Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Open Letter to My Republican Friends

Dear Friends,

I know how you feel today. It is near impossible not to get swept up – at least a little bit – in the heady patriotism that overtakes us all every four or eight years when we witness the peaceful exchange of leadership of our country. Even when it’s not your guy or gal who emerged the victor and stands before us all to take the oath of office, it takes a cold heart not to be captured by the pageantry and sense of history that is evoked on Inauguration Day.

I understand that mix of emotions. Eight years ago, I watched with bittersweet pride as George W. Bush took the oath of office. I did not vote for him. I did not like the policies he proposed during his campaign. I did not like what he stood for and I was apprehensive about the direction he would take the country. But when the clock struck noon on that January Day in 2001, I supported him. Despite the controversy, our democratic process had resulted in his election as President and I supported him. I put my faith and trust in him and the office he swore to protect and putting my apprehension aside, I claimed him as my president.

When the unthinkable occurred on Sept. 11, I looked to him for strength and leadership. And I supported him. When he vowed revenge on those who had devastated the lives of thousands of Americans, I nodded my head in agreement. And I supported him. When he ordered our service men and women to war in Afghanistan, I supported him. I protested going to war in Iraq but once he made the call as our Commander-in-Chief, I supported him. That is what Americans do.

I did my best to support President Bush for as long as I could. It wasn’t until I felt that the trust and faith I had put in him had been abused and cast aside, that I stopped supporting him. When my dissention became reason to be called un-American, I could no longer support him. I will always respect the office but how could I support the man who had clearly stated that if I wasn’t with him, I was against him. It is sad day when Americans are chastized for speaking their minds when it is that type of discourse that makes America unique.

But today is a new Inauguration Day. And like it is every four or eight years, this day marks a new beginning. A clean slate and a chance to lead America and its citizens to the greatness possible only in our amazing country. So, I ask my Republican friends to do their best and support our new President. Give him a chance. Let him give you a reason to lose your faith and trust before you take it from him.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Go Away Joe

So Joe the pseudo plumber is now going to be Joe the pseudo journalist? I’m going to be sick – and not in the pseudo sense.

Seems that anybody with a pen, paper, and a decent set of eyes is calling themselves a journalist. Adding your voice to the public dialogue is a civic duty to be sure, but that doesn’t translate into every voice claiming the professional title. Don’t misunderstand – anyone and everyone should and must participate in a public dialogue about the issues we face. Everyone must be a part of the conversation if we are to find real, sustainable solutions. Democracy is about all voices being heard.

But Joe? This character embodies everything that is divisive and hollow about politics and the media today. What could have been an insightful dialogue between a candidate and a voter was distorted and aggrandized into a sound bite feeding frenzy that has forever embeded “Joe the Plumber” into our vernacular. What value has that contributed to the public dialogue? It’s just another distraction that sucks up so much air in the room that the real issues – a broken health care system, failing schools, a shattered economy – lie suffocating and straining to be heard.

I wish Joe’s 15 minutes were up already. I’m tired of the distraction when we’ve got work to do.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


In the final scene of the film “Doubt” Sister Aloysius Beauvier, played by Meryl Streep, shatters all perceptions of her as stoic and hard-fast in her belief in the Church and the absolute code of right and wrong that she follows. She collapses into the arms of Sister James, played by the amazing Amy Adams, and through her tears cries out, ‘I have doubts.”

It’s been two days since I saw this movie and that scene is stuck in my head. There are many powerful scenes in this film – especially moving is the scene between Sister Aloysius and Mrs. Miller in which much of the backdrop to this story becomes clear. But the final scene with the two sisters has gripped me and won’t go away. How can someone so absolute in herself, her role in life, and her dedication to God have doubts? I am bewildered as I have always envied believers for possessing a certainty about all things that escapes me and my secular life. From what follows death to what to eat, people of religious faith have seemed to me to have absolute answers. A strict code to live by – black and white with little, if any, gray to muddle things up.

I think this scene sticks with me because Sister Aloysius' doubts have given me permission to give myself a break. Without faith to guide me, I am left to my own devices and who knows if my compass is indeed accurate. Am I good enough? Nice enough? Smart Enough? Tough enough? Attractive enough? I’m sure these self-doubts are common but I often think there’s no way that others doubt themselves the same harsh way that I do. Coming home from a dinner, party or meeting, I will run the entire events’ conversation through my head. Did I say something silly or inappropriate? Did I offend in some way? Was I clever or more of a bore? What do those who just shared my time think of me, what I did, what I said? And at the end of this litany I always arrive at the same two questions: What can I do about it now and does it really matter as much as I think it does?

The answers are invariably very little and no. So, I think logically, I should stop doubting myself and move on. While I’m worrying about what just happened, others are likely moving on to what will happen next. Now, thanks to Sister Aloysius (and the amazing writer John Patrick Shanley), perhaps I can actually do that. It took a movie to show me that everyone has doubts, even those who seem certain. Maybe now I will spend less time doubting and more time just doing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First Post -- Welcome!

Now my husband can stop bitching. Or maybe I can stop bitching. Not sure which of us this will be more helpful/cathartic for. If the poor guy can't get out the door before I've read the paper and seen the morning news, he is doomed to at least a dozen rhetorical questions related to the ridiculousness/stupidity/insanity of whatever I've heard or read.

He's been pushing me for a LONG time to channel all of that into a blog. A fan of many blogs, My Baby says that there are those out there who will find and read it. And even think it is interesting. I suppose I buy into the first two -- the third, well, we'll see.

So, I will regularly post and I hope someone reads it -- besides My Baby, that is! Even more, it is my sincere hope that what lives here will be entertaining to read and give something for brains to chew on. Feedback is crucial so please gimme whatcha got.

So here it is Baby. Thanks for the shove.