Friday, November 30, 2012

Pat Robertson Does It Again!!

Visitors at the Creation Museum paid good money to view an utterly false "vegetarian" dinosaur display.

Stop the presses! For the second time this year, Pat Robertson has actually expressed a rational thought! First, it was "legalize marijuana" and now...LOOK!...Pat has declared that Young Earth Creationism is false!

Everything you need to
deprive your child of a
science education!
Yes, you read that correctly, Pat Robertson went on television and admitted to his viewers that millions of fundamentalist Christians have been lied to by the perpetrators of the YEC dogma, among them the "Answers" in Genesis fabulist and founder of the Creation "Museum", Ken Ham. Answers in Genesis was created to provide apologia for young earth creationism, and in the USA Ken Ham was their man. Thousands of homeschooling networks have used Answers in Genesis curriculum materials to deprive their students of any coherent understanding of the reality of the age of the earth, the evolution of life or any other reality-based scientific knowledge.

The Creation "Museum" is part of the even broader outreach of that movement's determination to indoctrinate youngsters with lies and mythology. Ham lobbied for (and received!) publicly-funded financial incentives to construct a glorified indoor theme park which tells the "story" of life on earth according to Biblical mythology. By gaining access to some public funding and calling the religious edifice a "museum", Ham and his disciples were able to misrepresent their religious agenda as a mainstream "educational" institution just like bona fide museums and libraries. The targeted groups can venture outside their religious "schooling" bubbles and find their carefully-inculcated worldview confirmed in a "public place". It is all part of the drive to paint a veneer of legitimacy over the fabrications, mythology and straight-up lies that the Young Earth Creationists present to their students in place of real science and reality-based history. (The other part of that strategy is to inject YEC into public schools by claiming that it ought to be taught alongside real science and history, thus giving it a false equivalency to reality-based instruction).
Now, now, settle down, Viewers!
I'm still the same old batty Patty!

Yet, even in the echo chamber that is the fundamentalist religious schooling movement, young people still claw their way out of the suffocating fear of eternal damnation to question the validity of a belief system which denies the reality right before their very eyes every day. In response to a viewer who was worried about her family's ticket to heaven in the afterlife because they found the Biblical "explanation" (or lack of it) for the existence of dinosaurs unconvincing, Robertson had this to say:

Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn't inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years. It just didn't. You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.

They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible. 

If you fight science, you're going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was.

Of course, Pat Robertson did not always believe in telling it the way it was (or, for that matter, telling the truth at all). But, things are different, now. It seems that the wily ol' fox has twigged to the fact that young people sometimes resist being indoctrinated with lies. That 'god-created 6000 year-old earth, end times are a'nearing' alternate universe that fundamentalist Christians have been forcing on their young is not just a terrible, manipulative lie, but it is a terrible manipulative lie that they can't sustain because the facts just won't go away.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day,
so a wingnut with bats in the belfry
 can be right twice in a year!
Naturally, Pat tries to spin it as a positive for fundamentalist Bible-based faith ("That's not the Bible"! Any flaws in Christian Reconstructionism have been human errors, not flaws in the actual theology!), but the jig is up. Religious extremists simply cannot cover up the overwhelming evidence that their doctrines are false. The younger generations are on to them. While it is unlikely that we will soon hear confessions that extremist religious teachings were misleading at best and harmful at worst, and their favored position in society and influence in government policy has been detrimental to the country, the public confirmation by a former proponent that young earth creationism is dead wrong is at least a step in the right direction. For over a decade, creationist nonsense has been used to eviscerate school science curricula thus undermining our scientific and technological progress. It may take another decade to undo the damage, if indeed we still have that much time before the rest of the world sprints ahead of us in the global race for scientific and technological innovation.

Isn't it marvelous how quickly base self-interest will induce even hardliner right-wing extremists to soften their irrational stances when it just isn't winning them elections anymore? Rabidly fundamentalist preachers doing a U-turn on the anti-science highway, GOP representatives decrying the anti-immigration hard line, and wingnut radio hosts giving themselves whiplash spinning their positions on immigration policy, reproductive rights and economic inequality: Change is in the air! Republicans are doing a hasty, awkward two-step which they are trying to sell as a modern dance with intentionally surprising twists and turns. Their extreme positions were an illusion! In fact, they are for what they only seemed to be against. Or at least, some of them hope to conceal their true agenda better in the future. Meanwhile, others believe that their approach was not extremely conservative enough.
Equality for women next, Pat?
Oh, right.

But batty Patty knows that doubling down on a losing strategy simply won't pay doesn't make sense. He has admitted that young earth creationism is a lie, because he understands that - even with homeschooling, burying "sheltering" young minds, and determined miseducation of children (often using public funds) - not even the hugely powerful evangelical Christian machine can suppress reality-based knowledge and cover up the truth forever.

Next thing you know, old Pat will be arguing in favor of right-wing acceptance of evolution, global climate change and women's equality!

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Pat Robertson

Okay, maybe just the first two.


Update: Before I even had this blog post finished (yes, it's taken me two days - I have the flu, so sue me), Ken Ham has taken the time to blast Pat Robertson over his remarks. Quelle surprise!

Head-shaking and accusations of disloyalty to the authority of ???:
"Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson," Ham said Wednesday in a post on Facebook.
"Pat Robertson gives more fodder to the secularists. We don't need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church," Ham added in the statement shared with those following his non-profit Christian apologetics ministry on Facebook. clockwork...the inevitable threats and fear-mongering:

"I still shake my head at the number of church leaders who want to appease the secularists and accept their anti-God religion of millions of years and even molecules to man evolution," Ham wrote. "Such leaders (including Pat Robertson) have a lot to answer to the Lord for one day. Such leaders are guilty of putting stumbling blocks in the way of kids and adults in regards to believing God's Word and the gospel."

Ken Ham of Creation Museum Slams Robertson for Dismissing Young Earth Theory, Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post, November 30, 2012.

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full Frost Moon - And Jupiter, Too!

photo by TaviGreiner

The moving moon
went up the sky,
And nowhere 
did abide:
Softly she was
going up,
And a star 
or two beside -

(from The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

The full moon tonight came with a special treat: just off the moon's left shoulder a bright "star", which is not a star at all, but the giant planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet and the fifth planet from the sun in our solar system. In the ancient Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the name of the putative "king" of the gods - his Greek equivalent was Zeus. Jupiter is the ruling planet of the astrological sign Sagittarius, bestowing upon those lucky individuals good fortune, nobility and lives of meaning and purpose. Jupiter is also associated with luck and happiness.

Perhaps Gustav Holtz was thinking about the good luck and positive influence attributed to Jupiter when he subtitled the movement dedicated to the giant planet, "Bringer of Jollity". Listen to the beautiful Jupiter movement of Holtz's orchestral suite, The Planets. You'll hear the parts which remind you of Jupiter's connection to the idea of higher purpose around the 3 minute mark. Turn up the volume and lose yourself in a 7 minute musical vacation which will be a tonic to body and soul.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine.

Off to the right and slightly below the moon shines the red giant star, Aldebaran.

Apparently, tonight's full moon was the smallest one of 2012, because the moon is at its apogee - the farthest distance from earth in its orbit. Don't tell me or Carolyn Ann that it was small, however. Tonight's huge moonrise was as spectacular as many a Harvest or Hunter Moon. The huge buttermilk- coloured orb ascending in a deep azure sky that was pierced by the light of the moon's two brilliant celestial companions was truly captivating.

The November full moon is known as the "Beaver Moon" or the "Full Frost Moon" in Native American lore. There was also a lunar eclipse earlier today, but unless you were in Australia or at least in Alaska, you probably didn't have much of a view. Lucky for you, Nifty is here to save the day!

A little night-sky gazing for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Buffet Rule Redux - Wait, Isn't That The Reagan Rule?

Warren Buffet rocks. I'm just going to come right out and say that. In the spring, the New York Times' Dealbook editor, Andrew Ross Sorkin, reported that when a shareholder complained to Buffet that his 84 year-old father refused to invest in Berkshire because of Buffet's publicly stated position on taxes:

"Mr. Buffett replied with a zinger: “Sounds like your father should buy stock in Fox.”"

This week, Mr. Buffet's Op Ed piece in the New York Times expands on the topic of rational tax policy. In a few short paragraphs, he recaps the history of how the much higher tax rates of the past paved the way for economic expansion and a prosperous, growing middle class. As those tax rates were gradually reduced, financial inequality in American society began to grow again. With ever more drastic cuts to the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans since the Reagan administration, the gulf between rich and poor has rapidly widened, while manufacturing and other middle class jobs have dried up resulting in a steadily shrinking middle class.

Someone's sitting in the shade today 
because someone planted a tree a long time ago.  
Warren Buffett
Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well. In the years from 1956 to 1969, the top marginal rate fell modestly, but was still a lofty 70 percent — and the tax rate on capital gains inched up to 27.5 percent. I was managing funds for investors then. Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.

Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.

So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities. 

Warren E. Buffet, A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy, New York Times, November 25, 2012.

Warren Buffet has earned popular respect for more than just his quick wit and feisty defense of his principles. Although he is one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the world, Buffet broke ranks with most of the super rich when he said that he did not think that rich people like himself should be paying less in taxes than the middle class. That pronouncement probably cost him a few friends (though probably not business followers) in the rarefied world of the super wealthy.      

Debbie Bosanek
The reality is that the current micro-fraction of superrich Americans have accumulated a rapidly growing portion of the wealth pie due to their ability to influence legislation to favor their own interests. Warren Buffet seems to have reached a point in his life where personal ambition and business pragmatism no longer justify turning a blind eye to or remaning silent about immoral wealth inequity and increasing plutocratic control of government and the economy.

The Oracle of Omaha went on the record saying that he is uncomfortable about the fact that his secretary - earning considerably less than $100,000 per year - pays a higher tax rate than the Berkshire Hathaway legend himself pays. That was the anecdote cited by President Obama when he put forward his suggestion for a more fair and balanced tax structure - featuring a minimum 30% tax rate on high incomes - aptly named the Buffet Rule.

On April 16, the Buffet Rule was killed by the Senate, thanks to determined Republican obstructionism.  Later that same week, the Republicans planned to vote on a bill handing out yet another 20% deduction on business income. That bill was passed by the Republican-controlled House on April 19. It has not yet been passed by the Senate. While braying about class warfare - by which they mean envy of the productive rich by the shiftless, lazy not-rich -  the Republicans managed once again to champion tax advantages for the wealthiest Americans, while heaping more of the tax burden onto the middle class and the poor.

via Charles H. Smith
How ironic it is that while the incredibly wealthy Warren Buffet speaks out in defense of the 99.9%, Republicans in Congress appear to live in an alternate universe where the extremely wealthy never use roads or shipping infrastructure to move their goods across the country and around the world. They appear to have missed completely the fact that workers - many who have endured wage freezes or at best wage increases which have barely kept up with the cost of living: inflated health care costs, rents and mortgages, college tuitions and gas prices - enable the production of goods and services which provide the enormous profits that line the pockets of the wealthiest Americans. (Yes, Paul Ryan, there are makers and takers: the workers - too few of them unionized - make the goods and services while the plutocrat elites take the profits).

Republicans appear to have been asleep while banks, mortgage companies and brokerage houses played fast and loose with the economy, enriching the tiniest sliver of the population while the other 95% or more fell farther and farther behind in the income gap. When the housing and stock market bubbles burst, most of this same extremely wealthy and privileged few escaped prosecution - and escaped serious financial damage - and were soon recouping their losses from the crash by buying up stocks in more companies at extremely discounted post-crash prices. Meanwhile, the middle class and the poor ate the cost of the crash - losing jobs, losing homes, losing livelihoods - and still kept paying taxes, on income, on goods and on services.

Yes, Paul Ryan, there are makers and takers: the workers - too few of them unionized - make the goods and services while the plutocrat elites take the profits.

It's also interesting that Warren Buffet isn't the first person to depart from the received "wisdom" of his overwhelmingly conservative peer group. Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the progressive Republican movement, had to break away from the Republican party as his goals for social justice became increasingly at odds with the plutocratic ambitions of party hardliners. Similarly, though he courted the support and votes of conservative hardliners, Ronald Reagan - the demi-god of the right wing - expressed views which today would see him kicked unceremoniously to the curb by the party "base". 

Via Upworthy

Last fall, Think Progress published a great article comparing the class warrior presidents - Reagan and Obama - with supporting video. As the White House and Congress continue negotiations to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, it is interesting to consider that the current party of No has its roots in progressive social justice, ideals that were apparently shared by their idol, Ronald Reagan, even as his ambition led him to an unholy alliance with the right wing fringes of his party thus enshrining himself as the father of the current economic nightmare.

Once more, history offers compelling evidence of just how fanatical and extreme the conservative movement has become in this country. Jay Bookman, Atlantic Journal-Constitution, October 3, 2011.

Some days, the irony meter spins way up on bust.

via Mother Jones, It's the Inequality, Stupid

Tuesday Tonic - Ode to Newfoundland

This post is in honour of my amazing daughter who was born on this day 
        in this beautiful place, during a shimmering white snowstorm. 
                                     Happy Birthday, J!!

Ode to Newfoundland

1. When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills,
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.

2. When spreads thy cloak of shimmering white,
At winter's stern command,
Thro' shortened day, and starlit night,
We love thee, frozen land.
We love thee, we love thee
We love thee, frozen land.

3. When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,
And wild waves lash thy strand,
Thro' spindrift swirl, and tempest roar,
We love thee windswept land.
We love thee, we love thee
We love thee windswept land.

4. As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland
God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland.

--Sir Cavendish Boyle

Monday, November 26, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!

Hello there, People!

We are putting up decorations! We put up lights and everything!

I am a helper! I run and I bark and I help everyone smile!

I help keep Frosty company as he waves to everybody...

...but Frosty! Why are you lying down?

We put up lights and decorations and everything and Frosty was bobbing and waving, too.

Frosty must be tired. I will still keep him company, though.

I am a good helper!

Isn't that just Ducky!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

Good Morning, Humans.

It is a lovely, bright fall morning and my Human is sleeping.

Last night, she fell asleep exhausted after so much reading and writing!

She said it was her last assignment for her degree, and then she laid down her pen and slept.

Whatever a degree is, I am glad it is over. At last, my Human can rest. And snuggle with me.

But wait! She is awake and she is writing again! I must stop her from taking up books again!

I must protect my Human! I must make her snuggle with me!

It is a new bright fall morning and my Human is writing again.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - Macushla

In loving memory of a fine man who would have been 83 today.
                               Happy Birthday, John.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget - Remembrance Day November 11

In Flanders Fields 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

John McCrae was a poet and physician from Guelph, Ontario. He developed an interest in poetry at a young age and wrote throughout his life. His earliest works were published in the mid 1890s in Canadian magazines and newspapers. McCrae's poetry often focused on death and the peace that followed.
At the age of 41, McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War. He had the option of joining the medical corps due to his training and age, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. It was his second tour of duty in the Canadian military. He previously fought with a volunteer force in the Second Boer War. He considered himself a soldier first; his father was a military leader in Guelph and McCrae grew up believing in the duty of fighting for his country and empire.
McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, but were unable to break through the Canadian line which held for over two weeks. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle as a "nightmare": "For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ..... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way." Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance...
McCrae was moved to the medical corps and stationed in Boulogne, France, in June 1915 where he was named lieutenant-colonel in charge of medicine at the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital. He was promoted to the acting rank of Colonel on January 13, 1918, and named Consulting Physician to the British Armies in France. The years of war had worn McCrae down, however. He contracted pneumonia that same day, and later came down with cerebral meningitis. On January 28, he died at the military hospital in Wimereux and was buried there with full military honours. (wikipedia)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leadership: A Study In Contrasts

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. Sirius Black

They say you can judge the true character of a leader by how he behaves toward those who have served under him when times are tough. Most of us agree that a man who stands tall and generously thanks those who stood by him in defeat is a man with integrity. John McCain is one such man.  But even more revealing, sometimes, is how a man behaves when he has achieved a cherished goal with the help of many others. When the temptation to see himself as a conquering hero must be very great, a man who shares the credit for victory - indeed who gives the credit almost entirely to his supporters - is rightly regarded as a man of sterling character. A truly great leader has no need to stand on the backs of other people and declare himself a self-made man. A great leader - a great president - has the quiet confidence and steady character that allows the generousness of spirit to show appreciation for the aid that all great leaders receive from other people along his way. By his example this week, President Barack Obama showed us what true integrity and great leadership really means.

John McCain to campaign staff: "A lost
election will never mean more to me than
 the privilege of your faith and friendship."
After the lights go down and the confetti is swept up in the wee hours of the morning after an election night, political candidates may take a few moments to gather themselves and consider the future. As they prepare to move into the next phase of their lives, most recognize that they have one last campaign-related duty which leadership, integrity and common courtesy demand: to thank their campaign workers for their months of hard work. Win or lose, most acknowledge that their many accomplishments over the preceding months were not theirs alone. They know that their candidacy would have been impossible without the sustained effort, through months of hard slogging on the campaign trail, of a multitude of people whose commitment to the candidate and the ideals which they believe he represented was unwavering. Weary candidates longing to rest have long understood that before retiring from the campaign, their final duty is to thank their campaign staffers with the respect and gratitude that those men and women have surely earned. Most go on to urge their supporters to continue to fight for their shared ideal of a stronger America by finding renewed energy to work with their former adversaries on solutions for the good of the country.

Well, hang on a minute. It is true that that is what most candidates would do after a grueling campaign. It is, after all, what most decent men and women do when they owe an enormous debt of gratitude to people without whom they could never have come close to their own ambitious goals. John McCain understood that very well and, being an honorable man, he rose to the occasion even in the face of a devastating defeat.  His humble and heartfelt remarks to his gathered supporters after the 2008 election were intended to uplift and encourage them, to express his gratitude and to affirm their shared love of this country. In spite of his own crushing disappointment, Senator McCain knew his duty to his supporters - knew that in their hour of disappointment, it was his duty as a leader to show them the way forward - and he performed it willingly with grace and honor.

But in 2012, the Republican who postured as a "values" candidate exhibited no such grace or honor.

When the time came to thank the legions of tireless campaign workers who, for the better part of a year (if not longer), had lived and breathed loyalty and devotion to their candidate and his cause, Mitt Romney failed them miserably. He had a chance to step down off the stump, look his exhausted staffers in the eye and thank them for a herculean effort in the face of tremendous challenges, but the opportunity was utterly lost on the "caring" candidate. Romney's supporters gave their hearts and minds and boots on the ground - they sacrificed, their families sacrificed; their personal lives and careers were willingly put on hold for his cause -  and win or lose, this was the moment for their candidate to offer them sincere gratitude and much deserved congratulations for a job well done.

Romney to campaign staff: Thanks for nothing, Suckers!
"My job is not to worry about those people."

Let them find their own way home.
Instead, Mitt Romney hurried through a brief, painfully perfunctory concession speech and then he walked right out of that ballroom and out of their lives. Before daybreak on November 7, he had also made sure that his staffers' campaign credit cards had been cancelled - before many of them had even finished the night's work and dragged their tired bodies into a taxi to go back to their hotels. One can only hope the campaign workers were not also stiffed with their hotel bills, although they almost certainly were left with any remaining expenses incurred while they made their weary way home after nearly a year serving on the campaign of the most stunningly callous political ingrate in recent memory.

The contrast between Governor Romney's abrupt concession speech and his predecessor Senator McCain's gracious and patriotic remarks points belatedly to the answer to an important question: How will the candidate react under duress? Will he respond with measured grace and wisdom, or will his reaction show that he is unprepared for leadership? But it was Romney's unseemly, hasty severing of connections with his campaign workers - he literally left them in the lurch in the middle of the night! - compared to McCain's genuine appreciation of his supporters which will forever remind Americans of the stark difference in character between the last two Republican presidential candidates.

Even more pronounced is the contrast between Mitt Romney's reaction to defeat and Barack Obama's reaction to victory. Apparently under the mistaken impression that the usual rules of candidacy for the most powerful office on the planet do not apply to him, Romney refused to answer questions about his secret financial dealings or to discuss his plans for America. His barely concealed sense of entitlement to the presidency meant he was ill-prepared for the outcome of the election. When the American people declined to elect him as the 45th president, Governor Romney was visibly stunned. His subsequent response exhibited all of the suppressed rage and frustrated ambition that such hubris often entails.

In telling contrast, the incumbent Obama - taking nothing for granted - laid out his plans for the future and then asked the American people for their support. When they gave it to him on November 6th, he accepted their decision not simply as a vindication of himself, personally, but as a confirmation of the spirit of community and fairplay in America. His remarks late that night made clear that he saw the election result, not as a personal triumph, but as a victory for the country itself and for the ideals upon which it is founded. As for the test of principled leadership, President Obama's heartfelt appreciation of his supporters could not have been more revealing:

Obama to campaign staff: Thank you. You are the
"source of my strength and my inspiration."
"So I come here and I look at all of you, what comes to mind is it's not that you guys actually remind me of myself, it's the fact that you are so much better than I was in so many ways," he told the volunteers.

"Whatever good we do over the next four years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing for years and years to come and that's been my source of hope. That's why in the last four years when people ask me how do you put up with this and that, the frustrations of Washington, I just think about you, what you guys are going to do.

"That's the source of my hope, that's the source of my strength and my inspiration." President Barack Obama in a moving speech to his campaign workers, November 7, 2012.

President Obama calls Chicago home, and although that city has been unceasingly reviled by the right wing as a den of iniquity, the truth is that the 'city of broad shoulders' can lay claim to a great leader whose actions live up to the words of one of its spiritual leaders:

It is the way one treats his inferiors more than the way he treats his equals which reveals one’s real character. —Rev. Charles Bayard Miliken, Methodist Episcopal, Chicago. 1910

These final scenes of the 2012 presidential campaign highlighted the main theme underlying the ideological battle being fought on America political stage today: the question of whether success is a personal or a societal achievement. Are we all in this society together? Or are we rugged individualists whose successes and failures occur entirely separately from the privileges or disadvantages we are born into within a hugely diverse society? Are the wealthiest Americans rich because they deserve to be rich or could it be that there is an element of luck in success? Some people are luckily born into privilege, luckily born with high intelligence or exceptional abilities, luckily not struck down by illness or injury while others are unluckily born into poverty, unluckily cognitively challenged or unluckily physically disabled.  Do we acknowledge that some of us begin the race for success on the starting line while a few begin life already halfway to the finish line and a few others never even make out of the locker room or do we insist that everyone starts on the same starting line and the ones who do not reach the finish line before all the prizes have been scooped up were simply not trying hard enough?

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made it clear that they believe that there are makers and there are takers in this world of ours; winners and moochers. Romney claimed that his tremendous wealth was the result of his own hard work alone, and not because he was born into wealth and privilege, was able to buy his way out of military service and had the backing of the most powerful and wealthy church in America. Another man born into poverty, unable to avoid being drafted to Viet Nam, a wounded veteran physically unable to avail himself of the GI bill which would have been his only possible way to afford a higher education and subsequently dependent upon public assistance for survival would be, in Romney and Ryan's worldview, a taker: a moocher who deserves to live in poverty. The failures of other people are their own fault, while their modest successes are the result of taking from their betters. Yet, the successes of a Romney or a Ryan - by their lights - are the result of their own efforts independent of the advantages they enjoyed, while their failures are the fault of the mistakes of lesser people. Those lesser people felt the sting of Mitt Romney's cold-hearted rejection on Wednesday morning.

The President, on the other hand, has a different view of the world, and in particular of this exceptionally promising country we call our United States of America, which he laid out clearly once more this week. In his Acceptance Speech early Wednesday morning, Barack Obama reminded the American people what it is that he believes makes this country great:

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great...

The American people made a choice on November 6.
Watch the speech again to understand just why they chose Barack Obama.

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

Good Day, Humans.

What a to-do this week! Anxiety! Elation! Celebration!

I do not know how humans endure it.

On Tuesday night there was a hush all over the city. Puurrrrfect, in my opinion.

Then, in the wee hours of Wednesday, a shout went up in the street below!

My Human raised her head from her writing. Smiled. Then went beck to work.

What a to-do this week! I do not know how my Human endures it.

She writes. She works and she studies and she writes and writes and writes.

World events intrude. She takes note, joins briefly in the celebration,

and then she gets back to her work.

I am always at her side. Puuurrrrrfect.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

America Goes Forward!

The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote.
America’s never been about what can be done for us. 
It’s about what can be done by us together 
through the hard and frustrating,
but necessary work of self-government
That’s the principle we were founded on.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else...

The spirit of ordinary Americans moves the President.
"It's big. It's important. It's what politics can be."
You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity.

You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.

You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
(Full transcript of President Barack Obama's acceptance speech, The Washington Post, November 7, 2012.)

The New York Times' contributor, Thomas L. Friedman writes eloquently about why he believes the President was re-elected in an economic environment which historically should have spelled disaster for him at the polls: the Republican party "lost an election that, given the state of the economy, it should have won because of an excess of McConnell-like cynicism, a shortage of new ideas and an abundance of really bad ideas..."

No one can know for sure what complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama’s way, but here’s my guess: In the end, it came down to a majority of Americans believing that whatever his faults, Obama was trying his hardest to fix what ails the country and that he had to do it with a Republican Party that, in its gut, did not want to meet him halfway but wanted him to fail — so that it could swoop in and pick up the pieces. To this day, I find McConnell’s declaration appalling. Consider all the problems we have faced in this country over the last four years — from debt to adapting to globalization to unemployment to the challenges of climate change to terrorism — and then roll over that statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Hope and Change: Part 2, Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, November 7, 2012.

As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.

By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.

And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.  

Washington Post contributor E.J. Dionne writes that he sees the election as a ruling by the people on the gridlock in Washington. A great essay, although it begs the question: if the people have spoken in the President's favor over an obstructionist Congress, then why is the balance of power essentially unchanged? The electorate did throw out some of the more extreme Senators and Congressmen, but they put a few new ones in as well. It looks like the judgement of the people on the issue of gridlock in Washington is less clear than Dionne would have his readers believe, but his article is still a good read which makes some excellent points.

 Republicans will take solace in their success in holding on to the House of Representatives. But the party as a whole will have to come to terms with its failures to expand beyond its base of older white voters and to translate right-wing slogans into a coherent agenda. Republicans need to have a serious talk with themselves, and they need to change.
 All of this strengthens Obama’s hand. It will not be so easy for Republicans to keep saying no. They can no longer use their desire to defeat Obama as a rallying cry. They cannot credibly insist that tax increases can never be part of a solution to the nation’s fiscal problems.
 And now Obama will have the strongest argument a politician can offer. Repeatedly, he asked the voters to settle Washington’s squabbles in his favor. On Tuesday, they did. And so a president who took office four years ago on a wave of emotion may now have behind him something more valuable and durable: a majority that thought hard about his stewardship and decided to let him finish the job he had begun. Obama's victory should settle a bitter argument, E.J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post, November 7, 2012.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.

You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

The Philadelphia Enquirer online newsfeed ( posted an uncredited piece pointing out that this election - the most expensive in history by a huge margin - appears to have been a failure for special interests who hoped to influence the election using superPACs and corporate donations under Citizens United.

One way the 2012 election could go down in the record books is in bucking the notion that the results always follow the money, and in disproving outsized fears that corporations could buy the election outright. Super PACs, super busts?, November 7, 2012.

The final word in today's post must go to the President, whose acceptance speech on election night 2012 will, I think, go down in the annals of history as a great one. Reprising the theme he first brought to the American public in 2004, the President concluded his uplifting call for unity with these inspiring words:

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together 
because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. 
We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. 
We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions,
 and we remain more than a collection 
of red states and blue states. 
We are and forever will be 
the United States of America.

America goes forward!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!

Hello, there! Come on in! Shhh, we have to be quiet.

We are anxiously awaiting the close of polls all across the United States.

My Nan is feverishly searching the web for news and updates. Is it time to play yet, Nanny?

I would like to play. I am a very patient companion! Is it time to play, yet?

It is Election Day and we are waiting for the polls to close.

We are waiting and waiting, but I am a very patient companion.

Isn't that just Ducky!

Closing Arguments For Election Day - VOTE!

Be strong. Be safe. Be an American.

Well, Election Day is finally here. The lines may be long. The pressure may be on you to walk away from the polling place. Please do not take the easier road today. Your country needs you. Get out and vote. Tell your family and friends to vote. The country is at a serious crossroads right now - do you want to turn back the clock 50 or more years economically, socially and politically? Or do you want to keep moving forward?

There have been worrying reports for weeks about ramped up efforts to suppress the vote, especially in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin and Nevada.  Please stay strong, people! Do not let voter intimidation rob you of your constitutional rights. Do not let secret, well-funded groups succeed in suppressing the vote to steal this election. The United States is a free Republic and it will stay that way because everyday American heroes will insist upon it.

Know your rights and be prepared. There may be long lines, irritable people, problems with voting machines and "observers" who may challenge your right to be there. Do not accept the word of a stranger on a polling place line; do not let an "observer" convince you that you should not vote today! These operatives have been well-trained to scare voters away from the polls. Do not let them do this to you. Do not let them do this to America.

Resources for voters:

Our Vote:  "Election Protection is working 365 days to advance and defend your right to vote, but you also need to be fully equipped with information and resources to help you cast a ballot on Election Day."

Know your rights!  State-specific voter checklists Use the checklist as a resource for information about your right to vote and what you need to do before heading to the polls on Election Day.

VotoLatino, Get the facts on latino voter suppression, and information about voting.

Student Voting Guide, Brennan Center for Justice: Comprehensive voting guide with interactive map for one-click access to voter information.

Fair Elections Legal Network Guide

SmartVoter; Unbiased Election Information, League of Women Voters.

If you have a few minutes before you go to the polls - or even while waiting in a long line (print to read!), please read the passionate and heartfelt essay linked below. Millions of young people in America have been recruited to serve the interests of a nihilistic and profoundly anti-American ideology through early religious indoctrination and college radicalization . Fighting your way out of that maze of conflicting moral problems is extremely difficult - the strategists behind it deliberately made it that way - but young Americans are stronger and smarter than that.

Read. Think. Remember our history. Vote.

Dear Young Conservative, D C Pierson, November 4, 2012

I am ashamed because I accepted into my heart and head a system of thought I now believe to be, to borrow a term from my old friend Ayn Rand, anti-life: that government should only exist to make it easy for businesses to do business, the idea that it is our civic duty to have no civic duty. I no longer believe that the way to make things better for everyone is to let people with money do whatever they want, whenever they want. I feel I’ve earned the crap out of this belief, given that I used to believe precisely the opposite, and I’ve taken a long journey to the side I stand on now.

And I urge you, before you dismiss me as a long-haired Hollywood goofball liberal, to read on, and to listen to me in every bit the earnest that I am writing to you.  Please don’t pull the dismissive ripcord in your mind, the one labeled “You’re just saying that because you’re biased, etc…” that all of us use every day to reject the idea that someone who disagrees with us may have a point. This ripcord is cynicism, plain and simple, and it mars political discourse and if we continue to pull it every time someone starts to say something that doesn’t jibe with what we already think, life on this planet will soon be quite literally impossible.

I completely understand the appeal of being an intelligent young conservative. When you’ve spent your entire academic career in gifted-and-talented programs, constantly being made an exception of, there’s something really appealing in imagining the grown-up world as a perfect arena of achievement where the talented and strong triumph, because they’re better than everybody else and they work harder, and everybody else watches from the sidelines or works the concessions stand, or worse. 

In Ayn Rand’s books, I found really romantic fables of people persecuted for being smart and capable and hard-working. All government should do, or should be able to do, I believed, is free the smart and capable and hard-working among us to do what we want and need to do, and everything will take care of itself.

And I still don’t believe the smart and capable and hard-working should have a whole lot of roadblocks to doing what they want and need to do, as long as they’re not infringing on the rights and the health of others. 

What I’ve learned in my brief time in the real world is, there aren’t a whole lot of impediments to smart, capable, hard-working people doing what it is they want and need to do. Not governmental ones, anyway. But the threat of Big Government inhibiting these high achievers from raising all our boats with their tide of good ideas and prosperity is often used to make life very, very hard for lots of other people, including, yes, a lot of the smart, the capable, and the hard-working. Harder than it needs to be, given our relative affluence as a society.

Here’s the thing:

The world doesn’t need help being harder... please click to read the whole amazing essay.

Mitt's 10 Most Destructive Policies, Robert Reich, Salon, November 5, 2012.

In Romney's world, money is king.
And he who has the most money,
is entitled to be king.
By now, in these last remaining days before the election of 2012, we have learned enough about the beliefs of the Republican presidential candidate to see them as a worldview all its own – a kind of creed that explains Mitt Romney. Those who say he has no principles are selling him short.

Despite its contradictions and ellipses, Romneyism has an internal coherence. It is different from conservatism, because it does not intend to conserve or protect any particular institutions or values. It is also distinct from  Republicanism, in that it is not rooted in traditional small-town American values, nationalism, or states’ rights.

The ten guiding principles of Romneyism to continue.