Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Living Well Really is the Best Revenge

2008 will go down as the year everything changed. It’s tempting to call Obama the new savior and while there is certainly some truth in being saved from Bush’s reprehensible policies, he’s left us with such a huge pile of garbage that it feels unfair to load Obama with more expectations. But it does make the holiday season more upbeat even though there’s a deepening economic crisis. This meltdown has many tentacles and those who are to blame want to get out intact and find a fall guy. You don’t work Wall Street if you don’t have nerves of steel and even in their panic they understand their mantra: “Save Thyself.” It will be years before the damage is sorted out and the economy begins a new period of growth as it always does.

Rachel Maddow – she of the left leaning in-your-face quasi nightly news show on MSNBC - and I share many common ideas but the top of the list if the word “Infrastructure”. She calls it sexy; I call it the most important thing we can do to gain our self respect. When you allow schools and roads and bridges and dams to fall into disrepair, people will die, children will not reach their potential and lawsuits will eat away more money than the repairs. Yet year after year these projects are put on hold by politicians rushing to please their donors, usually developers that want a tax cut to create more need for infrastructure without having to pay for it. New stuff you can sell wins every time and taxpayers get stuck with the costly improvements. That’s politics as usual and having worked in the legislature I’ve seen it first hand.

But now the grownups are in charge. It won’t be a quick or easy fix and without those who knocked on doors and made calls being vigilant elected officials who line their own pockets and those of their friends will prevail. It will take a while to clean them out and level the playing field. Seniority in Congress translates into way too much power and it’s often a gradual slide into what’s good for them is good for everyone.

But as 2009 begins I want to change focus. I titled my blog Living Well is the Best Revenge as a kind of attitude against being negative. I think it was probably first said by a woman dumped by her husband for a much younger model. Take his money, start a business and should loud and clear that it was the best thing that ever happened. At first it’s a total fake job, putting on a happy face with makeup. Soon enough, with practice, it’s real. It applies to anything, especially now when jobs are disappearing faster than cookies at Christmas. You can’t spend money but you can put up some attitude, you can look forward not backward, you can make the best of what you have.

I will venture a guess that most people fail because they complain. I don’t mean legitimate gripes to fix a problem, I mean they complain about their bad luck and keep track of who got more and soon it consumes them and that’s all they think about and how to get even or get their share, which usually means more than their share to catch up. But how about twisting that ball and seeing everything from a different angle? How about seeing not what’s wrong but what’s right? This isn’t new material; it’s been said in every way possible. Put a spin on it, stand up tall, face it as a mountain to climb. You’d get all the right equipment, you’d study the weather, bring some food; in other words you’d prepare yourself. Same thing in any crisis, preparation is the key. The key to survival is facing it head on and choosing your options.

So I want to refocus myself. It’s time to bring about a new prosperity and a new attitude and a new value system to our communities. It’s time to care about the whole picture, not just grab what you can while you can. It’s time to expand hopes and dreams and if you can’t pay for them right now you can study up on them – libraries are still free – and you can still volunteer and help an elderly neighbor, you can still be counted on.

Every day do one nice thing for someone – including yourself – which you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Some thing small like park between the lines or something more substantial like form a support group; there’s literally a million choices to make the world – and your life - a better place. And if you suddenly find yourself out of a job, between the paperwork – could they possibly have more forms to fill out? – and the networking, clean out a closet, study a new subject or learn a language, take the kids to the free events, every city has them even in down times, or to the park and make up games to play. Rearrange furniture for a new look, plant some flowers, refocus how you think. I won’t mention exercise because anyone who doesn’t know that’s important isn’t reading this.

At first it feels like walking underwater. You want to crawl into bed and suffer through your misfortune. You want to blame everyone who you believe caused it. But if you do that, you won’t crawl out of your hole and you may just dig yourself into a larger one.

Living well is not only the best revenge; eventually you’re going to make it happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ObamaRama

I've been remiss at writing on my blog and the reason is pathetic - I'm happy. Obama has won. I have nothing more to say. I have no opnions. My world is being serviced properly by responsible people who believe like I do. I wander through my life with a vague smile on my face, the kind that used to signal organic substance but now says, after decades of political activism, everybody got it right. What more is there to say?

Well, sure, plenty but have you checked the blogs? Someone - many someones - have already said it. After years of feeling like I'm skipping to my own drummer when all others are crisply marching I am completely in tune with everyone!

Does that mean I'm no longer special, above the fray? Nah, just way ahead of my time or maybe too lazy to get out and find like minded friends. Turns out they were there all along. I sort of chose who was handy, sprinkled with a few politicos like myself but overall my intellectual curiosity was not meshing or being satisfied.

Now, oh now I'm am so on it. My only regret is that I'm not Tina Fey but like everyone else I practically exploded with ecstasy - the emotion not the substance - the first time I saw her on SNL as Sarah Palin. I knew then the election was over. Just as I always felt that George HW Bush lost because Dana Carvey did him better; so much better that watching the real deal felt phony.

I'll have to let go of my passive joy and look around for new passions. The world is not perfect, there are things to do and places to go. It's just that the loathing of the Bush presidency sucked up all the other oxygen; it was eight years of searching for the exit sign. Now it's here, it's well lit and it's a stampede going through.

To those who didn't vote for Obama - I'm guessing you're already telling people you knocked on doors for him, practically a top adviser, that you knew all along he was gonna pull it out.

This guy's a keeper.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Obama Comes Home

OBAMA 'OHANA

This week Senator Barack Obama is vacationing in Hawaii. He was born here, graduated from high school here and his family still lives here. He hasn't had time to return since Christmas 2006, when he talked with family and friends about running for president.

Since then it's been - to say the least - a whirlwind experience. He's by many accounts likely going to be the next president of the United States. Nothing is for sure in politics but for now, we in the islands are basking in the glow of our native son.

Here's my experience of his arrival. Check it out.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-harter/obama-ohana-democratic-no_b_118008.html

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is it passion or is it anger?

I've been wondering what makes a woman so relentless in her quest against all odds, far beyond just being a fighter and into obsessive desperate behavior as if without it her oxygen will be cut off.

It came to me. Her husband took what should have been terrific years - first lady of a state and then the nation - and turned it into a tawdry sideshow of his/their sex life. It wasn't a vast rightwing consipiracy, it was titilation fodder for some emerging cable news networks. I can't imagine a more humiliating experience. And so public.

Yet here they still are, and now her fortunes are rising while he's relegated to backyard incendiary remarks. If she's president she becomes an historic figure while he's a footnote, notable only for his impeachment and maybe being the first First Husband.

Could her campaign be the ultimate revenge? Could it be her deep rage at her husband's chronic infidelity that drives her and not passion for the American people? How else to explain her inability to face the truth about delegate counts, just as she seems to avoid the truth about the definition of marriage. (Call me old fashioned but isn't fidelity right up there?)

And to Clinton supporters I would remind them: do you really want that circus again? The behavior that left Al Gore in a bind by not being able to run on the Clinton administration successes? And a country so exhausted from it all that Bush and his fake morality looked good?

Think about it. The Clinton years came with a very high cost. She doesn't have experience, she has a very thick skin and a white hot rage at the injustice of it all.
Can't say I blame her but while she insisted that she was not just like Tammy Wynette standing by her man I'd tell her to listen to another Tammy Wynette song: D I V O R C E.
But please don't make our country pay for it again. The well is drying up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My left arm


Barack Obama's half-sister and her husband get to vote for him for the first time! That other arm on the table is mine, my little claim to fame, as Maya Soetoro-Ng said to me: This is so exciting, this is so exciting.

It definitely is.

And for those who want to know where he came from here's a great article on his mother, a strong role model for an extraordinary son.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23623222/

The Time Has Come

Last night I went to my caucus site in Hawaii to vote for Barack Obama. As a child of the 60s, political movements and especially anti-war movements have been a part of my life. I jumped on the Howard Dean wagon early on. It stymied me why people could not see the futility of the Iraq War at once. George W. Bush did not make a case for that war. Were we so desperate to strike out that any violent act on our part seemed just?

I've gone to many caucuses here; none have filled the school cafeteria. It's mainly party business with a preferential preference poll tacked on, the candidate generally decided. Occasionally a group would make a stand - Dennis Kucinich had a vocal group, Dean was already out last time - but otherwise it's an orderly event, a bit boring, picking delegates and officers for the state and county conventions. Those with vested interests showed up, the casual voter did not.

Last night had lines around the caucus sites hours before the event. Few knew the rules, that a caucus is different and usually done when everyone is seated. But with several thousand waiting, that changed quickly. Groups voted in waves and left; it was nonstop for two hours. The excitement - and not just because Obama is homegrown, few of the crowd were from Punahou, his school. There were old and young, working and not, educated and not so much. There was, in short, a complete cross section of the electorate, many registering for the first time.

That's a movement. Chuck Todd, the NBC political reporter http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23258192/ has some interesting insights into this race. But he wasn't in that room, he didn't see people who had little in common except their realization that this country deserves better than the same junk they've been fed. He didn't see two thousand people squished into a cafeteria to make their voice heard, not for the measly 20 delegates we get, but because they wanted to matter.

Hillary Clinton is losing because as the kids used to say, she's so five minutes ago. She's running her husband's campaign all over - hey, it worked once. Loyalty to the Clintons is everything, it trumps even common sense. As the underdog - as they were in '92, it's easy to take risks. No longer. She took no risk. She played it by the numbers. And tried to maneuver after the tidal wave came ashore.

Barrack Obama is on fire. I'm sure Clinton will get down and dirty - we ain't seen nothin' yet - to salvage what she's grown to believe was hers. She put all the pieces into play, the establishment Dems, and took the voters for granted. As they say in Hollywood, she began to believe her own press.

It's a new century. We deserve a new leader.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And Away We Go....

Wow, who knew the division would now be within the hearts and minds of the Democrats? We are faced with two equally talented choices - one is "the bridge to the last century" and one is "the audacity of hope." We as a nation - because it's a probability that the winner of the Democratic ticket will win in November - must now decide whether it's time to take that leap of faith and aim for structural change or go with a more tested method of governance. Clinton is yesterday no matter how much she talks of change and no matter how precedent setting as a woman; and Obama represents that moment in life when you go with your gut, when it just feels right.

People who have never been involved in politics are joining those of us who always loved it. My first envelope stuffing was for Bobby Kennedy and Another Mother for Peace. It feels like deja vu all over again. Howard Dean - I believe - set off a movement that derailed him, the timing was not quite there. Bush hadn't hit bottom and then sunk further into his self-made quagmire. But I heard Pat Buchanan, a man I've never agreed with, say this war is a disaster, and that John McCain is a hawk and we'll be in one war after another if he becomes president. I didn't hear him say it, but if given the choice he is likely to vote for Obama. And that, voters, is proof that Obama can bring people together.

Right now Barack Obama is 4 delegates up. It's gonna be a fight, the Clintons have a machine right out of Republican playbooks. But sometimes that doesn't matter, sometimes the time is so right that nothing can derail. Ironically, one of her stumbles was about Martin Luther King. He was not the first one with that message, nor the last; but he was the right man at the right time and it was his message that resonates the most.

Let it be that time again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

OBAMA RAMA - Obama Wins South Carolina

I could kiss South Carolina, everyone in it right now. Logistics aside, I have never seen a state or an electorate take the reins so firmly. By trouncing the Clinton trash and bash machine, across all age and ethnicity, they have resoundingly said, we really can take our country back. We, as voters, matter. We are not fodder for manipulation and smear.

I just listened to Barack Obama's victory speech. I have heard a zillion or so political speeches in my life; I've been actively involved in politics since college, and worked on many campaigns, my first one was for Jerry Brown in his first quest for California governor. We were a mostly young group, smart and arguably the first wave of baby boomers in action. We had hope, and lots of dreams.

Then it went still. I dunno, maybe we were raising the kids, chasing promotions, still inhaling, and sort of figured the world would come out the way we wanted it do. Basically, we fell asleep at the switch, as we did our yoga and recycled, ate our organic food and focused on a better us and raising free spirited and brilliant children.

We got through Reagan; after all he was so upbeat even though a bit suspicious with his governing policy. But oh well, Carter came along, and we'd brought the Civil Rights movement into focus. Change was still out there, chugging along, as our society integrated, if not exactly well at least forward. The government as a whole, worked. Or at least enough that we could get on with our lives.

Then we met George W. Bush. His father was a bit of a dud but he was soon out. The Clintons brought lots of promise, they looked and tasted just like us. Except while there was a lot to like, and it was an energetic time, at the end of the party, when everyone went home, you were left with an unease, that maybe the fun they brought, and the energy were not quite, well, nice. Sure, running a country isn't a church bazaar but still, we're the only superpower, can't we have some class about it?

While we were pondering this sense of discomfort, the Republicans went after them with such vitriol we were forced to defend him. Like your pesky younger sibling that you get to beat up on, but you'll beat the crap out of anyone else who tries. And here's the ultimate trick, and frankly it's a page out of al Qaeda or any other gang that wants to commit crimes - put the attention on some hot button issue while you're off somewhere else setting the real crime in motion. Obfuscation, diversion, simple and effective. The Republicans went after the Clintons with such ferocity that we didn't notice they were setting up shop in evangelical churches and priming the conservative pump for the next election. They had already cleaned up the ex-prez's drunk son, painting him with Christian creds and putting the entire party behind their anointed heir apparent: a brother in Florida had his marching orders to tinker with the democratic election lists, move polling places, promise the election commissioner riches to come if she played stupid. Didn't seem much of a stretch and off they went.

It worked. We got Bush fils. His father had class and decades of public service. You could disagree with him without raging against him. He had some common sense. But it all changed when he lost to the Clintons. War was declared on them. No wonder W found his own war, when he checked in more or less sober for probably the first time in his life, that's what he saw. A rich boy who had been bailed out all his life by daddy now had the most powerful post in the land. Oh my that must have felt good, stick it to the old man he could never best. As it happened, he too was in danger of having only one term due to his ennui and then planes went into New York skyscrapers. The military industrial complex had found a kindred spirit.

Republican hatred infiltrated the Clintons, for what was done to them. And so Hillary began to run. They spent a lot of time writing books, building the democratic machine. If they Repubs were nasty, they would be nastier. They would build a bigger and better machine, same song different verse.

Well, all I really want to say is, THANK YOU SOUTH CAROLINA, YA DONE GOOD! You did exactly what you were supposed to do and with a whole lot of class. We still don't know how Super Tuesday will play out, or the ultimate outcome, but for now we can all feel proud of being American.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And Away We Go.....

I've been voting a long time, every election since Bobby Kennedy. He was shot and killed that night. I was pregnant, my husband was out - later determined to be not a good thing - and I suppose it was the beginning of my adult reality check. Cheating husbands, and to my way of thinking a God that would let John and then Bobby be murdered. It was wrong, not just wrong in the legal and moral sense but in a world order sense.

I have waited a long time to feel something approaching optimism. Oh sure, I worked for McGovern, Muskie, Dean, even Perot caught my fancy, hoping that someone could make the system work. Instead we got Nixon and Reagan and - I can hardly say the word - Bush, not one but two. Someone once said we get the government we deserve. Hoo boy did we as a nation do bad things to get that bunch of greed-is-good and war-is-better gang. Well, of course greed isn't limited to government, apparently, we elected those who would satisfy our very own greed.

But finally, I believe we have figured out that we went too far. The rich get richer and the middle class get screwed while the poor at least have little to lose. So this election has finally given me the optimism I seek; that finally voters have become actual voters, studying the issues, listening to the candidates, really trying to figure out which one of them can lead us into something approaching decency. Sure, we need strength, there really are bad guys out there trying to harm us. We need lots of attention to economics without bailing out every corporate crook out there. Here's a concept: stop them before they suck out the marrow. The housing crisis was preventable, and a credit crunch followed and now a debt overload looms. Bush's answer to 9-11 was BUY. Show those terrorists we won't be cowed, buy and buy and buy some more. Hey, it's easier than diplomacy.

The pendulum has swung. Finally, voters are actually grabbing the reins. The fact there is no clear front runner yet and all the attention is on an election almost a year away is both an offshoot of too many news shows - even if most are closer to entertainment - but even so, it's about who will lead our country. Yes, the media has to manufacture controversy, like Senator Clinton's remark about LBJ and MLK, but even that gets a discussion going.

I am optimistic if for no other reason than every single candidate running - including those who have dropped out - are solid candidates. They have experience and intelligence and a desire to make us better. I would prefer McCain not be such a hawk especially considering his past but it's maybe because of it, I don't know. But I know he's sincere. Romney appears plastic but I think he's competent. I love Obama, such style and class and an ability to soar above the venal. Clinton I'm tired of but I believe she will be a great president. Huckabee is a charmer. I know Edwards deserves more attention than he's getting but the fire just isn't lit - but he's truly the best about America. Whomever becomes president will I believe set us on coarse to be the country we really do deserve to be.

It's about time.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Backwards They Went

New Hampshire folded like a poker player with a pair of deuces. Iowa surged forward, full of possibilities, and the polls in New Hampshire said they would, too, that they were were an ornery bunch. But in the end they voted for McCain - last century's candidate - and Clinton, last century's president, er, first lady.

When it came time to stand tall New Hampshire stuck to the known. This might not be so bad except they have this reputation as Independents, their history goes way back to the beginning of a new country. They've lost their roots, they've lost their way.

Not that I don't think McCain and Clinton are fine candidates and supposedly fine people. They've certainly been through the fires; both have been trashed by Republicans, those nasty do-anything-to-win kind of Republicans. But they are last century's politicians and if we don't get out of the quagmire that Bush and pals put us in we will be set back decades.

The time to get rid of Bush was four years ago, the damage since then is huge. But the voters then, like nervous children, peed their pants and voted Kerry the Democratic nominee, the establishment candidate. Then John Kerry kept silent while supporters of a draft dodger trashed his honorable and heroic war record. The guilt of the Viet Nam war followed us still. Look at your stock portfolio and the dollar dropping, all a reaction to our huge debt that's out there to keep this war going.

Iowa showed us the way, New Hampshire ran like hell. The two winning candidates are still fighting George Bush's incomprehensible war. Where oh where has New Hampshire gone?

Friday, January 04, 2008

IOWA RULES!

I know it's been a while since I've added to my blog but as an avid reader I found that most of my thoughts were already out there, that I no longer felt alone in my distrust and fear of Bush and a wwar waged under false purpose: maybe to save an airless admin, maybe to enrich his friends, maybe sheer incompetence. 9-11 blew off our center and everyone scrambled to feel safe again. We look to our leaders and if they sound strong we tell ourselves they are strong. We don't want to think they could be wrong and more interested in the spin than the facts, that's almost as scary as terrorists attacking us again. Instead we let our own government attack us - secret eavesdropping, torture, lies, stonewalling, all with a swagger that belies anyone to believe it's anything other than a thick-brained bully. Some people wanted that bully, because some mistake bullying for strength.

And then Iowa on 01-03 reminded us what we're really all about. They showed us the absolute definition of democracy and citizen involvement. They trudged through snow and long speeches and downloaded position papers, thinking, talking, carrying the discourse everywhere they went. They agonized and read and made phone calls and in the end they did it exactly right. They chose a new beginning and the end of an old war. Clinton lost as much because they are tired of same old same old as for siding with the hawks that the surge is working. Iowans know better. Edwards can't match Obama's star power but he had a clear new message. Coming in second may ultimately eliminate him, but it also sent a clear message about what voters want.

Obama's resounding win in the first real test of the 2008 presidential election gives this nation a new way of looking at everything. There will soon be blazing attacks against him, many racist and a lot of lies covered by innuendo covered by mud. That's part of our country, too, people who can't see past their own hatred.

But for now, from Iowa, the best of who we are stood up and said we're going to do the right thing.