Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010 in Pictures & an Obama Update

A June 1 update regarding my comments about President Obama in "Remembrance & Reality, Part II" (scroll down to read that post).
After all my years here on Earth, I am, apparently, still too trusting, occasionally to the point of being gullible. As I listened to conservative talk show hosts bemoan the fact that President Obama chose to honor fallen soldiers at a National Cemetery in Illinois, instead of being present at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, I assumed that every president before Obama and all those who were presidents during Arlington's existence, had visited Arlington on Memorial Day.
I was wrong. In fact, the last three presidents who did not visit Arlington were Republicans. In 2007, President "W" Bush went home to Texas and VP Cheney placed a wreathe at Arlington. In 1992, World War II Veteran and then-president George H.W. Bush spent the weekend in Maine, while VP Quayle laid a wreathe at Arlington. And the King of the modern-day Republicans, President Ronald Regan, attended a G-7 Summit meeting on Memorial Day 1983, leaving the wreathe-laying duties at Arlington to a Defense Department official.
Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Obama is reported to be the only president who ever made a night visit to Dover Air force base in Delaware to witness the return of dead soldiers.
Mr. Obama also visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran's Day 2009 to pay his respects at the grave of T.J. Barbieri, killed in Iraq in 2006, as TJ's brothers visited the grave. Mr. Obama had planned to visit the Cemetery that Veteran's Day, but it seems that the encounter at TJ's grave was not planned.
Said TJ's Gold Star mother, Carol Barbieri of Maryland, of Mr. Obama's decision to visit a National Cemetery in Illinois yesterday, "Our heroes are interred all over the Nation. The President of the United States should be remembering and honoring the men and women who fought for this Country. It doesn't matter where he does that, as long as he never forgets them."
I'd say a Gold Star Mother is the definitive expert regarding this subject. Case closed!
In pictures from Newfoundland, PA

Veterans who sponsor my son's Troop 29, Newfoundland, PA, with his troop members, Scout Master, and Cub Scout, Aidan. Sorry if I spelled any names incorrectly!

My son, holding the Boy Scout flag, flanked by scouts, Maliciah on his right, Dalton and Scout Master Schafer on his left.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Remembrance & Reality, Part II

"The Old Guard" marches in a funeral procession at Arlington
National Cemetery earlier this month.

So nice, I'm posting them twice. Gorgeous, inspiring stained glass windows depicting the first playing of "Taps" for a fallen soldier in 1862, and of the ethereal bugler, the angel Gabriel. These are among the windows of the Chapel of the Centurion in Virgina, the Nation's oldest, in-use military Chapel.
(Note: Yes, I know Arlington is in Virginia. Just a slip of the brain!)
Remembrance & Reality, Part II (Part I is just below - scroll down)
I just returned from purchasing red geraniums, white dusty miller, and blue lobelia. I believe that planting any living thing, nurturing it, and reveling in the beauty of a growing plant or tree is a tribute to all those who have passed into the next phase of being. I also believe that gardening is an art form, with an almost infinite palate of colors, shapes, sizes, textures, fragrances, possibilities and opportunities for individual artistic expression.
I'll plant in the coolness (I hope) of the evening.
I don't have the patience to listen to "talk radio" all that often. But the significant other (S.O.), who leans ever so slightly to the right, but can still be reasoned with, really enjoys talk radio. Whether he agrees with the speakers/personalities or not, he gets a big kick, and I suppose intellectual stimulation, from listening to the mouthpieces of the right.
I am often held hostage while riding in the car, or simply when hanging out in our bedroom, by his devotion to right-leaning radio. And, as an Independent, (and often to my surprise,) I sometimes find myself agreeing with those I consider to be fanatics, zealots, and out and out nut-jobs whose mouths I'd like to stuff with stinky socks.
One day last week was such an occasion. One of the poster-girls of the right was going on (and on, and on . . . ) about President Obama's plans to spend Memorial Day in Chicago. I'm listening to the news at this moment, talking about the President's presence on the Gulf Coast, which is a really, really good thing, as I was starting to long to see Obama, dress shirt sleeves rolled up, rescuing a pelican from an oily fate - me and my imagination strike again!
I don't want to get too far off the track here, but I suppose it's not a president's place to actually roll up his (or HER!!!???) sleeves and dive into an oil clean-up. Is it? I'd like some feed back from readers. Where does a president draw the line in a case such as this?
But I was feeling that the President needed to become more visible on the Gulf Coast, so I'm very glad, whether some consider it a day late and a dollar short or perfectly timed and appropriate, that Mr. Obama appeared at the places devastated by this disaster this weekend.
I am aware that he was on the Gulf Coast a few weeks ago, but to me, it seems that the time that has passed since the initial incident on April 20 is sadly equating to a lifetime for the humans and creatures that rely on the Gulf Coast's fragile ecosystem, beautiful environment, and breathtakingly blue waters and white beaches to sustain their very lives.
"Not every judgement we make is going to be right the first time out," Obama admitted yesterday, and I have to give him a lot of credit for honesty in this case.
For now, I'll hope that God grants a miracle to the Gulf Coast and to his partner, Mother Nature.
Back to where the President should spend Memorial Day.
If Mr. Obama, a self-proclaimed champion of the war in Afghanistan, chooses not to appear in Washington D.C.'s Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, I believe that those who will be offended by his choice have every right to be offended. The Commander in Chief, during war time, whether he started the war, likes the war, dislikes the war, should be at Arlington in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
Since I first began observing Mr. Obama closely, when he dashed Hilary Clinton's hopes of becoming president (which really pissed me off!) I've developed a theory regarding his personality. I've observed that Mr. Obama has many of the characteristics of a boy and then a young man who developed without the influence of a strong male parent.
The young men I've observed similar personality and social traits in are my oldest son's age, around 25.
But for the first time I see the traits in an older man, Mr. Obama. I'm sure he's not alone. He's just more noticeable and infinitely fascinating as the "first" of his kind.
His audacity, his self-assurance, the aura he projects that he is the ultimate authority, is unsettling to older people, because Mr. Obama, as presidents go, is young, and racially unique (so far).
I think that his Grandfather was probably in awe of, and maybe a bit put off by, his bi-racial grandson. I believe that as a child, Mr. Obama was likely the be all and end all of his family's- his maternal grandparents and his mother's- lives. I surmise that based on his mother's life choices, she was either a young woman rebelling against her white, American, middle class parents, or a golden-only-daughter who could do no wrong and who was encouraged to follow her whims, no matter where or to whom they led.
How many white, middle class women of her generation headed off into the world, first marrying an African man and then marrying an Asian man and living abroad?
These young men, and even the men who are my age, as Obama nearly is, are a new breed regarding their self-assurance and what is perceived as their arrogance by older people, and/or by people who grew up in a traditional family with a strong father figure.
As President, Mr. Obama should be tenacious and self-assured. He is the ultimate leader, and should be the ultimate authority, the ultimate "It" guy, as I believe he was the "It" child among his family.
Now finding himself as a father to daughters in a traditional family, it will behoove Mr. Obama to teach tradition and decorum to his delightful daughters. Instead of reasoning,"I am the President and as such, I deserve to return home (Chicago) for Memorial Day weekend," he should think,"I am the President. By the dictates of honor and tradition, and to show that I respect the citizens who have given their lives and the lives of their loved ones for our Country and for the defense of its ideals worldwide, I and my family belong in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day."
Along with a strong father to thank, I believe I have my hometown of Bay Shore, NY, to thank for my feelings that tradition is important, that being reverent and observant are important, especially on Memorial Day.
As a Girl Scout, for many years of sweaty but affectionately remembered Memorial Days, I and many of Bay Shore's other residents; Scouts, Veterans, Firemen, Law Enforcement officials, etc., marched proudly and reverently in a miles-long Memorial Day parade that assembled at the town's train station and continued many miles to a local cemetery.
Once at the cemetery, the multitude of marchers remained at silent attention as words and prayers were offered for the fallen, and a wreathe was laid at the town's war memorial.
Later, in my children's hometown of East Hampton, NY, a similar tradition was upheld each Memorial Day. As Scouts, my three oldest kids joined other town-folk; veterans, politicians, marching band high-schoolers, firemen, law enforcement, etc., in a march from Guild Hall on Main Street down to the war memorial at the windmill where Main Street forks off from North Main Street. Again, participants from 5-year-old brownie Girl Scouts to 80-year-old war Veterans stood at silent and reverent attention as words and prayers were offered and wreathes were placed for the dead.
During both events, and over those many years, I observed participants actually fainting, rather than break the attentive silence of the remembrance ceremony.
Both events stirred pride within me that I could feel welling up along the parade routes to the climax of the placing of the wreathes. I wish that every child will experience and feel such pride and love as a member of a community and as a citizen of this Country.
I hope that these parades continue, teaching children that Memorial Day is not all hot dogs and cook outs, but that it's a solemn day to show gratitude to all who have died for our Country and for freedom.
Another beloved memory is the red paper memorial poppy that Veteran's groups offer for donations. My dad always kept a poppy wired to his car's review mirror, or at the feet of the statue of St.Joseph on his dresser. The poppy became a symbol of the fallen as many of France's World War battle fields were first and post-war poppy fields.
Whether you and yours march in a parade, observe a parade, pick up a paper poppy from a Veteran, lay flowers at the grave or a memorial to the fallen, or simply plant a garden or pot of red, white and blue flowers, start or maintain a tradition of remembrance and reverence this Memorial Day.
God Bless all Americans.
Be well & happy!
If MY memory serves, it's time to wish a "Happy Birthday" to my dear, patient, tolerant, S.O.
I love ya, honey! No matter how old you get, I'll be older, and therefore, superior! Keep that boyish charm coming, and everything will be cool!

Remembrance & Reality

Calverton National Cemetery, Long Island, NY, where the
cremains of the father of my four children - a Vietnam veteran
and my former husband - are interred.

Stained glass windows, (right) depicting the first sounding of "Taps," in 1862, and (left) the ultimate bugler, the angel, Gabriel. The windows are among those in the Nation's oldest, consistently-in-use military chapel, the Chapel of the Centurion in Virginia.
Remembrance and Reality Part I
This weekend, and specifically on the 31st, our great Nation will stop for a few moments in time to remember our war dead.
There is no greater sacrifice than to die defending your nation's ideals and freedoms. I have, for as long as I can remember, been horrified and haunted by the thought of being a young person under siege on a battlefield.
From the televised images of the Vietnam War that exploded into the Country's living rooms during my childhood, to the nightmares those images created in my young mind, to the horrors of imagining what it's like for the peers of my children to crawl through sand on a sweltering landscape with the very real possibility of being blown to pieces, or captured, tortured and even beheaded at any moment, I've been terrified and sickened by thoughts of war my entire life.
A wide-eyed young man, staring almost blankly, or perhaps stricken with panic upon realizing what he was in fact involved in, I kept a small brown and white photo of my grandmother's brother tucked into the mirror of my dresser when I was a teenager. During World War I, this young man whose blood flows in my veins ran through the ferocious lines of battle, carrying important messages. An aunt of mine still has the bell he rang as he approached friendly troops so they would not fire on him. Uncle Al, as he was known to me, was said to be "shell shocked." He never married upon his return. He spent his life largely alone. Apparently, he suffered mental damage during that war.
The man I married served in Vietnam, a fact he kept hidden until shortly before we married. I learned of his service while heading out on his 19-foot Sea Craft to view Fourth of July fireworks on Long Island's Great South Bay.
Suddenly confronted with the first explosions of sound, light and color, my then-boyfriend nearly collided with a much-larger Fire Island ferry (an out-of-commission PT Boat from World War II). My shriek of warning jolted him back into reality before disaster struck. He had experienced a "flash back" to the war, where he served on a boat on the treacherous rivers of Vietnam.
That evening, he told me, with very little detail and with very little pride or enthusiasm, of his service to our Country. I've seen only two photos of him from that time, one the formal military portrait of a fresh-faced, clean shaven, smiling despite his circumstances young man. The other, a curled and faded Polaroid of the same fresh face, with an added and pronounced heaviness to his brow and forehead, but with the same cautious, yet youthful and hopeful smile. This time, he's holding a gun of some sort, standing on the deck of a boat in Vietnam.
I could never fathom how a young man like him could possibly survive such a vicious thing as war in such a hostile, far away environment. I could never justify the matter-of-factness with which our government, over and over again, sends young men, and more recently, young women, to their deaths.
I could never understand the courage it must take, the determination, the resolve, for a young person to report for duty and in all likelihood, death, in service to a Nation he or she is just getting to know as an adult.
I will take nothing away from the war dead and those who survive those brave men and women. But, based on my experiences, I don't believe that any person returns from war as alive and vibrant and with as much potential as before. I believe that large portions of all Veterans have died, or have been gravely altered, on fields of battle.
So along with remembering the dead, I remember the shell-shocked, the unappreciated and the ridiculed for their service, the forever changed of war. I remember those sickened by agent orange and the plethora of chemicals used to fight wars. I remember, the "What might have beens."
Yes, where there is life there is hope. Yes, many Veterans of combat go on to lead productive lives and to overcome the horrors of war.
But still, why should any person or spirit or potential be crushed or altered on a battlefield in this day and age? War should be obsolete, and battle should be unnecessary in a truly evolved, civilized world.
War kills - people, hope, potential, dreams, environments - war kills everything its gnarled, ugly, toxic hand touches.
My ex suffered night terrors, flashbacks, alcohol-addiction, and eventual death because of his service to his country. He should have sought counseling, but he came from a war that was not popular or praised or talked about. Veterans of his era put up, shut up and moved on, despite devastating physical and psychological wounds.
I was affected by the residual damage of his service, as were his children. He only began talking about his service in the final years of his life. After his death, one of the last pieces of mail I retrieved from his mail box was a bill from the Veteran's Administration for health care. He did receive a grave, a gravestone, and burial from the government. And my children are entitled to be buried along side their father.
I honestly and deeply believe that combat veterans, their surviving spouses and minor children, should receive full health benefits from the government, and even housing and educational subsidies.
Those two fresh faces, my grand uncle and the man I once loved enough to marry, both deserved better lives and greater compensation from the government they defended.
On a positive note, my son, age 11, and I, had a wonderful experience a few weeks ago, regarding his father's military service.
During a Boy Scout bake sale at our local market, a Veteran of the Vietnam War approached our table of baked goodies, wearing a veteran's cap and t-shirt. I commented that my son's father was a Vietnam Veteran. With that, this kind stranger told my son all about his service in Vietnam, and all about what he knew his father did in Vietnam. This wonderful man took the time to tell my son that the soldiers who manned the river boats saved many, many villages full of people -families and children - from dying. He told my son that his father was a hero, and that he should never forget that and always be proud. The 15 or so minutes it took for that man to tell my son what his father was never able to tell him gave my son new knowledge of his father, it brought him closer to a father he desperately misses. It gave him the knowledge that as a young man of 18, his father was brave enough to go to a far away country and defend its people.
I have more to tell about Memorial Day traditions, memories and how those traditions and memories relate to today's current events. However, my carpal tunnel is acting up, my hands are seriously tingling and painful, so I'll continue tomorrow with "Part II-" which will address our President's observance of Memorial Day, poppies, and parades past.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Proud Parents, Comfort Food, Hope & New Tricks

The 20th was a happy day for our family. Lauren, my eldest daughter, turned 23, and Gabe, my youngest son, participated in an entertaining and delightful choral concert.
A great new (to me) method of serving brownies in cupcake form. No crumbling, still delicious, very festive-looking!

Proud Parents, Comfort Food, Hope & New Tricks
I devoted 2 days this week to my daughter's birthday celebration. She's boyfriendless this year (HURRAY!!!), her best friend, whose birthday is May 17, is in the Chicago area, having joined the Navy last year, and most of her friends were working, as her 23rd fell on Thursday, the 20th.
She took the day off and adopted a kitten she named "Marty." After attempting to bond with Marty and kitten-proofing her apartment, she came over to my house for an early dinner, her brother's choral concert, and our traditional lighting of candles and singing of "Happy Birthday."
As far as a life-long battle with the bulge, Lauren's apple didn't fall far from my tree. She and I constantly fight weight-gain. With that in mind, I decided to cook chicken for dinner, with vegetables.
Tired of the "same old, same old," I googled "Chicken fricassee," a dish I don't believe I've seen since my days as a little child in my grandmother's kitchen.
Gabe is a history buff, so when I found what claimed to be Thomas Jefferson's chicken fricassee recipe, I went for it. I left out the mushrooms (neither Gabe or Lauren care for them, except on pizza), and threw in baby red potatoes and baby carrots toward the end. Spiced with nutmeg, sage, onion, parsley, paprika and black pepper, and with small amounts of half and half and white wine in the gravy, it was a deliciously simple treat! Lauren commented that the dish looked and tasted healthy and fresh.
When Lauren turned 18 (5 years ago!), she asked that I make a brownie cake with white chocolate icing. So, I did. The cake turned out as a hulking (two square layers of fudge brownies with oodles of homemade icing), but delicious creation. Shortly after being decorated, adorned with candles, and set on the table, the massive confection's top slid from it's bottom, to the laughter of everyone present.
With that delightful experience in mind, I decided to tame the brownie cake. I was recently told that crumble,crack free brownies can be achieved by cooking them in cupcake tins. I added white chocolate chips before baking, and strawberry icing after, and viola! I wrangled the brownie cake right into submission!
Obviously, those reading this can tell that I love simple, delicious recipes, as both of the birthday creations are, and that I love my kids.
I'm so proud of the battles they have fought and of the people they are becoming. They have their faults. Lauren has many, many of both her father's and my faults. But when she calls me at 11p.m. to thank me for a great birthday celebration, I know I've done something right, and that there's hope for a shining future!
I often find myself longing to cut out the complaining regarding the state of humanity and the planet, and seek out the positive.'
With "proud parents" in mind, I was thrilled to find a new piece this morning detailing a couple of really remarkable teenagers. I surmise that the ambition and goals these kids have come from the flip-side of the seemingly inherent (but wildly unattractive, in most cases) sense of entitlement today's youth possesses. In past entries, I've blamed Nickelodeon as the root cause, as the network was really the first source to ingrain into kids' heads back in the 90s that they were consumers, separate form adults and entitled to make purchasing, fashion, and just about every life decision once exclusively relegated to parents.
The bravery and commitment of these teenagers far outweighs my frustration with today's over-entitled youth, so kudos to 13-year-old American Jordan Romero, and 16-year-old Australian, Jessica Watson, and congratulations to their parents!
From 29,035 feet above sea level, Jordan became the youngest person ever to climb and reach the summit of Mount Everest. In December, he plans to head to Antarctica, in the final leg of his quest to conquer the highest point on each of the seven continents. If and when Jordan achieves that goal, he will be capturing the record from a 17-year-old American.
Earlier this month, 16-year-old Jessica became the youngest person to sail around the world SOLO, non-stop and unassisted! I can't imagine, at any age, the endurance that would require - simply an awesome feat!
And in the category of teaching an old dog (me) new tricks, we have an organization called "Vital Voices." I learned about this movement while watching an interview with actress Sally Field, who I was interested to learn more about. I have, in past entries, championed the concept of "Charity begins at home," encouraging readers to fix what is immediately around them before venturing off to fix the world. I've softened on that stance, thanks to Miss Field's eloquent and experienced theory that the world is becoming smaller and smaller, thanks to technology. She further reasoned that because of the sad state of the world, it is becoming necessary to address the problems of the entire world immediately. The belief that our problems are bringing us all closer together, giving us all a common cause, making those who are thousands of miles apart neighbors in survival, really rang true.
"Vital Voices" focuses on empowering women, which I am a big advocate of. So check out the "Vital Voices " Web site. Maybe you'll be inspired to lend a hand!
With the hope of the future in mind, our children and our actions today, right now, in this moment to save humanity, I wish you all well.
What do you think?
To my sister, Claire, and her husband, Tom, proud parents as they watch their daughter graduate from college tomorrow - Congratulations and enjoy every moment!
To my niece Cara, congratulations for a job well done - now get out there and live- dig into that oyster of a world!
My uncle, always a proud and loving father and grandfather, will see his son marry this weekend.
Congratulations to you, Uncle Peter, and to my cousin Matthew, a grown man and medical doctor who I have not seen since he was an adorable child. I wish you happiness, good health and success in your marriage, dear cousin!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fighting for the Principles of Motherhood

Two startling images of "Mother Nature:" above, the image of Mother Nature growing in a tree's trunk. Below "Wounded Mother Nature," in this case, the picture is worth infinite words.
The world condition at first rendered me speechless, wordless, tired and sad this morning. I felt as "Wounded Mother Nature" appears - hanging on by a thread, exhausted, defeated.
But as I always do, I began thinking. I have during my life been saved from despair many times by brain power - both mine and the brain power of a precious few who I've been blessed to encounter along life's winding road.
As the course of my life has wound, so has and does my train of thought. There's little chance that I'll ever conform to "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line" school where thought is concerned.
The "Keep It Simple Stupid" of journalism was one of my greatest challenges - a seemingly insurmountable, daunting, frustrating Mount Everest on the landscape of my world.
"KISS," was a principle I learned to surrender to, with great difficulty, sweat and tears, along with the patience of my teachers (red pens at the ready,) for the sake of earning the right to call myself a journalist.
So you'll understand when I next state that today's writing-inspiration came by way of the new black cat family living in our garage.
Our house sits atop a professional garage - bays, lifts and the works.
My S.O. spends a lot of time down there, as he runs a high-end used car dealership. He's an able-enough mechanic to service customer's cars to a limited but useful extent.
The S.O. considers himself quite the beast master when it comes to animals. And indeed, every pet we've had has worshipped the very ground he walks on. But as a kid, I don't think he had much experience with pets, beyond a dog that was killed by a car early on in its and his life.
Unfortunately, that equates to him not realizing the really huge potential for problems and the basic responsibilities that come with any pet.
I won't go into the details, but there have been several instances in which I found myself proclaiming, with no joy and with much frustration "I told you so," "Animals are a huge responsibility," "You don't know what it means to be a responsible pet owner," and the like.
He's learning, however slowly and stubbornly. For instance, our house cats, whom we refer to as "the kids," were spayed and neutered early on and are kept indoors - my doing, my rules.
The S.O. decided about a year ago that he needed companionship and mouse-control down in the garage. I warned him against "garage cats." I told him spaying and neutering would be his responsibility, and that it would surely be a race against time. I told him that he couldn't train cats to stay inside a structure with an open door.
He insisted that he could train his kitties to stay indoors, with a door open (right!). Well, he couldn't train the new kids to stay indoors, and had to learn to deal with cats who have had a taste of freedom rushing the door to escape. As the weather became cold, the kitties relented, and became happy garage dwellers. They both enjoy finding a way into any vehicle parked in the garage. The two felines camp out in style whenever they can manage it, in Land Rovers, BMW's, Mercedes and the like.
And on Mother's Day, they became parents on the floor board of a pretty white Mercedes.
S.O. hadn't been talking about the kitties as he usually does. I inquired as to their well-being several times. Imagine my surprise (and OK, delight) when S.O. announced that "It really is Mother's Day downstairs."
Yes, I'm disappointed and upset that we've contributed more potentially unwanted kittens to the world. NO, I don't need the added responsibility of having EVERYONE spayed and neutered (or the added expense), but I'll manage somehow.
The point is, seeing those little kittens being loved and cared for so diligently by their young mother and father brought to the forefront of my mind, again, just what principles Mother's Day was founded on.
Mother's Day wasn't founded for the benefit of the florist or greeting card industries. It was founded because a mother who lived during the Civil-War era wanted to lessen infant mortality in her community. That same mother later and again used the phrase "Mother's Day," when she organized a reunion event for soldiers of the Union and Confederacy, the brothers, friends and neighbors who were called to fight against each other during our Nation's Civil War.
During the same era, another mother organized a "Mother's Day of Peace," to recognize that war is an unnecessary evil, and that mothers have a sacred right to protect the lives of their children. The daughter of the first mother mentioned worked for the official sanctification of the modern Mother's Day, and lived to regret - and publicly speak out against- the commercial exploitation of the day.
This recollection led me to thoughts of the exploitation of the supreme and most important mother to all of humanity - Mother Earth - and one of the latest and most horrific crimes against her.
Today, the President spoke out against the major players in the April 20 (coincidentally, Hitler's Birthday) and ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
At first stating the obvious, that the system for preventing such accidents has "failed badly," Obama went on to ridicule the disgusting (my opinion) display, as he termed it the "blame game," that went on between oil company executives at Senate hearings this week.
Like spoiled, bratty little children who needed a time out and dare I suggest, a spanking, (my opinion), executives from BP, Transoceans and HALLIBURTON (takin' bribes and living in luxury in Kuwait, stealin' government millions related to FEEDING OUR TROOPS, "DICK" Cheney, need I say more - oops, excuse me, I just threw up a little in my mouth) blamed and ridiculed one another regarding the oil spill.
Why do we allow these greedy pigs to insult our intelligence, waste OUR time and money at hearings and DESTROY OUR PLANET, specifically one of the most beautiful and unique areas of our world?
Obama called the hearings "A ridiculous spectacle ," adding, "The American people could not have been impressed with that display and I certainly wasn't."
The President promised to abolish the "cozy relationship" between oil executives and federal regulators. Let's hope that he is successful. There will be plenty of talk-radio and tea-party nay-saying for every corrective measure Obama moves to make.
As citizens, let us, that's you and me, stop buying into the bull shit.
Let's stop allowing these greedy tyrants the time and attention and honor of spewing their greed-driven philosophies within the hallowed halls of our great Nation. These pigs are making fools of us and of our government and of our Nation every time they open their filthy mouths in public. Behind closed doors, be sure they are laughing all the way to their off-shore accounts. Be sure they would walk over your dead body and the dead bodies of every "average" American to get to said accounts, or just simply to cross the street.
Have the nerve to speak out against the exploitation of "We, the people," and the exploitation of our Mother Earth. As the woman who spoke out alone against the exploitation of Mother's Day and the loss of its real meaning more than 100 years ago did, speak out today against those who will destroy us and our world.
What do you think?
Until next week, be well & happy, and write to your local representative - Fight Exploitation!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Of Gratitude and Space Invaders
I've been walking on air recently, elevated by the joy that my youngest son, almost-12, has brought to my everyday life.
Don't misunderstand, my son is a well-rounded kid, offering equal opportunities for parental pride and gratitude right along side parental annoyance and frustration.
We have battled against life's circumstances to get him this far in one piece. We've stood up against the grief of his father's death, separation from his adult siblings, non-medicated attention deficit with astonishing, but very real short-term memory deficiency, my health issues, and we've come out, at this point and for now, way ahead of the pack of obstacles that have been thrown on the path of our lives.
The teen years are fast approaching, and who knows what challenges that phase will bring?
But for now, today, I am reveling in our immediate victories.
Throughout this school year, he has maintained honor-roll grades, an achievement he has had to work diligently to realize, and he has stayed out of trouble's path.
More often than not, he remembers to complete his chores on the appointed day.
He, and I mean he, primarily by himself and with great determination, raised more than $100 toward Boy Scout summer camp. His next goal is to join the junior high football team. To that end, he is training regularly to improve his endurance and skills.
He has goals and he works for them. I couldn't be happier or more grateful for these wonderful days. My wish for every one reading this is that you each have someone or something in your lives that brings you as much joy and satisfaction.
As I've written before (borrowed from Counting Crows) hold on to these moments as they pass.
A news item that came to my attention examines the flip-side of gratitude.
I'll first remind readers that I'm a staunch Independent, politically speaking. I'm an equal-opportunity supporter or nay-sayer.
A headline along the lines of "Students Told to Remove American Flag Shirts," caught my eye.
It seems that on May 5, several high school students here in the continental U.S.A. were told by school administrators to remove t-shirts and bandannas (worn on the heads of two of the, as I recall, 5 or so students) bearing the likeness of the American flag.
Back in the day, (60s, 70s) it was considered close to treason to wear any item of clothing fashioned from an American flag. These days, the flag as fashion has become widely accepted.
But these administrators were not concerned about acts of treason against the United States, or even a fashion faux pas.
No, indeed, these administrators were concerned that the image of the American flag on an American citizen's shirt, in an American school, on American soil would offend, (thereby possibly inciting violence among), students of Mexican origin on a Mexican holiday.
One young lady of Mexican descent was quoted as opining that the American-flag clad students were "disrespecting" her heritage by wearing the shirts and bandannas.
The patriotic offenders were told to remove the American attire, or face suspension. The boys (I think they were all boys) opted to leave school, rather than forsake their county's flag, and their right to wear the symbol of their Nation proudly and without fear of harassment.
Now, I have considered that there may be more to this story. Maybe the boys are brutish trouble-causers sympathetic to the views and practices of white supremacists. Maybe they were looking to incite unrest or violence. Maybe their aim was to intimidate students of Mexican origin. But as I read through the article, expecting some reference to the students having a history of trouble-making, nothing of that sort was noted.
It was noted, however, that the school district did not agree with the school administrator's determination, and allowed the students to return to school attired in the patriotic garb.
The Mexican girl further reasoned that Americans should celebrate, with honor and respect, Cinco de Mayo.
So back into the far-reaches of memory I traveled, recalling that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (Sept.15 is), but the memorialization of a brave force of 4,000 Mexicans who smashed an army of 8,000 French invaders who were aided by Mexican traitors at Pueblo, Mexico on May 5, 1862.
Led by a Col. Diaz, this force, twice out-numbered by it's adversaries, among other things, prevented the French from supplying the Confederacy during the Civil War, which was raging to the north of the Mexican/French conflict.
Following this awesome victory, Union forces were sent to the Tex/Mex border, and Mexico was liberally supplied with weapons and ammunition sufficient to put-down the French. American soldiers discharged from the Union army were sent on to the border with our government's blessing, their uniform and rifle, if they promised to join the Mexicans against the French.
American soldiers marched in a victory parade in Mexico City.
Now being of French descent on my mother's side, I can be a big enough person to say,
"OK, the Mexicans were good friends to my country. They helped us during the Civil War."
But I can also say that the French directly aided and fought along side the Americans during the Revolution.
Does that give me the right to want that recognized? Yes, it does.
Does that give me the right to insist that a day be sanctified to recognize the French contribution to the birth of the U.S.? No, I don't think it does.
If I'm in France on Bastille Day (French Independence Day, July 14) do I have the right to wear an American flag t-shirt? I believe I do.
If a French citizen is here in America on July 4, do I have the right to ask that French person to remove a t-shirt bearing the French flag? No, I don't feel that I have that right.
Because American troops aided the Mexicans after May 5, do I have the right to go to Mexico on May 5 and insist that Mexicans remove likenesses of their flag from apparel because I am offended that the American contribution is not being respected? Again, no.
The sense of entitlement and self- importance and lack of desire or effort to melt into the melting pot among today's newest Americans is disturbing, to say the least.
European-based immigrants melted into the American pot as well, discreetly and quickly as they could. They were cruelly ridiculed, treated with violence, and many suffered death because of prejudices against them.
Modern immigrants are protected by the law to a much greater extent than those who came before them were. They are able to pursue educations&government benefits even before they become citizens.
Of course, some are beaten to death and discriminated against, but for the most part, versus the lives of early immigrants, and the lives of the forced "immigrants" of slavery, today's immigrants have much to be grateful for. They should behave accordingly. Enough said.
Take a deep breath, I'm almost through!
A news item that brought out my "I knew it all along!" tendencies involved Steven Hawking's prediction that aliens likely exist.
That may be the good news for all you Area-54, X-File, Star Trek, etc., enthusiasts, but the part where I get to say "I told you so," just before being obliterated by an alien's ray-gun comes because Mr. Hawking hypothesizes that the aliens will be far superior to we humans and hostile.
There's that "I knew it all along!"
I have always surmised that any being able to travel through time and space to get to our little rotating orb would also possess the ability and desire to annihilate the Human race.
And why not? Like rats on a wheel with blinders on, like fleas on a dog, the Human race has raped, pillaged and plundered this planet to the extent that would make any pirate proud to call us his descendants.
But you all know how I feel about the Human race and the state of the planet.
The thing is, although we humans may deserve to be wiped out for our greed and piggishness (it'll be interesting to see what spell check makes of that!), I have to disagree with Mr. Hawking regarding the existence of extra-terrestrials beyond bacteria and elements such as water and ice.
I lived on Long Island's South Shore and East End for 38 years.
Never, ever in all my nights on the beach, under a glorious, clear, star-filled, moon-lit sky,have I seen anything that could be construed as an alien space craft. I've seen a comet. I've seen shooting stars and eclipses. But in all those 38 years, never once did I witness a UFO, and that's not for trying.
There were nights and periods when my friends and I actively watched for UFOs.
I've seen ghosts, but never aliens, to my knowledge.
Maybe the ghosts were aliens. Maybe we pass aliens on the street every day. Maybe I'm wrong. But for now, I'm grateful that I feel confident that I will never experience the annihilation of our race by aliens.
For now, I'm grateful for another day here on Earth.
What do you think?
Be well & happy.
Oh, by the way, it looks as though I'm publishing once-a-week on Fridays these days.