Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Happened to April?

This is a first for me: an entire month went by without a blog post. I hope it isn't the beginning of a trend. Much as I love Facebook and other social media, I also love the interaction of the blogging world, where ideas can be more fleshed out and thoroughly discussed.

That said, I guess I didn't have enough energy in April to flesh out or thoroughly discuss any issues. Maybe it was the weather. April came, and after the long, cold winter, I was so happy it was spring again. But it wasn't. Day after day went by, with the weather as cold and nasty as it was in March, and no leaves showing up on the trees for what seemed like forever. Finally by mid-month, leaves and flowering trees started to appear. We went up to the cabin, expecting to hear the spring peepers, but it looked like the dead of winter there, and there wasn't a peeper to be heard peeping. Last year it was definitely warmer in April, even in the Adirondacks. We stayed in a lot and stoked the woodstove with logs!

We had intended to go back up to the cabin two weekends ago, but DH's dad got sick and ended up in the hospital for a week. Thankfully, he's OK, but we spent a lot of time driving back and forth to see him and visit my mother-in-law in the nursing home since Dad couldn't go. He's back to his old self, so we are hoping, fingers crossed, to go up to the cabin this weekend. I hope the spring peepers are still peeping.

I made it through Mother's Day, the first one without my own mother; we visited DH's mom and then had my aunt over for dinner. It was low-key but pleasant.

In the meantime, over the past month or two, I've gotten involved in "crossposting" shelter dogs, especially those from the NYC Animal Care & Control centers, where our Diva originally was rescued from by the Animal Farm Foundation. I started a separate Facebook page for the purpose.

Prior to getting involved in this form of animal rescue, I had no idea there was this national, even international, network of people posting dogs and cats on Facebook to share the plight of shelter pets in danger of being put down. Apparently it must work, because you never know when the picture or description of one particular dog (or cat) will touch the heart of someone else, and spur them to save the animal. Of course, it is also heartbreaking to know how many don't make it out. But at least I feel as if I'm making a small contribution to saving as many as possible.

So...I missed commenting on a lot of important events in the past 6 weeks. Of course, the biggest one was the killing of Osama Bin Laden. (Since it's old news by now and everybody and their brother knows about it, no need to link to a news article to refer to it!).

I was, frankly, somewhat surprised at the amount of celebration his death set off in this country. I felt more of a feeling of grim satisfaction. I didn't feel like popping champagn corks or rushing into New York City to be at ground zero. But I was also proud that President Obama was able to direct this accomplishment so efficiently and with such secrecy.

I have to say it probably would have been more "moral" on our part if we had captured him and tried him in our system of justice. But in all honesty, I can see what a mess that would have been. Look at the trouble President Obama had, just trying to try some of the Guantanamo suspects in a regular court. I realize that making things simpler is no reason to kill the man outright, but on the other hand, his death is certainly nothing I'm losing sleep over. He was evil, and he's dead, and I'm glad.

The other issue, of course, is this: Is it right to barge in on another sovereign country and kill someone who is living there (apparently with that country's blessing)? Again, probably not. But since Pakistan had to have known he was there, and didn't do anything about it themselves, I can't blame our government for taking matters into their own hands. And now that we know from the evidence captured at Bin Laden's compound that Bin Laden was continuing to actively encourage and direct terror attacks, it seems that this was the right thing to do.

As for the President's decision not to release pictures of Bin Laden to the public after his death, I agree with that. It would serve no purpose except to further satisfy our citizens' feelings of vengeance. Identification would not have been the reason to release the pictures, since, let's face it, when someone is shot in the head, they aren't very recognizable. In addition, people have not seen the man's face for a number of years, so how could they be sure, just from a picture, that this was Bin Laden? The DNA testing that was done should suffice. Sometimes people just have to actually trust their government.

The other reason not to release the pictures is, as President Obama said, we do not want to incite even more desire for revenge among Bin Laden's followers. We know he's dead. They know he's dead. No need to be carrying his head around on a pike, figuratively speaking.

On a lighter note, I've been enjoying the antics of the various possible contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. First there is Donald Trump, who made a kerfluffle over the long-standing debate (among those with few brain cells) over whether or not President Obama was born in this country, finally prompting the President to say, figuratively, "Oh, all right, for heaven's sakes, if you'll just shut up about this, here is my LONG-form birth certificate."

Of course, there will always be conspiracy theorists to deny the authenticity of any paperwork whatsoever that he may release, so I don't know how much good it did. But at least it shut Trump up on the subject, prompting him to then start claiming the President didn't do well at Columbia and Harvard. (Personally, I have no doubt this president is very intelligent, and I'm sure his grades were just fine. But I don't need to know what they were.) Luckily, Prince William married Kate Middleton, and Bin Laden got killed shortly after this whole incident, and the media were totally on to the next big thing. The Donald's further claims have gone unpublicized for the most part.

So, The Donald has been quiet for a week or two; in the meantime, Newt Gingrich has reared his ugly head. Or well-coiffed white head, if you prefer. Either way, his beliefs are darned ugly, so I feel justified in that description nevertheless. The Newark Star Ledger had a good editorial about Newt and his reactionary beliefs and outrageous statements, pointing out how far from the mainstream this man is, in his own words. Among the Newtonian statements quoted were:

"Bilingual education is teaching 'the language of the ghetto,' Gingrich said in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women in March 2007.

'Females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections, and they don’t have upper body strength,' Gingrich said in 1995, while teaching a history course at Georgia’s Reinhardt College. Males 'are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.

'There is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us,' Gingrich said of those who protested California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, on a Nov. 2008 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.

Gingrich wrote that it is time to 'profile for terrorists' and to 'actively discriminate based on suspicious terrorist information' in a Dec. 2009 op-ed for Human Events.

Gingrich told a crowd of evangelical churchgoers in San Antonio: 'If we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time (my grandchildren) are my age, they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.'"

And those are just a few of the quotes in the editorial. You can see the rest at the link. There are even more out there if anyone has the stomach to go look for them all. It is hard to imagine that Gingrich has the type of "family values" background that will appeal to the majority of right-wing conservatives, given his three wives and history of adultery. But his latest, and so far, last, wife, could be considered a plus for him these days. He converted to Catholicism and professes to be a changed man.

I think it's important to remember, adultery and multiple marriages aside, that Gingrich is not even close to being a moderate or normally conservative Republican. His viewpoints are far right and not appealing to the independents who will probably decide the next election.

I think the Austin Lounge Lizards do the best explanation of why Newt is not a good candidate. Enjoy:

Speaking of Catholicism, I was pleased to note in the New York Times that a group of over 75 Catholic professors wrote a letter to GOP Speaker John Boehner prior to his scheduled commencement address this Saturday at the Catholic University of America in Washington. The letter pointedly chastised him, saying the proposed Republican budget "will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable," per the Times. Specifically, it stated:

"'Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,' the letter says. 'From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.'"

Kudos to them for pointing out what is obvious to me and most other liberals: The Republican Party policies do not reflect "what Jesus would do." I've never understood why so many evangelical Christians support the GOP, for that reason. Glad to see these Catholic professors standing up for what is truly "Christian."

On that note, I will close, and get this blog post up so people won't think I've disappeared off the face of the earth. I hope everyone is doing well and I will be by to visit your blogs now that I'm back from my unintended hiautus!