Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hillary Back In The Day

My good buddy, SusanUnPC (No Quarter), told me about this lovely story. I figured since I ended up writing about Hillary Clinton yesterday, I might as well continue the theme and write about her today, too. Oh, who am I kidding - I could write about her EVERY day. She is the Secretary of State, after all, and is out doing the people's work every single day. No frequent vacations for her. Come to think of it, I don't remember WHEN was the last time she took a vacation. Huh. Imagine that! So different from our last two presidents. But I digress.

This is not about Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, or even US Senator, or First Lady of the USA, or even First Lady of Arkansas. Not even Hillary Clinton, "Top 100 Attorneys in the USA," first ever student valedictorian of Wellesley, or any of that. Nope. This is about Hillary Clinton, the child. From ABC News, Kirit Radia gives us this story, Hillary Clinton the Tomboy and Her "Ah-Ha" Moment.

This is the story of how she CAME to be all of those things mentioned above:
In an appearance at the Women's Museum in Dallas on Friday, a transcript of which was released over the weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke candidly about the challenges she faced in breaking the glass ceiling, and referenced her run for the presidency last year.

Clinton revealed that she was "sort of a tomboy" when she was a young girl. "I did love to play sports and played with a lot of the boys in my neighborhood," she said. She said the experience instilled a thirst for competition that served her well later.

"I wanted to be a baseball player," she told an amused audience. "I wanted to be a journalist. I know you’ll never believe that."

I can sure understand that. I had three brothers, so a built-in team there, but also the boys across the street. We played football - TACKLE football, that is, basketball, soccer, you name it, I played it. And I loved it. Still do love sports, for that matter.

But can't you just see the young Hillary at a baseball game , or listening to it on the radio, or watching it on TV, cheering her team on (Cubs or Yankees - and yes, you CAN have two different favorite teams - one's in the National League - Cubs, and one's in the American League - Yankees. Makes perfect sense to this Braves/Yankees fan!)? I sure can. No doubt, she brought the same level of enthusiasm to her love of baseball that she brings to the work she has been doing as an adult.

But her dreams didn't end there:
Clinton (told) the story about her aspirations to be an astronaut, one of her earliest encounters with the glass ceiling.

"I think I was thirteen or so, and so I wrote to NASA to ask how I could become an astronaut. And I got a response back which was, 'We’re not interested in women astronauts,'" she said.

She spoke of the obstacles she faced in pursuing her professional and academic goals.

"When we were growing up, there were just so many overt and implied obstacles to what young women could aspire to. There were certainly schools you couldn’t go to, scholarships you couldn’t apply for - jobs that were not available to you," Clinton said.

Again, I can relate. Not just in sports - Title IX came too late for me - but in professions like the ministry. My own father did not support women's ordination, but I went to seminary anyway.

Sadly, there are still too many obstacles to women, Clinton's being Secretary of State notwithstanding:
"You really have to prepare. And you have to get knocked down, and you have to pick yourself up, and you have to keep going," she added later.

Clinton referenced her lost bid for the Democratic nomination last year. When asked about an "ah-ha" moment that she was going to be able to meet the lofty goals she'd set for herself, Clinton said there was another "ah-ha" moment of another manner.

"I had an ah-ha moment that I wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States," she said as the audience laughed (according to the transcript). "That’s a kind of different ah-ha moment."

Uh huh. That "ah-ha" moment was probably more of the "I can't believe I actually have more votes, more experience, and won every major state except Illinois - and I know that it does NOT border Arkansas like Obama thinks it does - have devoted my LIFE to this party, put up with all kinds of crapola, and they are STILL picking the inexperienced, unqualified guy over ME!" But that's just a guess on my part.

But Secretary of State Clinton carries on, with a passion for people and the issues we face rarely seen among politicians. And she continues the good fight for women to, some day, truly have equality, a dream that took quite a beating this past election season, unfortunately. But she will keep carrying on, like she always does, working for us. Some day, some how, we will get there. We CAN get there, we MUST get there, and we WILL get there, when we have leaders like Hillary Clinton. Thank you, Madame Secretary.

Thank you for modeling a woman "standing in her own skin." The importance of doing so cannot be downplayed. And thank you for the "Ah-Ha!" moments you brought to all of us this past election season. You showed them all - the naysayers, the ones who bullied you, who put you down, who cheated you out of your votes, all of them. You stood with us, and we will stand with you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The First One Hundred Days

Is that all? Sigh - it seems like this has been going on forever. Maybe it's just the MSM's continued fawning over Obama, like yelling to the rafters what a HIGH poll number he has. Okay, it is more than half, but they are going this nuts over 56%? Seriously??? Wow, I guess it is all about how to spin the outcome.

And that is why I took particular delight in Andy Borowitz's most recent piece, "Obama Quits While Ahead; Prez Resigns After Hundred Days: "It's All Downhill From Here." Oh, if only:
In a move that stunned both political allies and foes alike, President Barack Obama resigned today after serving 100 days in office, telling the White House press corps, "It's all downhill from here."

The reporters seemed stunned by the President's decision in light of the fawning media coverage he received during his first 100 days, but the hyperbolic nature of that reportage, ironically, may have been the prime motivator behind Mr. Obama's shocking move.

"Let's face it, I'm not going to get better coverage than I have to date," he said. "The only guy with a higher approval rating is that dude who landed the plane on the Hudson - or maybe that other dude who escaped from those pirates."

Click HERE to read the rest - it is pretty funny, especially to see who has higher poll numbers than Obama!

Sigh. I guess it is easy for him to have slightly better than half approval ratings when liberals and progressives ignore: expanded faith-based initiatives, a program we detested under Bush; keeping No Child Left Behind intact, a program we have all widely decried, especially teachers; and Obama's EXPANSION of warrantless wire-tapping on American citizens. For added irony, here is a video from Keith Olbermann, of all people, on this very thing:

Then there is the attempt to nationalize our banks, firing the CEO of a private company, and the list goes on and on. These are just off the top of my head. I am sure there are more - feel free to add them!

The point is, someone who was inexperienced and unqualified was elected president as the result of the best marketing ploy I have ever seen. His connections to: Tony Rezko; Jeremiah Wright; Bill Ayers; Khalid Rashidi; Kwame Kilpatrick; Louis Farrakhan; and James Meeks, to mention a few, all ignored. Also ignored was his massive contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as was his his dearth of a record, both as an IL state senator and a US senator (or how he got to either one of those positions - getting the qualified people kicked off with the very thinnest of reasons). His sexist behavior, and his homophobic associates, all ignored by the MSM and his followers, people who ordinarily would never give quarter to such a person (and about which I have written extensively here. To find those posts, and other related articles by fellow No Quarter writers on those issues, and Obama's associates, feel free to do a Search at No Quarter.).

Oh, what might have been. Below are a few very good videos on Hillary Clinton, the one who received the most votes in a Primary EVER, despite being outspent at every turn, and having the MSM expose its Clinton Derangement Syndrome at every turn. Still, STILL, she received the most votes of anyone EVER. That says something, both about her, and about the DNC's choice to pick Obama over her, for all of their concocted reasons and unethical machinations to make it so. In recognition, then, of Obama's 100 Days in the White House, I hope these will bring a smile to your face (though they also brought tears to my eyes):

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"The Campaign's Over, Obama; It's Time To Lead"

Thus writes John Kass in the excellent article by the same name, The campaign's over, Obama; it's time to lead (Major h/t to my friend, SusanUnPC for the heads up on this article). No freakin' kidding - Obama needs to stop with all of the damn press conferences (can you believe he is getting ready to have ANOTHER one? What is this, Number 349 post-Jan. 20??), and get to work already!! But even disregarding that, Kass writes:
In Europe, he chastised America for what he called our "arrogance." In the Caribbean, he gave the dictator of Venezuela a warm smile and a handshake, and called him "amigo." Before the Saudi king, he bowed low and long.

And just the other day, in a cynical nod to Turkish generals, the American president who campaigned for human rights quietly avoided the word "genocide" in a resolution marking the anniversary of the 1915 Ottoman Turkish slaughter of more than a million Armenian Orthodox Christians.

A few years after that slaughter, as he prepared to engage in his own genocide of the Jews, Adolf Hitler was credited with saying: "Who remembers the Armenians?" The United States may remember, but our president can't call it genocide.

Ah, yes, his trip to Turkey. Our guide in Turkey mentioned Obama's two days spent there in Iatanbul. He lifted up his hands, and his eyes to the heavens, and said, "yes, people here think he is the new savior." There was a tinge of irony in his voice, thankfully. I was glad he appeared not to have been sucked in by Obama's rhetoric. And all I could think was, "He has benefited from a GREAT marketing campaign, that man." I might add, there were VERY few responses to the guide's having said this, but in particular, there were no enthusiastic affirmations. Perhaps after Obama's unwillingness to call genocide what is is, there may be fewer Turks who see him as The Messiah.

Kass continues:
Still, President Barack Obama offers himself up to an adoring world -- and the enraptured, Hopium-smoking American media that helped elect him -- as a leader more flexible than his hopelessly rigid predecessor, George W. Bush.

And he's proved it, charming nations and their leaders, remaining in campaign mode, where he's most comfortable.

While in Egypt, at the Citadel and its two mosques, we were all on the bus getting ready to leave. One of the constant souvenir hawks kept talking to people on the bus, and said, "I love Barack Obama! He will change the world! I hate George Bush and Tony Blair!" Well, I couldn't disagree with his last assessment, but one of the other women on the bus, when he said Obama would "change the world, " muttered, "We'll see." Again, not an enthusiastic response from the people on the bus (different group, for the most part, too, by the way). But it is clear that the MSM, Plouffe, and Axelrod meme that Obama really is a change agent, in contradiction to his entire political history thus far, and his underhanded way of even getting into politics in the first place (getting everyone thrown off the ballot), has taken root abroad. People believe what they want to believe, facts notwithstanding. It's one thing for people in other countries to buy this stuff - they can't vote here. Quite another that people here bought it. But I digress.

Back to the USA and John Kass:
But last week, he bowed to his base in the hard political left by reversing himself, opening the door for the prosecution of Bush Justice Department officials who helped develop harsh interrogation policies for suspected terrorists.

Some call it torture and legitimately oppose it. Others say harsh interrogation -- such as waterboarding -- was necessary after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But what Obama accomplished by opening the possibility of political witch hunts was to offer up one of his own eyes to his political supporters. He needs both eyes to see a dangerous world.

The week began when Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, appeared on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos to reiterate Obama's pledge not to prosecute.

"He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided," said Emanuel, no fool. "They shouldn't be prosecuted. ... It's time for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy in looking back in any sense of anger and retribution."

Two days later, Obama abruptly changed course to please his anti-war base that demands a few severed political heads.

"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say, that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general," he said. "I think there are a host of very complicated issues involved there."

His critics used phrases such as "chilling effect" on intelligence gathering, but I call it the pucker factor. In all bureaucracies, it rolls down hill.

Of course, Obama caved. Anyone who thought he would do otherwise was sadly mistaken.

As for his releasing of the Torture memos, a number of my fellow writers at No Quarter have taken this on, including none other than Larry Johnson, American Girl In Italy, and SusanUnPC, to name a few. No need for me to get into that with such stellar writers already dealing with it, except to say - once again, Obama did not consider the implications and/or ramifications of doing so, including, as SusanUnPC pointed out, the impact on some of his more sychophantic supporters like Nancy Pelosi. (If you haven't had a chance to read those, and others, I highly recommend that you do.)

Kass continues on the torture theme:
Reporters are kind of like intelligence gatherers. We don't waterboard politicians, but we're under pressure to get good information. So, let me tell you a story.

In 1985, I was a kid in the news business, and our gossip columnist, Mike Sneed -- now at the Sun-Times -- got the story of the year: "Reform" Mayor Harold Washington had been secretly taped pressuring a fellow to get out of the 3rd Ward aldermanic race. It sounded like raw politics. It didn't sound anything like reform. And Washington was enraged.

Jim Squires, then our editor, decided to publish transcripts but tell readers the tapes were leaked by Washington's white ethnic political opponents who wanted to embarrass him. Fair enough.

Then he ordered me and another young reporter to find Sneed's source and walk back the cat. I didn't want to do it, but he was the boss and Sneed understood, and after a few days, he dropped his harebrained scheme.

Yet for a long time afterward, sources worried they might be outed. Reporters were concerned their bosses might investigate their sources. And in the gathering of political intelligence, when sources start puckering up, they're not going to kiss you. You get scooped.

And some editors shriek, "How did you get scooped?!" even when they knew that the boss made a decision that sent spasms through everything. More spasms ensue. The pucker factor multiplies exponentially.

Now THAT is a quote for the ages, isn't it? "The pucker factor multiplies exponentially."

Kass makes his point:
Obama isn't an editor. He's the president of a nation targeted by terrorists and constantly probed for weakness, even by our allies.

His intelligence gatherers -- and others who give them the tools and the go-ahead -- can't spend their time wondering if he has their backs.

His statements surely sent spasms through bureaucracies that are vital to his own success and America's safety. All because he wanted to campaign, rather than lead.

Our president has a fine ear for language and nuance. Yet sometimes he shapes his principles to fit the moment, something anyone who watches Chicago politics understood years ago(Emphasis mine.). The Democratic machine candidates he eagerly endorsed for re-election -- from Boss Daley II to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger to disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- are testament to Obama's flexibility.

But he must stop campaigning someday, and start thinking like a chief executive. And he'll need both eyes to see where he's got to go. (

I could not have said it better myself. Except to say that it isn't just the intelligence gatherers who have to wonder if he has their backs, but ALL Americans. When the President of the United States goes abroad and insults the very people he was elected to serve, it does raise the question if he indeed does. Personally, I never suffered the illusion that he gave a damn about the American people - he seems to care about one person and person only: himself. Still, his position alone as POTUS would certainly IMPLY he has a duty to not trash us in other countries while apparently campaigning for Master of the Universe. Just sayin'.

And, while I know others are writing about this, a president who cares, really cares about the people whom he was elected to serve does NOT, DOES NOT, have a PHOTO OP of a 747 being chased by an F-16 Fighter Jet flying over lower Manhattan and New Jersey. The bubble surrounding this man and his inner circle is mighty thick, and mighty clueless. (If you have not yet heard about this incredibly insensitive, assholic move by the White House, click HERE and HERE for just two articles on this.)

If Obama is truly capable of leading, rather than just campaigning, and having his ego stroked, it is time, PAST time, for him to hop to it. And enough with the press conferences already, too. And the vacations (I've lost count, but it has been at least three in the first One Hundred Days. Feel free to enumerate them if you know of more!). And playing games while real issues are arising (golf, basketball, whatever). That is all to say, President Obama, get to work already.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The More Things Change...

The more they stay the same. Sad to say, but true, no matter what the Obama PR machine says about the whole Hope-y, Change-y Unicorn Magical Mystery Tour, change seems to take a mighty long time. Oh, sure, things started out well while reading the Sunday paper. I was reading the latest critical information on Hugh Jackman in Parade Magazine, and came across this interesting piece:
Despite his obviously close relationship with his wife, whispers have persisted since he played Peter Allen that Jackman himself might be gay. “I’d be happy to go and deny it, because I’m not,” he says. “But by denying it, I’m saying there is something shameful about it, and there isn’t anything shameful. The questions about sexuality I find more here in America than anywhere else, because it’s a big hang-up and defines what people think about themselves and others. It’s not a big issue in Australia.” (Emphasis mine.)

Yeah. No freakin' kidding. Ahem. But then I continued to read the paper, and came across a piece about the Presbyterian Church (USA), Fidelity-Chastity Ordination Standard remains in place in PC(USA). That is to say, they won't ordain gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. That's the bottom line. And I hope you catch WHY that is: Fidelity-Chastity Ordination Standard is the reason why. Because you know, we homosexual types can't possibly be faithful in relationships, and generally speaking, we cannot get married in the United States (only a few states permit it). And then there's that whole chastity thing if single, meaning, not legally married. So, just a bit of a burden on the entire GLBT community. Still, the article goes on to say the issue of ordination for GLBT people is not over, especially since the vote was closer than ever. But it is not to be yet.

That is the sad fact reinforced for Lisa Larges, a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, who has been trying to get ordained for 23 years now. That is not a typo - twenty-three years. Just a month ago came the verdict detailed in this article, Synod court rescinds San Francisco Presbytery vote on open lesbian’s readiness for examination for ordination,Examination, not certification of readiness, is proper time for ‘scrupling’:
The Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Synod of the Pacific has rescinded a January 2008 decision by San Francisco Presbytery that long-time candidate and open lesbian Lisa Larges is “ready for examination [for ordination] with a departure.”

The court ruled on March 25 that the presbytery erred by prematurely considering Larges’ declaration of a “scruple” (conscientious objection) to G-6.0106b ― which requires of church officers “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.”

“The examination for ordination is the proper time for (the) Presbytery to determine whether or not a candidate's departure constitutes a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity,” the court said.

If only the Presbyterian Church was as faithful to Ms. Larges as she has been to them. Can you imagine trying for so long for something you felt called to do by a higher power, something for which you were qualified in every way, except one - who you loved? Oh, and despite your qualifications, you are denied the opportunity to serve because of whom you love by an institution that is built on the very foundation of love, at least according to its founder. Wow. (There is more to the article above. Just click on the link if you want to read it.)

But you know, at least I haven't heard of any Presbyterian ministers being brought to trial for being ordained and homosexual at the same time like the Methodists have. Coincidentally (yeah, right), the two who have been were both women. Oh, don't think this was back in the dark ages or anything. Heck no, it was in 2004. And it wasn't in some rural backwater somewhere. It was in Philadelphia, the city of Fraternal Love (that is the more accurate translation) How ironic is THAT? Anyway, the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud was defrocked for being in a monogamous lesbian relationship. Her congregation did not want this, I might add, and still employs her as a lay person.

And let's not forget the Lutherans. They want to defrock the Rev. Bradley Schmeling, a man they knew was gay because he has now found a life partner. The assumption being that he is having sex while still single (that whole pesky marriage thing again, you know). That's right. He has been brought up on charges because he found someone with whom to share his life:
The Rev. Bradley Schmeling was chosen in 2000 to lead St. John’s, though some worried his sexuality could threaten its standing with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. But last year, the 350-member congregation threw a party for him and his partner, when Schmeling announced he had found a lifelong companion.

Bishop Ronald Warren of the ELCA’s Southeastern Synod, however, asked the 44-year-old pastor to resign. When Schmeling refused, Warren started disciplinary proceedings against him for violating church rules barring sex outside of marriage.

Holy Smokes.

I could go on, but you get the point. Hugh Jackman was putting it mildly when he said we have a "hang up" about homosexuality in this country, and our churches are right in the midst of it all. Not just the right-wing, evangelical, fundamentalist churches either, but mainstream denominations.

While I appreciate the optimism of some in PC(USA), I wish I could share it, but I can't. When you have two major states passing anti-gay measures (Prop 8 in CA, an act strongly supported by Obama's choice to lead his Faith Tour, Doug Kmiec, and Amendment 2 in Florida), and a President who campaigns with Donnie "Jesus Cured Me Of My Homosexuality" McClurkin; who counts as one of his closest friends and confidantes a man who is not just homophobic, but ACTIVELY anti-gay in the person of IL State Senator, James Meeks; and who chooses - HAND PICKS - a man who is actively anti-gay to chair the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine, I just cannot muster the same level of hope for change in these mainstream denominations. Heck, I don't have a lot of hope for our entire nation, not just for the churches (or synagogues, or mosques, etc.). Not in this time, and not with this president. I would love to be proven wrong, though, but I gotta say, I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It Would Be A Shame...

To ruin such a beautiful day, which is what we are having here in the Lowcountry, with a post on something serious. Sure, there are lots of contenders (aren't there always?), but since I'm easing back into writing after my most excellent adventure, I am going to claim a Scarlett O'Hara moment. You know, "tomorrow is another day" kind of thing. I hope you don't mind.

And since so many of you have been kind enough to ask, I now present to you a video compilation of the most adorable puppies in the world (in my humble opinion, of course):

As a reminder, these three charming puppies are still looking for good homes!

If you have anything on your mind you wish to share, like how in the hell the Yankees could have given up the game to the Red Sox on Saturday (my birthday no less), not to mention Friday night (Mariano Rivera seems to cave when he steps into Fenway Park), or if you want to lament the sad, unfortunate deaths of the 21 Argentinian polo ponies as a result of erroneous supplement amount, or have anything else on your mind, feel free to share!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back In The USA

Hey, Everybody -

I have returned from my most fabulous, awesome Mediterranean cruise. I was met by three of the puppies (Lucky, Lani, and Leila), who are BIG now, running up and down the stairs to go outside, running all over the yard, playing, playing, playing. So cute. Hopefully, we'll find homes soon that will work out (a few fell through). In the meantime, romping around and cuddling on them is fine by me!

So, this cruise was amazing - we left from Barcelona, and went to Rome, Athens, Izmir (Ephesus), Alexandria, Cairo, and Malta. Just in case you were wondering, yes, I do have a photo of me on a camel in front of the Pyramids (the wind was blowing like crazy - hence my hair all over my head, as we say down South):

While a cliche, it is absolutely true that this was a trip of a lifetime - the sights we saw, the people we met, the history we learned all combined for an incredible time.

And we did meet some very interesting people on the cruise. I want to tell you about two sets of them, one funny as all get out, and the other definitely more serious. So, the first was a Canadian couple we met while eating in the French restaurant on board ship. They were sitting at a window, and we were at the table next to them. We'd done the nod and smile thing already, when my partner just started cracking up. The man had his dessert plate tilted up with a spoon in his hand, trying to get every last drop of his dessert. He said, "What? Ice cream and booze - what more could you want?" They ended up joining us for our chocolate fondue, and much hilarity ensued.

The second couple was Iranian, living in Canada to escape their current regime. The wife was a lovely, affectionate woman (I thought we Southerners were touchy - not even close - it was so dear the way she would gently grasp my arm while telling me something important). She told us that they had to flee from their homeland after her father-in-law was executed for being a "spy for Israel." She said that was the charge they always used - being a spy for Israel. Her father-in-law had never stepped foot outside of Iran. Ever.

She then brought up the young reporter, Roxana Saberi, the American/Iranian who was sentenced to 8 years in prison for being an American spy, seen here:

Our Iranian friend said that Iranian prisons are absolutely deplorable, disgusting places, ones we could scarcely imagine, and in which life would be very hard on this 34 year old woman. Ahmadinejad has said that she can appeal. Yeah. I'm sure that's going to go in her favor. Ahem.

She is not the only one, though. There has been far less press on this (at least that I have seen), but there is a Californian grad student, Esha Momeni, who is being detained in Iran. She was working on her Master's thesis there and was picked up on a traffic violation (alleged). She also holds both American and Iranian citizenship. And, she, too, is being accused of going against national security. How? She was meeting with women's advocate groups and filming them when her life took this turn. Her communication is being monitored, her video footage and computer confiscated. Wow.

That certainly coincides with what our new friend at dinner volunteered. She said that life for women in general in Iran has gotten much, much worse under the current regime. Before, women were much freer to study, travel, and work, but now, they have gone far, far back. These two recent cases seem to confirm her opinion. The treatment of women combined with what happened to her father-in-law, prompted them to leave the land of their birth. They are waiting, hoping, for a better time so they can return in safety.

That is but a quick glimpse of my adventures abroad. You know I'll be writing more about it as time goes by, but I did want to pop in and say hey, I missed writing, for sure, and your comments. And it's good to be home again.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Leave Them Singing...

This is my last post for a couple of weeks. I thought of writing up this sad story from Baghdad, "Six Gay Men Shot Dead By Tribe Members," but I just couldn't do it. It is a brief article, if you want to read it, and sad, needless to say, especially since the men were murdered after a tribal meeting. Sigh.

But that's not how I want to leave you for two weeks. Rather, I would like to leave you with a smile on your face, and a song in your heart.

First for the smile, this very funny piece by Andy Borowitz (which might put a song in your heart, too): White House Replaces ‘War on Terror' With Symbol, Acquires Cryptic Icon From Funk Rocker Prince

The White House today announced today that it would no longer use the phrase "war on terror" and would instead replace it with a cryptic symbol once used by the funk rocker known as Prince.

The new symbol made its first appearance today at a White House press conference in which spokesman Robert Gibbs answered a question about the war on terror by holding up a picture of the newly acquired icon.

Mr. Gibbs said that the White House had decided to replace the phrase with the symbol after determining that its first-choice euphemism, "overseas contingency operations," was too much of a mouthful.

"In the years that Prince used the symbol, it was totally confusing and no one knew what it meant," he said. "It should work perfectly for us."

To acquire the rights to the symbol, however, the White House had to outbid an unlikely suitor, the insurance giant AIG.

The embattled company, which recently stripped its corporate headquarters of its logo in the hopes of throwing protesters off its scent, had intended to replace it with the mysterious icon coveted by the White House.

It was hoping to rebrand itself as "The Insurance Giant Formerly Known as AIG," a company spokesman said.

AIG Chairman Edward Liddy was philosophical about being outbid by the White House for Prince's symbol: "All of our efforts were a total and abject failure, but on the plus side, that means we're entitled to a bonus."

I realize this would be funnier if it weren't so plausible. Ahem. But it is pretty funny, I think.

And now for a few tunes from some of my favorite singers. First up is Dar Williams. I just love this song:

It was a circuitous route that led us to this Swedish singer, but wow, what a song from Titiyo:

For a real toe-tapper, here is Moanin' Michelle Malone, and "Tighten Up The Springs":

And last, but certainly not least, one of my all-time favorite groups, the Indigo Girls and "One Perfect World":

There are so many more artists I would love to share with you, but this will do for now.

Before I go, thank you all again for coming here, for your comments, for caring (especially about my beautiful puppies, Jordan, and other pets), and for your generosity of time. It is much appreciated.

Stay well and safe. See you in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time For A Break

Well, yesterday was a pretty hard day, personally. One of the vet techs from our vet clinic came to pick up the puppies, which she will be fostering for us while we are out of the country. Three have already been spoken for so far (Lucas, Leo, and Loco), and it looks like they will all have homes before we return*. As I have said, these creatures were unexpected, to say the least, and a fair bit of work, but the joy, the love, the sheer delight they gave is beyond measure. They will be sorely missed around here, I can tell you. As a reminder, here are the beautiful puppies:

And so, since they are on my mind, I wanted to share a couple of videos with you. These were forwarded to me by Cousin EJ, the Education professor, who also sends the funniest jokes and neatest videos.

The first is just an amazing tale:

Watch CBS Videos Online

And for something that is just adorable, check this one out:

Hows cute is THAT?? And how patient is that cat? Wowie zowie! Anyway, I hope the photo and the videos brought a smile to your face, and a pleasant addition to your day.

* As a reminder, I will be out of the country for two weeks starting 4/7. Once I get over my jet-lag, I'll be back at the keyboard!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Obama's Economic Guru"

I'm speaking, of course, of Larry Summers. He is the one to whom Obama turns for his economic advice:
President Obama likes to tease Larry Summers as a "propeller head" and a "numbers guy," shorthand for a policy wonk who relishes the kind of esoteric arguments that everyday people might find boring and incomprehensible. But Summers doesn't seem to mind. In fact, the former Harvard president takes the joking with good cheer, his White House associates say, because he is so pleased to be back in power at a historic time.

With a rumpled appearance and a tendency to ramble to the far corners of any debate, the 54-year-old Summers has emerged as Obama's designated thinker. Despite the occasional ribbing, the president is actually quite deferential to the man he mostly calls "Professor Summers." He relies on Summers for advice on a huge portfolio of issues, including the budget, energy policy, healthcare reform, education, and international trade. "Larry coordinates all of the economic activity," says White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "He's the in-house White House economic adviser. And one of his most important roles is he is the keeper of the president's daily economic briefing, where a number of decisions get made and the president gets updates on what's going on." (Emphasis mine.)

Of course, others of us remember Summers for his tenure as the president of Harvard University. Perhaps this will refresh your memory:
Within months of becoming president, Summers had a confrontation with African-American studies professor Cornel West over his work; West later left for Princeton.

Last year, Summers sparked international outrage by speculating at an economics conference that innate differences between men and women might be one of the reasons women lag behind in science and math careers.

This led to an apology and a no-confidence vote in the faculty of arts and sciences in March of last year. (Click the link above for the rest of the story.)

Uh, yeah. The bottom line was, he was asked to leave his position, but stayed on as a university professor.

Unfortunately, Summers did not leave his position soon enough for Iris Mack.

Who is Iris Mack, you ask? Well, this is Ms. Mack:

But more than that:
A former quantitative analyst at Harvard Management Company, the university's once-vaunted endowment manager, tells the Harvard Crimson she was fired for voicing concern to then-university president Larry Summers' chief of staff about the money manager's risky use of derivatives the traders didn't understand.

The episode dates back to 2002, when analyst Iris Mack, whose website identifies her as the second African American woman to earn a Harvard PhD. in applied math (and someone who likes primary colors) joined the much-venerated Harvard Management Company, which invests the university's then $18 billion endowment, to find what she termed a "frightening" state of affairs.

Oh, dear. Well, that doesn't sound good. Neither does this:
"The group I was working for had no background whatsoever to be working on [derivatives]," Mack says, adding that, to her knowledge, several of her colleagues were not licensed securities traders. "Sometimes the ways they handled even basic Black-Scholes models [widely used to price stock options] were puzzling."

So Mack took inventory of the abuses -- high employee turnover, lax risk management practices and a "low level of productivity in the workplace" were among others, and detailed them in an email to Marne Levine, Summers' chief of staff and a Treasury staffer on the Obama Transition Team. (Summers was the only person to whom Meyers reported, and according to a recent Forbes story he personally ordered the university's biggest derivatives trade, a purchase of interest rate swaps that cost the university billions this year.)

A month after sending her email, Mack was fired after a meeting in which the endowment fund's then-chief furnished her the emails and castigated her for making "baseless accusations." She later sued for wrongful termination and settled out-of-court with the university. But she claims the practices "shocked" her, and -- the punchline is -- she had joined the company from Enron.

You know it's bad when someone who has worked at ENRON is acting as a whistleblower for the Harvard Management Company. I'm just saying - yikes.

But more than that, for her to be FIRED for blowing the whistle is even more telling, about the company, to be sure, but also about Obama's "Economic Guru." There's more:
Which is also to say, lest you dismiss Mack as an opportunistic snitch capitalizing on Summers fateful opposition to regulating the derivatives that wreaked havoc on the financial system, she had a pretty valid reason to believe in the importance of whistleblowing.

"I'm not trying to pretend I'm omniscient or anything, but a lot of people who were quantitative traders, in the back of our minds, we knew a lot of these models were just that: guestimates," Mack says. "I have mixed feelings, on the one hand, I wasn't crazy, I knew what I was talking about. But maybe if more and more people had spoken up, the economy wouldn't be the way it is now."

Mack is doing her part to affect change: she's a vociferous advocate of better math education for minorities and like FDIC chairman Sheila Bair, the writer of a children's book. It's called Mama Says Money Don't Grow On Trees (sequel idea: *...Unless You Are A Monstrously Overleveraged Bank With Access To The Federal Reserve Discount Window!).

Now, I am not even going to pretend I know the depth and breadth of what Ms. Mack is talking about here. After all, the woman has a freakin' PhD in MATH. But I do know about integrity and honor, two important characteristics for someone in her position. And characteristics on which she relied to try and highlight some major issues that had a tremendous impact:
If Mack's allegations are true Harvard certainly paid the price for its recklessness: Summers' swaps sowed the seeds for a financial disaster at HMC:

It doesn't feel good to be borrowing at 6% while holding assets with negative returns. Harvard has oversize positions in emerging market stocks and private equity partnerships, both disaster areas in the past eight months. The one category that has done well since last June is conventional Treasury bonds, and Harvard appears to have owned little of these. As of its last public disclosure on this score, it had a modest 16% allocation to fixed income, consisting of 7% in inflation-indexed bonds, 4% in corporates and the rest in high-yield and foreign debt.

For a long while Harvard's daring investment style was the envy of the endowment world. It made light bets in plain old stocks and bonds and went hell-for-leather into exotic and illiquid holdings: commodities, timberland, hedge funds, emerging market equities and private equity partnerships. The risky strategy paid off with market-beating results as long as the market was going up. But risk brings pain in a market crash. Although the full extent of the damage won't be known until Harvard releases the endowment numbers for June 30, 2009, the university is already working on the assumption that the portfolio will be down 30%, or $11 billion.

Is now when I remind you - again - that Larry Summers is playing a HUGE roll in this Administration's Economic policies?? He is the one who has Obama's ear, the one to whom Obama is "deferential." That's just jake, especially considering:
Mack's boss at HMC, Jack Meyer, parted ways with the university in 2005. His bets were still paying off but his relationship with Summers had reportedly cooled -- among other things, over alumni outcry led by the university's Class of 1969 over the hedge fund-sized bonuses being awarded to employees of a supposed nonprofit. But if there's anything we've learned from the past year, gratuitous compensation and gratuitous risk go hand-in-hand.

"The events of the last year show that the whole procedure of rewarding people so handsomely based on increases on paper value of the endowment was deeply flawed," says a spokesman for the [Class of 1969], which recently sent a letter to the Harvard president suggesting HMC staffers return $21 million of their latest bonuses. "Even now we don't really know how well it has done in the last ten years."

Well, NO KIDDING. I don't think we need PhD's in Mathematics to understand that - people should be rewarded for a job well done, not work that runs the company into the ground. Seems to me, anyway.

I would be remiss to not include this:
Late update: Harvard spokesman John Longbrake called to emphasize that the university had conducted thorough investigations of all allegations about Harvard Management Company and point out the 13.8% annualized returns HMC delivered in the ten years that ended June 2008. In a separate development, we learned that Mack was scheduled to be the subject of a February 23 Newsweek story by Michael Hirsh that had been subsequently shelved. Hirsh declined to comment.

Interesting. I wonder who put the lid on THAT pot...Ahem.

Summers is quite something, isn't he? Gets Cornel West, considered to be one of the foremost philosophers of our time (and I should add, West was one of my former professors) to leave Harvard for Princeton; essentially claimed that women are innately unable to compete on the same level in math and science; and got a whistleblower fired. But of COURSE he is one of Obama's closest economic advisers! He fits right on in with faux outrage over compensation, the big plans to save the economy - heck, even Paul Krugman has something to say about him:
...Larry is a first-rate economist with a job to do, and I wish him luck in it. He understands what I’m saying, of course, but he’s doing his best to support the official line.

That line now goes like this: first, the Geithner put is just “one component of the plan” — although the other components are invisible to the rest of us, now that the stress test seems to have been downgraded to irrelevance. Second, rather than defending the large subsidy the plan creates for anyone who buys troubled assets, administration officials tout the virtues of markets in general, and say, hey, this creates a market, so it must be good.

It’s a bit disappointing to see the Obama administration engaging in this sort of market-worship — hailing markets as a Good Thing in themselves, rather than as an often but not always useful means to an end. But I have reason to think that unlike the Bushies, they don’t really believe it; it’s just politics. Which is actually better than having genuine market fanatics running things, I guess.

I don't know about you, but the majority of Obama's picks seem just a tad questionable. And how is it that Obama thinks he can claim to be supportive of women's issues when he surrounds himself with men like Summers, Favreau, and Kaine? He can't. Actions speak louder than words, and Obama keeps showing us the same thing from the primary on - his support for women is "words, just words."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Okay To Be Gay In The Middle Of The USA!

Wow, now this is some news - and it's a bit surprising, i must say. Check out what the Iowa Supreme Court has gone and done:
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Friday finding that the state's same-sex-marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making Iowa the third state where marriage is legal.

In its decision, the court upheld a 2007 district court judge's ruling that the law violates the state constitution. It strikes the language from Iowa code limiting marriage to only between a man a woman.

"The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa constitution must be declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion," said a summary of the ruling issued by the court.

The ruling set off celebration among the state's gay-marriage proponents.

"Iowa is about justice, and that's what happened here today," said Laura Fefchak, who was hosting a verdict party in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale with her partner of 13 years, Nancy Robinson.

Ms. Robinson added: "To tell the truth, I didn't think I'd see this day."

Des Moines attorney Dennis Johnson, who argued on behalf of the gay and lesbian couples, said "this is a great day for civil rights in Iowa."

I'll say! Good for them - now THAT'S some good ol' middle American values right there - making sure they stay faithful to the Constitution!

And for once, this will stand without argument:
Court rules dictate that the decision will take about 21 days to be considered final, and a request for a rehearing could be filed within that period. That means it will be at least several weeks before gay and lesbian couples can seek marriage licenses.

But Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said the county attorney's office won't ask for a rehearing, meaning the court's decision should take effect after that three-week period.

"Our Supreme Court has decided it, and they make the decision as to what the law is and we follow Supreme Court decisions," Mr. Sarcone said. "This is not a personal thing. We have an obligation to the law to defend the recorder, and that's what we do."

The case has been working its way through Iowa's court system since 2005 when Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, filed a lawsuit on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples who were denied marriage licenses. Some of their children are also listed as plaintiffs.

The suit named then-Polk County recorder and registrar Timothy Brien.

The state Supreme Court's ruling upheld an August 2007 decision by Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson, who found that a state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of equal protection.

The Polk County attorney's office, arguing on behalf of Mr. Brien, claimed that Judge Hanson's ruling violates the separation of powers and said the issue should be left to the Legislature.

Well, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that it is perfectly appropriate for a judge to rule on the side of equal rights, and staying true to its own Constitution...

There is much rejoicing throughout the land, at least from the LGBT community:
Lambda Legal scheduled a news conference for Friday to comment on the ruling. A request for comment from the Polk County attorney's office wasn't immediately returned.

Massachusetts and Connecticut permit same-sex marriage. California, which briefly allowed gay marriage before a voter initiative in November repealed it, allows domestic partnerships.

New Jersey and New Hampshire also offer civil unions, which provide many of the same rights that come with marriage. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and legislators there and in New Jersey are weighing whether to offer marriage. A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Vermont has cleared the Legislature but may be vetoed by the governor.

The ruling in Iowa's same-sex-marriage case came more quickly than many observers had anticipated, with some speculating after oral arguments that it could take a year or more for a decision.

This is good news, good news indeed. It would be, um, NICE, if we had federal rights, with all the same benefits heterosexuals have. But for now, state by state is a beginning, and surely better than nothing. Go, Hawkeyes! I'll take it - I'll take any state that respects its Constitution, and equal rights for all.

We still have a long way to go, though. Suze Orman says it all in the video below, as well as acknowledging the financial impact of NOT having the same rights:

Amen, sister - preach it! It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day to want Equal Rights for all, in every state, with full federal benefits. It's the right thing to do, indeed. Good for Iowa for recognizing that, and the basis on which it made its decision. I hope and pray that other states will follow suit, and soon...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Secretary of State Clinton on Afghanistan and Women - UPDATED

I want to let you know that as of Tuesday, 4/7, I will be on vacation in Europe for two weeks. I do not plan on posting anything during that time. As always, I refer you to my Blogroll, and to No Quarter, my home away from home.

Oh - and don't worry about the puppies - they will be well cared for in our absence, as will the rest of our animals.

This photo was taken in London, when Secretary of State Clinton joined Obama at the G-20.

Secretary Clinton had a meeting at the Hague March 31st on issues related to Afghanistan. The following video is of the follow-up press conference to Secretary Clinton's remarks. The very last question deals with the issue of women in Afghanistan:

Here is the transcript of the last question:
MR. WOOD: Okay, the last question will be from Amina Mayr from the Killid Group.

QUESTION: Okay. Sorry, we don’t not speak English, but (inaudible).

(Via interpreter) What’s the plan for the Afghan women in new strategy for their improvement? Because as we’ve seen the past, there were some – there were just some (inaudible) for the women in Afghan society. Is there new changes in the new strategy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s a continuing commitment to women and girls, to their well-being, to their education, their healthcare, to their full integration into society that I am very committed to, as is President Obama. So this is an area of absolute concern on the part of the United States. We’re looking for ways that can produce even more opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan.

I’ve briefly met with some of the women parliamentarians who are here at the conference. And my message is very clear: Women’s rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama Administration; they are not marginal; they are not an add-on or an afterthought.

I believe, as does President Obama, that the roles and rights of women in any society is a key indicator as to the stability and potential for peace, prosperity, and democracy of that society. So I would be committed to women’s roles and rights because of my lifelong concern about women. But as Secretary of State, I am equally committed because it’s absolutely the smart strategy for the United States and other nations to pursue.

You cannot expect a country to develop if half its population are underfed, undereducated, under cared for, oppressed, and left on the sidelines. And we believe strongly that that’s not in the interests of Afghanistan or any country, and it certainly is not part of our foreign policy or our strategic review. So we will continue to work very hard on behalf of women and girls in Afghanistan and around the world.

Well, I do believe Clinton cares about women and girls - she has demonstrated that passion time and time again. Obama? Not so much. From the sexist, misogynistic behavior he demonstrated throughout the Primaries and the campaign, to his choice of Tim Kaine as DNC chair, he cannot claim to be anywhere NEAR Clinton on this issue.

Maybe when she says "the Obama Administration," she means herself. Heaven knows, she can make that claim.

And from one of those unsung people who serve our country abroad, from the State Department Blog, a video of Beverli DeWalt, who worked with women in Afghanistan:

This is a terribly important issue. Since it has been a while since we began the war in Afghanistan, perhaps we have forgotten how horribly women were treated under the Taliban:

Desperate times under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since the US helped the Taliban take control (and HERE, for starters), it is only fitting that we work to repair the damage done, especially to women and girls.

Thank heavens for Secretary Clinton. I have faith that she will work hard to promote women's and girls' rights in Afghanistan, in conjunction with the current leadership in Afghanistan**. And with our support, I have hope that she will.

** I just received this article from one of my fellow writers at No Quarter, Naif Sag Tan, and it is disturbing in the extreme, especially as it relates to women and girls in Afghanistan. Apparently, Karzai doesn't support women and girls as much as he said he did, if the following article is correct: Silence Meets Despair of Afghan Women

Afghanistan's women are no longer in vogue.

It was only a few years ago that Laura Bush, who normally shied from causes that could be considered controversial, took up their banner. "The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists," the first lady said in a radio address shortly after President Bush launched the U.S-led invasion to overthrow the Taliban following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "The plight of women and children in Afghanistan is a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control."

That was then. This is now: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has just signed a law that forces women to obey their husbands' sexual demands, keeps women from leaving the house -- even for work or school -- without a husband's permission, automatically grants child custody rights to fathers and grandfathers before mothers, and favors men in inheritance disputes and other legal matters. In short, the law again consigns Afghan women to lives of brutal repression.

"This is really, really dangerous for everybody in Afghanistan," Soraya Sobhrang of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said in a telephone interview from Kabul. Noting that violence against women already is rampant, Sobhrang said the new law effectively "legalizes all violence against women in Afghanistan."

The legislation zoomed through Afghanistan's parliament quickly. Karzai, who faces elections in August, signed it in an apparent effort to placate conservative religious factions. The United Nations Development Fund for Women says it is still analyzing a final version of the legislation, but is "seriously concerned" about its impact. It appears to contradict both the Afghan constitution, which guarantees equal rights for men and women, and international conventions on human rights.

The U.S. State Department has had no immediate comment.

Afghanistan's women are, apparently, the latest casualty of the Obama administration's tilt toward realpolitik: ignore human rights violations -- whether they're in China, Russia or in the quiet misery of an Afghan villager's home -- in pursuit of larger foreign policy goals.

This contradiction between political rhetoric and policy reality has often been the American way. But now we have Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. When she was first lady, she championed the rights of women oppressed by the Taliban long before most Americans had ever heard of that radical regime. Clinton took the helm of the State Department vowing to elevate the cause of human and economic rights for women and girls -- a pledge she made again in The Hague this week at the end of a major conference on Afghanistan that was aimed at securing greater international cooperation on the desperate and disparate crises there.

"My message is very clear. Women's rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama administration; they are not marginal, they are not an add-on or an afterthought," Clinton said in response to a general question about the situation confronting women in Afghan society. "You cannot expect a country to develop if half its population (is) underfed, undereducated, under cared for, oppressed, and left on the sidelines."

The secretary was not asked specifically about the new law. Among other provisions, it guarantees that married men can have sex once every four nights and wives must submit. In effect, it legalizes marital rape. Sobhrang worries there may be worse to come. "They are talking about child marriage," she says.

HOLY CRAP!!!! How has this been able to happen, with our tax dollars pouring into Afghanistan, and the "great" relationship we allegedly enjoyed with Karzai? Why are we just now hearing about this?

The article continues:
Without pressure from foreign powers who hold so much sway in Afghanistan, there was little even women in the country's parliament could do. Sobhrang faults those who were quiet in the face of the clear effort by a religious faction that is said to hold the balance of power in Karzai's re-election bid to reimpose medieval mores on a country that is in many ways a ward of the contemporary international community.

The ugly truth in Afghanistan is that it has long been sliding back into the violent chaos that is friendly political ground for the Taliban and other extremist groups. Women have, as usual, been among the chief victims.

There is indeed a lengthy and urgent to-do list for the Obama administration, which says it is determined to abandon a failing course. But that does not mean the United States should again fail Afghanistan's women.

To consign them to what Laura Bush correctly called "deliberate human cruelty" is cruelty itself. (

WHY wasn't there pressure from other countries? HOW did they justify this horrible turn of events?

It would seem, then, that Secretary Clinton has her work cut out for her. So do the women and girls in Afghanistan. And we must stand WITH them to insure they, too, have freedom, rights, and dignity. Anything less is unacceptable.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sharia Law, Anyone?

Or just Obama's pick for the legal adviser to the State Department? Harold Koh, former dean of Yale Law School, seems to think that is A-Okay in the US of A. Oh, how I wish I was kidding. This article, "Koh, No" goes into more detail about Obama's pick. And it ain't pretty. Well, it isn't if you care about US law superseding international law in the US. I reckon that's just kicking it old school, though, and Obama is all about CHANGE!!!

Here are the particulars:
President Obama's nominee to be the State Department's legal adviser has ignited a fury among conservative critics who say his views are a threat to American democracy -- an accusation the White House on Tuesday called "outrageous" and "completely baseless."

Former Clinton administration official Harold Koh, who has been dean of the Yale Law School since 2004, once wrote that the U.S. was part of an "axis of disobedience" with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Koh also has long held that the U.S. should accept international law when deliberating cases at home.

Obama nominated Koh on March 23 to become the State Department's legal adviser -- an appointment that, if confirmed by the Senate, will give Koh far-reaching influence over the extent to which international norms affect U.S. law.

"This is not a desk job. This guy will be the face of American international law around the world," said Steven Gross, legal expert and fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

"The top legal adviser at State travels extensively and is involved in international legal negotiations, treaties and in major United Nations conferences.

"The president should have the right to choose the most conservative or liberal legal advisers to give them advice, but this is much more than that. The concern is that he cares as much about -- if not more about -- international law and integrating that into the American judicial system than he does about protecting American prerogatives and American sovereignty," Gross said.

The White House vehemently defended Koh's nomination on Tuesday, telling that he is "one of the most respected members of the legal community."

Koh "earned wide bipartisan praise as assistant secretary of state and he's universally respected by legal scholars," White House spokesman Reid Cherlin told "The president looks forward to working with him at the State Department. He's a strong believer in the Constitution, and the president nominated him because of his firm defense of the Constitution."

State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid also offered praise for Obama's nominee.

"Dean Koh is universally respected for his legal scholarship and previously served as an assistant secretary of state -- and was praised for his work by Republicans and Democrats alike," Duguid said. "President Obama and Secretary Clinton strongly believe he's the right person for the job."

Know what I find interesting? That Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not quoted here. I mean, it just seems to me that if Koh is going to be the Legal Adviser to the State Department, maybe someone should have asked her what she thought. Ahem.

There is more:
Koh, like Obama, is a strong opponent of the Iraq war and the use of harsh interrogation techniques that some consider torture. He has fiercely criticized former President George W. Bush for invading Iraq in 2003 and has accused the Bush administration of trying to "block public release of more Abu Ghraib type pictures."

"We should resist the claim that a War on Terror permits the commander in chief's power to be expanded into a wanton power to act as torturer in chief," Koh wrote in an article published in May 2006 in the Indiana Law Journal.

Koh also advocates a "transnational legal process" and has criticized the U.S. for its failure to "obey global norms."

In an article published in the Berkeley Journal of International Law in 2004, Koh wrote, "What role can transnational legal process play in affecting the behavior of several nations whose disobedience with international law has attracted global attention after September 11th -- most prominently, North Korea, Iraq and our own country, the United States of America? For shorthand purposes, I will call these countries 'the axis of disobedience.'"

And in a Stanford Law Review article published in May 2003, Koh wrote that supporters of the International Criminal Court should bring pressure to bear on U.S. opinion "with an eye toward persuading U.S. officials that the ICC actually serves U.S. interests."

I believe the US does have to work well with the international community, and that international law is important. But what REALLY concerns me is this:
A March 21, 2007, blog posting on National Review's Web site shows a letter written by New York attorney Steven J. Stein to Koh, challenging Koh for supposedly saying during a speech to the Yale Club of Greenwich that year that Islamic law could apply to disputes in U.S. courts.

"In your discussion of 'global law' I recall at least one favorable reference to 'Sharia,' among other foreign laws that could, in an appropriate instance (according to you) govern a controversy in a federal or state court in the U.S.," Stein wrote in his letter addressed to Koh.

Cherlin said Stein's version of events is "not accurate," and that the host of the event in question disputed the account. Stein could not be reached for comment.

Koh's critics insist his legal views undermine the U.S. Constitution and American sovereignty.

And that's just it. Sharia law can be imposed here in the US?? SERIOUSLY?? Holy freakin' cow. Every woman in this country should be shaking in her boots at that thought. I am not kidding you. Following this article is a video interview of an Arab woman describing in more detail just what Sharia law is. I can sum it up here: it is scary shit.

And then there is this concern, also no small matter:
John Fonte, senior fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute, told that Koh's views have "a very big practical effect on American foreign policy and on American democracy.

"This is international imperialism. Under Koh's plan, the Constitution would become secondary and international law would take precedence regardless of what Americans said about the matter."

See, I have just a wee problem with subsuming our Constitution. I realize that Obama has been hell-bent on that from the get-go when he refused to provide his actual birth certificate, or ANY documentation about his background, not to mention when he engaged in bullying, intimidation, and fraud to get his way. Oh - and firing the CEO of a privately held company has to be a problem. Then there is his connection with ACORN and its receipt of US Taxpayer dollars to engage in partisan politics as well as voter fraud (if you didn't see the Lou Dobbs video I posted recently on this, here is the LINK). So, yeah - I realize he does not seem to hold it in high regard, his minions claims of him being a Constitutional Scholar notwithstanding (just because someone CLAIMS to be an expert doesn't mean they ARE an expert, after all).

And for the other side:
Supporters tout Koh as a leading expert on public and private international law, national security law and human rights.

He served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor from 1998 to 2001, and previously had served on the secretary of state's Advisory Committee on Public International Law. He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and testified before Congress dozens of times, and he's received more than 30 awards for his human rights work, according to Yale's Web site.

Cherlin described Koh as "an American success story." (His brother, Howard Koh, was tapped by the president two days later for a position in the Health and Human Services Department.)

"He's the son of immigrants. He's a dedicated teacher and professor, and does great work. We don't have any question whatsoever about any of these issues raised by critics who are sworn opponents of the administration," said Cherlin, who said the conservative critics' opposition was "ideologically driven."

So, because he is the son of immigrants, we should just throw the Constitution and our laws aside? Because he's such a nice guy, it's okay that he doesn't mind Sharia Law imposed here? I'm sorry, but that's just a smokescreen to attack his critics with a broad brush without dealing with the issues raised, and they are serious issues, indeed.

As promised, here is the video mentioned above:

While Harold Koh may be a great teacher and all that, it does not make up for his willingness to supersede US law in a State Department position. Once again, Obama is pushing a candidate who is not the best choice, not for the country, or for the Constitution. And most definitely, not for women.