May 29, 2008

Using the Holocaust to Attack Obama

From the Huffington Post:
Using the Holocaust to Smear Obama
by-- Menachem Rosensaft

I never thought I'd see the day when the Holocaust would be used as a tool for "gotcha" politics. But over the last two days . . , John McCain's supporters . . . have diminished the experience of those who suffered and died at Buchenwald, and disrespected the service of the heroic American troops who liberated them.
RNC put out a statement slamming Obama for referring to Auschwitz as he related a family story on Memorial Day. . . . They went on to say that the story raised questions "about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief."

It turns out that Obama's great uncle—the brother of the grandmother who largely raised him—served in the 89th Infantry Division of the United States Army, which liberated Ohrdruf, part of Buchenwald. But astonishingly, that only served to fan the flames for those on the right who saw an attempt to use the heroic service of Obama's uncle against him.
This morning on the program Fox and Friends, one of the hosts said: "It wasn't Auschwitz. It was a labor camp called Buchenwald."
Meanwhile, a news "crawl" at the bottom of the screen reinforced, in bold letters, that this was "a work camp, rather than an extermination camp."
Rosensaft goes on to recount the horrific details concerning Buchenwald.
Click here to read those details. And try telling the survivors that it wasn't a death-camp—if you dare.

May 28, 2008

An update on the latest around the house: The first mural is finished and is beeee-yoooo-tifulllll if I do say so.
I've added some extra touches to make it kind of 3-dimensional. F'rinstance, there's a flower urn on a plinth in the foreground of the pic. So, I put a similarly-sized leather jug of small flowers near it on a wooden box about the same size as the pedestal in the mural. And, along the edge where I had painted a fallen-down brick wall, I placed a couple of bricks and some pebbles to carry that idea into the room, as well.

Then, while my helper cleaned up the lumber-pile between the shed and the house, I began unpacking all the fragile chachkas that have waited so patiently to see the light of day again. And EVERY ONE OF THEM survived the move!!! :))))) I'm especially proud of a 4-inch-tall little girl made of terra-cotta sitting with one leg outstretched and her arms around her raised knee. She's not even glazed. Talk about fragile!
And a glass box with a blown egg inside it. A client gave me that in 1988 or so.
And a real butterfly my brother mounted in a plastic box when he was in his teens -- he's 52, now.
And an unglazed pottery wine-jug from Safed, Israel.
And a jar of a tinted glass made in only one town in the world [also in Israel.]

Unwrapping all these started out feeling like Christmas morning but finally became overwhelming as each one has a story behind it: 'Oh, here's the glass Char gave me with a poem inside it one Christmas in the late 1970's!' [I even remember the poem and the incident it memorialized.]
'Here's the soapstone mouse Matt gave me!'
'Here's the ceramic elf Judith gave me!'
'Here's a photo of Sam!' 'And a picture Judy drew in pastels and charcoal.'
Etc. etc. etc. You get the idea.
I finally had to stop and just breathe. I'll get back to it [and to finding places for them all] in the next day or two.

But, after 15 months, the living room is finally coming together.
Now, if I can just get past the bout of home-sickness-- for Kansas City! --can you believe it???
Excuse me, I've got to go make some phone calls to a few folks up in north country. :)

May 20, 2008

Hey, folks--
A major change just happened in my life which may well result in fewer posts being put up here than was previously the case:
For the last six months or longer I've been approaching one after another person in my community asking for help with some major projects I'm undertaking in my new home. Several people said things like, 'Oh, sure, I'll help you, as soon as ____________ [fill in the blank].'
I think we all know what THAT means, right?

A couple of weeks ago, I was reduced to going through the yellow pages and phoning handy-men for estimates. When one quoted me the price of $800.00 to wallpaper 2 walls [that's WALLS, mind you, not ROOMS], I again started talking to people in my neighborhood.

So, last week, when a friend of a friend actually set a date to begin, I held my breath and SHE ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH! :)
The resulting mural in my living room is stunningly beautiful if I do say so.She has agreed to help me with several other projects, as well. Another mural, for instance, building a loft-bed-with- closet-underneath [and a staircase for getting into bed], 2 frames for the air-chairs I brought with me [that are still in their respective boxes], constructing and filling a 2nd shed, converting the first shed into a workshop, and some major landscaping. You get the picture.

So, posts are likely to be thin on the ground for a while.
I hope to keep at least one blog fairly functional even while all these plates are in the air and—most likely—that one will be All that Is.

So, please do drop by and visit Mary Ellen of The Divine Democrat [who is co-hosting] and me.
I imagine if something absolutely outrageous occurs in Washington [and how likely is THAT to happen?] I'll put in an appearance here to scream about it. So, I hope you'll check in here occasionally, as well.
But, let's face it, if someone says she'll help me build a bed/closet complex or an air chair and actually SHOWS UP—well, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, don't cha know?

May 18, 2008

This from SFGate:
Return to Sender
- Iraq Veteran Gets the Call Again by Colby Buzzell
When I voluntarily enlisted in the Army, I remember asking my recruiter about the fine print on the contract about being called back up to active duty once my enlistment was completed. He assured me not to worry, that every contract said that and it would only happen if "World War III" broke out.

That was a little over five years ago.

On [the] way out of my building two weeks ago, I checked my mailbox and found a letter from the Department of the Army with "Important Document" printed in all caps on the middle. I immediately felt sick. . . .
I'm now going back to Iraq for a second time because people like me - existing service members - are the only people at the Army's disposal. [emphasis added]
I know I won't get any sympathy at all from the "you dumb ass you signed the contract!" crowd, which is fine, but I really was looking forward to applying my GI Bill to photography classes so I could learn how to take pictures. But now, thanks to not enough Americans volunteering for military service, I now have to worry about my picture appearing on the second or third page of my hometown paper with the words, "it was his second deployment" in my obituary.

May 15, 2008

Two Glimpses of the Future

In the mountains above Barcelona, Spain, there is a reservoir. It has something in its depths that you won't find in reservoirs in the US. A European Medieval Village that hasn't been above the water line for hundreds of years.

Now, suddenly, archaeologists are able to dig up this snapshot in time. But that's not good news--it's a matter of simply making use of an opportunity. Ordinarily, that village would be more than 100 feet underwater. Now, however, the reservoir is 80% dry.

Usually, the ships that dock at Barcelona bring in raw materials and manufactured goods. Today, they are bringing in tankers full of water. Water rationing in the city is to the point of allowing for cooking and bathing. No other household use of water is allowed.

How long can this go on? Other cities will soon be coming to the table, as well. The clamor for water will only continue-- and get worse. If the food riots are bad now--they will be as nothing when the water riots begin.
Closer to home, the economy was viewed in a favorable light tonight on The Nightly Business Report. The program detailed a small increase in spending during the last month. The reporters talked about spending in anticipation of the coming $600.00 'tax refund'.

However, I doubt if those same reporters actually asked those shoppers why they were spending the money. I was at a store this week. I even bought some 'durable items' -- namely a TV and and a computer monitor. The reasons? First, my TV went all wonkers, rolled over on its back and died. So, it was time to invest in a digital TV. While I was at it I bought one I expect will remain with me for at least a decade. So, I got a Sony and upgraded to a larger screen. Furthermore, my old monitor was going downhill fast. It was getting dimmer and dimmer and harder and harder for these old eyes to make out what was on the screen.

A secondary reason for the upgrades, though, was this: I have no idea what will happen over the next few weeks or months -- but I have some educated guesses. With gasoline prices [and the price of shipping goods] spiraling upward-- who's to say my money will be worth as much tomorrow as it is today? So--if I'm going to buy a large-ticket item, I might as well do it now.

I didn't buy those two items in expectation of the 'tax rebate'. I'm not going to get one.
I bought them not because I'm confident of the economy. In fact, just the opposite.
I'm so nervous about the state of the economy, I'm securing my options now, while I still can.
So, what about you?
What is your take on the current situation? And how are you preparing to meet what's coming?

May 13, 2008

This from the Huffington Post:
Congress: Money for War, But No Money for the Troops?

by Paul Rieckhoff
In 1944, FDR signed the original GI Bill, which gave every veteran a chance to go to college. It paid for tuition, fees, and books, and gave veterans a living stipend. The GI Bill helped the "Greatest Generation" readjust to civilian life, it helped pull us out of a post-war recession, and it helped build the middle class. Every dollar spent on educational benefits under the original GI Bill added at least seven dollars to the national economy. [emphasis added]

Today, 1.7 million troops have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but the GI Bill no longer covers anything like the cost of college. So a bipartisan coalition of veterans now serving in the Senate introduced a new GI Bill, modeled on the World War II legislation. This bill recently got added to the war funding bill currently in Congress.

In the real world, two things are obvious:
1) If you send troops to war, caring for the veterans who come home is an unavoidable and necessary cost of that war.
2) The GI Bill is a proven program, and a smart financial investment that pays for itself.

It just makes sense.
A couple of Congressmen, including Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), Jim Cooper (D-TN), and Allen Boyd (D-FL), all members of the Blue Dog Coalition, have gotten together to OPPOSE paying for the GI Bill this week. (If you live in their districts, you can urge them to support the GI Bill by clicking here.)
This circle is the spending bill we're talking about. The big red part? That's spending that is A-OK with these Congressmen (more than $180 billion). It's that tiny blue sliver that represents the GI Bill, and that's the dealbreaker for these folks ($780 million).
Click here for the complete text.
So, between the Blue Dogs and the right wingnuts, our nation is all set to, once again, screw the troops.

May 8, 2008

McCain Gets It Wrong -- Again

This from the Huffington Post:
McCain's Justice -- by Geoffrey R. Stone

McCain complained that sitting judges and justices systematically "abuse" the federal judicial power by issuing "rulings and opinions on policy questions that should be decided democratically." McCain is apparently blissfully unaware that the vast majority of current federal judges were appointed by Republican presidents and that seven of the nine sitting Supreme Court Justices and twelve of the last fourteen Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republicans. As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Click here for the complete text.
So, over and above his willingness to sell his soul both during his time in a Viet Cong prison and, more recently, as a candidate, John McCain is simply ignorant as well. Unless, of course, he is alerting the Bush faithful that he intends, if elected, to render the SCOTUS completely toothless so that he [and they] can run roughshod over the majority of Americans.

Now there is some food for thought.

May 6, 2008

Or Pour Gasoline on the Fire-- It's Up to Congress to Choose

This from the Washington Post:
A Slap at Schoolchildren -- by George McGovern and Bob Dole

How can the world's hungriest schoolchildren be denied meals while the farm bill being debated in a House-Senate conference provides millions in subsidies for wealthy farmers? That's what Congress proposes. In all fairness, it should not become law.

We are puzzled that Congress wants to increase overall farm bill spending by billions of dollars yet reduce by more than 90 percent the mandatory funding to feed hungry children. The program at issue saves lives and has a proven ability to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness in poor countries.

Click here for the complete text.
A reminder of days gone by:
When 'compromise' wasn't a dirty word.
When 'bi-partisan' meant actually working together to get things done. Sometimes good things.

Living, as I did then, 3 blocks from the Kansas border, I was very aware of Bob Dole.
He wasn't my flavor-of-the-month -- I wouldn't have voted for him. But everyone agreed -- he could work a deal.
Unlike the tantrum-throwers we have today who take food away from our most vulnerable in the name of 'family values.'
You might want to check out Scattershot Thoughts for a piece on the irrelevant presidency. While it's kind of depressing [because of all the softballs being bunted around] I still was heaving one large sigh of relief after another as I read it.
May this continue to be the way Bush approaches the next nine months.

May 2, 2008

A Way To Start the Bucket Brigade

This from The Washington Post:
How to Spend Your Stimulus Check
-- by Andrew Carroll

Starting this week, more than 100 million Americans will receive checks from the federal government as part of a bipartisan initiative to stimulate the economy. Savvy retailers have been promoting special "tax rebate" sales, car discounts, summer trips, and just about everything else that can be pitched, marketed or sold -- all hoping to capitalize on the billions the U.S. Treasury is sending out to qualifying taxpayers.

But there's another option for spending the money that represents one of the best ways we can help this nation: Donate it to charitable organizations supporting our troops and their families.
There are countless ways to help our troops, from sending phone cards and care packages overseas to building homes for disabled veterans and providing scholarships for the children of service members killed in action.

The American Institute of Philanthropy, a nonpartisan organization that reports on how efficiently charities dispense their funds, has compiled an excellent list of first-rate nonprofits, including the Fisher House Foundation, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Army Emergency Relief, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the National Military Family Association. Many others can easily be found online.
Click here for the complete text.
What a great idea this is! Do good and, possibly, stimulate the economy at the same time.
And, we can get the feel-good of doing an end-run around Bush and Cheney's attempts to destroy the military one individual at a time.

May 1, 2008

We didn't start it but it's up to us to start the bucket brigade.