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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
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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Friday, 13 May 2005
It's A Bloody Tiger, For God's Sake!
This month a pair of tiger cubs found wandering along a highway in Gaston County NC were placed in a wild life preserve called Carnivore Preservation Trust. Now they have room to roam, food to eat and beer barrels to play with.

The hot shot who abandoned them has never been found. Apparently, that's a common practice among owners of exotic animals. Once they aren't cute any more, they let them go. Or they call zoos or animal shelters, asking them to take the big cat off their hands.

Who are these idiots who think they have a special rapport with lions and tigers? These animals eat huge amounts of meat, soak everything with buckets of nasty smelling feline urine (think alley cat times 100), full grown they weigh 450 pounds and they can kill you. In the wild, a tiger will kill its own mother if she trespasses on his territory. They have even less regard for the human who feeds them.

Not only are tigers a danger to their owners, they are a danger to the public. They can and do escape. Earlier this year, a tiger was found wandering in the hills around the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The tiger was killed and its owner was never found either.

But for me, the worst thing about this practice is that it's so crushingly humilating to these beautiful, proud animals. They were never meant to live in tiny fenced in yards. They were never meant to bond with humans. Owning them is just plain wrong.

Here in North Carolina there are no laws to restrict the ownership of exotic animals. If I had my way, it would be banned outright for the reasons I mentioned. If the city of Cincinnati can ban owning pitbulls, surely banning the ownership of animals much bigger and much more ferocious than pitbulls can be done as well. You can bet I'll be writing my state representative.

If you feel the need to bond with a tiger, visit the zoo.

Posted by judy5cents at 9:38 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 13 May 2005 9:46 AM EDT
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Thursday, 12 May 2005
Because No One Else Wants to Clean The Rooms At The Ramada Inn
Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy have introduced an immigration bill that would grant "guest worker" status to immigrants coming here to do our dirty work. Those already here would could apply for legal status if they pay a fine and back taxes on the money they've already earned.

Opponents of the bill say it's granting amnesty to criminals. These people came here illegally and they've got to be punished for it. Excuse me, aren't fines and paying back taxes punishment? I know that there are plenty of CEOS out there employing an army of lawyers to avoid both.

Also, critics say the immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens. No they're not. They're taking the jobs that we refuse to do, like motel housekeeping, food service, hospital aides and lawn maintenance. It's back breaking work for low pay. What's so mind-boggling about all this is that the immigrants pay thousands of dollars to smugglers and risk their lives just to run leaf blowers and change sheets in motel rooms for $6.00 an hour.

I think it's a great idea. Not just because it will bring in money from the fees, fines and back taxes. Or that immigrants will be able to shed the constant fear of deportation. Or even that there will finally be some sort of control over who comes in and who doesn't.

The best thing is that it will save lives. Two years ago this month, 100 Mexicans were found stuffed like cord wood into a truck left to bake in the Texas sun. Eighteen died and dozens were hospitalized for heat exhaustion and dehydration. Instead of walking across the desert or cramming themselves into car trunks, immigrants will have a safe journey here.

And we won't be finding truck loads of dead bodies in Texas any more

Posted by judy5cents at 10:24 AM EDT
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