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Back to the Pipe and the Pole

Here is a letter I received a few days ago from the President of my University.

Last summer, I formed an advisory task force to assist the University in developing a plan to prepare for probable reductions in state funding for higher education and to assist the University in developing a new instructional resource model. The task force consists of faculty, academic deans, administrators, and staff.

On December 18, 2010, the task force held an open forum. At that forum, Provost Mearns, who is co-chair of the task force, discussed the status of the task force’s efforts to assist in developing a contingency plan for next year’s budget. I attended the forum.

Since then, the task force has continued to provide me with additional recommendations. Those recommendations are detailed in a written report that is now available on the task force’s webpage.

This report recommends overall budget target ranges for each of the University’s major sectors: academic colleges, academic support units, and university administrative units. I have accepted these sector recommendations. In December, I provided differentiated budget targets to each of the vice presidents who manage university administrative units, and I directed them to prepare a contingency plan to meet their unit’s respective target. They have submitted their plans to me, which I am currently reviewing.

The task force’s report also provided specific recommendations about differentiated targets for each of the academic colleges. After developing a list of strategic factors and applying those factors to readily available data, the task force assigned each academic college to one of three groups, or bands. As discussed in the report, a college or an administrative unit can meet its proposed budget target through both permanent expense reductions and reliable revenue enhancements.

After reviewing an initial draft of the report, I met at length with Provost Mearns, Vice President George Walker and Tim Long, the University’s Budget Director, to review the strategic factors and the data relied upon by the task force to develop its differentiated recommendations for each of the academic colleges. In making my decisions, I relied upon the same strategic factors developed by the task force, including: how a college’s programs aligned with the University’s primary strategic goals; a college’s financial performance relative to the other colleges at the University; the extent to which a college has programs, including doctoral programs, with relatively few students; an assessment of the productivity and impact of the college’s research faculty; the success of a college’s students as measured by undergraduate retention and graduation rates and post-graduate licensing exams; and the ability of a college to develop differential tuition plans or increase enrollment above existing limits.

After this review, I accepted all of the task force’s recommendations with respect to the colleges’ budget targets, with one exception. I have delegated to Provost Mearns the responsibility of establishing differentiated targets for the various academic support units that report to him.

Provost Mearns has communicated the college targets to the deans, and he has asked them to provide him with their college’s plan by February 22, 2011. He has also directed the deans to consult with their respective faculties and staff in developing their college’s plan.

By early March, I anticipate that our collective strategy for meeting this financial challenge will begin to become more clear. Governor Kasich will present his proposed budget to the legislature on or before March 15. I anticipate that, when his budget is released, we will know much more about two of the most important factors that are driving this process: the approximate amount of any reduction in the state subsidy for higher education, and the limit on any possible increase in undergraduate tuition. By that time, we will also have had an opportunity to evaluate the various college and administrative plans that have been submitted.

When we have more information from the Governor, I will hold an open forum in March to discuss our University plan.

I know that this process is difficult and that it is causing some anxiety and uncertainty. I believe, however, that we have established a collaborative and transparent process that will enable the University to overcome this challenge. Indeed, I am encouraged by the constructive contributions that so many of you have already made to our contingency planning process. Therefore, I am confident that we will emerge from this process as a stronger institution — which is our goal.

Thank you for your service to our students, our University, and our community.

Indeed. To those of you who still believe in the American Dream, let me explain how it really works for you. Say Jane wants to grow up and become a Doctor. But Jane and her family live piss poor, so she works hard in High School, gets good grades in accelerated courses and takes part in track and cheerleading or some such other extracurricular nonsense that will look good on college applications. She gets accepted into a good school and manages to keep from getting pregnant. What a stand up gal Jane is, don’t you think? She gets some scholarships. Good for her! She gets Pell Grants and subsidized and unsubsidized loans through FAFSA. That’s our girl.

Before you know it she is accepted into Harvard Medical School and graduates with honors. Bravo! The problem is, now Jane has upwards of $200,000 worth of student loans to pay back. She gets married and begins practice as a pediatrician, her lifelong dream. But it will be a while before she begins to really rake in the dough and there are medical malpractice lawsuits on the horizon. Nonetheless, she and her husband, a college professor, are living well, having babies and attending church on Sundays. Everything seems fine until disaster strikes. Her mother is still piss poor and has just suffered from a stroke. A neighbor finds her laying face down in her apartment surrounded by urine and her own feces. Jane’s mother is admitted to the hospital and is soon discharged. Incontinent, paralyzed from the waist down and unable to take care of herself, Jane’s mother is just above the income threshold for medicaid and there are limited funds. She has no Health Insurance and therefore cannot afford to live in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility, so Jane has to quit her job to take care of her mother, as her husband is unwilling to quit his. The financial problems caused by the fact that Jane can no longer supplement the family income as well as the demands of taking care of a sick elderly woman takes a toll on their marriage, and Jane’s husband starts banging his secretary. They get a divorce and the children are heartbroken. Jane is now a single mother with no job. She still has student loans and legal fees to pay back, no home because she can’t afford a mortgage, and three kids to put through college. Her oldest daughter Sarah is devastated by the break up of her family and commits suicide. Three months later, Jane’s mother dies due to inadequate medical care. Jane’s American Dream has turned into an American Nightmare.

Sounds extreme, right? Wrong. Things like this are happening everywhere. I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to pay for college, and I will explain why. Most people have an idea of the average college student’s financial situation. A freshman will have mom and dad foot most of the bill and private loans will take care of the rest, right?


Take me for example. I graduated from that Shithole High School a semester early with decent grades and community service. Go me, right? I figured I might as well try to go to college, so I briefly (and by briefly, I mean for about two seconds) thought about going into the military and even told the Hell Hole High School that those were my plans so they would let me graduate early. I took the ASVAB tests and got excellent scores, fielding calls from every military branch recruiter known to man telling me to join so I could become an officer. Of course, I am not going to go into the Military. I am a pacifist. So I changed my phone number to get rid of the recruiters and enrolled at the local junior college, with plans to save money on Gen Eds in mind. Problem was, my Dad makes too much money for me to get FAFSA and we are somewhat estranged. I had to work my tail off and go to School part time so I could get taken off of his tax returns, as a student has to be enrolled in school full time to be on their parents tax returns after they’re eighteen and to still be on their parents health insurance plan.

In any case, I no longer have Health Insurance but now that I’m off his taxes I go to School overtime, supplemented by a hefty financial aid award. But get this!

President Obama and his aides have spent a good bit of time over the last several weeks talking about the importance of education. Now they announce that they plan to cut spending on Pell grants, the big student-aid program that helps students in (roughly) the bottom half of the income distribution. As Jackie Calmes explains:

Pell grants for needy college students would be eliminated for summer classes, and graduate students would start accruing interest immediately on federal loans, though they would not have to pay until after they graduate; both changes are intended to help save $100 billion over 10 years to offset the costs of maintaining Pell grants for nine million students, according to administration officials.

Oh, fantastic! Keep in mind that my situation is not unique. Many students are like me, with families either too poor or too unwilling to help pay for school. I have a friend, for example, who had to run away from home when she was in Hell High School because her Step Father was beating her mother. She supported herself with two jobs and help from family and friends until she graduated, and now she has classes with me. I don’t know how she does it, because she is forced by FAFSA to file as a dependent even though she receives no help from her family and supports herself completely. She is awarded funds based on the assumption that her parents help her when in reality she has to pay for full time school as well as everything else.

And why is it that school is so expensive? Gods only know. The cost of living has increased exponentially since my parents were in college. It is easy for some stuck-in-the past 1950’s holdover to lecture one of us stupid delinquent teenagers about how THEY did it when they were our age so why can’t we? Well, I feel like saying to these idiots, you’re the ignorant fools who elected conservative Presidents and congresses for the past several decades and caused the inflation and budget cuts that led to all of these problems. Get over yourself.

Not only that, but tuition is obscenely expensive since now colleges are run more like businesses instead of academic institutions that shape young minds and prepare the leaders of tomorrow. I have to pay thousands of dollars for Professors to teach me the same bull shit I’ve been learning since the sixth grade (which is not to say I don’t learn a lot in College these days from certain professors, but I digress) and then once I and many students have paid several more thousands to complete an undergraduate degree two thirds of us STILL won’t be able to get a job. And people wonder why our education system is so behind.

Well, one might say, you may not be achieving all of your fancy starry eyed dreams but at least you are bettering yourself for the real world. Maybe you’ll be a hospital administrator instead of a chemical engineer but at least you have the right to a comfortable lifestyle and a reasonable retirement, right? Wrong.

So far, Obama has had the following “bright ideas” and has proposed them to Congress:

(1) Obama proposed (and Congress passed) a $112 Billion REDUCTION in revenues coming into the Social Security trust fund for this year; that is a cut of 30% in workers’ contributions to the Fund. I think we can be pretty sure this $112 Billion annual cut in Social Security taxes will be made permanent with the full agreement of Obama. It won’t take long, at that rate, for Social Security to drain its fund (and current surplus) and go out of business.

(2) Obama has proposed a 50% REDUCTION in federal aid to the program that helps poor people pay heating bills for their homes

(3) Obama is proposing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go out of business, which will make it harder — if not impossible — for lower-income and middle-income people to buy their homes instead of paying endless rents

(4) Obama is proposing that the interest homeowners pay for their mortgages NO longer be fully deductible on their income taxes. In the early years of any mortgage, the bulk of the monthly mortgage payment goes to pay the interest on the mortgage; having that great sum be deductible has made it possible for people to buy homes and not default on their mortgages when finances are tight (as they often are when new homeowners are just starting out).

The result of Obama’s “bright” ideas, numbers (3) and (4), will be to make it harder for current homeowners to SELL their homes, will DEFLATE the value of their homes, will cause more people to default on their mortgages, and will create a situation where communities will take in LESS in the way of property taxes because of the number of vacant, abandoned homes that will become liabilities.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
And Obama is doing all of this cutting less than two months after signing into law tax CUTS for the wealthiest Americans.

The Republicans have the EXACT right Democrat in the White House for their evil purposes. Obama is: (1) helping the Republicans realize their decades-long goal of destroying the Social Security program, (2) proposing policies that will create an even wider division between the “haves” and “have-nots” in America, and (3)proposing policies that will create a sub-class of Americans that the top one percent of Americans will be able to reduce to economic slavery.

That’s right. So long house in the ‘burbs. Bye bye white picket fence, 2.4 children and Labrador Retriever. S’later retirement fund, pensions, IRA. Hi poverty, what it do destitution? We’re the leaders of tomorrow. Nice to meetcha!

It just won’t do. Obama is a Republican Dream, not an American Dream. Why, just look at the cover of one of his famous “books.”

The Audacity of Nope

To Obama, this is the American Dream. Jane’s life would be everyone’s life with the policies he is currently championing. Can you believe this is happening? Well, I can. I’ve been saying who Obama is from the get-go. All it took was reading his idea of the American Dream in the pages of this book, where he talked about cutting Social Security and used Reagan as an example of a President to emulate. He’s stuck to his word, too. And has managed to unite this divided nation of ours- against him. On the 100the anniversary of Reagan’s whatever it was I was subjected to fawning book covers and pages about Obama’s hero for days. And now he is cutting Social Security with his bipartisan Republican pals, just like he promised.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t jive with the Obama the fauxgressives were selling us. This whole thing just isn’t going to work for me. I’m sure it won’t work for a lot of you, either, so run for office instead of electing more morons who will continue to pull this crap on us and expect to get reelected. My plan is to go to Law School and try to change these problems from within instead of sitting here and bitching about it.

But Isis, I can hear some people saying. Law School is expensive. You depend on those Pell Grants Obama and the Tea Party losers are cutting left and right and spending on unnecessary wars, a shitty Health Care Law and Michelle’s vacations in Spain to pay for your tuition, books and other fees. Won’t you be just like Jane, busting your hump for a dismal future? What are you going to do?

Well, shit. Whatever FAFSA doesn’t cover anymore I’ll supplement with scholarships. I just got a job that will pay for my Master’s Degree in Social Work so long as I get a good GPA. And certain agencies and non profits in my field of study will pay back all of my tuition if I end up working for them. As for the rest, it’s back to the pole and the pipe. And don’t think I’ll be the only one.

Thursday Night Zodiac Open Thread

As of late, I have developed something of an obsession or a muse with Astrology. I have been asking everyone, random people even, what their signs are.

I am a Taurus, so being as stubborn as I am, it takes a lot for me to love something and commit to it, but when I do, you won’t get me to budge. I have a moon in Leo, which makes me more sociable and charismatic then other Taurus’. As a Taurus, my planet is in Venus, so I am all about the love.

It is Thursday night. From now on, every Thursday Night at the Confluence, I will do a Zodiac related post as an open thread. Conflueceans may discuss anything they want, as long as it is tied into the Zodiac in some way. Discussions of your signs are also welcome. (This is what I am after.)

Afrocity Says…Lets Hang up the Chick Habit and Riot Grrls!!!!


I try not to show it much but being recognized as a PUMA is very important to me.

I imagine myself standing in a room filled with PUMA women of all ages, colors and backgrounds. We are a circle of sisters who will not be treated like shit. A moral and intellectual force and we have all just been through hell.

I step forward and say.

My name is Afrocity and I am a Republican (there I said it) and I want to be a PUMA.

It is March 2009 and I was thinking this scene out for sometime as I awaited surgery at a local women’s hospital. I had uterine polyps. I was bleeding and in pain.  Nevertheless, I felt special because it was a women’s specialty hospital- only us girls and everything was trimmed in breast cancer awareness -pink.  I saw an older woman being wheeled into the OR, her daughter behind her with an OBAMA tote bag. Hmmm I did not vote for the man but matter what, we are still women. No one can change that. She pees sitting down and so do I.

I put my Ipod on. I have a PUMA playlist you know. It is all Riot Grrl music. The third wave feminist girl bands. Bratmobile, April March, Jack Off Jill… The drugs they gave to me were kicking in. The nurse looked at me and smiled. I wondered if she would still smile at me if she knew I was conservative. The last song I remembered before they wheeled me into surgery was April March’s “Chick Habit”.

hang up the chick habit
hang it up, daddy,
a girl’s not a tonic or a pill
hang up the chick habit
hang it up, daddy,
you’re just jonesing for a spill

oh, how your bubble’s gonna burst
when you meet another nurse
she’ll be driving in a hearse

you’re gonna see the reason why
when they’re spitting in your eye
they’ll be spitting in your eye

I thought yes we need to hang up the chick habits, all get along and PUMA will be spitting your eye.

You may have noticed that I have been absent from The Confluence.

After a long and stressful election year I needed some time to myself.

I was tired of the Rasmussen polls and Obamabots. I felt overloaded by the imagery of sexism, race baiting and misogyny. I lost my race, my color, my gender. The thread I hung by was PUMA and that thread was breaking I felt, because I was a conservative.

During the election I really had no where to turn. I frequented Jake Tapper’s Political Punch Blog at ABCNEWS.com. There I experience a daily forced fed diet of Kool Aid and Hillary Hate Bars, full of energy with hope and change, packed with the extra fiber of racial pandering and humiliation. Hillary lost the primary. I felt personally defeated.

What was I going to do? Vote for McCain? It was almost impossible to comprehend. I had been a Democrat my entire life. I was an African American woman- it was craziness. I wanted to vote for John McCain. I had always admired his service to his country, his time as a POW, his maverick stance. It did not help that the left had fallen from grace in my eyes. For some time they had metamorphosed from dutiful donkeys to hypocritical assholes. “Hmmm which voting block will we pimp this time?” I’d had enough. Hillary was my last hope in the DNC and now she was gone. I wanted to go Republican but all the force of my racial sensibility told me not to. The only thing liberal about me was my pro-choice position. How could I? I would sit out the election.

One day, I went to the blog to pass the time away. Expecting the same ol’ Obamabutt garbage. Quick! Here come the sheeple. Get the Kool Aid! Fetch and Carry.

Today I was wrong.

Someone posted.


Catchy phrase I thought. Just like the Howie Mandel game show. A week went by and I saw it again and again.

One lone poster: PUMA PUMA PUMA PUMA

I Googled it and saw sneakers…athletic gear…then a gem…It was Riverdaughter. THE CONFLUENCE.

At first I lurked and laughed. It was the epitome of estrogen and political snark.

Dare I post? I put a toe into the pool, then a leg, a body.

Afrocity was in, AngieNC grabbed my hand SOD was there, Madamab. Hi there Mr. Clown and Fuzzy, Simonfish. The water was refreshing and clear of Kool Aid.

Through PUMA, I gained unlikely acquaintances. Women I would never meet in real life. Along the way the wounds were terrible. Gotcha interviews, pigs with lipstick, Sarah Palin open debate threads, our PUMA eyes wide and keyboards tapping to her defense. We were like dolls in a museum, stripping off our gingham and corsets. We would no longer allow ourselves to be political ornamentation.

We were honing a message. Whispers from “Camp Chosen One” turned into threats and slurs. We were demonized as Menopausal Mollies who hated Obama. We were called the “R word”. Yes even me… We marched together on Election Day and cast our ballots. Many votes were in protest, others in earnest, a few mentally at home. The un-vote. Still, no matter how we voted, no matter how difficult it was that the vote was not for SHE, there was an undeniable bond of unity and we all found ourselves NOT VOTING FOR OBAMA.

I am a Republican but to me and the many other conservative and independent voting women that I know- we admire the PUMA cause as we lurk here. We watch with much interest as the PUMA question is answered. What is your mission. Will it include us?

Women of all political parties need to look for ways to simultaneously embrace women’s rights. Defiant political posture is a means to an end in the face of rising discrimination on the basis of our sex.

What happened during the election happened to both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

We should come together and avail ourselves of liberal and conservative tools- every divisive tool of patriarchic propaganda. Let’s widen our base and broaden our message.

Ceilings must shatter at the White House. As women, we should challenge the concept of the executive branch as ONLY masculine and the congressional branch as tolerably feminine.

We need collaboration to overcome the current divide. This past election told us much as ourselves not only as conservatives or democrats, blacks, whites, gays or straight but as women. Together we can advance in parallel directions. We can combat the horizontal fraternization between the patriarchy and the media. We can unburden ourselves of critical surveillance and revisionist History i.e. SHE IS STUPID, ONLY A ROOM WHERE HE COMES OUT, SHE IS PERIODICALLY DOWN.

Otherwise our work is in vain. Hidden in plain sight and the gendered assaults will continue.

Please lets hang up the chick habits. Let’s RIOT GRRLS

Then my operation is over and I have opened my eyes.

Autographed Letter Signed,



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Tomorrow is the 38th birthday of my youngest child…”my baby”..How he hates to hear me refer to him in that way.  It is amazing to me that time has gone by so rapidly.  At 24 I was the mother of 4 kids under the age of 5!  And to think I survived those years is amazing.

As the youngest, he was also the “feistiest” of the bunch.  You had to be if you wanted to be heard.  He spent the first 12 months basically attached to my hip while I wiped peanut butter and jelly from upturned  faces, changed diapers, loaded the washing machine,  mediated arguments, picked up toys, made beds,  read stories,  and tried to keep a semblance of order in our little corner of the world.

At 13 months he learned to escape his playpen and get out of his crib.  He was showing us early on that he was not to be restricted by boundaries, real or imagined.  He taught himself how to swim at 3 and learned to ride a two wheel bike by the age of 4.  His vocabulary mirrored mine although he spoke with a lisp and had trouble with his R’s and W’s.  “Fucky Fwied Chicken” was his special treat and he was not shy about screeching his pleasures from the top of his lungs.

He learned to read before going to school and could do his numbers and letters with ease since he copied the older kids’ work.  For awhile he insisted on wearing his red “popcorn” sweater even in the sweltering heat.    To this day there is still no adequate explanation.

He would get on his Big Wheel every morning and pay visits to the neighbors out doing yard work.  Apparently he loved nothing more than to repeat everything I said for their amusement.  In his baby world, I was without peer!

They had to drag him off me the first day of Kindergarten.    Our mutual time together had come to a fork in the road.    He and I both knew that he was no longer my “baby” but a boy on his way to adulthood where “ Mommy” was transformed into “Mom” and our roles were slowly evolving.

He played sports but was never spectacular.  He was dutiful and earnest, but he was never going to set the world on fire through athletics.  He accompanied me to polling booths and learned how to move the lever for the Democrats.    In school they wanted to move him up a grade because he was bright but I resisted since I knew he was not emotionally ready and he never knew that.  He loved to read and his favorite was the “Little House on the Prairie” set he borrowed from his sister.    He denies that today but it is a fact.

I can still see him in his soccer or baseball uniforms.  His layers of winter clothes.  His altar boy garb.  His Cub Scout attire.  His cowboy outfit and little boots.  His silly school pictures.    His Halloween costumes.  His graduation pictures.  His wedding day.  All memories tucked away in the “Randy file”.

His world was torn apart when his father left.  The grief was evident on his face.  A child of 12 whose sense of security was being yanked from his hands and out of his control had to hurt.  A wound was formed but not ever completely cauterized.    I wish I could restore that but I am unable to bring it back.

At 16 he was hired into his first job as a “bag boy” in a local market.  He learned how to manage money and saved up for his first car.  He bought his own clothes and put money away for college.  At 18 he left home and joined the ranks of many other undergrads just feeling their own way for the first time.    Weekend visits consisted mostly of laundry and time for friends.    Mom was just someone who occupied the homestead during his absence.   At 24 he left for Boston, basically never to return.  He met a nice girl from Lexington and a few years later they were married.  His home was elsewhere now and I accepted it, although bittersweet.  My son is now a Vice President of a fine company with a nice wife, children, home, friends.    And I know he is no longer mine.

It took him awhile to see that the world is not black and white but more gray than he realized.  It took him awhile to understand that life is not always played to a script but has a way of reaching out and biting you in the butt when you least expect it.  It took him awhile to understand that sacrifice has its place and having it all is just a saying.  It took him awhile.

He hates reminiscence.    Did not like to be reminded that he was once a child who did childish things.  But I could always pull from my “Randy file” the things that made him who he was and is.  He never gave me any trouble and I was always proud of him but he viewed these episodes as “sudsy”.  That is until he had his own children.

He wept the day his first daughter was born.  The weight of her melted his heart.  Her every thought, word, deed was recorded in his mind.  The reaction to his second daughter was the same.  No amount of pictures or videos was too much for him.  He dotes!

On his 38th birthday I wish him to be able to live to see a healthy 100!  Gathering and filing the data that is his life.  His children, his grandchildren, his dreams fulfilled!    And though I will not be here to continue the “Randy file” that started on the day of his birth, it will always be a part of who he is and what he has become.Happy Birthday, my once little boy!    My heart is full.

Things I just don’t get

Parts of the past year remain a total mystery to me.  For instance, what made Barack Obama more of a Change!™ agent than Hillary Clinton?  Did everyone REALLY think that she was going to escort Bush to the door and then just slide behind the desk in the Oval Office, picking up business like nothing had transpired?  Which one of you stupid Obots thought that was going to happen?  Speak up so we know who to taunt in the future.

Ruffles, good.  Stick to ruffles.

Ruffles, good. Stick to ruffles.

Of course Hillary would have brought Change.  From what I gather, it would have been more dramatic than Obama’s version.  She was ready with some pretty radical policy changes on the Paulsen Bailout Bill last September.  They were so out there that the only person who seemed to have paid any attention to them was John McCain.

That’s another thing I don’t get.  According to the CNN article, it was John McCain who seems to have taken a real shine for Hillary since the primaries.  The two of them worked together on the Armed Services Committee and they’re good friends now.  Maybe it’s because she can drink him under the table, I dunno.  It was John McCain who pointed to the urgency of confirming Clinton as the Secretary of State yesterday.  The country is in a vulnerable period of transition with a green president and the GOP was going to hold things up to get one last shot in?  How stupid is that?  When all was said and done, only 2 Republicans voted nay on her confirmation, making themselves stand out like crybabies for insisting on an unnecessary spectacle to parade her clean laundry in front of the world-again.

I will never understand the vitriolic viciousness of the Villagers or the Republicans for the Clintons.  I will never understand how one skipped cocktail party at Sally Quinn’s house escalated to such a mindless, frenzied 16 year onslaught on two dedicated public servants.  They aren’t perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But they fall so short of being the vile human beings as they are portrayed that the conventional wisdom about them is a joke now.  Perhaps Vince Foster had it right.  In Washington, ruining people “is considered sport”.  It was nothing more than cliquey viciousness that spread and was fueled by a right wing cabal of spiteful elves.  Maybe it was because they arrived in Washington based on their merits, not some aristocratic machine that greased the skids for them.  Maybe without the protection of their “clan”, they were open to the volleys from the courtiers who made their living from the continuity of the political class.

Whatever the initial reason behind the offensive, it eventually spread to Hillary’s own party and infected its hierarchy with the delight of all things petty and mean.  The pervasive nature of the game worried the leaders who were simultaneously reveling in  it while becoming fearful that the media and Villagers would never let up.  The sport fed upon itself.  The original reason for the game was lost long ago.  It was just the thing they did.  Beat up on the Clintons because they are there.  They will not go away so we will continue this silly game until they do.

No amount of so-called “arrogance” on Hillary’s part justified this ridiculous behavior from the Washington establishment.  Without self-confidence and a healthy ego, she couldn’t have come this far.  But it didn’t stop the clique from finding fault in everything she did.  Still, it should be time to put it aside now.  She has triumphed over them.  They’ve been beaten.  Oh, she’ll never be president.  They’ve seen to that, to our detriment.  But she will be one of the most powerful Secretaries of State we’ve ever had.  As the Boston Globe pointed out, Barack Obama needs someone with the experience and stature of Hillary Clinton to take his place on the foreign stage while he deals with domestic issues.  She will be as close to a foreign president as we have ever had.  And anyone who doesn’t think this is exactly what she asked for is dreaming.

Still, I just don’t get why the pettiness and snobbery continues.  Like, what’s up between the Carters and the Clintons that resulted in the incident below?  Is this the way we treat successful former presidents and their honorable wives these days?

There’s a history there, no question.  But what it’s all about is a mystery to me.  It’s a bit of Pride and Prejudice that I don’t understand, where the people you once admire turn out to be meanspirited meddlers with their own agendas.  It’s hard to know what to believe except that integrity can be found in how closely a person’s actions match their words.  And so far, my inclination is to trust Hillary.  She is as good as her word and Obama, who could stand to learn a thing or two about integrity, is very lucky to have her.

One more thing: Consider this your Morning Funnies.

Are We Human or Are We PUMA?

Human performed by “Goodbye Elliott” — be sure to click Play

While searching for a “Killers” version of their song, “Human,” that I could use here, I found this heartrending one by the band “Goodbye Elliot,” performing in their living room in Hawaii. As a former grades K-12 music teacher, I have a special place in my heart for talent like this, the joy and purity of playing and performing music.

We were lucky to have found each other. We were just kids.

—Paul McCartney, of his songwriting partnership with John Lennon. “The View” 1/14/09.

Wow, I guess I’m officially old, although everything about my generation will still be sixteen. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was released in 1962. That was 47 years ago. I didn’t even like the Beatles at first. I was into Ray Charles, oldies, jazz, avant-garde authors, poets, and playwrights, movies and musicals.

You won’t notice the years slip by. I’m telling you now. I don’t care.

But, are you still “Dancer”?

Are we human, or are we PUMA?

Some people might view that in a negative way. Not me. I’m looking at it this way. As ‘What’s Your Point, Honey?” filmmaker Amy Sewell* put it:

Women shouldn’t be paid equal, they should be paid more.

“The Killers” official music video of Human**, which is disabled for download, is full of big cats, which gives the song a special mystique and meaning to me. Call it telepathic radio — PUMAs are filmed heading right into the camera, stalking New Mexico-looking landscape. I highly recommend that you view it on YouTube, linked at bottom of page.

From mp3 lyrics;

[** There has been considerable confusion and debate over the line “Are we human or are we dancer?” in the song’s chorus. Many have incorrectly heard “denser” instead of “dancer”, a change which significantly alters the interpretation of the song’s meaning. On the band’s official website, the biography section states that Flowers is singing “Are we human, or are we dancer?” and also says that the lyrics were inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson about how America was raising a generation of dancers.] Lyrics: Human, The Killers [end]

As with any good song, poem or story, it holds up to lots of interpretation. Apparently there are many, including mine. The video and the song remind me of PUMA, at first, of course, because of the cats. But also this . . .

The idea of our innate wildness as humans, all of us, is visceral. Our willingness to break free from what’s expected. Afterall, that’s what my Baby Boom Generation did, right? Which is the human part, which is the animal part? Which is the spirit of the human, AND which of the animal? Where do they exist and reside? Are they part of our hard drive or an application? How do they determine our way in Life and the paths we choose?

HUMAN by The Killers

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind

And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes, clear your heart
Cut the cord

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Hear my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could

And so long to devotion
It taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye, wish me well
You’ve gotta let me know

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight
There is no message we’re receiving
Let me know, is your heart still beating?

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

You’ve gotta let me know

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?

My new boyfriend finally turned me on to The Beatles around the time “Revolver” was released in 1966, then “Sgt. Pepper. . . ” in 1967, and I was hooked. These were our anthems. When the movie “Let It Be” was released in 1970, the Beatles were at their height of mutual destruction, at each others’ throats, sarcastically sniping and putting each other down in the film. But evidently, I didn’t know or believe it before I went, alone, high on acid, thinking I’d have a wonderful ride. I left the theater on one of the few bummers I ever had while stoned out of my mind. The curtain had been pulled back in The Land of Oz — about the Beatles and so many other unacceptable things in our culture.


The Beatles, “Get Back”

John was always my favorite Beatle, including, perhaps especially his journey into feminism. This morning, Paul talked about losing his best friend, when John died. At the time, it was reported they’d been somewhat estranged, amidst years of pressure to reunite as a band. Down the road, perhaps they’d want to take some of it back, but at the time I’m sure it made sense to each of them. I’m not sure what the song means, and on wiki, it sounds like they were just making up ditties during their jam. But, even though it’s far from my favorite Beatles song, I get that same feeling of getting back to what’s essential, and of meaning.

Through it all — the trials of our existence — what is the kernel we seek? A means to live in peace, be fed, happy, respected, love and be loved, and make our music? To be free. To be seen. To feel some kind of meaning in our life. Seeing and hearing Hillary Clinton‘s deep eloquence and majestic thinking during her Senate Confirmation Hearings for Secretary of State reminded me once again. To discover our purpose, individually and collectively, and the Spirit of our Dancer.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life? —Mary Oliver, The Summer Day


* Stay tuned for my upcoming post, and recorded interview with documentary filmmaker and feminist, Amy Sewell. We discuss her latest film, “What’s Your Point, Honey?” which is about how to fulfill our mission of electing a woman President of the United States.

“The Killers,” Human on YouTube.

[cross-posted from Lady Boomer NYC]

May God Bless and Keep You Always!

You — my readers, my friends, my family — have been my rock, my sustenance, my touch stone throughout this year.

As a community, we have all been that for each other — and for all of it, I give thanks.


And May Your Year Be Sweet — Filled with Chocolate and Sweet Moments


Who could have imagined one year ago that our PUMA community would materialize out of thin air? Who could have known that we would spend the year in a fight for the Democracy we have known? Who would have foreseen that they would have given so much to this fight, and given up or suspended so much that they took for-granted before — career, friends, family, colleagues and associates — in order to take a stand for something that seemed so obvious? It was the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, and we could not deny it. Like Hillary, we found our voice, individually, and collectively. And we still are here . . . testifying.

And you? To whom do you give thanks? And . . . who in your life keeps you young?

And how about this: what did You do in 2008 that you could never have imagined a year ago?

And: what do you want to do this year, in any domain, for sake of what really matters to you?

Happy 2009, Everybody!

Please press play — the heart-swells will be worth it . . .

Forever Young

by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Prayers to Light Your Way – for BJ

empire-state-chanukahThe Empire State Building, lit up for Chanukah

in NYC’s first snow storm of the year, December 19, 2008

Dear Readers,

Chanukah, the festival of lights, more than any Jewish holiday I know of, celebrates miracles. In ancient Judaism, circa 168 BC, the second temple was destroyed in a war between the Jews and the Syrian-Hellenists, when they forced Jews to assimilate. Although the sacred items of the temple’s altar were decimated, enough oil was recovered to light the flame of remembrance for one night. But instead of lasting for just one night, the flame burned for eight days and eight nights. It was called a miracle and Jews made a holiday, and with that, of course, they/we eat.

In remembrance of this time in history — when what seemed like the darkest hour, light emerged, propagated by a small flame. Jews celebrate by lighting candles and partaking of delicacies fried in oil: latkes in the US and doughnuts in Israel. The Jewish calendar is lunar, thus different each year, and this year, the winter solstice coincided with the first night of Chanukah. On the shortest day and night of the year, where darkness prevails, the light of hope was kindled. And now, the year has turned and daylight will continue to increase. In that same vein, may our ability to produce good in the world, in the “square inch field” and in the grand scheme of things also increase.

In this spirit, I ask that you to turn your attention and prayers to one of our own PUMA family members who’s in need. I’ve been sending prayers and thoughts toward BettyJean Kling, her daughters Louisa and Denise, and her whole family since hearing of their horrible family tragedy.

Last week, Louisa was violently assaulted by her sister Denise’s estranged husband. Riverdaughter stickied her poignant vigil post that described the situation: Louisa, who had been caring for Denise who is in an advanced stage of cancer, is now in the hospital fighting for her own life and brain function. If you want to read more of the story, you can find it here. And, last Friday night, December 19, Sheri Tag broadcast a special interview with BettyJean on Puma United Radio that you can listen to here. The show had me reeling, shaking my head in disbelief. It’s hard to believe that such assaults occur in our world, but indeed, they are all too common.

BettyJean welcomes all prayers. She asks that “no infection take hold, and may the left brain take over for the right with some time, God willing.” The latest update gives us more hope: on Monday night Louisa squeezed BettyJean’s finger and the doctors are now concerned with brain function instead of removal from life support.

Great Spirit, please provide strength and healing to Louisa, Denise, BettyJean, and her entire family. Amen.

Please take this time to click on and play the Moody Blues track below, listen to the words with your eyes closed, let the music inspire you, and try to contact Louisa, and anyone else in your circle that you’d like to send energy to or connect with.

Thank you for all you do! With love, and may the lights of Chanukah and Christmas shine upon you all, and brighten your nights, LBNYC

I Know You’re Out There Somewhere

[. . .] The words that I remember
From my childhood still are true
That there’s none so blind
As those who will not see
And to those who lack the courage
And say it’s dangerous to try
Well they just don’t know
That love eternal will not be denied

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

Yes I know it’s going to happen
I can feel you getting near
And soon we’ll be returning
To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I’ll be there
My arms will close around you
And protect you with the truth

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

[cross-posted from LadyBoomerNYC]