The Seat of Power

large_ohman1106colorBy Jack Ohman, The Oregonian

Hey, Red AND Blue States, Listen Up!

This is a response to the internet letters from the Blue States to the Red States, and vice versa. The letters, meant to be humorous, are raising hackles and petty arguments in the current political atmosphere.

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Hey Red States and Blue States,

Hold it right there. I have something to say before you start breaking up this country. My name is Unknown and my remains are in a marble tomb near the center of Arlington National Cemetery. There are four of us in this tomb. We died in two World Wars, in Korea, and in Vietnam. We gave our lives for the land we loved and we each came home in a casket draped with the flag of this nation.

Our tomb is in Virginia. The marble for our memorial comes from Colorado, from the same mine that produced the marble for the Lincoln Memorial. We’re in good company here. This is the final resting place for more than 300,000 Americans including soldiers from the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Civil War and just about every war since.  An eternal flame marks the final resting place of our 35th president John F. Kennedy.  Two astronauts who perished aboard the space shuttle Challenger, Richard Scobee (Washington) and Michael Smith (North Carolina), were laid to rest here. You’ll find the grave of Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, the American writer and activist who was born on a Yankton Sioux reservation. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is buried here. He was born in Boston and he taught at Harvard. We share this place with innocents who died at the Pentagon and on American Flight 77 on 9/11. You’ll also find a memorial to the 259 American men, women and children from many states who died aboard PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

If you guys split up…who gets Arlington?

Blue States, are you really so ready to give up Ole Miss? That’s a 160 year-old institution. It was one of the South’s first universities to admit women, and the first to hire a female faculty member. James Meredith, a native of Mississippi, courageously endured a great deal of hateful treatment to become the university’s first black student. And what’s wrong with Alabama? It’s the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harper Lee, Hank Aaron, Mia Hamm and Hank Williams. The folks down in Huntsville built the first rocket that put humans on the Moon.

Red States, what have you got against Rhode Island? If it wasn’t for that tiny state you might be having tea and crumpets every afternoon. It was the first of the thirteen original American colonies to declare independence from British rule. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America and the first NFL night game! It’s also the home state of George M. Cohan, H. P. Lovecraft, Eileen Farrell and Nelson Eddy.

Let’s be fair about big cities. They have some tough issues, but they are also famous for museums and parks, music, the arts and great sports teams. Miami is home to the Adrienne Arsht Center (the second-largest performing arts center in the nation) and Dolphin Stadium. Atlanta boasts Zoo Atlanta (which is helping to save some of the world’s most endangered species). Don’t forget that St Louis is the home of Anheuser-Busch Breweries (for that frosty mug of brew you talked about Red States). You’ll also find one of those elitist universities in St. Louis. The Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital operate the Siteman Cancer Center and the Genome Sequencing Center. In fact, universities in cities around the nation do cutting edge research in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, birth defects, nerve disorders and much more. And yes, stem cell research is incredibly promising in many of these areas. Think of how you might feel if your doctor were to say, “It’s malignant…but don’t worry. There’s an excellent new treatment from Stanford that can triple your chances of survival.” And for Blue Staters with rheumatoid arthritis…it was a guy from Alabama who first synthesized cortisone.

Why the rush to divvy up this land that includes Big Sur, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Everglades, the Channel Islands, the Grand Canyon and so much more? Why can’t we all share and enjoy the country that gave us B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Marian Anderson, Motown, Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, and yes, Streisand? Who wouldn’t want a Philly cheese steak, a Maryland boiled crab dinner, Tex-Mex, gumbo or a slice of Boston cream pie?

In dark times we have always come through as a nation. Remember that after 9/11 Americans gathered from every corner of this land to help New York City. Firefighters from as far away as Montana trekked to California to fight huge blazes that threatened lives and property there. Rescue dog teams from California have mobilized in hours to help Midwestern victims of tornadoes and floods. After Katrina, as the government dropped the ball, trucks loaded with emergency supplies, and cars loaded with volunteers rolled out of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and yes, Detroit. We are a nation of heroes ready to help our neighbors. We are a nation of liberal, conservative, and moderate soccer moms, doctors and chefs. Dedicated teachers, caring police officers, honest city officials and schools that achieve academic miracles are not unique to small towns or to big cities. And that volunteer military? The men and women who march into harm’s way to defend this country are from every corner of every state.

So before you start carving up these United States, remember that the spoils will have to include Arlington, and Lexington, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Wounded Knee, Pearl Harbor and every other inch of soil upon which American blood has been shed in our shared history. You’ll have to explain to the spirits of those who died why we can’t seem to muster the courage, the commitment and the respect for our fellow citizens to make this nation work.

Or can we?

Sincerely,

Unknown

The original  internet letters:

Dear Red States

Dear Blue States

Exclusive/original to Political Bunko

Please pass along or repost.

Say What?

A few years ago there was a television commercial in which a young man made a phone call to his mother. She complained that he never called and he responded, “But I am calling you!”

There’s just no pleasing some people.

To help to ease the sting of the mortgage crisis, Senator Obama introduced a plan to give tax relief to ten million homeowners who don’t itemize their taxes.

The McCain campaign said that the plan was essentially “welfare” because some of the homeowners that would be included are unemployed.

Although very few homeowners fell into that category, Obama addressed the issue by adding a work requirement for those who would receive the $500 credit.

The McCain campaign then criticized the plan for offering no help to the unemployed.

There’s just no pleasing some people.

The McCain criticism is off base anyway. Obama’s website lists several credible plans to create millions of new jobs and so decrease unemployment.

Dissecting Health Plans

Editorial – Oct. 27, 2008 New York Times

The Candidates’ Health Plans

The nation’s health care system is desperately in need of reform — as far too many Americans know from grim, personal experience. In this election, Barack Obama and John McCain are offering starkly different ideas for how to fix that system.

There is no shortage of problems:

¶ Some 45 million Americans lack health insurance, limiting their ability to get timely care.

¶ The costs of medical care and health insurance are rising much faster than household incomes, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford either.

¶ People can’t carry their insurance from one job to another, limiting their mobility. Outside the workplace, it is hard to find affordable insurance.

¶ Despite the wealth and technological prowess of this country, the quality of medical care often lags behind that available in other industrialized nations.

Both candidates have largely accepted the prevailing expert wisdom on ways to improve quality and lower health care costs over the long run, such as relying more on electronic medical records and better management of the chronically ill. But they have very different ideas on the best way to make insurance available and affordable for all Americans.

Read the in-depth look at both candidates’ health-plans here.

*****

RELATED TOPIC: COVER YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU SNEEZE

This is an amazing photo. It is a cough captured by schlieren photography. You can read more about it in the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/science/28cough.html?th&emc=th

Obama: Defining Moment

A heartening message from Obama as the election draws near.

My Daily Rant – October 21

Joe the Everyman

by The Tall Twin

“You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism.” – John McCain

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

It seems that Joe the Plumber has given birth to an army of “everypersons.” Now Governor Palin is talking about Tito the Builder. I can see the action figures lining the shelves at toy stores. They come with removable tool belts and a set of real, working power tools (batteries not included).

I agree with the concept. The time has come to recognize the American everyperson as the hero he or she truly is. I think the lineup should be extended. How about Joanna the Single Mom? Greta and Hank the Retirees living on a pension, Josh the Student Loan Seeker and Marco the Underpaid Elementary School Teacher? They’re pretty heroic too.

But back to Joe the Plumber. . . What is the one thing that he, as a small businessman, must have? Yep. Customers. He can end up paying zero in taxes if he doesn’t have customers on the phone requesting his services. I can say from personal experience, that in the past few years I have learned how to fix a leaky faucet, unclog a drain, and install a new “toilet kit” all on my own. I’ve had to because I can’t afford to call a plumber.

Republicans may claim that a redistribution of wealth is bad, but it has been common practice for quite some time now. The nation’s wealth has been pouring into the gilt-lined coffers of the richest 1%. The trickle down thing hasn’t seemed to work so well for average Americans.

It is time to “spread the wealth” in the form of tax relief for the middle class. It’s not only fair, but it’s good for small businesses. If I have some extra money in my pocket I might not go “pheasant hunting in Ireland,” but I might splurge on new copper plumbing to replace the leaky decades old crap I have now. I certainly wouldn’t shop for a yacht to park in my driveway, but I might hire someone to replace the fence around my backyard with a new one.

Tax breaks for the wealthy don’t trickle anywhere. They just make the rich richer. Tax breaks for the middle class could give people a little breathing room. It’s quite likely that much of the money they save would be spent in small businesses across the nation. People might feel comfortable enough to shop at the local bakery, go to the beauty salon, have the house painted, or take in a movie. In other words, they may become customers for the zillions of small businesses across the land.

And what happens to those tax dollars from the wealthiest plumbers who take home more than $250,000 a year? Some of that wealth could be used to improve the roads and bridges his trucks travel on. It could improve police and fire protection services that keep his business safe. By bettering public education, tax dollars help to train the people he will hire in the future, and offer health care for those he has already hired.

This is not socialism…this is smart business.

Science vs Sarah

The borders are slippery between Knowledge and Palintology

SCIENCE

Biologists Note Polar Bear Cannibalism

Andrew C. Revkin: Published: June 13, 2006

www.nytimes.com/2006/06/13/us/13brfs-006.html

“Providing hints that a reduction in coastal sea ice may make life difficult for polar bears, government biologists from Canada and the United States say they observed three instances of cannibalism among polar bears in a three-month stretch in 2004 along Alaskan and Yukon coasts. In the journal Polar Biology, the researchers said that no previous examples had been observed in the region in at least 24 years. Computer simulations project that the Arctic Ocean could become largely free of sea ice later in the century in summers if global warming intensifies.”

Global Warming Pushes Polar Bears To Cannibalism

by Mira Oberman Chicago (AFP): Published  Jun 16, 2006

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Global_Warming_Pushes_Polar_Bears_To_Cannibalism.html

While bears will kill and then eat other bears in fights over territory or females it is extremely rare for them to hunt other bears as prey, Armstrup said. In nearly 40 years of studying polar bears in northern Alaska and Canada, researchers had never observed such behavior.

Agency Proposes to List Polar Bears as Threatened

By Felicity Barringer and Andrew C. Revkin: Published: December 28, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/science/28polar.html?_r=1&fta=y&oref=slogin

The International Conservation Union, in its latest red list of endangered wildlife, gave polar bears threatened status in May, projecting a decline of 30 percent by midcentury from current populations, mainly due to projected losses of sea ice in a warming world.

Polar bears are dependent on sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, and as a pathway to coastal areas. The ice shrinkage has meant that polar bears, which are strong swimmers, have had to cover longer distances between ice and land.

They have survived previous Arctic warming periods, including the last warm stretch between ice ages some 130,000 years ago, but some climate experts project that nothing in the species’ history is likely to match the pace and extent of warming and ice retreats projected in this century and beyond, should emissions of heat-trapping gases continue unabated.

SARAH

Palin loves bears

Palin loves bears

Gov. Sarah Palin on polar bears, climate change, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/palin_polarbear_climate_anwr/

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008

In September 2007 Governor Palin formed the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet and charged it with preparing and implementing an Alaska Climate Change Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responding to the effects of climate change.  But Palin opposed listing the polar bear as threatened by global warming and loss of sea ice habitat, in spite of the findings of a scientifically based status assessment put together by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marine Mammals Management Office in Alaska and the clear requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

“Alaska’s marine mammal scientists agreed last year with federal researchers who concluded polar bears are threatened with extinction because of a shrinking ice cap,” the Anchorage Daily News reported on May 25.  “The state’s in-house dispute seems to refute later statements by Gov. Sarah Palin that a ‘comprehensive review’ of the federal science by state wildlife officials found no reason to support an endangered-species listing for the northern bears.”

SCIENCE

CNN.com/Technology

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/09/23/arctic.ice/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

The best known consequence of disappearing sea ice in the Arctic is the loss of the polar bear habitat.  Learn more about polar bears and their habitat.

“The Arctic sea ice melt is a disaster for the polar bears,” according to Kassie Siegel, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They are dependent on the Arctic sea ice for all of their essential behaviors, and as the ice melts and global warming transforms the Arctic, polar bears are starving, drowning, even resorting to cannibalism because they don’t have access to their usual food sources.”

In May, the U.S. Department of Interior listed the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. In a news release, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne stated, “loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat. This loss of habitat puts polar bears at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future, the standard established by the ESA for designating a threatened species.”

SARAH

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

By SARAH PALIN

Published: January 5, 2008

Juneau, Alaska

ABOUT the closest most Americans will ever get to a polar bear are those cute, cuddly animated images that smiled at us while dancing around, pitching soft drinks on TV and movie screens this holiday season.

This is unfortunate, because polar bears are magnificent animals, not cartoon characters. They are worthy of our utmost efforts to protect them and their Arctic habitat. But adding polar bears to the nation’s list of endangered species, as some are now proposing, should not be part of those efforts.

Read more here   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/opinion/05palin.html

SCIENCE

Gov. Sarah Palin on polar bears, climate change, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/palin_polarbear_climate_anwr/

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008

In September 2007 Governor Palin formed the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet and charged it with preparing and implementing an Alaska Climate Change Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responding to the effects of climate change.  But Palin opposed listing the polar bear as threatened by global warming and loss of sea ice habitat, in spite of the findings of a scientifically based status assessment put

Palin endangers wildlife

Palin endangers wildlife

together by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marine Mammals Management Office in Alaska and the clear requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

“Alaska’s marine mammal scientists agreed last year with federal researchers who concluded polar bears are threatened with extinction because of a shrinking ice cap,” the Anchorage Daily News reported on May 25.  “The state’s in-house dispute seems to refute later statements by Gov. Sarah Palin that a ‘comprehensive review’ of the federal science by state wildlife officials found no reason to support an endangered-species listing for the northern bears.”

SARAH vs SCIENCE

E-mail reveals state dispute over polar bear listing

POLAR BEAR LISTING: Biologists disagreed with administration.

By TOM KIZZIA

tkizzia@adn.com

Published: May 25th, 2008 01:54 AM

http://www.adn.com/news/environment/story/416432.html

A newly released e-mail from last fall shows that the state’s own biologists were at odds with the Palin administration, which has consistently opposed any new federal protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act….The e-mail was released…to a University of Alaska scientist who had filed a public records request seeking information on the state’s polar bear decision-making.  Rick Steiner, the university Marine Advisory Program professor who obtained the memo, said it undermines the Palin administration’s scientific defense as well as its claims to being an open government….

“Even the petroleum-loving Bush administration couldn’t find a way around the science on this issue,” Steiner said. “This perpetual denial of environmental harm posture is what gives Alaska a very bad image nationally and globally.”

In its final response to Steiner this month, the state generally withheld all substantive in-house comments on the bears, saying these were private policy discussions among executive officials, a category exempt from release under state public records laws.

Why would someone who doesn’t care about the survival of the polar bear wear a pin in it’s image? It may be a coincidence, but the polar bear happens to be the logo for the Alaskan Independence Party.

Palin's pin
Alaska Independence Party

Alaska Independence Party