society


I have neglected my blog for a while now amidst many changes in my world – job hunting/finding, weddings, dog drama. However, there are certain things in one’s sphere that cannot go unnoticed. Wednesday night, President Barack Obama was the first sitting US President in history to give a commencement speech to a graduation class. This passage would be notable unto itself, but it was made more amazing by the response of the Arizona State University chairs who decided that President Obama’s body of work was not yet complete, and was therefore undeserving at this time to be presented with an honorary degree as is the university’s custom for noted speakers. I’m not going to go into the idiocy of a response like that — I think the Daily Show did a beautiful job of making ASU look like asses (which I provide to you here in case you missed it).

One of the things I really like about Obama, though, is his unyielding ability to make lemonade out of lemons. The way he turned the controversy into a larger speech about our individual responsibilities to not rest on our laurels throughout our entire life is a lesson for everyone on navigating sticky, potentially explosive situations. He is a diplomat, first and foremost, and we all need to take a queue from this guy, whether it be in dealing with family members, in business situations, complaining about the food at a restaurant, blogging, whatever. A line in one of my favorite movies comes to mind: You may not like him, Minister. But you can’t deny it – Dumbledore’s got style.”

I just read that the Dow closed below 7000 points today. Ouch. What makes it worse? That I am not in a position to add to my 401(k) anymore since I have been self-employed since Fall, 08. Dang it. All that missed opportunity . . .

I woke up this morning like I did on Christmas morning when I was a child – early, excited, full of anticipation, yet having to wait for Mom and Dad to wake up to start ripping open the goodies under the tree.

Christmas morning came with a massive excitement hangover at about 11 AM, though, when all of the presents were open, torn wrapping paper filled the space around the tree, and reality set in.  The long 365-day wait for Christmas morning next year had just begun.

As I aged, Christmas became less and less important and the possibilities of New Year’s Eve and Day held more magic.  The idea that, as the calendar year flipped, we could each resolve to start over in some way – to change the way we have acted, or thought, or treated others, or treated ourselves.  As we know, most resolutions end up losing steam and falling by the wayside.  But the high is still there, the excitement and anticipation are still there, and the hangover takes much longer to realize.

This morning is not Christmas morning, or even New Year’s morning.  No, it’s Inauguration Day.  And it’s better than Christmas or New Years.  Today is my new New Year’s Eve 2009.  Midnight is 10 AM EST (8 AM MST), and the countdown has begun.  In place of drunken champagne toasts and Dick Clark New York countdowns, I and my loved one will be curled up on the couch, likely drinking herbal tea and eating Cheerios, watching the MSNBC feed of Barack Obama’s swearing in as the new President of the United States of America.  Ahhh.  Just writing that gives me butterflies.  Get the tissues ready.

I know so many people in this country are excited that we are electing the first African-American President, and so many people are filling Capitol Mall to watch history in the making.  I am also proud of that.  Moreover, though, I am excited that we have elected an intellectual and a visionary.  Someone that I actually trust will keep the promise to America that started over 200 years ago — that the leader of this country be a servant to the people.

Americans chose hope and optimism over fear and xenophobia.  We chose measured intelligence over folksy charm.  We chose to act and be treated like adults rather than petulant children who needed a temporary pacifier shoved in our mouths to shut us up.  We chose to choose over having the choice made for us.  Our collective consciousness has been awakened — maybe there is hope for us yet. . .

I wish, this new New Year’s Day, peace, happiness, patience, tolerance, and hope for you, your’s, and our global community.  For me, I feel one step closer to breathing more freely and sleeping more soundly for the next 4 years.

Four years ago this morning, my heart sank and my stomach was sick. After living through 4 years of George W. Bush, there seemed to be people who weren’t paying attention.

I love my country.  But this morning, for the first time in 8 long years, I can finally say I am PROUD to be an American.  Not only because we, as a collective people, elected a black man for president, but also because we, as a collective people, seem to have finally made the right decision.  I guess change really is possible.

It is a fact. Women are judged more on their looks than men are.  Look around you.  Some of the fattest, baldest, most slovenly men are in positions of power in government, business, media, technology (especially technology).  But the opposite is not true.  Women have to look young and beautiful and fit, and even then may not be taken seriously.  The “local evening news anchor team” formula has even become a not-so-funny joke — the older, gray-haired, distinguished looking man at the desk next to the 20-something, fresh-faced, bright-eyed woman.  Both intelligent and articulate, but somehow a bit “trophy.”  I bet you have at least one of these teams in your city, too.

So, it did not surprise me when I heard that the RNC paid for a campaign wardrobe for Gov. Palin and family in order to polish them up and make them a bit less Cabela’s.  Our most celebrated First Ladies and First Ladies To Be have had some pretty swanky designers behind them – Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, and Cindy McCain (though I have no idea where Mrs. McCain shops, but she always looks fantastic).  So, looking good while on the campaign trail (and in the workplace) is a social expectation, not an option.

The difference is that Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Reagan, and Mrs. McCain had/have the means to pay for the expensive labels themselves.  When they can’t (or if they choose not to) they went/go out looking like Mrs.s Bush (either one) or Michelle Obama.  If shows like What Not To Wear tell us anything, it is that we women can look good and pulled together without spending a fortune on designer duds, as evidenced by Mrs.  Obama’s $150 dress that created a mini-sensation.

Additionally, Mrs.s Kennedy, Reagan, and McCain weren’t/aren’t peddling their Everywo/man credentials on the stump, either.  Quite the opposite, in fact – Jackie and Nancy quite brazenly put themselves forth as American Royalty – East Coast and Hollywood, respectively.  Therefore, their clothes and image matched their message.

So who was the Super Genius who handed campaign donations over to Niemans and Saks to try to perfect the Palins’ images when he should have hired someone who understood matching the image with their “I’m one of you” message?  Does this idiot know nothing about Branding?  I predict that Marketing and Public Relations majors all over the country will be doing their Master Theses on this one.  What a total screw-up.

Among the many things that bothered me about John McCain’s performance in last night’s debate was this exchange:

I voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that elections have consequences when presidents are nominated. This is a very important issue we’re talking about.

Senator Obama voted against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts on the grounds that they didn’t meet his ideological standards. That’s not the way we should judge these nominees. Elections have consequences. They should be judged on their qualifications. And so that’s what I will do.

I believe McCain was referring to Obama voting against Justice Alito (or was it Harriet Miers), because Obama was not an elected official in 1994 when Justice Breyer was nominated and could not have possibly voted against his appointment to the bench.

McCain has a history of misspeaking when he should be more thoughtful and deliberate (like when he mistakenly referred to Spain as a Latin American country).

He may know what he’s talking about and can’t express it accurately under pressure (a trait many share), but the job of President of the United States is a job rife with pressure.  If he can’t get the simplest facts straight when speaking to an American audience, how can I trust that he will get them right when negotiating with foreign countries or solving big problems?  His habit of speaking erroneously is not a trivial matter.

John McCain said something during last night’s debate that made my ears perk and my blood boil:

MCCAIN: Just again, the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. He’s health for the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything.

That’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, ‘health.’

Wait a minute.  Did I hear this right?  Concern about the health and safety of a woman is “extremist”?  Since when is that “pro-life”?  Since Senator McCain and the rest of his followers who claim to be pro-life really don’t know the meaning of either “pro” or “life”, let me set them straight.  Real Pro-Lifers are:

  • for protecting the lives of a women, not just the unborn, because women are alive now.
  • against the death penalty, because prisoners are alive now, too.
  • environmentalists, because clean air and clean water are the foundations of a healthy and safe life.
  • anti-war, because war kills life.
  • pro-gun control, because guns threaten life.
  • for mandated health care programs, because the poor and the not-so-rich deserve healthy and disease-free life.
  • for good and well-funded education, because living a good life requires the tools and the knowledge to sustain that life.
  • for good and well-funded social services, because abuse, rape, and violence threaten life and the path to a safe life .  (Aside:  If we had more “pro-lifers” in congress, we wouldn’t need services like CASA.)

So, why don’t we all just drop the “Pro-Life” moniker and call it what it is – Pro-Birth.  Because, these Pro-Birthers really could give a damn about what happens post-birth.

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