Category Archives: politics

Inspiring vs. Inciting – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Yesterday was a huge day for politics in Albany, our Capital City on the Hudson. My schedule only allowed for me to attend one of the three pre-primary political rallies, but I am ever so proud to say that my older sons represented at the two events held during the early afternoon. How cool is it that they are interested and participating at their ages – 16 and 19?

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Liam, my oldest son attended the Kasich rally in Troy, essentially because he is taking classes at HVCC and the event was very conveniently nearby. Liam leans further to the right than I and often threatens to vote for candidates who hold much more socially conservative positions than I do. He didn’t really have an opportunity to share many impressions of the speech but he did say Kasich is a moderate Republican with a repeated refrain of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Griffin, my middle son, is always game to skip school and the Bernie rally gave him a fine and legitimate reason to cut out of class with my permission. He liked Bernie’s message but found him, when compared to President Obama, to be a less powerful speaker. He was in agreement with the message, but said Sanders had a “Grandpa cute” vibe. Griffin did really enjoy the folks present, though, and felt comfortable in the tightly packed crowd in the Armory. There might have even been some hugging, from what I understand. I was sad to have missed it.

Made in China - worn with total irony

Made in China – worn with total irony

Later in the day, after a fortifying beer meal at McGeary’s, all 3 of my boys and I headed to the Times Union Center for what we referred to as the circus. We arrived at approximately 6:40 and waited in line for entry and security for about 20 minutes. It was an informative time as we looked around at the other folks in line wondering what their stories might be. Were they genuine supporters? Local? Perhaps merely curious, like us, there to see the spectacle? It was impossible to know.

imageWe made it to seats in the upper deck just minutes before Trump graced the enthusiastic crowd with his presence. He immediately launched into his stump speech, littering his diatribe with meaningful phrases such as “New York values,” “building that wall” and “making America great again.” His words were resonating with the crowd who greeted his sound bites with cheers and the frenzied waving of their Trump signs. Other people present began to respond as well to Trump’s claims, but these people were protestors, not supporters. The energy in the arena shifted from simple enthusiasm to a more complicated mélange of fear and anger. My children began to feel uncomfortable.

imageI looked around at the people surrounding us and tried to think about what might have made them so angry. How could they possibly be more furious with Mexican immigrants than they are with corporations which relocate to Mexico to lower production costs and maximize profits? Why are they resentful of citizens desiring comprehensive and affordable healthcare, but not with pharmaceutical companies using government money for research yet not making their products financially within reach of those who may need them? How does a New York City billionaire represent the interests of what looked to be a mostly blue-collar crowd?

We witnessed a couple of fights break out and saw a number of attendees being removed from the facility. The threat of more ugliness was pervasive. The boys asked to leave, which we did just before 8:00.

To me, Bernie Sanders brings light to our country’s political landscape while Donald Trump delivers a fire that threatens to incinerate all it touches. More than once last night I considered the similarities between the scene in front of us and what was Germany in the 1930s. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll confess that I repeatedly thought: “Is this how Hitler gained power? Is this how it begins?”

Primary Day can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Education, Events, family, Local, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, upstate New York

5 Things that got me hot in December

• A visit to the Hot Yoga Spot. After months of not managing to get to a Bikram class, I finally made it to the newest HYS location in East Greenbush this week. It was truly 75 minutes of blissful hard work and I am so happy that there is yet another location and schedule of classes of which I can avail myself.
• The thought of Donald Trump representing my country.
• Sunshine and 57 degrees in Albany, N.Y.
• The Soba noodle dish we’re offering as part of our Tuesday & Wednesday Pasta Special – so good! I know it is going to be exactly what I’ll crave when I get my first winter cold.
• New flannel sheets from Macy’s Martha Stewart Collection. They are legit like velvet.

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Imagine

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Can you believe it has been 35 years since John Lennon was murdered?  It just doesn’t seem possible that so many years have passed since the music world lost one of its most influential artists and many of us lost our innocence.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget lying in bed that night and hearing the news on my clock radio – the disbelief and shock that I felt were unfamiliar emotions to me.  In an instant the world became a different place.

I have to wonder if John Lennon would have written different lyrics to Imagine if he were writing that song today.  I suppose he might have imagined a world without handguns, right?  Yeah, me, too.

His hope for a world without religion probably wouldn’t have changed, but maybe he would have expanded upon that thought by wishing that we could live in a world where political candidates didn’t manipulate citizens with fear mongering and religious discrimination.

The rampant consumerism in our society probably would have bummed him out.  The ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in our world shows that we have only grown more distant from Lennon’s ideal for “sharing all the world.”  It seems that oversharing a la tabloids and reality television is what we really do best.

Who ever could have imagined the world in which we now are living?  A world where dozens of children have been massacred in their schools because we’re too stupid as a society to prevent bad people from getting weapons?  A country in which prospective presidential candidates are encouraging behaviors frighteningly reminiscent of the actions we took decades ago when we perpetrated gross civil liberty injustices against the Japanese, and, in more recent years, blacks and  gays.

Unfortunately, I imagine we’re still a very long way from when the world will live as one.

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The meaning of Mass

There are some words in the English language which have so many meanings that they are impossible to accurately interpret without context. “Mass” is one of those words.

I suppose my first definition of mass would have been religiously based, mass as a noun, as a destination on Sunday mornings and holidays like Christmas Eve. It is a place of peace where rituals provide comfort to the faithful. As someone who doesn’t even practice a formal religion, I find mass to be a safe location for spiritual exploration and community. Mass is good.

When I was a student, I struggled with understanding the word mass when it was used scientifically. Mass and weight confuse me the same way medians and averages do, I don’t really get it without making an effort. Mass can be difficult to comprehend.

Often mass is used as an adjective. I’m certain you’ve heard the phrase “mass hysteria” or “mass appeal.” Mass can convey a state of contagious or collective behavior, a condition that typically defies logic or explanation. Mass, when used as a describing word, can suggest downright madness.

Today, I sought the definition of yet another use of the word “mass,” as in “mass shooting.” I was curious to know what that term meant; especially after hearing our country had hosted 355 of these in calendar year 2015 alone. Yes, 355, more than one a day, every single day. How could that be possible?

Well, it seems that there are different definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting. Is it an occurrence in which a minimum of 3 or 4 people have been killed or injured in acts of gun violence? Do we include cases of domestic abuse? How about gang violence? Should we only count the indiscriminate acts, like the ones we witnessed in Sandy Hook or Colorado or do we merely focus our attention on the ones which are perpetrated by shooters who don’t resemble “us” in color or creed?

I don’t have any answers only a wish that mass could once again be a word that describes a place of refuge and sanctity rather than a situation which is impossible to understand and wrought with insanity.

 

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Man Crush Monday – 11/16/15

It’s been awhile since I’ve admitted who I’m crushing on, but today seems like a good day to acknowledge a guy who I think is pretty awesome. The man I’m thinking about today is someone I find attractive for his commitment to the environment, international humanitarian causes and my candidate of choice for President, Bernie Sanders. Even though he’s not quite as tall as I would like at only 5’8”, Mark Ruffalo stands head and shoulders over men of far greater stature for his unfailing devotion to important domestic and world issues.  His wife is a lucky woman.

A few recent Tweets which illustrate why I’m crushing on Mark:

Don’t allow this horrific act allow you to be drawn into the loss of your humanity or tolerance. That is the intended outcome. #ParisAttacks

I donated this Veterans Day to support #BernieSanders and everything he has done for our vets! #FeelTheBern http://thndr.me/e9QjTy

When it comes to women’s rights, we still have a lot to do. #hopeforourdaughters #suffragette https://youtu.be/XFu-pvdYsvs

You’ve got to love a guy who wants peace, supports Bernie Sanders and believes in women’s rights.  Factor in sex appeal and great personal style and you’ve got my pick for Man Crush Monday.  Who are you crushing on?

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A tale of two abortions

imageMany, many years ago an older friend shared with me the story of her illegal abortion. It involved a large amount of money, cash only, of course, a bus ride out of the city and into the “everything looks the same” suburbs, and an extracted promise to never tell anyone where she had been (as if she could remember) and what she had done (as if she could forget).

I remember being riveted by her story, trying to imagine the emotions my friend must have experienced on that scary afternoon. How nervous she must have been that something, anything, could go wrong – what if she missed her connection at the bus station or if the “abortionist” was really a scam artist intent upon robbing her? Would there be post-procedure complications? Might her decision to terminate her pregnancy in an unregulated “clinic” threaten her future fertility? What choice(s) did she truly have?

When I became pregnant as a teenager the only question I had to ask myself was this: Am I prepared to be responsible for another’s life? Recognizing that my present situation was but one indication of my own lack of personal responsibility,* I knew I needed to terminate my pregnancy. I called Planned Parenthood.

When I arrived for my appointment, jar of first morning’s urine in my school bag, I was treated like a human being. My options, choices, were explained and I was offered an array of services, including abortion. My questions were answered and I was provided with a referral to the facility where I would ultimately end my pregnancy and begin my new life as a much more responsible, sexually active, young woman.

I had no concerns about the legitimacy of the medical care I received or the competence of the practitioner. I understood the potential for complications or long term problems resulting from my abortion and accepted the small risk, knowing that actually having a child would be far more perilous.

In the years since my abortion, I’ve often wondered who that child, my child, would have grown to be. I’ve thought about how old (s)he would be and tried to imagine the life I would have known if I had become a teenaged mom. Ultimately, I can only conclude that the three children I do have most certainly benefitted from the services made available to me at Planned Parenthood and I have no regrets for the choice I made. I stand with Planned Parenthood.

*I’m NOT suggesting that all unintended pregnancies are the result of a lack of personal responsibility. This was MY situation.

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Pay attention

On more than one occasion, I’ve listened to people complain about how much money teachers get paid. Maybe you’ve been part of such a conversation – it usually involves noting the short work day teachers enjoy, the health insurance and other benefits they’re given, and the excellent calendar which allows me them to have summers and holidays off. I’m familiar with the litany of complaints about teachers, even without the governor leading the chorus, thank you very much. I have a Master’s Degree along with nearly 20 years in the field and I just broke the $60,000 mark last year. Does that really sound excessive?

There have been a couple of things I’ve read or seen recently that make me a little insane when it comes to income or salary. For instance, the 14 wealthiest Americans increased their net worth in the last two years by $157 billion. That increase is equal to the entire holdings of the bottom 40% of Americans. Does that even seem right?

Did you know that Disney CEO Robert Iger made almost $44 million last year? The median salary for Disney workers is less than $20,000 a year, but I’m sure that he does 2,238 times more work than everyone else, right? How is this ok?

I’d love to share the income of one of our local billionaires, George R. Hearst III, but since his family business is privately held, that figure is impossible to determine without a subpoena or peek at his tax returns.  Suffice it to say, his family’s worth is estimated to be in the area of about $35 billion.  And, yes, this is the same guy/corporation that hasn’t given their local employees toiling away at the Albany Times Union a raise in more than 7 years.  Really??

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand why a small percentage of our population holds such a disproportionately large share of the wealth.  How much do they need?  How can anyone justify a CEO-to-worker compensation ratio (in 2013) of to 295.9-to-1?   All I can say is Bernie Sanders.  Enough.

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