Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hypocrite Republicans with Health Insurance Target Obama's Health Care Reform "Obamacare"

It seems to me, the news media gives Republicans a pass on hypocrisy.  Can somebody please check on how much money taxpayers fork over to pay for Congressional benefits, including health insurance?  

Before Republicans in Congress try, again, to defund Obamacare, they should look inward and, instead, defund their own taxpayer paid benefits.  Now, after wasted votes to repeal the health care reform Obamacare, Republicans have clearly overreached by threatening to shut down government to defund the implementation. This obsession is stupidity fueled by hypocritical arrogance.  

Republicans in Congress receive healthy benefits most Americans yearn for, yet we taxpayers pay for what is denied to a majority of our own citizens. Indeed, health insurance is paid by US taxpayers for every single member of Congress, their staffs and their families. So, why do hypocrite Republicans want to defund Obamacare, for people who can't afford to pay for what Congress is entitled to receive?  Although this hypocrisy makes no sense, Republicans are like Lemmings heading for the cliff about repealing the Obamacare law.  They have no ideas of their own to help ordinary people, who can't afford health insurance, but continue to pick on Obamacare like a wounded animal licking a scab.

Republican hypocrites are downright selfish and outrageously unfair. They're determined to waste taxpayer time, repeatedly voting to defund the Obamacare Health Care Reform law, while they continue to receive taxpayer paid benefits.  

Republican might, instead, defund their own health insurance, before trying to repeal a law passed by the Congress, determined to be legal by the US Supreme Court and affirmed by the voters who re-elected President Obama, the law's creator.

Here's the Republican hypocritical plan:

The next step in the implementation of ObamaCare — open enrollment in state insurance exchanges — begins on October 1. Coincidentally, that is the same day that the federal government will run out of operating funds unless Congress passes a continuing resolution (CR) to keep it running. And some congressional Republicans are hoping to take advantage of this confluence of events to starve the healthcare law to death, even if it means risking a government shutdown.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for instance, has introduced an amendment to the CR currently under consideration that would cut off all funding for ObamaCare.

“If we want to stop this train wreck from hitting hard-working American families, the time to do so is now,” Cruz told Fox News Channel’s Special Report. Otherwise, he argued, “it will remain with us forever.”

OMG! No kidding?  Does Senator Cruz need another Civics class to realize a law passed by Congress will be with us forever?  

Republicans have already voted against the will of the American people by opposing gun control regulations, regardless of how many people are killed in preventable gun violence.  Now, I dare Republicans to repeal Obamacare when certain provisions in the law are popular. Obviously, Republicans are creating fear of the unknown in the Obamacare law, particularly about the employer mandate for providing coverage in companies with 50 or more employees. Nevertheless, rather than fix what needs modification, Republicans prefer, instead, to throw out the entire law, by voting to have it defunded or repealed.  Meanwhile, Republicans will continue to keep their own insurance, paid for by tax payers.

It's time to throw Republicans out of Congress, rather than allow them to act irresponsibly to repeal the Health Care Reform Law.
Their only objective in obsessing on Obamacare is to dangle it's carcass in front of the 2014 electorate - but they have no fresh ideas of their own to replace what they want to destroy.

Nevertheless, stupid hypocrisy is rampant among the Republican right wing zealots.  Therefore, Republicans like Cruz, who don't support Obamacare, should have their tax payer funded benefits revoked, because they don't deserve it.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vitavitavegamin Alert! Republican Muted Outrage About Expensive Gifts to Virginia's Government Executives

"There you go again", as President Ronald Reagan said. Republicans are being stupid again.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) apologized again on Tuesday for embarrassing his state and announced that he and his family will be returning all gifts they received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. But his endorsed would-be successor, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) has not yet repaid any of the$18,000-plus worth of gifts he received from the same donor.

So, here's another fine mess Republicans have gotten themselves into. As Governor Jindal said, Republicans must stop being the stupid party.  

Unfortunately, Republicans aren't running out of ways to act stupid.  In Virginia, they're acting like men in the fable about the golden egg:

Virginia's Republican Governor AND the Lt. Governor are like two men obsessed with owning fabled golden eggs.  Rather than eggs, they've become obsessed with expensive gifts, lavished on them by a snake oil company called Star Scientific.  

Meanwhile, gifts from Star Scientific to the Governor and Lt. Governor are putting egg on the faces of all Virginia Republicans.  Even more outrageous, Star Scientific isn't even a credible company. Star Scientific doesn't sell defense jobs, or concrete to build bridges or even telescopes to look at stars.  

Oh no. Star Scientific is a stupid company. It sells what Lucy Arnez would call "vitavitavegamin", in her classic TV spoof of snake oil sales on the 1950's vintage "I Love Lucy" show.

But where's Republican outrage about this ridiculous misuse of privilege and undue influence over Virginia's two top execs?  Fox News surely isn't covering this stupidity.  For that matter, where are all mainstream media in reporting about this golden egg embarrassment?  MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, God Bless Her, is on top of it as well as a few blog sites.

Virginia's governor was forced to apologize about his stupidity. I suspect Lt. Governor Cuccinelli will eventually do likewise, but it seems a bit anti-climactic at this point.  I suspect he's thinking, by returning the gifts, that he's admitting being complicit in a kick back scandal because he once owned stock in Star Scientific.

In the absence of disclosure about accepting the outrageously expensive gifts, the two top Virginia government executives even lied about the situation.  They initially claimed the gifts were "inadvertent".  (Meaning, unintentional?  Since when is a gift "inadvertent"?)  

Incredulously, the two men seemed to be just fine with putting the state's political reputation as well as their credibility at risk. They're both risking ridicule and kickback investigations, rather than acknowledging being involved in a stupid scandal involving the "vitavitavegimin" Star Scientific.  

Here's the chicken poop inside the golden eggs, as reported in the 

Last week, McDonnell made his initial apology in a press release, announcing he and his family had repaid the more than
$120,000 in loans Williams had made to McDonnell’s businesses. 

Tuesday, on WTOP radio’s Ask the Governor program, McDonnell announced they will also be returning tens of thousands worth of gifts they had received from him. These included a $6,500 Rolex watch (engraved “71st Governor of Virginia”) and $15,000 to pay for the catering at his daughter’s wedding reception. A federal grand jury and state investigation are looking into whether any of the gifts and loans were improper; McDonnell continues to deny breaking any laws.

But while McDonnell has now twice apologized and moved to return what he and his family received, Cuccinelli has been silent. While the Republican nominee has denied any involvement in the scandal, he alsoaccepted free lodging at his Williams’ homes, $6,711 worth of nutritional supplements, transportation to New York City and Kentucky, and anelaborate Thanksgiving dinner valued at $1,500. All totaled, Cuccinelli reported accepting at least $18,893 in gifts from Williams between 2009 and 2012.

Cuccinelli also initially failed to fully disclose the gifts he received from Williams — omissions he called “inadvertent.”

As of 2012, Star Scientific reported annual losses for a decade, but just one Virginia elected official or candidate invested upwards of $10,000 in the company: Cuccinelli. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Star Scientific is the only significant holding he has reported since his first filing in 2003. Cuccinelli, whose position makes him the Commonwealth of Virginia’s lawyer, did not follow state disclosure law and disclose this investment in a timely manner. 

After the controversy became public, Cuccinelli sold off Star Scientific stock.  He'd have been better off investing on reruns of the "I Love Lucy".

There's a sucker born every minute.  Indeed, politicians are included in the cliche.  Unfortunately, Virginia voters are now thrown into the suckers vat, because their government leadership has now admitted to being leaders in the stupid party.  Virginia's Governor and Lt. Governor seemed to be more interested in supporting Star Scientific than being honest politicians.  

In fact, both men are stupid.  Let's see some outrage!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Winners Doing Lunch - Mrs. Clinton and President Barack Obama

President Obama dining with Mrs. Hillary Clinton at the White House  is like a power lunch with steroids for dessert. 

They're obviously not chatting about "old times"; but rather (one can speculate) "what's next?".  In the campaign strategy for President Obama's succession in 2016, the operational focus will surely be on fast and furious fund raising.

Political rivalries between President Obama and former Secretary Mrs. Hillary Clinton have evaporatd like sea smoke on a cold day when the sun shines.  

Although the two once shared a frosty relationship when they vied for the White House, it's time for President Obama to help his former rival, turned loyal cabinet member, to win her place in presidential history - beginning with a power lunch.

12:00PM         THE PRESIDENT and former Secretary Clinton meet for lunch
                        Private Dining Room
                        Closed Press
Not even a mention of “Hillary” or “Hillary Rodham” or the State Department (her former perch).  Just “former Secretary Clinton,” the bare minimum required to distinguish her from her husband. Maybe the White House thought, if it used fewer words, the lunch date would slide below the radar. But not on a slow news day, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Here's what I think they're "chatting" about - they're talking about winning!  Mrs. Clinton is preparing for her own 2016 presidential ambitions.  Although I suspect Mrs. Clinton could win the presidency without Mr. Obama's help, she is well advised to seek his loyal support before  rivals line up for his endorsement. 

In other words, Mrs. Clinton probably wants Vice-President Joe Biden and any other wannabe rivals to step aside, so she doesn't have to deal with a horrible election primary, like Governor Mitt Romney was faced with, when his rivals created mayhem before his GOP nomination.

Mrs. Clinton is brilliantly creating a path to her Democratic nomination, seeking access to unrivaled fund raising, without having to share the money pie with rivals.  She knows money will be the mother's milk of the 2016 election, especially since the ridiculous Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court allows filthy rich right wing moguls, like the Koch Brothers, to throw money against her like snowflakes in a blizzard.  

While the Washington Post writer Dan Balz writes about how the Obama campaign 2012 team outmaneuvered the Romney camp, the fact is, political rivalry tripped up the GOP's road to victory.  A band of rivals couldn't say enough bad things about one another. Too many campaign negative ads were simply more than a band of political rivals could overcome when it was time to "gather 'round the river" to win the election.  

Mrs. Clinton is wise to seek President Obama's loyalty early on, even before officially announcing her campaign plans.  She needs Mr. Obama's access to a unified donor base as well as the expertise his campaign staff used to get Democratic voters to go to the polls.

President Obama and Mrs. Clinton are both strong political winners. When winners do lunch, they sure don't talk about loosing.

Therefore, the GOP's right wing money bags better think long and hard before throwing away more millions than they wasted in 2011, when they were grossly unsuccessful.   

In 2016, the right wing extremists might as well invest their spare cash in alchemy as use their wealth to fight the super bowl team of winners lined up to defeat them, again.  This time, I'm hoping, Mrs. Clinton will drive the right wing extremists into hiding, so they'll have virtually no political influence against our American democracy, for a long-long time - and, by the way, this includes the undue influence of the National Rifle Association, too.  

Winners take all.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ohio With Two Zeros: What's in a Name

It's hard to find a "Wonderful Town" in Ohio anymore. In a state with bookend "O's" in the name, it seems like the total sum of Ohio's political appeal equals zero.

Rosalind Russell sang "why-O why-O why-O, why did I ever leave Ohio?" in the 1953, musical show "Wonderful Town".
But, unfortunately, there's not much that's wonderful about Ohio anymore.  Cleveland, the state's largest city, is obviously declining while right wing leaders, US House speaker Rep. John Beohner and the state's governor John Kasich have done virtually nothing to improve the state's dour facade.

It seems like the two "O's" in Ohio are like symmetrically political black holes, where images of urban decline and political right wing extremism are sucking the state into eternal darkness.

One has to wonder, if Boehner and Kasich are such wonderful leaders, why, with their considerable political clout, is Cleveland not thriving?  An eduational photo essay at provides a gallery of artistic landmark images depicting Cleveland's decline.

Speaker Boehner, who represent Ohio's 8th Congressional District, is masterful at leading right wing obstructionism in the Congress but he won't vote to support federal expenditures to fund bridge repairs in his home state.

Governor Kasich doesn't seem to mind being the focus of voting rights groups who advocate for lifting restrictions on access to polling places on election days.  It seems like democracy in Ohio has "zero tolerance" for Democrats.  Otherwise, polling places in heavily Democratic districts would operate under the same regulations and during the same times as all state voting districts. Nevertheless, for nefarious political reasons, Democratic voting districts are shut down before all the registered voters have had a chance to cast their ballots.  Nonetheless, Kasich isn't concerned that his state looks more like a developing world country living under a despot, than a democracy, when election times roll around.

abductor and kidnapper Ariel Castro is an example of how Cleveland's urban decline has undermined community pride. How else could this sick man have kept three women and a child under lock and key, in plain sight, unless the community was simply numb to the local human condition?  This situation is symptomatic, in my opinion, of low community morale, compounded by urban decline.

So, the "why-o, why-o, why-o" in the song about Ohio might just as well be a wail for help.  Ohioans can't feel good about themselves, when much news about them is negative. Maybe, if Ohio replaced its grim looking political leadership, it could experience a resurgence of hope in the state's future.  Changing the faces of Boehner and Kasich will do no harm and might even help.

Ohio's state motto is "With God All Things are Possible". Perhaps this is a mystical acknowledgement that it will likely take a divine miracle to turn the two zeros in the state's name into optimistic opportunities. Certainly, the bookend "O's" in the state's name shouldn't represent political sink holes. Rather, the two O's should be openings into the future of progressive state politics and transcending right wing control exerted by Boehner and Kasich. 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fire Up Democrats! President Obama Will Meet with Congressional Democrats This Week

Even Democrats need reminding about who won the 2012 Presidential Election.  

Hopefully, President Obama's scheduled visit to Capitol Hill this week will fire up Democrats, many of whom seem lulled into complacency in the face of House Speaker John Boehner's right wing obstructionist leadership.  

Democrats must fight political extremism.  As a matter of fact, fighting extremism and obstructionism should be the Democratic focus for the foreseeable future.  After all, it does little good to support growing the economy, or providing access to quality and affordable health care if Republicans simply obstruct progress stamped by President Obama.  Democrats must fight the root cause of political obstruction and right wing extremism by exerting pressure on Republicans to be responsive, instead of oppressive. President Obama, frankly, is overdue in launching his leadership campaign to fire up the Democrats in support of his progressive and jobs creating policy initiatives. As the victor of the 2012 presidential election, Obama must show those who supported him that our trust in his leadership was well placed.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to meet separately Wednesday with House and Senate Democrats to discuss upcoming challenges on issues like the economy and the rollout of Obama's health care law.  

Obama will meet Wednesday morning with House Democrats, then head to the Senate. Officials say it's a chance to debrief before lawmakers head home for the August congressional recess.

The meetings come as Obama and lawmakers are girding for fall battles over testy fiscal issues, including federal spending levels and an increase in the nation's debt ceiling.

Obama started pressing anew his economic agenda this week in speeches in three states. He's traveling Tuesday to Tennessee to continue spotlighting economic issues.

Here's my three recommendations to President Obama, as he meets with Congress and constituents in Tennessee:

1.  Demand for the Congress to recall the stupid budget sequester.

2.  Demand for Congress to stop wasting tax payer time to repeal the Obamacare IE, Affordable Care Act, which is law.

3.  Demand that Congress pass the President's American Jobs Act to support the improvement of America's infrastructure while creating jobs for middle class Americans.  

It's time to fire up Democrats who need a startle to push back on John Boehner and those controlling the conservative right wingers in Congress.  

Although Democrats look to President Obama for leadership, we're also responsible for supporting his agenda with our Congressional representatives in federal and state governments.

But, a fire starter by President Obama would sure help fuel enthusiasm for fighting the tenacious right wing oppressive opposition in the Republican party.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Thank You Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg

Caroline Kennedy will continue a family legacy of humanitarian and diplomatic public service when she become US Ambassador to Japan, as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

Caroline Kennedy will be nominated to be ambassador to Japan, announced Wednesday.  

Although her nomination creates unnecessary controversy, her dedication to continue her family's legacy in public service is highly commendable. Those who unjustly criticize her appointment as being more political than based on qualification are overlooking or ignoring her bravery for becoming her family's  standard bearer since the death of her Uncle Ted Kennedy.

All the Kennedy's, collectively, have demonstrated their patriotism and dedication to helping others.  In spite of the family's notorious and often salacious private lives, the fact remains that their public faces are a united reflection of highly commendable public service. 

It's simply not fair to cast Caroline Kennedy as being somehow a political opportunist in her selection for the Japan Ambassadorial position.  She certainly doesn't need the job. On the contrary, she doesn't seek publicity (she appears to disdain publicity) and achieving political clout isn't among her career objectives. 

In other words, Caroline Kennedy is a successful woman without any titles attached.

Her willingness to serve America as our nation's ambassador to Japan is a wonderful continuation of her family's legacy of service. This patriotic story began with the service of her grandfather, Joseph Kennedy Sr., who served as Ambassador to England prior to World War II.  This service continued with death of her Uncle Joseph in an air crash while serving with the US forces in World War II coinciding with her father's heroics in the Pacific theater as the captain of the PT 109 in 1943.  Of course, President Kennedy's stand in support of Civil Rights and then, tragically, his untimely death in 1963 qualifies him as an American martyr.

The Kennedy family's accomplishments are well documented in dozens of books, hundreds if not thousands of newspaper and magazine articles and in the Presidential Library Boston, MA. 

Caroline Kennedy's dedication to offer her considerable influence to become an international foreign service official should be profusely thanked. Her willingness to serve is motivated by the best of intentions, supported by American patriotism, as evidenced by her life experience and upbringing.

Those who criticize Caroline Kennedy's appointment should look to how they or their families have given back to our country.  Few American families come close to visibly demonstrating love of country in the way of the Kennedy legacy.  

It's time for the American media and right wing critics to stop criticizing the Kennedy's. Instead, let's all reflect on how Caroline Kennedy represents Americans and the meaning of patriotism. Thank you Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Ambassador elect.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Republicans are to Blame for Low Congressional Approval

This week's NBC Wall Street Journal poll indicates serious disdain for Congress, but the poll's questions released in headlines don't explain any specific cause and effect. Of course, the cumulative impact of consistent obstruction, blocking one public policy iniative after another, seems to be a reasonable conclusion.  But, everybody in Congress isn't responsible for this public poll scolding.  It's Republicans who cause the problems, acting out on a litany of issues, while the entire elected group takes the public hit - it's like your mother told you, "Watch the company you keep".  

Congress wasn't created by our US Constitution for the purpose of obstructing government.  Yet, in spite of a pitiful 12 percent approval rating, Congress continues wasting time and creating problems that don't need fixing- like the numerously wasteful votes to repeal Obamacare, for example. Yet, Congress won't act to repeal the stupid budget sequester that impacts the poor and furlough's government employees. They waste time and get paid for creating angst. 

According to the survey, 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing in Washington, an all-time high in the poll. Just 12 percent approve of Congress' job, while 57 percent they would replace every member of Congress if they could.

With this kind of "no confidence", it seems logical for Americans to request a special election to replace the dysfunctional Congress.  
Nevertheless, it seems unfair to throw good people out, when it's really the Republican leadership who needs replacing.  First on the list, House Speaker John Boehner should certainly be fired because, frankly, he's getting absolutely nothing done.  Boehner looks grouchy all the time and his lack of collegiality contributes to political acrimony.

So, this is my recommendation to Congress.  It's human nature to want to be liked and people tend to prefer leaders who are likable  Therefore, improving Congressional poll numbers can begin by creating likable people.  Let's send Congress to Toastmaster's International school, where they can learn leadership and communications skills - plus, infuse their personalities with a likeability factor.

Second, Congress can instantly improve it's poll numbers by voting to support President Obama's Job's Act, an initiative that's collecting dust, ever since he introduced it in his 2012, State of the Union Address.  Jobs equal approval.  It's that simple.

Seriously, Congress must learn to be likable  (meaning, Speaker Boehner smiles often) and call for passing Jobs, a piece of legislation that has a positive impact for all Americans.  Doing so will improve Congressional poll numbers and mitigate calls for special elections to replace all of them.  

Seems simple, doesn't it?  Well, to do nothing is certainly unsustainable.  Americans deserve a Congress that works.

Republicans must accept responsibility for low Congressional poll numbers. Moreover, they are accountable to do something to change this destructive and spiraling out of control public opinion, before loss of confidence implodes morale and effectiveness for all of government.  

"It's the company you keep".

Such low poll numbers are unworthy of those in Congress who are competent but tainted by unpopular Republican leaders.  

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Congress: Wasting Taxpayer Time - Put Them on Unemployment

When employees waste time on the job, the result shows up in performance reviews, presuming the boss keeps them on long enough to evaluate their productivity.  The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is the job performance review of our US Congress. It seems the public is totally fed up with Congress in the poll results, where only 12 percent approve of their performance.

NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released in July 2013, finds that Americans' disapproval of Congress has reached unprecedented low levels.  According to the survey, 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing in Washington, an all-time high (or low) in the poll. Just 12 percent approve of Congress' job, while 57 percent say they would replace every member of Congress, if they could.

So let me get this straight.  Taxpayers are paying for unsatisfactory performance!  While we express disapproval for Congress, we're continuing to pay them.

It's irresponsible for Americans to continue paying big bucks for dismal representation in Washington DC.  Surely, it's time to give Congress a collective pink termination slip.   

Cause for termination include the following:

1.  Lack of team building - obstructionism rather than cooperation, collaboration and collegiality in support of public policy to improve the human condition.

2.  Inability to prioritize -  instead of a focus on what's important to Americans, the Congress continues to inappropriately obsess on the repeal of Obamacare and refuses to support reasonable Second Amendment regulations to reduce preventable deaths by gun violence.  Yet, Congress won't vote to remove the stupid budget sequester whereby hundreds of programs have received unnecessary cuts and employees have experienced cruel furloughs.

3.  Attendance on the job -  Congress is never there!  They take long session breaks and are hardly ever seen working in their Congressional chamber.  When constituents ask to personally meet with them, they often send their staffs to do interviews.  

4.  They ignore their job description - they pledge allegiance to protect the US Constitution while many who are among the Republicans take an oath to an un-elected political right wing extremist (IE, Grover Norquist) not to raise taxes, even when roads, bridges, education and the needs of the poor are at risk.

5.  Don't support the boss-  While the President of the United States was elected by a clear majority of voters, the Congress balks at supporting his nominees to administrative and court positions, thereby putting public policy initiatives in limbo and causing wasteful backlogs in our justice system.  

Some corporations would fire employees who negatively cross the performance line on any one of the above five criteria. Yet, our US Congress has clearly failed on all of the above.

It's time Congress receives a pink slip; but the new hires, presuming we taxpayers hire qualified candidates, will have to remember why their predecessors were fired and do something productive (and quickly) to earn their salaries and America's trust.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A World at War With Itself

There's no  such thing as "traditional warfare" anymore.  

Battle lines are now "sleeper cells" or "networks".  

Although joyous events like the birth of the Baby Prince of Cambridge dominates the media this week, the flip side of world news is anything but pleasant.  Quite the contrary.  In fact, civil war fueled by world terrorism is reigning fear and early death for militants and civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.  

Risks of terrorist attacks exist practically everywhere.  Enemy terrorists don't wear uniforms, so we obviously can't identify them as a threat.  Witness the Tsarnaev brothers, who perpetrated the April 2013, Boston Marathon bombings. In retrospect, we now know they were the face of modern terrorism.  They blended with Americans while they were clearly at war with their Cambridge, MA neighbors and harbored a misunderstood US policy towards Muslims. In other words, they were at war with us.

First, the good news: 22 JULY 2013 HRH Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge welcomed a baby boy. "We could not be happier," said the Duke, who was at his wife's side when she gave birth. The beautiful boy, who is third in line to the English throne, was delivered at 4:24pm on Monday afternoon at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.  Royal baby news was greeted by huge cheers from onlookers who gathered outside the hospital and Buckingham Palace.

"Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm," said a statement from Kensington Palace. "The baby weighs 8lb 6oz."

Congratulations to the expanding Royal Family.  

But, here's the flip side:  Thousands of children were born in the world on the same day as the new English Royal baby, but many of them are born into poverty that will negatively determine their life expectancy.  

Moreover, civil war and revolution fueled by terrorism are reigning fear and early death for militants, and civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.  Egypt might as well be in a civil war as rival groups vie for political and religious power.  Israel is constantly on alert to prevent attacks from clerics with Hezbollah and Arab extremists from Iran.  Rape has reduced war to unbridled attacks on innocent women in African countries where civil strife is under reported.  There's hardly ever prosecutions against gang rapes in Africa. Women are victimized simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perpetrators of rape and human rights violations, like selling girls into sex slavery, are seldom, if ever, prosecuted.  It seems like, if there weren't bad news about Africa reported in the media, there wouldn't be any news at all from the huge continent.

It seems the world is living in a war with ourselves.  There are no battle lines or victory parades.  Rather, we seem to live under the dome of terrorism, where everyone, even the terrorists, are victims of serendipitous circumstances and corrupt political systems.

Maybe, the prevailing "doom and gloom" is the reason the world is hugely smitten by news of the birth of Baby Prince of Cambridge.  A new baby clearly symbolizes renewal at a time when the world desperately needs hope.  A baby boy, born to be a world leader, might live long enough to change the world (...maybe).

Hope spring eternal when we consider the potential for the newborn HRH baby, who has the potential to become a peacemaker. Although Baby Prince must enjoy a joyous childhood, his future adulthood has the potential (given the opportunity) to follow in the footsteps of transcendent people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa of Calcutta and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

We must find a way to create world peace, especially considering the ominous alternative of a world escalating in war after war, within itself.  

Let's hope the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are as excellent at parenting as they are demonstrating their prowess as heirs to the British Throne.

A world in need of hope can pray for a time when someone will lead us into peace and out of a world at war with itself.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Global Faith - Want Proof? Invite the Pope

World Youth Day and Pope Francis 

Although millions of religious skeptics and agnostics abound, throughout the world, the Roman Catholic Pope still makes front page news, even while HRH Princess Kate happily delivers the next King of England.

Regardless of where the Pope appears or who he happens to be, his presence attracts millions.  Add the international media attention focused on the Pope and he attracts the world.

It's impossible to explain the magnetic attraction of the Pope.  Our current Pope Francis I was a very modest Church Cardinal in Argentina less than a year ago. He rode public buses and lived in a small apartment.  Today, less than a year after his installation, his presence draws millions.  This ability to convene people everywhere is mystifying, especially in our modern scientific age, where evidence of faith seems lacking in our ambitious and materialistic world. My husband and I witnessed the Pope's charisma when we attended Midnight Christmas Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.  Although we attended this Mass to witness the splendor of the event, the fact is, Pope John Paul II was the draw - the experience had little to do with the venue - it was clearly "Papa" the crowds came to see.  

But these days, let's face it, it's not a particularly good time to be the Pope.  Gaps between the rich and poor aren't closing, war kills thousands throughout the world, terrorism is a threat to everyone (especially the Pope) and the Roman Catholic Church has suffered irreparable damage resulting from sexual scandals.  Still, the Pope draws the attention of the world. Millions of people of all faiths will pay attention to his presence at the World Youth Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week.

Risks to the Pope and his followers have already manifested in Rio, as a heinous bomb was found in a restroom in a major Shrine the Pope will visit during his Rio stay.

Certainly, it will be an extraordinary tragedy if any terrorist incident occurs during the Pope's visit.  Perhaps, the discovery of a bomb will create even more diligence to protect him and everyone in Rio from terrorist violence.  It's a horrible shame that we're worrying about somebody who wants to hurt either the Pope and/or the people who follow him.  Nevertheless, fear of violence is the new normal in all walks of life and in every public event.

This bomb is probably planted by someone who wants to scare away the Pope's faithful followers.  It won't work.

People in Rio are not naive.  In fact, they will probably be more determined than ever to see him.  

Frenzied crowds of Roman Catholics mobbed the car carrying Pope Francis on Monday when he returned to his home continent in South America for the first time as pontiff, embarking on a seven-day visit meant to fan the fervor of the faithful around the globe.

During the pope's first minutes in Brazil, ecstatic believers forced the closed Fiat to stop several times as they swarmed around during the drive from the airport to an official opening ceremony in Rio's center. A few security guards struggled mightily to push the crowd back in scenes that at times looked alarming.

Earlier, there was a safety scare when a homemade explosive device was discovered near a Brazilian shrine the pope was scheduled to visit Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported. The military said the device, found in the bathroom of the parking garage of the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida between Rio and Sao Paulo, was destroyed after its discovery.

It's impossible to ignore the religious, economic and political impact of the Pope's visit to Rio, as well as every visit he makes. 

Throngs of people follow the Pope's events.  Why?  There's no reason whatsoever why Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio should suddenly draw the attention of millions of people.  

Obviously, as Pope Francis I,  "Jorge Mario" is now a charismatic religious leader who became a super star, literally overnight, without the help of any  publicists or advertising campaigns.

There's no explanation for Papal charisma.  It just "is".

For the faithful, the Pope's charisma is a symbol that faith is alive and well, even in an increasingly skeptical world.  

Those who ignore the Pope's charisma are missing out on the joy shared by millions who crave to be in his presence.  

To those religious skeptics who ignore the presence of faith in the world, just invite the Pope to your community and watch the reaction. Even if the Pope can't accept the skeptics' invitations, the gesture  alone will draw attention.  

In other words, invite the Pope and draw millions.  

Although the Pope can't fix the world's agony or convert the skeptics, his presence is evidence that faith transcends evil with an unexplained energy. Just invite the Pope and see this evidence for yourself.

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Princess Kate Middleton Mountbatten-Windsor - A Stunningly Beautiful Mother and Social Equalizer

Princess Kate, as she's lovingly known, will soon be the world's most beautiful mother.  In her labor and delivery experience, however, she is like every other mother who has ever given birth, since the beginning of time.  

Birthing a baby is the social equalizer that unites all mothers. Giving birth to an English Royal is what makes HRH Kate such a stunning enigma.  She's a royal lady who was born from the common people and, thereby, represents all people.  Today, in the birth experience she shares with all mothers who came before her, she also represents the best of the human condition - IE, bringing forth new life. 

Although she is giving new birth, new life and hope to the English monarchy, her labor and delivery is an experience all cultures recognize as being difficult.  Yet, through her common experience, shared with the world, she has the extraordinary joy of bringing a new Royal into the world, a child who will eventually inherit the magnificence and challenges of being the monarch of Britain's Royal Empire.

We love and admire Princess Kate for graciously leading her family toward a new generation of Mountbatten-Windsors, while staying close to her own family's middle class roots in the English ancient Reading-Berkshire town, in the Thames Valley.  

Kate came from a decidedly working-class stock of coal miners and builders. Her maternal grandmother, Dorothy Goldsmith, became the first member of the family to attempt to improve the family's social and economic status. Dorothy pushed her children to aim high and, as a result, Kate's mother became an airline hostess. It was on this job that Kate's mother Carole met dispatcher Michael Middleton. The couple married soon after.

The rest of Kate's biography, of course, transcends the ordinary. Kate Middleton has certainly created non-fiction from fairy tale fiction, as she epitomizes George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion", the story line for "My Fair Lady". She's forever part of the world order of brilliant super stars, giving life to a fresh generation of English Royals.  

Meanwhile, Princess Kate is laboring, sharing this common experience with every mother before her. Nevertheless, she's the world's most beautiful role model for motherhood. 

As Kate Middleton became HRH Catherine Elizabeth Middleton Moutbatten-Widsor, she has created a world class image of a stunningly beautiful wife, mother and social equalizer. 

HRH Prince William, the future king, is certainly lucky to have found Kate because, frankly, his former, rather plain, appearance has certainly improved since he married her.  Now, with Kate, William's royal family will inherit England's future, as a result of their child.  All the world senses hope for the human condition, as we await the newest English Royal, thanks to Kate. 

Congratulations to William and Kate's growing family.  

Princess Kate is bridging the Royals with all of humanity.  She's a role model for all women, as well as a social equalizer in her work as a mother and in her humanitarian endeavors.  Hip! Hip! Hurray!

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Women Changing the Face of Islam

Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman to climb to the top of Mount Everest. Moharrak was the only woman in a four-person team called “Arabs with Altitude.” “I don’t care about being the first,” she told Al-Jazeera, “so long as it inspires someone else to be the second.”

Although  many voices of tolerance call for dialogue with the Muslim people and those who practice Islam, the fact is, the religion itself doesn't do much to support women.  But now,  the women of Islam are helping to support themselves.

Obviously, without women there would be zero Muslims, but women are not valued for their contributions to the culture. ( I write this from the point of view of having been in a dinner conversation several years ago, with a few Muslim paramedics, who candidly explained how they culturally experience sudden infant death syndrome among babies. A boy receives more aggressive life support than a girl.  This discourse is a tragically true story.)

Unfortunately, the face of Islam is usually male and stern.  This affect doesn't help to build tolerance when extremist terrorist networks within the Muslim culture are stereotyped as religious fanatics.  Clearly, 50 percent of the Muslim culture includes women, it seems like the world should see more of them from behind their burkas and hijab shrouds.  

Women can change the face of Islam. In so doing, they will improve tolerance for their culture and faith, transcending the stereotype extremist image.

Perhaps because of the international availability of cable news like CNN or social networking, a few Muslim women are cautiously attempting to be role models who will change the face of Islam. 

Some Muslim women like Malala Yousafzaiare trying to break out of the mold, as reported in Huffington Post.

Malala Yousafzai gave a stirring speech at the U.N. last Friday, her first major appearance since being shot in the head by the extremists in the Pakistani Taliban, in October, for her efforts to promote girls’ education in the country.

Yousafzai was celebrated July 12, her 16th birthday, which the U.N. proclaimed Malala Day. “By targeting Malala, extremists showed what they feared the most: a girl with a book, ” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech marking the event.

They thought that bullets would silence us, but they failed,” said Yousafzai, wearing a shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first female prime minister, who was assassinated in 2007. “There was a time when women’s activists asked men to stand up for women’s rights. This time we will do it for ourselves.”

Another woman Saudi is making her statement in film.  Haifaa al-Mansour faced some unusual obstacles while directing “Wadjda,” a coming-of-age story about a young girl who plots to own a bicycle despite a ban on women riding in public. The film is the first to be shot entirely on Saudi soil, and, due to restrictions on men and women working together, al-Mansour often had to direct the actors and crew remotely with a walkie-talkie. Despite these challenges, Saudi Arabia’s first female director has said her country is becoming “more tolerant and more accepting.” However, the film will be available in Saudi Arabia only on DVD or television, as public cinemas generally are banned.

A woman climbing Mt. Everest is always an interesting story, but when she's also a Saudi, her accomplishment indicates social change towards women is indeed on the horizon.  In May, 27-year-old graphic designer Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman to climb to the top of Mount Everest. Moharrak was the only woman in a four-person team that called themselves “Arabs with Altitude.” “I don’t care about being the first,” she told Al-Jazeera, “so long as it inspires someone else to be the second.”

As the face of Islam women are revealed, controversy ensues. A 21-year-old Syrian woman caused a minor sensation in November when she posted a picture of herself on Facebook without the veil she wore most of her life. Looking right into the camera, Dana Bakdounis holds her passport with a note saying, “I’m with the uprising of women in the Arab world because for 20 years, I wasn’t allowed to feel the wind in my hair and (on) my body.” The post was briefly removed after Bakdounis received a flood of comments and threats, though Facebook later apologized and said this was an error. Twitter users created the hashtag #windtoDana in support.

These and other heroic women stories, some published and probably many more occurring "under the veil" are eventually finding their way into talk shows, social media and word of mouth communications.   Collectively, women will rise and shed the burkas of oppression and change the face of Islam for the better.

It's hard to understand how fifty percent of any group can remain oppressed for as long as Islam women have been wrapped in inequality.  Nevertheless, there's no time like the present to change this social gender stigma.  The Muslim culture, where extremists and fanatics hide, cannot thrive unless the negative stereotypes are improved.  Islam women seem to be awakening to this challenge. In so doing, there is hope for tolerance both within their own culture and certainly to the skeptical universe outside the veil.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

President Obama Explains Barack Obama - the Black Man

President Obama spoke for Trayvon Martin, the now dead victim of a Stand By Me law, when he told the media in the White House briefing room about what it's like to grow up a black man.  

"Trayvon Martin could have been me," he told a stunned audience of savvy media folks, who admit they were caught by surprise because of the President's spontaneous candor.  Although other president's have certainly spoken eloquently about racial inequality in America, only President Barack Obama can explain, with credibility, what it's like to be Barack Obama, a Black man.

It's nearly impossible for white people to explain our nation's often irrational racial divide. Black people in America were largely brought here in chains, totally against their will. Most of them were forced to live like animals who were bought, sold and used as beasts of burden until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  Although Lincoln's watershed proclamation is as important as the Magna Carta of 1215, the words have been difficult to operationalize.

Of course, slavery is forever banned since 1863, but blacks living in many places continue to experience fear of racial violence.  

President Obama explained it from his own experience, "There are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often."

President Obama spoke in 2013 about Barack Obama, the Black man.  Yet, this experience was attempted in 1960, by a white man who pretended to be Black.  

Perhaps the next best account of the oppressive racial experience was valiantly attempted by Caucasian journalist John Howard Griffin (1920-1980), who wrote "Black Like Me", published in 1960. Griffin sought medical assistance to make his skin look black and he shaved his head, so he looked enough like a middle aged black man to pass as a Negro as he journeyed through the segregated states of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia. His experience confirmed how Black Americans were treated like second-class citizens.  While Griffin searched for places where he could eat, rest of find a job other than menial labor, he experienced the "hate stare".  His journal described the squalor he saw, the hopelessness he witnessed and the needless inhumanity the Negroes routinely encountered by many Whites he met during his travels.

Even finding a place where he could get a drink of water on a hot day was a racial ordeal.  "I began to get thirsty, (in New Orleans)" he writes, "and asked ....where I could find a drink.  'You've got to plan ahead now,' he was told my his mentor named Sterling.  'You can't do like you used to when you were a white man. You can't just walk in anyplace and ask for a drink or use the restroom. There's a Negro cafe over in the French market about two blocks up. They got a fountain in there where you can drink'."

But, Griffin eventually returned to being White again.  His book received national acclaim, but little, if any, change was initiated by his experiences.  Negroes eventually fought and earned the right to access simple amenities like water fountains and rest rooms. Nevertheless, I highly suspect, the "hate stare" hasn't changed much among people who continue to harbor hateful racial prejudice.

Fast forward to 2013, another 53 years and President Obama is explaining, again, what Griffin wrote about.  

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle, said the martyr Reverend Martin Luther King, who was also a victim of gun violence.

Past Presidents have moved America forward toward racial equality in a painfully slow timeline:

1863- Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation

1948- President Truman signed an Executive Order to integrate the US Military

1957 - President Eisenhower sent National Guard troops into Little Rock Arkansas to protect children who were integrating the schools, several years after the Supreme Court's Brown vs The Board of Education ruling.

1963 - President Kennedy supports the Civil Rights Act but it's not passed until after he was tragically assassinated in November 1963.

1964 - President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act

2013-  President Barack Obama explains what it's like to be a Black man in America.

The president decided the best thing to do would be to come to the White House briefing room unannounced and deliver his heartfelt remarks directly to reporters.

The president said the African-American community is not "naïve" to the fact that young African-American men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, both as victims and perpetrators, but that a lack of context adds to the public frustration.

"We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history," he said. "So folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there's no context for it and that context is being denied."

The president called for a review of the "stand your ground laws," but stopped short of calling for a national dialogue on race relations, saying attempts by politicians to drive those discussions "end up being stilted and politicized."  

"For those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these 'stand your ground' laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?" Obama asked. "If the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws."

As a nation, the president said, "We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys." 

In my opinion, America is not as great a country as we like to believe we are, because the ugly stigma of racial discrimination continues to hang on us like the chains Negroes wore in the disgusting slave ships.

President Obama has used his life experience to finally help lift those chains.  Americans who sincerely believe we are One Nation Under God, must come to grips with our own prejudices and overcome them.  It's impossible to imagine President Obama walking down a city street where people respond by locking their car doors and women clutch their hand bags as a protective barrier against suspicion of assault.  But, imagine Barack Obama in the same scenario and we all - every one of us - knows his experience is brutally real.  Thank you, Mr. President, for explaining this in a way all Americans understand and asking us to become better people as a result.  

Our sincere condolences to Trayvon Martin's grieving parents. Prayerfully, their tragic experience will, somehow, contribute to a better America.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit - American Dream Implodes: A City in Need of Repairs

Although Detroit isn't the only US city to file for bankruptcy, this particular fiscal decline is an insult to the American dream. 

Detroit has everything any municipal planner could dream of to create a viable city.  Attributes of a successful city are all there. Detroit enjoys a desirable location on the Great Lakes, a world class airport, a history that precedes the American Revolution, international access to Canada, ethnic diversity, culture, museums, sports teams and a good highway system.  Moreover, the city represents the American dream to tens of thousands of immigrants as well as ambitious moguls who found economic success in the city's proud automobile industries.  Gov. George Romney lived there, his son Mitt and his wife Anne were born there.  

Detroit's bankruptcy seems like a mistake, a bad dream or even a spin off of Orwellian fiction.  Unfortunately, it's true.  Nevertheless, many people saw the decline coming decades ago, but did little, if anything, of substance, to prevent it.  Although Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder made news for appointing an un-elected city administrator to fix things, this grandstanding didn't offer any viable lifeline.  Rather, Gov. Snyder's action was a snub over elected officials who, likely, had more vested interest in pulling Detroit out of it's dire fate.  In my opinion, Governor Snyder must be held accountable for his failed administrative appointment.

Now, many thousands of people will feel the depressed impact of a once great city that can't pay its bills.

Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in federal court Thursday, laying the groundwork for a historic effort to bail out a city that is sinking under billions of dollars in debt and decades of mismanagement, population flight and loss of tax revenue.

The bankruptcy filing makes Detroit the largest city in U.S. history to do so.

The filing begins a 30- to 90-day period that will determine whether the city is eligible for Chapter 9 protection and define how many claimants might compete for the limited settlement resources that Detroit has to offer. The bankruptcy petition would seek protection from creditors and unions who are renegotiating $18.5 billion in debt and other liabilities.

Of course, Detroit isn't the only city in decline.  Let's compare Detroit to Baltimore, Maryland.  

Indeed, Baltimore might even be a sister or brother city to Detroit. Maybe Governor Synder should have called on Maryland's Governor O'Malley before hiring an administrator. 

Although Baltimore certainly experiences enormous challenges, similar to those of Detroit,  a sense of cautious optimism exists among Baltimoreans.  I've sincerely never heard anyone express optimism for Detroit during the decades following the city's 1960s devastating racial riots.  Yet, Baltimore has never lost its optimism while it endured similar carnage.

Let's pray the decline of Detroit isn't symptomatic of a deeper crack in the American dream.  Nevertheless, it's doubtful the American tax payer has any capacity to bail Detroit out, especially when Gov. Snyder should have used more common sense than administrative grandstanding, to save the city from this avoidable economic fate.  

Obviously, there's no magic wand that will cure Detroit's fiscal ills but maybe Governor Snyder can give Governor O'Malley a call. They should have lunch in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and take in a Baltimore Ravens football game.  They may be political opposites (Snyder is Republican while O'Malley is Democrat) but they both crave success and Snyder obviously needs a good mentor.

Detroit needs to reclaim it's roots in creating the American Dream and rebuild the optimism that made it successful, in the first place. This doesn't necessarily cost a lot of money. But, it does take commitment, optimism and the empowerment of people who understand how to build communities.  

Perhaps, Detroit needs an American Dream project, reflective of the the hard work and social mobility enjoyed by all those who built the millions of cars and trucks our economy thrives on today. 

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cheney Family - Right Wingers On a Mission

Americans have to wonder why the Cheney family continues to force themselves in the political arena when mainstream people don't seem to welcome their participation.  They're like raccoons raiding a picnic, they're big attractions but nobody wants them to be there.

"Dick" Cheney's Titanic political fall has not recovered since his time serving as Vice-President in the Bush Administration.  There are some places in the world where his mere appearance would cause his arrest for War Crimes, because of his role in the illegal American invasion o of Iraq.  

Now, his daughter Liz Cheney is going to run for a Senate seat in Wyoming next year. That’s where the Cheney family has roots, since dad Dick Cheney went to school there and was Wyoming’s lone representative before he was George W. Bush’s vice president.

Another caustic member of the family is Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick and Liz's mother.  She was a television pundit before her husband was Vice-President.  Her caustic right wing TV positions were as offensive as listening to an air raid siren without an off button.

Cheney gets attention for her Senate candidacy because of her family's name.  Apparently, she thinks her family's negative name recognition is better than no recognition at all. Her Cheney name defines who she is and what her political positions will be, if elected.  There's no chance she can establish her own political identity, so it's clear she wants to be a clone of her father.

Candidate Cheney must want to be "right of right". She somehow feels the incumbent Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi just isn't worthy of keeping his position representing Wyoming people.  So, she will challenge Enzi in an expensive primary, but she doesn't explain why. Because she can?  

In my opinion, there's another agenda in play for the entire Cheney family.  They want to prevent their family name from sinking further into the realm of Dante's Inferno

Most important to the Cheney family must be the realization that their family name is becoming cliche.  More urgent, however, is the potential for future judicial action related to improper use of authority (ie Haliburton) and yet to be revealed information about war crimes related to the invasion of Iraq.  

I suspect the entire Cheney family is on a mission to protect the family name from further desecration, but there's no reason why all Americans should be impacted by their ambitious quest.

Let's hope Liz Cheney will loose her primary challenge to the competent and well respected Senator Enzi. Wyoming people deserve respect; let's hope they (and all of us) are spared yet another generation of the world according to right wing Cheney politics.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Attorney General Holder Speech Explains Being a Black Man Stalked

Although Americans must accept the Zimmerman jury's innocent verdict, the decision nevertheless sends cold shivers through blacks who easily identify with the victim Trayvon Martin. The verdict is a chilling reminder about the decades before civil rights, when all white juries sat in judgement of blacks.

Every Black person in America is feeling the pain of Treyvon Martin's preventable death last year.  This young Florida youth was stalked and killed by George Zimmerman, who was then found innocent, in a jury trial, of manslaughter.  Regardless of whether or not the killing of Trayvon Martin was racially motivated, the fact is, the death raised the horrible specter of the days when blacks were terrorized by vigilantes in the pre civil rights days.

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to the NAACP about his own experience growing up, when his father spoke to him about being a young black man:

"Now I'm sure my father felt certain at that time that my parents' generation would be the last that had to worry about such things for their children," said Attorney General Holder in a speech today to the NAACP.

In his NAACP speech, Attorney General explains: (Stand Your Ground)....
"These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if -- and the "if" is important -- if no safe retreat is available."

General Eric Holder's speech was a personal reflection about the Zimmerman manslaughter trial:

A full text of Holder's speech is available at this link and follows:

Now, I am proud to be in such good company this afternoon, among so many obvious friends, courageous civil rights leaders like Julian Bond -- (cheers, applause) -- and passionate men and women who have dedicated themselves to bringing our nation together, addressing common challenges and focusing attention on the problems and inequities that too many of our citizens continue to face.
Even as this convention proceeds, we are all mindful of the tragic and unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin last year in Sanford, Florida, just a short distance from here, and we're also aware of the state trial that reached its conclusion on Saturday evening. Today I'd like to join President Obama in urging all Americans to recognize that, as he said, we are a nation of laws, and the jury has spoken.
I know the NAACP and its members are deeply are deeply -- and rightly -- concerned about this case, as passionate civil rights leaders, as engaged citizens and most of all as parents.
This afternoon I want to assure you of two things: I am concerned about this case and -- (cheers, applause) -- and as we confirmed last spring, the Justice Department has an open investigation into it.
Now -- (applause) -- while that inquiry is ongoing, I can promise that the Department of Justice will consider all available information before determining what action to take.
But independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly -- honestly -- and openly about the complicated and emotional (sic), charged issues that this case has raised.
Years ago, some of these same issues drove my father to sit down with me to have a conversation -- which is no doubt familiar to many of you -- about how, as a young black man, I should interact with the police, what to say and how to conduct myself if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way that I thought was unwarranted.
Now I'm sure my father felt certain at that time that my parents' generation would be the last that had to worry about such things for their children.
Since those days, our country has indeed changed for the better. The fact that I stand before you as the 82nd attorney general of the United States, serving in the administration of our first African American president, proves that. Yet, for all the progress that we've seen, recent events demonstrate that we still have much more work to do and much further to go.
The news of Trayvon Martin's death last year, and the discussions that have taken place since then, reminded me of my father's words so many years ago and they brought me back to a number of experiences I had as a young man, when I was pulled over twice and my car searched on the New Jersey Turnpike when I'm sure I wasn't speeding, or when I was stopped by a police officer while simply running to a catch a movie, at night in Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. I was, at the time of that last incident, a federal prosecutor. (Laughter, applause.)
So Trayvon's death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father, and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world that he must still confront. This -- (applause). This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways.
As important as it was, I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure that the kind of talk I had with my son isn't the only conversation that we engage in as a result of these tragic events.
In the days leading up to this weekend's verdict, some predicted and prepared for riots and waves of civil unrest across the country. Some feared that the anger of those who disagreed with the jury might overshadow and obscure the issues at the heart of this case. But the people of Sanford, and, for the most part, thousands of others across America, rejected this destructive past. They proved -- (applause) -- they proved wrong those who doubted their commitment to the rule of law.
And across America, diverse groups of citizens, from all races, backgrounds and walks of life, are instead overwhelmingly making their voices heard, as American citizens have the right to do, through peaceful protests, rallies and vigils designed to inspire responsible debate, not to incite violence and division; and those who conduct themselves in a contrary manner do not honor the memory of Trayvon Martin.
I hope -- (applause) -- I hope that we will continue to approach this necessarily difficult dialogue with the same dignity that those who have lost the most, Trayvon's parents, with the same dignity that they have demonstrated throughout the last year and especially over the past few days. We should be proud of those two people. (Applause.) They suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure, and one that I, as a father, cannot begin to conceive. As we embrace their example and as we hold them in our prayers, we must not forgo this opportunity to better understand one another, and we must not fail to seize this chance to improve this nation that we cherish.
Today, starting here and starting now, it's time to commit ourselves to a respectful, responsible dialogue about issues of justice and equality so we can meet division and confusion with understanding, with compassion and ultimately with truth, however hard that is.
It's time to strengthen our collective resolve to combat gun violence, but also time to combat violence involving or directed toward our children, so we can prevent future tragedies. (Applause.) And we must confront the underlying attitudes, the mistaken beliefs and the unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments.
Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. (Cheers, applause.) These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if -- and the "if" is important -- if no safe retreat is available.
But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety.
The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation; we must stand OUR ground to ensure -- (cheers, applause, music) -- we must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.
We must also seek a dialogue on attitudes about violence and disparities that are too commonly swept under the rug, by honoring the finest traditions established by generations of NAACP leaders and other nonviolent advocates throughout history; and by paying tribute to the young man who lost his life here last year, and so many others whose futures have been cut short in other incidents of gun violence, that pass too often unnoticed, in our streets. (Applause.) And we must do so by engaging with one another in a way that is at once peaceful, inclusive, respectful and strong.
As we move forward together, I want to assure you that the Department of Justice will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We will not be afraid. We are committed -- (applause) -- we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure that in every case, in every circumstance and in every community, justice must be done. (Applause.)
For more than a century, this organization, founded in 1909, the NAACP has led efforts to do just that, standing on the front lines of our fight to ensure security, opportunity, and equal treatment under law.
Especially in times of need and moments of danger, you have dared to seek opportunities for progress and growth, challenging this nation to aim higher, to become better, and to move ever closer to its founding ideals.
Under the banner of the NAACP, courageous men and women like W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White, Charles Hamilton Houston, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless others whose names may be less familiar but whose contributions are no less important have raised their voices to advance our common pursuit of a more perfect union.
Their stories prove that today's civil rights leaders can best honor the progress of the last century by planning for the challenges of the next. Their examples remind us that, as recent events illustrate, our work is far from over. And it's time to acknowledge, once again, that we have much more to do.
After all, we come together today in another moment of need, during a year defined by historic milestones, including just last month the 50th anniversary of the infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door," when two brave young students enlisted the advice of NAACP lawyers, the support of the Justice Department and the protection of the National Guard to step past Governor George Wallace and to integrate the University of Alabama -- (applause) -- 50 years ago last month.
One of those students, Vivian Malone, would much later become my sister-in-law. (Cheers, applause.) Although she passed away several years ago -- much too soon -- her courage made a strong impression on me when I was a young man. Her stories and others like it drove me to dream of a career in public service and led me to spend my first summer in law school working at the NAACP's legal defense fund. (Cheers, applause.)
And Vivian's memory inspires me to think often of the historic speech that President John F. Kennedy delivered on that fateful night when she integrated the University of Alabama 50 years ago last month, when he addressed the American people; expressed his support for Vivian and her classmate, James Hood; and described the cause of civil rights as a moral issue and, to use his words, that -- "as old as the Scriptures and as clear as the Constitution."
In that extraordinary moment, President Kennedy urged his fellow citizens to refuse to accept that anyone could be denied opportunity, denied education or denied the future of their choosing just because of the color of their skin. And he called on Congress to pass sweeping civil rights legislation, outlining a series of proposals that would later be included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Once signed into law by his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, these proposals affirmed and codified into law the greatest of American ideals: that all are created equal. They established -- (applause) -- they established protections for the rights to which every citizen and every eligible voter is entitled. And they came to represent nothing less than the foundation of modern civil rights law.
Now, unfortunately, last month an important piece of this foundation was chipped away when the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act.
Over the years, and significantly, and in the past 18 months, this provision, called pre-clearance, allowed the department to take swift action against numerous jurisdictions that adopted rules or procedures with either a discriminatory purpose or effect.
It served as a potent tool for addressing inequities in our elections system. And it proved the effectiveness of a legal mechanism that puts on hold any new voting changes until they have been subjected to a fair and thorough review.
Let me be clear: This was a deeply disappointing and flawed decision.

it dealt a serious setback to the cause of voting rights. And like all of you, I strongly disagree with the court's action. Aster all -- after all, as we've seen over the last 18 months, numerous successful decisions in the department's Voting Rights Act cases have proven that, far from being an antiquated relic of a bygone era, such a process frequently resulted in approvals for fair and impartial voting changes, while allowing the department to work with jurisdictions to address problems wherever they occur.
For instance, just last year a federal court noted the "vital function" that preclearance played in protecting black voters who would have been disproportionately impacted by a photo ID law in South Carolina. Because of the department's engagement with the state during the administrative review and later litigation, South Carolina officials changed how their new voting statute will be implemented in future elections and to eliminate what would otherwise have been a dramatic discriminatory effect.
Another court cited the Voting Rights Act in blocking a Texas congressional redistricting map that would have discriminated against Latino voters, noting that the parties -- and this is a quote -- "provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here," unquote. That's a federal court.
These cases and many others illustrate that these problems are real.
They are significant. They corrode the foundations of our democracy. And they are of today, not yesterday. In fact, despite last month's ruling, every member of the Supreme Court has agreed that, as the chief justice wrote, and I will quote again, "Voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that," unquote. That's the chief justice. Therefore, the struggle for voting rights cannot be relegated to the pages of history. And this is why protecting the fundamental right to vote for all Americans will continue to be a top priority for the Department of Justice so long as I have the privilege of serving as the attorney general of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)
It's also why, although I remain disappointed with this outcome, I believe we must regard it not as a defeat but as a rare and historic opportunity: for Congress to consider new legislation restoring and even strengthening modern voting protections in a manner that's consistent with the record established by one of the most effective civil rights laws in American history.
After all, in the nearly half-century since its passage, the Voting Rights Act enjoyed broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill as well as in the executive branch. Its most recent authorization passed Congress with near-unanimous support in 2006 and was signed into law by President Bush, just as prior reauthorizations had been signed by Presidents Reagan, Ford and Nixon -- Republicans. (Cheers, applause.)

This is because providing fair and equal access to the ballot box has never been a partisan issue. It is an American issue. (Cheers, applause.)

It's about the core values that define us as a nation and who we say we are as a people.

But whatever solutions our congressional leaders consider, I urge them to bear in mind as they move forward that the right to vote is both a guarantee and a sacred duty, conferred by citizenship and protected by the United States Constitution. Quite simply, Congress must take steps to ensure that every eligible American has equal access to the polls. (Applause.)

In the meantime the Justice Department will continue to monitor jurisdictions around the country for any changes, any changes that may hamper voting rights. We will not hesitate to take aggressive action, using every tool that remains available to us against any jurisdiction that attempts to take advantage of the Supreme Court's ruling by hindering eligible citizens' free and fair exercise of the franchise.

We also will -- we will also not wait for congressional action to refine and to refocus our current enforcement efforts. In fact, I am announcing today that I have directed the department's Civil Rights Division to shift resources to the enforcement of Voting Rights Act provisions that were not affected by the Supreme Court's ruling -- (cheers, applause, music) -- to move those resources of the part of the division and to the parts of the act that were not affected by the Supreme Court's ruling, including Section 2, which prohibits voting discrimination based on race, color, or language, in addition to other federal voting rights laws.

It is clear that our work is anything but complete. Our cause is not yet fulfilled. And for all the progress that we've made over the last 104 years, our nation's journey along the road to equality and opportunity is far from over.

This journey goes on every day in the efforts of those who seek to extend the legacy that our predecessors have established by combating violence and realizing America's founding and enduring promise of equal justice under law. It goes on in the steadfast commitment of my colleagues throughout the Justice Department and the entire Obama administration to prevent all types of civil rights violations. Most of all, it goes on in the passionate advocacy of concerned, dedicated and ultimately hopeful men and women in and far beyond this room, the members and leaders of America's oldest and largest civil rights organization. (Applause.)

Make no mistake: The NAACP's work is not just historically relevant. It is and will always be a vital and contemporary part of what makes this country truly exceptional.

So -- (applause) -- let us pledge that we will honor heroes like Dr. King, Medgar Evers, my Vivian Malone and so many others who have struggled, sacrificed and died -- died -- for the freedoms we now enjoy by zealously guarding the progress they achieved and matching their contributions with our own.

Above all, let us act with optimism and without delay to seize the really breathtaking opportunities now before us to see that justice is done and strengthen our nation's long tradition of increasing opportunity and inclusion and to continue the work that constitutes our shared purpose and must always remain our common cause: the enduring pursuit of a more equitable, more just and more perfect union.

Thank you all very much. (Cheers, applause.)

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