Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blue And Blue

This article arrived in my inbox today and the timing could not have been more serendipitous. I've been troubled recently, with misgivings about the tactics and rhetoric of the current progressive political movement - protest marches, sit-ins, teach-ins, rallies and yes, even bumper stickers (for which I have an unabated soft spot.) None of these old-school approaches to social change appear to be very effective in a world that has changed dramatically since the anit-war movement of the 60's and 70's. Even the re-circulated emails I receive from like-minded individuals and political leaders are often filled with personal anecdotes and horror stories that cannot be verified. I know these messages are meant to alarm me, push me to action. But, if someone with my political bent is only moved to delete the message because it seems more urban myth than fact - who is going to take it seriously? Based on my observations from the Barbara Ehrenreich reading last night, the answer to that question is middle-class, middle-aged and older white folk (and, sorry, mostly men) who can talk forever without saying anything. I found it an embarrassment. The subject of Ehrenreich's latest book - "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream" - takes on the corporate world and examines the sad future of the unemployed white collar worker trying to break back into the job market after downsizing, right-sizing, whatever one wants to call it. The audience should have been filled with women, college students, people in their 20's and 30's, people from the suburbs, black people, brown people. Instead, it was mostly the same old-same old lefty crowd with the looniest lefties running off at the mouth. Something is terribly wrong here. I hate to admit it, but a bumper sticker isn't going to solve the problem.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Church Lady Hates Me

Sorry, BlueGal. I am definitely the Evil Twin today. Intelligent Design theory is alarmingly dangerous and worthy of the panty-wringing effort it takes to confront its proponents head-on. Frankly, I’d be less concerned about a movement to introduce straight-up religion classes in our public schools, especially if ALL religions were given equal time and consideration. (Hey, ID proponent, if you want your child to have options to consider, why not Islam?) ID is insidious quackery of the worst kind. It has no place in the science classroom. Rather than inspiring young minds to theorize creatively and seek-out verifiable answers to what cannot yet be explained, ID is a dead-end pile of mushy-headed big words that lead NOWHERE. The-universe-is-really-really-complicated-and-no-one-can-explain-how-it-got-that-way-so-it-must-be-the-result-of-a-superior-intelligence-so-that’s-pretty-much-a-wrap-and-btw-your-jeans-are-really-really-far-out-dude. Isn't our nation dumb-downed enough already? Holy crap, look at our elected leadership! I'm going to cool down now before I go listen to Barbara Ehrenreich and get all steamed again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Message from the White House

" the United States is a leader when it comes to speaking out about violence against women, and taking steps to prevent it. And that is a message we state very clearly across the world." -Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary September 26, 2005 Indeed, the message rolls across the world, but it may not coincide with the official White House spin. According to Iraq BodyCount, the truth is this:
  • 24,865 civilians were reported killed in the first two years.
  • Women and children accounted for almost 20% of all civilian deaths.

Who did the killing?

  • US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims.
  • Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims.
  • Post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36% of all deaths.

Scotty, you're right about one thing. The message is clear. It just doesn't square with the official line about spreading freedom, democracy and what's that third thing? Oh, right. Liberating the Iraqi people.

Unless . . . is it a 'permanent' liberation you have in mind?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's Like This . . .

Oh sure, like you've never played 'passport control?'

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Slippin' Out the Back to Tacoma

Just when I'm thinking the Department of Homeland Security couldn't be any less effective in reacting to a homeland disaster - this arrives in the mail addressed to Greatest Husband. It seems that my plan to be a broad abroad in February or March, (Norway, Poland and similarly popular late winter travel destinations) happens to coincide with this particularly attractive west coast happening involving Blue Gal and 2nd Nature. Thus, a kidnapping plot is hatched. But really, with Greatest Husband training for the American Birkebeiner race at the end of February, do you think he'll even notice if I slip away for a few days? And since my new passport was accidently destroyed by an unfortunate pairing of said document in a drawer with a certain unmentionable lubricant - which was not a funny discovery BTW - well, maybe it's a sign I should stay within borders a bit longer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Anger: I Choose It, I Own It

I'm still fuming over "ownership society." Not only is it the height of hypocrisy for anyone in the Bush administration to utter these words after driving our economy into its current level of indebtedness to foreign interests, but it smacks of the same insensitive and out-of-touch attitude displayed by Bush and others in the administration during the early aftermath of Katrina. Remember Michael Chertoff's response about those left behind in New Orleans? "Some people chose not to obey that (the evacuation) order. That was a mistake on their part." "Choice" and "ownership" are hollow terms if one is starting from a position of utter bankruptcy. A true ownership society provides equal opportunity for acquiring the skills required for a family-supporting job. A true ownership society provides universal health care so that unpaid medical bills don't stand in the way of homeownership. A true ownership society provides good schools in EVERY neighborhood and community so that even the most disadvantaged child has an equal opportunity to reap the benefits of a solid education. The 37 million impoverished citizens of our country do not "choose" to live in unsafe neighborhoods, whether threatened by violence, crime or natural disaster. The appeal of right-wing "ownership" and "choice" propaganda language only resonates with those who already own their homes, their chosen careers and carefully select the best schools for their children. For the disadvantaged, these words mean less than nothing.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Bold Question

After three days of hard labor at the homestead repairing a summer's worth of torn up sod, bulldozed garden beds and left-over mountains of clay, plywood, sawdust and assorted construction cast-offs - I planned a quiet Monday morning with my coffee, newspaper and the transcript from last Friday's White House press briefing. Bonus! Turns out it was a full line-up of Presidential goons and sycophants at the podium. Go ahead, read it for yourself, but here's my favorite excerpt from Claude Allen, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, in response to this question: "The President said last night that one of the problems that has to be addressed is poverty that is steeped in racial discrimination. Where's the bold action that he said is going to be required to address that?" MR. ALLEN: Well, the bold action comes in both the proposals that the President has laid before us, in terms of education opportunity, in terms of home ownership. . . .we need only look at New Orleans and see that many of those who were impacted came out of public housing units where you don't have jobs, where you don't have business investing, where they don't have a choice in where their kids go to school. Additionally, the President's proposal calling for organizations, . . . such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to reach into the region to sister and brother organizations to do that, . . . through a person-to-person contact, . . . to build those relationships that also go into helping to break down some of those barriers. . . . the biggest initiative I would say is, is what the President has spoken about for his tenure as President, and that is the ownership society, whether it be ownership in terms of housing, ownership in terms of your choice and where you want to educate your children, ownership in terms of opportunity for jobs. So, bold action to reverse the effects of generations of poverty and racial discrimination will fall on the shoulders of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and the magical granting of "ownership" over everything under the sun. Umm, excuse me, Mr. Allen, I have a follow-up question. The federal government is operating at a deficit due to heavy military spending, a recession and tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens. In addition, the rate of government borrowing is skyrocketing. The current administration has gutted our national economy and left it as vulnerable as a New Orleans levee. Is this the example of an "ownership society" that we should look to as a model for reversing poverty? Frankly, I'm more inclined to put my trust in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. With a motto like, "Be Prepared," they seem downright brilliant in comparison.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Feeling Woozy

"Better late than never," may be a tired bromide, but it still applies to many situations. Thank you notes, apologies, going to college, getting one's period, starting an exercise program, quitting smoking, birthday presents and finding one's Presidential balls after a major federal fiasco involving hundreds of thousands of the folks who depend most on their government for support - the poor. As expressed earlier in this blog, I never expected W to utter the words, "I take responsibility." He said it. He even appeared to be sincere. Blog de la resistance was shocked, flummoxed and slightly ferklempt. Will I rip the "No W" sticker off my car? Hardly. Still, it was the right thing to do. For the people of New Orleans and the Gulf coast. For the President. For the country.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Let Stan Decide?

Inspired by Blue Gal, I added a new tool to threadingwater that provides a rather large amount of information about visitors to the site. No, no, no . . . your identity is still obscured, but I can tell, for instance, which city, state and country visitors are coming from - and I can determine which pages are being visited. I have regular readers from Australia, Canada and several countries in Europe. It's fun to track these statistics from all over the world - including the hits coming from the Virginia/District of Columbia region that Greatest Husband suspects are CIA monitors. (C'mon, they're dumb enough not to cloak their Internet activity, so I suppose it is possible.) But, just in case there ARE spooks out there reading my blog entries and monitoring my Internet activities, I want to make it clear that the recent hits from Islamabad, Pakistan are individuals voting in the tool belt competition. For real. How funny is that? "Hold your fez's," the competition ends when we move into our new kitchen - another two weeks or so. Vote often. Vote well. May the best tool wielder win.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sustainable Bottom-line Mission

a.k.a., I'm too busy working to get to the gym. It may still be in the 90's outside, but a sure sign of the changing seasons is my burgeoning schedule of meetings, workshops and assorted corporate events. The summer-induced sleep of the business world has ended. For those of you in similar straits, I offer this, courtesy of to keep you alert during important meetings and (my personal favorite) endless conference calls. Go forth well-prepared and PowerPoint-ed, and if you ever succumb to the allure of the plague rats, I will have to kill you.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Naked Men

are working in my yard. Cabinets are being installed in the kitchen. The electrician is electrifying everything in sight. No one can get in or out the front door because of wet concrete. Preparation for punching a hole through our basement foundation is in progress and the street in front of our house is nearly impassable due to the heavy equipment vehicles lining both sides of the block. Our neighbors love us. And speaking of naked men . . . White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried vainly in Wednesday's press conference to defend the emperor with no clothes. Poor Scotty. Reduced to baby talk like "tick-tock" and "blame-gaming," so that those pesky reporters will stop already with their irrelevant questions like, "How much did the President know, and when did he know it?" Now, why does that question sound familiar?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cat in the Yard

Care to see what Greatest Husband and I faced before coffee this morning? The heavy equipment is back. No, not the motorized variety. I'm talking about "Animal," wielder of the mighty jack hammer. Gals, I'd love to put him in the tool belt competition but, truth is, some guys just don't NEED a tool belt to get the job done.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Weasels and Whiners

What do they have in common? They all start with "W." It's a Bush camp smack-down and it's about time. But why read my lame commentary when so many others are putting it (to W) so much better? Osama and Katrina Haunted by Hesitation

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Family Values

Ah, remember the days of the first Bush presidency and all those grandmotherly images of First Lady Barbara in her matronly pearls? Yes, she was capital 'M' Mother to us all back in the 'big hair' 80's. Well, maybe not ALL of us, but certainly to her boy, George. I personally would like to make a snarky remark here about "pearls before swine," but that would be an insult to pigs everywhere. In remarks to an NPR 'Marketplace' reporter this past weekend in a segment titled, "Houston, We Have a Problem," W's Mother opined that it was "scary" that so many Katrina refugees at the Houston Astrodome planned to stay in Texas, and since most of the Astrodome's inhabitants were underprivileged to begin with, her assessment was that they're doing quite well in their current digs. Oh, and she chuckled when she said this.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Leadership Jeopardy

The answer: "The price of greatness is responsibility."-- Sir Winston Leonard Spenser Churchill (1874-1965) The question: "What is the leadership lesson least likely to be learned by the Bush administration?" Can you imagine how refreshing it would be to hear our President take responsibility for the failure of a coordinated national response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster? To admit that mistakes were made? To actually assume the mantle of leadership inherent in the office he holds? W's consistent inability to respond appropriately - sans smirks and ill-timed jokes - with words (ANY words, even mangled ones) that convey empathy and understanding, is damning evidence of his inability to lead. Even his staunchest supporters must cringe in disbelief to hear him blather to storm victims in Mississippi, "We're gonna rebuild Trent Lott's home and it's gonna be big and beautiful again." WTF!? and Dick Cheney couldn't get back from his vacation in Wyoming until Friday? What is wrong with these people? Please, I really want to know how anyone who voted for this administration less than a year ago can continue to feel good about that decision. Especially those of you who were 'undecided' prior to entering the voting booth and went with W because you attributed higher moral values to him, whatever that means. Excuse the profanity, but have you found your f**king brains yet?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bush Fiddles while the Levee Breaks

This was our leader on Tuesday, the day after Hurricane Katrina . . .

while the residents of three states reeled from the most devastating natural disaster in 100 years

Oh, and I'm sure he got his little afternoon nap in, too.

Home is Where the Levee Is

A mounting local insurgency, lawlessness, shortages of food and water, lack of electricity - the remaining residents of New Orleans would be better off right now if they were in Iraq. Think there's no connection between W's war and the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina? You need to read this: Why the Levee Broke While W read through a list of emergency supplies being sent to Louisiana and Mississippi, he failed to mention the millions in federal aid that he denied to agencies working to better secure the gulf coast area before this latest hurricane rammed ashore. Homeland security? How about starting at home.