Monday, March 31, 2008

You Go, Girl 2. . . . .

A positive story from AlterNet today:

Congresswoman Fights for Gay and Trans Rights
By Deb Price, Creators Syndicate
- March 31, 2008

Middle-schooler Tammy Baldwin faced a problem:

A lady had complained that students trampled her flowers on their way to school. So student council member Baldwin worked with other kids on an outreach team to fence the flowerbed.

Solving problems through public service is deep in the Wisconsinite's "never doubt" DNA.

This year, Baldwin marks her 10th year as the gentle lady from Madison, Wis.

In 1998, the progressive district elected her to the House of Representatives: She was both the first Wisconsin woman elected to Congress and the first person elected to Congress who ran openly gay rather than coming out in office.

With the only other openly gay member of Congress, Democrat Barney Frank, turning 68 and now thriving as a committee chairman, the 46-year-old Baldwin may be the gay community's best shot at having an openly gay senator in a decade or so.

But for now, the Democratic congresswoman finds herself for the first time in the party that controls the House.

Her overriding political passion hasn't changed -- passing universal health care. But being in the majority has opened new possibilities to improve the lot of gay Americans. In this, fortunately for those of us who're gay, Baldwin's girlhood idealism is in full bloom.

She's pushing to extend partner benefits to federal workers. With allies, she's slowly changing the State Department. By taking her partner of 11 years, Lauren Azar, to congressional events, she reminds colleagues that anti-gay policies hurt someone they care about.

But no example is more beautiful than her valiant attempt to keep transgender protections in legislation to protect gay workers from discrimination. After losing that round, Baldwin promised trans people: "You are not forgotten. And our job will not be finished until you, too, share fully in the American dream."

Baldwin acknowledges frustration, but views this session as a "rehearsal" before a gay-friendly Democrat wins the White House. Since Democrats took control after the 2006 elections, the House and Senate have passed hate crimes bills with gay and trans protections, the House passed gay job protections and a House hearing is expected on job bias against trans Americans.

"The issues have gotten their first real airing in well over a decade," Baldwin says. "That's a step forward. And there's a value in members in tough districts having taken these votes. When they survive re-election, they can come back with more courage."

Baldwin keeps a framed observation by anthropologist Margaret Mead in her offices: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has!"

"Never doubt" has become Baldwin's mantra. But she reminds those of us who're gay that daring to dream must be followed by courageous acts, whether putting a partner's photo on our desks or running for office.

"There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it's now OK to express ourselves publicly," she says. "We make that day by doing things publicly ... until it's simply the way things are."

The girl who sewed her own dress for her first day of school has blossomed into an inspiring woman. Never doubt how much more she will achieve.

Being originally from Wisconsin, this Dairy Queen is proud of Rep. Baldwin's work in the US Congress . . . .

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Academy Award Performance . . . .

H/T to Bob the Other:

No commentary needed from me . . . .

Save The Park . . . .

Take a few seconds out of your busy day and check out our friend Ross' post here.

Politicians need to know how the public feels - Hopefully, they will heed your wishes.

Thanks for your help and input . . . .

Friday, March 21, 2008

They're Here ! ! ! !

Our trusty neighbour advised us this morning - via his "rigged" iPhone - that our Permanent Resident cards have arrived in the mailbox he has been monitoring for us.


We're officially Canadian!!

Feels great . . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Positioning Politicians . . . .

Via McClatchy today:

Is Lindsey Graham auditioning for VP?
James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers - March 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — John McCain's trip to Europe and the Middle East was intended to make him look presidential. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., went with him.

Was he auditioning for a prominent post in a McCain administration?

Perish the thought, Graham said before leaving the country. "This will be the 19th (foreign) trip I've taken with Senator McCain since (2003)," said Graham, who has represented S.C. in the U.S. Senate since 2002.

"He's one of my closest friends in the Senate. I think I am someone who is a sounding board for him.

"I've been intricately involved in his campaign — a confidant, if you will. I very much admire him. He's got a lot of courage. My relationship with John is not dependent on a position."





Lindsey's OK with any position.

Good thing.

Hanging around in that repuglican crowd, versatility has to be a plus . . . .

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fair Enough . . . .

From Reuters today:

IRS to start economic stimulus payments May 2
Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:05pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Internal Revenue Service said on Monday it would begin sending out the first of more than 130 million economic stimulus payments on May 2 and expects to complete the first round of payments by early July.

The IRS said the payments -- tax rebates of about $600 for most middle-income individuals and $1,200 for middle-income couples -- will be sent out in the order of the last two digits of the taxpayer's Social Security number. Taxpayers must file a 2007 tax return in order to receive a payment.

Let's see now.

The average Joe Schmoe gets $600.

The hedge funds, banks, lending institutions, financiers, etc., will no doubt get bailed out to the tune of billion$ or even trillion$ for their pie-in-the-sky shenanigans. Plus the CEO's of same keep their outrageous salaries,bonuses and options.

Sounds fair enough . . . .

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ellen Responds . . . .

In answer to the bigot from a post below, Ellen responds:

'Nuff said . . . .

Surprise! House dems Grow Spine . . . .

Well, it's a start, anyway.

From Reuter's today:

House passes spy bill and rejects phone immunity
Fri Mar 14, 2008 -
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives defied President George W. Bush on Friday and passed an anti-terrorism spy bill that permits lawsuits against phone companies.

But the 213-197 vote was far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised veto by Bush. He has demanded that any telecommunication company that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program secretly begun after the September 11 attacks receive retroactive immunity.

The battle over whether to shield companies has been a key reason why the House and Senate have been unable to agree on a bill to replace a law that expired last month that expanded U.S. authority to track enemy targets without a court order.

'Course, georgie will veto it, but what the hell.

At least the x-ray of the dems will show a shadow of a spine . . . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"A Three Hour Tour, A Three Hour Tour . . . .

That's one way to handle the boredom on the island, Mary Ann.

From The Globe and Mail:

Gilligan's Island's 'Mary Ann' nabbed on pot possession charge

Associated Press - March 12, 2008

Driggs, Idaho — Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, is serving six months' unsupervised probation after allegedly being caught with marijuana in her car.

She was sentenced Feb. 29 to five days in jail, fined $410.50 and placed on probation after pleading guilty to one count of reckless driving.

Tell you what, for 69 years old, she's looking pretty damn good.

Must be the herbal treatments . . . .

Missing Digits . . . .

For cryin' out loud.

This crap just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?

From McClatchy today:

Severed fingers of 5 hostages held in Iraq delivered to U.S.
Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers - March 12, 2008

U.S. authorities in
Baghdad have received five severed fingers belonging to four Americans and an Austrian who were taken hostage more than a year ago in Iraq, officials here said today.

The FBI is investigating
the grisly development, and the families of the five kidnapped contractors have been notified, American officials said on condition of anonymity because only Washington officials are permitted to publicly discuss the matter.*

Authorities have confirmed that the fingers belonged to hostages Jonathan Cote, of Gainesville, Fla., Joshua Munz, of Redding, Calif., Paul Reuben, of Buffalo, Minn., Bert Nussbaumer of Vienna, Austria, and Ronald J. Withrow, of Lubbock, Texas.

The first four men were security contractors with Kuwait-based Crescent Security and were captured in a brazen ambush of their 43-truck supply convoy in the southern Iraqi town of Safwa, near the Kuwaiti border, on Nov. 16, 2006.


U.S. officials in Baghdad would not say how or where the severed fingers were received, citing the ongoing investigation.

* Yeah, far be it for anyone but Washington officials publicly discussing the issue.

They are, after all, the ones that got us into this mess . . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Not In That Order, I'll Bet . . . .

The two topics noted in the title of the
Reuter's report will no doubt be reversed:

Cheney to discuss peace and oil on Mideast trip
Mon Mar 10, 2008 - By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Vice President Dick Cheney leaves on Sunday for the Middle East where he will raise U.S. concerns about record-high oil prices and try to push Israeli-Palestinian peace talks forward, the White House said.

Cheney will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank, Turkey and Oman in a trip expected to last about a week or more, his office said on Monday.

"His goal is to reassure people that the United States is committed to a vision of peace in the Middle East," U.S. President George W. Bush said after meeting with Poland's prime minister at the White House.

Cheney will also take the message "that we fully see the threats facing the Middle East, one such threat is Iran, and that we will continue to bolster our security agreements and relationships with our friends and allies," Bush said.


Cheney also will meet with Saudi King Abdullah when oil prices are hitting record highs, reaching above $106 a barrel last week.

He was expected to reinforce the message from Bush, who had urged OPEC to increase production during his visit to Saudi Arabia in January. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided not to boost output.


"When the president traveled there in January at every stop Iran was of interest and concern. And so I don't expect that that changed in the last two months since Iran hasn't changed its behavior at all," Perino said.

The United States has led efforts to pressure Iran, and the U.N. Security Council voted last week for a third sanctions resolution against Tehran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program.

References to Iran above were emboldened by moi for obvious reasons.

This crowd has ample time to ramp up the anti-Iranian rhetoric to get that war started before they leave office.

dickhead cheney needs more Halliburton stock options for his retirement, you know . . . .

Sunday, March 09, 2008

That's Progress ? ? ? ?

We can appreciate how "unenlightened" the following video from the 1950's appears today:

That is, until you listen to this recent one from an elected state representative - one
Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern ( You can guess which party she belongs to.

Yeah, it's wonderful how much more tolerant society is today, isn't it ? ? ? ?

Friday, March 07, 2008

This is Gonna Get Ugly . . . .

I've made an effort to keep out of the US primary season shenanigans.

Now that the dems have narrowed down the field, it appears that things will get even more ugly soon.

From AlterNet today, Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor:

Will Hillary Clinton Spoil the Party?
By Robert B. Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
Posted on March 7, 2008

I'm thrilled at the record Democratic turnouts across the country, and at the ground-breaking reality of the Democrats' two candidates. But I'm also becoming anxious at the prospect of a fight that could reduce the possibility of either of them entering the White House in January of 2009.

Is Hillary Clinton’s willing to sacrifice that possibility in order to preserve a tiny possibility that she'll get the nomination? With her win in Ohio and projected win in Texas, that seems so. In the days leading up to the Ohio and Texas primaries, we had Hillary Clinton's statement that both she and McCain have the experience to be Commander-in-Chief but Obama doesn't.

This is the first time in my memory that a major candidate in a primary has said that the other party's nominee would be a better president than his or her own primary opponent. We also had the outpouring of negative advertising from her campaign that both candidates had largely managed to avoid up to this point.


I suppose I should not be surprised. If Hillary Clinton has experience in anything, it's in fighting when cornered. When Bill Clinton lost his governorship, it was Hillary Clinton who commissioned Dick Morris to advise the Clintons on a no-holds-barred campaign to retake the governor's mansion. At the start of 1995, when Newt Gingrich and company took over Congress and the Clinton administration looked in danger of becoming irrelevant, it was Hillary Clinton who installed Dick Morris in the White House, along with his sidekick Mark Penn, to "triangulate" by distancing Bill Clinton from the Democratic Party and moving the Administration rightward. (When Morris was subsequently discovered to have a penchant for the toes of prostitutes the White House dumped him but kept Penn on.) And now Mark Penn is the "chief strategist" of Hillary Clinton's campaign. (emphasis mine)


The Clintons would prefer to write off Obamania as a passing fad, but the reality is that idealism and inspiration are necessary preconditions for positive social change. Nothing happens in Washington unless Americans are energized and mobilized to make it happen. Hillary Clinton's tactics are the old politics the nation is recoiling from -- internal division and national fear. This only serves to deepen Americans' cynicism about politics, and makes social change all the harder to achieve.

It will take some time for this circus to play out.

At this point, it would not be surprising if the dems blow what should be a shoe-in election and end up handing the executive branch to the repugs again.

The more things change, . . . .

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Vote That REALLY Counts . . . .

From Reuters this morning:

Vermont towns vote to arrest Bush and Cheney
Wed Mar 5, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported.

The nonbinding, symbolic measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro in a state known for taking liberal positions on national issues, instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."

Vermont, home to maple syrup and picture-postcard views, is known for its liberal politics.

State lawmakers have passed nonbinding resolutions to end the war in Iraq and impeach Bush and Cheney, and several towns have also passed resolutions of impeachment. None of them have caught on in Washington.


The state the rest of them should look to for leadership . . . .

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Darth Vader Meddling Again . . . .

From the Globe and Mail:

Khadr lawyers allege Cheney linked to video release

Globe and Mail Update - March 3, 2008

OTTAWA — Omar Khadr's defense lawyers will try to find out whether U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's office secretly leaked a video of the detained Canadian to an American media outlet – an allegation that, if proven, would be a clear violation of court orders and further proof that the process by which Mr. Khadr is being tried is a political, not legal one, his military lawyer says.


In an interview with The Globe and Mail Monday night, Lieutenant Commander Bill Kuebler said he is trying to find out how a highly secret video showing Mr. Khadr in Afghanistan was leaked to the U.S. news program 60 Minutes. The video appears to show Mr. Khadr building a bomb.

The news program aired the footage last November.


At the meeting, Lt.-Cmdr. Kuebler asked the Colonel where he thought the leak may have come from. In response, Lt. Cmdr. Kuebler said, Col. Davis offered the opinion that the Vice-President's office may have been involved.

Col. Davis resigned as chief prosecutor in October of last year, saying political pressure was interfering with his job.

If the allegation that the Vice President's office was involved in the leak is proven to be true, it would be a violation of the protective orders imposed on evidence in the case, Lt. Cmdr. Kuebler said.

But he added that it would also show the length that the government is prepared to go to prejudice the public against the detained Canadian.

dickhead cheney just can't keep his nose out of anything, can he? It appears he is angling for a new title in bushco: "Leaker in Chief" sounds appropriate. Valerie Plame, WMD's, and now this.

Perhaps a qualified plumber should be retained to stem the leaks . . . .

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cross-Border Crap . . . .

Oh, isn't this just great?

Our fearless Canadian leader is making waves South of the 49th and not in a good way.

From Chris Bowers at Open Left today:

The Canadian embassy in Washington has issued a statement indicating its regret at the fact that information has come out that would imply that Mr.--Senator Obama has been saying different things in public than in private.

So, the Canadian conservative prime minister is calling Barack Obama two-faced on NAFTA at the exact same moment that John McCain is indicating that Canada might pull out its troops on Afghanistan if we make too much a stink about NAFTA? That strikes me as more than a little suspicious. In fact, it strikes me as a
directly coordinated attack by McCain and Harper to neutralize McCain on trade during the general election. It wouldn't be the first time Harper and Republican leaders have coordinated, given that Harper uses Republican pollsters and the conservative movements in both countries are deeply intertwined. Further, in addition to making Obama look like a two-face panderer who will anger key international allies, this attack serves a triple purpose of weakening Obama by extending the Democratic primary, which might (I emphasize might) further weaken Obama in the general election. Other conservatives, such as Rush Limbaugh, are already pushing supporters to vote for Clinton for exactly this same reason.

I generally agree with Josh Marshall on this one: the whole thing stinks of cross-border conservative coordination on the presidential campaign. The plus side is that not only is what Harper doing probably unpopular in Canada, but that in the general election Obama can probably appear with opposition leaders like Layton or Stephanie Dion to reinforce his position on the issue. That way, not only does Obama's position gain credibility, but his victory might even bring down the Canadian conservative government.

The Right Honourable PM appears to be pandering to the future repug nominee. This before St. McCain has even faced the dem nominee in November's general election. Guess he's trying to win Best in Show for following orders.

It's time for stevie and his crowd to leave the building . . . .

(Photo credit, Alison @ Creekside)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cover Your Heads, Here it Comes . . . .

The dems caving-in, that is.

Figured they would, and this looks like the beginning of the end courtesy of Reuters:

Top U.S. Democrat: accord near on spy bill, immunity
Sun Mar 2, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives may soon resolve a stalemate that has blocked efforts to renew an anti-terrorism spy law and shield phone companies from lawsuits, a key Democrat said on Sunday.

Lawmakers may consider a compromise bill that would renew the law, which expired last month, and possibly grant some sort of protection to phone companies from lawsuits. But it would differ from a Senate-passed measure backed by the White House that would provide blanket immunity.

"We think we're very close. Probably within the next week, we'll be able to hopefully bring it to a vote," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes of Texas said of efforts to craft and pass such legislation.


Many Democrats have opposed immunizing phone companies that participated in the warrantless domestic spying program begun by President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks, saying they first needed to know what the companies did.

Reyes said House Democrats were now reviewing confidential U.S. documents they received in recent weeks about the warrantless electronic surveillance program and were talking with phone companies.

Consequently, Reyes said he now had an "open mind" on whether to shield companies from lawsuits.

Yes, and I'll bet the "open mind" of a lot of representatives includes an "open checkbook" for all those telecom company campaign contributions . . . .