Sunday, November 29, 2009

We Have Met the Enemy & They is US!

The big news in the sports world (and pretty much everywhere else) is Tiger Woods's accident which by the way has been termed 'minor' in spite of initial incorrect reports that Tiger was seriously hurt. Tiger has yet to meet with police to discuss the causes of his 2:30 A.M. adventure and he's certainly not discussing it with the press. If it were anyone else, the matter would be quickly forgotten. Yet, the rumor mill has been churning furiously-powered by the media's lust for more juicy information. There's this general belief that in all cases the public's right to know supersedes all other individual rights-especially the right to privacy. So the rumors abound, i.e. Tiger's wife hit him with a golf club, Tiger was fleeing a violent domestic dispute, Tiger was under the influence of pain medication, etc. The list goes on. How ridiculous! Why don't people just leave him alone? It's no one's business-not yours, not mine, not the nation's. This right to public knowledge thing is way out of hand and it's not the media that's at fault. If there were no people buying all those trashy magazines you see at the check out counter of grocery store in the nation, how long do you think they'd be publishing? Remember the immortal words of comic strip writer Walt Kelly's character, Pogo who was the wise little opossum living in Okefenokee Swamp: We have met the enemy and they is us!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving To One and All

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
I have many, many reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving 2009. Pictured above are 4 of them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Questions, Questions, Questions

I have a few questions:
Why did every single republican senator vote to cut off debate on health care reform?
Aren't they interested in the good of the country?
Don't they have legitimate ideas they could offer during the course of the debate?
Are they afraid of actually doing something positive?
Are they that committed to being obstructionists that they can't be rational about this?
Do they hate President Obama and the democrats that much?
Don't they have anything at all to offer this country besides the constant mantra of NO, NO, NO, NO?
Just asking.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Common Criminals or Prisoners of War??

Throughout the course of this past week sharing the headlines with health care reform was Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the 4 masterminds of 911 will be tried in NYC. Much of what I've heard and read is the usual oppositional hot air being blown around by those mostly republicans who would attack absolutely anything coming from the Obama administration. It doesn't matter if the idea is good for the country or not. If it's Obama's idea, fight it! On one hand, I find it interesting that those opposed to having the trial in NYC are the very people who beat their chests around the world, extolling the virtues of the 'American Way', i.e. due process, liberty and justice for all, and a right to a fair trial. Then in pretty much the same breath they seek to ignore those very ideals for the 4 defendants. On the other hand, I do have to wonder how much thought went into the decision to do this. There is absolutely no doubt that these four individuals are self-confessed terrorists. Technically, aren't we at war with terrorist groups? As such shouldn't we have a military tribunal overseeing the whole thing? Why would the Obama administration want to risk a painful, prolonged trial where defense attorneys use all their tricks to lengthen the process and turn it into a mockery? Putting the matter before a military tribunal still gives the defendants the trial they seek but it also prevents a lot of the stuff their lawyers are going to pull. I think in this particular situation, the Obama administration erred. I find it difficult to side with critics of this move because so many of them are such obnoxious jerks, but if nothing else, for the sake of the families of 911 victims, perhaps Holder should back track and think it through a little better. Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two for the Road (to never, never land)

Joe Lieberman has forgotten who his constituents are and I don't think I need to say any more about gas bag, prima donna Sarah Palin. Joe must go and Sarah must never be allowed to serve as an elected official of any kind-including dog catcher! It's bad enough she's yet again all over the news and internet. Why can't she just go away???

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Faux News-More Proof

Still convinced Fox News is really 'fair and balanced'? Watch this short video clip from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Maybe you'll finally get it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Three Cheers for the Profit Motive

What's up with Carrie Prejean (I can't help but pronounce it pre-jeen because I keep forgetting how she really says it)? When this thing first surfaced I felt a little sorry for her because first I can't stand Perez Hilton and second even though I disagreed with her position on gay marriages, I felt she should have a right to her opinion however misguided. But now it seems obvious that she's turned this whole thing into a money grab. I am especially puzzled at her constant railing against the 'liberal' media who apparently have it in for Carrie along with her BFF Sarah Palin. When the topic arises, and she makes sure it does, she launches into a prolonged defense of Palin & a critique of biased media-yet she has no problem using that very forum to push her book-which was no doubt penned by someone else although it doesn't acknowledge that on the cover. And wasn't it a great idea to have conservative pundit Sean Hannity write the forward? This woman is obviously nothing more than yet another gas bag hypocrite. Maybe she and Sarah will go on tour together. Wouldn't that be fun? Two air heads hogging the headlines for the next umpteen years! And they complain about the 'liberal' media. Unbelievable!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What 2nd Graders Wanted to Know About Veterans Day

Today as part of a program put on by Sandy Hook Elementary School I met with a group of 2nd graders. It began with the teacher handing me a folder full of questions the kids had written down the day before. Here are some of their questions:

What war did I serve in, one or two?
What is my favorite gun? Mine is a MK 47 (There's no such thing. He meant an AK 47& it's not an American made weapon anyway)
What ship was I on?
What year did I start the war?
What's it like to be an underwater bomb specialist?
Is your war trunk empty like my grandpa's?
Was I scared?
How do I feel about war?
What was my job?
Did I like the war?
Who was my boss?
Did I get to throw any bombs?
Do I still live in the war?
How many badges do I have?

Many of these questions were asked by several children. I spent most of my time explaining that most veterans didn't actually serve in a combat unit. I talked about the many, many different jobs people did in the armed forces. It's my hope that those kids left with a better understanding of what it was like to serve in the military rather than what they were led to believe from movies and television.

Happy Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. Tradition says that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month every American should take a quiet moment to honor all those who have served their country. I am a veteran and every year I and many other veterans are invited to the school where I used to teach for a breakfast and breakout sessions with students. Because we meet with elementary age students, it's understandable that we hear all sorts of misconceptions of what a veteran is. Here are some of the things I've heard from 4th graders:

Myth: All veterans actively fought in a war.
Fact: Relatively few veterans actually served in combat. Even when there is an active war going on, only 1 in 10 personal serve in a combat role. Children have a difficult time understanding that it takes a whole lot of people behind the scenes to support the one person firing a rifle.

Myth: Veterans march off full of ideals about freedom, country, pride and loyalty.
Fact: That may be slightly true now but during the days when I served it was completely false. The fact is I and millions of others like me were drafted and we did what we had to do because we didn't want to flee to Canada or go to jail. That's the plain truth. Even today with all volunteer armed forces, people serve for big sign-up bonuses or career opportunities or, as is the case now, high civilian unemployment.

Myth: Veterans have traveled all over the world.
Fact: Most serve at a variety of posts right here in the USA. The biggest noncombat Army duty station today is Korea. Years ago, US Army forces were all over the place. Now it's the Navy that does all the traveling.

Myth: All Veterans made a career out of the service.
Fact: That, of course, is false. Most people serve their term of enlistment and leave.

Now here are some questions I'm often asked:
How many people did I kill?
What's it like to get wounded?
What kind of gun did I use?
How many times was I shot at?
Did I ever see someone get blown up?

You get the idea. These kids get their ideas from TV-absolutely the worst place to learn anything remotely resembling reality. It takes a while to get them to realize it's not at all like that. But it's worth the effort and I appreciate the school taking the time to turn Veterans Day into an educational opportunity. So off I go. Wish me luck. They're a tough crowd.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More on the Health Care Reform Issue

If you're one of those people fretting over the recent passage of a health care reform bill in the House of Representatives, you can relax. First, by all accounts it's DOA in the Senate. So what exactly does that mean? It means the Senate will come up with their own version. What, you rightfully ask, happens in a situation like that where the House has one bill and the Senate another. It means the whole thing goes to committee. The committee-a group of people from the House & Senate-hammer out what they think both sides can live with. Then the full House and Senate vote on it. Now here's the second thing and the real kicker-none of this is going to take effect until 2012!! By then there will have been several House & Senate seats up for reelection PLUS a presidential election. Does anyone really think this thing is going to end up looking anything at all like what they may (or may not) have created by year's end? If so, I've got some land in Florida I'd like to sell you. So relax, cool off, and enjoy the ride. The fun is just starting.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's About The Candidate-Not the Party

Here we are, three days after election day and the airwaves and printing presses are still abuzz about the so-called Republican sweep. In some cases as in Newtown and other Connecticut communities there was indeed a Republican sweep. There was also a couple of cases where Republican governors unseated a sitting democrat. All of this is true but where it starts to go awry is the analysis of election day results and the conclusions drawn by a number of newspapers and cable news stations. To suggest that this happened because of wide-spread dissatisfaction with the Obama administration is ridiculous. Can you imagine someone electing a Republican First Selectman in a small town for that reason? Please! I am convinced that where it comes to local and by-and-large state elections, the voters consider the candidate, not his or her party. Granted, in national elections the political party probably plays a more prominent role. So stop gloating, jerks. It's not about your party. It's about the candidate.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yet Another Great Day

Every day I get to spend with grand children is a great day and yesterday was no exception. Yesterday I got to spend the day with my 5 year old grand daughter at the Peabody Museum. We visit every exhibit with special emphasis on the infectious diseases section which holds special interest for Brooke. On the way home she treated me to lunch which she thought was the neatest thing! After reading about the amount of money spent on the recent elections (NYC Mayor Bloomberg spent $140 million of his own money), I was reminded that it really doesn't take a whole lot of money to have a good time. This is an ideal that seems to be lost in current American culture. Too bad. I'm sure people who haven't learned this lesson are finding these difficult economic times even more stressful.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Grandparent's Dilemma

Very often when I'm baby sitting for my grand children, I'm transported back to the days when my own kids were their age. I often ask myself, 'what would I do?' Then I remember that they're not mine and I recast the question to 'what would their parents want me to do?' The answer to both questions is usually the same. Take for example a situation that occurred today. I was at the bus stop with my 3 year old grand daughter waiting for her sister to come home from kindergarten. With us was my daughter's neighbor and her two children-a little boy and girl about the same age as my two grand daughters. The neighbor's children kept playing in the road on the corner, throwing leaves at each other. Their mother kept telling them to move to a safer location, but they ignored her. Of course my granddaughter thought it would be OK for her to be there too but being the nervous Nelly I am, I told her to stay on the grass. She, like her little friends, ignored me so I picked her up and brought her back with me. That in turn led to a very loud outburst of tears and protests. Nevertheless, as uncomfortable as it was, I stuck to my guns and eventually she calmed down and accepted the fact that she wasn't going to play in the road. There are many times when parents (and grand parents) have to exercise common sense where others are not and do what they think is right. It reminds me of all those times when teenagers protest 'but everyone's parents let them do it!!' The lesson to be learned is stick to your guns. The kids will get over it and you will have done the right thing.