Sunday, April 26, 2009

Would you please shut up?

I would like to preface this article by stating that I am a fervent believer in the rights accorded to us under the First Amendment. That being said; as is the case with many of the rights given to Americans in the Bill of Rights, misuse and/or misinterpretation are commonplace. Perhaps the two most commonly questioned are the First and Fourth Amendments. The Fourth Amendment was at the forefront of considerable controversy after the terrible events of 9/11. President Bush blatantly ignored and violated the core of the amendment. In this article, I will be focusing on our Freedom of Speech and how my dear friend Rush Limbaugh continues to take advantage of this right in a manner that I feel our forefathers never intended for it to be used. The Rash uses it to attack and insult anyone who doesn’t agree with his pathological ideologies.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I were watching the news from a Boston television station. Since we live only 40 miles from Boston; it is considered local news. They did a piece on the second-in-command of the Maersk Alabama, who happens to be from a nearby town. This, of course, is the ship that captivated the attention of the entire world not long ago. In the interview, the assistant stated that he had been receiving death threats directed at him and his family from men he presumed were affiliated with the Somali pirates. I will refrain from providing his name so as not to add to any of the attention he is trying to avoid. The interview was conducted impromptu outside his home and his reluctance to discuss the situation was obvious. He did manage to get in a shot at that blowhard Limbaugh. His message to him was: “You’re either with us or against us.”

What prompted his displeasure with Limbaugh was a statement made by him concerning the rescue of Captain Phillips. To paraphrase: Imagine the uproar had it been a Republican president who authorized the killing of “black” teenagers. This is not verbatim but it is close and the message is accurate. I have never been reluctant to voice my opinion of Limbaugh and my incredible dislike I have for the man. I am not about to start now. In a single statement, he managed to include partisanship and race where neither was even remotely applicable.

Hailing from a party whose recent history has exhibited a “shoot first, ask questions later” philosophy; the hypocrisy is clear. The fact that the pirates were black and teenagers doesn’t even factor into the equation. Has he forgotten that Bush and his henchmen never hesitated when sending black, white, brown, red, and yellow teenagers off to fight in a war that was based on lies perpetrated by them? This is a perfect example of using the 1st Amendment as a tool to stir up controversy which is what Limbaugh is all about. The fact that he purports to have 20 million listeners (not necessarily supporters) further amplifies the problem.

I maintain that President Obama made the correct decision when giving his approval to proceed with the rescue mission. I am also growing tired of hearing about this “Code of Conduct” that the pirates are allegedly obligated to honor. One report I read said that “only” seven deaths have been recorded as a result of actions taken by these pirates. I’m sorry but one is too damn many, let alone seven. Perhaps Limbaugh didn’t get a chance to see any of the video where Captain Phillips was seated with an automatic rifle pointed at his back. I applaud the President’s decision, the courage of Captain Phillips, and the skill displayed by the Navy Seals. To the fat one; I will waste my time by asking him to please shut the hell up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where have you gone Abbie Hoffman?

OK, I caved. I should be devoting this time to product research but there are a couple of things I need to get off my chest. Over the last week, the world of political bloggers has focused on two things: 1)The Teabaggers and 2) Gay marriage (infighting in the GOP). I cannot think of two more nonsensical topics as these. I will spend a little time on each and then get back to work.

First, the teabaggers and their ridiculous display of protesting. The problem with this "grassroots" movement is that they lack a specific agenda. Their primary "war cry" is anti-government-now there's an original concept. They all need to get a copy of Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman (which I did) and realize that they're simply rehashing an old and tired reason to assemble, get high, and protest against. I have no doubt that the majority of these "protestors" would not pass the test given to those who seek citizenship. I watched one particular newspot on these hoops where they asked 10 of the protestors what they were protesting against and they got 10 different answers. In my own home; I asked what their major complaint was. The response was that the government was spending too much-OK. I then asked what exactly was the government spending too much money on and what was their propoal? The reponse was: "You just don't get it." Well, that part made sense.

The fact of the matter is that their fearless leader, who has declared war on the government (OOOOH!) , has focused his attention on the tax issues. Well, unless you make $250,000 or more; then it doesn't affect you anyway. I don't know about you, but I had a problem picturing any of these wannbe Chicago 7 members being in this tax bracket. This would be almost comical were it not for the attention this nonsense has garnered. Estimates of the number of protestors range from 200,000 to 400,000. Let's take the high number and break that down-it equates to 8,000 protestors per state. I played football in front of bigger crowds and it's not as if I played for Notre Dame.

The second topic is the recent split in the GOP over their staunch opposition to gay marriages. A few members of the Republican Party have actually stepped up and defied the party line by supporting gay marriage. I hope they have employed competent bodyguards. What bothers me is the notion that anyone believes they have a right to dictate what any couple does with their lives. Unless I'm mistaken; this is the same party that vehemently objected to the President's intervention into the private sector by demanding the resignation of the CEO of General Motors. I, too, objected to this demand. The problem I have is that the GOP objects to government intervention into an arena where the government has actually assisted in their survival. Yet, they have no problem injecting their antiquated ideology into a truly private sector. I am a happily married heterosexual and have been for close to 50 years (the heterosexual part) and I happen to be close friends with a gay married couple. Someone needs to fill me in on who decides which one of the two has the right to happiness. I am fairly well versed on the content of our Constitution and nowhere does it condemn gay marriage .

Perhaps it is time that some people remember that this is, and always has been, a nation of choices . Just as I defend the right of these teabaggers to speak and assemble; I also defend the right of everyone tp pursue happiness. I have two questions that I would like to close with. 1) Where was the outrage when our government lead our young men and women into a war that was based on pure deceit? 2) Have these bible thumping hypocritical bastards looked at the statistics comparing the success ratio of heterosexual marriages vs gay marriages? Ididn't think so. AHHH-now I feel better.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where have I been?

For those of you who are wondering where I have been; I have been busy working on getting our online business started. My wife, Eileen, and I have decided to venture into the world of online merchandising. Though we have taken advantage of a consulting company; the hours involved in product research are somewhat overwhelming. Once the company is up and running, I will be able to devote more time to my writing. Thank you for your loyalty and I assure you after April 27th (hopefully), our company will be operational and the brunt of the work will be complete. Until then, I will post if possible but my priority is research at the present time. I am dying to do a piece on these "tea parties" that have been at the forefront of the political blogsphere. Thanks again for your loyalty and patience and look for the opening of DREAMTOOLSTORE.COM. Until then; I hope you are all well and I look forward to getting back to my writing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Farewell Colonel

On Wednsday, April 8th, my former hometown of Holyoke, MA lost one of its favorite sons. James "The Colonel" Padden passed away on the very same day he buried his mother. I knew Jimmy for well over 20 years and am proud to have called him a friend. He leaves behind his loving wife Penny and his children. At age 54; we have lost a friend long before his time.

I recall Jimmy calling me some years ago to take a look at his decaying porch to see if there was anything I could do to restore it. After determining that it was salvageable; I gave Jimmy and Penny an estimate for the necessary repairs. The Colonel's initial response was one of skepticism. When I inquired what bothered him, his explanation was that he didn't feel the price was high enough. He wasn't worried that I may be taking shortcuts or using sub-standard materials. His concern was that I was giving him too much of a discount due to our frienship and therefore, I wouldn't be making enough money on the project. How often do you think a tradesman hears that he isn't charging enough? That is the type of person Jimmy was.

Although he was involved in Youth Sports; his true passion was Adult Men's Softball. He was certainly a capable player but his real gift was in coaching the game. I had played baseball from the age of 6 to the collegiate level. After my playing days were over, I chose to begin playing softball. Having faced pitchers who threw the ball upwards of 85 mph; I naturally assumed that the transition would be an easy one. Boy, was I wrong. The Colonel was kind enough to offer his expertise and I quickly accepted (I had grown tired of flying out to left field). I remember Jimmy pointing out the differences between the two well into the early morning hours on more than one occasion. An ample supply of beer was always close at hand. I went on to become a pretty good player for the next 15 years and I always attributed that to Jimmy's kindness and guidance.

I am certainly not the only one who has stories that attest to his kindness and concern for others. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't have a kind thing to say about the Colonel. This brings to mind another facet of Jimmy that I admired. Thinking back to all our conversations over the years; I am unable to recall him saying a single bad thing about anyone. That is simply another example of his character.

In closing, I would like to emphasize how much he will be missed by so many. My heart goes out to Penny and the family and I can assure them that he will not be forgotten. A person as genuine and kind as Jimmy was will always be remembered fondly. Farewell Colonel; you were taken from us far too early but you leave behind a legacy of unparalleled kindness.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time is running out for Pakistan

Among the plethora of plans submitted by the Obama administration lies one that has garnered very little attention. It has the potential to have significant effects on a country and to our efforts of putting a stop to al Qaeda’s reign of terror and governmental destabilizing. The plan calls for tripling the amount of monetary aid we have been providing Pakistan from $500 million to $1.5 billion annually. This aid is cloaked under the guise of “nonmilitary” assistance due to the crumbling economy in Pakistan. This plan, not unlike many of the President’s other plans, has one codicil attached to it that refutes the nonmilitary assistance it purports to be.

The administration has made it clear that if the Pakistani government does not increase its efforts to stop the flow of Taliban forces into their country; this aid will be significantly reduced if not eliminated entirely. This is something that the government can ill afford considering they were on the brink of bankruptcy as recently as last fall. Amidst all of this we find a refreshingly pragmatic voice of reason in the person of Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Levin has expressed concern over the possible backfiring of this plan should the Pakistanis perceive it as a bribe of sorts.

"It's got to be that we are supporting Pakistan policies because if we appear to be buying something they would otherwise not pursue, it is counterproductive."

Personally, I have trouble seeing how they can perceive it any other way! Do we actually think that they are incapable of seeing directly through this charade, or is it that we know we have them in a corner.

According to Julian Barnes of the LA Times: both Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of Defense Policy, and Gen. David H. Patraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, feel that increased support by the Pakistani military is vital to our effort to stem the tide of further infiltration by extremist forces. The Taliban has already made significant strides in establishing a foothold in many areas of Pakistan. This is an extremely critical time and without additional support; Pakistan is placing itself in an even more precarious position.

This is a situation that Pakistan definitely doesn’t need at this time. The government, headed by President Asif Ali Zardari, is currently under attack from opposing political parties and Zardari has shown that he has no problem imposing martial law to prevent any possibility of being ousted. The magnitudes of the problems facing Pakistan, both internally and in its dealings with the Taliban, are best described by James Traub. Traub is a writer for the New York Times Magazine and author of the book The Freedom Agenda. He has spent over a year in Pakistan and with President Zadari. His depiction of the President provides additional concerns regarding our revised aid plan.

It is important to note that Zardari spent 7 years in prison after Zardari and his wife, then Prime Minister, were accused of embezzling $1.5 billion from the government. The irony in that amount is alarming to me! There were also allegations of murder and attempted murder that led to his imprisonment earlier. To further emphasize the instability of the government; Zardari’s wife, Benazir Bhutto, who had served two terms as Prime Minister, was assassinated by terrorists in December of 2007; shortly after her return from exile. It would appear that unstable would be a very generous description of the Pakistani government.

To further exacerbate their problems; Samina Ahmed, the International Crisis Group’s (ICG) longtime Pakistan analyst, has stated that the Taliban now have gained control of one half of the country and have rendered their security forces useless in these areas. U.S. military commanders have acknowledged that the city of Quetta in one of the larger provinces in Pakistan has become the headquarters of the Taliban.

If things weren’t bad enough; the constant bombing missions by our unmanned Predators (an apt name), which are responsible for countless deaths of innocent civilians are also responsible for driving the Taliban further into Pakistan. The military strategies employed by the U.S. along with Pakistan’s seemingly deliberate ignorance of the threat posed by the extremists have created a virtual time bomb.

Normally, I would be the first one to call for our immediate withdrawal from this border region and leave that joke of a government to its own devices. However, there are some very serious ramifications that may result from these actions. Should the Taliban succeed in gaining control of Pakistan; not only would they be in control of a very strategic part of the world but they would also have access to a large nuclear arsenal presently possessed by the government. Once again; I have more questions than answers, but there is one thing I am certain of. Nuclear weapons in the hands of al Qaeda will only result in further atrocities for the U.S. and its allies. This is a situation we simply cannot walk away from.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Senator Gregg: The good, the bad, and the hypocritical

Senator Judd Gregg is a dedicated and principled member of the Republican Party; of that I have no doubt. He has been in public office for close to 30 years and is highly respected by fellow members of the GOP. As testimony to his dedication is his incredible voting record: 173 votes missed out of a possible 5,652 (3%) since 1993. Senator McCain, on the other hand, has missed 836 votes (12%) since 1989. McCain’s record is not considered to be a poor one; it merely amplifies the dedication of Sen. Gregg. I confess that I’m not sure how current these statistics are since they were derived from, an organization that is devoted to tracking congressional information. It was not dated but appeared to be somewhat current. Though I don’t question his dedication; I do take issue with other segments of his character.

Among the problems is that Sen. Gregg has a propensity to be hypocritical at times; a trait not uncommon on the Hill. Case in point: Before he chose to withdraw from his appointment as commerce secretary, he stood beside President Obama and stated “This is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other.” It seems to me that since his change of heart, he has done nothing but shout by taking shots at the President’s budget at every possible opportunity. He contends that it isn’t personal and that he supports the President on other issues such as his handling of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perry Bacon of The Washington Post points out another clear case of his hypocritical nature. His reaction to the Democrats’ proposing the implementation of a method known as reconciliation in regard to expediting the health care reform issue was rather drastic, to say the least. He declared that it was an “act of violence against the system here in the Senate” and continued his diatribe by saying that they were “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.” WOW-he certainly didn’t hold anything back there. My question is what does he have against the Potomac River? After all; it’s much closer and would save everyone a lot of time and energy. What he seems to forget while perched on his soapbox is that he proposed the very same thing in 2005 to help push through a Republican bill allowing oil drilling in Alaska-in a National Wildlife Refuge!! I’m sure this can be explained as a mere oversight on his part.

Gregg insists that the President’s budget will threaten the future of our children by leaving them with an incredibly large national debt. Apparently, his memory really has failed him. He forgot to mention that he was a staunch supporter of the Bush tax cuts that invariably led to the deficit they left behind. He also neglected to mention the $4 trillion deficit the Reagan/Bush duo left to our children. Kent Conrad, D-ND, who isn’t particularly fond of Gregg, says that his exaggerated projections are in sharp contrast with the Democrats’ projections. Conrad agrees with the President’s assessment of reducing the debt by two thirds over the next 5 years. Conrad asks the question that many of us are dying to hear the answer to-“Where’s your plan?”

Will Lester of the Associated Press reported on March 28th that Gregg has resorted to using the conservative rhetoric now prevalent. “It is the individual American who creates prosperity and good jobs, not the government.” Now that had to have been taken directly from Limbaugh’s playbook. What the hell kind of a statement is that? It is nothing more than a deflection tool to avoid taking any responsibility for this mess we’re in. It is obvious that whenever Sen. Gregg is pressed to provide possible solutions, he simply isn’t capable of coming up with anything substantial. A strong opponent of national health care; his alternative was “ensuring that every American has access to quality health care and choices in health care.” Now isn’t that an original concept? I’m amazed nobody else had thought of that.

Senator Gregg has declared that he will not be seeking re-election in 2010. I think this is a very wise decision. Though revered by the GOP; the man has obviously lost a step or two or ten. Evidence of this is his repeated hypocrisy and failure to provide substantive resolutions to the very real problems we are facing. He has continued to be the most outspoken Republican (in office Rush!), which I equate to shouting when there is no positive input included. His inability to bring anything to the table is further proof that it is time to say goodbye. His cookie cutter answers are akin to those you hear from Limbaugh, Coulter, and Hannity. It is time to take that ride off into the sunset Senator; while you still maintain a modicum of dignity.


For all you early risers. It is now 4:30 AM and I am struggling to find a topic for today's article. If you have any topics you would like me to write about, e-mail me at and I will do my best to write an article based on your suggestion. Of course; this policy applies at all times but I am having trouble this morning. Thanks for the help.