Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thoughts about Wisconsin...

The awakening of workers in Wisconsin and its spread across the nation over the past several days seems to be in stark contrast to popular uprisings in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.  As others have noted, middle eastern people seem to be running to more democratic societies while in America we seem to be turning our backs on democracy in favor of an oligarchic society.

While Mubarak and Qaddafi are being demonized and driven from power, America's mega-wealthy on Wall Street, at the head of America's banks and mega-corporations are handed trillions of dollars in tax cuts by our elected officials, nothing more than pay-off for monetarily supporting their elections to office.  While the international community is considering legal actions against Mubarak and Gadahfi and other Middle Eastern autocrats are beginning to worry mightily, America's legal system has let go all those guilty of the numerous financial crimes they perpetrated on the American people over the past decade ... well, except the poster-boy Madoff who really was the least of the problem.

Then comes Scott Walker, newly elected Tea-Party Republican governor of Wisconsin whose election campaign was significantly funded by Charles and David Koch, the oil-rich billionaires who were the principal financiers of the Tea Party.  Like every other governor in America, Walker is faced with tough budget times in his state, tough times brought on by the Wall Street and banker created recession.  And, like all Republicans, his solution is to cut government expenditures rather than consider any tax adjustments (except for extending breaks to the wealthy and corporations).  And on who's back will the cuts fall?  Of course, the working middle class!  And what little is left of the working middle class are public service employees, who enjoying the wages, benefits and working conditions that make middle class life possible because they are unionized, and the Republican solution spearheaded by Walker is to make the unions powerless by abolishing collective bargaining, which, of course, the oligarchy has virtually succeeded in doing in the private sector.

All of this is a direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as international law by the United Nations in 1948 and to which the United States is a signatory.  Article 23 states that "everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."  Article 24 states that "everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay."  Article 25 states "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

You tell me, how well does the United States of America do in meeting the agreed upon human rights laid out in this Universal Declaration?  And, my friends, you can thank the Republican Party and their oligarchical big money supporters for this.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A night in St. Augustine...

For Valentine's Day we treated ourselves to a trip up to historic St. Augustine.  We drove up Florida's state route 17, which goes along the St. John's River in places, and stopped by Green Cove Springs, where my permanent address is located.  It's just a store front for forwarding mail, so not much to see, but there was a lovely little Episcopalian Church right down on the St. John's River that was a lovely site inside and out.

When we finally arrived in St. Augustine, we checked in the Powder House Inn, a reasonably priced and really wonderful bed and breakfast.  From there we could wander through the historic town, and made it from one end to the other of St. George Street, where there are sufficient bars and restaurants to take care of a small army of visitors, and of course boutiques galore.  
We wound up around 1600 hours on the ICW waterfront sitting in the veranda of the Casa Blanca Hotel at the Tini Martini Bar, where we soaked up the view and a couple of martinis.  Then arrived Bob Fraioli, a piano player, who set up in the corner just next to us.  When he discovered I played too, he immediately had me sit down a play.  It was great fun, in part because I haven't had the opportunity to play like this for a while, but also because he turned out to be a great guy in addition to a great piano player.

We had an early dinner reservation (1730) at Collage Restaurant, advertised as the most romantic restaurant in St. Augustine.  Not only romantic, but wonderful food as well!  Quail and oyster appetizers, excellent salad and carrot soup, rack of lamb and veal tenderloin, not to mention a good California cabernet.  Yum, yum!!

Then it was back to the Tini Martini, more piano playing, martinis, Irish Coffee, and more.  Met a young couple from Jacksonville, Florida there, and we had great conversations in between the music and amidst the libations.  Finally, over-beveraged as we were, we made our way back to the Powder House Inn. ...  The next morning, the breakfast was scrumptious and the ride home, down the coast highway A-1-A, delightful.

Now we're beginning to get final preparations made to take Alizee around to Tampa Bay.  Our departure date is 3 March, so only nine days to go.