Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, And A Happy New Year!

Well, 2010 is almost over. A lot has gone on this year, some good, some bad. But we made it through, and look toward 2011 to see what the New Year brings.

But wait - I am getting ahead of myself. In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate Christmas. May this holy time warm your hearts, soothe your souls, bring you joy, and peace.

In honor of Christmas, I have a couple of videos I want to share with you. The first is a heart-warming tale of a family reunited for the holidays:

Sweet, isn't it? Of course, we figure the one kid on the left was mad because his brother got to talk, but still, how cool is that? I cannot imagine the joy for those boys to have their dad home for the holidays, as well as other families whose loved ones are returning from being in theater overseas. What a true gift, a wonderful blessing.

Sadly, though, too many families will be celebrating without family members who are serving in our armed services, including my niece and her four children. It is a hard time of year for families not to be able to be together, but the families at home do all they can to make the holidays as happy as possible for their children (or for the siblings, parents, all family members) of those deployed. My heart goes out to them.

And for those still deployed, thank you for your service. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be apart from your families at this time. Please know you are not forgotten.

The second video I want to share with you is a beautiful Beth Nielsen Chapman song that seems appropriate for the occasion, and which includes Emmy Lou Harris singing with Nielsen Chapman:

And this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas hymns:

May your Christmas be merry and bright.

I wish for you a happy New Year with a tune to which only the wonderful group Abba can do justice:

I will be out of the country until the beginning of the New Year. I wish you and yours a safe, happy, peaceful holiday season. Many blessings...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Official, DADT Is Over - We Ain't Done Yet

The work has just begun. Despite Obama's putting pen to paper on Wednesday, no one can come out of the closet just yet. The repeal has to be certified first, as this NY Times article highlights:
The repeal does not immediately put a stop to “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Mr. Obama must still certify that changing the law to allow homosexual and bisexual men and women to serve openly in all branches of the military will not harm readiness, as must Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen, before the military can implement the new law. There remains significant resistance within the military to the change in policy, especially within the Marine Corps. But Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen have both said they are committed to implementing the change.

At the signing ceremony, Obama claimed he would not drag his feet on certification. Let's hope that is indeed the case (though I am not holding my breath).

But there is more to this issue than meets the eye. David Crary of the Associated Press wrote an interesting article on the next steps facing the military, "Blacks, Women, Now Gays: Military To Adjust Again." If the implementation of having women in the military is an indicator, this could be a difficult time for openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual service members:
[snip] Now the military has a new social challenge: Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the ranks. It is expected that commanders will dutifully implement the policy, and overall it will likely be judged a success, but recent history provides some cautionary lessons.

On one hand, the military has earned a deserved reputation as a meritocracy in which minorities and women can flourish. On the other hand, sexual assault remains a rampant problem, and racism was minimized only after years of friction within the ranks.

Perhaps the impending repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy will unfold more easily, but some female veterans say that will be the case only if commanders are vigilant and aggressive in quashing anti-gay harassment.

"When women come forward to report sexual harassment, that's when a commander's courage is tested," said Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine captain who heads the Service Women's Action Network. "Even though we have fairly decent policies on paper, enforcement of basic harassment policies is very shoddy."

Bhagwati's network is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed Dec. 13 seeking access to Pentagon records on the thousands of sexual assault and harassment cases reported in the past decade. In fiscal year 2009 alone, the Defense Department said there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving service members.

Sadly, the incidences of sexual assault against women in the military academmies is on the rise according to a recent report. That is putting it mildly, though, as this Eleanor Clift article makes clear:
No matter how much things change, they stay the same. That was my first reaction to a new Pentagon report that shows an eye-popping rise in incidents of sexual assault at the nation's prestigious service academies -- the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The number is up 64 percent, from 25 cases in the 2008-2009 academic year to 51 cases in 2009-2010. The Pentagon attributes the increase to students being more willing to report these crimes. But the report also acknowledges student discomfort at reporting sexual misconduct, despite steps the military has taken to ensure confidentiality. Students, mostly women but presumably some men too, are afraid of being singled out and somehow being made to pay, either by their superiors or their peers, for disturbing the illusion that all is well between the sexes.

There is also confusion among students as to whether behavior they consider offensive rises to the level of initiating a reporting procedure with built-in safeguards for the accused as well as the accuser. Physical assault and rape are clearer to define, but misconduct that occurs in a social context and triggers what is known as date rape becomes harder to prove, especially when alcohol is involved. Women, who are a minority in the service academies, no doubt feel that the burden is on them to justify making a complaint. The military for too long looked the other way, rather than confront sexual misconduct in its ranks, to expect the kind of trust necessary to encourage candor. [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.}

YIKES. Those numbers are staggering, no matter how one wants to paint them. While people have been saying they don't care what someone's sexual orientation is when they are under attack in the foxhole, they just want them to do their jobs, how about who women can trust?

But I digress. Back to the Crary article, "Blacks, Women, Now Gays":
[snip]Several military-policy scholars suggested that the armed forces had done better in regard to racial equality than it has in curtailing harassment of women.

"With race, the military led the way," said David Segal, a University of Maryland sociologist who has studied military personnel policies. "It was not that way with gender - lots of other workplaces were ahead, and I'm surprised it has taken us this long to get to where we are now."


Marcus S. Cox, a professor who teaches black military history to cadets at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., believes generational factors are at work,

"My students say they'd have no problem serving with someone gay as long as they're able to do their jobs," he said. "For young people, raised with MTV and same-sex marriage, it's not as unsettling as for some older people."

Segal said incidents of gay-bashing had occurred on a regular basis under "don't ask, don't tell" and would likely continue, but not increase, after repeal enabled gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation.

He noted that many members of the military already knew they had gays in their units, despite "don't ask, don't tell," and suggested this could make the upcoming transition smoother than the changes involving blacks and women. [snip]

Well, that is certainly a positive in terms of incorporating openly out service people, but still disconcerting in terms of women.

And then there are those who face discrimination on both fronts:
[snip] Sue Fulton, of North Plainfield, N.J., has seen military prejudice from two directions - as a lesbian and as a woman who was in the first coed class at the U.S. Military Academy in 1976.

"At the academy, it was all about leadership," she said. "Many of the problems we had came from instructors and staff who would make derogatory comments about women in front of cadets."

Those staffers were a minority, she said, and most officers were supportive.

Now, with gays soon able to serve openly, Fulton says officers will face similar choices on how to exercise leadership.

"There is a chasm of difference between saying, `We got our orders' and saying, `This is a good. This will make us stronger, and here's how we'll go about it." [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Indeed. Though I think it will make the military stronger when members do not have to hide who they are, when there will be comeuppance for gay bashing, and when there will be no "benefit" of outing members of a unit. For people to not have to worry about scrutiny for every word they say, or every action they make, or who they meet on leave, it will of necessity make units stronger.

I am thrilled that DADT has finally, after too many years, been repealed. I know people for whom this will be a huge deal, and which will mean they can continue in their military career without fear of being outed. It is about time.

But this change is far from a done deal, as the treatment of too many women in the academies and the military itself attest. I hope, and pray, that the assaults against women in the military, primarily from other service members, will be addressed swiftly and completely. And I hope and pray that those who will soon be allowed to serve openly will not face reprisal from their fellow service members.

Until that time that Certification is complete, however, we must be vigilant that Obama will keep his word, and not drag his feet on this. The work is not yet over, but still, Wednesday was a good day indeed...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Winter Solstice

Today marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Yet, we have already received a great gift this day - the Lunar Eclipse early this morning. It is the first time there has been a lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice since 1638.

I set my cell phone alarm, and was able to watch as the moon moved through the sky, and then into a total eclipse. Thankfully, I was able to watch this extraordinary event from the comfort of my sofa, with my cat, Bug, keeping me company (think log cabin with cathedral ceilings and big windows). It was amazing, rare, moving, and exquisite:

It will be almost the end of this century before another lunar eclipse occurs this day. What a gift this was to all those who practice earth-centered religions, as well as to astronomers. Indeed, it was an amazing sight to behold, and an incredible beginning to this shortest of days, the day traditionally the yule log was (is) lit, the evergreens cherished, the promise of the light returning to the darkness celebrated.

This is the time for family, for friends, for reflection, for reaching out to those less fortunate, for hope of the year to come, the light to come, of birth and rebirth.

On this, the shortest day, take a moment to just be, to be still:

Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours. As always, merry meet, merry part, merry meet again. Blessed be.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goodbye to 2010, And Dreams For 2011

As the holiday season continues, here are a couple of videos just for fun.

Good ol' JibJab has composed a great synopsis of 2010 in this funny (and too true) video:

Oh, my - how funny was that? I love the dancing at the end in wishing us a Happy New Year...

Next up is a clip from Saturday Night Live of "Dreams For 2011":

After the weekend Joe Biden had of continuing gaffes and out-there quotes (h/t Pat Racimora), the headlines pictured for him are all too plausible!

If you have time, you can visit The Onion and check out their slideshow of "The People Who Mattered In 2010."

To what will you gladly say "Goodbye!" from 2010? And what are your dreams for 2011? Let's hear it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Miracle Of Music

I just saw the most incredible story about a man named Derek Amato. Back in 2006, he hit his head on the bottom of a swimming pool. The result of that brain injury was the gift of music. That knock on the head unleashed a musical ability that qualifies Mr. Amato is a savant.


I was just talking with some folks the other day while waiting for my car to be serviced about the brain. One woman, who had brain surgery, coincidentally, said that her mother spoke to her when she died, and later on when the woman's daughter was dealing with leukemia. A couple of other women started talking about similar experiences they had. I remarked that we use so little of our brains, that there is so much out there that is possible, the spiritual realm being just one part of it.

I think this story is good evidence of the parts of the brain we usually don't use as well. Who knows what all is possible? Amato talked about synethesia, a condition about which I read a few years back in my Smithsonian magazine. It is a fascinating condition. Some people see numbers as colors, and Amato sees black and white blocks, which then translate to his hands music to play.

Here is more of Derek Amato's story:

Amata's ability is undeniable, and the music he is now able to play is just beautiful. From businessman to musical savant. This is truly a miracle, one fitting for this time of year, it seems to me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Obama's MSM-Bestowed Halo Continues To Slip

Yes, indeedy, as time goes by, the media is starting to shake off its KoolAide induced haze, and are beginning to see that - SURPRISE - Obama is a (Chicago-style) politician!! Wow! Who knew? Ahem. Many of us did, that's who.

Bernie Goldberg discussed Obama's Fall from the MSM's "slobbering love affair" recently, based on research he conducted for his book of the same title Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, and evidenced by recent statements from prominent members of the media:

Gee - is it possible that some folks are really starting to get what we were trying to tell them (and for which we were roundly dismissed with charges of racism, sour grapes, and much worse)? Even some folks in Hollywood are getting it now:

Here's the thing, Gene - maybe if you had actually done some homework, maybe looked at the local Chicago papers, or thought to yourself, "huh - I wonder why we can't see Obama's transcripts, or medical records, or any paperwork at all from his time in IL?" Or even, "why did Obama have to get everyone thrown off the ballot to win his IL seat?" Or how about, "Why did Obama's team expose the sealed divorce records of both front-runners for the US Senate seat?" Or maybe, just maybe, THIS question: "Why is this guy running after being in the U.S. Senate for 143 days?" Maybe then you wouldn't have wasted your vote, and be regretting it now.

I have to say, I LOVE Jane Lynch, so I was thrilled to see that she got it. I have tried and tried and TRIED to tell my Obot-loving family that Obama does NOT support same-sex marriage, just the same as the woman they love to hate, Sarah Palin.

While I am speaking of Obama, SC Gov.-Elect Haley was on Greta discussing Obamacare the other night (and thanks to fellow writer, Eastan, for alerting me to her appearance):

Yep - she's going to be representing our state, and I have to say, I am glad of it.

Anywho - so some in the media continue to wake up (others, not so much - three words, Olbermann and Maddow), but there are signs of life now among not just the media, but the Hollywood cheerleaders, too.

Okay, so NOW do I get to do my "Told You So" dance? Hmm - that wouldn't be in keeping with the spirit of the season, so how about this: Welcome. We have been waiting for you.

Breaking News: As of this writing, the Senate has voted to allow DADT to advance. Finally. I knew this was going to happen - it would be left until right before the new Congress came in. But it appears DADT will finally be repealed, thank heavens (and no real thanks to Obama - if anyone should be thanked for this, it is Rep. Patrick Murphy, who has pushed for repeal tirelessly). A final vote should be forthcoming this weekend, but it looks good for repeal!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All It Takes Is Taking That Step

Recently, I wrote about some of the opportunities available to provide toys to children around the holidays. Of course, children need much more than that, especially those whose families are being hit so hard by this economy (my friend, Pat Racimora, has an awesome toon about this very issue).

Sometimes, the need just seems overwhelming. How can one person possibly address the needs of so many who are struggling? How can we help these children to get what they need, whether it be clothes, food, toys, or help with school. Well, one woman found a way to do quite a lot on based primarily on the desire to help. Oral Lee Brown is the woman's name, and this is how she is helping kids on a regular basis:

All of this came about by a moment in time of a child asking for a quarter. As a result, children at this school are graduating, and going on to college at a very high rate. What a hero this woman is, that she took it upon herself to adopt an entire classroom all because one little girl came to her in need. Amazing.

In addition to children and families needing help, there are some others who could use some help, too:

This time of year, animal shelters also need our help. Many shelters provide the opportunity to take a pet home for the holidays. One can return the animal after the holidays if they wish, but as you might guess, many of these animals end up finding a home. What is more, as a result of this practice, a lot of (kill) shelters suspend euthanizing of unwanted pets. If you can take a pet home for the holiday, please contact the shelter in your area to see if they participate in the Home 4 The Holidays program. If you are unable to do that, monetary donations, old towels, food, treats and toys are always welcome at this time of year.

And because it is the holiday season, here's another tune for you, one of my favorites from my childhood, performed by "Celtic Woman":

It just takes one step to help another, however you can take it. Not only during this season, but all year 'round. Whether it is clothes, money, or a smile, it will make a difference...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Tale of Courage, A Miracle, And Beauty

By now, you have likely heard about the gunman who opened fire at a school board meeting in Panama City, FL. It is a difficult video to watch - the gunman fires on the school board members. The security officer, Mike Jones, a former police officer, shot the gunman twice, and the gunman ultimately took his own life. Thank heavens the officer was there.

There was another hero in the room last night, School Board member, Ginger Littleton. What she did was unbelievably courageous, and brave:

Isn't that amazing? Of course, her daughters are right - she could have been killed doing what she did. But it was her immediate response that she could not allow these fellow school board members to sit there like ducks without trying to do something.

And then for the miracle part of this whole encounter. The following video has some difficult scenes in it, just to warn you. But what is really remarkable, as retold by the superintendent, Bill Husfelt, is what happened when the gunman opened fire on the school board members:

This was truly a miracle. Husfelt is convinced that God stepped between him and the gunman's bullets. I know I was shocked that the superintendent was not hit. Thank heavens.

As noted, it could have been so, so much worse, considering students and their parents had just been there. Wow. A miracle indeed.

Recently, Larry Johnson gave us a pleasant surprise - a flash "mob" singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" at a food court in a Canadian mall. Many people wondered if that kind of thing would happen in the States.

Well, it did. The Opera Company of Philadelphia engaged in a "random act of culture" at Macy's in Philadelphia, which is home to the largest pipe organ in the world. As the daughter of a church organist (and choirmaster), who awakened to the sounds of my dad practicing the organ every Sunday morning, this was particularly moving. And it is incredibly beautiful:

I'd say that's another miracle,, of a different kind, wouldn't you?

And while this doesn't quite rise to "miracle" status, it is my favorite organ piece, and is just beautiful. I used to turn the pages for my dad when he played it. It is performed here by Diane Bish, widely considered one of the greatest organists in the world:

May your day be filled with beauty and miracles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Then Give Us Our Money Back"

You may think the title refers to the current tax battle currently going on in Congress as they decide if our taxes will go way up in 2011, or stay the same (and by the way, maintaining the same rate does not equal a "tax cut." That is the media p[laying semantics.). But no, this is not about the tax bill, and while many Americans may be saying that, "give us our money back," this was one of 50 Americans who did so.

And she said it to President Obama. But she wasn't talking about taxes per se.

Not too long ago, the incoming governors had the opportunity to meet with President Obama.

During the course of the meeting, Governor-Elect Nikki Haley had a little chat with Obama on the issue of the new health care law (which, after Monday's ruling that parts of it were un-Constitutional may make this a moot argument). In this article, Obama Opens Door For S.C. Opt-Out, Haley Says, Haley lays out her argument to President Obama:
Haley said she told Obama that South Carolina could not afford the health care mandate, and that it would cripple small businesses.

"I respectfully asked him to consider repealing the bill," she said, to which he clearly stated he would not. "I pushed him further and said if that's the case, because of states' rights, would you at least consider South Carolina opting out of the program?"

Obama told her he would consider letting South Carolina opt out, she said, if the state could find its own solution that included a state exchange, preventing companies from bumping people for pre-existing conditions and allowing insurance pooling. [snip]

That is an important concession, is it not? And again, it may end up being meaningless, should the current health care law be struck down.

But then there was this:
[snip]Haley said she also asked the president if he would honor the federal government's commitment on developing a nuclear waste repository. When he said he would not revisit opening Nevada's Yucca Mountain, "I said, 'Then give us our money back.' "

The site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas was proposed to house more than 4,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste from South Carolina's Savannah River Site. The state and Washington have sued over Obama's attempt to kill plans for the storage site after decades of study.

"SRS has done a good job, but that was a temporary solution. It was never meant to be a permanent solution," Haley said she told him. "The federal government has reneged on its promise, and the people of South Carolina want their money back." [snip]

Oh, SNAP!!! My immediate response when I read this? "Dang!" And that was meant in the most positive way possible. I was impressed by her commitment to the state, but also her gumption in making such a statement to the President of the United States (even if it is Obama) upon her first meeting. Holy smokes.

Oh, and Obama's response? Very Obama-like:
[snip]She said Obama pledged that he would have Energy secretary Steven Chu call her promptly. (The state has shelled out over $1 billion for the Yucca study.)

"I will wait for that phone call, and if I don't get it, I will be calling, but I feel he was being genuine," she said.

Haley described the tone as respectful and said she appreciated that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden allowed for open dialogue with the governors-elect, with no topic off-limits.

"It was a level of communication where we felt like we were being heard," she said. [snip]

I am glad she felt that the incoming governors were being heard. But I also love that she is going to hold Obama's feet to the fire in waiting for that phone call. For a state that continues to have double-digit unemployment, over a billion bucks would come in mighty handy about now.

Haley raises a good point. If the government is not going to make use of a program it has spent billions on, then hell to the yes, it should be returning our money.

As you may recall, Governor-Elect Nikki Haley was endorsed by Governor Sarah Palin. Haley was asked if she would endorse a candidate for president, to which she responded:
[snip] Haley said she will endorse a Republican candidate at some point before the first-in-the-South primary for the 2012 White House race.

"Absolutely!" she said. "But only after every one of them has had the opportunity to go out and meet with the constituents of South Carolina and hear their concerns. ... What I want to do is let the people of South Carolina see them without any sort of emphasis on who I think is right." [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Well, that will sure be interesting. I wonder if Sarah Palin runs, if Governor-Elect Haley will return the favor?

Governor-Elect Haley continues to impress with her cabinet choices, and on Monday, hosted a meeting of state leaders, including both US Senators, and US Rep. Jim Clyburn. Not only is Haley capable of speaking out for her state, she is also capable of diplomacy:
[snip]"There were no egos in that room," Haley said at a post-meeting news conference with the delegation. "It was a group of people that understood South Carolina needed to come first and it was very much one of great spirit -- great energy -- in how we are going to get things done." [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

This kind of interaction does give me hope for this state, I have to say. And while Haley's query to President Obama regarding the funds spent on Yucca Mountain clearly was state-specific, it very well may set a precedent. If she is able to get money returned to the state of South Carolina, surely other states can follow.

I must say, I am impressed with our Governor-Elect. Her strength and dedication will certainly pay off for this state, but hopefully, will be an asset for all governors in the country as they work together.

Oh, and President Obama? I'm with Nikki Haley - give us our money back, please.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sec. Clinton On The Importance Of Empowering Women and Girls

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit to the TED Women Conference recently, and spoke about the importance of empowering women and girls.

Of course, anyone who has followed Clinton's career knows this is an issue that is near and dear to her heart. Clinton has long worked for the empowerment of women and girls. She has highlighted the economic benefits of women and girls receiving a good education, and the impact of women-owned businesses on local economies.

In short, this is an issue about which Hillary Clinton cares passionately and deeply. She has for many, many years. That she showed up at the TED Women Conference should really be no surprise to anyone (though it does make me wonder why she wasn't invited in the first place). Below are Clinton's remarks:

If you would like to read some of Secretary Clinton's remarks, click here.

Doesn't it just warm your heart to hear Hillary Clinton speak on this issue? I know it does mine. Heaven knows, I'd far prefer listening to her on a regular basis than Obama (and honestly, I cannot stand listening to him). But on this issue, one that affects over HALF of the world's population, her dedication to improving the lives of women and girls, thus the men and boys with whom they live, is heartening.

There was one presenter there, though, that was a bit of a surprise for me. Eve Ensler was an invited speaker to the TED Women Conference. Now, I know she wrote the "Vagina Monologues" and all, but she also supported Barack Obama over the far more qualified and experienced woman in the field. And did she ever engage in some major machinations to justify why it was a "feminist" choice to do so. Yeah. Right. The unqualified, inexperienced man with no record upon which to stand over the woman who had spent her entire adult life fighting and working for women and girls, and who actually had a vast amount of experience from her working life, and in the Senate before running. By all means, choose the man whose colleagues at the law school said was lazy, unqualified, and tardy over the woman named as one of the top 100 attorneys in the country - TWICE. Or whose speech on women's rights being human rights was rated as one of the top 100 speeches of the 20th century (and I could go on). Sure, Eve - it was a total "feminist" choice to support Barack over Hillary - NOT.

In any event, Hillary Clinton did what she always does - rise above, and keep her eye on the prize. Her work on behalf of women is what matters to her, and she will continue to fight that fight on our behalf. Thank the goddess for her, and her work. She is the one I want in my corner, and I imagine that is the case for women and girls around the world.

And speaking of work, here is a Spoiler Alert in case you DVR "The Amazing Race" and haven't watched it yet...Since this is about the empowerment of women, I am happy to report that, for the first time in 17 seasons of the race, two women, Nat and Kat, who are medical doctors, won!! And Nat did it with Diabetes, too. Yippee!!!! And, the second team were also women, Brook and Claire, home shopping network hosts. Wow! It's about time. What a race!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

For The Kids

It is two weeks until Christmas. With the economy the way it is, many parents are having a harder and harder time providing the necessities, much less providing presents to put under the tree.

Here are a couple of ways you can help, even if you, personally, do not celebrate Christmas. This is just a good time of year to share with those less fortunate. We have all heard about Toys for Tots (more on that below), but the Army and Air Force, along with some civilian organizations, have an answer to the Marines. It's pretty darn cool:

Neat, eh? The idea was conceived 12 years ago by Randy Oler to help out families in need, and to give paratroopers the opportunity to get their foreign wings (you can go watch these paratroopers jump). And, as this article highlights, these paratroopers get to opt for foreign jump wings (German or Irish this year).

Of course, Toys for Tots, sponsored by the Marine Corps (pronounced "core," in case Obama is reading this), has been operating for many years. The video below says it all:

And I just have to put this one up, too:

If you are able, and willing, please consider giving to one of these organizations this year. You don't need to buy a toy, if time and ability do not permit. They take monetary donations, too.

Brighten a child's Christmas this year, if you can. A little bit from you can go a long way for a child. Feel free to share your favorite organization for this time of year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wolffe and Walters Exhibit Symptoms of PDS

PDS - Palin Derangement Syndrome. I know, I know, what else is new? That seems to be the case every single day recently. Yes, seems nary a day can go by without someone making some obnoxious comment about Governor Palin (oh, that reminds me - do you realize there are people in this country who do not realize that once one has held a title like governor, or president, or ambassador, what have you, that you are called that for the rest of your life? Amazingly, people in this country do not do that, and one took the opportunity to tear down Palin's aide for referring to her as "Governor." Wow.)

You may have heard that Barbara Walters included Sarah Palin as one of the "Top 10 Most Fascinating People." And after the taping, Walters made condescending comments about Palin to Robin Roberts on Good Morning America after Palin had the grace to sit down with her. If I was Gov. Palin, I would add Walters to the list with Katie Couric. But that's just me.

Now Richard Wolffe, the MSNBC toady, I mean, analyst, has had some smack to say about Palin from that very interview. About what does he make fun of her for saying? That she reads C.S. Lewis.


You may recall back during the 2008 election, liberals were upset with Palin for her conservative faith. Heck, even the Washington Post was writing about her "pastor problem." Palin's pastor problem - because, well, you know, Obama didn't have one. Ahem (and the JournoListers made damn sure many people didn't know he had one).

Yes, Richard Wolffe made fun of Palin for saying she reads C.S. Lewis for "divine inspiration." Oh, yes he did:
[snip] Appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball” with Chris Matthews, Wolffe expressed incredulity, noting that Lewis wrote “a series of kids’ books.”

Matthews interrupted Wolffe: “I wouldn’t put down C.S. Lewis.”

“I’m not putting him down,” Wollfe responded. “But you know divine inspiration? There are things she could’ve said to divine inspiration. Choosing C.S. Lewis is an interesting one.”

Aside from authoring popular children’s books like the “Chronicles of Narnia,” Lewis was known as a Christian apologist who authored a number of books on religion, like “Mere Christianity.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Okay, you know it is bad when even Tweety jumps in there at Wolffe's statement. But Matthews has a point. C.S. Lewis was a well-regarded scholar, erudite, intelligent, and a prolific writer of books on Christianity. One would think after criticizing her for being too conservative that her choice of this scholar, contemporary of, and friends with, J.R.R. Tolkien would have gotten her a bit of a break. But no.

Wolffe, in his PDS state can only make fun of her, apparently assuming she was referring to the "Chronicles of Narnia," the children's series. That is but one part of the numerous books Lewis wrote about Christianity. Perhaps, since Wolffe is apparently unfamiliar with the author, he doesn't even have to look it up. He can watch "Shadowlands" and learn all about the life and works of C.S. Lewis. That will only take him a couple of hours. Shoot, I bet he can stream it from NetFlix.

No, it is just so much more fun to put Palin down for ANYTHING she says. I swear to the goddess, if she lived during the time Jesus walked the earth, she could say she
sat down and talked with him for divine inspiration. No doubt, Wolffe would find a way to put her down for that. He might say something like she hung out with blue collar carpenter whose friends were a bunch of fishermen, and - GASP - women! What a joke!

This is the same crap they did to Hillary time and time again. It is so, so tiresome to see this "damned if she does, damned if she doesn't" mentality ever present with those in the media. I'm sick of it.

And I am sick of the constant "gotcha" mentality of the media toward Palin (and Clinton) ever present. Why did Palin even mention reading C.S. Lewis? Because Barbara Walters, a la Couric, asked her what she read. I kid you not. Oh, and she also said to Palin, "Many find the idea of you as president 'scary.'" Wow. I'm sorry, but that's just rude.

Unfortunately, I am sure this is far from over, especially as 2012 approaches. I mean, really - when reading C.S. Lewis becomes fodder for put downs, well, that says it all, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Is In The Water In Berkeley?

My jaw literally dropped when I saw the following story about the Berkeley City Hall and their most recent action. The headline gives you a hint: "Alleged Leaker Bradley Manning: Hero To Berkeley?". Of course, the headline refers to WikiLeaks. And the answer would be...

YES!!!! By a vote of 7-3, the Peace and Justice Commission passed a resolution to go to the City Council claiming Manning should be freed, and is a hero:
An Army private jailed for allegedly leaking sensitive military data is a hero and should be freed, according to a resolution under consideration by the Berkeley City Council.

The council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to declare its support for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who's suspected of providing WikiLeaks with classified military documents and a video depicting an Army helicopter attack in Baghdad in which 11 civilians were killed. [snip]

Oh, boy. But wait, it gets better:
"If he did what he's accused of doing, he's a patriot and should get a medal," said Bob Meola, the Berkeley peace and justice commissioner who authored the resolution. "I think the war criminals should be the ones prosecuted, not the whistle-blowers."

The proposed resolution originated from the same commission that declared the Marine Corps "unwanted intruders" in Berkeley in 2008. The council's ensuing approval - and reversal - ignited some of the city's most raucous protest in years and prompted more than 25,000 e-mails to City Hall.

Now that should tell you all you need to know. I don't know about you, but when my back is against the wall, if I had to choose between one of these yahoos and a Marine, I'd take a Marine any day of the week. But that's just me.

Okay, now I know that there can be times when the release of sensitive information, whistle blowing, has resulted in positive changes. I get that. But to declare this soldier who stole classified information, information that is putting lives at stake (according to our Secretary of State, the director of the DOJ, and former President Clinton), does not a hero make. IMHO, that is.

So, how about those "no" votes? This is what one of them had to say:
[snip] Commissioner Thyme Siegel was one of the three "no" votes.

"We're just sitting here in Berkeley - we don't know that Afghani informants aren't being murdered because of these leaks," she said. "Bradley Manning sounds like a very sincere person, but I'm sorry, we really do have enemies, and it's not clear at all what the effects of these WikiLeaks are." [snip]

You're damn skippy, Ms. Siegel. That's my point. Not just for the Afghani informants, but for intelligence assets and US personnel around the globe.

In case you were wanted to know more about the resolution, it continues:
Berkeley's proposed resolution thanks Manning "for his courage in bringing the truth to the American people and the people of the world."

Army officials had no comment on Berkeley's resolution, but said that leaking classified data can endanger the lives of informants, provide useful information to the enemy and undermine the trust of those working with the military, according to Department of Defense spokesman Bob Mehal. [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Holy moley. Ah, yes - "courage." Is that what we are calling treason these days? Providing classified information to a foreign national? Give me a break already. Manning isn't exactly Karen Silkwood. He stole classified information, is cocky as hell about it all, and does not appear to be doing it in a "whistle blowing" kind of way, but more of a, "hey, look what I did!" kind of way. Big, big difference.

Not too long after I picked my jaw up off the floor from reading this article, I received the following email from Voters for Peace, with this in the Subject line: "ON BEHALF OF JULIAN ASSANGE AND WIKILEAKS." Wow. You know I had to open it. The email reads:
Challenging U.S. Empire and its illegal and unjust wars are at the heart of our work at VotersForPeace.US.

This mission calls us to the active defense of journalist Julian Assange, and the courageous whisteblower(s) who are dealing the most powerful blow to U.S. Empire in recent memory with the continuous massive release of documents now rocking world capitals and dominating the global media.

In an attempt to intimidate and silence others, there is serious concern that the U.S. government will try to make Assange an example by manipulation of existing law or the creation of new laws retroactively applied charging him with crimes in the United States and pressuring other governments to extradite him to the USA.

We must create a culture where it is safe and supported to tell the truth about our government’s activities. We must encourage more people to have the courage to reveal what they know about the murder, torture and corruption committed in our name.

We must stand up to protect all whisteblowers and truth tellers in the face of a U.S. government which is increasingly unaccountable to citizens, to domestic or international laws, or to our Constitution.

Recall that The New York Times has admitted it checked every document it published with the government beforehand. We must say to the Empire, "We draw the line HERE. Step back. We will not sit silently while you make this journalist and good government activist into a criminal to drive fear into the hearts of any other who would oppose you. We will resist.”

Please consider signing this petition as an expression of your support for peace, justice, and democracy,


Linda Schade
Co-founder, Voters for Peace

WTH? The "U.S. Empire"?? Are these some of the same people involved in "Hacktivism," trying to disrupt Visa, Mastercard, and the Palins own personal credit cards,a long with Palin's PAC to support what they consider to be WikiLeaks free speech rights? (Ironically, they have a narrow view of free speech. It only applies to them, and not to those who, like Palin, oppose what Julian Assange has done. Perhaps they can look up the term "hypocrite" in Wikipedia to see if their picture appears there. Just a suggestion.)

Meanwhile, looks like the DOJ is finally getting its act together (seriously - how long have they had to look into possible wrong-doing?). According to the UK Independent, "Assange Could Face Espionage Trial In The U.S." What a concept.

Now - about Bradley Manning - will he face additional charges? A court-martial, perhaps? Huh - I wonder what the people in Berkeley would do then? I shudder to think. How about you?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Has Died Of Cancer

Just Monday, we learned that Elizabeth's cancer had returned, and doctors had recommended ceasing treatment. I admired Elizabeth so much. She grew up a Navy brat, went on to become an attorney, an author, a mother, and an activist (her politics were more in line with my own). The main reason I gave her husband a thought was because of her. I thought if she was married to him, that maybe he was an okay guy. Well, we all know how things turned out with John. But it was really Elizabeth who drew me for all of the reasons I mentioned (and to read a good review of her life, this Raleigh News and Observer story is good).

Still, she was the picture of courage and grace, whether through the tragic loss of her child, to her publicized battle with breast cancer, or the publicized tabloid story involving her husband and his mistress. Through it all, she carried herself with dignity. Rather than becoming bitter at the hand life dealt her, her response was to be kind, compassionate, and dedicated to making the lives of others better, especially in terms of the effects of cancer on others. (September 18, 2008 - Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, particularly her children. Elizabeth Edwards was a remarkable woman. She will be missed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reassignments Loom For US Diplomats Post-WikiLeaks **UPDATED**

Update below.

The release of State Department cables by Julian Assange at WikiLeaks has continued to have an impact at home and abroad. I am still not sure how it is this man has not been charged with espionage, or Pfc Bradley Manning with treason for providing classified information to a foreign national, but that is just me. That Assange is still free after not one, not two, but three massive data dumps of sensitive, classified information, is beyond me.

Recently, Philip Shenon of The Daily Beast had this article highlighting some of the effects of these leaks, After the Leaks, the Shakeup. This is disturbing, to put it mildly:
The Obama administration is planning a major reshuffling of diplomats, military officers, and intelligence operatives at U.S. embassies around the world out of concern that WikiLeaks has made it impossible—if not dangerous—for many of the Americans to remain in their current posts.

Administration officials tell The Daily Beast that while planning is only in its preliminary stages, the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA assume that they will have to shake up staffing at a number of American embassies and consulates within the coming months.

The shakeups are most likely at embassies where U.S. diplomats and other officials wrote classified cables—made public by WikiLeaks over the last week, or soon to be made public, with the Americans identified by name and title—in which they were harshly critical of corrupt or incompetent local government leaders.

I find this so troubling on a number of levels, not the least of which is that Assange has put lives at risk as a result of his personal vendetta against the United States. Additionally, he has ruined the work of some of our diplomats who will have to be reassigned:
[snip] “We’re going to have to pull out some of our best people,” said a senior U.S. national-security official, “because they dared to report back the truth about the nations in which they serve.”

"That's another part of the tragedy of this," said a senior U.S. national-security official. "We're going to have to pull out some of our best people—the diplomats who best represented the United States and were the most thoughtful in their analysis—because they dared to report back the truth about the nations in which they serve."

The State Department acknowledges that the WikiLeaks dump has done damage to American foreign policy, a problem that is likely to be compounded by the withdrawal of U.S. diplomats and other embassy officials who cannot be easily replaced because they are—not surprisingly—among the government's best-trained specialists on the foreign nations and regions where they are now posted. [snip]

Former President Bill Clinton also stated that these leaks were going to cost lives. In addition to that most chilling thought, the State Department has to withdraw diplomats who have laid groundwork to establish diplomatic relations, thus ending all of their carefully orchestrated work. All because of this one man who stole our classified cables.

Tell me again why we have not levied espionage charges against this man?

There is a great deal to this article, and I urge you to read the entire piece, but there was a component of this that was particularly troubling:
[snip] In an interview with The Daily Beast, Edelman, now teaching at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, would not discuss the contents of the cables, because they are officially still classified. But he said their public release was one small part of the "absolute catastrophe to American statecraft" that would be created by the WikiLeaks dump.

"There's every prospect of people getting killed over this," he said, noting that State Department cables often identify local intelligence contacts who might now be targeted for violence. "Certainly you're going to have to be very careful what you say to an American diplomat, if you say anything at all."

Administration officials say it is impossible to predict how many American diplomats and other embassy officials may have to be moved out of their posts, and from which embassies and consulates, because it is still unclear exactly what more WikiLeaks intends to make public. [snip]

Indeed, Assange has threatened to release a tremendous amount of information regarding Gitmo and BP, which is being held by approximately 100,000 individuals should anything happen to the site, and to him, presumably. This is in addition to the promised dump of information regarding the banking industry, including Bank of America. In other words, he is holding the United States hostage.

Again, he has been charged with no crimes by our government.

Here is something else that I find to be very disturbing:
[snip] The Obama administration appears to have given up all hope of stopping the release of the cables since Assange is believed to have shared the full library with some of his deputies within WikiLeaks.

State Department officials insisted there was no panic within the department over the release of the cables by WikiLeaks, especially since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aides have anticipated the release of the cables for more than six months.

Um, what? They knew this was coming (again - for the third time), and their response was what, exactly? To try and hack into WikiLeaks, plant a virus to disrupt the flow of this classified information that might endanger lives? No, not exactly:
[snip]A White House official tells The Daily Beast that "there have been no heart attacks" and that the State Department has been working for months to try to identify the U.S. diplomats and their local intelligence sources whose work—and safety—might be compromised in the cables released by WikiLeaks.

"We've known about this for some time," Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley, the department chief spokesman, told reporters last week. "The compromise happened months ago. And we have been working diligently with other agencies of government to assess the impact, understand what might have been downloaded and provided outside of the government. We've been prepared for this day for some time."

Philip Shenon is an investigative reporter based in Washington D.C. Almost all of his career was spent at The New York Times, where he was a reporter from 1981 until 2008. He is the bestselling author of The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. He has reported from several warzones and was one of two reporters from The Times embedded with American ground troops during the invasion of Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.

Ah, yes - to prepare for the release by identifying agents and diplomats. Well, that is important, I'll grant you. But if we are supposed to be the most powerful nation on EARTH, how is it that this one man, Julian Assange, aided by some lowly private, is able to put lives at risk without the US impeding him? Why has he not been arrested? Why was he allowed to release such sensitive information?

I am no computer guru by a long shot, but I do know that people are able to plant viruses all the time. Most of us have had to deal with the fallout of a Trojan Horse getting into our computers. Is it really possible that the United States does not have hackers capable of doing that to shut down this site and corrupting the files? For real? I just find that to be incredulous - aren't we supposed to have the best of the best, the brightest of the brightest working for our government to protect our national security and classified information?

I still do not understand how this private was able to gather all of this information. Who hasn't seen spy shows in which the security of information is critical, and any attempt to swipe it sets off alarms all over the place? Do we not have that capability? Apparently, that is only in the movies...

Evidently not. So, PJ Crowley's response to all of this is that they had been prepared for this day for some time? How about not allowing that day to happen at all? How about interrupting the flow of our classified information to the rest of the world? How about tracking down this asshole and ARRESTING him?

Am I missing something here? Because I am just at a loss as to why our government would not find a way to stop Assange. Again, that could just be me...

UPDATE: Julian Assange has been arrested in London on the Swedish sex crime charges.

In response to my queries, a reader at NQ provided this article from the Washington Post, "Why Prosecuting WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Won't Be Easy," which states this:
[snip] What law did Assange violate? It will surprise many that there is no statute making it illegal to reveal classified information. There are statutes that criminalize the disclosure of very specific types of classified information, such as the identity of a covert operative (think Valerie Plame) or "codes, ciphers or cryptographic systems." But there is no catch-all law that simply says, "Thou shalt not disclose classified information."

Indeed, when Congress tried to enact such a statute, President Bill Clinton sensibly vetoed it. His reason: The government suffers from such an overclassification problem - some intelligence agencies classify even newspaper articles - that a law of this sort would end up criminalizing the disclosure of innocuous information. And even that vetoed statute would have applied only to government officials, not to private individuals or journalists.

It IS a surprise, but that explains why "news" outlets like the NY Times could reprint the classified information.

But there is also this, which is why people like Sen. Diane Feinstein want to charge Assange with espionage:
Instead, prosecutors in the Assange case, like the prosecutors in the AIPAC case I handled (author Baruch Weiss), would resort to the Espionage Act of 1917, an archaic, World War I-era statute that prohibits "willfully" disclosing "information relating to the national defense." According to Judge T.S. Ellis in the AIPAC case, this means that the prosecution must prove, among other things, that a defendant knew that the information he was disclosing was potentially damaging to national security and that he was violating the law. [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

How could Assange NOT think it would damage the United States? Indeed, isn't that his point? Moreover, iff Assange commissioned the theft of this information, that seems like espionage to me. He obtained it somehow. And I still do not understand how this private was able to get away with this information, which raises some other questions...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Little Good News, And Just For Fun

As the fallout from WikiLeaks continues, as Congress battles over our taxes for 2011, and as Hillary Clinton once again asserts she is done with public service after this current stint, I wanted to bring you a little good news today, something that is just cool, highlighting the ingenuity of the human mind and spirit, and one that is just funny.

First up is the story of a high school long distance runner, Holland Reynolds, and her coach, Jim Tracy. I apologize for the long commercial at the start, but it is the only way to post this video. It is worth the wait:

Wow, what an amazing tribute to this young woman, her courage, her determination, and her love for her coach. It speaks volumes about both Reynolds, and her coach, Jim Tracy, that she was so intent upon accomplishing this goal for him. Sadly, this is his last year, as ALS saps the strength from his muscles. But his legacy will clearly live on, if this is any indication, and I think it is.

And now to human ingenuity, and just plain old fun. This is what happens when you get some engineers together, at least in Sweden:

How cool is that? Of course, anyone who has ever seen the classic, "Big," with Tom Hanks playing on the FAO Schwartz piano, has to smile at the piano staircase. And hey, it makes it fun to get some exercise, always a good thing.

Finally, just because it is funny as hell, are two cats playing pattycake. But what is funny are the voice-overs of what the cats are saying:

Oh, my. How funny is that?

Sometimes, we just need a break from all of the arguing over politics, frustration and concern about where our country is today, especially with unemployment still on the rise, and so much uncertainty about the future.

Never mind the stress of the upcoming holidays. To digress, how twisted is that? This is supposed to be a season of joy, of the shortest day turning toward the light, of the Festival of Lights, the celebration of birth, and yet it is an incredibly stressful season. This time of hope, of reflection, of expectation, of love, has become a frenzied time with shopping, baking, and traveling. Something is wrong with that picture.

So, just for now, a little good news, a little bit of fun, and some laughter, seems like a good idea. Know any good jokes?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Qatar? Are You Kidding Me??

Many of you know I am a big, huge soccer fan. My partner, who played soccer, and I have been to two Women's World Cups, and numerous matches (both professional, and the US Women's team). It was thrilling when we took our godson to Aruba this summer and the Netherlands made it into the finals. We watched the match that got them there with a number of Dutch fans. People all over the island were honking their horns, flying the Dutch flag, generally ecstatic at the Netherlands making it so far. It was a blast.

And so, I was interested to see to whom FIFA was going to award the 2022 World Cup, especially since the US was in the running. Well, FIFA, in their "infinite wisdom," granted to Qatar the 2022 World Cup over the United States. That's right. Qatar. By a vote of 14 - 8, with an all male committee, I might add. Where it is 100 degrees in the afternoon during the summer. Where wearing shorts can get you into trouble. Where Sharia law is the law of the land, particularly in "family matters, inheritance, and certain criminal acts" (though their National Human Rights Committee is working toward equal rights for women. And at least women can drive there, unlike our ally, Saudi Arabia. So there's that.).

Are you freakin' KIDDING me? Qatar is NOT a soccer powerhouse. Hell, it barely has soccer at all! Stadiums? What stadiums? They have to BUILD the damn things first, that's how much of a soccer country Qatar is. This WaPo article makes the understatement of the century:
On the surface, the decision by soccer's international governing body Thursday to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar - a desert nation smaller than Connecticut with shallow soccer roots and oppressive summer heat - instead of the United States or three other event-tested countries made little sense.

Um, no, not just "on the surface" - below the surface, to anyone with a brain in their head, it makes no sense whatsoever. Oh, but the FIFA people can justify it with some kind of logic, just like choosing Russia over England, the birthplace of "football". Sorry, my head is spinning. Anyway, here's the justification:

But to those close to the process who understand FIFA's complexities and recent mission to forge history, the results of the voting were not unforeseen.

Qatar received the most votes from the executive committee by a wide margin in each of the first three rounds, and when Australia, Japan and South Korea were eliminated, it defeated the United States, 14 to 8, for the right to host the planet's most popular sporting event.

"It's an election, and there are lots of things that go into that," U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said from Zurich, where, in another surprise, FIFA chose Russia over England and two other European bids to host the 2018 tournament. "It's politics, it's friendships and relationships, it's alliances, it's tactics."

FIFA seemed to regard the United States as the safe choice - the country had set attendance records when it hosted the 1994 World Cup and offered the stadiums, infrastructure and commercial rewards to pull off another successful tournament in 12 years.

But FIFA was also charmed by Qatar's innovative stadium plans, massive financial resources and the promise of promoting harmony in a region fractured by conflict.

[snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

They were "charmed" by it? THAT is the new standard for choosing a country with essentially ZERO sports acumen over the United States of America?? They thought the US was the "safe choice"? How about the SANE choice?!

Huh - I wonder just how much "charm" Qatar promised FIFA. I guess they don't expect too many women from abroad to go to the World Cup. Or anyone who enjoys a cold one while at the stadium (hell, I don't even drink, but good grief - it's SOCCER). Or who might want to hold hands with someone who is not yet their lawful spouse. Or any number of other things that are frowned upon there...

Wow. While women in Qatar may fare better than women in other Muslim countries, say, Iran, it is still a conservative country in which women wear the burka, and where most are in arranged marriages (though either party can refuse), and where polygamy is common. Women are allowed to go to (segregated) schools, and can work, but they are not in the upper echelons of society, particularly in the work place.

And so, this is the country FIFA chose over the United States. This tiny desert country with no soccer heritage of which to speak, a conservative Muslim country that is also hot as hell. Oh, yeah - I can see why they were picked over the US - all that "charm."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who Does Assange Think He Is?

The fallout continues from the recent 250,000 cables dump of classified information from the State Department by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks infamy. Assange, as noted previously, now has a warrant out for his arrest from Interpol for allegedly raping two women in Sweden.

Wow - what a great guy he is, huh? Stealing classified information, making it public, then claiming free speech. Someone needs to explain that one to me - he is not an American citizen, and he wants protected speech for documents - classified documents - he STOLE? Well, Amazon, at the behest of Senator Joe Lieberman, shut down the site. Despite the (faulty?) claim of free speech, Amazon is a private company, thus able to allow or disallow whatever site it wishes. I reckon Mr. Assange didn't think about that at the time. Oops.

Another thing he clearly did not think through was his call for Secretary of State Clinton to resign after his release of classified documents. Who the hell does he think he is, this thief, this alleged rapist, this holier-than-thou criminal, to tell our Secretary of State she should resign?

Oh, yeah - he said it, according to Time Magazine in this article, "Wikileaks Founder Assange Tells TIME: Hillary Clinton 'Should Resign.'" His logic for such a claim? This:
Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange said, "should resign." Speaking over Skype from an undisclosed location on Tuesday, the WikiLeaks founder was replying to a question by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel over the diplomatic-cable dump that Assange's organization loosed on the world this past weekend. Stengel had said the U.S. Secretary of State was looking like "the fall guy" in the ensuing controversy, and had asked whether her firing or resignation was an outcome that Assange wanted. "I don't think it would make much of a difference either way," Assange said. "But she should resign if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the U.S. has signed up. Yes, she should resign over that." (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Oh, please. Are you kidding me? The man who STOLE classified information, and then published it, thinks he is in ANY position to say what Secretary Clinton should or shouldn't do? Spare me.

His implication of wrong-doing on her part is just laughable. Now, I'm no diplomat (obviously), but diplomacy on this level incorporates a number of methods unknown to those of us outside that reality. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that it is not all drinks and dinner parties. There is much that goes on behind the scenes to accomplish the goals that serve our nation, especially its security.

And while I am not authority on this topic, Larry Johnson, is. He knows something about this level of diplomacy, as a former CIA and State Department employee. He makes clear that the cables that allegedly demonstrate Clinton's involvement did not originate from her, just as they did not originate from her predecessor, Condileeza Rice.

I think Assange's attempts to discredit Secretary Clinton have accomplished quite the opposite. Clinton's strongly worded response to the release of this information minces no words:
[snip] The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems. This Administration is advancing a robust foreign policy that is focused on advancing America’s national interests and leading the world in solving the most complex challenges of our time, from fixing the global economy, to thwarting international terrorism, to stopping the spread of catastrophic weapons, to advancing human rights and universal values. In every country and in every region of the world, we are working with partners to pursue these aims.

So let’s be clear: this disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity...

So whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risks to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others.

Now, I am aware that some may mistakenly applaud those responsible, so I want to set the record straight: There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends. [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Wow. It is precisely because of statements like that, and the authority with which she spoke, that even some Republicans were giving her props, like Christine O'Donnell on "Fox and Friends" Wednesday morning:

Ms. O'Donnell makes a great point about Secretary Clinton (except that Assange is not a US citizen, thus not subject to a charge of treason, though a charge of espionage is not out of the question, as Gretchen Carlson pointed out). Clinton did show great resolve, great strength, and stood up for the nation against Assange.

O'Donnell also makes a good point about what the government is doing about these leaks. That echoes a post by former Governor Sarah Palin, who pointed out that isn't like this is the FIRST data dump by WikiLeaks. Nope, it's the THIRD, and what has the Obama Administration done about it? Essentially nothing. And there is more coming down the road, apparently. It begs the question, why? Why have these leaks been allowed to continue?

Which leads me back to this: just who the hell does Assange think he is divulging classified information, and why has he not been arrested already? Apparently, the UK knows where he is, but hasn't arrested him on a paperwork technicality. Seriously? They can't even bring him in for questioning?

And Secretary Clinton most definitely does not need to resign, thank you very much, Mr. Assange. This is not about Clinton and her work at the State Department. No, it is about this criminal, Julian Assange. He needs to be brought to justice and right now. Don't you think?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah begins at sundown tonight (Wednesday), this festival of lights. This holiday commemorates the dedication of the (second) Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BCE. The festival lasted for eight (8) days, which is symbolized by the lighting of the menorah (though the menorah has 9 candles, with one being the attendant candle to light the others).

Of course, many of us who are not Jewish know about Hanukkah from Adam Sandler's classic song celebrating this holiiday. But move over, Adam, I think the B-Boyz may be taking your place:

Come on, how cute are those kids? I have to say, their song was a real toe-tapper!

But if hip hop isn't your style, perhaps the following Hanukkah blessings will be:

Beautiful. My father was a cantor in a synagogue when I was growing up (he was an organist, and choir master at ever church we attended, too). Perhaps that is from whom my appreciation for, and interest in, Judaism came. Just mentioning it...

To those who celebrate this holiday, may it be a blessed season for you and your families. Happy Hanukkah.

Sec. Clinton And Eric Holder Speak Out On WikiLeaks BREAKING NEWS! And Updated

One would have to have one's head buried in the sand or on a remote island to not have heard about the most recent leaks of classified cables by WikiLeaks of U.S. diplomacy. These documents exposed private conversations by diplomats regarding allies of the United States, and not always in the most glowing of fashions. That is to say, in common parlance, there was a whole lotta smack talked about some of our close international friends.

This vast amount of classified information was collected by Private Manning on cds he took into work with him, pretending they were Lady Gaga cds. Oops.

Are you kidding me? It is really that easy to obtain classified information?

Well, it won't be anymore. The State Department has jumped on this, and is working to set up safeguards lest this happen again. As one would expect, Secretary Clinton is having to address these cables, as well as attempt to mend fences with those leaders who didn't come off too well in the discussions of diplomats as revealed.

Secretary Clinton had this to say on Monday regarding the leaks:

Secretary Clinton isn't the only one speaking out about the impact and ramifications of the recent information dump by WikiLeaks. Eric Holder had this to say:

Uh, yeah. He's not too happy about it, either, especially in terms of the safety of assets in the field. That is a real, and critical, concern.

This is no small thing, this release of classified cables, on a number of levels. Time will tell how the chips will fall from this, especially in terms of the diplomats themselves and their ability to do their jobs (a number of news commentators have focused on this critical issue, from CNN to Fox); what will happen to Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is already facing the possibility of many years in prison; and what, if anything, will happen to Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks who released this information.

Stay tuned...

BREAKING NEWS (H/T to Bronwyn's Harbor): "Interpol Issues Global Arrest Warrant For Julian Assange":
Interpol, the international police organisation, has issued a global arrest warrant for WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, as the activist website continued its US diplomatic cables leaks today.

The 39-year-old Australian was added to the organisation's "wanted" list for alleged sex crimes committed in Sweden this year.

He is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, after an investigation by Swedish prosecutors into his encounters with two women in Sweden in August.

Mr Assange has denied the accusations, with his British lawyer Mark Stephens saying last month that they were "false and without basis". (Click HERE to read the rest.)

UPDATE: UPDATE: Former President Clinton has spoken out about the recent WikiLeaks of State Department cables, too. He is concerned that lives will be lost as a result of these leaks, as well as careers ended, according to this article. He also commented on Assange:
[snip] His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has argued that the website WikiLeaks acted illegally in posting the sensitive files.

Bill Clinton says it's clear that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is trying to evade the reach of American law because he knows what he did was criminal. But he says that doesn't mean Assange has succeeded. Interpol has put Assange on its most-wanted list for a separate matter. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Wow, that is pretty telling. It sure will be interesting to see what comes next, won't it?