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On This Day

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

~President Barack Obama, January 20, 2008

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Driving home tonight I heard a radio story about the GOP landslide in Tennessee. John McCain won 70 percent of the vote; many other Republicans topped 60 percent. Tennessee also booted out an incumbent Democratic state legislator and Tennessee’s House is under GOP control for the first time in 140 years.

Why is that?

Well — according to Tony Shipley, the Republican victor in that House race,

These people are solid, hard-working, apple-pie-type Americans. I have fond memories of chasing greased pigs here, so there’s a long tradition of Americana here — strong Christian values here amongst these people.

Americana = Greased pigs? I thought Americana was things like baseball, Norman Rockwell, and Mickey Mouse. You know — things ALL Americans can call their own and associate with. Greased Pigs? Come on. If he had said cow tipping, I might have bought it.

A University of Tennessee policital science professor added,

Appalachia is overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly rural and of a lower socioeconomic status. It’s an area of the country that’s overwhelmingly religious, and all of those factors played into Obama’s weakness here.

So to sum up —  in Tennessee, poor, uneducated, bible-beating, red-necky, pig-chasing white people vote Republican.

And we wonder why the economy is in trouble?

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Freedom of Speech

Because of my job, I am legally barred from campaigning and most types of involvement in political campaigns but I am NOT barred from saying…

Yes. We. CAN!

It seems that “Real America” has spoken. LOUDLY.

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My parents taught us that people who curse are only demonstrating a limited vocabulary and an inability to adequately express themselves. Sorry Mom and Dad — I’ve temporarily lost command of the Mother Tongue.

SERIOUSLY?! You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Senator Obama:

I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health and life, and this did not contain that exception

Senator McCain:

Again…just again, an example of the eloquence of Senator Obama, health (indicates air quotes) of the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement to mean almost anything…


Let’s set aside the fact that the GOP is supposed to be the party of minimal government and personal responsibility — the original MYOB party.

Let’s set aside the fact that pro-abortion is a fabulously ludicrous term. No one runs around wanting the abortion rate to rise. It’s not on any woman’s Top 10 list of Must-Have Life Experiences.

Instead, let’s talk about why a politician is better qualified to make decisions about my health than my doctor. Or we can talk about how we would decide where to draw the line between The Health of the Mother versus The Life of the Mother.

Please – spare me.

K was a high-risk pregnancy for about 27 weeks. I had had 3 prior unexplained miscarriages (2 of them back-to-back, immediately prior to this pregnancy); placenta previa; a 1 in 48 chance of the baby being born with Downs; and, approaching the ripe old age of 35, was considered of Advanced Maternal Age.

When we met with the genetic counselor, which my Perinatologist required, she explained all sorts of statistics to us — things no expectant mother wants to hear or consider. I was prepared for that. What I was NOT prepared for was when she said something along the lines of “if your baby turns out to have certain genetic disorders, it is possible that attempting to carry to term could endanger the baby’s life in utero and it could also endanger YOUR life…”

I don’t remember the rest of what she said. I don’t remember if she said I might have tough choices to make or if she said the doctor’s primary concern would be for my life… I just remember thinking that no matter how badly I wanted this second child, no matter how long we had waited and how much she was already loved, I would do everything in my power to ensure that my four-year-old wouldn’t grow up without a mother. Even if it meant terminating a pregnancy that was so wanted, so anticipated, so loved. I’m pretty sure that even my father — who is as Republican as they come — would agree with me.

I submit to you, Dear Readers, that a vote for Senator Obama on November 4 is a vote for life — a woman’s life.

As for you, Senator McCain…keep it up, my friend. You’re doing “Great”

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Break’s Over!

Best. Op-Ed. Ever. (or maybe I just really really miss The West Wing.)

(The following Op-Ed originally appeared in The New York Times on September 20, 2008. It was written by Maureen Dowd.)

BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.

BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —

OBAMA Look —

BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.

OBAMA Why?

BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.

OBAMA O.K. —

BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA Which was?

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.

OBAMA And?

BARTLET I was.

OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA What do you mean?

BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA I’m asleep?

BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET I mean tons.

OBAMA I understand.

BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.

OBAMA How did you do it?

BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.

OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”

OBAMA That would make it easier.

BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.

OBAMA What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA I have two.

BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.

BARTLET Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.

BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?

OBAMA Sir —

BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well … let me think. …We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know … I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA What’s the second step?

BARTLET I don’t care.

OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it …?

BARTLET “Break’s over.”

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My Dear Husband is so proud of himself – he believes he coined a new term for Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin…V-PILF (MILF, PILF…get it?) He likes her jaunty little glasses and even though my friend Ben says her hairstyle is too “republican”, I like how her hair does what it is supposed to do when you put it in one of those claw-clips (the things those of us who grew up on LI used to call jap-snaps before the world went all PC…)

Everyone is apeshit one way or another over Gov. Palin. Rumors abound about her and facts are routinely misreported (though I guess I don’t find this surprising.) And the number of people who speak with self-important authority about just about anything never ceases to amaze me. Could you at least GET THE FACTS before shooting your mouth off? As best as I can tell, here are some actual facts about her…and what I think about them.

  • She is strongly anti-choice. I have *never* understood how the party who (supposebly) is for small government, personal responsibility, and minimal intervention in one’s personal life can promote the most intimate intrusion into people’s lives.
  • She may believe in book banning (rumor appears to be false according to snopes.com). If proven true, I think that should scare the shit out of anyone with reasonably passable critical thinking skills. Nazis ban books — not modern-day Americans.
  • Palin has no problem with public schools teaching creationism. Absolutely, totally fine with me. As long as you teach kids about the Flying Spaghetti Monster right along with it. 😛  Spare me — I believe in God; my husband doesn’t. But neither of us want our kids taught anything remotely religious in a public school unless its in an analytical comparative religions class. Teaching faith in public schools in the name of ‘fair and balanced” curriculum is a total sham. There are plenty of educational institutions where you can appropriately find faith-based teachings — they are called religious schools.
  • She doesn’t think humans are the cause of climate change. We may not be THE cause but please…the majority of climate scientists have formed a “consensus” on this. Consensus is lacking on the *effects* of climate change  — not that it is happening and that we are a major cause of it.

There are also places where I think the country needs to get off her case — either because the “facts” are wrong or because they’re right but so twisted that the conclusions drawn from them are nonsensical. For example

  • Horrors! She got genetic testing during her last pregnancy…yeah, so? Ignorance is not always bliss…some people would prefer to know whether they are carrying a child with a chromosome abnormality *whether or not* they plan to abort. It’s called preparation and planning.
  • She requested a bazillion in federal earmarks…yeah, so? Show me an elected official who doesn’t.
  • Palin cut funding for special needs kids. No she did not. In fact, she increased funding for special needs students with high-cost requirements.
  • She doesn’t have enough Executive experience. HELLO? Sen. Obama has NO executive experience.

On balance, do I want Sarah Palin in or near the White House? No I do not. I believe we need a fundamental shift from where we are and McCain/Palin can’t provide that. But still — be fair in your criticisms of people — even (especially) those you don’t like. There are plenty of reasons to not support McCain/Palin — you don’t need to go inventing reasons, people.

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Indecision 2008

God Bless Jon Stewart.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=184086&title=sarah-palin-gender-card

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There Are No Easy Answers

A friend of mine asked me:

…as a fellow parent who was brought up in a church and has their own belief system, I’d love to hear sometime what you’re teaching the girls and how.

I’m probably not the best person to ask – I’m kind of schizophrenic on the topic of God. I tend to believe in God but I’m not sure if that’s just a relic from my childhood or not – regardless, it’s a powerful “leftover” if that’s all it is. I am not at all confused about the fact that I have a ton of issues with organized religion – especially Catholicism. DH has become a full-on evangelical Athiest, which complicates matters for me… So, I try to teach my kids to judge people on what they do, not what God they believe in (or don’t believe in).

Beans and I had an interesting conversation about religion in the car the other day on the way to pick DH up from work – Silent Night played on the radio and she commented that they aren’t allowed to sing it at school because it is religious…so that led to a discussion of what religious songs are, whether Hannukah songs are inherently religious or not, how any Christmas songs could be secular whether not not they mention Jesus/God/Lord/Him…, what Gods other religions believe in, and what happens when religious intolerance takes hold…which led us to 9-11/twin towers/pentagon/shanksville, where we were when that happened (mommy’s office windows shook when the plane hit the pentagon, uncle mikey saw the towers fall, another close friend fought in afghanistan…), US immigration policy (but HOW do the bad guys get into our country? how do we know which people are bad? How do we keep them out but let the good people in?), the wars we fought, and are still fighting in the name of terrorism…and culminating in my favorite…”Mommy, did it [GWOT] work?”

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One of the benefits (or not, depending on your point of view) of where I live and what I do is that I sometimes attend events where Very Important Political People speak. I was at just such an event a few weeks ago and Clay Johnson III, the Office of Management and Budget’s Deputy Director for Management spoke to the crowd. Mr. Johnson has quite an impressive resume. According to his bio, he has been the Chief Operating Officer for the Dallas Museum of Art and the President of the Horchow and Neiman Marcus Mail Order companies. He also has worked for Citicorp, Wilson Sporting Goods and Frito Lay.

Mr. Johnson was also President George W Bush’s college roommate at Yale. (an irrelevant but amusing fact.)

What is not amusing is that I have heard Mr. Johnson speak several times over the past several years and this last time, my ears stopped just short of bleeding. Mr. Johnson was speaking about measuring and improving the performance of government programs (who’s not for that? Baseball, mom, and apple pie, y’all.) During his remarks, he made the following statements – they require no snarky commentary from me…they stand on their own.

“The key is greater effectiveness-mindedness.”

“We need to scare people more. And more importantly, embarrass them.”

“We don’t know what this means yet, but we want to be successful at setting the table.”

and my personal favorite…relaying President Bush’s comment about the new French President, whom a white house staffer had just referred to as smart…

” We got a whole lotta smart. What we need is courage.”

Lades and Gentleman, I give you one of the most influential officials in the U.S. Government.

Fan-fucking-tastic.

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My fledgling organic whole food sensibilities are under attack and seriously offended. Beans’ school district has a new policy about birthday treats and other food for school parties: all treats must be store-bought! I understand and applaud efforts to reduce or mitigate allergic responses – which is what this is. But there has GOT to be a better way than insisting on prepackaged, processed, additive and preservative-laden, chock-full-of-HFCS foods. Blech. I know I can go to Whole Foods and buy A’s treats there – and I will – but I sure can’t count on everyone else to do that. And while she isn’t allergic to crappy, body-polluting food I don’t want her eating it twice a month at school in the name of a new “health” policy, either. Don’t misunderstand – I love cupcakes and am not advocating they be banned altogether. I just don’t like my children’s diet – or even portions of their diets – dictated by well-intentioned yet misguided nutrition policy.

On the other hand, Muppet’s preschool goes completely in the other direction and bans treats and salty snack foods in favor of “healthy” choices…which is fine except they define healthy as including cereal bars and sugary yogurts.

Where did the sanity go?

Clearly, on both scores I’m not the only one who is annoyed. Not even close.

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