Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

Dear Madame L,

This Memorial Day, I've been thinking of several near relatives, young men at the time, who fought in World War II. Some survived, some didn't. I remember them and honor them this day.

I'm also reminded of how during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, before WWII, these young men were able to support their families through job programs that turned around the unemployment of the time and built some of the infrastructure we now enjoy and rely on in the U.S.

Couldn't something like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) or Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) be started again these days? Maybe that would be a way to help our young soldiers as they return from Afghanistan and Iraq.


Unemployed, Too

Dear Unemployed,

Madame L thinks your idea is a brilliant one. And it does seem to Madame L like politicians on both extremes of the spectrum are forgetting about jobs.

Madame L seems to remember Candidate Obama talking about creating jobs --- and current Republicans in Congress being voted in on their promises to create jobs.

Madame L praises President Obama for his steps to improve the economy, which have been blocked and slowed in every way possible by the Republicans in Congress, who have been claiming that they're only doing the will of "The People," by which they mean the Tea Party. 

Madame L has some news for them: The Tea Party does not represent any but the most extreme, and generally ignorant, of the political right. Recent polls have shown that about 20% of Republicans actually agree with the ideas being propounded by the wealthy hypocrites who are funding Tea Party ideas, taking advantage of the political naivete and ignorance of so many well-intentioned people.

Madame L also wonders how any of those Tea Party supporters can complain about taxes and the federal government when so many of them are accepting Social Security and Medicare money they receive from the feds, through all our taxes.

Dear Patient Reader, while it may seem that Madame L has digressed, her points about Republican and Tea Party opposition to every progressive program proposed by the Obama administration applies equally to job-creating programs.

Dear Patient and Unemployed Reader, Could you become active in politics in your area? Or at least write, email, and/or call your Senator, Member of Congress, and state representatives? They are the ones who need to be reminded of the stresses being suffered by so many of us now. They are the ones who can propose, and support, progressive policies and programs to create jobs.

Certainly they need to fight against "Learned Helplessness," as economist Paul Krugman calls it. Krugman says it's a problem in the international policy/political community, not just in the U.S. He writes:

"Bear in mind that the unemployed aren’t jobless because they don’t want to work, or because they lack the necessary skills. There’s nothing wrong with our workers — remember, just four years ago the unemployment rate was below 5 percent.
"The core of our economic problem is, instead, the debt — mainly mortgage debt — that households ran up during the bubble years of the last decade. Now that the bubble has burst, that debt is acting as a persistent drag on the economy, preventing any real recovery in employment. And once you realize that the overhang of private debt is the problem, you realize that there are a number of things that could be done about it."

Yes, as he points out and you already know, people WANT to work. It's not their fault that they're unemployed. And, if "the overhang of private debt is the problem," some things could be done about it. 

But, he adds, "...any effort to tackle unemployment will run into a stone wall of Republican opposition."

And that is why Madame L urges you to write/call/e-mail your representatives. Because if you don't keep the issue before them, they will pretend like it doesn't exist or isn't solvable.

Maybe we all need to be like the widow in Luke 18 who finally got the unjust judge to do his duty:

In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 

In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 

yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming. 

Let us persist to "bother" our politicians for justice, jobs, relief for the downtrodden, and peace,

Madame L

Monday, May 30, 2011

Navy SEALS vs. Mickey

Dearest Readers,

Madame L reported earlier this month that the Walt Disney Company had applied, two days after the U.S. Navy's Seals 6 team had destroyed the evil man hiding in Abbottabad, to patent the name of this elite group.

Madame L is happy to be able to inform you that the Disney folks have decided not to attempt to patent that name, after all.

The Navy had objected to the company's plan to trademark and market toy figures and other products relating to the team; and even filed its own trademark applications.

Disney dropped its applications "out of deference to the Navy," according to a spokesperson.

The company is apparently still planning to make a movie or show about the team.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, May 29, 2011: Bossypants

"Bossypants," by Tina Fey
Dear Readers,

Madame L has been reading the funniest book, and hopes you'll enjoy it as much as she does. The usually admittedly long-winded Madame L doesn't think her usually long-winded prose style will do the book justice or make anyone want to read it, so she is listing, instead...

Some of Madame L's favorite bits:
---Things Tina learned from Lorne Michaels (SNL producer), including: "Producing is about discouraging creativity" and "The show doesn't go on because it's ready; it goes on because it's 11:30."

---What Tina tells young women who ask for career advice: "People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. 'You're up for a promotion. If they go with a woman, it'll be between you and Barbara.' Don't be fooled. You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone."

---"The Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter," which includes the line "Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance...."

---Why she didn't get the job waiting tables, and likewise the job as night box office manager of a small theater company

---The power pyramid at the YMCA, where she did get a job after she didn't get those other ones...and which is so reminiscent of the power pyramid everywhere I've ever worked and I suspect where everyone I've ever known has ever worked

---The actual difference between male and female comedy writers (not for the faint of heart)

---Her honeymoon ("or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Either")

---Her Bossypants Managerial Techniques (because she doesn't want to get punched in the face over a joke---or even screamed at)

---How we can find out if Tracy Morgan is as wild and crazy as his character

Too many to recount. Buy the book. Check it out from the library. Or borrow it from Madame L. And proceed to laugh  your bossypants off!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

She's Ba-a-a-a-ack!

Dear Madame L,

I read your opinion that some candidates who have been considering running for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2012 election aren't really serious. You wrote that FOX News president Roger Ailes had told all his employees to choose between their jobs at Fox and their 2012 political plans. You wrote that the ones who stayed on at Fox weren't going to be running.

But now Sarah Palin, who did not tell Ailes she would be quitting her Fox job, appears to be running. What is your explanation for that?



Dear Sincerely,

Madame L holds to her earlier opinion. Madame L notes that the news outlets which have been writing about Ms. Palin's supposed plan to declare her candidacy are basing their suppositions on very flimsy evidence.

Ms. Palin has bought a $1.7 million home in Scottsdale, Arizona. So what? A lot of rich white people live in homes like that one in Scottsdale, Arizona, and they're not running for president, any more than Ms. Palin is.

Ms. Palin's tour bus will be starting this weekend with "Rolling Thunder" in Washington, D.C. So what? If Ms. Palin really wanted to run for president, the place to start would not be D.C. She's there because that's where the political press are assembled, and she wants more than anything to get their attention.

Ms. Palin says she has "that fire in the belly." So what? Did you notice she said "fire in the belly" FOUR times in the interview you're referring to? That's to grab the attention of the political press, and she wants more than anything to get their attention.

Ms. Palin has a movie, called "Undefeated," coming out soon in Iowa. Huh? Madame L means, So what? Undefeated? In what way does Ms. Palin consider herself undefeated? She gave up her governorship of Alaska after being defeated in her vice-presidential candidacy in 2008. Undefeated? Not. Iowa? That's to grab the attention of the political press, and she wants more than anything to get their attention. That's all.

Madame L's theory about Ms. Palin's latest antics is that they're designed to keep her in the spotlight, giving her both the attention she seems to crave and the speaking fees that will keep her safely ensconced in the $1.7 million home in Scottsdale, Arizona, to which she wishes to become (and remain) accustomed. 
If Ms. Palin really does run for president in 2012, Madame L will eat her opinions about it. 


Madame L

Friday, May 27, 2011

Answer to Anti-Medicare Plan?

Dear Madame L,

I gather that you and your pal Aunt Louise object to the Republican Party's proposed 2012 budget essentially because, as you and your ilk say, it would "destroy Medicare as we know it."

So, then, what is your alternative plan?


A Faithful Reader

Dear Reader,

The Democratic Party's answer to the Paul Ryan proposed budget is: ... Wait for it ...


Americans, whether they consider themselves to be on the right, left, middle, independent, fence, or wherever, agree that they want Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to continue as they have in the past. They recognize that more can be done to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, and of course they want that. But the basic social nets we have all worked for are essential.

Americans of all political bents are asking themselves now why the Republicans, who were voted into office on promises of cutting government spending and creating jobs and who complained in 2008 and are still complaining about the "bailout" of American automakers and state governments to help them through the recent economic problems have not created any jobs and are proposing to take money from the poor, the elderly, and the young.

Americans, even those who oppose abortion, are wondering why legislators who claim to be protecting us all from government intrusion, are so concerned about women's bodies that they are legislating rules that require women to go through government bureaucratic procedures before they can receive health care.

Americans are wondering how current Republican officials can continue to justify accepting so much money from the big businesses whom they are supposed to be regulating.

Americans are wondering what happened to the society they thought their fathers and mothers had worked hard to create for them, a society that takes care of its weakest members, that expects wealthy corporations and individuals to pay their fair share, that doesn't throw Grandma and Grandpa and Little Nell over the cliff.

Americans are starting to wake up, pull the wool off their eyes, see through the lies and hypocrisy that fooled them in 2010, and realize that the answer to the Republican Kill-Medicare budget is:



Madame L

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Truth, Schmuth!

Madame L is on a mission: When politicians make claims of any and every kind, Madame L wants to know if they're telling the truth. 

Particularly when their main claim to fame (for their 15-minute moment) is that they're telling the truth, Madame L wants to know if they really are telling the truth. 

Madame L didn't want to wait for an alert reader to ask her about this, so she found out for herself, and is relaying this information here, for her readers:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) says in his campaign for the presidency that he's going to be telling the truth.

Sorry, Tim, you're off to a really bad start. According to the Associated Press, which fact-checked your claims, you are wrong on most counts. To summarize, for readers who don't want to read the entire AP article:

---TP says: Government workers are getting paid so much that their salaries need to be frozen. Truth: Federal employees' salaries have already been frozen for the next two years---except for the armed forces, Congress, and the federal courts.

---TP says: "Obamacare" is unconstitutional. Truth: We won't know for sure the constitutionality of Obama's restructuring of health care until the Supreme Court rules on it. Lower courts have gone both ways.

---TP says: Obama has consistently stood for higher taxes. Truth: President Obama has more often CUT taxes than raised them.

---TP says: Minnesota used to be in the top 10 states for high taxes, but I got it out of there. Truth: He didn't do it. Minnesota is still among the top 10.

---TP says: He's one of four governors in the country who got the Cato Institute's highest libertarian rating. Truth: He actually tied for third...But who wants the approval of the Cato Institute?

---TP says: He will be willing to suggest hard choices, not empty promises. Truth: Pawlenty does name several hard choices, like phasing out ethanol subsidies, which he mentioned to Iowa farmers, which does take some chutzpah. Other hard choices he suggests include raising the Social Security retirement age (already being done)...and supporting Rep. Ryan's budget plan which would destroy Medicare. (More about that, later, Madame L promises!)

Madame L presents the truth, and trusts her readers to decide whom to believe.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Men on Prowl, Women on Guard

Dear Readers,
Madame L has been appalled at the way the media in France are defending former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and casting aspersions on the hotel housekeeper who alleges he assaulted her sexually. What's funny is that they are appalled at the way DSK has been treated by the media (and the cops) in the U.S. 

It would be easy to point the finger of shame at those decadent French for their sexual mores, but now there's the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger's housekeeper, who gave birth to his son the same week his wife gave birth to another son.

The culture at the IMF, which caused women to fear to wear skirts or dresses to work because of unwanted attention of male co-workers and which officially tolerated sexual liaisons between co-workers even when such liaisons could be the result of pressure by higher-up men exerted on women subordinate to them, is clearly not the only reason for this scandal.

What will it take for women to be treated better by men --- ordinary co-workers in ordinary jobs, and men with some kind of power over women --- in the IMF, in the Governator's home, and everywhere?

Though Madame L claims to be able to answer "all," she hasn't thought of a simple answer to this question yet. For a start, she hopes mothers and fathers will do a better job of teaching their sons to respect women and their daughters to expect to be treated right.

What suggestions do you, Dear Readers, offer?

Hoping for a better future for women,

Madame L

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Can I Fix My Computer?

Dear Madame L,

My computer just completely stopped on me. Is there any way I can fix it myself?


Using the computer at the library

Dear Computer User,

Madame L has found this advice to be most apt, though not all that helpful.

It involves turning the computer off and rebooting it, then some intermediate steps, and then a bout of silent weeping or (as in Madame L's case) loud wailing and gnashing of teeth as thousands of files and years of work are lost.

Good luck,

Madame L

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What Sheep, Where?

Dear Madame L,

I'm ashamed of you: you mentioned the full last name in your column yesterday of the person you had been calling NG.


Never Serious

Dear Sincerely,

Madame L hereby apologizes and abjectly abases herself at the altar of alliteration.


Madame L really wants to suggest her favorite method for figuring out how to take politicians, which is to watch "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."

Please watch this presentation by John Lithgow of Newt's campaign manager's "sheep" statement from "The Colbert Report" to see what Madame L is talking about.

Then laugh, my dear Never Serious friend. Laugh all the way to your polling place.

Laughing, too,

Madame L

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sex, Lies, and Politicians

Dear Madame L,

You keep writing that we should keep up with politics, but I don't know where to read information that will really be helpful, or even truthful. It seems like running for the Republican presidential nomination is a national joke: Everyone keeps saying that Romney and Pawlenty are the only "serious" candidates, but then they keep talking about Gingrich, Huckabee, Palin, Santorum, and even Trump as if they're taking them seriously. 

Nobody, not even me, could have actually taken Trump seriously. Did you see how in every press conference when they asked him about that, he talked first about his great program, "Celebrity Apprentice," and how he was looking forward to that?

And did you see Huckabee's announcement about how he had decided not to run, after all? That great "Christian" guy with his family values, announcing at the END of his show, after he played bass to accompany ultimate douche-bag Ted Nugent's rendition of ultimate woman-hating anthem "Cat-Scratch Fever"? I thought I was going to cry when Huckabee talked about how he had decided not to seek the Republican nomination because "...my heart says no." (kidding --- I thought I was going to puke from the hypocrisy)

Please, how can people like me figure out which pundits or reporters we can trust?



Dear Confused,

Madame L is glad you asked this question. Madame L has also been overwhelmed by the pandering and cynicism of the media in covering the would-be, wannabe, and actual Republican candidates. 

No wonder you and so many others are confused. Did you know that NBC News and the Washington Post are now owned by Comcast, which also owns General Electric and Universal (and probably some others that Madame L doesn't remember right now)? 

Therefore Madame L is surprised at herself for being surprised at NBC's coverage of Donald Trump's supposed candidacy, which certainly benefited NBC and its advertisers as much as it did Trump himself.

Did you know that when Fox News announced on March 2 that it was suspending candidates Santorum and Gingrich from their contracts on May 1 unless they notified Fox that they would not be running for president, Huckabee and Palin were included in that decision by Fox? 

Therefore Madame L is surprised at ANYONE for being surprised that Huckabee and Palin have decided not to run for president. Madame L is surprised that Huckabee said his "heart" told him not to run, unless his heart is a bank account waiting to be filled by his Fox salary. Palin hasn't announced yet that she won't be running, but that's only because her greed for money and fame also motivate her to hang onto her place on the fence as long as she can.

Madame L has mentioned in earlier writings the comments by one of Gingrich's former wives that he was pretending to run for president only for the money; and one of Madame L's faithful reader/commenters has pointed out that Gingrich's huge speaking fees depend on his news currency, which explains his entrance into the race and his willingness to embarrass us as a nation with his pseudo-intellectual and moronic comments. (Madame L just wonders, for one thing, how many times can you call everyone a "Nazi" before people stop thinking you know what you're talking about.)

Madame L is will now be entertaining guesses from all of you, Dear Readers, on how long Gingrich will stay in the running. Madame L suspects that the last thing Republican leaders want is that loser as their candidate. Madame L will be watching eagerly to see the maneuvering Boehner et al. will be going through to ease Gingrich out of there.

But, Madame L digresses. To answer your question, Confused, Madame L suggests that you believe those reporters and pundits who have correctly called the race so far. Madame L will enlarge upon this idea in a coming column.

Madame L

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Madame L Eats Her Words

Dear Madame L,

Remember a couple of months ago when you wrote that you supported the Libyan rebels, you weren't sure the U.S. should intervene, but you were glad the French were supporting them? (You also wrote that it would probably all be over in a couple of days.)

So, now we find out the French intervened on the advice of a celebrity-pseudo-philosopher who was trying to help his pal Sarkozy be re-elected. And we read an article by this same celebrity-pseudo-philosopher about how appalled he was at how the accused celebrity-IMF-head-but-now-resigning-dirty-old-man was being treated "like a common criminal" in the U.S. courts.

What do you say about that now, Madame L?



Dear Sincere Reader,

Madame L, who thanks you for finding the links exposing some of this nasty mess,  is busy eating her words, or would be if they weren't electronically generated chimeras.

Madame L is sorry for the people of Libya who have been suffering so long now as their own "brother leader" kills as many of them as he can, while ensuring that the civil war he predicted takes place.

Madame L repeats what she wrote back in March: She is STILL "... glad that the U.S. is sending aid to refugees from the fighting, and wishes all the best to those throughout the world who are fighting for democracy and freedom. She encourages them to keep on fighting while recognizing that they must fight that battle themselves, without our intervention."

Madame L repeats also her request that we will all continue to pray for justice and to work to help the downtrodden and oppressed throughout the world.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Wrote That Quote?

Dear Madame L,

I keep thinking of a great paragraph someone quoted in a talk in church recently. The person said it was from Nelson Mandela's inauguration speech in 1994. It's about the possibility we all have to be great, and the fear we have of that very greatness. Can you help me find it?

Thanks in advance,

A Reader

Dear Reader,

Madame L thinks she has found the quote, which she also thought was from Nelson Mandela's inauguration speech. It turns out it was written by Marianne Williamson, inspirational writer and speaker, and author of "A Course in Miracles" and many other books. Here it is:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"The task at hand on will not be easy. But you have mandated us to change South Africa from a country in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future. The cornerstone of building a better life of opportunity, freedom and prosperity is the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

"This needs unity of purpose. It needs in action. It requires us all to work together to bring an end to division, an end to suspicion and build a nation united in our diversity.

"The people of South Africa have spoken in these elections. They want change! And change is what they will get. Our plan is to create jobs, promote peace and reconciliation, and to guarantee freedom for all South Africans. We will tackle the widespread poverty so pervasive among the majority of our people. By encouraging investors and the democratic state to support job creating projects in which manufacturing will play a central role we will try to change our country from a net exporter of raw material to one that exports finished products through beneficiation."

Thanks for asking,

Madame L

Monday, May 16, 2011

Torture and Confessions

Dear Madame L,

I heard that the information the U.S. intelligence and military operations used to find Osama bin Laden came from the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration. 

In fact, I read that former VP Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush administration claim that the water-boarding of  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was what led the CIA to bin Laden's couriers, leading eventually to finding bin Laden himself.

Can you check this out for me?


Believer in the Geneva Convention

Dear Sniveling Liberal Cry-Baby,

Madame L is just kidding. She also believes in the Geneva Convention, under which water-boarding and other cruel methods of interrogation are considered torture and are therefore banned. 

Madame L also wishes that the U.S. would stand firm for its own stated values of humane treatment of everyone, even criminals and terrorists. Madame L believes that if we don't do this, we lose our credibility in the world, not to mention our soul as a nation. 

Madame L tends not to believe the self-serving statements of Cheney and other members of the Bush administration, who want to claim credit for capturing the terrorist, absolve themselves of guilt for what they know were illegal activities, and at the same time cast stones at President Barack Obama for everything under the sun.

Madame L notes that politicians and military and intelligence officials on the other side of the fence from Cheney et al. insist that the information obtained from KSM was obtained NOT from the "enhanced" (i.e., illegal) interrogations of the Bush administration but from more conventional interrogation methods.
Madame L has not figured out yet how to know for sure which information KSM gave at which times during the many times he was interrogated or tortured by U.S. personnel.

However, Madame L is impressed with Senator John McCain's recent statement on the Senate floor on the subject, and is including that statement below. Here is the full 23-minute speech:

Here is a 4-minute excerpt:

I hope you will read it carefully. McCain points out that KSM, like McCain himself, and like every other prisoner who is tortured, will say ANYTHING to stop the pain; and that for that reason alone conventional questioning invariably yields more correct and therefore more valuable information.


Madame L

Here is an excerpt from Senator McCain's speech:

“With so much misinformation being fed into such an essential public debate as this one, I asked the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta, for the facts. And I received the following information:

“'The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. We did not first learn from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the real name of bin Laden’s courier, or his alias, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the man who ultimately enabled us to find bin Laden. The first mention of the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, as well as a description of him as an important member of Al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country. The United States did not conduct this detainee’s interrogation, nor did we render him to that country for the purpose of interrogation. We did not learn Abu Ahmed’s real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ used on a detainee in U.S. custody. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts, or an accurate description of his role in Al-Qaeda. 

“In fact, not only did the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator — which was not true, as we now know. All we learned about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti through the use of waterboarding and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ against Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the confirmation of the already known fact that the courier existed and used an alias.

“I have sought further information from the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they confirm for me that, in fact, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in Al-Qaeda and his true relationship to Osama bin Laden — was obtained through standard, non-coercive means, not through any ‘enhanced interrogation technique.’ 

“In short, it was not torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden. I hope former Attorney General Mukasey will correct his misstatement. It’s important that he do so because we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America’s security and reputation. Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mickey Mouse

Dear Madame L,

Is it true that the Disney people have trademarked "Seal Team 6"? Does that mean they'll start making cartoons and movies with U.S. commandoes wearing night goggles going in to kill bad guys? Does that mean if we want "Seal Team 6" action figures, we'll have to buy them from Disney? Will Mickey and Goofy be involved in any way? 

Seriously (or not),

A Fan

Dear Fan,

Madame L has also read those news items saying the Disney Company applied on May 3, two days after the Navy SEAL team broke into Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan and killed him, for trademark rights to "Seal Team 6." 

The company's three applications would cover "toys, games and playthings," "entertainment and education services," and "clothing footwear and headwear."

Madame L does not know whether the folks at Disney will be awarded those trademark rights.

Madame L does not know anything, either, about the larger legal and cultural implications of the applications and their being awarded or not.

Madame L does wonder, though, how a private company can trademark the name of a U.S. military organization, particularly one whose existence was until recently secret from most of the world. 

And Madame L does not even want to think about kids' night goggles and toy SIG Sauer P226 pistols, jammies with pictures of MH-60 helicopters on them, and so on.

Madame L

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Decorah Eagles, Again

Dear Readers,

The eaglets have hatched and are bumbling about the nest.

Here's where you can watch them in real time.

Now Madame L has a question for you, Dear Readers: Is it possible that the design of the Harry Potter hippogriff, Buckbeak, is based on eaglets?


Madame L

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thanks for your patience

Dear Readers,

Madame L thanks you sincerely for your interesting and provocative comments, and apologizes for not replying immediately.

Madame L has LOTS to say about Rand Paul, NG, and other Republican candidates in the 2012 elections, but she will not be writing much about them for a few days or weeks as she must attend to more pressing matters.

Madame L hopes you will continue to read everything you can about political, economic, and social issues; and think about how politicians and pundits fit into your ideals for America's future.


Madame L

Monday, May 9, 2011

Whose Fault Is Our Current Financial Mess?

Dear Readers,

It seems like the big experts are all blaming you and me (or at least me, and I apologize, Dear Reader, if you don't want to be part of a group that includes Madame L) for the mess America's economy is in now. According to some Republican Members of Congress and conservative pundits, it's our fault for taking out mortgages we didn't really qualify for; it's our fault the too-big-to-fail corporations had to be bailed out; it's our fault the national debt is so high; it's our fault we're growing older and needing more medical services; and so on.

However, Madame L does not agree with this self-serving assessment. Madame L notes that in the year 2000, the United States had a $0000 deficit, thanks to President Bill Clinton's economic policies. It wasn't until "W" was elected that the deficit started to rise again. And it rose in part because of tax breaks for the wealthy (see below).

Madame L notes also that the bailout of the big auto companies succeeded, something she hasn't seen any auto executives or conservative politicians or pundits admitting. In fact, that bailout succeeded so well that those companies made huge profits last year. And what about their executives? General Motors CEO Dan Akerson "earned" $2.5 million for 2010. 

Standard & Poor's 500 Index company executives received an average of $11.4 million in total compensation in 2010, a 23% increase over 2009. The AFL-CIO points out that these executives' combined pay exceeds that of more than 100,000 average workers.

Want to know more? The AFL-CIO has devoted a page to the 2011 Execute Pay Watch, listing CEO salaries for 2011.

And you know all those Tea-Party Republicans who were voted into office in 2010 on their promises of saving Medicare, creating jobs, and taking care of the people who elected them? You know they've all voted to abolish Medicare, right? (They're walking back on that now, but only because of public outrage.) They haven't created any jobs, and their idea of helping people appears to be taking away women's rights and programs that support working moms, work-place equality policies, educational loans and grants for those who don't have rich parents to pay their way through college, and help for poor families.

To quote from a recent article by economist Paul Krugman:

"What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?

"The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.

"So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street.

"President George W. Bush cut taxes in the service of his party’s ideology, not in response to a groundswell of popular demand — and the bulk of the cuts went to a small, affluent minority"

Madame L wishes these conservative politicians, all of whom accepted tens of thousands of dollars, some hundreds of thousands of dollars, in campaign contributions from wealthy donors and big company CEOs, would be more honest with those who actually voted for them.

And Madame L wishes voters would realize how close they are to having the America they thought they were voting for be destroyed.

Pay attention, my friends, and may God bless these United States of America,

Madame L