Archive for December, 2009

>Full moon, blue moon, lunar eclipse…bring on 2010!

December 30, 2009

>If you read my column this week, which follows this post, you will see that I am optimistic about 2010.

“Twenty ten,” that just has a good sound to it.

We also get to experience a full moon, a blue moon, and for some, a lunar eclipse, on New Years Eve. How rare is that? Pretty dang rare. Blue moons, which means two full moons in a month, occur only once every 2.5 years. For it to occur on a certain day, December 31, must have special meaning.

Nancy Joy thinks so. Especially regarding the eclipse. She says it is an indication of the positive things that will happen in 2010. Among those, previously opposing forces will come together, integrate, in support of positive changes both within and outside of ourselves. I know, “blah, blah blah,” but that’s what I get from her message.

She says we are moving into an age of peace, a time of change. The biggest change is that all the energies that were rejecting this shift in 2009 will be supporting it in 2010.

Watch, and listen.

>Western Tribune column December 30, 2009 Happy New Year

December 30, 2009

>This column appeared in the Western Tribune on December 30, 2009

Has it really been 10 years? We were all Y2Krazy in December, 1999, wondering if the world as we knew it would end when the New Year began.

Glued to our televisions, we saw the fireworks from cities that celebrated before our clocks struck midnight. Airplanes did not drop out of the sky, elevators did not trap people in skyscrapers, and those on cruise ships did not return to ports devoid of people.

We are nearing the end of the aughts (or the zeros or however this decade will be remembered), and it is going out with a whimper.

Not as bad as it could have been, had the president not instituted policies which have helped turn the economy around. The job market is stabilizing and manufacturing reports indicate the beginnings of an economic recovery.

But the most encouraging news is that both houses of congress have passed historic legislation which recognizes that all Americans have the right to affordable health care. No longer will access to health care depend on one’s financial status or the whims of an insurance executive, assuming the kinks are worked out and a bill is presented for the president to sign.

This indicates a maturing of sorts of our democracy as we become a country that recognizes how important health care is to the economy and to our national welfare.

While ten years ago we welcomed the New Year with relief, 2009 was greeted with hope. Some have spent the past year fighting everything our president has tried to do, with no regard as to the merits of the issues.

They ask, “How’s that ‘change’ you voted for working out for you?”

Much better, I believe, than the negative change we were experiencing before Barack Obama became president.

Then they grade the president on the basis of what he has accomplished during his first year, as if all of the promises he made during his campaign had to be completed during that time period. There are three years left in his first term and another four years might follow.

As 2010 begins, the positive feelings that filled the nation a year ago are returning. Just as the country is being lifted, we can begin to expect a better community as well.

Birmingham will soon have a new mayor and later in 2010 Bessemer will have the opportunity to elect new officials as well.

Happy New Year.


December 29, 2009

>Remember almost a year ago I said I had not been sucked in to Twitter?

Well, now I have.

Follow me

I still have to learn how to shorten URL’s and such to make my tweets better.

But that aside, I only have three followers so far. That does not bother me, I am not Ashton Kutcher (but I will paste a picture of him on here) and am not seeking a million followers.

But who found me?

Yoko Ono!

She posted an affirmation for 2010 that I liked, so here it is.

by Yoko Ono

I would like you to share an affirmation with me.

Think it, say it, with firm belief, knowing that we are all one.

In the name of truth, peace and love:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Our planet is healthy and whole,
We, the people of Earth
See clearly, Hear clearly, Think clearly.

Make the right judgement, right decision and the right move
For the benefit of our planet and others.

We are now bathing in the light of Dawn,
Standing in the Heaven we have created together,
Sharing the Joy With all Lives on Earth
And of the Universe,

As we are all one, united with infinite and eternal love.

For the highest good of all concerned, So be it.

Happy New Year

love, yoko

Yoko Ono Lennon
December 2009
New York, USA

>Decatur Daily on Parker Griffith – precisely correct

December 28, 2009

>This editorial appeared in yesterday’s Decatur Daily. Of course, they don’t want people to read it, otherwise they would allow it to be seen without subscribing to the paper on the web site. For your benefit, I have typed it out. I hope they don’t mind.

Often I change key points to bold type, but if I did it here, the entire column would be bold. So just read it with that in mind.

Sunday, December 27, 2009 The Decatur Daily

Rep. Griffith joins the party of ‘no’

We like our representatives in Congress to have their fingers on the pulse of their constituents. Maybe U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith has been watching too much Fox News Channel.

It didn’t take long for Griffith, R-Huntsville, to pick up the GOP talking points.

“We’re watching (Democrats) pass a health care bill that basically two-thirds of Americans are saying, ‘Don’t pass it; leave it alone,’ and they’re completely ignoring the American people at their own risk,” Griffith said Tuesday at a press conference announcing his jump to the Republican Party.

In fact, Fox News – the channel where news producers were caught on camera cheerleading at a Washington, D.C., “tea party” rally opposing health care reform – is about the only place where one hears that kind of rhetoric recited as fact and sees hourly loops of House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin saying that many Americans oppose health care reform.

Yet, a majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama for president – in large part because he promised to reform health care. Just because a minority of Americans took to the streets, hijacked town hall meetings and received disproportionate media attention during Congress’ August recess does not mean the national mood has changed.

By now, the GOP talking points are all too familiar: The bills comprise too many pages; nobody has read them; the program is too expensive; Medicare will suffer; government bureaucrats, not doctors and patients, will be making medical decisions; “death panels.”

Griffith says health care reform will take America down “the wrong track.” Yet the Huntsville physician, of all people, does not tell us specifically what is wrong with the proposed legislation.

No Republican has presented a serious alternative to the unacceptable status quo, where those who have insurance subsidize health care for 30 million Americans who do not.

Here is what we do know about the proposed legislation: It would end the insurance company practice of denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. It would slow the rate of health care inflation. It would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions.

Most important: It would extend health insurance coverage to at least 30 million Americans who now have none.

According to the rhetoric, not a single Republican believes those changes are good for the American people.

The truth is that Republicans cannot politically afford for President Barack Obama’s No. 1 domestic priority to succeed – even if that means trying to kill a measure that would benefit everyone.

Rep. Griffith: Welcome to the party of “no.”

>Western Tribune column December 23 2009, Merry Xmas

December 23, 2009

>In Gardendale a business had written on their sign, “Not Xmas. Keep Christ in Christmas.”
Every year undereducated Christians rant about liberals trying to remove Christ from Christmas. Others defend the use of the word.

Even Martha Stewart got in on the act, as she attempted to educate her readers in an article titled “Traditional Xmas Breads” in the December issue of her magazine. In describing the recipe for Christopsomo, a Greek bread with strips of dough across the top that form a cross, or “X”, she writes, “The Greek letter X, or chi, is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ and was used as an early abbreviation. Hence the word Xmas.”

So, Xmas was not some term dreamed up by solstice worshipping heathens or bottom line worshipping retail moguls. It’s a valid, shortened word with the same meaning as Christmas.
Instead of arguing about words, we should all be thinking about the message of the season, “Peace on Earth. Good will to all.”

It’s really quite simple. Since Jesus was born on that cold morning, the world has had a path it could follow that would lead to peace.

But right now our country is involved in two wars and other skirmishes are occurring across the planet. Arguments can be made both for and against these conflicts.

And we are at war among ourselves as well. Racism, sexism, homophobia and class warfare keep us at odds with our family members and neighbors.

“Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me,” a popular Christian song begins.

We have a decorative piece sitting on a mantle, a faux stone with the words “Peace on Earth” inscribed. A metal turtle is crawling up the stone, as if to indicate that peace might be slow in coming, but will get here nevertheless.

As Christmas approaches, remember the lonely soldier in the deserts of Iraq or the cold mountains of Afghanistan. Think about the homeless person who because of unfortunate circumstances, poor judgment, or mental illness has little hope. And consider the young people in our community who may be surrounded by family but feel unloved and lost.

We can spread tidings of comfort and joy by reaching out to these people and in doing so we will bring peace on earth a little closer.

Peace on earth, and merry Xmas to all.

>Health care reform; polls and such

December 22, 2009

>Brief note. AL-05 congressman Parker Griffith announced his intention to switch from the Democrat to the Republican Party.

This switch will have little effect since he votes like a Republican all the time anyway, and the Democrats will still have a substantial majority in the House.

Health care reform

Support for health care reform is stronger than has been reported. Many of those polled who indicated they do not support the current plan, said so because they feel it does not go far enough.

This memo shows the results of several polls, all graphed with cute graphics that I couldn’t copy. So I will describe. You can click on the link to see the graphs.

An Ipsos/McClatchy poll from November showed that 34% support the bill, 35% oppose, saying it goes too far, 12% oppose saying it doesn’t go far enough and 20% are unsure. That means that 46% really support it, if it comes down to it.

A CNN poll from November showed that the public strongly supports individual components of the plan. 75% support expanding Medicaid, 73% support a large and mid-size employer mandate, 67 % support income tax (increase) on the wealthy, 76% support subsidies for the middle or lower class, 60% support banning rescissions, and 60% support banning denial due to pre-existing conditions.

When the entire plan is presented, support is strong. This statement was presented:

This plan would require every American citizen to have health insurance
and require large employers to provide coverage to their employees. It
would require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing
conditions and prevent them from dropping coverage for people who get
sick, while providing incentives for affordable preventive care. Individuals
and small businesses that do not have coverage would be able to select a
private insurance plan from a range of options sold on a National
Insurance Exchange. Lower and middle income people would receive
subsidies to help them afford insurance, while those individuals who like
the coverage they already have will be able to keep their current plan.

Louisianans supported this 57 to 38%. Seniors in Maine supported it 54-36.

All this leaves us feeling pretty good looking ahead to the 2010 elections, when more progressives need to be elected to avoid the effects of lone wolf types like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman.

>Learn the facts about Health Care Reform: The Manager’s Amendment

December 21, 2009

>Progress is always incremental, and as progressives, we have to accept that the changes we seek may come in stages.

Such is the case with health care reform.

The Senate is poised to pass the amended bill this week, and then after the holidays a conference committee of House and Senate members will reconcile the bill into a form that hopefully both houses will pass.

But every day I run into people who do not understand the bill and its provisions. Oh, there are those who don’t care that they don’t understand it, they just want to defeat it. The Waterlooers, I call them.

But most Americans want to understand the bill that the Senate will pass, and when they do, they are for it.

So here are some facts about the Senate bill which was modified with the Manager’s Amendment.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill, as presented in the senate, will reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first 10 years. Further, during the second decade, the bill will continue to reduce the deficit up to one half of one percent of the GDP, or up to $1.3 trillion.

The bill will also increase coverage with up to 94% of all Americans under age 65 covered.

The bill provides for an immediate ban on excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and for all Americans in 2014.

Health insurers will have to abide by a set of provisions that protect a patient’s choice of doctors.

Annual limits on benefits will be restricted beginning in 2010 and completely prohibited by 2014. Lifetime limits are immediately banned (within 6 months).

Health insurance tax credits for small businesses begin in 2010 which make providing insurance benefits more affordable for employers.

Nationwide plans, at least one of which will be non-profit, will be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that oversees the health plans for members of congress.

The quality of care for seniors will improve, as additional health care providers are reimbursed for services based on quality not quantity of the services they provide.

More children will be covered under CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Community Health Centers will be expanded providing access to care to where it is most needed.

Funding for rural health care providers will increase.

New programs will be funded for fighting cancer, diabetes, children’s heart disease, and the Indian Health System, and will provide support for pregnant teens and victims of domestic violence.

These are not all of the provisions that progressive Americans wanted, but its a start.

And it shows the strength of Harry Reid that he was able to bring this about.

>Homewood blowing out the candles

December 16, 2009

>In nearby Homewood the fire chief said that if you want your church to hold a candlelight service on Christmas Eve you have to get a permit and pay four off duty firefighters $100 each to stand guard.

That’s $400 that could be going to help feed the poor on Christmas day, or buy blankets for the homeless.

The law has been on the books for over 10 years, and in the past Dawson Memorial Baptist (for which $400 is a drop in the bucket) has been paying for the permit and the firefighters.

But smaller churches like Edgewood Presbyterian are just learning of the law, and to them $400 is a lot of money.

All Saints Episcopal Church holds a candlelight service where the candles are lit for about a minute and a half while the people sing “Silent Night,” Rev. Glenda Curry said.

Trinity United Methodist pastor Andrew Wolfe said, “The church has been doing this hundreds of years. I can’t imagine that all of a sudden we’re not able to do a candlelight service.”

The law requires the churches to hire firefighters from Homewood, so there may not be enough off duty firefighters to go around, and the city says they will deny the permits in that case.

Here’s a suggestion. Hire these guys and let them work for tips.

Surely attendance would increase if these firefighters were there to monitor the situation.

Instead of paying them directly, pass the plate around and let the firefighters split the take.

Seriously, this is about the stupidest law I’ve ever heard of. The Homewood city council should hold an emergency session next week and repeal this law.

>Security does not come without a cost

December 15, 2009

>The following was written by a friend of mine, who gave me permission to reprint it here.

Recently, a few of our leaders have called for “war taxes” to help support our soldiers in the field and their efforts in the two wars in which our nation is involved. Typically, most of us don’t like taxes but we as Americans should stand behind those calling for such taxes because by so doing we will provide vital support for our soldiers who are serving, on our behalves, in dangerous places to defend our nation.

George Bush should have initiated those taxes when we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq (instead he cut taxes) and Barack Obama and all Americans, particularly those who are for military action in these two regions, should be for them.

We say we are for our military. We say we want to defend America. We say we appreciate all who are sacrificing to defend our nation from enemies domestic and abroad. We say we want to stand by our soldiers who have paid painful sacrifices on our behalves. But when we are asked to make a personal sacrifice to help pay for the cost of all of that we say “No!”

What hypocrites we are.

Yes, I know we’ve got to pay for our groceries and housing and car repairs and medical care. Those are necessary. But are we willing to do without that 50″ TV – or 60 to 300 channels of cable TV – or going out to eat two or three times a week – or upgrading our computer to something with all the bells and whistles – or taking a cheaper vacation – or making our car last longer? Are we willing to sacrifice some of the “comforts” of our lives to pay for what we declare that we are for? Or are we going to pass those bills on to our children and grandchildren?

Shame on us! Shame on our leaders! Paying taxes, particularly those that provide for the vital and essential defense of our nation, is an act of patriotism!

Richard B. Hanna

>I’m a Saints fan, but…

December 14, 2009

>First, I don’t bet on football. Not on Auburn, not on Alabama and not on the Saints.

Second, I don’t drink to the point that I say stupid things (I may say some stupid things from time to time without drinking, however).

Third, I like our TV.

Fourth, I don’t allow people to shoot semi-automatic weapons on my property.

But Wayne Spring is a different kind of football fan. He didn’t think the Saints could beat the Redskins, so he posted on Facebook that if the Saints won that his FB friends could come shoot up his TV.

After the Saints won 33-30 in overtime, people began arriving armed, drunk and dangerous.

Goodbye 60 inch flat screen. “A bets a bet.”

“That ain’t nothing compared to what I lost to the bookie”