Daily Archives: October 21, 2009

86 Year Old, Life-long Republican and WWII Vet on Gay Marriage- “What Do You Think I Fought For?”

Posted by Audiegrl

votenoon1maineIn this poignant video below, 86 year old Philip Spooner, who is a life long resident of Maine and a Republican, speaks out on the reason we need marriage equality in this country. The fight for marriage equality in Maine is coming up in two weeks. If the “No on 1” campaign is successful, Maine will become the first state in the nation to successfully defend marriage equality in the voting booth.

Get this video out to as many people as you can.

Transcript: Good morning, Committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain. I still serve three hospitals and two nursing homes and I also serve Meals on Wheels for 28 years. My wife of 54 years, Jenny, died in 1997. Together we had four children, including the one gay son. All four of our boys were in the service. I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal and I’ve never forgotten that. I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945, in the First Army, as a medic and an ambulance driver. I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton’s Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe, and including the Battle of the Bulge. My unit was awarded Presidential Citations for transporting more patients with fewer accidents than any other ambulance unit I was in the liberation of Paris. After the war I carried POW’s back from Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, and also hauled hundreds of injured Germans back to Germany.

I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman at my polling place asked me, “Do you believe in equal, equality for gay and lesbian people?” I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, “What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?” I haven’t seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.

I give talks to eighth grade teachers about World War II, and I don’t tell them about the horror. Maybe [inaudible] ovens of Buchenwald and Dachau. I’ve seen with my own eyes the consequences of caste systems and it make some people less than others, or second class. Never again. We must have equal rights for everyone. It’s what this country was started for. It takes all kinds of people to make a world war. It does make no sense that some people who love each other can marry and others can’t just because of who they are. This is what we fought for in World War II. That idea that we can be different and still be equal.

My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that three of them would have a certain set of rights, but our gay child would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good. I think it’s too bad those who want to get married, they should be able to. Everybody’s supposed to be equal in equality in this country. Let gay people have the right to marry. Thank you

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Filed under Democrats, Gay (LGBT) Rights, Law, Politics, Uncategorized, Video/YouTube, Women's Issues

President Obama Announces Initiatives For Small Banks/ Businesses, Pay Cuts for Execs

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama plans to announce new measures to open up credit for small businesses, including capital injections for community banks to spur lending, the administration said.

Community banks with less than $1 billion in assets will be eligible for lower-cost capital if they submit a small business lending plan and document their lending in quarterly reports, according to a White House fact sheet.

If approved by regulators, these banks would pay the government an initial 3 percent dividend on the injection, instead of the previous 5 percent rate.

Obama also will seek legislation raising the limits for Small Business Administration loans from $2 million to $5 million and as much as $5.5 million for manufacturing.

The president will visit a small business in Maryland this afternoon to make the announcement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
Full Story Here:

Obama Announces Help for Small Businesses

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US to Order Steep Pay Cuts at Firms That Got Most Aid

WASHINGTON — Responding to the growing furor over the paychecks of executives at companies that received billions of dollars in federal bailouts, the Obama administration will order the companies that received the most aid to deeply slash the compensation to their highest paid executives, an official involved in the decision said on
Wednesday.

Under the plan, which will be announced in the next few days by the Treasury Department, the seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the cash payouts to their 25 best-paid executives by an average of about 90 percent from last year. For many of the executives, the cash they would have received will be replaced by stock that they will be restricted from selling immediately.

And for all executives the total compensation, which includes bonuses, will drop, on average, by about 50 percent.

The companies are Citigroup, Bank of America, the American International Group, General Motors, Chrysler and the financing arms of the two automakers.
More Here: New York Times

MSNBC Reports on Executive Pay Cuts:

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The Fork In the Road: Ahghanistan

Another Afghan vote masks US predicament

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s relief at the agreement that could quiet the political crisis over Afghanistan’s

 President Karzai, President Obama

President Karzai, President Obama

spoiled election masks his predicament as he weighs an expansion of the unpopular Afghanistan war.

The administration says its ambitious plans for Afghanistan rely on a “credible partner” in Kabul. But there is no guarantee that the hastily arranged voting will confer the legitimacy the fraudulent Aug. 20 election lacked.

No matter who wins the November election runoff that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai agreed to during pressured consultations with American leaders, the United States is wedded to a shaky government in which corruption has become second nature.

Voting Station in Afghanistan

Voting Station in Afghanistan

“This has been a very difficult time in Afghanistan to not only carry out an election under difficult circumstances, where there were a whole host of security issues that had to be resolved, but also postelection a lot of uncertainty,” Obama said Tuesday.

Having pushed for a do-over, U.S. officials have even less ability to scold the winner. That winner is likely to be incumbent Karzai, who conceded Tuesday, under heavy international pressure, that a runoff was “legitimate, legal and according to the constitution of Afghanistan.”

Kerry Karzai Make Annoncement

Kerry, Karzai Make Annoncement

“You have to learn from mistakes, and everybody needs to do that here,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who stood with Karzai for an awkward announcement of the runoff plan. He said Afghan officials and international election shepherds must work fast to get standards and plans that all agree on.

Although Karzai was favored to win all along, Obama’s advisers thought they could forge a workable partnership that would be the building block for a new war strategy emphasizing the security and welfare of ordinary Afghans.

The strategy, which military officials quickly assumed would mean an infusion of thousands of additional U.S. troops and a larger expansion of Afghanistan’s own armed forces, frayed when the expensive, carefully monitored election went bad.

U.S. Sec. of Defense Robert Gates

U.S. Sec. of Defense Robert Gates

Defense Secretary Robert Gates sounded pessimistic when asked about the runoff at a Tokyo news conference Wednesday.

“I think we need to be realistic that the issues of corruption and governance that we are trying to work with the Afghan government on are not going to be solved simply on the outcome of the presidential election,” he said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama has not decided whether to move ahead with a revamped strategy, and the prospect of more troops, before results of the runoff are known. Gibbs told reporters he still expects that decision within weeks.

Read the full story Here:

Related video: Clinton `Encouraged’ at Outlook in Afghanistan

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Afghan coalition government is an option, US says

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Diplomats say that Iran agrees to draft deal on uranium

“Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look to the future not the past, trying to heal the wounds,”

VIENNA – Iranian negotiators on Wednesday agreed to consider a draft deal that — if accepted by the Tehran leadership — would delay its ability to make nuclear weapons by sending most of the material it would need to Russia for processing, diplomats said Wednesday.

Mohamed-ElBaradei

Mohamed-ElBaradei

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed that representatives of Iran and its three interlocutors — the U.S., Russia and France — had accepted the draft, which still has to be finalized by the four nations’ capitals. ElBaradei said he hoped that would occur by Friday.
“I have circulated a draft agreement that in my judgment reflects a balanced approach to how to move forward,” ElBaradei told reporters, suggesting that all four parties had worked hard to overcome differences exacerbated by suspicions that Iran may be interested in nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its activities are peaceful and meant only to generate energy.
“Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look at the future not at the past, trying to heal the wounds,” ElBaradei said. “I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the International community.”
Full story here:

Video: Sec. Clinton: Iran’s Nuke Program of Serious Concern

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Web Surf to Save Your Aging Brain

Posted by Audiegrl

Seniors_computersHealthDay/Amanda Gardner—Surfing the Internet just might be a way to preserve your mental skills as you age.

Researchers found that older adults who started browsing the Web experienced improved brain function after only a few days.

You can teach an old brain new technology tricks,” said Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatry professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of iBrain. With people who had little Internet experience, “we found that after just a week of practice, there was a much greater extent of activity particularly in the areas of the brain that make decisions, the thinking brain — which makes sense because, when you’re searching online, you’re making a lot of decisions,” he said. “It’s interactive.”

Seniors_computersbSmall is co-author of the research, which was scheduled to be presented Monday in Chicago at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.

This makes intuitive sense, that getting on the Internet and exploring and getting new information and learning would help,” said Paul Sanberg, director of the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa. “It supports the value of exploring the Internet for the elderly.”

Most experts now advocate a “use-it-or-lose-it” approach to mental functioning.

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South Carolina Needs to Stop the Stupidity by Brian Hicks

Posted by Audiegrl

Op-ed by Brian Hicks

michelle-obama-white-house-portraitPost and Courier/Brian Hicks—Let’s get this straight: The White House has allowed first lady Michelle Obama to tool around Moscow, the Czech Republic and even Ghana in the past year, but officials are a little worried about her coming to South Carolina.

They consider the atmosphere here too dangerous.

Just when it seemed the summer of shame was over, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn dropped this bombshell on The Post and Courier’s Yvonne Wenger on Friday. Clyburn says the White House is wary of bringing the first lady to the state because of the attitude of some of its residents.

Even if they are overreacting, or if Clyburn is overstating the case, it’s embarrassing.

If security professionals, who apparently have reservations, actually believe it is too dangerous for the first family to visit a U.S. state, then we have dropped below the status of a Third World country.

It makes us look like buffoons, racists and backwater morons.

A loudmouthed minority of Neanderthals and sore losers have so poisoned the national discourse with their racist rantings, crude jokes and veiled threats that they have sullied South Carolina’s reputation more than any governor, congressman or senator could ever imagine.

So, thanks for that.

If unemployment holds at its current rates, you can thank these same idiots. Think any international company, any major business, will locate to a state where the president’s own wife might not be safe?

This is not about politics or that socialism baloney cooked up by politicians and insurance companies. It is about respect for the office.

This is the bottom of the barrel.

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn

This all came about when Clyburn, who has close ties to the White House, asked that the first lady attend an event at South Carolina State University. There have been more than 100 requests for the first lady to visit.

Clyburn quoted Valerie Jarrett, adviser to the president and a friend of the Obamas, as saying, “It’s not always our decision to make.” The implication is that the Secret Service has concerns about the state. A lot of it, Clyburn said, has to do with the climate in South Carolina.

He wasn’t talking about the humidity, just the stupidity.

Clyburn was talking about Rusty DePass, a South Carolina Republican activist, who earlier this year said a gorilla that escaped from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia was an ancestor of Michelle Obama. Some rubes thought that was hilarious.

Clyburn was talking about the reaction to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s rude outburst of “You lie!” to President Barack Obama. Wilson has been hailed as a conquering hero by some for doing little more than embarrassing many of this state’s residents.

He was talking about the knucklehead cowards who anonymously post vitriolic comments online.

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Note: Neither the first lady’s press office nor the Secret Service provided comment for the original The Post and Courier story.

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks is a senior writer with The Post and Courier. In his 10 years with the paper, he has covered a wide variety of subjects, including politics and news of the weird (also known as politics). His reporting has won 20 S.C. Press Association Awards, including Journalist of the Year in 1998. He is also the author or co-author of four books, including the local history yarn “Raising the Hunley,” which was so popular it was even translated into Czechoslovakian. Really.

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