Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saved By A Horse

Anyone who has read me regularly knows how much I love horses, and animals in general. This is a lifelong love affair I've been having, though it was interrupted by time spent up North, going to school, and all of that. Oh, and my knees, which ended my riding career back in high school (and no, I cannot ride with the knee replacement, either, sad to say). There is just something about horses that is, well, not to sound trite, but magical.

Because of my love of horses, my old friend, Connie, sent me the following LA Times article by Bill Dwyre, "Old Racing Horse Is A Winner With Autistic Boys." It is not news, of course, that animals are helpful to children with all kinds of issues, from cerebral palsy to autism. Heck, therapy animals are pretty much standard at many hospitals and nursing homes (where my mom was, there were a couple of dogs, and a cat).

This story really touched my heart, though, and I wanted to share some of it with you:
In horse racing terms, Grant and Greta Hays have had a rough trip. They have two young children, both severely autistic.

"After we had Jack, we wanted to have another child," Grant Hays says. "We thought the odds of having a second with autism were really low."

Jack is 6, Dylan 2. Neither speaks, except on rare spontaneous occasions. According to their father, they are antisocial kids, which is not unusual with autistic children. Grant says it creates a life of stress and tension, and cites research that says something like 85% of parents with autistic children get divorced.

The marriage of Grant and Greta apparently is going in the other direction. This is the story of how and why. It is also the story of a big, old gelded thoroughbred named Spot the Diplomat, who, through a series of coincidental circumstances, has carried this family to its own winner's circle.


He was owned most recently by Summit Racing, of which Bob Ike, nationally known handicapper and columnist, is a partner.

After two strong races this spring for Summit, Spot fractured a sesamoid in a workout and his racing career, but not his life, was over. While he healed on a nearby farm, Ike and his partners started thinking about a permanent home for him.

Spot had a decent career as a racehorse, though, as the article points out, not one that will land him in the Hall of Fame. But with his career cut short by injury, the owner had to find somewhere for him to go (and thank heavens that is the route the owner chose). So, how did this family see Spot run (couldn't resist)? Through work, as it turns out:
Ike occasionally filled in on one of the Sunday morning racing shows on AM 830, where Grant Hays was a producer. Hays knew lots about radio, but little about racing. But he, like an entire nation, had been captivated by the Zenyatta story and had started to pay attention.

Last spring, Hays took his family to a horse ranch in Texas run by author Rupert Isaacson, whose book on autistic children interacting with animals, "The Horse Boy," was made into a movie. The Hays family spent time around animals and began to see the positives of interaction that Isaacson wrote about.

This is the first I have heard of this book and the movie. Perhaps you have heard of them already. I know I'll be checking them out. Back to the Hays family:
"Jack speaks no words," Grant Hays says, "but we got off the plane and he turned to me and said, 'Texas.' I was stunned."

The family stress level decreased dramatically there, but went right back to normal when they returned to Los Angeles. Hays asked another of the radio hosts, Jay Privman, about the chances of taking his sons to see Zenyatta. Privman arranged it, Zenyatta was quiet and gentle with the boys and they returned for another visit. Trainer John Shirreffs soon had them up and riding on a stable pony.

That experience convinced Hays that his family needed a more rural life. He was also convinced that he needed animals, and probably a horse, for his sons. Deciding to live off savings for awhile, he leased a three-acre plot south of Austin, Texas, and started shedding the trappings of life in L.A.

"We got rid of four TV sets," he says. "We live in a single-wide mobile home. It is a lot less than we were used to in L.A."

In a conversation with Ike before he left, Hays said he was looking for a horse. Ike said he and his partners had one.

They all went to see Spot the Diplomat at his rehab farm near Murrieta.

"Jack stood directly behind the horse," Ike says. "I was kind of scared. Thoroughbreds can be touchy. But the horse never flinched, and I knew then that this might work."

Grant Hays says, "Dylan ran under his legs and Spot never twitched."

Zenyatta - what a wonder she is. Her reputation of being gentle is once again confirmed.

Anyone who has been around horses knows can understand Hays' concern. Things happen with horses that can be unexpected. A fly can be biting, and the horse will raise it's leg to get it off. I was clocked by my horse while grooming him because he shifted position while I was brushing his foreleg and my head was in the way. It wasn't his fault, it was mine. (And yes, I learned my lesson from that one.) The most experienced horse people can have things happen when a horse gets spooked, or doesn't feel well, or is cranky or whatever the case may be. Especially a race horse, which can often be highstrung. That is why this is so remarkable.

But horses are also smart, and like the dog who comes and places her head on your knee when you are upset, or the cat who lifts you up by their antics, horses can be a rock, a steadfast companion, a therapist, if you will:
Spot the Diplomat had a new home. The Hays family had another 6-year-old. The horse was shipped to Texas, paid for by Summit Racing, in late August. That was a month after the Hays family had arrived.

"In Los Angeles, we were a stressed-out family," Hays says. "Now, we are all happy. The boys are constantly with Spot. They play around him, ride him, sometimes sit on him for two or three hours at a time.

"He is an angel. He is perfectly behaved at all times. He's protective of the kids. It's almost phenomenal."

Hays says they have found a place where his children are happier. He says all the doctors and specialists they saw provided very little direction and insight.

"So we created our own world," he says... (Click HERE to read the rest.)

I completely understand. Even though I can no longer ride, there is something about being in the company of a horse. You would not believe me if I told you how much I pay a month to stable my horse, Jordan, and for all of his medicines and supplements (he turns 28 in January), but I can say this: it is worth every penny. I would pay twice as much for the joy, the comfort, the sheer delight I get in seeing him, in grooming him, just taking him in (as well as visiting with the other horses, mini horses, and pony at the stable). No matter the cost, no matter the joint pain for me (knees, shoulders, back), no matter what, it is worth it for this:

Sounds like the Hays family feels the same way. They are another family saved by a horse...

Monday, November 29, 2010

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

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...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Message To The Media From Sarah Palin

Well, the MSM is at it again - jumping on the slightest little blip by anyone but Obama. We saw this time and time again with Hillary Clinton, especially when she exaggerated her flight into Bosnia. Oh, the media was like a dog with a big ol' juicy bone - they just could not, WOULD not, let that one go. But Obama's malpropisms? WHAT malaprompisms, they seemed to be saying?

Indeed, their failure to report on them was staggering. One of my brothers just left my house, and he had never heard any of the things Obama said. You know, like the above-referenced "57 states," and more.

Well, this time, or should I say, once again, the MSM has targeted Sarah Palin. Why? Because she had a slip of the tongue in the midst of a discussion on North Korea attacking South Korea, one she quickly corrected. Not that any of THAT matters. Heck, Obama had to be TOLD that he said there were 57 states. He didn't catch his mistake (one of many). Nope. Not at all. But, hey - don't let that change how they actually REPORT the news. Rather, they prefer to make the news, as they did with Palin's misstep recently.

So, Palin has a little something for the media to help them along. Yes, she has compiled some of Obama's greatest hits for them in this Facebook message:

A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States

by Sarah Palin on Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 8:46pm

My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…

Of course, the paragraph above is based on a series of misstatements and verbal gaffes made by Barack Obama (I didn’t have enough time to do one for Joe Biden). YouTube links are provided just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue. If you can’t remember hearing about them, that’s because for the most part the media didn’t consider them newsworthy. I have no complaint about that. Everybody makes the occasional verbal gaffe – even news anchors.

Obviously, I would have been even more impressed if the media showed some consistency on this issue. Unfortunately, it seems they couldn’t resist the temptation to turn a simple one word slip-of-the-tongue of mine into a major political headline. The one word slip occurred yesterday during one of my seven back-to-back interviews wherein I was privileged to speak to the American public about the important, world-changing issues before us.

I admit - I roared with laughter over Palin not having enough time to write up all of Biden's gaffes - no kidding - I don't have that kind of time, either, and I think I have way more time than the ever busy Gov. Palin. Anywho - I get her point - only with someone like her (or Hillary, or anyone who is not Obama or Biden), a slip of the tongue becomes an international scandal. Wow.

Here's the thing - once again, the MSM failed to actually do their job:

If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime. The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? (And for that matter, why not just make up stories out of thin air – like the totally false hard news story which has run for three days now reporting that I lobbied the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” to cast a former Senate candidate on their show. That lie is further clear proof that the media completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking.)

“Hope springs eternal” as the poet says. Let’s hope that perhaps, just maybe, they might get it right next time. When we the people are effective in holding America’s free press accountable for responsible and truthful reporting, then we shall all have even more to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

- Sarah Palin

Love her, hate her, or be indifferent toward her, this continued faux outrage, this one-sided reporting by the Mainstream Media has got to stop. One would have thought that maybe, just maybe, the expose of the JournoListers shaping the news to benefit Obama from the get-go would have made the MSM act a bit more like professionals. Especially their acknowledgment that they intentionally went after Palin because she was a force with which to be reckoned, so they wanted to take her down.

But no. None of that happened. They have just gotten worse and worse. Perhaps they figured since the cat was out of the bag, what the hell? They might as well go all in. Except that isn't journalism. That is the stuff of tabloids.

I mean, really - the AP - the ASSOCIATED PRESS - writes an entire article on the conspiracy of conservative bloggers to keep Bristol Palin on "Dancing With The Stars" - after the finale. Maybe, just maybe, people were sick and tired of the MSM going after this 20 yr old because of who her mom is, or two of the judges routinely giving her lower scores even though her technique was better than some of the other dancers (a concept backed up in the AP article as well). Oh, yes - the Associated Press quotes a mathematician, Jason Gershman of Nova Southeastern University in Florida, who referred to her dancing as "mediocre." Sure would like to see THAT mathematician try to dance on this show. Then again, maybe not.

Let's just take a little gander at Professor Gershman, he of the dancing judging(you don't have to listen to him if you don't want to - just take a look):

Uh, yeah - who is HE to critique Bristol's dancing? I doubt he could come even close to what she accomplished in 10 weeks.

But I digress. In all honesty, I am pretty worried about what has come of the media in this country. If it's not Sarah, it's Hillary. It's whoever they have decided they want to diss to accomplish their endgame. And that is disturbing to me in a big way.

So, good for Governor Palin for highlighting the numerous gaffes of Barack Obama, and the MSM's failure to acknowledge same, while attacking her for a slip of the tongue. Someone's got to do it, right?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day To Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is not just a day to give thanks, it is also about love, when you think about it, don't you think? Opening up the heart to gratitude opens it up to love and other blessings:
"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!"

Thus spoke the Unitarian minister, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, back in the early 1800's, though his words are just as important today - especially today - as ever.

In these times, these difficult economic times, it may seem like there is less and less for which to be thankful for too many people. And yet, in my experience, it is often those who have the least who seem to be the most grateful. Perhaps it is their knowledge of how fleeting the more material things can be, how once gained, they can be lost in the blink of an eye. One layoff, one accident, one illness can rid us of all we have worked so hard to achieve.

The words of H.U. Westermayer bring the struggles that many of us face into some perspective:
The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.

Well, except those who were already living on that land. But I get the point, and trust you do, too. And those Pilgrims were joined in this cerebration, this giving of thanks, by those who were there before them, the original inhabitants. Indeed, almost twice as many Native Americans as Pilgrims. The Native Americans helped the Pilgrims during their first year here, an amazing occurrence for these two peoples who must have looked so strange to the other when they met. But help them they did, and despite the massive losses the Pilgrims suffered that first year, they stopped to give thanks, for three days.

The reality of the Pilgrims does not diminish the plight in which too many Americans, and others around the world, are living today. But it does give a bit of perspective into the original Thanksgiving, doesn't it? And says a lot about human nature. Suffice it to say, Americans have suffered, from those who first lived off this land (and who then suffered so much, from diseases they had never experienced before to the loss of their way of life, quarantined by the government on reservations, after tremendous loss of life of numerous tribes), to others who came to seek a better life, to those of us here today. But through it all, we have also made a point of giving thanks, even during the hardest of times.

On this Thanksgiving Day, let us remember those who are alone and lonely, those who are in mourning, those in need, and those who are hungry when many of us will be eating too much. May we remember to be mindful of others, kind in the face of anger, calm in the face of aggression, grateful for what we have, no matter how much or how little, that we are alive, and that we are loved.

I imagine that many you will be traveling to join loved ones for this holiday, this time to give thanks for all the blessings in your lives. The following song by Cheryl Wheeler is for you:

No rush - try to enjoy the drive as another part of the journey, the one taking you to the door of those you love, and the bigger journey that is life.

I leave you with the words of another Unitarian minister, Ralph Waldo Emerson:
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Amen and amen.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Travel safely.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IsThe HRC Bullying Willow Palin?

You may have heard about a recent outbreak of trash-talking on Facebook between Willow Palin and a young man who allegedly went to school where the Palins do, Tre. Tre was talking smack about Willow's mom after the premier of the TLC show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." (Palin's show was the most watched premiere in TLC history, garnering 5 million viewers.) Willow took umbrage, and used a couple of homophobic slurs in her responses to him, calling him "gay," and the f-word (the 6 letter one, that is). Apparently, Bristol weighed in, too, though did not use similar language.


Bristol regained her composure, though, and wrote this:
[snip] "Willow and I shouldn't have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize. On a nicer note, thank you for supporting the great competition in Dancing With the Stars!"

Needless to say, this has raised a firestorm about Willow, and the Palins in general. The HRC has been one such organization to take aim at 16 year old Willow, though not everyone in the blogosphere is happy about that:
Some bloggers have said that as a minor, Willow should be off-limits. They also said the Palin cub was simply defending her "mama grizzly" in the inappropriate and misinformed style of a teenager.

"Willow Palin is a child, and she is not fair game," Tommy Christopher wrote at Mediaite. "Willow and her Facebook playmates weren't thinking about the rash of suicides related to anti-gay bullying, including young kids who were not, in fact, gay. They didn't create a world where gay equals unequal, they are a product of it." [snip]

Now you know I am not condoning anyone using that kind of language. Not even close. But, I do know that using those kinds of slurs are common with young people. That does not excuse it, but it is a reality, unfortunately. Heck, my own godson, who has TWO out lesbian godmothers, has been known to say things like, "that's so gay." He's not the only one - other friends of mine have used that phrase to me, but claim it isn't intended as an insult. Um, well, maybe not, but it is.

Anyway, that is all to say, Willow is 16. I said some pretty stupid stuff at 16, too, but I didn't have it writ large on a national level. Again, not excusing it in any way, shape, or form, but I do see how it can happen. And how it is NOT a reflection on the parents themselves.

Two prominent gay and lesbian conservatives are furious with HRC and their attacks on Willow Palin. In this Daily Caller article, "Bigotry: The Selective Outrage Of The Gay Left," Tammy Bruce and Christopher R. Barron go after HRC.

As an aside, you may recall that I was a long, long time member of the HRC - over 25 years - until they endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton. They had just presented Clinton with a huge award for her work on behalf of the LGBT community, and they endorse the man with the virulently homophobic associates - Meeks and McClurkin come to mind - instead. Wow.

Anyway, back to the article, and the response from these two GOProud members:
For days now, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which holds itself out as the “largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization,” has shamefully used the issue of anti-gay bullying as part of a cheap political smear against former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. HRC, never shy about doing the bidding of the Democratic Party, issued a November 18th release blaring, “HRC to Sarah Palin: Two Days of Silence, Will You Speak Up?” Is this a release demanding Palin speak out about an issue of substance affecting gay people? No, this childish call-to-arms is about trash talk issued by a 16-year-old in a flame war on a social networking site.

The “controversy” surrounding inappropriate language used by the Palin daughters on Facebook shows again how selective the gay left is in expressing outrage over perceived “bigotry.”

Politicizing the serious issue of anti-gay bullying in order to score political points is morally reprehensible. Bristol apologized on behalf of herself and her younger sister — and that apology should be the end of the story, but it’s not because the real target of this faux outrage is Sarah Palin, a woman who represents an existential threat to both political machines.

No one is condoning the use of obscenities or derogatory terms, but no one who has seen the Facebook exchange in question can seriously claim this behavior had anything to do at all with “bullying.” It also has nothing to do with Willow Palin or the substance of what she wrote. Make no mistake; this is all about destroying Sarah Palin by friends of Obama and by any means necessary.

The irony here is stunning. The adults who run HRC are participating in a morally-reprehensible organized political hatchet job on a teenager all in the name of defending the victims of bigotry. [snip}

Can the case be made that the HRC is itself engaging in bullying against a child? And if so, it seems the motive is likely political:
[snip] The nature of the attacks on Palin reveals much about what motivates her critics. HRC’s press releases are ripe with misogynistic attacks on the Governor. HRC refers to the Governor as a “reality TV show star” — a transparent attempt to diminish Palin’s almost 20 years in politics. In a November 17th release, Joe Solmonese, the man at the helm of HRC, made a thinly veiled accusation that the Facebook exchange somehow showed Palin failed as a mother — “Anti-gay language by teenagers often starts at home…” [snip]

The authors discuss how that is not quite accurate - as I noted above, it is unfortunately far too common in our schools to use this kind of language. Sad, but true, even among those who should know better.

Bruce and Barron then target the Gay Left for their silence in regard to the homophobic, misogynistic tenets of radicalized Islam:
[snip] Last June, when President Obama delivered his much ballyhooed speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, he made no mention of the treatment of gays and lesbians living under Muslim regimes — even though in Egypt, the country where Mr. Obama spoke, gays have been subject to arrest and imprisonment for simply being gay. The reaction from the gay left? Nothing. No outrage, no harshly worded statements, and certainly no around-the-clock vigil waiting for an apology.

Last September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bravely took to the floor of the United Nations and criticized the treatment of gay people in Iran. After speaking with such moral clarity about the need to protect gay people from violence and death, if you expected praise from the gay left you would be wrong. Indeed, the powers that be at HRC pretended like Netanyahu’s speech never even happened.

The behavior of the gay left, and in particular HRC, is shameless and disgusting. Governor Palin certainly does not owe anyone associated with HRC an apology; indeed it is HRC who should apologize. They should apologize to Governor Palin for their vicious and unfounded smear, to the real victims of anti-gay bullying who they have cheaply exploited, and to gay people world-wide for the blind eye they have turned to the barbaric treatment of gays by radical Islamic regimes. (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Interesting comparison, is it not? How is it that the Left now thinks its cool to support radical (not moderate) Islam that treats women as worse than chattel, and gays even worse than that, yet take on a teenager for some crap she wrote on Facebook. One could argue their priorities are a bit skewed.

Again, by no means do I condone the language used by Willow on Facebook. The level of bullying occurring in our schools is troubling, indeed, whether those children being bullied are gay or not. The outcome is the same.

Bristol Palin has apologized for her sister's comments. They were out of line. But are her comments worthy of the ire of an entire organization, one that is going after a teenager? Is the HRC minimizing the very real, and troubling, number of suicides by gay teens by their demand? Are they targeting not Willow, but her mother? Will being told something is "so gay" ever be seen as POSITIVE? Perhaps that is for what we should be striving instead of being so upset when someone uses it in that kind of context (hey, I can hope, can't I?)?

Maybe instead of the HRC focusing on some Facebook exchange between the daughter of a prominent Republican, they could push Obama to do more than give lip service to the LGBT community. Focus on repealing DADT. Focus on obtaining the same federal benefits for the LGBT community that the rest of the citizenry in this country enjoy. Push Obama to stop praising countries who treat their gay citizenry like criminals without mentioning same. You know, stuff like that.

And we need to do more sensitivity training in our schools - all of them. Our children need to know that this kind of name-calling is hurtful, regardless if the child is gay or not. It needs to stop. Adults need to stop using that kind of language, too (in a derogatory manner, that is). We need to teach our children that bullying is wrong no matter what. Period.

So, how about you. What do you think about this whole situation?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Do Other Former Governors Do This?

Recently my local paper, the Post and Courier, had an article by Yvonne Wenger about incoming SC governor, Nikki Haley. The title pretty much sums it up, Former S.C. Governors Offer Haley A Few Tips On What's Important.

I was really struck by this. The former governors, both Republican and Democrat, chimed in to tell her what she should expect as governor, but also gave her some suggestions for what she should do while serving the state:
[snip] Members of South Carolina's exclusive governors club -- an unlikely fellowship united by their shared past -- tell Haley she should remember who her friends were in the beginning, they will be the ones there in the end; invite the security detail to Christmas dinner; pray every day for wisdom and courage; and get ready to be the best salesperson this state has ever seen. {snip}

Outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican who was an early mentor for Haley, advised her to stay loyal to the ideas that propelled her to run in the first place. He urged her to never forget the promises she made to the voters along the campaign trail. And, he said, she should find time to nurture her friendships and her soul.

"Don't lose touch with those who were your friends before this newest chapter of life, because they will be the ones who are there after," Sanford said. [snip]

Given what happened with Governor Sanford, he ought to know about the friends issue (you may recall he had/has an affair with an Argentine woman, though he also brought Boeing to the state, no small feat.). Sounds like good advice.

But he wasn't the only one:
[snip] Former Gov. Jim Hodges, the last Democrat to serve as governor, said on a personal front, Haley should make sure her staff schedules enough time for her to be a mother and a wife. A governor's job is all-consuming and she needs to carve out the time for family, Hodges said.

Professionally, Hodges said Haley can never take her eyes off job creation.

"First, she needs to focus on picking a strong commerce secretary, because having a single-minded focus on job creation is critically important for her to be successful," Hodges said.

Hodges said Haley's first year in office will set the trajectory for the other three in her term. Legislators will be most willing to work with her that first year, and she should take advantage of the fresh relationship to accomplish her agenda, he said. "It becomes harder after that."


Former Republican Gov. David Beasley, 53, had the same personal advice for Haley as Hodges: family time is critical.

"She has got to lay down the law with her staff," Beasley said. "Even though she is governor, she is still a mother and a wife. Those are God-given responsibilities."

The better mother and wife she is, the better governor she will be, Beasley said.

In terms of governing, Beasley said, Haley's responsibilities start with asking God for guidance. A public servant should be humble, he said.

It is interesting to see how much focus these former governors put on family first, and the importance of humility. Beasley continued:
First, she needs to, on a daily basis, get down on her knees and pray that God will give her wisdom and courage every singe day," he said.

As for working with lawmakers, Beasley said Haley should, "Treat them as friends who have the same love for South Carolina" as she does. [snip]

Also sound advice - if one starts from that assumption, that fellow lawmakers are in to serve the state, and to make it better, it sets the tone of bipartisanship and cooperation, something sorely lacking on the national scale of late.

Speaking for his father, Governor Campbell, was his son:
[snip] Mike Campbell and his mother, Iris, endorsed Haley's gubernatorial bid last month. Gov. Campbell, a Republican who was chief executive from 1987 to 1995, died in 2005 at age 65 after suffering a heart attack.

Governors since Campbell have been judged against his accomplishments, including government restructuring and economic development.

"One of the primary reasons that dad was as effective as he was, was he was willing to listen to people and find common ground," Mike Campbell said. "That doesn't mean you abandon your principles and core beliefs, but you find common ground."

Mike Campbell also said the Haley family will have to keep in direct communication with constituents and avoid being isolated, but also maintain privacy. The family will be surrounded by security at all times, and the Campbells embraced the security detail to the point that they too felt like family, Mike Campbell said.

The Campbells invited members of the security detail who had to work on the holidays to join the family for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, Mike Campbell said.

As for the Haleys' two young children, Mike Campbell said, they need to bring their friends over to the mansion as often as possible so they can live like normal kids.

Former Gov. Jim Edwards, 83, also had some advice for the family when it comes life in the mansion. The mansion is a lot of things, he said -- a museum and a place to dine and entertain important business leaders, but it's also a home. And the children should have friends over to play, he said.

"My children had a really good time and I think the new governor's family will enjoy living in the mansion," Edwards, a Republican, said. "If anything, it strengthened my family." [snip]

"I wouldn't dare try to give the new governor advice," he said. "She is a capable young lady. I think she'll do well."(Click HERE to read the rest.)

Well, I cannot disagree with him there - Haley does seem capable of the task ahead of her, having already made appointments that were well received, and indicative of her managerial skills.

I don't know if this happens in other states or not, but it certainly seems like it would be a good thing to do, as the torch is passed. Share the experience, remind the incoming governor of what is important (family, faith, service, and humility), and expect the new governor to do everything in her/his power to make the state a better place.

This article highlights that we are all in this together, despite our political affiliations. If we move from the place of wanting what is best, truly best, for our city, state, and country, that has to be a good step, right? Of course, that means electing people who move from that place, not one of self-aggrandizement, or desire for power. If we continue to do that, it can only be to the good of our country.

How about the state in which you live? Are the former governors passing along the torch?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Aren't Prosecutors At Rangel's Door, And The DOJ Blows It **UPDATED**

If you or I somehow, mysteriously, ended up with $600,000 large in cold hard cash, with no explanation, and no taxes paid (i.e., tax evasion), what do you think would happen to you or me? I'm thinking if it came to light, I might have some nice Fed showing up at my door telling me I had a little 'splaining to do.

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin thinks Charlie Rangel would, too. If he weren't in Congress, that is:

Wow, pretty scathing, especially coming from a noted liberal. And it is interesting to me to hear him say that Rangel hasn't even really done anything for his district, but rather for himself and his cronies. And yet he was just elected. Go figure.

But Mr. Goodwin is right. I don't care if Rangel has served 100 years in the Congress, that does not make him exempt from our laws. Given that Rangel is the chair of the very committee that creates tax law, he should be held to a higher standard, not a lesser one. Speculation is that he will get little more than a reprimand for his numerous ethical (and legal) infractions. How is it again that he isn't being prosecuted for the tax evasion? Beats me.

But, then again, the DOJ isn't exactly batting a thousand these days. Their "brilliant" decision (cough choke) to try Ahmed Kailfan Ghailani in civilian court is evidence enough of that. How someone can be acquitted on 284 counts of terrorism charges and found guilty of just 1 with the mountain of evidence stacked against him would be laughable were it not so damn serious. It is an affront, is it not?

Here are the Fox All-Stars discussing this very issue:

I don't know about you, but it seems to me this Administration is failing miserably in not charging people who should be charged with crimes because of who they are, and at dealing with people who have plotted against our very nation, and who took American lives. What kind of message does this send, that someone can conspire against our nation, and the very logic used to convict him of one count somehow acquits him of almost 300 other counts despite their being based on the one charge? It is startling in its lack of logic.

I guess it is not too late for the Congress to step up and do the right thing and expel Charlie Rangel, though I am not holding my breath on that one. Nor am I holding my breath on them doing much no matter the result of the upcoming ethics trial for Maxine Waters. The way the committee acted after the Rangel trial is reason enough when the counsel claimed it wasn't so much that Rangel was corrupt, just that he was "sloppy" when it came to his personal finances. Are you kidding me? Good grief.

Well, I guess we will know soon enough what will happen with Mr. Rangel. And, if this panel lets him off with merely a slap on the wrist, we know they will be coming up for re-election in the not-too-distant future, right? Justice will prevail, one way or the other...

UPDATE: As you no doubt have heard by now, and as reported by the NY Times, the House panel has recommended 9-1 for censure for Mr. Rangel, and for him to pay his back taxes (um, and why hasn't he done this already???). The full House will vote on this after the Thanksgiving recess.

It is a shame that this is how Rep. Rangel's career will be remembered, a decorated war veteran, and Civil Rights advocate, he has spent many years in the House. Perhaps too many, it would seem. He could have avoided this hearing, though, and resigned. Instead, he is facing censure, and if the House so votes, it will be the first time since 1983, according to the NY Times article. A shame it is, and one Rangel has no one to blame for but himself. And he should be grateful the panel did not vote for expulsion.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out in the Waters case, but my guess is she will get off lighter than this, though Rangel is fortunate that this is the avenue the Panel has decided to take.

It still begs the question - why is he not having prosecutors show up at his door??

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Teachable Moment" Or Infringement Of Rights?

An old friend of mine sent me an article recently from NPR, "Teacher Suspended After Stopping Anti-Gay Talk." My friend was a high school teacher for many years (and now teaches on the community college level), so naturally, this would pique her interest. Mine, too.

But the headline is a bit misleading, I think. It makes it sound like a kid was bullying by using homophobic language. That was not the case:
[snip] On Oct. 20, McDowell told a student in his classroom to remove a belt buckle with the Confederate Flag, the symbol of the southern confederacy that seceded from the United States over slavery, kicking off the Civil War in the 1860s.

She complied, but it prompted a question from a boy about how the flag differs from the rainbow flag, a symbol of pride for the gay community.

"I explained the difference between the flags, and he said, 'I don't accept gays,''' said McDowell, 42, who was wearing a shirt with an anti-gay bullying message.

McDowell said he told the student he couldn't say that in class.

"And he said, 'Why? I don't accept gays. It's against my religion.' I reiterated that it's not appropriate to say something like that in class,'' McDowell said Monday.

McDowell said he sent the boy out of the room for a one-day class suspension. Another boy asked if he also could leave because he also didn't accept gays.

"The classroom discussion was heading in a direction I didn't want it to head,'' McDowell said.

McDowell soon received a reprimand letter from the district that said his actions violated the students' free speech rights as well as school policy. It also said he "purposefully initiated a controversial issue'' by the wearing the T-shirt featuring the anti-gay bullying message.

"I thought it was a really great, teachable moment,'' McDowell said of his decision to remove the student from class. [snip]

I have a few problems with the way the teacher handled this situation. It did not seem to me that the young man was gay-bullying, but giving his religious belief, which he is allowed to have, much as I (and apparently, the teacher) disagree with him. As long as he was not bashing anyone, that is. A number of mainstream religions teach that homosexuality is a sin, and a number still do not ordain LGBT people. That this student holds such a religious belief is his right, as long as he does not take it out on anyone. Again, much as I disagree with that religious belief, the student has the right to his beliefs.

I think the more "teachable moment" would have been to keep him in the classroom. Maybe discuss how, even if our religious beliefs differ, we can, and should, treat people with respect, and stand up for "the least of these," to couch it in language the young man may have understood. It was a perfect opportunity to discuss the bullying that has been occurring in our school across the country, and how it isn't just against gay kids, but "nerds," small kids, etc. That was the teachable moment in my mind.

I think the t-shirt the teacher wore was provocative, even if it was in support of ending the recent bullying cases making the headlines. Given that he was clearly stating a position, he should have expected that some people might have taken umbrage with it. And, he should have been willing to engage, and really TEACH, rather than dismiss.

And I think this was a discussion more suited to a Social Studies class than an Economics class. While I appreciate - very much - the teacher's intent, he infringed upon the young man's rights by, well, being intolerant of the student's beliefs. In his attempt to stop bullying, he, in essence, bullied this kid. Since the teacher had the power, he was able to toss out someone with whom he disagreed rather than have a real discussion.

That is to say, this teacher seemed to violate the student's right to free speech, which is also the conclusion of ACLU attorney:
[snip] Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Legal Project, credits McDowell for trying to create a "welcoming environment for all students.'' But Kaplan said the "teachable moment'' would have come if the students stayed in the classroom.

"We believe, based on those statements — as offensive and upsetting as they were — they were protected speech,'' Kaplan said. "The only way we're going to create a better environment in schools is to start talking about this.''

Kaplan said Howell schools have expressed interest in accepting the ACLU's offer to provide in-person training to students, faculty and staff. He said such training could provide a better understanding of what can be said and done. [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

That sounds like a positive step for the Howell schools, and a better way to go about creating an atmosphere conducive to these kinds of discussions. I am glad to learn they are open to this

I'm glad Md. McDowell is aware of this issue, and doing what he can to end gay-bashing/bullying in his school, but there are ways that are more effective than others to accomplish that goal. The kind of intolerance he demonstrated by kicking the student out sends the wrong message, and will simply breed resentment, not enlightenment.

At least that's what I think. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"O, Charlie, Where Art Thou?" Breaking News

That would be Charlie Rangel, the long-standing congressman, facing 13 ethics violations. Congressman Rangel had been saying for months to bring on his trial, he was ready, let's go before he died since he was already 80. Of course, the Democratic leadership pushed it off until after the Mid-term elections. So, the hearing was set for Monday, November 15th.

Rangel came into the hearing, gave some long-winded diatribe about how he had served for many years, how he had spent $1.million dollars on attorneys fees, had split with his attorneys, the House had not provided him an attorney, and he needed more time to prepare. The Panel said no. Rangel then stormed out, and the panel continued their duty without him, feeling they had plenty enough evidence from comments Rangel had made previously on these charges.

And now the panel has concluded with its duties. They made it clear that this service was not something any of them sought, though they executed it to the best of their abilities. Their decisions on the Ethics Charges* are: #3 was a split decision (4 - 4), which dealt with House Rules regarding Gifts; and #5 was rolled into #4, but there was unanimous agreement on the remaining 11 charges: Guilty as charged.

What Congressman Rangel's punishment will be is not yet known. It will be decided in another couple of weeks.

* Here is the complete list of Ethics Charges against Rep. Rangel. Remember, #5 was rolled into #4, and #3 was the only one on which there was NOT unanimous agreement:

1. Conduct in violation of the solicitation and gift ban

* "Between 2005 and 2008 Respondent engaged in a pattern of soliciting for donations and other things of value on behalf of the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy at the City College of New York."
* "The entities solicited were seeking official action from the House..."
* "Respondent's conduct was not within the parameters established by the Standards Committee for solicitations on behalf of charitable organizations."

2. Conduct in violations of Code of Ethics for Government Service (clause 5)

* A member is never supposed to give special favors or accept things that may make it look like it could sway the member in his official capacity.
* "...Respondent made numerous requests for support for the Rangel Center. Those requests were directed at entities and individuals whose interests could be affected by the legislative and oversight activities of Respondent in his capacity as a member of congress."
* "Contributions were made by persons with interests before the Ways and Means Committee..."
* "Contributions to the Rangel Center provided a benefit to Respondent."

3. Conduct in violation of the House gift rule

* "Respondent solicited contributions for the Rangel Center and the Rangel Center did receive contributions."
* "Respondent has a personal interest in the Rangel Center... will provide him with an office, and allows him to perpetuate his legacy, including the storing and archiving of his papers."
* "Contributions to the Rangel Center constituted indirect gifts attributable to Respondent."

4. Conduct in violation of postal service laws and franking commission regulations

* A member is not allowed to use the frank for any association, committee or organization. Only for official congressional duties.
* "Respondent used his frank for the benefit of a charitable organization and for solicitation of funds."

5. Conduct in violation of any franking statute

* "Respondent used his frank on materials that were not official business."

6. Conduct in violation of House Office Building Commission's Regulations

* Not allowed to use congressional staff to solicit contributions on House of Representatives property.
* "Respondent and his staff drafted solicitation letters and performed other work related to solicitations on property of the U.S. Representatives."

7. Conduct in violation of the purpose law and the Member's Congressional Handbook

* Members' allowances include official mail costs/staff salaries. It is against the law to misuse federal funds. The members' handbook says the allowance can only be used for official purposes.
* "Respondent used House employees and other official House resources for work related to the Rangel center."
* "Those resources included the use of staff time, use of telephones and House email accounts, other office supplies, and of the frank. Those expenses were paid using the MRA." MRA is the Member's Representational Allowance.

8. Conduct in violation of the Letterhead Rules

* House rules do not allow anyone not under the direction and control of the House to use the words "Congress of the United States" or "House of Representatives" or "Official Business."
* "...Respondent sent letters related to the Rangel Center on letterhead bearing the words 'Congress of the United States' and 'House of Representatives.'"

9. Conduct in violation of the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA) and House Rule 16

* EIGA requires members to file full and complete Financial Disclosure statements on income, rent on property, gifts and other financial assets. If a statement has to be amended, the committee says it's in good faith if done by the end of the year and an explanation as to why. Fail on one of those, and the amendment is not considered in good faith.
* "Respondent engaged in a pattern of submitting Financial Disclosure statements that were incomplete and inaccurate."
* "Respondent failed to report numerous items required to be reported... from 1998 through 2008."
* "Respondent erroneously reported numerous required to be reported under the EIGA during the period 1998 through 2007."
* "Respondent's amendments...1998 through 2007 were not filed within the close of the year...Respondent's amendments were not timely."
* "Respondent's amendments...1998 through 2007 were filed after the committee...had established an investigative subcommittee with respect to Respondent's conduct, including his reporting of the Punta Cana villa on his Financial Disclosure Statements..."
* "Respondent has failed to establish that the amendments to his Financial Disclosure statements for the calendar years 1998 through 2007 were submitted in good faith."
* "Respondent's conduct violated the EIGA."

10. Conduct in violation of Code of ethics for Government Service (clause 5)

* Here's another case where a person in government is not supposed to give special privileges to anyone or accept favors or benefits that could look like it might influence his actions as a Representative.
* "Respondent received a rent stabilized residential apartment at Lenox Terrace, which he used as office space for Rangel for Congress and National Leadership PAC."
* "Terms of the lease for the rent stabilized apartment provided that the apartment was to be used 'for living purposes only.'"
* "Respondent's acceptance of that rent-stabilized apartment for nonresidential purposes in contravention of the terms of the lease was a favor or benefit to him..."
* "Respondent accepted the favor or benefit from Olnick under circumstances that might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties."

11. Conduct in violation of Code of Ethics for Government Service (clause 2)

* Code of ethics for government service states that people in government must uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States.
* "Respondent's failure to report rental income related to Punta Cana on his Federal income tax returns violated the Internal Revenue Code."
* As already stated above, Rangel also violated Franking Regulations, House Office Building Commission's Regulations, Member's Congressional Handbook, Ethics in Government Act and the Internal Revenue Code and other violations.

12. Conduct in Violation of the Code of Conduct: Letter and Spirit of House Rules

* House Rules state that a Member "shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Rules of the House..."
* Respondent's conduct violated this rule.

13. Conduct in Violation of the Code of Conduct: Conduct Reflecting Discredibility on the House

* House Rules state that a Member "shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."
* Subcommittee finds Rangel violated this with the following offenses:
1. -Improper solicitations of potential donors to the Rangel Center

-Acceptance of favors and benefits from donors to the Rangel Center in a way that some might see as influence the job he does in Congress

-Knowingly accepting indirect gifts from donors to the Rangel Center

-Improperly using franking privileges to raise money for the Rangel Center

-Writing solicitations for the Rangel Center on House property

-Misusing House resources- staff, phones, e-mail and franking for work related to the Rangel Center.
2. -Misuse of Congressional letterhead to solicit donations to the Rangel Center

-Failing to disclose, from 1998 to 2007, full and complete financial statements
3. -Rangel's pattern of submitting Financial Disclosure statements that were incomplete and inaccurate

-Failing to make sure his Financial Disclosure statements were complete and accurate

-Violating the Ethics in Government Act

-Failing to report rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic on his Federal income tax returns from 1998 to 2006
4. -Violating the Internal Revenue Code

5. -Receiving rent stabilized apartment, using it for campaign activities when the lease stated it should be used only for living purposes

6. -Accepting the rent stabilized apartment in a way that could look like he was influence in his government activities by the deal

7. -By breaking the law, Rangel violated the Code of Ethics for Government Service

8. -By not adhering to the letter and spirit of House Rules

-"Respondent's pattern of indifference or disregard for the laws, rules and regulations of the United States and the House of Representatives is a serious violation"

9. -"Respondent's actions and accumulation of actions reflected poorly on the institution of the House and, thereby, brought discredit to the House"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Loss, Absence, And The Holidays

My sister-in-law lost her mother early this morning. She was a sweet little woman (I am not being pejorative, she was very small), who lived with my brother and sister-in-law. The three of them visited not too long ago. This was sudden. Debbie's mother fell Friday night, the ambulance rushed her to the hospital, and by early Monday morning, she was gone. It is still hard to believe.

My sister-in-law is a total sweetie. Ever since my mom's stroke last year, she went to see Mom every single day (unless they were out of town, which was rare). She did Mom's laundry for her, too, even though the facility would have done it (they didn't do it soon enough to suit Debbie). And, after we lost Mom in January, Debbie helped plan the memorial service, gathering photos and written remembrances, making a beautiful triptych for display after the service. Honestly, we couldn't do it without her.

We were already bracing ourselves for the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without Mom. While these are holidays we love to celebrate, this year was going to be different, hard, and painful without my mom. To say I miss her is a vast understatement. I still think of her every day.

But now Debbie and her family are faced with the same dilemma. Thanksgiving is so close, Christmas so soon afterward. The grief, the disbelief at how quickly her mom was taken still in the forefront. It is too soon, too soon to celebrate the shortest day as the earth makes its turn back toward the light.

Of course, we are not alone. Others are dealing with the loss of a parent, a sibling, a child. People too soon taken from our lives through illness, accident, or war, whether a stray bullet from a gang member's gun at home, or an IED in one of the wars we are fighting abroad. My heart just breaks for those dealing with such a loss.

And this upcoming holiday season is hard on those who have fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, all stripe of family member serving in the military, deployed to far off lands, far from their families and loved ones. How hard is it for young children to not have one of their parents at home with them over this holiday season, though their homes are filled with love and the smells of the season. Somehow, it is just not the same. (If you are able ans so inclined, faithful reader Janie alerted me to this site, Any Soldier, which provides names of active military to whom one can send packages, letting you know what kinds of things they might need. Now would be a good time to consider such a gift.)

The upcoming holiday season can also be difficult for those who have little or no family, or family from whom they are estranged. A "happy" Thanksgiving, or a "Merry" Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or Solstice is not in the cards for them. Too many people feel alienated at this time of year, too stressed, too sad, some even taking their own lives out of gut-wrenching, heart-breaking loneliness.

All of that is to say, while the holidays upcoming can be, and I hope for many, joyous occasions, they may also be a source of pain and grief to others. And so, I would ask that perhaps we can treat each other with a little more kindness, maybe bite our tongues when a snarky response is about to escape our lips to the person standing in the middle of the grocery store aisle, not moving, or taking too long getting out of a parking lot space. For all we know, something may have just hit them, a memory of their beloved gone, or seeing a present they know their mom would have loved, and remembering - again - that she was no longer there to receive it.

A little kindness, a little grace, a "pay it forward" act of good will this holiday season may go a long way to ease someone's burden, their grief, their pain. We are all in this together, after all, and if we treat one another with loving kindness, not just in this season, but year-round, no telling the difference it could make.

In the meantime, for my sister-in-law and her family, words do not suffice to address the grief and sorrow they are feeling. For them, and for everyone who is in pain and sorrow, I offer you the following, and hope that it will be a balm to your soul:

And, since Debbie's mother was Roman Catholic, this is for her. She will be missed:

May she rest in peace...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Free At Last, Free At Last..."

"Thank God Almighty," she is free at last.

That would be the political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was, at long, long, last, released today in Myanmar. Just last night, Amnesty International sent out an "Action Alert" to ensure her release today, and unbelievably, it has come to pass:

What a great day it is when justice prevails.

Amnesty International had this to say about her release, written by Jim Roberts, the Myanmar Country Specialist Amnesty International USA:
In this season of giving thanks, we are thrilled and grateful for the release today of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (Burma)! The government released her after seven and a half years of house arrest.

Will she re-form the National League for Democracy? Will she continue to advocate for democracy? Will her release be for good this time, or will the government find another reason for imprisoning her yet again? Only time will tell.

While we couldn’t be happier about Suu Kyi’s release, time continues to run short for the over 2,200 other political prisoners who are still behind bars in some of the most notorious prisons in the world. They from suffer lack of medical care, proper nutrition, and lack of contact with their families. Many are imprisoned hundreds of miles from their homes, making travel for their families difficult if not impossible.

So while we give thanks for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, let’s do something for the others. (Photo of Suu Kyi's release is a STR/AFP/Getty Images)

As noted in the above Amnesty International release, there are 2,200 more political prisoners being held. Their release should be swift and immediate.

Yes, today is a good day for human rights and justice.

I would love to hear about good things happening in your area. It need not be on the level of a released political prisoner who also happens to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

It can be something like my representative, backstabber, race-baiter Jim Clyburn stepping aside so that Steny Hoyer can be the second in command for the minority party in the House (I didn't see THAT one coming, but yay!).

Or the story of a local woman, Elizabeth Steed, who felt called to open a rescue organization for horses in the Lowcountry which doesn't just rescue and heal the horses, but trains owners in how to be better owners. Her organization, "The Livestock and Equine Awareness and Rescue Network, or LEARN," received 80 horses in the past two years who had been seized from their abusive (or ignorant) owners.

So how about it, what's going on where you are?

Friday, November 12, 2010

We Don't Blame You, Pat

Sajak, that is. Mr. Sajak was kind enough to issue an apology recently for Keith Olbermann. Why, you might ask? Many years ago, Mr. Sajak often had Olbermann on his show as a sports analyst. He enjoyed his wry sense of humor and intellect. Hey, so did I, in all honesty.I used to DVR "Countdown," wouldn't miss it. That was then, this is now, and no way in hell will I give him the traffic.

As for Mr. Sajak, the same thing. This was then. To give you an idea, this is what Keith used to be like:

Funny, right? Perfectly entertaining. But something happened in 2008 that just seemed to send him off the rails. Mr. Sajak seems to feel the same way, given he issued an apology, which he did through Ricochet.com:
[snip] Keith tended to wear out his welcome at stations and networks, and he bounced around to several places before he found his niche at MSNBC. When he first went on the air there, he was actually quite entertaining. He was wry and amusing, and he looked at the news at a kind of cockeyed angle that I enjoyed.

I’m not sure how he morphed into the bitter-sounding, hate-mongering name-caller he’s become, but I’m sorry he did. I liked the guy, and he was always a good guest. Maybe it’s just show business and trying to find a place in it and building an audience, but I don’t know. We were never friends away from the show, so I can’t even guess what drives him.

I do know that to whatever extent the political well has been poisoned, Keith has dumped more than his share of venom into the water. I’d like to think he knows that and maybe even regrets it. I liked the Keith Olbermann of 1989. This tape reminded me that I miss him. (Click here to read the rest.)

Well, you will get zero argument from me that Olbermann dumped more than his share of venom into the political well. The extent of his poisonous ranting has been well documented.

But you know Mr. Olbermann was not going to take this lying down. Why should he? He is probably one of the few people who can be suspended from work, and make his employers apologize to him in order for him to return. Go figure. Anyway, the long and short of Olbermann's retort is that Sajak did not introduce him to a national audience. Yeah, okay, Keith - whatever you say (am I alone in not believing what he says? Yeah, didn't think so.).

I appreciate Mr. Sajak's taking the time, and bearing the responsibility, for apologizing for unleashing Olbermann onto the national scene, but it isn't his fault. We don't blame the Wheel of Fortune man. How could he possibly know that the funny, quirky sportscaster he had on his show was going to turn into someone who said crap like this:

Yikes. And anyone who listened to this man during the 2008 Primary knows for Olbermann to throw the terms "sexist" at someone else is just laughable. Laughable. The manner in which he has talked about both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin make him the last person in the world to be taken seriously hurling that charge at another. Who could forget statements like this from the lips of Mr. Olbermann, "Right. Somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out." So, this man, who is threatening violence against a woman, and not just any woman - a sitting US Senator, thinks he can call anyone else a "sexist"? Yeah, that would be laughable if it wasn't so despicable.

Again, anyone who watched him during the 2008 Primaries/Campaign know the type of rhetoric to which Mr. Sajak was referring. He couldn't know, couldn't possibly know, that this is who the once-funny sportscaster would become...

Consider this an Open Thread.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Salute To Veterans

Today is the day we recognize the sacrifices of our men and women who have donned the uniform of our country in her service. Many are gone, those brave souls who fought early in our nation's history, and in the Great War, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, too. We have lost brave troops in both Iraq wars, as well as Afghanistan. And we have many veterans returning from those two wars in which we are still engaged. Today is the day we remember them, their willingness to put themselves second, and their country first.

We honor your service, we honor you, veterans past and present, living and dead:

Norah Jones' "American Anthem" seems appropriate for this day:

As the very name of the following video acknowledges, "All Gave Some, Some Gave All":

One day seems insignificant considering the sacrifices veterans, and their families make. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation. We salute you, we thank you, and we remember you, this and every day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If Hillary Does This, I'm Moving *Updated*

As you may know, Obama is on his 10 day jaunt to Asia, culminating in the G20 Summit in South Korea. His trip included a stop in Indonesia, the country in which he spent some of his childhood. There is much I could write about this trip, though I will leave that to others. But one interesting comment came from one of his teachers in Indonesia who said even then, Obama was a "leader." His "friends" did what he told them to do because they were afraid of him. Um - I think we call that bullying today, not "leadership." Yikes.

While Obama is be-bopping about (getting out of Dodge after the Mid-term Election), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been on her own trip. First, she went to New Zealand, where the Prime Minister referred to her as "President Clinton." Secretary of State Clinton also made a visit to Papua, New Guinea, a 'filip" for that country. In Cambodia, she was in the midst of a group hug of young women who were human trafficking victims.

And Secretary Clinton visited Australia, where she discussed a number of important issues, highlighting the US-Australia alliance over China. But the highlight has to be this interview with comedians Hamish and Andy:

That is the Hillary we know and love, the Hillary we so needed to take the reins of this country, especially in these difficult times.

UPDATE: Unbelievably, Chris Matthews who shoved Obama down our throats on MSNBC(O), and constantly belittled and demeaned Hillary Clinton throughout the primaries said this about her appearance with Hamish and Andy: "Had you seen this Hillary Clinton in 2008, she might be president." Spare me, Mr. Matthews. You, personally, did so much to tarnish Hillary Clinton during the primaries that even Media Matters came after you for it. WE knew this is who we would get, but you and your network were hellbent on pushing Obama on us despite his thin resume. Just freakin' spare me already.

Instead, we got Obama (thanks, Chris), much to the dismay of many of us, including SC State Senator, Robert Ford. Turns out, back in 2007, State Senator Ford, an African American, took some heat for his prophetic (as it turns out) statement that if Obama was elected, he would pull down the entire Democratic Party. Huh. Well, whaddya know. He was right, as the Mid-Terms have made abundantly clear.

And no, Obama, it isn't your "failure to communicate":

Um, no, it was your policies.

But Mr. Ford is not done with his projections, no sirree, as this Post and Courier article indicates:
[snip] Ford, a Charleston Democrat, said U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, should step out of a leadership role next year, or the whole party will go down in defeat. Ford said the same goes for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Clyburn and Pelosi have offered themselves for leadership positions in next year's Congress, when the Democrats fall back to the minority party. Clyburn will run for House minority whip and Pelosi will run for the role as minority leader.

"If they elect Nancy Pelosi or Jim Clyburn to leadership, the Democratic Party will be taken off life support," Ford said. "That will be the end of the Democratic Party. They're bad news right now." [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Holy moley. Tell us how you really feel, Senator Ford! Well, you know, he was right once about Obama, and my bet is he'll be right again should Pelosi and Clyburn prevail (Clyburn is now in a race with Steny Hoyer as the two battle for the Minority whip position).

Should it come to be that for Pelosi and Clyburn to keep leadership positions does take down the Democratic Party as Senator Ford fears, then Secretary Clinton may feel free to embrace other opportunities. Like a move to Australia, for instance. Hey, if she gets wind that the people of Australia would appreciate and welcome her leadership, she just might take them up on it.

And if that happens, I'm outta here. Australia, here I come, to the land of koala bears, kangaroos, and didgeridoos. Hey, I'm all set. Check it out: "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!" Here, we can all practice together:

Rachel Maddow - How Is This Rhodes Scholar SO Unclear On The Concept?

How is it that people who actually work in the media, on television, are not aware that there is video documentation available to either support or dispel their assertions? I continue to be amazed that so many of these people seem to forget this.

Especially in the case of the Rhodes Scholar, Rachel Maddow, of MSNBC(Obama) fame, the female equivalent of Keith Olbermann. Now you would think a Rhodes Scholar, of all people, would know there will be video archives of programs on her own network, especially since she likes to use video archives of other cable news, like, say, Fox.

Evidently not. Recently, Ms. Maddow had a little holier-than-thou moment in which she asserted that guests on Fox News shilled for money, thus engaging in politics, something people at MSNBC(O) would NEVER, EVER do. Oh, no, in her most sanctimonious tone, she claimed MSNBC(O) was all about news, not politics, according to this very good Johnny Dollar piece. Would you find someone on MSNBC(O) shilling for cash for their political careers? Absolutely not. How dare anyone even suggest such a crazy thing! No doubt Ms. Maddow would say something along those lines, given her umbrage at Fox allowing such a thing on its programs.

The thing is, she would be wrong in a big way, as this video by Johnny Dollar makes clear:


So, not only is this Rhodes Scholar unclear on the concept of having video tape of her own news outlet, but of the term "HYPOCRISY."

Honest to pete, how in the world can she be so freakin' hypocritical, so pompous, and not see it? Or is it that she just doesn't care that she's a big liar? I guess being a Rhodes Scholar doesn't automatically imply one is ethical, so there is that. But really, her sanctimonious, arrogant, condescending attitude toward Fox for the very same thing guests on her network have done - with impunity, especially Alan Grayson (and THANK YOU, FLORIDA for not voting this man back in), is just laughable.

But you know, Ms. Maddow does seem to be in the right place there at MSNBC(O). Any network that employs the King of Pomposity, Keith Olbermann, and Angry Man, Ed Schultz, would be a great fit for the condescending hypocrisy of Rachel Maddow.

Keep it up, Rachel. You're making Fox look better and better.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is California The "Lindsey Lohan Of States"?

Yes, it is according to former Californian (and still Birkenstock-wearer), Allysia Finley, in this Wall Street Journal piece, "California Is The Lindsey Lohan Of States." This is her assessment after the recent election.

I must say, she does make some good points in this article:
[snip] After enjoying ephemeral highs and spending binges, you suffer crashes that culminate in brief, unsuccessful stints in rehab. This cycle repeats itself every five to 10 years, as the rest of the country looks on with a mixture of horror and amusement. We'd feel sorry for you if you didn't constantly flip us the bird.

Instead, we're making bets on how long it will be before your next meltdown. Oh, wait—you're already melting down.

You've racked up nearly $70 billion in general obligation debt, and that doesn't include your $500 billion unfunded pension liability. Your own analysts predict you'll face a hole of at least $80 billion over the next four years. [snip]

This reminds me of something a friend of mine who lives in California told me. A family member of hers didn't understand how a business person like Meg Whitman could possibly govern California. As in, what would she know about running a state?


How is it that I know that California has one of the largest economies in the WORLD (8th, down from 6th), but someone who lives there doesn't get that? Isn't a business person EXACTLY who you would want to try and pull your state up out of its flirtation with bankruptcy?

To continue with Ms. Finley's piece:
[snip]It's not as if you don't recognize that you've got problems. Roughly three-quarters of you say you're headed in the wrong direction, according to a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. You're even more depressed than Illinois and New York, and you've got sunshine 10 months of the year!

You appropriately give your government low marks—28% approval for outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 16% for the legislature—yet you continue to re-elect the politicians who got you into this mess. Not a single incumbent state legislator lost re-election this year, including one Democrat who died a month ago (no joke). What's scarier is that you've just given almost all of the keys to statewide offices to Democrats.

Jerry Brown will be your new (old) governor. This is the man who acted as a gateway drug to your spending addiction three decades ago when he gave public-sector employees collective bargaining rights. Helping enforce your wacky laws will be Lt. Gov-elect Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who flouted state law by allowing same-sex marriage. On the plus side, he has nice hair and loves you just the way you are...{snip]

Isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome? I'm pretty sure it is. And no doubt, that is why Ms. Finley concluded her article with this:
[snip] We've tried to help you, California. Some spent millions on campaigns to entice you to change your reckless behavior. And you told them to kick rocks.

So here's our final warning: When you inevitably crash and burn, don't count on us to bail you out.(Click HERE to read the rest.)

Amen to that. Whatever happens to you next, California, you brought it squarely on yourself. Time to grow up, and take responsibility for your actions (same goes for Lindsey Lohan).

And while we are talking about insanity, how about Massachusetts re-electing Barney Frank? No, I am not just talking about his post-election rant, but how many of you knew that his partner was busted in 2007 for growing marijuana? Not just was his partner, James Ready busted for it, but Frank was PRESENT at the time of his arrest. Oh, but wait - it gets better. In Jonah Goldberg's very good piece on Frank, Frank claimed that he "is not a great outdoorsman," so you know he, um, didn't recognize that the plants in front of him just happened to be pot 'cause he just doesn't know about plants and stuff. Riiiiggghhhttttt.

But it gets even better (I tell you, this Goldberg article is a wealth of hilarious information about Barney Frank - that is, if you think an elected official breaking the law repeatedly is funny). Yes, this also has to do with one of Frank's partners, and it's a doozy:
[snip] Twenty years earlier, Mr. Frank endured another controversy when his one-time partner, personal aide and roommate was revealed to be running a prostitution service out of Mr. Frank's home. The Massachusetts congressmen insisted he hadn't noticed anything amiss until informed by his landlord. [snip]

Are you freaking kidding me?? And this guy is SILL in office? I'm sorry, but what the hell is wrong with the people in Massachusetts that this guy keeps getting elected?

I mean, personal stuff aside (and holy moley), even more than the above is his involvement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, about which I have written previously. Not for nothing, but helping to send our country down the tubes economically is no small thing:
[snip] And when Mr. Frank helped fuel a housing bubble that nearly crippled the economy for a generation, he again failed to notice anything was awry until it was obvious for all to see. [snip]

But here is the crux of the matter with Mr. Frank (and a few other elected officials, say Rangel, Waters, et al):
[snip] While lesser men, perhaps those not dubbed the "brainiest" man on Capitol Hill by congressional staffers, might worry about accountability, Mr. Frank considers it an affront, given his personal and professional record. In short, Mr. Frank has a very solid record of obliviousness, denial and entitlement.[snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

I'll say. The same can be said for "Call me SENATOR, General" Boxer, and a host of other folks sitting in Congress. I reckon we can add Nancy Pelosi to the "oblivious" team given her desire to run for the Minority Leader position after many Democrats lost their jobs as a result of her heavy-handed, tone-deaf leadership. Yikes. Clearly, she thinks the "shellacking" the Democrats received in the recent election had nothing to do with her.

Oh, wait - she's from California. Yeah, okay - given the Lindsey Lohan-ness of that state, I guess this makes sense. It's not her with the problem, it's everyone else, I guess. Gotcha.

At some point, we have to stop the insanity. We have to stop keeping the same people in office who got us into the big mess in which we find ourselves. Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi both have a great deal to answer for in terms of where we are economically, yet both will be returning to The Hill.

All I can say is, don't come crying to the rest of us when things continue to go horribly wrong, especially you, California - you had your chance. And you blew it.