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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Welcome home Sargeant Bowe Bergdahl

Those 5 terrorists have plenty of problems to deal with in returning to the Taliban, in exchange for American Sargeant Bowe Bergdahl. Returning American Special Forces Sergeant Bergdahl was worth the exchange. America simply can't leave Afghanistan, as planned, while one American soldier is still held prisoner by our enemies in the Taliban.

Regardless of how dangerous those 5 exchanged and highly prized prisoners are to the Taliban, they've been gone from their terrorist colleagues for so many years, it's doubtful they can regain their former authority, without a challenge to their leadership. Nevertheless, regardless of how long it takes those five terrorist prisoners to reacclimate themselves, they'll eventually wind up being dangerous. Yet, as Americans withdraw from Afghanistan, there will be few reasons for them to build deadly roadside bombs.  

The Daily Beast reports:

According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated. The exchange shows that the Obama administration was willing to pay a steep price, indeed, for Bergdahl’s freedom. The administration says they will be transferred to Qatar, which played a key role in the negotiations.

In the initial statements released about the deal, the White House declined to name the detainees who would be leaving the Cuba based prison Obama has been trying to close since his first day in office.

A senior U.S. defense official confirmed Saturday that the prisoners to be released include Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari.

The official said that once he was on the helicopter, Bergdahl wrote on a paper plate (writing instead of talking because it was so loud) “SF?” The operators sitting with Bergdahl responded loudly, saying, yes, we’ve been looking for you for a long time. Bergdahl broke down crying, the official relayed.

In exchange for Bergdahl’s release, five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were released to Qatar. The US received “appropriate assurances” that Qatar would secure the detainees there, a U.S. official said. The detainees are supposed to be under a travel ban for a year.

Americans can't make a political brouhaha about this prisoner exchange. Those inmates in Guantanamo would never be allowed due process in a US court and they were costing American taxpayers a huge sum to keep them alive in prison. 

We might as well put the 5 evildoers to some good use, because keeping them in a holding pattern or enforcing other punishment would further incite terrorists around the world.  It's even remotely possible that this prisoner exchange could tip a dialogue between Americans and those intent on doing us harm. Perhaps, Americans can somehow influence some terrorist groups against their maniacal hatred of all things American. In a philosophical conceptual world.....all that is possible, is possible.

Sergeant Bergdahl's surprisingly safe return demonstrates, to those who intend to do us harm, that America will keep our promise to bring all who defend our nation home.

Meanwhile, those 5 terrorists exchanged for Sergeant Bergdahl will have plenty of leadership problems to deal with before they cause harm. But, at least, American taxpayers will no longer be paying for their room and board.

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Mental Health programs should be funded by a tax on guns and ammunition

Let's face it, America has lost the war against guns (as well as drugs).

It's impossible to turn the tide on the zealous Second Amendment gun hoarding. Under the protection of this Constitutional Amendment, right wing nuts guard against enemy "windmills" they've created without cause. Nevertheless, it's time for those responsible for this over reach of Second Amendment rights to be held accountable for the damages and thousands of murders resulting from their zealotry.

Rather than face the source of the problem of gun violence, ie "guns", the Christian Science Monitor reports on how the US Congress prefers to address the problem of untreated mental illness, instead.

"Why Congress targets mental health, not gun control, after mass killings": The University of California Santa Barbara killings revived calls for more aggressive federal action on gun control. But in Congress, the emphasis is on mental-health fixes to stem violent attacks. Here's what the House is considering so far.

By Francine Kiefer, Staff writer / May 30, 2014

As mass killings such as the one in California (by Elliot Rodger) over the Memorial Day weekend mount up, the way to action in Congress is more likely to be through mental-health legislation than gun control.

The reason is simple, says Julian Zelizer, congressional historian at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. “Mental health legislation is not blocked by a gun rights lobby.”

In the aftermath of the Isla Vista, Calif., shootings and stabbings by the deeply troubled Elliot Rodger, two draft mental-health bills are getting a fresh look in the House. On Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D) of California introduced a bill that marries mental health with preventing gun violence. In the Senate, meanwhile, one idea is to pull out the mental-health aspect from an expanded gun-background check bill that failed last year, and offer it as separate legislation.

For now, the action is in the House, with three bills that come at mental health and violence from different angles. These include:

Treating the severely mentally ill. Rep. Tim Murphy (R) of Pennsylvania, a clinical psychologist, has introduced a bill with a focus on people with serious mental illness. The bipartisan legislation, which has 86 cosponsors including 36 Democrats, would encourage states to revise standards to commit the severely mentally ill to hospitals – standards that would recognize need of treatment, not just imminent danger. The bill would also enable families and judges to intervene and to mandate therapy and medication, including outpatient treatment.

A broader approach. Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat from Arizona who was injured in the 2011Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), takes a more sweeping approach. His bill would use federal dollars to improve general access to mental-health services by beefing up counseling, research, and education. “Investing in mental health services in our communities and early identification and prevention of mental illness will save both lives and money," Mr. Barber says in a statement. The bill, so far, has only Democratic sponsors.

Norman Ornstein, a political observer and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, says emotional cries are again rising to challenge the powerful gun lobby, including the 5-million-member National Rifle Association. That notwithstanding, he says, “there are plenty of members of Congress who would rather do something in mental health than on guns.” Groups that may oppose mental-health legislation have "less traction" than the gun lobby, he adds.

Clearly, gun zealots and unrelenting Second Amendment protectionists are more interested in protecting their deadly weapons of murder than in supporting the treatment of those who are a danger to themselves or others.  

In my opinion, all those involved in obstructing the protection of the public from gun violence are complicit in the mass murders of innocent victims killed as a result.

As is the case with many reparations, those responsible for the crimes should also be held accountable to atone. This should mean taxing guns and ammunition, to the extent that the money is dedicated to improve access to care, treatment and support for the mentally ill.

Americans, apparently, can't be protected against preventable gun violence. It's an incurable and untreated public health danger. Nevertheless, we're surely capable of enforcing legislation to protect the mentally ill from experiencing, like Rodger, the worst of their untreated symptoms. A dedicated assessment on guns and ammunition is surely one way to pay for the badly needed mental health programs.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Russia withdrawing troops from Ukranian border - don't trust Putin: withdrawal could be related to cost rather than international pressure

So, the Washington Post reports a statement by Secretary of Defense Hagel about how Russia is withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border. Just imagine being one of those Russian troops, hanging around and waiting for nothing to happen while absorbing defense money.

In my opinion, Putin is completely untrustworthy unless he's acting in support of growing his ego. Therefore, if Russian troops are leaving the Ukrainian border, it must be due to internal, rather than any external, international pressure.   

Considering how much money Putin threw on the Sochi Olympics, (I've read as much as $9 Billion 'with a B') he must still owe a lot of debt to cover the costs, especially after the tourists have gone home and will, probably, never return.

Russia is strapped for cash. A recent deal to provide gas to China was a photo-op to fly in the face of economic sanctions taken by NATO nations, to oppose Putin's ambitious expansionism. 

A token removal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border must be a major signal that Putin's tantrum against NATO's sanctions are further devaluing the nearly worthless Russian ruble currency. 

Putin needs money to deliver the gas to China. Obviously, keeping idle Russian troops on the Ukrainian border is wasteful spending. Nevertheless, don't trust Putin. As soon as he gets a reprieve from his nation's cash flow imbalance, he'll be right back to his ego fanning expansionism, regardless of the consequences.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

President Obama at West Point - military leadership by empowerment

President Obama told West Point graduates about how future military leaders will no longer be judged on how many wars they fight, but by how many allies they lead.

A Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports: Obama's vision of US as 'empowering partners'

In his West Point speech, President Obama firmly plants a vision of US leadership as a 'hub of alliances' with the task of 'empowering partners' – not as a global cop. The US can refocus itself as a world coach mainly because humanity has made progress in shared ideals that promote peace.

Although I'm not a expert on presidential speeches, I doubt the concept of  peace isn't exactly what West Point graduates study during their four undergraduate years. I wonder if anyone interviewed the graduates, to get their opinion, after President Obama spoke?

Hopefully, President Obama's focus on peace rather than on the strategies of war will resonate with future military leaders in the graduating audience. I doubt the future military leaders who graduated this year will face a world intent on building peace.

Coalition building is obviously essential for any military leader. Nevertheless, the last time America won a declared fighting war was when our nation was closely allied with the Europeans in World Wars I and II, and with the Australians, New Zealanders and British in the Pacific front. Warfare has changed dramatically since the evil of terrorism has influenced the ambitions of developing nations. American officers are increasingly strategic politicians, while the fighting of wars is led by tactical fighters and high tech equipment.

Moreover, President Obama has spoken often about his vision for America’s role in the world. His speech Wednesday at the West Point graduation was different. It firmly planted the idea that the US is the global leader simply for its ability to persuade other nations to join it in solving global issues.

Well, it's certainly altruistic to believe in the power of persuasion; but President Obama's vision requires strong leadership. Right now, a global power struggle is going on between President Obama and Russia's President Putin while the world closely watches the dynamics and words spoken by both leaders. 

It's doubtful Russia's President Putin can be be persuaded to do anything outside of supporting his ambitions. Persuasion will require the dynamic leadership in the spirit of Winston Churchill, to summon a tight coalition capable of pushing back on President Putin's ambitions.

Remarkable, President Obama called for “empowering partners.” To be sure, the US will always act on its own against a direct threat to itself. But in tackling world problems, such as the Syrian war or the standoff in Ukraine, the US must act simply as the “hub of alliances,” as it has steadily done over the past century. This leader-as-coach role has made the US an exceptional nation, although sometimes Britain or France have led interventions in world trouble-spots. “If we don’t [do it], no one else will,” he said.

To put meat on the concept, he asked Congress to provide up to $5 billion for a “counterterrorism partnerships fund.” The money would be spent to aid countries at risk of becoming outposts for jihadists who might attack the US or its allies. The list of potential countries ranges from Pakistan to Nigeria.

He also hinted at reform of institutions designed by the US after World War II to keep and promote peace. These include the United Nations and World Bank. “Evolving these institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership,” he said.

He did not say so, but Mr. Obama’s vision is based on an assumption that humanity has made rapid progress over the past 70 years on human rights, rule of law, equality, and freedom. With more nations adopting such ideals, the US leads more by persuasion than military action, by asserting right over might. Tyranny still exists – such as Russia taking Crimea – but Obama’s vision of leadership implies that global progress has elevated human nature to an advanced state. 

Noble words, but, as the CSM surmises, "Such a promise has been proclaimed in the past only to be disapproved by major war".

I wonder who, among the West Point graduates in the audience when President Obama spoke about peace, will be the leader who must prepare our nation for war. Surely, these young men and women graduates will be empowered to lead wars as well as peace.


Christopher Michael Martinez - a father's anguish rips at truth

Waking up the completely preventable and totally unanticipated death of his son, Mr. Christopher Michael Martinez lashes out against the politicians and all members of the National Rifle Association who are accomplices to the crimes caused by gun violence including the murder of his son.

"Christopher died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A. That’s true." 

Adam Gopnik writes in The New Yorker:


I don’t think I’ve ever been as heartbroken by anything as I was, last night, by the video of Richard Martinez, whose twenty-year-old son, Christopher, a college student at the University of California Santa Barbara, had been murdered the day before. Christopher and six others were killed in a mass shooting near campus. That I have a twenty-year-old son who is also a college student makes an empathetic response easy, almost obligatory—but I suspect that many others felt the same way, and that they felt this way because they were hearing a hard truth spoken clearly. Martinez, almost overcome with a grief that he knows and we know will never fade, not for as long as he lives, still struggled to speak sanely in that moment. And so there was something almost heartening amid the heartbreak. Richard Martinez, in the height of his grief, somehow did the hardest thing there is, and that is to find the courage to speak a painful truth: “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A.,” he said. “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this?’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: not one more.”

Christopher died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A. That’s true. That the killer in question was in the grip of a mad, woman-hating ideology, or that he was also capable of stabbing someone to death with a knife, are peripheral issues to the central one of a gun culture that has struck the Martinez family and ruined their lives. (The shooter, Elliot Rodger, had three semi-automatic handguns that, according to the Los Angeles Times, he’d purchased legally.) Why did Christopher Michael-Martinez die? Because the N.R.A. and the politicians they intimidate enable people to get their hands on weapons and ammunition whose only purpose is to kill other people as quickly and as lethally as possible. How do we know that they are the ‘because’ in this? Because every other modern country has suffered from the same kinds of killings, from the same kinds of sick kids, and every other country has changed its laws to stop them from happening again, and in every other country it hasn’t happened again. (Australia is the clearest case—a horrific gun massacre, new laws, no more gun massacres—but the same is true of Canada, Great Britain, you name it.)

Martinez’s brave words put me in mind of a simple point, which I failed to make in a long essay about language this week, or didn’t make strongly enough. The war against euphemism and cliché matters not because we can guarantee that eliminating them will help us speak nothing but the truth but, rather, because eliminating them from our language is an act of courage that helps us get just a little closer to the truth. Clear speech takes courage. Every time we tell the truth about a subject that attracts a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation. Plain speech matters because when we speak clearly we are more likely to speak truth than when we retreat into slogan and euphemism; avoiding euphemism takes courage because it almost always points plainly to responsibility. To say “torture” instead of “enhanced interrogation” is hard, because it means that someone we placed in power was a torturer. That’s a hard truth and a brutal responsibility to accept. But it’s so.

Speaking clearly also lets us examine the elements of a proposition plainly. We know that slogans masquerading as plain speech are mere rhetoric because, on a moment’s inspection, they reveal themselves to be absurd. “The best answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” reveals itself to be a lie on a single inspection: the best answer is to not let the bad guy have a gun. “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” No: obviously, people with guns kill more people than people without them. Why not ban knives or cars, which can be instruments of death, too? Because these things were designed to help people do things other than kill people. “Gun control” means controlling those things whose first purpose is to help people kill other people. (I’ve written at length about farmers and hunting rifles, and of how they’re properly controlled in Canada. In any case, if guns were controlled merely as well as cars and alcohol, we’d be a long way along.) And the idea that you can be pro-life and still be pro-gun: if your primary concern is actually with the sacredness of life, then you have to stand with Richard Martinez, in memory of his son.

There, that isn’t hard, is it? The war against euphemism matters most because it forces us to look at the truth we already know. The actual consequences of the N.R.A. and the gun policy it frightens those craven politicians into sponsoring is the death of kids like Christopher Michael-Martinez. This truth may not triumph tomorrow, but the truth remains the truth. It would be nice if the President, who knows all this perfectly well, put aside his conciliatory manner and his search for consensus and just said it. Speak up, Mr. President! Speak plainly. Just say, “Last night, I heard Chris’s dad. He’s right.”

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Violence in America - right wing politicians are accessories to these crimes

Zealous supporters of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and right wing nuts who believe the US Constitution was written for them alone, are accessories to the growing incidence of American violence, particularly correlated to gun violence.

In my opinion, the politicians and US Supreme Court Justices who support Second Amendment rights over the safety of all Americans who are innocent victims of gun violence, are accessories to the preventable murder of thousands of innocent people every year.

Over the weekend, three innocent people in Santa Barbara, California were shot and killed by a 22 year old mentally ill man named Elliot Rodger. Additionally, he gruesomely stabbed three of his roommates before going on the shooting rampage. All of Rodger's murders were preventable, if the required mental health care he needed had been enforced. Tragically, Rodger didn't present as being a danger to himself to others. Obviously, Rodger seriously deceived evaluators.

Today, there are more reports of random gun violence murders reported in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

(CNN) -- Myrtle Beach authorities responded to six separate shootings Saturday that left three people dead and five people wounded in the popular South Carolina resort city, police Capt. David Knipes said Sunday.

The deadly incident occurred at the beachfront Bermuda Sands motel, where three men were killed and one person was wounded. Knipes said no one has been arrested.

A witness told CNN affiliate WPDE that one of the victims ran after the shooting but eventually collapsed.

"It was like to the point where he had a lot of blood everywhere and he was just trying to breathe" and he died, Jamont Samuel told the station.

At the time of the shooting, people lined the sidewalks of Ocean Boulevard, which was jammed with Memorial Day vacationers and people who came to the area for Atlantic Beach BikeFest.

"I was scared to death. I just took off and started running. I was scared," Debra Lovack told WPDE.

In one of the other nearby incidents, a woman was shot in the chin and a man in the shoulder. There were four other shootings where two people were wounded, police said.

Knipes said police don't believe the shootings are connected.

Shooting rampage in California kills 6

On several US Supreme Court rulings, the justices could have supported regulations to enforce the control of human killing guns. Nevertheless, a majority on the court chose, instead, to support unbridled Second Amendment rights, rather than rule to protect the public from preventable deaths by gun violence.  

Elliot Rodger experienced mental illness, but those who treated him did not, apparently, enforce his compliance with treatment goals. Was he too affluent to challenge his spoiled noncompliance? Perhaps, a mentally ill person must be poor before law enforcement and medical care givers can identify them as being a danger to themselves or others.

Meanwhile, right wing politicians and their constituents continue to be accessories to the crimes perpetrated by deranged people, who are intent on killing innocent victims with guns, because they can.

Worse, no one is leading efforts to end the growth of preventable grief. Rather, politicians are paralyzed by threats to their lives and the National Rifle Association to protect people from public health harm from guns.  

I call on the US Supreme Court to end this insanity by supporting laws to protect people before Second Amendment rights.

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Memorial Day salutes to Franco-American veterans

Memorial Day salutes to Franco-American veterans

Beginning with the American Revolution.....merci for your patriotism!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Preventable 7 deaths in California drive by shooting by deranged killer who video taped his mental illness delusions

More preventable gun violence deaths in California today perpetrated by a clearly mentally ill man who video taped his delusional paranoia.

CNN reports: Drive-by shootings in Southern California on Friday night left seven people dead, CNN affiliate KEYT-TV reported Saturday, citing Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

Brown said the suspected gunman was among seven people killed in the shootings and stabbings (three were killed brutally by stabbings), which occurred in Isla Vista -- near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"This was a premeditated mass murder," Brown said, and he labeled the suspect as "severely mentally disturbed."

This tragedy continues the murderous litany of preventable deaths caused by gun violence in America.  

What's worse, this incident appears to have been motivated by a man who grew up in an affluent family - he drove an expensive car and came from an influential family. 

Nevertheless, he created a clearly "sick" video describing his intentions as being motivated by "rejection" (presumably by women). In other words, the murders were committed by a rich mentally ill man with a gun. If the murderer received adequate mental health care, as well as denied access to guns, the presumption is, he and his victims would still be alive.

The dead gunman's name is Elliot Rodger. Clearly, Rodger desperately needed mental health care, but he didn't rise to the level of being a danger to himself or others.

Rodger obviously could afford the best mental health care from his family but, tragically, he preferred to act out his worst evil fantasies rather than receive treatment. There's no way Rodger wasn't showing symptoms of his delusional behavior, but somehow his affluence protected him from receiving the care he desperately needed to prevent his deadly violent outburst. (It's a difficult analogy, but-possibly- the shooter in the equally tragic Sandy Hook Connecticut Elementary School shootings and killings also had the affluence required to receive private mental health care. Nevertheless, the acute needs of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, somehow, were protected from access to care by his mother's upper middle class economic position.)  These two gun violence tragedies underlie basic truths about mental illness - ie, that the incidence impacts people from all walks of life and occurs without regard for socio-economic status.

Apparently, Rodger's delusions were influenced by a group called the Men's Rights Movement. (Oh my God! Now Americans are aware of yet another extremist group!)

Regardless of what motivated Rodger, or the acuteness of his delusions, one absolute fact remains about this particular tragedy, where 7 people are now dead from preventable violence. The absolute fact is this - without guns, all of the people in all gun violence deaths would still be alive if guns were prevented from being accessible to the killers. As for those who were diabolically stabbed to death by Rodger, their deaths might have been prevented if someone had insisted on having him treated for mental illness, although we'll likely never know for sure.

It's clearly time for Americans to stop gun violence! We can demand reasonable regulations to amend the Second Amendment and to insist, instead, on controls on the sale of guns. Saving lives of innocent victims of gun violence is clearly more important than protecting the unbridled interpretation of the Second Amendment.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

American space age in the 21st century needs inspired visionary leadership says Captain Eugene Cernan

A visionary leader like President John F. Kennedy is vital to the future of America's ambitious space program. Retired Navy Captain Eugene Cernan rallied an audience in Portland Maine to this reality
when he spoke on May 20, 2014, about his experience as an American astronaut and the last man to ever walk on the moon. Today, he told the audience, America's space program is dependent on the equivalent of "trampolines" to launch humans into space.

Captain Eugene Cernan with Juliana L'Heureux (above)  and meeting Richard L'Heureux (below) at the Champions for Kids benefit dinner to benefit the Salvation Army in Portland Maine

Captain Cernan spoke alongside Karen McBride, a Mars exploration program specialist from NASA and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). While Captain Cernan spoke about the extraordinary value of the American space program, McBride spoke about the future possibilities of Mars exploration.  

There's no question about Captain Cernan's credible insight into the value of the space program. Humans will always seek new challenges and chart the unknown, he said.  Unfortunately, some people believe the reason our humans in space program is now at a crossroads is because of a lack of leadership. Given the US Congress is incapable of agreeing on any kind of government investment on futuristic projects, like the space program, it's hard to blame just one person for the lack of leadership that Captain Cernan wants to rally for the cause. 

Nevertheless, President John F. Kennedy did rally Americans to support the ambitious project, when the technology to support the vision was hardly up to the challenge. Cernan said most people listening to him in the audience had more technology in their pocket hand-held devices than he had available when he flew to the moon. 

At the time when Americans like Cernan landed on the moon, only the construction of the Panama Canal, in modern peacetime, and the Manhattan Project in war, were comparable in scope. 

NASA's overall human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy's speech; Projects Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini, and Apollo were designed to execute Kennedy's goal. His goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module's ladder and onto the Moon's surface.

In spite of the exhilarating possibilities and excitement of human space travel, the monetary cost of supporting such an expensive endeavor remains the daunting obstacle to progress. Visionary leadership requires inspired supporters. So long as Republicans control the purse strings in the US Congress, the prospect of seeking a return on investment in space travel seems remote, at best.

Money notwithstanding, Captain Cernan is correct about the need for inspired leadership. Given how Captain Cernan is a motivational speaker, I suspect he could have some influence over even the most dyed in the wool conservatives regarding funding for space exploration.

Certainly, Captain Cernan's message deserves the honor of being heard and listened to.  As he told us, Americans can achieve practically anything when we set our sights on doing it.  

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Veterans Healthcare - Congress is disingenuous about improvements while cutting military benefits

US Congress - House and Senate call for accountability about Veterans Health Care waiting lists, but won't support more money to improve staffing and access to care.

Congress has cut veterans benefits, while calling for General Shinseki to resign as the director of the VA Health System. 

Some token funding increases have been allocated for VA health care. Nevertheless, the cost of providing access to an aging population requiring chronic illness care, as well as the acute care needs of those who were recently engaged in fighting undeclared wars, added to Afghanistan and Iraqi veterans, have exceeded the system's capacity to meet the patient care goals.  

For Republicans, or anyone in Congress who grandstands about Veterans health care problems, like long wait lists, and delays accessing care are simply being hypocritical. They won't adequately fund the care needed.  

In other words, the American people must be told the truth about the reason our nation provides Veterans health care. Our Veterans are promised health care for life. This promise must be fulfilled, rather than randomly acknowledged when it's politically expedient to say "thank you for your service".

Veterans give up the most productive years of their adult lives to defend our nation. They go where they're sent and follow the orders they receive.  In return, they receive less salary than their civilian counterparts, but they are promised health care.  

Congress has cruelly cut Veterans retirement and welfare programs. Many active duty military even rely on food stamps to feed their families. Yet, Americans and the Congress say "thank you for your service", while continuing to cut retirement, health care and Veterans benefits, like health care.

As American enters another election year, the politicians are making a political statement about supporting Veterans health care. They are "shocked! shocked!" about problems with the VA health care system.

Nevertheless, I predict the VA health care problems will miraculously disappear the day after the 2014 elections.

But, the same hypocrites who cut or won't support adequate funding for Veterans benefits will continue to smile and say "thank you for your service". It's betrayal and hypocrisy of the highest order. Rather than finger pointing to scapegoats to solve the Veterans health system problems, the American people must, instead, hold the US Congress responsible for broken promises.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Turning Texas blue - but the question remains: Why is Texas red?

It makes no sense for Texas to be a conservative, Republican "red" state when the demographics are decidedly descriptive of progressive constituencies. At one time, Texas was an independent country. The "Lone Star State" is the second most populated US state, after California, with a population heavily made up of transplants and immigrants, particularly people who've migrated to the state from adjacent Mexico.  

In comparison, California is a progressive state where the population is similar to the demographics described for Texas. Perhaps the Asian population in California makes the state's population somewhat different from those in Texas. 

Although both states have large immigrant populations, Texas is "red" while California is "blue".

Somehow, somewhere, Texas politics became ultra conservative. 

Although I'm certainly not an expert on Texas politics, it seems the Democrats somehow "lost" the state, after Governor Ann Richards was defeated, after one term, by the future Republican president of the US, George W. Bush. Yet, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson was also a Texan.

Where are those people who voted for Governor Ann Richards?
Surely, those who voted for Governor Ann Richards will support the current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.

Wendy Russell Davis (born Wendy Jean Russell,May 16, 1963) is an American lawyer and Democratic politician from Fort Worth, Texas.  On June 25, 2013, Davis held an 11 hour-long filibuster to block a measure which included more restrictive abortion regulations for Texas. Her filibuster played a major role in Senate Democrats' success in delaying passage of the bill beyond the midnight deadline for the end of the legislative session, though it ultimately passed in a second session. The filibuster brought Davis national attention.  In October 2013, she announced that she would run for governor in 2014 to succeed the retiring Republican Rick Perry.

It seems to me, if the immigrant populations and progressive women add to the voters who remain from those who voted for Governor Ann Richards, then Texas has a good chance of turning blue by electing Wendy Davis.

Why Texas turned conservative "red" is a mystery. Texas politics seems more about protecting gun owners rights and the death penalty than revenue sharing. Therefore, it seems logical that the progressive people who are the brunt of this misguided public policy should outnumber those who are obsessed with power to kill people rather than care for them.

It seems like conservative Texas politics has run its course.  

It's time for the state to return to its progressive heritage and elect Wendy Davis as governor. In the spirit of Governor Ann Richards, it's time to turn Texas blue.  

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mental Health - Court Refuses to Clear Maine Doctor in Civil Rights Case

Court Refuses to Clear Maine Doctor in Civil Rights Case

Did Linda Clifford, who reportedly sent three suspicious email messages to Maine Governor

Baldacci, put at risk the governor's, or the public's safety or her own well being?

I'm wondering if this case in Maine might eventually be heard by the US Supreme Court?

In my nursing mind, the issue is protection of the public.

Although I obviously have no understanding about Civil Rights law, my experience as a nurse is to make an assessment about the risk of harm. If it was determined that the governor's safety was at risk because of Linda Clifford's email messages, then her mental health status should have been identified and treated before any of this became an issue. 

Clifford's psychiatric assessment should not have been postponed until her situation was apparently recycled two times

Most likely, by the time Clifford was detained a second time for evaluation, she was probably overly agitated to the point where emergency room staff felt she had to be protected from projecting harm on herself or others.

At the end of this unfortunate saga, the issue is about who will pay for the prevention of future Linda Clifford like emergencies? Community health funding has been seriously impaired to the point where even the chronically mentally ill with severe and persistent symptoms are unable to access timely care. Therefore, it's becoming increasingly challenging for a person with an intermittent expression of anger to capture priority attention.  In a perfect world, Clifford should have been prevented from reaching this level of anxiety.

Now, of course, in retrospect, the cost of vetting this issue through the courts will undoubtedly exceed the expense of providing preventive mental health care.

Monday, May 12, 2014

When the world was united against evil

Watching the disturbing albeit captivating history on the American Heroes Channel (former Military Channel) about the rise of Hitler and Nazism in pre-World War II Germany. Hitler was an unlikely leader, a World War I corporal turned into history's most vilified person. He succeeded in one respect. In post World War II, the world seemed united against the evil permeated by Hitler. 

Today, regardless of how much evil is in need of eradication in the world, seemingly powerful leaders seem incapable of organizing about anything. 

Syria, for example, is a preventable humanitarian disaster; preventable, because Russia and Syria can stop this strife, anytime.

Syrian civil war has driven millions of into refugee camps. People are living in exile with very little hope of being returned to their homes. This evil is perpetrated by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, orchestrated by Russian President Putin. Russia doesn't care about refugees and Assad wants to maintain his role as President. Should Assad ever leave Syria, he'll be tried for crimes against humanity. After several years of war, Secretary of State Kerry has finally admitted that the Obama administration's Syrian foreign policy has failed.  Kerry also said he believes the regime of Bashar al Assad is failing to uphold its promise to give up its chemical weapons according to schedule; that the Russians are not being helpful in solving the Syrian civil war; and that the Geneva 2 peace talks that he helped organize are not succeeding. But according to the senators, Kerry now wants to arm Syria's rebels—in part, to block the local al Qaeda affiliates who have designs on attacking the U.S. (Kerry's spokesperson denied that he raised the issue of supplying weapons, but did not dispute the overall tenor of the conversation.)

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees continue to suffer. This is quickly becoming a multi generational humanitarian crises. People living in refugee camps will eventually develop  their own way of retaliating and it's impossible to say how they will ultimately demand retribution for their illegal banishment from their homes. 

Assad has the power to declare an end to the Syrian Civil War. If the war were ended, the humanitarian groups would help to resettle the refugees. But this won't happen. World leaders are incapable or organizing against Assad's evil leadership.

In my opinion, Syria's regime is as evil as the 1930s Nazi Germany.  

"This is the biggest humanitarian tragedy since the Rwandan genocide." - Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on the crisis in Syria. The numbers don't lie. Too many innocent people in Syria have suffered - above all, the children of Syria. Of the 2.5 million Syrian refugees, HALF are children.

Although President Obama and England's Prime Minister David Cameron made a joint effort to rally the world against the humanitarian evil perpetrated against Syrian refugees, chemical weapons are in play here, there's been a visible deafness to the disaster by all who should respond. We who don't demand action to save innocents in Syria are complicit with this world deafness.

Of course, the evil perpetrated by Adolf Hitler, particularly the Holocaust perpetrated against the Jewish people during the Nazi reign of terror, should never be allowed to happen again. Yet, if Hitler accomplished anything at all, he managed to unite the world against evil. Certainly, the world can't tolerate another rise of Nazism, but we really need a Churchill to rally the nations in favor of opposing evil wherever it exists, beginning in Syria.

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Friday, May 09, 2014

Wasteful Benghazi Congressional hearings but no accountability for thousands dead in Iraq

Americans don't need any more Congressional hearings about anything! We especially don't need a sad Benghazi autopsy, especially when the grandstanding by right wing Republicans will be costly to taxpayers. Moreover, hearings will have absolutely no hope, whatsoever, of changing the outcome of what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, when Ambassador Stevens and others were killed in street firefight. Congressional hearings about Benghazi will not bring back those killed.

Huffington Post reports: WASHINGTON -- With a Congressional committee conducting the latest of many hearings on U.S. security failures in Libya, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that it all amounted to a "subterfuge" called "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi."  (What Mrs. Pelosi didn't say is that they amount to Fox News fodder for right wing advertisers!)

"What I will say is, again, diversion, subterfuge," Pelosi declared when asked at her weekly news conference about the emergence this week of emails related to the deadly attacks against a U.S. compound on Sept. 11, 2012. "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Why aren't we talking about something else?"

Pelosi said that the numerous Benghazi hearings, the attempts by Republicans to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt, and other items on the House GOP agenda were all meant to deflect attention from what she said was the Republicans' poor record on jobs and helping the middle class.

Republicans are obsessed with muckraking Benghazi, while the families of those tragically killed are still mourning the deaths of their loved ones. Yet, no one calls for similar investigations about the American led invasion of Iraq, where thousands were killed and the people of the country continue to be terrorized by a resurgence of Al-Qaeda.

Benghazi and the deaths of the four Americans must not be theater for right wing Republicans, who use the prospect of Congressional hearings to advance their personal political ambitions.

"The American people want to know who is going to create jobs," said Pelosi.  "...who is going to create growth in our country...?"

Congress will regret calling for Benghazi hearings. This grandstanding is a waste of money. Republican Benghazi muckraking is especially risky while the American people are fearful of Vladimir Putin threatening military harm in Eastern Europe and millions of Syrian people live in exile because Russia controls the evil intentions of President Assad.

House Speaker John Boehner should show leadership by preventing his out of control right wing caucus from wasting money on Benghazi public hearings. If Boehner wants to waste tax money on useless public hearings, it's a better idea to investigate the failed Iraqi Freedom campaign, where thousands died while no one claimed accountability. There were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, yet tens of thousands of lives were forever altered as a result of this monumental intelligence failure. 

Indeed, House Speaker Boehner should call for further Congressional hearings about Iraq, but let those who were tragically killed in Benghazi rest in peace.  

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Innocents the victims of evil - more Nigerian girls abducted

Nigerians are justifiably wailing in grief about the recent abduction of innocent girls who were stolen by evil men intent on stifling their brilliance and steal their innocence. These heinously evil abductors are certainly motivated by demonic intentions, while the world screams for their release.

Suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in Nigeria, men intent on putting women who yearn for education at risk for their lives and take away their character, have now abducted even more girls in North Eastern Nigeria. 

If there ever was a humanitarian reason for the US to intervene in any other nation, the rescue of these innocent girls are among the most urgent. Yet, the Nigerian people have the power to find these girls.  Nigerians outnumber the abductors. Surely, keeping a group of young girls hidden or trapped can't be a simple accomplishment, especially in the primitive Nigerian countryside. Nigerian people must know where these girls are being held captive, but they're likely being terrorized into silence by the evil doers. 

Nigerians must rise up and claim these girls back from their captives. Pervasive evil perpetrated by the demonic Boko Haram Islamist militants, who abducted the innocent girls from their schools, will surely face the wrath of justice. Unfortunately, justice won't be levied in time to save the innocent girls, who are put  at risk for unimaginable mental and physical harm. These girls wanted to improve their social and educational status, by attending school. This simple act of female progress was threatening to the evil Islamist militants. Tragically, the evil abductors won't face justice before they desecrate the innocence of girls, who were working to improve their social and educational status, by attending school.

Nevertheless, the Nigerian people have the capacity to rise up in complete outrage and demand to have their girls returned, unharmed, back to their homes. Nigerians must unite after the evil abductors, because, if the abductors terrorize the people against taking action, it will motivate the abductors to strike again. Ultimately, each abduction event will have a greater impact than the preceding evil.

Obviously, these innocent girls must be completely terrified by their abduction. They need to know their nation will rise to their rescue and, moreover, demand for those responsible to be severely punished and incinerated. 

Regardless of how this heinously evil abduction eventually turns out, these abducted girls must be protected, and hailed as heroines for the risks they endured to improve their social and educational status. They are heroines of an era when the education of women is finally raising the status of women to be more equal to men. 

Those demonic men who used abduction and terrorism to prevent women from building their self esteem by attending school are doomed to face the ultimate justice of government; but these evil men will, also, ultimately, experience eternal punishment when they come face to face with their own mortality.


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Republicans have no new ideas but denigrate those lost in Benghazi

Democrats must come out swinging against Republicans who waste time denigrating the people who died in the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012, when Ambassador Stevens and others were killed in a fire fight. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not in Benghazi, Libya when Ambassador Sullivan was tragically killed with others, but Republicans want to put her at the scene of the incident, because they don't want her to run for the office of President of the United States.  

Rather than create inspiring ideas to help the American electorate to have confidence in their right wing leadership, Republicans are, instead, obsessed with denigrating the Benghazi deaths. They're bringing the ghosts of those who were killed back from the dead, exploiting them as hearsay evidence, in an investigation where no credible witnesses are able to provide first person accounts about what happened at that deadly attack. Congress is intending to conduct even more hearings about the horrible Benghazi tragedy.   

Let's get this right. Republicans don't care what happened in Benghazi. Obviously, they're insensitive to the feelings of the families of those who were killed in the Benghazi attacks. Republicans don't even care about what happened in Benghazi.  

Instead, Republicans are intent on a campaign to intimidate Mrs. Hillary Clinton, by creating a massive misinformation campaign, so she'll be pressured against a 2016 run for President. 

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Republican-led congressional investigations of the issue known simply as “Benghazi” are becoming a major political irritation for the Obama White House. It gets in the way of the “Year of Action” – government by executive order – President Obama is touting as his way of dealing with what he sees as an obstructive Congress.

Consequently, rather than governing or supporting jobs creating legislation, Benghazi is taking up wasteful time and become a priority in their list of obstructionist tactics against Hillary Clinton. They're more interested wasting money on a Benghazi investigation, a 2012 tragedy, rather creating new ideas for moving America forward.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a subpoena intended to force Clinton’s successor – Secretary of State John Kerry – to testify before the panel on Benghazi.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner says he'll establish a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack.

Will Clinton, Secretary of State at the time of the Benghazi attack, be invited (or compelled) to testify? She’s not one to shrink from a political attack, and the former US Senator certainly knows how to navigate a politically-charged investigative committee room.

But as Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted, “The nice thing about having a Benghazi select committee is you can roll it over into the Hillary presidency.”  (In other words - Republicans will use Mrs. Clinton's Benghazi testimony in negative campaign ads. But they won't invest money in educational campaign infomercials to help Americans to understand how Republican can improve our human condiditon. For a political party fixated on tax cuts, the Republicans sure know how to waste tax money on chasing Don Quixote style windmills.)

The recent revival of the Benghazi blame-game came with the unearthing of an e-mail written shortly after the attack by deputy White House national security advisor Ben Rhodes. The purpose of the e-mail was to help prepare then-national security advisor Susan Rice for a round of TV news show in which she would be the first senior official to offer the administration’s view of the attack.

The e-mail stressed that Ms. Rice should say Benghazi was prompted by a video insulting to Muslims that had sparked widespread protests in the region. Rice’s goal should be to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy,” Mr. Rhodes wrote. Another goal should be to “reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Republicans have jumped all over that. Meanwhile, the facts abotu Benghazi are no clearer today than they were on September 11, 2012,  when the tragedy happened.

"What was the purpose of this email?" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday. "To protect the White House politically from the damage that could've been done from the truth coming out about Benghazi, six, seven weeks before the [2012] election…. They created a political smoke screen."

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D) of California suggested that Democrats may boycott Speaker Boehner’s special committee on Benghazi. "It's a tremendous red herring and a waste of tax payer resources," Mr. Shiff said.

America's electorate must demand ideas and progressive legislation instead of muckraking the past, for the purpose of achieving political brinkmanship.

Even worse, Republican muckraking is denigrating those who were killed in Benghazi, without just cause. One email written in 2012, in the heat of the aftermath of the Benghazi incident, is no smoking gun. Rather, it's a red herring and Republican should be forced to abandon their witch hunts against Mrs. Clinton, because....she was not there, in Benghazi....and those who were, are no longer alive.  

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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Putin divides to conquer - he's cackling at the grimaced world

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is cruelly doing whatever he chooses to take over Syria, the Crimea, and the Ukraine and.....what's next? Eastern Europeans must be furious with the inability of the Western powers to take decisive action, other than a few economic sanctions, to prevent Putin's divide and take what he wants ambitious military strategy. 

Vladimir Putin doesn't act like he's worried about the impact of economic sanctions on his nation's already deteriorating economic problems. Nevertheless, governing the expansive and diverse Russian nation doesn't appear to be a priority for Putin. Caring about people has never been his focus. 

Instead, Putin obviously sees national expansion as beneficial to his own Napoleonic political future. What will he accomplish? He'll justifiably be able to say that he came back to win the Cold War, after it was declared a defeat for the Russian nation. He can claim world dominance, something Nikita Khrushchev talked about but never accomplished.  

In a nutshell, Putin cackles at the grimacing world. He'll divide Syria by supporting the nation's civil war and drive the humanitarian disasters until the only people left standing are Russian puppets. At the same time, Putin will isolate the Ukraine by putting a stranglehold on the Crimean peninsula; meanwhile, he's going to march right into Kiev and take over Ukraine's capital. 

CNN reports: Slavyansk, Ukraine (CNN) -- On the one side, Ukraine's interior minister said Saturday that military operations in the east would continue and vowed, "We are not stopping."

On the other, there was the pro-Russian separatist leader in Luhansk who announced the formation of an army to march on Kiev.

These and other statements suggest Ukraine's future will feature yet more unrest, more fighting and more likelihood that it will spawn a full-scale civil war and, perhaps, an international one.

How Putin can afford to pay for his divide and conquer ambitious agenda is a mystery, especially if Western Europe becomes energy efficient and more independent of the need for oil. 

Nevertheless, Putin is probably in a political situation whereby doing nothing to flex his political will and flaunt his Napoleonic ambitions will only make Russia look increasingly inept. This is an especially impossible egotistical situation for Putin, a post the Cold War warrior, because the nation he worked for recoiled from strategic military ambitions, when the Cold War ended.  

World leaders must see where Putin is going. He wants to win the Cold War! Putin doesn't care who doesn't like him or how isolated his nation will become as a result of his staggering ambitions.  

Tragically, the world can shun Putin's bullying all they want, it doesn't matter to him. A bully enjoys cackling in the face of those who grimace at their outrageous and destructive behaviors. Sadly, Putin becomes more ambitious, while the western world leaders scold his bully behaviors.  

Of course, Putin's ambitions will eventually bankrupt Russia's ability to maintain dangerous military strategies. Although he'll probably march into Kiev, like Hitler paraded into Warsaw, his cruel actions won't create a secure Russia, nor help pay the nation's bills. Regardless of how much oil Putin thinks he can sell to China, there's a cost to production. In fact, Putin will have to increase the cost of the oil sold to China, or other nations, to pay for his fiscal ineptness. This increased price will naturally reduce consumption. Poor timing of Putin's gamble on selling Russia's oil is a situation of too much too late. This is because world dependence on oil, and the cost of buying it, are already mitigated by fuel efficient cars and energy initiatives.  

Putin's divide and conquer strategy in the face of a scolding world is causing millions of people to live in fear, and trepidation about what's to become of them and their families. Although Putin is grimacing at the scolding world, his cruel behavior simply can't continue, forever.....but the damage he'll cause before something is done to prevent his ambitions from succeeding are an embarrassment to the entire world. Putin simply cackles,while the world grimaces, scolds, and waits, apparently paralyzed, to prevent a World War II deja vu.

The problem, of course, is there's no equivalent of Winston Churchill to raise the consciousness of the world. There's nobody in my known litany of world leaders who can stand up to Putin like Churchill held off Hitler. President Obama has already failed to do anything, except react to political pressure, and to talk but carry a balsam stick.  

While Putin cackles on....

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Friday, May 02, 2014

Russian instigated civil wars - Syria and now Ukraine with Putin as self appointed military strategist

Americans are completely soured about any involvement in the world. Nevertheless, the world is watching uncountable thousands of Syrians living in refugee camps and, now, Ukrainians are headed into a similar crises, just because Russian President Putin is playing world politics, like his stolen Super Bowl ring has magical powers. In the real world, absent the fantasy, no nation's foreign policy is effectively pushing back on this Putin tyranny with any impact.

Today, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel standing alongside President Putin in Washington DC, the Russian's ordered surface to air missiles to shoot down Ukrainian helicopters. Putin is a bully but his visions of grandeur must be challenged. Putin's stolen Super Bowl ring does not give him authority to take whatever he wants when he feels like doing so - like the Ukraine. What will the Europeans do if Putin invades the Ukraine?  They'd better have a plan in place because, otherwise, it will be Poland 1939 deja vu.

This action by Putin, to order the shooting of Ukrainian helicopters, wasn't coincidental. Obviously, it was intended to coincide with Angela Merkel's meeting with President Obama. 

It's only a matter of time when a surface to air missile, a dangerous leftover in Russia's arsenals, will wind up being used against American helicopters.  

But, helicopters are too easy too find. What's truly heinous are the numbers of people who're innocently living in harm's way, or as refugees, because Russian President Putin is playing war games like he's hosting a diabolical Super Bowl party. 

President Putin is like a demon who is dancing in the flames of his own destructive domestic as well as economic and ambitious foreign policies.

In my opinion, Putin's dangerous policies are self destructive. Unfortunately, enormous collateral tragedies are created in the wake of Putin's weird ambitions, to expand his nation beyond its already expansive borders. 

Putin's stolen Super Bowl ring doesn't magically make him a military or economic strategist. Tragically, it just doesn't seem to matter if Putin thinks he has mystical Super Bowl ring powers. He's simply getting away with horribly ambitious goals while he seems to be protected from any negative effects.  

Perhaps Putin's stolen Super Bowl ring really does have supernatural powers. It seems like something is protecting his clearly wrong minded support for expanding Russia into puppet government management. 

Is there any way for Robert Kraft to effectively file a lawsuit to demand to have his stolen ring returned?  Help!


Down by The River's Edge documentary by Susan Gagnon shown at USM LAC on May Day

The Franco-American blog | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

I don't often post my bi-weekly Franco-American blogs on this site but this particular report about Susan Gagnon's documentary Down by The River's Edge is noteworthy.