Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Son's Eagle Scout Project

In my town there's a lovely park with a lake where Canadian Geese gather by the hundreds at this time of year. Soon, as the November winds grow chilly and the days get shorter, they'll be heading further south.

The Eagle Project at Veterans Memorial Park at Gillie Lake

The project took place at Veterans Memorial Park at Gillie Lake. Many people who grew up in the area will remember it as Gillie Lake...a long time local watering hole. The 90 acre park’s center is a manmade lake stocked with sunfish and largemouth bass.

In the park there's an old one-room schoolhouse (Schoolhouse #1) that used to be one of the main public schoolhouses for area children in the area. It was moved here carefully from its original location and it's in the process of being restored. Today, it looks much better than the condition it was in when it came in on the flatbed truck.

A regular visitor to the park will now see a new sight when they come to look at old Schoolhouse #1. There are benches and new burning bush plantings and they were planned by my son, who chose to make the improvements and additions to the park as his Eagle Scout project.

My son has many people and organizations to thank for the help and advice he got along the way. Our village mayor Ed Fletcher, our town parks supervisor Tom Kehoskie, Mr. Weinberger and the VFW for their contributions, the Scouts and adult leaders without whom my son could never have completed his project, the lovely Red Oak Nursery who donated the plantings, and everyone who participated and attended the fundraising car wash last August.
Red Oak Nursery, Camillus, N.Y.

Below are photos taken on the day of the project.

Mitt Romney Will Have a 2008 Friend in Clear Channel

Rochester Turning reminds us how Italy's richest man Silvio Berlusconi got himself elected. Now it's Mitt Romney's turn to try it in the United States.

A comment from someone named James at Rochester Turning:
Clearchannel just recently went up for auction. Mitt Romney's Bain Capital bought it along with Thomas H Lee Partners, but I'm not sure who owns them. The rumor on the Street was that there might be regulatory problems because the firms own positions in other media companies, but I'm not sure which ones. Article is here and Wikipedia for Bain Capital is here.
Chris Bowers has more. He says:
Mitt Romney buys a media empire. I can't argue with what will probably be an effective strategy, but I can fear for American Democracy.
Should we be prepared for All Mitt all the time?

The blogger known as grayslady says she thinks the story's not really that much of a story, claiming that Romney fully divested himself of his shares in Bain. Says "grayslady":
I'm not suggesting that Lee will try to influence the broadcasting, especially since the venture capital companies, Lee and Bain, will not be putting in their own management team, as they often do in a buyout. Since the Mays are part of the purchase group I anticipate no change in Clear Channel's policies.

Many Rivers To Cross

I found one of my favorite songs on YouTube today.

Many Rivers To Cross
Jimmy Cliff

Too Funny Not to Post

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wal Mart HQ Unfairly Smears John Edwards

Hey, Wal Mart - Apologize for Swift-Boating
Senator John Edwards!

Wal Mart is wrong here. Simply wrong for what they have done. They need to apologize and clarify a story they released to the press that seems to have been specifically engineered to unfairly damage the former Senator and VP candidate's reputation.

Dave Johnson: Wal-Mart Engineers a Smear of Edwards

Daily Kos: Who Should You Believe, Wal-Mart or John Edwards?

When I see a major corporation trying to take the heat off themselves by creating a false impression about a popular citizen-leader who is speaking out against their unjust policies, I have to strike that corporation off my list of businesses with which I choose to deal.

So, it's Goodbye, Wal Mart for me. The way I see it, they've shot themselves in the foot by deliberately, and with harmful intent, making a stupid and false attack on a leader that millions of Americans greatly admire.

How interesting that the story came out the same day that Senator Edwards participated in a nationwide public conference call in opposition to Walmart's policies toward its employees. Senator Edwards was active in his pursuit of fairness for all Americans who work for Wal Mart. Edwards has obviously been targeted as an enemy of Wal Mart for having been active in the Wake-Up Walmart campaign and tour. This kind of retribution looks very, very bad for Wal Mart, a corporation that boats a little yellow smiley face while stabbing an honest man in the back for merely questioning their policies.

Imagine if John Edwards had been a Republican in this situation (or just another spongy and Corporate-compliant hypocrite like so many of our "leaders" today). Imagine this was a "leader" who was perfectly willing to look the other way as Wal Mart failed to pay employees enough to support a family, forced those employees to work off-the-clock, and failed to cover over 775,000 employees for healthcare, (1 out of 6 Wal Mart employees have no health care coverage at all). We never would have heard a word about this so-called incident. Wal Mart would have not even worried about a need to drum up a story that raised all these false impressions. The problem Wal Mart has with John Edwards is that he possesses the character of a true leader with real moral conviction about defending justice for the American worker.

What's next? Is Wal Mart going to start a rumor about me in my own community when I write to my local newspaper about my concerns regarding the economic justice they deny to their employees every day? What scum - truly. What scum has come out of the Wal Mart headquarters today. (Do I sound disgusted?)

Whether you like John Edwards or not, anyone willing to fall into the trap on this Wal Mart swift boat story is saying that they are perfectly willing to go the way of Senator John Kerry's excruciating 2004 electoral loss. Wal Mart is acting like one of those 527 groups who attacked Senator Kerry in swift boat ads back in 2004 - for which Kerry never supplied adequate self-defense or comeback. It was painful to see his campaign falter when we knew he was a brave defender of our nation and its troops during the questionable Vietnam conflict.

Regardless of what you politically think of John Edwards, think about who is attacking him and why they are doing so. If you think Wal Mart has a long way to go to provide economic justice to its employees and if you understand how Wal Mart has made it own unique and terrible contribution to poverty in this country, then we should remember to fight back instead of believing Wal Mart over a citizen-Democrat named John Edwards.

John Edwards does not intend to destroy Wal Mart. He is appealing to them to treat their workers more fairly. He did not deserve this attack upon his character. It was based upon innuendo and what I view as a deliberate misleading.

Wal Mart's swiftboat story is akin to a 527-style political campaign ad. It was started by a corporation's headquarters - with free advertisement by a malleable press looking to stoke controversy. As we approach 2008, I see this as a dangerous situation for any political leader who has the guts to tell the big corporations that they're wrong.

What are we going to do about it? I'm taking Wal Mart off my Christmas-shopping map. (And I'm one of those people who says "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays.")

A commenter at Huffington Post named "laughingalltheway" who, in my view, is deliberately acting publicly in concert with the Wal Mart headquarter's smear campaign against John Edwards asked:
Does anyone think that the staff member got this for Edwards on his own initiative?
I replied:

First, get your facts straight. It wasn't even the staff member. It was a citizen that was classified as a "volunteer." It comes to me as no shock that a person who wants to do something nice for a leader he respects might get overzealous and think he can throw the leader's name around (without the leader's knowledge or consent). That doesn't make the leader himself culpable or involved in any way. To assume so is REALLY is stretch.

You fell for Wal Mart's attempt to suck you in and believe that Sen. Edwards went shopping at Wal Mart vicariously through another person. If Edwards was telepathic (like that other John Edward), he may have known what was happening. But he didn't.

So let's not turn this into something it's not.
Wal Mart had best beware. I'm a citizen in New York State who just witnessed the overwhelming victory of Eliot Spitzer's campaign for Governor. He won because he was a champion - bold, fair, tenacious and courageous, against any corporation who thought they were so well-protected by corrupt government that they could not be held responsible for unfair practices. I don't see Senator Edwards' mission for justice as any different. The public greatly respects leaders who demand the kind of justice and fairness that is made manifest by food on their table, a college education for those who desire it, and regular trips for doctor's and dental check-ups for themselves and their kids as a rule rather than a miraculous exception.

* Go here to see a leter I wrote to radio show host Ed Schultz. On his Friday show, he played right into Wal Mart's version of the story and all of its false impressions. Wow. What a disappointment Mr. Schultz is on this issue.

The bottom line is this: Wal-Mart tried to smear one of its fiercest critics.



A website called Morningstar is not only perpetuating a myth that one Google click could have told them was already debunked a full week ago, but they're asking othes to spread the disinformation. Why would they do something like that? It surely doesn't say much for their credibility!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

O Mary Don't You Weep - Bruce Springsteen

"O Mary Don't You Weep"
Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

John Edwards A Guest on Daily Show and Letterman

Elizabeth Edwards has sent an email to members of the online community at the One America Committee to remind them that not only does her husband, former Senator John Edwards, have a new book for you to read, but that he will be a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS this Friday night.

Because I am really proud of what John has done in his new book, Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives, I want everyone to hear about the book and to read it. You'll get a chance to hear about it when John appears on The Late Show with David Letterman this Friday.

Home comes out in bookstores today, and all his proceeds from the sale of the book will be going to charity. He has already made a donation to Habitat for Humanity, which is helping to build new homes and new life stories for families in North Carolina and on the Gulf Coast. John got the idea for the book during his 2004 presidential campaign after he visited his first childhood home in Seneca, South Carolina. When the little wooden house was later featured in a TV ad for his campaign, people everywhere stopped him to share their powerful memories of home.

No matter where we lived -- or, in my case, how many times we moved -- home has the same place in almost everyone’s heart: a place where we wanted to be or where we felt most secure. It is where -- through good times and bad -- we grew the wings that allowed us to be the adults we are today. Just hearing the word "home" triggers memories of family stories, learning right from wrong, and building the confidence to someday step out into the larger world. And John's book captures this and captures too the varieties of ways we continue to carry our homes with us as adults in sixty personal essays and pictures of childhood homes. About half are from well-known people like Tommy Franks, John Glenn, Sugar Ray Leonard and Rick Warren. The other half are from less well-known people that we discovered right here in our online community...

*An exerpt from the email sent by Elizabeth Edwards

An excerpt from the book Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives by Senator Edwards can be read here.

Also, don't miss Senator Edwards on Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central tonight.

Reid Remains Senate Majority Leader

New leadership roles in the 110th Senate:

Senator Patty Murray of Washington is new Conference secretary.

Chuck Schumer of New York is vice chairman of the caucus as well as retaining his seat as DSCC chair.

Harry Reid will retain the position of Senate Majority leader, which means that Senator Hillary won't be taking it, which means that Senator Hillary has most likely decided to run for President, which really will come as no surprise to most of us.

The Hill is reporting that Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will move up from Democratic conference secretary to succeed Sen. Clinton as head of the Democratic Steering Committee. They term the move as Hillary "clearing the deck" for a 2008 run.

Kos has posted a listing of who's taking the new seats.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Sunday Comment - Disgusted by Today's Meet The Press

As we approach 2008, I suspect that the trend in the mainstream media will be to lead the American people toward a gooey center where conviction gets lost in a political mixing bowl of soft, inert, and easily soluable ingredients. I got that impression after watching the line-up of guests on Meet the Depressing Press today. I saw 2004 RNC Convention Bush-cheerleader John McCain continue to beat up on the losing 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (long after Kerry rightfully apologized for his weird joke) and Joe Lieberman making inexcusable excuses for his attempt to muzzle critics of the miserably failed Iraq war. These two men, McCain and Lieberman, seem so full of ego and ambition to me - so 2008 starry-eyed - that they seem perfectly willing to toss principle aside for popularity. Is that what Americans want from their leaders?

I am quite certain that the results of Election 2006 showed, if nothing else, that principle matters to the American people. After decades of the Republican majority-led perpetuation and support of a radical rightwing takeover of the people's government, it is the people who have worked their tails off to take their counrty back. It's ordinary citizens who have learned to overcome big D.C. lobbyists' campaign contriubutions and mainstream media misleading and inefficacy. The people have worked to take back their elections. They didn't work that hard to hand the power back to those who fail to take the people's convictions seriously.

We have a heck of a lot of work to get done - election reform, raising minmum wage, getting a universal health care plan, protecting Social Security, supporting and finding a new place for Labor in today's changing economic world, fair trade, a good education for all Americans children, an alternative energy policy that really works, getting America out of the President's mess in Iraq, and protecting our rights and freedoms. The question is - will men determined to be men of no strong conviction - being aroused by a strong and strange compunction to shy away from their party on issues if they appear to be "too partisan"...will they be the right men (or women) to lead us in the necessary swing back toward progress in our country? We have a long way to go and I believe we need a leader who is not afraid to say exactly what he (or she) means.

President Bush is a leader who has fiercely stuck by his principles, and his principles, if you are to judge by electoral results, are not in concert with the principles of the American people. If you noticed, Jim Webb didn't win Virginians over by shrinking from principle or the party with which he consciously chose to run. Most of the Democrats who were elected to power this time were elected by people (Independents, Republicans, and Democrats) who were searching for the kind of conviction that would be strong enough and reasonable enough to overcome and overturn the wrong-minded convictions of a President and his Republican rubber-stampers who've hurled our nation in what they believe is the wrong direction.

Listening to Joe Lieberman bragging about his win in Connecticut with 70% of Republicans voting him into power while only 33% of Democrats gave him their support made me wonder what this "Independent Democratic" ticket he ran on really means. He acted like a proud peacock for the fact that he could side with Republicans in the Senate at any time he personally felt like it. He called it speaking for the people of Connecticut, which is true, because most of the people of Connecticut who voted for him were Republicans. He was bold enough to infer that his new "Independent Democrat" status entitled him to still be a Democrat while acting as a perpetual threat to Democrats in the Senate to make things go Connecticut's way and I could clearly see it was because he is entirely beholden to the Republicans who carried him overwhelmingly to victory in his State. Joe can claim victory, but no matter what label he slaps on himself, he can't claim victory as a Connecticut Democrat. If you look at who brung him to the dance, Lieberman can only claim resounding victory as a Connecticut Republican.

Joe Lieberman is the embodiment of the "Democrat Lite" that we all bemoaned back in 2000. He is not a friend of the national Democratic party. He is far more of a threat. I believe that, in the light of truth and fact, that he is now and will have to remain a friend to the Connecticut Republicans who kept him in power.

If there's one thing I'll say about President Bush, it's that he's been a leader of strong conviction, as a leader should be. (Although we realize that a great leader should be a lot of other things that Bush is surely not.)

It used to be an accepted political adage that "strong and wrong" was better than "weak and right". That view changed in the court of public opinion when too many American troops began to die with no qualitative measure of progress in the Iraq war, which was revealed over time to have been an absolutely unnecessary and poorly executed national nightmare. Former President Clinton recently said that "Stop and think" might be the new and far more appropriate twist for conventional politcal wisdom.

What about "Stop and think"? John McCain boldly and proudly defended the leadership of President Bush in his speech at the RNC Convention in 2004 - a time when most Americans were already waking up to the fact that the Iraq war was a failure in the making. If these middle-of-the-roaders of weak conviction like McCain and Lieberman are such believers in patriotism over partisansip, why did Lieberman try so hard to muzzle critcism of the President when the Iraq war was not being properly led - - and why did McCain so vociferously defend and promote Bush as a great Commander in Chief in late 2004 when he (and we) damned well knew he wasn't? (It didn't take a rocket scientist.)

We Americans are sick to death of hypocrisy. McCain and Lieberman act as if conviction is some kind of a disease, for Pete's sake. These are two of the biggest political hypocrites on the political scene today. When Pastor Ted Haggard's hypocisy was found out, he was forced to step away from leadership. How do you explain to the American people the kind of political hypocrisy being practiced by egotists who prize the vote over conviction or principle? The average television viewer won't easily pick up on the hypocrisy when the Tim Russerts of the mainstream media hand the big fakes the gigantic megaphone in the very same week that the citizens of this nation cried out for a sea change in the power center of America that would reflect their own convictions. At a time when Americans were interested and should have been getting an opportunity to see and hear their freshly elected new Congressional leaders, Russert trotted out the old guard. What a snooze!

To me, Lieberman represents the kind of "change" that James Carville wanted to see when he recommended that Tenessee's losing Harold Ford (who I truly respect and wish would have beat Bob Corker) take Howard Dean's place as chair of the DNC. This suggestion did not reflect well on Mr. Carville for all of us Democrats who were inspired to get out the vote and to win by Howard Dean. Mr. Carville easily forgets that the Democrats - the real and everyday people of the party in their respective states and communities - voted Howard Dean into his position. Mr. Carville forgets that the Democrats actually won this time. Hello? We won! Seeing Mr. Carville immediately going out and drumming up division in the party is a move that I personally resent. Election 2006 showed that money does not necessarily equate to wins (although it certainly doesn't hurt.) I could hardly believe my ears when Mr. Carville made his insulting suggestion. To suggest tossing Howard Dean over money would bring all of us right back to the old network that lost so many elections for Democrats. The McAuliffe machinery was the most well-oiled of all time, but if I asked the Democrats to show me the victories from that period of time, they'd be hard-pressed. It wasn't Terry McAuliffe's fault - he was damned good at what he did (and a Syracuse homeboy to boot) - it was the strategists's fault. Without a strategy to motivate and inspire your grassroots people in local elections, all the money in the world will get you absolutely nowhere. When it came to motivating the real people and building up the party where it counts most - in the hearts of citizens in communities across the 50 states, make no mistake: Howard Dean was the man.

Joe Lieberman motivated a whole new Republican base in Connecticut. Is that where all the money generated by a non-Howard Dean will take us? If so, I don't wanna go, Joe.

Tar Heel Tavern at Billy the Blogging Poet

You'll find the most current edition of the Tar Heel Tavern at Billy the Blogging Poet's place - only this time our hero B the BP is caught between a bard and a tavern - - and he's been running 'round the world and doing his best to get back on time to host the tavern. If you see Billy running down your street, we've been asked to tell him he's going the wrong way....especially if he's wearing only these.....

Right now you're probably saying "What the heck?!" I know - - it's enough to make even the President curious. Don't ask - just go and take a look...then enjoy Billy's tale at the Tavern.