Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday music video break

Hectic day today, being the Travelin' Trainer. Hope to have some time to post later today or this evening, because let me tell you: I've got some things that I want to write about. (MD state police spying on peace activists? What?! John McCain says school vouchers will help everyone get a quality education? I don't think so, Senator!)

In the meantime, feast your eyes and ears with a little bit of Emmylou:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The real fear about marriage equality

(Click image for larger view)
h/t to Yikes!

"It's a special occasion"

That's what we say when we let the dog on the couch. Which is basically all the time. But he never jumps up there without asking permission, which essentially consists of his placing his chin on the sofa cushion and then looking at us with the ultimate "puppy eyes." Well, it's a special occasion, we say. Okay!

But today really and truly is a special occasion, because Fritz is here at work with me and is sitting by my feet as I write. A colleague is writing a children's alphabet book using photographs of dogs for each letter, and she needed an "f". So here we are!

We've taken lots of walks this morning and already had one photo shoot, so Fritz is seeming pretty calm. It's unfortunate that there are workmen down the hall today banging on things, but after one bark, Fritz seems to accept their noise.

My colleague has been interviewed by Time magazine about a previously written book of photographs on dogs, called Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs. (Black dogs are much harder to find homes for.) Fritz is honored to be a part of her new book, aren't you boy? Fritz? Wake up Fritz!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The world is watching

As Amnesty International asks, in whose best interest is it to take a 15-year old boy -- who allegedly threw a grenade in Afghanistan -- into custody and hold him in secret, incommunicado and indefinite detention, and subject him to torture?

Last night the mainstream media broadcast video of Omar Khadr, "enemy combatant," crying and describing to his interrogators ill treatment he had received. To make sure we didn't begin feeling badly about a 15-year old child being treated this way, ABC News quickly put up a photo of the soldier killed by a grenade allegedly thrown by Khadr. There are no eye witnesses to this allegation. ABC did not mention that fact. (And by the way, did it appear that Khadr had legal representation with him during the interrogation? No?)

What has the United States become, when we willingly allow our leaders to sanction torture against children?

From Amnesty International:
No existing international tribunal has ever prosecuted a child for war crimes, reflecting the wide recognition that the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is a serious abuse in itself. This does not mean that a child above the age of criminal responsibility cannot be held accountable for crimes committed in the context of armed conflict, as in any other context. Appropriate recognition must be given to the age of the child at the time of the alleged crime and the rehabilitative priority, however. In February 2007, the month that the Pentagon announced charges against Omar Khadr under the Military Commissions Act (MCA), 58 countries endorsed the Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (and another eight countries have endorsed them since). They agreed that “Children who are accused of crimes under international law allegedly committed while they were associated with armed forces or armed groups should be considered primarily as victims of offences against international law; not only as perpetrators. They must be treated in accordance with international law in a framework of restorative justice and social rehabilitation, consistent with international law which offers children special protection through numerous agreements and principles.” The MCA provides no such framework.
Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he was taken into custody by the US military in Afghanistan in 2002, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay since he was 16. He is now 21. Contact your Senators and Representatives today and tell them you -- and the rest of the world -- are watching. Again from Amnesty International:
“The US has violated international standards by refusing to recognize Omar Khadr’s status as a minor and treating him accordingly.”
hat tip to Cousin Pete for the title of this post ....

Wednesday Poetry Break

Goodbye to Tolerance

Genial poets, pink-faced
earnest wits—
you have given the world
some choice morsels,
gobbets of language presented
as one presents T-bone steak
and Cherries Jubilee.
Goodbye, goodbye,
I don’t care
if I never taste your fine food again,
neutral fellows, seers of every side.
Tolerance, what crimes
are committed in your name.

And you, good women, bakers of nicest bread,
blood donors. Your crumbs
choke me, I would not want
a drop of your blood in me, it is pumped
by weak hearts, perfect pulses that never
falter: irresponsive
to nightmare reality.

It is my brothers, my sisters,
whose blood spurts out and stops
because you choose to believe it is not your business.

Goodbye, goodbye,
your poems
shut their little mouths,
your loaves grow moldy,
a gulf has split
the ground between us,
and you won’t wave, you’re looking
another way.
We shan’t meet again—
unless you leap it, leaving
behind you the cherished
worms of your dispassion,
your pallid ironies,
your jovial, murderous,
wry-humored balanced judgment,
leap over, un-
balanced? ... then
how our fanatic tears
would flow and mingle
for joy ...

— Denise Levertov

I find the following lines especially profound this morning, as I try to reconcile my outrage at several events in the news (FISA and Guantanamo, to name two), with the seeming indifference exhibited by friends and colleagues:

by weak hearts, perfect pulses that never
falter: irresponsive
to nightmare reality.

It is my brothers, my sisters,
whose blood spurts out and stops
because you choose to believe it is not your business.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McCain Watch: McCain’s extremist opposition to gay adoption

Barack Obama reversed his pledge to stand up against FISA. I think that's wrong and I'll continue to say it. But lest you think I'm not aware what a disaster it would be for this country -- and the world -- were John McCain to slip into the White House (yes, I'm talking to you, Donald!), here's yet another reason why we must not let McCain get elected in November. From ThinkProgress:
In a revealing interview with the New York Times, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — an adoptive parent himself — declared that he opposed the right of gay couples to adopt children, even if it meant leaving children in orphanages:

Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

Mr. McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.

Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.

Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.

Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple

Mr. McCain: Yes.

McCain’s position is an extreme one, considering that only one state, Florida, forbids all forms of gay adoption. A March 2007 study estimated that 65,000 adopted children are living with a gay or lesbian parent, and determined that a national ban on LGBT foster care could cost anywhere from $87 million to $130 million.

From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children’s optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes.
Just one more example of John McCain's extreme ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

The Pickens Plan

While I was on vacation, I happened to see a commercial from T. Boone Pickens that made me sit up and pay attention. He wants America to stop our dependence on oil. It's called the Pickens Plan.

Normally I'm no fan of T. Boone, as he's as right-wing as they come. But I think it is a sea change when a man who's fortunes have come from oil recognizes that that is a dying industry. He's a businessman first and foremost (a real Texas oil man, not like the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., who has a Harvard MBA, family riches, and still managed to fail in the lucrative Texas oil industry of the 1980's).

The main reason why there has not been a push for alternative energy in this country is that there's been no obvious profit motive. We are, for better or for worse, a capitalist country. If there's money to be made, we'll do it. Otherwise, not so much.

Now, we've had some discussions here at the House of Jello about one issue being "more important" than another. You may think energy is not important, or at the least a rather dull topic. But the truth is, energy affects everything in your life. Look around you right now at the things on your desk made of plastic, paper, or metal. They were manufactured and transported using energy. As was the food on your table, and the clothes on your back.

It's not just about the price of a gallon of gas.

President Bush's idea is a plan to open up more land for drilling for this limited resource (again, showing his inferior business acumen). But our future is not in oil. Pickens is correct in looking to wind and natural gas as alternatives for America. This is a major business opportunity for America, not an energy crisis.

Barack Obama is by far the stronger candidate on the issue of energy. However, I would love to hear him frame the issue in terms of the opportunity it provides rather than the standard line that we should work toward oil independence.

Will either candidate acknowledge the groundbreaking move by a wealthy Texas oil man to "get out" of the business?

Monday, July 14, 2008

UPDATED: Sen. Obama, I'm trying, but you're not making it easy for me

UPDATE: is back up and running. I encourage anyone who's as frustrated by Obama's vote on FISA as I am to sign up for the "President Obama, Please Get FISA Right" group. So far, it seems to be a fairly polite and articulate discussion of the issues. And hopefully if enough of us object to Obama's stand on FISA, our collective voice may be heard.

Yes, it's true that I wore an Obama sticker when I marched in the 4th of July parade. The next president of the United States will be either John McCain or Barack Obama, so ....

Part of the reason why I felt comfortable with the sticker is that I had some really good conversations with my cousin in Vermont who is a strong Obama supporter. I felt that he respected my previous support of Hillary Clinton, and that he understood my concerns with Obama's recent stands on issues such as FISA. In fact, my cousin encouraged me to go to the Obama web site, where many progressives who are displeased with this recent move to the center have been leaving comments urging Obama to reconsider some of his recent statements. Enough people have been commenting that it has made the news. Computer World reports:

In a development that shows how users can take Web 2.0 sites in unexpected directions, a group of Barack Obama supporters is using his presidential campaign's official social network to protest the Illinois senator's stance on a bill extending the so-called warrantless wiretapping program.

The social networking group set up on the site to urge Obama to vote against the extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) had attracted more than 24,000 member entries as of last Friday, although some of the entries appeared to be duplicates.

So I thought that I'd check it out this morning and see if I left a thoughtful and polite comment, would I be attacked as a "troll" and all the rest of the things I was called at Americablog, Huffington Post, and the rest. Unfortunately, this is what you get today when you go to

I'll keep checking. Hopefully it'll be back up soon ....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Perhaps I should go away more often

Although I am a little disappointed to come home and see that you all did not in fact finish the bathroom for us, I am also quite relieved to see that there is no evidence of a jello-shot party here, either!

What can I say? We had a wonderful time, and with only occasional opportunities to go online -- plus the fact that we forgot the cord to download from the camera to the laptop, so I couldn't post any photos -- there just wasn't much time to blog. I thought about blogging quite a bit, and went into my own withdrawal, there is no doubt. But it was also nice to fully experience the moment, without the constant thought in the back of my head ("Oh -- I've got to post about that!") Bloggers, you know what I'm sayin' ....

Well, now all photos have been downloaded and you, my friends, are in grave danger of me deciding that "you must look at slides from my vacation," as we used to say back in the old days. I won't subject you to that. But I'll show you a couple of examples why I was too busy to write:

This is me at "The Falls of Lana" near Lake Dunmore in Vermont. (I love that name -- I kept looking for The Lady of the Lake!) The hiking trails were easy and well maintained, but of course we crawled over rocks to get down to the water. The water was so cool and clear, Unnamed Partner took off her shorts and went for a dip, but I'm not allowed to post those photos ...

We took the gondola to the top of Killington and walked around up there (which sure is a lot easier to get around when there's no snow, but I guess if I were a better skier I'd appreciate the unbelievably long trails a little more...) There was no wi fi at the top of Killington ....

And you know we ate well on our journey, because we always do! Most of the time we stayed with my relatives in Rutland, Vermont, and in Odessa, New York, and they all took such good care of us! We had many great meals and conversations. On our jaunt out to Odessa, we also stopped in at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca:

I have much more to tell you about, and some more images to post (including me marching with the Rutland County Democrats in the Brandon Vermont 4th of July Parade, which is led by Warren Kimble. And yes, I was wearing an Obama sticker. I'm all about taking back the White House -- but I'm still going to take him to task on FISA, gun control and the death penalty.)

Thank you for indulging me in this absence, and for keeping each other entertained while I was gone. I always tell people that I enjoy blogging because I've met the most interesting people here! Honestly, I was worried that if I didn't post for 10 days you all might wander away and never come back. But to be in such a serene place -- both physically and spiritually -- I knew I'd just let it be, and see what happened.

O.k. But for now, I've got a bunch of laundry to do.