* The rape of women’s reproductive rights ~ the fundamental destruction of freedom by fundamentalists – If you judge that abortion is wrong I would not attempt to influence your belief. If you believe that birth control is not for you, do not use it. However, since we live in a free society, whose constitutional law mandates the separation of church and state, it is wrong and illegal to impose particular beliefs and precepts on all of society. I point this out because “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is poised to put in place new barriers to accessing common forms of contraception like birth control pills, emergency contraception and IUDs by labeling them “abortion.” These proposed regulations set to be released next week will allow healthcare providers to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it AND want it. I find that such overreach bursts my condom!
Fortunately, leaders such as Hillary Clinton are speaking up. “These rules pose a serious threat to providers and uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. They could prevent providers of federally-funded family planning services, like Medicaid and Title X, from guaranteeing their patients access to the full range of comprehensive family planning services. They'll also build significant barriers to counseling, education, contraception and preventive health services for those who need it most: low-income and uninsured women and men.” Senator Clinton is providing a petition to HHS that you can sign.
It also appears that some members of Congress are still breathing. “Over 100 congressmen wrote President Bush this week, urging him to "halt all action" on a proposal they argue would change the definition of abortion, and drastically limit women's access to birth control.” It is also important to note that state laws that require hospitals to provide sexual-assault victims with access to emergency contraception could be jeopardized. This is simply mindless. I do not expect the Bush administration’s attempt to reduce our freedoms over the past seven and a half years to be any less aggressive and resourceful in the last 6 months of their devastating tenure. There will be much to repair when this presidency is aborted.
* The new economics of energy – For most thinking inhabitants of this planet global warming is no longer an esoteric debate. However, there are some stalwarts that are so involved with their own self-interest and/or are on the payola roll of energy companies (hello Senator James Inhofe [R-OK]) that they refuse to acknowledge the merit and need of alternative energy sources. For the majority of us, we have a very real interest environmentally and economically to embrace change. As the demand for oil and gas increases, the cost of these commodities increases. This situation will only worsen as the economies of China and India grow. The good news is that as the demand for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources increases, the prices come down. This is a win/win situation for the environment, our economy on a macro and micro level and the geopolitical “rock and a hard place” we currently endure - depending upon energy from the Middle East.
* Ego, arrogance and Meet the Press – Tom Brokaw is the current host of this Sunday morning news show. Brokaw’s performance this past Sunday was a channeling of Tim Russert with more “gotchas” than gumption. The featured guest was Al Gore, who earlier in the week made a major speech challenging America to convert all electricity to renewable energy sources within 10 years. A video of the speech is available at this link. Brokaw attempted to minimize or invalidate Gore’s challenge when he initiated the interview by quoting sources that opine it would be a stretch to achieve this goal within 10 years. Is the goal invalid if it would take 12 years or 20 years to achieve? Recall that 35 years have elapsed since the last gas crisis and over that period of time virtually nothing has been done to reduce our dependence on foreign oil or reduce the debilitating effect that the burning of fossil fuels has on our world. Listening to many in the mainstream media being proactive to maintain the status quo is about as discomforting as standing behind a diesel powered bus. It raises the question: Whose interests are the corporate media protecting?
* Desperate measures in desperate times ~ the McCain campaign – It is human nature to blame one’s failings and inadequacies on someone else. In the world of politics dishonesty appears to be endemic to the beast. Both of these observations were no clearer than in an ad the McCain campaign ran this week in eleven states. The ad blames high gas prices on Barack Obama for opposing new off-shore drilling. The fact that off-shore drilling would have at best a miniscule affect on gas prices and would take from one to two decades to realize the savings of a nickel a gallon did not deter McCain’s think tank from polluting the airwaves with disingenuous drivel. What the ad did do was provide us with another malicious misdirection to divert our attention from the real issues and solutions critical to the well-being of America. One can only hope that the American people are not as stupid and ignorant as the Republican spinmeisters believe.
* It’s okay, you can say it ~ “TORTURE” – “Prosecutors in the trial of Osama bin Laden's former driver cannot use as evidence some statements the defendant gave interrogators because they were obtained under "highly coercive" conditions while he was a captive in Afghanistan, a military judge ruled Monday evening.” It is somewhat comforting that there are still individuals in our legal system who believe in the laws of our country and the tenets of civilized society.
* Speaking the truth ~ behind closed doors – At a private fundraiser in Houston last week President Bush requested that cameras be turned off before addressing the Republican high rollers. Someone kept the camera rolling and made the comments public that are available at this link. Mr. Bush said, “Wall Street got drunk, it got drunk, (it’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off your TV cameras.) It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up, and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.” Destruction of the English language aside, perhaps it is appropriate to note that the President and Congress, by not providing responsible oversight of financial institutions, were not unlike the bartender that allows a drunk to continue to over-indulge. On the way home the drunk causes a multi-vehicle collision killing six people. Neither situation was an “accident.”
* Product safety ~ your safety – There is less than two weeks left in the current session for congress to pass a more effective product safety bill. Not surprisingly, industry is opposing such measures. Consumers Union offers a petition you can sign urging more comprehensive product safety that will be sent to your elected representatives. Get the lead out.
* Oy Vey ~ a conundrum with a capital C – With yarmulke in hand Joe Lieberman is trying to outdo John McCain embracing the Christian religious right. As Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, throws his arms around Christian-right hate-monger John Hagee there can only be one explanation - Lieberman is a Meshugena (a technical Yiddish term for a nut). In the linked article by Steve Benen at Crooks and Liars, Lieberman uses the bible and Greek mythology to explain how wonderful Hagee is while ignoring such Hagee comments as; “All Muslims are programmed to kill and we can thus never negotiate with any of them; God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before and was filled with sexual sin; The End Times -- Rapture -- is imminent and the U.S. Government must do what it can to hasten it, which at minimum requires: (a) a war with Iran and (b) undying, absolute support for a unified Israel, including all Occupied Territories. It is interesting that Hagee claims the Harry Potter books are the work of Satan but believes his own words are the work of God. McCain eventually denounced and rejected Hagee. But not good ol’ Independent Joe! And Lieberman was almost Vice President! Oy vey!
* “A World that Stands as One” – This is the title of the speech that Barack Obama delivered to 200,000 people in Berlin, Germany on Thursday. A video and transcript are available at this link. It is refreshing and a wonderful feeling to be able to hear an American leader address the world and be proud of the content, vision and erudition. It remains to be seen if Senator Obama can win the presidency and be a viable leader for America and a positive force in the international community. There certainly is cause for optimism.
* “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921