Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Bonuses - for Some of Us

I saw a report on NBC Nightly News that said Wall St. Christmas bonuses would be quite generous this year. Hmmm. It also said that (if I remember correctly) 66% of workers don't receive such bonuses. There was also a report in the Phila. Inquirer recently that said the South Jersey food bank was hurting because there is such a demand for food to help families make ends meet; increasingly these families are the "working poor". And I found out today that the one local "strip mall" raised the rent on the Dollar store (a Mom-and-Pop store, not a chain) so it will be going out of business. Word is that a Dollar store chain will take its place.

Why isn't it clear to everyone that our priorities are out of whack? We give lavish bonuses (and tax breaks) to the wealthy; to everyone else - just crumbs. It just keeps getting harder and harder for anyone to own their own store or small business. We're being overrun it seems with franchises and big corporations. One major concern about that is that decisions are too often made at the corporate level without knowledge of local trends. Another is that our choices are too often swallowed up as "little guys" cannot compete with the big retailers. If your favorite brand isn't one of the top sellers, well, good luck having it stay available.

Can we imagine a world where more people are economically empowered? I think it's time to start.

I'm Back, Sort of

If anyone's reading this, you know I haven't posted to this blog for a while. Things have been particularly crazy at work this semester; there's been so much to do on weekends; and there was the little matter of having to get a new heater and oil tank. I'm not sure how much time and energy I'll still have for this, but I may not give it up just yet. There's so much I probably could write about if I were more motivated, it seems.

I even missed my man John Adams' birthday. Well, Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. President! Hope you're praying for this country from the other side.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Shameful, Tyrannical Detainee Bill

Like many, I am unbelievably upset that Congress passed this horrible piece of legislation. I am astounded that so few of our elected Representatives and Senators have no backbone and caved in to a power grab by the administration.

Please read posts by Jane Smiley, Molly Ivins, and Joshuah Bearman.

If you do not share these concerns yet, I would advise you to wake up, and to do so very soon.

I was especially disturbed that my two Senators - who I thought were pretty good - joined the Republicans in passing this bill. I wrote to them and expressed my extreme disappointment. I would advise anyone whose Senator or Representative voted for this atrocity let them know this is unacceptable. And do not let the GOP get away with continually playing a fear card and using 9/11 as an excuse to shred our liberties.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Merely coincidences...

I think everyone should view the Keith Obermann video in which he lays out some very "strange" coincidences of political events and terror warnings. I sort of felt that there were some very eerie coincidences - or are they- going on. It seems as though someone else has noticed in a much more organized fashion than I have. It's well worth watching.

To view the video go here. Scroll down for Keith Obermann/Politics and Terror. There are a variety of links for different viewing formats.

We should all be aware and insist that politics NOT be played with security and terror warnings.

Is There Something Going On?

Recently it seems that some Yahoo groups were shut down, apparently by Yahoo itself. At this point any information I have is very sketchy. It seems that it was groups critical of the administration who were affected. I have also heard that it was not just Yahoo groups affected but some other groups and blogs have been shut down as well. I think we should all ask what is going on. Is this just the work of hackers? If so, why should they be allowed to shut down someone's mode of communicating with a wider audience? Is it deeper than that? Is there some movement to deny these venues to liberal groups and writers, to dissenters? If so, we'd all better wake up and stop this in its tracks before it's really too late for all of us.

If anyone has more information, please post a reply as I'd really like to know as much about the situation as possible. If there is anyone whose group or blog has been affected, I'd really like to hear from you. Thanks to all in advance.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The GOP must be in trouble

I figured that when Pres. Bush decided to finally address an NAACP Convention that something must be up. Why now? Why hasn't this happened before? It struck me that the GOP must really be in trouble! I'm thinking that until now the present make-up of the party never felt the need to really go after the African-American vote with any kind of enthusiasm. A very recent poll suggests that there might be real trouble for the GOP in the November Congressional elections.

While it may not be totally bad to get some attention from the Republicans - at the very least it may nudge the Democrats from taking us for granted - I hope voters remain wary at this point. I don't feel as though the policies of the present administration and Congress are helpful to the country as a whole, let alone African-Americans who face a greater share of economic and social challenges. I hope that people will not be diverted (I thought Robert Smigel's cartoon on SNL about "The Divertor" (or something like that) was certainly on target) by such non-issues as gay marriage.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Excellent Article

In the archives is an excellent article by George Lakoff, Mark Ettlinger and Sam Ferguson. It's definitely worth reading, digesting, and acting on!


I certainly don't find much to like about the President, least of all his arrogance. The Supreme Court rules that the administration's plans to try detainees in military tribunals violates both U. S. law and the Geneva Conventions. The Supreme Court says a better alternative would be military courts-martial which affords defendants rights similar to civilian courts.

But Bush vows to pursue some sort of military tribunal and Sen. Frist wants to introduce legislation to do just that.

Such arrogance. When told what they're doing is overstepping the law, Bush and Co. just want to do whatever fits their plans. I'm amazed and appalled that there is not more outrage about this dangerous, yes dangerous, and un-Constitutional way of thinking.

Wake up, people! No one, no one, especially the President, should set him or herself above the law. Why are we tolerating illegal wiretapping and snooping into financial records? Why is no one upset about signing statements negating parts of legislation he doesn't like? When will the public see that this is the wrong road to pursue? When will people realize we've sacrificed too much liberty in the name of the 'war on terror'? When it's too late? My advice to everyone is open your eyes, NOW!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Economic Inequity - Again!

Unbelievable! The Senate has blocked a minimum wage increase. The Senators (mostly Republican) who voted against this should be ashamed. I hope people take a look at how their Senators voted and hold them accountable for standing up for working families.

Meanwhile, everyone should work to have their states raise the state minimum wage. NJ has passed a raise, and PA has just passed one.

This is only economic fairness. How can you support a family on a wage of around $5.15? This also comes as news breaks that the average CEO makes $11 million per year as compared to just under $42, 000 for an average worker. This means the average CEO makes around 262 times the wage of an average worker. These figures come from the Economic Policy Institute and are based on 2005 wages and compensation. The EPI also says that the buying power of the minimum wage is at a 51-year low. You can read more about their analysis at the EPI site.

So why won't our policy makers do the right thing and give the working poor a boost?

More on the AC Scandal

Found here is an excellent article by Peter Daou which explains why we should all be concerned that the media is giving a platform to the hate-mongering of Ann Coulter.

Another note to Bushwack since you ask why no one says she's wrong. Maybe we Liberals take for granted that people will know we disagree with 99.99% of what she says. I'm not sure what rational points she makes. From the little snippets of her writings or interviews, it seems to me as though all she does is hurl insults.

I think it's beyond decency to say that a Congressman is the reason soldiers invented fragging (assassinating an unpopular member of one's own unit). To even suggest that happen to another human being is way over the line. I can only imagine the outcry is someone Liberal or even moderate had said something similar about a figure they consider unpopular.

Those who are concerned about the media and fairness can also visit There are many great articles and resources there.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ann Coulter

In case you haven't noticed the rhetoric in this country recently hit a new low. Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter is now attacking 9/11 widows and claiming Liberals are "Godless".

I certainly think it's bad form to attack the women who have lost husbands in such a tragedy (I think the Inquirer suggested she went after them because they backed Kerry!). What I really want to comment on, though, is her totally baseless thesis that we Liberals are "Godless".

As I mentioned in one of my early posts ('Why I am a Liberal', found in the March 2005 archives) my faith has been a definite reason for my Liberal views. Jesus says we are to love one another; I see her constant vitriol as quite the opposite.

What also concerns me is that her book is a best seller and she got cheers on Jay Leno. Has the mood of our nation become such that this sort of baseless, classless attack is what people like? Maybe it's just me, but I cannot see how anyone can buy (literally, as well as figuratively) such garbage.

I would urge EVERYONE to reject such rhetoric. You might want to write a letter to the editor refuting such views. You may also want to let her syndicate know that you don't appreciate her going over the line (I did). Info can be found here.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Let's Investigate

I want to know where all the real investigative reporting has gone. Dateline - I know that your "To Catch a Predator" has done good work, but how many episodes do we really need? Do we really need more celebrity interviews (usually when he or she has a movie opening) or murder mysteries? As for local news - can we cut back a bit on weather stories and cover another news story or two?

I would like to see an investigation of gas prices that doesn't whitewash the oil companies. I would like to see an investigation of why property taxes are so high (I believe NJ has the highest in the country) yet the state and almost all municipalities and school districts have budget crises. I want an investigation of what is happening with our civil liberties. I want real answers as to what went on with this domestic spying business. I also want an investigation into the implications of RFID technology for us and our privacy as consumers.

I want investigations into secret prisons and torture that will be covered in the mainstream press as well as nightly news and not be brushed off. We cannot turn away from facing up to what the U. S. has done that would betray the freedom and values we preach.

I want an investigation as to why social mobility in this nation is stagnating. A recent report said that such mobility in the U. S. has declined. That means someone born poor usually will remain poor; someone born wealthy usually will stay wealthy. I want an investigation on this and on why and how the middle class is being squeezed. Some reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer did a series on the squeezed middle class some years ago. You don't see much about this topic in the mainstream media much anymore.

I want an investigation as to what we're doing or not doing to help the situation in Darfur. BTW, did anyone see the reports of the recent rally for Darfur held in Washington, DC? Some of the faculty and students from my college attended. I observed (and this was echoed by one of those faculty members) that I thought the only reason that rally got any coverage on the evening news that night was that George Clooney was one of the main speakers.

I want an investigation as to what stories we're seeing are not really news stories at all, but promotional videos furnished by either the government or businesses with something to sell. I'd read about this and really didn't take it to heart until I recently saw a "health" report which I believe to have been such a video.

Those are a few ideas for starters. Maybe if we do less coverage of celebrity gossip and promotion of network programs on the news, we'd have a bit of air time for such stories. The next challenge would be to get people to tear themselves away from American Idol for the five minutes it would take to make themselves aware of such issues.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Stand Up Against Spying

I know it's been quite a while since the last post, so I hope some of you are still out there. It's been a very hectic spring and things are just slowing down enough for me to vent about the latest outrage, the fact that the NSA has collected phone records on millions of Americans.

What kind of country are we becoming? Sometimes I feel like shouting to people: Why aren't you outraged? Why don't you see the dangerous road we're headed down when privacy and civil liberties are given such little regard? I just don't understand why we're letting our officials get away with this. War on terror? Homeland Security? I don't buy it for one moment. Anyone still under the illusion that the administration really wants to protect us better remember that proposed Dubai Ports deal.

Yes, this collection of phone records should have every single one of us infuriated. Even if no names were given the NSA, they would be easily figured out, according to experts. And once that happens, they could find out lots and lots about you (or yours truly - that I most frequently call my friend, my cousin, and my place of employment). OK so I'm law abiding and my life is rated probably - well, let's just say that it's NOT rated R - but that's not the point. The point is that the government should have NO business snooping on law-abiding citizens, with no suspicion the specific person has done anything wrong, without a warrant or any kind of court order.

We all need to stand up and to urge Congress to stand up and demand an end to such practices. You can go to the ACLU website and sign a petition to the phone companies to tell them to stop cooperating with the program (I did and I also wrote directly to my phone company, Verizon). The site also has a link to find the phone numbers of your Senators. They suggest you call them and urge them to cut funding for this program until more answers are forthcoming. They also suggest you urge them to oppose S. 2453 and S. 2455 which would effectively reward this highly questionable program.

Please take action; we can not just stand by and be apathetic. We must stand up for civil liberties NOW.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy Anniversary

It hardly seems possible, but today is the first anniversary of Cinnamonblue's Blog! At times I've wondered if I'd keep it up this long, but I'm still here - when I have the energy to post!

Thanks to all who have found a way to this cyberwindow. It's about communication and empowerment. I hope to foster dialog, discussion, debate. We need not shy from openness and not always sharing the same point of view. Real trouble starts when one point of view is afraid or not forward enough to speak up. I sometimes feel we Liberals are too lax in trying to respectfully advocate for what we believe. I hope that people will feel outraged enough, energized enough, or tired enough of the status quo to take some action to make some positive changes. The problems we have didn't happen overnight; I really feel part of the problem is that so many of us just didn't get involved enough to head them off.

I know we're all busy. I know we all have many things to deal with personally. But if we take the time to do SOMETHING - even for one issue we care about - maybe that, along with the efforts of others, really can make a difference.

Champagne, anyone?

Friday, January 27, 2006

What We Watch

What we watch on television (and also movies, video games,etc.) has been on my mind recently. I think everyone's heard of the controversy surrounding NBC's "Book of Daniel" and it's cancellation. No, I didn't watch it - NUMB3RS on CBS which aired opposite it is one of my very favorite current shows and I just couldn't miss THAT!

But it did lead me to think about what I watch, and about what is on television these days. The other week I had on "Law and Order - Criminal Intent" - the episode with guest star Michael York. This episode had a graphic scene where Michael York's character dispassionately had one of his proteges (who seems to finally revel in it) murder someone. Then, in a recent episode of "CSI: Miami" the story centered around a serial killer who of course, did his deeds with relish. The show also had some pretty bloody scenes.

Those scenes really got me upset. I didn't really change channels as there was nothing much better on at the time (yes, I know, I really should get cable), but those shows really left me with a bad feeling. Of course whodunits have been around forever - but the kind of violence now seems different. The villains are too dispassionate, too many characters are really amoral, few ever show any type of real remorse. I really have to believe that constant exposure to this type of entertainment has to affect people. (The American Psychological Association is concerned about the effect of violent images and lyrics on youth, and has called for a reduction of violence in video games.)

I wonder why we take shows like those I've mentioned above in stride - but things like "Book of Daniel" seem to get right-wing groups upset. I wonder why they aren't protesting shows that are excessively violent and graphic. I wonder why writers don't come up with something better; I know they can! I wonder why we don't demand better programming.

Maybe we should all think more deeply about what's playing - and demand and look for better choices.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Domestic Spying Outrage

I am thoroughly outraged by the recent uncovering of domestic spying by the NSA. I am even more outraged by Bush's defense of this as necessary for the war on terrorism. I don't buy that for a second. I feel it is disgraceful for him to always use the "war on terrorism" as some smoke screen for trampling on civil liberties and privacy.

First, I don't believe that we should ever compromise civil liberties for some claim of helping national security. I am stunned that this administration continually tries to circumvent our Constitution and the separation of powers. It is especially troubling in this case as there is no reason for them not to follow the law. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act even allows for immediate emergency taps for 72 hours before getting court approval. Surely this is not so burdensome that the NSA can't comply. Second, there appears to be some doubt that the program is even effective. A New York Times article says that the NSA provided the FBI with literally thousands of names and contacts that led to innocent citizens or dead ends.

We need to let Congress know that it needs to provide more oversight of this agency. We need Congress to insist that the President and the Executive Branch adhere to the laws of the land. NO ONE should be above or outside the Constitution and U. S. law. We need Congress to hold real, meaningful hearings on the subject. Better yet, Congress should appoint a special commission to look into the matter. We can also hope for a positive outcome of lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Let your Congressional representative and your Senators know you are outraged about this and want it to end. Get your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to do the same. We must all stand together and let Washington and the entire nation know that this program is unacceptable.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Madame President

Have you heard of the two women who will indeed be "Madame President" in their respective countries? Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf takes office tomorrow as President of Liberia. This article tells of some of the challenges she will face. Michelle Bachelet has just been elected as the next President of Chile. She will become her nation's first female president and the first popularly-elected female president in South America.

So why has the U. S. not yet elected a female President? Why have other nations had female heads of state, but we have not? I often wonder about this as I feel women on the whole are better off here and have more opportunities than in many other places. For that matter, why have we not yet elected a President from one of our more diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds? (Oh, I keep forgetting, it was just in my lifetime that we finally elected a CATHOLIC President!)

I guess that since we're SUPPOSED to know better now, I keep hoping that the pace of progress should speed up a bit. I really think it would do us good to elect a leader of a more diverse background. It might shake things up a bit (Heaven knows our current political system needs that!), might open things up, might give more of us a stake in the political system.

Meanwhile, let's demand better of our leaders, let's demand more responsiveness to the problems of everyday Americans. Let's not be satisfied with business as usual - the poor response to hurricane Katrina, the mess that is the Medicare drug program, wiretapping without court warrants, a President who says critics of the war are less than patriotic.