Friday, January 30, 2009

Re-living the Past....

While driving my kids to school this morning, a song playing on the radio, Reo Speedwagon's Can't fight this feeling, took me back almost instantly to my beginnings in high school, oh so many years ago. Back to the days of cassette tapes and 8-tracks and going to rock concerts filled with big-haired girls, and big-haired men, all of which wore make-up! (Try to envision it ladies. I know it's hard since you were like two, or maybe even still an egg in your mom's ovary during the early eighties.)

This song reminded me how I often would find myself in sticky situations as a teen. I seemed to be in trouble all the time. Or in some cases, trouble spots where I didn't have a clue I was making a bad decision. This song in particular made me think of a boy named Wayne, (yes his name should've been my first clue) who once took me for a ride in his car. He loved this song. He played it over and over. Rewind. Play. Rewind. Play. I know now he was trying to get me in the mood.

It didn't work. I was able to fight the feeling along with some colorful language and a really well placed shove!

But still, I think about that every single time I hear this song. Why was I so dumb?

It's sometimes difficult to remember, as adults, that we were once...unfinished. Young. Thin. Without a care in the world. This last week I've been trying to remind myself of this as I deal with my oldest child. He had an...incident at school that resulted in some disciplinary action. My thoughts have run the evolutionary scale from mildly furious, then just angry, to disappointment, and finally empathy. And so, having learned a valuable lesson at least for now - Think before you act - he's doing much better.

And I have learned the same. Before I condemn my son for making a bad decision I need to remember that common saying on many a headstone: As he is, I once was.

I survived my teens. So will he, hopefully relatively unscathed and with no permanent damage. I can only stand by and watch and hope for the best, trying not to pull all my hair out in the process. Trying to be understanding. Trying to remember that I too, was a little stinker.

My poor parents! I think I need to go write them a thank you card right now for not selling me to the gypsies.
Although that might've been fun...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

It seems nobody wants to talk about the stimulus package, so I thought I would put down my very long two cents, and then let the debates begin:

First off, I do think it is a lot of spending and it seems that it won't create a whole ton of jobs. I think every aspect of the stimulus package must be about job creation- there is some of that, with spending on green energy, but not nearly enough in my opinion. I really think this package should be all about creating work for people.

I will agree with the Rep. that there is a lot of money being spent to possibly make people a little dependent. If they had jobs, they wouldn't need to be dependent on government subsidies, so I will agree with the Reps. on that and say once again that the package needs to be all about job creation so that people won't need to get unemployment checks.

However, I absolutely disagree with the Reps. that the solution is "more tax cuts." It's like they only know two words- "tax cuts" -and that is the only way anything good can happen. Give me a break- get off of your one trick pony show, and come up with something that will actually work! You had the power for 8 years and had all kinds of tax cuts, and look where we are. If people aren't working, how on earth will tax cuts help them? Six percent of zero is still zero! And to pretend like you're the good guy (referring to the elected officials, here) and you want to give businesses tax cuts to keep jobs in America is a joke- you're the ones who encouraged businesses to LEAVE America by giving them tax cuts to open plants in China! Come on, now- let's be a little realistic here- don't pretend like you (the elected officials) care about the working class when all you care about is how much CEO's make. GRRR.....

I do like the increased funding in education- which does create more jobs in the field of education. Now NCLB will actually be funded (don't get me started on what a horrible thing NCLB is, but at least with it being funded that would help). I also like the infrastructure projects- I wish there were more of those. I also think this money needs to be closely regulated- I am REALLY REALLY REALLY (did I mention really?) ticked off that the first stimulus package came with little regulation and all those billions of dollars just magically disappeared- wow, who would have thought if you gave the money to thieves and didn't watch the money that would happen? Everybody except the elected officials, I guess.

OK, those are just some first impressions I have of the package- now debate away!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What to do when your husband likes The Bachelor more than you do.

I now live in a house divided. A rift has settled over our once happy household. A political battle you say? A battle over discipline? Religion? No, we could only be so lucky. Instead it's absurdity over the sensible. It's a battle over......The Bachelor.

The Bachelor, a tv show with only one redeeming quality. The guy is cute.

That's it.

I can find nothing else. I can find no other reason to watch it. And believe me, I've tried. My husband watches it quite faithfully with my daughter. They know the names of the cast of female characters and enjoy the play-by-play of all their crazy shenanigans. They know who hates whom, who has kids already, who the back-stabbers are, who's boobs are real.

Seriously, it's like watching a painful, slow-motion car crash. But, if you're a man what's not to like? That guy is living every man's fantasy. A harem of beautiful, dim-witted women letting the claws come out over you, having sex with you, kissing you every day. Telling you amidst their teary sobs, "I think I'm falling for you", or "I've never felt this way before", or "I love you so much".

Just what a man wants is a needy, desperate girl. What a great example for my daughter. I'm all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

And, I haven't touched on those hideous rose ceremonies. The long, drawn out pauses. The downward glances. The teary goodbyes.

I think I'm going to puke. Yet my husband loves it.
I don't know what to do. Divorce? Counseling? A trail separation?

If I only I could direct him toward tv worth watching. Making fun of people who can't sing, let alone dress themselves. Ah yes, American Idol - a favorite of mine this time of year. I only tune in for the first few weeks of every season. Those are car crashes I can bear to watch. When it starts to actually showcase talent, then I'm afraid I can take no more.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel! February contains quite a list of new shows.
The Amazing Race - Feb. 15
Survivor - Feb. 12
Medium - Feb. 2

Men and women sometimes clothed, sometimes only in their underwear, traveling the world and fighting for a million dollars vs. a psychic mom and her hot husband.

Now that's great tv.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"To America" and Guantanamo Bay - A Book Review

Due to the events of the past week, I've been feeling very patriotic, and I wanted to read something distinctly... American. I found historian Stephen Ambrose's last publication "To America - Personal Reflections of an Historian" to be just such a book. Written right before he died in 2002, this short synopsis is a look back over event's and guiding principles he thinks have been key to the success of our country. A history teacher's final lecture on everything from Jefferson, Grant, and Nixon to racism and women's rights.

But, Stephen Ambrose was mainly attracted to military history. According to him, "the key events in American history were military. Winning the Revolutionary War or the Civil War, or World War II were the turning points in our history." Surprisingly, I found his thoughts on the subject very interesting. For me, a person who has a hard time coming to grips with the war in Iraq, his brief synopsis of how and why America became a military and moral leader became more clear. This country has been forged with the sweat and blood of it's military, its citizens and its leaders.

He talks of our sense of "moral superiority". How in the Second World War, "if you were conquered and occupied by a foreign army, the last thing you wanted was for it to be the German, Japanese, or the Red army. The first thing, around the world, was to hope it would be the American army. This was because you'd be better fed, receive better medical care, treated like a human being".

With the news of the eventual closure of Guantanamo Bay and CIA "black list" prisons around the world, where men have been held indefinitely without a trial, where men have been tortured for "the good of the country", I find, finally, a return to a fight on terror that reflects the values our country was built upon. These sort of practices do not make us "morally superior". They turn us into the enemy. John Kerry recently wrote an article I believe describes it best: "that America's struggle against terrorism will once against honor some of the most cherished ideals of our republic: respect for the rule of law, individual rights, and America's moral leadership".

What would Stephen Ambrose have thought of all this, I wonder. Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq war, electing a black president of the United States. We will never know. A true teacher, an exceptional guide to the past has been lost. What a shame.
(A shorter, more unbiased version of this review is also posted on strictlyletters and 5-squared.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Change we can believe in or more of the same?

The blasted weather. In January, in my hometown of Boise, a lake of clouds settling over the valley can only mean one thing: a dreary inversion has parked over my house. They last for weeks upon weeks here. No snow, no rain, just clouds and darkness with nothing to account for it but a gloomy disposition. For someone who loves the sun on their face as much as I, this time of year can be suffocating, and of extremely long duration. I long for warmth. I long to plant my peas. I long to have a reason to wear my sunglasses. I long for Valentine's Day to hurry up and get here. I long....

I long for change.

Then one day finally, the clouds part and lift and low and behold, there it is. The sun, on the afternoon of Inauguration day believe it or not, peeked its shiny head out from behind the loveless clouds. I squealed and ran to my kitchen window, reveling in the warmth attaching to my face. I could almost feel the Vitamin D flow through my veins. My coffers of happiness re-filling. Oh, how I love the sun. And then, it left as quickly as it’d come. Gone again. Smothered in a blanket of gray mist. It has not returned since.

But its brief presence reminded me, all is not lost. Sunnier days are ahead. Eventually it will come out to stay. I must wait. I must be patient.

The parallels of the sun briefly shining last Tuesday did not escape my notice. A new president is a new beginning. A new hope. That day was a sliver of light in a graying time. Like the sun that did not linger, it only reminded me of what was to come.

Being the realist that I am, I know President Obama cannot possibly do all he has set out to, and I can’t help but wonder if there really will be much change or if it will just be politics as usual. Were the clouds moving back into place an ominous sign? Every new president has a sweeping optimistic agenda when they come into office, but as we were reminded with President Bush, sometimes outside circumstances cloud previous plans for success. The political theatre in Washington will probably continue as it always has.

We are living in a difficult, stressful time. So much so, that perhaps our generation will be defined by these years much like my grandparents were defined by the Great Depression. Will President Obama solve all of our problems as a nation? No, but he can offer a warm ray of hope in a troubled time. Much like many other popular world leaders have rallied their countries in times of crisis: Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandella, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt. I’m hoping Obama can do the same. He may succeed. He may fail.

But until we find out which, I refuse to drag him into the mire. Not yet. Not when he’s done nothing to merit such comparisons. He’s done nothing yet that hasn’t been done before. I will not dirty my feet by comparing his popularity to the most horrible regimes the world has ever known. I only have one word for that.


They say positive change starts with each person. Obama and his administration can not solve my problems. Only I can. I must look ahead. I must wait, and be patient to wear my sunglasses again.

For that is really the only thing I know for sure. The sun will come up, and eventually it will shine through.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Glib Racism or a Voice of Experience

One of my favorite parts of the Inauguration ceremony was the benediction offered by the Reverend Joseph E. Lowery, a former NAACP head and 60's civil rights leader who knew Dr. Martin Luther King. He's since become of voice for all oppressed people's of any color, or so I have read.

I enjoyed his prayer, like I enjoyed the rest of the ceremony at length. His eloquent words breathed life into a time and place I know little of. Life in the 60's for African Americans. Before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

He ended his words rather jovially with this little quote that brought some laughter from the crowd.

"We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.”

While scanning the news articles about the Inauguration today, I've discovered that more than one conservative is offended with the "white will embrace what is right" statement.

Surprise, surprise. Glib racism! Post racialism!

Do I believe his comment was racist? No, because I look at the man who said. He grew up in a segregated, repressed world. He lived it. I did not, therefore I will not make judgements. Like so many white people of his generation, perhaps he has a hard time letting go of the past. Perhaps white just happens to rhyme with right.

I wonder how many other Democrats feel these comments were racist? I would venture the number to be extremely low if non-existent. How many Republicans? From what I've read this morning, a lot are offended.

Why? I'm just as white as some of these conservatives. I'm not offended. I don't feel threatened by his words. In fact, I find this to be a perfect example of being overly sensitive.

Perhaps it goes back to the Civil Rights Movement and Linden Johnson in the 60's. Republican opposition was fierce. Some thought the Communists started that movement. Some still blindly believe that no matter how ludicrous it sounds. (Those dreaded Commies are always up to no good.)

Perhaps a few needed something to be mad about and this is what they chose because they could find nothing else wrong with the ceremony. Nothing in President Obama's speech. Nothing in the music. Why is no one happy that Justice Roberts screwed up the oath of office? I bet he did it on purpose because Obama voted against his nomination! (wink, wink)

Call it blind faith, but I enjoyed the ceremony. Alot of people did. Democrats and Republican's alike. Every word of it. Whether he just wanted his poem to rhyme or he had some secret political agenda, the man's in his 80's. I say let him voice what he's been denied so often in his long life.

The right to express his opinion.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Well, Hello Mr. President!

Hail to our new Commander in Chief!

A favorite gem from his speech.

"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."

A partial copy of the beautiful poem Elizabeth Alexander wrote for this day.

We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks,
raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce,
built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle.
Praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, the figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."Others by “first do no harm”,or “take no more than you need”.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp –praise song for walking forward in that light.
The music, the poem, the speech and the prayers. All wonderful.
Such euphoric bliss. Such happiness. What a great country we live in.
God Bless America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Celebration Feast!

In honor of the Inauguration tomorrow, I'm going to shamelessly copy Peter over at thinking or sitting, and prepare a special patriotic feast tomorrow night, not quite as fancy as his - but hopefully still red, white, and blue enough to pass even the stiffest constitutional critic. A copy of the menu is below.

Grilled Hamburger Steaks on Toasted Buns
(Grilled artichoke burger for me.)
Sliced Red Tubers of Potato Origin, Lightly Salted
Sliced Cabbage with Carrot, Red Cabbage, and Apple
Green Beans in a Light Butter Sauce
Gold and Delicious Apple Pie
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (straight from the cow)
Sparkling Cranberry Cider

Countdown to Crawford, Days 3,2,1 - Good Bye President Bush

Of all the pictures I see of our current President, this one bothers me the most. The war. The number one problem I have with Bush’s presidency, the thing that sets him apart from Reagan and his father, the only two other Republican president's that fall within the realm of my adult life. His anti-environment legislation, his tax breaks for the wealthy; these are not new concepts for a Republican president. No big surprises there. It’s that war, that proverbial monkey on George Bush’s back that will decide, ultimately his “legacy”.

I’ve read the commentaries, the news articles, and watched George Stephanopoulos and others argue their talking points, and I’m generally in league with the consensus. The war and the mess it’s left our country in will last for decades, if not lifetimes to come. My grand children and great-grand children will still be paying for this stupid war. Does that make me happy and proud of our current president and vice-president? Ah no. It saddens me. It makes me sick to my stomach.

But, I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of blaming Bush for the war, for our countries problems, because really it’s not all his fault. A man can not be more than he is. If 9-11 hadn’t happened, he’d probably have walked through the annals of time much like his father, Gerald Ford, or Jimmy Carter, only briefly mentioned here and there without much consequence.

But 9-11 did happen, and it changed the political landscape into one that President Bush was unprepared for. This is why I believe the best and the brightest should be elected to lead our country. You never know what extreme crisis they will ultimately face. After the planes hit the towers, Bush held some of his highest approval ratings due to his forth-rightness, his honesty with us, the American people. I believe because of that he felt he had a free pass to do whatever he wanted, and his arrogance was in part, his downfall.

He brought us to the brink with a war almost the size and scope of Vietnam, without raising a tax, without asking anything but of those that served in the military and their families. The honest and forthright talk became almost nonexistent. The message was, don’t worry about it taking longer for you to get on a plane, just keep spending, spending, spending. We are winning the war. Mission accomplished. We want your life to continue as it always has, making no sacrifice whatsoever….Thus budget surpluses became ballooning deficits, China and Japan became our lenders, giving the economy a false sense of security that all was well, until finally, the glass-plated floor fell out from under us.

In his arrogance, he thought we’d follow him along this lonely path. The majority of us, finally, did not. There are some of you that still hold out. Call it blind faith. Call it an outright decision to block out and forget about what I would call major flaws. Hmm...I wonder what you'd all say if he was a Democrat. You can make all the excuses you want, but his presidency, the eight years under his watch, have been a disaster. I'm sorry, but I hold him accountable for that. Even the Great Decider holds himself accountable yet his supporters refuse to. I find that interesting.

And so I say, enough. I don’t want to talk about him anymore, like I’m sure he doesn’t want to think about it anymore. I’m done. Finished. Good bye President Bush. Have a good time with your rocking chairs in Crawford. May they get much use in your later years. Do I think his decisions will ultimately affect him? I believe only mentally, as he is already extremely wealthy. He will never feel the hard pinch of finances like most Americans as a lot of us continue to feel it mentally, and physically. To the very cores of our lives.

Time to turn a page. Time to move onto something new. At least I hope it’s new.

I hope.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Countdown to Crawford - Days 4, 5 & 6 A Head Scratching Moment

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." --Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." --Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kempthorne Flushes All His Good Press of Late Down his Golden Toilet!

"I have a sensitive rear-end," said Secretary Kempthorne, to inquiries that insinuated spending 236,000 to renovate his office bathroom at the Interior Department was in fact, flushing hard-earned tax dollars down the drain.

"I'm so busy revoking the Endangered Species Act, opening up our National Parks to drilling and killing Old Faithful and the polar bears, that I don't have time to shower at home. I needed one at work. A big one too, you know for parties. Same for the gold-plated fridge, and the expensive 70's paneling. Like a regular bath house."

When asked about further accusations that his office has been taking bribes in exchange for lucrative drilling contracts, he replied. "We'll sure, that's another reason for the elitist bathroom. We have to entice those oil big wigs with something, you know, better than what you average joes have."

"To the tune of 236,000? Isn't that the above the median house price in your home state of Idaho?"

"Oh, it is? I guess I didn't know that. Been to busy changing laws at the last minute."

"Really? Before your political career started, weren't you executive vice - president for the Idaho Home Builders Association?"

"Ya, but that was back when houses had 'value'. I got out of that racket when the takings were big, if you know what I mean." wink...wink..

"Some people are a little upset by this sir. Some are saying perhaps you should've been more fiscally conservative during an economic crisis, like you Republicans claim to be."

Secretary Kempthorne chuckles to himself. No one else laughs. "But you see, that's only for you taxpayers and what I like to call 'the dreaded government entitlements'. Not for the public officials. We deserve the best. We have to sit so much, fighting with the Democrats, other Republicans, our secretaries, we need a soft cushioned place to set our hiney's when we need to take a break and read your lovely editorials in the NY Times. It's tough serving the public these days."

The reporter didn't speak. Kempthorne looked worried. "You okay?"

"Sorry," the reported replied. "I feel like I've just been flushed."

"Exactly," Sec. Kempthorne said, patting him on the back. Then he went to take a pee in his new gold-plated bathroom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Want smog at its finest? Head to Yellowstone

According to National Parks magazine, last year in Washington D.C., NPCA and other advocacy groups sued the Park Service in response to the Bush Administration's proposal to allow 540 snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park each day - nearly twice the daily average over the past five years. The rule would have degraded air quality, tripled the area where visitors hear noisy engines, and increased stress on wildlife struggling to survive harsh winter conditions.

In November the judge ruled against the Administration, and ordered the Park Service to come up with a new plan. Unfortunately, they did. They came up with their own number. 720 snowmobiles allowed in each day.

And to this I say again what?

The snowmobile industry immediately filled suit in Wyoming. The judge there (big surprise) ruled that Yellowstone should stick to this new plan of 720 snowmobiles until they can craft a more suitable one. There was hope that the park might cap its previous daily limit at 318 snowmobiles this winter, but Yellowstone's superintendent chose not to pursue a temporary plan at all, and defaulted instead to the upper limit of 720, a number that flies in the face of it's own science.

Apparently for the last ten years, more than half-a-million Americans have submitted comments on this issue, and four out of five favor snowcoaches over snowmobiles.

I'm trying to figure out why the Park Service did this. I can only come up with one reason. Money. More snowmobiles means more money, more people staying at the Old Faithful Lodge, more people passing through West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and spending money. Been to any national park recently? All are in dire need of updated services, and their budgets are cut repeatedly.

But to request more than the Bush Administration did? That's just incredible to me. Although I've never actually snowmobiled in the Park - my husband has and says it's beautiful, I have been just outside the Park more than once. And since there is only an imaginary line that separates Yellowstone from the rest of the world, I would have to guess that snowmobiling just outside it on the thousands of trails already available in Wyoming and Idaho, is pretty close to the same as snowmobiling in the Park. AND WITH LESS RESTRICTIONS!

Thousands of people head to this part of the country each year to do some winter recreating. I don't want to stop them from doing that. Snowmobiling is a lot of fun for the entire family.

But... let's be reasonable!

Let's think of why Yellowstone was created in the first place. To provide a safe haven for the landscape and wildlife from the rest of the world. I believe the Park Service has let its money woes go to its head and forgotten a core value of it's own institution. To protect.

Current grade for the Park Service, F+.
I'm disgusted.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Gift to You Republicans

OK, we have all enjoyed teasing Bush (and I sincerely hope you keep them coming, Lula!!!), but I thought I could show you all that us Dems have a sense of humor, too:

Don't get too excited, though, I don't anticipate this happening too often:)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Ode to Caffeine - Alas, I must bid thee farewell

Due to reasons that are beyond my control, meaning apparently my heart can no longer take the joyous raptures you bestow,
I must bid thee farewell,
my favorite drink,
my Nectar of the Gods,
my Mountain Dew.

Caffeine. My favorite drug.
I crave,
I pine,
I love.
Ah, you are a fair weather friend. But I will miss you.
What will I do without the adrenalized highs and the mind-numbing headaches, the bloated cow sort of feeling that can only come from drinking your syrupy sweetness.
Goodbye my long-suffering friend,
my lighted path in dark hallways,
my beacon in the stormy sea of life with a toddler.
Somehow I will learn how to stay awake without you.
Somehow I will go on.
I believe I have the answer....

Countdown to Crawford - Day 8, Bush's right and left hand, and brain

Or, so I thought..

Top 10 quotes of Dick Cheney being Vice Presidential -

1. "Except for the occasional heart attack, I never felt better." –June 4, 2003

2. "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." –on his five draft deferments, April 5, 1989

3. "There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." --Sept. 10, 2005

4, "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." –April 30, 2001

5. "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." --March 16, 2003

6. "We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." --March 16, 2003

7. "In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda, and his regime is no more." –Nov. 7, 2003
8. "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." -- on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005

9. "Oh, yeah. He is. Big time.'' --agreeing with then-candidate George W. Bush, who was overheard at a campaign rally saying, "There's Adam Clymer, major league a**hole from The New York Times," Sept. 4, 2000

10. "Go f*** yourself." --to Sen. Patrick Leahy, during an angry exchange on the Senate floor about profiteering by Halliburton, June 25, 2004

Monday, January 12, 2009

Countdown to Crawford - Day 9 "They misunderestimated me."

"They misunderestimated me." —Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." —LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000
"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --on his best moment in office, interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006
"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006
"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe -- I believe what I believe is right." --Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

The Politics of Language

Clint Eastwood, from the new movie "Gran Torino", says he's had it with sensitivity.
"A lot of people are bored of all the political correctness," he recently told the NY Times. "...The country has come a long way in race relations, but the pendulum swings so far back. Everyone wants to be so"...and here, he gave a make-my-day sort of grimace..."sensitive."

Clint was referring to the main character of his new movie, Walt Kowalski, a "cantankerous cuss with a mouth full of bigotry and invective." Apparently he thinks of no group above notice, from the "micks", to the "hillbillies", and the "slopes". Eastwood of late in his career, has made a name for himself directing features on stories about ourselves that we try to keep hidden, illuminating them for all to see. Here he suggests, "we are drowning in our own sensitivity."

Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald writes, "Here in the US of the Aggrieved, these is no malady, mark, mannerism, mindset or malformation too miscellaneous to have its own support group, along with a cadre of lobbyists and lawyers hyper-vigilant for any suggestion of mistreatment or actionable discrimination. Largely as a result, American English has become a morass of compound constructions and newly invented terminologies designed to leave no one out, give no one cause for offense."

Pitts referred to an episode of Archie Bunker in "All in the Family" that he showed a class of his. All were offended by the main character. I remember that show and the few times I was able to sneak in an episode, as I was very young and not allowed to watch it. A lot like Walt, everybody was fair game to Archie. He made fun of every class of people with every kind of racial slur he could think of. Would such a show be allowed on tv today? Probably not.

In the movie, "Gran Torino", Walt's friendly banter with his Italian barber is not without each of them slurring each other's ancestries. But when it comes to addressing the black street youth, he calls them "spooks". Not the other word, which Pitts writes, "Eastwood doubtless knew using that word would have rendered the character irredeemable."

I found this particular commentary interesting, in that it relates to my recent thoughts on that woman of grace and thoughtfulness, Ann Coulter, and my apparent equal reaction of "hate" with responsive words like the dreaded "bitch" and "asshole".

What are words anyway? Words are equal to power, even swear words, even hateful words. The latter two especially in their ability to bring about a desired reaction from both the speaker and the speakee. Meaning when I say the word bitch or asshole, I actually feel better because I've said exactly what I feel at that particular moment. Power. And in the other sense, some that hear those words may bristle, cringe, or be offended at their power. Perhaps they are brought lower from hearing them, disgusted even, shamed, depending on the word.

I've always found the subject of swear words interesting, in that what constitutes as "cursing" just depends on where you live in the world, i.e. shit, bloody, root, shag, merde, etc., all have different meaning depending on whether you live in England, the US, Germany, or Australia, just to name a few. I've always wondered who exactly decided what a "curse" word was? A society, a religion? Who, I wonder?

Have we become as Pitts suggests, an overly-sensitive society, afraid of the Walt's and Archie's of today? Are we overly-sensitive when some of us, not all apparently, bristle at Ann Coulter's acerbic, acrid interviews, her maligning books? Are we being overly-sensitive when we judge and lecture someone for their language used to describe something?

I've found the hypocrisy interesting. For instance, I can't call Sarah Palin a nutjob for standing in front of a turkey killing machine while being interviewed without being singled out as a "name caller." But if Ann Coulter calls someone a "retard", she's explained away as being from the East, or "that's just her way."

Whatever. We are ALL hypocrites.

Pitts ends with this telling thought, "But for there to be friendly insults, there must first be friendships, with all the reserves of trust and affection that term implies. The "sensitivity" Eastwood deplores is stark evidence that all too often, there is not."

Is Ann Coulter friendly? Not obviously anyway, not that I can tell from interviews, not even on Fox News. She seems to be friends with no one. Is she using her words to get a reaction? Absolutely. Did I call her a bitch for the same reason? No doubt about it.

Is there anything wrong with either thing?
That, apparently, is the unanswerable question.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Countdown to Crawford - Day 10, Our President gettin' jiggy with it

We'll, at least he's got rhythm and....something anyway. For more pictures of him getting his groove on, click here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Countdown to Crawford - Day 11 (Favorite quotes from 2008)

"So I analyzed that and decided I didn't want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression." --George W. Bush, Washington D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

"People say, well, do you ever hear any other voices other than, like, a few people? Of course I do." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2008"I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008

"You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President." --George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008

"I've been in the Bible every day since I've been the president." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2008

"He was a great father before politics, a great father during politics and a great father after politics." --George W. Bush, on his father, George H.W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2008

"Yesterday, you made note of my -- the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times." --George W. Bush, speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008

"I want to share with you an interesting program -- for two reasons, one, it's interesting, and two, my wife thought of it -- or has actually been involved with it; she didn't think of it. But she thought of it for this speech." --George W. Bush, discussing a company that improves access to clean water in Africa, Washington D.C., Oct. 21, 2008

"This thaw -- took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw." --George W. Bush, on liquidity in the markets, Alexandria, La., Oct. 20, 2008

"I didn't grow up in the ocean -- as a matter of fact -- near the ocean -- I grew up in the desert. Therefore, it was a pleasant contrast to see the ocean. And I particularly like it when I'm fishing." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2008

"Anyone engaging in illegal financial transactions will be caught and persecuted." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2008

"We're fixing to go down to Galveston and obviously are going to see a devastated part of this fantastic state." --George W. Bush, Houston, Sept. 16, 2008

"The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there's a lot of prayer -- prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I'm one of them." --George W. Bush, Baton Rouge, La., Sept. 3, 2008

"First of all, I don't see America having problems." --George W. Bush, interview with Bob Costas at the 2008 Olympics, Beijing, China, Aug. 10, 2008

"I'm coming as the president of a friend, and I'm coming as a sportsman." --George W. Bush, on his trip to the Olympics in China, Washington, D.C., July 30,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ann Coulter receives a clear message: We've had enough!

Ann Coulter's new book Guilty: Liberal "victims" and Their Assault on America is about to hit bookstores. Until yesterday she was slated to appear on NBC's the Today Show, but because of an uproar from viewers, her visit is now canceled. Why you say? Let me include a few excerpts from her upcoming, heart-warming book. Gather your children around and get the popcorn. It's a real page turner.

~Coulter calls children whose parents divorce "future strippers" in a chapter titled "Victim of a Crime? Thank a Single Mother": We also have a term for the youngsters involved: "the children of divorce," or as I call them, "future strippers." It is a mark of how attractive it is to be a phony victim that divorcées will often claim to belong to the more disreputable category of "single mothers." [Page 36]

~Coulter, discussing "Republican turncoats," remarks that "their gender always remains the same. They are women, not limited to the biological sense". [Page 114]

~Coulter claims that Obama, actress Halle Berry, and musician Alicia Keys "race bait[ed] their way to success": In a related phenomenon, various half-black celebrities insist on representing themselves simply as "black" -- the better to race-bait their way to success. Actress Halle Berry, singer Alicia Keys, and matinee idol Barack Obama were all abandoned by their black fathers and raised by their white mothers. But instead of seeing themselves as half-white, they prefer to see the glass as half-black. They all choose to identify with the fathers who ditched them, while insulting the women who struggled to raise them. [Page 7]

~Coulter calls former White House press secretary Scott McClellan "retarded". [Page 118]

~ Coulter advances several falsehoods about Kerry in defending the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth...* Coulter also falsely suggests that no witnesses supported Kerry's account that his convoy came under enemy fire during the March 13, 1969, actions for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.* Coulter writes that Kerry "carrie[d] a home-movie camera to war in order to reenact combat scenes and tape fake interviews with himself" during his tour in Vietnam [Page 100].

~ Coulter devotes four pages of Guilty [173-176] to discussing her false assertion that "Obama himself compared Palin to a pig and then denied doing so."

I can't help but wonder who buys her books. Do people actually read this, or just burn them in effigy... She's still talking about Kerry because she has little else. Single mother's and Halle Berry? What did they ever do to her I wonder, and what do they have to do with politics?

My point in bringing up this hideous woman is this, NOBODY'S buying it! Does anyone really care what this woman has to say? Aren't we more worried about staying in our homes, keeping our jobs, our financial futures?

Someone needs to let the Republican extreme right-wingers know, we don't want to hear this dribble!

Recently the New York Times ran an article on how conservative right wing talk radio is gearing up to aggressively go after President-Elect Obama over the next four years. Rush Limbaugh demonstrated his commitment to this crusade last week on his radio show by blaming Democrats — especially Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — for starting the current economic crisis.

Limbaugh's theory: Schumer caused on caused a run on Ind Mac Bank in California this summer, in order to create a feeling of financial panic amongst the public. Democrats then capitalized on this panic with electoral wins in the White House and Congress. The purpose of gaining this power, according to Limbaugh, was to nationalize U.S. industries:

LIMBAUGH: Who’s benefiting? Aside from the people being bailed out. The Democrat party and Barack Obama are benefiting.
They got elected, they increased their numbers in the House, they increased their numbers in the Senate, they got the White House now, and they’ve got a crisis that people think can only be fixed with the all-mighty and powerful government interceding to save this or to save that, when in fact, the government is going to nationalize the automobile industry. It’s going to nationalize some banks. It’s going to nationalize the mortgage industry, and may end up nationalizing the automobile industry.

What??That's probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

So, this is the "rebirth of principled opposition"? This from the man who told Barbara Walters he's "not participating in the recession." Well, when you make 100 million I guess you don't have to. Just the little guy does. Just us poor folk.

You know what this kind of talk does? It polarizes a nation. It further divides us. With the economy such as it is, people losing their jobs, their homes, you'd think we'd try to come together instead of drawing more lines in the sand by lies and generalizations.

I'm hoping this plan of action backfires. That viewership will fall, that no one will buy Coulter's book.
I hope people from both sides can work together, and follow the best example of it I've seen so far, President-elect Barack Obama.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I am putting this out here because I wanted to know if other people find this same phenomenon in their wards...

I basically live on Wisteria Lane- everybody is perfect, there are never any problems, and bad hair days simply don't exist. But, as I have thought about this, I have realized that it hasn't seemed to be just my ward that has this problem. In my old ward, every mom would say how wonderful their baby was- easily slept through the night, never cried, was always happy. My baby, on the other hand, was literally a monster. She had colic, drove both her dad and I crazy, and left us wondering if we would ever have children again (we have made a deal with Heavenly Father that this new baby we are pregnant with must be a perfect angel or we are done). However, if I ever tried to mention this at a mom's group, everyone looked at me as if I had a third eye- it was as if I had to pretend like she was this perfect baby and that I wasn't completely falling apart inside.

Then, I recently found out a friend of mine is leaving her husband after 10 years of being in an emotionally, and eventually physically, abusive relationship. Come to find out, she felt that she could never talk to anybody about her problems because everybody has "perfect" lives and would judge her if she would have the audacity to complain about her horrible husband. (I get the impression this was not just her feeling that others looked down on her, but would say things and act in certain ways to truly make her feel like a bad person if she ever tried to talk to anyone about this). Since she finally left him, however, she has had several people come forward and say they are experiencing the same thing, but feel like they have nowhere to turn. Keep in mind, these are women who were sealed in the temple- but their husbands, obviously, were not keeping those covenants.

Last week at church on Wisteria Lane, we had a lesson on being positive in your life. Of course, because nobody ever has bad days in Suburbia, every comment was, "whatever happens, you just need to smile and trust in the Lord and everything will be OK."

I wanted to scream from the mountain tops: NOT EVERYTHING IS A LAUGHING MATTER!!!! I had thoughts of hurting my baby, not because I didn't love her, but because I was SOOOO frustrated- and putting a smile on my face and pretending like everything was OK, was NOT the solution! I needed support, I needed to know that other people understood what I was going through, and people who were willing to help- I didn't need everyone telling me how perfect their lives were! People need to know that there are situations that are not laughing matters, that they have people they can turn to and talk to, and that they won't be judged because their life isn't perfect (or at least that they shouldn't be)!!!

So, my question is this: Why do we feel this need to be perfect all the time? It can't happen, why can't we allow ourselves a bad day once in awhile? Why can't we allow ourselves to talk to each other about problems, so that we don't have to feel alone? That only perpetuates the problem. I absolutely agree with trusting in the Lord that He will take care of us, but why not be able to confide in friends, visiting teachers, other moms, without being looked down upon??? It would have been really nice to have somebody say, "you know, my baby was rough, too- here are some things that I tried that maybe will work for you, too."

I guess my complaint is that we are putting undue stress on all women when we only say how perfect everything is, instead of being willing at times to admit that sometimes things don't always go great- and that's ok. But, we are all in this together and we can help each other out!

Have I ranted long enough????

Friday, January 2, 2009

Arrgh! It's true. Caroline Kennedy's been Palin-ized.

Apples and oranges some said.
I said more like the North Pole and the Equator. I defended her. No way were Grandma Palin and Caroline Kennedy anything alike, other than being hot mama's.
I was wrong.
A recent quote from Kennedy,
"You know, I think, really, um, this is sort of a unique moment, both in our, you know, in our country's history and in, you know, my own life, and, um, you know, we are facing, you know, unbelievable challenges."
Seriously...I'm poking my eyes out.
You've got to be kidding me.
Sorry sweet Caroline, but until you can verbally form complete sentences, you're not ready.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Worthy Goal for the New Year...

Read a book, and learn and escape.
Did you know only 1 in 6 people read more than twelve books a year?
Fewer than 50 percent of today's adults are literary readers.
- 55 percent of women read for leisure compared to 37 percent of men.
-43 percent of all literary readers perform volunteer and charity work compared to 17 percent of nonliterary readers.
Of course women read more! It makes perfect sense to me. Women need to escape. We need breaks from the moaning and groaning of the cogs of our lives. A moment of relief from the constant churning of motion, of movement, of tension.
Reading is the exercise of our minds. The four-wheel drive vehicle that explores the deep recesses of our brains best saved for creativity and imagination.

Take a moment ladies, for yourselves, with a book.
Try one you've never read before. Join a book club. Or a book review blog...:o)
I just posted my reading list for 2009 here.
I look forward to a year of inspiration and simple treasures hidden in just paper and ink.
Just paper and ink. Separately they are insignificant. But together, power.
Feel it. Do it.

Now, after you finish your first book, head for the tv guide because for those of you interested in watching great literature brought to life, Masterpiece Theatre on PBS is starting its classics run again this Sunday.
This year they are including:
Tess of the d'Ubervilles - Thomas Hardy (This is one of my favorite books.)
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (This IS my favorite book!!)
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens

For a copy of the schedule, check here.
I'm looking forward to another fantastic year of their productions. Last year was excellent.
Happy Reading!