Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Goodby Again

I know, I barely got home. Now we're leaving again, this time south to see my grandson sing the lead in his HS play, and then we're off to the Oregon Coast with my daughters and several grandchildren.

It's so great to be retired. Someone asked me if I had any regrets. My answer: Zeeeee-ro!!!

With the economy on the skids, my old state agency (which administers Unemployment Insurance) has been calling back every former employee they could find. I ran into one of my old managers and asked her why she hadn't called me to come back to work.

"If I called you", she said, "what would have been your answer?"

"I would have said 'fuck you'."

"That's why I didn't call you."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's Sotomayor!

Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the Supremes is Sonia Sotomayor. It doesn't come as a surprise, since she was on the short list almost from day one.

Also not surprisingly is the news media's scrambling to portray her as the first Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic descent. As I think I mentioned before, when Torquemada Gonzales' name was first bandied about as a possible Supreme (Jeez, that seems like it happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away...) and the news media went nuts over his ethnicity, the actual first Supreme Court justice of Hispanic descent was Benjamin Cardozo, who served from 1932 until his death in 1938.

However, I also see that the media is now trying to make a distinction between "latina" and "Hispanic", since Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican heritage, making her "New World" Hispanic (aka "latina") and Cardozo was of Spanish extraction, his family having made the leap to our sovereign shores directly from Spain.

Whatever. It's a distinction without much of a difference. It doesn't matter where we came from. What matters is who we are now.

So watch all of the asshole Republicans (again, I repeat myself) start scrabbling to find some dirt on Sotomayor, anything that will allow them to try, with a straight face, to deny her the appointment to SCOTUS.

Well guess what, guys? You were the ones who agitated for a straight up-or-down vote back when your boys were nominated. Can you really change your minds about it now?

Okay, stupid question. Of course they can. And they will. After all, they know no shame.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

We're back from our vacation, none the worse for wear and ready to go.

Seeing as how this is the official Memorial Day, I'd like to recognize the friends and neighbors from my home town who gave their lives during the Vietnam War. Here's a virtual beer, lifted to you guys. I deeply miss all of you.

And especially you, Bill Wagner.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

On Holiday

We're outta here for a vacation to California's Owens Valley, Death Valley and Northern Arizona. I'm craving the desert after all the rain we've had up here in the Wet Corner of the World.

Be back in a couple of weeks.

Thanks to all of you for reading and following my rants and raves. You guys are the best!

--The F Man

Thursday, May 07, 2009

National Day of Prayer


Actually it's a little more than that. For the first time in a long time, the President of the United States has had basically the same reaction: Yawn.

While he can't quite come out and say that the whole concept is bogus ... yet, Barack Obama has chosen to downplay the whole thing. He did issue the required proclamation, but he didn't have that parade of wingnut jesus freaks swarming over the offal office that we've gotten used to.

Which is good news for the rest of us. While I wish there weren't any such thing as a National Day of Prayer, I guess the best we can hope for is that it is downplayed by the president.

At least that's so in comparison to the disgusting display of sucking-up that Baby Doc did to the Religious Right during his entire two terms.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Arizona Memorial to LGBT Veterans a Desecration?

Way back in November 2000 the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) along with the Arizona Rainbow Veterans were instrumental in erecting the first ever memorial to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered veterans in a National Cemetery.

Which I thought was a terrific way to honor the sacrifice of those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who had given their lives for a country that wasn't ready to accept them even though they were willing to sacrifice themselves for it.

But what do I know? Leave it to the Religious Right to gin itself up in a sweaty lather over it. Surprisingly, though, it took them long enough to get around to it (unless I've missed something in the meantime -- only Michele "I'm-an-irritating-homophobic-moron-AND-I-play-one-on-tv" Malkin seems to have had much to say about it) but now someone named "Bill" is circulating by viral email the following letter, which I got to see when it was sent to Veterans and Military Families for Progress, a national progressive (i.e. liberal) veterans group that I belong to:

From: Bill <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 3:14 PM

Arizona National Veterans cemetery desecrated

National cemeteries were established as national shrines in tribute to the gallant dead who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. In 2001 a group of Dishonorably discharged sodomites the Arizona Rainbow Veterans with the help of corrupt Government officials in direct violation of The National Cemetery Regulations Title 36 and NPS 61 erected a Memorial to all gay, lesbian, Pedophile, bisexual and trans-gender veterans. This repugnant horror now sits on sacred ground along Purple heart drive in founders plaza only yards from the original flagpole from the main deck of the battleship Arizona were 1,177 men died in action on Dec 7th 1941.

We living Veterans that remain must speak for the thousands of silenced lips forever stilled amongst the jungles, deserts, beaches and the deep waters. We must stand together once more for future generations of our Sons and Daughters, for the Widows and Orphans of our dead we must fight, for the solemn dignity of their final resting place.

In the name of almighty God Let no heart be faint, let every arm be Steele. For to do otherwise a million ghosts in olive drab in brown khaki and blue and camouflage will rise from their white crosses and bronze markers thundering those eternally sacred words-

All gave some ,some gave all, For your tomorrow they gave their today.
Please call and speak for them. Please make this telephone call!!!!

Demand the immediate removal of the Gay, Lesbian, Pedophile, Bisexual,and Trans gender monument. The cemetery should be used to honor the dead not glorify or even mention someones sexual practices, What's next a monument for those that practice bestiality, fecalphilia, necrophilia?

Why not it's a sexual lifestyle preference ? This is ridiculous!! and a shameful way to treat our dead Vets!!!!!!!!

House committee on veteran affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-9756
The Administration Office of the Arizona National Cemetery
Mr. Wayne Ellis
Mr. Pat Hallinan
202 -461-6071
Veterans Administration Secretary
General Eric Shinseki 202-461-4800
I have no idea who this "Bill" is, but he's obviously received an extra heaping helping of homophobic hatred ("Pedophiles"? "Sodomites"? Jeez, come on, Bill...) when it comes to honoring the sacrifice of some veterans. Since he's sending this out for people to contact the government officials listed, there's nothing to stop us from contacting those same individuals and make our voices heard on the other side.

· Here's the email of General Shinseki:
· And here's the list of members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
I don't have emails for the two guys at the national cemetery -- if anyone has them, let me know and I'll post them here. In the meantime, a phone call will do.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Souter to Leave: What We'll Miss

David Souter, the stealth candidate that was elevated to the Supreme Court because Poppy Bush thought he was a "dyed-in-the-wool conservative" (i.e., abortion opponent) is leaving the court. This is a surprise move in some ways, since most of those guys stick around until their arteries resemble cement sticks instead of plumbing pipes, but I guess he's earned a rest back in the mountains of New Hampshire while he's still young enough to enjoy himself.

But here's what we'll miss. Justice Souter was the pivotal vote on so many issues that we hold dear:

Souter was a key vote in a 5-4 ruling in 1992, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which upheld abortion rights. He voted twice, in 2000 and 2007, to strike down bans on a mid-term abortion method that critics call "partial birth" abortion.
He was a vigorous voice in favor of the separation of church and state. In 2005, he wrote the 5-4 court opinion striking down the posting of the 10 Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses. He wrote that the Constitution requires "the government to stay neutral on religious belief, which is reserved for the conscience of the individual."
He voted, in the dissent, against government programs that would allow public money for school "choice" programs that helped parents pay for religious schools.
Like his predecessor Brennan, Souter was a consistent vote against the death penalty. In a 2006 case, he wrote a powerful dissent when the majority upheld a law requiring the death sentence for a convicted murderer if jurors found that the aggravating circumstances of the crime, such as its brutality, equaled the mitigating factors, such as the defendant's troubled background.
Souter called the law "morally absurd" and also stressed that advances in DNA should prompt the court to be wary about state capital sentencing policies.
Souter, joined by other liberals and swing vote justice Anthony Kennedy, also voted to allow Guantanamo detainees to get a hearing in regular federal court rather than be subject only to executive branch screening.
But probably the decision for which he will be remembered by history was one where he was on the losing side:
When the justices by a 5-4 vote in Bush v. Gore stopped ballot recounts in Florida and ensued George W. Bush's victory over then-Vice President Al Gore, Souter wrote a caustic dissent about the majority's intervention in a state matter.
"If this court had allowed the state to follow the course (of past cases), it is entirely possible that there would ultimately have been no issue requiring our review, and political tension could have worked itself out in Congress," he wrote. After the decision was announced on Dec. 12, 2000, Souter left the court looking ashen and it seemed the ordeal of Bush v. Gore disheartened him even more about the political ways of Washington.
So it's goodbye to Justice Souter, and thank you. It's striking to think about the kind of society we'd live in today if he had not been there for that pivotal vote in so many cases.

And it's also painful to realize that if he'd been in the majority on a couple of those cases (Bush v. Gore, anyone?) how much better off we'd be today.

This is why, in a nutshell, a president's appointments to the Supreme Court are SO important, yet are given short shrift when it comes to evaluating a presidential candidate. I mean Jesus Fucking Christ, how many people voted for Baby Doc Bush because he seemed like a guy you could have a beer with????

Obama's methods for choosing to fill Souter's seat on the bench bear close watching. He's already "reaching across the aisle", which is a bad sign. Those people will not cooperate unless they get some wingnut wackjob "strict construction" fundamentalist on the bench, so there's really not much point to reaching out to them. It's like reaching out to a mad dog. It's only going to hurt you.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Kent State 39 Years Later

Today is the anniversary of the Kent State Shootings. A moment of silence please for the "four dead in Ohio".

Okay, so what have we learned in 39 years? Well, I guess since we haven't had any campus massacres at the hands of the uniformed minions of the rich (aka the National Guard) in a long time, we've learned either that protesting the government can get you killed so don't do it, or that college students have turned so conservative that the only thing they'd be willing to protest would be a ten-cent increase in the price of lattés in the student union.

Okay, I'm kidding -- I know that students still protest. I live in a town whose resident four-year institution (The Evergreen State College) is a hotbed of radicalism and student activism. But is my perspective on the current state of the college-age generation skewed by this next-door association? I don't know.

But I do know that we have not, for the most part, seen the kinds of demonstrations against the Iraq War Illegal Occupation that we saw against the Vietnam War, especially in that spring of 1970 when Tricky Dick announced the expansion of the war into Cambodia (which, historical aside, pretty much turned his vaunted "domino theory" into a self-fulfilling prophecy and ultimately led to the rise of the genocidal sociopath Pol Pot, who we supported because he was the sworn enemy of our enemy, the Vietnamese... what a fucked-up world it was in the early 70s -- is it any wonder that so many of us turned to drugs?).

Okay, back on topic: We don't see those kinds of campus uprisings because, I believe, none of today's college students has "skin in the game" -- in other words, back in 1970 everybody knew someone -- friend, relative, drinking buddy, former roommate, etc -- who was either in Vietnam or had been there. And it didn't take much of an imagination to figure out that if the fucking war went on long enough for you to graduate, you'd eventually be there as well.

That potential doom doesn't hang over the heads of the current generation of college students. We no longer have a military draft, and by far the first-enlistment military ranks are made up of the young, the uneducated, the immature and the naive, but primarily the poor, who see the military as a last resort to pull themselves out of Walmart wage-slavery and get a chance to go to college.

I have no idea if, when they get to college, they will study the Kent State Shootings, nor do I know what their reactions to it will be. Most of them weren't alive in 1970, so the shootings will be as ancient to them as the Peloponesian War, so I don't hold out a lot of hope that the lessons of Kent State will have any relevance to them. Probably not even those students who find themselves attending Kent State...

"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it"... -- George Santayana