Boots?

boots

Yagotta love these guys like Boehner and the comedy team of Graham and McCain.

First they demand that the president arm the rebels in Syria, although we had no idea who they really were, and only found out later many were from what is now called ISIS, so we would have armed the very people we are dealing with now.

Then they demand he bomb Syria.

When ISIS began its move and released its slick videos of two beheadings, obviously to scare people and attempt to appear bigger and more powerful than they are, People demanded Obama do something.

He was criticized for taking too much time to assess the situation in a day and age when we just like to rush into wars and sort the reasons out later.

When things came to a head, Congress went on its break, basically leaving the president to figure things out on his own.

So he goes and gets a coalition together that includes Arabs who claimed they would never fight each other, starts dropping the demanded bombs, takes out a few ISIS strongholds, and pretty much does what they have been demanding, and now he is condemned for doing exactly what they had been demanding he do.

They told him to do something, but are now upset that he did not ask permission to do what they told him to do.

But this is what they have been doing since he got elected anyway.

They demand he do what they want, demand that he propose laws and bills that they want,  makes the adjustments that they demand, and then they oppose him.

Now they are demanding boots on the ground. They cannot skip a boots on the ground war when they have a chance for one.

But, even as they demand he put boots on the ground, it is clear that the only reason they want him to do that is so that they can condemn him for doing that.

According to John Boehner, “If the goal is to destroy ISIS, as the president says it is, I don’t believe the strategy that he outlined will accomplish that. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to take more than air strikes to drive them out of there. At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

Regarding the president’s not wanting those boots to be American boots, Boehner stated, “If I were the president, I probably wouldn’t have talked about what I wouldn’t do — and maybe we can get enough of those forces trained to get them on the battlefield, but somebody’s boots have to be there. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us, and if we don’t destroy them first, we’re going to pay the price.”

If the president wanted authorization to put boots on the ground, the Speaker said he would call congress back to D.C. to vote on that.

However, “The president has not done that. He believes he has authority under existing resolutions to do what he’s done.”

AND, what the people like Boehner have been demanding he do.

Boehner believes the president has the authority to do what he is doing, but he believes Congress should be included, if only to be included.
“I think he does have the authority to do it, but the point I’m making is this is a proposal that the Congress ought to consider”.

And in the meantime, the military-industrial complex stands to make a fortune in selling its product, and you just know there are members in congress who have to guarantee that happens as they have favors to repay.

Perhaps they only need to have a theatrical vote to do that.

I’m Bomb-Man

bomb

Why is it that the first response the United States has adopted is that, instead of talking and diplomacy, we grab all our American flags, chant meaningless competitive jingoistic phrases as if we are in a contest to prove who of us is more patriotic than the rest, and cheer that we get to drop bombs and might get to send troops to fight wars that the locals love us to fight while they sit back and watch our youth die?

I like the bottle bill

bot

I remember as a kid when we walked home from school, the movies, or any other location in the center of town, we kids would keep our eyes open for any tonic bottles (Yes, tonic. It was Massachusetts, after all) that might have been dropped by a pedestrian or thrown out of a car window so we could get the two cents from returning it, and, depending which direction we were going, getting four mint julep candies at the Little White Store heading one way, or Jack and Paul’s heading the other. Mint Juleps were two for a cent at the time, and penny candy was a reality back then.

We never were unable to get candy, and there were usually enough bottles for everyone walking to get the treat.

Eventually things changed as cans began to replace bottles because of the convenience of the dangerous pull tabs that could cut bare feet, especially at the beach at Bolivar pond, or give a good paper cut if you happened to put your hand down on one. But the dangerous cans  eventually gave way to pull tabs that stayed attached to the can.

Where the tonic remained in bottles, they became plastic ones that were not redeemable.

Because there was no longer a reason to pick up discarded tonic bottles, they remained where they landed along the roadside, and litter began to grow. Without the prize of the two cents, the bottles were just not worth picking up.

Now we have redeemable deposits on tonic bottles again, and even though I am too lazy to bring them to the grocery store and having them turned into money, I do drop them into the bin at the Transfer Station (nee dump) where they are redeemed and the money given by the town to the less fortunate.

In a bit of irony, as people began to seek healthier diets and chose to drink less sugary drinks, the amount of litter began to increase again in spite of the redeemable bottle deposit because people began to drink bottled water, and those bottles were not redeemable.

Ideally, the same people who are concerned about their health and the environment should use re-usable bottles to put their water in, but idealism lost out to the convenience of buying the water, and then just throwing the bottle away.

While cities may have trash cans along the sidewalks, suburban and rural areas do not have convenient trash cans, so plastic bottles with outdoorsy names on their labels are marring the very scenes pictured on them.

This November, the citizens of Massachusetts will be voting on ballot question 2.

The ballot summary reads:
“ This proposed law would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law, also known as the Bottle Bill, to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption, except beverages primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA approved medicines. The proposed law would not cover containers made of paper-based biodegradable material and aseptic multi-material packages such as juice boxes or pouches.

The major objections I have heard from conservative radio and the anti-Question 2 ads in the media is that the money from unredeemed beverage bottles will be going to politicians, although I think they are presenting a bogey man argument as the money goes to the state coffers.

They also conveniently forget that those empty bottles found on the side of the road will be picked up by people, the kids, the homeless, or the environmentally concerned, for their redemption value, and in forgetting this, the opposition is either too young to remember the way it was, or are duplicitous in purposely ignoring their own history if they are old enough to have redeemed other people’s bottles for snack money.

Finding a way to get all those crumpled empty water bottles out of the environment sounds good to me.

Perhaps, to keep from having to pay the deposit, water drinkers will buy reusable containers.

Fewer bottles; less litter.

It’s got my support.

Oh, the irony of banning books

b

In the mid to late 1970’s I taught at a Catholic high school in New Rochelle, New York.

I was teaching American Lit when Jaws the movie and Jaws the book came out.

We were covering Herman Melville in class, and the kids were required to read Moby Dick.  I had stressed the unabridged version, leaving the opening for the abridged version, knowing full well the Cliff Notes version, when discovered, would be the version that was most widely read.

Regardless which version the students read, I eventually showed the movie.

A couple of students saw some similarities between Jaws and Moby Dick, and asked if they could get extra credit if they compared the two stories.

They found such things as the final hunt in both books took three days; that the names of both boats was based on the Pequot tribe from Connecticut; That one had a white whale and the other a great white shark; and that at the end one character floated on a piece of what was left of the boat/ship while the captains of both had been killed by their prey.

Now I would have been naive to accept that the kids who did the reports read the book Jaws after having read the unabridged version of Moby Dick, but they were able to see the similarities between the classic and the movie based on the modern novel.

A show of hands revealed that every student in that class had seen the movie, so it was an easy thing to explain that in the time of Melville people didn’t have movies, so in many cases, as a lot of people could not read, people would sit together at night in groups while someone read the book to them in serial form.

I was able to use the student’s report in conjunction with the popularity of Jaws to explain how big some works of literature were to their audience back in the day.

Moby Dick was the mid 19th Century’s jaws.

Years later, about 30 or so, I found that at another school at which I taught there were not enough copies of The Red Badge of Courage to have each of my students read it, so, as classes were then 84 minutes in length because of the school’s schedule, I would begin each class by reading at least two chapters to the students after which we would discuss what was read, both plot and characters, as well as the possible theme that was developing.

One student in my first hour class who had been notoriously late to school throughout his years in school, and for which the administration at his various schools had been seeking a remedy, was in my first hour class at the bell each day because he did not want to miss any of the book.

Of course, in their wisdom, the administrators at this school did not ask if this approach to the book was effective or if it had any positive influence on any students, but banned me from ever reading to my classes again because they viewed this as wasting valuable test preparation time.

A teacher of literature being told never to read anything to his class struck me as odd, but I digress.

Back in the class in the 70’s the students had been the source for a good lesson.

However, I was notified by the principal to whom I had bragged about what the kids had done and who, in turn, told some other priests connected to the school, that one of the priests who lived at the provincial house (regional HQ as it were for that religious order that was just up a small hill from the school) wanted to have me fired because I had allowed and encouraged students to read an obscene novel.

There was to be a meeting at which this offended priest would present his findings to a board who would then decide my fate.

I was not going to be allowed to defend myself, but the principal, Father Earl, was to do it instead.

According to the records of that meeting and from conversations after with various participants, the meeting did not go as the old priest had assumed it would.

He presented his case by going through the novel, Jaws, pointing out every use of the F word and every use of the Anglo-Saxon term for feces that he had underlined with a red pen. Apparently he had found a lot of them.

In response, Father Earl, began by asking detailed questions of him about the plot and characters which the old priest could not answer.
Then Father Earl proceeded to read some of the comparisons the students had found between the two books.

At the end of his presentation and defense, Father Earl simply pointed out that if there were any perversion, it was not on my part as I had gotten my students to do some critical thinking by allowing them to draw connections between a classic work of American Literature and a recent cultural phenomenon, but any possible perversion was on the part of the old priest who, while not reading the book, had sat quietly in his room underlining all the curse words and could not answer questions about plot.

I was exonerated and kept my job, although I was warned by the principal, Father Earl, that if I stayed in education I might find myself in similar situations if I continued to teach outside the box and had administrators with agendas.

He told me that now that I was aware of such things I should keep doing what was best for the kids, but be aware of the possibilities of stupidity in the name of education.

He was not wrong.

I was reminded of this episode when I read recently that parents in Dallas, Texas objected to certain books that they found offensive being available or recommended to students in a local school, and how to justify their objections went to a school Board meeting and read what they considered to be the naughty bits from those books.

Students may have read the whole book of which the naughty bits were a part, and a miniscule part at that, while their parents saw nothing wrong with standing at a public meeting that was being televised reading only the dirty parts of the books to which they objected.

If they watched this, the students could have skipped reading the books for the obscene parts because their parents were reading them out loud in a public setting,

Who should be banned?

The books, or the lewd and lascivious parents who titillated the audience with the naughty bits?

What could go wrong?

door

If I asked a question in class that called for students to take information and formulate an answer, I never called on the kid whose hand flew up the moment I finished the question.

Without taking the time to arrive at the answer, the students whose hands flew up were obviously going to guess and hope they had the right answer, and further hope that, if the answer happened to be the right one, everyone in class would be impressed.

The kids with the shooting hands were usually the ones who felt they were special and precious, had no idea of the number of times they were wrong, and generally believed that their answer had been correct but the teacher just did not want to acknowledge that.

The results from calling on the shooting hand kids was that they would imprint the wrong answer in their minds, the other students would stop thinking, and important class time got wasted.

What would have been preferable, unless the answer was to a question that called for just spitting back a fact learned through rote memory, would be for all students to take the time to analyze the relevant information, formulate an answer, and, when they had one that could be supported by previously learned information, offer it.

Fox and Friends, and I do not mean the news channel show but the channel and the people in congress they promote and support, would probably rarely, if ever, get called on in my class.

No matter what the event is, from a hostage taking, to a sudden surge in border crossings, or a chance for war, they take offense if President Obama takes the time to properly analyze both those facts the public knows and those we don’t before deciding on a follow up action.

They are like those who, upon someone falling down a flight of stairs, immediately ask, “Are you all right?” as if the person needs no time to assess themselves for any hurt or damage.

Those who have been lusting for a new war as the others are waning, want an immediate answer and response, hopefully in favor of a war.

It’s not like the facts, if properly considered, would logically lead to war; It’s like the decision for a war was already made and we just needed an excuse to go ahead.

But what harm can there possibly be in jumping into an action without full and proper evaluation?

Take time to analyze facts, and then offer an answer.

 

 

Boehner respects the unemployed, right?

sitting

So far, out of the 267 days of 2014, Congress has worked 113 days, not even half.

And they are on break until after the elections in November.

Put another way, out of 365 days, Congress only works about 126 days with 239 days off.

The average worker who reports to work 50 weeks a year, assuming a two week vacation, and works 5 days per week, puts in 250 days.

The difference is that the average American works twice as many days as the Congress does, and for much less money.

That’s a pretty good work schedule for the amount of money congressmen get paid by the taxpayers, and we are not including the money they get from other sources because they can be used to pass bills that are beneficial to the sources of that additional money.

Lots of people have lost their jobs as the companies they worked for moved operations overseas, and as the economy went south starting in 2008.

Yeah, there may have been a stimulus to get the economy going again, but only the top 1% actually saw a benefit from that, and many of those do not work.

The average American schlepper who lost a job during that time has had to either take whatever job comes along, with many having to hold multiple jobs if they want to make ends meet.

You can’t afford to support a family on one minimum wage job especially as the minimum wage has remained stagnant in many places as the price of goods and services has gone up.

Unfortunately, some people, no matter how hard they look, just can’t find a job. The jobs aren’t there.

House Speaker John Boehner may have put his foot in his mouth big time when, after responding favorably to a question asked about Paul Ryan’s plan for addressing poverty, he went on to
negatively characterize the unemployed by saying,
“I think this idea that’s been born over last … couple of years that, ‘You know, I really don’t have to work, I don’t really want to do this, I think I’d just rather sit around,’ – this is a very sick idea for our country.”

After the 2012 elections and Mitt Romney’s statement at the time that 47% of Americans are “dependent upon government” and won’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives”, the GOP was supposed to be reaching out to those they have marginalized in the past in order to win future elections such as the midterms this November.

This would not seem to be something the Speaker of the House should be saying at this time.

Even Paul Ryan who, while ignoring how Social Security had helped pay for his college tuition after his father’s death, called those who have been helped by public assistance in their time of need “Takers” has softened on that point.

The problem is not that the unemployed like to sit around watching bad daytime television, but that there is a need for stronger growth in jobs and wages.

Whatever progress the GOP had been making in its effort to at least appear to be more sympathetic and supportive of those they have traditionally written off, the speaker certainly did not help.

 

“I want to belong”

amigo

Give the guy some love.

All Ted Cruz really wants is acceptance and the chance to sit at the cool kids’ table.

Not only has he set himself up as someone who wants to be a mover and a shaker, he has attempted to attach himself to the cool kids by simply proclaiming he is one of them.

Last week he happened to vote the same way as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders did, and that was enough for him to claim he was one of their Amigos.

The three voted against arming and training Syrian rebels fighting Islamic extremists in the Middle East.

So he announced without specifying who they are, or even if it amounted to a goodly number of people, or just himself and his imaginary friends, “They call us the three Amigos.”

He went on to say, “I actually respect them a great deal ‘cause both of them I think are honest about what they believe. They are unapologeticly on the left and I respect that. I think there are far too many politicians in Washington in both parties who pretend to be something different back home than they are in Washington, and I think both Bernie and Elizabeth run honestly on their principles and beliefs.
“I would far rather a Senate with more Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens, but also a lot more unapologetic, honest conservatives than a Senate right now where there is a disconnect about what people say and do in Washington and what they say and do at home.”

Remember this man gets money from the Koch brothers; worked to, and successfully shut down the government; voted against the Violence Against Women Act; opposed the Voting Rights Act; wants to privatize Social Security.

However what Cruz does not seem to understand is that one vote does not make you the equal of the other two, or even an ally.

To be one of the new Three Amigos, Cruz has had to move away from Sen. Marco Rubio who voted yes.

I’m not sure if he has moved away from Sen. Rand Paul who voted no, but he certainly attached himself to the two liberal senators and left him out.

Perhaps the only grouping of four that, because he identifies with them, he could come up with could have made Rand Paul Shemp, and few people like Shemp.