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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Friday, 27 May 2005
The Distinguished Senator From Ohio
These days I’m feeling a bit guilty that I voted against George Voinovich every chance I got. When I was an Ohio resident, he ran for governor twice and then for the senate. True to my “yellow dog Democrat” status, I always voted for the democratic candidate, even when his only qualifications were having had the good fortune to marry Senator Howard Metzenbaum’s daughter.

Voinovich was a pretty good governor. Nothing really bad happened in Ohio during his tenure. Or at least nothing bad we could blame on him.

But lately, I've been finding that I'm very impressed with Senator Voinovich. During the senate committee discussions over John Bolton’s nomination for Ambassador to the United Nations. I really liked his analogy of “the kitchen test.” He said in making personnel decisions, he never hired anybody who he wouldn’t want to invite into his kitchen. John Bolton failed the test hands down.

Then Voinovich went on to broker the judicial nominee compromise that kept the senate from shutting down, proving that it is still possible to work out a bi-partisan agreement.

But it was George Voinovich’s impassioned plea against John Bolton that really caught my admiration. He called Bolton “the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be,” and went on to point out that in a letter signed by former secretaries of state, the signature of the one who had been Bolton’s boss, Colin Powell, was conspicuously absent.

In a letter to the New York Times, Voinovich said he was concerned "that John Bolton’s nomination sends a negative message to the world community and contradicts the President’s efforts. In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation’s ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective Ambassador to the United Nations."

We need all the friends we can get and a guy who "kisses up and kicks down" is not going to help us win friends and influence people.

For now, the nomination has stalled again. Democrats held the vote until the White House provides key documents and e-mail regarding Bolton’s dealings with intelligence operatives. So it will be at least another couple of weeks as they’re in recess now.

Wouldn’t it be great if the rest of us could take ten days off for Memorial Day too?

The Republican party is now so beholden to its right wing base, it seems to have forgotten that not everyone espouses those hardline views, like send in this hardass to shake up the United Nations, which should be dismantled anyway. I’m sure there are a fair number of registered Republicans who feel their party has been hijacked by a group of religious conservatives bent on pushing their agenda through. I’m hoping they’ll say “enough’s enough,” and push for moderates.

Voinovich for president? Maybe I might vote for him.

Posted by judy5cents at 8:46 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 30 May 2005 7:36 PM EDT
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Thursday, 26 May 2005
Every Blastocyst is Sacred

In the totally tasteless Monty Python film, "The Meaning of Life," there's a song called "Every Sperm Is Sacred." I'm sure it offended every Catholic whoever sat through the film, and just about anyone else who takes seriously the biblical admonition "Be fruitful and multiply."

Anyway, dozens of children (all apparently brothers and sisters) march down the street singing "Every sperm is sacred/Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted/God gets quite irate..."

When that film came out in the early 80s, in vitro fertilization was still a new radical fertility technology. Now it's how couples with no fertility but access to lots of money get their babies. Their embryos are created in test tubes and because the procedure is so expensive and the chances of sucess are not great (usually 1 in 4), fertility clinics make plenty of spares.

At this point there are well over 100,000 frozen embryos out there, most of which will be discarded. In general couples choose to have the extras frozen. After five years (when the parents are busy with carpools and kindergarten) the embroyos are destroyed.

Yes, they are potential life. But in reality, they never will become people. There are agencies that have "embryo adoption," but that's fairly rare. Understandably, the majority of infertile couples prefer to give birth to their own children, not someone else's.

It's my opinion that if couples wish to donate their unused embryos for stem cell research they should be given that option, the same as relatives are encouraged to donate a dying loved one's organs to help save lives. Stem cell research has shown promise for conditions such as spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and diabetes.

The House of Representatives just passed a law that will allow for federal funding of stem cell research, but President George W. Bush, ever loyal to his conservative base, has vowed to veto it.

Because all those embryos floating around in the freezer are sacred. And if one is wasted, God gets quite irate. Right, George?

Posted by judy5cents at 7:33 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 27 May 2005 8:54 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 25 May 2005
I Thought Compromise Was A Good Thing

It’s been so long since this country’s seen a real compromise, we don’t understand it.

Earlier this week, a bi-partisan group of 14 senators got together and managed to hash out an agreement that avoided total shut down of the senate. Now, I find this whole thing very confusing. It’s all about the deadly dull process of parliamentary procedure, something that causes my eyes to glaze over. I avoid organized meetings like the plague. Which is why I’ve never joined the PTA.

Anyway, it’s my understanding that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was going to exercise the “Nuclear Option,” that is change the rules so Democratic senators could not filibuster the nominees for the federal appeals court. The Republicans were insisting on an up or down vote for all nominees. However, the Democrats objected because to change the rules, they're supposed to have a super majority, not a simple majority. So Frist was changing the rules to change the rules. (I know, it makes your head spin, doesn’t it?)

If everyone stuck to their guns and refused to give an inch, the senate would have come to a stand still. The Democratic minority would have slowed everything down in committee and used the senate rules to bring everything to a dead stop. And with the filibuster option gone, what would happen if say, thirty years from now the Republicans are a minority once again and really need the filibuster?

So the Democrats agreed to a vote on five of the seven nominees. And the Republicans agreed to allow filibusters for extraordinary circumstances. Cooler heads finally prevailed.

This must have been a damn good compromise because no one’s happy.

James Dobson, the ultra-right wing head of “Focus On The Family.” saw this as a "a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans, and a great victory for united Democrats." A Republican caller on C-Span’s Washington Journal referred to the Republican senators as “The Satanic Seven.” Another said Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is a disgrace to the party. Tony Perkins, of the Conservative Family Research Council, vowed there would be repercussions against the seven Republican senators come re-election time.

Despite what Dobson said, the Democrats don't feel victorious at all. Liberals all over the web are bemoaning the fact that the worst of the extremist judges will get appointed to the bench. And the Republicans will block the filabuster anyway, because who the hell knows what “extraordinary circumstances” are.

I was just relieved to find out that bi-partisan compromise is still a possibility in the senate. Or in any governmental body for that matter. We’ve become so polarized. The winners aren’t happy to win, they have to see the other side completely obliterated.

Maybe those 14 senators will serve as an example for the other 86, and working together might catch on in the Senate.


Posted by judy5cents at 12:11 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 28 May 2005 5:51 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 24 May 2005
Melee at the Mosque
Poor Laura Bush.

I’m sure she never expected the reception she encountered from protesters when she visited the mosque at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Palestinians were outraged at her visit and shouted “You don’t belong here!”

It's really a shame George W. Bush couldn't have been in the middle of that disaster. The First Lady never asked to be any part of that. She's obviously a very nice person and does not deserve to take the heat for her husband's policies.

It just shows how out of touch the White House Powers That Be really are. Whoever arranged the visit, probably assumed it was a nice little photo op. See the First Lady wearing a head scarf and taking off her shoes to visit a mosque? She's showing her appreciation and respect for the Muslim religion. Isn't that special? So why are these people being so mean to her?

Now if she'd been in Detroit, instead of Jerusalem, those protesters would have been in their own "Free Speech" sector, ten blocks away.

I think it would do Mr. Bush a world of good to get out of his cocoon and meet the protesters head on. If Mrs. Bush can handle this type of situation with grace and aplomb, certainly George should be able to do it.

Posted by judy5cents at 10:17 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 28 May 2005 5:48 PM EDT
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Monday, 23 May 2005
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

...I saw Star Wars for the first time.

Actually it was not in a galaxy far far away, but at the Showcase Cinema Multiplex in Springdale, Ohio, just off I-275. And it doesn't seem all that long ago either. But that's just me refusing to believe that nearly three decades have passed since my 21st birthday on June 24, 1977.

My boyfriend Rick and I had anticipated this film keenly and were shocked at the lines snaking out the door. Needless to say, we did not get into the 9:00 show and we had to wait until the midnight show. (This was before the multiplexes figured out that they could devote more than one screen to a film if it was really popular).

I was so tired by the time we took our seats in the theater that I was sure I'd fall asleep before the credits ran. But the opening scene just blew me away. And who could sleep through that rousing John Williams score?

I believe Rick and I saw it a couple more times that summer and I've watched it on television. I also went to see the other two installments of the trilogy (without Rick as we'd broken up by then) I was sorry when the series ended, despite the cheesy Ewoks-dancing-in-the-woods ending of "Return of The Jedi."

I never got into the whole Annikin Skywalker prequel thing. The reviews were bad and I felt I no longer had the proper mindset to watch another Star Wars film. Ewan McGregor is cute, but he's no Harrison Ford. Or Alec Guinness, even though that's who he's supposed to be eventually.

But this summer, my daughter and I will go see Revenge of the Sith. She watched Episode II on television last night and wants to see more. I just want to see how adorable little Hayden Christensen morphs into that ominous hooded figure with the voice of James Earl Jones. And that breathing. How could the sound of someone breathing in and out be so scary?

This is supposed to be the end of Star Wars, there will be no more. At least that's what George Lucas is saying now. Somehow, I believe it will rise again. We'll see an Episode VII and Episode VIII, or maybe they'll start at Episode XXI and work backwards from there. Everything comes back sooner or later. Like "The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy" and "The Longest Yard." Even Dr. Who is coming back to television.

As Yoda would put it "Back you will be, George of Lucas."

Posted by judy5cents at 1:49 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 10:36 AM EDT
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Friday, 20 May 2005
Politics As Explained by Walt Disney

Today I'm talking about an obscure Disney musical from 1968 that I'm sure none of you saw. It's The One And Only Genuine Original Family Band, based on that terribly exciting historical event, the 1888 presidential election.

Makes you wonder how it ever got made. I imagine the pitch meeting going something like this:

---It's a fun filled musical about the 1888 presidential election between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. It's really quite a fascinating time in our country's history, as you no doubt recall, Cleveland won the popular vote but Harrison was elected by the Electoral...

---Sound of Snores

---Uh, we got John Davidson and Buddy Ebson


Anyway, the film begins with a politically divided family. Buddy Ebson, the father of the family is a Republican who supports Harrison. Grandfather Walter Brennan is a Democrat who wants to get the kids together to sing their campaign song for Cleveland at the Democratic Convention. It's a catchy tune "Let's put it over with Grover/Don't rock the boat/give him your vote." The kids have no opinions on the election, they just want to sing and dance their way into your heart.

But the family ends up moving to the Dakota territory instead.

Somewhere along the way, the Dakota pioneers start singing about the virtues of their candidates in a song called "Oh, Benjamin Harrison." (Now there's a hit tune if I ever heard one). As the Republicans sing the praises of Harrison, the Democrats retort "That's politics!" to which the Republicans answer "That's STATESMANSHIP!" Then the Cleveland supporters get their turn, with the same "That's politics!/That's STATESMANSHIP" refrain.

I've been thinking about that song a lot lately, especially with the fight over the senate exercising "the nuclear option," getting rid of the filibuster for federal and supreme court judges.

The Democrats are shocked and outraged, filled with righteous indignation at the very thought of dismantling the time honored Senate rules. The Republicans are equally shocked and outraged and naturally, filled with an equal amount of righteous indignation at the petty obstructionist tactics of the minority.

Politics or Statesmanship?

I've come to the conclusion that there is no more statesmanship. It died with the 24 hour news network and the 30 second sound bite. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spin just as deftly and dizzily as Bill Frist and Tom Delay.

But I still haven't given up hope. Somewhere out there, a candidate will emerge (maybe Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico?) who really speaks honestly and eloquently and stands up for what he or she believes.

Benjamin Harrison where are you?

Posted by judy5cents at 8:45 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 10:37 AM EDT
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Thursday, 19 May 2005
The Day Our MP Socked It To The Harper Valley PTA (otherwise known as The US Senate)

“You have nothing on me, senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad.”


Way to go George Galloway. In his testimony before Senator Norm Coleman's (R-MN) Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation subcommittee, Galloway did more than deny charges that he'd profited from Iraq's oil for food scams. He blew the junior senator from Minnesota out of the water.

Of course, I don't understand why a British MP needs to testify in front of the US Senate. But the Senate can investigate anything it damn well feels like, steroid use in sports, changes in nutrition guidelines, prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib, Pamela Anderson's breast implants. (OK, maybe not that one, but I'm sure somebody's thought about it).

They shouldn't have tangled with George Galloway.

Ever since we've switched over to British news, we've been following Galloway. He's a pistol all right. Expelled from the Labour party for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq, he won re-election to Parliament representing the independent Respect party. How many of U.S. politicians would have the guts to go against the party like that and then go on and win anyway?

He managed to turn every accusation on its head. My favorite is his reply to the accusation that he had "many meetings" with Saddam Hussien.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war.."

Coleman said afterward that if Galloway lied during his testimony, there would be consquences.

To paraphrase another savvy politician, Bring 'em on.

Posted by judy5cents at 11:12 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 10:39 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 18 May 2005
Don't Feel Much Like Blogging Today...

Root canals will do that to you.

I have discovered the pain management techniques which were completely usesless for childbirth work pretty well for dental procedures. I was calm, relaxed, and focused on Miles Davis playing on the Muzak, all but ignoring the sound of the drill right there in my face. But then my back starting hurting from the odd angle of the chair and my jaw started hurting from having my mouth open in the same position for 45 minutes and Miles Davis was replaced by Elton John singing "Someone Save My Life Tonight." That's when I started wondering why I was doing this.

Anyway, it's over for now, but I have to go back on Monday.

So don't be expecting too much from me.

Posted by judy5cents at 10:12 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 10:41 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 17 May 2005
Bad Teeth Day

I'm definitely not a happy camper today.

At 3:00 pm this afternoon, I'll be having the delightful experience of back-to-back root canals.

I've reached the age when everything starts falling apart. My warranty's expired, extensive repairs are needed. Root canals, bifocals, hot flashes. Getting old is not for the faint hearted.

This is my third go-round in the endodontist's chair. I grew up at a time when fluoridating the water was considered a communist plot so I didn't have that added protection against cavities. And like most kids, I was not all that keen on brushing my teeth. I've had a lot of cavities over the years and some of those 40 year old fillings are disintegrating.

Still, I consider myself quite fortunate. My husband's dental plan will cover 80 percent of the cost and his flexible spending account will reimburse us for the rest.

Dental insurance is a wonderful thing and I'm glad I have it. Same thing with health insurance. For years I was one of the 40 million Americans who went without both. I never take either for granted.

And one of these days, we may live in a country were everyone can have the privilege of walking into an endodontist's office knowing the procedure is covered.

Posted by judy5cents at 7:40 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 10:42 AM EDT
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Monday, 16 May 2005
Award Burn-out

A couple weeks ago, I did a major Mommy no-no. I missed the monthly award ceremony at my daughter's elementary school. Although she claimed to be very hurt that I didn't show up, the event in question occurred on a Wednesday afternoon and she didn't mention it until the following Monday while we waited for the bus.

"Why didn't you tell me when you got home from school Wednesday?" I asked.

"I got distracted," she replied.

For five days?

There's really not much ceremony to these ceremonies. The kids receive little plastic charms for being kind, respectful, responsible, and safe. Then they get more little charms for such things as good bus behavior, good lunch room behavior and running or walking a mile in gym class.

Essentially it amounts to stuff they really should be doing anyway. And since most of them are good kids who do what they should do, every single fourth grader gets every single award.

Here's how it works. The principal calls out the names of the kids in each class. They stand up, get their little Responsibility charm, and sit down. Then it's on to the next class until every child is called. Then they do the same thing for the Respect award. And the Kindness award. And, well you get the idea.

As far as I'm concerned it's a colossal waste of everybody's time.

It's been promoted as a way to improve discipline in a positive way. No one seems to understand that when everybody gets an award, it makes the award meaningless.

We still haven't gotten away from that self esteem craze that's been around for the last twenty years. That's the idea that children need lots of positive encouragement to build their confidence. Like my daughter, they have a closet full of awards for doing what they should be doing anyway.

The result is that we are sending kids to college who've got great self-esteem, but can't take any criticism at all. They've been told all their lives what a great job they're doing and just don't understand why their paper came back with all those red-ink comments. (Red ink has been banned in many schools because of its negative impact on self esteem).

There's one more awards ceremony to go to, and I'll be sure to make that one.

But I don't expect to enjoy it much.

Posted by judy5cents at 11:32 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 10:43 AM EDT
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