Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. Once again my Female Human is not in the Mood to Blog so I will have to pick up the Slack.

Personally I think she is Partied Out. Plus of course she ventured into that place she calls "Work" the last two Days and it probably took a lot out of her.

I hope you All had a Wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah or general Holiday week. I had a Pretty Good Christmas, Myself. My Female Human's Aunt, who can always be Relied Upon to give Me a Gift, provided me with a new Stash of Catnip and a Catnip Mouse, which I joyfully Pounced Upon immediately. That Dog got a rubbery bone thing that she proceeded to Dismantle into small pieces all around the Living Room.

My Humans did not put up that thing they call a Christmas Tree this year. They Celebrated at the Female Human's Mother's place and she had a Tree so they figured that was Good Enough. And now they are Very Happy because they don't have to take it Down.

So let's see, what is New since I last talked to you? Oh yes. That Palin Human's daughter Bristol had her Baby. She named him "Tripp." What is Up with That Family that they can't come up with a normal Name for their Kids? When my Female Human first heard this Name, she thought it was the same as one of the Palin Human's other Kids. Then she remembered his name is Trig, not Tripp. Whatever. It's all kind of Strange.

But of course, we Cats get saddled with all kinds of stupid Names like Bootsie or Mittens (two Names of previous Cats my Female Human once had) or Names like Tiger or Puff. I'm glad I have a Real Name. Of course, as the Poet T.S. Eliot said, "The naming of cats is a difficult matter."

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Perhaps these Palins take their Names equally Seriously.

In Other News, that Governor of Illinois the Democrats are trying to get rid of for being a Sleazebag who tried to sell the President-Elect's Senate Seat, has now appointed Someone to fill that Seat: a guy named Burris. No matter how Nice a Guy this Burris Human may be, anybody appointed by the Current Governor would be Highly Suspect. So Everyone is Unhappy with this Turn of Events. The Governor Himself apparently has No Shame whatsoever and is as Arrogant as Ever. We shall see how this plays Out.

My Humans are planning to head up to the Adirondacks again this Weekend, so I am going to be Left Behind once again to Fend for Myself. Luckily, the Female Human's Friend (whom I refer to as the Human Who Serves Me) will be stopping in to make sure I'm OK in their Absence. My Humans want to try out their new Jeep to see if it gets up the Hill to that Property they have up there.

Since it's New Year's Eve, it is time for a few New Year's Resolutions. I'm sure my Female Human may be making some as well, but since I am not Privy to her Concerns I will just let you know Mine. Here they are:

1. I resolve to be Meaner to That Dog so she will Leave Me Alone.
2. I resolve to be More Finicky about the State of my Litter Box.
3. I resolve to play with my Mousey Bird Toy more frequently in the Middle of the Night.
4. I resolve to sleep more during the Day so as to be Well-Rested at 4 a.m. so I can Wake my Humans. They sleep Too Much as it is.
5. I resolve to Eat More in 2009!

I think I'll be able to achieve All of these Resolutions, unlike the ones my Female Human usually makes.

With that I will bid you a Happy New Year. Let us hope that 2009 will be Better for Everyone now that the Obama Human will be President and there will be some Changes made. Things may not become Perfect, but they'll have to be Better.

Tonight I will be Celebrating the New Year Alone as my Humans will be at a Friend's House. Of course, That Dog will be home, but thankfully she sleeps when they're Out. I will snort some Catnip and fall into a pleasant Dreamless Sleep until they Return later tonight. Then I will be wide Awake and able to make sure they know I was Annoyed they were Out all evening.

Happy 2009 to Everyone!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Scene at a Post-Christmas Celebration

It is one of our annual traditions to have Christmas Dinner over at our friends, E and M's, house. This year due to various circumstances, we had said dinner two days after Christmas instead of on the day itself. This gathering includes friends and family members, including Friend #2's kids, her cousin S, and my elderly mom and aunt. Some of you will remember meeting Friend #2 during the incident of the camel milk.

E and M are consummate hosts and dining at their table is one of the pleasures of life. The atmosphere is serene, holiday music tinkles in the background, their Christmas tree sparkles. Somehow all of the food is ready at the same time, nothing is sitting around becoming cold while something else isn't quite done (which is what happens to me when I try to give a big dinner party). We end up sitting around the table after a delicious meal chatting with conviviality about all kinds of things.

Last night we got onto the subject of strange unidentified types of pork meat that are local delicacies in different parts of the country. First we started talking about that New Jersey tradition, known as Taylor Ham or more generically as pork roll. Friend #2 and I got into a discussion of whether the best version of a Taylor Ham sandwich would be Taylor Ham with Egg and Cheese on a Hard Roll, or whether it only needs the Taylor Ham and Cheese. I was pulling for the inclusion of the egg.

Then my mother started talking about Philadelphia Scrapple. My father, who grew up in Philadelphia, always liked it and my mother would make it for him in a frying pan, frying it up until it was brown and crispy and then serve it with maple syrup.

The conversation turned thence to Spam. Because what would a discussion of strange meats made with pig parts be without Spam? I heard on the radio the other day that it was being reported that President-Elect Obama had dined the day before on a Spam specialty in his native Hawaii, as if this was something strange and unusual. Obviously the reporters did not realize that Spam is a staple in Hawaii. Brought there by the U.S. troops during World War II, Spam is one of the most beloved foods in the Islands, and they even have Spam recipe contests. So it is no surprise that the President-Elect chowed down on one of the native Spam dishes.

I have my own fond memories of Spam. The night of the Great Blackout of 1965 we lived in upstate New York near Rochester, and the kitchen of our modern circa 1960 split-level was fully powered with electricity, not natural gas. So when the lights dimmed that November afternoon and then went out, we had no way to cook anything for dinner. We weren't the type of family that had a grill for these occasions; my father not the typical suburban dad who ventured out armed with charcoal and lighter fluid to start fires in the family Hibachi. So we had to make do with what we had, which happened to be a can of Spam and a can of Del Monte green beans. We ate our cold Spam (which thankfully was pre-cooked and ready to eat in its spiffy blue and yellow can, even though it would have been tastier heated up) and cold green beans for dinner while we listened to my father's transistor radio tuned to station WHAM, which was talking about looting taking place in downtown Rochester - which later turned out to be untrue. At the time we were all wondering if the Russians had something to do with this terrible event (it being 1965) and anything terrifying seemed somewhat possible even if it was only looting.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, Spam. So during the course of this conversation the following exchange took place:

Mauigirl: "What about Spam? That's another good one!"
Mauigirl's mother: "Oh yes, Spam."
Mauigirl: "We used to have Spam a lot!"
Friend #2: "Spamalot???"
Mauigirl: "Spamalot!"
Friend #2: "Maybe that's where they got the idea for the name of the show!"

At this point the Christmas plum pudding was brought out, aflame with 151 Rum (the only thing that really burns properly) and we all sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," especially the part about the Figgy Pudding, which we sang more than once - and then the rest of dessert was served, including E's wonderful homemade chocolate truffles and cookies, as well as the pudding and its requisite "hard sauce." All was silent for a short time while delicacies were consumed.

I hope you too are continuing to enjoy the holiday season. And as Tiny Tim was wont to say, "God Bless Us Every One."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

Sharing the title song of my favorite Christmas Album, the Chieftains' "The Bells of Dublin."

And, for those of you who are feeling exhausted or worn out by Christmas, the marvelously cynical "St. Stephens Day Murders" from the same album.

In case you can't make out the lyrics, here they are:

I knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas,
And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve.
I wonder if they grew up hating the season,
The good will that lasts til the Feast of St. Stephen

For that is the time to eat, drink, and be merry,
Til the beer is all spilled and the whiskey has flowed.
And the whole family tree you neglected to bury,
Are feeding their faces until they explode.


There'll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias,
Mixed up with that drink made from girders.
’Cause it's all we've got left as they draw their last breath,
Ah, it's nice for the kids, as you finally get rid of them,
In the St Stephen's Day Murders.

Uncle is garglin' a heart-breaking air,
While the babe in his arms pulls out all that remains of his hair.
And we're not drunk enough yet to dare criticize,
The great big kipper tie he's about to baptize.

With his gin-flavoured whiskers and kisses of sherry,
His best Chrimbo shirt slung out over the shop.
While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly,
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop.

Alternate Chorus:

And the carcass of the beast left over from the feast,
May still be found haunting the kitchen.
And there's life in it yet, we may live to regret,
When the ones that we poisoned stop twitchin'.

Regular Chorus Repeat

Please be sure to listen to the music that goes with it!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! And if you don't celebrate Christmas, enjoy a peaceful and happy day with "no deeds to do and no promises to keep"! (One of my favorite lines from Simon & Garfunkel).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve - To Hope and Forgive

As many prepare
To celebrate on Christmas
Let's try to calm down.

We may hate Warren
But Obama may have reasons
To expose his views.

Firedog Lake's claiming
Obama's for Creationism
For picking Warren.

But Obama said
He would try to unite us;
Why are we surprised?

It's only a prayer
It's not a cabinet post
We have to forgive.

OK, that's as much haiku as I can make out of this issue. I am feeling as if, no matter the outrage that this choice has inspired, that we're losing sight of the forest for the trees. Obama is not pro-creationist just because he has Warren speak. He is not anti-gay either; and I'm sure he does not espouse the same attitudes as Warren about gay marriage.

And we have to remember that Warren's own supporters are giving him a hard time for accepting the offer as well. There is anger on both sides.

Perhaps Obama knew just what he was doing. E.J. Dionne discussed the issue in his column today.

"Although I support gay marriage, I think that liberals should welcome Obama's success in causing so much consternation on the right. On balance, inviting Warren opens more doors than it closes.

Warren has some decisions to make, too. He would do well to apologize for comparing gays to pedophiles, and also for comments...deriding mainline Protestants for not caring much 'about redemption, the cross, repentance.'

...And liberals need to understand what it means to build a durable majority. Doing so requires not just easy gestures but hard ones. Here's a prayer that by calling in his friend, Obama took a risk worth taking

As someone elected on a platform of hope and change, it is inevitable that Obama will disappoint many people on every side of every issue. No one can be all things to all people. In Obama's defense, he has never claimed to be anywhere near as left-wing as many of his own supporters (to say nothing of the right) have expected him to be.

Obama is a practical and shrewd politician. He is cerebral and does not govern by his "gut" the way George W. Bush loved to do. Being cerebral means contemplating many sides of issues and listening to other voices besides those that agree with his views. Isn't this what we wanted? Isn't this what we asked for after eight long years of ideological lock-step?

This is a man who believes "the perfect is the enemy of the good." He will no doubt compromise in order to find a "win-win" solution that at least accomplishes some of what he wants, while accommodating other factions who may not want the same goals at all. Not all of us will agree with some of these decisions. But we can only hope he does not go as far as Bill Clinton in this regard. We can only wait and see how it plays out when he actually becomes president.

I have never seen supporters of a candidate so quickly turn on him over one single choice that he has made before even becoming president. You can bet the Republicans wouldn't turn on their candidate so quickly. I know symbols are important. But he also chose a pro-gay-rights pastor to give the benediction. Why isn't that symbol also important?

I'm not saying that Obama shouldn't be criticized, and he does need to come out and reiterate that he disagrees vehemently with some of Warren's repugnant views.

And certainly in the coming months as he actually starts to make policy, I will hold his feet to the fire as much as anyone. But he isn't even president yet!

I was watching Keith Olbermann's end-of-year wrap-up the other night and he was showing the cheering crowds in Chicago when they announced Barack Obama had won the election. It made me sad to think that all those happy faces so soon had become cynical and disillusioned.

It also made me remember something Mr. Spock once said in one of my favorite Star Trek episodes:
"After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."

The reason for this is, reality can never live up to our expectations. But to quote another great philosopher, Mick Jagger, remember:

"You can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

In the spirit of the Christmas season, whether you are religious or not, let's try a little forgiveness. President-Elect Obama is going to need all of our help and support to get through the utter mess the Republicans have left this country. There will be time enough to criticize in 2009. Let's give it a rest right now and enjoy some holiday peace and hope.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Troubling Rick Warren Controversy

It's all over the blogosphere - condemnations of President-Elect Obama's choice of Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration. Not only are members of the LGBT community upset by this choice, but so are many others who support their civil rights and believe in equality for all. I am among the latter, and certainly agree Warren represents all that is evil about the religious right and their ignorant, bigoted views of the gay community, hiding behind a smarmy smile and a veneer of civilization just because he has supported helping AIDS victims in Africa.

My hopes for the Obama Administration are in a battle with my revulsion about Warren. I have been reading so many excellent posts about the controversy I thought rather than say something myself that has been said better elsewhere, I'd round up some of the comments I've been reading.

There have been many outcries of hurt and anger from some of my favorite bloggers - FranIAm has expressed her dismay in her recent posts, as has Christopher at From the Left. In one of his posts, he stated:

"The liberal and progressive community looked the other way and gave you the benefit of the doubt when you voted for the FISA bill and hired a series of retreads from the Clinton administration but dragging Rick Warren to Washington DC on January [20], 2009, goes too far and is unforgivable."

Godless Liberal Homo is saying that attendees at the inauguration should boo Warren when he takes the stage.

"Rick Warren should not be playing a major role in a Barack Obama's inauguration. Warren has devoted a major portion of his life promoting oppression, bigotry, and violence against women and queers. Obama is following the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush policy of pandering to heterosexist and misogynistic religious extremists. So much for "Change You Can Believe In."

Obama's invitation to Warren is a vicious, personal attack against every woman in this country.

Obama's invitation to Warren is a vicious, personal attack against every queer in this country.

One thing that people in DC for this disgraced inauguration should do is to boo that bigoted extremist the minute he starts spewing his bullshit until he shuts his hateful mouth. America needs to send a message that bigotry and militant fundamentalism have no legitimate role to play in politics or society as a whole."

DCup posted an excellent clip of Keith Olbermann talking to Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State on Countdown, and pointed out that the separation of church and state issue has to be straightened out, as well as linking to some other great posts on the subject.

Obama has defended his choice of Warren, saying:

"'I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak despite his awareness that I held views that are entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights and issues like abortion,' Obama said. 'Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak. And that dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign is all about: that we're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.'"

Many feel this explanation doesn't cut it, that "tolerating the intolerant" is going too far when it comes to inclusiveness.

However, there are other perspectives out there, and I think it's important to consider them.

James Joiner over at An Average American Patriot has another point of view.

"I just love it! It is vintage Obama reaching out to both sides, i think this is great! While gay rights groups were busy objecting to the selection of Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren, who opposes same-sex marriage, to give the invocation at the inauguration, they may have failed to notice who is giving the benediction.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, 87, is best known as a civil rights icon and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He also comes from a liberal Christian mainline religious tradition, the United Methodist Church.

In 2000, Lowery, gave what was described as an electrifying speech calling for gay clergy, to the dinner during the general convention of the United Methodist Church, the nation's second largest Protestant denomination....

And in 2004, he told ABC News he supported same sex marriage..."

Dusty at It's My Right to be Left of the Center has this response to the controversy:

"Warren is saying the opening prayer people, that is all. He isn't part of the cabinet and he won't be setting if all this yahoo is doing is saying a friggin does that affect the fight for LGBT equality? Obama picked a pro-gay rights man, Joseph Lowery to give the benediction, which is another prayer right?"

She goes on to point out:

"My point in this whole mess is that we must choose our battles carefully. Rick the fuckwit Warren isn't worth our time and energy. No one is ever going to convince him that the LGBT community deserves the same rights as everyone else....I will say that Warren is less offensive than the vast majority of Theocratic wingnuts. He doesn't call AIDS God's revenge on gays and he believes climate change is real and churches have a responsibility to deal with it.

That means we have some common ground with Warren. That means we, the universal we, should find a way to make Warren and his sheep part of the equation on climate change and AIDS. It also means we can take our talking points to him on the subject of gay equality, but do it in a respectful way. If we use the Rush Limbaugh method, we won't get far...correct?

Obama wants to unite us all around our common beliefs. I think he purposefully picked Warren to show he is reaching out to all sides....

Obama is going to piss off the right, the left and the centrist folks many more times before his term comes to an end. Lets not allow Warren's prayer to divide those of us that believe in the fight for gay rights ok? If we are going to pick our battles wisely...this ain't one of them that will do us any good in the long or short run."

Comrade Kevin talks about why he shifted from the radical left to a more moderate stance:

"When I was in my early twenties, I flirted with radical activist politics....In short, it was too much, it was draining, and I never got any resolution for all of my lofty goals and aspirations. Furthermore, the strident voices of the radical left, while they aim to win converts, end up isolating themselves...and instead of informing the masses, they instead turn off the average Jane or Joe....

It was at that point that I shifted more to the middle. Not because I was actively surrendering my ideals, but mostly because as a moderate it was highly plausible to occasionally see some reforms I favored passed into action. The life of a radical is a life of feeling supremely isolated....Even the biggest success gets parsed, analyzed, and transformed into something else to be angry about---mostly because the change enacted didn't go far enough. Being that radicals almost never get anything they want, I couldn't function for long as one of them.

Now we're in the part of the political season whereby we are called to collectively second-guess the cabinet selections and tentative decisions of the President-Elect. I have a totally different perspective, since Obama's election in and of itself is joyous to me. I think perhaps we must think we're somehow obligated to get everything we want exactly the way we want it, which subsequently reminds me of my radical days. Even if the most liberal political candidate ever was elected, I don't know if he or she would make every decision more or less in line with the whims of the left-wing base. I'm not sure if we're a nation of whiners as much as we are a nation which claims to want a diversity of ideas, that is, as long as they're the same are ours."

In her comment on Dusty's blog post, Karen Zipdrive also echoed this point of view:

"As a bonafide queer for 40 years now, I think I've earned the right to have an opinion on this.

My opinion, which I've scattered throughout blogworld, is that a two minute prayer given by a slobby evangelista is not worth fretting.

Obama said he planned to be inclusive, and as a die-hard liberal I have to accept that he's being more inclusive than I ever would.

But we saw how sickening it was to watch Bush exclude everyone with whom he differed, and we saw what hatred that behavior fomented.

If that's not enough to salve the wounds of my fellow homos and our supporters, consider these points:
1. The evangelical colleagues of Warren are outraged that he accepted the invitation.
2. The sight of Shakira shaking her considerable assets on the same night cancels out 2 minutes of Jesusian mumbo-jumbo.
3. The sound of Aretha belting out a tune double cancels Rev. Slobbo.
4. The sound of YoYo Ma's cello will soothe the eardrums of anyone who were offended by hearing the prayer.
5. The short prayer gives all of us ample opportunity to go to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for a little snack.

So keep your powder dry, my friends. All this righteous indignation makes us look like the sour prunes on the right.

Let's roll with it, I say."

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, has put forth a list of agenda items they want Obama to pledge to support, in order to help them get past the slap in the face he has offered by choosing Warren. This is probably a good idea for Obama to consider in order to heal the rift this choice has opened.

We have to keep in mind that Obama has already said he would support a number of policies favorable to the LGBT community.


"'While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.'
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

The Obama-Biden Plan
Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not."

OK, so where does that leave me? You have to "stand for something or you fall for anything," as the saying goes.

Here's the way I see it.

President-Elect Obama, whatever decisions he makes in terms of picking his cabinet or his inauguration speakers, still offers a WAY better future for all of us than the McCain-Palin duo would have if they had been elected, and not just on this issue but on most issues near and dear to progressive hearts.

Besides, he has a few other items on his plate that are going to need a lot of thought, effort and focus:

1. Closing Gitmo
2. Getting out of Iraq
3. Fixing the worst economy since the Depression
4. Establishing universal healthcare

And that's only four things, just to get him started. There are plenty of others. We need to remember we elected Barack Obama to solve a lot of serious things that have been wrong with this country for eight long years.

We can't let his choice of Warren sidetrack us and once again cause us to self-destruct through divisions among our ranks, as Democrats often do.

For once, let's stay together and support this President. He is going to need all the help he can get and he is only human.

He has a belief in inclusion which is welcome after eight long years of exclusion. If he overdoes it and invites someone like Warren to the table, he needs to be told it was hurtful to many of his supporters. But we shouldn't "rip our shirts" and say he is dead to us. That is self-defeating.

Perhaps when he says he doesn't believe in gay marriage, he means it. But he does support a lot of initiatives that favor the gay community. And, he has an open mind, which means he may realize at some point, if communications remain open with the gay community, that civil unions are just another example of "separate" being inherently unequal.

If we condemn him and no longer support him during the next four years, this education may not happen and, as Comrade Kevin points out, we don't get what we want.

Am I happy that President-Elect Obama chose Warren? No, of course not. I feel it was very hurtful and what concerns me is he doesn't seem to have the sensitivity to understand why it was so hurtful. But we must remember that he does support a very progressive agenda and it will benefit all of us and the entire country if he is able to carry it out successfully.

And, because of Warren, he owes the LGBT community BIG. He will need to do something pretty dramatic early in his administration, such as repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, to prove which side he is on.

In closing, I'd like to reiterate something many have already pointed out about this whole debacle. If we had true separation of church and state, this whole controversy would be moot, because there would be no inaugural prayer. But that is a problem for another day. (When is the next Blog Against Theocracy?)

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. My Female Human has been Too Busy to Blog this Week since her one feeble Attempt on Monday. I guess I'll have to do the Hard Work yet again.

This is a new Picture she took of Me standing next to my Favorite Toy. It's a green Bird-like thing with magenta fuzzy wings. The Best Part about it is it makes a pitiful Squeaky Noise when I pick it up and throw it into the air. Kind of like a real Bird or Mouse. I really like Toys that make noises.

I played with my previous Favorite Toy so much it eventually lost all its feathers and became a shell of its former Self. So my Female Human bought me this new one. I also have a couple that rattle when I toss them around. All of these are Very Good to Play With in the middle of the Night, especially in the Bedroom where my Humans and That Dog are trying to Sleep.

However, I digress. It's time for me to report on a few News tidbits that have popped up in the past few days.

First of all, the Bush Human (who is called a Lame Duck, which I find Confusing) has finally authorized the release of $17 billion to Chrysler and GM from the TARP funds to help them Make It through the New Year. But the money comes with Strings Attached. It's like giving a Stray Cat a meal and a warm place to sleep and then Dragging him off to the Vet's. No Free Lunch for this Industry!

"The plan pumps $13.4 billion by mid-January into the companies from the fund that Congress authorized to rescue the financial industry. But the two companies have until March 31 to produce a plan for long-term profitability, including concessions from unions, creditors, suppliers and dealers."

Hmmmm...where were All Those Strings when they gave all that Money to the Investment Banks?

In Other News, some old pictures of Barack Obama from his College Years have surfaced and the story is Making the Rounds. Apparently back in 1980 when Obama was at Occidental College, a photographer friend, Lisa Jack, asked if he'd let her do a photo shoot with him, and he complied. The result are some Great Pictures of the Obama Human when he was Young and Carefree. A few of My Favorites, courtesy of Time Magazine (see Link for the Rest of the Story):

Personally I like the Last One best. But we can all be Grateful that Ms. Jack hid the Pictures until after the Election.

Of course Most of You have heard by now that Bristol Palin's possible Mother-in-Law has been arrested on drug charges. Pretty Sad Commentary on who Bristol's Mom Sarah has been "pallin' around with," as Sarah would say - you Betcha!

So, what's up with that Blagojevitch Human? They've got him Recorded on a Wiretap - isn't that what the Humans call "red-handed"? - and yet he just declared he would Fight till his Last Breath because he "didn't do anything Wrong." He must have a Bigger Pair than most Tomcats I've ever met. Is he a Sociopath? Part of the Definition of a Sociopath:

"Manipulative and Conning: They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

Grandiose Sense of Self: Feels entitled to certain things as 'their right.'

Pathological Lying: Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt: A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way."

As the Humans say, "If the Shoe Fits...put it on."

My Female Human is going to talk about the whole issue of the Obama Human picking that Warren Human to do the Invocation at his Inauguration. That is just Too Much for Me to Deal With right at the Moment.

For now, I'm going to head off and Play with my Favorite Toy and snort some Catnip. Wishing All of You a wonderful Friday Night.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Full Circle

It's official - Caroline Kennedy is seeking Hillary Clinton's Senate seat when it becomes available. Of course, a decision has not yet been made, but if Caroline Kennedy is interested in this seat, I'd be willing to bet she will get it.

It will be ironic if she fills the seat that her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, once held.

According to the Times,

"The decision came after a series of deeply personal and political conversations, in which Ms. Kennedy, whom friends describe as unflashy but determined, wrestled with whether to give up what has been a lifetime of avoiding the spotlight.

Ms. Kennedy will ask Gov. David A. Paterson of New York to consider her for the appointment, according to the person told of her decision."

If she becomes a Senator, I wonder if it will be she, and not Hillary, who becomes the first woman president. It could happen.

What a long strange trip it's been.
(Photo from the J.F.K. Library.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Haiku

Sunday afternoons are always iffy. Sometimes I can forget for awhile that the next day is Monday; sometimes I can't. It started back when I was a kid and had to go to school the next day. Now it's work that I'm trying to avoid.

And it's worse in the winter when it starts getting dark at 4:15. And the holidays are looming and I'm not ready. Not even close!

In honor of my melancholy mood, I will post some holiday haiku:

Once upon a time
I couldn't wait for Christmas
Now it's more like dread.

I miss those old days
When Christmas meant excitement
Now it's just a chore.

Rush to get a tree
Hurry up and decorate
Then take it all down.

In between all that
You have to buy the presents
And then wrap them all.

Order stuff on-line
No malls this close to Christmas!
Gifts arrive daily.

Send out Christmas cards
Or perhaps "Seasons Greetings"
With the yearly note.

"Another year passed
Here's what we've been doing...
Hope you all are well."

Plan out Christmas Day
Should we have beef or turkey?
Beef is easier.

Then Christmas Eve comes
We watch "A Christmas Carol"
And then it's all good.

Our own ritual
Instead of going to church
It still does the job.

It still reminds us
The real meaning of Christmas
Is love and giving.

The Christmas tree glows
The radio plays carols
Peace and love to all.

There's still no Santa
And our gifts for each other
Are not a surprise

But for a moment
The magic will still return
When Christmas Eve comes.

Our favorite version of "A Christmas Carol" - the one with George C. Scott as Scrooge.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday Meanderings

It's very cold out today. Ordinarily I wouldn't know that since I rarely venture out in the morning in the winter. But today was the day that our neighborhood association (of which there are about 100 members who pay dues, but only about nine of us who actually do things) puts up decorations along the fence in our local park.

These decorations are big wooden boards which are painted with holiday pictures, that have to be attached to the fences with plastic ties. The pictures (houses with snow, mittens, snowflakes and other non-religious but cheerful images) were designed by one of our members, who is an artist, years ago. The pictures were drawn on the boards and then local neighborhood children painted them with waterproof paint. We've been putting them up for the past nine years or so and everyone enjoys them.

Luckily for the nine people who do things in this group, the county park workers store the boards in one of their buildings all year and they bring them out in their truck and help us distribute the boards along the fence at even intervals. And even better, the high school coach whose mom lives in our neighborhood brings his entire football team to help put them up. Without them it would take us all day.

So this morning, bright and early at 9:30, I arrived at the park armed with a Box o' Joe and four dozen donuts from Dunkin Donuts. A crowd of teenagers (mostly boys) had already gathered at the meeting place. They eagerly put up my folding table and the donuts and coffee were placed on the table, which was immediately swarmed by cold hungry kids. When they were done it was as if a plague of locusts had visited - only a few crumbs left.

After they had been fortified with sugar, they were ready to work, and I didn't need to do much after that. A few more people from the neighborhood showed up but the teenagers did 99% of the work. Most of them did the job last year so they knew the drill, and they showed the new recruits what to do. DH arrived and took some pictures for our neighborhood newsletter and by 11:15 it was all over and I could return home and warm up!

Moving on...I heard that "our" area of the Adirondacks got an ice storm yesterday. Apparently the whole eastern portion of the country, including Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, got hit with it and lots of people have lost power.

I was glad to hear that FranIam and Mr. HeIs did not lose power, but they did get hit with the ice and unfortunately have lost trees in their neighborhood.

Assuming our cabin was hit with ice as well, I doubt any further roofing or other work will be done on it for quite some time! In fact, work may be done for the season. I expect there will be nothing but snow up there from now until April. However, we will probably still go up and check on it over New Year's weekend so we can try out the Jeep. Think the ice will have gone away by then? (No, neither do I). At least we had no power to lose!

On another subject, check out this link which will bring you to a site called "" which has posted two videos that you have to watch. I can't embed them so you must go there. They show what life would be like without the blues (picture the Rolling Stones and the polka...enough said).

On a more serious note, as you already know, the Senate did not pass the bailout bill for the auto industry, which is not good for us since we just bought a Chrysler product and it has a lifetime warranty. Lifetime of the car or lifetime of the company? If the latter, it may be a very short warranty.

However, Bush is apparently going to give them some of the $700 billion already allotted by Congress for the Wall Street bailout. I guess Bush doesn't want to be known as the president who let the American automobile industry go down the tubes.

While I don't have sympathy for the CEOs of these companies, who have not made much effort to keep their industry in pace with the times, something many people forget is that their workers and retirees are costing more because of healthcare insurance so there is less money for innovation, quality or keeping the costs of the cars down vs. competition. If our country had universal healthcare as many foreign carmakers' countries do, this would be taken out of the equation and the disparity in wages between Detroit and foreign companies would not be that large.

The GOP is trying to blame things on the UAW, but there are many factors at play here. Besides, the GOP was perfectly happy to throw $700 billion at Wall Street with basically no strings attached, but can't manage to give the car companies $14 billion without adding so many conditions that the talks broke down? Come on, it's class warfare pure and simple. They just want to blame the union.

If anyone thinks it's OK to let the American car industry go under, this Op Ed article in the NY Times reminds us what happens when car companies go out of business.

"Misery has rarely been mentioned as a reason to pass an auto industry bailout. But walk through the Packard plant on a December day and you will know that once a car company disappears, in southeast Michigan at least, nothing comes along to take its place."

Detroit has been trying to redevelop this factory since it closed in 1957. You can go here to see a whole group of pictures of the abandoned building, which was once a marvel of architecture in its day.

Let's hope whatever Washington does, we can save the American auto industry and prevent a further meltdown of our remaining industrial strength.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

Yes, I know there are lots of important issues to blog about, but since I've been busy at work everyone else has already blogged about them. Corrupt Illinois governor. Joe the Plumber dissing McCain. Etc.

So instead, I'll talk about my feelings about our new vehicle.

As Baxter told you, DH and I went out and bought a new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon on Saturday, which we picked up from the dealer on Monday evening.

As you know, we had decided to buy a Jeep in order to be able to get up the hill to our property in the Adirondacks. While our cars are able to get up there with no problem in nice weather, even a little snow makes it impossible, since the road is not paved and the gravel isn't even maintained by the town. And I imagine the Mud Season (April, when the snows start melting) would be equally difficult.

So we have every reason to own this Jeep. But I have a certain amount of mixed emotions about owning it.

First of all, it is not subtle. It is red. Very red. We are not Red Car People. We are both attracted to light metallic blues and silvers, navy, or black when it comes to car colors. But the only standard shift Jeep that the dealership had was Flame Red. And it had everything we wanted and more, for going off road in the Adirondacks. Plus they offered us $6000 off the price. (By the way, part of that was an AARP discount. If you're 50 or above and are holding out on joining AARP, put aside your false pride and take advantage of everything they offer!).

Secondly, it is BIG. It bears a certain resemblance to a Hummer. We are not Hummer/SUV Type People either. We have been Saab people for 23 years and would be Prius people too if we didn't insist on driving a standard shift. I am feeling liberal-environmental guilt about the gas mileage. It only gets 19 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA estimate. I'll have to see what it gets in reality.

I feel as if I should have a bumper sticker on the back saying, "Yes, I really DO use this to drive off road!" and/or "My Other Car gets 32 miles per gallon."

Third, it is very high off the ground. In order for me to clamber into it, I have to hold on to the steering wheel and pull myself up with all my strength. (I assume if we buy the running board, which is an add-on, it might help).

Fourth, it rides like, well, a Jeep. Or a truck. I'm not used to that either. It's not that it's that bumpy, particularly, but I feel as if I'm so high up that it will tip over any minute so I tend to drive it very cautiously. It definitely doesn't handle like our other cars. I'm sure that feeling of instability will change as I get used to it.

On the plus side, it will DEFINITELY get up that hill, and we can't wait to go try it out. We'll probably go up on the weekend after New Year's and test it out. I think it will be a lot of fun to drive around up there in general, as there are jeep trails all around the area. We'll be able to see parts of the Adirondacks that aren't accessible to regular cars - including the rest of the road that our cabin is on.

And of course the satellite radio is great; I had it on the 70's station today. We're going to take turns driving the Jeep to work, so I'm going to get spoiled with the satellite radio and not want to go back to the regular stations when I don't have the Jeep. And the navigation system is a lot of fun to play with too.

Best of all, there is NO WAY I can lose it in our new parking lot. I came out of work tonight and there it was, blazing like a beacon from a distance. I couldn't miss it if I tried!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. It's about Time I finally get to Blog! My Female Human hogged the Blog all through November practically. Now she's Too Busy and is happy to let Me do the Work!

Well, it's been an Interesting Month, and it continues to be Interesting. The Obama Human who is now, thankfully, the President-Elect, has made a lot of announcements about the appointments to his Cabinet. It finally feels as if there is a Grown-Up taking charge of this Mess.

However, there is still a lot of Idiocy out there. Would you Believe that some Human Nutjob who, I'm ashamed to say, is from my own State of New Jersey, has filed a Lawsuit to try to get the Obama Human declared Ineligible to be President? And Justice Clarence Thomas agreed to have the SCOTUS decide whether or not to take the Case? (This after Justice Souter turned it down previously). According to Salon, it is just one of many Lawsuits that may come up to try to prevent President-Elect Obama from becoming President.

"The people hoping this is a sign the court will agree with them and stop Obama from becoming president are almost certain to be let down. The fact that the case has gone to conference doesn't mean anything about its merits -- the court will also be deciding whether to take up a number of other cases, and the chances that the suit will actually be heard is exceedingly small. Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, has calculated that over the past eight years the court has considered in conference 842 cases that sought a stay. Only 60 of them were actually heard. Seven hundred and eighty-two were denied.

But that doesn't matter. The faux controversy isn't going to go away soon. Yes, Obama was born in Hawaii, and yes, he is eligible to be president. But according to several experts in conspiracy theories, and in the psychology of people who believe in conspiracy theories, there's little chance those people who think Obama is barred from the presidency will ever be convinced otherwise."

Worse yet, Salon goes on to say that even if this case is not heard by the Court, that won't be the end of it - even after January 20th.

"We could be dealing with the repercussions of the tangled web these people have woven for years after Obama is inaugurated. We already have some hints of what's to come. Gary Kreep, who heads the United States Justice Foundation and is representing Alan Keyes in one of the lawsuits over the president-elect's eligibility, has said his group will file suit to challenge each and every one of Obama's actions as president.

He may well inspire others. There are a surprising number of people out there -- tax protesters, for instance -- who rely on similarly creative legal thinking based on conspiracy theories for their defense. So don't be too surprised if, sometime after Jan. 20, defendants in federal trials suddenly claim they can't be prosecuted. If Obama isn't really president, then laws he signs have no effect, Department of Justice prosecutors have no authority and judges he appoints aren't legally judges. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just part of the conspiracy."

I'm only a Cat, so what do I know, but doesn't it seem like Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face, if you are an American and you try to sabotage the Presidency and prevent your Government from functioning during the Worst Recession in the past 50 Years? Wouldn't it be better to hope that this President can actually Fix Things? This is how Crazy these Humans are, and how Full of Hate. They don't care about their Country - not one bit!

Moving on. My Tail starts to Puff Up when I get too Annoyed with these Nutjobs. I have to Compose Myself now and wash my Tail to get it back to normal. I'll be right Back.

OK, I feel Better now. Let's see, where was I? Oh, now I remember. I came across this story on about President-Elect Obama's 27-year-old Speechwriter Jon Favreau. Apparently he had a Good Time one night and posted some pictures on Facebook of him and a friend trying to feed a cardboard cutout of the Hillary Clinton Human (now nominated as Obama's Secretary of State) a Beer, and worse yet, had his hand where her, well, Chest is. Check it Out:

He has since taken down the Incriminating Picture and apologized to the Clinton Human.

My Female Human is always Careful of what she puts on her Blog. In fact, she felt Very Daring when she posted the Picture of herself and That Dog in the snow by their Cabin last week. That was the closest anyone had seen her Face yet!

In Other Exciting News, my Humans have purchased a New Vehicle. Yes, it is a Jeep. The Male Human had hoped to continue driving his Old Saab (1985 Saab 900 with 249,000 miles on it) to Work. However, it seems to be leaking Water and he's worried it will be something Expensive to Fix. Plus they realized when they were up at that Cabin they go to, that they just can't get up the Hill with their Car if it snows. Not even if it's only a couple of Inches.

So today they went to a Dealership and scored a 2008 brand new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - the highest-end, fanciest version of the Wrangler, complete with every Add-On for Off Roading that there is, for a price well below what it was Listed For. It is Red and very Snazzy, with a 6-speed Manual Transmission, 4-wheel Drive, and a lot of Fancy Stuff that Cats don't understand, but apparently the Male Human is quite sure it will make it up the Hill to the Cabin even if there are four feet of Snow on the ground. He and my Female Human both test-drove it and liked it. And it has Satellite Radio and a Navigation System. I don't quite know what That is all about but they are Happy. And they even said because it's the 4-door version that there is plenty of Room for Me if they decide to Bring me up There. We'll see.

It looks like this, but the Red isn't quite as Orange:

That's it for Now. I'm going to go have some Catnip and Relax. I hope you all enjoy the Remainder of your Weekends.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

No Time for Blogging!

Now that we've moved into our new office building and gotten settled in, work is getting back to normal. In fact, it's busier than ever. And since my new office has walls and a door, unlike the cube in my old office, I am actually concentrating better on my work than ever before. I even lose track of time and end up staying until 8:30 p.m.! That has to stop!

Of course, this is detrimental to my blogging - and my visiting other people's blogs. Lucky thing NaBloPoMo has ended!

So for tonight (so I can leave before 8:30) I'll just leave you with a few haiku - and will catch up over the weekend. Baxter has been complaining to me that he hasn't had a chance to blog in AGES. I promised him he'd get the next post.

Work is so busy
I have no time for blogging
It makes me so sad!

My reader is full
And my sidebar is tempting
But I must work on.

My new office rocks
With its door and its ceiling
Privacy galore!

I can write in peace
And talk aloud to myself
I get much more done.

Hazelnut coffee
And our own little lunchroom
It feels so cozy.

We're on our own now
No more Big Corporation
It's better this way.

My commute is short
Though it's a longer trip,
It is all highway!

Life is pretty good
Maybe I'll stay here awhile
Instead of retire.

The stock market's down
And so's my 401k.
I don't have a choice!

Luckily for me
I'm now remotivated
And I will survive!

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day

It's hard to believe how long AIDS has been among us. I can still remember the first rumors of this new disease back in 1981, although it was later determined that it had really started much earlier.

In the next few years, there was the gradual increase in knowledge, the discovery of the virus in 1984, followed the next year by the availability of a blood test to diagnose the disease.

Although the initial belief was that the disease was only affecting gay men, it gradually became clear that anyone could be affected if they were exposed to the virus through blood. Intravenous drug users of both sexes were getting it; children were being born with it. Hemophiliacs and those receiving blood transfusions before the screening for the virus had started were also getting it. Men and women were getting it from each other. A few people even got it from their dentist's tools.

As the disease became more thoroughly understood, drugs were developed; first AZT, then throughout the 1990's a myriad of new drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors that gradually transformed AIDS - at least in the developed world - from a death sentence to a chronic disease that can be "managed." You can go here for a brief history of AIDS, which includes the timeline for the development of these drugs.

But an actual cure for AIDS or a vaccine are still out of reach, despite the efforts of researchers over the past quarter century and more. And in many developing countries, especially in Africa, the plague of AIDS continues to ravage their populations. The expensive miracle drugs that are keeping AIDS patients alive in the United States are not available to most AIDS patients in these parts of the world.

And even in the United States, the drugs don't work for everyone; and for others, the side effects are too severe and they can't take them.

One unfortunate effect of the success of the newer drugs is that they have made AIDS less visible and less threatening to the younger generations that are coming of age now. Many younger people are becoming complacent about AIDS and participating in risky behavior.

So there is much more to be done to continue to combat this scourge. Education has to continue to prevent new cases; drugs must be made available to those who aren't able to receive them now. And research must continue to ensure that one day a true cure is discovered, and a vaccine invented to protect the uninfected.

World AIDS Day reminds us once a year that we must continue to fight this disease which is ravaging so much of the world's population. But it's a battle that must be fought all year long. Please click on the title of this post to see what you can do to help.