Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin

Well, I'll tell you one thing, American politics ain't boring.

Sen. John McCain has chosen the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin as his running-mate. How 'bout that.

For a man who seemed to always surround himself with people he knows well, Sen. McCain picked as his number two person and person that he would trust to run our country, to a woman he'd met only once.
Well, he was impressed by her enough to have her vetted for the VP job. Vetted. I get to use the new word, vetted. The MSM loves to say, vetted.
Anyway, now we get to meet the amazingly accomplished Gov. Sarah Palin.

She's just an amazing woman. She is a wife and the mother of five, including a baby with Down Syndrome and a son in the armed forces soon going to Iraq. She's a hunter and a fisherman, a state basketball champion (nicknamed "Sarah the Baracuda" for her fierce competitiveness), and a beauty pageant winner (voted Miss Congeniality, no less).
Politically she's the only candidate with executive experience having been the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska and now the Governor. She was also the Director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission.
Palin is known as a reformer, principled, passionate, with an energetic can do attitude, tough but fair, smart, and speaks from her heart. Sen. Biden better be aware that Gov. Palin is also said to be good at debates, and will not go for half truths. She would not have stood for that Charlie Gibson, George Stephenopolis crap.

McCain hit a homer with this choice. Sarah Palin is a conservative with a capital C. She's an attractive woman with strong faith based morals. She wants intelligent design taught in schools, (along with evolution, to be fair), does not believe in saving natural resources and wants ANWR drilling, she allows and encourages aerial shooting of animals, and has a big 'o stuffed real bear in her office. (Calm down Al Gore.) Sarah is known as anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-environment, and anti-labor.

Most of all, she is a woman. Sen. McCain, of course wants to attract the conservatives, especially women. He figures that the unhappy Hillary supporters will find Palin appealing enough to jump party and still make some fem history. Thus his references to Hillary being "passed over" for the Dem ticket. And Palin thanking Hillary for her contribution and saying if they don't want women over there, come over here.

It's all pretty transparent. Transparent yes, and gimmicky tokenism. Maybe, desparet should be added too.
Whether it's a smart move will remain to be seen.

Sarah Palin ain't Hillary Clinton and couldn't be on the best day of her life. Not to disparage the governor but she is not about progress in this country or this world. I can just hear the clock going backwards. Tock tick tock tick.
Palin's idea of progress stands in opposition of everything Hillary. How insulting and patronizing is McCain to think women who supported Hillary Clinton, can't see through this. How insulting to America that he would put winning over the welfare of this nation.

Sen. McCain may think Sarah Palin will be an asset to winning the election and then go to funerals and cut ribbons as VP after the election. Ha! My woman's intuition tells me sister Palin ain't gonna sit still for being no puppet VP. She has said she is used to being productive. And she is principled, remember. That won't go away after the election. She is known for being a whistle blower. She has kicked the legs from under members of special interests and of her own party, including a former republican governor. She's not into political stunts. She's into the greater good as she sees it.

Will McCain really be comfy working with her?
Maybe she will bend to the ways and means of McCain who has done a lot of bending himself since becoming a candidate. We'll see how the governor handles all this. She is no saint and is being investigated for abuses of her office now. But I think, McCain may have bitten off more than just a token female with this woman.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sam Cook Knew

Last night Barack Obama not only made history but laid down the clear choice.

Joseph A. Palermo over at Huffington Post, wrote:
"Tonight, Barack Obama encapsulated, embodied, and articulated the mood of millions of Americans who clearly see that the last eight years have been a betrayal of America. And the hope he offers promises to restore what this country is supposed to stand for. He seeks to end the divide-and-conquer politics of the Republican Right and begin to heal our nation.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have given us only fear and misery while they have tried to bully and intimidate the world. Never in our history have we experienced such a lethal combination of arrogance and incompetence in a single administration.

Barack Obama is pointing the way forward out of the darkness and fear and anger and division and toward the better angels of our nature. We are so fortunate to have this extremely talented young man emerge in our politics at a time when the nation needs him most."

Sen. Obama spoke of encouraging service to our country. In the "Ask not what your country can do for you.." vein of the Kennedy's who initiated civilian service programs such as the Peace Corp, Obama will put in place incentives like college money for community service. He, like the Kennedy's, know that service builds character and strong communities.

The only thing republicans ever asked of us is to go shop. After 911, shop, after Katrina, here's a card go shop, here's a stimulus check, go shop.

And now two months of big work ahead. Right down to election day. There will certainly be dirty tactics and hanging chad like shenanigans to be wary of.

I'm gonna work real hard but it's still such a dream, not only for the history made, but that we could be on the way to a totally different direction in November.
But no matter what happens, so much has changed already. Democrats should be proud.

Del Martin, a Pioneer

Phyllis Lyons was with her wife, Del Martin when she died yesterday. Del (on the right in the picture) was 87. Phyllis and Del had been lifelong partners for 55 years and were married (legally) for a little over two months. Both women were pioneering lesbian rights activists and symbols for the movement to legalize gay marriage.

"'Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn't be by my side,' Lyon, 83, said in a statement Wednesday.

"'I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married,' she added. 'I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.'

"Martin and Lyon exchanged vows at San Francisco City Hall on June 16, the first day same-sex couples could legally wed in California, after being together for more than half a century."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

History and More

It's done. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for president. The emotional impact snuck up on me like a stealth bomb. Maybe because of all the drama with Hillary and Ted Kennedy. Probably because I never thought it would really happen. I came home during the delegate roll call vote and it hit me what was happening. History and more than history. I started to cry and couldn't stop. Cried as each state bragged about their majestic geography, sports teams, politicians, and favorite sons and daughters. Then, New Mexico yeilded to Illinois, Mayor Daley yeilded to New York and Hillary herself asked for suspension of the rules to declare Obama the nominee by acclamtion.

I swear, it was like my life passing before my eyes. I thought of spending my childhood summers in Alabama. The blatant racism that kept us from stopping in restaurants or motels on the road. The segregation in my grandparents little Alabama town. Having my father explain why we could not go on carnival rides at the same time as white children, even though there were empty seats. I thought about being a teen in a car in Chicago with my visiting cousins from Alabama and being pelted with rocks and called names when our car broke down in a white neighborhood. I remember a student walkout in high school, to attend a rally where Dr. King spoke at Soldier Field. I thought of my mom telling me about her 90 year old aunt's stories of slavery and showing her the raised whelts on her back. I thought of my mom and how she would absolutely never miss voting, even when she was very sick. I missed my mother and know she would be so proud of Barack and Hillary. I know she would insist we all come over to watch Baracks acceptance speech with her tomorrow night.

Tonight made history and so much more than that. I could never express how much more. But, it does mean millions of Americans are capable of looking beyond skin color. At last.

Delegates overjoyed.

And overwhelmed. I know. I know.

"Time to take back America"

Talking to my nephew this morning, I asked if he saw Hillary Clinton's speech last night? He said "That was hot, she was great." He went on, the hottest thing she said was "My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for president."
That is certainly hot!

"This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win."

Hillary, looking really good and rested, her hair was beautiful, left no stone unturned. She left out no issue that needed addressing. She left no doubt about who should be the next president.

"No way. No how. No McCain"

She said she has worked too hard for 35 years to have it all undone by four more years of those people.

Did she convince her die-hard supporters to back Barack? The young Black woman causing such a stir on YouTube for her after the speech comments, was quite inconsolable. She says she won't vote for McCain, but is considering not voting. I feel for her. Of, course every vote is important, we don't have a single vote to waste.

"Tonight we need to remember what a presidential election is really about. When the polls have closed, and the ads are finally off the air, it comes down to you – the American people, your lives, and your children's futures."

Hillary Clinton has changed this country's history and us, and the impact of this journey has certainly changed her.

"To my supporters, my champions – my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits – from the bottom of my heart, Thank you."

Does Biden Undercut "Change"?

I have heard several people suggest that Obama's choice for Vice Prez dilutes or eradicates his goals for change. One friend really wanted Bill Richardson. Excellent choice and he could bring the hispanic vote. I like Richardson, but I am not naive enough to think America is ready for two ethnic candidates. Hillary? The dream ticket? Didn't happen.
I like Biden, always have. I feel secure knowing (and Obama mentioned this) Biden will be there if for any reason Obama cannot finish his term.

Over at Huffington Post, Phil Trounstine wrote about this.
First of all, consider the absurdity of the suggestion that a brilliant, young, black president wouldn't represent an historic, transforming leap forward in American politics. On its face, this is nothing more than Rovian hyperspin.

Barack Obama personifies change -- no matter who his running-mate is.

But there's a further point (and thanks to Newsweek's Howard Fineman for picking up on it): That what Biden represents is a guy - perhaps uniquely qualified - to implement the change that Obama represents.

With his knowledge of the ways of Washington, his vast experience in the Senate, his insider savvy, Biden brings to the Democratic ticket a glimmer of hope that all the things Obama wants to accomplish - from foreign affairs and health care to economic and tax policy - might actually get done in the next administration.

McCain's people desperately did not want Obama to pick Biden for precisely this reason, along with the fact that Biden actually knows McCain, he's an Irish Catholic from Scranton, he's a family man who can rub elbows in union halls and he's a terrific debater and attack surrogate.

Without someone like Biden on the ticket - with a governor perhaps or a less effective senator - Obama risked looking like a dreamer, not a doer. But with Biden at his side, the Democratic ticket suddenly can offer itself as a pragmatic, can-do engine for change.

Biden doesn't detract from the message of change: he drives it home.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle, Teddy and Joe

Joe Biden has been Senator from Delaware since 1972. He is the chairman of the foreign relations committee which may calm fears of those who are scared Obama won't know how to deal. Biden is liberal, and I've always said he's as close to being a Kennedy without being a Kennedy. He is also very popular in Pennsylvania and Florida. His background is middle class (the guy still takes a train, not a limo, to work). So he was a strategic choice for VP that should resonate with Irish Catholics, key swing states and with working people. He has a nice smile. Well, he does.

Senator Edward Kennedy, who certainly was not expected in Denver while undergoing cancer treatment, not only showed up but spoke to the crowd. Ted is gutsy and determined, strong and hopeful about himself and his party and his country. Tonight his party paid tribute and said thank you. Then, Teddy passed the torch to Obama. I understood why. Kennedy like John McCain is a wealthy man. But, the Kennedy's know about community service and neighborhood cleanups, setting up storefront make-shift offices for community organizing. And like Barack Obama, Kennedy's know about setting up job training to get people back to work and afterschool programs to keep kids safe – working block by block to help people lift up their families. They have hands on experience from a young age getting down to the grassroots and working. It was expected of them.
With all his military background, John McCain wouldn't know how to navigate those waters if his life depended on it. For the current plights of average Americans, he has no economic clue. It's not about having been there, it's about being able to make those connections. To solve diplomatic problems his answers are always militaristic. That's who he is and that's how he thinks. That's scary.

Ted Kennedy also said, "Obama will close the gap between straight and gay." McCain won't even discuss Gay, forgetabout L,B and T. Did anyone see him on Ellen? He scares me. Barack Obama is scary to many Americans too. But, with all our problems, I'm so proud to be an American right now.

Michelle Obama said tonight in her keynote speech, that she hopes we'll be able to say about this election that,
"This time we listened to our hopes, not our fears."

That says it all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ellen and Portia

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, who have been together four years, were married at the couples California home on Saturday! Legally married.

Ellen, in her signature style, wore an all-white Zac Posen puffy shirt and vest pant ensemble and Portia wore a stunning Posen bare-backed halterneck gown, featuring a form-fitting cream bodice with plunging neckline and a floor-length full skirt in blush pink. WOW! Beautiful.

Ellen's "mama" Betty and Portia's mother Margaret Rogers who flew in from Australia, were among the 19 guests who witnessed their daughters' exchange of rings and handwritten vows at the intimate ceremony. Priceless.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beijing Drama

Early Monday or late Sunday (the time difference makes me nuts) Michael Phelps won his second and most difficult race, the Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay. The relay team - first time Olympians Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and veteran anchor Jason Lezak and Phelps, won gold although France and Australia were favored to beat them. It was the most exciting, most record-breaking, most amazing, thrilling, unbelievable relay anyone could ever imagine.
The French, had been smack-talking before the race. "The Americans? We're going to smash them. That's what we came here for" French relay anchor Alain Bernard said. Well, American anchor Jason Lezak had other ideas. Coming from behind, in a dramatic and I do mean last second drama, Lezak powered pass Mr. Big Talk to touch the wall, set a world record and win gold. I thought Phelps, Weber-Gale and Jones were going to hurt themselves screaming for their teammate near the closer than close finish. Whew!
France took second, Australia third.

Cullen Jones is heavily involved with an organization called "Make a Splash," a national child-focused water safety initiative created by the USA Swimming Foundation ( Jones is mostly concerned not that minority children learn to swim fast, but that they learn to swim, period.

Underdogs, the USA Men's Gymnastic team won Bronze by competing their hearts out with tough competition China (gold) and Japan who took silver and edging out Germany for third place. They were exuberant to win Bronze. I like that. Gold is gold but Silver and Bronze ain't tin either.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bernie Mac 1957-2008

I just heard about the passing of Chicago comedian Bernie Mac. He was admitted to Northwestern hospital in Chicago last week and died early this morning due to complications arising from pneumonia, his publicist said.
I am very sad.

C'mon America, we will miss Bernie so much.

Beijing 8-8-08

China's opening ceremony was awesome. Can we say dazzling... OMG! I think all of China's 1.3 billion people were in it. 2,008 drummers, 2,008 dancers, 2,008 marshal artists etc etc. Fireworks, well China invented fireworks. I could smell the gunpowder in Chicago. I'm just saying.
We had our two nephews, ages 9 and 4 and it actually held their attention, most of the time. Nine year old Marcellus likes wrestling, WWE. I ummm insist that he watch some "real" wrestling during the games. He got excited whenever a wrestler was carrying his or her country's flag.
The ceremony was steeped in China's history and universal themes like the environment and welcoming the world. The special effects, sheer numbers and magnitude of it was overwhelming, in a good way.

The Olympic Stadium in Beijing is called the Birds Nest. Just look at this thing.

Performers run around a large globe during the opening ceremonies.

A dancer performs on stage with a green sash.

Drums, 2,008 strong. The drums like everything were amazingly in sinc.

Performers wearing illuminated bright green suits wave to the crowd.

There was lots of flying, including the lighting of the torch?

The Athletes-
I noticed now that all nations have adopted the USA way of entering the Olympic Stadium. Just relaxed and chillin', taking pics and videos of each other. That's good, have fun, this is your moment, all hopes are high.

Greece first always.

Lopez Lemong can't stop grinning

USA, say it now.. U - S - A , in their Ralph Loren caps.

NBA Rockets superstar Yao Ming carries the flag for the host nation. With Yao marched 9 year old Lin Hao. During the horrific earthquake that demolished his school in Yingxiu, earlier this year, Lin and two other children were trapped in the rubble. This child sang songs to keep their spirits up while he waited for rescue. He did dig himself out and this kid went back to pull out his two classmates. Twenty children died at Lin's school. When asked why he took such a chance, he said he was hall monitor so it was his job.

Now the games
With the more than 12 hour time difference, better watch out for spoiler warnings if you don't want to know results before you see the game.

Will pitcher Jennie Finch and the US women take their forth and final softball gold? Softball will not be in the next two Olympic games.

Will Kerry Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, the defending Olympic beach volleyball champions do it again?

Starting today, swimmer Michael Phelps, takes another crack at beating Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals. Phelps came close in 2004 - six golds and two bronzes -and he's entered the same eight events in Beijing.

Dara Torres 41, challenging all those kids and whooping their butts. Bank on her to do it for great and in pull it off for the USA in the relays.

The United States men's basketball team, featuring NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, is favored to win its first gold medal in a major event since the 2000 Olympics. They won a bronze medal in 2004. Of course many NBA players, play for their home countries during the Olympics. So watch out USA.

The U S women B-Ball team are the defending champs. Fourth straight gold?

Gymnastics. Always drama and personalities and unbelievable...just watch it all.

I also check out archery, no Geena Davis this time, awwwwww. And watching Equestrian(the most dangerous sport), diving, fencing, soccer, weight lifting, volley ball, track, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming and table tennis. Table tennis sounds tame but it is FIERCE. I saw it live at the 1996 Atlanta games and they go at it with speeds and power you can't believe possible.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Americans in Beijing 2008

Tomorrow night the summer games begin. I cannot imagine the pomp, passion and creative adventure China has in store for us at the Opening Ceremony.
Americans in China
What does it means to be American? Well, it ain't about coming over on the Mayflower, or wearing a lapel pin, or owning a gun, or belonging to a certain religion or liking country music, or being a republican or democrat or being white or black or red or yellow.
Ideally it's about loving and respecting freedom.
Lopez Lomong, who has been a U.S. citizen for only 13 months, has been chosen by his American team mates to carry the stars and stripes into the Olympic stadium.
Lopez Lomong who was born in Kimotong, Sudan, has overcome an overwhelming array of obstacles in becoming a top American middle distance runner.

At age 6, he was abducted from a Sudanese church by a militia faction that wanted to turn young boys into child soldiers and girls into sex slaves. This militia professed to be Christians. He eventually escaped the militia camp through a hole in a fence with three older boys who carried him on their backs as they walked for three days until they reached Kenya, where police arrested them and sent them to a refugee camp. He spent 10 years in the camp, living on one meal a day.

Through a refugee relocation program, Lomong resettled with a foster family in New York and became one of the 3,800 resettled youngsters known as the “Lost Boys of Sudan”. Lomong excelled in high school track, then attended Northern Arizona University where he began to pursue his Olympic dreams.

Lomong became a U.S. citizen in July, 2007. His dream was to represent the USA in international competition, his way to thank those who have helped him. Away from the track, Lomong is studying hotel management because he hopes to return to Africa to help revitalize the continent's tourism. He also wants to assist families confronted with multiple challenges in his home country.

Lomong who believed his Sudanese parents long dead, recently traveled to his homeland and was reunited with his mother and brothers.

Lopez's journey from imprisoned child soldier to Sudanese refugee to member of the U.S. Olympic team has obviously inspired his fellow U.S. Olympic teammates, and brought attention to the suffering in Sudan.

Why choose Lomong to carry our flag? I'd guess it's because he represents what it means to be free, and what it means to respect that concept. It's about courage and endurance and the Olympic spirit, all embodied by Lomong. I am proud of our team for this decision.

"The American flag means everything in my life -- everything that describes me, coming from another country and going through all of the stages that I have to become a U.S. citizen," Lomong said. "This is another amazing step for me in celebrating being an American. Seeing my fellow Americans coming behind me (in the Opening Ceremony) and supporting me will be a great honor – the highest honor. It’s just a happy day. I don’t even have the words to describe how happy I am." -Lopez Lomong

Dara Torres in Olympics number Five.

In 1984 Dara Torres was just 16 years old when she competed in the Los Angeles Olympic Games and won a gold medal in the 4x100 freestyle relay. In 1988, she competed in the Seoul Olympics where she earned a silver and a bronze medal. Torres initially retired in 1989, but then dove back into the pool to compete in the Barcelona Games of 1992 and won another gold for the 4x100 free relay. Then for the second time, at the age of 25, she decided to retire from competitive swimming.

Seven years later in 1999, now age 32, Dara not only got back into training, she entered in the Sydney Games in 2000 and won not one gold medal, but two as well as three bronze medals.

When Dara became pregnant in 2005, she continued swimming to keep herself in shape. Her daughter was born in April of 2006 and Dara began training once again for the 2008 Olympics. During the trials, she not only secured her position on the 2008 U.S. Olympic swim team at the age of 41, but broke American records in the 100 m freestyle and 50 m freestyle.

Dara is the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympic games. Nine medals and 24 years of swimming and she's ready to do it again.
I'll be rooting for her in the 50 meter freestyle, 4 x 100 medley relay, and 4 x 100 freestyle relay. Go Dara!




Between Olympic years, Torres spends time as a catwalk model, journalist, and takes part in extreme sports. Now she has added high-speed driving to that list.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Chicago Sirens Howl

Chicago River North

Oh what a night in Chicago.
Last night the emergency sirens went off in Chicago. The siren only goes off for extreme crisis. Most people have never ever heard it before except for at testing time on Tuesdays at 10:30am. But this was different and it was multiple sirens going off at once. We were watching the news and watching the reddish-yellow sky with the most frequent lighting flashes I have EVER seen. There was a tornado coming. Monica kind of freaked out, got her stuff and commanded we retreat to the basement. NOW!
Ok, Ok. But of course I had to get the flashlights and find the radio and candles and .....
Of course, I had all the emergency stuff together and ready and of course I couldn't remember where the hell I'd put them. Moni got the cell phones and our watches and purses and some puzzle books and pencils. I found the flashlights but no radio. Gotta Go, she is standing at the door. She was right because our apartment is all windows everywhere and the rain and wind and lightning and contant thunder that sounded like growling was getting louder. And the sirens were constant now too.
So we headed for the basement. Other neighbors were camped in the hallways and in the lobby (not smart considering all the glass). But, we went to the laundry room which is really very comfy. Monica was glad to see that she was not alone in being afraid, there were others there. One neighbor had a cat who she said had been upset all evening. Animals know stuff before the TV meteorologist do.
The storm passed through our area quickly so we were only down there long enough to make some calls to family and get to know some very nice neighbors.

It turned out that a string of severe thunderstorms and hurricane force winds, some between 60 and 94 mph, swept through Illinois and Northwest Indiana causing much damage, flooding, fires, and leaving more than 200,000 people in the dark. Viaducts, basements and yards all over the city were flooded. Today, some areas are getting more rain but the forecast calls for temps in the high 80's and no rain for the next few days. Although, both our mother's homes had water in the basement, we were lucky, we suffered no personal damage or injury.
I hope the next time we hear those sirens will be because the Cubs have won the World Series. Oh well, never mind.

Scoreboard at Wrigley Field

Cubs 70's Night Elvis decides to slide on Wrigley field tarp.

Elvis Impersonator at Cubs game is almost blown away.

Logan Square in Chicago

Funnel cloud spotted near Diversy Harbor