Saturday, January 31, 2009

Step Aside and Let's Move On

The Cover of City Pages this week has a picture of Norm Coleman on it with the caption: "Exit with Honor - With all due respect, Senator Coleman, it's time to step aside."

It caught my attention in many ways. Yes, I am a Franken supporter. But even if I wasn't, I have to agree with City Pages. As all of these huge issues are being voted on and decided in the Senate and all the changes are taking place, this seat from Minnesota remains empty.

When the votes were ahead in his favor, Coleman asked Franken to concede. When the recount was done, and Franken was the winner by two hundred plus votes, Coleman decided to pursue this legal action.

This is costing Minnesota in many ways: in time, in loss of respect, in loss of our second voice in the Senate. As stated in City Pages:
"Yes, there remain avenues available to keep up the fight, but now is not the time. Minnesota is losing half of our say in the Senate. There is no way to procure adequate provisions in federal bills with a single voice. We need two."
As this ridiculous fight goes on, it gets more and more embarrassing. This election should have ended once the recount was done. It was a fair recount and that should have been the end of it.
Even Arne Carlson said, "There is no disgrace in losing." The original election took place almost three months ago and this thing is still dragging on.

So, please do step aside, Norm...the empty chair sitting in the senate is not only embarrassing but a huge loss in all that is going on. We need our second voice from Minnesota to be represented and heard.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Step in the Right Direction

Admittedly, our new president has his hands full. The country is in a shambles in so many ways and everything can't be fixed at once. With the wars, the economy....the list goes on and on. All the things that need to be corrected will take some time.

The first day in office, Obama went into action. He has already made some moves that have me cheering. Today he took another step in the right direction: he signed a bill today
extending the time for workers to file pay-discrimination lawsuits, "declaring that it's a family issue, not just a women's issue." The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reverses something that shouldn't have been limited in the first place.

According to MSNBC:
"The measure is designed to make it easier for workers to sue for decades-old discrimination. He said "this is a wonderful day."

The law effectively nullifies a 2007 Supreme Court decision that said workers had only 180 days to file a pay-discrimination lawsuit.

Ledbetter said she didn't become aware of a pay discrepancy until she neared the end of her 19-year career at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala. She sued, but the Supreme Court in 2007 said she missed her chance.

The court said in its 5-4 ruling that a person must file a claim of discrimination within 180 days of a company's initial decision to pay a worker less than it pays another worker doing the same job. Under the new bill, given final passage in Congress this week, every new discriminatory paycheck would extend the statute of limitations for another 180 days.

Congress attempted to update the law to extend the time, but the Bush White House and Senate Republicans blocked the legislation in the last session of Congress."

Thanks, Mr. President...for being more active in your first few days than our former president was in years. As an adult woman who has worked her entire life, this is nice to see. Thanks for looking out for us. And thanks to Michelle too, who is already showing her intelligence and class as a First Lady. We don't expect everything to be fixed right away, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Dick" Armey, Proud Sexist

Listening to "Hardball" as I worked on my computer, I caught a debate between Joan Walsh, of, and Richard Keith "Dick" Armey, the former U.S. Representative from Texas's 26th congressional district (1985–2003) and House Majority Leader (1995–2003). They were discussing the stimulus plan.

In yet another example of an old, white Republican guy showing his true colors, Armey came out with this ridiculous, sexist comment aimed at Walsh: "I am so damn glad that you could never be my wife, 'cause I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day."

Joan's response? "Well, that makes two of us. What an outstanding comment."
Kudos to Bob Herbert from the New York Times. When asked a question in the next segment he said "Before I answer that question, I want to comment on the sexist comment that Dick Armey made to Joan Walsh. He owes her an apology." Thanks, Bob. On the other hand, no thanks to Michelle Bernard who said nothing. Even when it was brought up a second time, she still said nothing.

I'd like to say I feel sorry for Armey's wife. She clearly gets no respect from him. Clearly no woman does. So Armey can't handle a strong woman speaking her mind? Instead he throws out an insult that not only hits her, but hits the woman who is supposedly his life partner - on national television.

Go back to Texas, Dick. Put on your big cowboy hat and shut up. And if your wife does have any strength or feminist gumption at all, she'll kick your butt for the rest of us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Move On, Norm

With all the excitement of the election, it is both embarrassing and irritating that Minnesota still has an empty senate seat. This fight has gone on long enough and Al Franken deserves to take his rightful spot.

In a great move today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that they were going to try and seat Franken:
"We're going to try to seat Al Franken," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Wednesday, a few hours before he posed with Franken for photos just off the Senate floor. "There's not a question in anyone's mind, an assertion by anyone, that there's been any fraud or wrongdoing in this election."
They too see how ridiculous Norm Coleman is for dragging this out. Isn't it funny how he told Franken to concede before the recount was done, but now that it is done he is whining that there was fraudulence? This was a legal recount, and Coleman lost.

Move on Norm, and grow up. Minnesota needs Al Franken as our senator. He has worked long and hard for this position. It is unfair that this is being dragged on even more, and for one reason only - because you are being a sore loser.

Nice Compensation

After heroic piloting by Captain Sullenberger on US Airways Flight 1549, saving everyone on board, I have to say I'm impressed with their crews. Then, according to CNN, US Airways proceeded to show real character with their next move:
"U.S. Airways has sent a check for $5,000 to each passenger who was on the plane that crashed in the Hudson River last week, saying it will be months before they receive any of their possessions that were on the plane and are recoverable."
They obviously have to do an investigation and keep passenger's belongings for a time, if they can be recovered at all. But, what a nice way to compensate them after a really frightening experience as well. With 150 passengers on board, this amounts to a pretty large price tag for the airlines ($750,000 to be exact).

Quite unlike Spirit Airlines, who had tried to charge two passengers $90 cancellation fees when they didn't use the return leg of their trip - because they were in a plane crash! It should be noted that they were also on Flight 1549 because Spirit canceled their trip in the first place.

On the other hand, US Airways not only had a well-trained pilot and crew who handled a crisis in the best way possible, but handled the whole situation with real class.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our 44th President of the United States of America

May Barack Obama be blessed with wisdom, strength, and direction...and may our country turn back around to the way it should be. He is the perfect man for the job at the perfect time. This is his fate.
"To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." - Helen Keller

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Heroes Together

In the continued press on Captain Sullenberger, Mayor Michael Bloomberg quoted Ernest Hemingway's take on heroism:
“Hemingway defined heroism once as grace under pressure and I think it’s fair to say that Captain Sullenberger certainly displayed that yesterday.” Asked what he meant by “guts,” Ernest Hemingway had once said: “Grace under pressure.”
Sullenberger received a call from President-elect Barack Obama, who congratulated him, and invited him to tomorrow's inauguration. As far as I'm concerned, they are both heroes. They're both willing to take on something almost impossible with grace, coolness, and humility.

We have few heroes these days. How appropriate that in these trying times, as the worst president I've ever seen leaves the White House - and a great, historic one moves in - that we have two heroes in the same place.

May both of these men be blessed for their efforts - one for saving 154 lives and his own, the other for taking on the huge job of saving the rest of us.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inaugural Present

I just have to say, what a nice birthday present. It is truly a great year of changes ahead of us:

(Atmosphere at "We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at
The Lincoln Memorial" presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday
January 18th 2009. Kevin Mazur/Courtesy of HBO via

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Hero of a Pilot

Yesterday, a US Airways pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, successfully crash landed an Airbus 320 into the Hudson River. This was after what was suspected to be a flock of geese hit both engines. In reality, birds hit only one in every 10,000 planes, and usually it isn't really even noticed. Miraculously, in this case, all 155 people on board survived after both engines were taken out.

To say this pilot had skill is an understatement. He had years of flying experience, a past as a fighter pilot, and is even a certified glider pilot - which, obviously, came in quite handy.
As reported by the Associated Press, Sullenberger was also said to have studied crisis management:
"Sullenberger, 57, of Danville, Calif., is a former fighter pilot who runs a safety consulting firm in addition to flying commercial aircraft. He had been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis, Bea said.

"When a plane is getting ready to crash with a lot of people who trust you, it is a test," he said. "Sulley proved the end of the road for that test. He had studied it, he had rehearsed it, he had taken it to his heart."

The other people to praise are the copilot and the rest of the crew, as well as New Yorkers - once again - racing in to help. Seeing the passengers, alive and well, standing on the wings in the water as they were being helped aboard ferries is a sight we will not forget.

Next weekend, I am taking a US Airways Airbus 320 to Charlotte, although I am flying from Minnesota, not New York. Am I nervous about flying? Not really. The one thing I have to say is I am quite impressed with the airline's quality of pilots.

The funny thing is that Sullenberger seems to be quite humble and just sees what he did as doing his job. But to everyone else he is a hero. And as far as the passengers are concerned, he must be no less than an absolute superman.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Family Values & Michele Bachmann

Working in social services in the daytime, I see a lot of wrongs. I see people with disabilities living in horrible conditions. I see elderly people tucked away and forgotten in nursing homes. And whether it is an elderly person receiving standard social security, or a disabled person receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), or RSDI (Retirement, Survivors Disability Insurance) - they all live on a tiny income. Treated like it is a luxury, the minimal amount given to them dwindles down even more once rent, food, and other expenses come out of it.

The worst part of it is that whenever there is a budget cut, more of the their services and monies are the ones that are cut. These are adults, but vulnerable ones. It is appalling the way we treat disabled people in this country. It is equally sickening the way we treat our elderly. The one good thing is that most of them do have Medical Assistance (Medicaid) to cover medical expenses.

Now, when it comes to kids, they are the most vulnerable of all. They are also the most innocent. So, when a bill was brought up to help them, expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), wouldn't most go for it?

"According to the Congressional Budget Office and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the expanded SCHIP passed by the House would cover 4.1 million uninsured children: CBO estimates that out of a total of 6.5 million additional children who would gain SCHIP or Medicaid coverage under the bill by 2013, some 4.1 million would (as noted) otherwise be uninsured."
These are children after all. There was no bad decisions, no culpability, and complete innocence. So how does someone vote against this?

It turns out, quite a few did vote against it
. Of course, Minnesota's own personal embarrassment, Michele Bachmann, did. This self-proclaimed Christian mother, who preaches family values, voted against kids? This woman and her spacey speeches never really puts her money where her mouth is. In fact, her mouth just seems to run off with a lot of crap. She, and the 137 other Republicans that voted against this, should be ashamed. I wonder how she would feel if her children didn't have health insurance?

The most hypocritical Christian I've seen to date, Bachmann is not only an embarrassment, she is a disgrace. Now I know why she always has such a phony smile and vacant eyes. It must be her total lack of compassion and caring. Her empty speeches are just that - empty. Some family values, Michele.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Absolute Worst President Ever

I watched in awe today as Bush actually held a press conference. He has held few of them in the last eight years. He has two looks as far as I'm concerned: the deer in the headlights look, and the smart-ass look. Today it was the smart-ass one.

He made one excuse after another for leaving the country in an incredible mess. He took no responsibility and was quite annoyed that anyone would question his actions.
Let's see: what hasn't he made a mess of? America is hated around the world now. He has two wars going - Iraq and Afghanistan, the first of which we had no business being in in the first place. Our national security is a mess, our environment just wasn't a priority at all, the corruption - and our unemployment rate - is off the charts, and then there is Katrina. The list goes on and on, and he laughed most of it off and cited the other as minor mistakes. He says he had a good administration and they did all they could - they did inherit these problems after all. Really? You've got to be kidding me. I actually felt sick to my stomach watching it. It was painful.

Good riddance, W. It will be so great to have a smart, articulate president who stands for the people. Obama has a lot to fix and I don't envy him. And I don't expect Obama to be perfect, but I do believe that there will be many huge differences. The least of which is that when he says he has done the best he could, he will mean it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Strange Mind of Rod Blagojevich

Before all of the drama happened with Rod Blagojevich, few knew how to say his name. Some still have a great deal of trouble, and some like to say it in funny ways just to be, well, funny (Jon Stewart comes to mind here - every time he says his name he sounds like Jerry Lewis).

In actuality, the man is not very funny at all. He took no responsibility for his actions, and then even used human shields when he took some members of the public on stage with him to plead his case of innocence. He blamed his upcoming impeachment on a Legislature that has blocked his attempts to pass health care reform, among other things. What? He then ended the news conference by quoting a line from Tennyson's "Ulysses," saying "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." He curiously left out the line that applied to him the most (as pointed out by Rachel Maddow), and left the stage. His real offenses never came up.

In the Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman spelled them out for him:
"But to their credit, lawmakers have never been disposed to resort to impeachment just to get rid of someone whose personality or policies they find obnoxious. They treat it as a last resort, to be used only for the most intolerable behavior.

In the case of Blagojevich, that gave them plenty to choose from. From wiretapped conversations, federal law enforcement agents concluded he schemed to trade a U.S. Senate appointment for lucrative favors, tried to coerce the owner of the Chicago Tribune to fire his editorial board and demanded a campaign contribution from an executive at a children's hospital that was hoping to get state reimbursement for pediatric care.

Amid all these revelations, you could almost forget that Blagojevich had been practically begging to be evicted for years. During the bribery trial of Chicago developer Antoin "Tony" Rezno, there was testimony Blagojevich traded state contracts for campaign cash. He tried to import flu vaccines and prescription drugs in defiance of federal law. He expanded a state health-care plan without any legal basis. And along the way, he did just about everything possible to make a buffoon of himself."
I'm not exactly sure what goes on in Blagojevich's mind, but I'm pretty sure there isn't a whole lot of reality there. It seems pretty clear he is beyond narcissistic - let alone that weird obsession with his hairbrush. All the good he has done is only happening in his head.

We can only hope that the next governor coming in will be a better example and make the office more honorable again. And, better yet, maybe we can be spared from hearing a great poet quoted again to erase - and rationalize - corrupt deeds under the disguise of a governor for the people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Give it a Rest, Ann

The world was much more peaceful when Ann Coulter's jaw was wired shut. Why does this woman continually spew vicious venom, write ridiculous books, and get paid for it?

Her latest comments on Michelle Obama are laughable. Michelle Obama shows a quiet style that is classy, timeless, and simple. She doesn't overdo it with overpriced suits (like a certain vice presidential candidate who hearkened from Alaska), and dresses in real, comfortable outfits like real women. She is an educated professional, as well as a devoted wife and mother. She is also the first African-American First Lady. She is a trendsetter, not a copycat.

As reported in the Huffington Post article, Coulter had this to say about Obama:
"Her obvious imitation of Jackie O's style - the flipped-under hair, the sleeveless A-line dresses, the short strands of fake pearls - would have been laughable if done by anyone other than a media-designated saint."

Coulter facetiously and snidely refers to Michelle Obama as a "saint" and "Mother Teresa" and suggests that her public service career "advanced in lockstep with the political advancement of her husband."

C'mon, Ann. It almost sounds like a bit of jealousy there. Michelle Obama will grace the White House with more class and intelligence than has been seen in a very long time. So, show some respect to our new First Lady. And while you're at it, eat a sandwich. Maybe all that rage you carry around wouldn't be so prominent if you had a little nourishment once in awhile.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Way to Go, Al!

After months of recounting and speculation, Al Franken has finally been declared the winner in the Minnesota senate race.

I've been pulling for Al for some time. I was fortunate to meet him some time ago, and think he is not only a nice guy, but has good intentions to represent Minnesota in an honest and productive way. I don't think Norm Coleman is a nice guy and I think he has really just represented himself - and certainly not in an honest way.

The final count is done and all we have to do now is wait it out while Coleman plays a few more games with appeals. Appeal or not, I believe Al will come through with flying colors - along with a little class and humor. But, there will indeed be an appeal from the Coleman camp. They announced they will file a lawsuit to contest the results:

"This process isn't at the end; it is at the beginning," attorney Tony Trimble said in a statement. "While we appreciate the effort of this board to do the work, the reality is that any certification of vote totals at this point is only preliminary."

Isn't it funny how Coleman told Franken to concede when he was behind? Now that Franken has been declared the winner, Coleman wants to drag it out some more.

I do have to say that I really get tired of people talking about Al the Comedian. Yes, but how about Al the Television Writer, Al the Author, Al the Radio Host, and Al the Harvard graduate? And how about Al the guy who gives a rip about the average Minnesota resident?

Just step away, Norm - and let go of all the luxuries. No wonder Coleman didn't want the recount. No wonder he has protested everything all the way through. And no wonder that Al came through as the victor. I guess in this case, the nice guy really does win.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Here's to 2009 being a happy,
healthy, and prosperous year!

Times Square, New Year's Eve, 2008.