Saturday, April 30, 2011

Alright, Alright, I Admit It

I watched (most of) the Royal Wedding, along with two billion other people. Oh, what an event it was. No one does pomp and circumstance like the British, and they did not disappoint with this event. It was simply lovely from beginning to end. The Duchess of Cambridge shone, especially when she smiled (which was often). She was stunning in her beautiful wedding gown, and her demeanor was so warm, gracious, and excited. The Duke of Cambridge looked so happy, and was very solicitous of his new bride, presenting her beautifully. The future King and Queen of Great Britain were captivating. (For a wide range of articles and photographs of the big day, The Telegraph has great coverage.)

There is some breaking news about the newlyweds - they have decided to postpone their honeymoon. They are taking the weekend to spend together, then plan to return to work after the bank holiday. As you likely know by now, Prince William is a Search and Rescue pilot in the RAF. That alone is pretty cool, if you ask me.

It was a fairytale wedding, exquisite, touching, perfect.

If you missed it, or simply want more, below are some of the highlights of this magical day. Enjoy:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lara Logan's Nightmare Unveiled

Lara Logan, the CBS "60 Minutes" reporter who was brutally assaulted in Egypt back in February, has given an interview to one of her "60 Minutes" colleagues, to be aired on May 1, 2011. You may recall I wrote a piece on her attack at the hands of an Egyptian mob, as well as the assaults other female journalists have endured (though not to the extent of Logan's).

Here is a tidbit of Logan's interview with Scott Pelley:

Even this short bit conveys the horror of the situation in which Logan found herself on February 11. Here is more:
[snip] She reported without incident for nearly an hour before her interpreter heard words in the Arabic-speaking crowd that gave him pause. He advised the team to leave, but before they could, a mob of several hundred men encircled Logan, who soon became separated from her team and bodyguard as the crowd swept her up.

Logan lost contact with her colleagues for approximately 25 minutes and endured a sexual assault and beating that she feared she would not survive. "There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," she tells Pelley. "I thought not only am I going to die, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever..."

Thoughts of her two young children helped reinforce her determination to survive the assault, she says, which finally ended when she was rescued by a group of Egyptian women and soldiers. The soldiers drove her and her team back to their hotel, where she was examined by a doctor. She returned to the U.S. the next day and went directly into a hospital, where she was treated for four days.

When Logan saw her children, "I felt like I had been given a second chance that I didn't deserve...because I did that to them. I came so close to leaving them, to abandoning them," she says. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Her comments about her children are just heartbreaking. Logan's courage and bravery at speaking out about this is commendable. She is one helluva strong woman. Hopefully, her willingness to open up about her own ordeal will enable other women to speak up as well.

That being said, will there ever be a day when women will no longer endure assaults of this magnitude? When women and children will not be casualties of war? Will that day ever come? I pray that it will, but I fear it will not...

All the best to Lara Logan as she returns to work, as she tries to get her life back on track. She is, simply put, remarkable. She has my respect and admiration, as well as my prayers for her healing in all respects. Blessings on her...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Devastation Across The South

As many of you know, tornadoes ripped across the Southeast last night. Loss of life is climbing toward the 300 mark, with many areas losing power, water supplies, and cell phone service.

It is hard to imagine just what it is like when these tornadoes come through, but this video does give a good idea, both of the magnitude of the tornado itself, and the impact on the person filming it:

4-27-11 Tornado Tuscaloosa, Al from Crimson Tide Productions on Vimeo.

It is just gut and heart wrenching.

Sadly, these tornadoes are not all that are going on in the country weather-wise right now (video provided by an old friend who lives in Metropolis):

These are difficult times on so many levels. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by these tornadoes, and by the raging floods that hit this week, and the waters that continue to threaten. For those whose lives were lost, for those whose lives were altered, for those who lost their homes, pets, or workplaces, my deepest sympathies.

These are the issues that matter, the lives and livelihoods of our fellow citizens. They need our support, our caring, and whatever aid we can provide them. They are our neighbors, our families,and our friends. They are us...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Happy Hajj!" Everybody!

Let the White House Proclaim:

Happy Hugo Chavez Day!

Happy Ramadan!

Happy 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire!

Happy Eid-ul-Fitr

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Eid-ul-Adha!

Happy Nowruz!

If you are waiting for a Happy Easter Proclamation, though, you'll have to wait until at least next year, since Obama didn't bother to do one this year.


According to this Daily Caller piece:
[snip] At a rate of more than one per week, President Obama has issued official proclamations for national holidays, both religious and secular, advocacy campaigns, and even one for the “The 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.” [snip]

But Easter? Nah, the most important thing about that was the White House Easter Egg Roll
on Monday. I am not kidding.

This piece, "White House Fails To Release Easter Proclamation," makes an important point:
President Obama failed to release a statement or a proclamation recognizing the national observance of Easter Sunday, Christianity's most sacred holiday.

By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays and released statements in 2010 on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.

The White House also failed to release a statement marking Good Friday. However, they did release an eight-paragraph statement heralding Earth Day. Likewise, the president's weekend address mentioned neither Good Friday or Easter. [snip]

Now, don't get me wrong - I love a good Earth Day, but to not make one single mention of the most important religious holiday for 83% of Americans is just ridiculous. I don't care that he and his family went to church for Easter - that hardly makes up for his failure to say ANYTHING about the entire 3 day (Good Friday to Easter) period. It is Easter that marks the transformation from mere mortal to Messiah (Christ is not the last name of Jesus, after all - it is a title), hence making it the most sacred of holidays for Christians. The Resurrection at Easter is the promise of redemption for sins, and for life everlasting. It's a pretty big deal, and should have been treated with at LEAST as much courtesy as Earth Day, especially from someone who claims to be a Christian.

Let me say this again - our country is comprised primarily of Christians - 83%. The number of those who are unaffiliated is 13%, and the number of all the other faiths together totals 4%. That includes Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews. Obama has marked every single Muslim holiday, despite the exceedingly low number of Muslims in this country, but made zero mention of Easter or Good Friday. Not that other religious holidays are not important, but really - this is no small oversight.

Evidently, Obama thought that whole Easter Egg Roll thing was sufficient mention. Ahem.

I suppose his saying nothing at all might be preferable to last year's address on Easter:
[snip] In 2010, Obama was criticized for releasing an all-inclusive Easter greeting. He reached out to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and people of no faith at all in a statement about a holiday that is uniquely Christian.

"All of us are striving to make a way in this world; to build a purposeful and fulfilling life in the fleeting time we have here," Obama said in his 2010 "Easter" message. "A dignified life. A healthy life. A life, true to its potential. And a life that serves other." "These are aspirations that stretch back through the ages – aspirations at the heart of Judaism, at the heart of Christianity, at the heart of all the world’s great religions," the president added.

When the White House released statements about Muslim holidays, no attempts were made to include Christianity or to mention a spirit of inclusivity. For example, in his 2010 statement on Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha, Obama made no references to Christianity or any other religion.[snip]

Huh - imagine that. He didn't take those opportunities to make it all about religious inclusion? Wassup with that? Yeah, right - as if.

Here's the thing - I am not even a Christian, and I find this offensive. Christians should not always have to have their holidays become a hallmark of inclusion of all other religions, especially a holiday of this magnitude. No mention, no quoting of Christian Scripture, no acknowledgment whatsoever except the Easter Egg Roll, by the Proclamation President. Wow.

Just to give you an idea, here is one from President Bush:
[snip]In his 2008 Easter message, President Bush said: [snip] “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds people around the world of the presence of a faithful God who offers a love more powerful than death. Easter commemorates our Savior's triumph over sin, and we take joy in spending this special time with family and friends and reflecting on the many blessings that fill our lives. During this season of renewal, let us come together and give thanks to the Almighty who made us in His image and redeemed us in His love.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

That does seem pretty specifically Christian to me.

Here's the thing - of course we should acknowledge and respect all faiths in this country. But we should not dismiss, or dilute, one to include all the rest, especially on a sacred holiday unique to Christianity. As much as Christianity or Judaism is not mentioned by Obama during the acknowledgment of Muslim holidays (even though Islam came from both of those religions), so should a high holy day like Easter be kept holy and sacred for Christians.

If it is even mentioned, that is...

Monday, April 25, 2011

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

Before we saw this headline: "Airport passenger Screener Charged In Distributing Child Pornography." Unfortunately, that is.

And what a story this is:
A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.[snip](Click here to read the rest.)

I am certainly not implying that all TSA screeners are despicable lowlifes like this guy is, not at all. That there are a number of hard-working, adequate TSA personnel is not in doubt. Still, there are surely a number of people who should NOT be working for this government agency. This man is most definitely one of them. Kinda makes one wonder about the TSA screening of the screeners, doesn't it? It sure does me.

Really, though, who is surprised by this story following the extremely disturbing, offensive, and gratuitous recent pat-down of a 6 year old child (Pat Racimora did a great piece on this very subject)? Not me. Her parents detail what happened in the video below:

This little girl is by no means the first young child to endure this horrific procedure, one about which I have written several times, having been subjected to it myself (joint replacement will do that for you). But I am an adult, and as horrific as it is for me, how much worse is it for a child, a young, young, child, like this?

One lawmaker, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, is preparing legislation to change the procedures so that parental consent would be required prior to traumatizing a young child. Rep. Chaffetz has his own reasons for this, beside having seen the video: "They claim there is a modified pat-down for 12-year-olds and younger, but when you see those videos, you realize that just isn't true," Chaffetz said.
[snip] The proposed legislation would require that a parent must give their consent before a child receives a pat-down, and that the child must remain with the parent while the pat-down is performed.

"I am personally outraged and disgusted by yet another example of mistreatment of an innocent American at the hands of TSA," wrote Chaffetz in the letter addressed to TSA chief John Pistole. "This conduct is in clear violation of TSA's explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13."


The congressman's family had its own run-in with the TSA not long ago when his 15-year-old daughter was whisked away from the family at the airport security checkpoint to have a private pat-down without a parent present.

Yikes. I hate that his daughter had to go through this, too. I wonder what SHE did wrong. (That was snark - I am sure she did nothing.)

I appreciate the Congressman's thought, and his own problems with this TSA pat-down. But this hardly fixes the problem. Having a parent consent to their child enduring such a horrific event will only further traumatize the child, in my opinion. How much therapy will the government pay for these children, anyway? Yeah, that's what I thought - none.

Robin Roberts gives a bit too much grace to the TSA, if you ask me. Yes, they are doing what Homeland Security demands they do to US citizens, but patting down a small child does absolutely NOTHING to keep this country safe, and everything to traumatize her, and her family. "Because of the world we live in now" is dangerous, to be sure, but to pick this child out randomly, without setting off any alarms of any kind, is reprehensible.

It seems to me that the TSA needs to be way more diligent about those in their employ than they are about 6 year old (even 3 year old) passengers. But that's just me...

Friday, April 22, 2011

What The Hell Is Wrong With People?? **Updated**

Update at the bottom.

I know, I know, that can cover a wide variety of issues, and these days there seems to be no shortage of ones that would merit such a response.

But in this case, I am referring to Jack Stuef at Wonkette writing a particularly egregious piece directed at - wait for it - Trig Palin. Yes, Trig Palin, the Downs Syndrome baby of Sarah and Todd. It begs the question, what in the world could anyone have to say about any toddler that would be egregious, but especially a Special Needs child? Well, the headline of Tommy Christopher's article at MediaIte gives you a hint:"Wonkette Editor Comments on Reprehensible Birthday Greeting to Trig Palin."

First to a portion of Jack Stuef's piece (and hey, I'm not linking to it, because he doesn't deserve the traffic):
[snip] Today is the day we come together to celebrate the snowbilly grifter’s magical journey from Texas to Alaska to deliver to the America the great gentleman scholar Trig Palin. Is Palin his true mother? Or was Bristol? (And why is it that nobody questions who the father is? Because, either way, Todd definitely did it.)[snip]

What the hell is wrong with him? Seriously - what would make a grown (presumably) man attack a child this way just to get back at his parents for what, BEING? That "snowbilly grifter," as he called her, is the freakin' former governor of Alaska, and former VP presidential candidate - just what the hell has HE done that is anywhere NEAR that level of accomplishment? Apparently, nothing. And I say "apparently" because when you target a toddler for no reason other than his Special Needs status and who his parents are, well, you're not exactly the cream of the crop. IMHO, that is.

Christopher's response was pretty much along the lines of my own:
[snip] Hey, that’s really funny, calling Trig a gentleman scholar because he has Down Syndrome. And the speculation that Todd Palin may have raped his daughter? Pure comedy gold. You know what will be even funnier? The first time Jack Stuef runs into Todd Palin. That one practically writes its own punchline. [snip]

Uh, yeah. Now, Todd clearly has way more class than Stuef, and I am not an advocate of violence, but, wow...

And get this initial reaction from Ken Layne, Editor of Wonkette, in response to Christopher asking if this offensive post would be removed:
[snip] On whose account are you requesting that Jack Stuef remove a post mocking Sarah Palin’s well-documented use of her special needs child as a political prop? Is this coming from Mediaite? Which editor? [snip]

"Political prop"? How's that again? She had him around her when she had ALL of her children around her. He's her child, and was an INFANT at the time. If she did NOT have him with her, there would be charges against her for being a horrible parent, hiding her Special needs child, blah, blah, blah - you know there would be. She just cannot win for losing.

And really - they are pushing this meme that Bristol is really the mother?? What is wrong with these people?!

There are more exchanges between Tommy Christopher and Ken Layne, and you can click here to read the rest. Suffice it to say, it didn't get any better (and really, it went downhill). There is still no sense of shame, or acknowledgment that this toddler should not be a target for "satire" or "humor," since that is what they think Stuef's post was.

Honestly, is there no line these folks won't cross? Sure doesn't seem like it, but I gotta say, going after a toddler, a Special Needs one at that, just to get at his parents, is plain wrong. Never mind the depiction of Palin - that was offensive, too. But this is way beyond the pale. There should be no place for this, either by the writer, or an editor who would defend it.

Again, I have to ask: what the hell is wrong with these people??

Update: Fortunately, many advertisers have pulled their ads from Wonkette. Seems some people DO still have a sense of decency and decorum, since Wonkette clearly does not.

Faithful NQ reader, Helenk, provided a link to an excellent piece at HotAir, "3 Reasons Why Wonkette Self-destructed By Publishing A Hit Piece On Trig Palin," which included the video below:

Well said, Mr. Crowder. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sounds Like Obama Meeting With Big Pharma Was Just The Beginning...

Of the duplicity that is Obamacare. Some time ago, August 12, 2009, to be exact, Obama-phile Greg Palast wrote about Obama meeting with Big Pharma from the get-go. He was not amused that Obama would do this, though others of us are not surprised one bit that Obamacare was a giveaway to Big Pharma.

But apparently, "Big Pharma" was just the beginning of the companies getting their hands into the Obamacare Pie. And how, as this headline attests, "Upton Expands Investigation Into ’Secret’ Obamacare Meetings." Indeed, this confirms what many of us suspected to be true - Obamacare was not written with the American people in mind, but as paybacks, if you will, to certain groups. I guarantee you, you will not be surprised by some of the groups mentioned below:
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton is expanding his investigation into the meetings between special interest groups and the Obama White House that set the stage for the passage of Obamacare, sending document requests to 12 industry groups and unions that played a key role in the negotiations.

In April 18 letters to the groups, Upton asks for extensive details and documents about each organization’s interactions with the White House in regards to the health care law.

The requests come as the Obama White House has so far declined to provide its documents about the meetings.

At issue are special deals struck between interest groups and President Obama to either garner the support of major industry sectors or soften their criticism of the health care law.

Oh, what a surprise, huh? Yeah, I know - I was being snarky. But what I particularly love is how the White House is refusing to cooperate with this investigation. Oh, yes, "Mr. Transparency" has proven to be even more secretive than Bush. Oh, but you don't hear the same hue and cry over that, not by a long shot. Hey, you know the rules, "they apply to thee, not to me..."
In one major instance, the pharmaceutical drug sector agreed to back the legislation as long as the costs to that sector did not exceed $80 billion. The drug sector eventually spent over $100 million on television advertisements touting the law.

Now to the groups involved in this behemoth law affecting the entire country, and not in a good way:
The industry groups and unions subject to Upton’s request are AARP, AFL-CIO, AdvaMed, AFSCME, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Business Roundtable, Federation of American Hospitals, PHRMA, and SEIU.

Wow. That is quite a roll call. Is anyone surprised to see the AFL/CIO and SEIU listed above? I wasn't either, but I have to wonder just what their medical expertise is that their opinions were even solicited. I guess they were making sure there were sufficient loopholes that they would never have to be a part of this. And they were successful in that regard. Unbelievable.

Now that we have this law, and the funding thereof, looming over our heads, investigating what is in it, and WHO helped craft it, seems a bit overdue, but I guess better late than never, right? Right. The investigation actually began two months ago:
Feb. 18, Upton wrote to Nancy-Ann DeParle, who served as Obama’s health care reform “czar” during the period during which Obamacare was considered in Congress and has since been promoted to the president’s deputy chief of staff, requesting a range of documents relating to meetings and negotiations over the health care law.

The letter requested a list of staff working for the White House Office of Health Reform, a list of their meetings on health care with special interest groups, notes or minutes from those meetings and all written communications between the White House and outside groups on changes to the health care system.

In response, White House counsel Robert Bauer suggested the inquiry was too time consuming to comply with.

The request “would constitute a vast and expensive undertaking,” Bauer wrote in a March 4 letter. Instead, the White House sent Upton a series of public relations materials related to public events related to health care reform and a summary of the publicly available White House visitor logs.

Congressional Republicans say the administration has resisted complying with a series of inquiries such as the request for information on the Obamacare meetings.

This does not seem to be an unreasonable request to me. Isn't this kind of information supposed to be available anyway? We're not talking major secrets here, we are talking about how outside corporations and agencies influenced one of the costliest pieces of legislation ever. Show us the damn records already, and stop beating around the bush. Sheesh. That is, in essence, what the Republicans said, too, though a little nicer than that:
In a response to Bauer, Upton said in a March 10 letter Republicans were “concerned and disappointed,” and reiterated their request for the documents. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

I'll say. I'm "disappointed," too, that this Administration has made the Bush Administration look like an open book, but they surely have.

The Republicans are trying a different tack, though, to obtain the information they seek, "Faced With Obama ’Slow Walking’ Document Requests, GOP Aims At Outside Groups."

Well, that's one way to do it, though it is disturbing that a president, any president, would stonewall those who were elected to do the work of the people, in this case, protecting them from undue influence by certain groups:
[snip] “There is a coordinated effort, I assume being led by the White House, to, I would describe it as slow walking or slow rolling these things,” says an investigator on the Energy and Commerce Committee, “No one’s told us ‘no, we’re not gonna do that.’ They say they’ll do it every time. But they’re doing as much as they can to stall.”

The administration’s resistance to cooperate with requests that could expose damaging information about the president’s health care law and other issues is shaping the latest GOP salvo, aimed, not at the administration, but at a series of industry trade associations and unions. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

All I can do is just shake my head in disgust - at Obama, Pelosi, and those spineless cowards who passed this horrific, pork-laden, influence peddled, law. If they were capable of shame, they should surely feel it over this, this law that will increase our deficit higher and higher.

We knew this was happening - we knew it, they knew it, and they passed it anyway. Wow.

Friday, April 15, 2011

TGIF - Heartwarming Tale, Or Should I Say, "Tails"

A friend of mine sent me the following video. It is amazing the relationships our pets can create. Quite the lesson to the rest of us, don't you think?

And because this is just too sweet, I have to share this one, too, another "tale" of inter-species love, involving a white tail:

It's the weekend, and I get to spend it with my adorable grandnephew,his family, and my partner, doing all kinds of fun things. I know I am going to have a great time - I hope the weekend is good for you, too!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More "Birther Nonsense"

So speaketh Bill O'Reilly, who gets major props from Jon Stewart for saying so. The Business Insider has this headline declaring the Good News, "HALLELUJAH! Jon Stewart Thanks Bill O'Reilly For Smacking Down Trump's Birther Nonsense." O'Reilly responded to the issue since Donald Trump brought it up again.

But that is not the point of this post, believe it or not. No, rather it is this: at the very same site, there is this article, "PROFESSOR: Sarah Palin Probably Staged A Gigantic Hoax About Being Trig's Mother."

I am not kidding, and it is not a tongue-in-cheek article, either. Oh, Andrew Sullivan must be SO happy that some professor at Northern Kentucky University is taking his assertion to heart. (And I am sure the parents who send their kids to school there are so happy to learn that one of the professors seems to be spending time "proving" that Sarah is not Trig's real mother.) From what I can tell, the conclusion reached by Scharlotte was mere conjecture, but hey, that's better than nothing, right? Ahem.

It does make me wonder one thing: just what is it this professor teaches exactly? I mean, with all this time on his hands to delve into such ground-breaking research, and all, it's gotta be something important, no doubt. (That is snark, by the way.) Actually, he teaches journalism. Yes, journalism. Now you have a glimpse into why our media is in such bad shape, presuming this is representative of the professors in this field (he is also very upset that some "Palin Flack" is trying to squelch discussion on this critical issue facing us today. Again, not kidding.) Uh, yeah. THIS is what he is so concerned about the media not covering now, during this tumultuous time. Wow.

Oh, you're probably wondering who IS Trig's real mother according to Scharlotte (and Sullivan). Well, it's Bristol, of course. C'mon, that's as clear as the nose on your face, people!

What is really hilarious to me, though, are the comments at this article. The exact same people who demean, belittle, and attack those who would like to see Obama's birth certificate act like this is a matter of National Security. You know, because Palin ran as the Vice Presidential candidate, so who her baby mama is matters a LOT. Hey, say what you will about Birthers, at least the desire to see an actual birth certificate is to fulfill a Constitutional requirement. And it is a requirement other presidential candidates have fulfilled, I might add.

But this has zero to do with the Constitution. This has to do with Palin Hatred veiled as outrage at a lackluster media, one that hasn't done its job in reporting this "earth shattering" story:
[snip] He (Professor Scharlotte) concludes two things:

* First, that the "conspiracy theory" is likely true--Sarah Palin staged a huge hoax, and, second,

* The American media is pathetic for not pursuing the story more aggressively
[snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Oh, yes - where has the media been? You know, the one that aggressively pursued Obama's connections to Tony Rezko, or Bill Ayers, or Jeremiah Wright, or James Meeks, or his college/grad school records, or why there were ZERO paper recrods from the entire time Obama was in the IL Senate, or how he got everyone thrown off the ballot the first time he ran, or how he got the sealed divorce records of the two front-runner US Senate candidates unsealed right before the election, or any NUMBER of red flags about Barack Obama.

Oh, wait - they didn't. But this man thinks what they SHOULD have been doing was going after Palin even more. Because the boatload of reporters who descended on Wasilla to turn over every rock they could, or the 11 reporters the AP assigned to check her book, is not the least bit aggressive in its efforts. Kinda makes you wonder how many they have assigned to "fact check" Obama's books, huh? Yeah. I'm not holding my breath for that to happen, either.

It is just comical the complete and utter hypocrisy contained within this one site on such a related issue. And the utter lack of recognition of the hypocrisy, too, is a bit comical.

Yes, by all means, let us spend lots of time and media resources on whether or not Trig is Sarah Palin's son, because that is of the utmost importance. Never mind Obama's real back-story - he's only the President after all. Hey, we have to have our priorities with our media, right? Right. Budget crisis? What "budget crisis"? I need to know who is really the mother of that kid, don't you?

If you'll excuse me, I have to go read "People" magazine now to get the REAL news...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A New High Is A New Low

Over three months ago, I wrote a post about the price of gasoline, "Up, Up, And Away." At the time, I was lamenting how gas prices were around $3 a gallon, and outlined some of the difficulties these kinds of prices place on regular old people like us. I did not think that the prices would continue to escalate to where they are now - DOUBLE the amount since Obama took office.

That is pretty dramatic, isn't it? That it costs us twice as much to fill up our cars in just two short years since Obama got into the White House? Yikes. Not that his followers have said much about it, nosirree. They have been mysteriously silent on that point. Huh. I wonder what they would have said had this happened under, say, Bush? Oh, wait - they are STILL blaming Bush for the prices:

Now y'all know I was not a huge fan of George W. Bush's, not by a long shot, but comparing 8 years to 2 is just a bit of "fuzzy math." And forgetting that there was/is tremendous upheaval still in Iraq and Afghanistan is a tad disingenuous. Yes, things are going nuts in the Middle East, but really, that is not new to this president. That is all to say, what a stretch. The most recent turmoil has been going on the past 3 - 4 months - how about the increases from last year, huh? Good grief. Are there any hoops these folks will not jump through in their attempts to exonerate Obama of any wrong-doing, any inaction, any missteps? Apparently not, at least not in Cenk's case(and feel free to list as many examples of this as you would like).

Though at least Bob Beckel can acknowledge that, if nothing else, maybe Obama shouldn't be laughing about how much gas now costs Americans:

At least Beckel has a sense of humor about his support for Obama and his budget policies, but yeah, laughing at how much it is costing people to fill up their cars, not getting the impact these gas prices are having on Americans all across the board, is telling, telling, telling about Obama.

But get this - these current gas prices are going to look like a walk in the park compared to what we can expect this summer. Yes, the experts are now saying we can expect a 40%, yes, that is FORTY percent,increase by this summer:
[snip] According to AAA’s daily fuel-gauge report, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is about $3.79, up about 33% from $2.86 a year earlier.

The average U.S. household’s vehicle fueling costs will rise about $825 from last year’s level, hitting $3,360 in 2011, the EIA said.

The government also expects refiner acquisition costs of crude oil to average $112.50 a barrel this summer, up about 50% from the prior year.

Meanwhile, wholesale gasoline margins — the difference between the wholesale price of gas and the refiner acquisition cost of crude — are forecast to average 53 cents a gallon this summer, up 47% from last year. (Click here to read the rest.)

Holy shit. This is a cascade effect kind of thing, as many of us already know. It affects how often we drive, how much our food and clothes cost, how much we have left over at the end of the month.

Reuters/Ipsos just came out with a poll this morning highlighting this very issue:
[snip] More than six of every 10 Americans have cut back on other expenses and reduced their driving as a result of the rising gas prices caused by tumult in North Africa and the Middle East.

The increase in energy costs also hurt Obama's approval rating, which dipped for the second consecutive month to 46 percent -- his lowest Ipsos poll rating since early December 2010.

"That's all a function of gas prices. People are feeling the pinch at the pump," said Ipsos pollster Cliff Young.

"Increased gas prices have a direct impact on the pocketbook, and there is very little lag time between rising gas prices and its effect on presidential approval and confidence," he said. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Yes, this is having a major impact on Americans all across the country. And it looks like it will only be getting worse.

Bottom line, this is NOT a laughing matter, Mr. Obama, not even close.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Don't Think I Can Stomach Another Round **Updated**

Of Obama campaigning. Yes, he has already started for his re-election. Blech. Oh, he just happened to show up at the Lincoln Memorial after the 11th hour agreement on the budget vote, running around, glad handing, acting like he was the one who wrote the damn thing:

Never mind that he was kicking and screaming throughout the whole process, threatening to veto an extension bill that would fund the Pentagon, thus the military, should there be a government shutdown. And never mind that the REASON we were on the verge of a government shutdown was the Democrats refusal to pass a damn budget last year when they controlled all three houses. Gee - can't imagine why they decided not to do that, and that decision was made pretty early in the year.

And now Obama is prancing around like he did this single-handedly? Please.

It is only going to get worse from here on out. This is only the beginning of his re-election bid, which he curiously decided to launch in the midst of a boatload of serious issues facing the nation and the world (Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, the budget, gas prices that have doubled - DOUBLED -under Obama, and on and on).

Just as a reminder, these are some of the "highlights" toward which I imagine we can look forward, and the mature responses of his followers:

Or this:

Or how about this memorable comment:

Here's some campaign advice for Mr. Obama, free of charge: when you are in the middle of a campaign, and you choose to go out to be among the people, including eating in a diner, when someone dares ask you a question, answer it. That's why you are there, right? If you want an uninterrupted waffle-eating breakfast (and was that waffle ever an indicator of things to come from Obama), stay in your hotel room. I'm just saying - you might not want to get all snappy with the people you want to vote for you when you deign to mingle among them.

That is just the beginning. That doesn't even begin to touch the ways in which Obama takes credit for actions that were not his (the list is way too long, but think back to the last election when he claimed to be on committees he wasn't on, or bills on which he didn't work, etc., etc.). How much worse is it going to get now that he actually got into the White House? Geez, I shudder to think.

I wonder if, maybe the second time around, the media might actually do more of its job, and ask him some real questions, like about Rezko, for instance. Or his connections to Big Oil. Yeah, I didn't think so...

I don't know that I can take another 1 1/2 of Obama campaigning. The last time was one time too many, if you ask me. I think I'm going to have to spend more time watching videos like this instead of watching Obama lie like a rug, calling people racists if they disagree with him, or tilting his chin up at people in the most arrogant manner possible:

Uh, yeah. This is much better, don't you think?

**Update** My aunt mentioned to me today that Obama had been complaining about his loss of privacy. Was he ever. I knew he had complained about this before, but wow, want a little whine with that cheese, Mr. Obama? Good grief. I guess he didn't believe Bush when he said being president was "hard work." Hmm - I wonder if people will give Obama as hard of a time for saying this:
"I just miss – I miss being anonymous," he said. "I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can't take a walk."

His dream, he said, was to "go through Central Park and watch folks passing by ... spend the day watching people – I miss that".

Faced with simmering criticism for playing more golf than most previous occupants of the White House, he explained that the sport was simply the best way of getting away from it all.

"It's the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch," he told Hearst magazines. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Oh, freakin' spare me. After he pulled every dirty trick in the book to get INTO the White House, from caucus fraud to vote-stealing, he's complaining (again)? That just takes the cake...

I think this calls for another horse video, this time with a cat (this one reminds me of my Jordan playing with a teeny tiny little kitten, letting him play with his tail and everything - so cute):

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is Nancy Pelosi For Real?

Nancy Pelosi has come out with another whopper. Honestly, I just do not understand how this woman can be so clueless, but well, she is. She is now claiming that "there is a war on women," discussing primarily issues related to choice. And of course, this "war" is perpetrated by the Republicans. Really, Rep. Pelosi? The "war against women" is JUST the Republicans?

See, I ask because I remember not too long ago, your party, under your leadership, did a pretty fair job of warring on women, too. You, personally, supported a far, far less qualified, experienced man for the highest office in the land over the far, far more qualified, experienced, smarter woman.

Who could forget this exchange between then-Speaker Pelosi and Greta van Susteren after the Democrats, especially Pelosi, managed to drum Clinton right out of the race? I know I can't forget it:
[snip] VAN SUSTEREN: Let me first focus for a second on Senator Clinton. She is back on the Hill today, and many people email me and say that she is the victim of sexism--not all, but many. Did sexism play a role in this election for her, number one? And number two, I know this morning you were quoting as saying that you, sometimes, have encountered sexism.

PELOSI: I think every woman who is making progress in gaining power is probably a victim of sexism. I can't document what happened in the presidential campaign as I am too busy being Speaker of the House and running my own races for Congress to retain and grow our Democratic majority in the House.(Emphasis mine.)

But I do not think that there is any question that there is some evidence that there was sexism in the campaign, but I can't tell you if that is the reason why Senator Clinton won or lost.

She made a great showing. She advanced to the cause of women enormously. We were thrilled with her candidacy, not just because she is a woman, but because she is a woman with great intellect, great dedication, great stamina, that she proved she could be president of the United States.

But there was an election, and I think that Senator Clinton benefited greatly by the enthusiasm of women, there is no question about that. And I do not know what the impact of the sexism and was. I know it is a sign of insecurity on those who exercise it. I do not know what the political impact of it was. [snip]

Well, former Speaker Pelosi, let me just remind you of the scope of sexism then-Senator Clinton received, and other women, as well:

So, yeah - there was just a bit of a war against women in 2008, one perpetrated by the very ones now decrying a "war against women." Pelosi herself contributed to it by her very actions toward Hillary Clinton, and her very support for the man who ran a sexist campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Are the Republicans above being sexist? Of course not. But they should also not be singled out for a "war against women." Democrats share plenty to blame in that regard. Using the whole issue of choice as a constant stick to keep women in line while the top Democrat, Obama, invites members of the then-outlawed, Sharia-law demanding, "Modesty police" directing Muslim Brotherhood, while attacking OTHERS is just a bit of a stretch. At least it is for me.

How about you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is The MSM Hiding Attacks On Women Journalists?

Again? So it would seem. This time, it is in Palestine by Hamas Security officers. But I bet you haven't heard a word about it, have you? Had it not been for Phyllis Chesler, I wouldn't have known, either.

In Chesler's excellent post, "Arab Spring: Male-on-Female Atrocities In Gaza Disappeared By The Western Media," she details what eight, that is 8, women journalists endured while trying to cover - get this - a Unity rally (more on that below).

Ironic, ain't it?

Anyway, one would have thought after what happened to Lara Logan, and a number of other women journalists in Egypt recently, that maybe, just maybe, the MSM would be better about covering these sorts of attacks. And one would be wrong:
Last month, at least eight Muslim Palestinian female journalists were physically beaten with clubs, iron chairs, and fists, stabbed, and tortured with electric shocks by male Hamas security forces in the Gaza strip. Their cell phones, laptops, documents, and cameras were confiscated. They were also arrested. Some were forced to sign a document “pledging to refrain from covering such events again.”

The “events” were a series of pro-unity rallies organized by Palestinian youth on Facebook (!) which demanded an end to the dispute between Islamist Hamas and a presumably more moderate Fatah.

So much for the Arab “spring,” and the purposefully misguided Western (and these heroically na├»ve youthful demonstrators’) belief that the increasingly well organized Islamist Middle East will really rise up on behalf of human rights and women’s rights—without which there can be no democracy.[snip]

This whole "Spring" concept is just ridiculous on the face of it, as Larry Johnson wrote about so poignantly in, "Arab Spring Or Middle East Firestorm?" so no reason for me to reinvent that wheel. Suffice it to say, it is a whopper of a misnomer for what is going on in the Middle East.

Back to Chesler's point:
The mainstream media did not cover this male-on-female atrocity in Gaza. In the English-speaking world, only a handful of journalists, including two Israelis, one writing in the Jerusalem Post, one writing at Big Peace, covered it. A few smaller newspapers in America and an English-language Egyptian paper did so as well.

To be fair, Reuters had an article (UK edition) which featured their own agency in Gaza having being attacked by “armed men.” Later on, we learn that these “armed men” were Hamas officials. And near the end of the piece, we also learn that Hamas also beat “photographers and camera men.” They do not mention female journalists, nor do they give us their names.

Slate also had an article about how Fatah is undermining Islamism on the West Bank. Parenthetically, later on, they mention that Hamas raided the offices of Reuters and destroyed equipment. They do not mention the attack on the Palestinian women journalists.


One of the recently beaten, tortured, and arrested Palestinian female journalists, Asma Al-Ghoul, is someone whom I first interviewed in 2009. Al-Ghoul is a secular feminist and a journalist who has written brave articles about honor killings on the West Bank and in Gaza. She asked me to edit and publish some of her work and I proudly did so. Al-Ghoul has been harassed and arrested by Hamas before. Why? Ostensibly because she dared to laugh, wear jeans on the beach, and entered the sea, fully clothed, to swim. These were her crimes—plus the fact that she was a single woman (divorced, actually), out in public, not wearing hijab, and relaxing on the beach with—unbelievably—male friends. [snip] (Click here to read the rest of this piece.)

Oh, I should add, not only were these women beaten, and had stun guns used on them, but one was literally stabbed in the back. By a member of the Hamas Security force, that is, as this article highlights, Gaza Cops Use 'Beatings, Stun Guns' On Women Reporters.

It is remarkable, isn't it? That these attacks on women journalists are not being covered by the MSM still? Is it because it doesn't fit the narrative? So it would seem. What a shame that the small window that opened when Lara Logan was brutally assaulted closed so quickly. That is telling in and of itself about our media, about journalism, and about news in general.

These women in Palestine deserve better. They deserve more. They deserve to not have their stories swept under the proverbial rug by their fellow journalists. Their voices deserve to be heard. Hear them now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Killing Over One Torched Koran? *Updated X2*

I could barely believe my eyes when I saw this headline, "Afghans Angry Over Florida Koran Burning Kill UN Staff."

This is not a joke. If it were, it would be a sick one, but the reality is much, much worse. Indeed, a mob of over 20,000 people went on a rampage because a copy of the Koran was burned in Florida.

You may recall that there had been a bit of a brouhaha over a church in Gainesville, Florida threatening/promising to burn a Koran to mark the anniversary of 9/11 last year, but they did not. That pesky little fact did not stop this from happening:
[snip] Last year, even though Mr. Jones called off his burning of the Koran, a subsequent wave of protests at NATO facilities in Afghanistan led to at least five deaths. In several of those incidents, Taliban agitators played a role, allegedly spreading rumors that the Koran burning had taken place. However, the Taliban have had little or no presence in Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the most peaceful places in Afghanistan. [snip]

What? Nothing even happened and they killed a bunch of people? Holy crappydoo.

That being said, on March 20th, Rev, Jones and his flock did burn the Koran. Bear in mind, this is a small, way out on the periphery church we are talking about here. Honestly, why do a bunch of Afghans even CARE what this whacko down in Gainesville is doing?

But care they do, and so far, they have killed 7 - SEVEN - UN workers and 5 Afghan as a result. And they weren't even Americans. Nope:
[snip] The dead included at least seven United Nations workers — four Nepalese guards and three Europeans from Romania, Sweden and Norway — according to United Nations officials in New York. One was a woman. Early reports, later denied by Afghan officials, said that at least two of the dead had been beheaded. Five Afghans were also killed. [snip]

Yes, they went on quite the rampage over this event that happened 11 days ago in a small city in Florida. Holy shit.

(EPA / April 1, 2011)

I'm sorry, but that is just insane. It is just insane. Never mind that it is a bit of a violation of the Big Ten to commit murder, but these people were spurred to action by a sermon in a mosque! I am not kidding you:
[snip] The incident began when thousands of protesters poured out of the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif after Friday prayers and attacked the nearby headquarters of the United Nations, according to Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for Gen. Daoud Daoud, the Afghan National Police commander for northern Afghanistan.

After disarming or shooting the United Nations compound’s guards, the crowd surged inside. Mr. Ahmadzai said that eight of the foreign staff workers, whose nationalities were not known immediately, were killed by gunfire, and that two others were captured by the mob and beheaded. Other reports said that the operations center was burned down as well. [snip]

Oh, but wait - it gets better:
[snip]A prominent Afghan cleric, Mullavi Qyamudin Kashaf, acting chief of the Ulema Council of Afghanistan, called for American authorities to arrest and try Mr. Jones as a war criminal.

The Ulema Council recently met to discuss the Koran burning, he said. “We expressed our deep concerns about this act and we were expecting the violence that we are witnessing now,” Mr. Kashaf said. “Unless they try him and give him the highest possible punishment, we will witness violence and protests not only in Afghanistan but in the entire world.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Let me get this straight - these Muslim mobs have murdered over 17 people, including foreign nationals, 5 at the very notion of a Koran being burned, and 12 because one was burned, and they want the MINISTER to be arrested on war crime charges?

That simply defies all logic, common sense, humanity, and religion. That is just insane. Insane. That's right, I am calling this mob of 20,000 people who attacked guards at the UN because a book was burned insane. I'm sorry, this is not just insane, but crazy, nutso, whacked out, fruit loopy, or any other applicable term. How else to descrivea huge mob went on a rampage at a UN facility over the burning of a book. Yes, it was a religious text, but still - like I said, to kill people over one book being burned is just crazy. Not to mention doing so last year at a NATO facility (about which I had heard nothing) over the RUMOR of a Koran being burned.

I know that this is not the first instance of something like this, fatwas have been called for people from Salmon Rushdie to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for depictions or even descriptions, of Islam, or Muhammad. And I know that Rev. Jones had been warned about burning the Koran out of fear of repercussions.

But why do we have to kowtow to people who would commit murder over something so relatively minor as burning a holy book? Why do we allow them to dictate to us what we can and cannot do for fear of violence? Isn't that an extreme form of bullying? Why do we allow it?

Instead of expecting everyone else to walk around on eggshells lest we set them off, how about we expect THEM to not fly off into a murderous rage at the least perceived slight? Why don't we tell THEM it is unacceptable for them to KILL someone over a cartoon? Or a book? Good grief, if all religious groups reacted the same way, we would be in for a world of hurt. Can you imagine if Christians flew off into a murderous rage every time there was a piece of artwork that depicted Jesus in less than a positive light? Good grief, it would be a whole different world, that's for sure.

Why are we allowing these radical religious extremists to dictate to us what we can and cannot do? Why are we not demanding that they stop acting so violently or else THEY will face consequences? When we constantly pander to the lowest common denominator, it brings us all down.

Whether one agrees with what Jones did or not, the response in Afghanistan is just crazy. Murdering people over a burned book is insane.

That's what I think, anyway. What do you think?

*Update: Sunday morning, and the protests over the burning of one Koran continue to rage. More people have lost their lives as a result of the crowds being whipped up. Here is more:
[snip] The Taliban said in a statement emailed to media outlets that the US and other Western countries have wrongly excused the burning a Koran by the pastor of a Florida church on March 20 as freedom of speech and that Afghans "cannot accept this un-Islamic act."

Nato officials re-iterated their condemnation of the Koran burning in an apparent attempt to quell the rising anger.

"We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Koran," said the statement issued by military commander Gen. David Petraeus and the top Nato civilian representative in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill.

"We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Koran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people," the statement said.

On Saturday, US President Barack Obama extended his condolences to the families of those killed by the protesters and said desecration of the Koran "is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry." But he said that does not justify attacking and killing innocent people, calling it "outrageous and an affront to human decency and dignity." [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Frankly, I don't cotton to being lectured by the TALIBAN. Nor do I appreciate that NATO and General Petraeus are not putting the blame where it belongs - those who are engaging in these murderous rampages. For THREE freaking days now, they have been raging. That is an extreme, absurd, deluded response by the Afghan people, and to try and appease them in any way, shape, or form, after they are committing these kinds of atrocities is immoral, and reprehensible. We cannot, CANNOT, allow these radical extremists to dictate what we are able to do here in the United States of America. WE CANNOT.

This is so insidious, this twisting of blame and responsibility, the bending over backward to not offend those who hate us. Whether or not the minister should have burned the Koran may be debated, but HE did not kill anyone. These people did. And they alone bear responsibility for their heinous actions and attacks. No one MADE them kill someone.

UPDATE 2: A new report claims Pakistan fanned the flames of anger over the trial and burning of the Koran by Rev. Jones. Apparently, the media wasn't really covering what he was doing, but a little news brief was picked up by Agence France Presse, thus beginning Pakistan's pushing this to international heights. Rev. Jones has been tried by a Sharia Court, found guilty of blasphemy, the punishment of which is death.

Here are some of the highlights of how Pakistan pushed this:
[snip] On the evening of March 20, the “trial” went ahead with Jones presiding. It ended with another pastor setting alight a kerosene-soaked copy of the Qur’an.

A brief Agence France Presse (AFP) report said that although the event was open to the public fewer than 30 people attended. A subsequent local media report said the only journalists who turned up on the day were an AFP stringer, several students and an unassigned photographer. A video clip was posted online, however.

The following day, the Organization of the Islamic Conference – the bloc of 56 Muslim-majority nations – issued a statement warning about “unforeseen and volatile consequences of such outrageous and irresponsible acts that could hurt the deep seated religious sentiments of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.” Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva drew its attention to the Gainesville incident.

On March 22, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, in a speech to the federal parliament, condemned the incident “in the strongest possible words,” and Pakistan’s foreign ministry called the burning a “despicable act.”

Dozens of reports on the Qur’an burning appeared in Pakistani media outlets on March 22-23, but the story received negligible coverage elsewhere in the Islamic world. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

There is much more to this, but it seems apparent that this incident was blown into international proportions by Pakistan, then onto even less stable countries like Iran and Afghanistan. And now, over 20 people have lost their lives. That is just appalling, and our leaders need to stop kowtowing over this, IMHO, that is.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On This Sad Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., gunned down at a hotel in Memphis, by James Earl Ray, in 1968.

Robert Kennedy announced this tragedy in one of the most eloquent, moving statements I have ever heard from anyone, politician or poet, minister or teacher. Here is his announcement of this event:

I cannot add anything more to Kennedy's announcement, and his exhortation.

Except to say this, on this day, as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., his life, his tremendous achievements, and his death, let us remember the purpose of his life, his desire for peace, equality, and love.

In memory of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., I offer this piece:

Yes, it is time, it is time, it is time...