Saturday, December 01, 2012

Downsizing Man's Best Friend

This is one of those "WTF is wrong with people?" posts.

I was reading the New York Times today and saw an article about a family in North Carolina who downsized their home from a 3,200 square foot home to a much more manageable 1,300 square foot house.

Always attracted to stories about people who manage to simplify their lives, I read the article with interest. Ever since we bought our cabin in the woods in the southeastern Adirondacks, which is basically one big room with a bathroom and a sleeping alcove plus a sun porch that can double as a guest bedroom, I have realized that our larger home in New Jersey is really more than we need.

The article started off in a heart-warming way, explaining how the family realized that the only reason they used one of their bathrooms was to wash the family dog, Toby, and that they spent most of their time as a family in one section of the house, in the back where their family room was.
"'The eat-in kitchen and the family room in the back of the house,' Mr. Kelly says. 'If we looked at where we lived as a family, it was the back of the house. When I thought about it, I realized we never spent any time in the bedrooms, except to sleep. The boys did their homework in the kitchen. The house was a waste.'"
So the family sold their big house for $675,000 and instead bought a 1,300-square-foot ranch house for just $245,000, leaving lots of money to play with ($300,000 was spent on renovations). So they added a large deck (15' by 45'), redid the kitchen/dining room/living room area, and installed built-in storage space in their new home.
"Another big-ticket item was the built-in storage. Made by Bo Taylor Custom Woodworking, a local company, it cost the Kellys $52,000. But it includes an entrance closet where the boys can drop their book bags, and cabinetry throughout the house. It’s so extensive, in fact, that none of the bedrooms have a dresser."
The article goes on to describe their wonderful new situation. The gas/electric bills have fallen from $300 a month to $100 a month, their property taxes went down by about half, and they now keep things simple by digitizing their paperwork so they don't have stuff all over the house.

So what's the problem with this story? The last paragraph, the kicker:
"There has been one sad downside to the downsizing, though. The new house, the Kellys realized, was too small for a dog the size of Toby. So he has gone to live with a family that has a bigger house, as well as another collie to keep him company."
So, back to my first line. WTF??? You downsized your house but now decide it's "too small" for your DOG? Are you KIDDING me? First of all, the dog couldn't care less how much room he had. He just wanted to be with you. (Our two dogs are each sitting next to us on our respective couches here at the aforementioned cabin that is basically one big room. There is plenty of room.)

This house this family bought is a 3-bedroom house. People lived in houses this size for years back in my childhood (and still do) - along with dogs, cats, and hamsters and children - and there was room for everyone.

No, there was plenty of room for Toby in the house - but apparently not in their hearts. If they had a third child they wouldn't have gotten rid of the child just because they moved to a smaller house. So why is it OK to give away the dog? And what kind of example is that for their children in terms of teaching them a sense of responsibility?

Yes, I know this is not the most egregious example of uncaring dog owners. I know that there are worse dog owners, dog owners who turn their 15-year-old dog in to a high kill shelter because they don't feel like taking care of him, or turn their dog in because they're "moving to where dogs aren't allowed" or because "they had a new baby" or "don't have time." Yes, those people are much, much worse. At least these folks found a good home for the dog. But I don't think they should be having feature articles written about them in the Times. They don't deserve the attention.

Toby, you are probably the lucky one in this story. Hopefully your new family will value you more than your old one did.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. It's been awhile, but don't think I have Forgotten my Fans. I have just been Waiting for this Election business to be Over. It was all Too Much for Me.

I am just Glad that it turned out the Way it did and that we didn't have another Big Mess like back in 2000, as some were worried we would. Of course, I knew a Cool Cat like President Obama would know the right way to get back in the White House for four more years!

He sure didn't have much of a Second Honeymoon, though, did he?

Boom, right after the Election came the News that General Petraeus, the Director of the CIA, had been Fooling Around with his Biographer, Paula Broadwell - and then came all kinds of other Stories about these hot Twin Sisters, Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam, who were hanging around all the Generals.

Amusingly to Me, these stories always refer to the Twins as "Socialites,"  a rather Quaint Term. Reminds My Humans of a Tom Waits song called Invitation to the Blues.  "He probably left her for a socialite, didn't love her 'cept at night, and then he's drunk and didn't even tell her that he cared..."
But I digress... sorry...

Apparently the former head of the CIA is spending his Days "grovelling" to his wife of 38 years, Holly, according to an Article in the UK's Daily Mail. My Female Human doesn't blame his Wife for being Furious, which is how her Mood is described by Those in the Know.

Even though it was Broadwell that had the Affair with the General, the Involvement of the Twin Socialites also seemed Rather Suspicious... something my Female Human felt was particularly Obvious in this Picture which has been Published far and wide, of the two Women, Petraeus (second from left) and Holly (far right) along with Jill's husband, in the center.

Two of these things are Not Like the Others, wouldn't you say?

In Fact, it has all Become so Convoluted and Involved so Many People in the Cast of Characters that the Borowitz Report posted an Article saying the CIA has come out with a Pamphlet to help you know whether YOU may be part of the Petraeus Scandal without even knowing it!

It is also being Reported that Paula Broadwell, who is married with two Children, is "devastated" by the Harm caused by the Fling between her and the General.

Ah, Humans... what is that Old Saying? "What a tangled Web we Weave, when First we Practice to Deceive."

Just goes to Show that perhaps Male Humans should be Neutered, just like Tomcats are, so they won't be Getting Into Trouble when they are past their Prime and vulnerable to Younger Women's wiles.

Or, per the Cartoon that Some have been Posting over on Facebook, maybe this is what Happens when you Allow Heterosexuals to Serve Openly in the Military?

At Any Rate, this Scandal is finally moving Off the front pages since it's been a Couple of Weeks and we're Off to the Races again with the Fiscal Cliff looming.

My Female Human says if she hears the words "Fiscal Cliff" one more time, she Won't Be Responsible For Her Actions.

President Obama Won the Election. I Hope he will use his "Political Capital" as They call it, to Stand Firm and not let the Republicans walk all Over Him during negotations. So Far So Good, as far as I can tell. For all the Latest News about the Fiscal Cliff, here's a Good Article. A few Choice Quotes to follow. The first, from GOP House Majority Leader Boehner:

"Mr. Boehner said that the White House needs to get serious about offering specific spending cuts they would put on the table towards a potential deal. 'All eyes are on the White House, the country doesn’t need a victory lap, it needs leadership,' Mr. Boehner said at a press conference in the Capitol."
This was countered by a Response from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
"Mr. Reid said it was incumbent on House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to put forward a realistic offer in response to Democrats’ plan to allow tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to increase at the end of the year. Mr. Reid said that Mr. Geithner has not made a new offer to Republicans as both sides try to broker a tax and spending deal before the end of the year. 'The president’s made the offer–there’s no offer to be made,' Mr. Reid told a handful of reporters as he walked into his offices. 'There’s no offer to be made.'"
Ah, Humans. They continue to Spar like a bunch of Tomcats Yowling in a Circle, hoping One will finally get the Upper Hand and get a Good Grip on the back of their Opponent's Neck.

The Good News I see is that at least President Obama apparently hasn't already Given Away the Farm up Front, as he was wont to do in the Beginning of his first Term. There is No Sense in him Offering ANY cuts in Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid. Let the Republicans make that Suggestion. Otherwise the Republicans will take Whatever the President Offers in Cuts and then want MORE. Plus this way, it is Obvious that it would be the Republicans who want to Cut these Programs that are Very Popular with the people!

In Other Good News, Senator Dick Durbin said that Social Security should NOT be part of the Fiscal Cliff talks as it does not contribute to the Deficit.

Let's Hope that the fact that some Republicans are finally Rejecting their Pledge to Grover Norquist to Never Raise Taxes may Actually lead to Progress in the Talks. But I'm not Holding My Breath. So far I don't see a Lot of Compromising going on on the GOP side. It may Take Awhile for the Fact they Lost to really Sink In. If it ever does.

With that, I will Bid you Farewell for Now. I think we will All need a Lot of Catnip to get through the End of the Year. Hopefully January 1 won't Find us at the Bottom of the Fiscal Cliff!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Money Alone Can't Buy You Love

With President Obama's decisive reelection on Tuesday night, the American people said "no" to the many millions of dollars spent by GOP Super PACs and people like Sheldon Adelson, who donated a small fortune of his own money to support Republican candidates, ending up with nothing to show for it.

After the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, many on the left feared that the practically unlimited amount of money that would pour into these surrogate organizations for the Republican candidates would leave the Democrats in the dust.

As it turned out, all that money was not enough to buy the election. President Obama was declared the winner a little after 11 p.m., with over 300 electoral college votes already in and possibly more to come, if Florida goes his way, as is expected. Nate Silver was right, and Unskewed Polls and Karl Rove were wrong. It's all over but the spin.

So why didn't all that money and advertising help the GOP? Maybe the answer isn't that the money couldn't help, but that it was used inefficiently.

In market research, there are models that can analyze and predict the effectiveness and the efficiency of advertising. There is a certain point at which advertising no longer influences the viewer. There is a certain point when the amount of money spent is no longer efficient and additional spending adds diminishing return on investment.


That saturation point is probably reached even sooner for negative advertising than for other kinds of advertising. The voters just start wishing it was all over, and become cynical about whichever candidate continues to push these ads on them. And it doesn't help that some of Romney's last ads, in Ohio, were full of lies that the voters knew better than to believe in the first place.

Of course, the Obama campaign also had plenty of money from donations. They raised a billion dollars themselves and had plenty of advertising. But the difference was in the way they used it. Their advertising started earlier, before Romney's campaign really took off, and defined him to the American voters before he had a chance to.

In addition, they targeted individual voters and identified a whole database full of potential supporters who fit the profile of Obama supporters - but hadn't yet become supporters.

In market research, this is called identifying your "Strategic Value" stakeholder or consumer - the target person who is most likely to respond to you or to your product and help you achieve your objectives. The next trick is to gain insight into that person and understand what makes them tick. Apparently the President's campaign was able to do this and to motivate those stakeholders to go out and stand in line for hours to vote for President Obama.

But it came down to a lot more than just good marketing principles for the President and his supporters.

It also came down to changing demographics - and a new coalition of diverse citizens who came together to reject the old viewpoints offered by the GOP, to reject hate and bigotry, and to support the President's vision of moving "Forward!" rather than backward.

Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans were all key voting blocs in the Democratic victory. Obama won among Hispanics 71% to 27% for Romney; among Asians by 73-26%, and among African-Americans by 93%. These population groups are all growing, while white Americans, who were more apt to vote for Romney, are declining as a portion of the electorate, a trend that is expected to continue.

President Obama did better among women than his opponent, with 55% of women voting for him vs. Romney. And, showing the importance of women's issues, candidates Akin and Mourdock, both of whom were castigated by their remarks about rape, lost their Senate races.

In addition, many women were elected, including Elizabeth Warren, who took back the late Senator Edward Kennedy's seat from Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the first female senator from the state. Other firsts: Tammy Baldwin, from Wisconsin, will be the first openly gay Senator. In Hawaii, Mazie Hirono will be the first Asian American woman there, while Hawaiian Tulsi Gabbard will be the first Hindu elected to the House of Representatives.

Young people came out to support President Obama again, as they did in 2008. He captured 60% of the vote for people 18-29, compared to only 36% for Romney. This age group represented 19% of the electorate, up a point from four years ago.

In addition, gay marriage was approved by voters in Maryland and Maine, and will likely be approved in Washington State as well, the first time same-sex marriage has been approved by the voters themselves. Other states allow gay marriage, but the decision was made by the state courts or legislatures. And in Minnesota, a referendum to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage failed, another victory against bigotry.

Washington State and Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana; Massachusetts approved medical marijuana use. The times truly are a-changin'.

And as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, if the Republicans don't start changing and join the reality-based world, they will be a footnote in history. Now they have to figure out whether to continue to double down on their far right wing positions and become less and less relevant to the population, or whether they will do some sincere soul-searching and try to come into the 21st century.

I'm hoping for the latter, because we need at least two viable parties in this country to keep a real dialogue going and to work together to solve problems. There are too many issues that need to be addressed; we can't afford another four years of gridlock and partisanship. But it takes two to tango and the GOP needs to step onto the dance floor.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Down to the Wire

Well, here it is, finally - the last day before the 2012 election. And things are looking relatively good for President Obama, thanks to the October Surprise that turned out to be Hurricane Sandy.

According to Nate Silver, the President now has an 86% chance of winning reelection, thanks to leads in the battleground states and a growing lead in the polls for the popular vote (now at 50.6 vs. 48.5). Although Silver says there are plenty of other reasons that Obama has rebounded since his performance at the first debate, I have no doubt that the hurricane and its aftermath did play a part in Romney's recent slippage.

I live in New Jersey, which, along with New York City, suffered the worst damage in the storm. Thankfully for us here in Northern New Jersey, the worst we got was a lot of downed trees and power lines. Since the rain wasn't that bad, we were spared the flooding we got last year during Hurricane Irene. But as everyone knows by now, the Jersey Shore was virtually destroyed and will take a long time to rebuild.

The destruction in New York City and New Jersey brought an endorsement for President Obama from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent former Republican, who said he thought the president is best equipped to do something about climate change, which he said the storm made clear was an important issue.

And, even more importantly, Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who gave the keynote speech at Romney's convention, praised the President's response to the hurricane and accompanied him on a tour of the devastation at the Jersey Shore.
"Christie told news outlets that the president’s response had been 'outstanding,' said that coordinating with the administration had been 'wonderful,' and remarked that 'the president has been all over this and he deserves great credit.' He even told Fox News the president had done a 'great job for New Jersey' while staying above the fray about politics: 'I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff.'" 
After receiving criticism from the Romney camp for his embrace of President Obama during the crisis, Christie reiterated his support for Romney but refused to back down on his praise for the President.
"'I'm a Republican, I've endorsed Mitt Romney and I support him. I intend to vote for him on Tuesday,'" Christie said. 'But the fact of the matter is that if the President of the United States comes here and he is willing to help my people, and he does it, then I'm going to say nice things about him because he's earned it.'"
In the meantime, Romney didn't do himself any favors by cynically calling an already-planned campaign rally a "storm relief rally" and actually buying some of the "donations" that supporters then picked up to "donate" to hurricane victims. It also doesn't help that he ignored the fact that the Red Cross discourages physical donations and prefers monetary aid, as sorting and shipping actual goods just takes more time, when it is usually faster to use the money to buy goods from locations closer to the center of the crisis. (You can go here to donate to the Red Cross, by the way!)

Romney's campaign also shot itself in the foot by airing deceptive commercials in Ohio during this same time period that warned Jeep and General Motors were sending jobs to China. Both Chrysler (which owns Jeep) and GM emphatically denied the accuracy of the ads.

So the general public saw President Obama acting presidential, suspending his campaign to look at storm damage, putting politics aside and joining a Republican governor in commiserating over his state's losses, while his opponent was holding a storm disaster campaign photo op and airing commercials that people knew were lies. Romney supporters shouldn't wonder why their candidate has lost his momentum and President Obama is pulling ahead.

But nothing is certain yet, as Republican governors in Florida and Ohio are doing their darnedest to suppress the vote in their states by limiting early voting, making sure there are horrendously long lines to vote in the (mostly) Democratic areas of their states, and any other strategies they can come up with.

In contrast, Christie has tried to make it easier for those displaced by the storm in New Jersey to vote, by adding early voting opportunities at county clerks' offices, extending the ability to vote by email to all citizens of the state, and allowing people to vote using provisional ballots if they are currently staying in a location outside of their usual voting area.

I am no fan of Christie, but I am very impressed with his fairness and bipartisanship during this crisis. There are certainly a lot worse Republican governors - and the ones in Ohio and Florida come to mind.

This is a very close election and every vote counts. Be sure your voice is heard and go to the polls tomorrow, if you haven't already voted early or with an absentee ballot!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Romney, Rape and the Republicans

Hi all, sorry for my long absence. I have been busily posting political thoughts over on Facebook and getting into lots of conversations but have not gotten around to posting here for much too long.

But now that the race is near the end and there is a very real possibility that Romney might manage to win the presidency with his sudden turnaround to Mr. Moderate, I felt I needed to write more about what a Romney presidency would mean.

It seems Romney's plan all along was to veer hard right for the primaries and then, as one of his advisers memorably said, use the "Etch-a-Sketch" and get rid of all that in time for the fall campaign when moderates and independents become important in the race. At the time, the comment was seen as a gaffe, but it turns out that is exactly what he had in mind all along. And the Democrats didn't see it coming. No doubt that is one reason President Obama seemed so flummoxed in that first debate; he came prepared with all kinds of anti-far-right rhetoric and there was Romney, blithely making statements supporting moderate positions on subjects he had previously been "severely conservative."

Or at least, he made it seem that way. His dissembling was particularly noticeable in his claims about his stance on health care. Contraception? Oh, he's for it. All women should have access to contraception. But he, and unfortunately, President Obama, did not point out that the whole difference was the President's plan requires women's insurance to cover contraception and Romney's plan would not.

Pre-existing conditions? Oh, yes, a Romney plan would cover those. But of course he didn't say that his plan was simply a return to the current situation we already have - people who have already had insurance can continue being covered despite pre-existing conditions. It doesn't help anyone who hasn't been insured already, although the individual states could choose to cover them - again, no change from current policy. The pre-existing conditions lie was such a whopper his spokespeople had to explain it after the debate - when all the undecided voters had stopped paying attention.

So who is the real Mitt Romney? Apparently there isn't one. Mitt Romney is whoever he needs to be to get elected. The real question is, who are his masters? Who is he beholden to? It seems pretty obvious - The far right. Grover Norquist. The Tea Party. Right-wing evangelic Christians.

Heck, Grover Norquist himself said it doesn't really matter who is president as long as he signs the legislation that comes to his desk. And, if he wins, that person would be Romney.
"All we have to do is replace Obama. We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget... We just need a president to sign this stuff."
So whatever Mitt's real beliefs, if he has them, he will be kowtowing to the far right end of his party. He chose Paul Ryan as a running mate to do just that. Ryan's positions are what are "severely conservative." Ryan's proposed budget would change the tax structure, lowering the top bracket to 25% from 35%, as well as making Medicare into a voucher program and making Medicaid into a block grant program administered solely by the states.

Romney has distanced himself from the Ryan budget, coming out with his own budget. However, his budget includes a large increase in military spending, as well as lower taxes, which he said could be covered by getting rid of unidentified loopholes. According to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, in order for Romney's budget to work, it would require cuts in many programs that help the elderly, veterans, disabled people and poor children.
"For the most part, Governor Romney has not outlined cuts in specific programs.  But if policy­makers repealed health reform (the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) and exempted Social Security from cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage to meet Romney’s overall spending cap and defense spending target, then they would have to cut non-defense programs other than Social Security by 22 percent in 2016 and 34 percent in 2022...  If they exempted Medicare from cuts for this period, the cuts in other programs would have to be even more dramatic — 32 percent in 2016 and 53 percent in 2022."
Then there is the "war on women." For some reason this year the Republicans have been very focused on rape. Legitimate rape, forcible rape, other kinds of rape. Many of these discussions about rape pertain to the issue of abortion and pregnancy that occurs as a result of rape. And in Pennsylvania, there is proposed legislation requiring mothers on welfare to prove they were raped before they would be allowed to collect additional funds to support a new baby.

So, why are Republicans so fixated on rape? Because in their eyes, if a woman is raped, it wasn't her fault she got pregnant. She didn't have sex in order to enjoy it, heaven forbid. It was forced on her - and it better have been done forcibly, because after all, "some girls rape easy."  If she just had sex voluntarily, out of desire, then she should reap what she sows, even if she was being responsible and using birth control that failed. She made her bed, let her lie in it. And of course the man had nothing to do with it, did he? No blame falls on him. It's all about controlling women.

Republican Richard Mourdock, who was recently criticized for his comments saying that pregnancy as a result of rape is something God intended, is just one of several Republicans, including Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who don't believe in abortion even in the cases of rape and incest. But you know what? I don't really have a problem with that. If their belief is that life begins at conception, then an exception for rape or incest makes no sense at all. Either it's a life or it isn't. And if that's what you believe, fine - just don't impose that belief on everyone else.

Again, even the rape/incest exception is an example of the blame game against women - if the woman didn't mean to have sex, then it's OK to kill the fetus. Otherwise the woman should be forced to have that baby because again, she should reap what she sows.

Unfortunately, the idea of making the exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, is now being construed as a "moderate" position in the Republican party. As Gail Collins points out in today's New York Times,
" One of the truly disturbing parts of our current politics is that we have begun to identify people who want to impose their religious beliefs on millions of women who don’t share them as moderates as long as they’re O.K. with the rape exemption."
The real shame of the whole "pro-life" stance in the Republican party is that they only care about that baby before it's born - afterwards, that baby and its mom are on their own. Don't expect handouts from the government to support that kid! Oh, and if he turns out to be a criminal, they have no problem with the death penalty. This has never made any sense to me either.

If anyone thinks Romney doesn't endorse these antediluvian positions on women's right to choose, remember he said he would support amendments to the constitution proclaiming life begins at conception and that marriage is between a man and a woman. He also pledges to take away federal funding from Planned Parenthood, which provides needed health care to many low income women.

And if he has the opportunity to appoint one or more Supreme Court Justices - which is extremely likely - he will appoint justices who would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade and who would be favorable to a constitutional amendment supporting marriage as being only between a man and a woman. According to his own website, "As president, Mitt will nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito."

Then there's the whole issue of racism in the Republican camp. Every time I try to believe that racism isn't at the core of many Republicans' antipathy toward President Obama, another reminder smacks me in the face that yes, obviously, that is part of it. The coded and not-so-coded words (Sarah Palin, "shuck and jive"??? Really???) - Obama being hanged in effigy - and now, most recently, John Sununu, co-chair of Romney's campaign, accusing former Secretary of State Colin Powell of endorsing President Obama due to racism. Of course, he later backed off of his comments - but that is the Republican way: put it out there, send your signal, then say, "Oh, I didn't mean it like that."

Don't even get me started on climate change and the environment. Suffice it to say that Romney says he loves coal and would love to drill for oil and gas on public lands and in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and wants to gut environmental regulations.

So what is the upshot of all this? A Mitt Romney presidency would be bad for:

The poor
The middle class
The elderly
LGBT people
The environment

The only people it would be good for is the richest 1% of the population, and the military-industrial complex.

We are better than this. We must ensure that President Obama gets another four years to enact his policies.

Now we have the "storm of the century" bearing down on the eastern coast of the U.S. Let's hope it does not disrupt these elections. Voter turnout for President Obama's supporters is key. Let's make sure everyone gets to the polls and votes! This election could not be more important!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I am still here fighting the good fight... for dogs!

Sorry for the long absence from the blog world. I have been caught up in some local issues and am trying to save a pit bull named Memphis that is being held at the Bloomfield, NJ shelter without opportunity for adoption despite never having bitten anyone since he has been at the shelter.

This dog came in as a stray in February, and the shelter manager, who is herself a dog trainer, but not familiar with pit bulls, felt he had issues that needed to be resolved.

She sent him to be evaluated at an animal welfare organization called St. Hubert's, where he was deemed "an accident waiting to happen," due to his responses to other dogs and to strangers who approached him in a threatening or scary manner. He did, however, act very friendly to a stranger who approached him and greeted him.

At this point, the dog had been found wandering as a stray, probably abandoned by his original owner, and then kept in a cage with only limited interactions with the outside world for several weeks. Of course he was nervous and over-reactive.

The shelter manager continued to work with him, but never felt she could trust him despite the fact that shelter volunteers and others who met Memphis said he was friendly and had never shown any signs of hostility to them.

Finally a well-known local trainer and pit bull rescuer, Jeff Coltenback, who also runs a pet store in our town, offered to take Memphis and work with him to ensure he could pass the temperament test and be adopted out. He had hoped to take him on permanently as his rescue is a registered 501(c)(3) rescue organization, but instead the local Health Department insisted he only keep him to train him and made him sign a long agreement which included stipulations on what he could or could not say about the dog's training, among other details.

To make a long story short, although Jeff did not comment on the dog's training, he did put up pictures of Memphis with other people, including children, on his Facebook page, and the Health Department demanded after 8 days that he bring Memphis back to the shelter, as he was "putting the public in danger" and it could be a liability for the town. As you can imagine, he was doing nothing of the sort.

In fact, Jeff said he only exposed people to Memphis who agreed to work with him, Memphis was supervised at all times, and he said that this is the way he always works with dogs that need socialization. Furthermore, he said since Memphis had come to him he had seen zero evidence of any dangerous traits. The dog gave him no cause for concern or any need for correction during the eight days he had him.

In fact, because of Memphis' friendly and winning personality, Jeff and his family fell in love with the dog and now want to adopt him. Since Memphis was returned to the shelter over a week ago, he was given another behavior test, and his future is now an item on the agenda of the Board of Health meeting tomorrow night. Even though the Health Department must have received the written results of the behavior test by now, they are not revealing the conclusions until the meeting takes place.

The story of Memphis has gone viral, thanks to social media, and Facebook Causes. I know many of my blog friends are fans of pit bulls; for those who are not, please understand this is a good dog, a family dog, who deserves a loving home. Being with a professional trainer and rescuer who loves him would be a perfect solution for him. How could anyone deny him this happiness? Please see here for further information about Memphis and his plight.

I will try to get back into the political scene shortly; as always, I have been following what is going on and am appalled at the choice of Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate. On the plus side, it gives President Obama plenty of fodder to work with. No one can say this is an election without stark differences between the two sides.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Haiku Sunday

It's been a lazy weekend for me. Yesterday we lounged around on the deck and had a couple of beers and then headed over to our neighbor's for the first barbecue of the season. As usual, I was one of the ones still sitting on their wonderful wraparound porch drinking wine and talking at 2 a.m. We never stay out that late ordinarily, but since this is three houses down from our house, DH could wander home at his preferred time of about 10 p.m. and I was able to stay until the bitter end!

Today was also spent out on the deck in the sunshine (I can't remember the last time we were able to be out on our deck in New Jersey in both March and April for many days in a row!). Now DH is staining the deck in preparation for the official deck season and I'm trying to come up with some haiku for a Sunday afternoon...

Santorum is out
Looks like it will be Romney
Less scary, still bad

Which Romney is he?
The right-wing conservative
Or that other guy?

You know who I mean,
The one who was governor
And passed that health care

It had a mandate
Just like Obama's plan has
He thought it was great!

And another thing:
He supported the women
Said he was pro-choice

But that's all over;
He's against "Obamacare"
And Planned Parenthood!

So which one is it?
Both sides are in a quandary
Who is the real Mitt?

Right-wingers worry
He's really the liberal
That he seemed back then

Liberals worry
That he now means what he says
And lied in the past.

Such a conundrum.
But if you're a liberal
Your choice is still clear

Vote for Obama;
And you won't have to worry
Which Mitt is for real.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A sad farewell...

Sorry for my long absence. My Aunt Frances, who was 91, just passed away over the weekend after having fallen and broken her hip in early February.

Despite the fact she recovered quite well physically from the surgery to fix her hip and was able to walk again with help, she never really recovered from the shock to her body at that age. She had little appetite before the fall, which probably led to her being weak in the first place; afterward she hardly ate at all. She was in rehab for about 3 weeks in a nursing home and then had to be moved to another nursing home after the rehab ended, because she had declined cognitively and would not have been able to take care of herself or be alone at all. She basically stopped eating or drinking about a week ago and just faded away early Sunday morning. I think she just didn't want to live in a nursing home and be dependent for the rest of her days.

While looking through her photo albums to pick some pictures for the funeral service, I enjoyed seeing all the pictures of her smiling and happy during her lifetime; laughing with friends, sitting on the beach at Cape Cod, standing in front of forsythia and cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park or foliage in Vermont, enjoying outings with family in Massachusetts, posing in front of numerous Christmas trees, holding me as a baby in her arms while my parents looked on... smiling in front of palm trees in Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

My aunt did a lot of traveling when she was younger; and when I was young I thought of her as kind of like Mary Tyler Moore's character on TV.  She was an independent working woman who traveled, hung out with her friends, and seemed quite cosmopolitan to me. My mother worked before I was born, but stayed home after that. My aunt was my example of working womanhood!

When I was little, she would get down on the floor and play with me. Since she was so young at heart, I remember telling her once back then that I thought she was a teenager. She was pretty tickled about that, considering she was in her late 30s at the time.

She remained single all her life, but did have a few romances. One of the longest relationships was with a man named Arthur, which lasted three years. He had wanted to marry her but she felt he was too unreliable, as he did not have a steady job. My aunt was always very practical.

Born in a tiny town in Massachusetts, she lived there until she was in her late 20s, when she moved to New Jersey, where my mother had already settled and found a career in medical writing. Their parents, my grandparents, also moved to New Jersey a year or two later. Eventually my aunt bought a house in Nutley and her parents lived with her and she cared for them in their old age while still working full-time. She learned to drive at age 42 and bravely traversed the highways on trips to New England.

Although my aunt never went to a 4-year college, she tried on a number of careers before finally entering the field of spectroscopy. At first she went to school for occupational therapy and found work at a mental hospital; but after having a patient turn violent and break her glasses, she decided it was not for her. She worked in a cookie factory for a short period of time as well. She joined the Waves during World War II but was discharged due to medical reasons shortly thereafter; she had had some kind of seizure, which was never really explained. She never had another one after that. She was always disappointed that she had not completed her stint in the Waves.

Once she moved to New Jersey she took some technical courses and got a job at Englehard Industries in Newark, NJ. She worked there for about 20 years in the spectroscopy lab, analyzing precious metals. She was the acting supervisor of the lab and had many friends from her working years there.

She retired at 62 in 1982, and continued to live in her house in Nutley until four years ago, when she moved to the senior citizens apartment building where my mother had moved, down the street from me. She lived independently up until she broke her hip.

I fondly remember all the Sunday dinners our family shared together, during my grandparents' lifetime and afterward. Even during the last few months my aunt was still inviting my husband and me over for a meal at her apartment. I always had an impression of my aunt as rather a gourmet cook; she liked to try new recipes and in our plain-food New England-based family, she was the first to put garlic cloves on the outside of the lamb at Easter!

I'll also always remember the ample drinks before dinner on the patio in nice weather and the drinks being shaken-up in an old screw-top jar. My aunt also loved picnics; when we were all younger we would take a picnic up to one of New Jersey's little lakes and have a picnic on the beach - always with a hidden thermos of wine!

An ardent Boston Red Sox fan to the end, my aunt paid extra for the MLB channel on Comcast just to be able to see the Sox play on a regular basis.  She was also a subscriber to the Red Sox Die Hard magazine when it was still being published in hard copy. And she was always ready to discuss the merits of the the Red Sox versus the Yankees with her nephew-in-law! She was lucky enough to see the Red Sox win two championships in her lifetime, a feat many Sox fans did not achieve.

My Aunt Frances was a very generous person, not only to me, but to many charities. She was always giving money to causes that she believed in:  the World Wildlife Fund, the Humane Society, veterans organizations, and charities benefiting Native Americans, to name only a few. She was a faithful churchgoer and did a lot of volunteer work for the church. She was especially proud of her work in the church's Memorial Garden, where the ashes of some of the congregants were scattered instead of being buried elsewhere.

After she retired, she volunteered as a tutor, helping immigrants learning English as a second language become fluent by conversing with them and helping them read English. She also took up bowling in her late 70s, bowling with my mother on a league until as recently as three years ago. She had a 140 average at her best; not too shabby for someone who barely weighed 90 pounds.

No mention of my aunt is complete without talking about her cats. I still remember each cat she had; there was Tiga, who she got as a kitten from a man she worked with named Joe; Tiga had the biggest ears I'd ever seen on a kitten. He never quite grew into them. She had Smokey, a gray cat that died young due to a gastroenteritis virus; and Thumper, a black-and-white cat that used to belong to an old boss of mine whose kids became allergic (we took his mother, Sheba).

There were a number of others, ending with Amanda and her son, Geoffrey, her last two cats. Amanda, a tiger cat, lived a good long life but developed cancer and had to be put to sleep not long before my aunt moved to her apartment. My aunt moved in to the apartment with Geoffrey, a black-and-white cat, who lived to the ripe old age of 18 and died only last year. I've often felt that my aunt went downhill from the moment Geoffrey died. In retrospect, I wish I'd convinced her to get another cat.

While I will always miss her, I think she went on her own terms and did not want to live any longer. She was at peace and ready to go, and I am glad of that. I think that is all anyone can hope for.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. I am So Embarrassed.  My Female Human has added a "Donate" button to the sidebar of My Blog. (Yes, I know technically it is Her Blog, but I consider Myself the Key Contributor. Everyone always praises My Posts most Highly).

My Human explained to Me that her Unemployment is running out and she has No Desire to go Back to the Corporate World to make Real Money. It would involve her getting Dressed, and leaving the House at the same time Every Day. And maybe even buying New Clothes. And let's face it, she HAS been applying to Numerous Jobs that might have paid at least a Decent Amount, and No One wants her! People, she is No Spring Chicken. They don't want Old People like her.

So, in Addition to doing Proofreading and other paying tasks at Home, she will Depend on the Kindness of Strangers. Yes, Strangers. She doesn't want to make her Friends or Fellow Struggling Bloggers feel they should send any Money; she is Hoping Random Strange People may stop by and suddenly feel Generous. As the saying goes, You Never Know.

But as a Cat, I find it Humiliating to be putting that Button out there. We Cats are Very Independent. Plus we can catch Mice to live. (True, I have never actually caught a Mouse, but it could Happen.)

Now mind you, if my Human doesn't start Blogging more often and with Greater Effort, No One will ever donate to her Blog. So I suggest she let Me on here MUCH more often so something can Get Done from time to time. Personally, I consider this an Experiment. If it doesn't add anything to Life then the Button will be gone! I will make sure of it! I am. What a Mess this Republican primary process is in! Mitt Romney was supposed to be the Front-Runner. But now he is falling Behind! According to Gallup, Romney is actually trailing Santorum on a National Basis.Who'd 'a thunk it?

Well, he hasn't exactly endeared Himself to his home state of Michigan. A couple of years ago he wrote in an Op-Ed article in the NY Times that the US Government shouldn't Bail Out American Auto Companies. And worse yet, he titled it Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.

OK, you may Say, but that was two years ago, maybe he Changed his Mind since then? Nope. Ten days ago he wrote another op-ed, this time in The Detroit News, calling the Bailouts "Crony Capitalism." He Castigated President Obama for not Standing Up to the Unions. Of course, lots of people in the Michigan area are part of Unions. Somehow, this does not seem like a Wise Policy to have when you are trying to Win a Primary in Michigan.

It also doesn't Help that Romney keeps talking about how Rich he is. Like yesterday, at that Debacle of a Speech in the Huge Stadium with Hardly Anyone There, he referred to the fact that his wife and he own 4, count 'em, 4, Cars -- including two Cadillacs. While this Alone should not be a Big Problem, it is just one of a Long Line of Remarks Romney has made that show he is Out of Touch with Average Americans, who can't afford four Cars and two Homes as the Romneys do. The Michigan Primary will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28, so We Shall See What Happens. According to two New Polls, Romney is now Ahead of Santorum in Michigan.

As a Cat, I really don't Like either of the Leading Candidates. And even though I am No Fan of Dogs, it does Rub my Fur the Wrong Way to think about Romney putting his Dog in a carrier on Top of his Station Wagon for a 12-hour Drive from Massachusetts to Canada. And apparently there is even More to It than I had Heard. The Dog got, um, the Runs, while in the Container and they stopped and Romney Hosed him and the Crate Down before Heading Back onto the Road.

There are even Stories that, unlike What We Have Been Told about Seamus the Dog living to a Ripe Old Age, actually he Took Off when they reached Canada and was never seen again! More here! The incident will Not Go Away, and has Spawned a Whole Bunch of Groups, led by Dogs Against Romney, founded in 2007. On Facebook their site is the largest, but not the Only One.

In the Meantime, Santorum has been, as they say, Surging, and I am Tired of the Man already. I am not going to Get Into the whole War On Women's Bodies thing that is Going On in the GOP these days. I'll leave that to my Female Human, who has a Lot More at Stake in this than I do.

So that's my Take on Things for Today. I'll be back Very Soon. In the meantime, take the Time to Sniff the Catnip and don't let this Political Stuff ruin your Day. I know I never let it ruin Mine!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Haiku Thursday

Rain is falling down
Both of the dogs are snoring
It's very peaceful.

I'm reading the blogs
Skipping over to Facebook
And then back again.

The house is a mess
The dogs were chewing rope toys
Now shredded to bits.

Soon I must arise
Go clean up the living room
And do some dishes.

Then I must go out
Venture forth into the rain
And visit my aunt.

But for now, I think
I'll just sit here reading blogs
And listen to jazz...

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Always Something!

Well, just when I think things are going to settle down and be peaceful, something else happens. My 91-year-old aunt fell and broke her hip a few days ago. Now she's in the hospital and will need to go into rehab. Luckily she made it through the surgery to put the pin in her leg with flying colors - they used a spinal instead of general anesthesia and she did great. She is doing well and they think she will be able to walk fine once she finishes rehabilitation.

Of course that is not my only excuse for not posting for awhile. We actually managed to go up to the cabin in the Adirondacks last weekend for four days. The weather up there has been as unseasonably mild as it has been down in New Jersey. So we figured, why not go up? There was no snow on the ground whatsoever, very unusual for that area in February.

However, our gravel "road" (if you can dignify it with that description) was covered in a sheet of ice. All moisture tends to gather on the road and flow down the hill, whether from melting snow or from rain. However, our Jeep Rubicon lived up to its reputation. We were able to get up that hill by running the Jeep along the side of the road where the leaves were, rather than on the slick ice. We just had to put it in 4-wheel-drive, "low low" (an extra low gear just for this model) AND lock the axles. Not a problem! It was a relaxing weekend and I have to admit I did not get on the computer much at all.

So, in the meantime, the politics of the GOP nomination continue to be volatile! Just when you thought Gingrich had subsided and things might be smoothing out for Romney, Santorum goes and wins in caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado, and in a "non-binding" primary in Missouri. As a result, new money has poured into his campaign. It's like that old whack-a-mole game. You get one of them and another one pops up!

It is obvious that many GOP primary-goers just don't like Mitt. They try but they just can't do it. What scares me is that Santorum represents the most right-wing, theocratic side of the GOP, and any votes that put him anywhere near being a possible nominee for the Republicans is a very scary thought.

Santorum is a man who is so homophobic he talked about gay sex in the context of "man on dog," and he is against birth control for women, although he says he doesn't want to ban birth control. He just thinks it would be good if states were allowed to ban birth control. Even Ireland doesn't ban birth control anymore! What century does this man live in?

Think it can't happen? The "personhood" amendments being pushed by Republicans would do just that, if they ever passed. Many forms of birth control would be considered ending the life of a "person." Even Mississippi voted that idea down. But it keeps popping up again in other states. According to Personhood USA, activists are trying to get personhood measures on the ballot in at least 12 states in November 2012!

"For now, it’s unclear how many of the personhood proposals will actually go before voters later this year. Authorities have given the green light to gather signatures for proposed ballot measures in Colorado, Ohio, Montana and California, while legislators in Kansas, Virginia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama and Georgia have been working on bills that could lead to personhood referendums.

In Nevada and Arkansas, personhood campaigns also are in place, but have been slowed by disputes over the wording of proposed ballot measures. In Florida, anti-abortion activists are gearing up to seek a referendum in 2014."

Whatever else you want to say about Election Year 2012, it isn't dull; and it isn't inconsequential. There are HUGE issues at stake in this election, especially if by some chance Romney doesn't get the nomination. Anyone who wonders whether there is that much of a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, between Romney and Obama, had better look hard at the issues that matter to them.

Maybe President Obama hasn't been the most liberal Democrat ever elected; but he is certainly way more "liberal" than anything the GOP will come up with, even Romney. Keep that in mind when thinking about things like Supreme Court appointments, the environment, reproductive rights, civil rights, and more.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Haiku Saturday

Well, here it is, the day of the South Carolina primary. It is amazing to me that in such a short time, Newt Gringrich has surged to the point he may actually beat Romney despite all his morality-challenged past actions.

And it's not all because Rick Perry dropped out; it seems as if people down there just seem more excited about Newt than about Mitt. As columnist Paul Mulshine says in the linked article, "An excess of emotion trumps a lack of emotion every time in the Deep South. That might explain why Romney’s in so much trouble in a race he was expected to win in a walk."

It probably isn't helping Mitt much that Stephen Colbert is down there campaigning with former candidate Herman Cain, further confusing the voters, some of whom may not even realize he's a satirist.

And of course, in the meantime, Romney is still reeling from finding out he apparently didn't win the Iowa caucuses after all; Santorum apparently beat him by 34 votes.

It will be very interesting to see what happens today. Since I have no real news to talk about until after the vote, I thought it would be a good time for some haiku. And the first one I am going to post is by Jeremy over at Chew the Fat - and I'll send you over to his place to read it. Hint: It's about Newt and it is very good!

Now here are mine...

First snow of winter
Drapes cotton over the cars
And makes my feet slip.

The dogs aren't walking
We drove to get the paper
We are pathetic.

This is the Northeast
Snow is a normal event
But we were so spoiled.

One snowstorm in Fall
Nothing but good weather since
What do you expect?

It's warmer down South
Where things are getting hotter
Newt may beat Romney.

Running neck and neck
Santorum and Paul behind
But they're still trying.

After tomorrow
The race may get more narrow
We will wait and see.

That's all I've got today! Tomorrow is another day and will provide plenty of entertainment, I'm sure. In the meantime I'll post this highly amusing and very pertinent song by the Austin Lounge Lizards, "Gingrich the Newt." The ironic thing is, this song is from Newt's FIRST era in politics and is still true today. I love the reference to orphanages; apparently Newt said back in the 90s that kids would do better in orphanages than in the welfare system. Now he thinks poor kids should be janitors. Really, the more he changes the more he remains the same! (If I've posted it before, apologies for repetition, but it is definitely worth repeating. There isn't really any video to this but do listen to the words!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Cat's Eye View - of Ron Paul

Baxter here. Sorry to have been Silent for so Long but I am at the Mercy of the Humans in terms of when I can Blog or not. Luckily my Female Human has taken it into her Head to get back to the Business of Blogging again and is giving me the Access I deserve to expound on My Opinions here. It's not that I can't Type, but I am not Very Good at the management of Software and I don't know HTML so my Human has to help a little when I want to do things like make things bold or whatever. And I have Strong Opinions so I need some bold now and then!

OK, so where was I? Oh yes, Ron Paul. The so-called Libertarian among the GOP field. As a Cat, I am sure you would understand that I like the idea of being a Libertarian. There is no one more Libertarian than Cats. Dogs are certainly NOT Libertarians. They do whatever their Masters want, or at least they try to. Sometimes their Brains are Too Relaxed to understand what is Wanted. But if they figure it out, they'll do it. Well, maybe except That Dog they call Diva. She tends to do what SHE wants. But the New One, Angel, she tries to Please; except for one thing - she still wants to chase Me and Bark. But I digress.

Many Humans who usually think Progressively tend to kind of like the idea of Ron Paul. Not Ron Paul himself, mind you, but their IDEA of Ron Paul. They think of him as Someone who would get Government out of their Hair and Leave them Alone. They also know that, unlike front-runner Romney, he thinks legalization of Marijuana should be left to the states and there should not be a federal law against it, which they think is kind of Cool - and that he was against the War in Iraq, also a Good Thing in many People's Eyes. But they may not have read the Details of his other ideas on the issues. If they did, they would be Much More Concerned about Mr. Paul. For instance:

He is "Pro-Life," saying he believes Life begins at Conception and Roe vs. Wade should be reversed. In addition, he opposes any Government Funding for Things People Don't Believe in - which in this case means:

"Ron Paul will also protect the American people’s freedom of conscience by working to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for abortions, Planned Parenthood, or any other so-called “family planning” program."

Now, as a Neutered Cat, issues of Contraception have No Interest to Me. But I'm sure there are Many Progressive Female Humans who would find these Ideas Alarming. I also wonder, if Conservatives think the "American People" should not have to have their Taxes go toward Things they Don't Believe In, why does that only apply to Things Conservatives Don't Believe In? Shouldn't Liberals and Progressives have the Right to refuse having their Taxes go toward Things They Don't Believe In either? Like, for instance, My Humans would Choose not to have their Taxes go toward Wars and Military Spending. Why should the Consciences of Conservatives be the Federal Government's only Concern?

Ron Paul has More Ideas. Lots of them. For instance, he wants to Abolish the Income Tax, the "Death" Tax, the Capital Gains Tax, and the Federal Gas Tax. Oh, but he also wants to Balance the Budget. I Wonder how he would Do That? Sounds Confusing to Me; but of course, I am Only a Cat.

As for Energy, Paul is of the Drill, Baby, Drill! mindset. More Oil! More Gas! Nuclear Power! Coal! Oh, and Abolish the EPA - that's just a Lot of Troublemakers Ruining the Economy and keeping our Energy Prices up!
"As President, Ron Paul will lead the fight to:

* Remove restrictions on drilling, so companies can tap into the vast amount of oil we have here at home.

* Repeal the federal tax on gasoline. Eliminating the federal gas tax would result in an 18 cents savings per gallon for American consumers.

* Lift government roadblocks to the use of coal and nuclear power.

* Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington."

I particularly Love the idea that Property Owners would have to Go to Court to get Polluters to pay for the Damages they create. How would that work, exactly? My Humans would have to sue the owner of the local Gas Station or the nearby Industrial Brownfield for the contamination of the Groundwater? And wouldn't that Clog up the Courts indefinitely? Or better yet, for Mr. Paul, I guess he figures People would get Tired of having to Sue to get anything or wouldn't be able to Afford the Lawyer Fees and Big Polluters would just Get Away With It.

Home-Schooling? He's all for it.

"Ron Paul believes no nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family does.

And the truth is, no big government spending program can or will solve our nation’s education problems."

Personally, I would rather the Human Children be Taught by Professionals and not a bunch of Evolution-Denying, Anti-Intellectual Parents who will Brainwash the Kids to grow up thinking Just Like Them. And the More People who Homeschool, the fewer People will be paying for Public Education (Mr. Paul, of course, wants these Parents to get a Tax Credit for Homeschooling their Kids) and Public Education will Continue to Go Downhill.

What about Guns and the Second Amendment, you may ask. Well, of course, Ron Paul is all Pro-Second Amendment and Pro-Gun!

"With our gun rights under constant attack from our own government and the anti-gun United Nations, as well as the threat of rising crime due to our country’s economic woes, Congressman Paul believes it has never been more important that our President be 100% committed to defending our God-given right to keep and bear arms."

(Of course we All Know how much God likes us to have Guns; that's why it is our God-Given Right to have them!)

True, some Progressives and Liberals will like some of his Ideas on the Military. After all, who Among Us would argue that there is a lot of Waste in the Military Budget, and that we probably don't need to give Money to "Rich Dictators." And it probably IS a Good Idea to follow the Constitution and have Congress Declare War before actually going to War.

But to Me, as a Liberal Cat, his other Ideas are Just Too Dangerous. I hope my Fellow Liberals and Progressives will read Mr. Paul's positions Very Carefully.

So that's It from Me today. I hope you Enjoy Your Weekend and Have Enough Catnip to Get Through this Election Season. It's only going to Get Worse before it Gets Better!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Haiku Monday

January is
Such a long and dreary month
But so far no snow.

It's global warming
I venture to speculate;
No complaints from me. 

The Republicans
Have converged on New Hampshire
Tomorrow's the vote.

Mitt Romney screwed up;
Said he likes to fire people
Poor choice of wording.

Newt Gingrich cancelled
Because protesters showed up
He can't take the heat.

And Rick Santorum
Isn't faring much better
In the Granite State.

He heard the booing 
Due to views on gay marriage 
Over in Concord.

After tomorrow
The whole circus moves onward
Let's hope it ends soon.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

"Santorum? Really?!"

Well, the much-touted Iowa caucuses are over, thankfully, but the Republicans still haven't managed to admit they have to choose Romney. Sure, Romney won Iowa by a whopping 8 votes, but the fact that Rick Santorum nearly tied him should give all sane people pause. When I first heard that Santorum was even running, I couldn't take it seriously. The man was voted out of office in Pennsylvania by 18 percentage points in 2006 for a lot of good reasons (see link for a number of lapses in integrity and episodes of crass hypocrisy) and his history of homophobia was (and still is) so rabid that his opponents, led by Dan Savage, actually made his name a definition for an unsavory type of substance, which shows up pretty close to the top of any Google search you do on his name. (No, I won't link it here, but feel free to Google if you are one of the few who has not already heard about it).

So I may be forgiven if I thought we'd seen the last of him. But strangely, he's baaaack! Santorum is running for President and has managed to promote himself as the sole keeper of family values competing for the Republican nomination, thus siphoning off all of the hardcore right-wing evangelical Republicans in Iowa and managing to nearly topple Romney. You almost have to feel sorry for Romney; he's doing everything right and yet the GOP voters still don't want him.
Just in case anyone has forgotten what a nutjob Santorum really is, let's revisit a few of his positions. This link will take you to a site that lists a number of quotes by Santorum on various subjects. A few choice examples:
  • “The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion.” - Rick Santorum on how abortion is responsible for Social Security’s problems, 3/29/11
  • “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people’.” - Rick Santorum on President Obama’s race and pro-choice beliefs, 1/19/2011 
  • “Is anyone saying same-sex couples can’t love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?" - Rick Santorum comparing his love for his mother-in-law to the love that same-sex couples share, 5/22/2008
In case you wonder whether he really believes some of the things he says, you can see his beliefs on his own website, where he states he will do the following things, among others:
  • "Repeal Clinton-era Title X family planning regulations, and will direct HHS to restore the separation of Title X family planning from abortion practices and restore a ban on referrals for abortion 
  • Reinstitute the Mexico City Policy to stop tax-payer funding or promotion of abortion overseas
  • Ban federal funding for embryonic stem cell research 
  • Restore conscience clause protections for health care workers 
  • Defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court 
  • Ban military chaplains from performing same sex marriage ceremonies on military bases or other Federal properties
  • Repeal Obamacare mandate for contraceptive services in healthcare plans... 
  • Veto any bill or budget that funds abortion or funds any organization that performs abortions including Planned Parenthood 
  • Call on Congress to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 
  • Advocate for a Personhood Amendment to the Constitution... 
  • Advocate for a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution 
  • Call on Congress to reinstitute Don't Ask/Don't Tell 
  • Call on Congress to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act 
  • Call on Congress to reinstitute 2008-level funding for the Community Based Abstinence Education program 
  • Advocate for a federal law permitting schools to allow prayer at graduations, football games and other school functions." 
Anyone who cares about a woman's right to choose - including the choice of using birth control - should be very afraid if Santorum ever got elected. And forget separation of church and state - such as it is - this guy would love to see a theocracy.

On last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart used a great analogy to point out that in the end, the Republicans just have to pick Romney. I'm just hoping he's right, for the sake of the country. While I do feel that Romney may have the best chance of beating Obama, which is not good from my perspective, on the other hand, the voters in this country are just crazy enough that they might actually elect a Santorum or some other equally unsuitable person as president, and that would be so much worse than having a President Romney that I can't even think about it.  Of course, there are a lot of reasons Romney should not be the next president.  We can get into that next time!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - Romspringa - Rick Santorum's Surge
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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Another Year, Another Opportunity to Change

Well, here it is 2012, and once again it is time for the New Year's Resolutions.

As you can guess, my first one is going to be to blog again! I had really been feeling distant from the whole political scene during the past year or so, and it was hard to get up any enthusiasm for writing about much of anything. Even with the heating up of the Republican race, it was hard to get interested in the competition when the competitors were so totally lame and none were really pulling ahead. Now it seems to be coming down to Romney, with Newt Gingrich and even Ron Paul still surprisingly strong. But in the end I think it will be Romney. We will see what happens after the first few contests, starting with Iowa this week. Once the competitor is identified it will be a lot easier to analyze the differences between the Republican contender and President Obama, and writing about them will be much more interesting!

Of course, I also have the usual resolutions to lose weight, exercise, eat at home more, and so on. But let's face it, those are boring, since I make them every year and usually don't stick with them. But I'll give it a try anyway.

I also need to resolve to earn some money - unemployment is running out in February and I need to be more diligent about getting freelance proofreading jobs; or even finding myself a real job. (Hopefully part time!)

Baxter also has a resolution. Here it is:

"I want to tame the New Dog, Angel, who still tries to chase Me if she gets upstairs past the Gate at the top of the Steps. My Humans have brought Angel upstairs on her Leash a few times and managed to get her to stop barking and sit while looking at Me while I make Scary Siren Noises and Loud Hissing to keep her in her Place. Over time I hope this will Subdue Her and maybe I will be able to come back downstairs and join the Family again. I like Sleeping on the Bed at Night but it's not the Same as having Full Run of the House."

So that's it for now, but I will be back again tomorrow and actually write something worthwhile.

In the meantime, Happy 2012 to all my blogging friends and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!