Sunday, February 28, 2010

Football, Cars, And Women

During the Super Bowl, much of the hype, as always, was about the ads. Heck, that's why some people watch the Super Bowl. But there was one ad that really didn't sit well with me. It bothered me. It was supposed to be funny (most of those ads were), so I was willing to give it a chance. As it continued on, I stopped smiling. It wasn't funny - it was downright sexist. It was the Dodge Charger Ad below:

Well gosh, to me, most of the things this man mentioned above can be reduced down to having MANNERS, and doing one's fair share in a relationship. That is to say, what he described is a relationship of mutuality, yet it was depicted as being a terrible hardship on him. Poor thing. Ahem. It bugged me.

Apparently, I was not the only one disturbed by this ad. While at home for Mom's funeral, one of my sisters-in-law asked if I had seen the response to that sexist ad, which is below. I had not, but I am glad I did. Check it out:

Oh, snap.

Yes, the 75% pay for the same work, male politicians deciding what women do with their own bodies (like the heavily male dominated "Healthcare Summit"), women treated as objects, and on and on. Yeah, I think the man having to take out the damn recycling pales in comparison, don't you?


Happy Women's History Month - seems we still have a long way to go...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who's Missing From The Table?

Women, that's who. My fellow No Quarter writer, Eastan, queried after the Health Care Summit, "Where were the women?"

It's an excellent question, Eastan. Here is a look at the list of invitees to Obama's "Bipartisan" Healthcare Summit:
Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, Majority Leader
Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Republican Leader
Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, Majority Whip
Senator Jon Kyl, R-AZ, Republican Whip
Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, Chairman of the Finance Committee
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee
Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Chris Dodd, D-CT, Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY
Senator Patty Murray, D-WA
Senator Kent Conrad, D-ND
Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV
Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR
Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN
Senator John Barrasso, R-WY
Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK
Senator John McCain, R-AZ
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA
Representative Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Majority Leader
Representative John Boehner, R-OH, Republican Leader
Representative James Clyburn, D-SC, Majority Whip
Representative Eric Cantor, R-VA, Republican Whip
Representative Charles Rangel, D-NY, Chairman of the Ways and Committee
Representative Dave Camp, R-MI, Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee
Representative Henry Waxman, D-CA, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative Joe Barton, R-TX, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative George Miller, D-CA, Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee
Representative John Kline, R-MN, Ranking Member of the Education and Labor Committee
Representative John Dingell, D-MI, Chair Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative Xavier Becerra, D-CA
Representative Louise Slaughter, D-NY
Representative Robert Andrews, D-NJ
Representative Jim Cooper, D-TN
Representative Paul Ryan, R-WI
Representative Marsha Blackburn, R-TN
Representative Charles Boustany, R-LA
Representative Peter Roskam, R-IL
** Note: Senator McConnell and Leader Boehner will designate one additional Republican member to attend.**

How many elected women do you count in there? I counted four, a rather paltry number, a slim representation for over HALF the population of the United States (and the world, for that matter).

Why does this matter? Because women have "Unique Health Needs," that's why:

* 80% of the population with osteoporosis are women.
* 75% of people with lupus are women.
* Twice as many women as men have arthritis.
* Hypothyroidism is ten times more prevalent in women than in men.
* Fibromyalgia (FM) is nine times more prevalent in women than in men.
* Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is three times more common in women than in men.
* Migraine headaches affect women three times more than men.
* Women experience more severe and more pain overall than men.
* Interstitial cystitis is almost exclusively found in women.
* Multiple sclerosis occurs more in women than in men.
* Endocrine imbalance affects women more than men.

Women with auto-immune conditions often have food and/or environmental sensitivities, heavy metal toxicity, dysbiosis and/or leaky gut syndrome. Depending on the genetics, lifestyle, and environmental affects, each person’s unique biochemistry will determine which tests are of highest priority.

For example, osteoporosis is of major concern for aging women. Bone mineral density testing is necessary to determine bone health. Solomon and colleagues reported that bone mineral density testing (BMD) is under-utilized by a majority of health care professionals. BMD is an important test for assessment of bone density. Urinary bone resorption assessment is a useful test to monitor whether treatment is preventing further bone loss.

Thyroid dysfunction was reported to be three times as high in women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than in women with non-inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Some RA patients have food and environmental sensitivities, and others have dysbiosis. RA has especially been linked with a genetic predisposition and Proteus bacteria as a trigger for the illness.

Bairey–Merz reports that about 50% of women but 17% of men who have diagnostic cardiac catheterization have normal coronary arteries. So, 50% of the time chest pain in women is due to some other cause(s). Assessment of mineral status, and of other cardio risk factors such as homocysteine, fibrinogen, and C–reactive protein can be used to detect other contributors to chest pain. These tests and others are included in a comprehensive cardiovascular assessment. Magnesium deficiency often mimics angina and arrhythmia. Serum minerals testing would be of benefit.

Higher levels of estradiol also are associated with increased risk of chest pain, so a hormone panel would be indicated as well.

Although CFS and FM are distinct, they have many common characteristics in symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Several studies have reported a high incidence of food sensitivities, leaky gut syndrome, and thyroid autoimmunity in fibromyalgia and CFS.

That's why it matters that there were so few women present in these discussions. As if they really mattered anyway since Big Pharma already has its deal in place, along with some other sweetheart deals for a few states, etc. But still - Obama could have made more of an effort. You know, with him being such a big feminist and all, right, "Ms. Magazine"?? Yeah, right.

This bill is fraught with so many problems, major problems. We know that. We've discussed that for months. But having so few women at the table is a pretty big problem, too. With so many health issues particular to women, and affecting women more than men, it should have been an IMPERATIVE that more women were involved in this process, not fewer. That's reason enough to go back to the drawing board, don't you think? I do.

And something else I think - had there been a President Hillary Clinton, as there should have been, the voices of women would have been well represented, with a seat at the table. With Obama? Not so much...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Health Care Chicago-Style

Thursday marked the six hour-plus Health Care Summit with Obama and a select group of Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle. It was often rancorous - and that was just Obama - ahahaha, and at times, it was even informative. But in the end, it was all just for show, as John Kass so artfully points out in this piece, Obama To Deliver Health Care The Chicago Way. Yep - the title pretty much says it all:
President Barack Obama will star in his very own televised entertainment spectacular on Thursday — let's call it Federal Health Care Kabuki Theater.

The Republicans wanted to dance. Now they'll have to step lightly. They were foolish to get trapped in his so-called summit on national health care. Or did they actually think they could outperform the skinny fellow from Chicago?

The president is taking this one last chance to push his health care agenda, which by his own estimate will cost about $1 trillion over 10 years. That's money America doesn't have, but he could probably just print some more.

Obama will be in his element, talking and lecturing, the law professor framing the debate. He'll spend hours being seen as reasonable. The Republicans will balk and the president will shrug. He'll sigh and say he tried to reason with them but they refused.

Then once the cameras are turned off, he'll take out the baseball bat and explain how things get done The Chicago Way.

It's all about muscle. As an acolyte of the Chicago Democratic machine, he's seen muscle at work in Daleyland. Now he's in the White House, and he's going to use muscle too.

Indeed, it is all about muscle, and has been all along. One doesn't pick someone like Rahm Emmanuel to be one's Chief of Staff and claim otherwise. Well, one COULD, but that person would just end up looking very foolish indeed. But I digress:
Thursday's entertainment spectacular should be great TV for political junkies, a little singing, a little dancing and panels of media experts. They'll chatter on in their little boxes on the TV screens, each trying to be more clever than the other guy.

Someone will probably repeat that ridiculous Washington storyline about Obama, courtesy of the legions of Hopium smokers, which suggests that our young president is just not mean enough.

He's too intelligent, they say, too virtuous, too principled to be ruthless. Sure, it's complete nonsense, a story for children and true believers, but they repeat it, again and again, desperately, like some secular prayer.

Without ruthlessness, how will he get his health care plan passed? Especially as some Democrats back away and the Republicans say no.

Though Americans generally support some aspects of his agenda — covering the uninsured, protecting those with pre-existing conditions — a majority are opposed to Obama's overall health policy.

That's because they're reasonably nervous about two things:

Those two claws of the federal leviathan grabbing one-sixth of the national economy.

Amen, brother. Preach on:
On the eve of Obama's Health Care Kabuki, The New York Times desperately cleaved to the conventional wisdom about the president:

"Ever since his days as a young community organizer in Chicago, Mr. Obama has held fast to the belief that by listening carefully and appealing to reason, he can bring people together to get results, an approach that in Washington has often come up short."

Oh, please. That approach comes up short everywhere. After the Hopium smokers nod off to pleasant dreams, what counts is who has the muscle. Obama knows this. So Thursday might mark an epiphany for many.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democrat from Nevada, foreshadowed how the White House will use force — through a parliamentary trick known as the "nuclear option."

Formally, it's called "reconciliation." It would allow Senate Democrats to pass national health care legislation with a simple majority, without Republican support, by bypassing Senate rules that require 60 votes to stop a filibuster.

The Senate of the United States was explicitly formed to slow down legislative passions and let them cool, not heat them up as in the House of Representatives. The Senate was not born as an institution where a simple majority rules.

But we Americans don't read history much these days, do we? Instead, we watch "American Idol," and vote for our favorite performer.

That is just the sad truth of it. Our college students are WOEFULLY deficient in the most basic knowledge of Civics, but you can bet they know who's on American Idol. That is a failure of our educational system, an indictment of it, really.

It makes me wonder why that is - that American citizens are so ignorant of our form of government. I can hazard a guess - if people are unaware of how a government should function, they are unaware when their government is not functioning properly, or is pulling a fast one on them. Just a thought. But it is also that same lack of knowledge about government in general that allows young people to be hood winked into voting for an American Idol candidate, instead of the BEST candidate for the country.

Back to Kass:
"They should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before," Reid said of Republican outrage. "It's done almost every Congress, and they're the ones who used it more than anyone else."

Reid's right. And Republicans have problems crying about it now.

Yet what Reid, Obama and others avoid is that a few short years ago, they were shrieking. Republicans sought rule changes so a simple majority could approve then- President George W. Bush's judicial nominees who had been held hostage by Democrats.

"(Bush) hasn't gotten his way, and that is now prompting, you know, a change in the Senate rules that really, I think, would change the character of the Senate forever," said then-Sen. Obama in 2005.

Sen. Joe Biden, now Obama's VP, gave the best sound bite of all.

"I say to my friends on the Republican side, you may own the field for now," Biden speechified with dramatic pause, lip bite, shake of head, "but you won't own it forever. I pray God that when the Democrats take back control, we won't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing."
(Emphasis mine.)

It is exactly this kind of hypocrisy that makes those of us who ARE paying attention to what our government is doing just nuts. I remember well how ballistic we were going at the threat of a "nuclear option," and it sure wasn't about 1/6th of our entire economy, either. For the Democrats to demean and belittle Republicans for balking at "Reconciliation" when just a few short years go DEMOCRATS were screaming and crying about it is exactly why so many of us are thoroughly disgusted with them. The animosity, the name calling, the put downs - this is not appropriate behavior for the US Senate. Reid has taken it to a new low, and I can only hope and pray his home state will toss him out on his keister.

But here is the bottom line regarding this Health Care "Reform" bill,a nd this publicity stunt:
Obama needs a victory. He must claim momentum before leading nervous Democrats toward November midterm elections. Either that, or he faces irrelevancy and insurrection.

Americans won't know exactly what's in that federal health care bill that will change our lives. We won't know how much it will cost us, or which insiders get rich, until after it's all done.

Naturally, the insiders will know. And after it becomes law, they might let the rest of us in on it.

That doesn't sound much like a man transcending the politics of the past, does it?

It sounds as if The Washington Way is just like The Chicago Way.

John Kass, and Lynn Sweet, both citizens of Chicago, have tried and tried to warn us that Obama is most definitely, incontrovertibly, a cog in the Chicago machine. To think otherwise, to believe otherwise, is completely without foundation. Obama has done nothing by his actions to prove otherwise, either, despite his words. And the summit on Thursday, showing Obama's flashes of anger (how DARE anyone question him - he is The One!!) did nothing to disprove that, either.

No doubt about it: the "Chicago Way" has become the "Washington Way."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Big Health Care Summit Today

Yes, you would have to be under a rock not to have heard about the upcoming 6 hour Health Care Summit. AOL, of all places, asked what is the primary question: Who Is Listening To The American People?. The question was actually framed by Rep. John Boehner, but I don't think this is a partisan question, I think it is the AMERICAN question. WHO is listening to the people who will be impacted by this the most, an act that will affect fully 1/6th of our entire economy?

There has been a lot of ink on this already, including articles from the Wall Street Journal, Obama Readies A Fallback Proposal; a counter article by Ezra Klein, There's No Plan B For Health Care Reform; Politico's piece by Mike Allen, Will Dr. Obama Go For Plan B-1 or Plan B-2?, and on and on it goes.

No doubt, there will be a lot more written on this as the day progresses, and different sides will see it going different ways. But again, the big question is: How does this affect Americans, all Americans? Who is listening to US? Who is advocating on our behalf, and who on behalf of special interests?

Feel free to post your thoughts about who is representing us, who is not, and all of that.

Now, if you cannot possibly stand to watch these people pontificate or preen for the cameras, do I have a cute video for you to watch. I can watch this a thousand times:

I think that beats Rep. Boehner or Senator Grassley any day of the week, don't you?

As for the Health care Summit, it will be interesting to see what the day brings, won't it? I am sure there will be much to talk about later. Now, I'm going to go watch that video again..

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What A Moment

If you are watching the Winter Olympics as I am, you may have heard the story of Joannie Rochette, a figure skater from Canada. The Women's Short Program in Figure Skating was Tuesday night, and what a night it was. Well, except Tuesday also marked the US Women's Curling Team being knocked out of the running, dangit. I love watching Allison Pottinger throw the stone. What great form she has, and what a great touch. Oh, well.

But I digress. Why am I mentioning Rochette? Because this only child lost her mother suddenly to a heart attack two days before this competition was held:
There is no good time for the grief Joannie Rochette is feeling as she copes with the sudden death of her mother Therese.

There is only bad and worse and this is surely the latter.

It is an unthinkable burden for a 24-year-old, no doubt already feeling the expectations of medal-hungry Canadians at a home Games that seems to be slipping away, already skating under the weight of a silver medal from the 2009 world championships. But she’s still here.

She took the horrible news delivered by her father Normand and longtime coach Manon Perron at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, that her 55-year-old mother and biggest fan had died of a heart attack, and she steeled herself.

I can certainly relate to there being no good time to lose one's mother, but for it to be so unexpected, to be an only child, to have lost one's biggest fan, and to have it happen right before a world wide event for which one has worked and trained, is just staggering, she carried on:
“She demonstrated a lot of control,” said Benoit Lavoie, Skate Canada president. “Right after she remained composed. You had a feeling she was going back to her Olympic mode to cope.”

It was no surprise to those who know her well that Rochette will compete Tuesday, nor that she practised her short program Sunday and did it without breaking down. Arriving last in her group, and after quickly wiping away tears, she took the ice, waved to her father and five family friends in the seats, and with chin high and a smile pasted on her face she got through what had to be an incredibly difficult skate.

Normand, wearing a red Canada Olympic team coat, dabbed at his eyes with a tissue as he watched his daughter’s every move.

“Joannie is a very courageous person. Just to be there this morning (for) the practice I was very impressed,” said her Canadian teammate Cynthia Phaneuf. “She’s going to get through this. She’s just so strong. I think she is doing the right thing. She is not going to get any better just staying in her room. She is maybe a person to look up to, yeah?”


I'll say. She is exactly the kind of person to whom many can look up, including me:
“I know that she’ll find the strength and the courage from her friends, her close friends, from her team, from her coach Manon, from the millions of fans who will be sending their thoughts and their love,” said Brian Orser, a former Olympic skater and now coach of Korea’s Yu-Na Kim, touted as the gold-medal favourite here.

“I’m proud of her that she’s continuing to compete because she’s a great competitor. She’s in great shape and she’ll be skating for the right reasons.”

“Manon and Joannie have a really tight bond and they have each other through this because Manon was really close to Joannie’s mother as well. Together they will get through this and as a coach I think you have to allow her to grieve when she needs to. And I think it has to take its natural course.”

Skate Canada is taking their cues from Rochette from here forward. She had been rooming with ice dancer Tessa Virtue (who won the Gold Medal in Ice Dancing with her partner, Scott Muir, Monday night) in the athletes’ village and will now be afforded her own room.

Lavoie said there have been generous corporate offers of financial assistance with expenses for the Rochette family. There have been kind words of support from the Vancouver organizing committee, Hockey Canada and other sport organizations and athletes.

“That is absolutely devastating for her. I wish nobody else to be in the same situation that right now has happened to Joannie. That she has decided to perform is a very strong way,” Russian silver medallist (sic) Evgeni Plushenko said through an interpreter Sunday morning. “Not everybody can do that. You have to be very strong to do that. Probably she will perform in memory of her mother.”

Unfortunately, video footage is protected by the IOC, but you can see a recap from NBC here (I will keep checking, and insert a video, if it becomes available). Rochette is now in Third Place after the Short Program, a well deserved score based on her performance alone. That she was able to accomplish such a feat after the devastating loss she suffered is amazing. There was not a dry eye in my house, and I bet not in the entire arena. Rochette was amazing, especially under the circumstances. I look forward to what the Free Skate on Thursday will bring.

In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers go out to Joannie and her father, with my sincerest condolences.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Nut By Any Other Name...

Is still a nut. You may have heard that ACORN, the group which has received millions of taxpayer dollars, and has misused millions of taxpayer dollars, is restructuring. Along with that comes a name change, to COI (Community Organizations International). I wonder what THAT means (the International part). I shudder to think. Here is the reason for the change:
The embattled liberal group ACORN is in the process of dissolving its national structure, with state and local-chapters splitting off from the underfunded, controversial national group, an official close to the group confirmed.

"ACORN has dissolved as a national structure of state organizations," said a senior official close to the group, who declined to be identified by name because of the fierce conservative attacks on the group that began when a conservative filmmaker caught some staffers of its tax advisory arms on tape appearing to offer advice on incorporating a prostitution business.

Ah, yes - this is all the fault of that pesky James O'Keefe and those mean Republicans. It has absolutely ZIP to do with ACORN being under investigation in at least 14 states for voter registration fraud, and is under federal indictment in Nevada, or their participation in the mortgage lending crisis, or anything like that.

The article referenced above also has this Update:
A person familiar with the New York reorganization said the new group has a new board, including some relative outsiders, like an official at the union Workers United, Wilfredo Larancuent, as well as most of the old leadership.

But the impact appears to be minimal.

"It’s not like this is some kind of hostile thing," said the New York source. "This is what Fox has produced. National Acorn and Bertha Lewis are continuing doing their thing, but the New York flagship has been forced into this new organization."

"As far as the work in the communities and policy campaigns, no one will notice the difference," the source said. "It’s people who still believe in their basic mission of fighting for poor people."

ALSO: National ACORN says it continues to exist, despite the departure of state chapters, including also California's, which departed under similar terms last month.

Yes, yes, it is clear - this has nothing to do with voter registration fraud, voter fraud, bad mortgages, or the fact that this is SUPPOSED to be a non-partisan organization that is working primarily to hep Democrats, including Obama, elected to office. Nope - it's all because Fox News and James O'Keefe are mean to them. I got it.

Do they really think we are so stupid that we are not going to KNOW they are the same group as before? Hey, we're not in Congress or anything - we aren't THAT easily duped. I'm pretty sure we can keep up.

But guess who apparently cannot? Oh, yes indeedy - President Obama. Remember this little clip from his interview with George Stephanopoulos?

Wait until you get a load of THIS one:

Again, do these politicians really NOT know we have VIDEOTAPE??? Holy moley, Obama, you are way too young to be that forgetful. Oh, wait - that's not forgetfulness, that's flat out lying. No doubt, once ACORN has finished changing its name and banners, he's going to claim he has NO idea who or what that organization is.

Hey, here's a fun little contest we can have. "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" is a bit dated as an expression, and we so need a new one for Obama and the numerous whoppers he lets fly (not to mention most politicians). What pithy saying can you craft that about Obama and his numerous lies? This should be fun. Oh, and prize ideas, too, would be welcome. Have at it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Well, Are They Rising, Or Not?

The waters, that is. Now, I know that Obama claimed when the nomination was given to him by the DNC (cue angelic choirs), "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal..." Oh, how I wish I was kidding, but that is just one of the Great Moments that would occur because the will of the people was subverted (ah, democracy - dontcha just love it??).

But now we are finding out that this threat may have been overstated, thogh I seriously doubt it is a result of Obama's claims. Actually, it is worse than that. As it turns out, Climate Scientists Withdraw Journal Claims of Rising Sea Levels.

Say what?

Again, I believe in being a good steward of this planet on which we make our home regardless of how much the claims of global warming may, or may not, be exaggerated. I have long been an environmentalist, and do not feel compelled to change that underlying belief because a bunch of scientists may, or may not, have fudged the data.

But here's the thing. This is my front yard:

So, not only does this matter to me in a big picture way, it matters to me in a very personal, direct way. As it is, insurance companies like State Farm have stopped insuring people who live on the coast in these here parts like I do (our insurance is with Lloyds of London - I kid you not).

And we get articles like this in our daily newspaper, "Coalition Hoping For Sea Change As Ocean Levels Rise," that contain information in them that scares the absolute bejesus out of Lowcountry residents, like me:
An international group of climate scientists predicted last fall that sea levels will rise by 23 inches this century as the oceans warm, which would be roughly double the rise documented during the last century.

That prediction from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not account for the record-setting pace of melting polar ice, however.

"The potential is so astounding, if it continues," Duke University Professor Orrin Pilkey said at a panel discussion in Charleston addressing the issue. "I think that 3 to 5 feet is a conservative estimate for coastal management here."

Holy crappydoo - that would make a HUGE change in terms of where I live right now, especially when we are already getting high tides that leave the water lapping the bottom of our docks. But add to that the fact that this is Hurricane Alley. If waters are truly rising, the impact of a hurricane hitting at the "right" time will surely increase the levels of devastation, will they not?

Well, yes, if THIS article is to be believed, "Study: Warming To Bring Stronger Hurricanes":
Knutson said the new study, which looks at worldwide projections, doesn't make clear whether global warming will lead to more or less hurricane damage on balance. But he pointed to a study he co-authored last month that looked at just the Atlantic hurricane basin and predicted that global warming would trigger a 28 percent increase in damage near the U.S. despite fewer storms.

That study suggests category 4 and 5 Atlantic hurricanes — those with winds more than 130 mph — would nearly double by the end of the century. On average, a category 4 or stronger hurricane hits the United States about once every seven years, mostly in Florida or Texas. Recent category 4 or 5 storms include 2004's Charley and 1992's Andrew, but not Katrina which made landfall as a strong category 3.

Outside experts praised the work.

The study does a good job of summarizing the current understanding of storms and warming, said Chunzai Wang, a researcher with NOAA who had no role in the study.

I am more confused than ever. These are not abstract issues to me. They are very, very real, impacting people I know, cities I love, and my very home. So, do we believe this research, or do we not?

Which raises the bigger question: When did "Scientific Method" become so incredibly subjective? Who, or what, is gaining from these questionable studies? If there truly is global warming, which I have long believed to be true because I trusted that these scientists were doing their work based not on politics, but DATA, and that is not being called into question, what are we to believe?

Again - these are not abstract questions to me, or to the community in which I live. We have to plan for these kinds of changes, if they are indeed true. We have to plan what to do in the event of such catastrophic changes, for our homes, and even our docks, not to mention our investments. Are they scaring the crap out of us because they know for a fact this is happening, or because there is some other incentive for doing so? The recent article claiming there has been no "global warming" in 15 years seems to contradict the NEW study claiming hurricanes are getting worse BECAUSE of global warming.

Good grief - can someone help me out here?

Thanks again, everyone, for your kindness and support of me during this very difficult time. I'm not sure I am quite up for writing every single day yet, but will if so moved. I really do thank you for the love and generosity of spirit you have shown me here - it means more to me than I can say. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finally, The Real Reason Bayh Dropped Out

I just saw this post by Andy Borowitz, the humorist, and can't resist. Finally, the true reason why Evan Bayh, the popular senator from Indiana, will not be seeking re-election, as well as other "news." Most everyone on Facebook will have an idea how this happened:
Evan Bayh Admits All-Consuming Farmville Addiction; Senator Enters Rehab

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Just hours after rocking the political world with his surprise retirement announcement, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind) said that he would undergo treatment for an “all-consuming addiction” to the popular Facebook game Farmville.

“I realized that I had to make a choice between being a United States senator and tending my imaginary farm,” a tearful Mr. Bayh told reporters. “I had to look at myself in the mirror and acknowledge that I had a problem.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he was shocked by Sen. Bayh’s admission, adding, “This is all the more surprising because he hails from a farm state, where there are plenty of actual farms he could take care of.”

In other news, an intelligence source downplayed the capture of the Taliban’s No 2, stating, “It sounds like a big deal until you remember that our No. 2 is Biden.”

Elsewhere, a New York Times reporter accused of plagiarism commented on the scandal, calling it “the best of times and the worst of times.”

Oh, too funny. And who couldn't use a laugh right about now, right? Oh, yeah.

And just so you know, I will be heading back to my hometown tomorrow for my mom's funeral on Thursday. I will be back home on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll be back writing soon after that - I miss it, to be honest, though it is hard to really concentrate on the inanity, or is that insanity, that is DC politics at this time. I trust you understand. And thanks again for all of the support...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What The...???

Is going on around here? This was the scene at my house last night:

And this:

Now, I realize by most standards, this is nothing. But, we haven't had snow in this neck of the woods since 1989. I seriously doubt anyone owns a snow shovel, unless they brought it with them when they moved from the Frozen North to escape this sort of thing and forgot to leave it behind. I am willing to bet my local True Value doesn't even SELL snow shovels (why? Sand shovels, yes, snow shovels, no). So, for US, this is pretty dramatic.

Perhaps it is an homage to the Winter Olympics opening in Vancouver. Yes, I am sure that is it. That is why 49 out of 50 states for the first time in, well, maybe EVER, have snow on the ground. Crazy, crazy weather.

I am glad the Winter Olympics are here. It's the only time I get to see one of my favorite sports. That's right, Curling. I love it. I don't know why we only get to see it every four years, though I imagine the upper states might get to see it more often. We sure don't. Then there's the figure skating - love it, luge, ski jumping, snow boarding, slalom, all of it - I love the Olympics, Winter and Summer.

I cannot mention the Winter Olympics, though, without acknowledging the tragic training accident that took the life of the young luger from the country of Georgia, Nodar Kumaritashvili. So very sad that this 21 year old was taken so suddenly on the eve of this great sporting occasion. My heart goes out to him, his family, and his team. How difficult it must be for them to still go on. But go on, they will, as will the rest of the athletes in Vancouver. May they be safe, and free from injury, during this competition.

I will go on, too, though I can certainly relate to the sorrow. I am thankful that my mother lived a long, full life. But still, as I move through life without her, I am so glad for the pleasant,and often exciting, distraction, that is the Winter Olympics. It couldn't have come at a better time.

Now, what time is Curling on?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Does It Show?

I would like to thank everyone for their loving support, kindness, and compassion after the death of my beloved mother, Anne, on January 30, 2010. Mom passed away quietly, with my brother David and his wife, by her side. She finally succumbed to the effects of her stroke back in May, and the pulmonary fibrosis that ended her life too soon for us. This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom, and one of hers, as well. She was 28 years younger than her mother, and I am 28 years younger than Mom. To say we favor one another is an understatement, though I was never as beautiful as my mother is in this photo, that's for sure. Even still, Mom's outward beauty was nothing compared to her inner beauty, the loving graciousness with which she lived her life; the welcome she gave to one and all; the lessons she taught us about how to treat others, regardless of race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation; the day-to-day considerations in the home, like how to make biscuits, even giving me a little bottle cap to make my own when I was a small child "helping" Mom in the kitchen; a tremendous love for animals that she embodied, a gene for it, really, which I carry in me, as well; and a thirst for knowledge, evidenced by my mother's avid reading. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

And honestly, I am not as prepared to write this as I thought. That is to say, it is even harder to write about Mom now, two weeks later, than I thought it would be.

So, that is why I have been away from the blog. And I have been away from home, too, to my hometown, then to Aruba, with my partner and one of my best friends, on a long-ago planned trip, and what turned out to be a well-timed trip. We had time to help plan the funeral (Thursday, the 18th), meet with the funeral home as a family, pick out the urn, the flowers, meet with the priest to plan the funeral, all of that, before we left. The trip enabled me to be away from the usual daily duties and truly reflect on my mom, her life, what she means to me as well as others, and to erect three Remembrance rock piles around Aruba in her honor, joining others who have gone before her. While having the time to reflect, and grieve, in a beautiful country, surrounded by gorgeous waters, was a blessing, it did not minimize the times I was struck with the force of this loss. Nothing could prevent that, of course, as that is the way of such a loss.

I know that many, many others have experienced what I am going through now, and recall a woman I knew years ago, who reflected on her own experience of losing her mother. She recounted the story of having to go buy a new pair of shoes for the funeral, and wondering, as people were around her, fellow customers and salesclerks alike, if they could tell, if it showed, that she was in tremendous grief and pain. This came up for me often (and will again, I am sure, when I have to go shopping for a new suit this weekend) as I went out, from the meeting for the funeral preparation, or out to dinner, or to the airport, people not knowing, not realizing, how much pain I was in, or the overwhelming sadness I was experiencing, my partner, too, for Mom was like a mother to her, and to so many others...

It is a sad commentary on our culture that we no longer display the traditional signs of mourning. We no longer wear all black, or rend a piece of our clothing, so others can see at a glance that we are hurting, grieving, and need to be treated gently, and with kindness. Even the priest who will be performing the funeral greeted us with a cheery, "Hey, how's everyone doing today?" Well, um, we just lost our mother and are here to plan her funeral - how do you THINK we are doing today? How is it that we have so distanced ourselves from what is a fact of our very humanity, that we will, each one of us, leave this earth?

And then there is the push to just move on, get past it, get on with our lives that seems to happen. I noticed it when I lost my father 4 1/2 years ago, and my uncle, who lost his wife to cancer (though she was about 25 years his junior) remarked on it, that people think one should just move on, stop dwelling, and get over it already.

Well, I believe that shortchanging ourselves on the process upfront will just come back to haunt us down the road (not in a ghost haunting kind of way, but emotional baggage kind of way). We need to be able to grieve our loss, to mourn, to have the space to just cry, and feel our loss, before "moving on," at least that's what I think.

All of that is to say, I am not quite ready yet to come back to write my usual political posts - I am still too raw, still not ready to engage in that kind of banter. There will be time enough for that soon enough, though I imagine it will be after my mother's funeral next week.

In the meantime, thank you all again so very, very much for your support and love during this difficult, painful time. It means more to me than I can possibly say.