God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Different Kind of Woman

After focusing on Sarah for so long, it was with real pleasure that I read this take on another woman in the limelight right now--Michelle Obama. Have you noticed that she continues on with her life even as she supports her husband? Unlike Cindy McCain, she is not needing to establish herself as an appendage of her husband. Does John go any place with out Cindy? Sometimes I wonder if she is there to prop him up in the event his body fails him--a not unreasonable concern given his age and health history.

Anyway, link to the article on Michelle--it will leave you feeling good! What a First Lady she would make!

Michelle Obama is tall, smart, funny, relaxed and basically so glowy and poised — if she's attractive in pictures, she's flat-out gorgeous in person — that it almost seems as if she already is the First Lady.

Obama'a a lucky man!
by Curtis Sittenfeld

We women need more like her.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What Would the Elephants Do?

My husband just asked me what the Grand Ole Party would do if McCain became ill before November 4. Would Palin become the presidential candidate?

Don't think so!

Then why do they feel that she would be fine if something happened to McCain after claiming the White House?

Of course, it will not be a McCain/Palin White House so it's all moot.

On another note: Just heard Sarah make a disparaging, mocking comment about Biden's age. One more proof that she is a dingbat. McCain is seven years older than Biden. Does she think or is it that she can't?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Laughing Out Loud But Crying Inside

I really, really was not going to post today and belabor Sarah Palin but.........this is too good to resist. Amy Poehler is hysterical as Katie Couric and Tina Fey is wonderful. Remember, Fey is doing no more than repeating Palin's words.

But, really, this is not funny. It is tragic and incredibly frightening in terms of what is currently happening.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Questions of Innocence

I do not understand why an innocent person would refuse to answer questions and silence those around her. Is it a sign of guilt? It must be assumed that there is something to hide.

President Palin

It is inconceivable to me that anyone would be willing to place Palin anywhere close to the seat of power in our country. It is frightening beyond words that this might well happen.

As I have stated in an earlier post, I am a "born-again" Christian but not part of the religious right whom I feel are wrong. It amazes me that this group supports McCain rather than Obama who has clearly stated that he, too, is a "born again" Christian. Of course, this is in keeping with their vitriolic demeaning of Jimmy Carter and championing of RR years ago. I find such positioning to be hypercritical and suspect.

The willingness of this group to allow for the possibility of a President Palin tells me that they stick their collective head in the sand along with the ostrich rather than face the bitter truth that McCain has sold the country to his ambition. The man who served his country well for many years, the maverick, is no longer "putting country first." If he were, he would listen to the Kathleen Parkers (yesterday's entry) and Bob Herberts and find a clean way for Sarah to go home to Alaska and tend her family. Then he could name a competent, experienced person for his running mate. I still would not vote for him but, at least, I could once again respect him.

Op-Ed Columnist

Palin’s Words Raise Red Flags

Published: September 26, 2008

The country is understandably focused on the financial crisis. But there is another serious issue in front of us that is not getting nearly enough attention, and that’s whether Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president — or, if the situation were to arise, president of the United States.

History has shown again and again that a vice president must be ready to assume command of the ship of state on a moment’s notice. But Ms. Palin has given no indication yet that she is capable of handling the monumental responsibilities of the presidency if she were called upon to do so.

In fact, the opposite is the case. We know that there are some parts of Alaska from which, if the day is clear and your eyesight is good, you can actually see Russia. But the infantile repetition of this bit of trivia as some kind of foreign policy bona fide for a vice presidential candidate should give us pause.

The McCain campaign has done its bizarre best to shield Ms. Palin from any sustained media examination of her readiness for the highest offices in the land, and no wonder. She has been an embarrassment in interviews.

But the idea that the voters of the United States might install someone in the vice president’s office who is too unprepared or too intellectually insecure to appear on, say, “Meet the Press” or “Face the Nation” is mind-boggling.

The alarm bells should be clanging and warning lights flashing. You wouldn’t put an unqualified pilot in the cockpit of a jetliner. The potential for catastrophe is far, far greater with an unqualified president.

The United States has been lucky in terms of the qualifications of the vice presidents who have had to step in over the last several decades for presidents who either died or, in Richard Nixon’s case, were forced to leave office. Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson became extraordinary presidents in their own right. Gerald Ford successfully guided the nation through the immediate aftermath of one of the most traumatic political crises in its history.

For those who think Sarah Palin is in that league, there is no problem. But her unscripted public appearances would lead most honest observers to think otherwise. When asked again this week about her puerile linkage of foreign policy proficiency and Alaska’s proximity to Russia, this time by Katie Couric of CBS News, here is what Ms. Palin said she meant:

“That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land — boundary that we have with — Canada.”

She went on, but lost her way midsentence: “It’s funny that a comment like that was kind of made to — cari — I don’t know, you know? Reporters ...”

Ms. Couric said, “Mocked?”

“Yeah, mocked,” said Ms. Palin. “I guess that’s the word. Yeah.”

It is not just painful, but frightening to watch someone who could become the vice president of the United States stumbling around like this in an interview.

Ms. Couric asked Ms. Palin to explain how Alaska’s proximity to Russia “enhances your foreign policy credentials.”

“Well, it certainly does,” Ms. Palin replied, “because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there—”

Gently interrupting, Ms. Couric asked, “Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?”

“We have trade missions back and forth,” said Ms. Palin. “We do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to our state.”

It was surreal, the kind of performance that would generate a hearty laugh if it were part of a Monty Python sketch. But this is real life, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. As Ms. Palin was fumbling her way through the Couric interview, the largest bank failure in the history of the United States, the collapse of Washington Mutual, was occurring.

The press has an obligation to hammer away at Ms. Palin’s qualifications. If it turns out that she has just had a few bad interviews because she was nervous or whatever, additional scrutiny will serve her well.

If, on the other hand, it becomes clear that her performance, so far, is an accurate reflection of her qualifications, it would behoove John McCain and the Republican Party to put the country first — as Mr. McCain loves to say — and find a replacement for Ms. Palin on the ticket.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Conservatives--Seeing Palin as She Is

Best line of the week:

If BS were currency, she (Sarah) could bail out Wall Street herself.
-----Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a conservative columnist in the National Review. Up until now she has supported and held on to hope for Sarah. She is now asking Palin to bow out for the sake of the country.

Palin Problem by Kathleen Parker

Be sure to see the fun video in the post below.

Another Reason to Love Italy

Friend Amy B. sent this to me. It is much too funny. Thanks, Amy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Selling of America for Ambition

McCain's Mockery of Women

Kathleen Reardon
Professor of management at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

I don't know Sarah Palin. Who does? They've kept her away from the press. And we see from her interview with Katie Couric that they did so with good reason. She is confident. That's about it in terms of readiness to be vice president.

With all the competent women available, John McCain chose someone as a running mate who thinks Putin is hovering over Alaskan air space or some such nonsense when he "rears his head" and, I guess, goes for a spin.

Sarah Palin's candidacy for vice president is a mockery of women. It's beyond insulting. It's not that we can't weather this, but it shows us how little John McCain thinks of women. He is using Palin -- plain and simple.

There aren't enough days in the week, weeks in a month, months in a year to get Sarah Palin up to speed. McCain knew this. In fact, it's reasonable to believe that he didn't properly vet her because he wanted to know as little as possible.

For once feminist angst is a good thing. I'm angry! This is a base use of a woman, not for her experience, character, intellect, years of public service or other substantive qualities and achievements, but because she can be packaged to attract attention. She's a curiosity - a novelty. She's a woman of mystery only in the sense that we see so little of her.

Maybe Barack should start telling the press Joe isn't available. When reporters arrive tomorrow morning, he should say, "Joe isn't ready today. Maybe tomorrow. Thank you for coming."

I could be wrong, but it shouldn't take long for a lot of women to resent McCain's little game being played at far more than Palin's expense.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free Palin--Day 27

A good read from Carla Marinucci's blog in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Free Sarah, Day 27: If she can field dress a moose, she can handle reporters

She talked babies with Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and just hit the Big Apple to bolster her foriegn policy portfolio.

But it's been 27 days since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was picked to be John McCain's VP. And though she's potentially a heartbeat away from the presidency, and, we're told, ready to lead -- apparently the McCain campaign doesn't think she's ready to have a press conference or to take questions from reporters on the campaign trail.

So who's counting? We are.

Comrade Garofoli and I began the ''Free Sarah'' campaign Monday, and Campbell Brown at CNN took up the call last night, saying Palin ''has just as much a right to be a candidate as the men do.''

''Stop treating Sarah Palin like a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment..end this chauvanistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters..let her have a real news conference with real questions,'' Brown said. ''Free Sarah Palin.''

We'll continue to keep a daily running tally of events as Team McCain swaths Palin in hazmat gear to protect the candidate from annoying questions about issues like the economy, foreign relations, the Iraq war, the environment, Troopergate, her views on energy/health care/education, etc. etc. And our countdown will go on until they ''Free Sarah!''
Highlights so far:

*Two interviews with Charlie Gibson on ABC.
*One televised bear hug disguised as an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity.

*One shouted question from a reporter somewhere at a ''town hall'' event.

*Unprecedented attempts Monday in New York to keep pool reporters from even sitting in the same room with Palin during her world leaders tour photo op.

Days left before the election 2008: 41.

Posted By: Carla Marinucci (Email) | September 24 2008 at 10:00 AM

Listed Under: Carla Marinucci |

Encouraging News

The new Washington Post/ABC poll puts Obama at 52%--McCain at 43% among likely voters.
FOX News poll says 43% Obama 39% McCain.

Biden gave a brilliant Foreign policy/security speech this morning. If you didn't hear it, try to find excerpts and print reports of it. It clearly delineates the difference between him and sarah who will not meet the press or give a speech of substance nor one based on her own knowledge and expertise in anything.

Upcoming debate: The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee vs. Russia's Neighbor.


Palin Meets the Press and Answers Questions:

When asked how her meetings went this evening Palin answered, “They went very well” and to another reporter said, “it went great. It went great.” That’s all the press heard from Palin directly today. (or ever) Fox News

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Than Pink Chairs and a Hand Shake

This is a sequel to today's earlier post, making a clear delineation between experience and show. Is there any question as to who has a greater understanding of the world and international leaders?

Meetings with Foreign Leaders? Biden's Been There, Done That

By Glenn Kessler
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but after two weeks of requests for a list of the world leaders that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has met with, his office released one -- on the very day GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin met with her first world leaders.

Judging from the eight-page document -- which Biden's office said was only a "partial list" -- Biden has quite a headstart on Palin.

As of September 23, his office says, he has met with the leaders of nearly 60 countries, territories and international organizations (such as the United Nations and NATO.) The list of names runs to about 150 people -- including nine Israeli prime ministers (ten if you including prime minister designate Tzipi Livni), four Soviet leaders and two Russian presidents, a few kings and a queen (of England), Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama, and even a few tough guys like Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and Serbian president Sloban Milosevic.

The complete list provided by Biden's Senate office is below:

As of September 23, 2008

Senator Biden/Meetings with World Leaders

This is a partial list of world leaders that Senator Biden has met with at least once over his nearly 36 year career as a United States Senator. As mentioned, this list is not exhaustive. As chairman of the subcommittees on Europe and Africa earlier in his career, the list is certainly much longer. ****The dates listed indicate when the foreign leader was in office.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (May 2004 - April 2005)
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (April 2005 - May 2006)
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (April 2006 - Present)
President Jalal Talabani (June 2005 - Present)
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani (June 2005 - Present)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani (March 2006 - Present)

Prime Minister Golda Meir (March 1969 - June 1974)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (July 1992 - November 1995)
Prime Minister Shimon Peres (November 1995 - June 1996)
Prime Minister Menachem Begin (June 1977 - October 1983)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (October 1986 - July 1992)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (June 1996 - July 1999)
Prime Minister Ehud Barak (June 1996 - July 1999)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (March 2001 - April 2006)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (April 2006 - Present)
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (January 2006 - present)

Palestinian Territories
Chairman Yasser Arafat (September 1993 - November 2004)
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (November 2004 - Present)
Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad (June 2007 - Present)
Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (October 2003 - March 2006)

King Hussein (August 1952 - February 1999)
King Abdullah (August 2005-Present)

President Hosni Mubarak (October 1981 - Present)
President Anwar Sadat (October1970 - October 1981)

Prime Minister Col. Muammar Qaddafi (March 1977 - March 1979)

Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (October 1992 - December 1998)
Prime Minister Najib Mikati (April 2005 - July 2005)

Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (March 1999 - Present)

President Bashar al-Assad (July 2000 - Present)

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (March 2003 - Present)
President Ahmet Sezer (May 2000 - August 2007)
Prime Minister/President* Abdullah Gul (November 2002 - March 2003, Current President)
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit (January 1999 - May 1999)
Prime Minister Demirel (November 1991 - June 1993)

President Kostis Stephanopoulos (March 1995 - March 2005)
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis (March 2004 - Present)
Prime Minister Kostantinos Mitsotakis (April 1990 - October 1993)
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (October 1981 - July 1989)
(October 1993 - January 1996)

President George Vassiliou (February 1988 - February 1993)
President Glafcos Clerides (February 1993 - February 2003)

President Hamid Karzai (December 2001 - Present)

President Asif Ali Zardari (September 2008 - Present)*
Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani (March 2008 - Present)
President Pervez Musharraf (June 2001 - August 2008)
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (December 1988 - August 1990, October 1993 - November 1996)
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (November 1990 - July 1993, February 1997 - October 1999)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (May 2004 - Present)
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (May 1996 - June 1996)
(March 1998 - May 2004)

Sri Lanka
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe (May 1993 - August 1994)
(December 2001 - April 2004)

President Vladimir Putin (May 2000 - May 2008; current Prime Minister)
President Boris Yeltsin (July 1991 - December 1999)
Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev (March 1990 - December 1991)
Soviet Union President Andrei Gromyko (July 1985 - October 1988)
Premier of the Soviet Union Alexey Kosygin (October 1964 - October 1980)
Premier of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev (May 1960 - July 1964)

President Jacques Chirac (May 1995 - May 2007)
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin (May 2005 - May 2007)
President Francois Mitterrand (May 1981 - May 1995)

Queen Elizabeth (February 1952 - Present)
Prime Minister Tony Blair (May 1997 - June 2007)
Prime Minister John Major (November 1990 - May 1997)
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (May 1979 - November 1990)

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (June 1997 - Present)
Prime Minister John Bruton (December 1994 - June 1997)
Prime Minister Albert Reynolds (February 1992 - December 1994)
Prime Minister Charles Haughey (December 1979 - June 1981)
(March 1982 - December 1982)
(March 1987 - February 1992)

Chancellor Angela Merkel (November 2005 - Present)
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (October 1998 - November 2005)
Chancellor Helmut Kohl (October 1982 - October 1998)
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (May 1974 - October 1982)

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (June 2001 - May 2006)
(May 2008 - Present)
Prime Minister Romano Prodi (May 2006 - May 2008)
Prime Minister Cossiga (July 1989 - April 1992)

President of Serbia Boris Tadic (July 2004 - Present)
Prime Minister of Serbia Vojislav Kostunica (March 2004 - Present)
Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjic (January 2001 - March 2003)
President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic (May 1989 - July 1997)

Premier of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito (January 1953 - May 1980)

President of Croatia Franjo Tudjman (May 1990 - December 1999)

Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Drnovsek (December 2002 - Present)
President of Kosovo Ibrahim Rugova (March 2002 - January 2006)
President of Slovenia Milan Kucan (October 1991 - December 2002)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
President of Bosnia Haris Silajdzic (November 2006 - Present)
President of Bosnia Sulejman Tihić (October 2002 - November 2006)
President of Bosnia Alija Izetbegovic (March 1992 - October 2000)

Kosovo (as an independent nation)
President Fatmir Sejdiu (January 2008 - Present)
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (January 2008 - Present)

President Lech Walesa (December 1990 - December 1995)
Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (October 1993 - March 1995)

Czech Republic
President Vaclav Havel (February 1993 - February 2003)

Prime Minister Gyula Horn (July 1994 - July 1998)
President Arpad Goncz (August 1990 - August 2000)
Prime Minister Viktor Orban (July 1998 - May 2002)

Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (April 1995 - April 2003)

President Ion Iliescu (December 1989 - November 1996)

President Mikheil Saakashvili (January 2004 - Present)
President Eduard Shevardnadze (October 1995 - November 2003)

President Nursultan Nazarbayev (December 1991 - Present)

President Viktor Yushchenko (January 2005 - Present)

Prime Minister Paul Martin (December 2003 - February 2006)
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (September 1984 - June 1993)

Secretary General Lord George Robertson (October 1999 - January 2004)
Secretary General Javier Solana (December 1995 - October 1999)
Secretary General Manfred Woerner (July 1988 - August 1994)
Secretary General Lord Peter Carrington (June 1984 - July 1988)

President Jiang Zemin (March 1993 - March 2003)
Premier Zhu Rongji (March 1998 - March 2003)

Hong Kong
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa (July 1997 - March 2005)

President Chen Shui-Bian (May 2000 - Present)

President Kim Dae Jung (February 1998 - February 2003)

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (June 1959 - November 1990)
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (November 1990 - August 2004)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (August 2004 - Present)

President Megawati Sukarnoputri (July 2001 - October 2004)
President Bambang Yudhoyono (October 2004 - Present)

Prime Minister John Howard (March 1996 - December 2007)
Prime Minister Paul Keating (December 1991 - March 1996)

President Gloria Arroyo (January 2001 - Present)
President Fidel Ramos (June 1992 - June 1998)

Prime Minister Phan Van Kai (September 1997 - June 2006)

East Timor
President Ramos Horta (May 2007 - Present)

The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (1950 - Present)

President Alvaro Uribe (August 2002 - Present)
President Andres Pastrana (August 1998 - August 2002)
President Cesar Gaviria (August 1990 - August 1994)

President Vincente Fox (December 2000 - December 2006)
President Ernesto Zedillo (December 1994 - November 2000)

President Jaime Paz Zamora (August 1989 - August 1993)

South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki (June 1999 - September 2008)
President Nelson Mandela (April 1994 - June 1999)

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (January 2006 - Present)

Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan (July 1965 - January 1986)

United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (January 2007 - Present)
Secretary General Kofi Annan (January 1997 - January 2007)
Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali (January 1992 - January 1997)

Vatican City
Pope John Paul II (October 1978 - April 2005)

President Rudolf Schuster (June 1999 - June 2004)

President Saparmurat Niyazov (October 1990 - December 2006)

*Senator Biden met with leader before he or she became head of state.

Posted at 7:24 PM ET on Sep 23, 2008 | Category: Joe Biden

The vice-president of the United States frequently becomes the person who represents us and the president in foreign countries and in delicate situations. Do we want that person to be someone who has studied and followed world events for years or someone who has shaken hands with a few leaders on September 23, 2008?


Palin bans reporters from meetings with leaders

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is banning reporters from her first meetings with world leaders, allowing access only to photographers and a television crew.

Palin plans to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in New York on Tuesday.

The TV producer, print and wire reporters in the press pool that follows the Alaska governor were told at the start of the day they would not be admitted with the photographers and camera crew when they are taken in to photograph the meetings.

At least two news organizations, including The Associated Press, objected and were told that the decision had already been made and was not subject to discussion.

Even FOX News condemns this shielding of sarah: Link

If McCain and crew are so frightened of making sarah available to public scrutiny as all politicians are in the tradition of our political process, it can only be because they, in their heart of hearts, know how woefully inadequate she is. This is the ultimate shame of McCain--win at whatever the cost to the citizens of the United States and the future of our country.

Also, the audacity of sarah to believe that she can call the shots for world leaders in terms of whom can be allowed into a room is mind boggling. These men allowed the little lady her courtesies, but, is it not necessary that our leaders be seen and treated as equals by world leaders rather than someone to condescend to and humor? Sara is an embarrassment.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Just a Month.....

Boy, does it seem longer than that! But, yes, it was August 19 that we left lovely Montepulciano and many hours later reentered the US. Why is it that time rushes by so much more quickly while traveling? It does, doesn't it? I am certain this is a truth that remains elusively improvable.

So, do we miss Italy so soon? Yes, of course, we do. Some of the reasons are quite predictable—food, beauty, people, history, art, ambiance, evocative drives, archeological wonders. Any one who ever sets foot in that country comes away with the same list. Maybe even arm-chair travelers share the feelings.

And, of course, these are things we miss. I suspect a day does not go by that we do not share some memory or some future hope.

However, there are other, less predictable reasons to rather be there than here.
  • No nightly news in English
  • Well, a lot of no TV
  • The ability to forget that things are going on "back home" and live accordingly
  • No workouts at the gym (which I hate--passionately)
  • A simpler life because most responsibilities have been left behind
  • No bizarre political stuff--well, there is Berlusconi
  • No talk of Bridges to Nowhere
  • Not much going with the phone
  • No yard work
  • Escapism from the realities of what is happening here
  • More time to read
  • No Bush, No McCain, NO palin or, I can forget them for a while, at least
  • Get-togethers with firends who are in Italy at the time we are--friends from around the world
  • The day's fresh catch available in the piazza
  • Rich, golden-yellow eggs
  • Tomatoes of many varieties--red, ripe and lush
  • Pastries--delicious
  • White roads--a real favorite
  • Whispering borgos
  • If you can add to the list, leave a comment or two
Added by Harriet-thanks, Harriet.
  • restaurants where they treat you like family
  • Fruit and vegetables with flavor
  • all of the little local festivals
And, last night I made reservations for next summer—since we like to upgrade we need to make plans early. But…tickets are so costly now that the days of frequent, at will travel are over. The world may be getting smaller but access to it is getting harder. What a shame this is.

Next summer we fly into Nice and spend 11 days with a friend who will take us to his home country of Morocco. We are really looking forward to that and Casey can’t wait to ride a camel. After that we will be in Tuscany for 5 weeks.

We will be back ten and a half months after leaving and as Casey said this morning—I want to be in Italy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Substance vs. Talk

These are today's, September 17th, TV ads from Obama and McCain--both speaking to the serious issue of our failing economy. After watching the videos, you may want to answer a brief one question poll that is at the top of the sidebar.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vetting Ms. Palin

In the last week there have been a few articles which have provided an emerging understanding of Ms. Palin. This is called vetting. As she has been an obscure and unknown person to Hawaii and the lower 48 and because she has never had a role in national politics, she has escaped the public vetting national politicians experience over time and a longer campaign period. But, when we consider a potential president of the United States of America, it is imperative that the candidate's past actions, methods, accomplishments and foibles be open to scrutiny and evaluation by voters. McCain and his strategists have been unwilling to allow this and the question is "why?"

The following is an article in today's International Herald Tribune which explains the purpose, value and necessity of the vetting process and why the attempt on the part of McCain to disallow it for Ms. Palin is inappropriate and demeaning to the public.

Following the article are links to two articles that are thoughtful, well-presented attempts to make Ms. Palin more knowable to us.

International Herald Tribune
Finding Palin in a game of smoke and mirrors

Sunday, September 14, 2008

John McCain's campaign issued a press release in the middle of the Republican National Convention blasting the National Enquirer for "baseless attacks" against Sarah Palin and her family.

This seemed crazy. The National Enquirer is a scandal sheet specializing in the sensational - "Something is wrong with the twins; why Angie and babies haven't been seen for weeks," is a front-page headline on a story accompanying the accounts of Palin, McCain's running mate.

On reflection, it's part of a shrewd, if cynical, McCain strategy: Attack the press, which excites the party's base and, in American sports parlance, works the referees to get a more favorable call next time.

This is an old game, noteworthy only because of the earlier, long-running love affair between the media and McCain.

More important is that this episode is part of a scheme to distract attention from any serious examination of Palin's credibility, political character and fitness for high office.

Palin is the most un-vetted national candidate since Spiro Agnew, who 40 years ago was Richard Nixon's running mate. Five years later, it was revealed that Agnew had been taking payoffs, and he was forced to resign in disgrace.

Vetting is a comprehensive process by the campaign, by opponents, by outside groups and by the press. Although the process is sometimes ugly and unfair, it's one of the virtues of a lengthy campaign.

We learned about Barack Obama's Jeremiah Wright association, about McCain's temper, about Joe Biden's plagiarism. These all are relatively small matters - and we've learned many more substantive and often positive things about these men - yet they form part of the larger tapestry of character and competence.

This is relevant for a running mate as well as presidential candidates. Five times since the beginning of the last century, vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency without an election.

Palin was selected more than two weeks ago. But with the exception of interesting interviews at the end of last week with the ABC-TV anchorman Charlie Gibson - which raised new questions - she has been shielded from inquiries.

Cleverly, the McCain campaign has predicated that the press has been unfair to her, justifying immunity from inquiry. Almost all the complaints about scurrilous stories concern leftist blogs or scandal sheets; the rationale for the press release at the convention was to equate the National Enquirer with The New York Times (of which the International Herald Tribune is the global edition), distracting from the need for more information about this would-be president.

The other gripe is that many of the questions raised are about petty matters. Well, how many cosmic measures has she dealt with? These minor issues may open a window into Palin's world and tell us more about her.

Many politicians and commentators insisted that Obama's connection with his controversial pastor was a legitimate issue, as was the question of whether he had initially joined that church for political reasons. George W. Bush paraded his faith as one rationale for his candidacy.

Likewise, then, these politicians and commentators should want to know why Palin, after two decades, left the Wasilla Assembly of God church, where the pastor and half the congregation spoke in tongues? That was in 2002, when she was running for lieutenant governor. And does she agree with the campaign of her current church, the Wasilla Bible Church, to promote a "cure" for gays and lesbians?

Her decision to have a Down syndrome child this year and pledge to be an advocate for families with special needs kids was inspiring for any family with such children. Why then did she veto a bill passed by the Alaska Legislature increasing funding for the Special Olympics?

The fact that she pulled a John Kerry on the "Bridge to Nowhere," infamous pork-barrel project - she was for it before she was against it - isn't a big deal. The attention to the fact that she continually misrepresents her original position on the bridge, which was to connect to an island where about 50 people live, is about telling the truth.

We need to know more about what Palin thinks about health care insurance, income inequality and China. Also, as we did with McCain, Obama and Biden during long periods of public vetting, we need to find out more about her actions, associations and values. That has nothing to do with ideology or a hectoring press corps.

The McCainiacs have a few legitimate grievances about the press. There have been some flimsily sourced stories about him and his campaign.

A chief target, NBC News, brought it on itself when its cable outlet, MSNBC, tapped two opinionated political journalists to anchor election coverage. They savaged Hillary Clinton first and then McCain. Belatedly, the parent company removed them from these roles last week.

A legitimate complaint for McCain. Yet his camp actually threatened to pull out of a debate because it was anchored by NBC's Tom Brokaw, who has been eminently fair and is among the most respected journalists in America. This is a cheap stunt.

The Arizona senator enjoyed years of often-admiring press coverage - and he is a captivating figure. Now, he feels like a jilted lover, associates say. O.K., while the salad days of adulation are over, the charge of a strong pro-Obama bias in America's mainstream press doesn't hold up.

With the caveat that surveys of press bias are usually flawed, it's instructive that a nonpartisan George Mason University study found that Obama's coverage on the influential evening TV news programs this summer - before the conventions - was more negative than McCain's.

Press-bashing is almost as old as political campaigning, says Stephen Hess, the foremost political scientist on the topic. It's easier now with "the lack of any definition of who and what is the media," he adds.

Still, Hess notes that while taking on journalists often works, it also hurts not only the media but the campaign and the country. That is the danger of the protect-Palin strategy.

Once Elected Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes

Governer Palin's World View

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Does Personality Trump Character and Issues?

Last night on the CBS evening news, the CHIEF STRATEGIST for the McCain/Sarah ticket said that this campaign is not about issues--it's about PERSONALITIES. This is frighteningly scary.

If issues aren't the issue, we are in serious trouble. Is it possible that Americans no longer care about issues--Social Security, Education, the ECONOMY, Iraq, Afghanistan, Elder Care, HEALTH NEEDS? Are there enough people in this great country that will decide the future of the country and by extension the world on personalities? Can that really happen?

McCain/Palin will not discuss issues. It seems that by the purposeful design of McC/P we voters will not have access to reasonable discourse by divergent parties. Instead it appears that everything said by Obama and Biden will become fodder for M/P to direct attention from issues. Case at point: "You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig."

McCain knows that he has used this expression and in his case it was deliberately used against Hillary Clinton's health care plan; revered Dick Cheney used it to denigrate a position he opposed; it is an old, old expression. When Obama used it, he was speaking of a position that McCain has taken on the economy. If one listens to it, it is clear that Palin was not the target. I wonder what the world's response is when the big issue in the campaign for the presidency of the United States of America has boiled down to pigs and lipsticks? Do you suppose they are shaking their heads and seeing immaturity and childishness? Maybe.

And then there is the Mc/P commercial that contends for being the sleaziest, meanest, most dishonest, dirtiest mud-slinging charge of this and past presidential contests--the one that accuses Obama of writing, promoting and voting for a bill that would result in the teaching of "comprehensive sex education" in kindergarten. The New York Times as did Fact Check delineated the gross distortion in this commercial. I would like to think that anyone would question it, but, I am afraid that there are people who want to believe anything negative.

And....when Joe Biden spoke to the role stem-cell research can play in addressing birth defects, an issue that is clearly a legitimate discussion issue, the McC/P team pounced and claimed that this was a direct attack on Palin as she has given birth to a Downs Syndrome child and she is opposed to stem cell research. Does this mean the issue now can not be raised?

I hope that the McC/P strategy is wrong. I hope this election is about character which is so much more than personality. Personality is found in people and mediums which focus on the surface of things. Character is what is found in people and mediums which focus on substance. Personality is used to camouflage what is wanted to be hidden. Character is not afraid of hard issues and addresses the difficult. I hope that the American public will begin to see through the camouflage and smokescreens behind which McC/P are hiding and that we as a nation will demand dialogue on substance and the difficult. I hope we demand character. I hope that McC/P will show character and lose the fear of exploring issues with their opponents. I hope that we will have an election campaign focused on the intelligence of our population rather than the prejudices. I hope we grow up.

There are two websites which I find useful and worth checking out from time to time when rumors seem to be taking over truth. Fact Check and On the Issues. The first researches rumors and reports on the truth or lack of truth there in. The second delineates each candidates background, stand and experience on major issues. I do find it interesting, in the light of claims of experiences being bandied about that Palin's list is much less comprehensive than the other three candidates. I think this is worth pondering.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sarah--Part 2

Honesty, integrity and forthrightness should be the mark of a born-again Christian. Anything else belies that belief and negates the testimony of proclaiming Christ as Savior. And this is why I am opposed to the candidacy of Ms. Palin. In her life, ambition appears to have triumphed over faith and virtue.

  • Wasilla had zero debt when Sarah became mayor. It had a $22 million debt when she left office 6 years later.
  • During her tenure, government spending increased by 33%.
  • She reduced the progressive property tax and increased the regressive sales tax, including tax on food. This effectively lowered taxes for businesses and increasing taxes for residents.
  • The property tax cuts benefited large corporate property owners to a greater degree than they benefited residents.
  • Tax increases were used to build a sports complex rather than being applied to infrastructure needs such as a sewage treatment plant or a storm drainage system.
  • She attempted to fire the city librarian who had not supported her in the election after the librarian would not agree to book censorship in the library. Note: The list that is circulating claiming to be the titles she attempted to ban is not true.
  • She fired the police chief who had not supported her in the election. She claimed he "intimidated" her.
  • She brought "big box" stores to Wasilla in opposition to environmental, ecological concerns and concern for the demise of "mom and pop" stores.
  • Contrary to her current decrying of the evil of lobbyist, she hired a private lobbying firm to secure earmarks for Wasilla, bringing in millions of dollars to this small town.

  • Rather than applying the windfall from the high price of oil to investment in technologies leading to energy independence, etc, Sarah gave each Alaskan resident a several hundred dollar bonus check for being Alaskan--sort of using monies gleaned from the other 49 to enrich pockets of her constituency rather than the cause of alternative energies or to protect the environment and lands of her state.
  • She opposed the "Bridge to Nowhere" only after it had already become a dead issue. Before that she had supported it. She kept the federal pork money allocated for the project.
  • She favors and advocates drilling in the ANWR--Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • She is part of the lawsuit against the Department of Interior's inclusion of polar bears on the threatened species list. Protecting the bears would interfere with oil drilling.
  • She is pro off-shore drilling.
  • She has sought and obtained more per person earmark funds (pork) than any other state in the union. This year what she has asked for equals a little under $300 per person. The average for the other states in $34 per person. More

  • She is an NRA supporater--opposed to gun control.
  • She has demonstrated no pro-labor, pro-union sympathies in spite of the smoke screen about the "first dude's" union membership.
  • She is opposed to sex education other than abstinence.
  • She is opposed to environmental protection measures.
  • She has sacrificed her 17 year old daughter's privacy and exposed her to the world.
  • She is forcing a marriage between children. Seventeen and eighteen year olds are not of an age to define their lives by a mistake. Statistics are profoundly poor for teen age marriage survival.
  • She would require a child victim of incestuous rape to carry the baby to term, inured to the physical and mental damage this would cause the girl. The girl would be twice a victim.
  • Sarah claims to be a born-again Christian which implicitly requires an ethics and moral code demanding truth and honesty as well as honorable values. Her denigrating remarks insulting the value of community service and volunteer efforts to respond to needs of people are not honorable. We, as a nation, value and promote this type of service--witness the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and the fact that community service is often a requirement for high school graduation. I know of no one else, regardless of political affiliation, that finds the desire to serve and change lives something to make fun of or to be laughable. Personally, I found this to be the lowest point of her speech and the point that defined her character.
  • The blatant disrespect shown to her party's opponents misrepresents Christianity. Her twisting of truths and the selling of herself and her values for the sake of garnering a laugh bring into question her priorities--ambition or faith? This particularly upsets me as, I, too, am a born-again Christian.
I am certain that more and more will surface to indicate that Sarah is not what McCain would like us to believe. But, then, that won't be a surprise. He did not take the time to find out for himself before placing her a heartbeat away from the post of president of the United States of America. McCain's ambition has overtaken his honor.

Links to other posts: Diana Diana Again

Post Script: I do not mean to or knowingly present inaccuracies. If there is proof that anything said here is wrong, please say so and it will be corrected. If you are interested, this is a good link for checking out rumors on all sides Fact Check

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah Palin

Caution! With this post, I enter territory that I've successful avoided for three years. Not that there have not been temptations--there most certainly have been--but, I have always erred on the side of resisting controversy--well, usually, anyway.

But life has its howevers and, for me, this is such a time.

I am angry over the presence of Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket, dismayed by McCain's hypocrisy, his pandering and his disrespect to women. The selection of Palin as his running mate inescapably demonstrates a politically motivated "what can I do for me" decision, belying his assertion that his decisions would be made by "what is good for the country" if he were to be elected.

His selection of Sarah tells me that he truly has little regard for women. His running mate is grossly unqualified to be a heartbeat away from the most important leadership role in the world. Having given thought to why he chose her, I find only two reasons that he would do so:

Reason 1. A misguided thought that having any woman on the ticket will reel in women voters. The clear implication being that proven competence, experience and intelligence is not a factor in our decision making--that any woman will do. This is an incredible insult to the female intelligence.

Reason 2. The need to capture the vote and play to the good will of the far right is more important than giving the people of this country a qualified replacement if something should happen to him--not an unreasonable fear for a 72 year old with a history of cancer.

Regardless of who she is as a person, how remarkable her family is, her ability to "zing" the opposition or her experience as a mayor and a new governor, there is nothing which suggests she has the knowledge, talent, skill or background to face Putin, Hu Jintao, Mahmoud Ahmadnejad, even Ehud Olmert or other world leaders. What is her knowledge of the Taliban? Radical Islamists? North Korea? Europe? South America? If the United States is facing the loss of its leadership position in the world--which is commonly thought to be a fact--, we need leaders who will reestablish that role.

In terms of domestic issues, I have read or heard nothing that indicates she has even a rudimentary understanding of the vast complexities of economy issues, health care concerns and needs, the plight of the elder population, the workings of the Pentagon or government departments and agencies, etc. etc. etc.

So..I am angry that McCain has chosen to put this country in jeopardy by his decision to elevate a desire to win above his commitment to the United States. There were other choices to make; he chose not to make them. Country First is having a hollow ring.