Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Official

My new site is up at WordPress. Thanks again to Uppity and Nunly for the enco to move over there. I have added this blog to the Blogroll for Archives sake, but as of today, it is up and running.

Here is the link to Rabblerouserruminations' Weblog. Please bookmark it.

I will be writing at the other site exclusively from now on, though given all that is going on right now, likely not every day (I also will be on vacation again in 10 days, so there's that).

In any event, I hope you will come join me at the other site. It is more user-friendly, especially to make comments. See you soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Construction *Open Thread*

Hey, Friends -

I am working on changing my blog site to WordPress, and away from Google's "Blogger" for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are: 1. my good buddy, Uppity, suggested I do so; 2. because Google attaches a bunch of cookies to people who visit; and 3. it can be a real pain in the butt for people to leave comments. In all honesty, I should have done this ages ago, and I apologize that I did not. So, while I work on setting up the other site, this one will continue to be available.

While I am at the housekeeping portion of this post, I also want to give fair warning that I will be undergoing more knee surgery next month. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only way to determine exactly what is going on in there that is making my pain worse now than it was before. As it is, concentrating on actually writing posts has become increasingly difficult, so expect my posting to be a little more sporadic in the time leading up to the surgery, and for a bit afterward.

Okay. Enough about me. Here are a couple of stories that really caught my eye. First up is the new talking point by the Democrats that it is all the Tea Party's fault for our downgraded credit rating. Because, you know, it just makes sense to blame the people who want to rein in spending and decrease our debt for this rating, right? Uh, yeah, if you are Obama puppeteer David Axelrod, or the last Democrat for whom I ever voted because I was a Yellow Dog Dem even though I couldn't stand him, John Kerry. Wow. The lack of logic there is just staggering.

Let me understand this. The Democrats refused to prepare a budget for over two years because they knew the debt ceiling discussion would necessarily come up, and kept spending like drunken Congresspeople, ballooning our debt more and more, and somehow, it is the fault of a few people from the Tea Party in Congress? What a crock.

Then there is this astonishing story just out now: Jacqueline Kennedy (Onassis) believed it was Lyndon B. Johnson who caused the death of her husband, JFK. Check that - had JFK killed:
[snip] In the tapes, to be broadcast by ABC, Kennedy reveals her belief that Johnson and a cabal of Texas tycoons orchestrated the murder of her husband by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.[snip]

Holy crappydoo - that is massive.

And finally, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and fellow troops after the tremendous loss of 30 of our finest this past weekend in Afghanistan. Such a tragic event in terms of how it happened, and that it happened. To lose so many members of the elite Seal Team Six is just mind boggling. My heart just breaks for all of those affected personally by this tragedy, and for us all, as this impacts us, too.

For them, for their families, I leave you with this:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where Have All The Girls Gone?

Debra Saunders had a disturbing piece up at the San Francisco Chronicle recently. In the midst of all of the haggling, blaming, and name calling going on at the Hill, this may not seem like an exciting, gotcha kind of story, but it is an important one, and highlights a situation that will have a long term, global impact.

Here is the story, as detailed in Saunders' piece,
In This Brave New World, Girls Disappear
The world is becoming unbalanced. In pockets across the globe, women are giving birth to too many boys. In China, the sex ratio is 121 boys to 100 girls. In India, it's 112 to 100. Sex selection also is a force in the Balkans, Armenia and Georgia. In her eye-opening book, "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," journalist Mara Hvistendahl estimates that ultrasound and abortion have "claimed over 160 million potential women and girls - in Asia alone." That's more than the entire female population of the United States.

If you think that scarcity makes women more valuable, you are right - but that does not mean females benefit. As "surplus men" have trouble finding mates, young girls are forced into prostitution. Others are forced into arranged marriages. On Taiwan's eBay, Hvistendahl finds three Vietnamese women for sale for $5,400.

Those women who do well economically in the new order sadly are more likely to abort daughters in favor of sons.

Is this not disconcerting? Not only are girls being aborted in greater numbers by choice, but the decreased numbers of girls does not translate to girls being treated better. Not even close, unfortunately. Most disturbing is that women are buying into this mindset, and how that is made manifest.

Saunders points out, though, that this isn't just bad for women:
The results are equally bleak for men. Many boys grow up knowing they are unlikely to marry and start a family. In two years, 1 in 10 Chinese men will lack a female counterpart. The Chinese have a term - fenquing for "angry youth" - to describe the legions of young men likely to grow old alone. They find release in places like the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar, "where for the price of a few drinks, customers can pummel one of the bar's hired hands." In that equation, both men are losers.

In three decades, Vietnam - a poor country that provides brides and kidnapped prostitutes to affluent overly male nations - will have 4.3 million surplus men.

Holy cow. The difference the shortage of women will make in such a brief period of time is astonishing.

Saunders touches on the path of good intentions, whose result seem to fulfill the old adage paves the path to hell:
Hvistendahl finds no shortage of villains in this story. There's China's one-child policy, which resulted in untold forced abortions. Western governments and charities threw money at family-planning efforts to stem population growth in Asia, with little concern to the methods - forced sterilizations and abortions - employed. Then there are the willing participants - doctors, nurses and parents - who choose to engage in female feticide. French demographer Christophe Guilmoto recalls an Indian woman who was livid because she had aborted a boy after a doctor misdiagnosed the gender of her fetus.

I was struck at the distortion of good intentions. Family planning does promote prosperity, while overpopulation is unhealthy and destabilizing. Researchers develop technologies to help families. But in a world where technology moves faster than ethical thinking, giving would-be parents the gender they prefer is good business. So you get fertility clinics like the Los Angeles outfit that advertises, "Be certain your next child will be the gender you're hoping for."

Of course, sex-selection abortions happen in America, often among immigrant families. Hvistendahl reports that 35 percent of Asian American pregnancies result in abortion. [snip]

Oh, yes - definitely "good intentions" paved the way to this hell, which affects girls on a massive scale. And the numbers are just staggering.

Saunders concludes with the following:
[snip] Canadian sociologist Sharada Srinivasan has another suggestion. As she told Hvistendahl, at some point, feminists have to define sex selection as a human rights abuse. That would be a good start. (Click here to read the rest.)

Yes, it would be a good place to start - it is a human rights abuse, and the sooner we start dealing with it as such, the better.

I will leave you as Saunders did in her piece, with the following quotes. These should get your blood a-pumping: Thoughts On Parenthood

"You can choose whether to be a parent, but once you choose to be a parent, you cannot choose whether it's a boy or girl, black or white, tall or short."

- Delhi gynecologist Puneet Bedi

"Better 500 rupees now than 500,000 later."

- Mumbai ultrasound ad

"Less than $5 invested in population control is worth $100 invested in economic growth."

- President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a 1965 speech in San Francisco
Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Says It All *Updated*

I received the following photos from my friend, Artemis, this morning. I think this sums up perfectly the difference between who we could have had, and who we have.

Hillary Clinton in the rain:

And then there is Obama in the rain:

Enough said, though feel free to share your opinions!

UPDATE: Apologies for not having the photo credits, but the friend who sent the email let me know she got the photos from our friend, Uppity Woman's site (where Uppity got them from, I don't know). Uppity has an outstanding post along the lines of this one (though better - Uppity Woman ROCKS). Here is the link to, "He's Stolen Everything ELSE, But He Can't Steal My HOPE!" Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Voter Fraud Convictions About Which You Probably Didn't Hear

I am back from vacation, but am fortunate enough to still have my (almost) 7 year old grandnephew visiting, so posts may be spotty for the next week. Thanks!

And not just because of the constant Debt Ceiling discussion. It is amazing - I was out of the country for five days, and I swear, there has been very little real movement. Even now, a resolution is being touted, but nothing has been PASSED. Just another pesky little detail, right?

Anyway, I don't think it is just the Debt talk that kept this little news story out of the major headlines: "Mississippi NAACP Leader Sent To Prison For 10 Counts Of Voter Fraud." Have you heard about this? No, I didn't think so:
While NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lashed out at new state laws requiring photo ID for voting, an NAACP executive sits in prison, sentenced for carrying out a massive voter fraud scheme.

In a story ignored by the national media, in April a Tunica County, Miss., jury convicted NAACP official Lessadolla Sowers on 10 counts of fraudulently casting absentee ballots. Sowers is identified on an NAACP website as a member of the Tunica County NAACP
Executive Committee.

Sowers received a five-year prison term for each of the 10 counts, but Circuit Court Judge Charles Webster permitted Sowers to serve those terms concurrently, according to the Tunica Times, the only media outlet to cover the sentencing.

“This crime cuts against the fabric of our free society,” Judge Webster said.[snip]

No kidding, it does. I still do not get the whole brouhaha about wanting people to show evidence of who they are - we have to do it for far lesser reasons all of the time in this country. That just seems to be a red herring to me, and one that clearly is meant to hide stories like this one. It seems to take a lot to prove actual voter fraud, and that this woman was found guilty of 10 counts is mighty telling.

And it isn't the first time:
[snip] The NAACP has had other problems with voter fraud. The NAACP National Voter Fund registered a dead man to vote in Lake County, Ohio, in 2004. That same year, out of 325 voter registration cards filed by the NAACP in Cleveland, 48 were flagged as fraudulent.

But the NAACP’s voter fraud record doesn’t approach that of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now. At least 54 individuals employed by or associated with ACORN have been convicted of voter fraud.

Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is a blanket term used by lawyers that encompasses a host of election-related improprieties including fraudulent voting, voter registration fraud, perjury, forgery, counterfeiting, impersonation, intimidation, and identity fraud.

I have written extensively about ACORN, and all of their attempts to throw an election. I think just about all of the different ways to commit fraud above would fit ACORN. It has been systemic, and systematic. People have been convicted here and there, but the organization itself seemed to slip by. Until now:
And ACORN, which filed for bankruptcy last November, was itself convicted of voter fraud in Nevada in April. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 10 in Las Vegas. ACORN was also banished from Ohio in 2010 when it settled a state racketeering filed against it by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a project of the Buckeye Institute. Under the settlement ACORN, which is now reorganizing its state chapters under different names, agreed never to return to the state. [snip]

Uh, yeah. Given that ACORN is restructuring under different names, someone better stay on their toes to make sure they don't slip back into Nevada, especially considering their good buddy and protector, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. Just saying'.

But here is what I don't get:
Election experts say voter fraud is fairly common, but progressive activists typically insist that the crime is virtually nonexistent. Republicans, they say, routinely exaggerate claims of voter fraud in order to whip their political base into a frenzy and push for voter ID laws. Liberals say such laws are unfair, and claim that they discourage minorities and the poor from voting.


Stephen Colbert, the liberal comedian who portrays an overbearing conservative Republican on his cable TV show “The Colbert Report,” broadcast a segment this week ridiculing Republicans for treating voter fraud as a serious problem.

Some Democrats, however, aren’t laughing. The office of District Attorney Brenda F. Mitchell, a registered Democrat who serves Mississippi’s 11th Circuit Court District, successfully prosecuted Sowers. Mitchell was appointed to the post by Republican Gov. Haley Barbour in January 2010 after the previous DA resigned. She’s now seeking the Democratic nomination for the office in a primary election scheduled for Aug. 2.

District Attorney Mitchell isn't the only one:
[snip] U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, is also no conservative. But she won a conviction against Joshua Reed for voter registration fraud in 2004 when she was the Hennepin County, Minn. Prosecutor.

“It was very important for the public integrity of our electoral system that somebody, if they do something like this, gets charged, gets convicted and gets consequences,” Klobuchar said at the time. (Click here to read the rest.)

I could not agree with Senator Klobuchar more. Our right to vote is sacred, and should be treated as such. And, those who violate that sacred trust deserve to be brought to justice. We need them to be so that we can have full faith and confidence that our elected officials were duly elected. At least this past one, that did not seem to be the case for a host of reasons, mainly surrounding ACORN, and the entire nominating process.

This is good news, even if you haven't heard about it - justice was meted out to both Ms. Sowers, and to ACORN. That's a start. Hopefully, the powers that be will be more vigilant in ensuring this does not happen again, and if it does, to bring the perpetrators to account swiftly. Our system deserves nothing less... Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Saturday, July 23, 2011

At Long Last, Certification To End DADT

Friends, I will be on vacation this week, going on a cruise with family and friends. I hope you all have a great week!

Finally. Finally the Powers-That-Be plan to certify that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" cease to be the law of the land. Once Obama signs off on it, that is. And it will take a couple more months before it is so, but still, better than nothing.

I, for one, am very glad this law will no longer be on the books. It is about time our LGB Americans are able to serve openly without fear of reprisal should their private life be found out. No one should have to hide who they are for fear of being stripped of their position, of their vocation (for some), of their income, simply because of who it is they love. This is long, long overdue.

But for some in the community, this change comes to late. One such person is Lt. Dan Choi, a decorated war veteran, and graduate of West Point. Lt. Choi was dismissed because of his sexuality. It was a tremendous loss for our Army, and for Lt. Choi, who was willing to serve his nation, and did, with great distinction.

And now, Lt. Choi is considering throwing his support not to Barack Obama, but to former governor, Gary Johnson:
Choi, who in 2010 was arrested for chaining himself to the fence of the White House in protest, told The Daily Caller in an email, “I lost significant trust in Obama and his fawning gay elites in the wake of recent homophobic court appeals and election-induced double-talk.”

Choi’s frustration with the president’s apparent lack of interest in the policy’s repeal during the lame duck session of Congress has been compounded by administration appeals of court decisions that have ordered an immediate end to the policy’s enforcement.


Choi has ruled out supporting Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who he said “foolishly aids the Obama camp in making a cartoonish parody” of Republicans.[snip]

Interesting. I admit, I do not know much about Gary Johnson, but I certainly share Choi's frustration with Obama. I am pretty tired of people acting like he is all that for the LGBT community when his DOJ has repeatedly upheld DOMA, for instance, not as a matter of law, but by characterizing gay people as perverts. For Obama to now say he supports a bill by Sen. Feinstein to repeal DOMA is just laughable. That's an easy thing for him to say - costs him nothing. But those of us who have been paying attention know what his Administration has done to keep it in place.

In much the same way, Obama has done NOTHING to abolish DADT. He didn't push for it, others did. He merely paid some lip service when it was politically expedient for him to do so. Like all of a sudden having the Certification to end DADT coming as his numbers continue to decline. What a coincidence, huh? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

But Lt. Choi didn't stop there:
[snip]“There are some very appealing candidates such as Governor Gary Johnson and others who are much better than Obama on civil rights,” Choi said. “Our community is too often manipulated by homophobic Democrats; I see very little difference when being manipulated by homophobic Republicans,” Choi said. “One group is openly vile while the other remains closeted towards the same objective: political exploitation.” (Gary Johnson assails conservative Iowa group’s marriage pact.)


“Our community is too often manipulated by homophobic Democrats; I see very little difference when being manipulated by homophobic Republicans,” Choi said. “One group is openly vile while the other remains closeted towards the same objective: political exploitation.” (Click here to read the rest.)

Ain't that the truth. We are the newest political football - whee!

I never expected Obama to do anything for this community anyway. As I have written numerous times, the people whom he has counted as close friends, like IL Senator, the Reverend James Meeks, or campaigned with, like Donnie McClurkin, are not exactly gay-friendly (that is a massive understatement - they are both unbelievably homophobic). Quite the opposite, in fact. Still, it is nice to see people like Lt. Choi realizing Obama is no friend to us - unless it helps his poll numbers, that is...

In any event, at long, long last, in 60 days, all Americans will be able to serve equally, without fear of reprisal. This is no small thing. Having to hide something so fundamental, so integral, is soul-sucking stuff. It is a horrible thing to do to another human being, and it sure shouldn't have been institutionalized in our military.

It will be a good day, indeed, when this is behind us... Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Friday, July 22, 2011

MSNBC Needs To Make It Official

Their name change to MSNB(arack)O(bama). Seriously.

As many of you know, Keith Olbermann left his 6:00pm slot there for any number of reasons many of us would be willing to suggest were the true reasons. Regardless, he has been gone for a number of months now (though not off the tv - he found another cable channel to take him).

You will never believe who they found to replace him.

But before I make the big reveal, it seemed that Olbemann's likely successor was Cenk Uygur, of "Young Turk" fame. Indeed, he was on the path. Or so he thought. But then something strange happened, according to Mr. Uygur (h/t to Harp2 for this video):

For those of you who may not have internet service that supports videos, suffice it to say, Mr. Uygur was told that he would not be stepping into Olbermann's shoes because some in Washington didn't like his "tone," according to Mr. Uygur in this NY Times article (which also highlights the NY Times incredible bias):
[snip] Mr. Uygur, who by most accounts was well liked within MSNBC, said in an interview that he turned down the new contract because he felt Mr. Griffin had been the recipient of political pressure. In April, he said, Mr. Griffin “called me into his office and said that he’d been talking to people in Washington, and that they did not like my tone.” He said he guessed Mr. Griffin was referring to White House officials, though he had no evidence for the assertion. He also said that Mr. Griffin said the channel was part of the “establishment,” and “that you need to act like it.”

MSNBC is home to many hosts who criticize President Obama and other Democrats from a progressive point of view, but at times Mr. Uygur could be especially harsh.


Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said in an e-mail Wednesday that his staff did not raise any concerns about the show “with Phil Griffin or anyone else.”

“I didn’t agree with everything said on the show, but certainly didn’t have any problem with it,” Mr. Pfeiffer added. [snip]

Of course he didn't. That's why Uygur claimed that the head of MSNBC met with him, and told him that they were Washington Insiders.

Just as I am so sure the White House had nothing to do with MSNBC indefinitely suspending the editor of Newsweek, Mark Halperin, for a comment he made on "Morning Joe." Oh, wait. Yes they did. (Now, I do not think it was appropriate for Halperin to use the language he did about a sitting president, but honestly - the things people said about Bush and Clinton were pretty harsh, but I don't think either one of those presidents had their toadies call the network and insist the person be let go. We do have an amendment about what people can say, after all, whether they like it or not.)

Okay. So, it is not going to be Cenk, since he has the unmitigated gall to actually question what Obama does once in a while. No sirree, can't have THAT on MSNBO.

Wanna guess who it's going to be? Oh, you won't - this is just so freakin' glaringly biased for Obama, you would never believe that an alleged news channel would hire this man for such a prime slot. But you would be wrong.

It's the Reverend Al Sharpton. I swear. It isn't official as of this writing, but it is "Imminent," according to the New York Times:
[snip] Mr. Sharpton’s imminent hiring, which was acknowledged by three people at the channel on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been signed, is significant in part because MSNBC and other news channels have been criticized for a paucity of minority hosts in prominent time slots. Mr. Sharpton, who is black and is a well-known civil rights activist and radio host, has been guest hosting in the 6 p.m. time slot for the last three weeks.

There had been uncertainty about the 6 p.m. slot ever since the channel’s marquee anchor, Keith Olbermann, departed in January, prompting Ed Schultz to be moved to 10 p.m. from 6. Suddenly Mr. Uygur, who had been made a paid contributor to MSNBC months earlier, was handed 6 p.m., a big coup given that he had earlier campaigned to have his progressive Web show “The Young Turks” picked up by MSNBC. [snip]

Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton is now going to have one of the plum, prime, slots on MSNBC. He is SO impartial, so even handed, in his outlook and statements. And I trust you know that it total and complete snark on my part. Of course, he is wildly partisan, taking offense where there is none, taking on causes that have little merit, and on and on Io could go. One thing is for certain about the good reverend - he loves to be on the tee-vee, so no doubt, this is a dream come true for him.

As for MSNBO, come on already, make it official. Go ahead and change your logo to this:

Seriously, I think we would all have more respect for you if you were honest about who and what you are. As a bonus, my partner, who created this for me, said you can even have it for free.

Until then, I imagine you will keep pretending to be a "news" source with the likes of Al Sharpton as your prime time host. And I imagine a lot of us will be laughing at you for it... Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Waste Not, Want Not"

The old Ben Franklin adage, is apparently one with which our government is unfamiliar. Just within the past few days, three major wasteful decisions have come to light.

The first is in the State Department. This wasn't just a wasteful decision, but an unethical, immoral, and I have to hope, illegal one. Within the State Department was a woman named Kathleen McGrade.The Daily Caller did some good, old fashioned investigative reporting on her, and guess what they discovered? Ms. McGrade had funneled $52 MILLION of yours and my taxpaying dollars to her daughter, and her secret husband. I am not making this up, and neither is the Daily Caller:
[snip] Kathleen McGrade helped their company, Sterling Royale Group, win 43 federally funded contracts over the last few years.

McGrade acted as the Contracting Officer (CO) for awards to Sterling Royale Group. McGrade’s husband, Brian Collinsworth, serves as the company’s Vice President. McGrade’s daughter, J.L. (Jennifer) Herring, is its president and CEO.

When TheDC first reached Collinsworth for comment, he denied being married to McGrade. “She is the CO on our contracts, but we are not married in any way, shape or form. That’s kind of funny, but, okay,” Collinsworth said, adding that he and McGrade have no relationship “other than a professional one of a CO to a company.”

Collinsworth also denied that Herring is McGrade’s daughter, and his stepdaughter.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Surprise, surprise, Collinsworth is a big liar. They are indeed married.

Fortunately, the State Department quickly did the right thing - they fired Ms. McGrade:
[snip] “Upon learning of the allegations, the Department immediately relieved Ms. McGrade of her responsibilities,” Laine said in an email. “Subsequently, the Department instructed her company that her employment at the Department is terminated.”

McGrade worked as a federal government contractor, handling the disbursement of taxpayer money for the State Department to other contractors. She worked on-site at the State Department in the office of Overseas Building Operations.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Well, that's just terrific, but, what about our money? And why hasn't she been brought up on charges? Forced to pay restitution? Something? The State Department is being mum on any further action, according to the article. Oh, well, okay then. That's fine - not.

Second, we have the ten year lease signed by representatives of the SEC. Oh, this is a doozy. The Wall Street Journal has the story:
[snip] Chairman Mary L. Schapiro has been under fire for the SEC’s decision last year to sign a 10-year lease valued at more than $500 million for 900,000 square feet of space in a D.C. office building known as the Constitution Center. A recent report on the lease by the SEC’s Office of Inspector General found that the SEC unnecessarily limited the locations it could consider because it overestimated the amount of space it needed. The report cited one employee who described the process used to calculate the space needs as a “`WAG,’ (wild-ass guess) and a ‘back of the envelope calculation.’”

The SEC made its projections based in part on the increased responsibilities related to the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law but also on budget projections that had not yet been approved. After the anticipated budget increase didn’t materialize, the SEC determined it would not need the space in the building, which is owned by David Nassif Associates.[snip]

Oops. Yep, they signed the lease, but then didn't need the space after all, so...Good grief. These are the people running our government???

Now you see why they were called on the carpet:
In a hearing Wednesday before the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management to discuss the lease, Ms. Schapiro acknowledged missteps and said she wanted to SEC to cede its authority to lease space to the General Services Administration. U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R., Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, also questioned why there was an urgency to get the deal done in spite of the “collapse of the real estate industry.”

Ms. Schapiro said she had heard there were few options for space. “It was presented to me…that if we were going to have any growth at all, we had to take this space,” Ms. Schapiro said.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

You'll be glad to know that, according to the article, the Office of the Comptroller has been able to rent some of the space, but they are still looking for tenants for the other third of the sf available. Any takers? Oh, and they are considering whether to investigate this or not.

I'm sorry, but what's the question there, exactly?? Sheesh.

And finally, last but definitely not least, is the third example of wasteful government spending I have heard of in just two days. If the second one was a doozy, this one is a wallop. It seems that two, not one, but two, Navy tankers which have yet to be completed, are now heading to the scrap heap. They only cost $300 million, so not as bad as the 10 year lease, but still, a mighty hefty amount of taxpaying dollars:
[snip] The Isherwood, stretching more than 660 feet, began its final journey this week, unceremoniously towed Tuesday from its mooring spot in the James River Reserve Fleet, also known as the "ghost fleet," near Fort Eustis in Newport News.

Its destination: International Shipbreaking Limited in Brownsville, Texas, just above the Mexico border. There, the vessel will be cut up, its innards removed and disposed of, and its steel and other metals sold as recycled products.

The Eckford, of equal size, is scheduled to follow next Tuesday, leaving behind fewer than 20 junk ships in the ghost fleet, the smallest number since its inception during World War I.

Once the two Navy oilers have departed, "it will close one of the saddest chapters in American shipbuilding and for that matter, federal fiduciary folly," wrote Joseph Keefe, a global maritime commentator, this week on the website [snip] {Click here to read the rest.)

This just begs the question: why were these tankers ever even authorized?

Someone asked recently what we are sending to countries that do not think highly of us, according to a recent Pew poll. We are going to give Egypt $1.3 billion this year for military aid; thanks to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, $1.5 billion a year to Pakistan; and the list goes on. Since the Congress has failed to provide or pass a budget for the past couple of years, this CRS report on aid to East and South Asia should provide fairly up-to-date information.

But we cannot leave out the billions of US dollars in aid to Afghanistan that has been stolen, or "lost," there. Holy crap.

"Waste not, want not" should be our mantra. This is especially true as our Congress and president fight over how much more in debt this nation is willing to go. And at what cost to us, our reputation, and our economy, they are willing to accept on our behalf. They can begin by being a helluva lot more careful as to how they spend our tax dollars, whether for programs at home, lack of oversight of personnel who have no authority to be signing contracts, and to those who do have the authority to sign away millions and millions without doing their freakin' homework first.

These are just three examples in the past two days that have come to my attention. I am sure you can come up with a few more. Our Congress needs to remember they work for US, and when they waste money on programs or goods they are not going to use, they must answer to US. This isn't Monopoly money after all, it's for real. It is well past time they started acting like it. Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who Knew The White House Could BE Even More Obtuse?

But yet, they can. This has got to be my all-time fave from the current White House spokeseasel, Jay Carney. He came out with a real doozy in response to some questions from ABC News journalist, Jake Tapper regarding the debt issue with which we are dealing:
[snip] TAPPER: OK. The House is passing something that many observers feel would never pass the Senate and the president has said he would veto. The Senate is passing -- the McConnell-Reid plan, it's not clear that that could pass the House. The Gang of Seven plan, it's not clear that that could pass the House. Would this not be an opportune time for a president to lead and say, this --

CARNEY: Leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down, and likely voted down because it is -- look, you know how this town works and how Congress works. If an individual, whether Democrat or Republican leader, steps forward and says, this is my plan and solely my plan, it makes it a lot harder for that plan to be the basis for a bipartisan compromise. The way to reach a bipartisan compromise is in bipartisan negotiations where a plan emerges that is the product of that negotiation and is supported by Republicans and Democrats and then presented. Otherwise, your chances of actually achieving something diminish greatly. And I think there is certainly plenty of history to support that idea, and that's the approach.[snip]

Do they go to school for this level of hogwash masquerading as an actual answer? In essence, what Mr. Carney is asserting, is that President Obama is leading by not leading.

You have got to be kidding me with this crap.

I don't think Mr. Tapper bought it, either:
[snip] TAPPER: Every time there have been specifics on the table, the president has not gotten in the boat. With his own deficit commission, he didn't get in that boat.

CARNEY: Jake, we can -- we can argue about this, or we could -- you could have me on and we can talk about this. The president's been very clear about what he's willing to do. And the way the president has approached these negotiations has been designed precisely to achieve a result, and not to achieve political points.

TAPPER: How's that working out for you?

CARNEY: We're closer now than we've ever been. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

"How's that working out for you?" Uh, yeah. More importantly, how has this been working out for US? Not too well, so far, I would wager.

Can you believe this kind of response? So, to extrapolate, you can work hard by not working, you can learn by not studying, you can move forward while standing still, and I could go on. Please feel free to add your own on this, or anything else you please.

As for me, I gotta go take some aspirin... Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Celebrate Good Times, Come On!" **UPDATED**

The US Women's National Team has made it into the Finals of the Women's World Cup. Woohoo! It was an exciting match, dominated in possession by their opponent, France, but the US scored the most goals, 3 - 1. This is the first time the Women's Team has made it back to the Finals since the incredible win against China in 1999. That match was won on penalty kicks, and gave us this iconic image of Brandi Chastain, who put in the winning strike (photo credit Atkins/AP):

What an amazing moment that was. Just breath-taking.

Another soon-to-be iconic moment was the Japanese Women's National Team before their semifinal match on Wednesday against Sweden, which they won, 3-1 (AP Photo/Michael Probst):

They turned to all four directions of the stadium making a "human sandwich," and then they bowed. It brought tears to my eyes. Given all the tragedy with which Japan has been dealing following the earthquakes and tsunamis, their Women's Team making it to the Finals is a bright light for them. Congratulations to them. Well done.

The final between the US and Japan will air Sunday at 2:00pm EST on ESPN. It should be a very exciting match, especially since the two teams have very different styles of play. Go, USA!

And since it is Friday, I will leave you with a swinging ditty from Jimmy Smith to get your feet tapping, a little shout out to the Prez and the Congress:

One last thing: One of my oldest friends is in town for a visit, so this will be my last post until Wednesday, July 20, unless something major happens that I feel compelled to write about, that is. Have a good weekend, everyone.

UPDATE: After a well played 90 minutes, plus two 15 minute overtimes, the USA went down in defeat on Penalty Kicks to Japan. It was probably the best I had seen the USA play all tournament long, but Japan got the edge in the PKs. I am very disappointed, of course, but for Japan, this is a bright, shining moment. Well done, and congratulations.

There's always 2015...4 Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guess Who Hates Us Even More Now Than When Bush Was President?

The French? Well, they might, but no, that's not who I mean. The British? Well, most likely, especially they way Obama has dissed them (like sending back the bust of Churchill, and that is the mere tip of the iceberg)?

Nope. The Arab World. Yep, that's right, even after Obama's bowing and scraping to them, whether it was to Saudi King Abdullah, or the Egyptians after his Cairo speech. Yes, we have lost even more standing in the world now.(Photo found at Atlas Shrugs.)

Indeed, despite Obama's numerous overtures to the Arab world, seems they aren't too happy with us. Glenn Greenwald had this article in Salon, US More Unpopular In Arab World Than Under Bush:
I've written numerous times over the last year about rapidly worsening perceptions of the U.S. in the Muslim world, including a Pew poll from April finding that Egyptians view the U.S. more unfavorably now than they did during the Bush presidency. A new poll released today of six Arab nations -- Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco -- contains even worse news on this front:
The hope that the Arab world had not long ago put in the United States and President Obama has all but evaporated.

Two and a half years after Obama came to office, raising expectations for change among many in the Arab world, favorable ratings of the United States have plummeted in the Middle East, according to a new poll conducted by Zogby International for the Arab American Institute Foundation.

In most countries surveyed, favorable attitudes toward the United States dropped to levels lower than they were during the last year of the Bush administration . . . Pollsters began their work shortly after a major speech Obama gave on the Middle East . . . Fewer than 10 percent of respondents described themselves as having a favorable view of Obama.

What's striking is that none of these is among the growing list of countries we're occupying and bombing. Indeed, several are considered among the more moderate and U.S.-friendly nations in that region, at least relatively speaking. Yet even in this group of nations, anti-U.S. sentiment is at dangerously (even unprecedentedly) high levels.

Yikes. That is not good. If we were talking Libya, or Iran, this would not be surprising news. But that some of the ones who think less of us now among our friendlier nations is disturbing on a number of levels.

Greenwald continues:
In one sense, this is hardly surprising, given the escalating violence and bombing the U.S. is bringing to that region, its ongoing fealty to Israel, and the dead-ender support the American government gave to that region's besieged dictators. Though unsurprising, it's still remarkable. After all, one of the central promises of an Obama presidency was a re-making of America in the eyes of that part of the world, but the opposite is taking place.

More significantly, as democracy slowly but inexorably takes hold, consider the type of leaders that will be elected in light of this pervasive anti-American hostility. When the U.S. propped up dictators to suppress those populations, public opinion was irrelevant; now that that scheme is collapsing, public opinion will become far more consequential, and it does not bode well either for U.S. interests (as defined by the American government) or the U.S.'s ability to extract itself from its posture of Endless War in that region. Given that it is anti-American sentiment that, more than anything else, fuels Terrorism (as the Pentagon itself has long acknowledged), we yet again find the obvious truth: the very policies justified in the name of combating Terrorism are the same ones that do the most to sustain and perpetuate it.

That is precisely the issue, as we have seen in Egypt already. All of the jubilation that this small band of people were able to stage a coup (still don't know how that happened), and that democracy was coming to Egypt, downplayed the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood was going to be a big part of the new government. Guess what, they are. And now, our esteemed Secretary of State would welcome dialogue with this group:
"We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency," she told reporters in Budapest, Hungary. "And we welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us." [snip]

Um, the Muslim Brotherhood has waged jihad against the United State, which spawned Hamas`, which works to impose the law of the Quran (that would be Sharia Law), and which treats women as worse than shit. To characterize it as a "committed to nonviolence" is laughable on its face. And now we are giving it legitimacy. Great job, everyone. Wow.

Believe it or not, there is more:
UPDATE: The full report on the new Middle East poll highlights several other additional striking findings:

In five out of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. was viewed less favorably than Turkey, China, France -- or Iran. Far from seeing the U.S. as a leader in the post-Arab Spring environment, the countries surveyed viewed "U.S. interference in the Arab world" as the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East, second only to the continued Palestinian occupation. . . . President Obama's favorable ratings across the Arab world are 10% or less.

While Americans are continuously inculcated with the message that Iran is the greatest threat to that region, the people who actually live there view the U.S. in that light. And as the above-referenced links to other polls demonstrate, that is a routine finding in surveys of Arab and Muslim opinion in that part of the world.[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Good grief. You know it is bad when Iran is thought of more highly than the United States. That just boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Two and a half years after the president who has alienated Israel, our ally; threw former ally Mubarak under the bus; and literally bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, the United States has lost standing with Arab Nations. I admit, I did not see this one coming. How about you? Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Some Things I Just Don't Get

One would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the struggles going on in Washington, SC, over the debt ceiling and the budget. Jay Leno used the following video to sum up the bickering on Capitol Hill:

Uh, yeah. That sounds about right.

Here's something I don't get. President Obama is trying to paint the Republicans as the ones who are trying to kick the can down the road. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't they just come to power THIS YEAR? Wasn't it under Nancy Pelosi's rule that they decided to not even make a budget because of the soaring debt?? Wasn't it the Democrats solely in power for a while there, and over the entire Congress even before Obama's ascension? So, how is this all the Republicans' fault? That doesn't make sense to me.

As reported in the Washington Post (and mentioned here), First Lady Betty Ford lamented the days gone by when Republicans and Democrats were friends, when, even if they didn't see eye to eye, they were able to look past those differences.

Just this morning, I saw Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and he said much the same thing. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives back in the '90's. Gov. Kasich offered some advice to his former colleagues about how to deal with this whole budget/debt issue, and had something to say about civility near the end:

I think that sums it up nicely, on both fronts.

What I don't get is, when did this polarization happen? WHY did it happen? How can we change it back to a more civil discourse, not just in Congress, but among us all? Is it just a lack of impulse control? Sense of entitlement that we can say or do whatever the hell we please? I just don't get how our discourse has so deteriorated. Something's gotta give. Maybe a national Miss Manners class is in order...

There's something else I don't get about how we treat one another. How is it, in the 21st century, we still have 2 million women battered by their partners each year, and 10 million children at risk because of domestic violence? How is it that we have not dealt with this issue, worked to change attitudes about women to the extent that their partner would never even DREAM of hitting them (or psychologically abuse them)? Or that, at least, these numbers would be greatly decreased?

I raise this because Dr. Phil, at the invitation of Senator Patrick Leahy, will be testifying on Capitol Hill today to request that an Act passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act, providing funds for prosecution, requiring restitution, and other issues, be re-authorized (which it was in 2000). Isn't it sad that in this day and age, the following holds true:
[snip] # According to the U.S. Surgeon General, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.
# The American Medical Association estimates that their male partners assault 2 million American women each year.
# The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women.
# A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the nation on Crime and Justice. The Data. Washington DC Office of Justice Program, US Dept. of Justice. Oct 1983)
# 35% of all emergency room calls are a result of domestic violence.
# Of those who abuse their partner, well over 65% also physically and/or sexually abuse the children.
# Each day .....4 women die as a result of abuse.
# Each day .....3 children die as a result of abuse.
# The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that 32% of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States 1999.2000)
# Anywhere from 1-3 million women are battered each year by their intimate partner. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence. Washington DC, 2000.)
# In the United States, a woman is more likely to be assaulted, raped, or killed by an intimate partner than by any other type of assailant. (ibid.) [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Here's the truly tragic aspect of the list above - that is less than a THIRD of all of the issues of violence facing women in this country. Holy shit.

And one more thing I don't get. How is it that Quinnipiac Poll finds that Obama still holds 50% over Republican challengers? How can that possibly be? After the Stimulus that wasn't anywhere close to one, the Obamacare Debacle that will cost us big time, Unemployment going up, housing values going down while foreclosures are going up, the number of golf trips of Obamas going up, along with the number of Executive Orders to circumvent that pesky Congress(about which we screamed bloody murder when Bush did it), and the number of lies he tells daily, including about his own mother's insurance coverage while he was campaigning in 2008 (that one was a DOOZY - using his dying mother for political gain, and lying about it - wow, that speaks VOLUMES about the kind of person he is), and I could go on, and on, and on.

I just don't get it. Do you? Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Lady Betty Ford, Rest In Peace

(Photo credit
First Lady Betty Ford died on Friday, July 8th, at the age of 93. She is remembered for her groundbreaking work in the area of addiction, and the Betty Ford Center has become synonymous with addiction rehab. Her diagnosis of breast cancer in 1974 helped to bring this serious issue to light. Her successful battle against breast cancer was an inspiration to many women, and served as an encouragement for women to seek out mammograms.

There was so, so much more to this woman than I knew. Mainly, I knew her as the wife of the bumbling Gerald Ford, who took over the presidency after the Watergate Scandal felled Richard Nixon. I have since learned that the clumsy, klutzy depiction of Gerald Ford was the result of one trip, glorified by Chevy Chase on SNL, and forever associated with this former Michigan quarterback and US Navy veteran. Such is the power of the media, even those dedicated to spoofs (how many people still think Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house after Tina Fey made the comment on SNL?).

But back to Betty Ford. In her early days, she was a dancer, modern dance in particular. She even danced in New York with Martha Graham's company at Carnegie Hall (who knew?). There is much to this woman, including how involved she was with women's issues, and the work of the president in general:
[snip] According to their son Jack, Betty Ford not only read through the President’s briefing papers on political issues he faced, and reviewed with him those pertaining to social programs or any which affected women. She also quietly worked as a conduit on legislative and other domestic agenda issues, both to and from him to others. Although she refused to ever discuss what issues they may have disagreed on, she did admit to serving as what she called, a “sounding board,” and exercising “pillow talk” on occasion. She also admitted to reviewing his more important speeches, offering advice to make cuts and use livelier language, without the need to always spell out details but rather leave audiences with some eagerness for further clarifications. Publicly, she gave only faint enthusiasm for the public relations effort “Whip Inflation Now,” a public relations action effort by the Administration intended to encourage cost-cutting and budgeting by citizens to counter the economic inflation of 1974-1975. In the White House, Mrs. Ford emphasized that she was reducing both her family and public entertaining food costs by serving less-expensive poultry, substituting soup for the pricier fish course, having smaller portions served. Personally, she stated, she would have her older shoes dyed rather than buy new ones for each event she needed them, and purchased her cosmetics in larger bulk to keep cost down. She also signed a “consumer’s pledge” to buy “only those products and services priced at or below present levels…” [snip]

She was an amazing woman, to be sure. If you have the time and inclination, you can read all about her at the National First Ladies' Library.

First Lady Ford's funeral is Tuesday, July 12th. Something else I did not know is that presidents and first ladies prepare their funerals down to the detail. According to this Washington Post article, First Lady Ford knew a few years back who she wanted to deliver her eulogy:
[snip] In 2006, Cokie Roberts got a call from Ford’s daughter Susan: her mom wanted Roberts to deliver a eulogy, whenever that time came, at her funeral.

“Wow — that’s an incredible honor,” the veteran D.C. journalist replied. Then, she recalls, Susan gave Roberts her assignment: “Mother wants you to talk about the way things used to be.”


“A time in Washington when Democrats and Republicans used to be friends, when their families were all friends,” Roberts told us Monday. “The main message she wanted me to say is when you’re friends, government works. It’s like she planned it for this week.”

Roberts has been friends with the Fords for decades. Her father, Hale Boggs, was House majority leader when Gerald Ford was minority leader. Her mother, Lindy, teamed with Betty on various causes. The familes went to school and church together.

“They were all friends with each other,” Roberts said. When her father disappeared after an Alaska plane crash in 1972, the Fords were “devastated. . . they were so supportive.” [snip]

Ah, yes, those were the days, were they not? Sadly, they seem long gone, it seems...(There will be two other speakers at the Washington funeral, First Lady Rosalynn Carter and the Betty Ford Center's Geoffrey Mason. First Lady Ford will have a funeral service in Michigan, too, where she will be laid to rest with her husband.)

What an amazing, complicated, dedicated woman First Lady Betty Ford was. My sincerest condolences to her family and friends. In honor of First Lady Ford being an Episcopalian, I have the following rendition of the Nunc Dimittis* is in her honor (this is one of my favorite hymns from Vespers):

Rest in peace.

* Translation:

Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos
dormientes, ut vigil emus cum Christo et requiescamus in pace
Save us, O Lord, while we are awake, and guard us
when we sleep, that we may watch with Christ and rest in peace.

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae
Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace;
Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Sunday, July 10, 2011

By The Numbers

3,003, 37, 28, 5-5, 4,2, 1, and 1.

That would be Yankees shortstop and Captain, Derek Jeter's numbers from Saturday, July 9. Derek Jeter has now joined an elite club of 3,000 hits. There are only 28 people who have done it. In Jeter's plate appearances against All Star pitcher, Tampa Bay David Price, Jeter went 5 for 5, including the hit that put him in the club, a homerun, making him only the second person to hit that amazing plateau with a homerun (Wade Boggs would be the other person, for those keeping score). Not only did Jeter have a perfect day for the plate, including driving in the winning run, but he stole a base, too.

Not bad for a 37 year old. Speaking of age, Jeter is also the 4th youngest person to reach this amazing number. And he is the only one in a Yankees uniform to have done so.

Jeter has long been one of my favorite Yankees (Bernie Williams was another fave, back in the day when Jeter was a young man). He is the consummate professional, garnering respect and admiration even from Red Sox fans. He is about the game, not about his own personal records. As a result, he has quietly amassed records that have pushed him past some of the best known Yankees in history. He passed Lou Gehrig as the Yankee with the most hits. He has stolen more bases than Rickey Henderson. He has done it all with a humility unseen in many professional athletes, and a quiet leadership as the Captain of the Yankees on and off the field.

On the field, Jeter has made some of the most unbelievable plays, like this one:

Or this one. Watch how far he goes for this catch:

This was what Jeter said about that amazing catch and dive into the stands:

And he has five - FIVE - World Series rings to boot.

Here is a recap of his magical day:

Oh, and the fan who caught that homerun ball? Christian Lopez, 23, was at that game as a result of his girlfriend's gift. He and his dad were there together. After he caught it, and was whisked away by security (for his protection), he gladly gave the ball up for Jeter, saying this was such an incredible accomplishment, Jeter should have the ball. He said he wouldn't mind getting a few signed baseballs for it (the price they expected that ball to fetch was $1 million). Well, he got that and a bit more - signed balls, signed bats, signed jerseys, amazing seats for Sunday's game, and 4 front row season tickets for the rest of the season - in the Legends section.

As for the cool mil he could have gotten, Lopez said:
[snip] Lopez was asked if he ever thought of demanding $1 million or more for the ball, as some fans have after catching milestone home runs.

''It didn't cross my mind until they asked me what I wanted,'' he said. ''The only thing I could think of was a few signed balls would be nice, and to meet him. It wasn't about the money. It was about a milestone, and I wasn't going to take that away from him. Money's cool and all, but I'm only 23 years old. I have a lot of time to make that.''

''Mr. Jeter deserved it,'' Lopez said. ''It's all his.'' [snip]

Yes, it is. Though what a refreshing change of attitude Mr. Lopez demonstrated!

Congratulations, Captain. You deserve all the accolades you are receiving, and more. What a class act. Here's to you, Jeet! Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Twist On Same Sex Marriage Some Didn't See Coming

Recently, New York State became the 6th state to legalize same sex marriage. One of the votes that helped push it over the edge was by Republican State Senator Mark Grisanti, who made this statement to explain his vote:
[snip] With his position still undeclared, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo who had sought office promising to oppose same-sex marriage, told his colleagues he had agonized for months before concluding he had been wrong.

“I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, adding, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.” [snip]

What a powerful comment, and I am glad he was able to come to that position.

But now there are starting to be some consequences in those states that sanction same-sex marriage. The New York Times reported that several major companies are now asserting that those who currently have domestic partner benefits need to get married in order to keep those benefits:
[snip] Corning, I.B.M. and Raytheon all provide domestic partner benefits to employees with same-sex partners in states where they cannot marry. But now that they can legally wed in New York, five other states and the District of Columbia, they will be required to do so if they want their partner to be covered for a routine checkup or a root canal.

On the surface, this appears to put the couples on an even footing with heterosexual married couples. After all, this is precisely what they have been fighting for: being treated as a spouse. But some gay and lesbian advocates are arguing that the change may have come too soon: some couples may face complications, since their unions are not recognized by the federal government.

“Even with the complications, many people will want to get married for the reasons people want to get married,” said Ross D. Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “But from our perspective, to hinge something as important as insurance for your family to what is still a complicated legal matter for same-sex couples doesn’t seem to be a fair thing to do.” [snip]

The issue with same sex marriage and the federal government is that those of us who have domestic partner benefits are taxed on them as income, as opposed to heterosexual couples, who are not. That is the difference to which Mr. Levi is referring.

I may be missing something, and feel free to tell me if I am, but I am not sure why he is characterizing the push by these companies for people to get married in states where they live work in order to secure these benefits is unfair. Or maybe I just don't accept his argument.

Like the following argument for how this change could affect adoption:
[snip] When it comes to adopting a child, couples may run into trouble if they are trying to adopt from a place that restricts same-sex married couples from adopting. Having one parent adopt while still single may be easier. “If you want to be able to answer honestly in paperwork, multiple interviews and background checks, then you won’t want to get married,” Ms. Taylor said, adding that many foreign countries ban adoptions to same-sex couples. [snip]

Wait - this seems like a red herring to me. If someone is single when they are adopting - as in, not in a relationship - what difference would it make if they found someone after the fact? I think what she is saying, though, is that the person can CLAIM to be single if they aren't legally married, so they can adopt. But that is not being honest anyway, so I am not sure why this changes things.

And then there is the immigration issue:
[snip] He said that there were a variety of reasons — legal, financial and personal — that companies should keep the domestic partnership option at least until gay marriage was recognized at the federal level. Legally speaking, getting married could create immigration issues or it could potentially muddy the process of adopting a child. In some instances, he added, an employee may work in a gay marriage state but live in a neighboring state that does not recognize the marriage. The couple may want to wait to marry until they can be legally wed in their home state.

“There are certainly reasons why a couple may not wish to marry,” added Camilla Taylor, marriage project director at Lambda Legal. “People with certain immigration statuses might want to think very carefully before getting married. There are some types of visas that are meant to be temporary, and if you get married to someone who is a citizen, it could flag your renewal application and reflect your more permanent decision to stay.” [snip]

But doesn't that apply to ANYONE? If someone is here on a temporary visa, finds an American with whom they fall in love, won't the outcome be similar?

Here's the thing - my partner and I had hoops through which we had to jump in order for me to be on her insurance. We have to pay more in taxes as a result. And there are some changes that occurred when she changed companies in our insurance, like that the only way I could have dental insurance was if I saw a dentist in California where her company is based. It is unfortunate for obvious reasons, and obviously heterosexual couples don't have that issue, but there you are. Still, even though it was not legal, we did have a commitment ceremony 14 years ago, and would gladly go to a Justice of the Peace to get legally hitched if we had the opportunity (which is likely to be some time for SC).

All of that is to say, I cannot shake the feeling that some of these folks want their cake and to be able to eat it, too. They pushed for this in these states, they got it, and now when some major companies are saying they have to play by the same rules, they are balking. It isn't like the companies aren't giving them time, or making concessions for issues like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but still, there are concerns:
[snip] At least for now, these companies seem to be in the minority, though it is unclear whether more employers will follow their lead. Eastman Kodak, based in Rochester, said it would continue to offer domestic partner coverage to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners.

“My impression is that there has been lots of discussion about dropping domestic partner coverage when marriage is first opened up to same-sex couples, but very few employers actually end up taking this step,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, legal director at the Williams Institute, which studies sexual orientation law and policy issues. “Some employers initially believe that it is fairer of them to impose the same marriage requirements on all employees, regardless of sexual orientation. But then employees and others explain that employees with a same-sex life partner remain in difficult circumstances due to the continuing federal discrimination.”

Whether same-sex couples marry, they will still be responsible for paying federal income taxes on the value of their partner or spouse’s benefits since they are not recognized by the federal government as an economic unit, unless the person covered is considered a dependent. Couples will not owe those taxes at the state level in places like New York that recognize gay marriage. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

And that is a difference - if the companies offer partner benefits regardless of sexual orientation, then sure, keep it that way. But if the benefits are offered because same sex people were unable to get married at that time, but can now, it only seems fair.

And along these lines of same sex marriage, my sister sent me the following video yesterday. I thought there were some pretty good signs. Cracked me up. I hope you find the humor in them, too:

I may be too black/white about this, but if companies are already progressive enough to offer these benefits out of a sense of fairness, are giving people a year to get married, I am not sure what the difference is. But that's just me.

What do you think? Should the companies that already provide partner benefits for their same sex employees require that they get married if they are able to be eligible for these benefits if that is the requirement for their heterosexual employees? What about the immigration and adoption issues? I'd love to hear what you think. Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Friday, July 8, 2011

Atlantis - The End Of An Era

As of Friday morning, thirty years of shuttle flights come to an end after the Shuttle Atlantis returns after its liftoff.

What a program this has been, since the very first one took off all those years ago:
[snip] It all started with STS-1, launched on April 12, 1981, just twenty years to the day after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. When astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen launched that morning in Columbia, it was the first time in history a new spacecraft was launched on its maiden voyage with a crew aboard.

For an entire generation, the space shuttle was NASA. We've watched a parade of firsts -- Sally Ride, Guy Bluford, Kathy Sullivan, John Glenn and others. We've seen astronauts float free, and launch and repair spacecraft like Hubble which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the universe. [snip]

Truly, this has been an incredible program, and I am sad to see it come to an end.

Atlantis lifted off without a hitch:

It was a magnificent sight, bringing tears to my eyes.

Farewell, Atlantis, and Godspeed... Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Atlanta Higher Ups Have Found A Way To Get Passing Grades - Cheat, Cheat, And Cheat Some More

The hammering outside (stucco guys putting up mesh) is matched only by the hammering in my head after reading the following article: "Investigation Into APS Cheating Finds Unethical Behavior Across Every Level". This is disturbing on a number of levels, including that the superintendent under whose direction this rampant, long term cheating occurred, no, was encouraged, was named the 2009 National Superintendent of the Year.

Good grief.

Here are the particulars from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes.

Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served.

The report accuses top district officials of wrongdoing that could lead to criminal charges in some cases.[snip]

This is just mind boggling. For once, I am practically speechless at the depth and breadth of cheating that went on from the highest levels down for as long as it did. At the very LEAST this is unethical, egregious, and reprehensible. Wow.

There is so, so much more to this story, including this:
[snip] For teachers, a culture of fear ensured the deception would continue.

“APS is run like the mob,” one teacher told investigators, saying she cheated because she feared retaliation if she didn’t.

The voluminous report names 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.

The investigators conducted more than 2,100 interviews and examined more than 800,000 documents in what is likely the most wide-ranging investigation into test-cheating in a public school district ever conducted in United States history.

Holy crap. This just boggles the mind, doesn't it?

And what about this Superintendent of the Year, Beverly Hall? Oh, I am sure you can guess:
The findings fly in the face of years of denials from Atlanta administrators. The investigators re-examined the state’s erasure analysis — which they said proved to be valid and reliable — and sought to lay to rest district leaders’ numerous excuses for the suspicious scores.

Deal warned Tuesday “there will be consequences” for educators who cheated. “The report’s findings are troubling,” he said, “but I am encouraged this investigation will bring closure to problems that existed.”

Interim Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis promised that the educators found to have cheated “are not going to be put in front of children again.”

Through her lawyer, Hall issued a statement denying that she, her staff or the “vast majority” of Atlanta educators knew or should have known of “allegedly widespread” cheating. “She further denies any other allegations of knowing and deliberate wrongdoing on her part or on the part of her senior staff,” the statement said, “whether during the course of the investigation or before.” [snip]

Oh, I am sure Ms. Hall denies all of the charges. And of course, that two different governors investigated what happened in Atlanta means nothing. Surely, she did nothing to deserve this level of scrutiny. Ahem:
[snip]Hall preferred to spend her time networking with philanthropic and business leaders rather than walking the halls of her schools, the investigators found.

But when the scandal erupted, she withheld key information — state data on the suspicious erasures — even from executives and civic leaders who the school board, at Hall’s urging, appointed to conduct the inquiry.

“In many ways, the community was duped by Dr. Hall,” the report said. “While the district had rampant cheating, community leaders were unaware of the misconduct in the district. She abused the trust they placed in her.

“Hall became a subject of adoration and made herself the focus rather than the children,” the investigators wrote. “Her image became more important than reality.” (Click here to read the rest.)

I encourage you to read the rest of this article - there is so much more in it, and to this story. Teachers were threatened with loss of livelihood if they told what they saw, and were generally threatened or intimidated.

This was the bottom line for what happened in Atlanta:
[snip] “In sum, a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation permeated the APS system from the highest ranks down,” the investigators wrote. “Cheating was allowed to proliferate until, in the words of one former APS principal, ‘it became intertwined in Atlanta Public Schools ... a part of what the culture is all about.’ ”[snip]

I can only imagine how long it will take to clean up this "culture of corruption." I don't envy them the task. But it is one that must be done, for the sake of the children, and of those teachers who did not willingly conspire to cheat, cheat, and cheat some more. I can only hope that justice will be swift and unwavering in dealing with (former) Superintendent Hall and her minions. They deserve nothing less for the insult they have brought upon the institution of education, and Atlanta. Shame on them. Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Operation Fast And Furious" Gets The Furious Part Right

This has been an evolving issue, the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious. In case you are unfamiliar with this program, here are the basics to this program:
A U.S. law enforcement operation intended to crack down on major weapons traffickers on the Southwest border spiraled out of control as federal agents were told by superiors to "stand down" and ignore weapons bought in Arizona headed for Mexico, a House panel heard Wednesday.

Three federal firearms investigators told the House Oversight and Government Reform committee that they wanted to "intervene and interdict" loads of guns, but were repeatedly ordered to step aside.

"Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals -- this was the plan," John Dodson, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, testified to the panel. "It was so mandated."

He added: "My supervisors directed me and my colleagues not to make any stop or arrest, but rather, to keep the straw purchaser under surveillance while allowing the guns to walk." [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Holy cow. I don't know about you, but I find that to be incredibly disturbing.

This program was halted when Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was killed with one of the guns from this incredibly misguided, ill conceived, dare I say, idiotic, program.

Here's the thing - finding out who actually authorized this program has been much harder than it should be. Obama denied that it was Eric Holder, though the ATF is under his purview. If you have seen any of the hearings on Capitol Hill, you know that trying to get that name has been like trying to pull hen's teeth. But Obama said that there will be swift action against whoever it was, though it sure wasn't Holder. Yeah, okay. Well, SOMEONE approved this plan.

That was then. This is now. And that is not the end of it, not by a long shot. The All Stars discussed this very issue on Tuesday night after several Mexican officials, in response to deaths in Mexico as a result ofn "Operation Fast and Furious" spoke out:

Yes, this is a big deal, and Eric Holder has lots of 'splaining to do. That's what Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley think, too, as this Daily Caller article highlights:
Top Republican lawmakers have authored an explosive new letter containing details of secret testimony by acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, which reveal for the first time the extent to which his agency was involved in an international gun selling scandal.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, fired off the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday detailing what Melson told Congressional investigators in a secret July 4 testimony.

One key takeaway from the meeting was that Melson acknowledged to investigators that agents had witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without following the guns afterwards. Straw purchasers are people who could technically legally buy guns in the U.S. but their intent was to turn around and sell them to drug cartels in Mexico.

Another point Melson clarified for investigators was that the ATF group carrying out the mission of Operation Fast and Furious was placed under the direction of the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office. The U.S. Attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, is a political appointee of the Obama administration.[snip]

Here's the thing, though - it seems that, Obama's pledge notwithstanding, the DOJ is not being at all helpful in getting to the bottom of this. Gee, aren't you surprised by that? No? I wasn't, either:
The DOJ has not been fully cooperative with a number of Issa’s and Grassley’s requests for documents and other evidence in this investigation. According to the July 5 letter, Issa and Grassley said Melson told them he asked the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) to be more cooperative with Congressional requests for information, evidence and documents.

Their letter also details how Melson told Issa and Grassley that he and other senior ATF officials moved to reassign every major official involved in Operation Fast and Furious. Melson said Obama administration Justice Department officials directed him and other ATF officials to not communicate to Congress the reasoning behind the reassignments. [snip]
(Click here to read the rest.)

Oh, the plot thickens. No doubt, it will get thicker before all is known about this incredibly stupid, moronic plot. As you might guess, those firearms that were purchased were done so on our dime.

Despite the Democrats' attempts to try to defuse this issue and make it all about gun laws, this is about the DOJ, and the ATF. It is about who crafted, and authorized, this program which cost the life of an agent, and lives across the border. I hope Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley stand firm in getting to the bottom of this.

I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg. What do you think? Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What A Bargain - NOT! (Corrected)

That would be the cost of each new job saved by the $666 billion dollar stimulus. A bargain it most definitely was not. But can we just pause for a moment as we look at this figure - 666? I mean, really - can this be a coincidence that the number for the Anti-Christ is the amount spent on jobs saved or created? Just asking.

But I digress. Okay. Hold onto your hats. The amount each job cost from the Obama Stimulus was: $278,000. Yes, each new or saved position cost almost THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!! This figure is from Obama's OWN White House economists.

But check this out. If you go to the White House's own website,, the number is $1.4 MILLION dollars, according to Eric Bolling of Fox Business News. How many jobs were saved? Not all that many, really - 560,000. In fact, they are saying that there would have been MORE jobs created without the stimulus.

To add insult to injury, 1.8 MILLION jobs have been lost since the Stimulus.

Here's my favorite part of this report:
[snip] The figures mean the U.S. government could have given a $100,000 cheque to everyone whose employment was made possible by the $800billion American Recovery of Reinvestment Act (ARRA) - and taxpayers would still have come out $427billion ahead, The Weekly Standard reported. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Dang, I'd rather have the (corrected) 10o THOUSAND grand, wouldn't you? We could put that $427 BILLION toward our massive deficit. And you know if we were each given that kind of cash, we would have put a lot of it back into the economy, right?

Great plan there, Obama. And great execution. Nothing like spending way more on job saving/creation than many jobs pay. With our tax dollars, too, I might add.

See, this is what happens when you have someone in office who hasn't the foggiest about economics or business, not ever having anything to do with either. Not only was Obama clueless, but he picked the wrong people to handle his economic decisions. No wonder all but Timmy Geithner have jumped ship (though it still amazes me that those who did leave, like Austan Goolsbee, or Christina Romer, got other jobs after failing so spectacularly with the nation's economy).

I would sure love to hear from one of these folks who has a "created" or "saved" job, particularly just how much they make a year. Just wondering. But I am pretty sure they don't make over a quarter million dollars a year. How about you? Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy