Sunday, November 30, 2008

Renaissance Men

I've got writer's block. Can't muster up enough enthusiasm to get into anything. So....even though I did a 'Music Appreciation Day' not too long ago, I'm going to do another one.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. They are both gifted authors, comedic and dramatic actors, and musicians. (Well, Hugh Laurie is a musician. Stephen Fry plays along.) So, here they are, doing some of what they do best. They're kickin' ass.

- Maggie

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Peace on Earth...

When I was a sweet young thing ( I was never a sweet young thing ) but when I was young I went to St Patrick's School. At Christmas time the public school, which was a large brick building in the middle of town, would have Peace on Earth Good will Toward Men spelled out in the windows that faced the main drag, Commerce Street.
Yorktown only had about 6 buses back in the mid-50's so the kids from St Pat's would be bused to the public school and then go home on the buses with the public school kids. Not me because we lived close by and I walked home after we got to the public school.

Howsomiver, the nuns who escorted us on the bus from St Pat's brought us around to the front of the public school one day and pointed out the words in the windows. That's wrong, they told us, it should be Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will. Making sure we knew that God didn't aim his good will at just anybody. The feeling I got that day, standing there in my gabardine uniform was: 'that cold, vindictive, small-minded bastard' I didn't have the phraseology or the vocabulary of course but the feeling was definitely there and it was unpleasant because whatever the definition of good will was I knew I didn't have it...I was 7 or 8 years old, pissed off and resentful as hell.
Those poor nuns---I wonder if they really believed that?
I swear my next post will be more uplifting.

Regarding "The Apex of Cultural Stupidity"

One of the wisest lines I've ever heard was delivered by one of our finest actors in one of our funniest movies. Sorry I don't have a clip, but I do have the quote.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it!" - 'Men in Black'

What happened in Valley Stream is simply the latest example of the mob mentality. It's the same phenomenon that fueled lynch mobs, looters during the NYC blackout and the death of a thirteen year old girl at the hands of dozens of grown men armed with stones and the infallible word of their God.

Let's not forget that the worker who was trampled to the ground in that Valley Stream store died because of the frenzied commercialization of a religious holiday. The "Peace on Earth. Good Will Toward All Men" holiday. If that guy were still alive, I bet he'd be having a good laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

- Maggie

'The Apex of Cultural Stupidity'

Ron Rosenbaum says its our obsession with Hitler's sex life but I think we've got that beaten now.

In Valley Stream Long Island this week shoppers trampled a WalMart worker to death and kept running right over him even when police reached him and started CPR.

Is there ANYTHING at WalMart worth killing for?

What is going on in the human mind when you can put aside all your virtues and self-restraint and kill someone for a Tickle Me Elmo or a fishing pole or a set of sheets.

So much for high-minded Americans. I feel like apologizing to President Elect Obama. This is what he studied so hard for all those years and worked so hard (and so well) for. To lead America and its great people.

This is a hang your head in shame moment. Bombs and killings in Mumbai. American soldiers dying by the thousands in the Mid-East..

Innocents tortured and held at Guantanamo. Genocide and AIDS and the rape of women and children in Africa. And all the people in Valley Stream can think of is a good bargain at WalMart. They have shamed and debased themselves and all of us.

It's likely that no one will be prosecuted for this killing. I'm visualizing CSI, Long Island taking casts of the footprints on that man's crushed body.

We've all got to ask ourselves just how low we're willing to sink.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Michael Pollan on The Politics of Food

Courtesy of 'The Rag Blog".

This is an globally important issue.
We have seven billion people living
on the Earth and countless
numbers of them are already at
or near starvation levels.

We exist on a razor's edge; climate variability, global conflict,
industrial pollution and emerging plant and animal pathogens will further diminish our ability to feed the teeming masses.

Why is population control so seldom discussed as a possible (and partial) remedy for this looming disaster? Is it because each generation relies on the next in order to provide labor and income? That's an ecological 'Ponzi Scheme', bound to collapse.

Click on the link to The Rag Blog and read what Michael has to say.

- Maggie

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Music Appreciation - Because we haven't done one in awhile.

I was never too much of an Elvis Presley fan. And a little Andy Kaufman goes a long way. But put them both together and they equal more than the sum of their parts. (Suffer through the first minute or two. The song makes it well worth the discomfort.)

- Maggie

Creamed Onions--a Tacoma tragedy

Happy Thanksgiving!! I'm not cooking either. OK, I cooked one dish--the Creamed Onions...and the sauce curdled....omigod!! (don't tell anybody)

I have cleverly camouflaged it with bread crumbs and butter and its in the refrigerator right now waiting to be reheated tomorrow at Catherine's house.

I've lost my touch.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

I'll go to work tonight and make some money--I'd better --before I lose my touch at that

Lost in a Sea of Red Cabbage

What are YOU Doing for Thanksgiving? I'm going to spend my day looking at the wonderful (and edible) landscapes of Carl Warner.

I don't cook for Thanksgiving. I give thanks that I gave that up a long time ago. But none of our favorite restaurants are open on the holiday, and my husband and I don't want to drag his elderly Mom to the Traveler's Rest, which is always packed with other smart people who don't want to have to cream their own onions or deal with the guilt of throwing out a perfectly good turkey carcass that would have made wonderful soup!

So, we'll go out to dinner NEXT week. We'll probably go to Spacarelli's (Millwood, NY - Highly recommended!) and have Chicken Rustica or Zuppa di Pesce. And vodka gimlets. Ummmmm....

- Maggie

An Immigrant's Tale

"The killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, on Long Island this month brought with it a cruel blessing. From a shocking crime — an assault by a gang of boys accused of making a hobby of hunting Latinos — came a chance for a stricken, divided community to bind old wounds and to bury anger.

Instead, the moment is collapsing into the same old shouting. Advocates for immigrants are condemning the Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, as somehow complicit in the killing for his rigid devotion to immigration enforcement. Mr. Levy is lashing back and trying to distribute blame fairly. He wonders, for example, how a gang out of “A Clockwork Orange” could have run free for so long, firing BB’s and hateful slurs at random victims, jumping and punching them for sport."

Please read the rest of this article here.

What have we turned our children into?

- Maggie

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jesus Christ-deserving of respect?

I think so.

I know a lot about Jesus from my Catholic schooling and, you know, he was the only one I really liked, anywhere. He seemed a sensible man, gentle and kind. Even with the pressure of his job he only lost his temper occasionally and that's because he was human. He did good things for people and tried to make his people more tolerant of each other. According to Jesus there was a place for Martha and Mary in the world--they each had their tasks. Mary Magdalene had her rights too, she'd had a tough life to begin with. Give the girl a break.

Anyway there's a movie making the rounds about how Jesus didn't really exist.

I don't know the best thinking on this but I'm under the impression that he did exist but that he was only human--he had no more god in him than anyone does. He became a symbol after his death--a visible sign of the invisible Christ. Christ being compassion for for the world and all its inhabitants. Not someone to hang on a flag and wave in front of armies--Jesus would be appalled at that. I believe that there is a time to kill and a time to heal but before you rush into it examine your motives and don't let fast talkers turn your head.

Performing atrocities in Jesus' name is disrespectful. Use your own name and leave Jesus out of it.

And then there's the Frogs: I saw these when I went for a drive to Leavenworth, Wa. yesterday. There are lots of little shops there overflowing with art and toys and china and Beer and get the idea. I saw this Nativity scene made up of very lovely glass frogs---I don't like Jesus to be cute. I don't like Precious Moments Nativity scenes or anything that makes that poor, desperate family sleeping in the cold anything but what they symbolize. Suffering but hopeful and strong and never despairing.

Well, there's my prejudice for you. The life and death of Jesus makes a good story---and all over the place humans use that story for their own enrichment and gratification.

God bless us, everyone.

Advance Directives for Advancing Technology

"While medical advances have transformed many illnesses that once
proved rapidly fatal into chronic conditions, improving the quality
of this resulting longer life has been more difficult to achieve."

The quote above is from the US version of the BMJ. While the verity of the statement may seem blindingly obvious even to those not afflicted with chronic conditions (or employed to treat those with chronic or terminal conditions) there remains a gaping void regarding guidelines for merciful and minimally invasive End-of-Life care.

Fear of death is one of our most powerful motivators. Just like opposable thumbs or the ability to read and write, fear of dying provides an evolutionary advantage. Those who fight and run away, live to procreate another day.

But all things must come to an end. Everyone will die. And regardless of whatever religious flapdoodle informs your philosophy, no reasonable person would say that 'earthly' life could ever be eternal.

But how many of us really accept that? Hardly anybody does. I have noticed that in the very elderly, even those who are living semi-independently, the idea of death seems less fearsome. In some cases, it seems almost comforting.

Unfortunately, when 87 year old 'Marie' has had a fall due to a stroke, and lies with a broken hip, bloated, demented and intubated in a hospital bed, she's in no position to tell her physician that it's time for her to get off the bus. She can't object to the MRI, the CAT scan, the hip replacement, the NG tube, the dialysis or the temporary pacemaker. She can't cry out when she develops the almost inevitable sequellae of the terminally bed-bound, co-morbid patient: Pressure sores, pneumonia, infection by antibiotic-resistant orgamisms, and organ failure.

The people that will be making the medical decisions for Marie will be her doctor and her relatives. The young, healthy relatives, who fear death, love Marie and believe in miracles. And Medicare's paying.

So, here are my Advance Directives, which will outlive me, floating forever in cyberspace. They are for the four people most likely to be around when I've reached the night's plutonian shore. Kurt, Linda, Jake and Catherine. (Listed by age, in descending order. Looks like Catherine might get the job. Ha!)


After death, I want my unembalmed or cremated remains to be placed in an egg carton,
(I'm not kidding.) and buried in our plot next to the old Quaker Cemetery. I would prefer no rites or words be said over my carton, but if Kurt wants to do that, it's OK. And Pastor Kennedy will preside over pagans. He's real good that way.

I don't expect to be going any time soon. But I hope that others will read this and, if they see some sense in it, they will discuss this with their loved ones AND their physicians. There are legally binding forms that you can fill out which will define the extent and limits of the measures which you wish should be taken in order to prolong your life.

It's time for everybody to think about it.

- Maggie

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not Young Anymore

First of all this is not a photo of me. Although, it could be. This is Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center in Garrision, NY.

Being an RN I've complained on the blog from time to time of the inappropriate medical treatments given to the chronically ill, frail and aging person.

Daniel Callahan has been waging a quiet battle to protect the elderly from medical advances that, although they may add a week or a month to a person's life, are often painful and cruel and steal from that person days of comfort with family or friends. Here is his most recent essay with introduction by Jane Gross of the NYT. Please follow the link to his original article in the New York Times.

November 24, 2008, 6:00 am — Updated: 2:34 pm -->
Rationing Health Care
By Jane Gross
A guest post earlier this month by Daniel Callahan, the co-founder of the Hastings Center, a caldron of research on bioethical issues, dissected the hot-button issue of rationing health care based on age as a way of preventing a total collapse of the Medicare system. Rationing could, arguably, improve the quality of life for America’s aged by leading us to think twice about invasive tests, cutting-edge surgery and other treatments that may extend life briefly but at a high cost, not only in health care dollars but also potential suffering for limited gain.
I was struck not only by the volume of comments to Mr. Callahan’s essay but by how many readers wholeheartedly endorsed, or at least were willing to consider, a form of cost-containment that has long been radioactive to policymakers. His reading of your comments was far more nuanced than mine and led him to write the following response. It is both an acknowledgment of your interest, passion and thoughtfulness and an opportunity to further parse the possible solutions to a daunting societal problem. Read on. Daniel Callahan, co-founder of the Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y.
The Woes of Medicare: A Response to ReadersBy Daniel Callahan
The response to my guest blog post, “The Economic Woes of Medicare,” was overwhelming, full of interesting and thoughtful comments. A fair proportion of readers agreed with me, probably more than I would have gained 20 years ago. But I was also distressed by the wide and often contradictory range of the comments. What, I wonder, would it take in Congress to achieve a consensus on the future of Medicare if your responses are at all representative of public opinion more broadly?
It might take a miracle to cut through that thicket, but perhaps some sorting and winnowing is possible as a first step.
Age-based rationing, even of the relatively soft kind I propose, will have an uphill struggle but, combined with other considerations, might slip by. Health care economists have devised the idea of quality-adjusted-life years, or QALYS, as one way to measure economically sensible treatment. Its aim is to determine how many years of added life, and with what quality, a particular treatment would bring. That standard can be used with any age group and would by no means automatically rule out aggressive high-tech treatment of the old, though it could set the bar very high. QALYS is used in many European countries to influence decisions about which procedures are covered for whom.
Universal health care, supported by many of my readers, would be exceedingly valuable. It would bring some coherence to the excessively expensive mix of public and private health care that marks, and mars, our system. It would also allow the possibility of allocating resources better among age groups. Children are now losing ground to the old, but the old are not necessarily getting what they need most for the amount of money spent on them. Universal health care, I hasten to add, would have to be government-dominated to curtail the commercialism and profiteering so many complained about.
The idea of having a two-tier system has some appeal. That would mean setting a maximum level of Medicare support and then allowing, or forcing, the elderly to pay for additional costs on their own. Everyone would get something, but not the open-ended kind of benefits now available for high-tech treatments. If the base level was not high enough, however, many people would simply not be able to afford expensive procedures or protracted stays in I.C.U.’s (running into the tens of thousands of dollars). If the base level was too high, then the Medicare program could not sustain it. A possible solution might be the purchase of a tax exempt catastrophic insurance policy prior to old age. But none of these possibilities would make any sense in a health care system unable to control costs; everything would soon fall apart.
What about greater efforts at disease prevention, particularly if accompanied by a denial of treatment for those with poor health behavior? While prevention sounds like a good idea, it is not a sure shot. Some prevention is expensive — C.T. and M.R.I. scans, for example, and even effective educational efforts to change behavior — and it may well be that prevention just defers illness later into old age.
As for penalizing those who fail to take care of themselves, there are two objections. One of them is the difficulty of determining in a fair way when someone is truly culpable for his bad health. We all know people who have struggled unsuccessfully to control their weight. Should they be shut out from care? Many poor people can only afford poor diets and have little or no opportunity for physical fitness. Another objection is that penalization flies in the face of an ancient medical ethic: physicians are obligated to treat the sick regardless of why they got sick. Do we want our doctors deciding whether to treat us based on their judgment of how we have lived our lives?
I suspect these debates will become harder and more complex as costs continue to rise. We will all have to give up something, and possibly something very important to us, if they are to be resolved. Even so, we will still have the longest life expectancy and the best health in American history. Not a bad consolation prize.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
Privacy Policy 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018

Sunday, November 23, 2008



(Editors Note: The Bitch (Hermana Maggie) is not going to let a little bronchitis slow her down. And she's not just a 'Copper-Bottomed Bitch' anymore. She has transcended to the level of 'Tin-Lined, Copper-Bottoned Bitch'. She is SO strict!

Feed the Fish.)

Another one of THOSE Emails = Grist for my Mill


We need to show more sympathy for these people.

* They travel miles in the heat.
* They risk their lives crossing a border.
* They don't get paid enough wages.
* They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.
* They live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a different language.
* They rarely see their families,and they face adversity all day ~ every day.
I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans ~ I'm talking about our troops!

Doesn't it seem strange that many Democrats and Republicans are willing to lavish all kinds of social benefits on illegals, but don't support our troops!!

Please pass this on; this is worth the short time it takes to read it.

My reply:

Your letter was entitled 'Minorities'. Minorities are not necessarily 'illegal'. So we'll put aside the issues about minorities for the moment (after we remember that a disproportionate number of our troops and veterans ARE from minority families), and we'll focus on Veteran's Benefits. Read them all, but especially the last one.

And this last one is from veteran Bob Geiger: I include a quote: (Link Below Quote)

"Here's John Cornyn (R-TX), who also voted against the measure, on the Senate floor in May arguing that point:
"I know it is not his intention, but Senator Webb's bill actually would encourage people not to reenlist by providing a perverse incentive to leave early in order to obtain the benefits they would receive after 3 years of service. We need to make sure we encourage continuation of service, retention in the military in the best interests of our All-Volunteer military force."
"A perverse incentive." Amazing.

But what can you really expect from a Republican Chickenhawk like Cornyn who never served in the military himself but who loves war and considers it a "perverse incentive" to give combat Veterans an opportunity to go to college.

So, here I am, passing it around, as requested.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Colbert Report


Follow the link, you won't regret it

More Pictures

Here are a few more photos from yesterday morning. Today I'll get something a little different. I do love Commencement Bay and the Port of Tacoma in the morning though--It will be hard to stay away.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Funny Headlines-Palin oriented and painful



Andy Borowitz
Posted November 18, 2008 12:47 PM (EST)
Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.
Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.
But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.
According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a president who speaks English as if it were his first language.
"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."
The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate -- we get it, stop showing off."
The president-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.
"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.


Some videos you just have to see to believe:
Palin Pardons the Turkeys (Follow the link)

Good Morning from Tacoma, Wa

Such a pretty day today I decided to go for a drive.
I listened to talk radio. What a downer--bitching and moaning about everything. Whatever it is they must be against it too.
But it is a scary situation the USA and the world is in now. I was watching people Christmas shop and I was looking at the adverts outside of the stores wondering if this was a last hurrah for a few years. Shop while you can, folks.
At one of the car dealerships there's a $8500 rebate if you'll buy a truck--and the gas is down to $1.95/gal in a couple of places so maybe those trucks will sell.
In the Walgreen's the boxes of candy are lined up so pretty and at the Tacoma Boys (local produce and butcher shop) the hams are wrapped, the wine bottles are shined and beribboned and the vegetables look like they've been poured from a cornucopia. Wreaths, Christmas trees, colored lights--just like normal but you've got to think once, twice, three times before you reach out to buy that pretty, tasty thing---where will the dollars be coming from after the holidays? Better be cautious.
I hate to think about all those auto workers that are going to be laid off and I hate to think that we may be giving bailout money to the same Auto Companies that are refusing to build cleaner cars.
Isn't it crazy that in order for the citizens to stay quasi-solvent they've got to bailout the auto companies and the banks? We've always been handing our money over to the auto makers and the banks---but this time we're not going to get cars or interest for the money we give them. Just empty pockets.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Signs and Portents

I couldn't find a good picture of a portent.

I've been in ag-o-nee about what subject to post on--there's so much information out there--both fact and fiction--on every subject. It's impossible to nail something down.

Theism or atheism? Republican or Democrat? Elitist or--what? What's the opposite of elite? What's the opposite of intellectual? Are you really un -American if you speak French?

So, I'm just diving in asking some questions that I've been asking myself.

So, what is out there in the Multiverse anyway? And how did it come to be?

I'm content to live with the question for now--we seem to be making some inroads, in a scientific sort of way--and even if a theory turns out to be wrong, well, you know it leads you down another road...

Did God do it? And who the heck is God anyway? To build a Multiverse you'd have to be a damn sight more complicated than religion would lead you to believe. To build a Multiverse you'd have to step outside of those 10 commandments--probably, the 10 commandments wouldn't even be on your radar.

Do you know that there is a community of Christians out there (I don't remember which one--I just heard it on the radio one night--it might not even be true--let me know if it's not) that is dead set against cloning because there's not enough souls to go into those poor soul-less untraditionally-birthed bodies?

A soul bank? Who knew that this would be a problem for God?

And the whole gay/straight marriage thing--I can't imagine an all powerful being worrying about it---or worrying at all. People are out there promising to take care of each other---bonus!!

Why is it bad to insist that the American automakers make cleaner cars?
Why will national healthcare make us commie pinkos?
Where do babies come from? (Don't ask! Don't Tell!!)

Greed rules. Fear keeps us in line.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Funny Headline

Paranoia on the rise, experts say.

Just read this--it's great. It's from a UK paper and AP.
The comments are the best part.
And its true.

I wish this could be my last word on the subject but probably not.

Church and Religion:

I was seven years old when I noticed that religion didn't make sense.

I went to Catholic schools for 13 years and its pretty hard not to notice the inconsistencies when the same people who teach you science and history and geography are also teaching you catholicism/christianity.

I asked about it once because it was astonishing to me that intelligent people could spout this stuff without looking embarrassed--I was told that 'the devil' was in everything.

That clinched it for me. This was crazy talk . So I sat in their classes from that day on and never believed a word they said.

Churches---all churches infantilize their followers by doing their thinking for them. Do human beings really need to be lead around by the nose in order to do the right thing? No. But they do need to be lead around by the nose if you want them to march off to 'preemptively strike' whoever is threatening your oil supplies.


This article and the comments below are from's more to see there if you wish to follow the link. I'm especially fond of comment #3. And isn't there something in scripture about casting the first stone?

Priest: No Communion for Obama voters
The pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Greenville, SC, is urging parishioners who voted for Barack Obama not to present themselves for Communion unless they go to confession first because they have cooperated with "intrinsic evil'' by voting for a candidate who supports abortion rights over a candidate who does not. The Rev. Jay Scott Newman told the Greenville News that he doesn't intend to deny anyone Communion, but made it clear that his view is that Obama voters should not present themselves without seeking penance first "lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.''

1. How about the giving same tough treatment to those individuals in our Catholic leadership who covered up for pederast prelates since day one! They abused our Catholic children, bankrupted our archdioceses as a result of legal settlements. They got a free ticket pass GO right to a nice position in Rome and out of the obstruction of justice range in the USA. Look at Catholics first before judging a Non Catholic’s personal position on the law and the rights of American woman in our democracy. Separation of Church and State should be the guiding force on all these issues. What are we doing here creating another inquisition in the year 2008!

2. Father Newman's logic puts most all of us in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" position because how can we in good conscience support the stubborn, deceptive, and violent stance of Senator McCain toward the "war on terrorism" and Bush Doctrine of preemptive strikes. We all know that the Catholic Church does not support this either. I guess we all are sinners and always will be despite our best efforts and we will all need forgiveness for actions regardless if they suit our own ethical judgment and best rational sense of morality. Father Newman needs to go visit Iraq and see the lives damaged by death and physical and psychological trauma. I'd also recommend he do more visiting of soldiers in the hospitals and rehab facilities, visit the soldier homes to find many broken and lonesome families, and most importantly start praying for himself more to be less judgmental of others and to start focusing on more important criticisms of a public nature.

3. If the church wants to play politics, then it should be prepared to lose its tax-exempt status. Otherwise, butt out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the catholic church--invading YOUR life--follow the link

I'm sure President Elect Obama will feel for the catholic church in it's distress and advise it and it's followers to follow their hearts in all personal matters.

The above photo is of a non-specific priest. I found it on Google Images.
I WILL learn to embed videos.

Sam Says it

And says it well--Here's the Whole Thing:

When Atheists Attack
A noted provocateur rips Sarah Palin—and defends elitism.
Sam Harris
From the magazine issue dated Sep 29, 2008
Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.
Then came Palin's first television interview with Charles Gibson. I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin's luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism. However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride, upon the camera operator who happened to capture her fall, upon the television network that broadcast the good lady's misfortune—and, above all, upon the "liberal elites" with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.
The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth's surface (she didn't have a passport until last year), or that she's never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska's geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.
The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin's lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. "They think they're better than you!" is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. "Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!" Yes, all too ordinary.
We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter's microphone, saying things like, "I'm voting for Sarah because she's a mom. She knows what it's like to be a mom." Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.
Palin's most conspicuous gaffe in her interview with Gibson has been widely discussed. The truth is, I didn't much care that she did not know the meaning of the phrase "Bush doctrine." And I am quite sure that her supporters didn't care, either. Most people view such an ambush as a journalistic gimmick. What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know—or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain's advisers. What doesn't she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin's ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.
I care even more about the many things Palin thinks she knows but doesn't: like her conviction that the Biblical God consciously directs world events. Needless to say, she shares this belief with mil-lions of Americans—but we shouldn't be eager to give these people our nuclear codes, either. There is no question that if President McCain chokes on a spare rib and Palin becomes the first woman president, she and her supporters will believe that God, in all his majesty and wisdom, has brought it to pass. Why would God give Sarah Palin a job she isn't ready for? He wouldn't. Everything happens for a reason. Palin seems perfectly willing to stake the welfare of our country—even the welfare of our species—as collateral in her own personal journey of faith. Of course, McCain has made the same unconscionable wager on his personal journey to the White House.
In speaking before her church about her son going to war in Iraq, Palin urged the congregation to pray "that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God; that's what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan." When asked about these remarks in her interview with Gibson, Palin successfully dodged the issue of her religious beliefs by claiming that she had been merely echoing the words of Abraham Lincoln. The New York Times later dubbed her response "absurd." It was worse than absurd; it was a lie calculated to conceal the true character of her religious infatuations. Every detail that has emerged about Palin's life in Alaska suggests that she is as devout and literal-minded in her Christian dogmatism as any man or woman in the land. Given her long affiliation with the Assemblies of God church, Palin very likely believes that Biblical prophecy is an infallible guide to future events and that we are living in the "end times." Which is to say she very likely thinks that human history will soon unravel in a foreordained cataclysm of war and bad weather. Undoubtedly Palin believes that this will be a good thing—as all true Christians will be lifted bodily into the sky to make merry with Jesus, while all nonbelievers, Jews, Methodists and other rabble will be punished for eternity in a lake of fire. Like many Pentecostals, Palin may even imagine that she and her fellow parishioners enjoy the power of prophecy themselves. Otherwise, what could she have meant when declaring to her congregation that "God's going to tell you what is going on, and what is going to go on, and you guys are going to have that within you"?
You can learn something about a person by the company she keeps. In the churches where Palin has worshiped for decades, parishioners enjoy "baptism in the Holy Spirit," "miraculous healings" and "the gift of tongues." Invariably, they offer astonishingly irrational accounts of this behavior and of its significance for the entire cosmos. Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of "the final generation," engaged in "spiritual warfare" to purge the earth of "demonic strongholds." Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: "All options remain on the table"?
It is easy to see what many people, women especially, admire about Sarah Palin. Here is a mother of five who can see the bright side of having a child with Down syndrome and still find the time and energy to govern the state of Alaska. But we cannot ignore the fact that Palin's impressive family further testifies to her dogmatic religious beliefs. Many writers have noted the many shades of conservative hypocrisy on view here: when Jamie Lynn Spears gets pregnant, it is considered a symptom of liberal decadence and the breakdown of family values; in the case of one of Palin's daughters, however, teen pregnancy gets reinterpreted as a sign of immaculate, small-town fecundity. And just imagine if, instead of the Palins, the Obama family had a pregnant, underage daughter on display at their convention, flanked by her black boyfriend who "intends" to marry her. Who among conservatives would have resisted the temptation to speak of "the dysfunction in the black community"?
Teen pregnancy is a misfortune, plain and simple. At best, it represents bad luck (both for the mother and for the child); at worst, as in the Palins' case, it is a symptom of religious dogmatism. Governor Palin opposes sex education in schools on religious grounds. She has also fought vigorously for a "parental consent law" in the state of Alaska, seeking full parental dominion over the reproductive decisions of minors. We know, therefore, that Palin believes that she should be the one to decide whether her daughter carries her baby to term. Based on her stated position, we know that she would deny her daughter an abortion even if she had been raped. One can be forgiven for doubting whether Bristol Palin had all the advantages of 21st-century family planning—or, indeed, of the 21st century.
We have endured eight years of an administration that seemed touched by religious ideology. Bush's claim to Bob Woodward that he consulted a "higher Father" before going to war in Iraq got many of us sitting upright, before our attention wandered again to less ethereal signs of his incompetence. For all my concern about Bush's religious beliefs, and about his merely average grasp of terrestrial reality, I have never once thought that he was an over-the-brink, Rapture-ready extremist. Palin seems as though she might be the real McCoy. With the McCain team leading her around like a pet pony between now and Election Day, she can be expected to conceal her religious extremism until it is too late to do anything about it. Her supporters know that while she cannot afford to "talk the talk" between now and Nov. 4, if elected, she can be trusted to "walk the walk" until the Day of Judgment.
What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:
"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"
"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."
"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."
"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."
The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.
I believe that with the nomination of Sarah Palin for the vice presidency, the silliness of our politics has finally put our nation at risk. The world is growing more complex—and dangerous—with each passing hour, and our position within it growing more precarious. Should she become president, Palin seems capable of enacting policies so detached from the common interests of humanity, and from empirical reality, as to unite the entire world against us. When asked why she is qualified to shoulder more responsibility than any person has held in human history, Palin cites her refusal to hesitate. "You can't blink," she told Gibson repeatedly, as though this were a primordial truth of wise governance. Let us hope that a President Palin would blink, again and again, while more thoughtful people decide the fate of civilization.

Harris is a founder of The Reason Project and author of The New York Times best sellers “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.” His Web site is
© 2008


...should be kept between the 4 walls of a church.

The Keith Olbermann video got me started and then I saw this:
'Celibate' men with a prediliction for raping children are telling the world how to vote. It has ever been thus... humans are herding animals, it seems and religion is the shepherd.

Church and state will never be separate and today I understand what Richard Dawkins feels when he talks about militant atheism.

"In childhood our credulity serves us well. It helps us to pack, with extraordinary rapidity, our skulls full of the wisdom of our parents and our ancestors. But if we don't grow out of it in the fullness of time, our ... nature makes us a sitting target for astrologers, mediums, gurus, evangelists, and quacks. We need to replace the automatic credulity of childhood with the constructive skepticism of adult science."(Dawkins)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Proposition #8

Here I go, posting Keith Olbermann again. I must be developing a soft spot for the guy. And while I suspect that he's only going to end up preaching to the choir, even the choir needs to hear some kind and hopeful sentiments once in a while.

- Maggie

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cue the Kazoo!

We've changed our mission statement. And now we have a fight song!

Don't get cocky, Kids!


See the previous post. I've just told the Republicans something. I don't know if they'll believe it or not, but let's stay on our toes and ahead of them until they've evolved to our satisfaction.

I'm kind of giddy this morning. I've had to restrain myself a lot just to stay this chuckle- headed. BUT I'M SERIOUS.

Don't get complacent over this wonderful win we've had. Stay on point and on target. Pay attention.

Think with every brain cell you have.

And then think some more.

We cannot go back to where we were (dark ages).

Ok, I'm finished.

Live and Learn...please

It's all over the newspapers this morning: What do the Republicans have to do to re-establish themselves as a credible political party?
1. They have to open their eyes.
2. They have to read the news (real news--not gossip) everyday.
3. Then they have to think about what they've read. Quietly and with genuine consideration of the facts that have been presented.
4. Remember that what humans can do--humans will do. Whether you like it or not.
5. People--on a global scale--are people. They love, hate, have sex, reproduce, marry, don't marry, believe in God, gods, are atheists, are get the gist. Humans are all over the place literally and figuratively.
6. One group's view will not cut it on a global scale. Ever.
7. Pay attention to technology in all its forms. Its here to stay. Its changing the world. (You don't want to get left behind)
8. What we've learned this week: Young people, Blacks and Latinos do come out to vote. They just wait until they've got something to vote for.
Its OK to be a Conservative---just don't be a Neanderthal about it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Seduced by Obama...Economics 102...Childish ways

See Shelby Steele's column in the LA Times today:

Shelby says that Obama got us in our soft spots (...words to that effect). Thereby seducing us into voting for him.
Well then, I am happily seduced, if that man needed to work on our psyches to get us to see reason then more power to him.
Whether I and my fellow Americans finally have seen the light and voted for someone who can think or whether we've been worked over by a present day Mesmer, the object has been achieved:
A man of intelligence sans buzzwords and snickering social putdowns is going to be president of the USA.
Shelby also says: "But true reform, like the civil rights victories of the '60s, never happens until people become exhausted with their suffering. Then they don't care who the president is." Sadly this is true.
A great many people and nations don't ...and won't look at the truth until its too painful to bear another moment longer.
If America had been cruising along economically and GM had been turning out SUV's to beat the band John McCain would be our President-elect today.
As long as Americans have the financial wherewithal to buy another house or another car we will never look the truth in the face.
We should be ashamed of ourselves.
When will we finally be exhausted with the war in Iraq? Over 4000 Americans are dead now, isn't this truth too painful to bear yet?---do we wait for it to come back to our shores before we give it the careful thought it deserves? Exactly who should we be aiming our weapons at? And exactly what should our weapons be?
America, rise up and use your brains.
Shelby, you rascal...


Paul Krugman is actually much younger than he appears in this photo. He's only 54 years old.
I like Paul Krugman, he always says something sensible. And he's just won a Nobel Prize.
This post is not about him, though. I'm just using his photo to lend credibility to what I'm going to say. Because while I've always been able to make money I've never been able to hang onto it. So, this is what I think:
I think that if the USA is going to get the economy back on track they'd better use a different track. What we've been doing has not worked. The powers that be (name any one) are horrified that Americans are not buying anything, so they're planning a stimulus to get us spending again so that GM & Ford can build more cars, so more people can work, so more people can spend more etc, etc...
Different track needed.
Here's where I grasp at a straw of hope.
In his press conference today Pres-E Obama stated:
"The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces -- hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry. The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted. In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States of America."
You notice he said 'adjust'--I'M PINNING ALL MY HOPES ON THIS TODAY.
I think that we all need to adjust to a changed world. The politics and economics of the past won't work here. We've held ourselves back long enough grieving over the past--the good old days that never existed anyway--every one's got a different time frame for their good old days.
We all need to adjust. Get started now. Dry your tears and pay attention to the skinny, black guy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NOW You Tell Me!

And I thought it was just 'performance anxiety'.

- Maggie

Amen, Sister

Yes, no fair name calling or finger pointing. If you want to play the democracy game you've got to hold up your end by being active in the causes you espouse. Being active in the causes you espouse means learning about the economy (for example) and what constitutes the responsible and healthy handling of a nation's finances and then acting on what you've learned and not on rumors and fantasy.
The American people have been dropping the ball hoping to save their comforts. The stock market dropped 500 points today because the markets are afraid of what a democrat as president means. Is everyone ADHD? Exactly who was it that poured our money down the drain? And exactly who was it that watched while it happened?
Well, grow up, stand up. Educate yourself and come forward with solid ideas that will contribute to a more perfect Union.
No crybabies in the USA.

Another Bright Light in the Dark

As some of you may know, I'm a liberal-leaning independent (small 'i') voter who has little use for Fox News . However, last night, during the election returns, I watched Fox News, partly out of curiosity and partly due to my political perversity.

And it wasn't bad. (At least not the part I watched. I turned it off when Tom Delay showed up.) The panel of commentators seemed to be as even-handed as any other of the big news sites, Karl Rove seemed to be positively enjoying himself and there was a remarkable interview by Brit Hume with a young Republican congressman from Wisconsin named Paul Ryan.

(I tried to embed this video, but it ain't working, so here's the link. Fingers crossed that it works.)

Video: Watch Brit Hume's interview

I hope this young man sticks around. He's looking at his party's defeat as an opportunity to get back to Republican basics, and he seems optimistic about the chances of doing it. I would vote for a guy like this.

- Maggie Carneiro

The Moral Maze, Redux

I've received several replies to this post (via email and my blog site) and what they say is right, because they all seemed to have missed the point. So, here's the point.

You're right to fear that things will not change for the better or that they may become even worse. Because we still haven't learned the lesson of Democracy! WE are responsible for what has happened and what WILL happen. That means getting more involved in the political process. It means writing to the White House, phoning your Senators and your Congressional Representatives, looking for political action groups who support your causes and joining them.

If say, your major concern is National Health Care, then start phoning or writing or blogging about it! Get involved! It's your right and it's your duty!

(The following is the original post. If you've already seen it you can stop reading. There's nothing new there.)

This isn't the happy ending to a fairy tale but rather the beginning of a long, hard slog out of the moral maze that we have allowed ourselves to wander in for the last (not quite) eight years.
As penance (a relic of my Catholic childhood), I watched the election returns on Fox News! (I watched more Fox news in this one night than all the other times combined, turning it off only when they produced the despicable Tom Delay to leer at the camera.) And I admit to a quiet, peaceful joy when the Electoral votes showed us that Barack Obama was to be our next President and that we only have 76 days left to endure the abominable Bush. (By the way, he can do a lot more damage in 76 days, so keep your eyes open.) But Barack Obama, even if he is every bit the honorable man I hope him to be, is not in this alone. It would be selfish, childish, and unrealistic to rely on one man to right the wrongs that have turned us into the world's biggest bully over the last two terms of office. It is long past time for us to assume personal responsibility for the actions of our government. This is not North Korea, this is a democracy, and WE decide which course the country takes. I know plenty of Democrats who voted to re-elect George Bush in 2004. I couldn't believe it! The rest of the world couldn't believe it, but we did it! Shame on us. So, if you're not prepared to hunker down and make do with less, to keep yourself well-informed regarding international developments, to speak up when you see injustice, to defy terror with courage, then don't be surprised if we never escape the maze. It's time to get to work. Let's DO it!

- Maggie

We're Happy and We're Watching

Be careful out there. We're in a playful mood right now.
But the Copper Bottomed Bitches can turn on a dime.

I liked the burning Darth

...that was Cheney, wasn't it?

This Isn't the Happy Ending to a Fairy Tale....

...but rather the beginning of a long, hard slog out of the moral maze that we have allowed ourselves to wander in for the last (not quite) eight years.

As penance (a relic of my Catholic childhood), I watched the election returns on Fox News! (I watched more Fox news in this one night than all the other times combined, turning it off only when they produced the despicable Tom Delay to leer at the camera.)

And I admit to a quiet, peaceful joy when the Electoral votes showed us that Barack Obama was to be our next President and that we only have 76 days left to endure the abominable Bush. (By the way, he can do a lot more damage in 76 days, so keep your eyes open.)

But Barack Obama, even if he is every bit the honorable man I hope him to be, is not in this alone. It would be selfish, childish, and unrealistic to rely on one man to right the wrongs that have turned us into the world's biggest bully over the last two terms of office.

It is long past time for us to assume personal responsibility for the actions of our government. This is not North Korea, this is a democracy, and WE decide which course the country takes. I know plenty of Democrats who voted to re-elect George Bush in 2004. I couldn't believe it! The rest of the world couldn't believe it, but we did it! Shame on us.

So, if you're not prepared to hunker down and make do with less, to keep yourself well-informed regarding international developments, to speak up when you see injustice, to defy terror with courage, then don't be surprised if we never escape the maze.

It's time to get to work. Let's DO it!

- Maggie Carneiro

ps: I thought it was really classy of Obama to cancel the 'obligatory' triumphal fireworks; a canned and militaristic display, in my opinion. But if you want to see a little celebration from the heart, please visit our friend, Rich Simon at Scorp10n Bowl for a uplifting video clip.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been.

And where do we go from here? Whatever tomorrow brings, we have reached a turning point in road. I have, at times, been in despair of our inaction, our selfishness and our moral cowardice. This powerful quote by Jane Smiley expresses in a few words what I have spent years trying to say.

She writes, " Dictatorships do horrible things, and their citizens are employed to do them, but for a self-advertised democracy to do horrible things seems to me a lot worse -- we are all implicated. We can never walk away from crimes that we failed to prevent, because as citizens of a democracy, it was our job to prevent them."

Like Ms. Smiley, (Please read her post at the link above.) I have often been so angry that I wished the worst would happen. I have wished that our iniquity would become so apparent that the scales would fall from the eyes of even the most reptilian of us. I wished that the result of our arrogance would bring us to our knees, because from that lowly position we might begin to realize a different perspective of what is true and right and moral.

So, now we wait. May the best man win.

- Lois Margaret Elizabeth Carneiro

It could already be decided.

From what I hear, fifty percent of voters could have already cast their ballots. We wait for tomorrow but a new president might already be elected. I remain hopeful.
It is raining and cool here in WA. I like it. I went to the store this morning and bought some pork roast for dinner. I have turned off NPR because I can't hear it anymore. We will see what happens tomorrow.
I voted last week. If there is some kind of wackness and McCain becomes president we are moving. However, I believe that the massive move towards voting means people are ready to change things. I heard that more people have already voted than did in the entire 2004 election. Chins up, Ladies! We aren't copper-bottomed for nothing.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Criminalization of Dissent.

The FBI, in seeking to standardize criteria for identifying 'Violent Terrorists' is broadening its lexicon for 'labeling' possible suspects.

Are you a 'Violent Terrorist'? Well, surprise! You might just be! If you're the wrong race or religion, if you read the wrong books, write the wrong words or associate with the wrong people, you could be a target of investigation.

The new road map allows investigators to recruit informants, employ physical surveillance and conduct interviews in which agents disguise their identities in an effort to assess national security threats. FBI agents could pursue each of those steps without any single fact indicating a person has ties to a terrorist organization. (Carrie Johnson, "Guidelines Expand FBI's Surveillance Powers," The Washington Post, Saturday, October 4, 2008; A03)

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union warned that,

The new guidelines reduce standards for beginning "assessments" (precursors to investigations), conducting surveillance and gathering evidence, meaning the threshold to beginning investigations across the board will be lowered. More troubling still, the guidelines allow a person's race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy. ("ACLU Condemns New FBI Guidelines," Press Release, October 3, 2008)

I think that the ACLU is being more than a little circumspect in their objection. "...may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy" MAY? That's exactly what's happening. If you are brown, wearing a backpack and happen to drop a used tissue on the ground, the FBI has grounds to investigate you for being a terrorist.

What have we become?

- Lois Carneiro