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Archive for January, 2009

Hopefully that is. The last time the name Blagojevichwas mentioned here, it actually had to do with an MSNBC piece on the Today Show about his wife. There was another story about Daren Baird on the same day and I felt compelled to compare the two women, no doubt Ms. Baird won hands down.

Well, appears Gov Rod Blagojevich, for all of his “I did nothing wrong” was summarily removed from office after a 59-0 vote by the Illinois Senate. I had caught some of his media blitz prior to the vote and shook my head over his, well it’s hard to describe… comments before and after, examples in a recent NY Times article.

I laughed when I heard he was thinking of nominating Oprah for Obama’s old spot, she apparently did too, claiming (or so I heard) that she would have had to decline even if offered as, tongue in cheek, she’s “just too busy”. And the late night shows have been having a field day!

What made me mad this morning had to do with how he compared himself to the rest of those in America who were unemployed, implying he was “just like them”. Good grief. The majority of the currently unemployed are not facing federal charges, they are not rude, crude and nor try to put a spin on possible criminal actions. I have friends out there, good, honest, hardworking individuals who are now looking for work through no fault of their own.

Grow up, Blagojevich, face the music and stop comparing yourself to those folks who are truly facing tough times. Oh yeah, keep off the TV too, please, I’m tired of looking at your face.

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So after eight years of being ignored by those who inhabited  1600 Pennsylvania Ave , I thought it time to start letting you know what I think. I represent the millions of people who are feeling the consequences of other’s greed, which helped cause the current state of our economy; whose ultimate retirement, even though years away, is being impacted by your decisions of today; and whose commute could be improved by some simple planning in D.C.

What? I can hear you saying. That’s right, let’s start with what could be fixed by a simple chat with Mayor Fenty. Could you let him know that driving down 16th Ave during morning rush hour could be improved by simply preventing any left turns unless there is a specific left turn lane? That would work during evening rush hour as well. I can’t speak for my fellow Americans who have to go East, West, or South, but I’m sure there might be traffic issues that could be simply addressed.

So, there you go. One simple problem, one simple suggested solution. If we could incorporate these while you are taking care of the war, the economy, the joblessness, health care, equality and all the other major issues facing you every day, we might just get somewhere.

Thanks for listening. By way of a ‘cc’, I encourage all of my millions of new friends who elected you to make sure to provide suggestions as well. You never know. . .one step at a time.

Sincerely

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Taking a pause from the political scene, I’m coming down from the high felt all last week as a new president took command of these United States.  I had a family of four staying all week, reminding  me through thoughts and deeds what dear friends they are and how lucky we are who have friends that enrich our lives.

A mother and father with two daughters, one in college (Princeton, yahoo!) and the other, a graduate with a year of teaching in Korea under her belt, now looking to grad school for the next stage in life. I knew mom and pop before they were married and now listen with such pride at their own personal accomplishments, let alone as a family unit.

They had all sorts of tickets –Emily’s List luncheon, the Inauguration ceremony, Inauguration parade, Inauguration Balls and never hesitated to share their spoils, their glee, their mementos. We all got caught up in the celebratory air circling D.C. and were so proud to be part of history. Sharing meals, conversations, enthusiasm, hugs  and even the almost zero degree weather (wind chill) – only added to the collection of already wonderful memories.

The week ended with an unexpected twist of taking a casual friendship and making it a “kindred-spirit” beginning, the excitement of the Inauguration spilling into extended “conversations” with someone not even of my country. You gotta love the Internet!  And the phone too, for those friends not present but who shared in the joy of the change and hope to come.

Don’t get me wrong, family ties still rule and glad to have shared the excitement with mine.  But it’s my community of friends that made this occasion even more special, even more memorable. Of course since Inauguration Day, my community has grown to 1.5 million+  individuals who expressed their renewed love for this country through cheers, singing and camaraderie on a very cold day in January. May it continue and grow.

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Dear George:

Got your note, many thanks. Yes, I’ll need all the luck I can get, given how you and your team left the state of our country. Oh, sorry, Michele reminded me that I need to remain “Presidential,” in the true sense of the word.

Appreciate the good wishes of Laura toward Michele. I don’t think my wife will have a chance anytime soon of hosting Laura at the White House, but I’ll make sure her staff check her schedule to see when the next available date maybe.

My daughters also want to thank your daughters for their kind words of advice. The staff however did want me to ask if you wanted the . . .bottle collection left under beds, in closets and throughout the grounds, sent to your ranch in Texas?

Just a couple of questions, if you don’t mind:

There was surplus in the budget Bill left you, any chance you can give me the real reason behind what happened? I’d be happy to receive your answer via my new Blackberry. It’s worth over $3,000 and I’ve been told it’s “secure”.

What happened in the Justice Department? I can’t find honesty there amongst those whose loyalty to you apparently gave them the credentials to move up the “judicial ladder” as it were. I see you made many appointed positions now civil servants, thinking I would be “stuck” with them for the next years. Thanks, I love a good challenge.

We see in the budget that millions of dollars were spent buying products and services from companies Cheney “once” worked for, as well as others with similar connections. We don’t see any details in the budget? Where would we find this, we would like to fill in the blanks to find were our fellow Americans money went.

Say hello to your father and Barbara. Very kind of them to escort you home to Texas, I was a bit worried given the gas you must have been suffering. I didn’t notice it at the time, but when I reviewed the TV coverage of the Inauguration Ceremony, I noticed your facial expressions showed your pain.

Yes, I would be happy to correspond with you on occasion as I can understand how your empty in box, lack of phone calls, non-waving crowds and no Air Force One might make this transition a difficult one for you. Let me assure you, you can retain your afternoon nap schedule, in fact, feel free to expand it if you would like!  I won’t abuse your offer of advice any time, never fear.

I’m sorry but I must leave you, time to roll up my sleeves and get on with it on Day Two of the 100 day count down. Thank you again.

Barack

From the office of the President, United States of America

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After the Inauguration Ceremonies were complete – having stood for hours in the freezing cold and walking miles to find an open Metro stop that would actually let me in, I had a few hours rest and relaxation before getting ready to attend the official Midwest Inaugural Ball. The morning Inauguration adventure unforgettable, I marshaled up my tired feet and told myself, time for round two.

The Metro at the Convention Center (the Ball location) was closed for security reasons so my friend and I decided to take the 70 bus from Silver Spring. I do believe we were the only passengers to take this route and the looks we received in all of our finery from the rest of the passengers were priceless. We then walked block after block amidst police cars and the homeless and finally made it to the entrance, feet complaining all the way.

Well, as far as the room itself, let’s just say almost bare would be an accurate description. It definitely looked like a convention hall, not princess ballroom, with it’s few draped banners, lack of seating, no tables to even lean on and grey walls and carpet. The food was atrocious (pasta, turkey roll and some of yesterday’s carrots), and you had to stand to get tickets to stand and get drinks. I later heard most of the official balls were like this, one has to wonder why they don’t think to get sponsors.

However, that being said, it was well worth the extra five hours of standing. The Motown band and singers were great, really getting people into the dancing mood. Cheryl Crow was next, the first time in a ball gown she said, bubbling over with enthusiasm for the day and singing her heart out. They made her stop a bit early to set up for the presidential party and a laugh flowed through the room at the little man who put out the US flag and the other flags, first one for the VP and then for POTUS. As he set up the flags, he took extra time with each to make sure the emblem showed properly, something everyone of the thousands (seemingly) in the room appreciated later when snapping photos.

The presidential party was over an hour late, but again it was well worth it to share in the day of celebration, first with Joe Biden and wife and then President Obama and Michele. The Coast Guard band had been set up earlier, playing  “Hail to the Chief” when Obama came out, and the room cheered and cheered. I was lucky enough to be close to the front and could see the President was obviously tired. He spoke of the “heartland” and how he represented all of the people and then turned to Michele for their dance. Very affectionate toward each other, they slowly twirled around the stage and seemingly enjoyed their few minutes with us.

They left…we all made a mad dash to secure coats and leave. It was humerous to watch the hundreds of women, now shoeless- highheels getting the better of them, stop to put their shoes back on at the front entrance. The groans could be heard and laughter broke out as one man, with his date on his back, holding her heels in hand, made a sprint toward the Metro.

We walked slowly, made one last attempt at a dash across a street as green light turned to red and heard the sounds of motorcycles. We turned and watched as the Presidential motorcade came through. Five feet from us, we waved as first the VP came by and then POTUS and Michele – all who were gracious enough to wave back at us. A most satisfactory and unforgettable evening indeed!

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No more count downs – this is Inauguration Day! I joined over 1 million other folks this morning as we all made our way down to the Capital and the Mall. It was 9 degrees (counting wind chill factor) when I left home.

Surprisingly the Metro ride in was lighter than expected, however the fact it didn’t stop at key stations made getting to the Inauguration interesting. A holder of a “silver” ticket (different colors allowed you to stand at varying lengths from the Inauguration Ceremony) and silver was right beyond the Capital Hill Reflecting Pool. However, Metro fooled me, it didn’t stop at Federal Central but continued to Capital Hill, where we all got out and started walking – volunteers pointing us to a route which we discovered later, was wrong.

There appeared to be many lines for silver ticket holders that wrapped around buildings, thru alleyways or stood still as minutes ticked by. Small in height, I tagged along with a group of guys at least a foot taller then me and found there were three “Chris’s” in the group, making conversation immediately humorous and easy. We started placing bets if the 90 minutes we had before the swearing in was going to be enough to get in our designated spot. Before long talk we were choosing to either go to a pub and watch with beer in hand, or go to the Mall, no ticket needed and try to stand in front of one of those large jumbo-trons.

Just as were about to flip the coin, the line suddenly started moving and we walked what we estimated was over 3 miles til we finally got to the security check point. We went into double-time and finally arrived with minutes to spare. Saying “farewell”, I found a good spot, able to see relatively clearly one of the jumbo-trons and able to actually see the podium Obama would be sworn in on with my binoculars!! My new neighbors were chatty and a not-so-small party atmosphere prevailed.

The crowd was intense, we decided if we all bent our knees slightly we could sit on the person behind us. The mood extremely cheerful, knowledgeable about politics, representative of generations, some of whom had traversed this route on their way to hear Martin Luther King. Folks cried at various points, the sense of we have a chance in the air. I don’t know if the TV captured the audience cheers or jeers, but there were plenty. Cheers, chants of OBAMA and “We can Change” broke out when any of the Obama or Biden family appeared or others like Carter and the Clintons.

When Laura Bush and Mrs. Cheney appeared the crowd grew silent, but seemingly respectful, however when Bush and Cheney (in wheel chair from hurting his back while moving boxes yesterday) appeared there was a huge “BOO” that went on for some time. Then that song that sometimes is played in sports arena, “na na na, hey hey hey, kiss him goodbye etc.” went through the crowd. . . I later asked someone if they could hear either cheers or boos on TV and they said only the cheers. Hmmm. 

For all that walking and waiting, the ceremonies seemed short – but no less powerful. Aretha Frankin’s singing was masterful, she never looses her touch. When Yoyo Ma and Isaak Perlman started playing there was a silence so profound you could have heard a pin drop, amongst over a million people no less, as we watched the white doves take flight. 

The swearing in ceremony went quickly and the sound was off kilter during Obama’s Inaugural speech. It was one of those where he’d speak and seconds later we could hear his words. I will read or listen to his actual speech later, but the emotions that ran so high, cheerful, generous and hopeful never dimmed. I’ll never forget it. If you haven’t seen any of the day, C-Span is showing activities.

Leaving, walking the miles again towards the Metro, I passed the Native American Museum and paused to listen. They were drumming in ceremony to honor the Inauguration and listening to that, watching the Capital and the crowds still smiling after hours on their feet in the freezing cold – it almost felt like a blessing being bestowed on our nation. Let’s hope it brings the new administration the grace, strength, honesty, beauty and peace the music evoked.

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Inauguration Count Down – 1 Day Left

My friend, Palo Alto School Board Representative, Camile Townsend and I braved the Metro parking lot on our way to the  Emily’s List luncheon yesterday, only to find the lot almost empty(!) and the Metro itself with plenty of seats. We got out at Dupont Circle and walked up the Hill to the Washington Hilton, where we joined 2,000 other women. The buzz, the electricity in the air, the sense of cheer and hope absent for 8 years in D.C., all made for high adrenaline for hours.

 The list of attendees was awesome, as least in the sense of women in the US political arena: Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; Senator Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State Designate; Governor Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security Designate; Congresswoman Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor Designate; Governor Bev Purdue, North Carolina; Senator Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire; Senator Kay Hagan, North Carolina; and Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Wisconsin.

 It wasn’t the usual “a politician’s canned speech to the audience” scenario, these women have led the fight in gender equity in this country, have experienced discrimination a myriad of times and still do, and yet were able to give us not only a sense of accomplishment, but a sense of hope. They spoke from their hearts and we responded likewise – a standing “o” for each, cheers, and applause. For a longer read on the luncheon, check out my AAUW blog post, “Pelosi, Clinton, Napolitano, & Jones“.

Camile and I then made our way toward the Lincoln Memorial, to meet with her husband and daughter who were also cheering and applauding — for those musicians and others celebrating the Inauguration. Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Springsteen, Jamie Foxx, Mary J.Blige, Cheryl Crowe, Mellancamp, King III – the list was endless and exciting – and included Obama himself.

Honesty wins, we only made it to the Mayflower Hotel (with a “rich” history of it’s own), stopping to have a Cosmos and beer for a small break from the cold. We found ourselves watching the CNN coverage of the concert, and stayed…  Husband and daughter later joined us and joined in comparing stories with the Navy Midshipman and his family at the next table.  “Yeah, we needed the binoculars to see the jumbotron, let alone any of the performers”  made us laugh, but the excitement and feelings of hope matched ours from the luncheon.

 My one hick-up? On Friday I received the exciting news that I was able to get two tickets to one of the ten official Inaugural Balls for Tuesday night. On Saturday I went out grocery shopping, only to return to a little sign from the Post Office on my door, “sorry you weren’t home, you can pick up your Express envelope 1/20 after 9am”. My heart stopped, at 9am I am joining my two million other friends at the Inauguration/Mall. I called the PO at 1:10 only to find they had closed at 1. Threw everything down, grabbed my keys, jumped in the VW bug and off I tore around the neighborhood in hopes of finding the mailman. Finally, last house in the ‘hood, and I caught him, signed for my envelope and returned home, frazzled, melted ice cream on the floor and as pleased as punch. Phew!

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