Amazing Roses

A couple of days ago I noticed the bud on a new rose was the most intense color–even when waiting to bloom.  Once it opened today it was nothing short of spectacular!  None of these roses pictured cost more than $3.00 (after rebate) per plant.

Alongside it was another beauty–though more muted in color–it also was intense.

And then there were these climbers…….

College Commencements: Follow Your Passions In Life

Last evening we had a 27-year-old friend over for dinner.  The conversation–as is typical at our table whenever someone shares a meal with us–took a lot of detours and winding paths–before the evening came to an end.  Nothing is better than good food and lively conversation.

One of the topics shared between the three of us is the way to live life that is harmonious to the greater ends that we all want as individuals. No one, after all, lays in a hospital bed at the end of life and wishes he had spent a few more hours on the job.

The topic of those who want to make lots of money but never have time to enjoy the smaller things in life made for a long discussion.   The folks who live in $300,000 homes but have to work 60 hours-a-week for the mortgage payment, and never have time to shoot baskets in the hoop at the end of the drive, seems a poor use of money along with time.

James and I have found our ‘shared road’, and have constructed a life together that, while not typical for others, is one that we enjoy and has proved to be uplifting.  During the evening the famed book ‘The Tao of Pooh‘ was talked about.  James has just finished it (again), and our friend from dinner is reading it today.  The essentials of living life happily start by being authentic, and following your inner passion.

On the college commencement trail over the past weeks many notables have made memorable speeches to graduates.  A couple of samples stood out for me when reading them today, and in light of the dinner conversation from last evening.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE

Southern Methodist University

“Find and follow your passion. Now, I don’t mean just any old thing that interests you, or your career. I mean something you really believe is a unique calling to you — in other words, something that you can’t live without. … Fortunately, I wandered into a course in international politics taught by a Soviet specialist, a man named Josef Korbel who had a daughter named Madeleine Albright. And with that one class, I was hooked. I discovered that my passion was Russian — things Russian, things international, diplomacy. Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly what a young black girl from Birmingham was supposed to do, but it was like finding love. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew it was right.”

NEIL GAIMAN, AUTHOR

University of the Arts

“Nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either.”

Egyptian Novelist Ahdaf Soueif: “Down With The Next President. Amen.”

Many thoughts coming from Egypt today.

The man who will be declared president of Egypt shortly will not be the president Egyptians want, says the novelist Ahdaf Soueif.

Writing in Comment is free she says the choice before the electorate represents everything that revolution fought against. But the generals are wrong to think the revolution is over, she argues.

The revolution will continue because neither the old regime nor the Islamist trend in its current form are going to deliver “bread, freedom, social justice”. Neither of them are going to validate the sacrifices made by the 1,200 young people murdered by the regime, the 8,000 maimed, the 16,000 court-martialled. As the weekend’s spectacle unfolds, thousand of young men are in military jails, many of them on hunger strike.

In the first round of presidential elections three weeks ago, fewer than five million voted for Shafiq – the old regime candidate – and also fewer than five million voted for Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Around 12 million voted for the progressive, secular trend in the revolution – but that didn’t count because that vote was divided between five candidates. The progressives had done what they do best: failed to come together and make common cause against a known and clear enemy.

The people have, at every turn, done the right thing. They have taken to the streets when the cause has been theirs, they’ve stayed away when it’s been manufactured. They’ve been brave and resilient and resourceful. They have learned lessons. They voted the Brotherhood into parliament, and when they performed abysmally they withheld 50% of their vote from the Brotherhood’s presidential candidate. They are demanding and trying to push forward effective, unified, progressive representatives who can turn their courage into political gains. Most important, they have taken their revolution to their factories, universities, towns and streets.

For the last several months, a favourite slogan has been: “Down with the next president”. Amen.

Congressman Paul Ryan Irks Nuns, Thinking Catholics

Paul Ryan is good at two things.

First, irking people.

Second, motivating people to take action.

This time it is the nuns and fellow Catholics who take a great exception to the mean-spirited politics that Ryan plays all in the guise of sound policy-making.

Now comes “Nuns on the Bus,” a 15-day, nine-state tour that starts Monday in Iowa and rolls through Janesville and Racine starting Tuesday. Along the way, the sisters will visit Catholic-sponsored social service agencies that serve the nation’s poor and disenfranchised.

“I knew when the Vatican assessment came out that we needed to find a way to use even our notoriety for the sake of our mission,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C. The organization, among those criticized by the Vatican, is leading the bus tour.

Campbell, 66, has been very visible lately — she appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” last week — and seems not at all worried about Rome’s response to her public statements. On National Public Radio the day after the critique came out, she surmised that church leadership “doesn’t know how to deal with strong women and so their way is to try and shape us into whatever they think we should be.”

Campbell told me there was never any doubt the bus tour would swing through Wisconsin. “Your state is home to the man who started all this,” she said, referring to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Janesville Republican.

Ryan proposed the federal budget that recently passed the House of Representatives. He has cited his Catholic faith in defending the plan, which cuts government spending to avert what he says is a looming debt crisis that would hurt the poor first. Critics say it would slash the country’s safety net.

“It’s seriously warped,” Campbell said of Ryan’s budget. “It’s couched in really nice words, but it would devastate the soul of our nation.”

CNN Express Bus

In Madison.

Mitt Rommey Sees Politics Over Immigration Order, I See Logic And Moral Reasoning

This blog has been consistently supportive of the Dream Act on the national level, and bills proposed in Wisconsin that would have achieved the same type of result.  I have long advocated that undocumented students who came to the country before age 16, and have the required scholastic ability be allowed access to public financial aid for college.  

In June 2011 I asked the question, and answered it.

Why should a bright and capable young person, who has successfully completed high school, and possesses the ability to attend a state university be denied in-state tuition rates simply because they came to Wisconsin from another country with their parents, having no ability as a child to make life decisions? Why should anyone wish to force these capable young and keen minds into a permanent economic underclass that will be their fate unless they find the education to meet the requirements of the ever-changing economy?

It is not logical to deny young minds that are college ready the opportunity to meet the challenges of the early part of the 21st century by denying them access to the UW system. Often money is the factor that denies certain demographics learning opportunities. While some may look at the in-state and out-state rates and say it is still possible for these immigrants to attend misses the mark about fairness and decency. This matter is not only about economic fairness, but about the way we treat each other as members of society.

Are we short-changing society a cancer researcher, novelist, civic leader, or teacher by keeping a young person out of college? We will never know if these young minds are not allowed to reach their full potential.

The mass deportation theories, and crazed rants of those opposed to brown people are met here with smirks. 

There are some facts about immigrants that America will just have to adjust to, since they are not about to be reversed, nor should they be.

Whether you describe it as the dawning of a post-racial age or just the end of white America, we’re approaching a profound demographic tipping point. According to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, those groups currently categorized as racial minorities—blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians—will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. Among Americans under the age of 18, this shift is projected to take place in 2023, which means that every child born in the United States from here on out will belong to the first post-white generation.

Therefore I was very pleased with the statement and resolve shown by President Obama this past week when addressing the needs many people living here have with immigration issues.  Especially young people who were brought here by their parents, and have proved themselves to be–in every respect–Americans.

Granted the scope of what Obama stated was less broad than where I am headed on this blog, but the issues are important, and need to be aired, again.

The President stated that young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally before age 16 and spent at least five continuous years here would be allowed to stay and apply for work permits if they had no criminal history and met other criteria, such as graduating from high school or serving honorably in the military.

All this leads me to Bob Schieffer who interviewed Mitt Romney for CBS’s “Face the Nation” where this dialogue unfolded.  

SCHIEFFER: “[W]ould you repeal [Obama’s immigration] order if you became president?” …

ROMNEY: “This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the President jumped in and said I’m going to take this action … [H]e was president for the last three and a half years and did nothing on immigration. Two years he had a Democrat House and Senate, did nothing of a permanent or long-term basis. What I would do, is I’d make sure that by coming into office, I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally.” …

SCHIEFFER: “But would you repeal this?” …

ROMNEY: “[M]y anticipation is I’d come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure. What the president did, he should have worked on this years ago, if he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn’t. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.” …

SCHIEFFER: “So he did it for politics.”

ROMNEY: “Well, that’s certainly a big part of the equation.” …

Not so fast, Mitt.

Ever consider the fact that since Congress is so incapable of even agreeing on what day of the week it is that there needs to be strong leadership from the White House?

How about doing what is right when in office, and making the tough calls based on logic and moral reasoning? 

Which is precisely what President Obama demonstrated.

I have been watching with amusement for many years the way most conservative elements of the GOP have used immigration for short-term gain. The fact they are sowing seeds that will produce long-term pain for their party, and a continuing legacy of dreadful policy options, seems not to be of concern.

Mitt Romney is the latest conservative (wannabe) who is making that same mistake.

Watergate: 40 Years Ago Today

I hate to admit that such a political event as Watergate has brought me so much reading pleasure–but I would be lying if I said anything else.  The political events that evolved around Watergate has made for years of fantastic reading and discussions as there are so many tangents and personalities that get placed under that famous label. I started reading books such as “All The President’s Men” in high school, and have never stopped.  That is over 30 years of interest…..

Yes, Watergate was tragic, and damaged the political institutions of this nation.  That concerns me deeply.  But when it comes to Watergate not only did it sell a lot of newspapers, but it made for one damn perfect political drama.  There is no end to the speculating and dissecting that this episode has  created.

Forty years years ago today Watergate started–if you do not count the meetings that took place before that date which were needed to conjure up such ridiculous political chicanery.  I wonder how Jeb Stuart Magruder will observe this anniversary.  What a slug!

I have a series of short videos that bring back to life the memories of not only the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, but the series of personalities and events that followed.  This is so short and surface-oriented–but still  these videos give a bit of the mood that dominated this nation for years.

Following the firing of Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman at Camp David on a Sunday morning, and the speech to the nation by President Nixon that followed, came one of the most bizarre phone calls that the recording system at the White House ever picked up.