The State of Our Union

I recorded President Obama’s speech last night. I did watch it, but knew from his previous speeches this one would be invigorating enough  to watch again.

With the economy as it is, day to day routines are clouded in uncertainty. How do you go to sleep at night and rise refreshed when your dreams are haunted by dollar signs floating out of reach before your eyes? Your children are asleep in the next room and you wonder how they’ll handle the sudden move when you lose your house. Or you know they’re hungry because money is so scarce that meals have gone lean. You try to sleep because you want to look respectable in the morning – at least enough so to be taken seriously when you go searching, yet again, for work.

I am safe for the moment. As are my friends and the rest of my family. But, I listened to the President speak and understand how much longer it takes to rebuild than to demolish. I understand community service and I get spreading hope, helping yourself, rising to the occasion and helping others. I get it. When my confidence falters, I will replay last night’s speech and feel it lift my spirits again.

But what about the kids in the next room of the house that might not be theirs in the morning? How do you spread hope to them? To their parents? How do you help when what they need is so much more than what you can give? They can’t wait for a stimulus to take effect. They need help now. Tomorrow, before breakfast. Or breakfast might not be served.

The saddest part of all this, I think, is that there have been people in this country struggling, worrying about their children and their next meal since well before the economic crisis. They’re called America’s Poor. They hurt, they hope and they dream just like the rest of us and yet somehow, it wasn’t until the diseased economy hit the masses that it was addressed in such an urgent way.

While we try to pick ourselves up, give back and fight to keep our jobs and our homes, I can only hope some of the daily gifts we have – like a DVR to record the president’s speech live on cable news, from a 32″ TV screen in the living room of my own gas-heated home with lights on and a late night snack in my hand – are no longer taken for granted but are appreciated as hard-earned and easily lost. I hope when we, as a country, can finally stand on our feet and brush off our knees, we remember how hard it was and that some of us… maybe even the same ‘some’ from before… are still worried about how to silence the grumbling from deep within our children’s stomachs.

Another BUSH war

The obvious isn’t enough, apparently – two wars. One in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Years ago, George W. Bush authorized a third war – a war against women. It’s apparent he will fight this war until his last – and too far away – day in office.

Mark 1 – Reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule which is a policy prohibiting “the distribution of foreign aid to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working overseas which offer abortions and abortion counseling, or lobby to make abortion legal and more accessible.” (thanks to WiseGeek for this precise definition)

Mark 2 – stacking the supreme court with judges whose ideology match that of the far right, with one of those judges having supported a proposal in Pennsylvania that required women seeking abortions to have consent from their husbands first.

Mark 3 – though I’m sure there are hundreds of marks additional to what I’ve indicated here, I have to skip to this as it’s the latest and one I HOPE will be overturned. I fear, however, without instant reaction from those opposing this, it will fall by the wayside while “more important” issues are addressed. Months ago, Bush forwarded a memo to the US Department Health and Human Services. This memo indicated that “abortion” would be defined as “any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.” The memo also clearly indicated that no organization could refuse a job to someone due to their opposition to pre-marital sex, contraception or abortion. It also reinforced the rule that is already on the books saying a practitioner cannot be forced to inform a patient of her options regarding pregnancy. You can read the entire article about the memo here.

And so, now that ruling has taken effect which means, as Planned Parenthood clearly explains – “President Bush’s rule limiting the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate reproductive health information when they visit a federally funded health care provider was made official. Now, anti-choice medical staff can withhold information about abortion, birth control, and sex education from their patients. Facilities that receive family planning funding, like Planned Parenthood, will have to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. For example, a doctor who opposes pre-marital sex could refuse to provide a prescription or even information about emergency contraception to an unmarried woman.”

And so now it’s up to us. We – those who have a vested interest in preserving the rights of women and choice – have to make our voices heard. President-elect Obama has already stated that he will overturn many of the changes this past president has put into effect. We can only hope this change will be one of the many. With help, it just might be. 

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We Can and We Did & Chemo Recovery Week 2

I was not at home in New York when Senator Barack Obama won the US Presidency in the most enthusiastic election of my lifetime. I was not even near a TV or radio. I had no idea he’d officially reached the required electoral votes until I called Daughter from the Emergency Room where we’d taken my mom just hours earlier.

This week of recovery after chemo has not gone as well as the last. This week, my mom’s white blood cell count is next to nil. Considering she has CLL, you’d think a low white blood cell count would be a blessing. However, it was so low, the concern was that if she were to get any type of infection, her body would not be able to fight it. Well… Daughter and I are here to help but Daughter has been suffering a terrible cold since the moment we arrived. She’s basically been banished to one or two rooms of the house so her germs can’t reach Mom. She’s such a trooper.

However, last night, mom started to run a fever. The on-call doctor told us to go to the ER. We still don’t know what caused the fever, but I’m happy to say, it’s gone. Antibiotics are involved. Antibiotics and watchful waiting.

Meanwhile, history was being made. I am relieved and hopeful now. With the man, Barack Obama, as the new – and clearly WANTED by a huge majority – American President, we may be able to restore some tattered alliances. We may be able to regain some pride in our country and our leaders. We may even find new hurdles leapt and new understandings abound. I am hopeful. I want a unified America. I want people to ask questions of each other and listen to the answers. I want no more of the preach and pander of the past eight years. I want no more of the hostility or fear of being either ‘for or against’ my country.

I am a proud American. I’ve always been. But I have never been more proud as when people of different faiths, nationalities, races, sexual orientations and parties came together as a unified force and voted in favor of the future. In favor of hope. In favor of change.

To those who still think we can never conquer the hate and divisivness of the past eight years, I’ll take the words of our new leader and make them mine – Yes. We. Can.

And we will.

Campaigns without attacks

Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing?

Imagine a presidential competition where neither side attacks the other but rather touts their own visions, abilities and history. The media, I believe, is well equipped to fact check it all so why not take the high road? Why not start and follow through with a campaign that can empower the American people? One that can unite us, one that will allow us to disagree without fury.

Sure, there are things about each candidate that we should know. Those things make up their character. They tell us who they were yesterday and who they might be tomorrow.

Take McCain’s oblivion to his wife’s prescription medication addiction. She suffered and he had no clue. That tells me a lot about who he is and what really matters to him. HE matters to him.


But what about Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers? Ayers’ actions were despicable. The idea that he remains unrepentant is worse. I have trouble understanding how a radical such as he is permitted to teach in a university. But does serving on the same board as this man constitute “palling around”? And what of Obama’s worship at Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years? Was there no other church the Obama family could have joined? No way for them to denounce the anti-American rants BEFORE they were brought to Youtube and the world? No matter how it’s spun, that tidbit is disturbing. 


We’ll never see the perfect candidate. We’ll never see a list of qualifications that meet with our hope and expectations. We should demand and receive a certain amount of disclosure, but when the gatherers at one camp shout “terrorist” and “kill him”, I’d say it’s clear we’ve crossed the line.

I fear for this country. The anger stoked by each campaign is fueled not only by their misleading and exaggerated comments but also by the state of the union itself. And somehow, the state of the union seems to have fallen the way of eloquent speeches and desperate rants. We want and deserve more than that. We want action not words. We deserve hope not fear.

Lets hope the American people wise up and unite. The last thing this country needs is more fighting from within. If we’re going to claw our way out of this economy, if we’re going to reconnect with our friends and allies around the world, and if we’re going to earn back some American pride, it has to start with us as individuals, as Americans, as good sports not sore losers or arrogant winners.

In this global climate, almost any new direction can be a good one. Let’s see it that way and work toward rebuilding ourselves and our country by taking the high road ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, the candidates will follow our lead.

Now, wouldn’t that be a lovely thing?

That’s the ticket!

                   Senator Joe Biden

Barack Obama and Joe Biden – the next President and Vice President of the USA? I can see how this would be a very strong ticket. Obama would never shake the label of ‘inexperienced’ and so a super pro like Biden with all his experience in foreign affairs is a great balance. Although, naturally, the spin machine will paint this black by saying it proves Obama’s weakness and lack of confidence in this area.

I suppose Obama could have chosen Hillary – as many speculated he might while others prayed on bended knee he wouldn’t. But his message is ‘change’ and change cannot occur if more of the same is added to the mix. Biden’s record is long. He knows the game, but unlike most politicians, he doesn’t play it. As often.

Biden is an in-your-face kind of guy who will say it like he sees it regardless whether you want to hear it.

Obama wanted someone who wasn’t a yes-person? Well, he’s got it in this man. The two, I’m sure, will have many challenging and interesting conversations on policy. Biden is headstrong and not ashamed of it. Obama might be the same way but gives the impression of being open-minded.

I don’t know what the future holds but with the pairing of these two senators, I feel less troubled about the state of the world.  

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