Friday, June 25, 2010

It's the Fouth of July. Do you know what your Constitution Stands For?

As we prepare for our Fourth Of July celebration I am focused on the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings. It is ironic that the Republicans trashed Thurgood Marshall for being an activist judge after the recent rulings that have come out of the Robert's Court. Rulings from the Robert's court were made on ideology and not on precedence. (Contrary to their promise made during their hearings.) The shameful ruling giving corporations the status of a person and on the recent gun law ruling were the result of ideology. The rulings were handed down by conservative ideologues. The meaning of an activist judge was never more evident.

In the hearing on Elena Kagan the Republicans could not find a valid reason to oppose her so they had to stress the fact that she clerked for Thurgood Marshall, one of the most outstanding Justices in my lifetime. It was obviously a concerted effort to discredit Marshall and, by association, Kagan. It was a disgusting display of one after another Republican bringing it up.

Thurgood Marshall won more cases argued before the Supreme Court than any other lawyer. I love this quote from him on the Constitution:

"I do not believe the meaning of the Constitution was forever fixed at the Philadelphia convention. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, a momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights we hold as fundamental today."

I will not rant on the strict constructionists like Robert Bork and his ilk, but I strongly believe that our sacred document was meant to be flexible. How could it not be with the many extreme changes in society that have occurred?
Our Constitution has withstood the test of time and has seen this country survive so many serious trials. It is truly a remarkable document.

The Founders were wise men who knew that times would change, but even they could not envision such dramatic changes that the industrial age brought, or things like nuclear bombs or machine guns. (Don't get me started on the Second amendment.) The document has had to be flexible to adjust to these changes. We are no longer the agrarian society that our Forefathers lived in. Life is much more complicated now and the constitution has had to be a living document to adjust to these changes.

I can offer nothing better for a 4th of July
celebration than the link below. It is a web site with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and the entire Constitution of the United States, a background of the Framers, and the history of the writing of these documents.

How long has it been since you read the entire Constitution? I can't remember when I read it last. Odd that we so often quote it without referring back to it. Even if you don't have time to read the information found on this web site, it is a good one to bookmark for reference at a later date. I confess that I have only scanned the material on this site, but I have bookmarked it for the next time I want to quote the Constitution.

While the 4th is a time for bar-b-cues, picnics, and fireworks it should also include a thought about our Forefathers and how serious they took the challenge of trying to form a more perfect union.

Happy Fourth of July

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I love A Parade

Livermore is very proud of their Rodeo parade held once a year. I was fortunate to be there for this year's parade; doubly so because my granddaughter, Sarah, was Drum Major(ette) for her school band. If you look at my video you may catch a glimpse of her wearing a purple top and with a whistle in her mouth about half way into the video. She was not a happy camper because she had never rehearsed and didn't have a clue as to what she was supposed to do. I imagine she was selected because of her Color Guard performances. Poor girl.

Gail had purchased a walker that I could sit on and got me to the parade site two hours early so I could have a ring side seat across from the grandstand. I took more photos, but the ones on the video are what I consider the best. I wish that I owned a video cam because the horses were magnificent. There were many groups that rode horses that could dance. If you have ever seen the Lipizzaner horses perform you know the hoof movements. I tried to capture the steps of the horses in still photos. Be sure to notice the position of the hooves in the pictures. They single-footed and raised opposing hoofs on the front and back legs and were synchronized like the Rockettes. Once again I ask for your indulgence to click on the You Tube video for background music to the movie. You Old Timers will enjoy Bing Crosby's rendition of "I'm An Old Cowhand". The song was a fun piece composed by Hoagy Carmichael.

You might even enjoy taking to time to watch it first, because there is some lovely Western scenery on the video. Then click it again for the parade movie. And now on to the movies. Is your popcorn popped?

Okay - I give up. For three days I have spent almost every waking minute when I was home trying to post the video of the rodeo parade. I have run scans, reinstalled Adobe Flash, etc. to no avail. The d___ed thing just keeps trying to capture the video for hours. I guess the only way you are going to see it is to view the slide show from my web album. Please click on the pretty cowgirl.

Livermore Rodeo Parade

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hakone in Sarasota, California

On Sunday before I left for home I spent a wonderful time with my daughter, Gail, at Hakone, the Japanese Gardens. I have made a movie of this very special day. I hope you enjoy the tour of the gardens. To set the mood I have embedded the beautiful aria from Madam Butterfly, Ciio-Cio San, as sung by Maria Callas. I wanted to add the music to the video, but couldn't find out how to do it. So if you will click on it first, then go to my video it will continue to play as you view Hakone.


If you click on the lower right hand corner you will get the movie in full screen. To escape full screen click on it again or click on escape. I am not pleased with the movie because it cuts off the ends of the photos taken vertically and the quality of the pictures is diminished. I did make a slide show of this and that can be found on my Web Albums. I think it's a bit better than the movie. However, it just a repeat of this so probably not worth seeing.

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I was unable to navigate the steps and steep path to the bamboo garden so my daughter took those pictures. I hope you enjoyed our efforts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home Again and 80+ Women

Please bear with me as I try to catch up on 2 weeks of snail mail, e-mail, and laundry. I will be back on track soon, I promise. I have photos to show of the beautiful Hakone Japanese Gardens, a rodeo parade, and the Botanical Gardens in Berkeley. Does that give you an indication of what a great time I had?

I will tell all later, but for now I think you will enjoy seeing a very pretty 88 year old woman as she appears on the Jon Stewart show. Betty White will best be remembered as one of the Golden Girls, Rose. She is the only surviving member of the cast and is now doing another appearance in 'Hot In Cleveland'. So Heeeere's Betty. What a gal !!!!

Here's another link to an op-ed article on an outstanding 89 year old woman, Helen Thomas.

She is one of the most respected and honest journalists in my lifetime. She has held each president's feet to the fire when she sees that he is dissembling. George Bush was so afraid of her she was never given a chance to ask a question about the Iraq war after she zapped him good with a question about it. She was a bulldog never giving an inch until she got a straight answer. Modern 'pretty face' jouralists would do well to emulate her.

This editorial gives the background to her forced retirement. There will never be another one like her. What she said was unfortunate, but compared to her lifetime of wonderful journalism it is grossly unfair that her comments given in a private conversation were aired immediately and rapidly spread in the media. Would any of you like to have ill considered words aired before you had a chance to correct them? I still admire her even though I disagree with her comments.