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31
Oct

for the good of all the people

Photo: Jefferson_on_Mt_Rushmore.jpg Thomas Jef...

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The distinction between religion and the state is so important it is worth talking about at every turn, especially since I fear it’s not being taught in our elementary or high schools.

If we are going to be a sane and sensible America we must understand – ad infinitum – the critically important message of the separation of church and state.

As citizens of the United States we are protected by the Constitution – a non-secular treatise that applies to all people of America.

By no means am I an authority on the Constitution, or history or religion.  I do, however, understand the humanism and the freedoms the Constitution grants us.

I have learned the importance of keeping a wall between religious celebration and ordinary rules of law.  The founding fathers understood the harm that could come if the wall was torn down between religion and government. The Government, having more power than any single religion or person, respected religion enough to promise to never trample on religious freedom .

The constitution is the sanity that stops the government from supporting one religion over another, though in today’s society, the foundation of that wall is coming unglued and the “religious right” has for years tried to insert religion into our laws.  Why?  Because it’s a way to control the people. To start wars, to encourage the hate that starts wars in the first place.

Today, people want Jesus, God, and prayer to be part of our lives outside of our homes and churches.

Religion belongs in the church, in the home, and in the heart and minds of whomever wants to have it.  No where else.  Why?  Because not everyone believes in the same God.  Your God is not my God, and vise versa.

The founding fathers were unbelievably smarter than you and me.  They had the forethought to see what could come of religious idolatry being entwined in the rule of law. Think Hitler and Stalin for examples of this religious and social fanaticism.

Is there any other single subject that has been a war-starter more than religion?  I doubt it.

There has to be respect each others religion – treat it as if it were our own.  Respect is the operative word.  Having respect is to refrain from demeaning, discriminating or destroying another’s personal religious views or beliefs.

I don’t know when we stopped debating cordially about religion.  I don’t know why we stopped respecting the views of another’s religion.  Personal attacks have replaced the philosophical and enlightened religious discussions of the past.  Just listen to the Republican Presidential debates.  These men attack each other personally rather than discuss issues facing the country. Every single one of these candidates disgust me.  They are incredibly transparent.

I dislike using the word “Christian” to describe religious piety since when that term is used, it usually meant to portray its “rightful” superiority – which is not righteous any more than Buddism or any other “ism” is righteous.  Was this the reason why German-Jews had to wear their religion, as a yellow star, through the streets of Germany?  Was it to separate the righteous from what was considered vermin?     You better believe it.  Talk about racist profiling!

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

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But, let me get back on track.  What I want to accomplish here is to enlighten you with the words of  Thomas Jefferson  on this discussion.  The thoughts are brilliant and must have staying power for the good of all the people.

I’ve included two of his letters, and the third entry is Jefferson’s draft of legislation to maintain separateness between the church and the government- in this case, Virginia.

From Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association

Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and Others, a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the State of Connecticut

January 1, 1802

Gentlemen,

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.

 To Rev. Samuel Miller

Washington, Jan. 23, 1808

Sir, 

I have duly received your favor of the 18th and am thankful to you for having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of the U S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U.S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant too that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation the less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it’s exercises, it’s discipline, or it’s doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.

I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U S. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

I again express my satisfaction that you have been so good as to give me an opportunity of explaining myself in a private letter, in which I could give my reasons more in detail than might have been done in a public answer: and I pray you to accept the assurances of my high esteem & respect.

Thomas Jefferson – Public Papers, Revisal of the Laws: Drafts of Legislation

(1777, 1779)

Section I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion. is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous falacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

Sect. II. We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

SECT. III. And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

30
Oct

miami dolphins winning?

I’m sitting at my computer for the last hour surfing the web and reading the news.

Until two seconds ago I hadn’t settled on what I wanted to write about until I opened the link to the Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale newspaper),  and saw that the Miami Dolphins are in the lead against the NY Giants!

At this moment, on this day, the paper reports that the Miami Dolphins are looking like supremely good foot-ballers (Is that a word?).

I hope the lead lasts until the game’s end…  Well, it’s 2:45 pm, EST., will they be in the lead at 3:00?  I hope so though I’m not really a football fan.  Most everyone in my sphere of family and friends, are huge fans.  And since the Dolphins have lost every game so far this season, I can just bet that today’s game is very exciting for Dol-phans.  (There will be nothing but “the game” on our local television news!)

So, Goooooo Dophins!  

29
Oct

when is enough enough?

Mark Wilson/Getty Images - - Sheets of $100 bills wait to be cut into singles at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. In recent decades, the gap between rich and poor has widened in the United States.

Education…

I believe the gap between the very rich one percent, and the rest of us, has everything to do with human rights, freedom and equality.

The access to education is also a huge social issue.   The rich one percent ALWAYS send their kids to college.  That’s never an issue.  Some of them, however, may seek Federal financial aid to pay the bill.

The reason I am bringing this up is due to a change in how much income a person can now include on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Those interested in attending college are classified into two groups: dependent or independent students.  The financial aid they are eligible to receive is based on a federal methodology that measures how much money a student, or a family (for a dependent student) can contribute to their education.

The Department of Education does a needs analysis that is based on the amount of income, or assets reported; the size of the family unit, the number of children in college, and how much an education will cost at the school the student is attending.  These are the factors that determine the amount of aid a student needs to fund their education.

Because the student who files the FAFSA is applying for financial aid – money from the Federal Government, the amount of money the student is awarded is determined by the what the student has reported on the FAFSA application.

Wouldn’t you think that a person who has at least $999,999.00 of either income or assets per year, could pay for college?  I’d think so, too.

Of course, persons earning that much money have every right to fill out the FAFSA.  However, the reality for them, usually, is they will not receive much federal aid – unless the student can document why s/he has need. Federal Financial Aid is provided to the students who are the neediest.

Some students don’t receive any aid because they do not have “need” as defined by the federal government.  However, certain types of merit-based scholarships, or school based aid, could be available.  And that’s absolutely okay and legal – there is nothing wrong there.

What I have a problem with is now the FAFSA allows for the applicant to fill in an amount up to $9,999,999.00.

There is just something that bugs me about that.

And it bugs me that the FAFSA has made allowances for those students and families who are homeless and/or on food stamps.  The fact that the FAFSA has to acknowledge homelessness and food stamps is a good thing, obviously, but it really saddens me because it also implies, to me, that society has accepted homelessness and hunger as a fact of life in America.

This is just more evidence that the American Dream is mostly a faded dream.

Why the Haves Have So Much  by Scott Horsley for National Public Radio (NPR).

This is a good read about the gaps between the haves and have-nots.  Click on the link or the money graphic at the top of the page to open the story.

28
Oct

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hidden

 

I guess most kids are enchanted by cats.   My niece, Elizabeth, is.   Looking for the cat is always the first thing on her agenda.

Elizabeth has learned that the first place to look for an elusive cat is under a bed.  Oh yes, she’s learned this from experience.  And, sure enough, as soon as the cat senses Elizabeth’s presence, he flies or dives under the nearest bed like a rocket.

When Elizabeth finds the poor cat, whether it’s shivering under the bed or hanging by its nails from the chandelier, she cries,  “There he is, there he is!  Andrea, come quick, there is he, come look under the bed, Andrea!!”

Well, just as the cat realizes he’s been discovered, he scoots out from under that bed so quickly his fur nearly whistles in the wind while Elizabeth screams, “Oh no!!!  C’ mon!  Let’s go look under the other bed, Andrea!”

And we do this for the next hour, or so.

27
Oct

under God or the Republic?

Last night during the discussion with Richard Dreyfuss, he asked the entire audience stand up.  Then he asked us to place our right hand on our heart.  Then we said the pledge of allegiance: 

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

And then he asked us to read it again, but follow him and he left out “under God.”

We intoned:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

The first Pledge above is what is used today.  The words “under God” were added by Congress, in 1954.

Mr. Dreyfuss pointed out that the pledge is not a prayer, though it sounds as such.  The pledge allows those of us who are loyal to this country, to articulate our allegiance to the flag and to the Republic for which it stands because we are one nation, we won’t be divided in that regard, and the core of America is to provide the due process of liberty and justice for all.

Adding “under God” says we all stand “under” God; but not all do.  There are other religions who do not believe in our God.  There are Agnostics and Atheists who do not place themselves in allegiance with God, but with the US and the Republic for which it stands.

In fact, the 1st Amendment provides for freedom of religion and the addition of “under God” is, in reality, unconstitutional.  The same holds true for “In God we Trust” in written all over our money.

That is my view.

Hah!  Politics AND religion in one post…. I’m just asking for trouble!

26
Oct

the dreyfuss initiative

Credit: The Dreyfuss Initiative

I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Richard Dreyfuss tonight!   He spoke to a full house of students at Nova Southeastern University.

Dreyfuss is dedicating the rest of his life to pursue his passion for educating young Americans about civics.  (Sadly, only 3% of the schools in this country are teaching civics.)

I didn’t realize this.  Did you?

He described the seriousness of this issue if nothing is done to equip our children (who are our future), with an education around civics.  They need to know how the government and the laws work in this country.  If they grow up ignorant on these issues, it’s akin to national suicide.  It’s a serious, serious problem.

If our children are not up to the challenge of leading America into the future, another entity will.

Kids have not been learning about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution or its amendments; most have no idea why or how the three branches of government work; they do not appreciate the basics of how the legal system operates, and so much more.

I have so much to say on this topic! Unfortunately, it’s much too late for me to write coherently on tonight’s program.  I will be doing a post about this issue.  I do hope to start a conversation about this serious problem.

In the meantime, the Dreyfus Initiative website is below.  Check it out!

http://www.thedreyfussinitiative.org

25
Oct

poverty, uganda, outed jurors, and other tales

I read too many depressing  news reports tonight.   I’m feeling mad and frustrated.

In the New York Times I read that Uganda is going to reopen a bill that will allow the government to impose the death penalty against gay men and women (Lesbians).

I discussed this topic last year with horror, but then I was under the impression that Uganda had softened on this issue.  Not true – not in the least.

The excruciating part of this story?  American influence fanned the flames.  Rick Warren – the evangelical pastor of the huge Saddle Back Church, reportedly helped draft the original bill (see Washington Post reference article.) Warren was assisted by Reverend Lou Engle, another popular evangelist who has no business proselytizing hate in the name of religion in this country, let alone to the poor people of Uganda.

If that wasn’t depressing enough, I read about the extreme poverty in our suburbs.  The suburbs, I thought?  People are going hungry there, too?  Yes, it’s true.

The chart below, from the NY Times, explains the extreme rise of poverty in American suburbs.  Places once thought of as the best place to raise children, are looking toward to local “soup lines” or “Food Pantries” to help feed their families.  The great challenge with the newly poor in the suburbs is the availability of the kinds of services that cities have to aid the poor and the hungry.

One issue is due to suburb dwellers having a longer commute to reach help – (problematic when your car is repossessed and bus service is not available).

To access the NY Times article, click:   Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs

Published Oct. 24, 2011 New York Times

And, then I read how the media is making such a big hullabaloo over outing the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial.

I ask you, what good will that do other than allow the haters to practice their hate anew?

Yes, the jurors were not real jurors in the sense they failed to consider all the evidence before them,  but it’s over now.  I’ve let it go.

Disturbing and showering the jurors on the Casey Anthony trial with hate does no one any good – it’s not going to change anything.

Sometimes I think it’s best to not read the news and stick with pleasurable reading.  But then I tell my self, that’s not good either – it’s important to be aware of what’s happening in the world.  The trick is to take it in stride….easier said than done.

Aaannnnd, now we have a hurricane (which may turn into a tropical storm, we hope) looming.  It’s got South Florida in its “cone of uncertainty.”   The hurricane is a she and she’s a category 3 now.  Her name is Rina.

Lastly, if you want to nominate someone for the title of “Central Floridian of the Year”, the Orlando Sentinel is taking nominations on its website. The link to nominate someone is: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-sg-central-floridian-of-the-year,0,206265.storygallery

I can think of a few folks worthy of this honor!

That’s all the news for tonight!

I’m in the middle of reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” …  It is excellent, provides much food for thought…..

So, pleasant dreams and have a great tomorrow!

24
Oct

a primer about social inequality

If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark. ~Richard Wilkinson

There’s a wonderful web channel called TED www.ted.com, that I often visit for the interesting speakers and topics.  A recent speaker was Richard Wilkinson, researcher on the harmful effects of economic inequality on societies.   It creates an imbalance that impacts every aspect of our lives.

View the video:  http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html

The below quote is taken from his bio and helps to sum up his reasearch:

While poverty has long been recognized as an indicator for such social ills as crime, obesity, teen pregnancy, Wilkinson and Pickett have demonstrated that societal well-being bears no relation to per capita income. They’ve also found that the symptoms of inequality trouble all levels of society. Across the board, mental health, levels of violence and addiction, even life expectancy are affected by the psycho-social stress caused by income gaps and status anxiety.

He says: “While I’d always assumed that an equal society must score better on social cohesion, I never expected to find such clear differences between existing market economies.”

Credit: Richard Wilkinson research on life expectancy from http://www.TED.com

The chart above is research data on life expectancy from England and Wales.  The harmful effects of inequality had bearing not only life expectancy: it’s the whole gamut of life experiences that prove the uber-rich are treated better in every sense.

Richard Wilkinson is not a socialist, neither am I.   He is not talking about socialism or redistribution of wealth on this TED video.  The main point he’s discussing is the social status gaps between the rich and the poor and how it harmful it is on society, especially on the poor.

I found it so interesting, I hope you do, too.

23
Oct

Boedeker, Books and Blogging

In today’s Orlando Sentinel, there are two pieces by Hal Boedeker that are quite good.

I always enjoy reading Hal Boedeker’s take on the Casey Anthony saga – he’s so down to earth and asks questions that people want to talk about.  His columns on the Anthony story are always popular, always generating hundreds of comments.  There was a time when I’d read the comments with interest, I even commented once, too.  But as time wore on, the comments became so ugly and over the top, filled with such hateful vitriol that was (and still is) too bizarre for my taste.

But, Hal Boedeker’s work is always excellent; here are links to today’s two stories that contain interesting analysis from the lawyer analysts covering the trial.

  1. Analysis and Q and A with Bill Shaeffer, Richard Hornsby, Mark NeJame and Diana Tennis.
  2. Interview with Bill Shaeffer, who says trial was Soap Opera

It’s interesting how we just can’t stop talking about his case! It’s still an open book to be dissected.  When Boedeker discusses Anthony in a column, he’ll get hundreds and hundreds of comments.   Even when I write about the case, the number of visitors to my blog literally triples.   And when the trial began, starting with jury selection, and right up until the end, I’d receive well over two thousand visitors a day, often more.

It was really a weird feeling to know so many people read my thoughts….  I never expected that – ever.

A lot of blogs and media outlets experienced huge increases in Internet traffic as a result of this case. This was a good thing because most of the bigger blogs or media outlets are able to turn the Internet traffic into a bigger revenue stream for them. WordPress puts advertising on blogs like mine for the revenue stream, too.   I have no control over the ads you may see unless I want to pay WordPress to prevent them from posting their ads.   I’m more than happy to let them advertise!  I hope they make some money from their blog sites since they offer virtually everything on WordPress dot com completely free to the blogger.

Anyway, now I forget what the point of all this was going to be!

Oh yes, public interest in this story.  I’m still interested in the Anthony case, but not as before.  There are many days that I forget about it, and that’s good.

I stopped reading for pleasure when this case began.  Now I’ve started reading a lot again.  I read three books this week.   I finished the Jacyee Dugard book about her years of captivity; titled, “A Stolen Life: A Memoir.”   I’m glad I read it, but it was difficult to get through because of the extreme  suffering she lived with for so many years (she was abducted at age 11.)   I have a great respect for her and her will to survive.  It’s a very quick read, told in her own words, (without a Ghostwriter’s help), and for that I was impressed.

But the book I recommend so highly is “ROOM” by Emma Donoghue, written in 2010.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  The story is narrated by a five year old who was born as a result of his mother being abducted at age 19 and held prisoner in a shed in her captors backyard.  Her son, Jack, has never been outside the shed to experience the real world.  The relationship between mother and son is captivating; and the situation they’re in is made horrifying by their captor.

I don’t want to say too much about ROOM because I don’t want to spoil the story for you.

I  can’t decide what to read next!  I have so many lined up in my Nook just waiting to be devoured and even more on my book shelves, too.

Well, I think I’m going to read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skoot next.

So, the weekend’s officially over now.   It was a great one, too:  Live Theatre, shopping, babysitting my niece, and reading…. perfect in every way!

 

 

22
Oct

art and a miracle

 

The miracle of human creation, expressed with animations that will astonish you.

This video is by Ramos David, Evil Cat Productions titled Genesis.  It is so lovely, and the animations are so fine, I want to include it on my blog in perpetuity.

21
Oct

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opportunity (staying on the path)

The subject of this WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Opportunity.

Maybe I am just over-tired and cranky because the first thing I thought about in relation to opportunity was the lack of opportunity for so many people in this country.

To be lacking something in America, the land of opportunity is a constant these days, isn’t it?

And so, I thought about what opportunity means, and I think it’s really a path that you have to get on and stay on.

It’s a path to … ?   Well, no where, these days.

Greed has destroyed many dreams, bombed the paths of too many people in this country and around the world.

When greedy Americans – big businesses and banks,  destroy paths for the little guy, the nation suffers.  When the rich are too rich, the poor is too poor and homeless; jobless and hungry,  there is terrible imbalance that will eventually right itself.

If necessary, it will take a revolution.

Our America was once “the land of opportunity,” remember?

“America – The home of the free and the brave” is becoming America the homeless nation.

“So, Waldo, where”s the “American Dream, hiding on your map?”   No more dreams, you say?  Only nightmares?  Nightmares, are dreams too you say?

America, our nightmare – the land of  dumb and the dumber.  The land of  Larry, Larry and Larry. Dumb, Dumb and Dummer.  Yeah! Keep ’em dumb.  We don’t need schools.  It’s just a place for babysitting kids!

The future of this country belongs to the children who are not being educated.  The people and children of this America are being dumbed down by the hideous state of education in this country.

What about the future?  Well, George W. Bush wasn’t concerned with that:

“What is going to be your legacy?” asked Suthichai Sae-Yoon, of the Nation Multimedia Group in Thailand.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Bush replied. “‘ll be dead when they finally figure it out.”  Source:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/08/george-bush-leg.html

It’s not my intent to place blame, but “W” as I like to call him, will be proven to be the worst president our nation has ever known.

However, we don’t have the time to place blame, we have to move and find solutions.

The time has come for the uber-rich and the stinking greedy corporations to pay what they owe to a country that allowed them to prosper.

The time has come for Occupy Wallstreet.  I am grateful to the men and women involved in Occupy Wall Street; I applaud their efforts and sacrifices for the sake of our liberty – so we, the little guy and gal can get on and stay on the path of opportunity

An excellent set of charts, facts and analysis is given by Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider, in an October 15th report.   He writes:

FACT:  Unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s).

FACT: corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy.

FACT: Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. In other words, corporate profits are at an all-time high, in part, because corporations are paying less of their revenue to employees than they ever have. There are lots of reasons for this, many of which are not the fault of the corporations. (It’s a global economy now, and 2-3 billion new low-cost employees in China, India, et al, have recently entered the global workforce. This is putting pressure on wages the world over.)

FACT:  Income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high: The owners of the country’s assets (capital) are winning, everyone else (labor) is losing.  The top earners are capturing a higher share of the national income than they have anytime since the 1920s:

READ Here Are Four Charts That Explain What The Protesters Are Angry About…

There is a definite imbalance of opportunity, there is injustice when children and adults in our  country are homeless, foodless, jobless….

A home, a job, some food isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Can you imagine being homeless?  Can you imagine being hungry?

Thousands of people aren’t imagining it, they’re living it.

We have to support change.

20
Oct

the act of appreciation

This has been a good but incredibly long day for me.

After work I attended an International Society of for Performance Improvement (ISPI) dinner meeting, and then I had to race home to see Project Runway, and so I’ve only just sat down to write.

I almost skipped writing tonight because I’m so tired, and it’s past my bedtime… I just hate to miss a day of posting.  I want to be able to say that I was able to write a post every single day in 2011… I’m almost there!

Most importantly, I wanted to share what I learned tonight at the ISPI meeting.  The speaker tonight was Dr. Bob Presiosi, and he discussed the theory of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as it relates to the workplace collaboration and results.

I studied this theory in school, and I enjoyed learning about.  Tonight I realized how it can be applied to our daily lives.  However, because of the time, I won’t delve deeply into the topic, just introduce the big picture.

In essence, the theory simply tells that we are most effective when we focus on our strength’s and passions when leading others.  It’s a process flow, as you can see by the chart on the left.

1). Start with a thought – discover a possibility while focusing on the positive (never the negative).  Once talents are discovered and reinforced, all the positive possibilities should begin to emerge.

2). This is when the vision is tweaked and refined. This is also the time to remember: If you can dream it, you can do it. This is when we dream about what success looks like.

3) Design the dream.  What will success look like in its final form?  How will the dream deliver the result you want to achieve?

4).  Allow what you have created to work.  Let destiny happen.

Isn’t it a nice way to look at things?

19
Oct

civil lawsuit news in the anthony case

The Florida vs. Casey Anthony murder trial is long over, but I am still very interested in the legal ramifications, and the civil case fallout, which continues to fall out.

Now, that Anthony has civil lawsuits to contend with, this interesting but bizarre story will continue to draw a media audience.

It was reported in the media just today that a Orlando Judge refused to throw out the lawsuit filed by Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch.  As you know, Tim Miller is trying to recoup thousands of dollars worth of time and resources that were poured into finding Caylee.

Tim Miller should have his day in court, especially since Baez admitted in his opening statement that  Caylee was never missing but drowned on July 16th.  And since Anthony was found not guilty, she has to answer for her  fraudulent claims.

She’s got Baez to thank for that.  Since, as a result of Baez’ telling the jury that Caylee was “never missing,” and because Anthony was found not guilty, Baez has essentially confirmed that Casey Anthony fraudulently duped the public and the public servants into believing that Caylee was alive.

Not for a moment do I believe that Baez thought Anthony would be cleared of the murder charges.   If he actually thought he had a chance to win the case, I doubt he’d ever admit that Anthony knew all along that Caylee drowned.

I wonder if this story and the George and Lee Anthony abuse allegations were just a last-ditch Hail Mary?  I can’t imagine that Baez would go out on a limb with such stories had he known there would be financial consequences, or perhaps those impacts never entered his mind.

If Anthony had been found guilty, she’d not be responsible these tremendous costs that will continue to pile up.  That’s one reason I honestly don’t believe Baez thought he’d prevail in this case.

The State Attorney had more than enough evidence to convict – everyone believed it, too.  No one in their right mind thought Baez could or would win this case!  But then, no one counted on his ability to connect so well with the jurors, who to the defense’s benefit, turned out to be spineless followers only interested in getting out of Dodge.

Everyone was sure Casey was going to spend many years behind bars.

Until the perfect storm blew in from Clearwater, Florida.

On another note, Charles Greene, Anthony’s Civil Attorney, has a motion on the table to stop the release of the Morgan and Morgan recent video deposition of Anthony.   Greene filed an emergency motion to seal the video.  A Judge will hear arguments tomorrow.

Let’s face it, if the video is released, and I’m sure it will be, it will only serve to rekindle the public’s  anger toward Anthony.

It’s time to end the hate – that does not mean forget, it means public vitriol against Anthony is uncivilized.  Just my opinion.

18
Oct

anthony case news

Andrea - only dreamin'

Before discussing the news of the day, I want to tell you about my new blog look!  It’s the newest WordPress blog theme – just released today.

The theme is called iTheme2; created in appreciation for Steve Jobs, and Apple.

What do you think?  Do you like it?

I’d love to hear your constructive feedback.  Is it easy to read and navigate in?  My favorite thing about this blog is the sliding post feature at the top of the Home page!

Now for the news of the day

The Orlando Sentinel’s Anthony Colarossi, is reporting that the Florida Bar has disclosed the nature of the two (2) complaints against attorney Jose Baez.

Complaint One:  As expected, one of the Florida Bar complaints against Jose Baez is regarding his failure to produce expert witness discovery.   This took place in January of 2011, when Judge Belvin Perry ordered the defense to produce expert witness discovery by a certain deadline date.  When the defense failed to comply, Judge Perry concluded that the defense willfully violated its court order and ordered sanctions.

Prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, frustrated by the refusal of  Jose Baez to follow the rules of discovery and the court, advised the court that the defense had a history of deliberately skirting deadlines, and contempt or sanctions should be imposed.

Jose Baez was sanctioned by the court – ordered to pay $583 as penalty.

This is the very issue now up for review by the Florida Bar.

I wonder if the Bar is also looking at a similar violation that occurred in June 2011, during the trial, over defense witness Dr. William Rodriquez.

This was another typical scenario in which Baez attempted to hide certain aspects of Dr. Rodriquez’ testimony, clearly to ambush Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton.  Baez must think that “Perry Mason Moments” are a make it or break it strategy in the courtroom.  The truth is, defense lawyers want to win, and some of them will do whatever it takes to get a leg up –  rules be damned.

If the Florida Bar fails to act, it will set a bad precedent, perhaps encouraging other lawyers to bend the laws, too.  We can’t have that!

Complaint Two:  This complaint surrounds the felony check fraud charges that Casey Anthony was found guilty of prior to the murder trial.

The Honorable Judge Stan Strickland found Anthony guilty on 6 of the 13 charges of check fraud.

Judge Strickland sentenced Anthony to time-served, and one year probation to be served after the murder case is concluded.  Judge Strickland, who, by the way, is retiring at the end of this year, was very clear in his ruling, but a court clerks written report erred in its description of how the probation was to be served.  The error only came to light at the conclusion of the murder trial.  Judge Strickland realized his court order was not followed and resubmitted the probation order.

The defense fought hard to throw out the probation. They were desperate to prove that applying probation would be akin to double jeopardy, since Anthony served probation while in jail.

That argument, so weak, went no where and Judge Perry ordered Anthony to serve her probation as Judge Strickland originally ordered.

During the hearing concerning this issue, it came to light that Baez knew she was serving probation in jail, but didn’t correct the situation.

It’s against the law for you and I to violate a court order.  When a lawyer willfully disobeys a court order, there should be consequences.  If a lawyer cannot follow the basic rules of procedure required for an officer of the court, the system is in trouble.  Let’s hope the Florida Bar agrees.

Early retirement for my favorite Judge 

I just read this evening that the Honorable Stan Strickland is retiring from the Bench beginning December 31, 2011.

Judge Strickland has served Central Florida in the 9th Circuit Court for 21 years.   He spoke briefly to Anthony Colarossi, reporter for the Orlando Sentinel today, and said:

Once it becomes tedium, it’s hard to continue on.  It’s hard to explain: You just know when it’s time, and it’s time.  ~Judge Stan Strickland

Reporter Colarossi asked Judge Strickland if the Casey Anthony case had anything to do with his decision to resign, the Judge said:

Did that have a part in the wearing process? Sure.  But not a part in the ultimate decision.

I am happy for the Judge, but sorry for the people of Central Florida who are losing one of its finest.

So many of us – everyone visiting this blog – have shared their thoughts regarding Judge Strickland’s nonpareil service to the Casey Anthony case; he is held in hight regard here.

I have the highest regard for Judge Strickland. Not only is he an excellent Jurist, he’s a very nice man.

Socrates, writing in approximately 470 B.C., wrote the following, which I think sums up perfectly who Judge Strickland is:

Four things belong to a judge:

to hear courteously,
to answer wisely,
to consider soberly, and
to decide impartially.  ~ Socrates

It’s as if  Socrates had Judge Strickland in mind here, don’t you think?!

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