It’s Ok to Be “Pro-Palestinian Rights” and “Pro-Israel”

Contrary to what Presidential candidate McCain and his cronies would have the public believe, it is NOT inconsistent to be a friend to Israel and a friend to the Palestinians. McCain “accuses” Presidential candidate (and hopefully soon to be elected) Obama of praising Rashid Khalidi, a pro-Palestinian scholar and activist. This accusation is supposed to scare all the old Jewish people (in Florida mostly) so that they will vote for McCain who touts himself as a better friend to Israel. Frankly, I don’t know Khalidi’s work. However, I do know that it is not inconsistent to be pro-Palestinian rights and pro-Israel. In fact, human rights are a cornerstone to the Jewish beliefs. Personally (and I am a Jew), I want Palestinians to have all the human and civil rights Israelis are entitled to, whether it is in their own state or in Israel. A lot of people believe this. So, McCain, when you wag your finger and shout that big bad Obama is pro-Palestinian rights, you don’t scare me. What scares me is that you are implying that Palestinians should not have rights! What’s wrong with you? Don’t you believe in human and civil rights? Oh, I almost forgot, you’re a Republican. Peace.

The Flu Vaccine: Shot or Not?

Personally, I don’t get the flu shot anymore. EVERY time I got the flu shot, I got very sick (the flu) within days of it. My doctors always touted the party line, “The flu shot can’t give you the flu . . . blah, blah, blah.” However, what do I do about the kids? My mom has been calling me almost daily pestering me to take the kids in. Our pediatrician, on the other hand, has remained silent. Our Government has issued new guidelines this year, stating that all children from six months to age eighteen should get one. Last year, no one got flu shots in our family. That was fine, because the flu shot missed the mark and did not cover any of the flus going around last year. The good news is, there are a few non-mercury options for kids this year. The Dr. Sears family has outlined the options. As soon as Charlie is over his cold, I think I’ll bring the kids in. Maybe we’ll be able to get the mist and avoid the shot. I have to talk to the doc a bit more about it.

The “Cruelest Show on Earth” is Coming to Chicago

Ringling Brothers Circus is coming to Chicago in November. Because I am a “mommy blogger” I got no less than three different solicitations to advertise and even an offer of free tickets to the event. I told them I would NEVER support a Circus where animals are abused. I got no responses to my accusations, no denials of any kind. In their attempts to bring joy to their bank accounts (while claiming to bring joy to children) they bring terror to all kinds of animals. Go to Circuses.com to see a video of a circus Elephant trainer actually instructing trainers to get an elephant’s attention by digging a hook into their skin and making them scream. I couldn’t watch the whole thing because it made me sick to my stomach. Also on that site, you can see and hear the stories of cruelty from former Ringling Brothers employees who dared to speak out. PETA is sponsoring some protests and I encourage you to go:

What: Ringling opening night demonstration in Rosemont

When: Thursday, November 6, 6 p.m.

Where: Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim Rd., Rosemont (meet at the corner of Lunt Avenue and Mannheim Road )

What: Ringling opening night demonstration in Chicago

When: Tuesday, November 18, 6 p.m.

Where: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago (meet at the corner of Damen Avenue and Madison Street )


Thank You LeapFrog!

Recently, Eva, Charlie, Gadget Man and I attended a Chicago Moms Blog event sponsored by LeapFrog. They flew in two university professors who are on their developmental staff to talk about technology with the moms while the kids played. We were able to choose some LeapFrog products to take home. We chose one toy each. A Tag and the Leapster2. I had no desire to take home the Didj, which seems to have too many “shooting” games to go along with it (so far, we are a home with no war toys). The Tag is a wand that children can use to point to specially made books so that they can read along and play games with the book. The Leapster2 looks more like a Gameboy to me, but the children are having a ball looking for the right number in sequence, or learning Spanish with Dora the Explorer. I can’t say whether I would have purchased these toys myself. They are a bit pricey and I tend to shy away from toys that need batteries. However, I do have to say that I am very glad we have these two toys and the children are enjoying them immensely. In fact, they have been willing to forgo t.v. time to play with them! Thank you LeapFrog!

Hey! Stop for People in the Crosswalk!

What the hell does it take to get drivers to stop for people in the crosswalk? Less than thirty seconds after crossing the street where little Maya Hirsch had been struck and killed in a crosswalk, a driver plowed over the crosswalk where Charlie and I and two other pedestrians stood. “Geez,” said the stranger who was crossing with her ten-year-old son just to our right, “Babies don’t even get a break.” She was referring to Charlie, who, though no longer a baby (he’s three) appeared to be one at that particular moment. Even though we were on our way to an exciting afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Charlie decided he was tired and wanted to lie down in the stroller. It was super windy, so I had placed a blanket on top of him. With only his feet visible, he did, indeed, look like a baby. As we crossed the street and arrived at the zoo, I told this stranger that we were just a few feet from where little Maya was struck and killed a couple of years ago. I call her “little” Maya, because she was only four and she will never have a chance to grow up. I informed this stranger with her son that, in broad daylight, little Maya’s mother was crossing with her children at the crosswalk on Belden and Lincoln Park West when a driver who, not only failed to stop at a stop sign, but completely ignored and plowed over them, dragging little Maya down the street where she subsequently died in the hospital from her injuries. “How soon they forget,” I complained.

Drivers must stop for all human beings (not just babies in strollers) who have entered the crosswalk. This is the law in Illinois. As someone who likes to walk, I have noticed that this law is either not known or ignored all too often. There was one brief “honeymoon” period, after little Maya’s death, where drivers seemed more than happy to stop for those of us in a crosswalk. Although little Maya lived in the city, she had significant family ties to Evanston and that community mourned her as well. One day, Eva, Charlie and I were crossing at the crosswalk on busy Central Street by Independence Park. To my left, a driver stopped to let us continue. The traffic on the other side of the street did not. “Hey!” Yelled the driver to my left to the scofflaw on my right, “Stop for these kids already!” Like this well-meaning gentleman, many members of the community were understandably angry at the injustice of Maya’s death.

On our way back to the car after our time at the zoo, Charlie and I stopped by the William Shakespeare statue where “Maya’s Garden” stands in honor of little Maya’s memory. Even though I didn’t know her, I think of her everytime I stand on a crosswalk, and everytime I stop my car for others crossing at one. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have to live without Eva or Charlie.  Just the idea is unbearable. In the Jewish tradition of placing stones on graves, I placed a stone in Maya’s Garden. Dear Little Maya, you are remembered and you and your family are in my prayers.

Michael Moore’s Solution to the Wall Street Mess

The following letter from Michael Moore was cut and pasted directly from ZMag.org. I have emailed them to make sure it is ok to copy this here. Read it now and pass it on to your friends:

Here’s How to Fix the Wall Street Mess

Michael Moore’s ZSpace Page

Join ZSpace

The richest 400 Americans — that’s right, just four hundred people — own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion — the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the “bailout.” Why don’t they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They’d still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!

Of course, they are not going to do that — at least not voluntarily. George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the rich prefer to do — spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5 trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber barons any more of our money?

I would like to propose my own bailout plan. My suggestions, listed below, are predicated on the singular and simple belief that the rich must pull themselves up by their own platinum bootstraps. Sorry, fellows, but you drilled it into our heads one too many times: There… is… no… free… lunch. And thank you for encouraging us to hate people on welfare! So, there will be no handouts from us to you. The Senate, tonight, is going to try to rush their version of a “bailout” bill to a vote. They must be stopped. We did it on Monday with the House, and we can do it again today with the Senate.

It is clear, though, that we cannot simply keep protesting without proposing exactly what it is we think Congress should do. So, after consulting with a number of people smarter than Phil Gramm, here is my proposal, now known as “Mike’s Rescue Plan.” It has 10 simple, straightforward points. They are:

1. APPOINT A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO CRIMINALLY INDICT ANYONE ON WALL STREET WHO KNOWINGLY CONTRIBUTED TO THIS COLLAPSE. Before any new money is expended, Congress must commit, by resolution, to criminally prosecute anyone who had anything to do with the attempted sacking of our economy. This means that anyone who committed insider trading, securities fraud or any action that helped bring about this collapse must go to jail. This Congress must call for a Special Prosecutor who will vigorously go after everyone who created the mess, and anyone else who attempts to scam the public in the future.

2. THE RICH MUST PAY FOR THEIR OWN BAILOUT. They may have to live in 5 houses instead of 7. They may have to drive 9 cars instead of 13. The chef for their mini-terriers may have to be reassigned. But there is no way in hell, after forcing family incomes to go down more than $2,000 dollars during the Bush years, that working people and the middle class are going to fork over one dime to underwrite the next yacht purchase.

If they truly need the $700 billion they say they need, well, here is an easy way they can raise it:

a) Every couple who makes over a million dollars a year and every single taxpayer who makes over $500,000 a year will pay a 10% surcharge tax for five years. (It’s the Senator Sanders plan. He’s like Colonel Sanders, only he’s out to fry the right chickens.) That means the rich will still be paying less income tax than when Carter was president. This will raise a total of $300 billion.

b) Like nearly every other democracy, charge a 0.25% tax on every stock transaction. This will raise more than $200 billion in a year.

c) Because every stockholder is a patriotic American, stockholders will forgo receiving a dividend check for one quarter and instead this money will go the treasury to help pay for the bailout.

d) 25% of major U.S. corporations currently pay NO federal income tax. Federal corporate tax revenues currently amount to 1.7% of the GDP compared to 5% in the 1950s. If we raise the corporate income tax back to the level of the 1950s, that gives us an extra $500 billion.

All of this combined should be enough to end the calamity. The rich will get to keep their mansions and their servants, and our United States government (“COUNTRY FIRST!”) will have a little leftover to repair some roads, bridges and schools.

3. BAIL OUT THE PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES, NOT THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BUILD AN EIGHTH HOME. There are 1.3 million homes in foreclosure right now. That is what is at the heart of this problem. So instead of giving the money to the banks as a gift, pay down each of these mortgages by $100,000. Force the banks to renegotiate the mortgage so the homeowner can pay on its current value. To insure that this help does no go to speculators and those who have tried to make money by flipping houses, this bailout is only for people’s primary residence. And in return for the $100K paydown on the existing mortgage, the government gets to share in the holding of the mortgage so that it can get some of its money back. Thus, the total initial cost of fixing the mortgage crisis at its roots (instead of with the greedy lenders) is $150 billion, not $700 billion.

And let’s set the record straight. People who have defaulted on their mortgages are not “bad risks.” They are our fellow Americans, and all they wanted was what we all want and most of us still get: a home to call their own. But during the Bush years, millions of them lost the decent paying jobs they had. Six million fell into poverty. Seven million lost their health insurance. And every one of them saw their real wages go down by $2,000. Those who dare to look down on these Americans who got hit with one bad break after another should be ashamed. We are a better, stronger, safer and happier society when all of our citizens can afford to live in a home that they own.

4. IF YOUR BANK OR COMPANY GETS ANY OF OUR MONEY IN A “BAILOUT,” THEN WE OWN YOU. Sorry, that’s how it’s done. If the bank gives me money so I can buy a house, the bank “owns” that house until I pay it all back — with interest. Same deal for Wall Street. Whatever money you need to stay afloat, if our government considers you a safe risk — and necessary for the good of the country — then you can get a loan, but we will own you. If you default, we will sell you. This is how the Swedish government did it and it worked.

5. ALL REGULATIONS MUST BE RESTORED. THE REAGAN REVOLUTION IS DEAD. This catastrophe happened because we let the fox have the keys to the henhouse. In 1999, Phil Gramm authored a bill to remove all the regulations that governed Wall Street and our banking system. The bill passed and Clinton signed it. Here’s what Sen. Phil Gramm, McCain’s chief economic advisor, said at the bill signing:

“In the 1930s … it was believed that government was the answer. It was believed that stability and growth came from government overriding the functioning of free markets.

“We are here today to repeal [that] because we have learned that government is not the answer. We have learned that freedom and competition are the answers. We have learned that we promote economic growth and we promote stability by having competition and freedom.

“I am proud to be here because this is an important bill; it is a deregulatory bill. I believe that that is the wave of the future, and I am awfully proud to have been a part of making it a reality.”

This bill must be repealed. Bill Clinton can help by leading the effort for the repeal of the Gramm bill and the reinstating of even tougher regulations regarding our financial institutions. And when they’re done with that, they can restore the regulations for the airlines, the inspection of our food, the oil industry, OSHA, and every other entity that affects our daily lives. All oversight provisions for any “bailout” must have enforcement monies attached to them and criminal penalties for all offenders.

6. IF IT’S TOO BIG TO FAIL, THEN THAT MEANS IT’S TOO BIG TO EXIST. Allowing the creation of these mega-mergers and not enforcing the monopoly and anti-trust laws has allowed a number of financial institutions and corporations to become so large, the very thought of their collapse means an even bigger collapse across the entire economy. No one or two companies should have this kind of power. The so-called “economic Pearl Harbor” can’t happen when you have hundreds — thousands — of institutions where people have their money. When you have a dozen auto companies, if one goes belly-up, we don’t face a national disaster. If you have three separately-owned daily newspapers in your town, then one media company can’t call all the shots (I know… What am I thinking?! Who reads a paper anymore? Sure glad all those mergers and buyouts left us with a strong and free press!). Laws must be enacted to prevent companies from being so large and dominant that with one slingshot to the eye, the giant falls and dies. And no institution should be allowed to set up money schemes that no one can understand. If you can’t explain it in two sentences, you shouldn’t be taking anyone’s money.

7. NO EXECUTIVE SHOULD BE PAID MORE THAN 40 TIMES THEIR AVERAGE EMPLOYEE, AND NO EXECUTIVE SHOULD RECEIVE ANY KIND OF “PARACHUTE” OTHER THAN THE VERY GENEROUS SALARY HE OR SHE MADE WHILE WORKING FOR THE COMPANY. In 1980, the average American CEO made 45 times what their employees made. By 2003, they were making 254 times what their workers made. After 8 years of Bush, they now make over 400 times what their average employee makes. How this can happen at publicly held companies is beyond reason. In Britain, the average CEO makes 28 times what their average employee makes. In Japan, it’s only 17 times! The last I heard, the CEO of Toyota was living the high life in Tokyo. How does he do it on so little money? Seriously, this is an outrage. We have created the mess we’re in by letting the people at the top become bloated beyond belief with millions of dollars. This has to stop. Not only should no executive who receives help out of this mess profit from it, but any executive who was in charge of running his company into the ground should be fired before the company receives any help.

8. STRENGTHEN THE FDIC AND MAKE IT A MODEL FOR PROTECTING NOT ONLY PEOPLE’S SAVINGS, BUT ALSO THEIR PENSIONS AND THEIR HOMES. Obama was correct yesterday to propose expanding FDIC protection of people’s savings in their banks to $250,000. But this same sort of government insurance must be given to our nation’s pension funds. People should never have to worry about whether or not the money they’ve put away for their old age will be there. This will mean strict government oversight of companies who manage their employees’ funds — or perhaps it means that the companies will have to turn over those funds and their management to the government. People’s private retirement funds must also be protected, but perhaps it’s time to consider not having one’s retirement invested in the casino known as the stock market. Our government should have a solemn duty to guarantee that no one who grows old in this country has to worry about ending up destitute.

9. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH, CALM DOWN, AND NOT LET FEAR RULE THE DAY. Turn off the TV! We are not in the Second Great Depression. The sky is not falling. Pundits and politicians are lying to us so fast and furious it’s hard not to be affected by all the fear mongering. Even I, yesterday, wrote to you and repeated what I heard on the news, that the Dow had the biggest one day drop in its history. Well, that’s true in terms of points, but its 7% drop came nowhere close to Black Monday in 1987 when the stock market in one day lost 23% of its value. In the ’80s, 3,000 banks closed, but America didn’t go out of business. These institutions have always had their ups and downs and eventually it works out. It has to, because the rich do not like their wealth being disrupted! They have a vested interest in calming things down and getting back into the Jacuzzi.

As crazy as things are right now, tens of thousands of people got a car loan this week. Thousands went to the bank and got a mortgage to buy a home. Students just back to college found banks more than happy to put them into hock for the next 15 years with a student loan. Life has gone on. Not a single person has lost any of their money if it’s in a bank or a treasury note or a CD. And the most amazing thing is that the American public hasn’t bought the scare campaign. The citizens didn’t blink, and instead told Congress to take that bailout and shove it. THAT was impressive. Why didn’t the population succumb to the fright-filled warnings from their president and his cronies? Well, you can only say ‘Saddam has da bomb’ so many times before the people realize you’re a lying sack of shite. After eight long years, the nation is worn out and simply can’t take it any longer.

10. CREATE A NATIONAL BANK, A “PEOPLE’S BANK.” If we really are itching to print up a trillion dollars, instead of giving it to a few rich people, why don’t we give it to ourselves? Now that we own Freddie and Fannie, why not set up a people’s bank? One that can provide low-interest loans for all sorts of people who want to own a home, start a small business, go to school, come up with the cure for cancer or create the next great invention. And now that we own AIG, the country’s largest insurance company, let’s take the next step and provide health insurance for everyone. Medicare for all. It will save us so much money in the long run. And we won’t be 12th on the life expectancy list. We’ll be able to have a longer life, enjoying our government-protected pension, and living to see the day when the corporate criminals who caused so much misery are let out of prison so that we can help reacclimate them to civilian life — a life with one nice home and a gas-free car that was invented with help from the People’s Bank.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. Call your Senators now. Here’s a backup link in case we crash that site again. They are going to attempt their own version of the Looting of America tonight. And let your reps know if you agree with my 10-point plan.

Sesame Street K’nex: A Team Mom Review

Team Mom sent me the Sesame Street Oscar Building Set from Kid K’nex. Eva (6) and Charlie (3) were super excited and broke it out of the box right away. The pieces all fit into Oscar’s garbage can. Once out, children are supposed to build Oscar in various ways. His cute side-kick worm Slimy also comes with the package. The children looked at the flyer in the package and requested that I buy them some more characters so that they will have more characters to play with Oscar. Other characters available are Burt and Ernie, Grover, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Cookie Monster. As I expected, my children grew bored of this after the first two days. The problem is, the toy is Oscar (and Slimy) and that’s it. While Oscar can be tall, short, and look like some funny variations of himself, that’s it. Although that cutie Slimy is hard to resist, I prefer the ordinary K’nex, which we have, because they don’t limit the child’s imagination to one character.