01 September 2007

They Eat Their Young Too

Greetings Fellow Bloggers and Other Miscreants,

So I have to admit that when the case of Larry Craig first hit the wires, I chortled with glee. Another Republican caught with his pants down ... literally. They are beginning to pile up like dominoes and the mean part of me is having fun watching.

But recently I've begun to find a part of me that feels sorry for Larry Craig. And I'm beginning to wonder if there's not more to his case than meets the eye. In fact, I think we all should feel not just sorry for the man ... but I think we should be calling for him to remain in office and serve out his term.

After all ... what has he done wrong? Seriously folks ... what's the crime here? He played footsy with a stranger in a bathroom. Maybe. What we know is that something untoward happened in an airport bathroom in Minneapolis in June. We also know that Mr. Craig was so completely unnerved by the situation that he felt unable to even contact his lawyer. So he dealt with the charges without the presence of counsel. So he was charged for playing footsie? What's up with that? Maybe he needed some toilet paper.

Now Idaho is loosing an experienced lawmaker. Don't get me wrong. I actually couldn't be happier. The Republicans are loosing an experienced 28 year Senator and will get a lame duck. In terms of what it will do to the balance of power in the Senate, this is good for the things that I consider important. But in terms of the larger picture of how we govern ourselves and how we operate our democracy ... this is very bad.

We cannot toss people out on their ear because we think they might have done something bad one day, maybe. That's a burden of perfection that only Jesus Christ of Nazareth can uphold. The rest of us humans need grace and mercy to get by. We need to be in the business of looking to our leaders for leadership. We need to give the Larry Craigs of the world a second chance. Give him the opportunity to work his way through this muck he created for himself. He shouldn't be hung before his trial.

Until next time,



Greetings fellow bloggers and other miscreants,

We shall see if this blog might indeed be resurrected. It has lain fallow for a necessary time. Perhaps the grass shall grow green now in this season of new politics.

The tides seem to be turning. Will they bear the ships out to sea and bring our soldiers home? Or will they simply bring more bad news?

Will Theseus see black sails or white?

Til next time ...


04 May 2006

Good News

Greetings Fellow Bloggers and Other Miscreants,

Finally, some good news. You won't see it from U.S. sources, but the BBC is carrying it. Our government is going to be held to some kind of account for it's treatment of the prisoners in Guantanamo. It is to be hoped that those performing the cross-examination will be thorough.

Without the internet and BBC, I don't think we'd be able to get any kind of news. It would just all be so much rice cereal designed to clog our systems.


The Fox Is in Charge of the Hen House

Greetings Fellow Bloggers and Other Miscreants,

You may recall the uproar over Vermont AP Bureau Chief Chris Graff. The reasons for his termination have now become clear. The AP is indeed an arm of the government and is censoring the news we get to read. Read it here.

That I am disgusted is putting it mildly.


27 April 2006

I'm the Decider

Greetings Fellow bloggers and other miscreants,

Huffington hits one out of the park ... click here.


26 March 2006

What's the Point?

Greetings Fellow Bloggers and Other Miscreants,

Someone said to me (under other circumstances), "Until someone can provide some evidence that the government is actively suppressing the press, I can only believe that it is the press monitoring itself for business purposes."

I have to say that when I read that statement I very nearly blew several gaskets. I tried to remind myself that this person is young and probably knows not of what he speaks. But therein lies the problem. He should know of what he speaks.

We've lost our point. Rather the press has lost it's point. They've forgotten that they are not just another business out there to make a buck. In a democracy the press has a job to do. It's their bound duty to report on the government to the people and vice versa. Report on the people to the government. What do "the masses" consider important? What is the government up to? How are they spending our taxes? Just what are they doing? Somehow someone must hold the feet of the government to the fire. It's up to the press to help us do that. Without an independent press who is not monitoring itself for business purposes, we don't have a mouth piece.

We got nothing.

The press doesn't get to act as if it's the auto industry or the steel industry or the clothing industry. Because it's not. It has a significant job to do that those industries do not. They do not contribute to our system of checks and balances in our government. The press does. It carries a significant responsibility and that carries a cost. Boohoo ... too bad. Those who get into it know those costs when they choose it. It's no place to get rich. But then neither is teaching or ministry and people choose those all the time. There are certain professions that one chooses because they carry a certain weight of responsibility and calling. Journalism is one of those professions. Good journalists understand this. They understand their role in our democracy. They also understand that they are not businessmen out to make a buck.

Journalism (or "the press") is an institution which aids in the proper functioning of our democracy. Thus it may not monitor itself for solely business purposes. It has a higher purpose for which it must monitor itself. In addition, the government must not subsidize it. The reasons for that must be obvious and I won't go into that here.

The fact that too few people watch the news and that 36% of 110,000 college students surveyed think that news articles ought to receive government approval before being published is appalling. That should make our Founding Fathers dust roll in their graves. We are living in extremely dangerous times, and that has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorists or Osama binLaden.


25 March 2006


Greetings Fellow Bloggers and Other Miscreants,

One of my favorite movies of all time is Braveheart. My husband and I saw it when it first came out and our daughter was a tiny baby. It was (I think) our first "date" after she was born. We left her with a family we trusted and respected and went to the theater to see this movie. To be really honest, I was going to see Mel Gibson with long hair in a kilt (three of my favorite things all in one place). Come to think of it, the family we left her with had a daughter who was 12 at the time. Wow ... time flies when you're living. I remember when we came out of the theater it felt like we had time traveled and nothing seemed right. The movie had seemed so real that we felt that we were somehow in the wrong time and place. The car seemed strange. I can remember the feeling and still can't describe it very well, but it was profound.

The next thing we did (being us) was go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a few books on Scottish-English history and discovered that very little in movie was correct. Well, it was correct, it was just out of chronological order. There really was a William Wallace and he lived and died doing the things that he was depicted as doing, just not during the time that he was shown in the movie. Oh well. And yes, Edward the Longshanks really was that nasty, etc. My favorite line from the movie still comes from the Irishman Steven as they're preparing for one of the battles and he turned to William and said ... well ... I'm trying to keep profanity off my blog. If you know the movie well enough, you'll know the line.

The main message of the movie (at least in the world according to me) is that you have a choice in this world. You can either be safe or you can be free. And actually it is when you choose freedom that you become safe. But when you choose safety, you are never actually safe from evil. It's counter-intuitive. But choosing safety means that those who peddle fear and hold power get to use it more and more. I'm thinking here of the rights of prima nocte as well as the many other tools that Edward I had at his disposal to keep his subjects under control. But the more the Highlanders chose freedom and to live their own lives the safer from fear they actually became.

Yes, I get that it's just a movie and Mel (and the producers had some say in how things ended). But Jesus had somethings to say about this too. Things like: if you try to save your life, you'll lose it, but if you give it away, you'll find it.

So, yesterday I snarkily said something like "people who are smarter than I think that this country is in trouble too. But only time will tell." And today I was out browsing the news and found several news items relating to a speech given at Georgetown University on March 9 by none other than retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. There are no transcripts published of the speech on-line (at least that I could find). I purchased a transcript of Nina Totenburg's (from NPR) report about the speech. And here's the link to an editorial from the Boston Globe about it. If you'd like to see Nina Totenburg's report, you can go to NPR and purchase a copy of it (for about $4.00). But suffice it to say that I've hardly ever agreed with Sandra Day O'Connor on anything, so I was somewhat taken aback to find what strange bedfellows I now have.

The Army used to have as an advertising slogan, "Freedom isn't free." That's true. It's not. Safety isn't safe either. And apathy isn't getting us anywhere. Despite what some may think we are living in dangerous times. We are wandering on the knife edge of loosing our freedom. It is only our freedom which keeps us truly safe from tyranny and evil ... both without and within.

It's worth taking a few minutes to remind yourself of what we do have and why it's worth defending ... even with a phone call or letter to your Representative or Senator. Here's a link to the Bill of Rights. This has been gutted by the Patriot Act .... when the CIA and/or the FBI can get a hold of your reading list from the local library without warrants; that constitutes unreasonable search and seizure. It's a slippery slope. The government has already been caught illegally wiretapping it's own citizens. We are torturing prisoners.

In the wake of 9/11 we were told to choose safety. But I ask you ... are we really safe?


24 March 2006

Free Press?

Greetings Fellow Bloggers and other Miscreants,

Update: What?! An update already? Yes ... because I don't think any of you saw this link to this article yesterday. Read this article. As you read, know this ... Jim Douglas is the current governor of Vermont, he is a very right wing Republican. Patrick Leahy is a long term first Representative and now US Senator and is a Democrat. Marselis Parsons has been the anchorman on the only local news worth watching in the state since I can remember and is very conservative. ... Now read on for today's post.

Update 2: Here's a link to the **frighteningly** "unbalanced" piece written by US Senator Patrick Leahy. It was pulled because no one had written an opposing point of view. Hmmm ... would that be something like "Down With the Freedom of Information" ... who is going to write that?

In a comment on my earlier post my BrickFriend made the following point:

I hardly believe that one cannot be critical of the Administration. There is not a day, it seems, upon which at least two very critical editorials are NOT printed in the WAPost or NYT. I hope and believe that things are not quite as bad as you fear. We will see.

I'll grant him that. Editorials are printed. My point was that a fine and long standing (in point of fact, the longest standing) bureau chief for the Associated Press wire service was let go in a dispute over a column written by a U.S. Senator from his own state that was critical of the administration. Newspapers receiving that column were free to use or not use that column in any manner they saw fit.

Another tiny factoid, Chris Graff's (the bureau chief) son was the first blogger ever to be invited to participate in a White House press briefing. That happened last March (2005) ... but that's an aside.

Now I'm going to use a technique we've all bandied about before and take us straight to the Nazi's. Let's take a look at the Nazi rise to power. It didn't happen overnight. In fact, Hitler spent a year in jail before he really came into his own. That's when he wrote Mein Kampf. Visit this website for a nicely put together timeline of how things went down in Germany between the two world wars. It's a quick read and will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I don't think that our present administration is anything like Nazi Germany (at least I hope not). My problem is that they have no problems abrogating powers to themselves that are not contained in the Constitution. And having Congress enshrine it in law (see the Patriot Act). It's not that I'm some rabid left-winger who can't stand to live under a right-wing administration. I lived happily under 12 years of Reagan and GHWBush and never felt the level of distrust that I feel now. No matter what crazy whacked policies they tried to take this country on, I always knew that they and their administrations knew and would uphold the Constitution. This administration uses the Constitution as toilet paper.

No my problem is that evil does not start out looking evil. It begins looking rational. And when people like me say something is wrong, most people say "calm down, it's really not so bad." By the time most of the rest of you realize it really is evil, it's too late. I'll just end with a (now) well known quote by Hermann Goering from his jail cell in 1946:

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."


22 March 2006

Dammit Janet!

Greetings Fellow Bloggers and Other Miscreants,

Okay, I hope none of you out there is named Janet ... this isn't aimed at you. Some of you might remember that line from SNL of the early 80's (and thus I'm dating myself).

But, look at this article. It's from my hometown newspaper. The head of Vermont's AP bureau was fired (or did he "resign"?) over a column he ran last week. What was so controversial about this column you might ask? Well, it was a column written by our Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) criticizing the administration's secretive policies vis a vis the press. A column written by a Senator for heaven's sake ... now Senators are being censored.

Update: Check out this article for more details

Update 2: Just thought I'd mention that we (my parents and I) originally learned about this in an article in the print version of yesterday's NYTimes. But I can't access that because I don't subscribe to it. But if you want to you can browse it and find the article yourself.

Now first of all the column got pulled before it hit the national wire.

Then, Chris Graff got fired ... or maybe he resigned. In any case, he's gone from 25+ years as AP bureau chief. He's the only bureau chief I can remember.

That all spells censorship to me ...

So ... what exactly is left of our democracy that we're trying so hard to "spread like a flower" throughout the Middle East?

**We don't have a verifiable voting system.

**We don't have a free press.

**We do have rampant jerrymandering.

**The system of checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government is in tatters.

We'd better hope for some good strong candidates in 2008 or our ship is well and truly sunk.