DrMyers’s Blog

May 19, 2009

Guest Blogger Steve Sherman – “The Personality of America”

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flagPolitics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the right and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.
President Dwight David Eisenhower

During his address to congress, our president brought up an important point that has been largely lost in the debates that have followed. Barack Obama touched on the personality of America that has defined so much of our history and threatens our future.

Our president pointed out that we talk about lots of important issues but do little in our rush to the future. As President Obama pointed out we have talked about health care issues for almost 40 years but have done little. We have talked about reducing dependence on foreign oil for over 25 years. We have talked about improving our educational system for over 50 years.

The problems we are facing today are not new. They are the same problems we talked about yesterday and last year and the year before. The current economic situation is a great example.

There are no surprises with our current economic problems. Every 3 or 4 years since the inception of trickle down, or Reganonmics, we have had a financial crisis. Every 3 or 4 years since the beginning of deregulation and mega mergers there has been a financial situation that cost tax payers billions of dollars. Remember Black Monday. Or how about the Savings & Loan melt down with Silverado and the Keating Five. And Enron, and Worldcom, and the dotcom bust. Our recent history is strewn with economic disasters. Brought about by the economic philosophy that has dominated for the last 25 years.

Our president has a new vision for America. A vision that sees caring for our infrastructure instead of watching 70 year old technology crumble in the face of Hurricane Katrina. Earthen levees and aging pumps left as the Maginot line of defense for a major American city. Following Katrina many pictures appeared showing modern systems in European and even African countries of updated systems that efficiently controlled water and produced beneficial results like electric production and irrigation. President Obama is suggesting we care for and upgrade our infrastructure so there are no more bridge collapses ( a recent article suggested that up to 60% of bridges in the United States are deficient from lack of maintenance). Invest in America first.

For all of our talk about ending dependence on foreign oil, we have stood by and witnessed the rape of the planet we call home. We have watched her resources plundered at increasingly alarming rates. We stand idly by as the planet is destroyed in the name of progress. Clear mountain streams are turning into fetid flows of polluted waters that no longer cool and refresh. Our lust for the earth’s treasures that are then burned creating a second destructive force of released carbon gases that alter the atmosphere, is unquenchable. One spill of the plundered resources can destroy an entire ecological system that took millions of years to develop and balance. The current administration wants to stop talking about dependence on foreign oil by advancing renewable energy sources. Solar systems, wind power, wave power, hydrogen cells. Jobs for Americans using technology developed by Americans. Germany, France and Japan are leading the world in renewable energy usage, all with technology developed in the United States.

The second major issue our president is addressing is health care. We lead the world with medical technology, but we lag the world in the area of efficient health care administration. Untold hours of unproductive time are spent completing insurance forms because every company has a unique form. Access to medical records is time consuming because they are not computerized and transmittable. The cost of maintaining antiquated billing and record keeping systems adds millions to our health care costs. We have the best health care system in the world. We ought to listen to our president and find ways to deliver it as efficiently as possible.

Education was the single greatest factor in building a middle class America that was the envy of the world. Our education system is based on the early 1900’s idea of identifying and nurturing future managers and supervisors. The system allowed all others to struggle along until they either gave up in frustration or completed required courses at a minimal level. The administration envisions an updating of educational objectives and approaches to meet the needs of today. Modernizing education is the first step to a rebirth of the middle class. Ubder the present structure there is a declining middle class that comes closer and loser to the national poverty level.

Eliminating the economic uncertainty of tomorrow by creating new jobs to lower our dependence on fossil fuels, improving our quality of life by renewing our infrastructure with an attention to environmental issues; updating and modernizing the administration of healthcare to match the quality of available care; and insuring our future by improving education. Huge but obtainable goals that can lead us out of the morass that we face today and into a future where the American dream and the reality of America come closer together. It is not about the dollars or how much we pay in taxes. Countries that have tax rates over 50% currently have some of the highest living standards in the world. Look at Sweden and Iceland and Denmark. Like everything else it is about what you get for your investment. We can get the best by investing wisely in the programs President Obama has advocated.

The missing piece is us, the American public. Our hands off approach to government must come to an end. Our chosen form of government requires citizen intervention. Some of the most famous words of President Dwight Eisenhower and President John Kennedy encourage us to be involved. It is acceptance of lesser standards that allow the abuses of government functions. As citizens we have a higher calling than to just show up to vote, we have a patriotic duty to be aware, and be involved. We have a responsibility to future generations to pass on the best that we can do.

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May 18, 2009

Dr. Obama…I Mean…Mr. President!

notre dameWith a cool breeze coming from the St. Joseph River, excitement filled the air in South Bend, Indiana.  South Bend has come a long way since its “Fur Trading” days and now supports a population of over 300,000, with steep economic ties to its main draw…The University of Notre Dame.  Not surprisingly, the “Fighting Irish” was first an all male institution, just like many in its’ day, but today its founders would not have imagined, that an intelligent young lady would be giving the valedictorian address and representing the class of 2009.  I am quite sure that there was another player in today’s ceremonies that the founders did not have in mind; a pro life, African-American, United States President, receiving a honorary doctorate from a university shrouded in Catholic Tradition.  As the crowd descended upon the campus, all were there for different reasons, but all could not deny that one common thread tied their purposes together…Dr. Obama.

The act of awarding Honoarary Doctorate’s is a tradition that has been in practice since the Middle Ages.  Within the United States, we can see the practice affecting even our forefathers (Ben Franklin received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in 1759 and the University of Oxford in 1762 for his scientific accomplishments.) Controversies surrounding these awards have been also become somewhat of a custom, especially in America.  

Students seemed to be up in arms when the Southampton College decided to bestow an honorary doctorate to a figure that had reshaped the lives of children across the world…Kermit the Frog. Although some students objected to awarding a degree to a Muppet, Kermit delivered an enjoyable commencement address and the small college received considerable press coverage.  On the 300th commencement ceremony at Yale University, it was thought only fitting that the sitting President and also former Yale graduate George W. Bush, be awarded an honorary doctorate;  walking out of the ceremonies, some students and teachers did not agree with the University.

The year’s old debate of pro-choice and pro-life fueled the fire of some protestors who protested outside of Notre Dame University as the President received his Honorary Doctorate.  Being fully aware of their concern, Barack Obama stated “head on” his stance and feelings regarding the matter, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.  So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

Although disrupted twice by hecklers, his message was received by those in which the message was intended to reach…the graduates.  Little was said regarding the demeanor kept by the graduating class, when protests began around the campus this past week.  Although interviewed by pundits and news anchors, the students approached this matter in a very mature manner…by welcoming the voice of a person that, although not always in agreement with, they were willing to pull out the nuggets of truth and wisdom from the advice he was willing to share with them on this, their historic moment.  

One may ask; Are the students that took part in the ceremony today, examples of the kind of diplomacy that we can expect to see in our future?  If so, can peace at home be a tangible reality as well as peace in the Middle East?

Perhaps Dr. Kermit the Frog stated this situation best, and how we can approach it:

 kermit

“…you are no longer tadpoles. The time has come for you to drop your tails and leave this swamp. But I am sure that wherever I go as I travel around the world, I will find each and every one of you working your tails off to save other swamps and give those of us who live there a chance to survive. We love you for it.”

Dr. Kermit the Frog

May 15, 2009

Friday’s Reflection: Advice from the Past!

 

John F Kennedy

John F Kennedy

When thinking of today’s blog, I was perplexed on exactly what to expand on for today. Perhaps, this blog could have been dedicated to Mr. Cheney’s denial from the CIA to release memo’s that would support his views on the results that can be gained from torture. On the other hand, I could have written on the highly debated statements made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her efforts to clear her name, when trying to convince the press of her “un-involvement” with briefings concerning the torture tactics being used by the CIA. My keyboard just could not re-hash the “Miss California” controversy…Larry King handled that just fine all by himself, while the issue of Gay Marriage is being re-strategized by the Human Rights Campaign’s alignment with a faith based campaign on the west coast. Chrysler’s misfortunes(which served as a precursor to what GM will be forced to do as well) just can not be properly articulated, while the Banks and Bail-Outs lost their allurement while writing this blog…perhaps I have just grown tired.

President’s Obama descisoin to block the release of torture photo’s holds solid arguments from both sides, while another Democrat is stating that he too was misguided by CIA Briefings. Former President Bush has been very quiet in the mainstream media, but I suppose one would have to be quiet in order to raise 100 million dollars since leaving office (from who… we do not yet know). Joe Biden ate his burger and kept quiet this week, while Defense Secretary Gates made a little commotion, firing a General, and ensuring that the president’s agenda is carried out in the war abroad.

No, today, after seeing the shape of the economy, the rise in unemployment, and the repairs being made to marriages and a space telescope, I believe a time of reflection was needed for today. A time that we listen to a little advice, from a man who represented then a “new generation”, who faced similar problems as we face today. From this speech, I hope you can be inspired…as Americans, to see that regardless of how long ago this winter January speech was made, how similar his rhetoric speaks to the problems, intentions, and solutions we are currently faced with today.

Perhaps, through reflection, we can move forward into the next week with a clear head, a clearer direction, and hopefully the clearest conscious.

 

Aaron L Myers, II

Aaron L Myers, II

 

 

“It takes Courage to begin, but the art is finishing”
~Aaron L Myers, II

May 14, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!: Truth Commission?

tortureIraq7.16831244_stdWhen trying a murder trial, evidence can make or break the decision which could determine one’s  freedom. It is for this cause, prosecuters try their very best to have as much evidence as possible when pushing a jury for conviction. This evidence is important because no one in the courtroom were present at the time of the incident, no one but the defendant; and his/her integrity is in question.  Proving his/her guilt or innocence would be much easier if there were some type of evidence that could paint a clearer picture of what happened during the incident. In many cases, a picture of the crime being commited “in the act” would easily acquit or convict, but having that picture is a rare find to a prosecutor…except for those prosecuting against the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Some (but not all) pictures were released before, giving insight to the treatment of prisoners at the detention facility, but this month the rest of the pictures were scheduled to be released…until The White House told the press that Obama would fight the release of dozens of photographs showing the abuse of terrorism suspects. What’s in the photo’s?

Barack Obama received some unexpected praise today from Republican Senator Graham regarding his decision. Harshly criticizing the President’s stimulus package during the beginning of the administration, and questioning the “Change” Obama touted during his campaign, the Senator praised Obama for choosing to act as Commander in Chief without letting politics sway his decision. In another surprising move, the Senator admitted defeat in challenging the Stimulus Package, and encouraged South Carolina Governor to accept the stimulus money.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU and advocating for the photos’ release, expressed outrage and said the decision “makes a mockery” of Obama’s campaign promise of transparency. “It’s absolutely essential that these photos be released so the public can examine for itself the torture and abuse that was conducted in its name, and so that high-level officials who authorized or permitted that abuse can be held accountable,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said.

A poll done by the Los Angeles Times Indicated:

Should President Obama release the photos showing alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel?

36.1 %
Yes, release all the photos. We need to know the full extent of detainee abuse under the Bush administration.

6.5 %
Yes, but with caveats. The administration should be careful about which photos it releases.

57.4 %
No. Obama is correct: Releasing the photos would put our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in more danger.

2005 total responses

The President has defended his actions by stating that releasing the photo’s “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals…In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger,” Obama told reporters. “Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.” With a future trip to Egypt planned later this month, Obama is clinging to National Security as his main reason for blocking the release of the photo’s; while also discouraging a truth commission from being formed, which is supported by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

One must wonder, what actions are depicted in these photo’s that would reignite anti-American feelings? It has been hinted that these pictures are not as vulgar as the pictures released before hand. If this is the case, why drag out this painful part of America’s past and get these photo’s out and into the hands of American people.

Witholding  these photo’s only further ignite conspiracy theorists, and clouds the transparency of this new administration with dirt from it’s predecessors. Would these pictures further sway public opinion towards influencing their representatives to prosecute members of the former Administration. A bigger question is; if the previous administration broke the law, why are we hesitant to prosecute? Could it mean that many more representatives(other than the republicans associated with the Bush Administration) were fully aware of the going on’s within the prison, and did not stand up for right?

It has been argued that the descisions made by the former administration, was made swiftly with only the concern of preventing the death of more American lives.  Did this protection warrant us to break our treaty signed with the United Nations; and if this treaty endangers America’s National Security…why do we honor it?

Perhaps that fine General could shed some light within our current plight:

 

General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

 

 

I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.

General Douglas MacArthur

May 13, 2009

Infidelity: To Home, To Party, To Country!

 

Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards

Being born in a part of the country where a man’s word was/is his bond, after growing up, the world doesn’t appear nor tend to operate under the same mantra. I can still remember going to “Mr.Franklin’s Hardware Store”, and at this store, or in my opinion a resale shop, a group of men all in their 70’s and 80’s sat around, told stories, swapped antidotes, and made small business deals,all without paper. My grand-father (who’s 96 years old) has taught me that a man’s word and his name will be permanently attached at the hip. We have seen many great men and women fall from their guilded towers, because the public had lost faith in their (the public figure’s) integrity. Infidelity to ones family, political party, and country has been at the center of news subjects over the last few days. It is these topics I shall address today.

 

Perhaps, we should examine the word Infidelity. One would think that the word “Infidel” would be the root word of infidelity, but it is not. Only within it’s loose definition ( a person who disbelieves or doubts a particular theory, belief, creed, etc.; skeptic.,) can we find a correlation between Infidel “a noun/adjective ” and Infidelity “a verb”; and that is the correlation of disbelieves-creed. Infidelity is a breach of trust or a disloyal act/transgression. It is within this definition that we will continue on within this discussion.

Over the course of the last year, John Edwards (once a celebrated young Senator and Vice Presidential Contender) has been ridiculed by the press and by many Americans due to his infidelity to his wife. Married over 30 years, Former Senator Edwards made the rounds of states announcing his candidacy for president. With a full staff of old and young people who believed in him, he used his charming smile to captivate the hearts of potential voters, before having to convince one last person of his competence. Elizabeth Edwards, who is suffering with terminal cancer, has been promoting her book, “Dilligence”, and speaking out about how this tower of a man is still fighting back to win trust not only with the American People, but with her.

Labeling his infidelity as a “frailty”, she explained in interviews about how this major indiscretion threatened to ruin all of the good that had been wrought within their 3 decades together. Just think, with the country in an economic down-turn, job loss at a record high, and a war still being fought abroad; what would have happened if a then elected John Edwards would have to combat these infidelities to the country, our allies and enemies that are both domestic and abroad. His party and his country would have been dealt a great in justice, at a true time of crisis…a time that should be spent caring for his wife and his family.

Speaking of infidelity to ones party, Vice President Dick Cheney has come to mind recently. Since leaving the Naval Observatory, Mr. Cheney has been a very vocal soundbite, defending the actions of the Bush Administration and staunchly criticizing the actions of the Obama Administration. But out of all things, with an approval rating teetering under 30%, he stated on television that, “I thought Collin Powell had already left the party.” One must ask; at a time when the Republican Party is drifting further and further apart, why would a former VP, who could be using this time/influence to unite his part, re-organize, and get back in touch with the American People, would he make odds with one of the most respected people within his party. After supporting then Candidate Obama, Colin Powell indicated that he believed that the Republican Party had moved away from fundamental values…these principles enacted and supported by the Bush/Cheney Administration, an administration Mr. Powell left in 2004.

Regardless if Cheney feels as if by Mr. Powell slighted him in some way, putting one’s personal agenda ahead of one’s party, will end in horror; just as putting one’s personal agenda in front of one’s country.

Infidelity of one’s country by the members of Congress who have been neglecting the public interest of their districts by playing childish partisan politics, has left this country in shambles. The government revised estimates for the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security on Tuesday, moving up the date when trust funds for the entitlement programs will run out of money. The Medicare fund for hospital care will be depleted in 2017, two years earlier than government actuaries estimated a year ago. This will be negatively effecting a host of democrats and republicans who live all over the country. The Social Security trust fund wouldn’t be exhausted until 2037, but that is four years earlier than last year’s report predicted. In turn, the neglectful eye of the members of congress, has left the future problems of this country almost impossible to be solved by a future generation, who (judging by the current track record of both Republicans and Democrats) may not have ample resources to offer a solution to these inevitable catastrophe’s.

Arlen Specter switched parties because he didn’t think he could win an election as a Republican. John McCain doesn’t use email and doesn’t know how to use a blackberry. Joe Barton is ready to start using “Clean Coal Technology” right now, and the Speaker of the House of Representative can’t remember what she was told…while serving on an “intelligence committee”! The oldest member of Congress is 91 years old (I bet he won’t be twittering any time soon), and the longest serving member of congress, has been in office longer than the President has been alive. In my opinion…both Democrats and Republicans are “out of touch” with reality, and at this point… and unless the American People stand up and pay attention, we will be creating problems that my grand children might not be able to solve.

Infidelity is a hard reality that we are facing at home, within our political parties, and within our country, but maybe this forefather could shed some light on how we can approach our future:

 

James Madison

James Madison

 

 

“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”

~James Madison  

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  

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