Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Frank Ricci Speaks Out

Fellow NQ writer, LisaB, has covered the issue of the SCOTUS and the New Haven Firefighters, but this video contained information I had not previously heard:

So, there WERE African Americans and Hispanics who passed the exam, too, something previously unreported. As Mr. Ricci said, the press did NOT do its job, accepting as fact the city of New Haven's talking points. Wow - what a HUGE surprise - the press not engaging in fact checking. Again! Shocking. Ahem.

I thought this was an interesting interview. Congratulations to all of the firefighters who worked so hard to pass their tests (Ricci was not the only one who sacrificed studying for the exam - it sounds like EVERYONE sacrifices for these extra classes and tests). Here's hoping you all get the positions, and back pay, you worked so hard to achieve.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Anniversary Celebration

I had planned on doing something completely different today - something snarky about John Edwards and Mark Sanford (maybe a video of "Your Cheatin' Heart" or something), but then I saw this article:
"Gays, Lesbians Rally Over Bar Raid in Fort Worth"

About 18 hours after officers with the Fort Worth Police Department and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission raided a Fort Worth gay bar, about 150 to 200 people gathered on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth Sunday night, June 28, to protest the raid.

Sources have said that seven people were arrested in the raid although witnesses at the scene said many more people were handcuffed with zip ties and taken out of the bar.

One man, identified by his sister as Chad Gibson, was in the intensive care unit at Fort Worth’s JPS Hospital with bleeding in his brain after officers threw him to the ground and used zip-ties to handcuff him.

The raid happened on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion.

Well, that is some way to mark this inauspicious occasion, isn't it?? To basically reenact it?? What in the world prompted this, is my question, and others, as well:
Joel Burns, Fort Worth’s first and only openly gay City Council member, was in Houston for the weekend, but came back to Fort Worth in time for the rally at the courthouse.

“We want all citizens of Texas and Fort Worth to know and be assured that the laws of ordinances of our great state and city will be applied fairly, equally and without malice or selective enforcement,” Burns said at the rally, reading from a prepared statement.

“We consider this to be part of ‘The Fort Worth Way’ here. As elected representatives of the city of Fort Worth, we are calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of the actions of the city of Fort Worth police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in relation to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge earlier this morning,” Burns said.

In an e-mail communication before noon on Sunday, Burns said he had already talked with Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead who had promised an investigation into the matter. Burns also said at that time that Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks, who represents the district where the Rainbow Lounge is located, and City Manager Dale A. Fisseler were also already aware of the situation.

Noting that the rainbow Lounge raid came on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Burns said at the rally, “Unlike 40 years ago, though, the people of this community have elective representation that will make sure our government is accountable and that the rights of all its citizens are protected.”

Well, yeah, maybe so, but AFTER the fact. How about the citizens being protected in the FIRST place instead of being beaten and handcuffed? Just asking. But Representative Burns is dealing on that:
Burns said he is working with Mayor Mike Moncrief, Halstead, the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission and “our state legislative colleagues” to get “a complete and accurate accounting of what occurred.”

Burns added, “Rest assured that neither the people of Fort Worth, nor the city government of Fort Worth, will tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens. And known that the GLBT community is an integral part of the economic and cultural life of Fort Worth.

“Every Fort Worth citizen deserves to have questions around this incident answered and we are all working aggressively toward that end,” Burns said.

Lisa Thomas, Burns’ appointee to the city’s Human Relations Commission, also spoke at the rally, as did Todd Camp and Chuck Potter, two men who were at the bar when the raid happened and who were the primary organizers of Sunday’s two rallies.

Camp, referring to eyewitness accounts of the raid and to photographs that Potter took as the raid was occurring, said at the rally that “evidence demonstrates that the Fort Worth Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commissioner over-reacted and used excessive, perhaps brutal force … .”

“The circumstances of the police action strongly suggest that elements of the law enforcement community selectively targeted a recently opened gay and lesbian establishment for selective enforcement and harassment.”

Ya think?? Evidently!! Even their statement is a bit fishy, if you ask me:
Fort Worth police have not returned calls seeking comment placed by Dallas Voice beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday morning. However, Fort Worth police released a statement to several mainstream media outlets saying that Rainbow Lounge was one of three bars targted by six Fort Worth police officers and two TABC agents and a supervisor.

The statement said that nine people were arrested at the first two bars — the Rosedale Saloon and Cowboy Palace, both on Rosedale Avenue — and that another seven people were arrested at Rainbow Lounge.

The statement also said that “an extremely intoxicated patron made sexually explicit movements toward the police supervisor” and that person was arrested for public intoxication.

A second “intoxicated individual” was arrested for public intoxication after making “sexually explicit movements towards another officer,” and a third person assaulted a TABC agent by grabbing his groin. That man was escorted outside and arrested for public intoxication, but was released to paramedics because of his “extreme intoxication” and the fact that he was vomiting repeatedly.

The statement said that while some officers were outside dealing with the vomiting suspect, another officer inside requested assistance in handling an intoxicated patron who was resisting arrest, and that this person was “placed on the ground to control and apprehend him.”

This person was apparently Chad Gibson, who was knocked unconscious and is now hospitalized with a brain injury.

Eyewitnesses to that incident said Gibson, who is “maybe 160 pounds soaking wet,” did not resist arrest but that he did stumble after the first officer grabbed his arm.

Rainbow Lounge owner J.R. Schrock said claims that patrons made sexual advances to the officers and that one patron groped an officer were lies.

“The groping of the police officer — really? We’re gay, but we’re not dumb,” Schrock said to the crowd that gathered at the bar Sunday afternoon. “That is a lie, and I am appalled by it.

“They treat us like outcasts. But even outcasts have a time to shine, and this is it,” Schrock said, pledging that he would not be “scared away” or intimidated into closing his bar. (E-mail nash@dallasvoice.com)

Okay, is it REALLY a surprise that people might be intoxicated AT A BAR??? I mean, I'm no rocket scientist, but that just doesn't seem so far out of the realm of possibilities.

I reckon it's a pretty easy defense for the excessive use of force the police used to say these guys "groped" them. Too many people would automatically accept that as more than enough reason to handcuff them, or throw them to the ground and cause a brain injury. An appeal to homophobia to justify one's actions still works in this country. Sad to say, but true. Just look at the recent statement by Obama's Justice Department on DOMA.

But I gotta say, the whole thing seems a bit suspect, so personally, I'm not buying what they're selling. I am glad the GLBT community has a representative on their side in the Fort Worth area, but I have to say, it sure will be nice when the day comes that these kinds of things no longer happen at ALL. In the meantime, I am glad Mr. Shrock is keeping his bar open. More power to him. I hope this is the last of the police he will see in his bar, unless he calls them himself.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sexist Pig Kerry Is NOT Funny

Some of you may have heard that Senator John Kerry tried to make a joke about Governor Palin recently in light of Gov. Sanford's, um, "adventure". Like his previous comedic attempts, it was NOT funny. Seriously - he should leave comedy to the professionals (and Letterman doesn't count). Anyway, The Sleuth from The Washington Post has the "joke" in this piece, Sen. Kerry Clarifies Joke About Palin:
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) would like to amend that little joke he made earlier this week about Sarah Palin when he said he wished it had been the Alaska governor who had gone missing instead of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

"Too bad, if a governor had to go missing, it couldn't have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin," Kerry told a group of civic and business leaders on Tuesday, according to the Boston Herald. That, of course, was before he and the rest of us learned Sanford had lost himself in Argentina with his secret mistress.

Conservative women rushed to Palin's defense after the Kerry joke. Ethel Fenig at American Thinker wrote, "Tee hee! Letterman, Kerry -- all afraid of strong, independent women! Kerry should find a job with David Letterman -- who would miss him?"

Heaven knows, they DO have a point - who even knew he was speaking to a group? Ahem.

But then, the Kerry people decided to comment further on the "joke":
Kerry's spokeswoman now tells The Sleuth the senator really didn't mean what he said, though his clarification would hardly qualify as an apology.

"We stand corrected, the truth is every Democrat hopes Governor Palin is in the public eye for a long, long time, especially on the 2012 presidential ballot," Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth says. "Lately it's been Vice President Cheney that everyone hopes would lose the cameras and go for a long leisurely hike on the Appalachian Trail. And good grief, if anyone thinks John Kerry is afraid of strong, smart women, they sure haven't met his brilliant wife and two independent daughters. It sounds like getting crushed these last two election cycles cost some of these Republicans their sense of humor."

We'll see how funny Palin finds this.

I see. So, apparently, they are planning to recycle all of the vicious rumors they trotted out this past time around, like how Sarah Palin banned a whole bunch of books while Mayor of Wasilla - which was quite prescient of her since some of them hadn't even been WRITTEN yet. Or how about this one - and this was a GOOD one - it got all the anti-feminist feminists (you know the ones - the only liberated women can be liberals) in a tizzy: that she tried to charge rape victims the cost of the rape kits. According to Palin Rumors: Explorations, that us untrue:
No, she didn’t try to charge rape victims personally for rape kits. This is one of those complicated ones with a tiny hint of truth behind it. First, the Chief of Police in Wasilla (not Palin) did apparently have a policy of asking a victim’s health insurance to pay for the rape kit as part of the ER visit. This, it turns out, is policy in a number of states, including Missouri and North Carolina. Second, the way this became an issue was after the then-governor of Alaska signed a bill forbidding it; this law was signed before Palin was Governor and no one tried to reverse it while she was Governor. Third, what the CoP in Wasilla wanted to do was charge the perpetrator as part of restitution.

Or this one, that Palin believes dinosaurs walked the earth with Adam and Eve:
No, Sarah Palin doesn’t think that dinosaurs walked the earth with Adam and Eve 4000 years ago, In fact, this was a purposeful satire that comes from a post actually entitled Fake Governor Palin Quotes. This has, however, kept neither Matt Damon nor Maureen Dowd from propagating them as fact.

There are EIGHTY-FOUR such rumors about Sarah Palin at the Palin Rumors site, some true, but many false. Yet it seems to be the FALSE ones that get all the press, even when the press knows they are a bunch of hooey. Because that's just how they roll these days.

And that is what makes me think that, hell yes, Sen. John Kerry is afraid of her, whether he has strong women around him or not. Because if he wasn't, why start on her now? Yeah. He's scared. And he's also galvinizing people FOR her with such stupid comments. That just serves him right, if you ask me.

By the way, speaking of REAL comedians, if you ever get a chance to see Kathleen Madigcan's special, "In Other Words," she has a bit on John Kerry that is freakin' hilarious (she, like many of us who voted for him, was a bit put out by the way he conducted himself while running against Bush. Speaking for myself, his blatant lie of counting every vote was a biggie - made me regret the money I sent him, and the vote I gave him since he couldn't uphold even THAT promise. Sheesh.). Anyway, it is hysterical. She really captures his essence.

Oh, and Senator Kerry? Leave the jokes to the professionals, would ya??

(If you saw this come up previously, I apologize - in no way was I trying to pass of The Sleuth's work as my own. I thought I hit the "Save" button only to discover this morning I must have hit the "Publish Post" button. My apologies to The Sleuth if there was any confusion. It was an error of sheer exhaustion...)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The First Lady of SC Speaks Out

Wowie zowie - Jenny Sullivan Sanford is no wallflower, in case anyone somehow got that impression. No, far from it - she is a strong, independently wealthy, educated, formed Wall Street Executive who ran her husband's campaigns. She is one tough cookie, as is demonstrated in this article from Saturday's Post and Courier, "First Lady Told Him To End It." Holy smokes.

I realize that title pretty much says it all, but here are some of the details to fill it in (from the AP article linked above):
South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford sat in her oceanfront living room Friday, recalling how her husband repeatedly asked permission to visit his lover in the months after she discovered his affair.

"I said absolutely not. It's one thing to forgive adultery; it's another thing to condone it," Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press during a 20-minute interview at the coastal home where she sought refuge with their four sons. They were her first extended comments on the affair.

She said that when her husband, Gov. Mark Sanford, inexplicably disappeared last week, she hoped he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, as his staff told those who inquired about his absence. That he had dared to go to Argentina to see the other woman left her stunned.

"He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," she said in a strong, steady voice. "I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul-searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina. It's tragic."

The Sanfords had separated about two weeks ago. The first lady said her husband told the family that he wanted some time away to work on writing a book and clear his head. "I had every hope he was not going to see her," she said.

"You would think that a father who didn't have contact with his children, if he wanted those children, he would toe the line a little bit," she said.

The governor, who is staying at the official residence in Columbia, returned Wednesday to end days of speculation on his whereabouts, publicly confess his cheating and emotionally apologize.

Jenny Sanford, a Georgetown-educated, former Wall Street vice president, was not with her husband Wednesday during his pained public confession.

I have to say, it was mighty surprising to read that even SHE thought he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. See, now, given what's coming next, I can say I would have had a hard time believing that one:
Sanford said she discovered her husband's affair early this year after coming across a copy of a letter to the mistress in one of his files in the governor's mansion. He had asked her to find some financial information, she said, not an unusual request considering her heavy involvement in his career.

She would not comment on what was in the letter, except to say "enough to figure out an affair was going on."

She felt "shocked and obviously deeply hurt. I didn't think he had it in him," she said. "It's hard to find out your husband is not who you thought he was."

The first lady said she confronted her husband immediately, and he agreed to end the affair. She said she wasn't sure Friday whether he had done so.

"I guess that's what we will have to see. I believe he has," she said. "But he was down there for five days. I saw him yesterday and he is not staying here. We'll just see what kind of spirit of reconciliation he has himself."

The governor declined to discuss details of the letter and how he handled it with his wife.

Gee, really?? Can't imagine why he would decline discussing the salacious details of his love letters to his paramour. Ahem:
"This goes into the personal zone," Sanford said Friday. "I'd simply say that Jenny has been absolutely magnanimous and gracious as a wonderful Christian woman in this process."

Jenny Sanford cried at the end of the interview, and said the couple have been to counseling.

"When I found out in January, we both indicated a willingness to continue working on the marriage, but there's not room for three people in a marriage," she said. "I've done everything in my power possibly to keep him from going to see her and to really make sure she was off the table, including asking him to leave."

Told you this woman was no pushover, no wallflower, she. It is astonishing that the governor kept asking her to allow him to see his lover, isn't it?? He's damn lucky, it seems, that she didn't throw him out on his keister long before this. Especially when he says crap like this:
About an hour after Jenny Sanford talked of her pain and feelings of betrayal, her husband brushed aside any suggestion he might immediately resign, citing the Bible and the story of David, who continued to lead after sleeping with another man's wife, Bathsheba, having the husband slain, then marrying the widow.

"What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily — fell in very, very significant ways, but then picked up the pieces and built from there," Sanford told members of his Cabinet in a session called so he could apologize to them in person and tell them the business of government must continue.

And he said all of that with a straight face?? REALLY??? That takes some kind of disconnected, De Nile, kind of hubris, doesn't it? Seems like there are others, beside his wife, who aren't buying that kind of hooey:
Some Republican leaders have called for Sanford to resign, and some lawmakers and watchdog groups are pressing for investigations into whether he improperly used state money.

Uh, yeah - those of us who pay taxes in SC would like to know that, too. Thanks for asking.

While the First Lady may care about that, too, it is not her overriding concern:
For Jenny Sanford, the focus is the couple's four sons. During her interview, she wept as she displayed the stellar report cards earned by her eldest two sons at their private school in Columbia.

On the coffee table was a collection of devotional books, including a book of commentary on the Bible's Book of Job, the story of a man whose faith God tests to the extreme.

"Parenting is the most important job there is, and what Mark has done has added a serious weight to that job," she said.

I think most people would agree with that, even if we are uncomfortable with this level, or type, of religiosity. But hey - that's this woman's faith perspective, and apparently the place from which she draws strength. Whatever sustains her during this difficult time.

There was another article about First Lady Sanford in Friday's paper, "Tough, Astute Jenny Sanford Let Her Man Stand By Himself." It makes an interesting point right off the bat:
To those accustomed to watching betrayed first ladies smile stiffly through their husbands' public confessions, the absence of Gov. Mark Sanford's wife at the soul-baring news conference where he admitted to an affair with a woman in Argentina was striking.

Instead, she issued a tough-minded statement saying she had thrown her cheating husband out and told him to stop speaking to her while she tries to deal with his infidelity.

That came as no surprise to those who know this independently wealthy, Georgetown-educated former Wall Street executive. Around the state, Jenny Sanford is regarded as a strong-minded figure, accomplished and politically astute.

Jenny Sanford doesn't have it in her to play the "namby-pamby Tammy Wynette," said Donald Aiesi, a political scientist at Furman University in Greenville, the governor's alma mater.

"She has very strong faith, very strong family values," said Marjory Wentworth, a family friend who was appointed South Carolina's poet laureate by the governor in 2003. "There's no gray area about the things that matter to her."

Many of Jenny Sanford's counterparts have stood beside or behind their spouses for similar moments of scandal: When New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey outed himself as gay. When former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer acknowledged he was the client of a call-girl ring. When Idaho Sen. Larry Craig denied trying to elicit sex in an airport men's room.

Some of these political wives were bitterly criticized for subjecting themselves to such humiliation, as was Hillary Rodham Clinton, who stood by her husband, figuratively, if not literally, during some of the most fraught moments of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

You know, I wonder how these women would have conducted themselves had they not been BLINDSIDED by their husbands' infidelities, had they not been in shock at the time of these "confessions"? If they had had five or six months to hash this out with their husbands the way First Lady Sanford did, they may have chosen differently, too. I don't know that much about many of the women listed above, but Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards were also successful women in their own right. They may have chosen to be absent from those press conferences, too. Instead:
Kendra Stewart, a political science professor at the College of Charleston, said Jenny Sanford was wise not to appear at her husband's side.

"The women receive a lot of criticism and even mocking on 'Saturday Night Live' skits, criticism from woman's groups and other folks," she said. "People doing a lot of speculation about their expressions, what they were thinking. And by not being present, she removes all of that speculation."

As for whether Jenny Sanford's absence hurt her husband, Stewart said: "I'm not really sure any more damage could be done."

In fact, the political scientist suggested that the 49-year-old governor might have helped himself somewhat by taking his lumps by himself, and not making his wife stand there the way other politicians in peril have done.

"In a way, I think the husbands took even more flak for their actions," Stewart said, "because everyone had to watch their wives humiliated while they apologized."

Uh, yeah - no kidding. Because they hadn't already been humiliated enough, of course. But the matter was different with the First Lady:
During the painfully frank news conference, the governor said the first lady had known about the affair for five months. In her own statement, Jenny Sanford said: "We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage."

Unlike other political wives, "she is laying down conditions at the outset and being very specific and emphatic that he's got to toe the line," Aiesi said. "The other wives sort of stood there like submissive somehow. She didn't take that approach. She said, 'I love him. I want him back. But it depends on him.' She's holding the cards."

On Thursday, Jenny Sanford spent part of the day with her husband at their coastal home. Later, she left with some children in her car for what she said was dinner and a boat ride. Asked if she would be staying with her husband, she said: "It's a goal."

"I'm going to do my best to work on my marriage," she said. As for her husband's political future: "His career is not a concern of mine. He'll have to worry about that. I'm going to worry about my family and the character of my children."

Yes, that does seem to be the prevailing them for her - her children. But she, like many partners who have been cheated upon, still loves her husband. I'm guessing he's going to be doing a whole LOT of work to keep her, though. As mentioned above, the First Lady pretty much has it going on all by her own self:
Born Jennifer Sullivan, the first lady grew up near Chicago. Her grandfather founded the Skil Corp., a power tool manufacturer. She graduated from Georgetown University in 1984 with a degree in finance, then worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co., where she was a vice president in mergers and acquisitions. Mark Sanford was also working on Wall Street.

The couple have four school-age sons.

This will continue to be an unfolding saga, no doubt. And it is hard to deny the pain this woman, and her children are going through. But as many have pointed out, while all of this "Peyton Place" drama has been playing out all over the nation, there have been a whole bunch of things going on in Washington. Add in the deaths of three major cultural icons, and I would check my bank account balance were I you (you know, because the Prez and Congress have been left on their own in DC to do as they wish).

No doubt, some of my esteemed fellow writers will be dealing with just some of those goings-on, so for now, I can say that the First Lady may be a woman scorned, but she sure isn't taking it lying down. Too bad these other women didn't have the "luxury" of knowing about THEIR husbands affairs beforehand, too - maybe SNL wouldn't have heaped more insult to the injury. Yeah, right.

(Photo above by National 9/11 Memorial)

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Bit Of A Departure

From talking about the governor of SC - i just don't know that I would have anything new to add to that whole discussion at this juncture...That might change, but not for the moment...

But it's a departure mainly from the political realm to the personal (oh wait - the personal IS the political, isn't it? Ahem.). I am heading back up to my hometown to see my mom, and to take her dog to visit her in the nursing care center (yes, they allow that - how cool, huh?). Here's Mom's dog, Dorothy:

Isn't she adorable?? She's even cuter in person.

And while I am speaking of dogs, on Tuesday, Sweetie had a surgical biopsy performed under anesthesia as the fine needle aspiration was inconclusive. Well, it showed spindle cell carcinoma, but wasn't conclusive enough to provide adequate information. Hence, the surgical biopsy). Thursday, the vet said she had anaplastic carcinoma, a VERY aggressive cancer, but still, not enough information on which to go for a treatment plan, so they are doing a culture of the biopsy. Sweetie has to have a chest x-ray on Tues. to see if the cancer has metastasized to her lungs, which will further inform any potential treatment.

Meanwhile, Sweetie is definitely still in post-op pain, and we are having to use a harness with her to help her get up and down the stairs (to go outside - here in the Lowcountry, most of us have to build up), as well as while walking out in the yard. Should she trip, it could result in a pathological fracture, so we are working hard to make sure that doesn't happen.

And the wait continues.

Here's Sweetie modeling the new look courtesy of the vet:

And finally, I received this video from a friend recently, and thought it was fantastic, a nice respite from the news about Sweetie. Especially since some of the same lyrics are in this song, as are in one of Michael Jackson's very earliest hits (when he was a child), this seems appropriate for the moment. Oh, I might add, speaking of Michael Jackson, I cut a rug a number of times to his music, especially while in seminary when I could still kinda, sorta dance (I've had these bad knees a lot of years).

Anyway - get ready to smile big at the following. They only rehearsed this twice:

Nice, right?

So, what's on YOUR mind today?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"As The Stomach Turns"

Well, as you have probably seen by now, Governor Sanford has admitted before everyone that he was unfaithful to his wife. In fact, that is the big, huge headline across the front of The Post and Courier: "I've Been Unfaithful." Oh, yeah.

And it has gotten worse with The State printing a whole bunch of emails sent between Sanford and his paramour. Emails that they have had in their possession for FIVE MONTHS. That's kind of curious, isn't it? They claim they were trying to "authenticate" them. Amazingly, they seemed to have done that in just a few days. Huh - that's not the least bit coincidental, is it? Ahem.

Here is a good overview of the whole situation, including some of those emails:

Wow. It is astonishing how people can just implode, destroying their families, their careers, and their integrity, all in one fell swoop. Shocking.

And one of those people most affected is his wife, Jenny Sanford. The video above briefly alluded to her statement about the situation in the video above. I think given what she has gone through over the past 5 months, she deserves the space to have her version told in her own voice, "I Believe Mark Has Earned A Chance To Resurrect Our Marriage," and here it is: South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford issued the following statement Wednesday:
I would like to start by saying I love my husband and I believe I have put forth every effort possible to be the best wife I can be during our almost twenty years of marriage. As well, for the last fifteen years my husband has been fully engaged in public service to the citizens and taxpayers of this state and I have faithfully supported him in those efforts to the best of my ability. I have been and remain proud of his accomplishments and his service to this state.

I personally believe that the greatest legacy I will leave behind in this world is not the job I held on Wall Street, or the campaigns I managed for Mark, or the work I have done as First Lady or even the philanthropic activities in which I have been routinely engaged. Instead, the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recent actions of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.

I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage. I believe that has been consistently reflected in my actions. When I found out about my husbands infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.

This trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage. During this short separation it was agreed that Mark would not contact us. I kept this separation quiet out of respect of his public office and reputation, and in hopes of keeping our children from just this type of public exposure. Because of this separation, I did not know where he was in the past week.

I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage.

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.

This is a very painful time for us and I would humbly request now that members of the media respect the privacy of my boys and me as we struggle together to continue on with our lives and as I seek the wisdom of Solomon, the strength and patience of Job and the grace of God in helping to heal my family.

The pain the First Lady is in just pours off the page. How sad, for her, and for her family, especially to have their personal issues played out across the screen and page all across the nation. Unfortunately, Jenny Sanford has joined an exclusive club, one which includes members Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards. Her personal pain has been writ large. She, like the others, is handling it with grace. She, like the others, was successful in her own right, and helped her husand to be successful, as well And like the others, it seems she is willing to give her husband another chance, which is her CHOICE. As much as it might upset some of us that people stay with partners who cheat, the reality is that the women mentioned above are FAR from alone.

Bottom line, this is a sad situation insofar as this one man's selfish actions have had a rippling affect far greater than the man himself, who is only a man after all (meaning he is just a human being), for himself, his family, his position, and his party. People are people, and sometimes, okay, a lot of times, that means they do stupid, short-sighted things, and think with a different part of their anatomy than their brains. Most, though, don't have it played out on a national stage, nor do their wronged partners. THAT is the hard part, especially for those most closely affected: Jenny Sanford and her sons.

Bless your heart, First Lady Sanford, you didn't deserve this public humiliation you are having to endure, nor do your children. Whatever your choice ends up being about your marriage, you have every right to make it, even if it is to "stand by your man." Every relationship is different, and no one knows what the day-to-day nitty gritty aspects of that relationship are. So, no matter HOW it looks to us on the inside, WE are not the ones living it - you are. I hope you can discern what is truly best for you and your family without the clamoring voices influencing you too much. It is YOUR life, and your children's lives. Do what's best for y'all, and don't let all of the nosey Nellies influence you. All the best to you as you and your family work this out, whatever the end results of that work may be...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where In The World Is Marko? **UPDATED**

As in Governor Mark Sanford, our illustrious leader down here in South Carolina. You may have heard by now that Governor Sanford was, um, unavailable for a few days. Out of the clear blue sky, no one knew where the heck he was. Was he at his family's summer home on Sullivan's Island, keeping a low profile, celebrating Father's Day with his children??? No....Was he hiking the Appalachian Trail like his staff said he was? Uh, that would be a negatory. Nope, it turns out that Governor Sanford took himself off to SOUTH AMERICA without so much as a "by your leave."

No one knew where he was. No one. Not his wife. Not his security detail. Not the lieutenant governor, no one. To say it's raised more than a few eyebrows in these here parts is just a bit of an understatement.

To give you a bit of a backstory, Governor Sanford has had a few defeats here recently. There was the whole not wanting any federal stimulus money - the Legislature said, "yes we do." And he had a big string of defeats when the Legislature overturned every single one of his vetos, ten in number. So, according to the story in the Post and Courier (linked above):
He told his staff he might go hiking.

"But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic ... It's a great city," he said during an interview at the Hartsville-Jackson International Airport.

Sanford said he was alone on the trip and declined to give any additional details other than to say he drove along the coastline.

He told the reporter he didn’t know why his staff told reporters he was on the Appalachian Trail.

Uh, yeah- because Buenos Aires is hardly the Appalachian Trail...

All manner of folks are weighing in on this, including our former (Dem) governor, Jim Hodges. Republicans and Democrats alike think it was irresponsible for him to call off his security detail, and provide NO means of communicating with him, especially as Gov Hodges said:
"You never know when a crisis is going to strike the state or the country; you can't afford to be out of touch when that happens."

He makes a good point, especially given Gov. Sanford had, as I said, no security detail at all. Even Republicans are upset with him, with one of our representatives, the House Speaker, Bobby Harrell, weighing in:
"If a governor is going to go off by himself where he cannot be reached and without his security, then he should have to transfer that authority during that period of time," Harrell said. "But the real answer is a governor shouldn't do those things."

Yeah, probably not. But here's the thing: apparently, Governor Sanford did not violate the State Constitution. According to the article:
Nothing in the state constitution requires the governor to announce his travel plans, or even to declare when he is out of state.

In fact, beyond the line of succession, the constitution is vague on many of the movements surrounding the governor, though it does allow for the lieutenant governor to take over in the governor's absence during an emergency.

Article 4, Section 11 covers only the "removal of the Governor from office by impeachment, death, resignation, disqualification, disability, or removal from the State, (that) the Lieutenant Governor shall be Governor."

It reads that "In the case of the temporary disability of the Governor and in the event of the temporary absence of the Governor from the State, the Lieutenant Governor shall have full authority to act in an emergency."

Temporary absence and temporary disability are not defined further.

An attorney general's opinion from the 1970s concluded that the lieutenant governor possesses authority to extradite prisoners in the governor's absence. The lieutenant governor can determine when an emergency exists, it said.

Was it smart? No. Irresponsible? Yes. Mind-boggling? You betcha. But it wasn't illegal. It just doesn't make much sense. And what it did was make a governor who has been seen as a fair governor look like a nutjob. And don't think the Post and Courier didn't point that out. From here on out, Governor Sanford is going to be linked with the following governors: A LOOK AT ODD BEHAVIOR BY U.S. GOVERNORS

South Carolina's chief executive isn't the first to earn headlines for acting odd.
A look at governors' unusual behavior:

EARL LONG; GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA, 1939-1940, 1948-1952, 1956-1960: Long had an affair with a stripper, Blaze Starr. In 1959, Earl got into arguments with legislators at the State House and his wife at the mansion. He was committed to the State Hospital for the Insane but released after using his authority as governor. He removed the hospital director and replaced him with a doctor who was his ally.

JIMMIE DAVIS; LOUISIANA GOVERNOR, 1944-1948 and 1960-1964: Well known as the "Singing Governor," Davis gained international fame with his version of the song "You Are My Sunshine." Even while serving as governor, he kept his hand in show business and set a record for absenteeism during his first term with trips to Hollywood to make Western "horse operas."

LESTER MADDOX; GEORGIA GOVERNOR, 1967-1971: Maddox was known for quaint sayings, such as calling constituents "little people," and outrageous gestures such as riding a bicycle backward.

JESSE VENTURA; MINNESOTA GOVERNOR, 1999-2003: Ventura traded his pinstriped suits for referee stripes when he took part in a WWE "SummerSlam" event in Minneapolis. Later in his term, he moonlighted as a football commentator for the failed XFL. He also tried to make Capitol reporters wear press credentials dubbing them "Jackals."

ROD BLAGOJEVICH; ILLINOIS GOVERNOR, 2003-2009: After his ouster from office, Blagojevich joined the Second City comedy troupe for a performance of its show "Rod Blagojevich Superstar." He also planned to appear on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" until a judge ruled that he couldn't leave the country while awaiting trial on federal corruption charges.

ELIOT SPITZER; NEW YORK GOVERNOR, 2007-2008: Elected on an anti-corruption platform, Spitzer resigned after becoming embroiled in an investigation into a high-end prostitution ring. Referred to in court papers as "Client-9," Spitzer spent tens of thousands of dollars to arrange visits with prostitutes, law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors ultimately declined to file criminal charges.

Oh, joy. Like this state doesn't have enough to deal with in terms of education (the state sucks at it), hurricanes (we get a lot of them), tons of mercury in the water (maybe that's the problem, and not the education - people eating mercury tainted fish), and now a Runaway Governor to go along with those (and many other) problems. Sigh.

Well, at least we have the Tall Ships arriving in Charleston from around the world to take our minds off of Governor Waldo. Though, I gotta tell you, those Russian sailors aren't too used to our heat and humidity. To add insult to injury, they had to limp into harbor with a broken foremast. Imagine fixing that mast, when you're from Russia, in mid-90 degree heat, and probably 150 degree humidity (okay, okay, that's a slight exaggeration...). But they aren't facing as much heat as Governor Sanford is, and at least they get that nice breeze off the water...

UPDATE: H/T to American Girl in Italy for the heads up that Governor Sanford has admitted he was having an affair. Yep. For a YEAR. He went off to see his lady friend. Holy smokes - WHEN will these people EVER learn??? Here's the skinny:
In an emotional news conference, Sanford said his relationship with the woman in Argentina would not work, but would not say if it was over. He did not name the woman, but said he met her eight years ago, although their casual friendship evolved into a romantic relationship about a year ago.

“The bottom line is this: I have been unfaithful to my wife,” the two-term governor said before a mass of press in the State House outside the governor’s office. “Let me apologize to my wife Jenny and my four boys ... for letting them down.”

Asked directly if he and first lady Jenny Sanford are separated, Sanford said: “I don't know how you want to define that. I’m here and she's there. I guess in a formal sense we are not.”

Sanford acknowledged he misled his staff earlier this week when he lead them to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford said he would resign as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association — a platform he has used over the past few months to broadcast his opposition to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package and fueling speculation that Sanford was considering a 2012 run for president.

But Sanford did not respond when asked if he would resign as governor.

Sanford fought back tears several times during a 20 minute news conference, especially when he mentioned his marriage counselor and his long time personal and political friend Tom Davis, Sanford’s former chief of staff.

Sanford’s relationship with the woman in Argentina became more sexually charged about a year ago, but Sanford’s wife did not learn of the affair until about five month sago. The Sanfords have since been in counseling.

In his apology, Sanford acknowledged not only all South Carolinians, but people of faith, people in his own party as well as his family.

He denied he had ever had other extramarital affairs.

“I’ve spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina,” Sanford said. “I am committed to trying to get my heart right.”

Good grief. It raises a whole bunch of questions, of course, like one pointed out by AGII, who made such a big issue of this on the national stage? I might add, maybe he was hoping for the John Edwards' treatment. You know, the MSM looks the other way for over a year until some gossip rag exposes him...

There were a number of interesting comments at this article, including some along this line:

EIG4 :Dear 'ol Mark should have also apologized to the many gay folks around South Carolina for denying them the right to marriage citing the destruction of its "sanctity"...excuse me?! I do believe committing ADULTERY kind of makes you a hypocrite! Looks to me like marriage between a man and a woman is still quite full of sin. Thanks!

Uh, yeah, there's that.

Anyway - Mystery solved. Governor Waldo was simply having a romantic tryst. No wonder he didn't tell anyone, ESPECIALLY his wife. Ahem...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Well, That Ought To Learn Him...

I saw this discussion on Kelly's Court prior to the trial of Chris Brown, who was facing felony charges, possibly an attempted murder charge, against Rihanna. Let me go ahead and warn you now that the photos of Rihanna are graphic:

Let me say that there is a vast misperception about why people stay in, or return to, abusive relationships. There is a cycle of violence that begins with the gradual chipping away of the victim's self-esteem. It does not happen overnight, and does not come on suddenly. If someone threatened someone with physical (emotional, psychological) abuse right off the bat, I think most people would tell the offender to slam off. No, it doesn't work that way. The person begins slowly, often isolating the victim from friends and family, thus cutting off support resources from them, and it goes downhill from there, with a LOT of belittling, demeaning, emotional/psychological abuse layer upon layer. The physical abuse may start small, then ratchet up, but by then, the victim is already so demoralized, has already been told so many times that no one else will want her, that she deserves what she got, brought it on herself, or quite often, if she leaves, will be killed (and a whole heap inbetween those two extremes), thus leaving the victim feeling like she has no choice but to stay. The reality is, many victims who DO leave, are killed. That is the sad reality.

And within the cycle of violence, there is the repentance on the part of the abuser, promising never to do it again, that changes will be made, please don't leave, and so on. It's a "hope springs eternal" situation, and not for othing, but the victim usually actually loves the abuser. I know that sounds strange, but like I said, the abuser didn't start OUT that way, and most likely, doesn't always ACT that way. There is just enough repentance, or good times, or what have you, to convince the already battered victim to stay. So, it isn't quite so easy as just walking out the door. It is usually at that very time that the victim is most at risk.

Rihanna at least has the MEANS to be on her own, which is a major plus for her. Most victims don't have that option, another reason why they stay. They have been made financially dependent on the abuser.

So, when people "blame the victim," saying Rihanna was an idiot for not leaving, they don't understand that it is a FAR more complex situation than that.

And now to the big trial. You saw the video above. You have seen the photos of Rihanna. Well, there wasn't a trial. There was a plea deal struck. Brown admitted he was guilty. Want to know what his sentence was? He got five years of probation, 180 days of community service (in VA), and has to go to a domestic violence program for a year. Oh, and there is a "stay away" order, that actually goes both ways, the judge was quick to point out. And get this - a number of articles talk about how hard this is going to be on BROWN. WOW. Talk about missing the point...

Let's recoup: Brown beat the SHIT out of Rihanna, threatened to kill her, in front of a third person, and he will spend NOT ONE DAY in jail. Not one day. Not one damn day for beating the pure-t shit out of someone who was basically captive (she was in a car).

I have to say, I am getting pretty sick of writing about these men getting away with battering women, threatening them with death, and getting light sentences, or raping minors and getting away with a slap on the wrist. It sounds a message that is loud and clear, one we saw on the airwaves and in the press throughout the course of the past "election": in the USA, women (and girls) are still less than, not as important as, and far more expendable than, men. As long as these men, celebrities or not, are allowed to beat women senseless, rape little girls, and get little more than slaps on the wrist as "punishment," it is a tool to keep ALL women "in line." That is to say when men are allowed to batter women with little comeuppance, it is a lesson to ALL women (and girls) that they better mind their p's and q's. And you better believe women pay attention to this. When approximately ONE THIRD of women in this country experience some form of abuse, you better freakin' believe the other two thirds get the message - loud and clear. The same goes for girls.

Frankly, this is unacceptable. We cannot go around talking about the importance of human rights and women's rights in other countries when so many women in THIS country are having their rights trampled on regularly, by their batterers, and by the courts. That Chris Brown could plea down to serving absolutely NO jail time for what he did, the court system has failed women. And we damn well know it.

And we need to STAND UP to these lax sentences, to the increasingly more accepted violence toward women. We must stand up, for ourselves, for our sisters, for our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters. We deserve better.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Those Are Some Odds...

No doubt, you know there are plans afoot by Obama and Congress to extend health care benefits to all. It raises that sticky question of just how these costs will be covered. And when I say costs, I mean at least one TRILLION dollars, though I have seen estimates that are higher.

One proposal is to mimic the Massachusetts' plan. Except there are some problems with that:

Huh. Well, that sounds just perfect - go ahead and implement a program that has quickly gone into the red. Perfect management of our tax-paying dollars, right? Oh, yeah.

So, just how would we even pay for this? Oh, you are gonna love this plan by the US Senate:
Senate Health Plan Could Tax 1 in 8 Workers
. One in EIGHT. 12.5% of Americans will be helping to foot the bill for everyone else. Holy smokes. Here's the nitty gritty:
About one in eight U.S. workers who receive health benefits from an employer -- more than nine million workers -- could pay higher income taxes on benefits as part of a Senate proposal that aims to raise billions of dollars to finance health-care reform, according an independent analysis of the proposal.

A five-page presentation, obtained by FOX Business, was prepared by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is leading efforts by Senate Democrats to formulate funding alternatives for a reform plan. In the document, Baucus proposes “options to limit allowable tax free health benefits."

Since World War II, when companies facing work-force shortages began offering comprehensive health-care coverage to attract and retain workers, such benefits have been tax-free to employees. Today, more than 150 million workers and their dependents receive health insurance from their current -- or, if retired, former -- employer.

Preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office put the cost of health-care reform at $1 trillion or more over 10 years.

Read the whole presentation here.

According to the document, Sen. Baucus is looking at four ways to tax benefits starting in 2013, when many reform proposals would take full effect:

* Tax benefits of single workers who earn more than $100,000 a year and couples that earn more than $200,000. The presentation cites a previous estimate from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT] that the proposal would raise $161.9 billion over 10 years if the changes were effective on January 1, 2010.
* Tax benefits that exceed a value of $6,182 for a single worker and a value of $15,700 for a worker who also receives coverage for his family. The document cites a previous JCT estimate that the proposal would raise $418 billion over a decade if the changes were effective January 1, 2010.
* Tax those “base” benefits plus 10%, or a value of $6,800 for an individual worker and a value of $17,240 for families. The higher cap would eliminate taxes for some workers. The document says Baucus has requested an estimate, presumably from the JCT, of how much this proposal would generate in new tax revenue with the change effective January 1, 2013.
* Tax base benefits plus 20%, or a value of $7,420 for an individual and a value of $18,840 for families, which would shelter even more workers from tax liability. Baucus also has requested, presumably from the JTC, an estimate for this proposal also effective January 1, 2013.

Now, I know numbers like these can make your head spin. But what they are considering is pretty important for, well, one out of EIGHT of us, who will be helping to provide health care. Ahem. It is actually important to all of us, I know. Especially since health care is an important part of many people's benefits package:
Most of the value of amounts cited in the presentation is the cost of insurance premiums that companies pay for their employees’ health benefits. But the presentation says the total value calculated for taxation would also include supplemental health plans for vision and dental care, as well as contributions employees make to their flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts, which workers contribute to with pre-tax dollars. Baucus would also adjust benchmarks annually to inflation.

A 2008 survey of employer health benefits suggests more than nine million workers could face new tax liabilities under the Baucus proposals, according one of the survey’s authors. The survey was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, for the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Education Trust.

The survey, of 1,900 small and large companies, can be found here.

Among other things, the survey identified insurance-premium levels employers paid for their workers’ coverage last year. To analyze variations around national averages, the survey reported higher premiums due to factors such as geography and benefit differences.

Based on the survey, Jon Gabel, NORC senior fellow for health policy and evaluation in Washington, D.C., said that if the Baucus proposal to tax single workers receiving more than $6,182 in benefits were in effect today, about 15% of single workers, or 4.7 million, could face new tax payments -- potentially hundreds of dollars or more per person per year, depending on tax brackets and the size of benefit packages.

Gabel estimated that about 17% of workers with family coverage, or 4.5 million workers, could face new taxes if the proposal to tax employees with families who receive more than $15,700 in health benefits were in effect today. Under the survey methodology, with family coverage defined as a policy insuring four people, the tax could affect benefits for about 18 million people, Gabel estimated.

The survey and the Baucus proposals did not address another 12 million workers who receive coverage for themselves and one dependent, usually a spouse. Presumably any tax proposal would apply to a subset of them as well.

With health care inflation, even more workers could face tax payments by 2013 as premium payments rose. But by adopting higher benchmarks, such as Baucus’ “base plus 10%” and “base plus 20%,” policymakers would narrow the number of workers required to pay taxes, if Congress adopts such proposals. Congress could also limit their impact by combining a benefits level cap with an income test -- such as taxing only single workers who receive $6,182 in annual health care benefits and who earn more than $100,000 a year.

Gabel said most workers will have to ask their employer for benefit information to determine the value of their individual health care packages.

For more information on taxation of health benefits, you can read Center for Budget Policy and Priorities report here.

In these difficult economic times, I'm sure this is just what these people want to hear. But this seems to be one area in which there is agreement across the aisle:
The idea of taxing health-care benefits has bipartisan roots. Some conservative economists and Republican policymakers believe health-care costs are soaring faster then general inflation in part because such benefits are excluded from taxable income, encouraging excessive health care spending by consumers. Some Democrats agree.

During the presidential campaign last year, then-candidate Barack Obama criticized his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for proposing to tax all health-care benefits. Under his health-care reform plan, McCain would have used the new revenues to the government to fund health-care tax credits.

But in a meeting with Baucus and other senators earlier this month, President Obama signaled he would not rule out taxing benefits to help finance a reform plan.

“If I'm not mistaken, I can think of at least one Republican off the top of my head that talked about changing the tax benefits for the exclusion,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily press briefing on Friday. “I think if I sat at Google for about five minutes I could probably get you several dozen. I think one of the major reform bills that's up there right now that's been written by Sen. [Richard] Burr (R-N.C.) includes, if not a complete ending of the exclusion, some cap of it.”

The Obama Administration has already proposed more than $300 billion in tax increases to pay for reform, mainly by limiting deductions for wealthier families, and proposed more than $600 billion in cuts in Medicare and Medicaid spending.

But NORC’s Gabel said of specifically taxing benefits, “I think it's very difficult to sell. As we know, Americans are almost schizophrenic in their views on taxing and spending. You name it, they think we should do more on it -- spend more on education, more on defense, more on health care. On the other hand, they think taxes are too high and they don't see a contradiction between the two.”

Well, at least this proposal would apply to everyone, right? Wrong:
The tax proposals also likely face strong opposition from some of the President’s and the Democratic party’s key supporters -- unions that enjoy more generous health-care benefits won through hard-fought contact negotiations over decades. Apparently anticipating some objections about the possibility of affecting contracts already in place, Baucus has proposed protecting some union benefits by “grandfathering” collective-bargaining agreements existing on January 1, 2013, in his “base plus 10%” and “base plus 20%” options, according to his presentation.

Did you catch that? Unions may be exempt from having to pony up like everyone else will have to do. WOW - they really DID buy themselves a president, didn't they??? I wonder how hard it would be to organize a United Office Workers Union (h/t to my partner for that union idea)?? How long are most Americans just going to accept that Union workers have far better benefits and pensions than the rest of us because we are subsidizing them? (Again, I'm not anti-union, but these things kind of stick in my craw...)

But there does seem to be agreement (more or less) that something needs to change:
On Sunday, a New York Times poll on health-care reform suggested taxing health benefits may not be as politically treacherous as assumed: the Times reported that 57% of voters said they would be willing to pay higher taxes “so that all Americans have health insurance that they can’t lose no matter what.” Just over a third -- 37% -- said they would not be willing to pay such taxes, and 6% had no opinion.

In a press briefing on June 9, Baucus said he was considering either a 50-50 or 60-40 split between taxes and savings to pay for a reform plan. Baucus specifically mentioned a “grandfathering” idea that he said would help mitigate taxes to some people who receive health-insurance benefits and said he favored an income test to narrow the impact as well.

In the House, Democratic leaders announced their own draft reform plan on Friday. But they did not present any options for financing it.

Gabel said taxes on benefits could not only raise some revenue for a new government plan but could also help to reduce health care spending, and thus inflation, as some economists believe.

“People will move from rich benefits where they don't face deductibles to higher deductibles so their premiums are lower, and this will reduce the use of services,” Gabel said. “Also, they may move back into tightly managed HMOs like Kaiser, which have shown they can deliver care at lower cost.”

Well, that would be something at least. I think it would be great if everyone had health care - as long as we can PAY for it without going further into massive debt as a country. Or without putting the lion's share of burden on some employees while allowing others off scott free. Surely a more just proposal can be worked out, yes? Let's hope so, otherwise, those aren't great odds for the 12.5% of employees who will pay more...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father's Day They Won't Forget

Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers (and chosen fathers) out there. I hope your day is filled with love, laughter, and joy.

No doubt, it will be for Eric Mongerson. Today, for the first time, his children will be able to meet his partner, as this article explains:

Kids To Meet Gay Dad's Partner On Father's Day
: Kids To Meet Dad's Partner For 1st Time On Father's Day After Judge Tosses Ga. 'gay Ban'

Eric Mongerson's kids couldn't meet his partner of two years, much less join the couple for ice cream. His friends couldn't cheer on the children at concerts or Little League games.

The divorced dad spent thousands of dollars fighting an unusual ban imposed by a county judge in 2007 that kept the three minors from having any contact with his gay friends or partners.

He felt unfairly scrutinized every moment he spent with the kids, though he never was looking to make a statement. He just wanted to spend a day with his kids and his partner, Jose Sanchez _ together.

This Father's Day, he finally will.

"It's a fairy tale ending," he told The Associated Press after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the ban.

I would say so. Heartbreaking that it ever even came to this - or that it COULD come to this, but it did:
The ban stemmed from the bitter divorce between Mongerson and his ex-wife, Sandy, who were married for almost 20 years and had four children. Mongerson said the marriage ended when his wife discovered he was gay in November 2005, but he would not elaborate.

The dispute played out the next few years in court, as Sandy's attorney claimed he had several affairs with other men and subjected the kids to an array of "wholly inappropriate conduct" during a trip to Arkansas.

The arguments helped sway Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards to award Sandy Kay Ehlers Mongerson custody of the children. The judge also issued a blanket order banning Eric Mongerson from "exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends." A fourth child is an adult over 18 and had no restrictions on contact with Mongerson or his gay friends.

Edwards said in his ruling that the decision was meant to reflect "the trauma inflicted upon the children" during the Arkansas trip.

Ah, yes - because all parents who have had affairs and gotten divorced have had to keep their partners away from their children by court order. Oh, wait, you mean they haven't?? No, of course not, just some:
Mongerson, though, said it only made him feel like he was being targeted for coming out of the closet. For almost two years, Mongerson said he feared losing more time with his kids and walked on egg shells during their weekly four-hour visits.

He didn't hide the fact he was gay from the kids, but they couldn't be around his partner, Sanchez. He was afraid to invite straight friends who might be accused of being gay. And he wouldn't dare bring his children to his place in downtown Atlanta, even though his wife once brought a boyfriend to his daughter's concert.

"I was always afraid of the 'What if?'" Mongerson said. "I felt isolated, alone. She could go get friends, have them watch the kids, but I could never because I was gay."

Sanchez, fearful of somehow violating the order, would run through all sorts of scenarios.

"What if you and I are on a plane, and your kids happen to be on the plane?" he would ask incredulously. "Do I jump out?"

Mongerson, a restaurant manager who routinely works 13-hour shifts into the night, said he scrounged together more than $10,000 to challenge the judge's decree, partly by wracking up debt on his credit cards.

That is one helluva way to have to live - under constant fear that anyone or anything could jeopardize one's ability to see one's own children, not because of any wrong-doing on the part of the parent, but just the mere PERCEPTION that who they were, whom they loved, was unacceptable. Finally, cooler heads prevailed:
In court arguments in January, attorneys Hannibal Heredia and Kimberli Reagin contended the judge had no evidence that exposing the children to Mongerson's gay friends would damage them.

On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously agreed. Justice Robert Benham wrote in the scathing 10-page ruling that the trial court abused its discretion without evidence of harm to the children. He concluded it "flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children."

The decision was quickly applauded by gay rights advocates who say the judge's order was rooted in decades-old misconceptions about gays and lesbians. Jeff Graham of Georgia Equality called the top court's decision a dose of "common sense and fair mindedness."

Sandy Mongerson's attorney, Lance McMillian, said the mother does not plan to appeal.

"My client is interested in putting it behind her," he said. "Other than that, we don't have anything to say about it."

As news of the court's ruling filtered down to Mongerson on Monday morning, he picked up the phone and called his partner. It didn't take long to work out their schedule for Father's Day, when they'll finally go out for that ice cream.

"I cry at commercials _ he cries before commercials come on," Sanchez said. "He's very emotional. He said, 'Happy Father's Day. You get to meet my children.'"

Here's the thing. What makes this even more egregious and offensive is that studies show that children raised in same-sex parents' households are perfectly well-adjusted:
"There are a lot of children with at least one gay or lesbian parent," says Ellen C. Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. She revealed the findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference and Exhibition.

Between 1 million and 6 million children in the U.S. are being reared by committed lesbian or gay couples, she says. Children being raised by same-sex parents were either born to a heterosexual couple, adopted, or conceived through artificial insemination.

"The vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way," she tells WebMD. "In some ways children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures."

Say WHAAAAA???? How can that be? Ahem. It's an interesting article, if you want to go take a look, but I don't want to get too far away from this joyous story.

So, back to the Father's Day happy ending, and a happy ending it is. Finally, this father can share the joy of his children with his partner. The children will have yet another person in their lives who loves them, and that is a good thing indeed.

Again, Happy Father's Day, you dads. And to the all of the children (adult, I assume) reading this, remember that every day is precious with your parents - I lost my dad almost 4 years ago, and you never know which Father's Day is going to be the last. So, treasure it, treasure your dad, and your mom, too, and remember that time is fleeting. Share the love. That's what it's all about, anyway...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So THIS Is How Obama Is Going To Pay For Health Care!

US To Trade Gold Reserves For Cash Through Cash4Gold.com

Gotta love those folks at The Onion! Hey - this is just as plausible as anything else that has come down the pike!

Since I have been talking abt LGBT issues a good bit (you know, it being Pride Month and all), there is this from The Onion on the issue of GLBT marriage:

Conservatives Warn Quick Sex Change Only Barrier Between Gays, Marriage

Oh, my. I admit, both of these had me laughing out loud. After the week I had, I know I needed one, and expect you might, too. I hope they brought a smile to your face.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Health Care for ALL, Cries Obama!!! Oh - Except For One Group!

Oh, the irony is just too rich. Some of you may have heard that President Obama decided the other day, after getting hammered by the LGBT community over DADT and DOMA, to grant LGB federal employees partner benefits by Executive Decision. Kind of. First, it begs the question, if he could have done this all along, why the hell DIDN'T he? Second, does he EVER do something right just because it is the right thing to do??? In this case, once again, Secretary Clinton laid the groundwork for this, pledging to give ALL State Diplomats the same rights and benefits. So, it isn't even like this was his bright idea, and he wanted to fulfill some of his (empty) campaign promises. Nope - just more "follow the leader," pandering, and band-aide attempts to try and shut us up.

No, this latest attempt was more of the same kind of response Obama had when the GLBT community was up in arms over his choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give his Inauguration Prayer. After days and days of people complaining to the high heavens, he decided to have Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop, give the invocation at the Sunday Inaugural Concert event preceding the Inauguration. Except get this - he had HBO take Robinson OUT of the piece they aired on tv. I am not making this up. They couldn't believe it, either. Eventually, it was agreed he would appear in later broadcasts, but not the one aired at the time.

So, after his backtrack on DADT, despite his campaign assurances; after his backstabbing on DOMA, in which it was made QUITE clear by Obama just who is worthy to be married (and it ain't me); we get this half hearted attempt on his part to make it up to us. So, he will give SOME benefits to the partners of GLB employees except - wait for it - HEALTH CARE (and a H/T to alert NQ Reader, Mary, for this). You know, the big huge issue he's going to be pushing on the All Barack Company propaganda channel "forum" coming up, the one he thinks should be for ALL people - except the partners of GLB Federal employees. As one friend (who's heterosexual, by the way) said, it looks to her like all he's willing to give in terms of Federal Benefits is moving expenses, to which she responded, "whoopee."

Here's a panel discussion on this very topic on Anderson Cooper 360(H/T to American Girl in Italy for this):

C'mon, you gotta admit the absurdity of that is just laughable. Except that, once again, we are talking about real people and real lives, and one group still getting the short end of the stick.

Once, just ONCE, wouldn't it be nice if Obama actually walked the walk without being FORCED to do something to cover his backside after he screwed up? To do the just act, the right act, the honorable act without all of the drama? Without trashing someone first, like in the DOMA brief? Or the brief to the Supreme Court over DADT? I'm just sayin' - it would be nice if he were that kind of person. But he isn't. And once again, we are talking about Obama's lame attempts to placate us, to try and keep a voting bloc together. That may work for some (Kool-Aide drinking) people, but not for most of us.

All his false promises, and half hearted attempts, won't change that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It Might SEEM Like I Am A Bit Distracted

Thursay and maybe I was a bit, but there's a reason for it. Well, besides my mom (who is doing okay - still in nursing care for the foreseeable future). I hate to even write this down because it makes it too real. But here goes. As you all know by now, I am a huge animal lover, with four dogs, four cats, and a horse.

Oh, yes - four dogs - the two original ones, Sweetie and Sasha, whom we have had for YEARS; Lucy the Treeing Walker Coonhound who had the seven puppies; and Dorothy, my mom's dog whom we have taken since Mom had her stroke a month ago. We always promised Mom that we would take care of her dog should anything happened to Mom, and indeed, that day has now come...ALL of our animals (and Mom's) are rescues: Sasha, the Border Collie mix from the SPCA, Sweetie the chow/lab mix from an abusive neighbor, Lucy - you know about her, and Dorothy was a stray puppy in Mom's neighborhood. I'll save the cats for another day.

For now, this is about Sweetie. When we first met Sweetie, her personality and temperament came out, thus resulting in the name we called her. She was emaciated. She had two litters of puppies by the time she was a year old. She had huge, oozing sores in her ears, for which we'd get medicine from our vet (and told the owners, offered to give it to them, but they could care less), which have led to chronic problems throughout her life. This was what she looked like then:

We almost lost her a few years ago when we were building our dream home - she developed an auto-immune disease, thrombocytopenia. Her body basically turned on her own blood, and she started bleeding out. After five days in Intensive Care and two blood transfusions, she was on the mend. She's on a ton of meds, but has been in remission ever since. And she is devoted to me, as I am to her. This is Sweetie now:

Recently, Sweetie started to limp a bit on her front right leg. I took her to our vet, they examined her, but apparently she was being stoic, not reacting when the vet manipulated her led, then took some x-rays, but didn't see anything conclusive. Thursday, I took her to an orthopaedic vet (to whom our regular vet referred us). He thought the x-ray he went off to take was going to be arthritis, not surprising for a twelve (or so) year old dog. He came back in with the x-rays he took of an area that seemed particularly painful upon examination, and said, "This is not what I expected to see. I expected arthritis, but this is a bone tumor." Sure enough, I could see where the radius had been eaten away by the tumor. The vet took a biopsy to see what kind it is, though most likely, it is osteosarcoma. In other words, bone cancer. And that is not a good kind of cancer to have - it spreads. FAST. And, often to the lungs, and other parts of the body. Chemo and amputation are the typical treatments for this kind of bone cancer.

So, now we wait. Wait for the biopsy results and figure out the next step. And lavish as much attention and love on her as we can while we can, always mindful what a lovely gift this dog has been to us over the years...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Attacking Not Just Conservative Women

But all women, in my humble opinion. That is what David Letterman did with his sexist comments regarding Governor Palin and her daughter (and it doesn't matter if he meant the OLDER one - not that much difference between 14 and 18, ya know). Here is Conservative pundit Andrea Tantaros discussing this issue with Megyn Kelly on America's Newsroom Tuesday morning (and the clip includes Letterman's apology, hence why it is not linked above):

Tantaros was taking off on a post she wrote on this very issue, Attacking Conservative Women. Even though she is a Conservative, she makes a lot of good points. And I say this as someone who actively fought for Equal Rights for Women, who ran in the Seneca Falls to Houston Run way back when, carrying the torch, who helped found a chapter of NOW. Because this was what was NOT part of all of that work - that it was only for liberal women. No, we were fighting for ALL women, and that is why these kinds of comments are so offensive, whether they are about Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin, Hillary Clinton, or Chelsea Clinton: because they are WRONG:
A growing trend seems to be emerging. From Perez Hilton to Playboy’s “Conservative Women Hate List” to David Letterman’s lewd comments about Sarah Palin, it appears that attacking women – specifically conservative women – is not only all the rage, but oddly, acceptable.

The more acceptable it becomes to express violent, crass language against women in the public arena the more you can expect our country to fray at the seams.

I’m not talking about attacks from bottom feeder leftist blogs either. Notable mainstream brands like the Miss USA Organization, “The Late Show” and Playboy magazine have all lost their sense of humor and their sense of decency by allowing conservative women to become a punching bag — and a punch line — for the left. Forgoing all boundaries, a party that once used to claim to own the violence against women issue has embraced it and let their politics run them when it comes to the issue of misogyny.

On its face, this isn’t even a political issue. It’s a women’s issue –- a human issue that transcends politics (emphasis mine). But why, when it comes to the most serious and sensitive attacks against women the National Organization for Women spokeswoman warrants a missing person’s report?

That's EXACTLY it - this is a HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. This kind of language would never be tolerated if it was directed at any other group (okay, maybe at "The Gays," as Kathy Griffin calls us, but that's it), and it sure shouldn't be tolerated against the largest minority in the world.

Tantaros continues:
Carrie Prejean was called the most offensive four and five letter words by Miss USA judge Perez Hilton’s after she expressed her traditional views on gay marriage. Was he scolded by one of the organization’s owners, Donald Trump? Hardly. Trump actually expressed willingness to allow Hilton to judge at next year’s competition.

And that’s just the beginning. Playboy magazine published a vile, incendiary list of conservative women it would like to engage in hate sex with, and it was only after public outcry that it pulled the article. Its response was watered down, to say the least. Where was that writer’s editor? (And that editor’s mind, moreover?) It doesn’t take an expert to know that the first stage of violence is thinking about it, then expressing it, then actually doing it.

Again, about Prejean, she said NOTHING that OBAMA and BIDEN hadn't already said. Yet, Obama got voted in (more or less), and Prejean was put on trial - for saying the same, exact thing.

And the Playboy piece was despicable.

As was this:
David Letterman made a disgusting joke about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s underage daughter and he didn’t stop there. He continued to make an off color joke about the Governor’s appearance making many want to invoke slaps but not against their knees.

Palin is apparently more popular than Letterman. Thanks to growing pressure from viewers Letterman offered — not one — but two — mea culpas. But where was CBS from the start? It was only after the public got involved that the comedian began to react with some seeming sincerity.

For the record, Palin should never appear on his show. Protests calling for his resignation should continue with a larger message to the general population and television executives everywhere: distasteful behavior against females will not be tolerated.

The only reason for Palin to ever appear on Letterman's show is to demonstrate that she takes the high road, and is a MUCH bigger person than he is. I used to watch Letterman's show, by the way, before he took every opportunity to trash Clinton - both of them (I mean, really - it has been a long damn time since the Monica Lewinsky issue, and Letterman STILL takes digs at Bill over it - there isn't ANYTHING else going on in the world about which he could joke? That's just lazy. And in very poor taste.)

Here's the kicker:
The United States, a champion for women’s rights throughout the world, will have a tough time wagging it’s finger at countries that are less than progressive in their attitudes toward women and crimes against women all over the world when we tolerate hate speak at the expense of the American female, for a few laughs or fame, no less.

The First Amendment protects free speech but there is no reason that we, as citizens and consumers, should buy it. When it comes to those who want to disrespect any woman, we can take it to their bottom line and not only speak out, but also boycott their business.

Violence against women is wrong, no matter what party affiliation, not to mention it’s just not funny. The more acceptable it becomes to express violent, crass language against women in the public arena the more you can expect our country to fray at the seams.

Amen, Sister Tantaros. We may differ politically, but on this issue, I am standing right with you. We have seen the open season that was declared on women last year, we have felt the effects of it, and we still are. But it is UNACCEPTABLE to decent people. And we are decent people.

As is Dan K. Thomasson, who wrote a very good piece on this issue, "Letterman's Remarks Symbolic of National Coarseness." Now I realize this might date me some, you know, that I expect some level of decorum and decency and all, but so be it. (I'm also a Southerner, so what do you want from me already? That was supposed to be funny, just so you know.) I think Mr. Thomasson has it right in this post, and highlights that it isn't just women who are upset by this level of discourse:
One doesn’t have to be a fan of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her family to be offended by David Letterman’s utterly tasteless, senseless remarks about her trip to New York City. Somewhere in there may be a clue as to why NBC picked Jay Leno instead of Letterman to replace Johnny Carson on the “Tonight Show” all those years ago.

Letterman told his television audience that Palin, her husband and daughter had attended a New York Yankees game where the daughter had been “knocked up” during the seventh-inning pause by Yankee star Alex Rodriguez. He also insulted every hard-working airline crewmember outside the cockpit by describing Palin’s own appearance as a “slutty flight attendant look.”

Let me note here that as the father of one daughter and the grandfather of four young ladies, three of them teenagers, and the father-in-law of a former longtime flight attendant who missed being on one of the ill-fated 9/11 planes by one day, I was particularly outraged by these mindless remarks.

To her credit, Palin ignored the assault on her own person, realizing her political ambitions have made her fair game. But what parent, even one who understands that in this country politicians can expect rough treatment, would not be angered by the gratuitous off-color assault on her teenage daughter? The Palin daughter at the game was 14-year-old Willow. Palin called the remark “sexually perverted,” which seems an apt description for one who apparently thinks the suggested rape of a child or a teenage pregnancy are laughing matters.

Letterman said he would never say that about a 14-year-old. Well, that would indicate at least he knows the consequences attached to an assault, verbal or otherwise, on an underage girl. He said he was referring to Bristol, the 18-year-old who is an unwed mother but who was not at the game — an obvious cop out. But either way, of course, he was out of line. Just because this former TV weatherman hails from the Indiana farm country (as do I) doesn’t mean he should be bombarding us with pig dung in the guise of barnyard “humor” that most Hoosiers on either side of the political aisle would consider unfunny.

Like I said, I don't think it is any funnier if it is about an 18 yr old, either. What a pathetic excuse that is, and in no way minimizes the inappropriateness of that "joke." And extra credit if you figure out how old Obama's mother was when she had HIM.

Thomasson continues:
Furthermore, this smutty dialog is not fit for national television. Aren’t we getting a bit tired of those who feel somehow their lofty positions give them immunity from the social restraints and standards of good taste and decency that govern most civilized Americans? It is safe to say that had Letterman’s remarks been made with any sort of racial overtone, his job would be on the line. There really is no reason for it not to be now if one subscribes to the notion that a baseless suggestion of immorality about any one no matter their color should bear some consequences, First Amendment guarantees notwithstanding.

Letterman’s remarks may have been written for him, but the responsibility is still his. He has complete control of his own material. It is puzzling that after all these years, he has not learned the difference between fair comment and satire and vicious disparagement. What may be more troublesome in all this is that it furthers the incivility of today’s politics, that its nastiness moves us just that much closer to the hate line at the expense of innocent bystanders — in this case children.

Liking or disliking Gov. Palin has nothing to do with this. Those who find her politically unsettling should be as appalled as those who are her biggest supporters. Her daughter’s pregnancy and decision to keep the baby does not make her a legitimate target for scurrilous public bathroom scribbles from morons. Mothers all over the world should be offended. It may be too late for a Letterman apology, but it isn’t for CBS officials to issue a strong disassociation with his remarks. After all, he violated most of the unwritten but understood rules that have protected minor family members from such unfair attacks. They have fired people for less. What this whole matter says about our direction is downright disgusting.

Yes, it does say a lot about our direction, and it sure as hell is disgusting. We saw a whole lot of that kind of behavior throughout the Primary and Election campaigns, too. It has all been well documented here before, the shirts, the actions, the horrible comments by the MSM, Obama's supporters, and the enabling by the DNC of the sexism or coarse discourse.

Oh, and Dave? It's not the PERCEPTION of what you said. It is WHAT YOU SAID. Just to be clear. We didn't misunderstand you. We heard you loud and clear. And we didn't like what we heard. Because what we heard, what you SAID, was offensive to women, and children. Enough of the deflection masquarading as an apology. We heard what you said, Dave, and it was offensive.

Maybe the third time is the charm - maybe Letterman can make a REAL apology without pushing it off on his listeners, or claiming he was mixed up, or whatever BS he comes up with next.

And maybe, just maybe, women will start to turn him off, and others of his ilk, who demean, belittle,castigate, and sexualize us, and our children. Now THAT might be a message clearly understood by everyone, Dave included.