Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Don't blame the ACLU or me we didn't close the megachurches

Yes I know; you're sick of this subject.  Me too.  But here I go...

I'm a New York Jew; a life long Democrat and a card carrying member of the ACLU.  Much of the time I'm very disappointed in the Democratic party, but at this moment it's better than the alternative.  I don't believe in all of the ACLU's causes, but I believe that everybody has a right to be represented.

But when I read blogs that blame the ACLU and/or minority groups for taking Christ out of Christmas, I have to say that as a Jew I, and most Jews, want you to celebrate Christmas.   On Christmas Jews traditionally went to the movies and ate Chinese food.  We think it would be good if you spent time in church or with your family; as we liked it when the theaters weren't packed.

In the 80's my friends practicing Catholics wanted to go to the Limelight on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass.  I was beyond shocked. The Limelight was (is?) a disco in a former Catholic Church.  It sounded blasphemous to me.  It felt like eating pork on Yom Kippur.  We went; and I did have a life changing experience.

I don't think I believe in G-d but I respect people of any religion who truly believe.  If I were to feel that I was in any way denying you the ability to pray, I would feel that I have failed as both a person and a person who does worship The First Amendment.  I don't care about the manger in the courthouse.  But understand something else.  I care greatly that church and state stay separate.

Before the news of the mega churches closing I wrote a post in my personal blog about the Christmas/holiday season mess.  One of the comments was from a Jewish blogger, Neil, who is usually very witty and tres lite.  He really struck a chord; couldn't stop thinking about his comment and asked for permission to quote him.

Frankly, I think one of the things that makes our country so great is that the majority religion has tried so hard to make minorities feel comfortable. Where else have Jews and others been made to feel as equals and as comfortable with Christian holidays? Certainly not in many European countries where you are considered Jewish first, then a citizen of that country.

New York is not the rest of the country. I think it would be nice to bring back some of the religiosity to Christmas in big cities, so it isn’t such a consumerized holiday. Thank you, Christians, for being so good to the rest of us. You can now celebrate Christmas a little more openly.

However, things are different in smaller cities and towns around the country. Those places have a habit of mixing up religion and public policy. It is places like those where I don’t think it appropriate for the public sector to promote religion symbolism and ideology.

Here is where I want to delete most of what I wrote before Neil's comment.  It feels too silly.  As Jews we do feel grateful to the Christians in this country for allowing us to be full citizens.  We're grateful because our great grandparents weren't, usually, allowed to own land, have a profession or be citizens of their towns. They were allowed to be conscripted into the Czars army so they could wipe out Jewish villages. We're grateful that they left and came to this remarkable country. 

As a child I would ask my father why they didn't do anything about the camps.  "We didn't know."  After Viet Nam, I understood.  But Roosevelt, the people's hero, had evidence of the camps, and our country did nothing.  Nor did Roosevelt bomb the train tracks leading to them.

When boats of refuges came here, we turned them away, or didn't let them near here, knowing that we were dooming them to death.  After the war we took people who had been in concentration camps and put them in displaced persons camps.  We had strict quotas on the number of refuges let in here

Yet we were still grateful because we who were here, and those of us yet to be born were afforded the opportunity to be full citizens.  When we bought houses we remembered our ancestors who weren't allowed to.  It still amazes me and I'm basically third generation; but I heard so many stories and met so many people with numbers on their arms.  I have never taken being free for granted.  You accept us as we have never before been accepted in modern history. 

Separation of church and state is built into our Constitution.  If you understand the history of Jews in America, you will understand why we care so much about The First Amendment.  It's not just a symbol of our freedom, but a tool that is used to preserve every Americans right to keep church and state separate.  Here are two quotes by Fran Quigley, Executive Director, Indiana Civil Liberties Union

For example, the Alliance Defense Fund celebrates the season with an "It's OK to say Merry Christmas" campaign, implying that the ACLU has challenged such holiday greetings. (As part of the effort, you can get a pamphlet and two Christmas pins for $29.)
The website WorldNetDaily touts a book claiming "a thorough and virulent anti-Christmas campaign is being waged today by liberal activists and ACLU fanatics." The site's magazine has suggested there will be ACLU efforts to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency, fire military chaplains, and expunge all references to God in America's founding documents. (Learn more for just $19.95 . . .

Of course, there is no "Merry Christmas" lawsuit, nor is there any ACLU litigation about U.S. currency, military chaplains, etc. But the facts are not important to these groups, because their real message is this: By protecting the freedom of Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians through preventing government entanglement with religion, the ACLU is somehow infringing on the rights of those with majority religious beliefs

Many of us are fully assimilated; marry outside our religion; feel and look WASPier than the biggest WASP.  But there's always one moment when something happens that reminds us that other people view us as different.  I know that most people are rational; that most people don't believe this.  (Did a Google "ACLU" "Christmas" search and this was the number one document.

According to ACLU "Christmas haters" everyting refering to Christ inpublic has to go. But try as they might, they can't take the spirit out of Christmas, something this group is in dire need of. Boy talk about selfishness

Yes let's talk about being selfish; selfish is the same woman saying the following. 

The Constitution can be read front to back, sideways, upside down, and nowhere does it read there needs to be a separation of church and state. Good grief! The framers would have been very dense or dumber than a box of rocks, to put separation of church and state in the most "intentionally" misunderstood document, and then proceeded to have a nation built on God and in every aspect of their lives

Good grief, indeed.  If this is true then I have to not only be grateful to you, but bow down to your religious superiority, and that is where I draw the line. 

Just understand that we're not your problem.  You are.  If a person can find G-d in a concentration camp, any American can find G-d anywhere.  It's up to you to put Christ back in Christmas, not us. 

I could never celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday.  Why?  It is the symbolic observation of Christ's birthday no matter how you look at it.  But selfishly I want you to celebrate it so that I can see the trees, lights, decorations and even go to some Christmas parties.  That's right; Christmas parties at peoples homes.  Every other year my friends make an Italian feast in their Tudor house in Forest Hills Gardens, a picture perfect Ives & Currier Christmas community.  It's wonderful, but I will never have a Christmas dinner in my apartment.

Merry Christmas; Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solistice. I will call this season whatever you want me to call it as long as The First Amendment remains intact.  And I will always be grateful to the USA for allowing my family to live as full citizens for over a century.  Grateful but I will never feel less an American than you do.  And I thank G-d for organizations like the ACLU that make sure I will always be a full American.

Crossposted at

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Politics, Religion, Right Wing Nut, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Tale of Two Truths

If we've learned anything in the past five years, it's that unless we shout down the efforts of people willing to divide America in order to conquer and profit from the mayhem, these myths of division will swallow us. Loving your country requires standing fast. Liberal Jarhead, a 20 year USMC veteran,  and Betsy, deep in the Red trenches, write from where their feet are, in a nation increasingly manipulated into finger-pointing intolerance as a bolster to an ill-thought war both against Iraq and ourselves. See below for Liberal Jarhead and Betsy's guest posts for today.

Posted by Jet N. at 12:05 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Belle of the Brawl*

This is a totally political post.  While it began in the Clinton years, it was Newt who had power.  The current admin leaves society issues to the family unless it's to keep some people alive.  Well it takes a village.  And our society is aging but we have no social policies in place.  So most families do the best they can do. 

I got a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in clinical geriatrics while this was happening in the naive belief that the problems of the middle class, non Medicaid eligible would be addressed.  You have to be very rich or poor to get decent help in this country.  And if you have any assets and you're older with family you love, get a trust.  I took the link from the government.  They recommend it.

While I would love to take credit for the title; it's the name of Moxie and my friend, Sar's new blog.

This is the most personal post I have ever written. It's also the saddest; it's about things that I have been trying to talk about for fourteen years.

Yes Bring it on! is a political blog. But politics should primarily be about issues. Here it is aging, single adult daughters, taxes, health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid in one post.

My dad died suddenly when I had been working at Social Security for two months. I took three days off and on the fourth day the managers asked which of two offices I would want to work in. Frankly they both were in horrible neighborhoods, in places I wasn't too familiar with.

I was in the first External, not promoted from within SSI Claims Rep training class in eight years. Have always found it ironic that Bush 1 tried to put back together what Reagen tried to dismantle. I had applied for positions in San Diego and Miami, and the transfers came through. I had been in a semi-relationship with a character actor who had moved to LA; he had many male straight friends; it was perfect.

But my mom had macular degeneration. She was of the first generation of people to outlive their body parts through diet, good health care, and all the rest.

My mom's macular had begun when my parents were in a photo safari in Kenya; she thought it was her new eyeglasses. Maybe something could have been done then. We'll never know. Ultimately she lost all her eyesight except for a shadow here; a shadow there. She wasn't demented and yet many people treated her as if she were.

New York was falling apart in 1991; we were still feeling the effects of the 10/17/87 stock market fall and ensuing recession. I lived in the richest zip code in America, 10021, and would count the Old English Ale bottles I passed on the way to the subway. In the morning I would wake up bag people sleeping in both the vestibule and the first floor hall. There were three apartments on the first floor; the first was unoccupied; the second was mine; the third was occupied by girls my super thought were prostitutes; and I thought were drug dealers because people would come and go every five minutes at night. When I had overnight guests they would stay up and count; I had become impervious to it.

Oh I was so ready for a change. I made it all the way to Riverdale, The Bronx. If there is one place that I will never write nicely about it's Riverdale; my time there was hell.

I don't drive; the world's safer that way. It would take me about three hours to get to her house on Long Island. Keeping my mother independent took two daughters, a major part of my sanity, and almost my sister's and my relationship.

Estate planners often use a lifetime trust in place of a will. Like a will, a lifetime trust can be used to provide for the disposition of assets and has the advantage of avoiding probate. An advantage that a lifetime trust has over a will is that it also can be used to manage assets during a person's lifetime. For example a lifetime trust can be a useful planning tool for incapacity because it can be established and controlled by a competent person and later continue in operation under a successor trustee if the person establishing the trust becomes unable to manage his or her affairs.

My sister paid her bills and managed her portfolio; I took care of her doctor's appointments and what I later would learn were "psycho social" needs. My mom didn't want to have a trust though my dad was a CPA and my mom knew very well that she could control it. Since she couldn't do her own paperwork the only control left to her was not having a trust. I knew I should have urged her to do it, but she was my mom. My sister and I jointly consulted our mother on all financial decisions.

I had the brilliant idea to leave Social Security and get a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in clinical geriatrics. I took a year off to try out school and be even more available for my mother. I had left home at eighteen; 20 years later, there I was again. I didn't go out every day or even every week, but I spoke to my mom, five times a day. And whenever she would need me I would be there. I became expert at speaking to doctors and forcing them to speak to my mother. I became expert in old age, but I wasn't.

My parents had raised my sister and I to be independent. It was easier for my sister; she married, and several years later bought my mother's house when my mom moved to a large apartment complex that was a NORC; Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. It has an eighteen hole golf course, a country club, an arcade which looks like a movie set of a beautiful city, and activity rooms. My mom loved book clubs, discussions, museums, anything cultural really.

She wasn't very good at being dependent. She wasn't very good at becoming blind in her 70's and 80's

She was good at meeting people; but my always sociable mother became shy and insecure. She thought that most people treated her as if she were demented and as her own sisters refused to visit, I would have to agree with her. I no longer really speak to most of my mom's family. We had once been very close.

Newt Gingrich was elected shortly after I began school. For all of you who think it was a good thing; I'm not going to get into "changing welfare as we knew it." It affected my life incredibly.

I expected to be able to discuss these things at school but my top rated grad school of social work, didn't have one Masters Degree level course on aging from 94-96; they had before and after. I could have taken a PHD level course but was advised against the courses as I already knew the content from my field placement and research classes. The larger school had a center on aging but it was distinct from the social work school which made no sense at all. I did an Independent Study on Abuse because I had become good at recognizing it. And sometimes I wasn't sure if I was becoming an abusive daughter or not. Elder abuse can be hard to recognize; it's not only physical but neglect, fraud and other things. It's not mandated reporting.

My mom couldn't go to activities by herself as she couldn't navigate the hallway to the elevator and the arcade. She wanted me to fix this problem and I couldn't unless I moved in with her, brought her down and back up. Many other daughters might have done this. I couldn't.

I couldn't fix any of my mother's problems. Though I passed the state licensing exam while still in school, had been given my own hall in the nursing home I did my field placement in at the beginning of my second year, had a 3.84 cum, and an outstanding field placement evaluation, I felt like a failure.

My mom had been my best friend since I was a kid. I know that sounds strange, but we had a closeness and a friendship that's more typical in this generation of parents and children. I was slowly losing both my mom and my best friend. Oh yeah, I was adopted, for the record. I forget.

I stayed at the nursing home, though I had been offered some great field placements because it was familiar and I couldn't handle change that year. It was exciting the second year; I worked with two psychiatrists, both female, who had started geriatric mental health clinics. By the time I graduated the clinics had disbanded; victims of the Newt cuts.

Social work salaries were the only salaries to go down in 1996. When I found myself almost fighting for a $28,000 year a job I knew it was time to get real. It was a damn insult. If I didn't find a coop in Manhattan by the summer of 1997, I was going to be priced out of the market. I'm good at trends; it was kind of obvious to me. If I didn't find a coop in Manhattan I was going to lose my mind. Worked at the nursing home; went home to another or a building that felt like one.

I will spare you the rest. I bought a coop; my mom consented to get an aide five days a week, four hours a day. She wasn't Medicaid eligible; something I could have made her in a day, and I heard a lot about how stupid I was for not making her go on Medicaid as earlier I had heard about how I shouldn't have let her eat by herself. These were PHD's in Social Work who provided such incredible solace. They were experts in capability; they knew that the reasonable man standard no longer applied. A person could be capable in one area but not another, yet judged well enough to live alone.

My mom remembered every phone number; she could take five medications a day by herself. She was bright but blind and scared. Something happened to her after 9/11. It took the life out of her; she sounded different; at times I thought she had suddenly become demented. But two weeks after it, she said that there was a question she could only ask me:

"Do you think it's repercussion for everything we have done?"

I was shocked as I was in full patriotic mode. Fortunately I could speak in my normal voice and say:

"Some people think so. I don't."

She told me that sometimes she couldn't find her way around her apartment. I was the only person who knew this and I did nothing. May G-d or whoever forgive me. I knew that my mom wanted to die in her apartment and I knew that something wasn't right.

She fell in her bathroom and died fifteen minutes later. It is only this year that I have begun to lose the guilt and the extreme mourning. I'm me again for the first time in a decade.

But her death was only the beginning. Though we wouldn't have had to pay estate taxes this year, we had to pay full taxes for 2001. We live in New York City and thus had to pay city and state taxes. The highest.

This isn't going to make me real popular. My sister and I had never asked our mother for a cent. She would give me a hundred dollars many times when I saw her, but I would put out money for things for her and never asked for it back. My sister did the equivalent of a full time bookkeeper/accountant; I was my mom's private fully trained and accredited social worker. Even when I was working or in school. Both my sister and I stopped going far away. Neither of us would be more than three hours or so away from home.

I spent so much time at doctors offices with my mom, I neglected my own visits; I neglected many things because my entire psychic energy was tied up with my mom's. I don't know how else to explain it. I'm paying for all that now.

I am glad that my mom never went on Medicaid. I met so many people who were so much richer on Medicaid. I can understand it, but I don't think it's ethical or good. Yet damn, the Medigap was so complicated. Now sometimes I'm glad my mom's dead just so we don't have to look at the new insurance policies.

If my mom had a trust we wouldn't have given the government a huge chunk of money. Yes there would have still been the costs of probate, but...our mother didn't pay us. I didn't get any social security credits for the time I wasn't officially working or in school though I ran a hall and took the place of a part time social worker. My sister didn't get any during the ten year period. We deserved the money that went to the government.

No CPA, broker or lawyer could believe that she didn't have a trust. She was our mother; it was her wish to retain control if only in name. I feel badly about the money; I really believe that we earned it. But first we were daughters.

I can't believe that it took The New York Times until last Friday to discover this growing problem. I hope that people begin discussing it now.

I read in a blog today that The Times article could stop girls from becoming brain surgeons. Not at all; no 22 year old is going to stop a career because of something that could possibly happen when she's 50--I was adopted so my parents were older and my sister and I were younger. No, I was going through a mid career change, and my sister had just begun to work for my dad as she had an MBA.

I had a friend who finally moved out of her parents home when she was 38, a Senior VP at a Fortune 100 company, bought her own home, and her mother became severely demented and had to move in with her.

My mom and I would joke about my living with her. We figured that we would last two days before we began to want to kill each other. We wanted to anyway. Yet my mom remained my idol. It's so hard to explain, and at each aging symposium I would go to, I would expect to discuss similar situations to mine. But everybody either had pat solutions or no solution at all.

For fourteen years I have been trying to get a dialogue going on the problems of aging in America, very specifically the aging parent issue. Next very selfishly I want a dialogue on "who is going to be there for me", because while I was immersed in my mom's life I stopped my life. I looked like I had a life, but I was going through the motions.

I had never known what it was like to be depressed before. I know now. I knew how to be an independent adult; I didn't know how to be whatever this was.

The Times calls it "The daughter track," I call it the train to nowhere

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Economics, Politics, Science, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Monday, November 14, 2005

People in the blogosphere: Panthergirl

Panthergirl is Italian American and her mother couldn't cook.  For that reason alone I would have interviewed her. To many baby boomers in the boroughs and Long Island Sunday was Chinese one week, and heavy red sauce Italian the next week. 

I admit to having been an Italian/New York wannabe. Until I was in my teens I never met a Protestant.  The only Christians I knew were Catholic; usually Italian and I thought of them as like Jews but with better food. 

Panthergirl and I are baby boomers from the boroughs.  Yes my family moved to real Long Island when I was 12, but I would always be a girl from Queens in my heart.

Babyboomers seem to be blamed for every problem in the world.  When I envisioned this series I immediately thought of Panthergirl because I think she'll dispell a few myths.  A Dog's Breakfast, Panthergirl's blog feels like an old friend.  Her stories about her parents are must reads; Emma, her 20 year old daughter, and Lucas, her ten year old son, come across as vivid individuals.  Panthergirl throws in rescuing Greyhounds, other causes and politics into the mix because life is too short to be one-sided. 

Like my best friend, Lucia, she was married three times.  Lucia was widowed in her second marriage; Panthergirl was divorced from her third husband who later died.  He was her ten year old son Lucas's father. 

it was Lucas's idea to raise money for Katrina; he symbolizes an incredible generation, of compassionate caring kids who literally don't know what prejudice is, to me.

I am writing this series to show how ordinary people, regular bloggers, can make a difference in big and small ways.  Panthergirl is my kind of down home, though nobody has ever called me "sarcastic;" uh, think they put the sarcasm virus in the our famed water.

How did you have an Italian mother who would couldn't cook?

What's more incredible is that HER mother was a great cook. My mother has absolutely no patience for anything, which translated into a very sloppy cooking style. I can cook, well, I just don't do it very frequently.

Where in Brooklyn did you grow up?

City Line/Cypress Hills. Almost exclusively Italian/Irish and Catholic. There was one "Protestant" church in the neighborhood, but I couldn't even tell you what denomination.

How do you manage to incorporate politics into your blog without getting trolled to death?

I  have no idea. I think it's because I've made myself into a human being FIRST. There are people who vehemently disagree with me, politically (Like Madam Butterfly) but had already decided they liked me as a person. It makes for some heated discussions, but no flames.

You went to Catholic school, what turned you off to Catholicism?

In general? Hypocrisy...just like most other fallen Catholics. Specifically, the incident at  age 10 when I had finally summoned up the courage to "confess" the sexual abuse I was experiencing. I never got to spill the details because the priest lambasted me for not having been to confession for 6 weeks.

I also questioned a nun who was teaching us about the evils of Communism: "They have to dress alike and think alike..." asking her how that differed from sitting, uniformed, in Catholic School.

Do you believe in religion?  In spirituality?  If yes to either or both how do they affect your day-to-day life?

I do not subscribe to organized religion. Maybe it's flippant of me, but I see it as nothing more than "easy answers to hard questions". What's wrong with humankind just admitting that we don't KNOW what happens after death, for example? It would make for a very brief Catechism class: "Who made me?" "I don't know. Class dismissed."

I wouldn't call myself a particularly spiritual person, but I did have an amazing experience during a healing by a Nakota medicine woman who was going to marry me and my 2nd husband. It was his idea, and I thought it was pretty out there but she was unreal. It's where my "panthergirl" persona comes from. She put me into a trance where I saw myself lying in the desert, protected by a black panther and a boa constrictor, whom she deemed my animal spirit keepers. I've always worn black, even as an adolescent. My parents had even let me paint a wall in my room black. So, it seemed right.

In general, I call myself a "Golden Ruler". Who needs religion when you have the Golden Rule? It's the only thing I've ever needed to teach my kids, too.

You said that your father voted for George Wallace but then became more liberal.  That struck me a bit unusual as most people from our parents generation became more conservative with age, except for my mother who ended up totally radical, but...

I wouldn't say he became more liberal. He became a Democrat when he saw that the Republicans were screwing with Social Security. He did lose a lot of his racist leanings as he got older, though. Growing up, the "n word" was commonly used by my father and in my neighborhood in general. However, I also grew up in the same house as my immigrant grandparents (maternal) who never had a bad word to say about anyone. Thankfully I subscribed to their attitude towards people of other races and religions.

Why did your father like Wallace?

Because in 1964, my father had very racist attitudes in GENERAL. However, and somewhat ironically, there were black people he knew from his mail route that he liked very much.

When you were growing up was politics discussed in your family?

Oh yes. Although I wouldn't use the word "discussed". ;)

Was politics important to your father?

I would say so, yes.

Was there a single incident that made you political?

I was very aware of the Vietnam war, and oddly enough in 4th grade I started a political movement for LBJ against Goldwater in the school yard. To the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In", we'd sing: "We hate your guts...we hate your guts...oh Gold-wa-ter we hate your guts! Don't vote for him on November thi-ird...Gold-wa-ter we hate your guts!" and of course the second verse was about LBJ and how we "love your guts".

Did you have family political fights?

Very much so, especially once I became a teenager and fiercely anti-war. My father had fought in WWII and was very much of the "America Love It or Leave It" mentality in the late '60s. I was a total hippie peacenik, but I did write to soldiers in Vietnam. There was one in particular that exchanged letters with me for months, and then they just stopped. It broke my heart.

Fights over the generational divide that was so big then?

During the Vietnam era? Combine that with the sexual revolution and the woman's movement and you have a generational powder keg. And I was more than happy to throw a match in there at every opportunity. Drove my parents crazy.

As a Brooklyn born baby boomer did you feel entitled to a better life than your parents had?

I felt entitled to nothing. I'm not sure what you really mean by this question, but people like my parents subscribed to the "I walked ten miles to school while eating thumbtacks for breakfast, so what are YOU complaining about" philosophy. We never felt that they wanted more for us. On the contrary, I felt a lot of resentment from my mother in particular if it seemed that I was happy or having fun.

Did you feel any special entitlement at all?

See above.

Do you remember Kennedy's assassination?  Do you and your sister who would have been about 17 then ever discuss it? Do you remember your parents, relatives, neighbors etc talking about it?

I remember it vividly. I was in 3rd grade, and we were shuttled across the street to church to pray because the President had been shot. While we sat there, the priest received a note that JFK was dead. I remember walking outside in a father had come to pick me up (which was really unusual) and I was supposed to have taken an accordion lesson that day (ok, you can stop laughing now) but he said I didn't have to go. I went home and didn't leave the TV for the next several days. Sometimes I'd be sitting there alone, glued, which is where I was when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.

Both of my sisters talked about it, but my most vivid memory was of my mother coming home from work at a factory where her boss had said "Good!" after hearing the news. That horrified me.

Beatles, Rolling Stones or neither?

Both, but I was completely and totally enamored with the Beatles. I can remember watching them on Ed Sullivan like it was yesterday. However, the first song I remember slow-dancing to was "As Tears Go By"...

Do you associate music with politics?  If so who and why?

Yes, because of Woodstock mostly. I begged to go to the concert but because I was only 14, there was no way.

Saw in your blog that before you began blogging you were involved in cause oriented chat rooms.  Did that prepare you for meeting people who are very different than you politically?  (I was clueless.  Thought that everybody argued politics but still basically liked each other, and didn't judge based on moral/values)

It amazed me how many people out there have conservative viewpoints unlike anything I had ever encountered in my real life. I grew up in Brooklyn, but started working in Manhattan at age 16. I met intelligent, sophisticated, educated people who influenced me greatly. There is little to prepare you for battling in a chat room with someone who beats her children with an extension cord and thinks that's a good idea.

How are you able to put politics in your blog without getting tons of comments judging you on your personal life?

Well, I will tell you that when I was posting on AOL message boards (in topics like WAHM vs. SAHM) people had NO problem judging me on my personal life. I think people are a TAD less likely to attack what someone posts on a blog because it's their own domain (so to speak). It's not a public forum in the same way a message board is. I actually got kicked off a Greyhound Rescue message board for having political views that differed from the board admin's. That's what drove me to blogging.

Has blogging and the Internet in general changed the way you view America and Americans?

In some ways it has made me sadder. I never realized just how far apart many of us are in terms of human values. I realize my view of America has been skewed because I'm a big-city chick. But still, my bubble has been burst.

Do you feel that you're able to change the way some people think of New Yorkers?

Hm, probably not. I'm pretty sarcastic which is what many people think of as being "very New York".

I believe that you personally are doing a lot (in the blogosphere) to help change and close the great divide.  Do you think so? What do you think there is about you that allows you to do this?  (If you feel uncomfortable answering this; if you don't mind, I'll put something in the intro about it.)

I honestly believe that because my blog did not start as a political one, I've put myself out there as a human being first. There are several bloggers who couldn't disagree with me more, politically, but had already decided that they liked me. It's much harder to flame a person you like. (It's the same reason I think that homophobes need to actually MEET gay people...know them personally. It makes hating them as a group much more difficult.)

What did you think of Clinton?

Loved him. Figuratively.


Like her, but while I think I'd love to have dinner with Bill, I'm not sure Hilary is quite as accessible. Figuratively, of course.

The impeachment?

Absolutely ludicrous. Look, Clinton did a stupid thing. I mean you don't blow the President unless you can TELL someone about it. But an impeachable offense? Even lying about it? Please. If lying is the criteria, then Bush should be impeached  eleventy-seven times.

How did 9/11 impact on your life?

In far too many ways to list here, but I posted recently that it changed in one small but significant way: I turn the television on immediately upon wakening. If I see commercials, I know that we are still relatively ok.

What is your biggest memory of it?

The eerie silence in the following days. Just like when the electricity goes out in your house and you never realized that the refrigerator had made quite that much noise.

How did you explain it to Emma?  Lucas?

Emma was 16 and Lucas was 6. Clearly Emma knew exactly what had happened. Lucas kept talking about the buildings falling down, and the hardest part was explaining that there were people in those buildings. But I also kept telling them that we should not be overcome with hate for any group of people. The old "golden rule" came in very handy, once again.

How did you personally feel during the London bombings and Katrina?

The London Bombings affected me viscerally because I took the subway for so many years in NYC and could imagine what the panic and horror would have been like. I was on the train one day when someone pulled a gun...everyone started to rush the doors, but we hadn't gotten to the station yet. It was terrifying, and no shots were fired.

Katrina? Horror...heartbreak...anger. I've always protected my children from seeing truly awful things on the news. But Lucas and I were on vacation, staying in a hotel room, and I really wanted to see what was going on. As a result, he saw too. In an ironic twist, seeing those images...the ones I wouldn't have wanted him to see...was what drove him to do his one-child fundraiser that has now resulted in $2000 in donations (matched 2-for-1 by my company, so that's one kid raising $6000).

As a single mother, and a double single mother to Lucas living in the New York metro area, what are the most important things that you feel can impart to your children right now?

Self-sufficiency, flexibility, and strength of character. Emma once said that her life has been crazy but never boring. Lucas thinks it would be dull to be "normal".

Obviously you've done things very right when it comes to raising your children.  Aside from not wanting to be like your parents, what do you think you've been doing that allows you to do this?

Probably establishing a good balance between "parent" and "friend". And humor has gotten us through almost everything. My daughter, now 20, will still hold my hand when we're out in public together. We can listen to the same music, laugh at the same jokes... she tells me things that sometimes make me cringe, but I also relish the fact that she's so open with me. Lucas is incredibly sensitive and loving, and I can make him laugh so hard that he'll pee in his pants (it just happened the other night).

Why was it so important to Lucas to raise money for people who suffered in Katrina?

Thankfully, few children experience the devastating loss that Lucas has. Losing his dad two years ago, when Lucas was only 8, has made him very sensitive to the misfortune of others.

First thought that enters your mind to the next several words/names  (Realize that you don't live in the city now.)

Viet Nam? The Draft. Nixon? Crook. Bloomberg? Cold. RudyG? Misguided on some issues, but effective after 9/11. Bernard Kerick? Competent* moustached creep. Pataki? No real opinion. Dobson? Dangerous. Frist? Delay? Unfortunately, those two personify the Republican party for me. Robertson? Complete whackjob.  W? Disgusts me beyond description. The radical right? Dangerous. The Supreme Court? Remains to be seen. I do have a problem with the concept of "lifetime jobs". Roe V Wade? At risk. Affirmative action? Still necessary... how sad. The woman's movement? Still sad.

Coming to adulthood during the second or really the third wave of feminism how did it affect your working life?

LOL... well, I did a whole post about the sexist jerks I worked for over the years.  Probably the most prominent experience was applying for a job in print sales when the manager said, "You'll never succeed. Women will hate you and men will just want to get into your pants."

Your personal life?

One of the primary tenets of my parenting style is non-sexist childrearing. I absolutely cannot stand gender stereotyping, and truly believe that there are more differences AMONGST people of the same gender than there are between the genders.

What do you view as the biggest threats to your life now?

Driving on the Merritt Parkway. Oh, and bird flu. ;)

You travel for business often; does it hurt when you see prices in other places?  (I took pictures of prices in "expensive" parts of California because I knew my girl friends would never believe that a mani/pedi in La Jolla was $22--every day)

Well, it amuses me mostly. Although it does hurt to know that owning a house with a yard is something I'll probably never be able to do while living in this area.

Do you feel that the election results signify a real change in America?

The Presidential election? I think it signified a clear schism which may have been closed a bit by the recent fuckups (that people couldn't ignore) by the administration. Hard to say.

Aside from technology and other changes like that, what do you think is the single difference between the America you grew up in, and the America that your children are growing up in?

I don't know how many 4th graders are marching around the schoolyard singing political songs.

Emma and Lucas are ten years apart.  That's basically a generation.  What's the biggest difference that you see between the two generations of kids? How do the parents differ?  Not going to ask you if you're more tired raising Lucas; you appear to have endless energy

Honestly, it doesn't feel like a generational difference. They are very different kids... Emma is somewhat more self-centered, Lucas sensitive to a fault. Neither are money-driven, both love music and art (extremely eclectic tastes for both), both are rabid readers.

The similarities between them probably stem from the fact that their dads were both artists with ADD.

Aside from money, what's the single thing you would want to leave to your children?

Extraordinarily great memories.

If you had the power and the ability how would you change America?

OK, this may sound really silly... but do you ever watch "Wife Swap"? They take women from families that  could-not-be-more-different and swap them for 2 weeks. Almost 100% of the time, what starts out as "Oh my god these people are horrible/nuts/immoral/assholes " turns into the glimmers of understanding if not embracing of at least some of each others ideas and values. Once again, it's about knowing people as individuals-- real people instead of generalized demographics-- that creates empathy and compassion. It's the cliché mocassin-walking concept. If people in this country could overcome their fears of those who are not like them, and actually spend time getting to know each other, I think a lot of the gaps could be narrowed if not filled. Maybe blogging does that a bit

*I should have re-asked the question about Kerick, because personally he's in my book of evil sicko's.  But he was competent after 9/11 and that's when most people remember him from.  Remember I asked for the first thing that came to mind.  And I defy anybody to have an opinion about Pataki.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Miscellaneous, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Saturday, October 29, 2005

From 9/11/2001 to 10/28/2005: a World Trade Center Survivor Story

Bonnie is a blogger who has become a real life friend of mine.  For as long as New Yorkers live we will hear each others 9/11 stories and be endlessly fascinated.  Bonnie can say to me "then I found myself next to Sbarro's," and I will know exactly where she was.  It was the defining day of our lives for many reasons; including: another day, another hour, another five minutes, I could have been killed.

So much has happened since then; it's been hard to heal.  We find ourselves in the unique position of having had a much loved, much used civilian complex attacked and yet being asked "why do you hate America so much?"  An offensive question if ever there was one. 

Bonnie left this comment on a post I did yesterday for my blog.  I asked if I could put it in Bring it on! because it expresses so much better than I can ever the feelings so many of us have been feeling.  And yes I also wanted the war in Afghanistan; for months before we entered Iraq I thought maybe...but by the time we did...

Yesterday felt as if there might be light at the end of the tunnel.  For the first time in so long we felt hope, and you don't know how how great that feels until you realize how helpless and hopeless you were feeling.

Hi. Full disclosure first, I am a regular reader & fan of Pia's blog.

I am also a NYC resident and I was AT the WTC on September 11th. I ran for my life and over 80 former co-workers there were not so fortunate. I was ferociously in favor of the war in Afghanistan; I have never been a big fan of Bush but I actually admired the way that the administration took the time to investigate & pull together a coalition rather than rushing blindly to attack.

But when Osama escaped justice, and the war drums started beating for Saddam, I felt like the administration was using Saddam to distract the rest of the country - (you can’t fool New Yorkers that way, we were there, we lived it, we knew the story and we didn't’t forget Osama even when months would go by without Bush so much as mentioning the name - that’s part of why so many of us have gone solidly into the anti-Bush camp) from noticing that we had failed to “smoke ‘em out”.

Eagerness for a war is a heinous thing, and I think Bush found the concept of being a “war president” a little too heady, was a little too eager to look around for more once the situation in Afghanistan began to quiet down. I wanted to see Osama captured; I wanted to see Afghanistan recover from the years after we congratulated the Mujaheddin for driving out the Soviets, then abandoned them to the tender mercies of the mullahs who invited Osama there to train the people who flew those planes into the towers above my head that day (if I had been 15 minutes earlier, or even made the wrong turn while I was fleeing, I do not know if I would still be here) - in short, I thought that what we did in Afghanistan was justified and for a good cause and I wanted to see us finish THAT mission (meaning seeing Afghanistan on her way to a true recovery and Osama on trial for 9/11).

Maybe attending more closely to that before rushing back to war would have made for a better, stronger, happier Afghanistan more quickly. Maybe that would’ve started some positive ripples spreading in a way that “shock and awe” never could - but that would’ve taken time & patience - and instead we rushed back into a second invasion that’s now entangled us there in a terrible way.

I felt utterly and very personally betrayed when suddenly that mission was replaced with Iraq. There was no proven connection between Iraq and the WTC but that was lost in the obfuscations leading up to the invasions. Al Qaeda is certainly there now - and the one thing that scares me that makes me hesitate to join in the “bring them home” chorus - is that I think that they WILL work to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was before - but they are there BECAUSE OF OUR WAR. Let’s not lose sight of this. This war has us in a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation the likes of which I’m not quite old enough to have seen before. And I hate it. And I wish that we actually knew what the majority of Iraqis wanted us to do because that is what I think I would want us to do.

Saddam was evil. I’m not arguing that fact. NOBODY is. Had the administration’s case in fact turned out to be true, I might even have been mollified. In fact I really would have LIKED to be wrong, it actually would have been so much better if things had happened the way Bush thought they were going to - would’ve been the most delicious crow ever served, I think.

As it is, that wasn’t the case - and now we’ve got 2,000 dead of our own plus 26K+ Iraqi casualties, which makes me ill - and Osama’s still free, and the Taliban is still in Afghanistan, and…and every revelation of even the SLIGHTEST underhanded dealing here at home feels like a little more betrayal. I trust these people less and less.

Posted by Pia Savage at 11:06 AM in Current Affairs, Military, Politics, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

People in the blogoshpere: Q&A with Belinda

At Bring It On! we like to shake things up. We also believe that there are many people in the blogosphere who share our views. I had been toying with the idea of interviewing people as I love asking questions and understanding how and why people come to their ideas. Then I came across Belinda.

Some of you will think that I made Belinda up. I didn't. She commented on my blog; loved the comments and went to her blog to thank her. Then I read the sidebar. I had to interview her. Fortunately I didn't have to tie her to a stake or take her daughter or anything to get her to talk.

Belinda is a practicing Christian who lives in Arkansas.

That's all I'm qoing to say; to learn more about Belinda, the person, please read her blog. It's great.

Were you pro-Bush at the beginning of his first term? How did you get to where you are now?

Never was pro-Bush. (it's funny--part of me deep inside is crying, "How could you ever think such a thing?) Never could understand how anyone could be, given his record both in business and government.

Have you always been Christian or did you come to religion through a life experience?

By definition, one cannot "always" have been a Christian. I had a Jewish friend once say to me, "You know, I think I'm the only non-Christian in this group." Well, she was the only Jewish person in the group, and there were no Buddhists or Muslims or Hindus...but in that small group of women, probably only 30% were actually Christians. You could always have been a Gentile, but Christianity is a faith which specifically involves a conscious decision in your own heart and mind and a profession of faith...that's where you find divisions even among Christian denominations, like the Baptizing of infants and literal transubstantiation. Christianity is a faith (believing that Jesus Christ was the messiah, the son of God, your own personal savior through grace once you've accepted him as such--but please don't rely on my words for definitions of these things. Ask Billy Graham --he's non-partisan, brilliant, and in my opinion, truly ordained by God. And he has a website where you actually CAN ask questions! I have similar feelings about Rick Warren .), while "religion" has to do with denomination of choice.

Do people tell you that your religious views conflict with your political views? If so how. what do you say?

I've not had these things directed at me specifically, but have been involved in some debates on the subject. I've been screamed at because of my opposition to the war in Iraq. Before the 2004 election, I heard talk about how if Kerry were elected, it would bring on the "end times". This made me CRAZY. I think this goes along with what is behind the "Religious Right's" distrust of the U.N., etc. There is a real fear of "Zionism", Globalism, etc. because of their ties to the Biblically prophesied Apocalypse. Now--here are the two things that are STUPID about that kind of thinking. #1.) The current administration is pushing us TOWARD these prophetic events with things like globalizing control of the internet and proposing a National "I.D." system, and microchipping humans, etc. ("Mark of the Beast", anyone?). They're taking away our civil rights by the truckload, and trying their best to end diversity of every kind and homogenize all people into the same-thinking, non-trouble-making entity. #2.) I have a clue to give all the religious zealots who fear the "end-times" and think that they can prevent/delay them. In the first place, if you believe in the Biblical prophecy, and you are a true believer and have accepted Christ, you WON'T BE HERE for the apocalypse. You will have ascended already, OK? What happens after that to whoever's left ain't gonna be your problem. In the second place (again, if you are a believer--and all these people profess to be), God has already chosen the time of the Second Coming, and has said that "NO ONE shall know the day or hour." It will happen when it is (pre)ordained to happen, and you aren't going to prevent/delay the Apocalypse by voting Republican! What do you think--God will say, "You know, since the beginning of time and even before that, this has been the scheduled time for the end of the world....but gosh, Arkansas voted against gay marriage, so what the heck--I'll wait and see what happens. But so help me Me, the next time they elect a Democratic president in the U.S.A....." Please.

And please don't ask me any hard theological questions, because I don't have any but the simplest of answers. I am not a theologian, just a Christian, by choice and by faith. Because, above all, what God instilled in man was FREE WILL. The free will to decide whether or not to accept Him and in what form, or whether to reject him altogether. He could have made us all the same; He didn't. Doesn't that tell anyone anything? And our free will is what is being taken from us, little by little, day by day, by the very people who claim to be carrying out God's agenda. And for people like Pat Robertson and his ilk (ugh), a memo: Jesus' Great Commission for us went like this: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Dudes, you are REPELLING people in droves. Your current administration and its cronies are causing people who might have come into the Christian fold to recoil instead, because your actions do not match your words, and often, your words themselves are repulsive!

Oh, and just a sidenote on the whole evolution vs. intelligent design bruhaha: Most Christians I know believe that there is a way, not knowable by us, that evolution and Divine creation dovetail perfectly. I don't know who these people are who flatly reject the science of evolution, but stop it, already. God gave us the gift of science, and the intelligence to use it. So just stop it. Who knows what God's concept of "time" was in the beginning of the world? That first day could have been billions of years. We just don't know. And while we're on the subject, I've had just about enough of the flying spaghetti monster, too. Just because science can be accurate, does not mean that there is no God. I feel quite the opposite. So you guys just can it, too.

How do you define "conservative?" "Liberal?" Do you think any of that matters?

I think that both terms have become icons of hatred and fear now, we are THAT divided as a country. So much for the "uniter, not a divider" promises of GWB.

Do you see a difference between a fiscal Conservative and a foreign policy one?

Probably. I do know a lot of conservatives who are conflicted about this.

I don't believe in the death penalty simply because I think even DNA can be switched, and I think a life sentence without the possiblity of parole is a much harsher sentence. What are your thoughts on this?

Absolutely, 100% against capital punishment. This comes from my faith more than politics--I just don't believe we have the right to take a life in such a deliberate fashion. On the practical side, as you indicate: if even ONE person is wrongly executed, that should serve as an unassailable argument against the death penalty. I have a really hard time understanding how the same people who are pro-death penalty are anti-abortion. It's all killing, folks. And I do personally abhor the very concept of abortion. HATE it. Wish it would just go away forever. But to make it flat-out, no-excuses illegal in all circumstances? No. This is why I would be a terrible ruler...everything would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis (ask me how much I'm opposed to mandatory sentencing and "three strikes" laws), and it would all take forever, and the anarchists would gain control while I was dithering.

One point I'd like to make about capital punishment that just sticks in my craw (yes, I'm from Arkansas, and we say lots of things like that), is the often-spouted Biblical "support" for such a thing by conservatives crying, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!" This has to be one of the MOST misrepresented Biblical references ever. Here is Matthew Chapter 5, Verses 38-42, NIV (this is Jesus talking) : 38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. "

Tom Delay? First sentence that comes into mind when you think about him?

Quotes like "I AM the Federal Government", and "I AM the Constitution." May he swiftly be indicted.

Bill Frist? Same thing?

May he follow quickly in the steps of Newt Gingrich and fade from public sight...while being indicted.

GW Bush?

Failure. Short-sighted. Controlled. Possibly well-meaning in the beginning, but taken over by the forces that propel and control him (Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld). Probably not evil. Probable "dry drunk." Stooge.

Karl Rove?

Bats, blood, all-consuming darkness, wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments...I view the world as desired by Karl Rove as being something like that town in "Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang", where there were no children, and everyone dressed in gray and never smiled. No moral or ethical constraints to keep him from his goals. I can't imagine him stopping at ANYTHING that got in his way. Read, or see the documentary, "Bush's Brain ". If you weren't frightened before...well, you will be.

Dick Cheney?

"Arrrrggggghh!" (That's what he looks to me like he's saying in almost every picture of him.) Consumed by greed. Anyone else would have cut ties to even the appearance of impropriety with things like Halliburton , but not Dick. How do you have as many health problems as he's had, still be alive, and NOT have a deal with the devil? That was a very un-Christian thing to say, and I'm sorry. In the Rankin-Bass Christmas special, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", Cheney would be the Burgermeister.

How did you feel that the government handled 9/11?

By almost immediately deflecting attention elsewhere, and repeating and repeating "9/11" and "Saddam Hussein" and "Iraq" in the same context, until people believed it. Then starting an unjustified war to keep the public's collective mind OFF Osama Bin Laden.


Is there evidence that the federal government handled Katrina? I wasn't aware of that. Being an Arabian horse breeder and fancier, I do know something about Mike Brown, or good ol' "Brownie". He ran the IAHA, all right...ran it right into the ground so that it NO LONGER EXISTS. That's right, we don't have an International Arabian Horse Association any more. Thanks, Brownie--you did a heckuva job! I think that Katrina and its aftermath were just, no pun intended, a "perfect storm" of imcompetence and mistakes on so many levels, that I'm not willing to lay blame at any one set of feet.

You live in Arkansas; what did you think of the Clintons?

Uh...LOVED them. Loved Bill, loved Hillary, loved when baby Chelsea was born (and Hil finally added the "Clinton" to her name). He gave us so much. I personally had the benefit of attending the Governor's School for the Gifted and Talented, thanks to Bill. He was young, vibrant, and everything we needed. And as a president...what I wouldn't give to have him back. He gave us the huge budget surplus, W. has given us the largest deficit in history, and it's growing every day. Clinton did so much for our nation in the global community...all that hard work destroyed now. But let me tell you--I really believe that the Clinton-hating is nowhere in the world as intense as it is right here in his home state. It's bizarre. And yes, he was an idiot about sex, obviously. Every man has flaws, and his were squarely centered in his pants. But I'll take that over what we have now any day. You know, when I think of the whole attempt to impeach Clinton over ORAL SEX...I can't help think about King David. One of the Bible's biggest screwups. Sinned, and sinned, and sinned again...yet he was "God's favorite." Why? Because he truly repented, and in his heart truly desired to honor the Lord. God knew his heart, and loved him for it.


How do you spell the sound of me blowing a huge raspberry into my hand and making a huge fart noise?

The 2000 election?

*sigh* I remember disbelief, hope, more disbelief, grief, flat-out denial that this could possibly be happening...and a total outrage at the deceit that is the "electoral college", especially now that the Republicans (thanks, Tom DeLay!) have gotten the districts arranged just so. And now that the "machine" has learned how best to exploit and manipulate those districts ( i.e. getting anti-"gay marriage" initiatives on the ballot in every single swing state in 2004--thanks, Karl Rove!, "push" polling, and downright scare tactics against minority voters)...well, I'm not extremely optimistic for the future. It seems unlikely that American voters could be so stupid a third time...and yet, I thought that the second time, too.

Thanks for the chance to vent somewhere other than my own site, where I might infuriate family members! And please remember, these opinions are NO ONE's but my own, so if you disagree, that's great, but don't yell at me about it, because we're all entitled, OK? If I have a fact wrong--a FACT, not an opinion--let me know, but gently. I both cry and bruise easily. If you are an atheist or a "pastafarian" who wants to ridicule me for my faith in God, don't bother, 'K? And after all this navel-gazing, I can assure you that my own blog will be full of nothing of substance for at least a week now.

Can I be truthful? Bill Clinton is my hero. Belinda helped me understand how true Christians can repent and forgive. I thank her for that and for everything else she taught me.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Politics, Religion, Right Wing Nut, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (46) | TrackBack

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Christian Right makes a mockery out of Katrina

I'm wiped; totally exhausted; the last thing I want to do is blog, yet I can't stop.

The past two weeks have been horrific, and beyond my comprehension.  I don't watch TV news because I can't look at the images; I am continually reading, and each article sets me off.  I have been both angrier and teary in the past two weeks than I ever have before.  God do I hate being weepy.

On Sunday 9/11, a sacred day in my city, I began to feel better. I realized that I didn't have to desert my life to volunteer in a resettlement center, I really could help effect change by blogging. 

Friends were visiting.  They have a condo in Atlanta and a summer house in Myrtle Beach.  They're giving the house to a family with animals;  and sharing the condo with a family with animals.  They requested a family that was in a resettlement area in Utah as they can't imagine people from New Orleans living among Mormons.

I began thinking about the Radical Right and how silent they were as they planned their spin.  This morning I read an article in The New York Times:

"WAS Katrina a man-made storm for profits?" asked Michael Shore, a contributor at the Web site, a few days after the hurricane had all but obliterated New Orleans and its environs. "Just about every human being is totally unaware that technology exists now whereby weather can be used as a weapon of mass destruction." t's all part of a "hideous agenda," Mr. Shore wrote, to gain "total control of planet Earth."

Yes we do control the weather.  And I do mean the religious group that I identify culturally with.

But in the online post-Katrina theorizing, much darker musings have also emerged. Radical Christian Web sites are celebrating the fire-and-brimstone clobbering of a promiscuous city; anti-abortion groups have mounted spam campaigns that count the clinics now under water; and neo-Nazis have raised virtual fists, having somehow spotted Jews behind Katrina's 150 m.p.h. winds.

Anti-Semitic groups, for whom Katrina provided evidence that, among other things, "Israel plans to use the port of New Orleans in order to ship in weapons of mass destruction to use against American citizens" as one member at put it.

Damn they found out.  I lied, last week, when we said that we didn't have horns.  They're retractable.  And yeah sure, every American Jew puts Israel ahead of the USA and supports WMDs to be used against American citizens.  If my parents and I were all born in New York, that means I'm not an American citizen?  But my passport...

Apparently while Jews controlled the weather, Gays were being punished. 

For others, the storm was simply a divine gay-bashing, with numerous Web sites noting that Katrina landed just two days before the start of Southern Decadence 2005, the annual New Orleans celebration known informally as the Gay Mardi Gras.

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening," wrote Michael Marcavage at, the Web site for the organization in Philadelphia that he directs, "this act of God destroyed a wicked city."

If that's not sickening enough we can always blame abortion.  And listen to the reasoning.  Makes perfect sense; very fact based.

Mr. Marcavage also noted that "Louisiana had a total of 10 abortion clinics, with half of them operating in New Orleans" - his implication being similar to one made by the group Columbia Christians for Life, which sent out mass e-mail messages comparing the tadpole swirl of clouds in satellite images of Katrina to the chin-tucked profile of a 6-week-old fetus.

Will you be pleased to know that some money is only being raised to help White victims?  New Orleans has many mixed-race residents; my god it and the bayous are famous for Cajuns and Creoles; my boyfriend Zachary grew up in one of the very affected areas.  Alway wanted him to be Cajun, but he was Jewish like me.

"Any cash, checks, money orders or goods sent to help with the Kinsmen Rescue Project must be considered gifts, with no strings attached on how the funds are spent," advised the proprietors of "If you choose to give, you'll have to rely on our honor as Aryans that the funds are being spent to help our kinfolk in distress."

Don't you love that last sentence?  HONOR AS ARYANS; it's enough to reenergize me.  If bloggers have the power to print such nonsense and have it believed in more circles than I would like to think; I, as a blogger, have the power to refute it.

Though how can anybody refute the above?  It's so half baked it's funny.  But if you had told me a decade ago, a great president would be impeached because he lied about a blow job I would have laughed.  I wouldn't have believed that the 2000 election would be handed to Bush by five Supreme Court Justices nor would I have believed that Bush was sitting on intelligence reports prior to 9/11; the Downing Street Memo and the supporting documentation.  Nor would I have believed that a 9/11 or Katerina could happen.

Several years ago I would have laughed at the above article. I can't anymore.  I know our government allows sentiments like the above to flourish.  Don't give me the diverse cabinet bull.  Condi Rice is a 70 year old White male in a Black woman's body .

With each passing day I believe more and more strongly that the only option is to impeach Bush, and somehow get rid of Cheney and the entire cabinet. 

Blogging is becoming increasingly important; each day more people read us.  We can be on the inside of events before mainstream journalists many times.  As bloggers we're passionate about our work; we have to be as nobody is paying us.  We can be as opinionated as we want to be for the same reason.  Sometimes I think we should be reigned in.

But for the first time we have a truly free press. As long as inflamatory speech isn't invoked, people can say what they want to.  And I and many others can watch the above groups, and many others, see if  their power bases grow or lessen, and speak out when necessary

I write on my personal blog seven days aweek because people actually read it.  Seven days and I'm my own proofreader, fact checker, every type of editor and publisher, and that's not even the beginning of the blogging game which I am just learning.  My learning curve is slow.

I have somehow blogged my way into a position where I infuence other peoples thinking.  Maybe three people, but still...

It's an ego trip.  And it's a responsiblity.  That's why when I say IMPEACH BUSH, I say it with every bit of blood in my body. Winning The House in 2006 is no longer enough..

Bring it on! and some of us, in our personal blogs, have joined The Coalition to Impeach Bush  It's a big deal for me to use my blog as a vehicle to help impeach Bush as I have delusions of literary writing.  Many of my readers disdain politics.

While I can't afford to lose them; it's my country that I really don't want to lose.  Love the name of Tom Harper's blog, Who highjacked my country?  It's too true.

As bloggers we can help reclaim this country.  We're rapidly growing in both number and influence; we can explain how Bush is guilty of many impeachable offenses.

And those blogs quoted above?  People listen to them.  It is every decent blogger's responsiblity to make them much less read.

We can't control the weather but we can control the spread of anti-Semitism, racism, gay bashing, anti-abortion nuts and every other kind right wing nut thinking. 

We can multi task; we can help IMPEACH BUSH at the same time.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs, Politics, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (37) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A year of blogging: from The First Amendment to Intelligent Design

Blogging has been great for me.  It's allowed me to meet people from parts of the country I didn't know well enough before, and realize that people throughout this incredible country are caring, compassionate, and intelligent with beliefs that are very similar but they don't exactly mirror them.

That's the problem.  We, who are called liberal, don't think exactly alike.  Earlier this summer I wrote about subway searches.  I was scared, angry, tired of answering comments from people who do usually think alike, and can't understand how people on Bring it on! can think differently from one another.

I won't explain how The First Amendment really means that America is a Christian country; because as many times as it's been explained to me I still don't understand how this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution can possibly mean that as a non-Christian I have been living in a legally Christian country all these years.  Yes the majority of the population is Christian. 

The variety of religious beliefs in the United States surpasses the nation’s multitude of ethnicities, nationalities, and races, making religion another source of diversity rather than a unifying force. This is true even though the vast majority of Americans—83 percent—identify themselves as Christian. One-third of these self-identified Christians are unaffiliated with any church. Moreover, practicing Christians belong to a wide variety of churches that differ on theology, organization, programs, and policies. The largest number of Christians in the United States belong to one of the many Protestant denominations—groups that vary widely in their beliefs and practices. Roman Catholics constitute the next largest group of American Christians, followed by the Eastern Orthodox.

That in no way means that Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers meant for this to be a Christian nation.

The roots of the First Amendment can be traced to a bill written by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in 1777 and proposed to the Virginia Legislature in 1779. It guaranteed freedom of (and from) religion. After an impassioned speech by James Madison, and after some amendments, it became law on 1786-JAN-16.

Why when we at Bring it on! have been saying this since we began am I bringing this up now?  Because many radical Christian Rightists still don't get it.  It's simple; it's the Amendment that guarantees the most basic of rights, the right to practice or not practice a religion, and never have to worry that a state religion will be formed, and also and equal, guarantees freedom of speech.

Because so many people feel validated and vindicated by the people occupying The White House, Intelligent Design, and The Discovery Institute have been getting much play recently.  Here are a few quotes by William Safire who isn't exactly known as a liberal, but yikes, he's Jewish, so the Radical Christian right always knew that they couldn't trust him, really.

Then along came the phrase intelligent design, and evolution had fresh linguistic competition. Though the phrase can be found in an 1847 issue of Scientific American, it was probably coined in its present sense in "Humanism," a 1903 book by Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller: "It will not be possible to rule out the supposition that the process of evolution may be guided by an intelligent design."

At about that time, the traditional creationists took up the phrase. "We are a Christian organization and use the term to refer to the Christian God," says John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Santee, California. "The modern intelligent design movement looks at Dr. Phillip Johnson as its founder. ... His book, 'Darwin on Trial,' kind of started it all in the early '90s. We were using intelligent design as an intuitive term: a watch implies a watchmaker."

The marketing genius within the phrase - and the reason it now drives many scientists and educators up the wall - is in its use of the adjective intelligent, which intrinsically refutes the longstanding accusation of anti-intellectualism. Although the intelligent agent referred to is Divine with a capital D, the word's meaning also rubs off on the proponent or believer. That's why intelligent design appeals to not only the DNA-driven Discovery Institute complexity theorists but also the traditional God's-handiwork faithful.

To counter the "sophisticated branding experts" who flummoxed establishmentarian evolutionaries with intelligent design, opponents of classroom debate over Darwin's theory have come up with a catchily derisive neologism that lumps the modern advocates of intelligent design with religious fundamentalists: neo-creo. The rhyming label was coined on Aug. 17, 1999, by Philip Kitcher, professor of the philosophy of science at Columbia University, New York, in a lively and lengthy online debate in Slate magazine with the abovementioned Phillip Johnson, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Intelligent design advocates like to point to Albert Einstein, who repeatedly rejected a statistical conception of physics with his famous aphorism, "I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world." However, his recent biographer, Dennis Overbye, a science reporter for The New York Times, says: "Einstein believed there was order in the universe but that it had not been designed for us." Overbye also notes that Einstein wrote the evenhanded "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Can't really trust Dennis Overbye, he's a reporter for The New York Times.  Like many New Yorkers, I have spent my life in a love/hate relationship with The Times, but I'm very proud it's my hometown newspaper now.  Anybody who wishes to point out that Einstein's brain was smaller than average, and that he couldn't learn to tie his shoes until he was six etc., will be ignored.  Here's something about The Discovery Institute.

After toiling in obscurity for nearly a decade, the institute's Center for Science and Culture has emerged in recent months as the ideological and strategic backbone behind the eruption of skirmishes over science in school districts and state capitals across the country. Pushing a "teach the controversy" approach to evolution, the institute has in many ways transformed the debate into an issue of academic freedom rather than a confrontation between biology and religion.

Mainstream scientists reject the notion that any controversy over evolution even exists. But Mr. Bush embraced the institute's talking points by suggesting that alternative theories and criticism should be included in biology curriculums "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Financed by some of the same Christian conservatives who helped Mr. Bush win the White House, the organization's intellectual core is a scattered group of scholars who for nearly a decade have explored the unorthodox explanation of life's origins known as intelligent design

In any other political climate, these people would be known as crack pots who are pushing a pseudo-scientific answer to the theory of evolution.  But in today's climate they are scientists posing an important alternative to a theory that has been postulated over and over again.  Oh right, Intelligent Design can't be tested through regular tests; a designer acted.  How can you test faith?  Sorry,then it's not science, and can't be taught in public schools.

Here's something by Carl Zimmer that refutes Intelligent Design

It describes how the Institute has spent $3.6 million dollars to support fellowships that include scientific research in areas such as "laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology or biophysics."

So what has that investment yielded, scientifically speaking? I'm not talking about the number of appearances on cable TV news or on the op-ed page, but about scientific achievement. I'm talking about how many papers have appeared in peer-reviewed biology journals, their quality, and their usefulness to other scientists. Peer review isn't perfect--some bad papers get through, and some good papers may get rejected--but every major idea in modern biology has met the challenge.

It's pretty easy to get a sense of this by perusing two of the biggest publically available databases, PubMed (from the National Library of Medicine) and Science Direct (from the publishing giant Reed Elsevier)....Look for the topics that have won people Nobel Prizes--the structure of DNA, the genes that govern animal development, and the like--and you quickly come up with hundreds or thousands of papers.

A search for "Intelligent Design" on PubMed yields 22 results--none of which were published by anyone from the Discovery Insittute. There are a few articles about the political controversy about teaching it in public schools, and some papers about constructing databases of proteins in a smart way. But nothing that actually uses intelligent design to reveal something new about nature. ScienceDirect offers the same picture. (I'm not clever enough with html to link to my search result lists, but try them yourself if you wish.)

Here's another search: "Discovery Institute" and "Seattle" (where the institute is located). One result comes up: a paper by Jonathan Wells proposing that animal cells have turbine-like structures inside them. It describes no experiments, only a hypothesis.

Zimmer's talking about peer review and the importance of papers agreeing with or refuting a hypothesis.  Anybody who does any kind of meaningful research in any field will tell you that the first step is a lit review to see what is or isn't there.  Don't tell me that Intelligent Design is too new to have been studied; it's been discussed enough these last several months, and has been studied for a longer time period.  I have linked to an article from The Natural History Magazine that talks about it in 2002. 

They take it a little less seriously then New Yorkers take subway searches.  They're an inconvenience that can't work. .Subway searches can't work though I would have loved for them to be an easy answer.  Like any good Liberal I have flip-flopped on that one.  I will discuss why they can't work in depth next time.  But I will leave you with one last thing that I have learned this year; the ACLU is a Commie organization out to poison your water and kill your children. No, I added the part after "Commie organization."

Of everything that has happened in the past year, and of all the things that I have learned the movement to stop the ACLU scares me almost as much as or the same as the movement to re-create The First Amendment.

The 2006 elections will be here before we can blink our eyes; and then there will be 2008.  Moderates will take back this country because more and more people are waking up to the reality that the Radical Christian Right has gained power way beyond its membership.  When William Safire and I agree on an issue; it should be a wake-up call.

We Jews don't all know each other; but we do tend to get a bit crazed when The First Amendment is under attack; and Intelligent Design is just another attack on it.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:00 AM in Current Affairs, Education, Politics, Religion, Right Wing Nut, Science, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Monday, June 13, 2005

On Patriotism, Blogging, and New York

Lately I have been thinking about what it means to be a patriot.  At Bring it on! our logo is a quote by President Theodore Roosevelt

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
  --  Theodore Roosevelt

At Bring it on! we are disparate individuals brought together by a common goal.  We believe that it is patriotic to talk about things that we perceive to be wrong in the country that we all love, The United States of America.  Yes, we criticize the president, his cabinet and supporters.  We try to engage people in debates.  Many times we get comments telling us that we're not patriots, move to France, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Jerrold Nadler is my Congressman, and I'm damn proud that he protested last Friday at The Patriot Act Hearing.

We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it

That's patriotism in action to me.  Being an elected official, and speaking out on difficult issues is a congress person's right and duty.  In my family we were taught that voting is just the beginning of a citizen's responsibilities; we have to talk and act when we perceive wrongs.

I was brought up to believe that I had to answer to the highest authority, my own conscience. I've never been confused for a saint, but I have never been confused about my values.  They're good.

Before I began blogging seven months ago, I had no idea that expressing ideas could be conceived as being unpatriotic, and wrong. 

I wrote a post in my personal blog about how I'm not a linear thinker.  Innocuous, I thought, wrongly.  One of the comments I received asked how far to the left I was, and what were my mental problems.  This person has a theory that non-linear thinking, and certain mental conditions are hallmarks of the Far Left.  Dare I state the obvious?  That question was just plain rude.

Blew me away as I'm not very far to the left at all; and I'm a garden variety neurotic who is a bit more willing to talk about myself than other people might be.  From then on  almost everything I wrote was analyzed in depth for signs of far left behavior, odd thoughts, whining, and mental instability. 

Hey I'm a New Yorker.  Others speak; we whine; we argue; we scream on top of each other, but at the end of the day we go out for a drink together.  I wasn't used to actually being disliked for having thoughts that others might not share.

I was stunned by the implications that believing in free speech, not blaming Muslims for every problem, and supporting the ACLU could be construed as being a far leftist, emotionally unstable, and of course, not patriotic.

Amy Guttman, President, University of Pennsylvania had this to say in a Commencement Address at Wesleyan University:

Mutual respect is the lifeblood of democracy. ... The signs of disrespect are all around us. In the ferocious assault on the judiciary. In the shrill debate over Terri Schiavo. And worst of all, in the hateful ad hominem attacks that issue daily from the radio and TV talk shows. We are living in a smash-mouth culture in which extremists dominate public debate to the point of hijacking it. You cannot have a reasoned discussion about abortion when one side is slandered as "baby-killers" and the other side is smeared as "religious wing nuts.

Each time I try to talk about abortion, I'm accused of "liking" abortion.  No reasonable person "likes" abortion.  To most people who are pro-choice it's a very difficult and thought out decision. I have Bible Scriptures flung in my face.  I'm not Christian, and while I respect a person's right to live his life according to Scriptures, I'm not accorded the same respect. 

I have been called a moral relativist because I can't quote just one source that supports my views.  Apparently reading many sources, being educated at the Grad School level, and a lifetime of civilized dinner discussions means less than being able to point to one book or preacher, and say "this is where my views come from." I have read threads where people laugh at the idea of a moral relativist thinking she has the right to express her own views.

I once made a comment at a site I wasn't familiar with.  They took out the comment that I was answering so that I could look stupid.  That's neither playing fair, nor is it rational behavior.  They did have fun making fun of me.  I'm thick skinned, but I'm not going to pretend that it doesn't hurt after awhile, for a hot second.

We have a sidebar called Right Wing Nuts.  I'm neither going to defend the name nor attack it. But before we began it, almost time I tried to have a reasoned discussion, I was attacked.  My patriotism has been attacked, often, since I began blogging. We never take out or edit comments so that they are more to our liking.  It wouldn't be an accurate record, and it's cruel.

Guttman goes on:

It is hard to pursue a reasoned debate about the Iraqi war when opponents of the war are accused of treason and the president of the United States is compared to Hitler. Reach across the aisle, pursue collaborative solutions, or explore the shades of gray on any charged issue, and you are likely to be ignored or dismissed as indecisive. That's if you're lucky. More likely, you will endure crude and often malicious attacks on your intelligence, faith and patriotism. You may even face death threats.

I haven't faced death threats but I have faced everything else mentioned. John Kerry weighed every piece of information that was given to him.  He tried to understand all sides, and was accused of flip flopping.  I should have realized then, that in Bush's America exploring shades of gray is not only frowned on, but considered unpatriotic.

What makes a person a patriot?  Supporting the president blindly seems to go over these days as does supporting a war that most people really don't understand.  Yes I support the service people, and I'm becoming tired of having to say that each time I say something about Iraq. But if I don't put that in, I get comments saying that I don't support them.

This past Saturday, almost four years after the attacks on The World Trade Center, there was a funeral for one of the 343 fireman, Keithroy Maynard, killed on 9/11.  For almost four years his family clung hoped that they would have more remains to bury.  I can't imagine that much anguish..  I hope that they are comforted in some small way by the knowledge that he was a patriot. 

Several weeks ago I saw an ambulance with a dedication.  Usually they honor the memory of an individual.  This was different.

This is dedicated to every person who responded on September 11, 2001

It made me cry.  Most things relating to that day still do.  I couldn't get it out of my head; it wasn't just honoring the people who died.  It was honoring every person who helped.  Yes the fire and police people who died were true heroes and patriots.  As was every person in both towers.  My personal hero/patriot was the man who wouldn't leave his disabled office mate behind.  He knew that he could have lived but he chose to stay so that another person wouldn't be alone when he died.

I don't know a person who lives in and/or works in New York City who didn't try to help that day, and after.  Skin color, ethnicity, religion, none of that mattered.  We had survived the unthinkable and we were determined to get on with our lives and rebuild downtown.

I consider every person who lives in and/or works in New York City to be a true patriot.  We didn't run the hell out of New York.  Most of us stayed.  In staying we could say screw you to the terrorists by our actions,  not our words.  We don't need to wave a flag to show that we are patriots. 

I stayed up all night that night, and looked at all the other lights that were on.  I wondered how many people were waiting for somebody to come home.  In the clear blue sky of the next day we sat in outdoor cafes as our help wasn't needed then and talked about what we would do. 

Nobody I know seriously considered leaving.  We gave blood.  Every grocery and drug store had a list of supplies that were needed.  We bought them.  We tried to help in every possible way.

For a brief moment in time there was a saying: we are all New Yorkers.  We finally felt that we were accepted as real Americans.  Why had we ever felt that we weren't real Americans just because we were born, bred and chose to stay in New York?  Why do we care? 

When I began blogging I was to find out that the attacks might have happened in New York and to New Yorkers, but to many people on the Right , we who live in New York don't have the proper moral values.  9/11 wasn't  just a horrible terrorist attack by Bin Laden, but an excuse to hate and fight all Muslims.  Apparently we in New York didn't buy into that, and thus according to many Conservative bloggers we became an alien species.  We're not God fearing, or we fear the wrong God, or we read the wrong Bible.  It's very confusing.

In the months following 9/11, I wanted war more than I ever wanted anything in my life.  I wanted revenge.  But when the war finally came, it wasn't about 9/11.  The Downing Street Memo shows that.  I have included a link, and The Bastard put in a special Sunday post about thememo and all the actions being taken including a rally in Washington on June 16.

I will continue to fight against this war, the small minded bigotry I have encountered, and much else.  I respect other people's views; I would like the same courtesy.  But because I see in shades of gray rather than in black and white, I do endure crude and often malicious attacks on my intelligence, faith and patriotism.

Fifteen months after 9/11, I went to a wedding.  The chuppah (wedding canopy) was an American flag.  This was the flag that the bride's great grandparents hung outside their home during World War Two.  They took it down, after the war, when their son came home. The bride had escaped from the North Tower on 9/11.  Her parents hung it while they were in limbo, and didn't know if she was alive or dead.  They kept it out until the wedding.  That's a flag worth waving.

Don't analyze every word that I say and look for signs of mental instability, or extreme left wing radical behavior.  I happen to despise people who resort to violence, but that's never stopped many right wing bloggers from accusing me of wanting violent actions.

If I had to put a label to my politics, I would say that I'm a Howard Dean Democrat. If you want a meaningful dialog, I would be happy to participate.  But I'm not going to play nicely with people who see me as a stereotype.  I'm no longer going to waste hours of my time trying to rationally answer an irrational comment.

And don't ever say that I'm not patriotic because I disagree with your stance.  Cowards and idiots say things like that, and I have neither the time nor the patience for them.

I'm a divorced, non-Christian, non-God fearing, female New Yorker, and a patriotic American.  Have any problems with that?

An aside: I love blogging and have made many great friends.  Including a few conservatives.  Think blogging's the biggest innovation in communication since, why, the Internet.  It's transformed my world view.  I actually have friends who live in red states.

Posted by Pia Savage at 12:00 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Friday, June 03, 2005

OK Democrat

A Democrat from Oklahoma...yep!  Hard to believe?  Read him, you'll be impressed!

First of all, I want to thank everyone at Bring It On for giving me the  opportunity to be a guest writer. I have never thought of myself as being an excellent writer but I do try my best for all it's worth. I hope my post won't disappoint and I also hope it will stir at least a little debate. Now that I am through with the traditional touch of humility, we can get down to business.

For my post, I have chosen to attack a very important but rarely discussed topic.  It involves defining the very essence of patriotism and loyalty to one's country. Very simply, it is this: Should soldiers and government agents be censored from criticizing and questioning the government?

Coming from a family with a long military history, I understand fully well the need for obedience in the chain of command. I understand also that it is against the Oath to question Congress or especially the President. On the flip side, when the government is not perfect (which no government is or ever has been), is it moral to require someone to do something that he or she knows is wrong and that even goes against the grain of what the Constitution stands for?

Before I dig in, I want to first of all point out that regarding the military, I am not discussing conscientious objectors and all that jazz.   There is a difference in not wanting to go to war because of philosophical reasons and objecting to its rationale.  Also, to prevent anyone from taking this wrong, please note that I am not attacking the military.  This debate is entirely aimed at maintaining the credibility of the U.S Armed Forces and preventing unnecessary loss of life and limb.  As a peaceful and freedom loving nation, should we not attempt to ensure that our causes are just and that we do not abuse our position and power?

Well, folks, here we go.  Consider the recent allegations of Koran desecration by guards and interrogators.  Obviously, Newsweek had a source in either intelligence or the military that said there was desecration going on.  However, as a soldier or agent it is illegal to speak against the President or Congress.  When President Bush denied the claims, it was clear that anyone speaking against his position would be considered in breach of their Oath.  Many on the right took this individual's failure to come clean with the evidence as a lack thereof when in fact it was just as likely to have been due to fear of reprisal.  Speaking against the President is a crime for anyone under the Oath after all and to continue with the allegations, even with proof, would almost certainly have led to negative reactions at  some point.  In light of events such as this, is it proper to deny soldiers or agents the right to question what is going on?   If something isn't right, shouldn't a soldier or agent be able to come forward with their concern without fear of reprisal and penalty?    

Now that we have the cat out of the bag, consider this.  What should be the course of action to deal with governmental wrongdoing?   Elections are not the answer to everything because most government employees are not elected and many among the elected have continually found ways to be above the law.  Thus, if evidence indeed found that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush were guilty of promoting prisoner abuse either intentionally or through lack of prevention, what should be done about it?  Bush was hired by the people and so was Rumsfeld by proxy.  Should we punish them for their guilt or pin everything on the soldiers and agents who actually committed the crime?  Are they above the law?  Should we have a double standard for the leadership where they take responsibility for the good stuff but are admonished for the bad?  This is the system currently in place. What should we do to change it?

In closing, I want to point out that this isn't a topic for fast exchange.   We should not rush into any law changes because the idea isn't to promote the questioning of authority, but to allow wrongdoing to be reported without fear of negative consequences for those who report on it.  Our nation was founded on a brave new attempt at moral government and leadership as defined by the people.  Because the Constitution gives us the right to point out wrongdoing in the government, should we allow the government to abuse the infamous Oath in order to prevent evidence of its wrongdoing from  leaking out?  The answer must understandably be no.

Joseph Seals- The New Oklahoma Democrat 

Posted by Sally at 01:18 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack