Tags: anti-torture laws, Bush Administration, Congress, Geneva Convention, George W. Bush, justice, Justice Department, Obama, Office of Legal Council, president, Senate Armed Services Committee, Torture
Dear President Obama and Members of Congress:
It is the legal duty of our Justice Department to investigate serious allegations of torture, to prosecute ALL those reasonably suspected of such atrocities, and to punish those who are found responsible. And it is your duty, as our leaders, to encourage, not hinder, such an investigation. President Obama’s statement that ‘this is a time for reflection, not retribution’ is a statement that, in my mind, does not pass muster. For, bringing criminals to trial is not retribution, rather it is justice. The legitimacy of our criminal justice system rests on the principle that NO American is above the law. President Obama’s rational for neglecting the duty to launch an investigation, here, is not one he or any other well-trained lawyer would ever use toward an ordinary citizen believed to have committed heinous crimes, and I believe that he is seriously misguided and disingenuous to use it as a rationale for neglecting his duty to uphold the laws of our country in this instance.
In making this statement, you, President Obama, make a mockery of our criminal justice system which is in place to seek and bring justice and, thereby, to negate the need for wronged individuals to seek retribution. In promising justice to all, it serves to discourage and, where necessary, to punish retribution.
Further, if we are to be, and be seen as, a just country, it is imperative that we investigate ALL charges of illegality regardless of the social standing or power of the accused. To do otherwise brings disgrace on you as our leaders, brings the disdain of the world upon us, and undermines our belief in the fairness of our justice system.
Moreover, we would not tolerate such a statement on behalf of other world leaders, particularly if their countrymen had tortured Americans. Rather, we would demand that those who refused to meet their duty to see that justice was done be themselves prosecuted for their neglect.
As an American citizen, an American trained lawyer and one of your supporters, President Obama, I fully and completely reject your exceptionally flawed reasoning here. You are abdicating responsibility and furthering the idea of American exceptionalism. I am utterly shocked and dismayed that would ever utter such a statement.
According to the recently released bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report, the Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush distorted the meaning and the intent of our anti-torture laws. The administration then went out of its way to rationalize the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. Because substantial evidence exists, it is your duty to see that an investigation of these allegations is made.
I agree with Amnesty International that our leaders must ‘establish and support a non-partisan, independent commission of distinguished Americans to investigate this matter.’ This commission must examine Bush Administration actions and policies regarding the detention, treatment and transfer of detainees after the 9/11 attacks. It must also deeply consider the consequences of those actions and policies and provide a comprehensive report on its findings and its recommendations for making future policy in this area. I agree, too, that this commission must be ‘independent, backed by the full force of law, and adequately funded.’ Do not forget that it is our government’s legal obligation to uphold the laws of our nation and to prosecute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
Finally, I reiterate Amnesty International’s request that President Obama’s Administration make public all relevant policy memos that argued for, documented, and/or established the basis for detainee treatment, including their subjection to coercive interrogation techniques under the Bush administration. In order to fulfill your promise of transparency in government, President Obama, you must see to it that the truth is made known about the abuses that were committed in our names. We have the right to know.
Below, I add a partial response I made to one of our readers:
Your comment regarding your desire to see those who sanctioned waterboarding receive a little of their own medicine is so poignant because there are many Americans who share your sentiment – that those who were culpable should experience that which they had a hand in bringing upon others. That’s why I find another statement made by President Obama – that it is time for us to move on, to heal – so entirely maddening and, frankly, more than a bit frightening.
Moving on – in a way that is healthy for our country, for democracy, for our peace of mind – necessarily includes the regaining of some sense of right and wrong, some sense of a limit to otherwise unchecked and dangerous power.
While no one can undo what has been done, our government can and, I think, must demonstrate for us and for the world that in America these atrocities do not go unanswered. It is only then, I think, that we may truly heal. It is only then that we can move on with any faith that our government will, acting on our behalves, uphold our values and our laws.
For me, one bottom line is this. If a democratically elected government does not meet this duty to its citizens – the duty to severely punish torture at the hands of those entrusted with the power of public office – we are left with nothing but to live in fear of our government.
In Support of Gay Marriage (By Elizabeth Burke) May 27, 2009Posted by Suzanne Robinson in politics.
Tags: civil rights, civil unions, discrimination, gay marriage, gay rights, homosexual rights, homosexuals, lesbian rights, marriage equality
To quote The Princess Bride, “Mawwage is what bwings us together today.” Now if you have never seen this movie, drop everything and rent/download/steal and watch it. You will thank me. Or watch this part:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbqv3MwwVd8. But, back to mawwage, or marriage, if you will.
The majority of Americans claim that they have nothing against homosexuals, they just don’t want them to get married. See, according an unnamed source, that privilege is reserved for “one man and one woman.” The reasoning is that this most sacred of sacraments, this gift bestowed by God, is not something that should be shared with the gay population. The “Protectors of Marriage” claim that this has been ordained in the Bible… like slavery and the selling of daughters.
Now, if you ask these Marriage Protectors, they’ll all tell you that they are in favor of equal rights for homosexuals that extend to the same rights in housing and jobs. Gays should have equal access to government benefits. Gays are entitled to equal protection of the law – but only to an extent. Because when you ask about the most personal right, the right to get married, their definition of “rights” gets a little inconsistent.
They reason that if we let homosexuals get married, well where does it end? Next thing, we will have to allow Beastiality! Bigamy! Incest! Marrying Children! And, of course, adding Gay Marriage to the Grade School curriculum!
In reality, gay marriage has been legal in Scandinavian countries for many years, and, yet, they have introduced no other type of marriage legalization outside one human marrying one human, nor has their been a clamor for it.
The argument that gay marriage will de-value straight marriage falls flat when one sees that the values gay couples exhibit in their daily lives are indistinguishable from those of their straight neighbors. They are devoted, monagomous partners. They value and participate in family life, are committed to making their neighborhoods safer and better places to live, and honor and abide by the law. Many make valuable contributions to their communities, serving on school boards, attending houses of worship, volunteering in charities, and trying to be good citizens. In doing so, they take full advantage of their familial relationships not only to make their own lives better, but those of their neighbors as well.
But it is the hypocrisy of the Marriage Minders that makes me the angriest. The incredibly irrational reasoning that granting gay couples the right to marry will somehow destroy marriage is so ridiculous that I find it difficult to accept these people really believe this nonsense.
Straight couples have had centuries to bring marriage to its knees. We now have double-digit divorce rates, quickie, sometimes meaningless, sometimes multiple weddings in Reno and Las Vegas. How is getting married in a drive-thru window or by an aging Elvis impersonator honoring this sacrament? How is marriage as a hobby healthy?
I have a good friend “Mary,” and I really adore her, but she has now been married five times. And she is 40 years old. FIVE TIMES! Explain to me how it’s absolutely acceptable for her to marry every few years while another couple I know, “Joe” and “Bill,” who have been together for over 20 years and who are raising three children, are told they will destroy the fabric of society if they dare to commit legally.
Now, the Marriage Wardens like to bring God into the equation. But marriage is not a legal contract with with God. It is a legal contract with the State. You don’t go to the church when seeking a divorce. You have to hire legal representation and petition the State to grant you a dissolution of the Marriage Contract. Besides, God is subjective and does not exist for everyone. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Are all the marriages by a Judge or Justice of the Peace any less valid because they were not conducted in a house of worship? Religion is purely personal, and marriage is legal. So let’s please leave your particular God out of this.
When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money. Exodus 21:20-21
According to the Bible, beat your slave, just don’t kill him.
Over the millenia the Bible has been used to defend bloody crusades and tragic inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support Hitler’s Third Reich and the Holocaust; to oppose medical science, and in some cases, science in general; to condemn interracial marriage; to execute women as witches; and to support the violent racial devisiveness of the Ku Klux Klan. Shakespeare said it this way: “Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” When you pick and choose what verses you want to use to bolster your anti gay argument, you lose credibility.
The favored argument seems to be that Marriage is between one man and one woman. Who says what marriage is and by whom it is to be defined? Straight people? Isn’t that kind of like allowing a banker to decide who is going to own the money stored in his vaults?
It is said that the majority of Americans are against Same Sex Marriage. Since when can the “majority of Americans” be trusted to do the right thing?
Marriage between mixed races was illegal in the US until Loving v. Virginia, 1967, the landmark Civil Rights case in which the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia‘s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924“, unconstitutional, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. This happened while the majority of Americans were still against mixed-race marriage.
This struggle for equality is the claasic struggle for all Americans, a Civil Rights struggle.
This struggle separates who can make medical decisions for loved ones, turning over life-and-death decisions estranged distant family members over lifetime partners. Upon death, in many cases, even very carefully drawn wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, exclude the surviving partner from a funeral or deny them the right to visit a partner’s hospital bed or grave.
As survivors, estranged families can, in nearly all states, seize real estate property that a gay couple may have been buying together for many years, quickly sell it, and stick the surviving partner with all the remaining mortgage obligations on a property that partner no longer owns.
As for civil unions – beyond the comedy of asking the one you love “Will you civil union me?” they do not offer the legal protections of marriage. A civil union granted in Vermont carries no legal status outside of Vermont. A civil union does not extend outside the state where the Civil Union took place – with the limited exceptions of DC and New York. Further, the federal government does not recognize civil unions – couples so joined are not be able to file joint-tax returns nor are eligible for tax breaks or protections the government affords to married couples. A married United States citizen can sponsor his or her non-American spouse for immigration into this country. Those with civil unions have no such privilege. And company health benefits are not always available to the “civil unioned.”
Honoring civil unions creates a separate and unequal status for some of America’s citizens. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court ruled that creating a separate class for gay and lesbian citizens is not permissible, and that is why they have voted that only marriage equals marriage.
The precedent set with Brown v. The Board of Education regarding segregation in public education arrived at its 50th anniversary when Massaachusetts passed its ruling honoring gay marriage, driving home the point that the United States Constitution guarantees equality for all.
This is the document we all can agree on. You can’t claim “partial” equality, it’s all or nothing.
A citizen’s fundamental rights should not be subject to referendums or popular approval. If that were the case, President Obama would still be sitting in the back of the bus, unable to vote.
It is time for New York State to join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont New Hampshire and Maine in standing up for the rights of all its citizens.
Last month, the New York State Assembly passed the Landmark Marriage Equality Bill. In just a few weeks, it is up for a vote in the State Senate. Please, look into your hearts, see how marriage for all will benefit the community and state as a whole. See how creating happy families, secure children, and loving homes can only make society stronger, happier and richer in every way.
For more information on how to contact your New York State Senator, please go to http://www.broadwayimpact.com/ and make that call, send that email, and help get this Bill passed. Your gay child will thank you.
Pirates! Danger!!! High Seas Adventure! (By Elizabeth Burke) April 23, 2009Posted by Suzanne Robinson in politics.
Ahoy Matey! Shiver me timbers, pirates are in the news again.
For the first time in 200 years, pirates boarded an American ship. The ship, called the Maersk Alabama, is actually Dutch-owned, but it carries US Government cargo and, as such, must be registered as American and travel with an American crew.
When attacked, those feisty, tough American sailors disabled the ship and turned the tables on the scaliwags after an aborted hostage swap. “Captain Awesome” Richard Phillips, from Underhill, VT, gave himself up to secure the lives of his crew. He was immediately taken hostage, lowered into a lifeboat (later to be found disabled) and ferried out into the ocean with guns pointed at his head. America, hungry for the ripped-from-the-pages-of-a-Tom-Clancy-novel-tale, sat on the edge of its collective seat.
With the US Navy racing to the rescue in the US Destroyer Bainbridge, circling the Mearsk Alabama like a giant steel shark; the P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft flying overhead; Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force, the FBI all involved in the stand-off (!), I kept waiting for Tom Cruise to come dangling off a Black Hawk Helicopter, scoop up Captain Richard Phillips from the tiny lifeboat bobbing in the ocean and hand him safely into the arms of his weeping and grateful wife. Roll Credits!
Certainly, this was my take on the high-seas madness unfolding earlier this month.
Two worlds – this one and my theoretically pacifist one – diametrically opposed, collided as I read the paper on my daily subway ride , taking in every detail of the latest Somali pirate attack.
Make no mistake, these modern day pirates of the Somali Coast are very armed and very dangerous. They act like a pseudo high-tech militia and often dress in military fatigues. They operate GPS systems and satellite phones to coordinate attacks from small, fast speedboats attached to a larger mothership.
The pirates use rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank rocket launchers and automatic weapons to capture large, slow-moving vessels like the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama, which was carrying food aid from USAID and other agencies to help malnourished people in Uganda and Kenya.
For God’s sake, they attacked a ship on a humanitarian mission bringing food to starving people.
Have they no shame?
This isn’t like the Saudi oil tanker they got last month. This is a ship with a heart, doing good deeds, keeping people alive. I have no doubt the pirates missed that irony.
But perhaps the biggest irony, completely missed by these privateers, is the name of the very tanker that was their ultimate undoing. The USS Bainbridge is named after Commodore William Bainbridge, a naval officer who played an important role in eliminating the pirates that plagued shipping off the African coast over 200 years ago.
According to the watchdog group the International Maritime Bureau, since January 2009, pirates have staged 66 attacks, six in just one week, and they are still holding 14 ships and 260 crew members as hostages. There were 111 attacks in 2008, and more than half that number have already occurred in the first four months of this year. Hauls from those attacks covered payment for that Saudi oil tanker and a Ukrainian ship loaded with military tanks, both of which were later released.
The stakes are high. Last year, pirates made off with about $80 million in ransom money, making this the most lucrative industry in Somalia. There is very little risk to the pirates, as most ship owners are more than willing to shell out the cash in exchange for the lives of the crew.
It’s simply good business. What merchant marine is going to sign up to work for a company that would allow them to be killed over cargo? Yet, daily, ships need to sail. Goods need to be delivered. And crews are needed to run the ships. For those involved, it’s just another day at the office. These companies would rather pay out a few million than risk losing business because they can’t get a crew to sail.
Except the Americans. We are having none of this. You attack one of ours, and IT IS ON! Americans do not make deals with kidnappers, and we do not make deals with pirates. Payoffs would only stand to fund further thievery and kidnapping .
The pirates did not expect the heroic crew to fight back and re-take the ship. They did not expect the Captain to offer himself up. A sailor who spoke to the Associated Press said the entire crew had been taken hostage but managed to seize one pirate and then successfully negotiate their own release.
Yay! I love American moxie and that kind of take charge, EFF you spirit. The crew pretended to surrender, a family member told CNN. When the pirates let down their guard, Big Mistake, the Americans jumped them, overpowering them with sheer force and tricks learned from the ship’s second in command, Captain Shane Murphy – whose father, Captain Joseph Murphy, just happens to be a pirate-attack expert at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. What luck!
The Captain, truly heroic, offered himself as a hostage to secure the safety of his 20-man crew, whereupon he quickly found himself in a boat with 4 heavily armed, battle-tested pirates, adrift and out of fuel. Unlike the captain, these men had nothing to lose.
Because the waters off the Somali coast are infested with these roaches of the sea, NATO already has five warships in the Gulf of Aden and is planning to deploy a permanent flotilla to the region this summer. According to the Huffington Post, the Navy said it would take 61 ships to control the shipping route in the Gulf of Aden, which is just a fraction of the 1.1 million square miles where the pirates have operated. A US backed international anti-piracy coalition currently has 12 to 16 ships patrolling the region at any one time.
Along the Somali coastline, an area roughly as long as the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, pirate crews have successfully held commercial ships hostage for days or weeks until they were ransomed. In the past week, pressured by naval actions off Somalia, the pirates have shifted their operations farther out into the Indian Ocean, expanding the crisis.
This expanding pirate territory will make it even more difficult to patrol, and with US legal authority limited in International waters, it is unclear how much we can actually do to prevent these attacks. That is why we had to strike hard and fast. I’m no pirate-fighting mastermind, but what choice did we have?
It’s the US Freaking Navy for crying out loud. We have all those sexy Navy Seals and *sigh* Army Delta Force men swarming the decks on the US Destroyers itching to get in the fight. I could only imagine their muscles twitching under their tight black t-shirts, crew cuts all a-bristle, ready for action. Ahhh….
Then, with 3 perfectly aimed shots, in the dark of night, on bobbing water, it was over.
The Pirates fatally underestimated the skill, patience, and pure nerve of three Masters of the (my) Universe, the US Navy SEALs! Not only did the FBI successfully negotiate to allow the tiny doomed lifeboat to be towed by the Bainbridge, the boat was surrepticiously towed even closer so my new He-Men Heroes could have a better chance of safely taking the pirates out without causing the death of Captain Phillips.
Unbelievable! Really! This was the shot in the arm we all needed. Something this whole country can feel good about. You would have to be truly black-hearted to see any criticism of the Administration, the military or the choices made to use killing force.
Finally, the Maersk Alabama, with the crew on board, but still missing their Captain, got on its way to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, its original destination, to fulfill their humanitarian mission of feeding starving nations.
While the crew continued their mission in Kenya, the high seas negotiations got underway. And as we all know now, it ended in mythic, movie-like purity: 3 shots fired, 3 pirates dead, and 1 pirate on the way to New York City for the first pirate trial in well over 200 years.
Stung by the ease in which we got our ship and crew back safely, the Somali pirate community has called for an all out war with any ship hoisting the US flag. So the stakes are now higher than ever.
On Tuesday, April 14th, the Liberty Sun, a US flagged cargo ship bound for Mombasa, Kenya, was attacked by Somali pirates, according to a NATO source with direct knowledge of the matter.
And, following the tough stance the US has taken with the high-seas hijackers, it now seems the rest of the world has decided to stand up to these brutish invaders and fight back.
According to CNN reports, Canadian and British vessels are on NATO patrol to prevent a second hijacking of a Norwegian ship that the Pirates captured after a seven-hour chase, but then released. There is currently no formal procedure for HYPERLINK “http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/NATO” NATO personnel to follow once they have apprehended pirates. Their weapons are confiscated and they are then typically given provisions and released. But it’s a start.
As more countries decide not to play into the greedy hands of these despicable people, the tensions and level of danger will be raised.
So, this story has not ended, nor has my fascination. I will be coming back to these tales of high seas hijinks in the coming months. Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers are with the heroic Captain Phillips, his family and the entire Kick ASS American crew of the Maersk Alabama. And also, of course, with those unnamed Navy SEALs who will be playing a starring role in my dreams for nights to come.
Tags: Abraham Lincoln, blogging, Britains Got Talent, Frederick Douglas, History, politics, Prejudice
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We’ve had so many new visitors over the past couple of weeks, and I want to say welcome to you all! Welcome! Unfortunately, this new burst of readers coincided with some difficulties on the blogging end of things, and I apologize for not getting up new material for the past two weeks. We generally post every Friday, and I will work hard to maintain that schedule going forward.
I want to touch base about a couple of things. First, I will put up new posts Monday (both mine and Liz’s). We had the misfortune of being hacked just before Good Friday! Can you believe it? Before the holy holiday? Anyway, the misguided soul blocked my access to the Word Press server, and I couldn’t even get access to make Liz the administrator so she could post for us. My apologies to Liz, who worked very hard and fast to write a timely piece, only to have it sit in my inbox for over a week. It is out of date now, but she is making it current again, and you will see it Monday. I wrote a piece especially for Good Friday, and I will hold it until another appropriate time.
From time to time I may be absent, but I will try to make that as infrequent as possible. After being hacked, which was bad enough in itself, I had to contend with a more serious issue. I have a terrible back and a relatively small accident left me in more pain than I’ve suffered in years. So instead of writing, I’ve been going from doctor to doctor, getting all kinds of spinal injections and other fun things… I’m starting to feel better, though, and it doesn’t often get so bad. My doctors and I are considering several options to address the problem long term. Send wishes that they don’t strongly advise another surgery, as I really do not what to take that route, and I will likely decline in any event.
But enough about my woes! I have been contemplating adding new writers on a regular basis, but I am putting that idea on hold for now. I am turning much of my attention to writing a book. I know… can you believe it? Just a few months ago, I was terrified of writing for the consumption of others, now I’m taking on a huge project, and I am very excited.
I will write about African American politics from the time of the American Revolution through the Civil War era. And, guess what lucky readers… I will begin to share some of that work with you here. Now, stop! I see you out there… my sister is sitting in the front row rolling her beautiful eyes, saying, ‘OMG, I don’t want to read history.’ But it’s really fascinating. Just you wait. For example….
This week I will tell the stories of two fights. One a rite of passage; the other, a fight for life. One involves Abraham Lincoln; the other, Frederick Douglass. I’m sure you can guess which is which. Had the outcomes been different, these two physical encounters could have changed the course of American history.
I often say that reading history, especially when you focus on a few historical figures, is like watching the West Wing (only you have to read it and they have horses rather than cars… details!). But the people are every bit as interesting. I read about their public lives, yes, but I also read about their private lives, and I read all I can find about their inner lives. I will try to keep it interesting.
I will still write about today’s politics. Sometimes I will link history to the present, sometimes I will stay in the present. Either way, I’m having great fun, and I hope you will too!
So, again, welcome to all our new visitors. And a big thanks to our regulars.
Before I move on, I would like to encourage everybody to leave comments. I want this to be a learning experience for me, and you all have valuable perspectives and knowledge that I don’t. So help me learn and keep things lively!
… So now to prejudice. It’s such an awful thing, and we’re all susceptible to it, try as we might not to be so closed minded. I was reminded of it this week when a friend posted a video from ‘Britains Got Talent’ on Facebook. Susan Boyle stepped on stage to sing for the judges and a large audience in the audition phase of the show. When they asked her how old she was and she replied that she was 47, the crowd and the panel reacted rudely because she looks a bit older than her age. She then got rather sassy, which brought more tortured faces (and lots of applause, some of which may have been in her favor, but some was decidedly not).
Now, she could look younger with just a few changes as part of what made her appear older was her hairstyle and her clothes. Still, she is a little overweight (which puts her in the majority in today’s world, right?). And she could benefit from some strengthening and toning exercises (again, who among us could not?). But, what, really, does that have to do with her ability to sing? Are physical beauty and talent intertwined? Well, those present evidently thought the two connected, and scoffed at her before she even began to perform… you can see for yourselves. Suffice it to say, I think this should remind every one of us to be less hasty in our judgements.
Happily, she won every one over within seconds, and everybody there seemed genuinely happy for her. We are, I think, at our cores, good spirits. So let’s remember and honor that part of us (and, yes, I’m talking to myself, too).
I’ll close here for now. Please come back Monday, and check in each week for new posts! In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!
Celebrities Gone Weird! (by Elizabeth Burke) April 3, 2009Posted by Suzanne Robinson in Celebrity.
Tags: Actors, actress, blonde, Blzthe Danner, Celebrities, Celebritz, Gwzneth Paltrow, Madonna, Mario Batali, music, Natasha Richardson, Oscar, performer, Performers, star, Steven Spielberg, The Life of Pi
OK, now that you have read all of Suzanne’s incredibly researched, well written, thoughtful blogs on the state of education, the President, Commerce picks, etc, after you perused the amazing poetry and continued to read the other exceptional articles her guests have written, it’s time for a little LizTime®!
No politics this week. I am too aggravated over actions of certain celebrities/actors/performers. As a classically trained stage actor (ahem ahem), I find it especially infuriating to read about the latest round of vacuous attention-whoring.
I spent years of my life, OK three years, where I did two things: work full time and attend the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts full time. I had very little free time, was broke and tired ALL the time, and I thrived. I truly believe to be an actor is a calling, an art form of which to be proud. I work hard to be taken seriously in my craft – only to feel pulled down by the few big names behaving like over- indulged narcissists.
Enter Gwyneth Paltrow. Who won an Oscar at 26 for a movie that was, well, not great. Her parents are famous – her mother is Blythe Danner, star of stage and screen and a truly brilliant actress, and her father Bruce Paltrow, Producer and Director of several TV hits. Her Godfather is Steven Spielberg.
(And, no, this is not sour grapes because she was practically delivered on stage. The late, great, and sorely missed Natasha Richardson was born into British Stage Royalty. I loved everything she did and never ceased to be mesmerized by her raw talent and beautiful spirit. Not so much Gywneth.)
Lately, this over-indulged, over-applauded, actress has been very busy marrying her Rock Star, having 2 oddly-named children and shouting to anyone who will quote her about the fabulosity of her life. She needs everyone to know how great it is and how important her “work is.” So much so that she scorns the idea of working at all.
“I don’t really understand the concept of having a career, or what agents mean when they say they’re building one for you. I just do things I think will be interesting and that have integrity. I hate those tacky, pointless, big, fluffy, unimportant movies.”
Ha Ha! Me too Gwynnie! “I just have no more bad habits to give up.” God I hate you. Isn’t she lucky not to have to care about agents, her career, or making worthless crap like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow? Oh, and Gwneth? I’ll take your meaningless agent.
So while the rest of us marinate in the mundanity of the recession, this Paragon of British Living has created (or her people did) a website called GOOP. Her initials is seems. How funny! Isn’t Gwynnie clever? The theme is “nourish your inner aspect.” WTF does that even mean??? Honestly, where does she come up with this gibberish? Did one of her yoga/trainer/macro foodie friends call her up and say “OMG! I had a spiritual journey in my dream last night after I drained the soybeet juice from the solar fridge and here is your new theme!!” It’s all such HYPERLINK “http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/affected”affected and HYPERLINK “http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/artificial”artificial cleverness that I am a little embarrassed for her.
With GOOP, you too can enter Gwynnie’s Realm of Perfection. I tremble a little, am I good enough? Skinny enough? Blonde enough? Full of s**t enough? YES I AM! Except for the blonde part. In we go…
Make. Go. Get. Do. Be. See. These are the pages within this magical world and I can barely wait to start nourishing my inner Aspic. When you enter “Get” Gwyneth breathlessly tells you all about her fab everyday uniform. Now I assume, these are the looks our new BFF thinks every gal should own.
Gwynnie recommends every girl have a pair of Guiseppe Zanotti Booties, an uber high-end brand where the sandals(!) start at $595. I can only imagine what the Booties go for. My rent? Probably. Her plain black Shift Dress by Shell Kare is a mere $545, $610 with a belt! I cannot continue in “Get” because you know there are more inanities and I simply cannot travel down a road where spending $600 on the simplest of shifts is deemed necessary for a woman’s wardrobe.
Clicking on “Do” her chipper voice tells us: “Do dance cardio five times a week for at least 30 minutes and by summer you will see a change you will be proud of!” Well that and not having to work full time, take care of the kids (gasp! No nannies?), feed the family (no chef), clean the house (no maid), pay the bills (no business manager), sleep with the husband (well, have you seen most husbands??) …and so reveals the totally out-of-touch, self-absorbed narcissist.
As I got sadder and more insecure in the knowledge I will never be cool or rich enough and neither will my friends, I can only muster up the energy for quick bites.
“See” is where her preposterously faux-literati “friends” show us how stupid we are by explaining Serious Literature to us. An example of a friend’s pick: “My mom is reading this book right now, which reminded me of how provocative and exciting it is. One of my favorites, The Life of Pi is a fantastic discussion igniter about religion and other important stuff.”) Okaaay…Next is “Make” which makes me feel HYPERLINK “http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/inconsequential”inconsequential because I can’t gush at how lucky I am to eat at my fab famous chef friend Mario Batali’s house!! Lastly is “Go” When in Paris stay at the Ritz, eat foie gras, and throw those Zanotti’s at the peasants.
This reality-deprived, spoiled adult does not seem to have any idea that in February alone the number of unemployed persons increased by 851,000 to 12.5 million, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by about 5 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 3.3 percentage points.
We leave the clueless one thinking it absolutely normal to spend what amounts to my rent on a pair of boots that will likely be worn about twice, to turn our attention to Gwynnie’s one time mentor, Super Freak Numero Dos. Madonna.
Now, while Gwyneth and her Marie Antoinette-ish attitude merely irk me, this crazy old Cougar infuriates me. Why she feels this need to adopt more innocent children from Malawi is beyond me. Her nannies must be overwhelmed as it is.
I don’t mean to make light of adoption, but this psychopathic egoist actually believes she will mother this new child. When exactly? Between her toyfriends? Husbands? Tours? Gratuitous photo shoots? Kabbalah worshipping? Various Photo Ops? Recording new (unasked for) albums?
The gym alone must take 8 hours a day to create that string cheese look of her arms. Don’t tell me that little boy, David Banda, she adopted last year feels like she’s his mother! My sister has 2 children and is a stay at home mother. I see how hard she works, how involved she is with her kids, their friends, activities and school, all the while looking fabulous, organizing charitable events, keeping her house beautiful and her husband happy, all by herself. Trust me, her kids know damn well who their mother and primary caregiver is.
I cannot comprehend the level of selfishness you have to have to buy another child only to hand them off to a nanny to raise. Although, by all accounts, the Material One will make the journey so she can show how much she cares. But what then? She isn’t finished with her Sickly Sweet tour or her latest romantic conquest, the young and pliable Jesus. So what, she drops the new kid off at one of her homes into the hands of an overworked nanny? This is a four-year-old child. Not a baby who nurses and sleeps. This little girl, ironically named Mercy, will feel scared, different, lonely, and confused without the comfort of familial love to keep the scary things at bay.
Save The Children has asked Her Materialness to please refrain as they say international adoptions are unnecessary, some feeding the criminal “adoption industry.” They said that, barring exceptional circumstances, children should be kept in the care of their extended families or within their communities.
In essence, children are not items to be crossed of your to-do list. But as we all know, The Musically Challenged one knows better than us common folk and will continue to do whatever she wants to whomever she wants. Even though this child has living relatives, including a grandmother fighting for custody, I have no doubt that this adoption will go through and the family’s desires will be overruled so Mercy can have a seemingly better life.
I wonder how much money changed hands. Seriously, how much does a little African child cost? A school? How many boxes of David’s used baby clothes, like those she sent to his village a few months ago, did it take?
Malawian law requires an 18- to 24-month assessment period before adoption. But not for Her Momminess. Apparently, this law is only for people like me. Yet, Austin Msowoya, legal researcher with Malawi’s Law Commission, played down concerns that a second adoption by Madonna would violate any laws.
Msowoya said the best interests of the child needed to be considered, whether this was staying in an orphanage in Malawi or getting “an education with Madonna.” Huh? Does he imagine this AARP pop star spending time home-schooling her new addition? Really?
This is the most transparent violation of a law to appease a famous celebrity and it really makes me angry. Being a celebrity these days is like living on Mt. Olympus. You are impervious to any laws, be it US or International. Drink too much and crash your car? No jail time! Beat up your girlfriend with the pictures to prove what a monster you are? Not Guilty! Buying children from poverty stricken countries? Come on in!
Maybe this is what happens when your star shines bigger and brighter than most of the people in the world. Maybe one forgets where they came from (Detroit, Madonna, not London.) Maybe the fawning, sycophantic assistants and employees that surround them give a surreal sense of reality.
Imagine you have all these people surrounding you, assuring you how special, important, talented, beautiful and most of all how Right you are. Maybe even cynical me might just start believing my own press.
Until I get to test that theory on my own, it just makes it harder for me and my fellow performers to answer the question “What do you do?” Because of the outlandish, self involved, and plain stupid behavior of some performers-cum-celebrities, I feel self-conscious saying I’m an actor. Because you get the look, the raised eyebrow, and the immediate feeling like you were just judged and it didn’t go well. It is embarrassing to say ”I am an actor,” and just know the person in front of me is thinking, “weirdo.”
Nomenclature (by Coral Ruppert) March 27, 2009Posted by Suzanne Robinson in love, poetry.
Tags: love, poetry, relationships
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The sum of
in my mouth
I find impossible.
does not belong
to any word.
this naming of you and me
that in spite of faith or fear
will evolve or dissolve
was me, plus one,
in mere intercourse.
Now I find
this common pronoun
You tease me
“How about… you and I…”
“That would be fun for… two people.”
“Let’s go there next time.”
I have to ignore my education
which tells me
in simple pronouns
must be cliche,
too easy to conjure,
not so different
from “love” or “boyfriend” or even
that common name of yours.
Besides, to Google for poems
about the significance of “us”
would turn up millions…
Who has the time,
for such self sabotage?
There is little in this world
to be made new again.
all those evils in.
Let us remove
how we arrived here.
Let us be anonymous.
Let us remain
me with you,
Restraining Your Inner Fourth Grader! (by Elizabeth Burke) March 19, 2009Posted by Suzanne Robinson in politics.
Tags: Ann Coulter, bailout, Congress, Democrats, DNC, Fox news, GOP, GOP infighting, homosexuality, House Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn, Mark Sanford, Michael Steels, Newt Gingrich, Norm Coleman, party politics, rejecting stimulus money, Republicans, right to choose, RNC, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Senate, Stimulus, Stimulus Plan, White House
I am a grown woman, but I have to admit that as soon as I read an article last week on Politico.com about the website, ImSorryRush.com, I could not on it click fast enough. It was as if my inner Fourth Grader was busting to get out and poke fun of the perceived “loser” in the class. The website is set up like the old Mad Lib game where you fill in a silly word or phrase for each Mad Lib indicated – and the topic is the recent rush (pardon the pun) of Republicans apologizing to Limbaugh for negative comments made about him in other arenas. Now you too can crawl on your knees to the Altar of Rush.
It seems that in the past few weeks, the most astonishing thing has been happening. The otherwise calm, cool and collected GOP seems to be eating themselves alive. First there is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s disastrous response to President Obama’s speech and the collective impulse to shove him under the bus. Then there is the daily iteration from the far Right in the visage of Rush Limbaugh, repeating his desire to see this Administration fail; the multiple verbal Michael Steele gaffes; Senator David Vitter (R-LA) (of the caught-with-a-prostitute fame) once again caught acting out, this time at an airport berating the airline staff for not letting him thru a security door to board a plane about to take off. Up North, the continuing morality play of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston just went pfft and turned into a trash-talking “he-said-she-said” cat fight straight out of People magazine!
And of course, drug-addicted, obese, thrice-divorced, arrested-for-prescription-drug-fraud, currently-living-in-sin, malcontent conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, (yes 2 mentions!) being anointed the titular head of the Republican Party. There is more, but I think you get my point.
Common sense says that the Democrats should Leave Well Enough Alone. We have the White House, most of Congress and sadly soon, one more seat on the Supreme Court. We should be gracious and thoughtful. We should QUIETLY – with focus – take the high road.
Quite frankly, the GOP is doing an excellent job of self-immolation. All the Dems need to do is pull up a log and toast some marshmallows over their fire. The latest attempts by the Left, to smugly point fingers and laugh through cupped palms at the auto-cannibalism of the GOP, needs to be stopped. It reeks of pettiness and bad sportsmanship and undermines the actual progress the Democrats have made in uniting the country in a time of economic crisis.
But as a barely restrained Fourth Grader at heart, I know how easy it is to poke fun at the weak! Let’s take the case of the brand new Chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele. Just one day after he publicly decried Rush as ‘incendiary” and “ugly” he had to get on his knees and grovel for the big guy’s forgiveness. He then made, what I believe to be truthful, comments on his belief in a women’s right to choose, and his assertion that homosexuality is how one is born and not a choice (comparing it to being born Black, imagine that!) And before you can say “Please Rush don’t hurt me” Steele is backpedaling so fast, I got whiplash just reading about it! In just over 2 months, the GOP knives are sharpened and there is already infighting about his possible impeachment. Impeachment!! Even Conservative David Frum said he was sickened by the attacks on Michael Steele for saying abortion was an ‘individual’ choice. The Right eating the Right is wrong.
Indeed, there are rumblings within the GOP to have Wisconsin’s Norm Coleman replace Steele. But, well, it seems Coleman is currently under FBI investigation. Word leaked only a few months ago that the FBI was looking into allegations that the former Senator’s family received $75,000 in secret payments from a longtime friend and benefactor. Those payments went unreported on Coleman’s financial disclosure form, leading some congressional ethicist to draw parallels to the corruption case that ultimately took down former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Oh for God’s sake.
Now for an example of a GOP rising star totally missing the point, let’s talk about Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC.) Just last week in response to a comment by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Sanford warned that the recently-signed stimulus bill could spur a Zimbabwe-style economic collapse:
“What you’re doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don’t have, send it to different states – we’ll create jobs… If that’s the case why isn’t Zimbabwe a rich place?”…”why isn’t Zimbabwe just an incredibly prosperous place?”
Sanford has said that he will reject a portion of the stimulus money that would expand unemployment benefits, which now hovers at about 10.4% in SC. He has also promised to turn down $700 million meant in large part for education programs if he is not granted a waiver to instead use the money to pay down his state’s debts. If your house is burning, do you take the buckets of water, put them aside and save them in case this happens again, or do you take the water and PUT THE DAMN FIRE OUT?!
A conservative South Carolina newspaper, The State, penned an editorial on Sunday blasting, (ripping to shreds) Gov. Mark Sanford for his political grandstanding. The best part? Republicans in the South Carolina State Senate are currently laying the groundwork to accept the stimulus funds Gov. Mark Sanford is promising to reject. Defying their own on their own! “Without the stimulus funds, teachers would lose jobs, prisons would be closed, and inmates released early,” Dan Cooper, a Republican state representative, told the Associated Press.
Even totally inconsequential Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA) went to the Altar to seek His forgiveness for daring to criticize His Holy Loud Mouthed One. All he said was this: “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.” Of course within days he was tripping over himself to say “As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so-called ‘stimulus.’ And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh.” So sad. I assume his constituency all have jobs, homes, health care and didn’t need any of that money.
And of course, amidst all the outrage (!) this week focused at the AIG psychopaths, a pitchfork wielding Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) suggested that these hookers-without-a-heart-of-gold commit suicide in the honorable old tradition of Japanese Hari Kari. Of course barely minutes later, scrambling to explain his comments, he inadvertently had a verbal malfunction “From my standpoint, it’s irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time when they’re sucking the tit of the taxpayer,” Grassley explained. Look, when they make it this easy, what’s a girl to do?
That said, as a self-described Lefty McLiberal, lover of all things green, pursuer of clean energy, hugger of those less fortunate and crier at State sponsored torture, I find it embarrassing that there are some in the White House that are actively working to tie the GOP to Limbaugh and his ilk.
What works in a guest blog post does not necessarily fly as party policy.
Formalizing these behind-the-hand whisperings and deep-in-the-tubal-interweb musings is really adolescent and amateurish, a “distraction” as the President was so fond of saying in the days of his campaign, when he spoke of a new kind of politics that would transcend partisan pettiness. And while it appeals to everyone’s inner 4th grader, I’m still an idealist who believes that Obama’s promise to be better than this is something we all can and must strive towards.
I don’t believe the Democratic National Committee should be spending one dime to hold a contest to find a new theme in their ongoing campaign to portray Rush Limbaugh as the true leader of the Republican Party. The slogan, “Americans didn’t vote for a Rush to failure,” will be splashed across a billboard in Limbaugh’s hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida, and printed on T-shirts, a Democratic National Committee official told CNN. My Fourth Grade self inwardly laughed and clapped her hands with glee while my rational adult side sighed deeply and shook her head.
It’s easy to attack the GOP while is at it’s weakest in over 40 years, as they struggle to fight its way out of political inconsequence, searching for a message that doesn’t encompass the ugliness that we have seen through festering mouthpieces like Ann Coulter, Hannity, Rush and the entire Fox news channel.
It makes for a stronger statement for us, the Democratic, to show restraint. Both parties have made huge errors recently, most notably taking out the legislation requiring Executive pay limits from the stimulus bill.
This image of high ranking Dems hunched over, rubbing their hands in glee, jumping on the bash-wagon like rats jumping on a well-stocked-ship needs to stop. We need to let the Republicans find their own way, make their own mistakes, fall all over themselves trying to out-conservative each other, threaten each other, and destroy their party all by themselves.
These are scary and uncertain times for the rest of us. I want a rational hand steering the ship, and we have that, and the crew better stop acting like 4th Graders and focus on getting the country back on it’s feet or they will be out on their asses in less than 4 years, with little left to crow about.