Friday Open Thread

I just returned from my mother’s house. A few of us got together for dinner and got to reminiscing about childhood memories and we all laughed until we cried. It was that kind of night. Have you ever had one of those? Where you look around the room and your heart is filled with so much love that it’s hard to breathe? That was me last night. It was good.

Now, onto something not quite so lovely. Did any of you happen to catch Matt Lauer’s interview with Kanye West regarding Bush’s statement that Kanye calling him a racist was the “worst moment of his presidency”? I thought the interview was awkward and uncomfortable, and personally, I thought that Matt Lauer was SO out of line. Especially when he was trying to get Kanye to apologize. It just felt so weird to me.

Kanye wasn’t too pleased about the interviewing process either, and expressed his thoughts on twitter.
You can see the full interview here and see what you think…

What do you think? Was Matt Lauer trying to force Kanye’s answers? Was he too emphathetic towards the former President? Was it too much to put up a picture of a mournful looking Bush?

What else is going on?


Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday!

So, our former President, George W. Bush, has been doing the talk show circuit to promote his memoir, Decision Points. I caught his appearance on Oprah, and I must say that he came off as quite personable and likeable – but not so much as a leader. Especially when Oprah asked about invading Iraq and not finding weapons of mass destruction; he still justified the invasion and that war. It was quite uncomfortable to hear.
One of the last lines of the book:

one of the last lines of his memoir, the image that readers will take away. Referencing a post-presidential excursion with his persnickety dog, Barney, Bush writes, “There I was, the former president of the United States, with a plastic bag in my hand, picking up that which I had been dodging for the past eight years.”

…and there you have it. The man that ran our country for EIGHT YEARS! Did you happen to watch that interview, or any others of Bush while he is out promoting his book? Will you read it?

In other news, did you happen to watch this week’s Glee?? For those of you who haven’t seen the episode and it is just sitting in your DVR, I don’t want to give it away, but was that a twist, or what? I totally DID NOT see that coming!! I probably should have because that is the first thing I think of when situations of bullying take place. But to actually see it materialize! WOW! What did you think?

Of course, this is an open thread and you are free to discuss whatever you wish. What else is going on?


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

As you all know, I have been working fervently to help and other groups pass a couple of pieces of legislation here in California that would help rid baby products of toxic flame retardants and bisphenol A (BPA). The BPA bill, SB 797, should come up for a (tough) vote in the Assembly soon. The flame retardant bill, SB 772, is officially stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee unless we miraculously garner two more votes for a floor vote.

The issue is a corporate lobbying “front group” called “Citizens for Fire Safety” has worked the Assembly hard as this article in the San Francisco Guardian pointed out. So far, it’s the most accurate article I have read of what is going on in Sacramento, which unfortunately, is the case for the national level and all issues in politics. Private corporations and their millions of dollars — or in the case of private health insurance companies, hundreds of millions of dollars — can do whatever the heck they want. Sigh.

Speaking of healthcare reform, I must share with you this story in the MomsRising blog about a group of North Carolina moms and children who met with Sen. Kay Hagan and Congressman Brad Miller to make a strong case for healthcare reform. In other healthcare reform news: Most Americans –Democrats nor Republicans — can identify what a “public option” would look like in President Obama’s healthcare proposal, according to polling analyst Nate Silver.

What else is on my mind? Once again, Ladies’ Home Journal had a couple of good “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” columns. The first one was about a couple who could not agree on how to discipline their three small children. The second one was a couple’s fallout after the wife lost a job she loved.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials are strongly urging pregnant women — of any trimester — and new parents to get vaccinated against the regular flu and swine flu, according to Salon Wires. The vaccines will be available without the controversial preservative Thimerosal. Do you plan to receive one or both vaccines?

The daughter of former President George W. Bush, Jenna Hager, will join the TODAY Show and contribute one story a month about education or an issue related to women and children, according to the Associated Press. Hager works as a reading coordinator for a school in Baltimore.

In case you missed it, here is a list of all the winners at the 36th annual daytime Emmy Awards, according to AP.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


CDC: Teen Pregnancy and STDs on the Rise

As if we did not already know, teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted diseases rose sharply under the George W. Bush Administration, according to a story by the Guardian in the UK.

Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush’s evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US’s major public health body.

In a report that will surprise few of Bush’s critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

In addition, about 16,000 pregnancies were reported among 10- to 14-year-old girls in 2004 and a similar number of young people in the age group reported having a sexually transmitted disease.

The Guardian interviewed both sides of the abstinence-only versus comprehensive sex education debate. I could not help laugh at this analogy by Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for American Values that advocates for abstinence-only education: “In every other area of public policy — food, drugs, alcohol — we tell children what is the best choice. It seems very bizarre that the sex education establishment rejects the idea that we should talk to kids about what is best for them. We don’t take vodka to drivers education because children will drink and drive.”

You got that? Educating children about condoms is like giving them vodka in driver’s ed. Brilliant.


Bush: Every Day is Mother’s Day

I’m shamelessly stealing this from BarbinMD at Daily Kos:

Bush can’t even manage a pep rally correctly:

Gold Star Mothers, got you, okay, thank you — Blue Star Mothers, Gold Star Mothers, all the mothers, yes. (Applause.) Every day is Mother’s Day as far as your concerned, isn’t it?

Hooray for them! Every day is Mother’s Day when your child is dead! Every day is Mother’s Day when your kids are in mortal peril! Aren’t they lucky we honor them so?

But I’ve done the math. My daughter just turned 7. I think it’s likely we’ll still have troops in Iraq when she’s 17.

I actually expect that many of those mothers were comforted by Bush’s remarks. Supporting the war means that their children are paying a price that will have a solid return. Honestly, I wish I believed they were right.

Meanwhile, we’ve lost thousands of Americans, probably a million Iraqis (if we could bother to count them) and we’ve made a bigger mess than we started with. My daughter asked me about this the other day, and I had to try to explain it to her. I said something that seemed to satisfy her, but there’s really no good way to capsulize it for a 7-year-old mind.


Sebelius/Webb II: vis-a-vis McGiuliani, Hagelberg, RomneyRice

     (This is from little while ago, but is about a female candidate, so I thought would be of interest here…
     Cross-posted from Daily Kos and Raising Kaine, by way)

     As we all await the delight of Hillary/sidekick being horsewhupped in 11/08 by Giuliani/ McCain/whomever, I mention yet again an alternate, maybe optimum, Dem team: Kathleen Sebelius/Jim Webb.
     But first, for a little fun, and riffing off Andy “Card” getting booed at UM Amherst, here are some card references: given Sebelius’ expertise with domestic administration (e.g, money) as 2-term Dem governor of Kansas, let’s call her the <font color=”#FF0000″>Queen of Diamonds</font&gt. (Anyone with Photoshop skills is welcome to do something with this idea, and the others!)
     Jim Webb, with his Navy Cross and killer attitude à la “Bush, we will show you the way”, we can legitimately call the Ace of Spades. (By comparison, the Queen of Spades might be Xena…or Valerie Plame!)


     Now what about Hillary? Queen of Clubs, natch.

      As for Repubs: Giuliani, call the <font color=”#FF0000″>Two of Hearts</font&gt, not only for the Stacy Q song from the ’80’s, but also for his marrying his 2nd cousin and foolin’ around with everyone else…
     Condo Rice–<font color=”#FF0000″>Queen of Hearts</font&gt when next to the “George W. Bush” card (the Joker?).
     And ending somewhat prosaically, John McCain could be the Jack of Spades, with his military background, and “Jack” being another version of “John”. If you want to call him the Joker too (after his visit to Baghdad…), I won’t complain, though.

     –But enough “cardage” for now: let’s get to some analysis,

A. The need for powerful P/VP combinations

  Actually, maybe the “playing card” meme is not all bad. Sebelius has domestic stuff, including trying to prevent Kansas from being Katrina 2, cf. Kagro, nailed down (cf. the diamond suit), and Webb has foreign policy/national security stuff nailed down (cf. the spade suit). So, put together, you have a powerful combination. (I know that in card ganes, you often want all of the same suit, but bear with me. –They should invent new card games where diversity, e.g., holding a hand with different suits, is rewarded, by the way.)
  Cards aside, the point is that you want a strong combination of people.

  Let’s say, as for Repub combinations, that there’s Giuliani/McCain. You have a domestically-strong person (at least for those who like graffiti artists beaten up to make a cleaner New York City), and a security-strong person (at least McCain was when he was a Navy pilot in a North Vietnamese prison). There’s a combination for you.

  …Hillary/Edwards, Edwards/Obama, Obama/Hillary. How much military experience do they have among them? ZERO. Is that going to be helpful in 2008??
  (Not to mention the lack of executive, e.g., gubernatorial/mayoral/military general, experience among the three Dems.)

  Sebelius/Webb is good on domestic AND foreign stuff, plus being gender-diverse, and geographically diverse, the Midwest (Kansas) plus the South (Virginia). (Nothing coastal besides Virginia, but the sea people, at least west of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line, will tend to vote Dem anyway.)
  I’m amenable to similar combinations, e.g., Schweitzer/Napolitano, although neither of those folks is a war hero to my knowledge, among other things.

  In any case, if we can’t produce a powerful combo to deal with potential Repub combos, we’re dead meat, likely enough.

B. Diversity, Hillary, and Condoleeza

  Part of combos is diversity, as implied above, so one should not discount that the Repubs will pull a Condo combo, i.e., putting Condoleeza Rice on the undercard.
  Don’t laugh at this: some reports suggest she and Bob Gates at Defense are pushing diplomacy in the Mideast, plus troop withdrawal in 2008. Compared to Bush and Cheney, she could look like female African-American Henry Kissinger by next year, and be considered an asset to any ticket. Especially since she IS female and African American.

  This is a plus for having either Hillary or Obama on the ticket, or both, so that the Dems don’t have their traditional “2 White Boyz Runnin Togetha” problem. However, Hillary is hated by millions of people; thus, another reason for Sebelius instead.
  (I don’t mind Sebelius/Obama, by the way; see my linked diary on the topic below. However, Webb would be a better VP, since he has a Navy Cross medal but Barack never served in uniform.) 

C. Hagel/Bloomberg: uh oh

  Would a Chuck Hagel/Mike Bloomberg ticket help the Repubs or the Dems more? Maybe the Dems, since H/B are Repubs, so even if they ran as independents they would draw off a lot of the “Perot”-type vote. However, we can’t be sure.
  For instance, let’s say we have Hillary running, but also Hagel/Bloomberg, and Giuliani/whoever. I think the state of New York could be a real tossup, especially since much of upstate NY is Repub. (A tossup unless, say, Schumer or Spitzer were Hill’s running mate…)
  Again, with the threat of Hagel in the race, it would be good to have at least one military hero on the Dem ticket to produce a powerful combo. Murtha may be seen as a little old, Patrick Murphy is a little young, and Clark seems out in the cornfield somewhere, so what you have left is “Ace of Spades” Jim Webb. Not a bad option, I think.

D. McGiulianiRomneyRice et al.

  I’m not going to spend much time comparing the leading Repub candidates. One or more of them have been written off at times, but fortune changes, i.e.,
  McCain looked bad in Baghdad and is distrusted by some fundamentalist types, but he is still a war hero;
  Giuliani likes to dress like women, and commit adultery with women, but there is always 9/11, and the fact that many voters seem to like a real brute;
  Romney flips and flops a lot, but many voters may forget about this, seeing his head of hair and his term as a red governor of a blue state (call him the “anti-Sebelius”).

  –Rice we’ve covered already. No doubt Bush will always be willing to give her a good word, too.  ­čśŤ

  (I may also address “Eye of” Newt Gingrich, Fred/Tommy Thompson, or “I Don’t Heart” Huckabee in other diaries, if any of them becomes relevant.)

  In any case, all one needs to note is that with two “tough” executives, a war hero, and a high-profile black woman, the Repubs have some potentially powerful combos available, so if they “play their cards” right they could win the “poker game” in November ’08. Will the Dems be as astute?
  I wonder.

E. Conclusion, and Memorial Day

  If you think after all this that you should call Sebelius and Webb 10 times a day until they agree to run, I won’t complain. They’d offer a freshness that I’m concerned Al Gore might not offer. (And Bill Richardson would offer intelligence and racial diversity to a ticket, but has so many other problems I don’t want to mention them.)
  And if we can’t get something at least approaching the inherent merit of a Seb/Webb ticket, we could be in very serious trouble in 11/08.
  So on this Memorial Day weekend, think hard, and do what you can to discuss and encourage the optimum Democratic ticket possible, even if it includes people not running right now. The lives of our troops in Iraq, and many other things, may depend on it. Thank you!

(“Archive”: here’s some of my earlier diaries on Sebelius and/or Webb,

“Sebelius, save us from Hillary!” or, Where the Women?,

Jim Webb: John Edwards + Navy Cross + Jack Bauer,

Sebelius elected to head Dem Governors group,

Sebelius/Obama ’08: a natural choice,

Sebelius/Webb; one entertaining possibility for ’08.)