Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask End Notes?

As the Senate voted to end the "Don't Ask,Don't Tell" policy I was surprised to learn that Democrat Reid quoted conservative Republican Barry Goldwater, of all people: "You don't have to be straight to shoot straight". On the other hand, I shouldn't really be surprised that a politician takes a simplistic viewpoint regarding an issue involving basic human rights. When will they ever learn....?

BTW-Activists are suggesting that military personnel not declare themselves until at least after the bill goes into effect. I can't say that I disagree. A little paranoia is sometimes both justified and healthy.

Some day the Equal Rights Amendment of the 1960's will apply even to those who place their lives on the line to defend the Constitution.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Political Competitiveness Hurts Constituents

I firmly believe that the American democracy as originally conceived CAN work. Lately, however, I have strong concerns that politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have lost touch with what they were elected for and the needs of the people who elected them in good faith. I would propose two basic premises:

1. Government exists to protect the rights and well-being of its citizens.
2. Politicians are elected to represent their constituents to make government work.

If you buy into those premises, can you honestly say that our present politicians are working towards those goals?

As I read various new sources, I have come away feeling that American politicians are not acting in a manner that permits government to work the way that it should. Many Republicans are working towards making Democratic initiative fail so the American people will vote Republican in the elections two years from now. Many Democrats are hoping that Republican passage of bills like the keeping of the tax cuts for the wealthy will make Republicans look bad and people will vote Democratic in the elections two years from now.

While all of the partisan bickering and one-upmanship goes on, it is the American people who suffer. (The politicians are employed and have outstanding health care benefits.) Millions of Americans are still unemployed, without health care, or both. Lobbyists are thriving. Insurance companies are thriving. Companies that receive tax breaks while they out-source former American jobs overseas are thriving. CEOs, even those whose companies need to lay off loyal workers, are thriving. The Dow Jones has recovered and is thriving.

It's obvious that we have been and still can be a great country. We can not really claim to be that if our people are trying to exist when they are jobless and unable to receive the medical care that they need. My strong suggestion is that ALL politicians stop playing their games and concentrate on trying to accomplish what they were elected to do. I further suggest that if they do not try to do that, politicians lose their jobs in the next election and face the reality of unemployment and the need to have self-funded health care.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Who are the "Real Indians"

They are not the ones historically depicted by Hollywood. For a true eye opener, watch Neil Diamond's "Reel Injuns" in November on PBS. In the meantime, your curiosity will be stimulated if you connect with the following You Tube event:!

I attended a local community showing with discussion following and am very glad that I attended.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Obama Advocates Longer School Year, Higher Teacher Pay

As a retired teacher with more than thirty years of experience, I would say that once more the non-educator is trying to create a fix for the educational system. While I applaud the intent of the effort, I question the approach.

In order for a child to be a successful student, he/she must be able to read well. Without this ability, any intervention is doomed from the start. The ability to read should start in the home with family members reading to and with their children. This can be supplemented at the library through reading programs there, or a variety of other places. Once a child starts school, the classroom teacher needs effective support from a building-based reading specialist. Even with those resources, some children will still experience difficulties and need the help of a certified clinical reading specialist. Then the child must be given opportunities at both school and home where he/she is encouraged to read.

A second factor is a family involvement in the educational process. Children should be encouraged to attend school and do well there. In order for this to happen, the child needs an environment in which education is valued, a study time and place is provided, and adequate food and clothing is available. Parents must be willing to communicate with teachers to create a team effort. Yes, it DOES take a village to educate a child. It also takes a hell of a lot of effort.

Thirdly, the school must provide an environment in which a student can be successful. Not only must there be motivated, well-trained teachers, administrators, and support staff, but the environment should be conducive to student success. Individual student differences should be recognized and valued. Bullying should never be permitted. Instruction and related materials should be meaningful and appropriate.

A longer school year is not the quick fix. It would be more relevant to make better use of the time that already exists. Teachers are not in their profession to become wealthy and teacher pay has improved greatly since the 1960's. Rather than higher pay, many teachers would prefer more classroom resources and the time to focus on significant instruction without meaningless meetings and non-instructional tasks such as hall patrol.

If I as a former educator was asked how to improve our present educational system, these are basic suggestions that I would give.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama Ends America's War in Iraq, Sort Of

It's over, sort of. A war that should never have happened resulting in lives that should never have been spent. When we think back, we can mentally picture a George W. Bush who invented "weapons of mass destruction" so that the invasion would happen and the job started and left unsuccessfully completed by his father would be done and George W. could prove himself.

It was a war built on misinformation. 1. Iraq never had any part in the events of 9/11, contrary to the belief of many Americans (Saudi Arabia, a country with close ties to the Bush family did). 2. There were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Their presence was a fabrication that provided the Bush administration with an excuse to invade Iraq. 3. There was no IRAQI movement for the establishment of a democracy. The American experience in Vietnam should have taught American foreign policy makers that a democracy can never be effectively imposed on a people. A democracy must be the will of the people, and that group of people must be willing to make sacrifices in order for democracy to flourish.

Where does that leave us? A lot of people including Americans, are dead now because of what the American government has tried to do in Iraq. The infrastructure of Iraq is worse than it was before the American invasion.Months after Iraq's first democratic election, a government has not been fully established. Billions of American aid dollars can not be fully accounted for. The American presence in Iraq served as a recruiting cause for Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who regularly self-destruct and maim and take the lives of others. The ONLY positive comment that I can make is that Saddam is no longer the leader of Iraq. In my mind, I would qualify that success by saying that it would have been better if the Iraqi people had removed him without the help of outsiders.

As of today, American combatant presence in Iraq is over. Our presence there is sort of over, because tens of thousands of American military men and women will remain there in noncombatant duties. Some of these men and women and men are beginning their second or third tour of duty there, away from their families and friends, careers, and communities. While they are classified as "noncombatants', they will remain targets of snipers, I.E.D.s, and suicide bombers.

This "sort of" war ending is characteristic of the time that Americans have spent in Iraq. Enough is enough. Not one more American soldier should have his/her life put in danger through being present in a country where American presence isn't really wanted. Not another American dollar should be spent supporting an American military presence in Iraq. It is time to say that we were wrong in the invasion and effect a total military withdrawal from Iraq. We must show the courage to do so, just as they showed the courage to put their lives on the line for the American government's foreign policy.



Monday, August 9, 2010

Are You Embarrassed Yet?

This morning I say a large billboard with Obama's photo and the caption,"Did You Vote for Obama? Are you Embarrassed Yet?". I had two immediate reactions to this:

1. I strongly disagreed with the policies and actions of the Bush administration,but
didn't see a similar anti-Bush sign because for years Bush convinced many that to
criticize him was to "aid the other side in the War on Terrorism". What a farce!

2. I did vote for Obama and I am not embarrassed to admit that I did.

I am neither an idealist nor a "my party, right or wrong" person. When I worked on
the local level to help with his presidential campaign, I knew that I would not agree with everything that he would eventually be given credit for. In addition to decisions that he might make, I was fully aware that under our federal form of government, we have a system of checks and balances that puts constraints on what the head of the executive branch can do. Given that, I am still not embarrassed for choosing to vote for the man.

First of all, after eight very long years it is refreshing to have an intelligent, articulate president. Secondly, in spite of the Bush political and economic legacy, Obama has tried to make a positive difference. In a relatively short time a health care bill has been passed, increased financial accountability has been instituted, the war in Iraq is closer to an end, and personal freedoms endangered by the patriot Act have been restored.

Does this mean that I am perfectly content? Not in the least. The health care bill was watered down due to a Congress strongly influenced by lobbyists. The stimulus funds have not all been effectively distributed so that those who are unemployed can go back to work at a comparable level of employment and compensation. The viability of our military actions in Afghanistan raise so serious questions. Iraq still seems to be a quagmire in terms of accounting for money spent and to bring all U.S. troops out so that not one more American needlessly loses his/her life. Equal rights for all in terms of marriage and legal status is yet to be resolved. Congress has still not been made to understand that the issues that We, the People are now dealing with have no room for bipartisan bickering.

In spite of all of the above, I am still not embarrassed to say that I voted for Obama. Our total national situation is better than it would have been if the same issues had been dealt with by a Bush surrogate. My bottom line is that after nearly two years of an Obama administration I still believe tan "Yes, we can"".

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Call for the End of the Golden Parachute Age

The whole concept of the "golden parachute" has bothered me ever since the phrase was coined in the 1970's. It is hard for me to understand the action of giving a company executive a financial incentive to leave after he/she has caused problems due to poor decisions in the running of a company. After all, the reason that America CEOs "earn" 400 times the salary of the average worker in a company is their expertise. If their "expertise" is faulty, the logical action is to fire them, not to reward them for their mistakes. How bankers and stock analysts received bonuses after their 2008 efforts is difficult for anyone to comprehend.

Combine this offering of a golden parachute practice with that fact that the present CEO of BP is about to leave. This is the man who left the Gulf oil crises scene to attend a yacht race across the Atlantic before the environmental crisis was resolved. What would happen to a firefighter if he left the scene of a fire emergency to attend a baseball game? He would be fired and would never even be allowed to interview for another job in a related profession. What is the future fate of BP's present CEO, Tony Hayward?

""NEWSMAKER-BP's diplomat Dudley in line to become CEO
4:05am EDT

BP expected to install Bob Dudley as CEO soon

LONODN, July 26 (Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L) (BP.N) Chief Executive Tony Hayward is to be nominated for a board position at its Russian venture TNK-BP (TNBPI.RTS) when he steps down from his current role, Sky News reported, citing sources.

TNK-BP declined to comment on the Sky News report on Monday when contacted by Reuters."

What it comes down to in my own mind are two questions:

1.Is Tony Hayward being given a golden parachute for leaving BP without a fuss?

2.Who in his right mind would sponsor Hayward for another position of
responsibility, much less hire him for one?

It is time for responsible decision-making and ethical business practices. This statement, naive on my part, brings to mind the lyrics to the song that goes,"To dream the impossible dream....."


Two hours after first posting my thoughts:

My worst fear about the continuity of the "golden parachute" has been confirmed. Damn! BTW 6 million British pounds= $7,500,000! Not bad for being a loser.

BP boss Hayward to get immediate £600000 pension
BBC News - ‎1 hour ago‎
BP chief executive Tony Hayward is receive an immediate £600000-a-year pension when he leaves the firm in October, the BBC has learned

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birth of the Atomic Age Remembered

“The Atomic Age began at exactly 5:30 Mountain War Time on the morning of July 15, 1945, on a stretch of semi-desert land about 5 airline miles from Alamogordo, New Mexico. And just at that instance there arose from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world, the light of many suns in one.”

William Laurence, New York Times September 26, 1945

“And now I become Death [Shiva], the destroyer of worlds.”

Robert Oppenheimer, atomic scientist paraphrasing The Bhagavad Gita

If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one
I am become Death
The shatterer of Worlds.

The exact quote of the Bhagavad Gita

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Midsummer Madness: Senate pauses in its debate of unemployment benefit extension

The purpose that Congresspeople become elected is so that they can serve their constituents. If that is the actual truth, then there should be no question in their minds that unemployment benefits should be extended. Millions of conscientious American workers are unemployed due to no fault of their own. The recession and the practice of out-sourcing have created a situation in which people who pride themselves as American workers are sitting idle, frustrated in their concern of keeping their homes and feeding their families. Very few, if any, of them want to be dependent on the government for their basic needs. Until the job market is restored, however, these unemployed workers and their families need the resources that the unemployment benefit extension will provide. This extension is not a luxury, it is a bare minimum necessity. I feel that the benefits extension should be voted on, signed, and implemented NOW.

Once the benefits extension is in place, I would suggest that Congress seriously act on the factors which have contributed to the need for the extension. Companies that increase their profits by outsourcing jobs in other countries should NOT be given any tax breaks. It might even be appropriate to place a tax on those profits specifically generated by outsourcing and use that revenue to help pay for unemployment benefits. The other area that Congress should act upon is the stimulus money that seems to not be actively used in restoring jobs inside the USA. The money is there, available, and should be used.

A final comment. As Congresspeople are elected to serve the people who they represent, their constituents should carefully watch how they vote on the benefits extension bill and later follow up actions. Those who vote to the benefit of their constituents should be rewarded with reelection,those who don't should be voted against the next time they run for reelection. This is how the partnership between Congress and we, the people was drawn up.

What do YOU think?


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lessons of History?

The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war fought in U.S. history. During the Cold war, the former Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan was their equivalent of the USA's war in Vietnam. Having made that analogy, it can be perplexing that a lesson was not leaned from history. Consider the following statement:

"Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war."--Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1979

I understand the concept of the "War on Terrorism" and strongly support the prevention of terrorism. I do NOT believe that terrorism is an acceptable way to further any cause and have no sympathy for those who condone terrorist acts. On the other hand, I question the appropriateness of the USA staying in Afghanistan to create a democracy. Democracies are only successful when established through the initiative of those who will benefit from them. Until there is a majority movement to create one, an attempt at establishing a democracy will not succeed. I am not ready to put my life on the line for the democratization of Afghanistan, nor am I ready to send my family members , neighbors, or community members to do so.

I firmly believe that we should heed the lesson stated by Jean Kirkpatrick four years after our war in Vietnam ended. It is time to revisit and revise our foreign policy in Afghanistan. Support our troops, bring them home now.