‘Thoughts on America’ Category

  1. Public Pet Health Option

    September 3, 2009 by myeye

    If you don’t love Garrison Keillor, do not read this post.  However, it’s my experience with his writing, that in every witty sentence there is an important thought.  We should be as concerned about the welfare of human beings as we are about our pets’ welfare.  Doesn’t seem like we’ve yet evolved to that level of awareness.  -P

    We need a public pet option

    Want empathy? Send weepy pet parents to town hall meetings waving photos of kittycats in need of new kidneys
    By Garrison Keillor

    Sep. 02, 2009

    I caught part of a radio call-in show the other day on which a vet was fielding questions about Addison’s disease among basset hounds and a cocker spaniel’s hypothyroid problem and what can be done about a bulldog who snores (he needs to lose weight), and it was interesting to discover the excellent medical care that dogs have come to expect these days. The vet was herself a dog parent, as she put it, and there was genuine feeling in her voice when she discussed the bassets’ hormonal problems, something I haven’t heard in the debate over healthcare for humans this summer.

    I have not been a pet parent for 20 years so perhaps I’m not up to speed here, but back in the day, dogs slept in the garage or on the porch so they could defend the home against socialism, and if they snored, it definitely was their problem and not ours. Ditto hypothyroidism. And there was a death panel around whose name was Dad.

    Dad grew up on a farm and was not overly sentimental about animals. He did not purchase jewelry for them or talk to them in a high-pitched voice. He would have blanched at the thought that the average cost of a visit to the vet with your cat is now $172. The chance of Dad paying that much to care for Snowball was about the same as Snowball’s chances in hell. But that has all changed, and now the American people shell out upward of $10 billion a year for healthcare for pets.

    Fine. Not an issue. Nobody called in to the show to suggest that the knee operation on the 14-year-old golden retriever (a recent cancer survivor) shows a level of caring far beyond what we extend to three-fourths of the world’s human population. I could have, but I don’t care to upset the golden retriever community. Live and let live is my motto, dear reader. If your gerbil Mitzi needs a new heart valve and you’ve got the 15 grand to spend on it, I am not here to stand in your way. Period.

    And so the summer fades into September. Here on the upper Mississippi we’ve already felt an autumnal chill. I have gone to the State Fair and fed my child her allotment of corn dogs and deep-fried cheese curds and led her through the poultry barn so she knows where the omelet comes from and now it’s time for her to resume science and mathematics and learn the subjunctive mood.

    Here is an example of the subjunctive: Had we known that Republicans were so paranoid about public health, we would have packaged healthcare reform differently and come up with better slogans.

    Perhaps there should be a public pet option.

    There was real sympathy for the parent of the bassets with the adrenal deficiency, whereas the 48 million uninsured Americans (of whom two-thirds come from a family with at least one full-time worker) are merely a big fat statistic and so far Democrats have failed to produce a poster child. We can sort of imagine the misery of walking into an emergency room with no money, no plastic, no Blue Cross card, and trying to obtain treatment for some ailment that doesn’t involve bone fragments protruding from the skin, but it doesn’t speak to the heart the way an injured dog does.

    Animals love us unconditionally and we love them back, maybe more than we love our neighbors, and that’s just the truth, Ruth. People can be irksome, petty, especially raggedy ones — poverty does not always bring out the best in folks — and that’s why it’s difficult to get people to care about the uninsured.

    If you put a pet option in the healthcare reform scheme, Republicans would be in a bind. It’s one thing to oppose big government taking over from those little mom-and-pop insurance companies, but do you favor throwing Mr. Mittens out the car window when he gets old and feeble and needs an IV because he can’t chew his kibble? You’d have weepy pet parents at town hall meetings waving photographs of kittycats in need of new kidneys, and finally you’d start to see some empathy. People love their animals, and if we could just agree that everybody in America should receive the same level of care enjoyed by an elderly golden retriever, we could be done with this and get ready for the World Series.

    © 2009 by Garrison Keillor


  2. Paul Revere Day

    April 7, 2009 by MyEye

    “‘Twas the 18th of April in ’75, hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year, and the midnight ride of Paul Revere . . .”

    I have always thought Paul Revere Day was one of America’s greatest holidays.  It’s a lot more exciting than celebrating a bunch of gouty old men sitting around in a smoke-filled room signing their names.  This year the Best of Breed judging at the Cardigan National Specialty will take place on Paul Revere Day — Saturday, April 18th.

    Join me in wearing red, white and blue — for fun AND to make a statement!  You can spread this idea to every Middlesex village and farm!


  3. The Governor Will Sign the Death Penalty Repeal

    March 18, 2009 by MyEye

    Today Governor Richardson announced that he will sign the bill repealing the death penalty.  The wild west state of New Mexico has joined the civilized world.  I’m so proud of our amateur politicians, of all my friends who’ve spent countless hours in the Capitol, written letters, made phone calls.  Thanks to all of you who logged in to vote “repeal” in the most unscientific of polls.  I don’t have the words to express my joy, relief.

    Press Release from the office of the Governor:  Governor Bill Richardson Signs Repeal of the Death Penalty 
      
    SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson today signed House Bill 285, Repeal of the Death Penalty. The Governor’s remarks follow:
     
    Today marks the end of a long, personal journey for me and the issue of the death penalty.
     
    Throughout my adult life, I have been a firm believer in the death penalty as a just punishment – in very rare instances, and only for the most heinous crimes. I still believe that.
     
    But six years ago, when I took office as Governor of the State of New Mexico, I started to challenge my own thinking on the death penalty.
     
    The issue became more real to me because I knew the day would come when one of two things might happen: I would either have to take action on legislation to repeal the death penalty, or more daunting, I might have to sign someone’s death warrant.
     
    I’ll be honest. The prospect of either decision was extremely troubling. But I was elected by the people of New Mexico to make just this type of decision.
     
    So, like many of the supporters who took the time to meet with me this week, I have believed the death penalty can serve as a deterrent to some who might consider murdering a law enforcement officer, a corrections officer, a witness to a crime or kidnapping and murdering a child. However, people continue to commit terrible crimes even in the face of the death penalty and responsible people on both sides of the debate disagree – strongly – on this issue.
     
    But what we cannot disagree on is the finality of this ultimate punishment. Once a conclusive decision has been made and executed, it cannot be reversed. And it is in consideration of this, that I have made my decision.
     
    I have decided to sign legislation that repeals the death penalty in the state of New Mexico.
     
    Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime. If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.
     
    But the reality is the system is not perfect – far from it. The system is inherently defective. DNA testing has proven that. Innocent people have been put on death row all across the country.
     
    Even with advances in DNA and other forensic evidence technologies, we can’t be 100-percent sure that only the truly guilty are convicted of capital crimes. Evidence, including DNA evidence, can be manipulated. Prosecutors can still abuse their powers. We cannot ensure competent defense counsel for all defendants. The sad truth is the wrong person can still be convicted in this day and age, and in cases where that conviction carries with it the ultimate sanction, we must have ultimate confidence – I would say certitude – that the system is without flaw or prejudice. Unfortunately, this is demonstrably not the case.
     
    And it bothers me greatly that minorities are overrepresented in the prison population and on death row.
     
    I have to say that all of the law enforcement officers, and especially the parents and spouses of murder victims, made compelling arguments to keep the death penalty. I respect their opinions and have taken their experiences to heart — which is why I struggled – even today – before making my final decision.
     
    Yes, the death penalty is a tool for law enforcement. But it’s not the only tool. For some would-be criminals, the death penalty may be a deterrent. But it’s not, and never will be, for many, many others.
     
    While today’s focus will be on the repeal of the death penalty, I want to make clear that this bill I’m signing actually makes New Mexico safer. With my signature, we now have the option of sentencing the worst criminals to life in prison without the possibility of parole. They will never get out of prison.
     
    Faced with the reality that our system for imposing the death penalty can never be perfect, my conscience compels me to replace the death penalty with a solution that keeps society safe.
     
    The bill I am signing today, which was courageously carried for so many years by Representative Gail Chasey, replaces the death penalty with true life without the possibility of parole – a sentence that ensures violent criminals are locked away from society forever, yet can be undone if an innocent person is wrongfully convicted. More than 130 death row inmates have been exonerated in the past 10 years in this country, including four New Mexicans – a fact I cannot ignore.
     
    From an international human rights perspective, there is no reason the United States should be behind the rest of the world on this issue. Many of the countries that continue to support and use the death penalty are also the most repressive nations in the world. That’s not something to be proud of.
     
    In a society which values individual life and liberty above all else, where justice and not vengeance is the singular guiding principle of our system of criminal law, the potential for wrongful conviction and, God forbid, execution of an innocent person stands as anathema to our very sensibilities as human beings. That is why I’m signing this bill into law.


  4. Waiting for the Governor

    March 15, 2009 by MyEye

    Monday morning Big Bill (as we all know him) will have on his desk legislation to repeal our death penalty law.  Many of us have fought for this repeal for years.  The specific impetus came from four bikers, tried and convicted of murder who sat on our death row for a couple of years before a Federal informant “found God” and confessed that it was he who had killed the young female victim.  Since then, the national “Innocence Project” has been instrumental in proving the actual innocence of numerous (well over 100) death row residents.  Our judicial system may well be the best in the world, but it’s not perfect.  When the death penalty is imposed within this imperfect system, there is no second chance, no recourse, no way to make things right.  There is also a moral issue for me.  Is it “right” for our State to kill someone for killing someone?  I can’t reconcile it.  Finally, this very poor State cannot afford a death penalty. The cost of defending a death penalty charge is astronomical, and since the vast majority of those charged with crimes to which the death penalty applies are the minorities and the poor, it is the State’s Constitutional obligation to provide a defense.  That defense: paying the highly qualified (but poorly paid) capitol attorneys, providing investigators, psychologists, and other experts is beyond our means.  Just a note on paying the lawyers — they are paid an hourly fee that is considerably less than that paid to the civil attorneys who handle State Risk Management cases.  They’re just about money.

    The Governor is asking for public input saying he considers this a moral issue, rather than one of numbers and is soliciting opinion from victims’ families, law enforcement, the clergy, and us regular citizens.  I hope New Mexico joins the other fifteen states that have abolished the death penalty, and then, we have to work on our Federal Government which imposes the death penalty for more than 90 crimes.

    Big Bill has until Wednesday night to do the right thing.  Just do it!


  5. The Whitehouse Blog

    January 21, 2009 by MyEye

    If you’d like to know what’s happening in the executive branch of our government, visit  http://www.whitehouse.gov/  President Obama and his advisors have continued their use of available electronic media to blog for us.  Since I begin my day checking all my favorite blogs, I added the Whitehouse (and it’s on my blogroll for your convenience).  There are links on the blog for “contact us” and for “questions”.  We should probably make use of them from time to time.