DrMyers’s Blog

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

April 27, 2009

Reaching 100 is an Impressive Milestone: Even for a President!

 

 

Leading A Nation

Barack Obama

As the chatter in the room began to settle, all eyes focused on the beautiful birthday

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

 cake that came out of the kitchen.  One hundred years is a long time for anything to be around, but this lady sat there with every bit of confidence in knowing…she made it.  Voices sprang up from all corners of the small dining room, as “Happy Birthday” in various harmonies were sang to the small but yet powerful figure sitting at the head of the table.  With anticipation, all the guests wondered the same thing, “Could she do it?  Could she blow out the candles?”  We all know that people drive from miles around to give presents, convey their well wishes, but the high point of the evening is to see all the candles blown out.  The small frame stood grasping the table.  As everyone watched, a beautiful lace fringed fan came into site, and a rapid motion began.  A perfume scented breeze filled the room, and simultaneously blew out the light of every candle.  With a big, beautiful grin she said in a sly but commanding voice, ” With all the love in this room, I’ll conserve the little bit of air I got left in these lungs, and let the air on the outside do all the work”.  The room bursts in to laughter and grins all because she did it!  She blew out 100 candles, and she did it her way.  This confirmed to everyone that she was very much still in control, and that control was not to be underestimated by anybody!

I don’t believe one could compare the wisdom of one hundred years to a mere one hundred days, but some could argue that Barack Obama has seen and experienced more in his one hundred days in office, than most will ever experience in a lifetime.

It seems like a year ago, crowds stood in the cold inside and outside different gates, malls, and subway tunnel; just to experience the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.  The American people knew that there were many problems that needed to be solved, but for those precious moments, those problems halted their voices long enough to hear that sacred oath be taken at the Capitol.  Those precious moments, would be the last moments Barack Obama would be void of responsibility for the most powerful country on the planet.  Within a moment, meetings were scheduled, and this man went right to work…and he continues to work on his own terms!  With strict direction to “Cut what doesn’t work”, his cabinet members left that meeting knowing that President Obama has a mission, and he intends on seeing this mission through to the end.

On April 8th, President Obama established a White House Office of Healthcare Reform that provides leadership to the executive branch in establishing policies, priorities, and objectives for the Federal Government’s comprehensive effort to improve access to health care, the quality of such care, and the sustainability of the health care system.  Although overshadowed by the budget, Obama’s attention to the need of upgrade within our healthcare system is imperative.  Healthcare in the United States ranks last in the quality of health care among developed countries, with 16% of the population (in 2006) without health insurance.  The argument among pundits, with heavy influence from the economy, is whether a public healthcare system would add to our national debt now, and take away from America’s financial independence in the future, or be a step towards sound investment in America’s future that protects employers and current/future employees.  Nonetheless, within his first 100 days, Obama has begun to address this issue.

On February 6th, President Obama created the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  As read in the document, this Advisory Board is to: 

(a) solicit information and ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy about the functioning of the economy, the condition of the financial and banking system, and the prosperity of the American people and of American industry that can serve to inform the decisionmaking of the President, and, with respect to matters deemed appropriate by the President, provide information and recommendations to any other agency with responsibilities related to the economy or financial markets or to the National Economic Council;

(b) report directly to the President on the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies to promote the growth of the American economy, establish a stable and sound financial and banking system, create jobs, and improve the long-term prosperity of the American people; and

(c) provide analysis and information with respect to the operation, regulation, and healthy functioning of the economy and of the financial and banking system. As deemed appropriate by the President, this analysis and information shall be provided to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, to any other agency with responsibilities related to the economy or financial markets, or to the National Economic Council. 

This action shows that President Obama is not following the lead of his predecessors by waiting for the financial system to fix its self, or by creating programs that might hinder the sustainability of a future government.  President Obama has had 100 days of a fun fact finding mission, showing that even after the recession ends, the pain is likely to persist and the economy could continue to struggle as it strives to find a firm footing.  Fingers have been pointed on both sides of the isle, with the American public convinced that not only did someone fall asleep at the wheel, but there was no one in the car to nudge and wake the driver.  At this time not many are optimistic about seeing a quick turnaround in conditions.  As late as this week, stress tests were given to United States banks, and with the results being released in May, most sectors central to economic growth is still found languishing.   

What I have mentioned so far is only TWO Presidential Actions, leaving out countless other bills signed into law that positively affect and protect; Equal Pay in the Workplace for women as well as the health and well being of children.  

The mustard of a President isn’t tested within his/her first 100 days in office, but its true test lies in posterity.  The glimpse we have seen within these few months will not accurately or adequately discern the lasting imprint his actions, while in office, will have upon the framework and fabric of this nation.

When asked the secret to a long happy life, Ida simply looked around the room and stated, “The secret I have learned was never up to me, but was put inside of me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”  Perhaps in regards to the office of president and what we the people can hope the office holder would like to attain while serving, might just be summed up by a man who only spent 45 days there.

 He simply stated, “Sir, I wish to understand the true principles of the Government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

 – William Henry Harrison 9th President of the United States of America

 

 

April 26, 2009

“Hey! We Looked You Over” and were inspired. Thanks Bea!

 

I was 10 years old when I came up with, what I thought at the time, a brilliant idea!  My sister and I had absolutely fallen in love with Lucille Ball, and we decided that if we loved her so much, why not meet her.  Running through the kitchen, I startled my mother; and with much excitement, I expressed my desire to meet Lucille Ball.  As I rambled on and on, mother simply took her seat and uttered those ill fated words that we all hate to hear,” I’m sorry hun, but Lucy has passed away.  She passed away a few years ago!”  What else could she do?  Those words, being so final, dashed the one desire that I had…to simply say thank you for making my day a little brighter.  

The years kept going by, any I began to write T.V. pilots for fun, and I developed a property called “The Good Life”.  Oh what a line up I had:  Shirley McClain married to Jack Lemmon, Ozzie Davis married to Ruby Dee (not too hard to picture), and Betty White married to Walter Mathau.  Three neighbors, who found themselves in many unthinkable situations, the classic “situation comedy” that was mainly character driven.  But, as the years went on, we lost Walter…and then Jack…and finally Ozzie.  Half the cast gone like that, without even a chance to meet them, learn from them, to express to them how they inspired and touched my life.  I simply tucked the pilot away, and soldiered on.  

Today as I went up the escalator at Union Station, a Reuter’s message alerted my phone that another great star had gone on to join the many players that had taken their final bows before…Bea Arthur.  Immediately, stunned & Jarred, I called friends and family alerting them that Bea had passed away.  Several people, who like me had never met Bea in person, stopped in their tracks, displayed their grief, and without much of a choice were forced to face a harsh reality…it’s final, and she’s gone.

Being a little older and more acquainted with death, I found myself earlier thinking of the “Maude” and “Mame”.  The out spoken characters she played that poked fun at the traditionalistic society we lived in and empowered women to speak out, appreciating their voices that had been muted and/or ignored for so long.  I thought…who else would have shaken the barrel, and displayed a character that contemplated abortion, and equal right for women?  Who else would have spoken proudly about divorce, and the insensitivity men of all races shared?  Who else but Bea, could embrace her sexuality, and demand we embrace it as well…and we did.  

She slipped away from us, ending a battle with cancer Saturday morning.  A part of me was upset, because in my mind no disease could lick Bea…no sir; there was no doubt in my mind that she could lick anything that came her way.  I was reminded of the strength her character Dorothy portrayed when being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in “The Golden Girls”.  Relentlessly her character went from doctor to doctor, demanding a diagnosis and not settling for less.  Lighting the fire under her girlfriends, telling them that sexual harassment would not be tolerated, and that just because of their age, life did not nor would it stop.  No, Bea portrayed a character that had strength and spoke up for us in ways we were not yet prepared to articulate.  Thank you dear!

I wish I could have thanked her in person for one thing in particular that touched my heart so dearly.  

When Lucille Ball was honored by the Kennedy Center, Bea got the opportunity to say thank you and pay tribute in person to Lucy, and she did it well.  Although I was too young to understand what was going on, or that it even happened…I like to think, Bea kind of knew that there were many people out there who were speaking, dancing, and singing through her, to say thank you to another great entertainer.  Now, as she joins Lucy, I hope Bea can see just what impact she had on America, The World, and even Me.

See, I would have never persevered with my career, until I saw one of her interviews.  She spoke of how different and how her voice being low, height being tall did not fit the typical blueprint for women in show business at that time…but she kept going.  Having a strong southern accent, a love of more classical styles of music, and playing the piano, left me feeling out of place growing up, but she changed all of that, and for that I want to say thank you.

Thank you Bea, for being a Friend!

She Tugged Our Hearts

She Tugged Our Hearts

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