Friday, December 23, 2011

What a Bunch of Freakin' LOSERS!!

“On the campaign trail, Ron Paul said he does not like his milk homogenized. After this, Rick Perry said, ‘I am also not a fan of gay milk.’”
–Conan O’Brien

“In Sioux City, Iowa, there was another debate between the seven Republicans running for president. All your favorites were there: Grumpy, Dopey, the other Dopey, Romney, Bashful, another Dopey, and Happy.”
–Jimmy Kimmel

Best description yet of the collection of bozos chasing the Republican nomination: A clown car!

(Thanks to Honolulu Notes for these!)


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Message to the American Electorate from Teddy

"It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again … who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.”

-- Theodore Roosevelt


Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Deal with Arrogant Twits in Congress.

As you probably know, I write another blog, the focus of which is travel and more specifically train travel. I try to keep politics out of it, but that's sometimes difficult. Many of the Republicans, you see, have been trying to starve Amtrak to death for many years and, with many of those clowns, it's a case of ideology trumping common sense.

I'm involved with the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a non-profit, non-partisan advocating more and better train service for America. We meet every year in Washington and spend one full day visiting Congressional offices urging, among other things, adequate funding for Amtrak.

Want to know what we run up against? Last year, one of our members was meeting with an aide to a Republican congressman from Alabama and was relating how the U.S. has fallen years behind even third world countries in rail transportation. At that point, the aide interrupted and said to our member, “If you’re going to continue running down America, we have nothing further to discuss.”

There is only one way to deal with people like that: Vote their bosses out of office.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Calvin ... My Hero

There are very few cartoonists who deserve the genius label. Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, is one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GOP Announces New Scheme to Cut the Deficit

In order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs, House Republicans have submitted proposed legislation that would order the immigration authorities to start deporting retired people instead of illegals. Their rationale -- hard to dispute, I’m afraid – is that seniors are easier to catch, and will not remember how to get back home.

See you on the bus.

I wonder where we’re going.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What we need now is a modern day TR to step up.

Let's see, now. Who might agree with Teddy?

Cain? Uh ... no.
Paul? Hardly.
Newt? No.
Santorum? Nope.
Bachmann? Oh, puh-leeze!
Mitt? No.
Perry? You're kidding, right?
Hmmm ...
Pretty pathetic bunch, isn't it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An ideologue, by any other name, would smell the same.

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across my name in a comment appearing on a politically-oriented web site. The writer referred to me in a dismissive manner as “a liberal ideologue”.

May I say, for the record, he is not only wrong, he has no idea what a liberal is. In fact, “liberal” and “ideologue” are contradictory terms.

We liberals are open to all new ideas and can just as easily as not decide that some new initiative would better be provided by the private sector than by government. But an ideologue will reject any idea that doesn’t conform to his ideology.

Example: Grover Norquist. He’s the sweetheart who says his goal is to shrink the size of government down to where it’s small enough to drown in the bathtub.

And he’s the guy who intimidated every single Republican in the U.S. House into signing his No-tax Pledge and swears that he will work to defeat any of them who might violate that pledge. In other words, according to Grover, there is no circumstance whatsoever that could justify any new tax on any segment of our society.

Now that, folks, is an ideologue!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Four Years Later, the Republicans Still Don’t Get It.

For months now, we’ve been getting both live and recorded telephone calls at home on behalf of Republican candidates and causes.

I suppose, some time back, I probably fired off an email in response to some outrageous statement made on a right-wing web site and the diabolical bastards peddled my phone number to Republican consulting firms. That’ll teach me.

Recently, many of the calls are on behalf of Herman Cain and his recorded messages are pegged at about 8.5 on the 10-point intensity scale. No wonder the man could sell pizzas.

Mike Huckabee calls occasionally, but his tone is reasonable, almost cajoling, as he explains how the country is headed straight to Hell (capital H) unless we all embrace the values he personally holds dear. I don’t think he’s still running, so I guess he’s just using up the rest of the money he raised when he was. I suppose there's no sense doing any actual good with it.

A call yesterday was from the College Republicans and the recorded male voice fairly quivered with outrage as he described how this great country of ours is being slowly, methodically and deliberately destroyed. He identified the arch villain responsible for that as “Barack ... Hussein ... Obama”. Lest anyone miss the implication, there was heavy emphasis on the “Hussein”.

Really, guys … four years ago, that was a contemptible tactic. Today it’s just stupid.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Perry on the Stump, Stumps New Hampshire Voters.

Texas governor, Rick Perry, spoke to a crowd in New Hampshire the other day and apparently raised a few eyebrows. His speech was punctuated with winks, nods, exaggerated facial expressions, strange (even weird) hand gestures, and enough off-beat comments to cause many people to think the guy might have had a couple of toots before taking the podium. A few even wondered aloud about his stability.

But by far, my favorite comment was from a guy who noted that Perry's performance looked like "Nixon on speed ... but without the charm."



Friday, September 30, 2011

Words of Wisdom for the GOP

You guys need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and not come away thinking, “You know, there’s something wrong with this mirror.”
–Jon Stewart


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Words to Remember ... and Think About.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." (President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)

Clearly, and sadly, this is no longer the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower. The crazies have taken over. And they would rather push the United States of America into default, rather refuse help to millions of unemployed, rather demand more cuts to federal programs as the price for helping storm victims ... than appear to be agreeing with the centrist policies of Barack Obama.

Here is an inciteful and truly disturbing indictment of today's GOP, written by a long-time Republican insider. It's tough reading. But it's important.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Read it ... and weep!

Thanks to Honolulu Notes for spotting this one. Didn't make my morning coffee go down any better, though.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Republicans have finally done it: I’m speechless!

The Republican Party of Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, has announced it will be conducting a raffle as a political fundraiser.
The prize? A Glock automatic handgun, the same make and a similar model to the gun used to put a bullet in the brain of Congresswoman – Democratic congresswomanGabrielle Giffords, who represents that very same district.

A total of 18 people were shot in that January incident; six of them died. One of the fatalities was a nine-year-old girl.

I have tried for 15 minutes to think of a comment that would be appropriate.

I just can’t find the words.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back from my journey ... with the scars to prove it.

Well, I'm back and it was an amazing trip, with lot's of very interesting and very surprising experiences. Imagine attending a concert that included works by Puccini and Bizet and Andrew Lloyd Webber, among others, all performed by Russian and Mongolian singers and dancers in a beautiful concert hall in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, located less than 300 miles from the Mongolian border. I mean, who would have thought?

By the way, It is not easy being an American traveling through Europe these days. After a week or ten days of getting relaxed being around each other, my fellow tour members and I started getting into political discussions on the tour buses and over meals. The English-speaking group included eight Brits, a Malaysian, three Dutch, six Norwegians, four Swedes and an Australian ... all of whom were quite well-informed about what has been going on in the U.S. over the past 3-4 months. The discussions were lively and interesting but, essentially, their questions could all be paraphrased and summed up as follows: "Have you Americans completely lost your minds??"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Going to be away for a month.

I'm taking off this morning for a 29-day trip that will literally take me around the world ... and most of that will be by train. Internet access will not be available along some of that itinerary, but I'll do my best to post photos and comments on my travel blog as often as possible.

One brief commentary before I leave: The price of a first class seat on my flight from Los Angeles to London is $11,660 … one way. If the person in that seat is traveling on business, it’s a deductible expense, which means there will be no tax paid by the corporation on the income earned to pay for that ticket. Meanwhile, the Republicans are demanding that we cut benefits for retirees. See anything out of whack with this picture?

By the way, I just looked on line again and my Social Security check is now four days past the usual date of deposit into my account.

Oh well ... see you in a month.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Revealing Interview With a Tea Party Supporter

Q: What’s the most serious problem facing our country today?

A: Big government and high taxes.

Q: Well, how do we fix that?

A: Smaller government and cut taxes.

Q: But there are so many problems that we need to deal with. For instance, what should we do about someone who looses his job?

A: Smaller government and cut taxes.

Q: But now this man has no health insurance, and that means his wife and kids are uninsured, too.

A: Smaller government and cut taxes..

Q: But his wife has a pre-existing condition so they can’t get private insurance. And, besides, how can he pay for it? He’s just lost his job!

A: Smaller government and cut taxes.

Q: OK, new topic: What can be done about our crumbling infrastructure -- bad roads, unsafe bridges, overcrowded trains and transit?

A: Smaller government and lower taxes.

Q: OK, what about …

A: Smaller government and lower taxes.

Q: But …

A: Smaller government and lower taxes.


Think I’m kidding? Try having a serious discussion with someone from the Tea Party about the problems confronting ordinary people. They offer no solutions. Zero … zip … nada!


Friday, July 22, 2011

The Big Republican Advantage: Dumb Democrats

A recent survey shows President Obama’s popularity is declining. Well, sure, you say, it’s those damn Republicans. If Obama says the sky is up, they’ll stand on their heads and shriek that it’s down.

Nope … the main reason Obama’s job rating is slipping is because of the liberals who are mad that he’s been compromising with the Republicans … which, of course, is exactly what he said he would do during the 2008 campaign. I certainly understand that. It’s very frustrating because it sure doesn’t seem as though the Republicans in Congress – at least the loony half of them – have been willing to meet the president even a quarter of the way.

But this is the Republicans big advantage: They stick with their candidates right down the line no matter how ignorant or incompetent or just plain loony they might be. Never mind that. He or she’s a Republican … vote for ‘em anyway.

But we Democrats? We managed to elect a president who’s inspiring, thoughtful and smart, and is doing his best to deal with the monumental problems facing the country despite being vilified and frustrated at every turn by the Republicans. And the first time he takes a position we don’t like, we’re ready to throw him under the bus.

And that is really, really, really dumb!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Caylee Anthony … and the Bigger Picture

Photo from the Indianapolis Star

(The following is an excerpt from a column that recently ran in the Indianapolis Star and is part of the response to a question about how someone of faith should react to the Casey Anthony trial and the resulting not-guilty decision.)

The selfish clamor for tax cuts during the worst economy since the Depression is resulting in the wholesale slashing of society's safety net -- recreational, transportation, educational, medical, mental health and other essential human services. Do we seriously believe that this state-sanctioned callousness will not lead to the creation of future Caseys, or Jared Lee Loughners? When that happens, won't society be responsible for the next Caylee eulogized by the tabloid press?

The cowboy, "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" ethos in vogue in America can only produce more victims. Our nation needs a return to genuine societal values -- not to a deranged and mythical Ayn Rand world. This means helping the least and most broken amongst us. And this just so happens to also be the teaching of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Carey A. Grady, senior pastor at Bethel AME Church

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nailed It, Didn't She!

This young woman, cartoonist Jen Sorensen, is really gifted.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Slippery Tricks of the Political Trade

Here’s a perfect example of how the Republican leadership deliberately misleads and misinforms the American public.

In an interview with Christine Amanpour on CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement:

“We’ve increased, under [the Obama] administration, spending 35 percent in two-and-a-half years. We need to go in a different direction …”

But here’s the thing: When Obama took office, having promised more transparancy in government, he directed that the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars be included in the federal budget. George W. Bush, on the other hand, had kept the cost of those wars off the books … so all those billions didn't appear as a part of his budget.

So you see, it only appears that Obama’s budget has increased by a huge amount. And that means when McConnell or John Boehner or Eric Cantor stand up and with a straight face tell their conservative base that Obama has increased the federal budget by 35 percent, they are ... all together now ... LYING!

We can only hope that one of these fine days, serious-minded, rational Republicans will come to realize that their leadership speaks to them as if they are lazy or stupid or both. Until that happens, how the hell can we have any kind of meaningful debate in this country?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Tea Party: Wilfully ignorant ... and proud of it!

Republicans keep demanding that Obama and the
Democrats meet them halfway in a bi-partisan effort to solve our problems.

OK ... how'd you like to sit down for a frank exchange of ideas with this bozo?

And these are the very folks being pandered to by the so-called leaders of today's Republican Party -- the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower.

Really ... it's pathetic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Discussion: Rational Person vs. Tea Partyer

RP: So you’re in favor of repealing the new health care reform law?

TP: Absolutely. It’s a boondoggle … nothing but big government messing in our lives.

RP: What about a 12-year-old kid who breaks an arm in a pick-up baseball game?

TP: What about him?

RP: His mother works 20 hours a week for Wal-Mart and doesn’t qualify for benefits. But she has cancer – a pre-existing condition – so no insurance company will cover them.

TP: OK, take the kid to the emergency room. They’ll fix his busted arm.

RP: If he goes to an emergency room, it’s going to cost a few thousand bucks. His mom hasn't got that kind of money!

TP: That’s not my problem.

RP: But the hospital can't just eat those costs. They’ll jack up their fees for patients who do have insurance. People like you.

TP: So what? My insurance company will pay whatever the hospital charges me. And I can afford the co-pay.

RP: But because it’s costing them more to insure you, the insurance company will raise your rates.

TP: What?

RP: You see? You get screwed. The hospital gets screwed. And, of course, the kid with the broken arm and that poor woman with cancer … they really get screwed.

TP: Fahgh! That’s just more of your bleeding heart liberal crap. All I know is there’s too much government in our lives. Down with Obamacare! Watch Fox News! Vote Republican!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where the hell do they find these people??

Do you want to know why kids are getting poor grades in American History classes? It’s all the liberals’ fault, according to Rick Santorum, Republican candidate for president. He says it’s "a conscious effort on the part of the left who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they're more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America."

Well, maybe – at least in Texas – that could actually be Rick Perry’s fault. He’s the Republican governor of that state and that’s where the elected school board is demanding that publishers stop saying so many nice things about those liberal founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson in their history text books. History, you see, isn’t what it actually was, it’s what those clowns would like to think it was.

Oh … and getting back to that lolo* Santorum ... he also says that global warming is just another phoney liberal plot to scare Americans into agreeing to more government regulation.

Santorum and Perry are shamelessly pandering for votes, of course, but what’s truly frightening is that they are actually being taken seriously by a significant segment of the population. Mostly by people who flunked American History, I suppose.

* Hawaiian for crazy person.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The GOP Has Lost Its Way ... and Its Soul.

The Republicans are in the midst of what they’re calling a Leadership Conference in New Orleans and a number of candidates for that party’s presidential nomination have made appearances there.

Predictably, speaker after speaker has attacked Barack Obama. But what I don’t understand is how members of the audience, no matter how partisan their views, can applaud – let alone swallow – statements made about the president of this country that are outrageous, inflammatory and demonstrably false.

For example, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich charged that Obama is a “national secular European socialist”. Huh?? I know what each of those words means individually, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what they describe when presented as a package. My best guess is that Newt, the serial philanderer, is just slapping buzzwords on Obama hoping the faithful will start foaming at the mouth.

Then there’s Michele Bachmann, who accused the president of plotting to bankrupt Medicare so seniors will be forced to join his national health care program. Yes … seriously! (For heaven’s sake, Medicare is the national health care program for seniors!) If this woman seriously believes that statement, she is delusional. If she doesn’t, then she’s is the worst kind of liar and is pandering to the wilfully ignorant folks who apparently make up most of her constituency.

And, in the worst possible taste, the evening featured a black "comedian" who did a largely tasteless impersonation of President Obama. (Sample: he said Michelle Obama celebrates Black History Month for a full 30 days, but the president only observes it for two weeks ... a reference to the fact that Obama is half white and half black.) It should be noted that the mostly white audience whooped and laughed at this sad character until someone on the committe with more than an IQ of 40 hustled him off stage.

Somehow, the non-thinkers and the fanatic ideologues and the racists and the just-plain-crazies have bubbled to the top of the Once-Grand Old Party. Thoughtful, rational debate around honest differences of opinion no longer seems possible. In fact, it’s no longer tolerated.

The party of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower and, yes, even of Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush has disgraced itself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Can Health Care Reform Cure a Forked Tongue?

Congressman John Boehner, who speaks for Republicans in Congress, has been wailing over what he calls “whopping increases” in health insurance premiums. To no one’s surprise, he says the health care reform law is to blame.

Uh … well … turns out that’s almost entirely not true. says the increases cited are for individual policies and are in the one-to-two percent range.

Furthermore, several state insurance commissioners have said that rate increases are being blamed on new law by insurance companies who are simply raising their rates before the law takes effect in 2014.

Gee … A big shot Republican distorting the facts. I’m shocked!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anthony Weiner: A Day Late, A Dollar Short

The case of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner hit me in the gut. I have always admired this guy. He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s articulate, and he’s been unafraid to stand up and, in righteous indignation, call out Republican colleagues in the House for their frequent duplicitous and cynical actions.

And now Weiner has effectively eliminated himself as an articulate defender of his party’s president and as an effective spokesman for liberal causes and legislation. God knows, we don’t have enough people like that.

Weiner’s biggest mistake was trying to escape responsibility for a stupid, juvenile act by lying about it. Everyone screws up, and most of us will usually forgive a politician who owns up and seems to genuinely regret his mistake. But it takes a helluva lot more to forgive someone who tries to wriggle out of responsibility by lying about a transgression.

When a politician realizes that something unpleasant or embarrassing about his or her personal life may become public, there is one -- and only one -- way to deal with it:

Tell it first. Tell it yourself. And tell it all.

Anthony Weiner has just learned that … the hard way.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Are Hypocrites Like Ralph Reed and Ginni Thomas Taken Seriously?

The Faith and Freedom Conference now taking place in Washington, DC, is the creation of Ralph Reed. If his name sounds familiar, he’s an evangelical Christian who has been in the forefront of right-wing Republican politics for years.

He’s also the guy who was paid $4 million by disgraced lobbyist, Jack Abramof, who ripped off a number of Native American tribes to the tune of more than $30 million. Yet this guy organizes a conference and Republican candidates for president dutifully – Mitt Romney and (shudder) Michelle Bachmann, so far -- show up to kiss his ring.

It’s only the first day of this gathering of crazies, but some fascinating if nauseating tidbits are beginning to flow. At the top of the list is the eye-witness report that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, applauded when a Tea Party panel member accused President Obama of “bringing Communism to this country”.

People who really believe that nonsense are hopeless fools.

But far worse are the people like Ginni Thomas who have to know in their hearts that statements like that are ridiculous and untrue, yet continue to encourage the fools to believe it.

They – and I mean you, Ginni Thomas -- are beneath contempt.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yearning to Unlearn? Watch Fox News.

Rolling Stone has done an outstanding piece on Fox News. Here’s what they say about the people who watch Fox News. It’s probably to most significant quote in the story … and it’s sure as hell the most distressing:

“According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship.”

Hear the loud whirring noise? It’s Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Edward R. Murrow, William L. Shirer and a host of other great and principled reporters of the past … spinning in their graves.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Grand Old Party’s Grand Old Tradition: Getting It Wrong.

Sometimes, when the Republican rhetoric gets shrill and begins to drown out everything else, it’s a good idea to take a step back and remember that the GOP track record ain’t so hot. There are more, but here are a few that I can recall without dragging out some reference books:

* Republicans opposed the right to vote for women.

* Republicans opposed the creation of Social Security.

* Republicans opposed lend lease which sent military equipment to Great Britain when they stood along against Hitler and the Nazis.

* Republicans opposed the Marshall Plan which send food and essential supplies to a starving Europe after World War II, and is now credited for preventing a Communist take-over of many countries.

* Republicans opposed the creation of Medicare.

Clearly, the GOP has been on the wrong side of history more often than not over the years and it would be a good idea to bear that in mind as we debate the big issues of today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In his blog today, Ian Lind, former reporter and still a journalist of the first order, provides an interesting look at three major issues now facing the U.S. Allow me to summarize his summaries:

* The U.S. has anywhere from five to eight times more of its citizens in prison than any other western industrialized nation.

* The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country in the world, but has poorer results than most of those same countries.

* The U.S. spends more on “defense” than all the rest of the world combined.

And still the politicians blather about the U.S. being the greatest country in the world and are outraged at any candidate for office who dares to suggest that some other country may have found a better way to deal with some of these issues.

Propose health care reform and you’re a socialist. Propose more gun control or prison reform and you’re siding with the criminals. Propose a cut in military spending and you’re soft on terrorism.

What’s maddening is that most of those pompous, blowhard politicians know better, but are pandering to (and thereby willfully perpetuating) ignorance and arrogance among the electorate … and all in the name of patriotism.

We’ve got a helluva lot of waking up to do. And we’d damn well better get started on it.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Exactly when does The End actually begin?

Harold Camping, the 89-year-old pastor from California and founder of Family Radio Worldwide, has prophesied that the world will end today. It's early morning here in Hawaii as I write this, so we've still got the entire day ahead us us to sweat it out.

Of course, I've just taken a look on line at some of the newspaper headlines from Europe. They're saying it looks like the old guy was wrong because May 21st is about to end over there. In fact, it's already the 22nd in China, so I guess they're off the hook.

But all that does seem to beg the question of just how a world-ending event would happen if it's pegged to a specific calendar date.

If it's to occur simultaneously at the one split second when it's May 21st around the entire globe, I suppose that would have been last night, precisely at midnight in Great Britain, Greenwich Mean Time.

The only other option would be something that works like a cataclysmic rolling blackout. Since I'm in Hawaii, and we're 11 hours behind GMT, I won't know for sure what may or may not happen until the calendar clicks over to May 22 in Greenwich. That's a little more than five hours from now, as I write this.

Just in case, because there's no sense starting in on my shed-painting project until we know for sure, I might as well wait until 1:00 p.m. our time. Of course, the Red Sox-Cubs game starts at 1:00, so I guess I'll put off the shed 'til tomorrow. Assuming there will be one.


UPDATE: According to filings with the IRS, Family Radio Worldwide received $18 million in contributions in 2009. (No comment ... because I'm speechless!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today’s column by political pundit and columnist Mark Shields has some quotes which highlight the chasm that exists between left and right in this country … or, at the very least, it highlights the different attitudes of the two men that liberals and conservatives most admire. Here are the comparative quotes.

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.' ”

“The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.”

“Let public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and with honor in future years, ‘I served the United States government in that hour of our nation’s need’”

Shields concludes his column by noting that the members of U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 are all public servants.

They sure as hell are!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coast-to-coast by Amtrak ... and Back!

I will be leaving around noon today for a three-week trip that will take me across the country and back again ... all by Amtrak. (Those of you who know about my love of train travel will not be surprised.)

A high point will be introducing an almost-nine-year-old granddaughter to her first overnight train ride ... aboard Amtrak's Coast Starlight, from Los Angeles to Seattle.

From there, I'll be traveling solo to Washington, DC, for an annual meeting of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. As an elected member of NARP's Council of Representatives, I'll be visiting a number of our representatives and senators banging the drum for more and better trains for the U.S.

After Washington, it's up to Boston to see several Red Sox games at venerable Fenway Park, then back to the West Coast, again by Amtrak: Boston to Chicago to Seattle to Los Angeles. I'll be joined on the Boston-LA portion of the trip by my brother-in-law who has heard me carry on so much over the years about both train travel and the Red Sox that he's decided to find out for himself what it's all about. By the time we get to LA, he will know for sure, one way or the other, if I'm really on to something, or am just a bit nuts.

I will do what I can to post here from time to time, but if you're interested in hearing more about all these train travels, stop in at my other blog where I'll be doing my best to provide regular posts as I go.

I'll be back home on Maui around the middle of May. Aloooo-ha!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hey! Who You Callin’ an Ideologue!

The other day I came across a post by a right-wing blogger in which he referred to me as “a liberal ideologue”. Whoa! That really gave me pause because I've always considered the term to be disparaging … meaning someone who is locked into a particular philosophy and pretty much unable or unwilling to find any merit in another point of view.

I readily admit to holding strong opinions, but part of what defines a liberal is the ability to consider and even adopt new ideas. Conservatives, on the other hand, are instinctively – or, if you will – ideologically resistant to change.

And therein lies the problem: we liberals have a much harder sell than do our conservative counterparts. Change is scary; sticking to the status quo is a lot safer and requires a lot less thought.

Take transit, for example. Yes, it’s a generalization, but for the most part liberals tend to support transit projects while conservatives are far more likely to oppose them.

In stating our case, liberals must start by acknowledging that a transit system is going to cost every taxpayer a few more dollars, whether they will ever ride the system or not. (In Honolulu that has meant an extra ½ percent added to the General Excise Tax). After that, we have to convince people that transit will keep automobile traffic at bearable levels, will reduce pollution, will help to contain urban sprawl, and will yield other societal benefits.

On the other hand, all the anti-transit people have to do is raise the decibel level and say “It’s too expensive” or “Nobody will ride it” or “It’s just another government boondoggle.” And that offers an easy way out for people already busy and stressed in their daily lives. They just hop on that bandwagon. No critical thinking required.

There are a lot of big problems out there. Choosing the right course for any of them takes work which leads to knowledge which leads to understanding … and sometimes that means changing one's mind.

Whatever the issue – transit or the debt or unemployment – we could do with a lot less ideology.

Come, let us reason together.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Conclusive Proof That Things Are All Screwed Up

Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind-VT) has come up with a list of the Top-10 Corporate Freeloaders. It's an eye-opener (click to enlarge):

If you have old eyeballs like mine and still can't read it, here are some of the low-lights:

* Exxon Mobile had a $19 billion profit in 2009, and got a $156 million tax rebate.

* Bank of America had a profit of $4.4 billion and got a rebate of $1.9 billion.

* General Electric has made $25 billion in profits over the past five years and during that time has sent one-fifth of its jobs overseas, thereby avoiding billions in U.S. taxes.

* Chevron made $10 billion in profit in 2009 and received a $19 million refund in 2010.

* Valero has $60 billion in sales, but got a $157 million refund.

If you can stomach it, there's more of the same on the list. Now add to that the news that one-half of all American families will pay no federal income tax this year.

With the giants of American business and half the general public freeloading, it's no wonder we're deep in debt. How is it possible that we have permitted this to happen?

And, when damn near everyone agrees that something must be done about the deficit, how is it possible that almost half the country supports the Congressional Republicans, who want more tax cuts for business and are fighting tooth and nail against allowing the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans to lapse?

It's simply crazy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Senator James Inhofe: Arrogant Dangerous Buffoon

Meet United States Senator James Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma.

He supports Laurent Gbagbo the murderous tyrant of the Ivory Coast.

He denounces global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people".

And there's enough more to make your head spin. The list of Inhofe's bizarre and outrageous statements and positions and votes is seemingly without end.

Inhofe, age 76, is also a pilot and now we find out that last year he landed his plane on a closed runway, damn near killed a bunch of innocent people who were in the way, and then yelled at them and the airport people as though his carelessness and incompetence was their fault. Read about it here. It's beautiful, because it's got all the FAA documentation ... and more.

This guy is a joke and a clown. And he's dangerous on any number of levels. What the hell is wrong with the voters in Oklahoma??

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Look Out! They’re after National Public Radio again.

For years, the Republicans have targeted NPR, plus public television, and the National Endowment for the Arts as well. You really have to wonder what they’re thinking. Today, if you scan the radio dial looking for news and information, the “newscasts” are 60 seconds long … even from the major networks. How’s that for in-depth reporting!

By contrast, NPR offers news and information in real depth. How can that not be a benefit to society? NPR’s funding is a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of the federal budget and what a void it would leave if the Republicans have their way.

I came across a quote from Winston Churchill a few days ago -- one I hadn’t heard before. It’s wonderfully appropriate.

During the dark, desperate early days of World War 2, when England was standing alone against the Nazis, it was suggested to Churchill that money being spent by the British government on the arts should be diverted to the war effort.

Churchill said, “Then what are we fighting for?”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mississippi Leads the Way …

... back to the Dark Ages. In a recent survey, a plurality of registered Republicans in Mississippi said they thought interracial marriages should be against the law.

Words fail me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This Would Have Been Awfully Funny 3 Weeks Ago.

And, I suppose, it's a mark of our indominatable human resiliance that we can still laugh at it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mitch McConnell Finally Tells It Like It Is.

You know how the Republicans keep caterwauling and demanding bipartisan solutions to our problems … how they keep after President Obama to “reach across the aisle”?

In plain, simple language, it’s all B.S. Here’s what Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell told the National Review:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

See? It’s all posturing. Whatever Obama says, it’s wrong. Whatever Obama does, it’s wrong … even if it’s right and good for the country. And these are the super-patriots … who claim to love America more than those of us who vote Democrat most of the time. Their hypocrisy is almost limitless.

And they know it. And they don’t care.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

War on Health Care Reform Continues Unabated

I continue to be astonished at the hysterical screeching we continue to hear from the right about health care reform. I suppose it’s understandable when it comes from the typically uninformed (or willfully ignorant) writer of a letter-to-the-editor. But the outright fabrications we continue to hear from some elected officials are nothing short of disgusting. Because they know better.

It’s one thing to oppose the reforms, but quite another to deliberately perpetuate the loony notion of “death panels” and misrepresent other aspects of the law. Michelle Bachmann, the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, heads that list, although there are a lot of others tied for second place.

There are many provisions to the legislation, of course, but one would require health insurance companies to pay out for medical care at least 80 percent of what they take in from premiums. What could possibly be wrong with that? If an insurance company fails to meet that bare minimum standard, they are – in plain language – screwing their policyholders. Yet many on the right oppose that part of the law purely on the basis of ideology. Good heavens! Doesn’t common sense ever trump ideology?

In Michelle Bachmann’s case, of course, ideology isn’t the real issue. The lady apparently is serious about running for president that makes it pretty clear that she belongs in a rubber room. I suppose, adopting our most charitable persona, we should probably pity her. But what, then, should we think of the people who are passionately supporting her? That's the really scary part in all this.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bill Maher Nails It ... and Them ... Again.

“It turns out that the Republican budget that they submitted for next year slashes funding for the agency that issues tsunami warnings and organizes responses to the tsunami. In their defense, Republicans say that tsunamis are just a theory, they are not a real threat like ACORN, the Black Panthers, NPR, and math teachers in Wisconsin.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Doing their best to make things worse.

The unionized workers at Hawaiian Electric Company (represented by IBEW) have been negotiating a new contract for some weeks now, but without coming to an agreement. Yesterday was set as a strike deadline.

But– just as the weather people had predicted – yesterday also saw the arrival of a storm with rain and high winds. Sure enough, power went out to about 8,000 homes on the leeward side of Oahu.

And the union guys walked off the job anyway, leaving a vastly reduced workforce -- a few management people and some workers recruited from private electrical contractors -- scrambling to get power back to all those families.

So back in Wisconsin we have public employees doing their best to fight off the blatant union-busting efforts of Scott Walker, the dumb-ass Republican governor there.

And here in Hawaii we have dumb-ass union guys giving all unions a bad name with the worst-possible timing of their walk-out.

What the hell are they thinking?