of contraception like birth control pills, IUD's and emergency contraception. That language has been removed, but because the current version includes no definition at all, individual health care providers could decide on their own that birth control is the same as abortion.

The rule would also allow providers to refuse to participate in unspecified "other medical procedures" that contradict their religious beliefs or moral convictions. This, too, could be interpreted as a free pass to deny access to contraception.

Many circumstances unrelated to reproductive health could also fall under the umbrella of "other medical procedures." Could physicians object to helping patients whose sexual orientation they find objectionable? Could a receptionist refuse to book an appointment for an H.I.V. test? What about an emergency room doctor who wishes to deny emergency contraception to a rape victim? Or a pharmacist who prefers not to refill a birth control prescription?

The Bush administration argues that the rule is designed to protect a provider's conscience. But where are the protections for patients?

The 30-day comment period on the proposed rule runs until Sept. 25. Everyone who believes that women should have full access to medical care should make their voices heard. Basic, quality care for millions of women is at stake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McBlame McCain And His McFriends

McCain Blasts Wall Street Failure, Neglects To Mention His Adviser Helped Cause It

As the news broke of the Lehman Brothers meltdown and the rest of the latest financial crisis, John McCain, speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Monday, angrily declared,
We will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. This is a failure.
And in a statement released by his campaign, McCain called for greater "transparency and accountability" on Wall Street.

If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm.

As Mother Jones reported in June, eight years ago, Gramm, then a Republican senator chairing the Senate banking committee, slipped a 262-page bill into a gargantuan, must-pass spending measure. Gramm's legislation, written with the help of financial industry lobbyists, essentially removed newfangled financial products called swaps from any regulation. Credit default swaps are basically insurance policies that cover the losses on investments, and they have been at the heart of the subprime meltdown because they have enabled large financial institutions to turn risky loans into risky securities that could be packaged and sold to other institutions.

Lehman's collapse threatens the financial markets because of swaps. From Bloomberg:
Bond-default risk soared worldwide as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sparked concern than the $62 trillion credit-derivatives market will unravel....

Lehman, the fourth-largest securities firm until last week, has been one of the 10 largest counterparties in the market for credit-default swaps, according to a 2007 report by Fitch Ratings. The market, which is unregulated and has no central exchange where prices are disclosed, has been the fastest-growing type of so-called over-the-counter derivative, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

"The immediate problem is the derivative default swaps market, in which a plethora of institutional accounts and dealer accounts are at risk,'' Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio yesterday. "It induces a tremendous amount of volatility and uncertainty.''

Barclays Capital analysts have estimated that if a financial institution with $2 trillion in credit-default swap trades were to fail, it might trigger between $36 billion and $47 billion in losses for institutions that traded with the firm. So the Lehman fiasco--caused in part by the use of unregulated swaps--could lead to ruin elsewhere in the economy.

Gramm is responsible for the rise of the wild and woolly $62 trillion swaps market. And he was chairman of the McCain campaign and a top economic adviser for McCain--until he dismissed Americans worried about the economy as "whiners." After that comment, McCain dumped Gramm. But was Gramm truly excommunicated from McCain land? Last month, he attended a meeting of McCain's top supporters in Aspen, Colorado. And at a dinner that day, McCain singled out Gramm for praise. Last week, failed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul revealed that Gramm, now an exec for Swiss banking giant UBS (which also lost billions of dollars due to subprime loans and swaps), had recently called him as part of a McCain effort to win Paul's endorsement. Paul turned Gramm down. (Both Gramm and Paul are Texas Republicans.) Gramm's Paul-courting effort seems to indicate that the fellow who has done much to cause the current financial troubles (and who was once considered a possible Treasury secretary should McCain win the White House) is back in the good graces of the McCain campaign.

Shortly after McCain promised he would "clean up" Wall Street, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, his running mate, appeared at a Colorado rally on Monday morning and proclaimed that "John McCain and I will put an end to the abuses in Washington and Wall Street that have resulted in this financial crisis." She promised a McCain administration would "reform the way Wall Street does business." (She was short on details and spent more time discussing Colorado sports stars from Alaska.) What neither she nor McCain has explained is how they plan to be able to reform Wall Street when they are being assisted by 177 lobbyists and the guy who greased the way to the current crisis with a backroom legislative maneuver. If McCain and Palin are serious about never putting America "in this position again," they ought to consider seriously writing down any economic advice they get from Phil Gramm. ******

By the way, both McCain and Palin decried golden parachutes for CEOs. What might Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser and surrogate, think of that? She received a $21 million severance package when she was forced out as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, after her not-so-successful stint there--and the value of her golden parachute eventually reached $42 million.

David Corn
motherjones.com - smart, fearless journalism

Interesting Day In History

On Sept. 17, 1862, Union forces hurled back a Confederate invasion of Maryland in the Civil War battle of Antietam. With 23,100 killed, wounded or captured, it remains the bloodiest day in U.S. military history.

The American Professional Football Association - a precursor of the National Football League - was formed in Canton, Ohio.

The Soviet Union invaded Poland during World War II.

The comedy series "M.A.S.H." premiered on CBS.

George Blanda, Football Hall of Famer, (who I remember watching as a kid) turns 81 years old

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eve Ensler On Sarah Palin

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.??

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."??

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.??She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.??Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.??

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.??

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.??

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.??

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Healthcare, McCain Style

by Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
Today's issue: health insurance. John McCain wants to tax your employer-provided health care benefits. He wants to replace those benefits with an insufficient tax credit — $2500 for individuals and $5000 for families (the average cost per family for health insurance is $12000).

It is amazing to me that Obama campaign has let things go this far without pointing out that McCain — who opposes the energy bill because it would increase taxes on oil companies — is actually proposing a tax increase on health care benefits for American workers. But that is precisely what the Senator from Arizona is doing.

Let's unpack this. If you get health insurance through your employer, as most Americans do, you don't pay taxes on it. Under McCain's plan you would. So if the insurance premium for your family is $14,000 (the best estimate available for 2009), you'll pay federal income tax, state income tax, and payroll tax on that amount, and your employer will pay the employer share of the payroll tax on it. For an average family, that comes to about $4,900.

But McCain's plan provides you with a $5,000 tax credit, so you're ahead of the game.

Everything is OK.

Except there's some fine print hidden where McCain hopes no one will see it: his tax credit increases each year only by the normal inflation rate. Your premiums are going to increase way faster — probably around 6-8% per year. That means your taxes are going to go up 6-8% per year too. The chart above, courtesy of CAP, shows the gory details: the tax credit doesn't keep up with the increase in tax payments. In other words, your taxes go up.

If you're in a somewhat higher tax bracket than the median, the news is even worse because your marginal federal tax rate is higher. If you live in a high-tax state like California, the news is even worse because your marginal state tax rate is higher. If you have a big family, the news is even worse because your premium will be more than $14,000 and the taxes you pay on it will therefore be higher. If your employer decides to ditch group healthcare entirely because there's no longer any tax advantage to it, then you're really screwed. And if that happens and you happen to have a chronic illness that no private insurer will touch — well, screwed hardly begins to describe it.

So that's McCain's healthcare plan: make it more expensive, make it riskier, and for some people, make it nonexistent. There's more to say about this, and you can get all the details in this CAP report written a couple of months ago. This stuff is hardly a secret.
motherjones.com Smart, Fearless Journalism

More On Palin

May 23, 2008

Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor

The polar bear should be removed from the endangered species list because its protected status will hamper drilling for oil and gas in Alaska, the state's Republican Governor has demanded.
Sarah Palin is suing the Bush Administration over its decision last week to place the animal under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, claiming that climate models predicting the continued loss of sea ice - the main habitat of polar bears - are unreliable.

The lawsuit came as a surprise because most of the outcry after last week's decision came from environmental groups. Although pleased that the Bush Administration had singled out climate change as a reason to place an animal under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the green lobby were dismayed about restrictions attached to the listing.

The listing came with a big caveat: that it should not be misused to harm the economy and “set backdoor climate policy”. Some environmentalists also accused the Administration of deliberately delaying the ruling to make it easier for oil companies to finalise $2.7 billion in offshore oil leases in the Chukchi Sea, an area that is home to about 20 per cent of the world's polar bears. Numerous lawsuits were threatened by the green lobby.

Yet the Governor of Alaska - a state whose residents overwhelmingly support oil exploration - is arguing that the polar bear does not need added protection, and the bear populations have increased significantly over the past 30 years because of conservation. Ms Palin maintains that any commercial development in Alaska requiring federal permits or funding would have to go through a consultation process - described by Steven Daugherty, Alaska's assistant Attorney-General, as “basically a big time-and-money waster”.

He added: “We believe that the listing was unwarranted and that it is unprecedented to list a currently healthy population based on uncertain climate models.”

There are an estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears in the Arctic, but scientists from the US Geological Survey predict that two thirds of the world's bears will disappear in the next 50 years because of a decline in the Arctic sea ice.

In a stark warning last year, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre said that the total Arctic ice cover had melted to its lowest level in modern times, and that if melting rates continued the summertime Arctic could be ice-free within 80 years.

Kassie Siegel, of the Centre for Biological Diversity, said that it was unconscionable for Ms Palin to ignore overwhelming evidence of global warming's threat to the polar bear's habitat. “Even the Bush Administration cannot deny the reality of global warming,” she said. “The Governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this. “She is either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming.”

Dirk Kempthorne, the US Interior Secretary, who made the listing, said that it was based on three findings. “First, sea ice is vital to polar bear survival; second, the polar bear's habitat has dramatically melted; third, sea ice is likely to further recede in the future.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message

by Gloria Steinem, The Los Angeles TimesGloria Steinem speaks out.

Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing - the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party - are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women - and to many men too - who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that a new pie. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for - and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq , she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident.

Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for re-drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands" so he may be voting for Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now supporting Barack Obama.

Why Women Should Vote

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the right to vote. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women. Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragettes imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food -all of it colorless slop -was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

HBO's movie Iron Jawed Angels is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged and has been released on video and DVD. All history, social studies and government teachers should include the movie in their curriculum. It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Women need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent - remember to vote. History is being made.

If you are not registered to vote, here is the link where you can register. It's that easy, unlike what the suffragettes went through.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gilmour Says No Pink Floyd Reunion

When did David Gilmour get so old, anyway?

I have been to a lot of concerts over the years! A lot! I've seen Ozzy and Dylan a couple of times each; Eric Clapton, Springsteen and Elton John more times than I can count. Frampton, just when he was coming alive; Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, Beach Boys, Pete Townshend (disappointing,) John Entwistle (loud!) Rolling Stones, Leon Russell, a bunch of country artists and some other rocker that I can't think of right now. Aaarrgghh!

There are some groups that I always wanted to see, but know I will never will; The Beatles, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and now I can add Pink Floyd to that list.
David Gilmour, guitarist extraordinaire, says he has been there, done that, and been there, done that again.

After all, he and Roger Waters have only played once together since 1985 when Roger Waters had a major hissy fit and left the band. That was at Live 8 in 2005 where they played 4 classic Floyd songs; Breathe, Wish You Were Here, Money and (my personal favourite) Comfortably Numb. Is there anybody out there...? Just nod if you hear me.

“There have been all sorts of farewell moments in people’s lives and careers which they have then rescinded, but I think I can fairly categorically say that there won’t be a tour or an album again that I take part in,” said Gilmour.

Maybe he doesn't really mean it!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Primary Day

As the time gets closer for the general election, and all the chaos that comes from that, it was nice to have our primary day here in Rhode Island. I made it to the polls about 20:15 tonight and, to my dismay, I was the 319th voter. That was it!

I do live in a small town, but that is just ridiculous. On the democratic side, a total of about 520 votes were cast. On the republican side, oh who cares, no - a total of about 655 votes were cast.

To think that I was the 319th voter, just at my polling place, means that the other polling places must have had a very, very poor turn out.

I sort of feel bad for the poll workers - how boring was it for them - waiting for a trickle.

Also, think about it, there are some countries where people walk dozens of miles to cast their vote. I live in one of the most affluent towns in Rhode Island and so many just couldn't seem to get to the school (where their children go each day) to cast their vote. Shameful, isn't it?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Say It Isn't So Tom

I'm sure I'm not the only Patriots or Tom Brady fan who is in denial about Tom Brady's injury. It seems impossible to think of watching the Patriots without Tom throwing the ball. It also seems impossible to think of them winning without Tom throwing the ball.

Jaelyn Goes To School

Today was Jaelyn's first day of school. Actually it's called a "child university." Vanessa send these pictures and it looks like she was very excited to get going. It sure looks like she has a lot of stuff in that backpack, doesn't it? You can click on any picture and get a close-up view. She must have been excited and in a hurry to get there - notice the car keys in her right hand and lunchbox in the left hand! And "the bracelet" is on, as usual!
Here she is sitting at a table in her new school. I'm not sure what she has in her hands is something to play with or to eat, but she seems to be enjoying it. Last week I took her to the library and she fell off a chair that look quite similar, so I hope she is being careful at school.Her mom reports that the teachers said she had a great first day adjusting to a new setting and even took a nap for the first time on a cot and made lots of friends already. I cannot wait to talk with her about this big day. Great job Jaelyn, Auntie is very proud.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Freeze Pop Wrapper

Is still on the arm of the (fake) Adirondack chair!!!

So NOT a storm!

I remembered about 05:30 this morning that we call them "freeze pops!" Duh!

Hanna - Downgraded To A...Bust

I'm so disappointed! For the past 3 days I have been waiting for this storm. The rain. The wind.

The nothing is about all we got!

The other day Jaelyn was here for the day. While we were outside sitting in my (fake) Adirondack chairs, she had (what she calls) a pop - you know the frozen flavored ice treats that come in a long clear plastic wrapper?? I forget what we used to call them. Push up pops? I swear I have early dementia or alzheimers or.... I forget.

Anyway, after she finished her pop, I took the wrapper and laid it on the arm rest of one of the Adirondack chairs and I forgot to bring it in to throw away. It's still there!!! That's how NOT windy it is here with Hanna (no 2nd h.)

The air conditioner is still going so if it does get windy, I'll never know it in my cool, dark bedroom. In the light of the day I'll check to see if the wrapper has blown off the arm.

Then, and only then, will I actually confirm a storm.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanna (where's the 2nd h?) Update

Well, so far with this Tropical Storm Hanna there has been a lot more tropical than storm. It is so hot and muggy out that it feels like the middle of July instead of the beginning of September.

Not a lot of rain today since my earlier report - still hoping for some wind too. Maybe all the litter on the ground will blow into the neighbor's yard since it's his dog that gets into all the trash throughout the neighborhood which causes the mess.

The air conditioner is on, I just couldn't stand it any longer. I was pretty cranky yesterday (no idea why) and I really didn't want to repeat the crankiness tooday. Hannibal is pretty hot too, he's been panting all day.

Yes, I meant to type tooday. I just invented it. It's meaning is the same as yesterday; also today. Tooday.

Here Comes Hanna

Doesn't this look like fun?

Things should be rocking and rolling by about 02:00 on Sunday. It's been raining quite hard here in Rhode Island since about 02:00. There has been a few let-ups but mostly it's been steady and hard. We've also had just a few rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning. The reason I know this is because I've been up all night!

Can't wait for the wind to start! I do love a good storm!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Right On

McCain Doesn't Get It: Women are not that stupid.

Maybe he was sick of the lack of media attention…maybe he had enough of the late night talk show hosts poking fun at his age…maybe he realized that belonging to a party that has been associated with rich, white men was not going to connect with voters in this historical election year. Or maybe he was just ready to take back some of the spotlight that has shined so brightly on Barack Obama and the Democrats since the beginning of the Democratic convention.

Desperation can motivate people to make some pretty cynical and hypocritical decisions. Whatever the reason, John McCain’s Hail Mary-- in the form of Vice Presidential pick Governor Sarah Palin--sent a very clear message to America about how he views female voters. Women, he thinks, will vote another woman into office regardless of the candidate's values, experience and political positions.

No one can dispute that this decision was micro-targeted to the small percentage of Independent and Democratic women residing in the Rocky Mountain West, who strongly supported Hillary Clinton in the primary and still find themselves undecided as we move into the general election. Unfortunately, what John McCain failed to realize is that after eight long and destructive years of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their cronies, American voters will not fall prey to political ploys once again.

For months, John McCain and the Republicans went after Barack Obama for lacking the experience they felt was necessary in order to be commander in chief. Yet, on this day, an aging John McCain, who is the oldest Presidential nominee in history, chose a running mate—a person that is just a heart beat away from the Presidency—that has no foreign policy experience, no national experience and limited state government experience…. a virtual unknown who has only been Governor for a less than 2 years of a state with a population of fewer than 680,000 people…a woman who condemns a woman’s right to choose.

I believe John McCain chose Gov. Palin because he truly believes that women who supported Hillary—an experienced, brilliant, life-long public servant--would vote for him because his Vice President has two x chromosomes. McCain’s selection of Governor Palin is a transparent and irresponsible decision all in the name of trying to win this election.

John McCain has served this country. No one in this election is denying him that. But his selection of Governor Palin has demonstrated that he is willing to put his desperation to win this election above the welfare of the American people. As someone who has spent over 40 years advocating on behalf of women both politically and philanthropically, as someone who was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and as someone who cares deeply about the health and welfare of all women, hear me Senator McCain: “This calculated, cynical ploy to pull away a small percentage of Hillary's women voters from Barack Obama will not work. We are not that stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Barbra Streisand