Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This Is What Is Wrong With Our Country

Joe Wilson (R-SC) demonstrated what is at the core of our nation's ills--a loss of civility. He called the President a liar in the middle of arguably the most important speech for the nation in recent times. It demonstrates a number of things to me: 1)Republicans are falling back on the old strategy of lying repeatedly until people believe the lie is the truth. 2)They are mean spirited, 3) They have no interest in bipartisanship, 4) They cannot stomach President Obama's victory because they cannot help but associate it with their defeat.

I don't recall any Democrat heckling Bush when he DID lie to Congress repeatedly. They sat quietly, respectfully, even though they vehemently disgreed with the President. Perhaps liberals are just nicer--some would argue, to a fault.

Why ARE Republicans so mean and nasty?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why I'm Quitting Facebook

Okay, I'll admit it--it was fun at the beginning to see what friends and family were doing and exchanging little one liners and cute comments with people. It was fun to play the word games with our neighbors and see how close I could come to competing with their knowledge base (the short answer is: not very). And it was great seeing pictures that people had posted of themselves and their lives.

Then came the quizzes that were--again--initially interesting and almost enlightening. What 5 dead people would you like to meet, what place would you like to visit, live, etc. Gradually they have deteriorated into ridiculous wastes of time--what Harry Potter character are you? What car would you be? How Southern or Northern are you? Do you really need a quiz written by a 20 something year old who's making more money than you to tell you what you already know?? If you've lived in the South, you're Southern. If you don't like that, move or get over it!!

But these quizzes and "favorite fives" are not the reason I'm leaving. The real reason is that I find myself increasingly wanting to hide certain people's posts. I'm beginning to realize that I don't really want to know how some people feel or how they act or what they love or believe. I don't want to know that a number of my relatives are hell bent on making sure that my partner and I are denied the same rights they have. I want to see them once a year, smile, say "hi, how are you?" and they ask me the same and we share a meal and leave it at that. It is true, we do not choose our relatives, but we can choose how much or how well we know them.

The truth is, as I grow older, I seek the comfort of familiarity in relationships. I don't want them to be hard work and I don't want them to stir me on a visceral level. I don't want to dislike people I have always loved, but I have also loved them, in part, because I only knew a small part of them. Facebook has changed all of that. Now I know too much. And it can't be undone.

But maybe, if I leave this massive time waster I can eventually return to a state of blissful ignorance about some relatives. After all, will my life be any poorer because I don't know if one of them would be a Lexus or a Chevy Blazer?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Lenten Experiment

My friends started an interesting experiment, dubbed "The Lenten Experiment" (you can follow LaVonn'es entries about it at Lively Dust blog). The general point is to try to live at poverty (ie food stamp) level for the 40 days of Lent. In Illinois, that comes to about $77/ week for a family of two adults.

My partner and I have been participating, and I have been largely in charge of buying the food we will eat, while trying to make the healthiest, most frugal choices possible. Last week we started out ahead, by getting a week's worth of groceries for $45. This week, I decided I wanted to buy a few healthy, organic items at Whole Foods. If I could've found these items (spelt bread and spelt pasta) at any other store, I would've bought them elsewhere. I bought one pound of spelt pasta, a 24 oz. loaf of spelt bread and a pound of fresh peanut butter. The total cost for these three items? "$15.00!!

Realizing that I had spent about 20% of our weekly allottment, I detoured over to Aldi to stop the bleeding. For $45, I bought several bags of food, including meat, fish, fresh vegetables, dried fruit, oatmeal and ice cream treats. Yes, I had to bag it myself, but that was a small price to pay for more food and reasonable prices.

When I was checking out at Whole Foods, I noticed a middle eastern man in front of me buying 2 gallons of organic milk for $5.99 a piece. I had to laugh when I spotted him 15 minutes later in the same aisle with me at Aldi. Maybe that's the winning strategy: buy a few healthier items at Whole Foods and the like, and supplement with Aldi staples for the rest. There is a way to do this and not spend a fortune. But we also have the choice to go one place or another, or spend a little more if we need to. Many don't. And while we're at it, who ARE these people who can afford to do all their shopping at Whole Foods??

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thank you, Bobby Jindal

Okay, this is almost too easy. Child's play. Speaking of child, I felt like a first grader being read to, listening to Jindal's speech last night. The man was downright creepy in his delivery and even more disturbing in the points he was trying to make. Once again, he marched out the tired and now irrelevant lines about government waste and corruption. He implied that the Gulf coast would be better off without government assitance, instead of accurately stating that it was one party's particular incompetence and insensitivity that led to the Katrina disaster. Thank God he's learned his lesson about all that government aid and is turning down the next dollars intended for his state's poor and needy.

This is the Republican smartboy. He's a Rhodes scholar. He's the future of the Republican party, by all accounts. Can't you just see it in 2012--Jindal/Palin, Palin/Jindal or as Paul Krugman referred in a related context: Beavis and Butthead.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rick Santelli's Rant

Yesterday on CNBC, reporter Rick Santelli went off on a tyrade about the housing bailout plan. As he stood on the floor of the CBOE in Chicago, he managed to yell loud enough to attract the attention and vocal support of the people working around him. He had nothing positive to say about Obama's plan, and compared the US to Cuba on the cusp of the communist revolution. What was most interesting to me was his proclamation at the end that the poeple behind him represented "a statistical cross section of America".

Who works at the CBOE? Who were the people standing behind him hooting their support? You got it--white guys in their mid-30s. No person of color, no women, no person over 40. This is Rick's "cross section". These are people who are extremely well paid. They get benefits and perks that most of us can only imagine. The point is not whether they deserve what they get, but whether they have a clue as to what the rest of America's workers are up against. All they know is that they don't want someone else getting a hand from the government for signing on to a mortgage they now can't afford.

I've no doubt some people just plain overspent and some never had the funds or the discipline or experience to pay a monthly mortgage. Do I want to bail them out, when I have been very disciplined and played by the rules? Not exactly. But I didn't want to bail out the banks and wealthy CEOs either, and I did. We all did. We have come to a place in this country where we allow the expressions of contempt for the common man to stand without challenge. We talk about pay cuts for the auto workers, but say nothing about the pay for the average worker on Wall Street. Those who benefit from this mindset (the banks, traders, financial advisors, and yes, the CNBC reporters) cry "Communism!" "Socialism!" in an effort to scare us all from seeing the truth. "Pay no attention to that rich white guy behind the curtain. Let's kick the common man while he's down!" What is fair for one should be fair for all. I don't like bailouts at all, and wish none of them had happened. But now that we've taken this road, we can't use it to continue the Bush policies of benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor. The election was a referendum on that policy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Recession By The Numbers

The green line is the current recession. Perhaps the Limbaugh Republicans didn't get this memo. They have been too busy in the Senate chambers arguing that their way, the way they've managed the economy for the last 8 years, is the best way to proceed. Uh huh.
Who won the election on what issue?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Worst Start Ever??

On Morning Joe this morning, Joe Scarborough called on Peggy Noonan to confirm his conclusion that Obama's start as President is "the worst ever". Peggy paused, turned her head to the side to suggest she was deep in thought, and then pronounced that William Henry Harrison had a worse start--he died! She then added, "its pretty bad."

Did we all really think Democrats and Republicans were going to join hands and sing "Kumbaya" in the Oval Office? Did we really think President Obama could tame this self serving rabble in a matter of two weeks, much less two terms?

I don't think of this as a bad start, or the "worst start". I think of it as the Presidential version of the New Hampshire primary. President Obama is taking his lumps and taking notes at the same time. He was not damaged by losing New Hampshire, he got stronger and smarter. What makes him different is that he learns from his mistakes!! I'll take wisdom and growth any day over arrogance and contempt for knowledge.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blago's Pants On Fire!

"I haven't heard that tape," "I haven't seen that," "I can't comment on that." But when he's pressed for details, he recalls everything else about what he said or did to 'advocate for healthcare', 'save Wrigley Field', etc.

Lies, lies, lies. Its interesting that when pressed, he does not deny certain accusations. He's being a bit too clever here. Blago is quite simply a politician in the lowliest form of the word. He's a narcissist who loves to see himself, hear himself, hear others talk about him. He's so in love with himself that he wants all of the tapes played for the public simply because he's gushing over the idea of everyone listening to him--even if the tapes reveal what a slime he is!

Too bad the rest of the country only sees him in the context of the lies he tells now and the spin he puts on his record. And we're still paying this guy's salary!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I LOVE These Two!

I must admit, with some embarrrassment, that I love our new President and First Lady. I really love them. I love their kids, love their love for each other, love just about everything about them. That's dangerous territory when I start to disagree with a policy or decision he makes. But that all begins tomorrow. Tonight, I simply love these two. And for tonight, that's enough.

The New Birth of Freedom Has Begun


Millions...millions...already in Washington, DC at 7 in the morning, waiting for 3 more hours in frigid temperatures to catch a glimpse and feel a sense of history. The rest of us around the country and the world will watch and weep and cheer with pride and joy and fascination in this sudden sea change. We did no less than save this country from the devastating years of Bush. And that is all I want to say about Bush on this day.

This day belongs to President Obama and to us, and to all those who have paved the way to make this day possible. Our day. Our victory. Our celebration.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In The Shadow of Lincoln

The lives of Lincoln, MLK and Obama converge on this moment in time in a way that seems only possible in stories or movies. Did this really happen? Did we really do this? Of course, we did, well aware of the historical impact. But could we be witnesses to a greater historical moment? Did the citizens of Lincoln's time appreciate what they had in him? Are we participants in one of the turning points in American history? Only time will tell. For now, we can revel in the grandeur and say "I was there. I played a part."

We Are One

"Who's singing now?"
"Shakira....who's Shakira?"
"I don't know. What does she look like?"
"Long blonde hair with leather pants."
"One of those white chicks that sounds black and looks black and sings black?"
"Maybe.....its the end of white America, baby."
"I know...."
(long pause)
"...That's wasn't that great, anyway."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good-bye To All of That

While there is much to remember about 2008 and much to be grateful for, I will not miss the year that has passed. Its reminiscent of 1968 in some ways--one of those pivotal years in US history that ends up shaking so many people on a personal level. So many more with so much less than before. More fear, more uncertainty, less trust in the things we thought were sure.

I actually don't mind that Americans are once again forced to live within their means. That course correction has been a long time coming. And I don't mind that people might actually have to learn to cook to save money on food, and learn to do without in order to have what they need. I'd love to see smaller homes, smaller cars and bigger imaginations. But this past year stands as a reminder of what happens when power corrupts, when the rich white guys get away with financial genocide, when morality vacates the workplace, when people lose their overall sense of right and wrong and think only of the singular "Me", when ego reigns.

So good-bye to 2008, I will not miss you. Let's hope that the Obama Era is the beginning of a return to an awareness of things greater than the self. If nothing else, hard times remind us that we really are in this together. We just need to be reminded of that once every 50 years or so.