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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Republicans and Hurricane Gustav

Three years ago the world witnessed the cleansing of America's big black secret - poverty. We watched poor black people of New Orleans driven from their flooded homes because of corporate greed - not because of Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana's levees failed three years ago because too many tax breaks given to the rich left precious little to pay for infrastructure decay - IE., the levees.

Today, the US Labor Day weekend holiday and the eve of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis,Minnesota, we're bracing for a deja vu experience.

People are evacuating and reminding us of those broken levees - metaphors of economic promises broken.

It's not because of Hurricane Katrina - a devastating natural disaster in its own right. It's because the inept Louisiana levee system didn't work three years ago. That's why we're mourning today, waiting for Hurricane Gustav to hit in an unprecedented repeat tragic performance. What happened after the Katrina impact caused the tragedy we relive this Labor Day weekend. Government failed to act both pre and post Katrina.

And so the Republicans are, likewise, reliving their greedy experience with failed leadership. Now, the Republicans are scrambling to show sympathy, organizing fund raisers to help the victims of Gustav before the storm actually hits Louisiana.

A a Roman Catholic woman, I call this penance. Instead of Republicans getting their message out this week during the convention hoopla, they're expressing regret, calling for prayers, figuring out how to reschedule events, organizing support efforts and being appropriately sad.

"Dear patriotic Republicans, this penitential response is a spiritual way to remember how government allowed those Louisiana levees of three years ago to fail; because tax money was unavailable to fix them before the devastating Katrina hit."

Republicans would not be in this humility response if Louisiana's levees worked three years ago. It's not about Katrina, it's about greed - people before corporate earnings - levees before tax cuts. As Mr. Barney Smith said addressing the Democratic National Convention in Denver, he wants a president who looks out for Barney Smith, not "Smith-Barney" - getting a five star rating on U-Tube.

So, dear well intentioned Republicans in Minneapolis, you're really good Christian Right people after all- justly doing penance for social neglect three years ago this week.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Ms. Palin - You are a Karl Rove Trick

Read 3 responses at end of blog - Quebec, Canada, Bangor, Maine and Virginia and follow up story from BBCNews
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7592636.stm:

Dear Ms. Palin, Forget about your near win as a beauty contest winner and your stellar credentials as a devoted mother. Governor Palin, with all your beauty, reformer intentions and compassion, you are simply unqualified to be our American Commander in Chief. If your resume came across my desk for the position of Vice-President of the United States of America, I'd write you a polite rejection letter with the stamp "unqualified" on the return address label.

Is Ms. Palin actually a Trojan Horse candidate? Is she really a Karl Rove trick? Say it ain't so, John. By creating a sympathy candidate for Vice-President of the United States, a Barbie Doll mirror image with brown hair to Ms. Cindy McCain, I'd say, "Watch Out". It looks to me like the Trojans are going to sneak out in the middle of the night and steal away the thoughtfully serious intentions at risk in this November's election.

Senator John McCain talks a lot about patriotism and loving this USA but he picks a Vice-Presidential candidate who is totally unqualified to be our nation's Commander-in-Chief.

Talk about who has better judgment? Maybe Senator McCain should have a psychological test run along with all those cancer screenings he regularly has for his Melanoma.

Perhaps Ms. Beautiful Palin will be well qualified to be the Vice-President of the United States of America. Yeah, some day. But, if she is a serious candidate for this powerful position today, she must do better than nearly win a beauty contest, show leadership on a city council in a place with about 6,000 people and be the default first term governor of Alaska.

Shame on John McCain for co-opting the Presidency by putting this unlikely woman candidate's gender before country.

From Rita Drouin in Temiscaming in Quebec, Canada - She asks, "What About Powell?": "From way up here in Quebec, Ms. Palin looks very token; and doesn't McCain looked subdued next to her? Not his choice, I'm sure and he's certainly not comfortable next to her. Not a ticket made in heaven. Still, I'm wondering if it will satisfy the Dem Feminists????? Moreover, Ms. Palin was chosen for one reason only. To reassure the Republican's a VICTORY. But, it will not help him. He needed the backing of an experienced and strong vice president due to his age and health history of cancer. Colin Powell would have been the best and would have reassured the Republicans a victory."

From Caroline Hartzler in Virginia: "Governor Palin's success in local politics for ten years is limited to small town. Perhaps someone will report her accomplishments since she was elected governor. John Podesta in a letter to the Washington Post described her well today: 'A potential vice president with the ideology of Dick Cheney and fewer qualifications than Dan Quayle should send arctic shivers up our spines.'"

From Joe Pickering in Bangor, Maine: "Frankly Julie...I am damn tired of hearing about the need for a Commander in chief from any party. I want to vote for a President who will observe and not warp the U.S. Constitution....sure one part is
Commander in Chief and the other is to Promote Domestic Tranquility...and allegedly only Congress can declare war..and they have been doing a damn poor job of that along with the President. Joe"

From Andrea Imbriaco in Massachusetts: Sarah Palin is an interesting choice...shortsighted though, I think. I really question, as many, her level of experience. If she's lived in Alaska her entire life, how many times has she been to NYC, Boston, Miami, and out of our country? Why is it necessary for us to know about her high school basketball career or that she was a beauty queen. Is that the best they can do for resume filler? Is McCain and company foolish enough to think that women will vote for just any woman? Hillary, she's not. Regarding her daughter, Bristol...my heart goes out to that 17 year old girl. She never asked to be on the national stage. Either Mom was too naive to think her daughter wouldn't be front page news...if so, wake up girl, this isn't Kansas anymore...or she put her own personal ambitions ahead of her daughter...that, I think is shameful.

Keep writing!
Andrea

Palin's teenage daughter pregnant - from BBCNews (note from Julie - here's the first brigade out of the Trojan Horse - go after those trailer park moms.....go gettem, giddyup, Karl! They're waitin' for ya! It's a real ho-down!)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7592636.stm

Sarah Palin with daughter Bristol and husband Todd, 30 Aug
Mrs Palin has brought her family on stage for several campaign events

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, newly picked as Republican John McCain's running mate, has revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

Mrs Palin, a social conservative who is opposed to abortion, said in a statement her daughter Bristol would keep the child and marry its father.

The Alaska governor, a mother-of-five, was presented three days ago as her party's vice-presidential candidate.

The news comes as the Republicans' national convention is about to begin.

The McCain campaign and Palin family asked for respect for the young couple's privacy.

Mrs Palin and her husband Todd said in a statement: "Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realise very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family."

Bristol is reportedly five months pregnant and is due to give birth in late December.

Advisers to the McCain campaign said they had known about the pregnancy before offering Mrs Palin the vice-presidential nomination.

"Senator McCain's view is this is a private family matter," said McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt.

As parents, [the Palins] love their daughter unconditionally and are going to support their daughter. Life happens."

The announcement of Bristol's pregnancy followed rumours on internet blog sites over the weekend suggesting that Mrs Palin's youngest child, Trig, born in April, had actually been born to Bristol. The boy has Down's Syndrome.

The National Journal reported that a spokesman for Mrs Palin had also confirmed that her husband had been arrested for driving under the influence in 1986.

Talking point

The BBC's Justin Webb in St Paul, Minnesota, where the Republicans' national convention is taking place this week, says the news will certainly be a talking point but may not damage Mrs Palin's standing.

She was brought on board to appeal to social conservatives, our correspondent says, and they may respect the decision by her daughter to keep the baby and to marry the father.

However, some people in the party who already had concerns about the lack of knowledge about Mrs Palin's record may fear what other revelations lie in wait, our correspondent adds.

The party's four-day convention opens on Monday but its schedule has been curtailed because of the threat of Hurricane Gustav to states on the southern US coast.

Mrs Palin is due to be formally nominated by delegates as the party's vice-presidential choice later this week.

She was elected governor of Alaska in 2006 and before that was mayor of the small town of Wasilla, Alaska.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Michelle Obama Speaks to Military Families: I'd Like to Join Her

As a military wife for 13 of my husband's 23 years as a US Navy veteran, I can unequivocally say Mrs. Michelle Obama is doing something no one like her has ever done before.

Mrs. Obama is a beautifully high profile, potential fist lady to a President, who is visiting with military families and listening to them - really listening - to their stories. This is amazing, because life as a military wife means obeying. Knowing someone is actually listening, indeed, is rare.

Mrs. Obama's military families listening tour is hardly noticed by the big money media markets. Although support for veterans, especially during a time of undeclared war in Iraq and Afghanistan, are all the buzz, it's not very challenging to listen to their families speak about recurring hardships. Low pay and constant change are the least of the hardships. Oh yes, there are the Navy Relief societies and chaplains. While those resources look great in the chain of command, they are actually desperation charities. Really impoverished families use them for the purposes of support. Ordained and commissioned chaplains are primarily focused on the active duty military person, providing token attention to the daily plight of families outside of Sunday services. Having someone listen to pleas for support from families is almost non-existent in the military.

I discovered Mrs. Obama's round table discussions by accidentally catching a C-Span forum held in Norfolk, VA. Her attractive attentiveness to everyone who spoke was noteworthy.

Ironically, my husband and our family lived in Norfolk VA for 6 of our Navy years. My husband was stationed aboard the USS Intrepid (CVS 11) - yes, it's the aircraft carrier now museum that will hopefully return to its place in New York Harbor some day soon. Additionally, my husband was also stationed with HC-6, a helicopter squadron; and he was a US Navy corrections counselor at the infamous brig when the low morale of active duty Vietnam War Veterans were filling the bleak cells of the old military prison.

So, I know what it's like to be a military wife in Norfolk VA. It's lonely. In spite of a warmly cordial civilian population in Norfolk, the multitude of various military commands are confusing and perennial lifestyle changes are considered normal. A spouse is on shore duty; or on sea duty; or is promoted; or is not promoted so, therefore, must move; or on temporary duty someplace else while the family stays behind; or, on weekend watch, or living on base or must move off base. Changes never end. Everybody accepts change as being ho-hum. Except, it isn't, especially for children.

Wives never know who their pediatrician or obstetrician will be when they see a physician. Medical records get lost. Civilian housing is expensive. Waiting lists for base housing contain so many rules, one never knows how long of a civilian lease to sign. Consequently, families pray for any housing opening to save money, regardless of the neighborhood. Moreover, during a time of war, the lives of families are burdened with the additionally anxiety of safety. Thank goodness for e-mail, because, when I was a military wife, the snail mail only arrived whenever the ship happened to get it to a port where there was a post office. Families of submarine sailors and officers hardly ever received mail.

As a result of the stress caused by separation hardships, I was not at all surprised by the focused reception Mrs. Obama received from her forum audience - who were both officers and enlisted families, Marines and Navy.

This was was absolutely not a campaign rally. Walls were barren of campaign posters; flashy buttons did not appear. There were no prepared speeches. People who attended, nearly all women, sat quietly until they were motivated to speak. Mrs. Obama responded with intelligent sensitivity to every speaker.

"Few sacrifice more to serve their country than you, and I know that too often it seems like you're doing it on your own,” Mrs. Obama told participants in a round table discussion of military families at Norfolk Virginia's Old Dominion University. (Reported by The Washington Times
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/07/michelle-obama-courts-vital-military-families/).

My life as a military wife ended in 1981, but the plight of the families has not changed much over time. In fact, the stress is worsened by an additional factor I never experienced. Many of the families spoke about caring for the parents of the active duty members while they are deployed. In other words, a wife must care for a mother-in-law while the son is absent. So, this is an additional stress. A spouse cares for a home, keeps a budget, raises children; plus, often, cares for aging parents. This is likely because the parents of military personnel are living longer and therefore requiring long term care. A sandwich generation of military families is an entirely new and stressful (not to mention expensive) generational development.

To say, "Thank You Mrs. Obama" for your support for military families is an understatement.

In fact, if it were possible for me to join her, believe me, I'd be there in a heartbeat. Indeed, Mrs. Obama, if you or somebody who knows you reads this blog, please contact me so I can participate in your listening tour. I'd just like to be a reporter on the beat or the person who passes around the microphone.

More important, I'd like to journal all the heartfelt stories we'd hear on this tour.

So, if anybody is listening to me, a military wife 25 years removed, please do me the honor of asking for my help. And, of course, thank you Mrs. Obama for finally giving our nations military families the listening respect they rightfully deserve.

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