Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sarah Palin's Last Speech...for Now

I've never quite understood the whole "Sarah Palin for President" thing. She doesn't even seem to be able to put a coherent speech together, let alone run a country. The thought is quite scary, actually.

The speeches she did during the campaign were memorized, and the ones she writes on her own don't seem to make any sense at all. I don't know a single strong, intelligent woman who wasn't annoyed with her tight outfits, high heels, and lack of intelligence. She represented everything most educated women fight against - all show, no substance. Presidential material? They had to have been kidding. I see her more as a talk show host or a Fox correspondent.

In her last speech, she sounds like she is reciting a poem not a speech. Stephen Cobert summed it up in such a funny way - I can't say it any better:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sarah Palin Will Be Missed
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTasers

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Real Priorities, Real Hope

When a friend or relative is sick, priorities seem to really line up the way they should. With all the things happening in the media with celebrities and political figures, it is interesting and often we get quite caught up in all of it. When something is happening right in front of you, however, it really does wake you up to real priorities.

I made a post on June 20, 2009 about health care and a good friend, Fidel. He is, frankly, more like family. He treats me like a little sister and I think the world of him and his girlfriend, Melissa, who is also a good friend. I started writing a piece tonight chronicling everything he has gone through since it all started. It is hard to think back and realize the magnitude of it all up to this point. Fidel only saw blurry and foggy days, never sunny ones.

What started as us thinking he only had blurry vision and that he just needed glasses, turned into a brain tumor that the doctors think may have been growing for decades. First there was the initial surgery which was to be simple: a pituitary adenoma
that was to be taken out through his nose. Less invasive, they said. Still didn't sound fun and he - and the rest of us - were scared, but hopeful that they could get it all. As it turned out, the surgeons were only able to get twenty percent of it out. To hear a doctor say it was "too bloody" was a bit frightening. A second, much more serious and invasive surgery followed. Brain surgery. He woke up the next day from the first surgery. He still has not woken up from the second one.

Since this time, and the surgeries, MRI's, CAT scans...all the tubes and wires he was hooked up to...and weeks in Intensive Care, he finally was pronounced stable and moved to a regular hospital room. There for a few days, he was then moved to a rehabilitation hospital where he now sleeps peacefully, with a few more reactions each day. His eyes are opened more. He crunches up his face when a cloth is run across it to clean it. But he is still asleep. Deep asleep.

We know these things take time. As my sister, an RN, said: "They don't wake up like they do in the movies. It is a slow process." We want him to take whatever time he needs to wake up. But we all miss him - his smile, his laugh, his wonderful sense of humor. The world is a little less bright with Fidel so quiet.

We don't know what the future will bring. But we know one thing for sure: it will bring us back Fidel. And no matter what it takes or what he needs, we will help him. It may take some time, but he will be come back to us. And when he does, not only will he be healthy again, but the world won't be blurry or foggy anymore through his eyes. And, as for the rest of us, our eyes too will see a much brighter sun shining through.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gates and Unlawful Assumptions

I can't say I wouldn't go a bit ballistic if I was in the same boat as Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home. Let's see, if I was in my own home, showed identification proving that, and could also point out pictures of myself with family around the house....and the police officer would not listen and arrested me anyway? Or being put in handcuffs when I walk with a cane? Let alone, coming home from a very long trip - and then having to break in because the keys were in my luggage...when I was just so exhausted and relieved to be home? We all know what that feels like. Just the jet lag alone from a flight from China to the United States must be unbelievably overwhelming.

According to
Crowley arrested Gates, a leading expert on African-American history, last Thursday after police were called to a report of a break-in at the Ware Street home. Gates had just arrived home from the filming of a PBS documentary in China. His front door was stuck shut, and his taxi driver helped him pry it open.
Said his commanding officer:
"I don't believe that Sergeant [James M.] Crowley acted with any racial motivation at all," said Commissioner Robert Haas.
No "racial motivation?" What other explanation is there? Even after the mistake was made, it could have been stopped once the identification was checked, once ownership of the house was established, and once the policeman took a few minutes to look around for pictures in the house of the man he had just arrested. So, as far as the arresting officer - enough excuses. You made a huge error and assumed that, because of his skin color, he was a burglar. This is a case of racism and stupidity. Just apologize, take it as a learning experience, and quit making excuses.

And for that matter, Harvard Professors may have reputations of great brilliance, but hasn't everyone at one point or another, locked themselves out?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rachel Maddow Speaking on Race

This was just too good to not post. It gets funnier and funnier as older white men are screaming racism and discrimination. This handles it all quite well, with class, humor, and the facts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Painkillers and Celebrities

Michael Jackson is only the latest celebrity with an addiction to Oxycontin. We watched as Rush Limbaugh - ever the most judgmental of anyone else - became addicted. We watched as Heath Ledger, like Jackson, went to several doctors to be able to mix painkillers with other legal drugs until it killed him. And then there is Lindsey Lohan, who is said to mix Oxycontin with painkillers and vodka. And young girls can't figure out why they aren't as skinny as she is....

Perhaps celebrities rationalize it because it is legal. But, Oxycontin, and others, should be used for pain - not to get high. If it is legitimately needed for pain as an injury heals, that makes since. But for Michael Jackson's hair burning incident - some 25 years ago - to be blamed for starting his addiction? Come on - to not be accountable for that long is just ridiculous.

The truth is, that celebrities such as this make it harder for people who have no addiction issues and are in legitimate, chronic pain. They have to jump through hoops to get a script for Oxycontin. They are also often flat out refused the painkiller by the doctors when it is the only thing that works for their pain. I know people who have debilitating pain from Fibromyalgia, severe pain from injuries in their backs or legs, or Diabetic Neuropathy. This is just to name a few.

When are celebrities going to learn that Oxycontin is meant for people that need it? It isn't a recreational thing. And, really, you can dress it up and call it legal all you like - but not only are you making it harder for people who really need it - you are an addict. And unfortunately, that can be quite fatal.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Next Harry Potter Craze

I am an avid reader who generally ignores hype of any kind. I'd rather read a book because it won a Pulitzer Prize or because it was recommended by the staff of my favorite book store or a friend. So, I avoided the Harry Potter craze...for awhile.

When a copy of the first Harry Potter book was found in the front of the aforementioned favorite bookstore for a mere $3.00 (The English version is called "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"), it was just too cool to resist. So I resigned myself to just read the one book.

Then there is the rebellious streak that seems to flow throughout my family. As my sister stated, "When everyone said they were bad, evil books that shouldn't be read...well that just intrigued me to read them more." Of course, they are not bad, evil books. They are the classic "good versus evil" books. They are also incredibly well-written, well-thought out, and well-researched. Needless to say, I didn't stop at one book. I soon read each one - one right after another, until I had devoured them all.

On a recent road trip south, I was able to see the Harry Potter Exhibit in Chicago. In it, countless props, costumes, and replicas of rooms in the movies were displayed. It was cool to see Dumbledore's robes and Hermione's dress from the ball - as well as wands and other fun items seen in the movies. There were crowds for each showing.

Harry Potter fans are big fans indeed, but one group in particular has really taken it to another level. According to Newsweek, they've even started their own "Dumbledore's Army," or the "Potter Alliance," which does some wonderful charity work:
We are living in dark and difficult times, as Dumbledore says, and we have a choice between what is right and what is easy," says Andrew Slack, the founder of the real-life Dumbledore's Army, also known as the Harry Potter Alliance, which started in 2005 and counts more than 100,000 members across the globe. These Harry Potter-ites live by the motto "the weapon we have is love" (a.k.a., "Love is the most powerful form of magic," Slack says) and wear T shirts with the slogan WHAT WOULD DUMBLEDORE DO? Through blogs and YouTube videos, they've raised more than $15,000 in aid for Darfur and Burma and donated 14,000 books to children in need worldwide."

But the Harry Potter Alliance is peculiar to the world of fandom, because these people actually think they can use Harry Potter to make a difference in the world.

It is just one more example of the dedication of the fans...and yet another example of good work - and definitely not evil. The only people who say that about the series have not read any of the books.

As a writer I really admire J.K. Rowling. What has spun out of these books is unbelievable. She wrote these books while on welfare, nursing the same cup of coffee or tea each day. Her ability to carry the story through, keep the reader's attention, and develop interesting, likable characters is incredible. She is admirable and extremely talented. So, as the Harry Potter craze continues and the next movie opens tomorrow- I admit it. I too am a big fan.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

True Freedom for Women

As an American woman, I know I have freedoms that many other women in the world do not have. Although the United States is far from perfect, I often think that, as a woman, I was fortunate to be born where I was born.

Slavery is the most appalling part of American history, and we still deal with way too much prejudice in this country. Where you think all American people would be ashamed (and most are), many are still racist. Even more disgusting, are the ones who still celebrate it and fly the confederate flag. But, thankfully, slavery was abolished many years ago.

Unfortunately, there are still millions of people living in slavery today. The majority of these people are women.
As I live my normal life, I do what I please. I live in my own place. I drive my own car. I go to work each day, leave when I want, do pretty much whatever I want - within financial limitations of course. There is still a great deal of sexism, still not equal pay for equal work. But, I am free and do not face the atrocities that many other women do.

In many countries, women are not allowed simple freedoms that we take for granted. They cannot leave their houses unless they are with a male. They cannot dress as they wish and have to be covered up when they do leave. They also face terrible abuse on a daily basis.

The newest law in Afghanistan makes us realize that it isn't getting any better. After the law was amended that actually allowed husbands to rape their wives or starve them if they did not submit to them sexually, the updated law wasn't much of a change at all. According to

The amended Shia personal status law was passed by the Afghan cabinet in secrecy earlier this month. But despite some contentious clauses being removed, it still states that a man need not support his wife financially unless he has "access to her." Women in traditional rural Afghan society rely on their husbands for support.

The new law also still gives rights of guardianship entirely to fathers and grandfathers. By stipulating blood money should be paid for underage girls who are raped, human rights groups allege it also implicity sanctions child abuse.

Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch said: "This review process has been shrouded in secrecy.

"The result is that, despite some modest improvements, many key amendments proposed by civil society groups and parliamentarians have been ignored, and some of the most repressive provisions remain."

Under the Afghan constitution, the country's 10 per cent Shia minority is allowed to settle family affairs under its own jurisprudence.

After the outrage surrounding the original law, human rights groups and Afghan MPs took part in consultations with the government. However, some groups said they were then coerced into agreeing a diluted version of the law.

One Afghan activist involved in the process said: "The main problem is that the marital rape article is still there."

There will not be true freedom in the world for women until all women are free. There are too many areas of the world, like Afghanistan, where women are treated as slaves and can be treated as cruelly and violently as the man of the household wishes. It is not right that slavery is still in existence at all - and Afghan women are only one example. Until all people of the world are treated equally and with respect, we are truly not a civilized world at all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What is Sarah's Real Agenda?

Sarah Palin just can't seem to stay out of the media. She complains about the media and says that is part of the reason she is resigning. Then she invites them to her resignation speech (in waders, no less). She complains her kids are picked on after she parades them around with her and across the stage time after time. She ruthlessly criticizes her opponents during the campaign, then cowers when she is picked on and made fun of. She can't even handle Tina Fey making fun of her (in a very funny way, by the way).

Let's face it. Who knows why she is resigning when she has a year left. And who knows what is going on with the investigation in her alleged wrongdoings. The point is, Palin likes the spotlight.

Palin is about as qualified to be president as the local garbage man, but that doesn't seem to be what she wants. I fully expect her to continue to be a tabloid princess - because when she isn't, she makes sure all by herself that she gets back in the limelight. I also fully expect that the next new talk show will be hosted by Sarah Palin. And I can handle that much more than I could swallow her being able to run the free world.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bachmann and the Census

Michele Bachmann just seems to keep on giving comedians material - and embarrassing Minnesota residents. Her latest project to boycott the census follows a very long line of idiotic moves. She seems convinced that President Obama started the census and that it is now unconstitutional (one of her favorite statements) - even though the census has been around since 1790.

At this point, even her fellow Republicans want her to just shut up. Perhaps she should just take care of her twenty-three kids (or whatever it is) and leave intelligent decisions to those who are indeed intelligent. As mentioned in the Washington Post:
At some point last month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she would refuse to fill out anything more than the number of people in her household on her Census questionnaire. She argued that questions other than how many people live in her home are unconstitutional and feared that political groups, including ACORN, might try to sway final Census numbers.

Republican colleagues have now called her boycott illogical and illegal.

“Every elected representative in this country should feel a responsibility to encourage full participation in the census. To do otherwise is to advocate for a smaller share of federal funding for our constituents."
By encouraging people to not fill out the census, it could actually backfire on her. If she does actually convince a few thousand of her district members to follow her lead and not fill out the census, she could convince them to eliminate her job. Minnesota could actually lose a congressional seat if this happens - and the seat just happens to be hers. Bachmann, once again, just doesn't get it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Congrats to Senator Al Franken!

I've been on the road traveling for a couple of days and unable to do a post until now. A friend called us in the car while we were nearing Chicago, the first leg of our trip, and told us the good news. There was cheering in our car...

Congrats to you, Senator Al Franken! You have fought a long battle and have finally gotten your hard-earned seat. You will be a great senator - and we know you will be dedicated. As stated in MPR:
"In accepting DFL party backing to run against Norm Coleman, Al Franken promised an aggressive campaign with an emphasis on Coleman’s record.

“We’re going to get up early and stay up late, and we’re going to do it, because five million Minnesotans need a voice in Washington, and they don’t have one in Norm Coleman,” said

Franken has proved an aggressive campaigner and fund raiser. Over the past 16 months he’s traveled all over Minnesota to land the endorsement."
So, bye bye Norm. It is about time that you conceded. You dragged this and Minnesota through the mud for way too long. Finally, we will have two senators - and two good senators who care about the people of this state.

Thank you, Al. For your
perseverance, vision, and patience - and thanks for looking out for the people of Minnesota. It is my hope that you will have a long career as senator and meet your goals and keep your vision. Congratulations!