Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page
I met Barack Obama today. It was quite an intense experience, and if you’ll be patient with this post, hopefully you will understand why.
Today was the 10th anniversary of our marriage, and rather than go out to a fancy restaurant for dinner, we decided to take our kids to witness history in the making. My family (Husband, Daughter-16, Daughter-14) and I attended the event in Salem, OR today, arriving at about 8:30A for the announced 11:30 doors open time. Obama was speaking in Portland that morning, after the Richardson endorsement. There were about 50 people lined up when we arrived with our hot drinks in 40-degree weather, ready to hunker down for the wait.
The wind blew cold, and it threatened to rain. We watched the TSA screeners arrive, along with bomb-sniffing dogs that were taken up and down the now long line into the Salem Armory. The GOTV people came by at least three times to ask if anyone needed to register. From the front of the line, a cheer rose as the gates were finally opened at 11:30A, as promised.
The TSA searched us thoroughly. I was even wanded. We were allowed to bring in our bottled water and sandwiches packed from home. Into the Armory we went, searching out the closest seats we could. We ended up several rows back, but within 50 feet of the stage. A contingent of union farm workers (PCUN) sat nearby in bright red t-shirts, chanting “Si Se Puede!” every so often. We ate our sandwiches, watched the crowd pour in and enjoyed the creativity of the t-shirts people made at home (“Barak Rocks!”, “Obama Kid”, “Obama Mama”, just to name a few).
Finally, Earl Blumenauer, our beloved bow-tie wearing US Representative came out to introduce Obama. Earl gave a very nice speech, the details of which I can’t recall due to what came next.
Obama took the stage to a cheering, hooting and hollering standing ovation. He spoke on every topic- the economy, Iraq, foreign diplomatic policy, education, health care, energy, jobs, veteran’s affairs, etc. He was clear, unwavering and gave specifics for achieving these goals. Obama then took questions from the audience for about 30 minutes. At one point, and 74 year-old man stood up to tell Barack that he was now blind- color blind, specifically due to the speech he gave this week. Another woman asked him to give her talking points for her Democratic friends still on the fence about Obama v. Clinton. He gladly obliged.
“Senator Clinton is smart, she is capable and she is tenacious. She would be a vast improvement over the status quo… but she’s gotten caught up in the conventional thinking in Washington. When I get that phone call at 3 in the morning, I will do what a good president should do, which is to get the facts, to talk with your advisers, to gather good intelligence and then to exercise good judgment. Senator Clinton, all too often I think, all too often over the last five years on foreign policy debates, has calibrated her responses based on politics instead of good judgment. That’s what happened on Iraq.”
“Now, here’s the condensed version of the difference on both domestic and foreign policy. It’s a question of leadership. I believe that it’s not enough just to change political parties. We have to change the culture, and part of changing the culture is recognizing that the special interests, the lobbyists, the insurance companies, the banks, the drug companies, HMO’s, they have come to dictate the agenda in Washington. The only way you break out of that so that ordinary people’s voices are heard is if you stop taking money from PACs and lobbyists like I have- she still does- and you recognize that they’re a problem- she doesn’t.”
“If you believe in transparency and accountability, which is why I passed the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate last year- this is not an issue she’s ever worked on because she doesn’t think it’s a priority- I passed laws to post on the internet a searchable database of every dollar of federal spending out there. Your tax money will continue to be wasted until you know when a “Bridge to Nowhere” is being built. She doesn’t believe in transparency and hasn’t even released her earmarks just like she hasn’t released her income tax returns. She doesn’t believe, I think, in bottom-up democracy, and if you don’t believe in that, then you’re not going to change Washington. You’ll tinker around the edges, but you’re not going to bring about the kind of changes the American people are desperate for. That’s why you should vote for Barack Obama.”
Obama then got a question on immigration reform from the farm worker union, and stuck to his guns, not pandering to a much-needed demographic:
From the Statesman-Journal:
“He pledged that if elected president, he would seek a comprehensive approach to resolving immigration issues by insisting on secure borders and cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers. “We have used this issue as a political football instead of solving the problem,” he said in response to a question by a farmworker. He said undocumented immigrants should learn English, pay penalties, and be part of a path to legal presence and citizenship.”
At the close of the questions, Obama made a few final remarks and closed the show to resounding applause and shouts of support. I made a beeline for the state barrier with my daughters, hoping for a handshake. I got a lot more.
As Obama worked his way down the line, he efficiently glad-handed, smiled and thanked supporters for coming. When he got to us, my youngest shook his hand and thanked him for running. He said, “You’re very welcome.” I was next- I reached out to shake his hand saying, “Senator Obama, please talk more about the economy and the mortgage crisis. My mother is losing her home to foreclosure.” Obama stopped in front of me, still holding my hand. “What is the situation, how did it happen?” he asked. “She is moving in with us,” I responded, “She got into a bad loan, high rates, and couldn’t keep going when the economy tanked.” He asked, “Have you been able to get any help locally?” “No.” I said. Obama then talked about a number of non-profit organizations that could assist with the situation, and wished us luck in getting things settled. And he thanked me for coming out today. All the while, he held my hand, looked me right in the eye, and really listened. It was really amazing. I was teary-eyed and a bit shell-shocked when it was over.
My oldest was next. She shook his hand, and asked, “Senator Obama, what do you plan to do about the situation in Darfur and the refugees in Chad?” His response was immediate and unwavering. “We need to get conflagration troops on the ground, and a no-fly zone over the camps in Chad.” Then he shook her hand again. I was so proud of my girls!
We were delighted, giddy and in awe of what just happened. We ran back to the others in our group and recounted the exchanges. We’d just talked with and shook the hand of our next president! Our group made plans to meet at a local restaurant for a late lunch, and after buying a few campaign buttons, off we went.
At the restaurant, we all talked about the rally, our personal encounter with Obama, and were overheard by a table of diners nearby. Two elderly men came up to us to talk about what we’d witnessed. One told us, “He made me see that his being black doesn’t matter. After his speech this week, I see that now. And that’s not a small thing- I’m a redneck, and proud of it. And a republican too, but he’s got my vote. He reminds me of John F. Kennedy.” He recalled McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five scandal, saying he could never forgive McCain for violating seniors like him during that time. “Anybody who tells you to vote for McCain, you remind them of the Keating Five. He can’t be trusted.” The other gentleman said he was also a republican, but was considering changing his registration to vote for Obama in the primary.
I’ve never witnessed the kind of excitement and energy about a candidate from so many people- to the point that strangers stop to join the discussion with you.
We are thrilled to have the experience we did today as a family with Barack. We will never forget it.
I went to the Doc on Thursday like a good girl- didn’t cancel the appointment. New nurse, asked me what I weigh rather than just taking me to the scale. Like she wanted me to admit to that giant number. I told her how much, and she made a big fuss about getting me on the scale anyway at the end of the visit “just to make sure”. I was right, of course, about the number.
The doctor was on time (!), respectful (!), and treated me like a human being. It was likely the most refreshing medical encounter I’d had in some time. He asked what happened, didn’t interrupt me, didn’t chastise me for eating chili the night prior to the attack, and then agreed going to the ER wouldn’t have helped anything during the attack. He actually said he was pretty convinced it was the gall bladder since he trusted MY judgment about what was happening with MY body. He said I was smart, and that I understood medicine, and he didn’t blame my weight or mention it at all. I’ve never had this happen with a doctor in all the time I’ve been heavy.
He’s having me go in for some kind of upper-GI scope procedure- sort of a knock-you-out-put-a-video-tube-down-your-throat thing- just to make sure there’s not ulcers or some other oddity going on in addition to the gall bladder. He’d actually wanted me to have this done more than a year ago, but I cancelled since I hate hospitals and stuff like this. Plus my prior attacks hadn’t been nearly that bad, so I figured I’d take my chances.
I won’t be canceling this time. Promise.
If all goes well, he’ll be scheduling me for gall bladder removal surgery sometime at the end of April or early May.
Oddly, this is also the week my Oldest found out she was accepted to a summer college program at Brown University in RI for a three-week study for potential doctors-to-be. She’s wanted to be a doctor since she was really little, and this is supposed to be a hands-on experience that will definitively tell us if med school is what she really wants. I figure it’s worth the money, especially if she winds up not wanting to pursue medicine. Better to find out now, than after four years of college geared toward pre-med when you really want to dedicate your life to theater or writing or some other arty thing.
On a meta-note: I’m considering starting a second blog exclusively dedicated to my political leanings, rants and activities. Having both the personal and the political here on the same blog seems incongruous to me, so if you have any comment on that, please let me know if you agree, disagree, or have any great ideas for political blog names.
The scene: Last Friday night, just finished a great stand-up show with my family celebrating my husband’s birthday.
The event: Went to get a bite to eat, couldn’t understand why I wasn’t feeling well- Hungry? Sick? Of course, that doesn’t stop me from ordering a cheeseburger. When it’s delivered to the table, I take one look and know this isn’t the cure. My newly licensed Oldest eats all the shrimp in her pasta and drives me home, forthwith. The pain gets worse with every corner, streetlight and bump in the road. It is a gall bladder attack, and it’s coming on strong. It’s like if the Alien came out of me, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.
The agony: Cut to 1am, and I am writhing in pain, unable to sleep, and scaring the crap out of my dearest. He wants me to go to the hospital, but I refuse. They won’t do anything. They’ll just pronounce me fat and send me home to join WW. No pain meds, no real review of my symptoms. I’m heavy, therefore I deserve whatever my body dishes out according to the medical people, or at least they way they treat heavy women.
The return: Finally, sweet relief- the worst of the attack passes. This one was a doozy- worst of the four I’ve had in the last two years. The next day, I’m supposed to go to Oldest’s play at the school, but a late lunch of grilled chicken and plain rice sends my innards into a frenzy again. It’s not as bad as the night before, but I have to send the family off to see her perform without me.
The aftermath: Days of eating no-fat, lo-fat foods. I’m eating grilled chicken (no oil) and plain rice with fresh broccoli for days now. I can finally sleep again, and my stomach doesn’t hurt like I’ve been throwing up for days. I’m craving Mexican food- enchiladas, nachos, beans- and anything with cheese on it. BBQ sounds great too. Chocolate. This is just not fair. Husband brings croissants home from the store. Eats ice cream every night. (well, the ice cream isn’t such a big deal, since I haven’t really been into it for a few months now- don’t know why, just doesn’t sound good all the time.)
Today, I get to eat a sandwich- a real one with meat and cheese. And it doesn’t kill me. I’m still being good- eating my chicken and rice for supper, no chocolate for dessert, no butter on bread, no soda or coffee. I know I’ll be able to go back to some of the things I love in a week or so, but slowly. I’m seeing the gastro-doc on Thursday, so we’ll see if I get sent for surgery. They keep saying it’s not “bad enough” yet. Has to be under 30% functionality to qualify for surgery. I say, horseshit. You go through what I did on Friday, and any man would demand the damn thing be taken out. NOW.
At the same time, I don’t want surgery, since I clearly don’t trust the docs or the hospital. I don’t trust them to not screw up and kill me somehow, just because they think fat people aren’t important enough to really pay attention to, medically speaking.
The change in diet will likely do me good- I have to admit that. But I will never give up Mexican food totally. That would be too much to bear.
In a recent CNN Blog entry, Gary Tuchman talks about trying to cover the campaign appearances of Chelsea Clinton while being barred access to her. Chelsea has been sent out on the college circuit- 60 so far- to drum up support for her mom. She talks to college students at these events, allowing them to ask all sorts of questions, and not even knowing if some of those in the audience asking those questions are student journalists.
The treatment of the actual press is very different. Tuchman states he was completely barred from asking Miss Chelsea any questions. She refused to give interviews, no exceptions. And no reason for this is given, except that’s just the way Miss Chelsea wants it.
If Chelsea thinks she can avoid media scrutiny by simply barring them from talking to her, she’s doing herself a great disservice. She, and her mom, should well know that in the gap created by lack of information, the press and the public will fill that gap with speculation, rumor and innuendo. In addition, she continues to make herself look as though she’s better than everyone else- the same problem her mom and dad have in spades.
The Clinton family seems to believe they can have their cake- demanding information and explanation from everyone in sight- and eat it too- refuse to provide information or explanation when asked. Instead, all we get is a lot of finger-pointing (Look! Ken Starr!) or complaining that they’re the victims in this scenario, and you’re the oppressor for even asking them a question.
What is Chelsea so afraid of? That the big, bad media people will expect her to perform as well as some say she does at these college events? Folks say she comes off as “articulate, informed, poised”. Why wouldn’t her folks and the campaign not want to have her talk to the media, put a young face on the campaign in a more forward way. Are they afraid they couldn’t control her? That she could disagree with her mom and dad publicly? We’ve already seen that happen, when Hillary said that young people had no work ethic.
Or are they really afraid she’d say something positive about Obama, and couldn’t be counted on to go for the jugular like mom and dad do. Talking off the record and off camera as she demands makes Miss Chelsea unaccountable for her statements. Much the same way as her parents have tried to remain unaccountable for their negative campaigning and history.
Chelsea Clinton serves as the poster child for the Clinton campaign’s unaccountability. Her refusal to engage should be taken as a sign of the control issues to come with a potential Clinton administration. If you think the press has struggled in covering BushCo for the last eight years, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
And I didn’t get one. What I got was Hillary winning 3 out of 4 states. Hillary celebrating in 6 morning news TV appearances today. Hillary’s camp gushing about getting the nomination come hell or high water.
What I wanted was a soaring victory speech from Obama. Decisive victories for Obama in TX and OH. Withdrawal from the race by Hillary. Well, I knew I’d never get that last one, but a girl’s gotta dream.
So, yes, I am depressed today. Angry that the media gave Hillary a pass all last week, allowing tons of free press and pseudo-endorsements from the SNL appearances, the 60 minutes interview, the Canadian NAFTA-gate and the Daily Show appearance- and I’m sure I’m missing others here. Frustrated that those who support Obama are continually maligned, ridiculed and discounted as cultish, incurious zealots. Of anyone who has been truly treated unfairly by the press in the last month, it’s Obama’s supporters. No one is calling out the Hillary supporters in the same way.
I know Obama still leads in the overall delegate count. I know he still leads in the overall popular vote count. Getting the nomination decided sooner than later would heal the party faster, making the Dems stronger for the real fight ahead this fall. The GOP wants nothing more than a fractured Dem party with no way to ease the pain.
Hillary constantly refers to her 35 years of experience. How she’s been to every country in the world, and that makes her the best choice. The truth? Her travels took place during her time as first lady. I can guarantee she did not witness the reality of life in those countries. She was wined and dined in rarefied settings, spit-polished and all the scary stuff swept under the rug. She was the audience for adorable children trotted out to perform for her in impeccable costumes, not the real kids suffering under poverty, no medical care and hunger.
Obama on the other hand has a real understanding of other cultures, because he’s actually lived them. His time living in Thailand exposed him to poverty and struggle of a developing nation every single day. That has a true impact on how one views the world. He lived in Hawaii, which as anyone who has spent time there knows, has a very different and unique culture, totally separate from that of the mainland. Living in these cultures makes a person look at things differently than someone raised in a sheltered wealthy Midwestern society home, living and working exclusively east of the Mississippi.
If she’s really all about kids, even in this country, why hasn’t Hillary done more to reduce child poverty and hunger here in the US? Those numbers have only increased during her so-called 35 years of experience. It’s not like she didn’t have plenty of opportunity to make the effort, even as first lady. She just decided to work on scheming for her future political career instead.
This race is going to grow more negative each day. If there is no nominee evident by the Convention, I pray the rumors I’m hearing aren’t true. I’m hearing about vote-stealing, backroom deals, plans of violent rioting from within the Convention and from outside it’s doors. I’m hearing that 1968 will look like child’s play, according to the people planning these events with military precision. How can the Dems possibly recover from such a spectacle and possible tragedy to actually win back the office of the Presidency?
I know things are looking dark today. I’m just hoping for the light. Soon.