Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 49,214
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 49,214
THERE'S a fox in my garden.
There's a young, small brown fox who has decided that my cottage/woodland garden yard is its new home. I found it curled up asleep on top of the stone wall where the powder-blue star-shaped flowers of the campanula are now in full bloom and spilling over the edge in the morning sun to mingle with the dark-green blades of lirope at the bottom.
It was such an iconic and natural sight that I waited several minutes -- studying this 'wild' resident of our wooded community with fondness and admiration -- until I woke the sleeping beauty with a 'hey!' and a finger pointing in the direction I wanted it to leave. The small, summer resident woodpeckers had already been chattering away like mad. They looked to have decided that I'd gotten a new pet and were arguing their birdie case to me; as much as they were chastising my slumbering visitor.
My fox woke up without the ability to see, as the sunny spot it had chosen put a glare of light between us. It squinted at me at first through one open eye; the other shut as if it intended to snooze just a little bit longer. Then it leapt up and made as quick an exit as it could out of the back of the yard; loping along as fast as its sleep-interrupted instincts could manage.
I'd seen the fox for a few successive years at the back of the yard, sunning itself along the ridge separating the properties. I'd long suspected it had made a temporary home back where I'd dumped a few Christmas trees over the years and may have made a small shelter there.
I've had the lids lifted, carefully, from my trash cans -- and although I suspected it had been a raccoon, I had only seen the fox (and smelled his markings, as well). The other night, I called my wife to the front window in the middle of the night to see our fox weaving in and out of the daylilies, hunting for mice and stuff; barely making itself seen above the dense growth. The next morning I found it had peed on almost every bush in the yard to mark its space.
I wasn't too thrilled to see it taking advantage of the center of my yard, though; even less happy to find its making a regular bed right where I'm trying to naturalize several flowering plants.
I had a beautiful doe with a white rump and splotched coat who had also adopted my yard as her own, and had nibbled a couple of my Asian lilies from the buds right down to the stem. I went out to shoo it away in person one morning, but the sight of this gorgeous deer floored me so much that I froze in place and just went back inside without shooing it away.
I have hoped, to myself, that the fox pee would keep the doe from eating my lilies.
I'm concerned about the potential dangerousness of this beauty of nature, though. I'm worried about it becoming too comfortable being so close to humans (our own, esp.) and the prospect that someone will get bitten. I'd have the same concerns about any stray dog who had gone to ground.
Yet, I'm a bit sad that we can't enjoy this beautiful and bountiful yard on the same terms. It is, after all, meant to be a refuge for nature's offspring. We do need to maintain our respect for our established boundaries, though. Even our birds knew that, instinctively, as they raised the alarm at the opportunistic intruder who, very likely, has made a meal out of some of their offspring.
I'd like to be able to interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.
We have it pretty good where I live. Our community was planned to incorporate nature with the development. We have foot and bike trails which lead almost everywhere you want to go in town. We have trees, galore, and a few small lakes within walking distance. I live in a cu-de-sac neighborhood with minimal traffic. It's really a suburban paradise.
Like most residential areas near large cities, we are feeling the pressure to develop more and further reduce our greenways and other open spaces
We have a county executive who is relatively young, but has risen to the top of our local political establishment. He's also a longtime resident, having grown up right here in town; attended the local schools; knows the community. He's a Democrat, as well.
I first met Ken Ullman when he was making his first run for office. He was going door to door in the neighborhood and I almost missed him as he came by my door. I ran up the street and caught him; shook his hand. He was an affable young man who had an appearance like he had just graduated high school that summer.
He was easily elected in our 'deep blue' community. I had a short conversation about our community with Mr. Ullman when we met. I told him of my concern that we keep and maintain our numerous community centers, and, at least, keep them 'community' centers. He quickly agreed, and he immediately got my vote.
Shortly after he took office, however, Mr. Ullman pushed the local board to reduce the density requirements for our town to allow developers to site buildings and homes closer together. It was a betrayal of what he had represented to me. How did this fresh-faced young man get into the developer's corner so fast?
Since then, I've taken to looking for a Democratic challenger to unseat him; one who promises to halt or slow the development. The shopping center/community center where the natural food store is that my wife works at is at risk of being completely torn down and replaced with a high-rise and office spaces. Naturally, Mr. Ullamn is a strong proponent of the changes. the approval, though, while moving steadily forward, has been predictably slow in winning over our civic-environment-inclined community leaders and advocates.
I imagine he'll eventually get his way and there will be some sort of compromise development which preserves the decades-old natural food store and the handful of other merchants who haven't yet left in the face of fast-increasing cost of leasing their space and bankrupted by the faltering local economy.
We're not optimistic.
Mr. Ullman is personally well liked around here, though. He's probably a good fit for this community; a lifetime resident, he's a natural part of our community landscape. We voted him in; we embraced him. Now he's so familiar and entrenched, I don't think we'll ever rid our selves of him.
Like other parts of the country, we've seen a massive reduction in the number of bees which visit our garden. So, when a wood-boring bumblebee came around last year and ate a perfect little hole into my wooden bench beside my back door and made a home for its mate, I hesitated to immediately look for a way to kill it. I've been without a pet for a while now, and I'm missing that companionship a bit. So, it wasn't really a surprise for my wife to find me downstairs this winter trying to get the plants we rescued from the cold to sit up and bark for me.
Likewise, it wasn't surprising that I made an uneasy truce with this aggressive bee (locust family, I think) and we had somehow learned to keep our distance from each other without the need for me to kill it or without provoking its need to sting someone here. We learned to live with it and added yet another legend to tell of our close relationship with another of nature's creatures.
This year, however, another bee came to the same spot and began work on its own hole. I found some natural insecticide and I coated the bench; spraying a bit on the bee when it returned. that seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, the bee wasn't dissuaded from making its temporary home there. I went out a couple of days later and found the largest pile of bee-generated sawdust yet, and I knew I had failed to turn this bee around.
I had been pretty proud of myself for the restraint I had shown up until then, but, I was now thinking of all nature's creatures who had shown up last summer to invade the hive hole; most notably a trio of large wasps. I went inside and got a bottle of ant insecticide and started pumping it into the hole. I could hear desperate buzzing inside, so I knew I had it trapped. After a minute, or so of this mournful buzz and my bee fell out of the hole . . . and I smashed her immediately. I felt terrible. My wife says I did the right thing, but I still feel like I betrayed something basic and good inside of me. Oh, well . . .
I carefully checked my back yard this morning for any sign of my fox. I quietly sneaked around the side of the house and I didn't see it anywhere. However, when I went inside and looked out back through the window, my fox was back in its spot; curled up nicely and fast asleep in the morning's warm sun.
I sneaked out the door and crept up slowly and quietly to stand right above my handsome guest . . . I clapped my hands, loudly and shouted, 'Out!' at the top of my lungs.
I miss my fox, already. I'm certain I'll make even more of a fuss if it returns again.
Posted by bigtree | Mon Jun 4, 2012, 09:34 AM (18 replies)
Providing the second blow in a one-two punch to Florida's republican governor Rick Scott's moves to disenfranchise the states' minority, immigrant, and Democratic voters, Attorney General Holder warned Florida's election authorities that they look to be running afoul of both the law and regulations requiring them to submit their plans for consideration under the Voting Rights Act.
A federal judge struck down a key part of Florida’s new election laws, which would have applied to the 62 counties not subject to the Voting Rights Act.
A top lawyer for the Justice Department's civil rights division wants Florida officials to explain why they've unilaterally decided to purge the state's voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens just months before a key primary in the 2012 elections -- an apparent violation of provisions in the landmark Voting Rights Act.
Both of these actions -- especially the warnings from the Justice Dept. -- send a message to the other states which might have been considering jumping on the voter purge bandwagon.
Having already challenged at least 9 other instances of restrictive and illegal voting restrictions by states in court filings -- and made inviolate the 'voter id' election procedures in both Texas and South Carolina -- the Obama Justice Dept. is sending a clear message that they will hold state governments to the letter and limits of federal law in their determination to protect voter rights and voter access to the polls.
In the letter sent by the Justice Dept. to Florida's election officials, they not only demand that Florida stop their purge of voters, but that they submit their plans, under the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, to Justice for consideration; noting that, 'the State of Florida, as a whole, is subject to the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993:
This is a clear and forceful shot across the bow of republicans' plans around the nation to 'steal the election,' as Obama's Attorney General told black clergymen this week:
|The Republic: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/CONGRESS-VOTING_8131232/CONGRESS-VOTING_8131232/
. . . Holder told the clergy leaders Wednesday that at least nine lawsuits have been filed over the last two years challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the act — which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get federal approval for changes in their voting procedures — and arguing that it’s no longer needed because the states under it have made great strides in ensuring that voting access is fair and nondiscriminatory.
Holder's Justice Dept. anticipated these recent attempts to rig election results by the suppressing of vulnerable voters access, identification, and rights early on in the process. The decision by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to nullify South Carolina's new 'voter id' law, came a week after Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, celebrating the 1965 Voting Rights Act in December.
"Are we willing to allow this era -- our era -- to be remembered as the age when our nation's proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?' Holder asked in his Dec. 13 speech.
Posted by bigtree | Fri Jun 1, 2012, 10:06 PM (31 replies)
We all know the President has been pushing Congress for a year to pass his Jobs bill, warning that the jobs economy needed stimulus and incentive to continue to grow. Now, when we get a jobs report that shows a stall in the months and months of steady employment improvement, it's President Obama who should be credited for presenting a jobs proposal -- fighting for it against steady opposition from a republican leadership which publicly and repeatedly promised to spend their time working to unseat him, instead of focusing their energy on rebuilding the economy.
There a defensive feeling in the air among Democrats today, but there should, instead, be OUTRAGE that republicans have dithered with a recovering economy until they allowed it to falter and stagnate with their obstruction
Blame Congress? Of course, blame Congress. The president has very little to do with actually creating jobs. It's Congress' responsibility to approve and allocate any money that could have been used to as a stimulus and incentive for businesses to hire workers. It's not the President's.
Moreover, by law, tradition, and, save a super-majority vote, all 'money' legislation MUST originate in the House; the republican-controlled House of Representatives; the republican House that voters sent to Washington to fix this. They've obviously failed to do their job; much less do it correctly or effectively.
Voters sent republicans to Washington to do more than just oppose Obama. Voters sent their elected representatives to Washington -- both republicans and Democrats -- expecting them (from polling) to work together to help fix the economy. They failed.
The late, Robert Byrd, a legislative and constitutional scholar, spoke often about the responsibility of the legislature; its constitutional prerogative in budget and money matters; and, its frequent and habitual abdication of that responsibility.
"We, as legislators, have a responsibility to work with the chief executive, but it is intended to be a two-way street," Sen. Byrd remarked in an address on the Senate's history.
"The Framers did not envision the office of President as having the attributes of royalty. We must recognize the heavy burden that any President bears, and wherever and whenever we can, we must cooperate with the chief executive in the interest of all the people. But let us keep in mind Madison's admonition: "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."
There is nothing at all stopping Congress from setting their own agenda and acting on it. In fact, the constitution demands that they provide the necessary checks against what they may view as the excesses of the Executive. But, they must also produce more than just opposition to the President's proposals. They need to take the lead in enacting the people's business.
Conversely, they must take the blame when they fail to do so.
Posted by bigtree | Fri Jun 1, 2012, 12:21 PM (8 replies)
President Barack Obama with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Toni Morrison in the White House, May 29, 2012.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
more Medal of Freedom winners at the White House here: http://theobamadiary.com/2012/05/29/medal-of-freedom-2/
Posted by bigtree | Tue May 29, 2012, 09:28 PM (4 replies)
@MichelleObama Today we pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our country and offer our support to those who loved them. –mo 5.28.2012, 1:11 p.m.
@BarackObama Today, we honor those who loved their country so much they sacrificed their lives for it. We owe them a debt we can never repay. -bo 5.28.2012, 12:35 p.m.
Posted by bigtree | Tue May 29, 2012, 12:20 PM (1 replies)
excerpt from remarks by the President Commemorating Memorial Day, May 28, 2012
Arlington National Cemetery
ONE thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them—not just as a rank, or a number, or a name on a headstone, but as Americans, often far too young, who were guided by a deep and abiding love for their families, for each other, and for this country.
full remarks: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/28/remarks-president-commemorating-memorial-day
Posted by bigtree | Tue May 29, 2012, 11:54 AM (1 replies)
President Obama stands with Vietnam War widow Rose Mary Sabo-Brown after he and first lady Michelle Obama laid a wreath with her at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
President Barack Obama is reflected in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall as he delivers remarks during the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War commemoration ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 28. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
"Veterans, families of the Vietnam War, I know the wounds of war are slow to heal. You know that better than most. But today we take another step. The task of telling your story continues. The work of perfecting our Union goes on. And decades from now, I hope another young American will visit this place and reach out and touch a name. And she’ll learn the story of servicemembers -- people she never met, who fought a war she never knew -- and in that moment of understanding and of gratitude and of grace, your legacy will endure. For you are all true heroes and you will all be remembered."
full remarks by the President at the Commemoration Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War
mp4 (852MB) http://www.whitehouse.gov/videos/2012/May/052812_NationalMall_HD.mp4
mp3 (55MB) http://www.whitehouse.gov/videos/2012/May/052812_NationalMall.mp3
Posted by bigtree | Tue May 29, 2012, 09:50 AM (2 replies)
Mitt Romney wants African-Americans to vote for him. At the very least, he wants black voters to think twice before proudly casting their ballot for the first African-American president in the nation's history. That's why his campaign is stepping up their messaging and outreach to the black community, beginning this month -- to try and convince voters (both black and white) that his campaign and party aren't actually the pariahs that their indifferent and mostly hostile positions and statements would suggest.
It's a rather tardy start to this initiative by the Romney campaign, having only recently appointed their first, sort-of-senior, black official as a communications adviser for outreach to the African-American community. The new campaign official, Tara Wall, a former Bush appointee and conservative commentator, must understand that she has a daunting task in selling her candidate's message and policies to the black community.
from an article in TBO: http://www2.tbo.com/news/nation-world/2012/may/27/namaino13-romney-begins-quietly-courting-black-vot-ar-408443/
"Yes, it is a bit harder this time. We have a black president. But we can't go in with the mindset that we aren't going to win any people over to our side," said Tara Wall, a former Bush administration official who was recently hired as a senior Romney communications adviser to handle outreach to African Americans.
It may not be an actual ploy, as Wall argues here, but republican outreach is normally not what most African-Americans have in mind when they look for support and attention to their particular needs and concerns. In fact, most of the republican party's outreach to the black community has been a cynical attempt to convince folks that the issues and initiatives they've advocated and fought for over the decades are wrongheaded and should be supplanted with their party's own prescriptions and schemes, instead.
That's certainly been the case with Mitt Romney. Despite providing lip service to the overall concerns of black voters, he's adhered to most of the confrontational planks of his party's reflexive paternalism which is determined to convince African-Americans that their conservative agenda is ultimately superior to what black Americans have been demanding and fighting for.
It's rather easy to point to Romney's opposition to affirmative action as a harbinger of his overall attitude toward issues which predominately affect black Americans. Although, that position would seem to be a predictable and ordinary disagreement on policy which, by itself, wouldn't seem to necessarily mean that the presumptive nominee for president is hostile to the interests of the African-American community.
However, that very position of Mr. Romney's is at the hub of his party's philosophy that there isn't actually any more need to seek or recognize any broad legislative remedies for the black community and individuals, because, as the right-wing thinking of the vast majority of his party goes, 'equality' means that blacks aren't viewed as requiring or deserving any benefit from the government targeted specifically to their particular community of concerns and interests.
The lie that's perpetuated by their right-wing is that blacks have already achieved enough recovery from the institutionalized racism and discrimination of our nation's past, so that they should now be made to compete on an 'equal' level with their white counterparts for government assistance and benefit.
Despite the persistence of disproportional percentages of black individuals in states of poverty; insubstantial health care; inadequate housing; criminal profiling and higher rates of incarceration for similar crimes as non-blacks; lack of resources for education; etc., the Romney republican stance would never favor the views of the African-American community that these are issues which need to be addressed with specific attention to their impact on black Americans.
In fact, republicans only seem to recognize that a black 'community' actually exists around election time; and even then, only to posture as if 'responsibility' and 'accountability' were challenges for African-Americans alone, and, that poverty, joblessness, crime, and other deficiencies of their community were the product of all that they would deny them legislatively. For their own good, the contemporary republican dictum goes, the community that they'll admit is suffering proportionally to the rest of the nation (if they can somehow blame our black President), should not receive benefits or government remedies which don't carry some punitive or corrective measure to induce desired behavior.
For example, Romney vehemently defended his wife's decision to 'work at home' raising her children, but, for poor communities which are disproportionally black, Romney insists mothers should be forced to put their children in daycare and go to work. At a town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire on January 4th, Romney described his position on work requirements for welfare recipients as governor of Massachusetts:
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” Romney said. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that's heartless,' and I said ‘No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
Fair enough, except when you consider how difficult it is to find employment these days, especially in hard-hit African-American neighborhoods. Without available jobs, the workfare measures are merely punitive, and not any path to upward mobility or sustenance.
So, what about the health needs of the black community and the impact of Romney's pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act?
from ColorLines: http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/04/mitt_romneys_dismal_racial_justice_report_card.html
In 2000, 57.5 percent of black Americans had employer-sponsored health insurance. By 2010, that number fell below 50 percent, to 45.3. For black children, the drop was even steeper: employer sponsored health insurance fell 14.1 percentage points.
As Romney 'reaches out' to the African-American community, his campaign for president is imbued with his political promise to eviscerate any progress for the black community that's been made as a result of the health law's passage. Yet, he's determined to tell that community, and others in need, that he knows better than they do in their support of the historic changes in access and benefit.
It was that superior attitude on display last week in a black community in west Philadelphia where Romney staged the second of his tardy attempts at outreach in minority neighborhoods. At a charter school with a predominately black population, Romney sought to confront educators he met with, instead of listen to their concerns. This, despite his statement beforehand that he came "to learn, obviously, from people who are having experiences that are unique and instructive."
Instead, Mr. Romney came armed with proposals for school vouchers and a cynical slap at teachers' unions in the form of an argument against the well-established need for smaller classrooms; a view of his which was based on a study done in Singapore and South Korea; apparently good enough in Romney's mind for our U.S. communities. It's not as if Romney cared about the issue, though, as much as he was mindlessly taking glee in opposing the teachers' union's longtime support and advocacy for more qualified teachers and more classrooms.
One of the most important things Mr. Romney might 'learn' from people in the African-American community is that it won't do any good to patronize them with his presence if all he intends to do is ignore their concerns and interests in favor of promoting to them his cynical own. It might help if he actually respected these folks in the first place. People can, not only sense a phony, they know when they're being talked down to and ignored.
from BET on Romney's Philadelphia 'outreach' effort: http://www.bet.com/news/features/vote-2012/news/politics/2012/05/25/commentary-romney-s-telling-visit-to-a-black-neighborhood.html
Washington Post writer Philip Rucker, notes that Romney was greeted (in Philadelphia) by shouts of “Get out, Romney!”
Romney discovered an active, informed community which wasn't just sitting around waiting for some republican demagogue to sweep into town and rescue them with his punitive reforms. In fact, the charter school's founder told reporters that he's not sure whether Romney understands the needs of the African-American community. I'm not even sure he has any affinity for them at all.
Before an awkward photo op with a group of African Americans kids at a Martin Luther King Day parade in January 2008, Romney displayed his most candid side. That hasn't been his strong suit . . . "Who let the dogs out? Who, who?" Romney presumptuously chanted to the small crowd gathered on the corner of the block. Personally, I think he's just not up to 'outreach.' Perhaps he should actually take himself up on his offer to just 'listen' to the people he intends to vote for him, instead?
Posted by bigtree | Sun May 27, 2012, 10:34 AM (35 replies)
DPH ~ Daily POTUS Hug, Friday, May 18, 2012
No new hugs yet today . . . here's a recap from earlier in the week.
President Obama spoke about the economy, marriage equality and other issues in Chelsea on Monday, and was introduced by Ricky Martin, sporting a moustache for his role in “Evita.” The two shared a hug. Photos by Bob Krasner
Obama takes it to another level at the Rubin Museum
Posted by bigtree | Fri May 18, 2012, 01:03 PM (0 replies)
from The only adult in the room:
on May 14, 2012
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Speaking at an event for the first time since announcing his support for same-sex marriage, President Obama said his position was part of his campaign philosophy, rooted, he said, in “the basic idea that I want everybody treated fairly in this country.”
“So much of this has to do with a belief that not only are we all in this together but all of us are equal in terms of dignity, in terms of respect,” the president said to the cheers of 200 people — including singer Ricky Martin and actress Eva Longoria — at the Rubin Museum of Art in downtown New York City.
Consistent with that belief, Obama continued, “the announcement I made last week about my views on marriage equality.”
“We have never gone wrong when we expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody,” he said. “That doesn’t weaken families, it strengthens families.”
Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign fundraiser May 14, 2012 at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.
read more: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/14/11703805-obama-gay-marriage-doesnt-weaken-families-it-strengthens-families#.T7GbF5KvPDA.twitter
Posted by bigtree | Tue May 15, 2012, 09:07 AM (13 replies)