Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dennis Kucinich On the Bailout

There are few people whose word I trust more in this world than Dennis Kucinich. I believe he is a rare man of honor in our political system. I don't understand economics enough to have a clearly reasoned opinion about the bailout. I know the original plan was an outrage. I know the reasons given for not passing the bill yesterday were juvenile and petty. Maybe it was a good thing that happened for the wrong reasons. I don't know. But here are some thoughts from Dennis K.

Dear Friend,

Yesterday marked a day that will go down in history, when Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike took on full responsibility to protect the interests of taxpaying Americans, and defeated the deceptive bail out bill, defying the dictates of the Administration, the House Majority Leadership, the House Minority Leadership and the special interests on Wall Street.

Obviously Congress must consider quickly another course. There are immediate issues which demand attention and responsible action by the Congress so that the taxpayers, their assets, and their futures are protected.

We MUST do something to protect millions of Americans whose homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions are at risk in a financial system that has become seriously corrupted. We are told that we must stabilize markets in order for the people to be protected. I think we need to protect peoples' homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions, to order to stabilize the market.

We cannot delay taking action. But the action must benefit all Americans, not just a privileged few. Otherwise, more plans will fail, and the financial security of everyone will be at risk.

The $700 billion bailout would have added to our existing unbearable load of national debt, trade deficits, and the cost of paying for the war. It would have been a disaster for the American public and the government for decades and maybe even centuries to come.

To be sure, there are many different reasons why people voted against the bailout. The legislation did not regard in any meaningful way the plight of millions of Americans who are about to lose their homes. It did nothing to strengthen existing regulatory structures or impose new ones at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve in order to protect investors. There were no direct protections for bank depositors. There was nothing to stop further speculation, which is what brought us into this mess in the first place.

This was a bailout for some firms (and investors) on Wall Street, with the idea that in doing so there would be certain, unspecified, general benefits to the economy.

This is a perfect time to open a broader discussion about our financial system, especially our monetary system. Such a discussion is like searching for a needle in a haystack, and then, upon finding it, discussing its qualities at great length. Let me briefly describe the haystack instead.

Here is a very quick explanation of the $700 billion bailout within the context of the mechanics of our monetary and banking system:

The taxpayers loan money to the banks. But the taxpayers do not have the money. So we have to borrow it from the banks to give it back to the banks. But the banks do not have the money to loan to the government. So they create it into existence (through a mechanism called fractional reserve) and then loan it to us, at interest, so we can then give it back to them.


This is the system. This is the standard mechanism used to expand the money supply on a daily basis not a special one designed only for the "$700 billion" transaction. People will explain this to you in many different ways, but this is what it comes down to.

The banks needed Congress' approval. Of course in this topsy turvy world, it is the banks which set the terms of the money they are borrowing from the taxpayers. And what do we get for this transaction? Long term debt enslavement of our country. We get to pay back to the banks trillions of dollars ($700 billion with compounded interest) and the banks give us their bad debt which they cull from everywhere in the world.

Who could turn down a deal like this? I did.

The globalization of the debt puts the United States in the position that in order to repay the money that we borrow from the banks (for the banks) we could be forced to accept International Monetary Fund dictates which involve cutting health, social security benefits and all other social spending in addition to reducing wages and exploiting our natural resources. This inevitably leads to a loss of economic, social and political freedom.

Under the failed $700 billion bailout plan, Wall Street's profits are Wall Street's profits and Wall Street's losses are the taxpayers' losses. Profits are capitalized. Losses are socialized.

We are at a teachable moment on matters of money and finance. In the coming days and weeks, I will share with you thoughts about what can be done to take us not just in a new direction, but in a new direction which is just.

Thank you,

Dennis Kucinich

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pelosi Speech

I don't know if the bailout package was good legislation or bad legislation. It seems like it was going to be a major improvement on what was originally suggested by the White House. If the Republicans said they voted against it because they didn't like the content, I might have had some respect for them. But they didn't. Allegedly, the problem was this speech because they felt it was too partisan. How old are all these people? Isn't that more how six-year-olds act? The video cuts off before the speech is over... and I've posted the text for those who can't watch video on their computers. Using this speech - not ethics, values, or a concern about the contents of the bill - as an excuse for not voting for it.... Pathetic and disingenuous. Or stupid. Or all three.

SPEAKER PELOSI: Madam Speaker, when was the last time someone asked you for $700 billion?

It is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush Administration's failed economic policies-policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.

Democrats believe in the free market, which can and does create jobs, wealth, and capital, but left to its own devices it has created chaos.

That chaos is the dismal picture painted by Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke a week and a half ago in the Capitol. As they pointed out, we confront a crisis of historic magnitude that has the ability to do serious injury not simply to our economy, but to the American people: not just to Wall Street, but to everyday Americans on Main Street.

It is our responsibility today, to help avert that catastrophic outcome.

Let us be clear: This is a crisis caused on Wall Street. But it is a crisis that reaches to Main Street in every city and town of the United States.

It is a crisis that freezes credit, causes families to lose their homes, cripples small businesses, and makes it harder to find jobs.

It is a crisis that never had to happen. It is now the duty of every Member of this body to recognize that the failure to act responsibly, with full protections for the American taxpayer, would compound the damage already done to the financial security of millions of American families.

Over the past several days, we have worked with our Republican colleagues to fashion an alternative to the original plan of the Bush Administration.

I must recognize the outstanding leadership provided by Chairman Barney Frank, whose enormous intellectual and strategic abilities have never before been so urgently needed, or so widely admired.

I also want to recognize Rahm Emanuel, who combined his deep knowledge of financial institutions with his pragmatic policy experience, to resolve key disagreements.

Secretary Paulson deserves credit for working day and night to help reach an agreement and for his flexibility in negotiating changes to his original proposal.

Democrats insisted that legislation responding to this crisis must protect the American people and Main Street from the meltdown on Wall Street.

The American people did not decide to dangerously weaken our regulatory and oversight policies. They did not make unwise and risky financial deals. They did not jeopardize the economic security of the nation. And they must not pay the cost of this emergency recovery and stabilization bill.

So we insisted that this bill contain several key provisions:

This legislation must contain independent and ongoing oversight to ensure that the recovery program is managed with full transparency and strict accountability.

The legislation must do everything possible to allow as many people to stay in their homes rather than face foreclosure.

The corporate CEOs whose companies will benefit from the public's participation in this recovery must not benefit by exorbitant salaries and golden parachute retirement bonuses.

Our message to Wall Street is this: the party is over. The era of golden parachutes for high-flying Wall Street operators is over. No longer will the U.S. taxpayer bailout the recklessness of Wall Street.

The taxpayers who bear the risk in this recovery must share in the upside as the economy recovers.

And should this program not pay for itself, the financial institutions that benefited, not the taxpayers, must bear responsibility for making up the difference.

These were the Democratic demands to safeguard the American taxpayer, to help the economy recover, and to impose tough accountability as a central component of this recovery effort.

This legislation is not the end of congressional activity on this crisis. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will continue to hold investigative and oversight hearings to find out how the crisis developed, where mistakes were made, and how the recovery must be managed to protect the middle class and the American taxpayer.

With passage of this legislation today, we can begin the difficult job of turning our economy around, of helping those who depend on a growing economy and stable financial institutions for a secure retirement, for the education of their children, for jobs and small business credit.

Today we must act for those Americans, for Main Street, and we must act now, with the bipartisan spirit of cooperation which allowed us to fashion this legislation.

This not enough. We are also working to restore our nation's economic strength by passing a new economic recovery stimulus package- a robust, job creating bill-that will help Americans struggling with high prices, get our economy back on track, and renew the American Dream.

Today, we will act to avert this crisis, but informed by our experience of the past eight years with the failed economic leadership that has left us left capable of meeting the challenges of the future.

We choose a different path. In the new year, with a new Congress and a new president, we will break free with a failed past and take America in a New Direction to a better future.


Someone challenged the truth of the allegation that the Republicans were blaming Pelosi. It took me a while, but I found the

And here is Barney Frank's response to a reporter asking about this statement.

Some Political Laughs

Well, if she weren't professing to be ready to be Vice President - and therefore President - of the United States and going around the country repeating lie after lie, I might feel sorry for Sarah Palin, but there is a sense in which she is the author of her own humiliation, and unfortunately, like her idol George Bush, seems to be beyond shame or embarrassment, no matter how deceitful or dishonest she is being. For the first time in years, I've started watching Saturday Night Live - at least their opening political skits. What makes this particular one both sad and funny is that while much is clearly satire, many of the words - particularly about the economic crisis - are an almost verbatim repetition of the actual interview. That's sad.... and funny... and scary.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blogger's Day Off

I had unexpected company - friend in crisis - this morning. I'm not that pleased with the haikus I wrote for OSI and I don't have the energy to try again or write more, so I"m taking the day off, especially since my company is going to return shortly. Since I almost always post something, I just didn't want anybody to worry. Hope you all have a lovely day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 32

This is week 32 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Many thanks to Maggie-Beth R. (aka Chatty) for next week's words. Linda at These Are the Days has created yet another category of wordzzle in which she combines the mini, the regular and the ten words from the vanity wordzzle into one paragraph. I'm not ready to try it yet, but anyone else who wishes to can do so. I think maybe we can call it the Mega-Max unless someone has a better idea. I look forward to reading everyone's stories this week. Thanks again to MommyWizdom for this week's words.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: exacerbate, leotard, path, tomato, Jungle Book, vagabond, parade, limber, storage, Maharajah
And for the mini challenge: crocodile, special, sleep, droll, turn around

Here's my ten-word offering for this week.

Looking through the old storage trunk that held the memories of her vagabond life, Miranda’s mind paraded down a path of memory that was a mix of brambles and rose gardens. First she found the old pink leotards that reminded her of days when she was agile and limber and danced the part of everything from a giant tomato in grade school to the Maharajah’s wife from the Jungle Book ballet when she was part of the New York City Ballet Company. Memories washed over her and she felt her broken body try to rouse itself and as that inner joy awakened it also exacerbated the grief and pain she was seeking to escape. She had thought this journey down memory lane might lift her spirits, but lifting another costume when she came across the photo of John, the deep grief she had been holding since the accident which had shattered her body and taken his life spewed forth. It was not the healing she had come looking for, but it was the healing she needed.

And here's my mini challenge:

He lay in bed tossing restlessly in his sleep. In his dream he kept yelling at Samantha to turn around, turn around. But instead she stood there looking at him with that special droll expression he loved so much, oblivious to the crocodile that was moving towards her from behind in the water. Waking up, he looked at his sleeping wife with apprehension and love, hoping the dream was indigestion and not a warning of an unknown peril to come.

And the mega challenge:

Harry Mortenson lifted the worn and treasured copy of The Jungle Book from the arms of his sleeping daughter and slipped it onto the shelf across the room. He treasured the joy of every moment with his only child. Her presence made each second seem special. The shelf held a unique collection of treasured books such as The Vagabond King, Constance Crocodile’s Crooked Cottage, Lucinda’s Lilac Leotard, and the tomato red copy of his own first book, Rumblebottom the Droll Troll. It was clear he was going to have to come up with additional storage space for Miranda’s growing collection of books. It made him almost dizzily happy that his daughter shared his love of words and that he now had sole custody and could make up for the painful lost time. He could hardly believe how his life had turned around since the divorce. It was as though his wife’s departure had lifted some kind of curse from every aspect of his life. Her mere presence in his life seemed to have exacerbated everything negative in his being. The physical pains that had haunted his every move for years had magically evaporated almost as she walked out the door and he felt mentally and physically limber and creative for the first time in years. Within days of Molly’s departure the story of the Droll Troll had begun flowing forth and submission of his work this time had been quickly followed by calls from a veritable parade of publishers. Kissing his daughter lightly on the forehead he tip-toed out of the room and headed off to his office. The Maharajah and Path, Princess of the Petunia People would not write itself.


This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: swashbuckler, brassiere, Wedding Bell Blues, summer nights, uno momento, lavishly, wanna buy a balloon

She sat in the diner drinking her second cup of coffee, deep in a sea of daydreams. Even the painful pinch of her new brassiere - elastic not yet stretched and broken in - had ceased to bother her. Wedding Bell Blues, of all songs -- was this a time warp? -- played tinnily on the juke box and dragged her back to a time when there was still hope in her lavishly constructed fantasies, when the swashbuckler hero, be he cowboy, sailor, prince, or poet, charged into her life, saw her unrecognized beauty, and gazing at her adoringly, asked for her hand, a time when summer nights held magic and not just heat.

She took a sip of coffee and tried to shake away the sense of gloom. What had set her off, she wondered? Probably the funny little man outside who had called out, "Una momento, senora, wanna buy a balloon?" had thrown her back, somehow, to childhood pain and adolescent escape, to times when she still believed in rescuers and hopes and dreams, to a time before all that she believed in was defeat and realism.

Sighing, she finished her coffee, paid the check and walked out into the spring sunshine, wondering who was really wiser, the dreamer or the realist. It suddenly struck her that maybe somewhere along the way she had gotten the answer backward.


Many thanks to Maggie-beth R. aka Chatty for next week’s words.

Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: tattletale, homogeneous, flighty, cornucopia, plethora, militant, lovelorn, myopic, digitalized, mute

And for the Mini Challenge: washing machine, cholesterol, blatantly, Birdman of Alcatraz, poltergeist

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Something Silly for Friday: Shannon Art

Well, I've been all grimly political of late so I thought maybe I'd go a bit silly today.

Yesterday, my young friend Shannon dropped by for a visit and we ended up - deciding to play a little bit in my Paint Shop Pro program. She wanted me to put these on my blog and I think they are sweet and funny - like Shannon herself - so I thought I'd do so.

This is Shannon's representation of the "inner" Angel.

Some of you may remember Buster from Project Black. Believe it or not he's much bigger now. Anyway. Shannon wanted to bring out his inner clown.

Tara Grace, or course is Angelic.

Then she wanted to do me. I think this is in honor of our Monopoly game. I have been sent to jail. That's supposed to be steam coming out of my ears. I'm really very mild mannered, though. I think my prison garb is pretty high fashion.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Things I Don't Understand

Well, the list of things I don't understand is REALLY long even at my advanced age, so I won't try to talk about all of it, but... there are some things I don't understand more than others.

Yesterday, at the advice of my friend Dianne, I visited a blog I've never been to before written by Matt-man. He had a discussion going in his comments about the bail-out and someone in the comments had said something along the lines of how all the people who are in trouble with their mortgages were just greedy and didn't deserve any help. That kind of statement kind of triggers something in me and I lost my usual (I hope) good grace and said a bunch of things ending by saying she was "heartless." This was not at all nice of me or fair to a total stranger who may have a huge heart and an opinion with which I strongly disagree. I got scolded by a bunch of people for that and rightly so. I wrote a big long response to their comments which went into some kind of blogger void and I didn't have the time or energy to try and recreate it.

But... I think there are going to be lots of buts today.... comments like all the people who got questionable mortgages are greedy and/or "why should my taxes go to help them even if they were just stupid and not greedy," really do bug me big time.

So... first item... this is going to be long and rambling and I apologize for that in advance.

I was lucky. I got my house three years ago when all this craziness was still running at full bore. I live in a part of New York State where the only protection renters have is that landlords have to provide heat in the winter. Otherwise you're pretty much at the mercy of whoever rents to you. My first landlord was a psychopath who got mad at me because I said a rusty wood stove was ugly and started trying to lock me out of the building, turned off my heat and told me he hoped I would "drive into a ditch and die." He threatened one of my friends (a petite and gentle woman) with a 2 by 4. I fled in fear... which got me to a place with a month-to-month lease and a landlord who was the country equivalent of a slum lord. Then I found what seemed to be a lovely apartment. A friend lived upstairs and for about a year, life was pretty peaceful. Then the landlady started drinking and life went from being peaceful to being very scary as she lived upstairs and began threatening my friend and me and with no reason or provocation told us she was evicting us. When asked why, she hissed, "YOU know." My friend, who grew up with a violent alcoholic fled. I had already moved 4 times in 3 years. Besides the physical and emotional strain of this, the financial strain for someone living on my miniscule disability stipend was not managable. It had never occurred to me that I could own a home. It became clear that owning a home might be my only hope of survivial. I held my ground behind my locked doors for 9 months while the crazed landlady raged. Luckily for me my neighbor across the street was home on disability leave after an accident so I had some protection and a witness to here behavior.

So anyway... I went househunting in a state of fear and desperation, with good credit but not very much money. It took me about 50 years to recognize this, but I'm pretty smart. I'm pretty cautious about most things. Until I got sick, I never ran any credit card debt. Ever. If I couldn't pay for something I didn't buy it. When I got sick, I had to buy groceries on credit. Angels watched over me there too, but that's a story for another day.

Even in the poorest - or one of the poorest (Sullivan County where I lived then and Delaware County where I live now both claim that title) counties in New York State, there weren't many houses that I could even conceivably afford. But I found one... I thought. On paper, the numbers added up. I've never owned a home before. I didn't really have a good idea of the added costs of fuel, maintenance, taxes, water bills.... the "little" things that add up. And the bank offered me a mortgage. Here's where my age maybe and my personality combined made me vulnerable. It never occurred to me that a bank would give me a mortgage on a house I couldn't afford. That would be stupid. Besides not being good for me it would be a bad business deal for them. One kind soul tried to warn me that I would be in over my head but I didn't really believe him. I knew it would be scary tight, but I was terrified and desperate. And the bank said I could do it. Why would they lie? Lucky for me, the owner had someone else he wanted to see the house to and I didn't get it. Again, lucky for me, I found a much cheaper (and nicer) house and was able to qualify for a SONYMA HOYO mortgage. I'm chipping (more slowly every month) away at the debt I accrued when I first got sick, and I'm getting through each month. There's no way I could actually have afforded that other house no matter how it looked on paper. I didn't have the life experience behind me to know that. The bank should have. I don't think I was being greedy. I think I was being trusting and I didn't want to be homeless.

So maybe that's why I get cranky when people say that all the people who got in over their heads were just greedy and stupid and lose my cool and call people heartless.

I'm as pissed off as anybody about what's happening in Washington, probably more pissed off than many. I feel like I've been angry for 8 years and longer. I hope and pray that Congress won't let Bush and Co. get us into yet another "sky is falling" abdication of sanity and Constitutional responsibility in which one man gets total control of $700 billion dollars and no oversight and changes the nature of the balance of power yet a bit more. I don't want to pay taxes to preserve the life-styles of the rich and greedy who besides robbing the rest of us blind and creating this mess have been spared having to pay taxes themselves. Huh? SURE you've gotten all the money that could have paid for health care and roads and schools. Take my grocery money too. And while were're at it, let's just screw all the people who got duped by you along the way and add them to the homeless population who has to live on public assistance. THAT makes great sense.

See that's what I don't get about the people who say they don't want their taxes to go to help these people out because they were either greedy or stupid. First, I'm pretty sure it's very do-able to weed out speculators - or at least most of them. Second... (and this may not be the logical order but it's MY order), I hate the idea of ANYBODY being homeless. I had a close brush with it. It's scary and it sucks even being on the edge of it. It shouldn't happen to anybody even if they were greedy and/or stupid and it certainly shouldn't happen to their children who are just innocent bystanders. Third, your tax dollars are going to bail many of those people out in any case. You can bail them out by helping them keep their homes or you can bail them out by paying them public assistance and by watching the economy tank even further because homelessness breeds joblessness and illness and a host of other expensive things that as people spiral into bankruptcy cost the rest of us not just money but the availability of people who might otherwise be productive citizens.

I don't get the "me and only me" view of life. I think the individual good is connected to the common good. I don't think we should be stupid or cavalier about helping others, but I think certain kinds of selfishness cost more in the long-run than generosity. It's one of the reasons I don't understand this country's resistence to universal health care. I don't see why we think having 54.5 million (as of 2006) people uninsured is ok. I don't see why we think that the time we might save on line makes it ok that 54.5 million people can't even get ON the line. I don't see why we think an even bigger percentage of the population not being able to get dental care is ok (the government considers it to be "cosmetic" despite the fact that dental illness can lead to heart disease and many other serious health problems). I don't understand why we think it's cheaper to have people end up dead or unable to work than it would be to make sure they got medical intervention when they need it. I don't understand how we can live in the world and think some of us are entitled to medical care and some aren't. And I'm going to say something really rude and inflammatory here - but it seems like in many ways it's the "what would Jesus do" crowd that most opposes this when based on the words I read in the Bible, universal health care is one of the many things Jesus would be right on board with. Didn't he say, "Even as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me?" Doesn't that cover feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, tending to the sick, turning the other cheek, leaving vengeance to God... among other things?

I don't understand why it's any of Sarah Palin's or anyone else's business that my friend's Nate and Dan - two of the kindest, gentlest people in the world - love each other and want to be married. I don't understand why it's anyone's business who anybody else sleeps with - male or female, heterosexual or homosexual. I don't understand why some people think they have a right to monitor everyone else's morals or to speak for their idea of God as though they had been appointed to do so by divine decree, when again, the Bible I read seems to pretty clearly state that God feels quite confident that He/She/It can handle that task Him/Her/Itself. As long as I'm in the theology realm, I don't understand why people who say they have unbounded faith in God seem to think the Devil is stronger than God and that God can't handle that battle either. My guess is that one of the reasons the Divinity suggests the "let me handle it approach" is because many of us see different devils. Islamic terrorists see many of us as "devils;" Christian fundamentalists seem to see almost everyone and everything as devils; I don't particularly believe in devils, but I see racism, fear-mongering, greed, killing under any circumstances, hate, cruelty, telling lies ("and I just said "thanks but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere") to be "devilish."

I know this is long but I'm going to try and get at least a bunch of stuff out of my system this morning. I don't know if it's a good roll, but I'm on a roll and I'm not stopping.

One of the really really BIG things that I don't understand - that makes me feel passionately nutty - is the Pavlov's dogs response Americans have to the words "tax cut," or the crazy belief that taxes are some kind of awful punishment or theft. I won't say that I don't hate paying taxes as much as the next person. Money is cool and having it is even cooler. I also won't say that I am happy with the way our taxes are being spent lately. BUT.... taxes are important. They are part of how society takes care of the common good. Or that's what they are supposed to be. Taxes are how we are supposed to keep the infrastructure maintained so that bridges and levees don't collapse or wash away. Taxes are how we pay to maintain schools and fund education for the children we all profess to love so much and who ARE in fact our future. Taxes are how roads are paved and maintained.... Taxes have a purpose and it's a good one. And if you think that the so-called tax cuts are anything more than sleight of hand, you are fooling yourself. And in the age of trickle-down crazy people like George Bush, they while you are being distracted by the sleight of hand (see the pretty tax cut), they are picking your pocket with the other. But back to the sleight of hand part. Those pretty shiny tax cuts are an illusion. The bill for them just shifts to your state and local government. Or it shifts to those collapsed bridges and untended water treatment facilities, to crumbling buildings, to cuts in school lunch and after-school and arts programs. It shifts to cuts in programs that support the poorest people in our country. It shifts to theft from the Social Security program. It shifts to huge debts run up in our name. It shifts to untended facilities for returning victims of the debacle in Iraq and to long lines and lack of medical care for the soldiers we like to talk so much about honoring.

Which reminds me of something else I don't understand and brings me kind of full circle as well. (I'm almost done ranting... really I am.... I promise.) Why have we been blithly willing to let our government create a private army of mercenaries and pay them something like 5x the rate we pay our soldiers... using our tax dollar - and yet we are outraged at bailing out our neighbors who might be in danger of becoming homeless. I don't understand. It puzzles me. It makes me angry. It makes me sad.

Kahlil Gibran in the Farewell Chapter of THE PROPHET (one of the most beautiful and wise books in the history of time) says "You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link. This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link."

Which brings me to my close and the last thing that I don't understand. I don't understand why we don't all wish for the highest good of everyone, why segments of society horde more bounty in their banks and kitchen cabinets than they can possibly use and begrudge a starving child a bowl of rice. I don't understand our penchant for us and them-ness and for using that to justify blowing one another up. I don't understand using fear to manipulate people and to justify unspeakable behaviors. I don't understand why my country has become a place where people don't seem to stop and think, where we don't care enough to vote, where we are willing to let people die in our names and not expect to make any sacrifice of our own comfort and well-being beyond saying how noble and swell they are to put themselves in harms way. And I don't understand how we can let huge lies - that have set back our democracy and caused massive death of our own young men and women and those of other lands - go unchallenged and unpunished. (I guess I wasn't quite done.) I don't understand. What has happened to my country which I love. I want it back. I don't care if I have to pay some extra taxes to get it. I love it that much.

And now I'm REALLY, REALLY done - at least for today. I'm sorry this is so long. I'm not even going to re-read it. I'm just going to post it and live with the consequences.

Ohio Grows Really Good Representatives....

A friend sent this to me in my email. Dennis Kucinich, an American treasure is from Ohio. So is this woman. I wonder if there's something they can export to the rest of the states.

and then this from Senator Obama on the Economic Crisis and the question of Friday's debate...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Creative Photography: Creative, Stupid or a Little of Each

Creative Photography

I haven't entered Creative Photography for a while and it seems like the system has changed a bit so I hope I'm doing the right thing here...

I don't know how creative this picture is. Last week I got the bright idea on a particularly shiny Fall day to take pictures of the sun. Lucky for me (I'm told by wiser heads) I didn't ruin my camera... probably because all my pictures are taken through glass and in this case double-paned glass with some kind of thermal gas in the middle. Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures just because it seemed like fun. This is my favorite. I'll share a couple of the others below too. I know, one man/woman's hideous mis-fire is another's "that's kind of cool."

You can see here how dirty my windows are. Sigh. I'll have to see if my friends will clean them off for me again.

And then, just because I love to play with paint shop, it occurred to me that it would be amusing to try "solarizing" the sun. That's the bottom left. Top right is "colored foil," and bottom right is "enameled." Top left is the original. If you click on it you can enlarge this silliness and see it bigger. Some days I'm just crazier than others. Thanks for visiting. I'll slink off now and hope I haven't embarrassed myself too much.

Some Balanced Reporting

PBS is running a series of "close-ups" on each candidate, looking at different aspects of how each of them operates. I think they are very balanced and very well done. I wish that I could embed them here, but all I can do is provide links. These can be read as text or viewed in video format.

This first pair is on each man's approach to decision making. Please note that this links you to the text version. These are available in video format. The connection is in the little blue bar near the photo of each candidate.

Here's the link for McCain.

Here's the link for Obama.

These are free of all the political slime that taints most coverage. I think they are very revealing about both men. The report on each man speaks to a wide variety of people, mostly those who support and work with the candidate being discussed because they are the people who understand their working style. I found them very informative and enlightening.

Here's a link to their Presidential Race page, which offers a great deal of information on all the candidates.

I wanted to provide a link for something called FactCheck.org which is a non-partisan group that monitors both campaigns. Their site seems to be down. I'll keep checking and when it is up again, I'll add it.

I know I'm being all polite and impartial here, but I'm still FOR Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Little More Political Humor

Well, I think it's funny anyway....

Finding Humor in the Ugliness

(Please scroll down for Ruby Tuesday.)

As I've mentioned before, I live on the border of Pennsylvania, one of the key contested states for the November election. As a result, I have to listen (well I have my TV on too much... I don't technically HAVE to listen) to the obscenely dishonest commercials that the McCain campaign runs. This is a parody, but sadly, it's not much of an exaggeration on how bad the ads actually are. Since I can't change them, I figure it's better to laugh at them and hope that the vile absurdity of them shows through to most people.

I haven't watched SNL in years - I thought they stopped being really funny - but since the Tina Fey skit last week, I thought I'd check in on them and I enjoyed this skit too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ruby Tuesday: Little Bits of Red

Maryt/The Teach over at Work of the Poet has something called Ruby Tuesday which featuring all things red.

This week she requested that we post things with just a little red, so I went with a bunch of odd, not particularly good pictures from nature. I do kind of like the one with the cardinal. I think I figured out why some of the pictures come out fuzzy and some come out sharp. I'm probably the only person who cares about this, but it's my blog so I'll tell you anyway. My theory is that since all my photos are taken through the glass of my window or back door, when the light isn't good, the pictures are blurrier. When the sun is really bright, they come out more clear. I think.

I debated with myself as to whether the center of these flowers is red or reddish, but there's spot in this picture that really is red... I have no idea why there's red on the stone, but it seems to be there. Another mystery I'll probably never get an answer to.

This may really be brown but it looks red to me so...


Steal Back Your Vote

Greg Palast is one of a number of voices which America's media effectively silences. He is an American who now works for BBC because American news organizations would not cover this profoundly important story.

Here's a link to Steal Back Your Vote.com. Worth checking out. Can we really afford to have a third election stolen from us? Can we afford a McCain - or just as frightening - a Palin presidency? If you haven't registered to vote, do so. Just go to Rock the Vote. They make it easy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Peace Day

(Please scroll down for One Single Impression)

Alas, I'm ashamed to say that this year I forgot about International Peace Day, so this reminder halfway through the day is perhaps a bit pointless. Still, it's not too late to stop and think about the possibilities for peace, to remind ourselves that it IS possible. I happen to believe in the power of belief and the power of human consciousness to alter the course of events.

Maybe it's quibbling with words

But I want to be less opposed to war
And more passionately desirous of peace
I want to be less angry at violence
And more joyfully grateful for acts of love
I want to bless goodness when I see it
Praise generosity
I want to be conscious of every blessing
I want to remember that while light can sometimes be dimmed
It continues to be light
And that although it sometimes seems overwhelming
Darkness can always be lit up
I want to be for peace
To nurture and bless it's every instance
So that when I leave this earth
Generations to come
Will know things like war only as myth
That's my wish, my hope, my prayer
I think it's possible
Not easy
But possible
So starting with my own heart
I extend to yours
My prayer for a better, gentler world
Peace be with you... and with us all

Happy Peace Day!

One Single Impression

This week's prompt for One Single Impression was "autumn." I would have thought this would be an easy one but my muse seems to be in early hibernation. This is all I could come up with.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 31

This is week 31 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. My apologies for posting so late this week. A friend of mine gave me a new cybergame and I've been lost on a mysterious island all afternoon in a complete fog, neglecting all other responsiblities. Sigh. Thanks to MommyWizdom for next week's words and to others who sent me suggestions for future weeks as well. My brain is still on Mystery Island, so I don't know if these make any sense or not. Looking forward to reading all this weeks contributions. Linda - over at These Are the Days - has created a new category... the Mega Plus? Anyway, she uses all the words from the regular, the mini and the vanity in one paragraph. Whew.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: budget, news, outer space, gargantuan, brass band, Purple Rose of Cairo, polar bears, insight, innovations, mute And for the mini challenge: investments, purring, death penalty, mercury, convalescent home

Here's my ten-word offering for this week.

Waiting for The Purple Rose of Cairo to start Marjorie kept the TV on mute watching the news in blessed silence. She loved that movie with it’s wonderful insights and brilliant cinematic innovations so much that she would even endure commercials to watch it again. Meanwhile images flowed past. The gargantuan rocket which had just taken off for outer space carried with it (or left behind might be a more accurate description) an equally gargantuan budget deficit. Next were pictures of polar bears on melting ice, after which she saw what looked like a high school’s brass band marching across a football field. This was followed by a weird looking guy standing in the rain. And then mercifully, she had survived what passed as news these days and now she could turn the sound back on and enjoy the wit and humor of her favorite movie.

And here's my mini challenge:

Mercury was a silver-gray kitty who earned his living purring for the elderly residents of the euphemistically named Macomber Convalescent Home. He had a special fondness for those for whom the death penalty had been decreed by the Almighty. It was partly the openness of their spirits that drew him to them, but mostly his investment of extra time with the dying was directly proportional to the number of angels who stood watch with them. Nothing soothed a kitty's heart more or made him purr louder than the songs of angels.

And the mega challenge:

Purple Rose of Cairo Brass Band was famous for its musical innovations, but that wasn’t why they were in the news on this particular night. Rather they were protesting the idea of some genius at NASA to send an endangered polar bear into outer space as part of the Mercury program. Holding a loudly purring cat in his lap as he spoke, Gus Rose, the group’s lead singer asked, “What kind of gargantuan moron thinks it’s a smart investment - either in terms of scientific insight or budget balancing – to take an animal from a species already facing an almost certain death penalty as a result of human selfishness and environmental abuse and put it into a rocket ship as some kind of publicity stunt. Although we try to stay away from political issues, the Cairo Band all agreed that we just couldn’t stay mute on this particular subject. Whoever the jackass is who thought this up should be fired and since if he can’t be sent to jail for pure stupidity, then he should be sent to a convalescent home until he isn’t stupid any more.” As the reporters all chuckled, he gave them a big wink and a wave. “That’s all we had to say, guys. Thanks for listening. Keep the story going if you can. Polar bears need our protection.

This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: hairsplitting, nonchalant, boisterous, obstreperous, kitty-cat, toenail, magma, Ton Ton Macute, tulips

Ton Ton Macute was a kitty-cat, a very sweet and gentle kitty-cat, which made the name all the more unfortunate. But Betty had just liked the sound of the words Ton Ton Macute and she had not been able to remember what they were about, still couldn’t really, but people had such strange reactions when the heard Mack’s (that was what she called him) name that she knew she had perhaps missed something significant. She had first recognized the problem one evening sitting with her sister. As boisterous and obstreperous as he was gentle, Mack could squirm and fuss with the best of them when confronted with something he didn’t like - and he didn’t, not even for a minute - like having his claws clipped, especially when she couldn’t find the trimmer and was reduced to using a toenail clipper. “How could you give that poor creature a name like Ton Ton Macute?” Andrea had growled. “Well, I like the way it sounds, like Mack cute. I didn’t remember where I heard it, just the sound. It’s catchy, I think. She tried to sound nonchalant and self-assured. Andrea was such a know-it-all. She was always criticizing or hairsplitting about just about everything and Betty often fantasized about dropping her into a huge pit of molten magma. But since that wasn’t practical, she just pretended to listen. Andrea had named her cats Tulip and Violet. On the whole, Betty thought, Ton Ton Macute was much better.


Many thanks to MommyWizdom for next week’s words.

Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: exacerbate, leotard, path, tomato, Jungle Book, vagabond, parade, limber, storage, Maharajah

And for the Mini Challenge: crocodile, special, sleep, droll, turn around

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Skywatch Friday

This is my 9th time participating in Skywatch Friday after a month off for a variety of reasons from illness to angst to computer issues. Yikes but time flies. I didn't take as many photos as I sometimes do, but I still have over a hundred to choose from and will post too many here. Still, die hard cloud lovers can see all the ones I didn't post here.

Sky Watch Friday is hosted by Tom at Welcome to Wigger's World and I hope you'll make it a point to visit his wonderful site as well. He takes awesome photos.

Everybody (me included) always tries to take pictures of the moon. I thought it might be interesting to try getting a shot of the sun, which was incredibly bright yesterday. Here's one of the shots.

Even though the wing got cut off, I thought this was kind of cool.