Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Feel Like Crying

For two reasons. Of course, the obvious one is the election of Barack Obama to President of the United States. I'm so thrilled and happy and moved at the outcome of this election. I truly believe that our nation will be able to heal from two terms of the divisive, fear-mongering politics of George Bush. Obama is a smart man who clearly wants what's best for the American people and is not beholden to rich corporations and big oil companies. We will see what's possible in solving our nation's problems. It's a good day for America.

Reason two is less optimistic. It appears that California's Proposition 8, banning gay marriage, is headed for a victory. There are still votes left to be counted, but it doesn't look good. It's obviously better if an outcome is not decided by absentee voters. Here I am truly disheartened by the turn of events. I had hoped that with the legalization of gay marriage in one of the largest states in the county, the rest of the country would soon follow suit. A general rule is that as California goes, so goes the rest of the country.

So what does today mean for gays and lesbians? It's hard to say. We're all excited that a Democrat took our country's highest office, but gay marriage isn't on his agenda. However, equal rights is on his agenda so maybe we'll see improvements on that front. But it is clear that marriage is getting further and further out of reach. Now that I have a child, the differences between marriage and any other "union" are crystal clear. I wanted a world for my son in which our family would look like any other. And it will in most respects, but most two-parent families involve the marriage of those two parents. I want to get health insurance for my partner. And I want there to be no question that she, too, is our son's mother. Now all I can say is that I hope one day in my lifetime I will see it happen.

It's possible. I know many African Americans who never dreamed a day would come when a black man was elected president. Now that day has arrived and as I said earlier, it is a good day for America. I'm elated at the direction our country has taken. It was a decisive victory and his mandate is clear. I know he is up for the challenge of leading our country during this difficult time. I am so confident of it that I finally feel like I can breath freely again.

It is a double-edged sword today. I want to celebrate with the rest of my friends the amazing victory of Barack Obama, but I also feel pain in my heart for my family and my friends since we will continue to feel bitter discrimination. I cannot reconcile these two places that I stand. Our country has taken a great step forward. But gays and lesbians have just been slapped.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Coffee Makers, 7-Eleven and Politics

I have so many thoughts to share!

First, I'd like to share a recent experience regarding morning coffee. I have the option of getting coffee from Starbucks or 7-Eleven. Starbucks is a few feet further away, but no big deal. One recent morning I was pretty tired. Jacob had a pretty long night of frequent mini-wakings which required my attention. On the way into work I decided to get a cup of Starbucks coffee instead of 7-Eleven. I usually don't like Starbucks coffee, but 7-Eleven coffee is kind of weak and gives me the jitters if I drink straight-up caffeinated. But I need a strong cup of coffee.

So I went to Starbucks and decided on the Pike Place Roast which is described as smooth and nutty. That's my favorite combination. But I was terribly disappointed. It was bitter, as is all Starbucks coffee in my opinion. It's all about the roasting. Every coffee I've ever had from Starbucks tastes like it's been burned. So it's decided for me. 7-Eleven will be my coffee haven while I'm at work. Unless, I need a latte. Then it's a different story.

Now onto coffee makers. Recently I had to purchase a new one. My old one died. How does that happen? Planned obsolescence is my partner's theory. But poor design is my theory. I had a good coffee maker. It was the Cuisinart Brew Central. They are everywhere. I've had mine for maybe 4 or 5 years. Something called calcification happens with these (and maybe every) coffee maker. When it happens, you have to clean it using vinegar and water through a brew cycle or two. When the coffee maker needs it, it will light up the self-clean light. For years and years it never lit that light. I actually did put it through self clean every once in a long while. But last month it finally gave me the light. That was the beginning of the end. It refused to brew coffee from that point. I ran the self-clean cycle 5 or 10 times. Still no luck. In the middle of a brew cycle, the self clean would activate and stop brewing coffee. The self-clean amenity was actually the design flaw. I should be able to brew coffee no matter how much calcification exists. It's coffee for goodness sake. I need it.

So I was pretty desperate about the lack of coffee maker. I took this opportunity to purchase a grind and brew coffee maker from Cuisinart. I know some of you may be thinking, Why go with Cuisinart again? Well, I still like Cuisinart so I just looked into the features to make sure the same problem wouldn't happen. I purchased the Grind & Brew. I love, love coffee made with fresh coffee grinds. Who doesn't? I read a lot of mixed reviews on the coffee maker. Most of the reviews had to do with the amount of cleaning required to prepare the coffee maker again and again. I wasn't dissuaded by that argument. Here's what I was attracted to: Unlike some grind & brews, I could put in as many beans as I wanted to determine how strong I want my coffee. Other makers have a setting for this and then determine the amount of beans necessary. I don't trust the coffee maker to do this for me. This, for me, was the selling point ... and the fact that there was no self-clean cycle on this machine.

What I got was a good coffee maker. But the grinder is too small. I can't put enough beans in to make the coffee as strong as I like it. Another design flaw. So even though there's a 12-cup capacity, I can never brew more than 10 cups. And even then it might be weaker than I like because I have to overfill the grinder anyway. However, the grind-to-brew function is great and you can definitely taste the difference. The coffee maker does require a lot of cleaning. The problem is that the grinder gets "dirty" because of its proximity to the brewing. The heat from the brewing creates condensation on the grinder and the grinds then stick to it. So it's not perfect but I can live with it.

Politics. It's less than 3 weeks now to this historic election. I'm so excited. I feel pretty confident that the Democrats are finally going to win it. It's going to feel as good and even better than it did in 1992 when Bill Clinton won. I've been falling asleep through the debates to be honest. But the truth is that right now, I'm just enjoying the McCain/Palin free-fall. I know the Republicans will be licking their wounds throughout the country on November 5th. I know this isn't very analytic or insightful, but I just don't think we have a real contest anymore. McCain doesn't have any new ideas or energy to fix the immediate problems with our economy and the economy is the issue. I mean, if he hadn't been hit over the head with the free-falling stock market, he would still be saying that the economy is a psychological problem we're having. Our country is finally waking up to the fact that the Democrats have a better grasp on how to help the economy and everyday middle class Americans. And we're finally going to have our day on November 4. Go Vote!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Breathing Easy

When I first heard that John McCain picked a woman as his running mate, I thought it was a good move on his part. The Republican Party needed a new look and bringing on a female VP was definitely a new look. I even thought for a minute that it's going to make Obama's job a little harder.

But now that Sarah Palin has been out in the open for a minute or two, I'm breathing easy again. Nice vetting job, folks. Not even the Republicans like her. I'm not going to rehash what everyone already knows about her (maybe later), but it's just the fact that clearly a lot of thought didn't go into this selection. What were they thinking? Maybe they thought that just by her wearing a skirt, all of Clinton's supporters would jump on board McCain's train.

Big mistake. Hillary Clinton's die-hard supporters are intelligent women who are really pissed off at the sexism Hillary had to face in this primary. They are holding a grudge. They aren't stupid. The Republicans just don't get it and Palin's selection is just insulting to feminists everywhere who wanted to see Hillary be the Democratic nominee.

I feel a pinch sorry for McCain. Now he has to spend the next 9 weeks on a sinking boat. He didn't want Palin. He gave in to pressure from the right wing to get some more conservative credentials. He will forever regret this play.

Now, enough of that. If you can't pick your own running mate, what can you do? How can you make other important decisions. You look like a fool, McCain! Obama looks strong for picking the man he wanted for the job. Obama didn't succumb to the pressure to pick Clinton. It makes him look like his own man. I'm once again feeling hopeful that the Democrats are going to win this one and the Republicans are going to be the ones with their tail between their legs this time.

Friday, August 29, 2008


2008. This is history. We are in the midst of it. First, let me talk about the great moment. An African American man named Barack Hussein Obama is the Democrats' Presidential nominee. Who would have thought this could happen when 50 years ago our country was trying to grasp the idea that blacks and whites could live integrated lives? I'm so proud of our country today. I'm so excited that we have come this far! Of course, I could find many things still left to achieve as a country, but I'm going to take this moment to savor this milestone.

Having said all that, we can't let the significance of McCain's VP pick pass us by. It is amazing that the two parties have minority representation at the top of their tickets. This is a new day. We can't deny it. Never again will we see business as usual from either Democrats or Republicans. The lip service has stepped up to real representation.

I'm happy about this. I think I'm going to leave it at that and save the rest of the banter for another time (there's a lot of it).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fuzzy Ethics

There never seems enough hours in a day to capture all of my rants. But recent Sun articles about Senator Currie and Mayor Dixon require a response. These two cases don't have much in common, except one thing - both the Senator and the Mayor took the opportunity to bend and blur ethical lines. I find this really frustrating to say the least.

Let's look at the Mayor's case. She had a relationship with a man who does business with the city. A lot of people want to look at the relationship itself - fancy trips and fur coats. But that's no one's business and really beside the point. The point is that when an elected official is involved with someone who does business with the city, that elected official is to recuse themselves from voting or lobbying on behalf of the individual. Who knows how the Mayor, then the City Council President, would have voted on the business at hand if she had not been involved with him, Ronald Lipscomb. She insists her votes wouldn't have been different. Maybe so. Who cares? She broke the rules. Ethics rules are there to reduce even the appearance of impropriety. Why doesn't the Mayor get it?

With Senator Currie, we have a similar situation. It's a little worse here. Senator Currie was actually being paid by Shopper's to consult and he didn't recuse himself of voting or using his position to give them an advantage with state agencies. He didn't disclose his relationship with Shoppers on his ethics forms. Malicious? No, I don't think so. Wrong? Yes. I'm going to guess that Senator Currie believed there were benefits to his actions beyond helping Shoppers get tax breaks and financial incentives. Getting a Shoppers at Mondawmin Mall was a great thing because that community was grossly underserved. But the Senator ignored the ethics laws.

Here's the problem. For various reasons, both the Mayor and Senator Currie felt they could ignore the ethics laws. They were clearly aware of them, otherwise why the secrecy? They may have been sincere in their goals, but we'll never know. The Mayor's relationship with Mr. Lipscomb can't be separated out from her actions. Same applies to Senator Currie. Again, that is why we have ethics laws. These are the situations people with power can get themselves into and the laws are very clear. Recuse yourself. Simple enough, but clearly too much to ask the Mayor or the Senator.

We deserve better. We really do. Not only are these folks ruining their careers, but they are creating a lack of confidence in our democratic system. That's unfortunate. I know I don't feel we can trust any politician. It's just those politicians who believe they are doing the right thing that ignore the ethics laws. They didn't believe their behavior was unethical. They forgot about the appearance of impropriety. It's really just as bad.

Quick coffee note - I'm loving, loving, loving Zeke's Italian Roast blend. It's so dark and rich and lovely. You must try some!

Friday, August 1, 2008


The DNC, the Democratic National Committee, really has to thank Gray's Anatomy for this little marketing morsel. I have to say, when I heard John McCain's new nickname, I laughed out loud. It's funny. And brilliant because it's bound to stick for the rest of this campaign. Another funny I came across yesterday was the title of this article in the New York Times, "McCain Tries to Define Obama as Out of Touch." Let's get a mental picture of that....

McCain is desperate and it's too early for all that. Look how quickly his campaign went negative. All his advertisements have been about Obama, not himself. "McNasty" is ringing true and it's ugly. I'm feeling really good about the election right now. McCain can't talk about the issues that are important to Americans. He's not Bush. He can't invoke 9/11 and get the same reaction. Americans are struggling with the high cost of everything in a tanking market where our money just isn't worth as much as it used to be. McCain doesn't know anything about the economy. That's why the New York Times article is so funny. It's beyond ironic that McCain, who is so obviously out of touch with what's on our minds today, wants to paint Obama as the one missing the boat. As I said, he's desperate.

The next phase of this campaign is running mates. McCain needs to pick someone who can jump start his rocky campaign. Obama needs to pick someone who isn't going to mess up a good thing. It's tricky in both camps. Word is that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is seriously considering the VP spot. I have to admit, I don't know anything about this man except that he's a Democratic governor in a state that usually elects Republicans. I think it's smart for Obama to look south for a running mate. I also think it's smart for him to pick a man instead of a woman. It's already going to be a historic moment when America elects a black man president. I think picking a female running mate would push the envelope. It sucks, but look at the way Hillary Clinton was treated. Sure, you can say it's because she's "Hillary." But the only reason Hillary was ever given such a hard time is because she's a strong, smart and opinionated woman.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again right now. The Democrats cannot afford to lose this election. Period. Another Republican administration will permanently put us in the toilet. So, pick a running mate that's going to get votes. Any Democrat who doesn't vote for Obama because he didn't pick a woman, specifically Hillary, doesn't care about this country or their party. Yes, I feel very strongly about it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bursting Thru the Racial Frontier on the Back of Sexism

Finally the Democratic primaries are over and we have a winner - Barack Obama. I feel so bruised from just being a spectator of this contest, I can't imagine how Hillary and Barack feel. This historic event brought out the best and the worst of our party, and our country. I'm thrilled we've nominated a person of color to be our Democratic Presidential Candidate. I believe it will move our country forward as millions of us consider voting for Obama. Many middle Americans will realize that race is not as important as they once thought it was. Many Americans are going to make their decisions based on whether or not they believe the next president will improve our economy. As they weigh their choices, they will listen to each candidate's proposals and make a choice. I believe that many Americans will realize for the first time that it doesn't matter if the candidate is a black man or a white man. This election will force many to reconsider old notions of race and discard them.

While I'm very hopeful that our country will advance on the racial frontier, I am truly saddened that we haven't come very far when it comes to gender. It's clear to me that it is simply more acceptable to our society to continue to devalue and demonize women. If women are automatically "bitches," why do men rely and expect us to raise their children? The Democratic primary demonstrated that in the men v. women dialogue, men still win most of the time and open hostility to women is okay.

Everyone, including "feminists," said it would be inappropriate for Hillary to be offended by the gross amounts of sexism she encountered on the campaign trail. She would be whining. But any hint of a racial slur toward Obama set everyone on fire! Why must women be expected to bear the brunt of hostility towards their gender? Hillary's fight was harder than Obama's. That's a fact. Sexism is the reason Hillary has been demonized since she was the first lady. She dared have an opinion. There was really no way Hillary could approach this race without being criticized. Women can't win when we allow sexism to flourish.

Nonetheless, Barack Obama is a great candidate and a far better choice for president than John McCain. Any Democrat who chooses to stay home in November and not vote is not a Democrat.