Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blog #80: the 83 Birthday Blog

– ☯ –

Smashing a Presidential Tradition

President Barack Obama broke his way out of the bubble Thursday night and became the first sitting president to appear on a late night talk show with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Hopeful presidential candidates appear by the dozens, but a sitting president, never. Until Thursday night.

Leno remarked that he hopes his civics teacher was watching. By his appearance Obama proved that he is funny, personable and extremely likable. He also showed a grasp of the current culture by comparing Washington with American Idol. “Everybody is Simon Cowell, everybody has an opinion.”

It is certainly refreshing to have a president who is a warm, affable human being, as well as a brilliant leader and orator. A man who exudes confidence. We haven’t had that in awhile. Well, since Bill Clinton, anyway. We just wonder how green David Letterman turned in his own Green Room.

– ☯ –

A Stark Lesson in Injustice

photo from The Daily Beast

Next we have a story for the ages. It concerns two 17 year olds, caught having sex with their 14 year old girl and boy friends respectively. The story, by Constantino Diaz-Duran, was published in Thursday’s Daily Beast. It brings to the forefront what we feel is a pressing quandary for our time. From Diaz-Duran’s piece:

Alan Jepsen was playing videogames at his home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, when the cops came knocking on his door. He was handcuffed in front of his sister and thrown in jail. In the words of his attorney, Jeffrey Purnell, “This child, this 17-year-old high-school kid, had to spend a week in jail — they locked him up and they put him in jail with grown-ups. His crime: Having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. And, perhaps, being a boy.

The day after Alan's arrest, Sheboygan authorities arrested Norma Guthrie, also 17, for having sex with her 14-year-old boyfriend. Norma, however, did not have to spend a single day in jail. She was released immediately on signature bond, while Alan was held on a $1,000 cash bond, which his family could not afford. Sheboygan County Assistant District Attorney Jim Haasch is handling both cases.

The disparity in the punishment of these 17-year-olds, both accused of having sex with the 14-year-olds they were dating, goes much deeper. Haasch charged Alan with a Class C felony, which, according to court records obtained by The Daily Beast, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Norma, on the other hand, was charged only with a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail, after having been released immediately on signature bond.

Absurd! You betcha! Most puzzling of all, both 17 year olds are from the same city, and have been charged by the same District Attorney. Is this that always fair D.A. that was portrayed on the radio show Mr. District Attorney that I grew up listening to, and who would go to great lengths to fight for justice, no matter how long it took. (On the radio it always took a one half hour episode.) Is it justice to jail one of the 17 year olds, charging him with a Class C felony which can carry a maximum penalty of up to 40 years in prison, while giving the other, the girl, a misdemeanor charge which at most puts her in jail for nine months? Same crime, only the sex of the 17 year olds was different.

Well, folks that radio D.A. guy was pure unadulterated myth, not a word of truth in that entire series. A real DA takes to his job like that dreadful Nancy Grace zeros in on offenders on Headline News. Real D.A.’s never question the justice of a situation, they only approach each case for its legal possibilities for conviction, and for what taking the case might mean for their legal careers.

A truly enlightened society does not allow self-aggrandizing politicians to make something as sweet and natural as sex a crime, to be punished by mindless District Attorneys blinded by personal ambition. Perhaps some punishments should be devised for youngsters who try to push the envelope at too early an age, and particularly those who might be a little too forceful in their pursuits. But not a punishment which will ruin their young lives, certainly not 40 years in an adult prison.

Since the beginnings of the human race children have experimented with sex on their own timetable, a timetable triggered by mother nature, not one conceived and put into law by would be controlling politicians. The studies of Margaret Meade confirm that this curiosity has also been with our more primitive cousins since the beginnings of the human race. And a truly honest look back at one’s own growing up will likely further attest to it’s truth. Think about it. I’m not sure what any of us can really do about it, but we should certainly take note of it. And if you live in Sheboygan you might give County Assistant D.A. Jim Haasch a call. For more on this story go here!

– ☯ –

A.I.G. Executives Sucking the Taxpayer’s Tit!

Senator Charles Grassley

Anger at the executives at the downtrodden insurance company A.I.G. is swirling around the country faster than a firestorm on wings of a Tsunami. But Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, takes the honor of most succinctly crystalizing our anger. First, in an interview with Cedar Rapids radio station WMT on Monday he said, "I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed. But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say 'I'm sorry,' and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

Well, you can well imagine the nation’s reaction to that. It was met with cheers, but hey, suicide is illegal and a sin, isn’t it? And so of course Sen. Grassley had no choice but to come back the next day and say that he didn’t really mean suicide, just a small amount of contrition would do just fine, thank you. "From my standpoint, it's irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time when they're sucking the tit of the taxpayer.” He continued to express his displeasure with the company that is distributing $165 million in bonuses over lawmakers' objections. He said executives should not be rewarded for running their corporation into the ground.

"It would make me feel a lot better if our corporate structure would adopt that culture from Japan for the reason that I have not heard anybody apologize for running the corporation ... into the ground, and AIG's just one example of it," Grassley said. He said he's made that point a number of times and, "I don't know why it caught on yesterday."

More information on Senator Grassley’s comments may be found here! And also here! However, as always there is a second side to the story, one that you are not likely to come across with all the raging hysteria, unless you keep yourself informed by sources such as the Washington Post. The Post actually carried the AIG excutives side of the story, and it is indeed compelling. You can find it here!

– ☯ –

The State of What Union?

Cheney – The Ultimate Dick

Last Sunday morning on the latest CNN show to crib its name from a Washington based national political tradition, the State of the Union, in our opinion host John King wasted a great deal of his time with his first change of the guard interview with former vice president Dick Cheney. To say that Mr. Cheney was adamant in his “we did nothing wrong” stance would be putting it mildly. However, Mr. Cheney, a product of maturation during the Nixon, Ford, and various Bush administrations, obviously has his rear view mirror seriously tainted with rose tinted glasses.

In our view Cheney’s most outrageous charge was that in his view the American people are less safe from terrorists under President Obama than under Bush/Cheney. Can you believe, this person who was so intimately involved in the changing of our national policy from one of Liberty and Justice to All to one which violates the Geneva accords against torture and cruelty to our fellow human beings, and he is trying to imply that it has been these warped policies which have kept we Americans safe during these post 9/11 years? It was interesting that within minutes of Cheney’s fantasy reminiscences a Red Cross report in which America’s elite prisoners’ themselves described the measures of torture used against them was leaked to the media.

It is absolutely true that we Americans take our fear very seriously, so seriously that when an atrocity like 9/11 is inflicted upon us, we take on some very unAmerican characteristics in our desperate attempts in self protection. But at heart, we don’t want to appear to the world as bullies and torturers, even to those who we think have done us the ultimate wrong. At least most of us don’t.

One reason for this being dangerous is because there is a religion involved, and there are clerics who in reacting against those punitive characteristics of ours are thereby swelling the ranks of those who would do us harm. And whereas the Saudi king is in bed with various Bush family members, something like 18 of the 21 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. And what Mr. Cheney and the others who support the Bush policies of torture and the “lock them up forever and throw away the key” syndrome, are saying is that we are dealing with people who don’t count as people. And since you cannot try them without disclosing the treatment they went through to elicit their confessions, and since no American jury is likely to convict people who have been tortured into confessing, then you simply, and illegally, hold onto them forever.

And in a case of subterfuge you keep them in a lockup completely out of the United States borders. Of course such an outcome is against the very foundations upon which our legal system is built. And even a basically conservative court like our Supremes will sooner or later strike down such decidedly unAmerican procedures. At least we can hope so, and several recent rulings have indicated such an outcome might be in our future.

And a reminder that such treatment which is now known to the world in spite of the Bush regime’s best efforts to keep the lid on it, makes it a recruiting tool par excellence for those who would plot and recruit against us. Whereas it is perfectly true that there have been no attacks on American soil since 9/11, there are many reasons for this, the most obvious ones being attacks on Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. However President Barack Obama has taken the far more moderate and logical position that the less we fire up our enemies, the better chance we will have of keeping them out of our back yard.

We Americans have a very bad habit of assuming that our valuations of foreign movements are one hundred percent correct, when frequently they are completely out of the ballpark. Vietnam comes to mind. Ho Chi Minh and his movement for a Vietnam independent of French rule was a wholly understandable and laudable ambition (after all we broke from our Colonial masters and as a people we have never looked back) but America’s rulers used the fact that the Vietnamese movement was Communist in nature to rally against it and take up the cause where the French left off. We took the Dulles (John Foster, Secretary of State under Eisenhower, and Allen, head of the C.I.A.) brothers “domino theory” as gospel. It said if one Far Eastern nation fell to Communism then the others would fall like dominoes. But the domino theory proved to be wrong, every bit as wrong as those reports of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons were to be later on. Communism won in the end in Vietnam, and all of the east did not fall in kind. And the mother ship, the Soviet Union, was itself to break apart after not too long a time had passed.

For additional information on the conditions that brought in the U.S. participation in Vietnam we offer the following from Wikipedia.

Ho Chi Minh the Fierce

After the war, the Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954, made a provisional division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, with control of the north given to the Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, and the south becoming the State of Vietnam under Emperor Bảo Đại. A year later, Bảo Đại would be deposed by his prime minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, creating the Republic of Vietnam. Diem's refusal to enter into negotiations with North Vietnam about holding nationwide elections in 1956, as had been stipulated by the Geneva Conference, would eventually lead to war breaking out again in South Vietnam in 1959 - the Second Indochina War

The Geneva Accords promised elections in 1956 to determine a national government for a united Vietnam. However, the United States and the State of Vietnam refused to sign the document. From his home in France, Emperor Bảo Đại appointed Ngô Ðình Diệm as Prime Minister of South Vietnam. With American support, in 1955 Diệm used a referendum to remove the former Emperor and declare himself the president of the Republic of Vietnam.

When the elections were prevented from happening by the Americans and the South, Việt Minh cadres who stayed behind in South Vietnam were activated and started to fight the government. North Vietnam also invaded and occupied portions of Laos to assist in supplying the guerilla fighting National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. The war gradually escalated into the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam War in the West and the American War in Vietnam.

So much for the political acumen of our political leaders. After the Tet Offensive which made clear to most astute Americans that we were not wanted there, General Ky was showing several influential visiting Congressmen around Saigon, flitting from place to place in heavily armored vehicles, with overwhelming security at each stopover. Ky reportedly apologized to the Congressmen, lamenting the fact that it just wasn’t fair. In the south they had to travel around with such a high level of protection while to the north Ho Chi Minh, wearing his sandals made from rubber taken from the tires of downed American airplanes, could walk around freely with not a bodyguard in sight.

What General Ky didn’t say was that Ho Chi Minh was protected by the love of his people. For Uncle Ho, as they affectionately called him, had worked much of his life trying to free his people from the yoke that was French Colonialism. The devotion of the Vietnamese people to Ho Chi Minh was comparable to the love of the people of India for Mahatma Ghandi, who had devoted his life to the freeing of the people of India, and in which process he had invented the tactic of nonviolent confrontation. However, in the United States we were not told this. The rise of communism in Russia and the threat of it in the Far East had struck fear deep in the heart of capitalist America, and we painted Uncle Ho as a pariah. President Dwight Eisenhower admitted towards the end of his term that the reason the American government had not allowed the election to unite Vietnam that had been called for in the peace treaty to be held was that 80% of the population would have voted for Uncle Ho. So much for our claims of supporting democracy.

And so you can see that Iraq certainly wasn’t the first major mistake by leaders with high ideals but absolutely no sense as to what is really going on. We were well versed in turning fantasy into fact from both the Korean and Vietnam skirmishes so that by the time Iraq came around we were experts. And I’m afraid those wars probably won’t be the last. But keeping ourselves free of war and pestilence is going to take careful monitoring by the American electorate, and we must be careful not to fall for politicians with global ambitions. I think Barack Obama, and the team he has put around him, is a gigantic step in the right direction. It is 2012 and most especially 2016 that we have to worry about.

And as for Mr. Cheney’s motivation, likely it is to add what he feels is a Republican stamp of approval to the Rush Limbaugh claim of branding the Obama administration as failure. And as to his crediting the lack of attacks since 9/11 to Bush administration (his) criminal policies, Mr. Cheney is possibly positioning himself against any subsequent charges of war crimes which might well come sometime down the pike. Not that there is any disposition towards that in the Obama administration, but it is we, the United States, that brought and prosecuted Nazi Germany’s elite for war crimes after World War II. And considering everything that has happened in our own run up to the invasion of Iraq, the erroneous and outright false intelligence, the massive attempt on the part of Bush/Cheney to combine fact with fiction, and stamping every utterance with anti Hussein rhetoric, and finally the arbitrary invasion of a country that had done doing nothing to us at the time, if there was truly justice in this world, at the very least hearings on these matters should be held for the world’s consideration. Let’s just not hold our breaths.

For more complete coverage of the King-Cheney interview go here! And further information on the leaked Red Cross report may be found by pointing your cursor here!

– ☯ –

Politics in a Nutshell

The American political situation has been likened to a gigantic pendulum which swings to the left during some years, and to the right during others. That description is all well and good, except that by making the word liberal synonymous with left wing, socialism and even communism, Republicans for years have caused our American pendulum to hardly swing left of center at all. And it swung far to the right during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, for during many of those years Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, and the Republican party was enshrining Ronald Reagan’s motto that “the trouble with the country couldn’t be fixed by the federal government – for the federal government was the problem.” They addressed this so-called problem by staffing the federal government with incompetents, as all the while they were gleefully stripping industry and banking of as many regulations as they were able to get away with. Regulations which had been put into play only after painful excesses had required them in previous years.

It is not really talked about in this country, but there was a deliberate effort by the corporate community to shift Americans to the political right. It began in the wake of World War II, when the major radio networks hastily shifted their radio commentators to new time slots, preparatory to casting them adrift. The most trusted voices of the times, John W. Vandercook, Robert St. John, H. V. Kaltenborn, even the esteemed William L. Shirer, these voices which had helped see Americans through the rigors of World War II, were subsequently put out to pasture, as the networks looked for a less liberal bias in their news organizations. Only the venerable Edward R. Murrow, noted for his reports from London during World War II, was able to survive this changing of the reportorial guard. And the nation reflected this political shift in its choice of presidents, beginning with that of Dwight Eisenhower who of course governed from the right. John F. Kennedy swung the pendulum somewhat to the center, and after his assassination LBJ followed through on Civil Rights legislation which began the process of giving all of our citizens the right to vote, and eventually, to strive for equality.

But the pendulum was never allowed to take it’s normal swing to the left during these time because of Republican efforts to equate “liberal” with socialism, communism, tax and spend Democrats, and bad breath. And so Presidents Carter and Clinton, were cozying up to the center, rather than riding the pendulum on its leftward swing.

The economic meltdown we are currently experiencing is a direct result of eight years of Republican misrule, six of which saw them controlling both houses of Congress as well as the presidency. And how quaint it is that the only Republican suggestions so far for recovery is “tax cuts.” And keep in mind they mean tax cuts for the wealthy, of course, for they pooh poohed Obama’s stated intent to bring tax cuts to the rest of us. Republicans have been chanting tax cuts ad nauseam since the 1980’s during which time they were fighting wars off the books and spending on credit like there is no tomorrow. However, let us give the Super Spender his due, during his eight years in office President George W. Bush has gone through more money than all of his predecessors combined. Under his watch the national debt has doubled. So much for Republican solutions to the problems they made happen, solutions that in the real world aren’t worth a tub of warm spit.

– ☯ –

No Rush to Judgement!

Rush’s Slice of the Pie

Well, what do you know? CBS News has been out there taking polls on what you and I think, as if that was going to open the portals to truth and world peace. And in taking their poll they made note of the fact that the White House casting of Rush Limbaugh as the new head of the Republican Party may not be so far off the mark after all. According to a brand new CBS News poll every conservative’s favorite radio talk show host has a favorable rating which stands at l9%, and which is a full 43 points below President Obama’s rating. So spout on, Rush. The world is waiting with baited breath for your guidance and direction. NOT!!!

Limbaugh’s unfavorable rating is double his favorable one, standing at 40 percent, while the other 41 percent say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion. It is not a surprise that the conservative commentator, who has said he hopes that our president’s economic policies fail, is far more popular with Republicans – 47 percent view him favorably – than with Democrats, just seven percent of whom view him favorably.

By linking Republicans to Limbaugh and his kind the Obama administration can foresee many more years of clear sailing, as it tries to tack to the treacherous winds of Republican ruffled waters. The sailing will not be easy, as a media striving to present both sides of a story repeatedly puts pundits of the right on their television screens. But if only we American people can muster up a little patience, a truly gifted leader with abounding intelligence and infinite skills is going to be in a position to take us most anywhere. And I expect it to be a ride that we won’t soon forget.

However you don’t need to take our word for Rush Limbaugh’s slice of the pie. The full story on Rush’s ratings may be found here!

– ☯ –

As Uncle Pan mulls over a return to the writing of erotic literature, the following appeared in his g-mail box: Anonymous to me: In the Park, the story of the little girl who had pictures taken by a waterfall by a much older man was one of the best I have ever read. It was
sensitive yet sexual without being vulgar even though the girl was only 11. I would give my left arm to find a young girl like her. I wish that
there were more stories of this nature for our reading pleasure. By the way - You Do Good Work!!!

Clicking Away. and some of Uncle Pan’s other stories, may be found here! A more complete collection may be found at where a paid membership is required.

And so we mull on. And so this week’s rant winds its way into the sunset, or into the dawn depending on what time you happen to be reading this. Somehow we thought these topics, and our take on them, might tweak your interest, and if we succeeded we invite you to join us again next week, same URL. We post on Saturday mornings.

Bye now, and join me in wishing Little Eddy a happy 83rd birthday. It happened yesterday, March 20, the first day of spring. No candles please, his lungs aren’t quite up to blowing out 83 of them. But diabetes or no diabetes he can take care of that cake.

The Real Little Eddy