DrMyers’s Blog

January 26, 2011

DuPont Circle Snow Ball Fight and the Black Fox Lounge

Tonight at 8pm, Washington DC will be awaiting the start of what has grown to become a tradition in the District.  With the snow still falling, members of the community will gather in the historic Dupont Circle, and kick off a massive Snow Ball Fight!  Many can remember the hoards of people who joined in with the fun last year with the massive amount of snow that was available.  Come ready to rumble! There is also rumored to be scores to settle from last year between Georgetown and St. Johns!  Regardless of, it promises to be a FUN TIME!

After the Snowball Fight, many people will be heading over to the Black Fox Lounge for Complimentary Chicken Soup to warm up after what will promise to be a fun but chilling experience.  Warming up at the Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave NW www.blackfoxlounge.com) serves two purposes.  1st – To warm up after being covered in snow and 2nd – to dodge the massive wait for the metro!  Plus…it’s Complimentary *Free!  Things you should remember: Socks CAN substitute as gloves, but make sure they’re clean; Don’t trust anyone…it’s anyone’s ball game out there; If you get too cold, beat everyone else to the chicken soup at the Black Fox Lounge!

 

June 5, 2009

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

apple
apple

 

Today, there is much more separating a doctor and his patient than a red delicious or granny smith apple. The high cost of health care can be the determining factor in your decision to seek out necessary help from the medical profession for yourself or a family member. Even with insurance coverage (forget including pre-existing conditions), the high cost of premiums, deductibles and co-pays along with prescriptions and any follow-up treatment or testing, have relegated health care to a “luxury item.” Many that have enjoyed employer provided coverage in the past are having it reduced or, in the case of job loss, completely extinguished..

 

Why an I concerned about this? Call it selfishness. I have no health care insurance and suffered a major stroke a few years ago. The residual effects of the stroke are minimal – to me, more annoying than debilitating since I’ve had to make time-consuming adjustments to the routines of daily life. I find climbing stairs difficult but suffer vertigo on escalators so elevators are the mode of choice. I lose my balance easily when the ground isn’t level and still have some difficulty finding the “right” word when I speak. My stroke affected the right side and, being right-handed, I have had to train my left hand to take up the slack. I was not eligible for government assistance because I was not deemed to be disabled. I was told to get a job in Walmarts.

 

I already have a full-time job. I’m the primary caregiver for my 90 year old home-bound father, who has suffered TIA’s and cancer, and my son, who has been diagnosed with bi-polar schizo effective disorder.  The monthly health care costs, even with insurance coverage, are astronomical and I’m worried about what will happen when the money runs out.

 

I tell you all of this not to get sympathy but to give you an understanding why the subject is so imporatnt to me.

 

I have spent many hours researching the subject of healthcare reform and have talked with numerous friends and healthcare professionals about what they perceive their needs to be. I have heard phrases like “choice”, “cost-cutting measures”, “deluge of administation and billing requirements” and “emergency room crowding”. One physician I spoke with talked about his current financial situation. After many, many years of persuing his dream at a costly medical school, he is then saddled with the cost of opening a practice (and all it entails), purchasing medical malpractice insurance at a very high premium and then the fun of hiring a staff to fight insurance companies for what ends up to be a reduced payment for his services. He said the days of “afternoons on the golf course” are long gone. He must work 12 -14 hours a day to keep his practice afloat.

 

So, here’s the dilemma as I see it. We need to come up with a healthcare plan that will reward the hard work and dedication of healthcare professionals while addressing the need for affordable healthcare for all. I haven’t forgotten insurance companies – I just no longer see a need for another middle-man. Cutting costs already…

 

 

~  Michelle

May 21, 2009

No-No to Gitmo!

gitmoWhen President Woodrow Wilson went to Paris in 1918, he had one goal in mind. This goal was restoration and peace. Restoration to those oppressed nations that had suffered horribly during the Great War, and peace among all nations. As he introduced his 14 point plan, he spent 6 months in Paris negotiating, compromising, and holding true to the values revered so much by his American convictions! Once an agreement was made, all parties went home and frankly were happy the whole negotiation process was over. With negotiations quite strenuous to many parties, especially to Wilson, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Wilson convinced Europe to join the League of Nations but was unsuccessful in convincing the United States Congress…especially those within the Senate. It is said that the stress behind not having the Senate’s support, brought on the severe stroke that left him paralyzed on one side and in bad shape during the final years of his administration.

Barak Obama got a taste of “making promises assuming that he has the support”, but when coming down to the vote, the Senate takes another direction. He had vowed on his second day in office to close the prison within a year as part of his effort to repair America’s tarnished image abroad. This vow will now be coupled with his game plan when he speaks at the National Archives; ironically former Vice-President Cheney will be speaking at the same time.

My question is: Why did the Senate turn their support from the President. A poll done at “The Escapist” (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.90564?page=3) showed that 63.7 percent of those surveyed approved of the President’s move to close down the facility while 19.6 percent were against it. A CNN poll showed after asking the question, “Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?” Those who believed his proposed policies were in the right direction 63%, those who thought they were the wrong direction 35%. If these polls are the true voice of the American public, should not the representatives who represent these constituents also reflect these results?

The major concern spouted by Senate members stated that they were opposed to the prisoners being transported to prisons on American soil. Michele Flournoy, Pentagon policy chief, says it’s unrealistic to think that no detainees will come to the U.S., and that the U.S. can’t ask allies to take detainees while refusing to take on the same burden. Senator Harry Reid stated, “We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States…Part of what we don’t want is for them to be put in prisons in the United States. We don’t want them around in the United States.” Where do you place the POW’s?

For members of congress to question the ability and strength of the American Prison System is walking a tight rope, and it also sends signals to our enemies that our domestic security is weak, and can be penetrated…which couldn’t be further from the truth. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. As of the year 2000, our facilities include: 3,365 local jails, 1,558 state facilities, 146 federal facilities. As of January 17th 2007, 245 prisoners remained at Gitmo equaling to 1.67 persons going to each one of our Federal Facilities.

There is one member of the Senate that stood in support of the Presidents efforts. Dianne Feinstein, who not only gained in wealth during the war (by 2005 her net worth had increased to between $43 million and $99 million), had pretty good reason to stand behind her statements to bring the prisoners to US prisons. Stating, “I believe that American justice is what makes this country strong in the eyes of the world. American justice is what people believe separates the United States from other countries. And American justice has to be applied to everyone, because if it isn’t, we then become hypocrites in the eyes of the world.”, the Senator just stated what she was vested in emotionally and financially. Feinstein holds stock in the URS Corporation, which as a major U.S. federal contractor, URS provides critical support to the Departments of Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS) and Energy (DOE), as well as to National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies. (No wonder she’s on the Senate Intelligence Committee!)

Obama’s showdown today will tell whether or not Congress will stand behind the promise he made to the American People. Perhaps, he could use a little advice from a former President who has approached this similar problem:

Former President Woodrow Wilson

Former President Woodrow Wilson

“I would rather lose in a cause that will someday win, than win in a cause that will someday lose.”

~Former President Woodrow Wilson

May 12, 2009

He’s Just Doing His Thing!: Miss California Retains Her Crown

 

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Contests typically draw controversy.  At the present moment, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are currently winding down a very closely run contest for the Minnesota Senate seat.  Some controversies can last for decades, while others can last for days.  There are even instances where the public will never be aware of the controversies surrounding some contests whose results are made public.  

 

The latest Controversy, was in part brought to an end today, but raises some very interesting questions, and could affect the progress related to the agenda of Human/Civil Rights Campaigns.  

Today in a Press Conference, Donald Trump (Owner of the Miss USA/Universe Contest) announced that regardless of the public comments made by Miss California and Miss USA Runner up, Carrie Prejean, that she would retain her crown.  This decision came not 24 hours after the administrators of the Miss California Contest “fired” Ms Prejean, due to “Violation of Contract”.

During the Miss USA Pageant, blogger Perez Hilton , who was described as “doing his thing” by Donald Trump, asked a question regarding her support of Gay Marriage.  She responded, predicated with her intent not to offend anyone,  that in “My America” marriage is defined between a man and a woman.  Today, she was encouraged to reiterate her belief, aligning herself with the current belief of the President and Secretary of State (who was also a Presidential Candidate).  Supported by Mr. Trump (who refused to answer questions regarding his own personal belief on the subject) , Ms Prejean proudly encouraged others to use her experience as inspiration when standing up for their beliefs, regardless of the negative backlash that might accompany it.

A very serious question must now be posed:  When does one’s opinion regarding the Definition of Marriage infringe on the obstruction of civil liberties?  And; will the denial of Same-Sex marriage be looked at in the same manner as we look at inter-racial marriage today (which is still looked upon negatively in certain parts of the country).

One must remember that it was a little over 40 years ago, that it was still illegal for interracial couples to be married.  Leon Brazile (who was a trial judge in the case) echoed the rhetoric of German Physician Johann Frierich Blumenbach who stated, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”  The pivotal vote taken by the DC City Council to recognized such marriages, sparked the legislation that was seen before the Supreme Court, which in turn descended that, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

During the Press Conference, the President’s view of marriage was touted by both Mr. Trump and Ms Prejean.  Another important question must be posed:  Will President Obama support legislation to legalize Gay Marriage?  If he does not, does this make him as bigoted as those who did not support his candidacy because of his color?

Today, the celebrated “opinion” of Miss California, has placed the Human Rights Campaign in an awkward position.  They could use this decision to press the Gay Marriage Debate to the forefront to gain definite results, or they could regroup and reanalyze their stance on the subject, which could result in the whole subject to be dropped all together.  What do you think?

Perhaps a voice from the past could help shed light on this subject:

 

 

 

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

 

 

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. 

~Thomas Jefferson

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk: Rush is a Big Boy, he can take it!

1963-streisand-jfk-90For 89 years, the White House Correspondents Association has been hosting a dinner at the Washington Hilton. Some of the biggest names our time have played this event, singing, dancing, and roasting the President of the United States. Jimmy Durante (and his nose) made the crowds laugh, while Bob Hope’s criticism was always taken in stride…he usually golfed with the President. Yakov Smirnoff had a unique play on words that tickled the funny bones of correspondents, while Al Franken was busy making as many friends with the core as possible (he would need their assistance in the future). None of these legendary performances were talked about in the media on Monday, it was the comments of Wanda Sykes and President Obama that took the show.

 

Wanda Sykes made comments during her big night, that some considered a step too far, about one of the most outspoken conservative radio talk show hosts in America, Rush Limbaugh.  A reference to a remark made by Limbaugh at the beginning of the President’s term, caused Sykes to weight in on what sounded like a personal opinion of Rush Limbaugh.  While in a statement Limbaugh stated that he hoped the President fails, Sykes gave her remedy in the hopes that the radio host’s kidney’s would fail.  This joke received mixed reactions, but no one from the correspondence dinner left the event in protest, or even disgust.  Sykes was congratulated for giving a “stellar” performance, and the night went on.  

When does a joke go too far??  One may ask, if the word “joke” is replaced in that question, perhaps we could get to the bottom of a lot of problems.  For instance:

When does policy go too far?

When does bigatry go too far?

When does war go too far?

When does torture go too far?

There are many questions, once again I reiterate, that must be answered long before we question the seriousness of “Jokes” told about a man who is accused weekly of offending at least 1,000 people.  For an example;

On the October 23, 2006 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh imitated on the “Ditto Cam” (the webcam for website subscribers to see him on the air) the physical symptoms of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease. He said “(Fox) is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

 With the boldness to criticize the disabled, I think Rush Limbaugh does not need the press to “stand-up” for him…he’s a big boy!

While journalists today debated whether or not Wanda Sykes took her jokes to far; U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi was set free today after an Iranian appeal court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a suspended two-year term. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, looked thin and tired at Sunday’s hearing. Last week, her father said she had ended a two-week hunger strike and was “very weak.” The judiciary denied she had refused food, and said she was in good health.  

Althought correspondents had the chance today to reflect on a “risque” joke they heard while enjoying some fantasic food and being surrounded by celebrities, Saberi was in prison, refusing food, and listening to the daunting noise of imprisonment…my how our priorities have fallen.

Priorities in the media vary, but regardless of how far the envelope is pushed, comedy will still be comedy.  Perhaps that great comedian could shed some light on how to view the status of this situation:

Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce

 

 

 

“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it”       ~Lenny Bruce

 

May 11, 2009

Where do we go from here: A Night of Laughs!

corrOnce again, Washington DC received many west coast visitors.  On Saturday Night, President Obama was given the opportunity to do give remarks in front of most of Hollywood’s A-list talent and correspondents from every network.  Followed by Wanda Sykes, both have been given very high marks in the media for their performances.  While the world took a breather from the whirlwind of H1N1 and torture talk, we sat back and heard a few good one-liners, and for a second, the sheer amusement of our government was remedy enough to calm the minds of few, and strike the funny bone of many.

In America, we have used the arts to mask, cope, and address problems that plague and threaten our way of life.  The surge of the movie industry occurred as people needed an escape from the everyday reality of the depression.  Rock & Roll articulated the “new & improved” outlook of the 1950’s youth in comparison to the conservative upbringing of their parents.  During the late 60’s R & B began to articulate the displeased views of America’s youth regarding Vietnam, and that administration’s handling of the conflict.   Studio 54 flourished in the 1970’s, as the old guard once again was cast aside, and many minorities were finding their place and voice in that disco filled society.  The Rock Music of the 1980’s described Generation X, and how society misread and/or misunderstood their wants, desires, and motivations.  With rap music making a significant imprint on the 90’s, teens and young adults alike began to describe their emotions through poetry spoken in sync to different rhythms of music.  As we have entered the new millennium, youtube and itunes being blasted from iphones and ipods.  The current trend of headphones coming from pocket sized devices are seen regularly,  as today’s modern man/woman can pick and choose what trend in music, movies, and comedy they would personally like to identify themselves with.

Although, the President and many others were able to, for just a night, look at the lighter sides of the current situation, one harsh reality will be facing Americans as Monday Morning rises in the distance.  The unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent from 8.5 percent in March, the highest in more than a quarter-century.  President Obama has recognized that this financial problem was indeed years in the making, and he is predicting that it could take months (even years) to come out of the current recession. 

Stress tests given to the 19 largest banking institutions, which the reports were less severe than some experts had been preparing for, revealed: (see link below)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124182311010302297.html#project%3DSTRESSTESTDOCS0905%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive

 The test results showed that the 19 banks faced a total of $599 billion in losses over the next two years under the government’s worst-case, Depression-like scenario. 

These tests has also brought about deadlines for banks, in which consequences for deadlines not met have not been laid out by congress as of yet.  Congress has directed the banks as follows:  Any tested bank needing to boost its capital buffer will have until June 8 to develop a detailed capital-raising plan and until November 9 to implement that plan.  Some banks have already begun this task, with Wells Fargo raising 7.5 billion dollars in stock through a public offering. Other banks have made plans to fill their capital holes by tapping public markets. 

One must keep in mind, that the banks have not been the only dire, important factor negatively impacted by the current turn of economic affairs.  The Baby Boomer Generation is chomping at the bit for ways to keep their homes, cars, and ways of life somewhat intact during the dreadful time.  Since December 2007, the number of Americans over 55’s in work has risen more than 800,000.  Many baby-boomers have been forced to re-enter the workforce after losing their retirement and/or pension funds.  One may ask, how has age discrimination played out in the competition for work since the start of this recession, and if Affirmative action will survive the backlash of this recession.

Nonetheless, in this American Culture, we have coined the phrase, “Laughter is the Best Medicine”; but will Laughter be enough to treat the American Economy and the effects it is having on its citizens…only time will tell.

I have always learned that it’s best to learn from people who have lived through situations such as this before, and a little wisdom just may share a little light to us from our Allies across the Atlantic.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.    

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

 


 

 

May 8, 2009

“Let Me Make Myself Perfectly Clear”: I’ll never tell!

 

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is a coveted position by many politicians. Landmarks around Washington and the United States have been built to honor these great politicians of old. Hailed for their abilities to turn ideas into law, to craft and implement policies, to keep their party’s in check and voting along the proper lines; this role is an important and influential role that can influence the laws that are passed, and the policies that are implemented. Third in line for the presidency if anything unfortunate happens, one must be careful of who fills this position, and parties select as carefully as possible when electing the Speaker to articulate their voices.

 

In years past, we have had some Mice (Howell Cobb, who led the secessionist movement, and is considered to be one of the founders of the Confederacy) and Titans (Joseph Cannon, who was on the first cover of Time Magazine on his last day in office) who have banged that powerful gavel. A little unknown fact about this position is that one does not have to be serving in the House of Representatives to be elected to this position (which I at times believe would be a commodity). Also, it is not often seen, that one is elected to this position within his/her first session; but this has happened before in the past, and the gentleman who filled this position partly crafted the role as Speaker into what it is known to be today. Henry Clay laid the framework to this the role as Speaker of the House as we know it. Followed by Joseph Cannon and Sam Rayburn, the Capitol now boasts a speaker who is a first for this generation, and regardless of politics or party; The First Female Speaker of the House will open doors for many others to follow through.

Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is serving as the Speaker for the 111th Congress of the United States, and as of late, her integrity (along with many others) has been in question. On April 23, Ms. Pelosi told reporters “we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used.” Rather, she said, she recalled being told by the CIA that the techniques “could be used, but not that they would.” With the growing public’s distaste towards the government’s use of “Water boarding”, fingers have been pointed towards, who knew what, when, and why they not spoke up against it. When asked if they were informed, some members of congress (including Speaker Pelosi) stated that they knew about it, but did no know it was in

use.http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/WSJ_JusticeMemo_090507.pdf

In a report released by the CIA, Congressional leaders were briefed in detail about techniques used in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program. This report displays the most thorough
information the CIA has on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. According to these documents, Speaker Pelosi (who was, at that time, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) was one of the first to know about the techniques.

One question that should be asked now, is if this “Change” and “Transparency” heralded by these representatives towards President Obama, will spill over to the Capitol Building, and into the halls of congress. Regardless of party, the American People, in my mind, are tired of the finger pointing which only covers the truth behind the misdeeds performed by those sent to represent us. When and where will this be stopped.

 
 While, in this case, Republican members of congress have taken this opportunity to pounce on the Speaker, and stated last month that congress was informed early on about these techniques; these same Republicans were unable to go further on and state that these techniques were not procedures that adequately or respectively represent the United States of America…all except one (and it wasn’t Arlen Specter).

John McCain and Barack Obama DO agree on this statement….Torture (in any form) is Wrong! As he stated in Newsweek, “Our commitment to basic humanitarian values affects–in part–the willingness of other nations to do the same. Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops who might someday be held captive. “Barack Obama has deemed Water boarding as an unacceptable form of interrogation (or in other words Torture). It is for the safety of our soldiers, currently engaged in battle on foreign soils, and it is to uphold our agreement with the UN, that we do not torture. Regardless of how we feel the “enemy” would deal with Americans as captives; The American Government gave its word to the United Nations and to its people that it would not engage in torture. To utilize these vile techniques, will further ruin the integrity of this country…in which faith is currently being restored day by day.

Still waiting for the Republican Party to find its voice, and waiting for the Democrats in Congress to show bi-partisanship; The American People need a CLEAR answer from both parties, and these answers should be congruent with the agreement we signed with the United Nations.

Nonetheless, we as a nation can make it through this period, and the words from a former Speaker of the House might just help us see the way:

 

Our country–whether bounded by the St. John’s and the Sabine, or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the measurements more or less;–still our country, to be cherished in all our hearts, and to be defended by all our hands. 

Robert Charles Winthrop

Robert Charles Winthrop

May 7, 2009

Bad Advice to the President: Will Lawyers Pay the Piper?

 

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

I can remember running and playing with friends in the country.  Growing up in a small town (Goodlow, Texas; population 312) neighbors and family were plenty, and dirt roads were vast.  Sometimes I can remember climbing down in the creek bed, and following it all the way out by my Aunt Emma’s house (1912- 2002), after which the journey home would began, and there was always a tough decision to make.  We could go straight home or we could go home…but with detours.  Now this individual decision was made with deep thought and consultations with the guys, which eventually lead to mischief, causing something memorable to happen and we would then go home.

 

 

On one occasion, I was with my cousin, and we planned to do the usual, but Aunt Emma instructed us differently.  I will never forget it; Aunt Emma was from the “old-school” and she was about 5’0 (if she was an inch), and always wore an apron.  She made it perfectly clear, that if we were to go away from the house that we wouldn’t stop by Uncle Jay’s her brother (1908-2000).   See, Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie (Married 1935) were great cooks from the good old days!  Typically, when us kids would stop by there, we would fill up on fresh cake and a big glass of milk, which consequently would ruin us for dinner.   Well, my cousin and I set out, and as we were headed back, we decided (after much deliberation) to just pay a little visit to Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie.  Sure enough, we ate to our hearts content, and then walked back to Aunt Emma’s.  On the way home, I told him to make sure that he didn’t mention the whole “dropping by Uncle Jay’s” and he stated with a grin, “You know I won’t say nothing!”.  Now, little did we know, Trey had left an article of clothing there at Uncle Jay’s, and Aunt Carrie thought it would be responsible to call Aunt Emma, and let her know!  Aunt Carrie told Aunt Emma, “ not to scold Trey for losing the article of clothing, that it was safe with her.”

This reminds me of the current status in which the Bush Administration and their lawyers are in.  Being aware of torture as a means of interrogation used by governments to attain information from Prisoners, the US signed an agreement with the United Nations stating that we would not engage in torture; after consulting with their lawyers, the Bush Administration used a technique called Water boarding ( which was used during WWII on our soldiers, and a technique we deemed as torture at that time) and, according to Condaleeza Rice, if the President approved…it wasn’t breaking the Law (just like Nixon).  When asked by the American Public, we were told the truth…but not the whole truth.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, at the center of the frenzy are four detailed legal analyses, “The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in 2002 and 2005 and recently declassified and released, read as you would expect them to. The individuals writing them were reflecting their own interpretation of the law, their own policy views, and quite possibly the policy preferences of their bosses.”  

This problem is a clear representation of what happens when one branch of government, tries to act without proper checks and balances.  Clearly, this method of interrogation was not to be decided upon by just lawyers who were advising the president, or interpreting the law (which is the job of the Supreme Court).  As a result, being that the Executive Branch took it upon their selves to act independently, our reputation was tarnished both at home and abroad.  The question which is now being asked by many, is if the lawyers who gave this advice to the administration, will be prosecuted; or will anyone else from the Bush Administration pay some sort of price if they are found to have broken the law.  

Well, to answer that question, I should finish my story from earlier. .. 

As we walked into the 6 room house, the questions began, and we played it cool.  We told her everything that we did, save the whole Uncle Jay thing.  As I began to walk out, Aunt Emma grabbed me, and said a simple phrase (after giving me a good pop)…,”I’m going to call Velma (my grandmother b.1917) and tell her what you did.”  Now I knew Granny (as I called her) did not want me going over to Uncle Jay’s, and at this point, I was simply scared to walk home.

When I stepped onto the porch, my Grandmother met me there, and she didn’t just talk to me.  She whooped my behind, and told me that “grown folk” make rules for good reasons.  And if I decided to break those rules, I’d have to “Pay the Piper”, just as I did by taking the spanking.

The UN made rules, we broke them knowingly (especially sine we hired lawyers to help us go around the agreement) and those responsible must pay the consequences.  

 

As stated by a great American General:

 

 

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

~ Dwight D Eisenhower  

May 6, 2009

Capital Hill Acknowedges Gay Mariage: Will the Country?

 

One single voice rang out over the sound system, while the DC City Council prepared to vote in the Wilson Building on Tuesday.  Stating that he had always supported homosexuals, but did not support this bill, Marian Barry was the lone voice in opposition against recognizing Gay Marriage in DC.  Voiceterous crowds outside and inside the building, spoke in favor for and against this campaign, and as the members voted, the room stood still.  With four States supporting Gay Marriage (Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) DC will be among many state legislatures discussing the passage of Gay Marriage.  San Francisco started handing out same sex marriage certificates in 2004 and since then, campaigns have been launched for gay marriage to be recognized in states across America.

One would ask, what is the controversy?  But, before we tackle that can of beans, we should familiarize ourselves with the current definition of Homosexuality. *As defined by US Legal Definitions:

“Gays and lesbians are homosexuals who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Typically, gay refers to a man whose sexual orientation is to men and lesbian refers to a woman whose sexual orientation is to women. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to members of both sexes.”  During the 20th century, homosexuality was a “taboo” subject, causing some of our most notable figures to stay “closeted” or to suffer ridicule and/or discrimination because of their sexuality;  Montgomery Clift, Jack Cassidy, Barbara Jordan, Thornton Wilder, Gene Robinson, Rock Hudson, etc.

The definition of marriage is not that simple.  Law dictionaries recognize eight different styles of marriage:

Common Law Marriage

Marriage Licenses

Covenant Marriage

Open Marriage

De Facto Marriage

Personal Relationships Common Law Marriage

Marriage Counseling

Sham Marriage

The type of marriage mostly associated with religious organization is Covenant Marriage which is defined as:

“A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties to a covenant marriage have received counseling emphasizing the nature and purposes of marriage and the responsibilities thereto. Only when there has been a complete and total breach of the marital covenant commitment may the non-breaching party seek a declaration that the marriage is no longer legally recognized.” (Although this was traditionally used by religious fundamentalist, most churches recognize the individual’s right to seek a divorce.  This divorce is typically recognized in most protestant churches).

To make things even more complicated (as far as religion is concerned); according to the CIA, the following is the order of religious preferences in the United States:

§  Christian: (78.5%)

§  Protestant (51.3%)

§  Roman Catholic (23.9%)

§  Mormon (1.7%)

§  other Christian (1.6%)

§  unaffiliated (12.1%)

§  none (4%)

§  other or unspecified (2.5%)

§  Jewish (1.7%)

§  Buddhist (0.7%)

§  Muslim (0.6%

 Within each one of these religious sects, marriage customs are different, and hold different requirements for the parties involved.

Religious circles here in the US (predominately Muslim, Jewish & Christian) view gay marriage as a non-issue because their religious convictions prohibit same sex marriages to be recognized by the Church, Synagogue, or Masque; while non-religious citizens view this also as a “non-issue” stating that due to the separation of church and state, marriage is not legitimatized by a religious sect, to be recognized by the state.  Since the turn of the 21st century, tolerance to same sex marriage has increased, and if continued at the same rate, 10 states will recognize same sex marriage by 2020.  

Sexual Reorientation was a widely used practiced in the United States during the 20th century, and was designed to keep humans from practicing Homosexuality.  Although varied, treatments have included biological, behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, and religious modalities. In recent years, treatments intended to alter sexual orientation have involved religious and psychodynamic counseling.  In recent history, intolerant attitudes and views regarding same-sex marriage and/or homosexuality have been compared to the bigotry attitudes suffered by women in the 1910’s and African American’s in the 1960’s.  In the United States, 45 states and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation (the exceptions are AZGAINSC, and WY).  

Christianity, which most American’s identify with, has varying views on homosexuality and its acceptance by the church.  Most churches do not accept the act of homosexuality, and views it as a sin.  With this view, the idea of marriage between homosexual is not an accepted practice within their religious sect.  Being that this arrangement is not recognized by the sight of GOD, they also believe that it should not be recognized by the state.  Practicing homosexuality, in the eyes of the church, is a moral and mental decision made by an individual. 

My opinion:  Until Religious Leaders step up to the plate, dialog with politicians, and define the line of separation, that properly checks both church and state, this argument will continue.  Homosexuals seek to have marriage recognized by the state, so they can be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples have (such as insurance, medical decision power, property, etc).  This judgment cannot and should not be clouded by the church’s non-congruent attitude towards marriage, divorce, and/or homosexuality.

Both those in favor have created videos:  Some more satirical, others more serious.  How long this debate will last, one may never know, but James Baldwin did have incredible insight that might just tell us the answer:

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. 

James Baldwin


November 18, 2008

In The Hot Seat: Say It Aint So Joe…Lieberman

Two Doors Down Coffee House, is a small, quaint coffee house in Corsicana, Texas.  This small country community, only has about 30,000 people buzzing around on the streets, but this establishment has added life, hope, and a sense of home to all the artistic, unique, old & young…this place does not discriminate, but it loves & welcomes all.  Yesterday, as I checked my email, an older gentleman who I’ve known for a few months, walked in and was glad to see I had come back to town.  “If you had not of gone to Florida, my guy would’ve won”, he said as the patrons all broke into laughter.  Texans, will be Texans, and lets face it, Obama did not win Texas!  No one was upset, no one was offended, at the coffee house, my involvement within this election was appreciated by both sides.  At the coffee shop, we got a good laugh and took it all in stride.

Today on the Hill, there was no laughing matter.  “To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement Friday.  When Joe Lieberman dawned the steps of the capital this morning, he new he was going to the Hot Seat.

Before we examine the outcome, lets take a look at the track record of Sen. Leiberman.  Sen. Leiberman assumed office January 3, 1989.  It is very, very safe to say that Sen. Leiberman had pleased his constiuents back in Connecticut.  Lieberman made history by winning the largest landslide ever in a Connecticut Senate race, drawing 67 percent of the vote and beating his opponent by more than 350,000 votes.  A “Maverick” in his own right, he was one of the first Democrats on the Hill to address President Clinton’s involvement with Monica Lewinsky.   So respected, Lieberman accepted the offer coveted by many but attained by few, the VP Spot on the 2000 Democratic Ticket.  After the loss, he became chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, again a key spot of trust and responsibility within the Democratic Party.  In 2004 he scored 88 out of 100 by the Human Rights Campaign, but lost 5 out of 5 primaries, and ended his bid for the White house.

Something happened in 2006 that shocked everyone.  After loosing the primaries in his state, he ran as an Independent despite advice from Howard Dean, and Hillary’s support for the Party Primary Winner.  Joe worked his magic, and won his old seat, pledging to sit as a Democrat in the Senate.  And sat he did, he played along just fine with everyone.  The dust had just began to settle, more attention was being focused on another hard fought senate seat by a young up and comer, the Democratic Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.  Ten months and seven days after Barack Obama threw his hat in the ring for President, Joe Lieberman decided it was time to endorse.  And what was thought to be, another hard fought endorsement between several Democratic Contestors, the endorsement went to another man who had previously fought hard to win a bid for the White House as well…John McCain.

Shocked, bewildered, confused, and frankly astonished at his actions, time could not stop nor did he take it back.  The months began to fly by, and as Hillary debated Barack, John McCain sowed up the nomination for the Republican Party with his now “Good Friend”, Joe Lieberman by his side.  What was amazing, is the number of people who were just entering the political process for the first time, who would email me confused at why Democrats would be upset with Joe, “he just moved from being a Republican to being an Independent right?”.  “Say it Aint So Joe…Lieberman” would be the response from the person realizing that we had a rogue Democrat on our hands, and traveling on the Straight Talk Express, Joe was preaching the Gospel of Reform, and Country First.  If you think back hard enough, I think most Americans were more surprised that John McCain did not choose Joe Lieberman for VP pick, rather than why he chose Sarah Palin.  To be honest, the shock for both are equal.  Nonetheless, Joe made his bed and took a long nap in it.  

On November 4th, when the count was in, most constituents surely thought Joe was out, and that was it.  But Say It Aint So Joe…Lieberman, he worked that magic once again but it didn’t work.  For once, there was nothing he could do to justify the neglect of his faithfulness to his pledge and promise to the Democrats in the party.  Blazing away, his seat was awaiting for him this morning, and only the “God’s” could tell what could happen.  Friday, one Senator commented that keeping Joe in his seat was not the change we could believe in, and if this was “Business as Usual”, Joe would would probably be taking up plumbing for a trade, and leaving the politicking to more loyal servants.  

Something amazing happened today on the Hill, and I believe it speaks volumes over all the rhetoric you hear, and the assumptions we make about the filth in politics.  Since November 4th, this country has started practicing a principle that I thought was forgotten…the principle of ONE!  One Nation, Indivisible, not divided, no holding grudges, moving on, working together, looking forward not backward.  It’s becoming more of an atmosphere of “We” the people, not just the people working independently.  Yesterday rivals sat down and met, today Joe Lieberman retained a key spot within the party, and tomorrow the news will report that although not always pleased or happy with each other, United we continue to stand.

Frankly, as a Democrat my self, I am quite astonished that the hot seat didn’t incinerate the Senator:  Say It Aint So Joe…Lieberman.

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