Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Aw, The First Family and the Elves

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

First Anniversary of Newtown Massacre

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From Reuters
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into the school he had once attended and murdered 20 first-graders, all aged 6 and 7, and six adults. Before heading to the school, Lanza killed his mother, who had legally purchased the guns he used that day.

Newtown officials said the town wanted to be left alone on the anniversary. Some of the victims' families have encouraged those moved by the shooting to mark the day by performing an act of kindness in their own communities.

At the White House, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence after lighting 26 candles to honor those lost at the school.

And just yesterday, a reminder that nothing has really changed ... yet. Another school shooting in Arapahoe County, Colorado.

From Yahoo News
A schoolboy armed with a shotgun opened fire and wounded two fellow students on Friday before killing himself, the latest US mass shooting on the eve of the Newtown school massacre anniversary.

. . . Hundreds students locked themselves into classrooms as the shooter -- identified by authorities as Karl Pierson, 18 -- stormed into the school brandishing a shotgun, shouting that he was looking for a particular teacher in what police said was apparently a planned "revenge" attack.

America's perennial gun control debate is back in the headlines on the anniversary Saturday of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 young children.

In Friday's incident, students locked themselves in classrooms after shots rang out shortly after 12:30 pm (1930 GMT), triggering an all-too-familiar police operation.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela Memorial: Obama Speaks and Soweto Cheers

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Previous Related Posts:
R.I.P. Nelson Mandela - "He Belongs to the Ages
Obama in Africa: Capetown to Tanzania


President Obama and every other living President except George H.W. Bush attended the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa. Speaking in the rain to a packed stadium, President Obama had the crowd fired up and cheering, as he often does in our own country. His was by far the most dynamic speech. Most of the tributes could have been edited intensely and no one would have noticed. However, Mandela's grandchildren were wonderfully poetic!

Click Here for Complete Text of President Obama's Eulogy

. . . Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa -- Ubuntu -- a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small -- introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS -- that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

. . . Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.

After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.

Mandiba's Grandchildren - He Would Be Proud!

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Friday, December 6, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela - "He Belongs to the Ages"

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Previous Related Post:
Obama in Africa: Cape Town to Tanzania

Must-See Video of Mandela Dancing:

President Obama's Full Statement on the Death of Nelson Mandela:

5:25 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us -- he belongs to the ages.

Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa -- and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.

To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life’s work meant long days away from those who loved him the most. And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family.

To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal, and reconciliation, and resilience that you made real. A free South Africa at peace with itself -- that’s an example to the world, and that’s Madiba’s legacy to the nation he loved.

We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.

For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived -- a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace.


Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years Ago ~ the Kennedy Assassination

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I was just over 3 years old when President John F. Kennedy was shot, so I barely remember the day. What I do remember is the overwhelming grief that adults expressed even years after it happened when we would see the anniversary in the newspaper or on TV.

So handsome, so gifted, so well-meaning - and much too young to die. At my house we didn't talk about all the conspiracy theories when I was a child - my parents were too grief-stricken - but as I got older, especially at school, we wondered why so many others were shot soon after: Robert Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King. Here in the south there was an feeling of fear that anything could happen at any time, that things had gone too far towards chaos. I was in second grade when M.L. King died, and while I was still too young to fathom the politics, I was ashamed and shocked that the shooting happened in Tennessee. So I have an inkling about how those in Dallas, Texas must have felt then and feel today over the assassination of John Kennedy. Things like this should never happen in our backyards, in the United States.

And yet there are those today who sit around on the internet, on Twitter and Facebook and every forum, seething and screeching and threatening Barack Obama, calling for someone to "stop his tyranny" through any means possible. That horrible type of madness just never goes away it would seem. The John Birch Society of that time has become the Tea Party of today.

What the Tea Party needs to understand is that the death of John F. Kennedy didn't stop progress or change from happening to our country. President Johnson and millions of others carried out the reforms of the Great Society. The Koch Brothers, whose father founded the John Birch Society, may still try to suppress the vote, but minorities and women are voting in ever higher numbers and showed last year that they will stand together for hours at the polling places in the name of Evers and King. We just re-elected Barack Obama, an African-American President. Many old enough to remember the death of John F. Kennedy never thought that day would come, and yet it did.

Peaceful change is the best revenge for all those deaths.

This week Caroline Kennedy became Ambassador to Japan. Standing with her was her son, who looks very much like her father and her late brother, John Kennedy Jr. History changes, and Teddy Kennedy may be gone forever now, but the legacy continues, both of blood and values.

The deaths of great people are not in vain. They inspire us and lead us beyond death.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happy Place Diversion ~ Batkid Saves San Francisco!

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This is the cutest and most heartwarming story ever! AWWWWWW!

From USA Today
. . . pint-sized Miles Scott, 5. Miles is in remission from leukemia, and, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, managed to turn his obsession with comic book heroes into the real thing. Well, almost. There was no way Penguin was going to get away with anything on Friday.
. . . Miles, who lives in Tulelake in far Northern California, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 months old, ended treatments in June and is now in remission.

His father, Nick Scott, thanked the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation and the estimated 7,000 people who were helping make his son's wish come true.
"All the doctors, nurses and all the other parents that have to deal with the same thing we're going through. I hope they get a conclusion to their illnesses like we're getting," Nick Scott told KGO-TV.

Friday, November 15, 2013

ACA for Idiots ~ Obama Explains it all Again to Bill and the Demo-Rats

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First the Republicans demonized Obamacare as "Death Panels" and "Socialism."

They even tried to shut down the government in order to "repeal it." Didn't work.

It's true there have been problems with the website, but what website in history didn't have glitches? The poutrage from all sides on social media is astonishing since Twitter and Facebook have their own share of problems from hackers and spammers to the KoobFace virus.

But Obamacare has to be held to a higher standard. Why? Because of Obama Derangement Syndrome. This is ridiculous. People on the Left - especially in the media - have whined because the website didn't have Muzak, and whined because the roll-out was a "dismal failure."

The New York Times even compared the bad rollout of the ACA website to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which killed thousands and left thousands more stranded without food and water. Really, New York Times?

Obama even apologized on TV to Chuck Todd of MSNBC in a cringeworthy interview which never should have happened. There's no reason to apologize to media shills since Obamacare hasn't even taken effect yet, and people are still mostly shopping for plans. I have no doubt these kinks in the system will be worked out by January. Millions have already gotten new coverage under the program, including young adults who can now stay on their parents healthcare plans until age 26. Like my daughter for instance, who stayed on the family coverage while in Law School and who now has to buy her own plan as a practicing attorney. Her financial adviser just told her today her best bet for coverage in the coming year is . . . wait for it . . . Obamacare.

Apparently President Bill Clinton didn't get the memo. You remember Bill, the guy who wasn't able to pass his own healthcare initiative while in office, but has now decided to babble about Obama's failure to launch. This has been another moment of chagrin for most Democrats who want to keep our party together in 2014. The hotter heads among us are already saying they will not vote for Hillary in 2016 if Bill is going to attack Obama. That can't be good.

From The Week
President Obama can thank Bill Clinton for the psycho-drama.
Instead of putting some steel into the spines of wavering Democrats, Clinton this week took the opportunity to rebuke the White House for its broken promise that no one would lose their health insurance under ObamaCare. The comments unleashed a no-holds-barred Democratic freak-out, pushing Obama to announce on Thursday a plan to make good on that vow.
. . . As one of the Democratic Party's most respected figures, his word still carries weight among the party faithful, particularly in red states where Obama is kryptonite. So when Clinton publicly chided the administration, it gave congressional Democrats acres of cover to do the same.

Yesterday it all came to a head as there was a revolt among Blue Dog House Democrats like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who are trying to assauge angry vociferous voters in their districts whose health plans have been cancelled. This has actually affected a small number of Americans but you would think it was happening to every single person from the way the media is covering the story. The Emoprog media, Clinton and these turncoat-Demo-Rats apparently don't even understand what the whiners are whining about, or how ACA Obamacare works.

Why were the plans cancelled by these companies? Because their plans were craptastic to begin with, with high deductibles and almost no hospital coverage. The insurance companies who did this to customers weren't in compliance with the new law, so therefore had to cancel these ridiculous plans. Shall I add that any of those plans could have been cancelled for ANY reason even without Obamacare. Now that we have a "marketplace" of plans, all those policy owners have to do is go search out a new plan instead of whining to Fox and to their local Congressman.

And Bill Clinton needs a course in "ACA for Idiots."
Here's one good explanation of the whole deal from New Republic.

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But of course President Obama, who is the nicest and most patient President this country has EVER had, at least in my lifetime, explained it all again in terms even an ex-President can understand. And he said if those silly people want an extension on their horrible coverage, they can have it. I'm not as nice as Barack Obama, so I say to them: Good luck with that. See you next year when you smack your head and sign up for Obamacare.

I'll let the President have the last word - Listen, People!!!

“I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, ‘This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity’ a week before the Web site opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work.”
. . . And you know, buying health insurance is never going to be like buying a song on iTunes. You know, it’s just a much more complicated transaction.”

Monday, November 4, 2013

Remembering Obama's First Presidential Win

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It's good to go back to golden moments like the night in 2008 when the country elected our first African American President. We need to remind ourselves that change may be slow but impossible things sometimes happen in the United States of America.

In 2008, I wasn't blogging about politics and had never heard of Twitter. But I loved Obama the candidate with his glowing speeches that raised our spirits so beautifully. I knew if we as a nation could turn out the vote, Obama could beat John McCain and become the best President we had ever had in this country. And pleasantly, I still believe he is the best and brightest, and certainly one of the nicest Presidents in history. I still think we probably don't deserve him, even some of us Democrats who like to play the blame game as much as the Republicans.

But back in 2008 Sarah Palin and her rabid "Muslin-hating" Tea Party followers scared the living daylights out of the Democratic Party, and spurred some of us to send every spare dollar we had to the Obama campaign. And that made a huge difference. We should probably thank Palin for being herself, for encouraging the racists and libertarians to show up at her rallies, and for speaking so candidly in her nearly unintelligible way. She clinched the election for Obama, because the thought of Palin being a heartbeat away from the Presidency as John McCain's Vice President was too much to bear. Instead we got the amazing Joe "Malarky" Biden, and it was a "Big F***in' Deal." :)

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Daffy GOP May Have Finally Gone Too Looney Tunes for America

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Last week things in our reality-based centrist country seemed to reach a tipping point as John Boehner and the House of Representatives nearly let the government of the United States go over a cliff because the conservative Tea Party refused to negotiate over the repeal of Obamacare. Never mind that it was impossible to repeal Obamacare, which has nothing to do with the budget anyway. Reality means nothing to orange technicolor cartoon characters like Boehner. If the Koch Brothers or the Tea Party say "Beep Beep" he will jump right over a cliff, no problem.

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This time Boehner didn't even have the Acme Tunnel Art Set to paint a get-away for himself on the rocks. In fact, he acted the part of Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, so convincingly he nearly killed his own Party in a puff of dust at the bottom of the canyon. The "box canyon" that is - the dead end where he and the Tea Party found themselves when Obama refused to negotiate with cartoonish terrorists who don't live in the real world.

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People have been predicting the end of the Tea Party since it began. It all started back in 2008 when Sarah Palin appeared on the scene as a Vice Presidential candidate, giving speeches peppered with bizarre metaphors about Musk Oxen and talking about about "Real Americans" (herself and dog-sledding hunter-husband Todd) versus the rest of the country. Her followers, who also considered themselves "Reel 'Mericans" were a mixture of tax-hating Libertarians waving serpentine "Don't Tread on Me" flags, white racists carrying Curious George dolls named "Little Hussein," the Birthers, the Joe the Plumbers, the "Muslin" haters, the Evangelical Holy Rollers. Everyone poked fun at it, from Saturday Night Live to Jon Stewart, but unfortunately the Tea Party was able to win important House seats during the 2010 election giving Republicans the edge. Through red gerrymandered districts, the country is stuck with some of these rodeo clowns. Luckily, the GOP realizes they are stuck with them as well.

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This past week, it was no accident that Palin, who now holds no elected office and may never again, suddenly re-appeared on stage with GOP gadfly and "Green Eggs and Ham" lover Senator Ted Cruz on the Washington Mall. They were protesting the very Shutdown that the Teapublicans dreamed of and finally caused by holding the government budget hostage.

Palin is Tea Party royalty, much like the insane Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland who screams "off with their heads" - meaning the government - on every occasion. Ted Cruz, whether he was born in Canada or not, is now the Tea Party King just for "standing up to the establishment," meaning any GOP member who isn't a stark-raving maniac. Together, Cruz and Palin were the Tea Party Dream Team, storming the barricades of Federal Monuments in an act of defiance that they see as a Patriot's gesture, and the rest of the country sees as an illogical embarrassment.

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Waving Confederate Flags in front of the White House - never a good idea! Too Bad Foghorn Leghorn wasn't there to explain it to you, son! Many southern GOP Congress people were missing in action that day - there is a line you can cross, even in the Tea Party.

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But at least Palin and Cruz admitted they were mostly trying to raise money for the 2016 Presidential race, proving once again that the GOP believes it deserves government money and benefits, not to mention power. They just don't want anyone else to share it.

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None of the Cruz/Palin grandstanding even mattered. In the end, the clueless Tea Party couldn't repeal Obamacare, which is the Law of the Land. The Tea Party Representatives began to sound like that Looney Tune of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny screaming "Duck Season!" and "Rabbit Season!" until Daffy is so confused he begs Bugs to shoot him in the head. And that's kinda what happened - with Boehner in neutral, the grown-ups in the Senate had to step in and save his bacon. Then Nancy Pelosi got nearly 200 Democratic Reps to vote with Republicans to stop the shutdown.

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The GOP has become a Party without a head. All they have is Droopy Dog RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who was appointed, not elected. Paul Ryan could have stepped up sooner, but he is trying to save his own career. Tea Party voters only had one thing to say on forums, blogs and on the news - they "like" it that Cruz was being obstructionist. "That's what we sent him there for," they said, ignoring the fact that the shutdown was hurting innocent Americans all across the country. It was all about "showing Obama" who was boss. Putting the uppity Negro back in his place, at the expense of closing down our own government.

Is it any wonder Harry Reid chose to call them a "bunch of anarchists?" People like Palin and Cruz want to run the government by destroying the government. Forget Daffy Duck - they sound more like Marvin the Martian. If they had a Space Modulator, they'd probably be pointing at Washington before demanding the reinstitution of slavery in Virginia, like some antebellum Dr. Evil.

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Republicans focused on blowing up the Earth, that is, their own heads - that is, their leadership - fought against John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and old-timers like John McCain, once Palin's running mate, now considered too-far-left to be a "real conservative."

But what did Cruz and Company gain, except for some impromptu fundraising? Nothing, as Rachel Maddow pointed out in the graphic below. The only thing the House Tea Party received from the Obama Administration was income verification for people signing up for ACA Obamacare - because, guess what? That was written into the law already! So in effect, they got nothing. Zippo. Yet they kept thinking of new demands, which made them sound even more deranged.

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But how bad is the damage, really? Haven't we heard the prediction that the GOP is over, done with, finished too many times to count? Don't the Right Wingers always take a moment to say a few Apocalyptic prayers and come roaring back with a new scheme?

Michele Bachmann, who is the Minnesota version of Sarah Palin, has crashed and burned due to campaign finance problems, and isn't running again. But her conservative district will probably try to find some other gal with a grating midwestern accent and a religious fervor for conspiracy theories. But even Bachmann has to realize that no matter how hard she prayed, Obamacare was never repealed. Isn't that also an answer from God? Could it be that God wants the poor to be cared for, as it says in the Bible by, you know, Jesus Christ?

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It could just be that this time the Tea Party Jihadists took their holy war just one Tasmanian Devil hissy fit too far.

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Ultra-Conservative Pundit Michelle Malkin on Fox News
via Daily Kos

 photo warnerbros9.gifAt least now we don't have to wonder what the Tea Party will do when cornered - when the going got weird, the weird turned pro! They snarled and starting spinning and lying and whatever they had to do. And now the general public has had a glimpse of the real Tea Party that cannot be forgotten so easily.

Not only was their idealogical last stand about denying health coverage to sick and possibly dying people, they openly stated that Obamacare was just the first thing they wanted to repeal or destroy. They wanted President Obama to cut "entitlements" (dreadful word) such as Social Security and Medicare for the elderly. Meanwhile, they also wanted to protect Koch Brothers interests like Big Oil and the Tar Sands Pipeline. All this comes after a session in which the GOP cut Food Stamp money for the poorest Americans from the farm bill, and cut WIC benefits for mothers and babies. Yet they wasted $24 Billion on this useless Shutdown based on ideological nonsense.

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To quote ditzy GOP pundit Peggy Noonan in her last post before Romney lost the election last year, you can feel the change in the air. Or see it in the polls. Well, Peggy Noonan never believed the polls about Mitt Romney, and she probably won't believe the polls now. But the truth wins, as we saw in 2012, and it's winning again. The GOP lost and it's time to say "That's All Folks!"

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