Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

All comments welcome, pro or con. Passionate ok, but let's be civil. ...Pertinent comments will be published on this blog. Air your viewpoints.


Skyline - Houston, Texas

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

John Kerry letter

Worried American just asked me if I received this letter. yes, I probably receive most of what she does.

Here it is.

Dear Ann,

Yesterday, 25 Democratic Senators joined our effort to filibuster the Alito nomination -- that's more votes to filibuster the Alito nomination than there were votes against Justice Roberts' nomination itself just a few months ago.

This morning, 42 Senators voted against Alito's nomination. That's the highest number of votes against any Supreme Court nominee since Clarence Thomas in 1991.

It's hard to lose -- but it's important to fight for what we believe in. I want to thank the hundreds of thousands of you who signed our petitions, called your senators, wrote letters to the editor and, most important, refused to stand silent while President Bush worked to pack the highest court in the land with far right ideologues. We fought a fight that needed fighting.

We made sure the nation knew the truth about the Alito nomination. We made sure America heard how a right wing ideological coup sandbagged Harriet Miers' nomination and replaced her with Judge Alito. No one will be able to say, in five to ten years, that he or she is surprised by the decisions Judge Alito makes from the bench. People who believe in privacy rights, who fight for the rights of the most disadvantaged, who believe in balancing the power between the President and Congress had to take a stand.

We also made it clear to the Bush administration that no matter what they throw at us in 2006 -- whether it's extreme nominees, special interest giveaways, shortsighted policy or Swift Boat-style attacks against Democratic candidates -- we will never surrender. We will always fight back.

Now, we must be clear about something else. Winning the 2006 congressional elections is the only way to change the dangerous path George W. Bush has put us on. We need to defeat those Republicans who have overlooked this administration's incompetence, turned a blind eye to its failures, and lent a helping hand to its dangerous ideology.

Together, we have to act to make sure 2006 is the year Americans, led by Democrats, stand up to incompetence, cronyism and corruption, take back Congress, and get our nation moving in the right direction again.

I look forward to fighting alongside you.


John Kerry

Worried American

I was away from the computer for a while this afternoon and came back to find an email from Worried American about her mother. I'd been expecting it and have been quite concerned about her but it wasn't my place to say anything here until she did.

Now I can.

She and I met not long after I started Rocrebelgranny (the other blog). I'm not sure how she found me but I began receiving comments from what I first thought were two different commenters in Texas. I introduce new people over there and at some point I introduced her to her. I'm sure she must have been shaking her head. As she said, she's a private person and it took me a while to make the connection between the two user names.

My birth mother died a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. It was a difficult time. I first met her when I was around 19 and we'd become close. My adoptive mother back in central New York is 93 and doing well but I know that I could expect a phone call like the one Worried is waiting for at any time.

It will be sad and exhausting for her. A lot of travel and final arrangements are involved as she said. I would have wished a peaceful death for her mother as well. Now I just hope the medical staff can keep her as comfortable as possible and, if she can't recover, that this doesn't drag on. That will help nobody.

I have said often over on granny and in private emails that I am surprised at how close I feel to the online friends I've never "met". I rejoice in joys like births and birthdays and am saddened by this kind of news.

We are a varied community here of different spiritual beliefs (Or none) but I know we share concern for each other. It goes with the kind of people we are I think.

Please keep Worried American in your thoughts or prayers. She may not be near a computer for a while but I know she'll appreciate your thoughts even if she doesn't see them right away. I don't know which one of us will keep you updated but if I hear something, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll try to hold down the fort over here. I don't have Worried's style but i'll be around.

It's homework time how with my youngest. Worried just came back in with another email and it's hard to bounce back and forth so I'll close this out.

Take care and please be thinking about my good friend. This will not be easy for her.

Ann Struggling Back From War's Once-Deadly Wounds

The New York Times E-mail This
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Message from sender:
another in series. the faces in Bush's war

NATIONAL   | January 22, 2006
The Wounded:  Struggling Back From War's Once-Deadly Wounds
Men and women living with injuries that would have been fatal in earlier wars are a singular legacy of the war in Iraq.

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Imagine Me & You in select theaters January 27th

IMAGINE ME & YOU begins as a young bride discovers love at first sight on the day of her wedding . . . but not with the groom. A refreshingly unconventional and witty comedy about looking at love a little differently, starring Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, and Matthew Goode.



Some time back I mentioned that I might be off for awhile, citing my Compaq's need for medical attention from the computer doctor. I may have also mentioned personal reasons, I don't recall. Compaq is still limping along, but personal matters are coming to a head.

I am a very private person and I don't like to talk about my personal life very much. I have posted personal business before in response to circumstances, but that is not my usual style. Granny knows a lot about my life, but that's between me and her. Granny is the soul of discretion and doesn't speak about matters without consent.

I have mentioned my 96 year old mother. Her health has been failing for quite a while; her aged heart muscle, having beat more than once a second for almost a century is worn out and cannot push the blood strongly enough as needed. My family and I have been waiting for several months for the dreaded phone call, expecting to hear that she had passed peacefully in her sleep. The doctor told my younger sister on Friday that it was a matter of weeks or less. Although expected and knowing it is best, it is still difficult to lose your mother. So we've been under considerable stress. Knowing that the end was not far off, we have been involved in completing pre-need arangements and planning the services, one in her home town and one 250 miles away where our family cemetary is located.

Today we received the call but it was not as expected. Mother has developed pulmonary emboli and is in grave condition in ICU. As you know, blood clots in the lungs are very painful and she must be given morphine to alleviate some of the pain. It appears that her passing will not be as quiet and peaceful as we had expected. It is a hard thing to know your mother is suffering greatly. If she lived very long in this condition, I would opt for assisted-death, but Texas has no such mercy laws and my siblings would never agree.

One of the specialists has scheduled more tests tomorrow as he believes there is more going on besides the multiple blood clots. She has more in her legs, so that presents added dangers. It doesn't look good for Mother, even though they are giving her medication to dissolve the clots. She is so old, weakened and debilitated and has little stamina left. There is a chance she may pull out of this, but a very slim one.

I would like very much to be with her at this time but I am dependent on my children for transportation. As there is no way to know how long or short the time may be, and when the time comes they will have to be off work for several days, so they can ill afford to take leave now. I must wait, and every time the phone rings .... I really don't feel like blogging now, and when I go to Corpus Christi, I will be gone for awhile. There will be much to do even after the funeral. Granny is very well able to hold down the fort during my absence.



I've posted cartoons here before and no one commented on them so I do not know if our reader friends like them or not. I do. Political cartoonists are often able to jab the sharp stick right where it is most effective, and do it a humorous manner.

I am a sidebar junkie as well as a political cartoon junkie. I like to check out sidebars for interesting tidbits. I can surf for an hour or two following sidebar links and have a heck of a time remembering where I originally started.

Even if no one shares my amusement at cartoons, I'm posting a site, anyway. The original url is
The direct url is
Cartoonists tackle issues of the day.

On the right sidebar click on the small images for an enlarged cartoon image. Scroll down the sidebar and click on subjects that interest you. I clicked on "homosexuality" and pulled up 6 very amusing cartoons, including several on Brokeback Mountain and on gay marriage. Bush gets poked with the sharp stick numerous times; he's always a target.
I'm going to return an try to print out some of the funniest.

Send to a Friend: Article from

A Project of the Institute for America's Future

I thought you would be interested in this.

In particular, I thought you'd find the following item interesting:

Former Senator and Vice President candidate Edwards offers ideas for bringing our nation back to the America we once had, before we became the image of shame and disgrace before the world that Bush adminstration has brought us to.

© 2004 ( Project of The Institute for America's Future )

I can always count on Zay Smith to brighten my day

If you must watch the State of the Union tonight, here is some assistance from the Chicago Sun-Times Quick Takes today:


If politician's mouth is open

QT News You Can Use (State of the Union, Democratic Response and Subsequent TV Spin Interviews Edition):

Touching the nose, touching the face and ears, slurring or stammering, leaning forward, swallowing, lip licking, inappropriate smiling, pauses filled with such words as "uh" and "er," increased slips of the tongue and grammatical errors, an averted gaze, throat clearing, increased verbal qualifiers such as "generally" and "actually," expansion of contractions into full phrases such as "didn't" into "did not," emphasis of statements with such words as ""honestly" and "as far as I know," decreased finger pointing, decreased hand gestures in general, tightened lips, shrugging, increased handling of such objects as eyeglasses or papers, decreased blinking, crossed arms, closing the hands into fists and increased sighing and audible breaths are 23 ways, according to researchers, to tell if someone is lying.


My post, "Good Post Granny" was re: "Conservatives Against Bush". I posted mine immediately after yours, but Blogger inserted two more in between.


I printed the article of your post below. I will make copies and send it to some of my pro-Bush family and friends.I already know their reactions.

Some will say, "well, see there! The top legal minds in America say it's ok, so it must be right!"

Others, who may entertain a tiny inkling that wrong has been done, will still defend Bush, "Well, poor thing! No wonder he made a mistake. See there, those bad ole lawyers gave him bad advice and misled him. It ain't his fault!" But maybe a miniscule shred of reason may cling to their brains.

Alito vote

The four Democrats who broke party ranks and voted for Alito are Sens. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Kent Conrad of North Dakota. All four of the states represented by the senators were carried by Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

Lincoln Chaffee (R) of RI voted no.

Why should the Republican moderates stick their political necks out when our own won't bother?

If I were living in any of the above states, I think I'd campaign for the first Republican I could find. They couldn't be any worse and at least I'd know what to expect. It isn't backstabbing when it comes from the other side of the aisle. Maybe not but right now I'm angry enough to do something that dumb.

William Rivers Pitt - Truthout today

The entire article is available by clicking on the title but I wanted to publish the last couple of paragraphs. They stand alone. The rest of the article, although interesting, deals largely with the state of the disunion from our point of view. He's addressing the choir. It's still worth reading but this jumped out at me.


The Reign of Witches

The state of this union is not good. We are poorer, frightened, faced with the swelling ranks of enemies our leaders have created, and hell-bent to do away with the most precious aspects of our system of government. We are surveilled, propagandized, intimidated. We empower the radicals and disenfranchise the common good. We are fed swill via the television and thus convinced that what they tell us is what we already believe. We are bought, and we are paid for.

The radicals running this country have long desired to destroy the government's ability to govern - they found things like taxes intrusive, which is amusing when one hears them now defending warrantless spying on Americans - and they are well along the path towards success. The budget is destroyed, spent on tax cuts and the Iraq occupation, while millions of Americans suffer the loss of necessary services. The one percent of the one percent is making a killing, and the rest of us are left behind.

If there is hope to be found in all this, it is in the words of Thomas Jefferson, written 208 years ago after the passage of the Sedition Act.

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake."

Conservatives against Bush

On my way out but wanted to post this before I misplaced it. A group of government attorneys have quietly resigned over the last couple of years rather than implement this Administration's fascist policies.

Good for them. I wish they had been a little more vocal but it's something. Today, I'll settle for anything.

From Newsweek, a six page article naming names and circumstances.

Coretta Scott King

From the New York Times - reprinted in Truthout today

Coretta Scott King, 78, Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dies
By Peter Applebome
The New York Times

Tuesday 31 January 2006

Coretta Scott King, first known as the wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then as his widow, then as an avid proselytizer for his vision of racial peace and non-violent social change died Monday night, her sister in law, Christine King Farris, said this morning.

She was 78 and had been in failing health for years following a stroke.

Andrew Young, the former United Nations ambassador, said in a phone call to NBC's "Today" show that Mrs. King died last night at her home in Atlanta.

"I understand she was asleep last night and her daughter tried to wake her up," Mr. Young said.

Mrs. King rose from rural poverty in Heiberger, Ala., to become an international symbol of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and a tireless advocate for a long litany of social and political issues ranging from women's rights to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa that followed in its wake.

She was studying music at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1952 when she met a young graduate student in philosophy, who on their first date told her: "The four things that I look for in a wife are character, personality, intelligence and beauty. And you have them all." A year later she and Dr. King, then a young minister from a prominent Atlanta family, were married, beginning a remarkable partnership that ended with Dr. King's assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

Mrs. King did not hesitate to pick up his mantle, marching before her husband was even buried at the head of the garbage workers he had gone to Memphis to champion. She then went on to lead the effort for a national holiday in his honor and to found the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, dedicated both to scholarship and to activism, where Dr. King is buried.

Aside from the trauma of her husband's death, which left her alone with four young children, Mrs. King faced other trials and controversies over the years. She was at times viewed as chilly and aloof by others in the movement. The King Center was criticized first as competing for funds and siphoning energy from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which Dr. King had headed. In recent years, it has been widely viewed as adrift, characterized by intra-family squabbling and a focus more on Dr. King's legacy than continuing his work. And even many allies were baffled and hurt by her campaign to exonerate James Earl Ray, who in 1969 had pleaded guilty to her husband's murder, and her contention Ray did not commit the crime.

But more often, Mrs. King has been seen as an inspirational figure around the world, a dogged advocate for her husband's causes and a woman of enormous spiritual depth who came to personify the ideals Dr. King fought for.

"She'll be remembered as a strong woman whose grace and dignity held up the image of her husband as a man of peace, of racial justice, of fairness," said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. King and then served as its president for 20 years. "I don't know that she was a civil rights leader in the truest sense, but she became a civil rights figure and a civil rights icon because of what she came to represent."

Coretta Scott was born April 27, 1927, the middle of three children born to Obadiah and Bernice Scott. She grew up in the two-room house her father built on land that had been owned by the family for three generations.

From the start there was nothing predictable about her life. The family was poor, and she grew up picking cotton in the hot fields of the segregated South or doing housework. But Mr. Scott hauled timber, owned a country store and worked as a barber. His wife drove a school bus, and the whole family helped raise hogs, cows, chickens and vegetables. So by the standards of blacks in Alabama at the time the family had both resources and ambitions out of the reach of most others.

Some of Coretta Scott's earliest insights into the injustice of segregation came as she walked to her one-room school house each day, watching buses full of white children kick up dust as they passed. She got her first sense of the world beyond rural Alabama when she attended the Lincoln School, a private missionary institution in nearby Marion, where she studied piano and voice, had her first encounters with college-educated teachers and where she resolved to flee to a world far beyond the narrow confines of rural, segregated Alabama.

She graduated first in her high school class of 17 in 1945 and then began attending Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where two years earlier her older sister, Edythe, had become the first black to enroll. She studied education and music and after graduation went on to the New England Conservatory of Music, hoping to become a classical singer and working as a mail order clerk and cleaning houses to augment the fellowship that barely paid her tuition.

Her first encounter with the man who would become her husband did not begin auspiciously. Dr. King, very much in the market for a wife, called her after getting her name from a friend and announced: "You know every Napoleon has his Waterloo," he said. "I'm like Napoleon. I'm at my Waterloo, and I'm on my knees."

"That's absurd," Ms. Scott, two years his elder, replied. "You don't even know me."

Still, she agreed to meet for lunch the next day only to be put off initially that he wasn't taller. But she was impressed by his erudition and confidence and he saw in this refined, intelligent woman what he was looking for as the wife of a preacher from one of Atlanta's most prominent ministerial families. When he proposed, she deliberated for six months before finally saying "yes" and they were married in the garden of her parents' house on June 18, 1953. The 350 guests, elegant big-city folks from Atlanta and rural neighbors from Alabama, made it the biggest wedding, white or black, the area had ever seen.

And even before the wedding she made it clear she intended to remain her own woman. She stunned Dr. King's father, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., who presided over the wedding, by demanding that she wanted the promise to obey her husband removed from the wedding vows. Reluctantly, he went along. After it was over, the bridegroom fell asleep in the car back to Atlanta while the new Mrs. King did the driving.

Mrs. King thought she was signing on for the ministry, not ground zero in the seismic cultural struggle that would shake the South when he became minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery in 1954. But just over a year later the Montgomery Bus Boycott brought Dr. King to national attention and then like riders on a runaway freight train, the minister and his young wife found themselves in the middle of a movement that would transform the South and ripple through the nation. In 1960, the family moved back to Atlanta, where he shared the pulpit of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.

With four young children to raise, Yolanda born in 1955, Martin 3d in 1957, Dexter in 1961 and Bernice in 1963, and a movement culture dominated by men, Mrs. King, for the most part, remained away from the front lines of the movement. But the recognition of danger was always there, including a brush with death when he was stabbed while autographing books in Harlem in 1958.

What role she would play was a source of some tension between them. While wanting to be there for their children, she also wanted to be active in the movement. He was, she has said, very traditional in his view of women and balked at the notion she should be more conspicuous.

"Martin was a very strong person, and in many ways had very traditional ideas about women," she told The New York Times Magazine in 1982. She continued: "He'd say, "I have no choice, I have to do this, but you haven't been called,' " "And I said, "Can't you understand? You know I have an urge to serve just like you have.' " Still, he always described her as a partner in his mission, not just a supportive spouse. "I wish I could say, to satisfy my masculine ego, that I led her down this path," he said in a 1967 interview. "But I must say we went down together, because she was as actively involved and concerned when we met as she is now."

Instead, she mostly carved out her own niche, most prominently through more than 30 "Freedom Concerts" where she lectured, read poetry and sang to raise awareness of and money for the civil rights movement.

The division disappeared with Dr. King's assassination. Suddenly, she was not just a symbol of the nation's grief but a woman very much devoted to carrying on her husband's work. Exactly how to do that was something that evolved over time. Marching in Memphis was a dramatic statement, but Ralph Abernathy, one of Dr. King's lieutenants was chosen to take over his movement. In stepping in for her husband after his death, Mrs. King at first used his own words as much as possible as if her goal were simply to maintain his presence, even in death.

But soon she developed her own language and own causes. So when she stood in for her husband at the Poor People's Campaign at the Lincoln Memorial on June 19, 1968, she spoke not just of his vision, but of her's, one about gender as well as race in which she called upon American women "to unite and form a solid block of women power to fight the three great evils of racism, poverty and war." She joined the board of directors of the National Organization for Women as well as that of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference and became widely identified with a broad array of international human rights issues rather than being focused primarily on race.

That broad view, she would argue, was completely in keeping with Dr. King's vision as well. And to carry on that legacy, she focused on two ambitious and daunting tasks. The first was to have a national holiday in his honor, the second was to build a nationally recognized center in Atlanta to honor his memory, continue his work and provide a research center for scholars studying his work and the civil rights era. The first goal was achieved despite much opposition in 1983 when Congress approved a measure designating the third Monday in January as an official Federal holiday in honor of Dr. King, who was born in Atlanta Jan. 15, 1929.

President Ronald Reagan, who had long opposed the King Holiday as too expensive and inappropriate signed the bill, but pointedly refrained from criticizing fellow Republicans such as Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who continued to denigrate Dr. King, saying he had consorted with Communists. The holiday was first observed on Jan. 20, 1986.

The second goal, much more expensive, time consuming and elusive remains to this day a work in progress - and a troubled one at that. When Mrs. King first announced plans for a memorial in 1969, she envisioned a Lincolnesque tomb, an exhibition hall, the restoration of her husband's childhood home, two separate buildings for institutes on non-violent social change and Afro-American studies, a library building an archives building and a museum of African-American life and culture. And she envisioned a center that would be a haven both for scholars and a training ground for advocates of non-violent social change.

Even friends say it may have been too ambitious a goal. Building the center was an enormous achievement in itself. But many of Dr. King's allies, particularly the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, grumbled that the center was draining scarce resources from the movement. And over the years the center struggled to find its mission. Critics worried it had become too much a family enterprise with her two sons, Dexter and Martin 3d vying to be its leader. Those problems became particularly acute after she suffered a stroke and heart attack in August 2005 and the two brothers struggled for control over the center while she was recuperating. As a result, many feel it has not become the scholarly resource it could have become while never becoming a center for civil rights activism.

And many supporters were saddened and baffled by the family's campaign on behalf of James Earl Ray, who confessed to the murder, then recanted and died in 1998 while still seeking a new trial. After his death, Mrs. King issued a statement calling his death a tragedy for his family and for the nation and saying that a trial would have "produced new revelations about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. as well as establish the facts concerning Mr. Ray's innocence."

Still, to the end Mrs. King remained a beloved figure, often compared to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a woman who overcame tragedy, held her family together, and became an inspirational presence around the world. Admirers said she bore her own special burden - being expected somehow to carry on her husband's work and teachings - with a sense of spirit and purpose that made her more than just a symbol.

If picking up Dr. King's mantle, in the end, was something of an impossible task, both of them described a relationship that was truly a partnership. "I think on many points she educated me," Dr. King once said. And she never veered from the conviction, expressed throughout her life, that his dream was her's as well. "I didn't learn my commitment from Martin," she once told an interviewer. "We just converged at a certain time."


Every day we are inundated with a veritable tsunami of news items, plus we blog and surf other blogs, so there is no dearth of information. Now and then we need to look around and see something besides that mess in the White House.

Recently I posted about Social Justice Coalition, a Liberal Answer to the Christian Coalition. Kris writes very short but good posts. On Jan. 25 he wrote that he was making Tee Shirts with the Social Justice Coalition legend on them. He will sell them at cost, $10 plus shipping. If you'd like one, order background color (lettering is white) and size. On Jan. 26 he wrote about Yahoo using a web beacon to track users and webs accessed. He asks, "Is it possible for search engines to exist without selling out to the establishment?" [some already have]On Jan.27 he posted urls for anti-war dissenters, if anyone cares to check them out.

This is a touchy subject, but many issues we broach are touchy. Do any of our friends and fellow bloggers support the assisted-right-to-die practise? I do, under very SPECIFIC, SPECIAL circumstances, and under those circumstances I support the RIGHT of the person to have self determination, to exercise his or her RIGHT TO CHOOSE. And please note that I said "specific, special circumstances". If women have the right to choose, to have control over their own bodies, so do the dying. If you support the dying having the right to choose how they meet their final days, access "Choosing Hope",

The Watchblog, , is an unusual blog, a multi-editor enterprise with 3 columns - Republican, Democrat, and Third Party. You get various viewpoints on issues. Interesting.

Next time - round up the usual suspects.

How low can they go?

Thanks, I think, to "fuzzy and blue" for this by Marjorie Cohn in Truthout today.

I couldn't believe it the first time through. I had to go back and read it again.

Ms. Cohn reports that our female soldiers are dying of dehydration. They avoid fluids for fear of rape on the way to the latrine at night. The link here is to the original truthout article but the "fuzzy and blue" post is worth reading as well. She expresses her outrage; at the moment I'm shaking with anger and speechless.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Medical care for the poor - being cut even more?

I'm too tired to even rant. The article says it all. They're willing to let kids die to save money to turn around and burn in Iraq. They have no shame.

I'm not giving up. I won't but some days are certainly better than others.

One bright note. My sons, my son's wife, and I saw Brokeback Mountain. I was spellbound.

Here's the roll call - let's not forget

Roll Call of the Cloture Vote

The Associated Press tallied the 72-25 vote:

On this vote, a "yes" vote was a vote to end the debate and a "no" vote was a vote to filibuster the nomination.

Voting "yes" were 19 Democrats and 53 Republicans.

Voting "no" were 24 Democrats and one independent.!

Democrats Yes

Akaka, Hawaii; Baucus, Mont.; Bingaman, N.M.; Byrd, W.Va.; Cantwell, Wash.; Carper, Del.; Conrad, N.D.; Dorgan, N.D.; Inouye, Hawaii; Johnson, S.D.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lieberman, Conn.; Lincoln, Ark.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.

Democrats No

Bayh, Ind.; Biden, Del.; Boxer, Calif.; Clinton, N.Y.; Dayton, Minn.; Dodd, Conn.; Durbin, Ill.; Feingold, Wis.; Feinstein, Calif.; Kennedy, Mass.; Kerry, Mass.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.; Menendez, N.J.; Mikulski, Md.; Murray, Wash.; Obama, Ill.; Reed, R.I.; Reid, Nev.; Sarbanes, Md.; Schumer, N.Y.; Stabenow, Mich.; Wyden, Ore.

Democrats Not Voting

Harkin, Iowa.

Republicans Yes

Alexander, Tenn.; Allard, Colo.; Allen, Va.; Bennett, Utah; Bond, Mo.; Brownback, Kan.; Bunning, Ky.; Burns, Mont.; Burr, N.C.; Chafee, R.I.; Chambliss, Ga.; Coburn, Okla.; Cochran, Miss.; Coleman, Minn.; Collins, Maine; Cornyn, Texas; Craig, Idaho; Crapo, Idaho; DeMint, S.C.; DeWine, Ohio; Dole, N.C.; Domenici, N.M.; Enzi, Wyo.; Frist, Tenn.; Graham, S.C.; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hatch, Utah; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Isakson, Ga.; Kyl, Ariz.; Lott, Miss.; Lugar, Ind.; Martinez, Fla.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Roberts, Kan.; Santorum, Pa.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Smith, Ore.; Snowe, Maine; Specter, Pa.; Stevens, Alaska; Sununu, N.H.; Talent, Mo.; Thomas, Wyo.; Thune, S.D.; Vitter, La.; Voinovich, Ohio; Warner, Va.

Republicans No


Republicans Not Voting

Ensign, Nev.; Hagel, Neb.

Others No

Jeffords, Vt.


Thanks to everyone out there who tried. I don't have the names of the cowards yet but we will and we'll make sure come election time that everyone knows who they are.

Shame to the pro-choice Republicans who all but guaranteed the elimination of choice in this country.

Shame to the Democrats who were so worried about their own political ambitions they didn't stand with their fellow Senators.

What will it take to wake this country up? If this didn't do it, will anything?

The neocons must be clapping their pudgy little hands in glee.

I'd like to say what I really think but worried american insists we be civil.


State of the Union

I hope the link works for all of you. It's from the American Progress Action Report shooting down the State of the Union. Now we don't have to listen to it.

Goodbye to mom and pop

From the Sacramento Bee today

This writer is talking about the demise of independent businesses and the loss to America.

Both of my sons and my daughter-in-law work for Barnes & Noble. It's a fine company and near the top of the "Buy Blue" list. I have a great time there. However, it's very different from our downtown second hand bookstore with its funky atmosphere and staff who love books - all books. In fairness to B&N, I can't see that they've made any attempt to swallow up this small store and there seems to be room enough for both here.

Many of our small businesses are disappearing however and the American landscape is changing.

We can drive across the country on the freeways and never notice a thing. The goal seems to be to move from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Worried about strange food? McDonalds will take care of that for you. Need to sleep? How about Motel 6 who always leaves the light on for you. Niagara Falls, Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon? Who needs to waste time on scenery when the kids have a dvd player built in.

I used to drive from San Francisco north to Ukiah, Eureka, or sometimes Crescent City on CA 101 every other month. We often left the main highway and drove through the redwoods just for the beauty. We had favorite stopping places along the way. None were chains. All were unique. We used to look for one new (to us) place on each trip. I wonder if any have survived.

The article isn't a rant against "progress" exactly; more of a regretful look at times past.

We probably can't unring this bell.

Note: I included a link before I remembered that the Sacto Bee requires registration to read their articles. Free, but you may not want to bother. Here's the article:

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Bye, Mom and Pop
By Leonard Pitts Jr.
Published 2:15 am PST Monday, January 30, 2006
I don't expect you to shed any tears because Aron's is gone.
Unless you grew up in L.A., as I did, you've probably never even heard of it. Aron's was this used record and CD store that I discovered 30 years ago. It was an audiophile heaven where there was never any telling what offbeat treasure you might find.

More to the point, it was "my" place, a store where I spent endless hours browsing for rarities and oddities you could never find elsewhere. To this day, no trip back to the city of L.A. is complete without an afternoon at Aron's. Or at least, that used to be the case. Recently, I read online in the L.A. Times that Aron's will soon be closing its doors.
The paper played it as a sign of hard times in the music industry, noting that the number of independent music stores has dropped by half in the last 10 years. But for my money, the demise of Aron's is symptomatic of something larger: Mom and Pop are dying. Or at least, starting to smell funny.

You remember Mom and Pop, right? Mr. and Mrs. Small Business? Used to own that diner down the street, that coffee shop around the corner, that record store across town? Used to run that bookstore with the long aisles of dusty paperbacks where you could while away a rainy afternoon browsing to your heart's content. They gave the neighborhood personality. They gave it soul.

Then somebody bought them out, knocked down the building and put up a Wal-Mart. Or a Starbucks. Or a box store with low prices, huge selection and all the soul of tuna on white bread. And one by one those storied places, yours and mine, winked out of existence.

At this point, the Commerce Department would want me to remind you that the vast majority of businesses in this country are still small ones. Which is true, but also misleading. In 2002, the last year for which numbers are available, the Census Bureau reported that music stores racked up $7.2 billion in sales. Of that, just under $5 billion, roughly 70 percent, was generated by only seven chains, each employing 1,000 people or more. In 1992, by contrast, big music stores accounted for "only" 60 percent of the market.

Similarly, general interest bookstores reported sales of almost $9.5 billion in 2002, roughly 80 percent of which was generated by four large chains. In 1992, the mega chains accounted for less than half the bookstore market.

The big are eating the small. Indeed, ask Bob Perry of Blue Note Records in North Miami Beach what business is like for independent music sellers like him, and the first word out of his mouth is, "Sucks." "It's very, very bad," he adds. Perry says his store thrives only because he's diversified: He sells posters, memorabilia and does Internet auctions.

This is not the business page, I know. But this lament is not for lost business. Rather, it's for a loss of -- here's that word again -- soul. Meaning the things that once made our communities unique.

Drive across the country these days and "unique" is not a word that comes often to mind. Increasingly, Richmond could be Rochester could be Dayton could be Duluth. We shop at cookie-cutter stores in cookie-cutter malls and eat at cookie-cutter restaurants, not because the food is special but because it is familiar.

A former colleague called it the Wal-Martification of America. It's as good a term as any for the process by which we become uniform. And regionalisms -- that thing they say only in Cincy, that funky bookstore in lower Manhattan, that dish you can get only in that little dive in Jackson -- become fewer and further between.

Progress is inexorable, so I suppose there's nothing to do but wave Mom and Pop goodbye and mourn what they represent: a world before Velcro and digital clocks where families watched TV together and neighbors knew one another by name.

Not to sentimentalize. Time passes, yes. Things change.

But man, Aron's was my place. And I'm sorry, but just ain't the same.

About the writer:
Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of a Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132; e-mail,; toll-free phone, (888) 251-4407. His column routinely appears in The Bee Friday and occasionally on other days. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Are We at War?

Not according to this writer from the Boston Globe.

And if we're not at war, where do the "war powers" come from?

More on the filibuster

When is it appropriate for nominees to answer questions about issues?

Anytime, according to this article from Common Dreams.

I Know Less About This Than Almost Anyone But

I'm sure I've mentioned before that science as it applies to the environment is not my strong point. I'm concerned and I do what I can as an individual to conserve resources. I let the experts do the talking as rule; it's their field, not mine.

What I do know is how to read a weather report. Our temperatures for next week will range from the mid 40's to the low 60's (Fahrenheit) For the rest of the world, just think unseasonably warm (or you can subtract 32 degrees and divide the result by 1.8 and come pretty close). Usually by December or January, I'm scraping ice off my windshield many mornings. Not this year.

I also know that I live in an area with some of the worst air pollution in the country. Asthma rates in kids are through the roof and adults have an unusually high incidence of COPD and other lung problems. The schools have flags showing the air quality for each day and often the kids are kept indoors. Everybody is busy pointing fingers at each other. Many are blaming the cows and there is a grand debate going on whether it is the front or the back end of the cow that is the culprit.

I've been reading posts written by people much more knowledgable than I. They discuss melting glaciers, ocean currents, and many other things way over my head. Some think we're already past the point of no return.

I was clearing out the Sunday email and found the above article in the Washington Post. It bears out what I've observed here. It also says the government has been concealing much of this information. What a surprise.

Just one more thing to worry about.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ann Coulter - above the law?

From our friend over at "fuzzy and blue", here is a link to DailyKos. If you'd like to protest Ann Coulter's recent statement about Supreme Court Justice Stevens, this is a good jumping off place.

I recommend her entire post. She can be found on the blogroll (now firmly in place on the left sidebar).

Filibuster continued (from mcjoan at DailyKOS)

Both my Senators are now on board but I may still remind them.

Here in the KOS post is a partial list of wobblers. I read another article that thought we had 37 votes so far - don't know how accurate that was. They're urging us to keep up the pressure.


Senator Kennedy's Call to Arms
by mcjoan
Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 02:58:11 PM PDT

Senator Kennedy just had a conference call with a number of bloggers to update us on his and Senator Kerry's filibuster effort, and to encourage the netroots and the grassroots to keep up our efforts. He's very excited by what he's seeing here and throughout the blogosphere, and gave a great pep talk.

He is encouraging you to contact your Democratic Senators, regardless of what they might have said so far, but specifically mentioned Senators Pryor, Lincoln, Cantwell, Murray, Baucus, Harkin, Levin, Bayh, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Lieberman. In addition, he said to keep the pressure on Republican Senators Snowe, Collins, Chaffee, and Stevens.

Senator Kennedy talked in particular about one thing that I think is critical to keep in mind as we approach our Senators, and for them to keep in mind as they are considering this vote. We need to overcome the media noise machine by letting our Senators know that in voting their conscience, and making it clear that they are voting on principle, on conscience, they will overcome the media noise machine calling them obstructionists. We can help them realize this by letting them know that we've got their backs. That they are voting our conscience as well, and that we will not forget their courage.

Here are some more thoughts on breaking down the Republican talking points we know will be flooding the traditional media from Ed Kilgore:

I can only hope Senate Dems make a serious effort to stay focused on the Big Case against Alito during the debate.... It's especially important that they deal with the GOP "obstructionist" talking point by relentlessly reminding people that Bush deliberately picked this fight by giving conservative activists their very own Supreme Court nominee. And it wouldn't hurt to spend some time exposing the hypocrisy of "pro-choice" Republican Senators who are deliberately giving the anti-abortion movement the fourth vote they need--just one short of a majority--to erode and then overturn Roe v. Wade.

This is, as Senator Kennedy reminded us, a generational battle. Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court could turn back a generation's worth of progress in civil rights, in worker protections, in equality for women, in environmental protection, in the fight of the little guy against the corporation. And Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court will affect the generations to come. We cannot afford to refight the battles of the past 40 years during the next 40 years.

This is an uphill battle, but one in which we can at the very least achieve a moral victory. Approached with principle, with passion, and with vigor, a moral victory is not a hollow victory. As Senator Kennedy told us, "You don't ever lose fighting for principle, for what is decent and right. You don't ever lose when you have the power, the force of being correct."

Now let's get back to work!

Politically correct

I found much too much info about political correctness on google. Much of it came from the conservative side of the fence. It seems to be a term they, not we, coined.

Since I didn't want to wade through page after page of their tripe, I settled for Wikipedia which at least shows some balance.

When I refer to myself as vertically challenged rather than short, I'm being politically correct. I'm also being a little silly. P. C. has both its good and bad sides and the article seems to set out both of them.

I can't even keep up with the correct terminology for my great-granddaughter's cerebral palsy. Is she handicapped? Disabled? Orthopedically challenged? I keep seeing new, more correct verbiage. She walks with crutches outside the house and uses a wheelchair at school. Some say otherabled. I just can't tie myself in those kind of knots; therefore, I'm sometimes politically incorrect. She refers to herself as handicapped but she doesn't let it slow her down. To her the word doesn't matter. Maybe as she grows older, it will.

On the other hand, language is important and the words we use, even when well meaning, can hurt. Hearing impaired rather than deaf (or worse, deaf & dumb) went a long way toward opening doors. Much of the old language needed to be retired along with the thinking that produced it.

I'll just go on doing the best I can with the English language and hope people understand my feelings even if my words may not always be as correct as they should be.



OK, so I know most of us are not into Washington state politics - do we even have a reader from Washington? - but my position is this:

Our young people are the future of this country. They have too many role models who do nothing but fuss yet take no positive action. So when we encounter a young person interested and trying to be active, like our Dem Soldier, we need to encourage them and give them what help and support we can, even if it is nothing more than moral support. Visiting their blogs and commenting once in a while may be just the little boost they need to keep going and not become discouraged. We need involvement of the young.

May I introduce Gerald Toompas, a student at Eastern Washington University, who has started blogging in January 2006 but shows he's a prolific poster. He has posts on Civil Rights and on Gay Rights as well as other issues on the agenda there.His blog is "Liberal Washington", at Give the lad an "atta boy!"


Julian? Amen? We won't quibble over the many definitions of politically correct, but I think we all agree that Granny is a very down-to-earth, warm, giving, SOPHISTICATED woman.


Granny doesn't seem to think the descriptive "sophisticated" fits her. Perhaps not, in the common usage -or misusage- of the word. But according to my Noah Websters, the school edition I keep on my desk and the 10 lb. wrist breaker that resides in my secretary, the description fits her admirably.
Ofcourse, English being a complex language, a living language ever evolving and a mish mash of various other languages, Old Noah is forced to give a number of definitions to words at times. But....

School edition: sophisticate, v; to make less natural or simple; to alter, as a person, by education or experience; to increase the complexity of; refine. n.; one who is sophisticated.
sophisticated; changed from the natural character or simplicity by education or experience; appreciated by or indentified with intellectuals or sophisticates; worldly-wise; subtle; cultivated; intricate or complex.

I think that by "less natural or simple" this definition is described in the next phase - become more complex, refined, cultivated and world wise through education and experience. You may still be an all-natural person but you are a far cry from the simple child or youth you once were. You are an educated, experienced woman, a complex person, and wise in the ways of the world.

And by this definition, you are a sophisticated woman and take that ignorant man's misplaced "put down" as a compliment. It isn't your fault he is too ignorant to understand the word he used. And sophistication has nothing to do with socio-economic status nor wardrobe. I've known some very wealthy people who, by Noah's definition, were lowly clods.

Sophisticated and politically correct

I started to answer Worried American's comment with a comment of my own and then decided to answer her here.

"Worried", you would have to read the letter in context. It's as if he put sophisticated and politically correct in quotes.

Trust me on this, neither term was meant as a complement.

Funny thing is I'm always getting in trouble for not being p.c. enough. I can't keep up with the terminology and I think some things get a little silly.

The fundamentalists are always coming up with new ways to describe us. While I, personally, would prefer the word "progressive", I've decided to make their descriptions my own and remove a little of the sting. Therefore I'm a woolly headed, pinko, flaming liberal who should go back to San Francisco where I came from with my fellow commies.

Sophisticated is a different thing entirely. It did have me rolling on the floor laughing. I'm much closer to the lower end of the economic spectrum than the upper and I read with fascination the doings of the "sophisticated" folk here.

On second thought, here's the letter. Brokeback Mountain opened here on Friday so he must be gnashing his teeth by now.

I'll save my comments on his glorification of John Wayne movies for another rant.

Delivery of The Sun-Star

Film shouldn't show here

Last Updated: January 26, 2006, 07:30:33 AM PST

Editor: After reading the sophisticated and entirely politically correct Ann Adams' letter to the editor regarding "Brokeback Mountain," I could not help but respond in brief. The reason this movie is not showing in Merced is because it wouldn't sell here.

Hollywood has sought to reshape the political landscape and push its leftist opinions on the masses in the package of film for years. Anytime a filmmaker produces a new diatribe that pushes the envelope a little further on morality and takes a jab at traditional values, the inner circle of Hollywood pat each other on the back, go on and on in the media about what a brave leap the director took, and predictably rake in the Golden Globes and Oscars. I have come to discover in recent years that the films that usually do the best at the Academy Awards are often not those that the public loved or found value in, but rather the pictures that were the most risque and presented a bold liberal agenda the most effectively. How many times have I heard people say that they were so disappointed in the movie that just won best picture? More than just a few.

Which brings us to why "Brokeback Mountain" is not playing in Merced County. Bearing only the credentials that Hollywood has proclaimed a movie to be bold and praiseworthy is not enough for us. We don't take Hollywood's word for it. Homophobic? The literal translation would be "fear of homosexuals/homosexuality." I don't think I would choose not to see "Brokeback Mountain" out of a fear of homosexuals. Let me explain why I would not and why the theater owners believe a majority of Mercedians would not want to spend their hard-earned cash in support of this film.

There are too many people here like myself who want to preserve the sacred symbol of the cowboy and everything he has meant for the past 200 years in America. The cowboy is chivalrous and masculine. John Wayne and Roy Rogers wouldn't have left their wives for a love affair with the Lone Ranger. This movie is a twisted distortion of a classic and traditional film genre made with a political agenda at its core. I feel safe in saying that the minority who want to see movies such as this showcased in Merced will have to wait for a long time. There are too many in Merced who want to take back the cowboy from Hollywood and are applauding the fact that the movie theaters have chosen not to show it.

In closing, I will leave you with the words my good friend heard spoken recently by an old leathery skinned cowboy in west Texas: "In all my years, I ain't never seen or heard of a gay cowboy!"



To clearly demonstrate the total, complete, and absolute ignorance of the Bushies, Bushites, and their elite peers regarding the reality of life for the ordinary citizens of this nation, I submit to you:

1) Everyone knows about Granny Bush's faux pas re: the Katrina victims. ."So many people here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." As my erudite grandchildren say, with their talent for a bon mot, "well, DUH." Hasn't that woman ever heard, "be it ever so humble, there's no place like home?" No matter how poverty stricken one is, what you have is all you've got and it is meaningful to you. Even the homeless jealously guard their grocery carts of possessions.

2) Our first lady, Laura Bush, in Africa to promote Bush's international funding for AIDS and his glorious plan to end the epidemic there:
"I'm always a little irritated when I hear the criticism of abstinence because abstinence is absolutely 100% effective in eradicating a sexually transmitted disease." Another "duh" moment. "In many countries where girls feel obligated to comply with the wishes of men, girls need to know that abstinence is a choice." Where has this woman been all her life? Does she know NOTHING of other cultures? African women are at most completely subjugated to men, sold or bartered off into marriage, forced into prostitution, and virgins raped because ignorant men believe that intercourse with a virgin cures AIDS. So the girls have a choice to just say No? DUH, DUH, DUH!!!

3) More knowledgeable, intelligent, finger- on -the -pulse -of -the- nation observations can be found here. And bear in mind when you read it, these are the people running our country in one way or another. PLEASE read it! From the Washington Monthly, "Political Animal" .
Both are lists of stupid statements made by our nation's VIPs. Read it and weep.

Pick out your favorite and post it on the comment page. My favorite, although it is hard to choose, is the post-Katrina statement by Patrick Rhode, Deputy Director of FEMA, regarding the government's response to the catastrophe. This is great.
"...probably one of the most efficient and effective responses in the country's history."
Do I hear a resounding DUH of derision?

Note: even though links are not highlighted, they still work.


Saw the url in one of my newsies and encountered a term I had not seen before. Penises I understand and spam I savvy, but the two words together? (Not that I have any personal experience with the male procreative organ; all my children were found under cabbage leaves. But I studied physiology and human biology in nursing school).

I believe the linking of the words were done by the poster of the link to the article, one Evan Derkacz, 1/13/06, "Better than Penis Spam." Aware that it might be some sort of porn, yet intrigued, I decided to check it out. I don't like porn but after going through 3 husbands, bearing 5 children, and spending 40 years nursing, I don't swoon from shock if I see a nude male. Anyway, I didn't think the newsie would offer links to porn.

Once I accessed the url and saw the article, I understood the symbolism
and the link between penis/sword. And another homophobe minister.

"Poppa's Got a Brand New Sword," Jan.11, 2006; The Revealer. subtitled "Fundamentalists Get Freudian, For Real"

"Pastor Rod [Parsley] is the fundamentalist feudal prince of Ohio...who tipped the Buckeye state for Bush in 2004. His strategy? Warning the citizens that they would all turn gay if they didn't beat back the homosexual agenda."

Well, for crying out loud !! I've heard homophobes say things that indicated homosexuality was contagious if they associated with persons of that orientation. But I'd never heard of transformation into homosexuality if you didn't exercise certain political choices.

Surfing the 'net is very educational. I learn new things every day.

From the Pen Part II

Here's another Action from The Pen (see my earlier Post)

They're planning to combat the Nuclear Option and need help.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

From xpatriatedtexan today

Ann Coulter is now threatening Supreme Court Justice Stevens and claims she's only joking? Rat poison in his coffee? She's obviously been taking lessons from Pat Robertson.

In all my rants about this Administration, I have never threatened personal harm to any individual, nor would I.

Why should she be above the law?

Read what xpatriatedtexan has to say.

Kerry address to Senate

By now we've probably already heard or read Senator Kerry's address regarding Judge Alito but I've posting it anyway as a quick referral if nothing else.

I didn't get to it until today.

Back to Civil Rights Again

The friends who gather over on rocrebelgranny probably know much more about me than those of you who stay on this side of the blogosphere.

My 33 year old son, Tim, is gay. I've known it at least as long as he has and the only issue we've ever had was my concern for his personal safety, health, and happiness. He grew up in San Francisco, joined us a few years ago here, and it took a little getting used to for him.

He works for a nationally known bookstore (initials B&N) as their cafe manager and is "out" there. He hasn't encountered too much nastiness yet in the community but there has been some. He doesn't make a big deal of his sexual orientation but he doesn't try to hide it either.

I've known the author of this article, a retired minister, for several years. He, along with several other concerned people, helped start PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) here. My local pastor offered space at the church. The writer and his wife are long time church members as well. Tim and I have been involved since the beginning. It was badly needed here. Tim is at peace with himself; we have no family issues, but we want to be there for the families who need help and the kids coming up who are at risk. Our high schools are doing next to nothing to help.

I'm posting it here because it's not just one more rant from one side or the other. It's an honest story of his personal journey, both as a minister and a human being. In a quiet, loving way, he's helping to make a difference.

With all of my scattergun approach to the many ills besetting this country, I keep coming back to the intolerance that exists and is encouraged by many of our legislators.

For me, it's personal.



Since I am relatively new to the blogging world it seems to me that everyone already knows everyone and links to each other in one way or another. So when I come upon a blog with which I'm unfamiliar, I then find familiar names in the comments and see that blogger's name or pseudonym in our blogging friends' sites. So, new to me but an old friend of most everyone else.

However, in case there might be one person, blogging friend or lurker, who does not know the new-to-me blogger, I like to mention him or her as a good blog. I like the "Social Justice Coalition" blog, a "liberal answer to the Christian Coalition" and support his aims. His url is:

If you don't know him, check him out. If you do, pay him an encouraging visit.
Note: in this draft, the linking url is quite nicely highlighted in blue, as it should be. But when it is printed in the post it will probably be black and non-functioning as a link, like the others lately. I've complained to Blogger as nothing I can do has helped.


The future depends upon the outcome of issues addressed today, so we must not flag nor waver in the good fight. But we can pause for a moment to pay tribute to the past.

Whether or not you supported the Space Program, the dedicated people who were convinced it was right and good and put their lives on the line to help further it deserve remembrance. We don't have to agree with people to admire their courage to risk death for their beliefs. There will undoubtedly be plenty of reminders in the newsies about the anniversary of the tragic deaths of the Challenger Seven. Our nation mourned for the death of these brave venturers, and most people of an age at the time can well recall where they were and what they were doing at the time the news broke. Below are a couple of urls about the Challenger tragedy, and plenty of links in those articles to recap as much as one wants to know.

I just spotted this from "The Pen" Activist group

Most of my news and political mailings come in on Yahoo. I try to save gmail for the personal things. However, this one slipped in somehow and I almost missed it.

It's another plea for action but with some information I hadn't seen before. As I said, I've been a little out of the loop today.

They have heard phone and fax lines are being overloaded in DC. If that's true, it's a good sign. They suggest we keep it up with the local offices if we can't get through to D.C.

They say Monday for the vote. I had heard Tuesday but either way, time is short.

The office numbers are for California of course but it's easy enough to find the other states.

Now I'm going to bed, I promise.

Filibuster and other news

First, to any who haven't heard, I picked my husband up from the Modesto hospital this afternoon. He seems to be feeling better and we'll follow up with the cardiologist there at least one more time before they transfer his case back here. We still don't know what happened. Meantime I'll try to keep his life as stress free as possible around here. I'm very glad to have him safely at home.

Thanks to all of you who expressed their concern. We seem to be over the hump for now.

second, I didn't in any way mean to imply that the people who comment here weren't doing everything possible. We wouldn't be here if we weren't concerned. When I read that post after a little sleep, it sounded like I was scolding. Not on your life. I know how much we all do. I think I was just frustrated and angry compounded with the personal turmoil.

I came in from Modesto, everything was under control, and I went to sleep. Didn't check the news except for headlines (breaking news) or any of the things I usually try to at least glance at. The world could keep spinning without me for a little while, hard as it is for me to believe that sometimes.

I've taken a quick look back now but haven't made the blog rounds. That may happen tomorrow. I did read the comments here; especially both of epm's. Well thought out, as always.

My personal sentiments are closer to those expressed in this Nation article today but I understand the other point of view as well.

I'm not sure that we will ever find an ideal spokesperson. The slash and burn/take no prisoners attitude of Rove and his henchmen will be in full spin no matter who steps up. They do it to their own; they did it to Senator Kerry and Howard Dean; they've tried with Harry Reid whose personal life is above reproach so far as I know. He's a Mormon, for heaven's sake. The gang in power is desperate to stay there. They have no moral values, no sense of decency, and if they have a conscience, I certainly haven't seen it. It's all about power and they're willing to do anything.

I keep running over the list in my head. We would need someone with enough seniority to be credible and with a clean enough personal slate to be beyond personal attacks. My senior Senator would qualify; she's certainly centrist. Senator Feinstein sits on Judiciary. She had been considered as a vice-presidential candidate years ago (it went to Ferraro instead). Unfortunately, she sometimes bends over backward so far to get along that I'm never sure which way she's going to jump. She's supported some issues like the flag burning amendment which have appalled me (and I told her so).

Diane pushed through a gun control measure years ago when she was Mayor of San Francisco (right after the assassinations of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk). She was very nearly recalled in "liberal" San Francisco. She ran for Governor here and lost (barely - it was close) to one of the "law and order" candidates. Much has changed since the San Francisco days, the recall attempt, and that close election. She's modified many of her liberal views; possibly in an attempt to hold our center. She's a much better Senator than any who have run against her would have been and I don't think even California would elect a second Barbara Boxer. I'm just not too sure she'd be willing to lead the charge.

I think she's probably the most respected of the Democratic women in the Senate, including Hillary Clinton. If there's anyone else, they don't spring to mind. I don't know yet what she'll do - I almost never do. Of the men, we have some good newcomers but they haven't established a track record.

That pretty much leaves us back with Kerry and Kennedy.

As far as the filibuster is concerned, I hear what epm is saying about appealing to our broad base. I think that's what the three (at least) who are planning to vote for the nomination are trying to do. I think they're mistaken - I'm not sure we can find common ground with many of these issues. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.

If it were possible to win over the broad base, do we want to roll over and play dead? We need to stand for something and we need to decide what that something is going to be. I don't think "go along to get along" will work and if it did, what price would the country pay in the long run.

I honestly don't know. As "worried" says, I'm the flaming liberal activist from California but not so "flaming" that I'm unwilling to listen.

Take care everybody.


Friday, January 27, 2006

John Kerry - filibuster

At this point I really don't care about the expert's opinions on political motivation. I really don't care about their doomsaying editorials or their comments on CNN. I don't care what anyone may think of Senator Kerry as a Presidential candiate. That's history now. I especially don't care that the experts are sure we can't muster 41 votes.

I do care that someone, somewhere, is doing something. Unless your electricity has been off today, you fellow Yanks know that Senators Kerry and Kennedy are trying to gain support for a filibuster of the Alito nomination. Good for them. I bet by tomorrow the Junior Senator from California will be joining them. In fairness, she wouldn't be the best person to lead a parade. I adore Barbara Boxer and her big mouth but she might do better in this instance to hold Senator Kerry's coat. I hope Senator Feinstein will join as well.

I'm not sure how much value these petitions have. I'm not sure of mass produced email or phone calling campaigns either but I sign things and make phone calls faithfully.

This is a link to John Kerry's website.

I signed the petition on the theory that something is better than nothing.

The link in the title will take you to his web site. The petition is there.

Take care everybody.

Ann (granny)

Pass It On:

A Project of the Institute for America's Future

I thought you would be interested in this.


It's A State Of Denial...

It's almost State of the Union time! has put together a terrific collection of clips from Bush's State of the Union speeches—contrasted with the facts.

Watch the video here.

Video to watch

© 2004 ( Project of The Institute for America's Future )

Thursday, January 26, 2006

worriedamerican recommends!

Dear worried,

worriedamerican ( wants you to see a cartoon at "". You can check it out at

In addition to recommending "", worriedamerican also sent you this message:

Search engines, the government, and YOU.


Today when I compose a draft, the urls in my text turn blue as for links, but when the post is printed on the blog the urls are black and won't link. Now what? Drat it!


Glad that Granny was able to post today. I know she is on tenterhooks
about Ray. She has so very much to contend with; her plate is always full to brimming, and now this. Your blogging friends support you in every way we can, Granny.

If there are those among you who haven't met AnvilCloud from Canada, I'd like to introduce him to you. I found him on -epm's comment box and linked over. He has 2 blogs: "Raindrops; cold little raindrops": I haven't a clue about Canadian politics; I have hard enough time sorting out our own. But I'm sure our Canadian friends know what he's all about. His other blog:"Snowflakes" at What I read of it is about family. Beautiful Christmas tree. I loved the snowscenes at his headers.

I love nature and natural things, and I love beautiful scenery. A number of our blogger friends have lovely photographs in their blogs.From snow scenes to desert to architecture to weathered rocks to old cemetaries to exquisite flowers to poignant human interest to.....I enjoy their photos as much as their blogs. I just wish they'd tell more about the photos. Our blogging friends are very talented people.

-epm, on Deertown, has a picture of himself squatting at the end of a board walk extending into a marshy body of water. Is that a lake, or an arm of another body of water? What is the marshgrass or reeds growing so prolifically? That looks like a good duck place; what kind of fishes live there? The brief glimpse of the area looks like it would be excellent wetlands.

I love trees. Trees are our friends. Around our homes they give us shade and coolth. They make camping and outings pleasurable. And in their numbers they comprise a great deal of the earth's lungs. I hate to see destruction of the forests and jungles. We humans are such destroyers and polluters. I am not a tree-hugger per se but once when traversing a familiar road and saw the tree killers at work, I yelled at my huband to stop the car. Alarmed at the urgency in my voice he hastily complied. I leaped from the car and raced across the road shouting imprecations and accusations of "Murderer!' at the astonished workmen.

Mortified, my husband chased me down and forced me back in the car. To widen and straighten that lovely old country road, the highway crews were cutting down and removing a magnificient stand of oaks that lined the highway. Some were so huge it would have taken three or four men holding hands to encircle a tree. Many hundreds of years old. I'm still mad about that, 40 years later,and I now detest that nice superhighway they made. Murderers. How did I get off on that?

Now we have Trevor, who does not give us a link to his blog, but posted an amusing tidbit about Canadian ballot boxes. "Did have one crazy guy in Nova Scotia steal and run over a ballot box." That sentence begs for elaboration. Come on Trevor, or some of you other Canadians, tell us more about that."Therein lies a tale."

Progressive Traditionalist is back! I had to assure him I was not his ex-mother-in-law. I swear that none of my four daughters married you.

Faithful JulianB comments every day and many post regularly. We appreciate every one of you so very much. It would take too much space to comment about each of you in one post. Zee would never read it!

This is worth passing on

I do occasionally have an original thought but sometimes others say it much better. From epm today.

I have a few comments to add about weaklings and apathy. is urging citizens to call their Democratic Senators asking for filibuster of the Alito nomination. Any takers? The Democratic Senators from Nebraska and South Dakota are voting for the nomination. The Democratic Senator from Louisiana says she doesn't think a filibuster would be a good idea. With these people for friends, we don't need any more enemies. Anyone out there interested in working on the next election campaigns in those states? Yes, I know the Senators from the "red" states have their problems but where are the backbones?

When my local group was circulating petitions against the "nuclear option" back during the time of the Roberts nomination, we were amazed at how many people said

a) Please ma'am, what's a filibuster?
b) Who is John Roberts?
c) Who are our Senators (or Representative, as the case may be)?
d) Nuclear option? What's that?

We were armed with enough information to change several minds on the spot and obtain their signatures. We picked up some firemen and police, usually conservatives, who were appalled by the strongarm tactics being used even though they might have thought Roberts was the greatest thing since sliced bread. We need to get this stuff out to the public. We can all talk to each other, we can all stay informed, but unless we are willing to spread the word outside of our own "choir", not much will be accomplished.

Now that I have that out of my system, here's what our friend EPM has to say.

Another screed... I got wound up. Sorry.

If tomorrow New York city fell into the Atlantic, but we still had our constitution and liberty, America would continue to be America. If tomorrow California fell into the Pacific, but we still had our constitution and liberty, America would continue to be America. If tomorrow the Great Plains were to suddenly go fallow, but we still had our constitution and liberty, America would continue to be America.

But, if we amass great wealth and secure our oil and gold, yet compromise our liberty and stretch the constitution to it's breaking point, America ceases to be America. If, through fear and weakness, we cede our duties as American citizen and give up our liberties to someone who promises security but demands unrestrained power (no matter his claims of benevolence), America ceases to be America. If Americans think their responsibilities as citizens ends at the ballot box, or worse, requires only unquestioning allegiance in the president, America ceases to be the America that generations before us fought and died to secure. We will have squandered their blood.

George Bush's hollow bravado rings of weakness. It 's weakness to insist you're winning the war on terror in the face of ever-increasing acts of terror around the world. It's weakness to claim progress in the war on terror when you've turned the country of Iraq into a massive al-Qaeda training camp. It's weakness to claim you're making progress in securing America when you appoint unqualified political flunkies to highly critical positions in FEMA, Homeland Security and Immigration. And ultimately it is weakness to assume great power in secrecy and to treat American citizens as subjects to ruled.

By any measure, other than arrogance, George W. Bush is a very weak president. Ironically, the more this president carves into the liberties of Americans, the more power he assumes for himself at the expense of Congress, the Courts and the Constitution, and the more he does in secret with only the council of his inner circle, the more he reveals his weakness.

There is a better way to secure America and defuse the terrorist. A way of strength and honor and dignity. A way that stands upon the hill of American values rather than leveling it. If we don't live and practice our American values, where is the example for the world? How else do we show the young generations of not-yet terrorists in Iraq, Iran, and Egypt that there's a better way? That America indeed has values worth embracing not strangling?

Truly, if we don't exercise our American values at home -- our freedom and liberty -- they will wither and die. And I am not willing to let this president or this congress do that... even if they call me names.



More on government's battle with the government . See post of 1/25/2006 "Profits Over Decency" and the immediate post below on Google.

"Keeping Secrets";

A tip of the hat to our English cousins for this laugh-out-loud contribution:" Miserable Failure; George W. Bush has been google bombed".
"web users entering the words 'miserable failure' into the popular search engine are directed to the biography of the president on the White House website." Some of our internet subscribers have been naughty boys. :-)

The first time I read a news item about the google/government battle, a split second knee jerk response was a maternal protect-our-children-from- filth. Another split second was "Whoa! Bad precedent. Too much intrusion, potential for abuse staggering." Our government tries to sneak power grabs past the public with innocuous protestations of "protecting us", and what moral person does not want children protected from porn?

I don't do porn; I dislike it. But I concede the right of mature adults to do porn if they so desire. And I believe that porn sites should be blocked from children, which is primarily the responsibility of parents. Children can, however, access porn from other sources than the family computer.
So some sort of protection needs to be implemented. But absolutely NOT allow the government to access user records. If books are now placed on a "watch list", our government can follow China's example and put websites on a "watch list". .. and through a server's records back track the user. And as our regime becomes more and more oppressive, citizens can find themselves on a criminal court docket for checking out forbidden sites . Like info on fascism and totalitarian regimes?

Slate Article: Google vs. DoJ

Google vs. DoJ
Why the subpoena fight is all about public relations.
By Adam L. Penenberg
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006, at 12:29 PM ET

The legal fracas between Google and the Department of Justice has chilled more than a few seemingly mild-mannered citizens. When we're at home, the illusion of privacy and anonymity allows our ids to slay our superegos. Let's not pretend that we haven't used the Internet to explore ideas we'd just as soon not share with friends, colleagues, family, or government prosecutors. Put another way: If you knew someone was looking over your shoulder when you Googled, would it change what you searched for?

Every time you get online, you're taking a leap of faith. After all, lots of people know who you are: search engines, your ISP, Web-mail providers, the news sites you register for. Could these records ever get out and embarrass you? (Or worse, land you in jail?)

There's no immediate need to worry. Law enforcement doesn't really care about what you do online—unless you're Tommy Chong selling bongs or a pedophile looking to make a date with a 14-year-old. Neither does Google. For both the government and the geek Goliath, this subpoena brouhaha is simply a big public-relations stunt.

The Bushies say that they've subpoenaed Google's search records to show that filtering software won't stop children from accessing porn. In 2004, the Supreme Court cited First Amendment concerns in striking down the Child Online Protection Act, which required that adult sites implement age-verification policies. To buttress a future appeal, the Justice Department wants Google to send along every search from a one-week period. The government claims this list would help it "estimate how often Web users encounter harmful-to-minors material in the course of their searches, and to measure the effectiveness of filtering software in screening that material."

Let me save the government some work. If the DoJ wants porn, Google isn't a bad place to start—it just depends on which keywords you use. If you type in "69," "fuck," and "breast," you get almost no porn—at least in the first several pages of results. (You will find sites dedicated to Woodstock, Dick Cheney's penchant for using expletives, and boob jobs.) "Orgasm" gets you legit sites. "Cum" gets you XXX. Usually, you have to be looking for salacious material before you'll encounter any.

Filtering search results is, at best, an imperfect solution, but the fact that it's hard to find porn by accident on Google shows that it works well enough. Besides, with boatloads of XXX material sitting on foreign servers, filters have a better chance of preventing children from accessing porn than the Child Online Protection Act—which would regulate only American pornographers—ever would. Any attempt by the United States government to regulate porn will fail, just like attempts to stamp out online gambling have failed. There's just too much easily accessible gambling and porn that's not subject to U.S. law.

Let's not forget Google's part in this PR game. Even though the Justice Department insists Google can strip away any information that could be linked to individual users, the company refuses to cooperate. Its lawyers have objected to the subpoena on several grounds: It lacks "relevancy," it's redundant (since Yahoo! and Microsoft already caved), and the company's trade secrets would be violated. (Um, how?) These are pretty weak defenses. Nevertheless, the self-professed do-gooder corporation has little choice but to stand up to DoJ's fishing expedition—otherwise, how could it justify storing records of every search you make? It may not win, but fighting will burnish its image.

Even though nothing substantive will come out of it, this privacy fight may do some good. For one thing, the subpoena has made Web surfers realize the company is the biggest personal-data pack rat this side of the NSA. This has all been a useful reminder that, even in our most private digital moments, someone is watching.

In the end, it's up to you to protect yourself. If you signed up for Gmail, you had to provide personal information, meaning your searches could theoretically be tracked back to you by cross-referencing them with Google's cookie and your IP address. If you're paranoid, stop using Gmail and regularly delete your cookies. Even if Google promises not to do anything evil with the data it collects, it can't guarantee that the government—which has been handing out subpoenas like they're Pez candy lately—won't be tempted to do evil deeds with it 10, 20, or 50 years down the line. Yahoo! recently turned in a Chinese journalist. Someday, Google might be forced to turn you in.

Adam L. Penenberg is an assistant professor at New York University and assistant director of the business and economic reporting program in the school's department of journalism. You can e-mail him at

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