Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Homeland "Security" Questions

The sweeping measures of the Homeland Security Act have had a profound effect on how far government intelligence, "security" and military personnel can intrude into the average citizen's life. Since 9/11, we have witnessed a significant abridgement of civil rights, and denials of civil liberties. We have watched the expansion of search and seizure without either warrant or probable cause. The government has been allowed to search through everything from our homes, and email accounts, to our library-reading lists in the search for terrorists. Has this made us safer?

Probably not. If they checked out my house, the government would have discovered what my mother always told me. I am a slob. If they bothered to snoop through my email, they would discover I get an enormous amount of spam, including a lot of ads to enhance body parts I don't have. My reading list might be more fun. Mystery writers read things that could raise an eyebrow or two in government agencies. Learning all that would take a lot of time and overall be a giant waste of money that could better be used to...say, refund the COPS program that put more officers on the street in places that needed them? Wouldn't our homes be more secure with adequate numbers of well-equipped first responders?

My wife and I were in route to Florida last fall and ended up spending three days in Cleveland (don't ask - it is a long and dull story). How does homeland security play into this? When we were finally allowed to leave, we discovered we were considered potential terrorists because we were taking off from an airport outside our home state. I don't mind the vigilance at the airports, or having my luggage searched. I don't even mind taking off my shoes. The other passengers might have had to hold their noses - my stinky feet were probably the most toxic thing we had with us. Thankfully, the enhanced security exposed them.

Maybe you think I am not taking the threat of terror seriously enough. Not so. I think it is very serious that our chemical plants are still unprotected. All talk of protecting them died away after Karl Rove paid a visit to the White House. I think it is deadly serious that the government refuses to allocate funds for protecting nuclear plants. It stinks much worse than my feet that our ports and borders are not equally protected. I have to hold my nose when I think of the six locations in "landlocked" Arkansas that have received funding intended to protect ports. Would that have anything to do with a former chief of border security running for governor there?

Then, there is the issue of the District of Columbia having to foot the bill for the president's inauguration. Some people have suggested that this was punishment for the amazing majority of residents who voted for Kerry. Others argue that this is the sort of event what DC should expect to host. Did I mention that the money for the inauguration was taken out of the Homeland Security funds the city had just received? It doesn't look like our president or legislators really believe there is any true danger; after all, wouldn't you be worried about the city you work and live in if you were Congress, the Pentagon, or the President? It's not like DC wasn't attacked by the terrorists.

It is time we all looked a little closer at what it really means to have a secure homeland. It is not living in a police state, nor is it complaining every time we have to go through reasonable security at airports, ports, and border crossings. We must get serious about where the danger lies and how we can protect against it without losing the freedoms we are trying to protect. We do not want to move back into the internment camps of WWII or the big brotherism of Orwell's novels. Giving up liberty for safety is not an acceptable solution. We need to ask the hard questions, and insist upon better answers than we are currently getting.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Rewriting History for a Less Secure Future

We cannot allow the revisionists to go unchallenged as they attack Social Security. I realize the White House wants to bolster lackluster reviews of Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. However, the argument that FDR would have supported the privatization plan is an absolute distortion of the facts.

Fox News Managing Editor, Brit Hume, fired the open shot in battle to rewrite history, but others are following him into the fight. Several Republican members of congress and a hand-full of other commentators are repeating the lies. Together, in the hopes of selling a rotten plan to the public, they have created the lie that FDR supported privatization.

It should come as no surprise that Fox News would be leading the revision war. Fox is know for being less than accurate in their commentary, but even by Fox standards, it is sinking low to rearrange FDR's own words in the attempt to destroy his legacy.

Yes, FDR talked about voluntary contributory annuities as the third leg of the plan he laid out for Congress in 1935. Below are his words, in the context he intended when he explained his plan to Congress:

"In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now to old build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come fund will have to be provided by the states and the federal government to meet these pensions.

"Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations.

"Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age." This is the section Hume pulled out phrases in order to distort the meaning. He argues that FDR intended to have the system include private accounts all along, but if you read the following line, FDR went on to say, "It is proposed that the federal government assume one-half of the cost of the old pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

What FDR said is quite simply that eventually the annuities should replace the government portion of the plan. In other words the interest on accumulated funds was to make Social Security self-supporting NOT kept in individual accounts for private citizens. We must not let Republicans rewrite history to leave us with a more insecure our future.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Love and Money, Love and Money, They go Together like...

I am posting this announcement because I think the economic issues surrounding marriage make money an important consideration for all couples. I am also posting it because it is a classic example of the sort of discrimination Kentucky made law last November.

On Monday, February 14 -- Valentine's Day -- State Treasurer Jonathan Miller will host a financial summit to address how financial education can help couples build a stronger foundation for their marriages. His meeting is entitled "Money and Marriage: Forming a More Perfect Union through Financial Education." Governor Fletcher will be the Keynote speaker at this event, which includes experts in education, business, marriage counseling, and sociology, as well as members of the clergy.

Call it sour grapes if you will, but in a state which just overwhelmingly voted not to recognize my marriage, holding this type of event is a reminder that I am a second class citizen. The event throws salt in the open wound left from November's election. The irony of having Governor Fletcher as the keynote speaker is not lost on me, nor is the inclusion of clergy in the event. As the line between church and state becomes more blurred, it becomes difficult to determine which is making public policy. Those of us pushed away from the table must constantly balance our ethics against our hunger for inclusion.

In my case, at least today, ethics win. I urge everyone who is married, thinking about marriage, or dealing with the economic issues of marriage or raising children to attend the event. Below is the remainder of the message sent out by State Treasurer Miller:

The Summit will have the following four panel discussions:
* For Richer, For Poorer: a look at the socioeconomic factors affecting marriage and children.
* Bridges over Troubled Waters: an examination of the state, community, faith-based and financial planning resources that are already available for
couples who are struggling with money/marital problems.
* The Value of Prevention: How do we improve the financial health of a relationship before there is a crisis?
* Building a Nest - And a Nest Egg: how parenting issues affect finances.

The Money and Marriage summit is a continuation of Treasurer Miller's Enriching Kentucky!, a partnership of public sector leadership and private
sector know-how, aimed at empowering families to realize their financial dreams.

The event will last from 9:45am until 2:45pm at Berry Hill Mansion in Frankfort. Lunch will be provided. It is free and open to the public, but
advance registration is requested by February 10. Interested parties may register by calling Angela Burton at (502) 564-4722 or by visiting the
Kentucky State Treasury Website at

Monday, February 07, 2005

Advice from Somewhere Left of Center

I have never claimed to be a moderate, but I am reasonably familiar with where the political center lies. Which is why it came as something of a surprise to learn that Dr. Dan thinks Change for Kentucky declined to support his bid for the US Senate because he was "too moderate".

I am not making this up! Dr. Dan is under the impression that he is a moderate.

Let me correct this impression. "Dr. Dan, trust me on this one, you are firmly on the right. You are not an extremist, but you are nowhere near the center." That being said, I voted for him. I am Lesbian, I am Liberal, and I voted for him because he was the better choice for the job.

I was on the Change For Kentucky Committee charged with selecting the CFK Twelve (the twelve candidates from across Kentucky we would recommend Democracy for America as possible Dean Dozen Candidates). The committee unanimously rejected Dr. Dan because he did not fit the criteria by which we were making our choices.

First of all, he did not meet with us or actively welcome our participation in his campaign. Secondly, we sought to support candidates that were more progressive than their opponents. Mongiardo's positions were identical to those of Jim Bunning, something not lost on us or the Herald-Leader. Finally, our criteria included genuine need: how badly did the candidate need our help? Dr. Dan had strong support from the Kentucky Democratic Party, unlike many of the candidates running for lesser offices. We had no trouble finding twelve candidates who could better benefit from our help.

I have one other piece of advice for Dr. Dan. "The fact that I voted for you did not sit well with many of my friends. Your right wing positions cost you a lot of votes among liberals. Those were votes you could not afford to lose. By standing strong on the right, you lost the liberal base. So, next time you run for office, remember the ads the Republicans ran against you this time." It did not matter that your position on the issues was to the right of mine. Bunning effectively labeled you as belonging to the far left. Had you been the moderate you see yourself as, you just might have won.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

How About a Remake of Groundhog Day?

Today I find myself wishing for a real life remake of "Groundhog Day," with George Bush in the staring role. I for one would like to see him go over and over the massive number of mistakes he has made until he has corrected all of them. It is a punishment fitting to the lack of vision this president demonstrates every time he opens his mouth. Ah! If it could only be like it is in the movies for this one man.

Unfortunately, this is not a movie. There is no happy ending to look forward to when the curtain falls on one of the worst presidents in American history. We are stuck with the rising death toll of Oil War II. We are stuck with the astronomical debt he is dumping on our children, our grandchildren, and us. With four years left in office, his spendthrift ways and pro war attitude may dump the debt onto any of our grandchildren's grandchildren that survive the foreign wars.

Where does it stop? Our congress has allowed him to cut taxes for his wealthy friends and corporate donors. The "No Millionaire Left Behind" administration has now set its sights on Social Security. Do we stand by and let allow him to gut the most progressive social investment of the New Deal? Social Security must not be privatized. Yes, it has problems, and those problems need to be addressed, but the only economic sense the president's plan makes is a private windfall for Wall Street fund managers.

It is time for Mr. Bush to go back to where he went wrong and redo many times as it takes to set things right.