Mar 04 2008

Politics of Fear

Published by under Politics

We have been hearing about how it’s time for change. “We need to end the politics of fear.” I was listening to an interview of a man who said he was voting for Obama. He, like so many, seemed invigorated. The words almost caught in his throat as he said it was time for “change”. He said that Obama could end the division in Washington. I was taken by the way this guy was just eating this stuff up without questioning a thing. How is it that Obama will be bringing Republicans and Democrats together in Washington? Obama has partnered very little with Republicans during his time in office. In fact, he has frequently taken the unusual position of voting “present,” not yea or nay. This is not the behavior of a consensus builder. Both Hillary and McCain have a long history working to get things done. On both sides of the aisle, and they both have the scars to prove it. Truth is that Obama is likely to be more liberal than Hillary. I am already hearing that he has a public program for everything. Obama is not going to bring Republicans to him. These divisions are ages old and it’s naive to think a newbie with no reputation will change that.

So while I was thinking about this, I got to thinking about the Politics of Fear. We have three Candidates, well five really, but the other two don’t count. McCain is all about national security and makes no excuses for it. He flat out says it’s the most important thing right now. Hillary too has been all over the world and has a very good grasp of just how dangerous things are right now. She too says that the world is a dangerous place and this is no time to mess around with inexperience. Obama’s position is different, he prefers dialog over confrontation. There are quite a few world leaders that just can’t wait to see this guy in office. Iran for instance. While he engages in meaningful and productive talks they can finish their nuclear program. We are going to need someone who is not preoccupied with talking to the enemy. The Bush administration has left us isolated but holding hands and singing Kumbya, not very realistic. Those of us who think Bush has been less than a source of American Pride should not be confused by the pure evil in the world. In this time of conflict and war everything we do matters. Time matters. Be Afraid!

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Mar 03 2008

The Mourning Mind

Published by under Family

    As we approach what would be my father’s 81st birthday, my mother and I find ourselves discussing what was happening around the time that he passed, and I learned something I had not known or had forgotten in the blur of activity following his passing ~ he died just 9 days before September 11th, and everything changed after that. Even though we’re on the West Coast, we were forced into survival mode, and I wish now I had known what my mother went through that day, what she has carried inside all these years since.

    My father awoke in the grip of a painful stroke, and when my mother awakened and saw that he was sitting beside her on the edge of the bed, unable to speak, she knew, without words, that he was in pain, that something was terribly wrong. She called 911 and got them ready to go, but when it was time to leave with the paramedics she decided to follow the ambulance, knowing she could call me from the car to tell me to come right away, never suspecting that once she arrived at the ER she would be turned away from my father and directed to admitting to fill out forms. She saw him being taken from the ambulance, tears streaming down his face, clearly in pain, and she begged them to do something for him, but they insisted he wasn’t in pain. It wasn’t until later, after they ran tests, that they finally discovered he had had the type of stroke that causes severe pain. Once again she was pulled away to deal with more paperwork, the hospital staff never stopping to consider her needs by offering to put off their red tape for a few minutes so that my mother could be with my father before they medicated him, because they knew that it would cause him to lose consciousness, as it was, for the last time. And so she never had the chance to look into his eyes to say goodbye and tell him that she loved him one last time. She has lived with the regret of not choosing to ride with him in the ambulance, of not insisting on staying by his side, and though she says she does not “let herself go there”, sometimes her memories betray her, sneaking up on her ~ unfortunately in the form of one of my stories this time ~ but when this happens we grieve together, about the day that shattered our lives so completely, we rage against the systems that were in place in not one but two hospitals where we lost my father and my brother, we consider what might have been, what is now, and then we remember what came before our losses. She shared an amazing life and love with my father for 47 years. I was lucky to share 39 of them, and my brother shared 42. Two people were never more blessed, or more in love. They loved each other so much that I might never have gotten married, they had raised the bar so high by their example.

     I only discovered that we share regrets about my father’s death because I was talking with our friend Sonja about how I had recently melted down after spending several days working round the clock to meet a deadline piecing together our financial picture for our attorney to submit to the US Trustee for our BK Case only to have him send in the wrong documents (though I clearly labeled the right ones), had a nasty argument with Rick regarding his doctors recommendations (which I agreed with, Lord Help Me), my son does the opposite of everything I tell him (I expected this when he becomes a teen, but at four?), and then I began to think back to my father’s illness, and beyond that to the times in my life that I had been right and nobody had listened or believed me… My melt down came with the bleak thought that I had become, indeed had always been, ineffectual, that no matter what I do, how hard I work or what I say, nobody listens and the end result is always the same, I keep spinning my wheels and getting nowhere, all roads seem to lead me down the same dark alley!

    And so it was that my husband came home to find me in a curled up sobbing heap in bed. Now admittedly, by this time, I was suffering from sleep deprivation, severely stressed as our hearing was just days away, and all this had caused my pain medications to cease working. So clarity was not something I was experiencing, while the Terminator-like grip on my neck and beleaguered psyche was definitely winning the war. So what was it that got me out of bed and back to work? Love. Corny, I know, but the fact is, my family needed me to be centered, balanced and focused. In the end, my husband got our attorney to send the right docs, which did help our case, he is trying to follow his doctors recommendations now, and since I got more rested my son likes me better and we play more and argue less.

    As I reflected on all this, I saw how my history had been the same back through the years, all my friends that had died unnecessarily and how many might have been saved; my best friend and I had a terrible argument over getting tested for AIDS (I was pro, he only saw the government intrusion side), that caused us to not talk for over a year. When we did finally start talking again it was too late, he died of AIDS in 1994. Another friend, who died of cancer, refused to leave with me when I visited her at a halfway house she had been brought to by a man doing research for his book, a man who had known her chances of survival on this experimental treatment were nil, but she believed his promises of miracles, and so, as she stood before me looking like a Holocaust victim, she refused to return with me out of a sense of obligation to this man that had brought her there ~ but she did not owe this man her life, my argument fell on deaf ears, and she died within four months. My father didn’t believe a doctor could help him, that what was wrong with him was simply aging as far as he was concerned, more than three years later he finally sought a doctors opinion but by the time he found a good one that might have been able to help it was already too late.

    Seeing my frustration at not being able to get my father to go to a doctor in time, Sonja talked about the fact that each person has their own path to follow, and that it was basically his road and that I should accept that and let go of my regrets and frustration at not having been able to get thru to him. But I think this misses the point, because this was not a stranger, this was an important relationship in my life. I doubt that if Sonja’s husband came to her and said he had bought a rifle and was headed for the mall she would shrug her shoulders and say “that’s his path, and the path of the people at the mall as well”. Wouldn’t life be simple for all of us if we were that self-contained, but we are not. We all impact one another’s lives, we flow in and out and interwine with each other. So perhaps it is her path to speak up and stop the insanity if her husband decides to buy a rifle. Thankfully her husband is more likely to take his problems out on a basketball court than in a mall!

    We impact the people in our lives, whether we acknowledge that or take responsibility for that or not. I recognize the impact I had on my parents, just as they impacted my life. When I had my son I made a conscious decision to treat our relationship differently. I don’t make promises lightly because I intend to keep every one (so far, so good), I don’t say “do as I say, not as I do”, I admit when I don’t know something, and when I’ve done something wrong I apologize so my son can learn. He has the gift to teach me things too, if I accept him as my teacher and do not close that door.

    The rhyme “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” couldn’t be more wrong. The fact is people use their words on one another, and then say they have no responsibility for what others do with or in their lives, but the fact is our words are powerful tools and weapons ~ especially if the person we are speaking to values our opinion; our words can raise one up or bring the final crushing blow. We toss words out without even glancing back to see the impact they have. In earlier years I was careless this way, and spent my later years healing wounds I had never meant to inflict. But many people never even notice or would even take responsibility for such wounds. My friendships were too valuable not to go back and examine my complicity in creating conflicts and erosion along the way. As I have matured and taken responsibility for my words and deeds I find that, though I have fewer friends, the ones I have now are of a richer and more enduring variety.

    My point, sadly missed by Sonja due to distractions by my son, was not that I have regrets at not being heard, but rather that I found my voice so late in life. I have no doubt, had I learned to speak my mind clearly and more specifically, without force or agenda, but rather with the clarity of my love and concern for those of my family and friends in need of hearing what I needed and wanted to say that I would have been heard, and perhaps my words would have been acted on. That I still at times struggle to be heard over the din of our daily lives is a frustration to me. That my husband finds it humorous is simply annoying…

    Through my discussion with Sonja, I discovered that losing my dad taught me to speak up and don’t be afraid to fight for something if it is really important to me, like the life and welfare of a loved one. Before I had my son, I had made peace with the passing of my father and brother. But when I had Cory, I began to feel that they were missing out on something big, and Cory in turn was missing something momentous too, and I found myself grieving for them again as if they had just passed. And so it is that at different times in our lives, the deaths of loved ones will mean different things, and the emotions that come with it will impact us differently.

    Finally, and most importantly, I would say this to anyone who finds themselves still grieving upon thinking of a loved one or friend that passed away years ago. When we watch a movie and see someone die, we cry and grieve for that person. We give the actors Academy Awards for their tremendous ability to portray this so realistically that we, the audience, believe it. And yet when we show our grief or pain of loss, especially years after someone has died, it makes friends and family uncomfortable, and we hear the usual “you cannot blame yourself” or “you have to let that go, it was meant to be”, or perhaps you have your own mantra or things that you tell yourself to make yourself feel better, I know I have a few of my own about how I was grateful that both my father and brother passed before 9/11. But the fact is, there is emotion in death, there is emotion in memories, and to think of someone we loved so deeply and expect us to feel nothing is unreasonable, because there will always be a sense of loss. To try to dictate what we should feel is even more ridiculous, because the fact is the moment we think of a person, what is going on in our lives at that moment will determine how we feel and the emotions that will arise from that memory. If you allow yourself to cry and grieve for a stranger on a movie screen, then why not let yourself grieve again for someone that meant so much to you in life? But don’t get stuck there, don’t wallow, that serves no purpose and does not celebrate the life of the one that is gone. Bring forth your memories of high points with your loved ones, remembering them as they were in life ~ the good and the bad ~ and feel the love you shared warm your spirit. In that way, they live again, in the moment, with you.

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Feb 29 2008

Cult of Personality

Published by under Politics

    Watching the debates, it is obvious who the media darlings are, whom they hate and which way they swing, as they sway the public opinion to their way of thinking in this, their Cult of Personality. They demolish and slander the ones they dislike, turning the tiniest remarks against their targeted candidate, twisting the truth into the ugliest of lies, from which the truth will never see the light of day. And forget the policies of the candidates, because the media is making damn sure the nation is playing into their popularity contest instead of seeing which candidate is best prepared for running the country!

    Still, I have to wonder how it is that Americans fall so easily into the traps the media lay. I have seen a pattern in their interrupting answers being given by Senator Clinton, that when she is detailing a policy of hers she has been interrupted by the mediator in a debate who then asks Obama to rebut something she said earlier in her comments ~ drawing attention away from something so essential for the public to know! We don’t hear what is really important, such as a detailed accounting of each candidate’s work history ~ which informs their abilities as a President ~ and the candidates detailed explanations of their policies, both foreign and domestic, and their reasoning behind these policies. As Madeleine Albright pointed out, the fact that Senator Clinton made mistakes while acting as First Lady in the White House has benefited her, because she learned from it and knows now how best to proceed and won’t waste time on a learning curve.

    Thanks to the Media slant, many don’t know and few will remember that the race card was first played by the Obama camp. Never mind that Senator Clinton’s quote from a black minority leader was a fair call, after all she is a minority ~ more than Obama in this particular race ~ a woman in an arena that has been dominated by men. As President of the United States, a black man would be a first, but still we would have a man as President! But a woman as President ~ the prejudices that come with that are far more reaching than this country wants to admit. The only thing that might make it harder for her would be if she were a black woman, talk about your minority! So the media should just shut up already about the race card, because frankly she has a stronger minority argument!

    There needs to be some honest writing about what is going on in the press. Frankly they are slaughtering the Clintons ~ no surprise, they have been after them since President Clinton was in the White House, but is Hillary paying for the sins of her husband at the expense of the country? Has anybody ever considered what these two people went through since he first took office? The witch-hunt that never ended, and yet they have never stopped serving the public good. President Clinton continues to serve this country even as he continues to be unfairly attacked by the media and the Republican slander machine. How many of us could accomplish all that they have under such hellish circumstances? How many of us would even consider it, much less have the temperament to go through it?

    Senator Clinton is the only candidate that has presented any real substantive policies, she isn’t talking around the issues, it isn’t all catch phrases and speech making, she has details, facts and data, and if you ask her about her background she can tell you the when, where, the names of groups and companies she has worked with. All of Barack Obama’s rhetoric is just a sound loop, it conveys no information about his policies but gives everyone the “vibe” that he is going to do what they want once he is in office. It makes them believe he is going to change everything for the better, and all they really want is to get away from how things have been these last 7 years, right? But the fact is, we need someone tough enough and with the knowledge of how to get in there and get dirty and get it done right the first time and not make a first timers mistakes – we cannot afford on the job training and the mistakes that come with that this time around, because this country is in real trouble! We do not need a “feel good” President, we need a real good President!

    Obama is all talk about his work history, but there isn’t anything that is researchable in what he reveals in his speeches ~ he is virtually unknown. Now with that name, in this era, that is hard to imagine, don’t you think? He is a cartoonists and stand-up comics dream, he would not have slipped by them unnoticed if he had been as actively “working for the people” as he says he’s been in the political arena. No, Obama has been working in the shadows, waiting for this opportunity.

    A bit of perspective regarding Iraq: It is easy to be against the war in Iraq when you weren’t in a position to have to vote on the issue, to be held accountable to the people that you are representing in your district. Lest everyone forget, Senator Clinton represents the people of New York who had been attacked by a Weapon of Mass Destruction and at the time that her vote was cast there was a strong belief that our enemies in Iraq had WMD and were prepared to use them against us, albeit engendered by a president and administration we had not yet learned the truth about. With the fears of her constituents as fresh as the blood and ash on the streets of New York where the World Trade Center once stood, she had very strong and compelling reasons to cast her vote as she did. As far removed as the rest of the country was, watching from our living rooms as the tragedy unfolded, never having breathed the rancid air or known the terror the sound of an airplane must bring to the people that survived that day, it must be an easy thing for Obama to say he was against the war in Iraq from day one. To have never been under attack, it is easy to take a position like his. He didn’t have to answer to the people that had known the terror of having been the target of Weapons of Mass Destruction. He wasn’t in a position of having to tell them “I did nothing when the President came to me and told me that the enemy had weapons and were going to attack the US.” And now Obama sits there with the commentators, mediators, and the rest of us who have always been against the war, with the luxury of twenty-twenty hindsight, saying “I told you so”, without a hint of understanding or knowledge of what it was to be in her position. I have always been against the war, but when I considered this perspective, I understood Senator Clinton’s vote better, because I could not imagine what it must have been like for New Yorkers to be told that our enemy, an insane man such as Saddam Hussein, had amassed weapons to be used against us, or the fear that this must have engendered in them.

    I have a friend that is gung-ho for Obama, because she felt that Senator Clinton was against pulling out of Iraq. She did not understand Clinton’s response to the question about ending the war. We had a rather heated discussion about it, as you might imagine. I was for helping the Iraqi people, mainly the women and children there (though I felt the war was an extreme move and not in their best interest). A friend of mine was training the Iraqi women to operate their own businesses. She sent me newsletters about her work and experiences there, so I had a genuine view of the good that was being done there to balance the media picture. But knowing about all these people working with the Americans, I was distressed about how we would go about pulling out while keeping them safe, until I heard Senator Clinton speak at the January 31st debate. She gave the most responsible answer:

I’ve been very clear in saying that I will begin to withdraw troops in 60 days. I believe that it will take me one to two brigades a month, depending on how many troops we have there, and that nearly all of them should be out within a year. It is imperative, though, that we actually plan and execute this right. And you may remember last spring, I got into quite a back-and-forth with the Pentagon, because I was concerned they were not planning for withdrawal, because that was contrary to their strategy, or their stated position.And I began to press them to let us know, and they were very resistant, and gave only cursory information to us. So I’ve said that I will ask the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense and my security advisers the very first day I’m president, to begin to draw up such a plan so that we can withdraw.

But I just want to be very clear with people, that it’s not only bringing our young men and women and our equipment out, which is dangerous. They have got to go down those same roads where they have been subjected to bombing and so much loss of life and injury. We have to think about what we’re going to do with the more than 100,000 Americans civilians who are there, working for the embassy, working for businesses, working for charities.And I also believe we’ve got to figure out what to do with the Iraqis who sided with us. You know, a lot of the drivers and translators saved so many of your young men and women’s lives, and I don’t think we can walk out on them without having some plan as to how to take care of those who are targeted.At the same time, we have got to tell the Iraqi government there is no more time. They are out of time. They have got to make the tough decisions they have avoided making. They have got to take responsibility for their own country.

And in the February 21st Debate, she reiterated her plan and also talked about a military wife she had encountered:

“Last night in Brownsville, you know, a woman grabbed my hand and said, “Please, my husband’s there for the third time. Bring him home.” And I told her privately what I have said publicly many times – I will bring him home because I do not think it is in the interest of America or of the Iraqis that we continue to be there. It is up to the Iraqis to decide the kind of future they will have.”

She has been the ONLY Candidate showing enough respect to the people to spell this out instead of just telling us what we want to hear. Obama had to, once again, back pedal and follow in her footsteps when she explained it. Situations like this are the reason why she commented on always getting the first question, because they enable Obama to avoid having any real substantive answers of his own, he simply adds his own tagline to her ideas. Rick and I caught on during the first debate between Clinton and Obama, so the Mediators and Commentators are playing dumb, the question is why? How can we have a truly democratic system when the media freely manipulates the facts?

    When did the reporters become part of the story? How do we get them to stop their slanderous comments and get them to dig into what’s important, to leave their personal bias out of our news, to state the facts and let us be our own Judge and Jury? Let’s stop being so narrowly focused on one thing and expand the arena, stop the health care issue from being the ONLY issue covered in debates and stop the war in Iraq from being the bludgeoning tool that it has become. What are the candidates’ policies and plans for resolving our foreign diplomatic issues with countries other than Iraq? What about the economy, the mortgage crisis, the green energy issues, and women’s rights? What about the Republicans and the damage they have done? What are the candidates’ credentials? Lets put those up for a comparison and see how they stand up to the light of day. Instead of hearing his sound bite over and over again; let’s see Obama’s history of “serving the people”, then let’s see how it measures up to Senator Clinton’s record ~ and put it to a Vote!

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Feb 28 2008

Complicit Media?

Published by under Politics

    We were not surprised when Senator Clinton commented last night on the fact that she always gets the first questions ~ which of course then gives Obama the opportunity to ride on her coat/skirt tails when he responds to the same question. That the moderators appear to be complicit is what offends us. Tim Russert, when discussing this fact after the debates played dumb, stating that he had given each the opportunity to answer questions first. However, his examples of questions were specific to each candidate and not the dual candidate questions which Senator Clinton had been referring too. The Media is playing into the Obama Mania, but is it just because they dislike the Clintons so much or are they really that ignorant?

    Time after time we have watched these debates and been impressed with the facts and details Senator Clinton has laid out regarding her policies and experience, and then watched as Obama has had to backpedal, saying “I agree with Senator Clinton” and then launch into his boilerplate rhetoric. She has presented us with her long and impressive, and researchable work history (i.e. you can easily find out exactly what she has accomplished in public domain records), while Obama has given only generic reference to what he has done “all his life” but provided no tangible evidence of his “work product”, to use a lawyer term. He did not exist prior to throwing his hat into the Presidential Ring, to most of the citizens of the United States ~ and I wonder how many of his statesman knew of his existence prior to that as well.

    Frankly I hated the way the moderators backed down from their question, and then let Senator Clinton take it in the chops for taking Obama to the mat for not outright rejecting the support of Louis Farrakhan, when any child with a dictionary can easily discern the difference between denunciation and rejection.

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Feb 16 2008

Significance of My Picture

Published by under General

I wasn’t too thrilled at first, when I saw that Rick had chosen my photo to replace the header for our family Blog. I won’t even go into his comment that he needed a wide photo, too many puns! I immediately began searching out a photo of Cory or at least one of me with make-up on! But none were as good as this one, and I could not understand why until I examined this photo more closely, and it was not until I stopped being so self-critical and really looked at the picture that I knew exactly when this picture was taken (without even looking at the photo log). When I told Rick, he was certain it was from our first trip years earlier, but when he checked he learned that I had been dead on. Here is the wonderful story behind the photo:

 

You may recall the original header was of San Francisco, our favorite city, where Rick and I took our first vacation together in September 2000, when he proposed. So when we returned there in January 2003 for MacExpo we were excited, even bought a new Mac iBook for the event, and drove there in my Acura, much to the detriment of my back. We arrived at our small room, which reeked of smoke, and immediately ventured to the corner liquor store, where we bought enough alcohol to get us through the week and a room deodorizer spray that, thankfully, worked amazingly well, and I sank into the ancient but rather deep bathtub. We were not deterred as we settled in for a week of walking, information gathering and purchasing. We walked the expo by day and the city by night. The world was our oyster and we were intoxicated! By the end of the Expo we were ready to head home and get to work. We had Big Plans for Gardner Graphics!

 

This photo was taken on our last day. We had checked out of our room and headed to the wharf, and were riding on some of the oldest trolley cars on tracks in San Francisco, which I was standing in and you can see the wooden window frames on either side of me. But what makes this photo special is the twinkle in my eyes… Cory had been conceived just a couple of nights earlier, unbeknownst to either Rick or myself. Though we sensed something momentous had occurred! So that smile has a whole new meaning for me now. And the photo? It is the first picture I have seen of myself in years that I now truly Love! Why? Because of Cory, yes, but also because it reminds me how much my husband has always loved me for who I am on the inside, that every time he looks at me he sees beauty, and it shows just how much fun we have together!

 

Thank you Rick for giving me so much with such a simple gesture.
This was the best Valentine’s Day present ever, I Love You!

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