Saturday, April 14, 2012

Last Call

Your political cartoon of the moment:

Gosh, what's a war on women?
A new foster-cat program at the Larch Corrections Center is improving life for inmates and felines alike. Larch, a minimum-security facility near Yacolt, WA, launched the Cuddly Catz program two weeks ago; Cuddly Cats pairs pound-bound cats with inmates who meet certain requirements (did not commit a violent crime against animals or humans; free of prison demerits for at least six months; set to remain at Larch for at least a year after receiving a program cat; and passing an extensive screening process).
The program definitely benefits the inmates. Joey Contreras and Joseph Walter share a ten-by-twelve-foot cell – and charge of Princess Natalie, a long-haired black cat. Contreras noted in an article by Paris Achen that fostering a feline has given him an increased sense of purpose. "When you're doing prison time, you get set in certain ways and forget what it's like to have everyday interactions and be compassionate," Contreras said. "It's a little different when you have an animal depending on you to survive. Animals bring out the best in people."
Compassion and a little love can go a long way in an environment where it is usually banished.   Everyone wins. I wish there were more programs, though the article does say many states have programs like this in the works.  It does us no good if the non-violent moderately well-behaved prisoners aren't given some means to stay in touch with their humanity.  Anything that saves animals is a perk. It would be great if this spreads and gives animals and lonely people a chance to connect and help each other.  The cat mentioned in the article likely would have been euthanized if she hadn't been chosen for this program.  Now she's able to live a happy life, giving and receiving love.

Hold Your Horses, Now

Gay rights organizations are criticizing President Obama for his refusal to sign an executive order forbidding federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Obama aides delivered the message to gay rights groups yesterday, saying they want Congress to pass an anti-discrimination law.
"Our organizers and activists are really angry about this," said Heather Cronk, managing director of a civil rights group called GetEqual. "It's really worrisome that the White House is not taking a stand on this."
Okay, the strategy makes sense.  Obama is about to campaign, so it's a good time to pressure and ask questions.  Everyone knows this is a hot button, with Republicans taking a loud stance against gay rights and Dems afraid to touch the subject in some cases.

But guys, give Obama the benefit of the doubt, and if you want to help the cause give him a bit of space.  If he wins a second term and has nothing to fear, I have zero doubt that he is going to put some stupidity in its place. To the utmost of his ability, he has already shown he is in favor of fair treatment and choice for people whenever possible.  By pushing the issue it could force him into arguments that could actually backfire.  Because let's face it, Obama is the best shot many groups have of representation.  Right now it makes sense for him to do his best to prepare for stage two.

After seeing how Republicans attacked him for every single decision he made, in some instances it is simply better that he play it safe.  He has shown no animosity or lack of respect for gays or women, so it's time for us to rally behind him and let him know we're there.  He may not be perfect, but he tries.  He's the best chance we have of climbing out of this mess.

Pressed For Meat, She Meets The Press

All it takes for a bovine revolution is one tasty meat-filled cow escaping from the slaughterhouse and making news.

A 700-pound cow has been spared and sent to the farm after escaping from the slaughterhouse and running down New Jersey highways.

The cow was hit twice by police vehicles during its escape run, then was finally caught after police shot it twice with tranquilizers. The cow is now healthy and lives on Woodstock Farms Animal Sanctuary, where it has been named Mike Jr., after “uber-volunteer” Mike Stura, a volunteer who asked Woodstock to take the cow in.

“All of a sudden I saw a cow running across the street and being chased by police and all, and I said, well I think we have to try and do something about that,” Stura told Fox and Friends Saturday.

Woodstock learned that the after the cow had been captured, it had been transferred to another slaughterhouse, not the “farm” news reports promised. Stura, who has “show mercy for animals” tattooed on his arms, convinced owners to release the cow to Woodstock, which assures, “He will never end up at the end of a fork!”

There's something about the bond between man and cow, you know.  Here's to Mike Jr, the luckiest cow in New Jersey.

Getting Serious On Syria, Part 6

The UN is finally moving on Syria, with the Security Council unanimously approving an immediate observer mission to monitor all aspects of the tenuous cease fire in the country.

The resolution calls on Syria to allow the deployment of an advance team of up to 30 international observers and give them unimpeded freedom of movement.

It also calls on all parties to cease armed violence.

Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow, which has previously blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, was satisfied the text now required all sides to end the violence.

"There have been too many casualties, too much suffering to befall the Syrian people," said Churkin.
He warned that the unrest could affect regional peace and stability, describing it as an "extremely critical juncture" and calling on all parties in Syria to refrain from violence.

Security Council President Mark Lyall Grant, of the United Kingdom, said a narrow window existed to improve conditions on the ground.

And the "cease fire" is in name only, as Syria rebels and activists continue to claim that there's plenty of government troops targeting Syrian cities away from prying eyes.  However, it does mean that Russia and China are on board behind the Kofi Annan effort to secure a peace, and that's a major improvement.  We'll see how long this lasts.

The "Moose Aggro Been Filled" War

Sarah Palin, realizing she's a woman, discovers she's eminently qualified to weigh in on the War On Women(tm).  She performs the task with all the subtlety and nuance we've come to expect from her, which is roughly the equivalent of 30 kilotons of nuclear hamsters on crystal meth airdropped into a open-air production of Hedda Gabler on matinee Saturday.  To whit:

Now years removed from crying sexism over “lipstick on a pig,” former politician and current political pundit Sarah Palin appeared on Sean Hannity’s show Thursday night to weigh in on the latest twists in the “war on women” debacle.

Palin read texts and emails she had received from her sister and “apolitical girlfriends” in support of her cause.

“We don’t look to the president to speak for us,” Palin said, adding that she and her fellow “mama grizzlies” are turned off by the “divisiveness represented by Barack Obama and the people he surrounds himself with.”

Palin also claimed, as Republicans had throughout the day, that Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen — whose comments on Ann Romney were widely condemned — is affiliated with the DNC, insisting she “has the ear of the president.”

And really, if it wasn't a chance to finally use that particular title pun based on this film, I wouldn't have bothered with her or this at all.  Sarah Palin quit her job to go grifting, and now believes she represents all American women everywhere, and the President -- her President, our President, of our country -- does not speak for her, because he's just that Kenyan guy.


Law And Dissed Orders

I can't say that I think Greg Sargent is totally wrong about the President's decision to sandbag on an executive order on preventing federal contractors from discriminating against people based on gender or sexual orientation. He's right when he says the White House is being too cute by half here.

There’s no denying that Obama and his advisers have a very good overall record on gay rights. But on this issue, and on gay marriage — two hugely important topics to the gay community — there’s too little clarity and too much of a whiff of excuse-making and political calculation.
Obama is trapped in a difficult dynamic that is in some ways the product of having done the right thing in other areas involving gay rights. Because of his real accomplishments in those areas, gay advocates are fully convinced he really believes in full equality for gay and lesbian Americans — and only grow angrier and more impatient when he hedges or equivocates on key issues. I can see why White House advisers would find this dynamic frustrating, but the simple truth is that it isn’t going away until he stops doing it.

The problem is the President's slow and cautious (if not downright pragmatic) approach is A) it's slow and frustrating, B) it works in the end. People recognize A and forget B completely, it seems. To his credit, Sargent does admit the whole B thing does exist. But that's the way it has to go with the political dynamic, and it's not like the LGBT community in Washington hasn't played politics to its own advantage, either.

 There's also the very real problem with executive orders: they can get rescinded by future presidents. The next time a Teapublican gets into power, a lot of stuff is going away. This close to an election, that's a factor. I don't like it. I admit it exists. Going bugnuts over it won't change much, either. President Obama will get attacked by the right on LGBT stuff regardless of what he does. He'll also get attacked by a certain section of the left for the same reason. That's politics.

The long arc does bend but it's a pain in the ass to move some times.

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