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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Louisiana - Governor Jindal and His Barrier Islands

Governor Bobby Jindal's expensive idea to build protective barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana, would provide a place where he and washed up oil could live together, after the fallout from the environmental man-made oil rig explosion and disaster are evaluated. Of course, tax payers would foot the bill for Jindal's experimental coastal barrier islands, if they are ever built.

It's difficult to believe Governor Jindal is completely innocent of British Petroleum (BP) and Halliburton's exploitation of the Marine Mineral Services (MMS) regulatory oversight of off shore oil drilling.

Politicians and regulators fell dismally short of requiring back up safety systems to be in place on Deep Water Horizon while it was running, which might have prevented the unprecedented oil contamination now being observed in real time, polluting the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is the fact: Deep Water Horizon was dug too deep - a mile down under enormous water pressure.

BP built the oil rig without sufficient back up safety systems in place to meet the physical pressure challenges caused by drilling in such deep water. I know absolutely nothing about oil rigs, but given the report of sensing alarms which sounded on the day of the oil rig explosion, coupled with the urgency executives expressed to avoid costly construction delays, it seems ridiculous to state the obvious: i.e., the regulatory oversight of this dicey off shore oil project was lax.

In short, Deep Water Horizon failed.

Building barrier islands would hardly have held back the millions of gallons of oil contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, scientists are saying the depth of the spewing plume coupled with the force by which it is coming out of the broken pipes, are causing a degradation of the oil's hydrocarbons, which are impacting the water below the surface. Oil molecules are breaking apart. In other words, we don't know how much oil is in the water because much of it is apparently degrading before it reaches the surface.

Loose hydrocarbons are not good for ecosystems. They cannot be seen or easily filtered, but they will be absorbed by plankton, which feeds fish - causing a chain reaction of unknown physical and environmental concerns.

It makes more sense for Governor Jindal to aim his anger where the problem lies, with BP and Halliburton, rather than rail on the government because the Army Corps of Engineers didn't approve his plan for building barrier islands.

Nonetheless, Louisiana may soon be able to drill all the oil that's available off it's fragile coast. After all, the environmental disaster caused by the Deep Water Horizon explosion may leave nothing of the state's coastal environment left to protect. Drilling for more oil could be all that's left to do in the Gulf.

In which case, Governor Jindal needs to be accountable for this horrific event.

He and others who overlooked the strict enforcement of oil rig regulatory processes might see an offshore island already in place - Alcatraz.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Louisiana Oil - My Momma Said

An environmental tragedy like the British Petroleum (BP) oil drill fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico lends itself to cliche rationalizations. "What goes around comes around", might be one way of looking at the disaster.

In other words, people who told us this kind of an explosion would eventually happen, were right, after all. Should we be shocked and surprised?

Now, some people in Louisiana and British Petroleum are screaming for the US government to lead the fix and clean up of the environmental catastrophe caused by a methane gas explosion on the off shore oil drill.

Rig workers told BP's internal investigators that the deadly blowout of the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by an escaped methane gas bubble that shot toward the surface. Now, oil is spewing into the Gulf uncontrollably from several busted pipes, with no end in sight. BP says Halliburton and other companies should help them to absorb the blame. Corporate finger pointing is now spilling over into a call for the government to fix the problem. It's like asking your mother to come out in the middle of a neighborhood fight to tell the bullies to leave you alone.

We are horrified by the impact of this oil spill on the Louisiana culture and commerce. Fishing is halted in many areas, while oil washes up in sensitive marshes where bird nests are protected.

Pictures of pelicans doused in oil are hard to watch.

Nonetheless, as difficult as this story is to look at every day, I cannot support those trying to drag the US government into taking the lead on the clean up and recovery of the mess. This BP and Halliburton problem is not ours to fix. These two companies supported by all those people who thought they could have it all - environment, high paying jobs, plenty of oil, commerce with tourism and fishing and their quaint Bayou culture. It's a cake with many layers, which is now melting into its own frosting due to the oil rig explosion.

Good people supported the BP off shore oil business because it was a fabulous second or third job for fishermen who subsidized their income by working in both industries. Local merchants enjoyed having the high paying jobs which came with the oil drilling business. It made good economic sense all around.

But, like mother said, "You can't have your cake and eat it too".

Louisiana people who did all they could to keep the government out of their oil business when the wells were drilled, should call on the same companies they supported to get this disastrous mess taken care of, with as little government involvement as possible.

Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal should be giving marching orders to BP and Halliburton executives to pay up, rather than railing on the US government to fix the problem. Jindal wants to build more barrier islands to hold back the oil spill. So, who will pay for new barrier islands? Tax payers, that's who. I thought Republicans, like Jindal, didn't want the government involved in their business.

Our US government should not be Superman to the rescue. Of course, I'd like to scoop up the oil myself, so it will stop harming wildlife, fishing, a way of life and polluting our environment. But, private sector companies caused this oil explosion by their own negligence, so they should fix it.

Tax payers should provide reasonable support to the Louisiana people.

Nonetheless, the US government should not take the lead in the clean up because, in so doing, the tax payers will give BP exactly what they want - corporate fat cats want their cake so they can eat it too.

I'm appaled by the Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico environmental oil disaster. Still, the spill is a horrible collateral problem caused by greedy corporate oil moguls and those who supported them in their quest for money.

When we did something wrong while growing up, our mother said, "Did you learn your lesson?".

This BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf is a very hard way to learn an environmental lesson.

Email response from Caroline in Virginia: Hi Julie,

An interesting article in the WashPost this weekend talked about the money BP has given to environmental groups. They have all benefited.

Yes, the Republicans and Tea-party nuts what a small federal government. Does this mean they will all go down to the Gulf and lend their support? As I read it, Jindal and the rest want to feds to fix things. You are correct that Halliburton, BP, TransOcean and the others must pay for the repairs and clean-ups. I don't want to hear about the huge profits they will have at the end of the year and the huge bonuses their executives will reap. What a mess!!! Caroline

Julie enjoyed reading Kait's comments posted on line.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Tea Party Sits on a Three Legged Stool

If someone from outer space asked you what the Tea Party stands for, what would you say?

Baggers seem to rest their decaying laurels on three principles: (a) anti-immigration (b) anti-education and (c) anti the 1964 US Civil Rights Act.

It's tragic and incomprehensible for me to be writing about these archaic Tea Party principles, which I believe are unenlightened and regressive.

Nonetheless, to take this party for granted, to pretend it will go away for lack of oxygen or sunlight deprivation is, sadly, delusional on my part. Consequently, I continue my personal quest for knowledge about who the Tea Party is and what they mis-represent.

Baggers appear to sit on a three legged folding stool. (1) They are descendants of immigrants, but they rail about immigration. (2) They are educated people who can read and write, because Americans provide everyone with access to free education, but they rail against education. (3) Baggers exist because they enjoy the right to free speech as American Citizens, but now they're tinkering with the philosophical idea of the US Civil Rights Act (so says the bagger's newly elected dumbo, Dr. Paul of Arkansas).

Hypocritical baggers fold up this three legged stool and tuck it away whenever it's politically expedient to do so; but they plop their rumps back on or use it as a soap box while getting supporters riled about their "anti" rhetoric.

Americans look back in horror at the terror campaigns reigned by the Ku Klux Klan decades ago. In my opinion, baggers appear to long for the days when terror ruled the night. Like the Klan, the baggers are fired up with brimstone fed by hate. All the while, during those dark days of segregation, immigrants, blacks and anyone who just didn't fit in prayed they didn't hear knocks on their doors in the middle of the night. Knocks could be ominous signs of lynchings to come.

So, what do Tea Party baggers stand for?

Without the support of the three legged stool, they are valueless - lacking compassion, charity, or interest in supporting international relations with neighbors Canada and Mexico. They may even want to repeal the values Americans hold dear, like every person's right to quality education taught by qualified teachers.

In other words, philosophically speaking, baggers are dangerously dumb.


If I had my way, baggers would be assigned to sit on their three legged stool in the corner wearing a dunce hat.

While sitting, they should be required to read the New Testament Sermon on the Mount, i.e., the Beatitudes, by Jesus Christ, followed by the books, "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

Meanwhile, we who oppose the baggers need to support our own three legged stools - built on enlightenment, charity and guaranteed civil rights for all people.

Comment sent to my email from Father John: Dear Julie,
My understanding is that the Tea Party movement is supported and used by three groups, who sometimes overlap in membership. There are the libertarians, like Ron Paul, who believe in laissez-faire capitalism and the right of each person to do what he or she pleases with as little government interference as possible. There are the followers of Ayn Rand, who are into selfishness as the prime virtue. They believe that selfishness is the engine that drives the economy and that deregulation is the key to prosperity. Alan Greenspan, an admirer of the Rand philosophy, was shocked when it didn't work. There is also the Club for Growth gang who believe in dismantling most social programs to lower taxes and allow the rich to get richer. The jailed Jack Abramoff was one of the partisans of this position. They foster the growth of neo-conservative think tanks to counter liberal think tanks.
Peace in the Power of the Holy Spirit,
John, SJ

Also read commentary: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/24/AR2010052402991.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Testing Sarah Palin's IQ - a Personalized Intelligent Quota Test

Sarah Palin tires me out. I'm weary of her.

Unfortunately, right wing Tea Party baggers are smitten by Palin, along with her rhetorical anti-themes. She seems to shriek against everything except gun control, families (both the functional and dysfunctional varieties)and God.

Right wing Tea Party dunkers find her appealing, so I'm trying to find out why?

So, here is my personalized IQ test for Sarah Palin, written in an effort to organize my thoughts about her message. In other words, this blog is like an exercise in transference. By answering these questions, perhaps I can transfer the Sarah Palin message to others in a succinct bumper sticker slogan.

Please answer each of the following 10 questions with one response: (a) Yes (b) No, or (c) I don't know

1. Are Sarah Palin's grandparents immigrants?

2. Did France give the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor to the United States?

3. Do the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty begin with the phrase "Give me your tired, your poor, your masses yearning to be free?"

4. Were German people overwhelmingly happy when the Berlin Wall, built by the Russians to separate the people in East and West Germany, was torn down?

5. Did President Ronald Reagan say, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall?" when he spoke at the Berlin Brandenburg Gate?

6. Did President Ronald Reagan grant amnesty for illegal immigrants during his Presidential administration?

7. Does God care if a person shoots to kill wolves while firing at them from a low flying airplane?

8. Are millions of people in the United States without health insurance and, therefore, deprived access to consistent quality and affordable health care because they cannot afford to pay the insurance company premiums?

9. Is Medicare a government run health care plan?

10. Was Alaska a state in 1967 when Sarah Palin was born?

Hint: A correct response to the 10 questions above tells me you are a reasonably intelligent person who knowingly understands the hypocrisy of the Sarah Palin message.

If you answered "yes" to the 10 questions above, then please explain to the Tea Party, and to me, how you can possibly support closing US borders like a sealed box, kill animals from airplanes, question President Barack Obama's motives about upholding the US Constitution or oppose health care reform?

My simple bumper sticker slogan is, therefore: "Sarah Palin is a hypocrite!".

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Maine's Republican Party and the Dark Ages Manifesto

(Addendum - love the comment from both responders and I have likewise responded to The Sanford Tattler below)

On Mother's Day weekend 2010, Maine's Republican Party expressed glee because their state convention numbers were higher than expected. Out of the 1,800 people who attended the Convention in Portland, how many of them are the descendants of immigrants? In other words, all of them.

Which is only one of the reasons I am furious at the Maine Republicans who passed a Tea Party led platform which included calling for Maine to close its borders with Canada. Although a Democracy allows for a person to make such a ridiculous motion, it is the responsibility of voting people to oppose it.

But, oh no! The platform motions passed! Maine's Republican platform now supports closing our state's borders to the 8 million people who live in Quebec. Moreover, the platform approved a resolution to eliminate Maine's Department of Education.

Platform writers said their purpose was to bring Maine Republicans back to their core values. Oh yeah? How did their immigrant ancestors feel about core values? I hope the writers checked with their Memere's or Pepere's. Additionally, how many of the 12 platform writers received their reading and writing education in a Maine public school?

There was a time when I believed Maine's Republican Party was really the GOP - the Grand Old Party, or the loyal opposition necessary to preserve the nation's two party democracy. Now, I see Maine's GOP as a party of selfish people who do not understand their own history as a free people.

In my opinion, the Maine Republican Party passed a Dark Ages Manifesto rather than a platform. They might as well have adopted a platform endorsing racial purity.

Furthermore, the platform writers are showing a lack of respect for the educational institutions where they learned how to read and write. By recommending the removal of the Department of Education, they must mean to eliminate educational standards so children will learn by rote memory rather than by teachers who will challenge their God Given intellects.

Shame on Maine's Republicans for passing an egregiously right wing party platform. Your GOP standards are not grand at all. Rather, your platform values are more like the acronym "gop", or the glop that grows like mold at the back of an infected refrigerator.

It's time to get an efficient and caring model of the Maine GOP. Let's find a new group of people who know what it means to return to their ancestral roots and core values. Burning the Dark Ages Manifesto is at least one way to generate some alternative heat energy.

I also recommend the platform writers find their local genealogical society where they will be able to determine who their immigrant ancestors were and where they came from.

(I appreciate the comment from Joe Niemczura - Maine's GOP has gone off the deep end and the State Mental Hospital is located close to the state house)

Dear Sanford Tattler, you are precisely the reason why I'll never move to Europe or Canada. I was a US Navy Wife for 13 years, my husband is retired USN, and he fought for our country so people like you can walk the streets without being put in jail for sedition. Maine's frail and elderly are part of the needy population you precipitously refer to as "welfare". Shame on you.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Mother's Day

For Mother's Day this year, I'm making a list of what I wish would change the world for the better.

My top ten Mother's Day wishes for people to practice to build a better world are:

1. I wish greed would disappear. Sounds too simplistic, perhaps? But, it's my number one wish. Charity and love should prevail, like King Arthur's dream for Camelot.

2. Health care should be available for everyone without regard for income, social status, citizenship or previous health status. Everyone who needs health care should have access to quality physicians, nurses and treatments for diseases. Support for prevention of illnesses should be ongoing in programs conveniently offered throughout every person's life span.

3. Children should be offered free education, period. When children qualify for education by their age or interest, they should be advanced to a level of learning they can aspire to without regard for who will pay for it. Childhood education provided through young adulthood is an investment in improving our human condition.

4. Political parties should learn to get along. I pray for an end to partisan politics. It's destroying the foundation of our nation because the constant bickering between Democrats and Republicans is sucking vital energy out of our Democracy. We need every American to take pride in being American. Pox on the partisan divides. Differences of opinion are one thing, but damaging partisan bickering for the sake if ideology is destructive behavior.

5. I wish every family would write their own history book to hand over to the next generation. Each family has a special story to tell within the context of the times and generations in which they live. Oral histories can transmit positive traditions from one generation to the next. Eventually, positive elements of a society will outweigh the negatives. Even sad or tragic stories transmit something learned by the experiences. Thanksgiving is a time when family story telling could accent the positives. Let's document our family stories and archive them like they belong in the Library of Congress - a good wooden box is a nice place to store the archives.

6. Be religious - this is somewhat controversial because the trend is to be spiritual without regard for a particular religion. By being religious, I would like to see people pray to God and celebrate our American freedom to practice religion in any denomination we choose. Let's take advantage of our freedom to practice our religion. By the same token, let's applaud the rights of others to peacefully practice their religions while we celebrate ours.

7. Practice humility. Remember to say "I'm sorry", even if you may not be to blame. For example, I'm sorry for people who are greedy. They need sympathy.

8. Thank people for everything. Say "Thank You" often to everyone, especially to those you love. Never take the saying of "Thank You" for granted. Even if it seems awkward, say "Thank You". It works and can even improve your own self esteem.

9. Remember the importance of ceremonies. It's more important to celebrate a birthday than it is to work until 9 PM because a deadline is looming. Christmas or New Year's is a time to remember everyone who has helped or supported us throughout the year. Mother's Day is a time to say "I love you", and "Thank You". Family memories and friendships are built upon ceremonies - they should be nurtured and preserved.

10. Practice the Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith ;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

My Mother's Day Wish is for Peace to All Mothers- especially those who have children serving in harm's way - like in public safety, the military or homeland security.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Americans as Illegal Immigrants

American US military dependents living in the Philippines sometimes felt like illegal immigrants. At least, I sometimes felt illegal because, as a nurse, I was unable to work in the Philippines even though Filipino nurses routinely found jobs in the US. My skills and education were on par with those of the Filipino nurses, yet they could work in my home country while I was prohibited from working in the Philippines.

Don't get me wrong, I never sought a job as a nurse in the Philippines. Third World health care, like that provided in the Philippines, did not support desirable places for anybody to work in, Filipino or otherwise. My point being, I was prohibited from applying for work, even though I might have been better trained than the nationals.

Remember the 1961 diary "Black Like Me", by white man John Howard Griffin? He described his experiences on a bus, as though he were a black man, while travelling around the US segregated South. Griffin's story is a classic observation in race relations and US civil rights history. My point being, Griffin's black man experiences became real to readers who put themselves on the side of those who bore the harsh burdens associated with "back of the bus" 1960's brand racial discrimination.

Americans today don't really know discrimination based upon race, ethnicity or immigration status. We can learn from associated experiences or read a book, but we don't know what it's like. My point being, the current political debate about immigration fueled by the recently signed Arizona state law is simply filled with hypocrisy. We Americans are the descendants of illegal immigrants who are now judging the fate of others, based upon race. In other words, I simply cannot imagine an Arizona sheriff stopping a bus of white Canadian tourists to check their immigration status. I hope TV's 60-minutes will witness this, if the situation ever happens.

American immigration history is filled with hope inspired by the American Revolution and the concept of manifest destiny. Ironically, both events were the result of our own immigration history. American colonials were illegal immigrants in a country we didn't govern when we won the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. American settlers were obviously unwanted illegal immigrants when we claimed land we were not authorized to own from Native American tribes while settling the American west. Still, we have no right to force our norms and values on other immigrant groups simply because we can.

Arizona's law allows police to stop people and ask for proof they are in the United States legally if there is any "reasonable suspicion" to the contrary. Opponents like me see it as a recipe for racism. Forced documentation of one singular group of people, i.e., Mexicans, is shameful and no way for Americans to show the value of living in a Democracy.

Moreover, random "suspicion checks" must be unconstitutional unless everyone, including Americans and Canadians, must also demonstrate citizenship. US jails don't have enough room to house child molesters, never mind those who happen to be illegal without their "papers".

My education about immigration was enlightened about 8 years ago when I happened to visit a cultural gift shop located on a street corner in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. While touring the shop, the proprietor introduced me to a magnificent shrine he created out of paper flowers and votive candles to honor President Ronald Reagan. Of course, I was stunned to see a shrine, typically reserved for the adoration of saints, dedicated to America's icon of conservatism - i.e., a euphemism for "hold the line on immigration - these people are not like us". However, the proprietor enlightened me. "President Reagan allowed my mother to become an American citizen," he said. Indeed, President Reagan allowed for amnesty when he tried and failed in the 1980s to stop waves of illegal immigrants entering the US from Mexico.

Today, I think of this Phoenix experience as my micro "black like me" moment. This grateful proprietor, who honored his mother alongside President Reagan, helped me to understand what it must have been like to live in fear as an illegal immigrant in America. Thanks to President Reagan, all future generations of this man's family would, henceforth, be proud to show sheriffs their papers, rather than live in fear of deportation.

All Americans should be proud of our immigrant heritage. May 1st is a good day to "Celebrate Immigration Day". Maybe, we can even design a multi-colored ribbon to apply to this occasion.

Like the proprietor in Phoenix, I'm proud to say my heritage is linked to immigration because both of my parents were the children of immigrants.

My point being, reflecting on my experience in the Philippines, it's not fair, ethical, right or constitutional to discriminate based upon citizenship alone. In my opinion, Americans who advocate for random immigrant paper checks are just downright hypocritical.

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