Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 - Monday Quote(s) - Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.

monday quotes:  Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come. (Carl Sandburg, poet, 1878-1967)

War would end if the dead could return. (Stanley Baldwin, English statesman, 1867-1947)

I was lucky; my father came home.  He never spoke about World War II.  I know he drove a tank.  I know that he was in Africa and I know that he was in Japan.  I never heard him say a word about it, but I was proud of him anyway. 

To every man and woman who has ever served in the military and to everyone who lives with the loss of their soldier...thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Helping Archbishop Timothy Dolan Organize His Busy Schedule

In this week’s Time magazine New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan argues against the Affordable Care Act‘s requirement that Catholic affiliated institutions must offer contraception coverage. “When did the government get into the business of defining…the extent of our ministry?”

what eye thynk: The obvious answer is another question -- "When did the church, (any church, not just the Catholic church), get into the business of defining the extent of our government?".

Let me point out an example of Catholic institution hypocrisy. Xavier University, an elite Jesuit run school in Cincinnati Ohio, currently provides birth control coverage for all its employees, be they Catholic or non-Catholic. They have done so ever since they started providing a health plan; however, beginning in July, they will be eliminating birth control from their coverage. So apparently, it was okay before, but now that the ACA requires it, it is suddenly anathema?

It should be noted that the ACA requirement to provide birth control options does not actually compel anyone to use them. The choice is up to the individual according to their own personal beliefs.  No one is going to hold down your Catholic employees and force feed them birth control bills.  On the flip side, you should not be denying your non-Catholic employees access to  a perfectly legal medication.

So, Archbishop Dolan, let me suggest that you drop your birth control fight.  Just think of all time you can clear on your calendar, time you can use to do more about eliminating pedophiles from your priesthood--pedophilia being, by the way, equally illegal for non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This is a Joke, Right?

It has been announced that George W. Bush is planning on publishing a new book this summer outlining his strategies for economic growth.

what eye thynk:  Please, please tell me this is a joke.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Thoughts

#1   Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus says he is tired of hearing that his party is running a war on voting. In a recent interview, he said “For centuries our electoral process is based on one person, one vote, and for anyone to politicize the issue reeks of desperation and represents the worst in modern politics”.

what eye thynk: This is the party that, while calling for smaller government and the need to focus on jobs, has spent the past three years passing laws requiring voters to present IDs, limiting voter registration drives and closing early voter windows. In Ohio, if a registered voter shows up at the wrong voting location, they want to make it illegal for a precinct worker to re-direct the voter to his correct voting location!  Really!  All these new laws are supposed to eliminate voter fraud. When asked about the amount of voter fraud they had uncovered that required the passage of so many voter restrictive laws, they couldn’t give any clear answer. Non-partisan study has said that voter fraud is nearly non-existent in this country. I could go into how most of these laws will hinder  poor and minorities who just happen to usually vote Democrat, but that would make the Republicans look like they are trying to steal the elections. So, lets just say that the war on voting that they say they aren’t running is a solution in search of a problem.
#2   Mitt Romney is currently vetting candidates for Vice President. A member of John McCain's failed 2008 presidential campaign was quoted as saying that the vetting of Sarah Palin was lacking in substance. “We assumed that anyone with Governor in front of their name would have a basic working knowledge of history and policies. We won’t make this mistake again.”

what eye thynk: While I agree that a thorough and substantial approach to choosing a running mate is important, part of me was kinda hoping for another Republican debacle. I mean, really, late night television was never funnier than it was in 2008.
#3   The Obama administration has recently changed the regulations for fracking on public lands. Originally, the companies using public land had to disclose the chemicals they would use 30 days before they started working. The new regulation still requires that they disclose the chemicals, but now they can wait until after they are done. Lobbyists for companies like Exxon were concerned about the cost of compliance with the original regulations.

what eye thynk: Two things--what, they aren’t making enough money? Reporting what they’re using before actually pumping it into the ground is going to bankrupt them? And--what is the point of reporting it after? Shouldn’t someone have the ability to say “no, that chemical shouldn’t be near a source of ground water” before the well down the road is contaminated? The Obama administration really failed on this one.

#4   Currently, if a heterosexual alien marries a heterosexual American citizen, the alien gets a green card that grants permanent U.S. legal residency. Because Federal law does not recognize same sex marriages, the same protection and courtesy is not granted to same sex couples--even if they were legally married in a state that allows same sex marriage. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston will soon hear a case involving a same sex couple where the U.S. is trying to deport one spouse. A conservative legal group appointed by the U.S. House of Representatives will argue against them.

what eye thynk: Why am I not surprised? The Republicans have become the party that believes that the only law that counts is the one they have passed.  And if, by some chance, a law gets passed that they don't like, they will fight it any way they can. Witness the roadblocks that Republican dominated states have put up to stop a woman from getting a FEDERALLY LEGAL abortion. They claim that it is a state’s right to create provisos that limit a woman‘s access to a medical procedure that, under Federal law is perfectly legal; but when a state makes same sex marriage legal for their citizens, all of a sudden they start arguing the other side of that coin. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Romney Always Follows the Rules--Except When He Doesn't

On Sunday, the New York Times included a lengthy article on how Mitt Romney has been formed by his Mormon faith.  It explained how Mr. Romney always follows his church's tenets to the letter in both his religious and personal life and how, as a church official, he was always willing to help show other church members how to do the same.

what eye thynk:  This is a ho-hum article for the most part, except for one section that made me wonder about his willingness to bend church beliefs when it comes to his own family and how he would apply that same moral ambiguity to the Presidency. 

When Mr. Romney was a church bishop in the Boston area, a couple came to him for guidance.  They had tried and were unable to have a child of their own and wanted to adopt.  Their problem was that they both worked and felt they needed both incomes to provide a comfortable life for a family.  At that time, the Mormon church did not allow adoptions if the mother worked outside the home.  (They have since relaxed this rule.)  Mr. Romney, exhibiting an admirable degree of stick-to-the-rules helpfulness,  went through the couple's budget showing them where they could cut expenses that would allow the wife to quit her job thus earning the church's approval for adoption.   (Unless, of course, you are a woman who wants a career AND a family--but that's another subject.)

Skip ahead to a more contemporary example of Mr. Romney and church rules.  Currently, the Mormon church "strongly discourages" surrogacy; however, his son Tagg Romney and his wife have not only chosen to ignore the Mormon church tenet against surrogacy, they have chosen to ignore it twice.  They have one son born through surrogacy in 2010 and on May 4 welcomed twin boys born through the same surrogate mother.  Mitt's pride in his growing tribe of grandchildren doesn't seem to find any fault with the obvious double standard and, despite church rules that say using surrogacy can result in punishment, none has ever been applied to Tagg and his family.

I realize that Tagg is not running for President and his family choices are his own.  Actually, I'm happy for him if he is getting the family he wants.  It just bothers me that the Romney who IS running for President would be so strict when applying rules to one family situation while ignoring similar rule breaking within his own.

This is a personal, and telling, example of Mitt Romney's Etch-a-Sketch character.  His ability to change sides on any political issue when that change facilitates his campaign is just another representation of moral ambiguity...and morals shouldn't be ambiguous.  The way he can so easily be moved from one position on any topic to a completely different position on the same topic in order to gain the desired result--whether that result be grandchildren or the Presidency--doesn't read like probity to me.  It reads like entitlement.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 - Monday Quote

I've always liked this...

monday quote: I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world. (Robert Frost, Poet, 1874-1963)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mr. Ricketts' Hate-the-President Plan Halted. Let the Fancy Butt Covering Dance Begin!

Yesterday the New York Times “outted” Joe Rickett’s plan to infuse race into the 2012 presidential campaign, creating a whirlwind of negative responses. Even Mr. Romney was quoted as saying "I repudiate that effort", albeit after having to think about it for a while. 

Mr. Ricketts has decided to withdraw his plan for “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama”. A spokesman for Mr. Ricketts said late yesterday that the plan was “merely a proposal” and “reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take”.

what eye thynk: That sounds like there is a lot of butt covering going on.

Mr. Ricketts may want us to believe that this was some simple preliminary outline, “only a suggestion”; but, in fact, it was a 54 page, professionally produced, full color document that had been viewed in its polished form several times by Mr. Ricketts without any hint of rejection.

There is the fact that Mr. Ricketts liked the divisive ad designed for John McCain’s 2008 campaign that used Jeremiah Wright in essentially the same manner as this new proposal--an ad that John McCain would not allow to run. The McCain ad was what Mr. Ricketts told his people he wanted to imitate saying, “If the nation had seen that ad, they’d never have elected Barack Obama”.

Then there is this quote to Mr. Ricketts from the final proposal’s architects: “With your preliminary approval at the New York meeting, we have discussed this plan in highly confidential terms with the following proposed team members (who) are ready to jump into action upon plan approval”. (The underline is mine.)

Brian Baker, president of Mr. Ricketts’ PAC, met with Mr. Ricketts and two of Mr. Ricketts’ sons in Chicago last week to view the proposed plan. Mr. Baker is quoted as saying that he was “troubled by what I saw. It was not what we asked for”. When asked if Mr. Ricketts had rejected the plan, Mr. Baker could only say that no decision had been made.

None of this sounds anything like it "reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects”. It sounds like he got exactly what he wanted and got caught.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Republican PAC Strategists Want us to "Hate the President"

Republican super PAC strategists are ready to introduce into the presidential campaign a Joe Rickett financed plan called “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good”.

what eye thynk: The particulars of his plan demonstrate a new low, even for a Republican. A detailed copy of the proposed plan, a plan contrived to bring race into the forefront of the presidential campaign, was leaked to the New York Times by someone not involved in its development but who was “alarmed by its tone”. The document given to the Times is a 54 page proposal, professionally bound, with color photos. They want to, in their own words, “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do”. (Thank you, John McCain for proving once again that you can be a politician and still remain a gentleman.) The polished presentation demonstrates that this plan is well past the discussion stage. Their strategy is to use billboards, full page newspaper ads, a TV blitz, radio spots and to fly banner pulling airplanes over the convention center in an effort to interrupt and upstage the Democratic Convention.

The plan, financed by Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, and overseen by Fred Davis intends to reintroduce Jeremiah Wright in an effort to assail President Obama’s “character and competency”. They may call this a “Plan to End His Spending for Good“, but it is a racial attack, plain and simple. Ask yourself, what does Jeremiah Wright have to do with spending or federal budgets? The only element he can add is the fact that he is black. Their registered domain name, “Character Matters” seems more to their essential point--that they don’t believe a black man has the character to lead this country.

One particular line in their plan stands out: they lament that voters “still aren’t ready to hate the President”. And THAT is why they want to use Jeremiah Wright. They recognize that Jeremiah Wright’s words can be used to incite their white, conservative base--to use the innate Southern prejudice against people of color, a prejudice that exists to some degree in many of even the most liberal of us--to make it okay to “hate the President“.

Attitudes like this have always existed in this country, but those who held them were forced to play on a level field with the rest of us. The Supreme Court’s approval of PAC type campaign financing has rocketed affluent, special interest attitudes well past the mainstream and onto the mountain top. We are a country based on one citizen-one voice-one vote; but now, thanks to the debacle created by the Supreme Court’s ruling, the rich are afforded a Bose sound system to broadcast their views while the rest of us are left with a battered megaphone. And when a PAC backed candidate gains office, who do you think that office holder will be beholden to, you and me with our one vote, or the billionaire who bought the airways?

We should all be “alarmed”. No final sign-off has been made on Mr. Ricketts' plan though there is mention of a meeting with Mr. Ricketts in which he apparently voiced his approval.  Maybe the exposure of his dirty politics will send his group back to the drawing boards. We can only hope; because character DOES matter, and theirs is seriously in doubt.

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14 - Monday Quote

As we wake up to a new week...

monday quote: I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. (Steven Wright, comedian, 1955-    )

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Problem with Republicans - In Their Own Words

Last Sunday the Washington Post included an excerpt from a new book by Thomas E. Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, (an independent non-profit organization), and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, (a conservative think tank). The book‘s title is “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism”, but it’s the subtitle that caught my eye-- “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem”.

In it they write, “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American Politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise, unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. (The underline is mine.)

As proof of this I offer Richard Moudock, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Indiana. Wednesday morning he appeared on Fox News and said “I have a mind-set that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view”.

what eye thynk: Those two Republican views say it all and better than I ever could, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

MItt Romney -- The Wimp Factor, Part 2

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney visited Euclid, Ohio where one of his supporters took the microphone to say that she thought President Obama should be charged with treason. Mitt Romney had no response.

what eye thynk: We all know that Mitt is pretty useless without a script, but this remark screamed for an immediate reply. This was not the sort of thing that needed to be reflected on; his answer should have been instinctive and negative.

I remember John McCain taking the microphone back from “the crazy hair lady” during a 2008 campaign event where she called Mr. Obama an Arab. Mr. McCain gently but emphatically cut her off by saying “No, no he‘s not.” and then went on to describe Mr. Obama as a decent man, a family man. That exchange should be required viewing for every person who aspires to public office. 

The fact that Romney had to reflect on the treason comment for several hours before finally formulating a response does not say “leader“ to me.

The Republican mind-set is that anyone on the other side of the aisle is the enemy. Mix that with Mitt’s wimp factor and the evidence of how easily he is manipulated by the religious right and you have a recipe for disaster.

We lived through eight years of Cheney and Rumsfeld leading George W. around by the nose. Yes, we need a man--or woman--who can listen to advice and take a stand, (sticking with it would be a real plus). At the same time, that person must also be capable of giving a spontaneous and decisive response when necessary. What we don’t need is another empty suit.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mitt Romney - The Wimp Factor, Part 1

In April, Romney appointed Richard Grenell to act as his campaign advisor on foreign affairs. On May 1, after being told that he could listen but not speak during a conference call discussion of foreign policy, (a conference call that he had organized), Mr. Grenell resigned.

what eye thynk: Despite Mr. Grenell’s shaky history of tactless postings on his Twitter account, (I have to admit I thought his tweet about Callista’s hair “snapping on” was pretty funny), he certainly held the right credentials to become Mr. Romney’s foreign policy advisor having served as Director of Communications for four ambassadors to the U.N. under George W.

So why did he quit? Well, Frank VanderSloot, national finance co-chair of the Romney campaign, didn’t like him and Bryan Fischer, ringleader of the American Family Association liked him even less.

(Incidentally, Mr. VanderSloot is also one of the biggest donors to Romney’s super PAC “Restore Our Future”. What happened to all those safeguards that the Supreme Court said were in place to keep campaigns and super PACs separate?)

Mr. VanderSloot has a long record of anti-gay sentiment. In 1999 he underwrote an Iowa anti-gay billboard campaign in an attempt to stop a public television broadcast of a documentary dealing with the way teachers handled homosexual issues in the classroom. Billboards reading “Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children?” appeared all over the state. At the time, Mr. VanderSloot was quoted as saying” Why is public TV, paid for by our tax dollars, going to show this to our families, our children?” (Note to Mr. V: Gay people pay taxes too.)

Once Mr. Grenell was gone, it didn’t take long for the conservative far right to see their opportunity to steer Romney, calling him “maneuverable”, Bryan Fischer wrote: “Gov. Romney is a politician rather than a statesman. While he will not do the right thing out of political conviction, he will do the right thing out of political convenience. Since Gov. Romney will do the right thing when it is politically expedient, it's our job to make it politically expedient for him to do the right thing on as many issues as possible. Let's get cracking.”.

A Romney spokesman tried to smooth over the issue by saying that Mr. Grenell quit for “his own personal reasons”, but not before another Republican campaign advisor was quoted as saying “It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay. They believed this was a non issue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right”.

As President, you will have to confront someone some time, Mr. Romney. If you can’t stand up now, I don’t see much hope for you as a leader. The presidency of the United States of America is no place for a wimp.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7 - Monday Quote

I know I'm a little late for Earth Day, but this is a reminder that protecting our planet is more than a once a year idea.  Without conscientious stewardship, our future generations could find themselves homeless.

monday quote:  Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative. (H.G. Wells, author, 1866-1946)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Our Shameful Environmental Record Continues

Canada has introduced legislation to protect 150 million acres, (roughly the size of France), of forest north of Quebec from industrial development.  This protection would prohibit logging, mining and oil exploration.  It is expected to pass.

what eye thynk: Once again, another country is taking the lead on environmental issues, leaving us further isolated in our intransigence.

Green forests are one of the most efficient ways to clean carbon based pollutants from our air, and it costs nothing. Yet, here we are in the US, talking about allowing oil drilling in our national parks!

In Ohio, our governor wants to allow drilling and fracking in our state parks. I can just see the ads now: "Be the first to camp next to our latest fracking operation! Hear the noise! Smell the pollution! See the trucks passing right by your tent flap! Experience the power and roaring sounds! Imagine the excitement of waiting for the resulting earthquake! Don’t miss out, make your reservation today!"

All this to aid the big oil companies in their never ending pursuit of the almighty dollar.  When do we say "ENOUGH!"?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Good News from Iraq - Live Theatre!

Last month, Iraq’s National Theatre opened an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet at their theatre in Baghdad. In their incarnation, the Montagues and Capulets have been replaced by Sunnis and Shi'ites, the dagger is changed to a suicide bomb and Paris, Juliet’s failed suitor, becomes a Qaeda buffoon wearing an explosive vest. The Islamic sects are not mentioned outright, but the fathers’ headgear makes their alliances clear. The sound of machine gun fire occasionally plays in the background. This production, which they re-titled Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad, is currently being presented at the World Shakespeare Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon.

what eye thynk: Brilliant!