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Archive for the ‘Political Commentary’ Category

would we have seen more news coverage? In and among sports updates, weather reports and other usual news on any given day, was 15 seconds (or so it seemed) enough for what appeared to be a pretty sophisticated bomb found in a backpack along a Martin Luther King parade route in Spokane Washington? I almost didn’t catch it and waited for further information, but none appeared during that particular news hour.

Searching the internet, I found several stories including this brief on Reuters.  I wondered at the seemingly lack of news coverage. Was it because it was in Spokane and not New York city? Was it the fact it was found along a parade route honoring Martin Luther King and not, dare I say, Ronald Reagan or the allegedly soon to be sainted Pope?

This morning I found I wasn’t alone in my questioning. The Maddox Blog had a post, “The mystery of the Spokane bomb.” I was glad to see it, but honestly, it made me angrier that my unease of “lack of coverage” seemed to be validated.  As one of the commenters to a news story said (and quoted in the Maddox blog post), ” I personally think that to be just a LITTLE more newsworthy than Sarah Palin trying to paint herself as the true victim of Tucson.”

Could you find an act more of hatred and racism than placing a bomb along a Martin Luther King parade route on a day honoring his work and philosophy? Could you not have paid this domestic act of terrorism the same attention as you did the football games? Oh wait, maybe if the bomb had gone off…

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I have to admit, more often than not I am critical of our government system, of the political infighting, of the motive for power or money that seems to drive those within the Beltway, of the inflammatory rhetoric you often hear in politicians’ rants. Every so often something makes me stop and realize how proud I am to be a part of this nation and tonight was one of those moments.

President Obama has just finished his memorial speech in Tucson. I found myself applauding and rising to give him a standing ovation along with all of the others in the audience. I found tears in my eyes at his descriptions of those that died, of those that were injured, of those that rose above themselves to be heroes.

I wrote an earlier blog, “Reactions to Tucson” for AAUW covering my initial reactions to the events in Tucson that found Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot along with 19 others, six who died. Now I find myself compelled to write again — not about the violence of the action, of the issue of gun control or politicians finding themselves needing to blame whomever, but of our President whose speech I think I will print and post somewhere to keep me reminded that a positive attitude, an inspirational message is better than all the excuses or anger put together.

The New York Times has posted the entire text of the speech, take a moment to read it or see a YouTube version once it’s up. Think I’ll just list some of those comments that hit home with me.  Thank you, Mr.  President:

“Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning.”

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.”

“I want us to live up to her (Christina Green) expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

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It’s not often that I go from cheers to jeers within minutes as I did this morning reading two separate news reports. The first was a post from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz “Give women every chance 2 fight off a killer.” She pointed out that 1 in 8 women in America has a chance of developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. She goes on to describe her own story, telling of those seven surgeries as she fought her own cancer. She then describes her disappointment in the “FDA’s decision last month to pull the metastatic breast cancer indication from the Avastin (bevacizumab) label” and why.

My sister fought for eight years against breast cancer and tried every kind of treatment she felt would work for her, whether through advice of her doctors, other cancer survivors or those into natural remedies. She lived far longer than was originally expected and attributed that to her choices. That’s why when I read Wasserman-Schultz’s post, I felt hope — hope that a representative in Congress “got it” and that maybe women would be allowed the right to choose, in this case medications that have a proven track record for some. Guess that gives “pro-choice” a broader meaning!

A few minutes later, I ran across this headline, “Scalia: women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination.” What the hell?! And I quote: “The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.” This, coming from a U.S. Supreme Court Justice whose work impacts everything we do in this country, more than, I would suggest, any other “job” in America.

Fortunately the article does refer to the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, “any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,”and commented,  “that would seem to include protection against exactly the kind of discrimination to which Scalia referred.”

Others will argue for or against the FDA ruling and for or against Scalia’s opinion. I, for one, am once again strongly reminded of the impact of those individuals we elect to represent us. Whether they take action themselves or appoint others to take action for us, the fact they make decisions that impact my life, my family, friends, all of us in this country should make each and every one realize the importance of voting. And then of holding our representatives accountable. I’d rather be cheering then jeering any day.

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “…in the Beltway” when someone is describing their love/hate relationship with those in Washington DC, especially politicians. Usually, these days, it’s said with mixed feelings or unadulterated (is that a word?) hatred.

I’m definitely an “outsider” as I’m not a politician and my thoughts of Congress, especially with the “new Congress” about to begin, is not so much centered around hatred as it is disappointment, fear and sometimes a faint sense of hope when certain bills get passed that may actually help the American people.

And yet I am a Washingtonian, one of the few born there and although I have lived far and wide since my birth, I have returned like a homing pigeon to my roots. I returned when Bush 2 controlled the Beltway and I couldn’t figure out why people weren’t truly frightened of him and what he represented to the common folk in our country. I still don’t understand to be honest, especially as the repercussions of his actions on behalf of big corporations and his own ego (militarily) are never more evident than they are now. And yet the current head of the “Beltway”, President Obama, appears to be getting the blame for actions taken long before he was on the ballot.

Now it’s my turn to watch with bated breath as Obama faces the second half of his first term. He made amazing gains and some incredible mistakes during his first two years, but I truly believe he does have the American people (as in all the people, not just the wealthy) in mind as he decides his course of action. He faces a strong opponent (as in the Republican party) and will probably make compromises that will hurt those of us with equality in our hearts. Here’s hoping he receives timely and wise advice when needed.

Meanwhile, my focus “in the Beltway” will be in trying to determine what the truth actually is. Factcheck.org helps, especially when any politician of any party quotes statistics or says something is “proven”. Reading blog posts, such as Nicholas Kristof’s recent “Equality, a True Soul Food”  http://nyti.ms/dLr8HU will help keep me focused and yes, I’ll even try to be open-minded to the new Congress…

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The latest headlines, “Recession Hits Social Security Hard,” are just that, the latest headlines. We’ve all been reading for years of the trouble Social Security and Medicare are facing and that long term solutions should “start now”. I was in my twenty’s the first time I read about this – I only remember because I laughed, with a Murphy’s Law cynicism, the news predicted at that time it would run out the same year I turned 65.

I’m not laughing now. Since then I’ve learned that women only make 78 cents to the dollar a man makes and one of the biggest area that impacts women is their retirement years. It used to be thought (and still is depending upon whom you talk with), “that’s ok, a woman will live off her husband’s pension anyway.”  Given the current economy, one feels like asking, “what pension?” And if a woman is single, unless she started (or starts) financial planning early, well, let’s just say, YIKES!

So when years later, I hear that Social Security and its companion, Medicare, are in trouble, I hope that this time someone will listen. The fact that the recession has only added to its woes compounds the bigger issue of preparedness. And the impact on women extends to their families, for obvious reasons.

For decades, the government seems to have been ignoring its own warning signs. Just as equally, people haven’t been preparing enough. I hope the current government in Washington has the ability to not just put a band-aide on the wound, but to gather our community focus – government, corporations, small businesses, everyone of us – on solving the real issues now, for my future, for your future and for the next generations to come.

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I remember the first Mother’s Day after my mom had passed away, I felt a bit lost and saddened when I realized I didn’t need to go looking for the usual Mother’s Day card. I didn’t have to go get groceries for the meal she chose, or get the present I thought she wanted. There was no Internet at the time, no last minute Amazon to overnight something, no 1-800 number to order Flowers. Either you planned ahead and mailed early or made sure you were going to be with her – otherwise, it was the dog house for sure.

I remember it was the gift giving that was especially hard. My dad – Old Spice, every year rain or shine. My mom, oh no, nothing that simple. In fact she made it harder by saying she wanted something from you that wasn’t “material”, but rather a promise that you would or wouldn’t do “x” this year. The X Factor I called it long before the term became popular for other reasons, always seemed to have some little guilt to it, which made it seemingly unbearable even in its “goodness.” I did find a web site  article on the art of giving memories, which I wish I had known when mom was still here. She would have loved it and I would have breathed a sigh of relief as it mixes love and memory without guilt.

There are other mothers I would honor, some in person, some in memory. You didn’t have to be my actual mom to act like the wise elder I thought mothers should be.  Political mothers are present more than ever, I make sure to read “PunditMom” often for example.  In browsing, I found Australians are focusing on government child care initiatives as we are here in the States, urging folks to  support paid sick days to keep families healthy by making sure to tell their Congresspeople to pass pending legislation. Global sentiment is also growing as I found the opportunities to buy a gift for mother available in many languages – commercialism vs. sentiment I fear.

Sentimental, political, or obligatory, Mother’s Day is coming — are you ready?!

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Blog for Fair Pay

Blog for Fair Pay

I’ve decided that every sibling remembers how their parents raised them as though they came from a different set of parents, so matter that their ages may be only a year or two apart. I’ve three, two sisters and a brother, and I tell you listening to our stories, you would have thought we were raised on different planets, let alone by the same two people.

Even on the issue of equality, the differences are striking. My brother, being the boy and the eldest, got a set of “you must do’s” on the grand scale, go to private schools, etc., etc., however seemed to be left alone on the day-to-day to do whatever he wanted, simply because, “oh you know, he’s the son”.  My two sisters also received a road map for their lives, much centered around the right social circles and both eventually rebelled in their different ways.

As the youngest and as a girl, I didn’t get spoiled but I did get left alone, which in my mind was just as good. I was the observer, watching the trials and tribulations of my siblings, thankful that I escaped a lot of their “must dos”, but dreaming of equality  none-the-less. Equality?? You bet, except I didn’t call it that. I called it freedom to do, for example, what my brother got to do simply because he was the son (working for above 25 cents an hour babysitting vs. $5 for his lawn mowing).

To be honest, I didn’t think again about equality in that sense until a lot later when I decided my years of reading mystery novels should help me when applying to the FBI. I wrote away for an application (no Internet in those days) and upon receipt was stunned to learn that I would not be an acceptable candidate  because I was under 5’7″! I was devastated, thinking my mind and its capabilities ought to stand for something, but no go.  In today’s language they would have called me “height challenged” I would imagine, I won’t repeat what I called it.

As I entered into the workforce, I realized time and again my male colleagues, some less able than I, often made two or three times the salary than I simply because they were men. That this form of discrimination still occurs in 2009 is what’s shocking today. I was telling a table of men and women at a conference recently of the fact that on average, women make only 78 cents to the dollar a man does, even less when you combine race with gender. A man replied, “well you all got the vote didn’t you.”  Yikes! I think he was looking for a laugh, but no one else, man or woman, even smiled.

Who knew that equality would still be an issue in the new millennium? Why is it just a dream? Although I guess one could call it a nightmare given the fact it is still prevalent not just in the United States, but throughout most of the world. What can we do? We can take action, we can spread the word, we can stop the need for Equal Pay Day. Will you?  And if you tweet, please raise your voices with us and include #fairpay and #aauw. Thanks!

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