I've set up a multi-author social blog to be used by my part-time blogger friends who don't want one of their own. Send me a note if you'd like to be able to write on For Consideration

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

First off, let me ask all who read this to join in the National Moment of Remembrance today at 3PM, to honor in particular those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country and our freedom. Go to to learn more.  Secondly, for those on Facebook, the White House has a great application where you can honor a random fallen soldier. I've been updating mine about every hour to honor another. Go to my profile to find the app.
You all know me to be not much of a "flag waver." I prefer to show my patriotism and respect in my own way, which tends to be with 100 percent sincerity and in my own words, as opposed to doing what others have made and decided is the right way to show patriotism. On this Memorial Day though please take some time to think about what sacrifices have been made, what it's meant to the families of those who made that sacrifice and what it's meant to our country. Also, try to take time to personally thank anyone you know who has served because without them as well this country would not be as free as it is and the ultimate sacrifice could have easily been theirs to bare.
Memorial Day is also a day to remember loved ones who are no longer with us. I tend to do this myself by remembering all the good times shared with them, what wonderful people they were and how much they meant to my life. I won't list all those I miss but will say a special remembrance to my daughter Jennifer Lee, who I never had the opportunity to get to know. Miss you, sweetheart. So while we remember and honor those who've served and those we've lost, let's cherish the time spent with them but also take advantage of the time we still have with those who are still with us. So how about just letting them know in some personal way that you're glad they're in your life.

(cross posted at All Things Zebster)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DADT -- What difference does it make?

As is my tendency, I'm speaking as the devil's advocate.  What is the practical difference between Don't Ask Don't Tell and what things will be like in the military if and when it is repealed?
When I was in the Marine Corps, if DADT wasn't the law, it was certainly the practice.  We all served with people we suspected were gay; and speaking for myself only, it certainly didn't matter in a personal or professional relationship with those folks.  To be clear, I never spent any time in a war-time foxhole and so obviously wasn't in a position to evaluate my feelings sharing that situation with someone I knew or suspected was gay.  I can tell you with all certainty it would not have mattered to me.
But that's really not what I'm getting at.  How will things be any different in the military if gays won't have to conceal who they are?  Do you think all of a sudden there will be openly gay (insert whatever slang here you choose -- flaming, etc) people wearing a uniform?  Do you think suddenly people in uniform will be walking around limp wristed?  Seriously, just because the laws change doesn't mean day-to-day life will change.  There will still be those non-gay members who it doesn't matter to and will be your friend, and there will continue to be those who'll want to take you out back and beat the hell out of you. 
So with that backdrop, gay people know they'll still need to live their daily military lives the same way as before.  There will still be bigotry regarding promotions.  There will still be a military dress code and rules of comportment.
Understand this:  I believe every one should be treated equally and fairly, and I believe DADT should be repealed; but also that I served and realize that the military is a special universe, shall we say, with special requirements.  If I thought for one second that repealing DADT would negatively effect the daily morale of troops or create an environment that could be dangerous to those who are fighting our wars, I would sadly be against it.
What am I missing?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Progressive link day

Unfortunately the full-throated blog juices still aren't flowing on a regular basis, despite the fact that so much is going on and so much is pissing me off.  So while I'm tending to my wife who's home recovering from a couple of hernia repairs (and I had a wisdom tooth pulled on Thursday, which was no sweat at all), I'm reading some good articles and blogs and thought I'd share.
You'd think pulling a wisdom tooth would be more difficult than finding an honest, rational thought from the radical right that has hijacked the modern Republican Party.  Think again.  Am I the only progressive who was at least a wee bit optimistic that after 8 years of monumental fuck-ups that a decent percentage of conservatives would have been interested (just interested) in rethinking their intransigent beliefs?  If we harbored any of that optimism, it went out the window the day of or at least by the day after Obama's election when he was blamed for everything he was served.
I guess if all you care about is your side winning and never having to take responsibility for your support or lack of dispute, the only other option is to act like it never happened until the other team takes the field.  Cowards is the only word that comes to mind.
So with that in mind, let me encourage my progressive friends (ye of open-mindedness, a belief that the best is always ahead, and that smart and thoughtful is always better than closed-mindedness and hate) to hold true to what we know is right and just, and do and say whatever is necessary  to take this country and world in the right direction, as is so very well said in this article by Mike Lux at the Huffington Post, where you can always find something thought provoking.
From the "while I don't always agree with him but he doesn't mince his words" department, I bring you a great rant by Bill Maher, including this excerpt:
For example: to solve our debt crisis, a bunch of Republican senators suggested a bipartisan debt commission, which is the adult thing to do. But when Obama agreed to it, immediately seven of them said no -- now they're against it. Because Obama has cooties. Democrats have cooties, so you can't vote with them, or work with them, and compromise is treason.
Finally (for now anyway) I'd like to point you to a long-time blogging friend who reminds us, and warns us, how far some on the radical right will go in attempting to affect the change they want.  RIP Harvey Milk.

I'm likely to update this later with more links.  Feel free to suggest any in your comments or to me in a PM at Facebook.

UPDATE:  Here's a dichotomy link from The Boston Globe, showing what good journalism is and why we still and always will need newspapers, and to show how nepotism and cronyism still controls our politics and bureaucracy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thomas Brackett Reed

Another one from the category "See how little you know about your home state."
I'm watching Ken Burns' documentary "The Congress" yesterday when there's mention of Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine.  "Who?," says I.  Click "like" below if you're from Maine and you haven't heard of him either.  How many Speakers of the House are from Maine?  Two, I believe, Blaine being the other.  So you'd think that would be a common name to hear during our educations in Maine. 
Reed was an important enough figure to be mentioned in an hour and a half documentary on a subject as vast as the U.S. Congress, despite the fact that he was Speaker well over 100 years ago.
As I've done with other similar blogs, I won't write a biography as much as encourage you to learn more.
I will tease you with this and include the below link and excerpt.  His efforts to increase the powers of the Speaker were dramatic and lead to the tenure of one of the more powerful Speakers ever, Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois.
There's even a street named after him and a statue on the Western Promenade in Portland.
 From Wikipedia
During his time as Speaker, Reed assiduously and dramatically increased the power of the Speaker over the House; although the power of the Speaker had always waxed (most notably during Henry Clay's tenure) and waned, the position had previously commanded influence rather than outright power. Reed set out to put into practical effect his dictum that "The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch"; this was accomplished by carefully studying the existing procedures of the U.S. House, most dating to the original designs written by Thomas Jefferson. What followed has popularly been called the "Battle of the Reed Rules".

UPDATE:  Author Evan Thomas was on "207" tonight talking about his new book about the Spanish American War, and Reed's name comes up as one of the few prominent politicians who were against the war. Portland, ME Newsweek's Evan Thomas

Thursday, May 13, 2010

That's mighty white of you, America

According to a recent WSJ/NBCNews poll, two-thirds of Americans are in favor of the new Arizona illegal immigration law, even though practically the same percentage feel it will lead to discrimination.
You know, it's always been an easy thing to say you're for an infringement on your rights for the better good when you know damn well you'll never have to worry about it.  No one, and I mean no one, whines louder than white Americans when their rights are perceived to be infringed upon.  We who were born in this country and fortunate to have the correct skin pigmentation take our rights for granted, which is why sadly too many of us who've never had to worry about it carelessly say it's okay for others.
What if the immigration issue in this country involved Canadians, who in most respects look and sound like white Americans?  Do you want to guess what the reaction would be by these same supporters of this law when they're asked to produce proof of citizenship?
What good would it do to have a law like this when nearly everyone looks the same?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walking away when you're under water

So let me make sure I understand this.  It's morally okay for a home owner to "walk away" from a mortgage they can afford to pay simply because the home is now worth considerably less than its value at the time of purchase?  That's just a smart business decision and nothing more? 
Whatever happened to the concept of "a deal's a deal?"  You're saying your word and your commitment is only as good as the day-to-day economic viability of the deal?  So if you sell me your vintage '60's muscle car on time and six months later the bottom falls out of the vintage car market, making my purchase a bad investment, you have no problem with me just bringing it back to you and no longer making the payments?  Why, that's mighty nice of you.  In fact, if you don't mind, I'm going to drive it for a few months for free while you go through the legal process of repossession, since you're in such a charitable mood.
Let's take this a step or two further because I really want to understand what's motivating your thoughts.  If five years after your purchase the value of the home has doubled, are you going to insist that the bank redo the mortgage and you'll gladly pay it?  No?  But the bank should renegotiate the mortgage if the value drops?
So can I fairly assume that since practically every home in this country is worth less now than it was two years ago, you have no problem with all of us walking away leaving the bank high and dry?  One last consideration:  What are you going to tell your neighbors when your local credit union, the one holding your life's savings and theirs, goes under when we all renig on the mortages they hold?

Monday, May 10, 2010

What's it worth?

It's been a long time since we had a guest post on Inside Zebster.  Hopefully this nice piece by LadyA will be the first of more to come.   She points out in the piece below something that we don't as American  consumers want to think about...we just want it cheap.  How long has it been since the standard of living for the middle class and below in this country even came close to keeping pace with the cost of living?

Please welcome Lady A and leave any comments you'd like.

"For those currently engaged in debate over the “illegal alien” issue, I offer this:

You forget your history. The entire original infrastructure of this country was built on slave/cheap imported labor. From the plantations in the south to the rail lines in the west, land/company owners have never paid decent wages if they weren't required to. As long as American consumers want the lowest prices, regardless of the wages paid to the producers of said products; and American stock holders want the highest returns on their investments, regardless of the working conditions and benefits offered to the employees of said companies; American employers will have to look for sources for the lowest wages. When American consumers are finally willing to pay the>true< full price of the goods and services they consume, there will  no longer be a need for employers in this country to employ these illegals.

After I posted the above commentary on my Facebook the other day, I had a conversation with friends regarding compulsory education for our children between the ages of 8-16. I was again reminded that without laws to prevent it, our business owners will employ the most vulnerable members of the population without regard to ethical practices."