Friday, November 22, 2013

Losing John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Today, once again, I find myself jerked back into time. There is a lump in my throat as I remember that day in Dallas.

If you were alive fifty years ago, where were you when you learned that Pres. John Kennedy had been shot? 

I was at school, talking to my college counselor, a woman who was normally very composed. The news came over a small radio in her office that was playing softly. We were both stunned. I remember that I was standing and don't know what I said. My attention was focused on the professor who tipped back her chair, tears running down her face. 

John Kennedy's death was very personal. We cared about him, we adored his wife and we loved his children. Little John saluting at his father's grave broke our hearts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

An incredible window into the past -- Yousuf Karsh and his Photos

Tonight I stumbled across a YouTube of Estrellita Karsh, widow of the famous photographer, Yousuf Karsh. It has been at least forty years since I met them. It is a shock to be jerked back in time and remember an old friend.

As a feature writer for the Honolulu Star Bulletin in the seventies, my editor gave me an assignment. Peggy Bendet told me I was to interview Estrellita. A Hungarian, male reporter was to interview her husband.

Well, Estrellita and I hit it off. I thoroughly enjoyed her company and invited her and her husband to dinner at my house. She thought it was very funny that I was warming up Chinese take out in my stove when they arrived. I'm sure they were used to fancier fare. In any case, I had gone to the best Chinese restaurant in Honolulu and there is good reason to believe that it was better than anything I could have prepared.

From then on, whenever the Karshes were in town, they would call me and I'd have them to dinner. I remember Yousef telling us about  his famous photo of Winston Churchill -- how he snatched Churchill's cigar out of his mouth and got the famous grimace. There were endless stories. If only I could remember more of them.

It felt as if Estrellita was talking to me on her YouTube video tonight. She met Josef Albers and fell in love with one of his paintings...and with him. The result was that the artist gave it to her. Oddly enough, I am from Connecticut and I used to visit the Yale Art Museum very frequently. The Albers paintings happened to be my favorites.

I can still picture the wall in the front gallery close to Chapel Street where his paintings were lined up -- squares within squares that fascinated me. As they did to many others -- including Estrellita.

Friday, November 15, 2013

President Obama, Please don't be so nice!

Yesterday I had a conversation with my brother who lives in Hawaii. He hit the nail on the head. Pres. Obama is still the nice boy from the Islands who is polite to everyone.

It sickens me that he is being so very polite to insurance companies who could give a crap about whether someone lives or dies -- as long as they make their profits, CEOs get their huge bonuses and life in their corner is good. The long-standing modus operandi of only insuring people who would most likely never use their insurance and putting loopholes in fine print that would avoid all kinds of coverage is going to get an extension. How nice! How very, very nice!

I wish our president would stand up and tell it like it is -- Republicans blocked  universal coverage which would have avoided all this nonsense and made the system work. That's the way it is in every other first world country. Just by coincidence (???) their healthcare is far cheaper and superior to ours. Our mortality rates are much much worse. So, hang onto your insurance policies, vote for the Republicans who are protecting their sponsors and everything will go smoothly, right?

Pres. Obama, if you ever get wind of this -- my only complaint is that you are far too nice and far too polite. Taking the blame? Taking the blame for what? None of the the difficulty in getting the Affordable Healthcare Act in gear is your fault.

I would love to see you be RUDE to the people who deserve it.

Thank you.

The Justice System in the United States today has become a source of serious shame.

This is an email that just arrived in my inbox. I am posting it here in the hope that it will reach those who might not see it otherwise. It is beyond my comprehension that this is permitted in our country. People go to jail for much less.

  • Clarence Thomas' unethical fundraiser‏

The email below is from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, a true progressive who has been a leading ethics advocate in the halls of Congress. Representative Slaughter started a petition on CREDO Mobilize, where activists can launch their own campaigns for progressive change. We strongly urge you to sign Representative Slaughter's petition to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to hold Justice Clarence Thomas accountable for defying the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges, and then share it with your friends and family.

CREDO Mobilize
Tell Chief Justice Roberts: Hold Justice Thomas accountable for defying the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

Sign the petition ►

Last night, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas headlined a fundraiser for the Federalist Society - a conservative think tank that is connected to the most powerful conservatives in Washington.
By helping to raise funds for the Federalist Society, Justice Thomas is in clear violation of Canon 4C of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges, which bars federal judges from using the prestige of their judicial office for fundraising purposes and specifically states that “a judge may not be a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program” of a fundraising event.
While the Supreme Court has exempted itself from the code, Chief Justice Roberts has said that the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges "plays the same role" for the Supreme Court as it does for other federal judges. That's why today I'm launching a campaign calling on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to hold Justice Thomas accountable:
We respectfully urge you to issue a letter of reprimand for Justice Thomas and to publish an official court policy on the ethics issue concerning Justice Thomas' decision to agree to headline a political fundraising dinner. To increase transparency and accountability in the activities of the Supreme Court justices, we also urge the Supreme Court to adopt its own code of conduct that includes the five canons of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges.
Tell Chief Justice Roberts: Hold Justice Thomas accountable for defying the Code Conduct for United States Judges.
In recent years, some members of the Supreme Court have repeatedly engaged in ethically dubious conduct that endangers the neutrality and transparency of the court. In 2012, Justice Antonin Scalia accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to meet with the shadowy conservative group Friends of Abe, which has been described as “the most important source of underground political activism in Hollywood today.”
Previously, Justices Scalia and Thomas have attended exclusive meetings organized by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, longtime financial supporters of conservative political causes. Finally, between 1997 and 2007, Justice Thomas repeatedly failed to disclose at least $1.6 million in income received by his wife from her employers - including some employers that have petitioned the Supreme Court.
The binding Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges currently applies to all United States judges except the nine members of the Supreme Court. This code provides a clear explanation of proper judicial behavior and is used to ensure that judges are held accountable for any unethical action. For example, in 2009 the Code of Conduct was used to force the recusal of Judge Loren Smith from a case involving big oil companies after it was discovered that his wife owned shares of stock in one of the oil companies involved in the case.
It is vital that Justice Thomas be held accountable for defying the Code of Conduct, and that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts formally applies the Code of Conduct to the Supreme Court today.
Together with the legal advocacy groups Alliance for Justice and Common Cause, I have sent a letter of complaint about Justice Thomas’ conduct to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Trust in our courts is important - their decisions have the potential to affect every American, and for their rulings to be taken seriously, the American people must trust in the transparency and neutrality of our courts.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition to Chief Justice Roberts urging him to hold Justice Thomas accountable?
Thank you for your support.
Representative Louise Slaughter
Sign the petition ►

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Stop Apologizing for a Good Deed!

I'm tired of hearing news people making it sound as if there is a need to APOLOGIZE for the affordable care act. People! We're finally going to get a fair shake in the insurance market. If you're sick and you need medical attention, they are making it possible for you to live! Wake up, America. Sure, it's a major, cumbersome ordeal to put it in place -- but that's just a temporary situation. If our Legislature, Insurance Commissioner and insincere Governor here in Georgia would only work to make it easier, we might be able to cure the sick. 

Why do I hate some people who really don't care about others? Personally, I think the Insurance Commissioner should be thrown out of office for not doing his job -- along with his buddies who are equally irresponsible.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Elizabeth Warren, Are You Listening?

I opened my mail today and was dumbfounded -- absolutely dumbfounded. Capital One Credit Card company found a way to charge me interest on a bill that had been paid in full!

Well, folks, I have canceled my Capital One Credit Card. It had been transferred over from another company and I had held onto the card as a safety net -- a just-in-case kind of thing. Then, I made the mistake of using it.

Today, they shuffled me off to three different people to justify charging interest on my account AFTER I had paid the balance in full BEFORE the due date. Some very clever footwork.  But I DON'T want to do business with them ever again! I'm writing this just to warn the innocents among you.

They have perfected the art of charging fees and interest with tactics that go beyond obscenity. I've noticed that they are advertising themselves as mortgage lenders. Buyer beware. Should you be tempted -- read all the fine print and then ask questions. And don't sign anything until you get a second opinion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sticker Shock -- and now it's about buying the news!

     The cost of news these days! I was shocked this week. As I made an effort to subscribe to a number of major newspapers online, I was amazed at how much it costs...on a par with getting health insurance, my friends. 

     There is, perhaps, a reason that our public is so ill-informed. Is it partly because they can't afford it?

     I know news outlets need to bring in money to keep their operations going -- but are they defeating themselves and hurting our society in the process?
It appears that even getting news is a luxury. Okay, Fox

News is free on television. So are the stations that give you the murder of the day, a few car crashes
and very brief tag lines about what's happening at home and abroad. Is that the news? Hardly. Not
an intelligent run-down in any case. No time and with an ear to what their audience wants to hear the
news is "tailored." 

     Sad. Terribly sad for generations growing up without the information they need to function in an intelligent fashion.