Archive for May, 2008

A new book by Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan paints a a far different story on our going to war with Iraq than he told us when he was the Press Secretary. At that time he made us think that Iraq was ready to attack us and or our allies in the region and possessors of weapons of mass destruction. Of course the former singers of praise for him and his job are now denouncing him. Those of us who have believed for years that we were lied to and taken to war for no good reason readily believe him. Those who love Bush and think he is being maligned by the very low poll ratings on his job performance will of course deny that he (McClellan) is telling the truth. I myself believe him and think that the failed policy in Iraq was a serious mistake on our part. The book also denounces the poor performance after Katrina saying that for the first week the White House was in a state of denial. I do not Know if Bush is a bungler who stumbles from one mistake to another, a well meaning and competent leader who has simply been thwarted at every turn, or a evil genius who doesn’t care about the common man as long as him and his cronies continue to make a buck. Perhaps even a mix of the above. Anyway you go it still means we (common Americans) lose.

Today is a day for spending with family and to remember the veterans who died to keep our country free. Most Americans only see this as a holiday and not for what it is – a day to remember those who sacrificed everything in times of war for those of us at home. In WW II we lost nearly 292,000 lives from all branches of the military. So when you are spending time at your various activities take a few moments to remember those who gave all so you could live in freedom here in our great United States of America.

Its springtime and a young mans fancy is supposed to turn to the women. I guess I am not young anymore as mine has turned to gardening and making the yard look nicer with new plantings and rearranging previous plantings. I have been very slack on the vegetable garden and haven’t planted yet as I have been having a lot of bad days or too worn out from the little bit it takes to plant a few flowers. It takes very little in the way of digging to have me huffing and puffing in pain and even less if I am bending over to pull weeds. Lucky I have help from my sister in law. She is amazing in the yard with her flowers. There is always something blooming from early spring until the end of summer here in the yard. Its a lot of work but it is worth it when you look back and see the fruits of your labor. All of us can have a little bit of mother earth surrounding us even if you do not have a yard as large as ours. Even a small house plant can be the tonic you need to feel closer to nature. I would urge everyone to try raising something you would be surprised at the satisfaction you will receive when something you have tended to with your own hands blooms or brings forth fruit.

After months of speculation it now appears there is solid evidence of White House interference in the EPA’s denial of California’s request for a waiver allowing them to set stricter guidelines on greenhouse gases. According to documents that were gained after a subpoena Administrator Stephen Johnson, originally intended to grant the waiver until consultation with the White House changed his mind. Johnson’s decision blocked California and at least a dozen or other states from implementing stricter guidelines that would have reduced greenhouse gases even further than the new federal guidelines. The White House denies any interference in the decision. Johnson “made an independent decision,” said Kristen Hellmer, spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Johnson claimed he was the decider. I seem to recall Bush using the exact same phrase. White House interference in EPA decisions is nothing new. Clinton did the same thing while he was in office. I do feel though that California should be able to set their own standards for air quality as well as other states involved. Look for this to be decided in the courts. Hopefully for California.

As if we didn’t need more friction between us and the Islamic world the AP is reporting that an American soldier used the Quran for target practice. Not only did this individual mutilate it this way but this person decided to fill the inside cover with graffiti. I know it is the actions of only one soldier and does not reflect the views of our military as a whole nor the American people, but these people are very sensitive to acts like this. We would get the same sense of outrage if it was the Bible that was mutilated in this way. We would have Christians from across the country upset and it is the same in the Muslim world that encompasses Iraq. The soldier has been transfered out of Iraq and punished. We don’t know how and it really makes little difference. What was done was an individual but had Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond going before tribal leaders and apologizing, saying “I come before you here seeking your forgiveness, In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.” Hopefully this will appease them. We are dealing with a group where if you step on ones toe everyone hollers. We need all the allies we can get in Iraq and can not afford to alienate anyone against us. Hopefully our commanders on the ground emphasize this to our troops. I am in no way denigrating them. I am a veteran and hold our military in the highest esteem. They have a very tough job to do and do not need anyone to give their enemies fodder for the fire.

On Wednesday The Department of the Interior head -Dirk Kempthorne- declared the polar bear a threatened species. Saying polar bears must be protected because of the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming. He cited dramatic declines in sea ice over the last three decades and projections of continued losses. Reflecting the views of the White House he [Secretary Kempthorne] stated that it would be “inappropriate” to use the protection of the bear to reduce greenhouse gases, saying, “the Endangered Species Act was never meant to regulate global climate change.”

Its not like they were in any hurry to place them on the endangered list. They were facing a court order from a lawsuit won by environmentalists on the 29th of April that said they [The Department of the Interior] had until May 15th to do something. As usual any of the departments under the Bush administration drag their heels and fight tooth and nail to not do anything to help the environment.

A new bill, co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI),and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) would make ISPs who fail to provide service in a non-discriminatory manner subject to anti-trust violations. The legislation requires Internet service providers to connect with the facilities of other network providers on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis. It also requires them to operate their networks in a reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner so that all content, applications and services are treated the same and have an equal opportunity to reach consumers. Any ISPs that do not follow these net neutrality rules would be subject to antitrust enforcement. The legislation has been praised by on line and consumer rights groups. “Americans have come to expect the Internet to be open to everyone,” Conyers said. “The Internet was designed without centralized control, without gatekeepers for content and services. If we allow companies with monopoly or duopoly power to control how the Internet operates, network providers could have the power to choose what content is available.” You may say we do not need any legislation to insure that the internet remains open as it is mostly today, but large providers are already wanting to charge big providers a fee so their content flows fast and is not hampered or restricted. Right now the internet is neutral with your blog content available to everyone at the same speeds. What would happen to your blog and its readers if the large ISP’s slowed down access to your blog to others simply because you did not have the money to fork over for premium service. I can understand tiered service levels for your access but not to the content on the web. If yahoo took forever to load and google zipped right along you soon would quit using yahoo’s services. Small content providers such as bloggers could not afford premium access so their pages could be intentionally slowed down in favor of larger sites. That is what net neutrality is all about.

I have mentioned the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program in the past. Here In South Carolina some 500 laptops are going to distributed to children in Marion County according to South Carolina Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. South Carolina is the first in the nation to use the privately funded program. Funding for the laptops going to Marion County schools comes from Greenville executive Erwin Maddrey and Charleston business woman Linda Ketner. This is so generous of them and can make a huge difference in the lives of the children who receive the laptops. The laptops are easy to use and have features such as a small keyboard designed to fit small hands, built in camera, stereo speakers and a microphone. These laptops are virtually indestructible being mostly water proof and kid proof. Students in 4k to the fifth grade are eligible to receive one. I would like to personally thank both Mr Maddrey and Ms Ketner for their generosity. Hopefully others or the state legislators will step up and get started on getting these computers into the hands of all the students in the state that can not afford one of their own.

Once more our Congress is working on a new energy package. One faction wants to give handouts to the major oil companies for incentives for them to explore and drill new oil wells. The other wants to remove billions of tax incentives plus plus increase taxes on windfall profits unless they invest the money into alternate energy projects. Care to guess which party backs each idea?

With oil at an all time high, every day seems to set a new record for oil prices. “Republicans want more drilling, more consumption and more tax giveaways for the big oil companies,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said. “Democrats say that those are exactly the policies that got us into this mess to begin with.” The Democratic proposals for changing energy policy call for – Ending billions of dollars in tax breaks for big oil companies, and Forcing the oil companies to do their part by investing some of their profits in clean and affordable alternative energy. “Now it is a crisis for every American family,” the Michigan senator said in the Democrats’ weekly radio address. She called the current energy situation “a crisis that doesn’t just affect us at the pump, but also raises the prices of groceries, increases our home heating bills and squeezes small businesses trying to keep their heads above water.”

With the close ties that the White House has to the big oil companies do not look for anything to be done to help alleviate the situation anytime soon.

An anniversary has came up for me today. The four month anniversary of my quitting smoking. It has been tough and I still get the urge from time to time to smoke but have not given in to the urge to smoke. I have put on over 40 pounds since I quit smoking and that along with my recent diagnosis of me having diabetes had me ready to start smoking again. After consulting with my friend Shirley of the Sweet Resistance blog – who is also diabetic – we figured out that my weight gain coincided with my going on Lyrica for my fibromyalgia. One of the side effects of using Lyrica is rapid weight gain for some patients. So it appears I may have been ready to jump the gun talking about going back to smoking after gaining weight so fast. I am working hard to lose the weight and eat the right diet for my diabetes. I am not going to start smoking again if I can help myself. Though sweet smelling tobacco like a cigar or pipe will tempt me. I am fighting my desires and hope that you are as well. Smoking is a very hard monkey to get off of your back and I will be glad to talk to anyone who needs help in their quitting smoking.