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There is an article in the NY Times today:

New Policy Permits Asylum for Battered Women

So in a somewhat tragic turn of affairs, I did not know about this case, nor did I follow it as it was coming down the line for a decision. I used to follow these issues, closely. It’s kind of a mini-sign of how much my life has changed in the last 5-6 years that I had to read about this – and *not* known about the W administration’s stance on it – until I read the NYT.

Anyway, the article made me think about something that DB and I talk about all the time.

There are *so* *many* people who want to come to this country.

I mean, I am not pro-Bush by any stretch, but I can’t imagine that after reading her case, anyone in the Bush administration was untouched by this woman’s story. Her story is sickening. It is every woman’s nightmare in a country where everyone else turned a deaf ear and blind eye – and she, unlike countless other women, actually tried to get help…and was turned down. By everyone.

No, the reason this is a major departure from the Bush Administration – the reason that the Bush Administration denied classifying this woman as needing political asylum – is that it might open the floodgates, so to speak, of millions (yes, probably millions) of women in similar situations.

And now we’ve done it.


So I got to thinking: I’ve been trying to figure out how best to say this, and I haven’t really had the ability to frame this message in anything other than a straight-up “This is bad because…” or “This is good because…” in quite some time; I’ve been busy. But I have been very involved in adoption issues for a while, despite not having adopted (we seem to be on the long-ass time horizon for that one) and recently, I’ve gotten more involved. So here is my message:

Yes, there are people lining up to come into America.

Yes, there are people who came here, who *are* here, who maybe came to these shores not-so-legally.

But just because *they* want to come here, doesn’t mean that *everyone* wants to come here.

That is an important point. Think about it. I assume Tahiti (I know nothing about Tahiti) is a fabulous paradise place, but WHAT IF you don’t want to go to Tahiti? Should we just assume that because TAHITI *might be* great for you, you should move there? Immediately? Become a Tahitian?


And if you ended up in Tahiti, and really, you were more of a snow-bunny-type, or something (go with me here, people), would you want to lose every aspect of your identity as an American in your move to Tahiti? If you *moved* to Tahiti, would you want documents saying that you were born a Tahitian, not an American?

Probably not.

And more than that, it would be a lie. You were born an American, on U.S. soil, whether you liked it here or not. And you moved to Tahiti, and became a naturalized Tahitian, because *that* is what happened.

That is the truth.

There are two adoption-related bills proposed in Congress. I believe – and I know others believe – that they more harm international adoption than they help. They are a threat to transparent, ethical adoption.

They assume that *every* kid wants to be a Tahitian. Or an American.

So to speak.

The first bill is the FACE Act, or HR 3110/S 1359. This act conveys citizenship to children adopted overseas retroactive to birth. It eliminates the visa process, so there is very little investigative clout to investigate whether a child referred for adoption is actually legally freed for adoption. By the time this investigation takes place, it is potentially already too late: the child is adopted, the legal child of American citizens, and there is considerable political will to approve such a petition – and this time, it is not for a visa, but for a passport.

Citizenship conferred retroactive to birth means that adoptees might not be able to seek dual citizenship when they are older. As infants or toddlers – they will relinquish the right to own land in their birth country.

Actually, that right will be relinquished for them. By this bill.

It is cutting off ties to birth culture and country which are meaningful, and important, and possibly the only thing the adoptee has in leaving his/her birth country.

(Remember: Tahiti. Leaving America for Tahiti. You are from Alaska. And now we’re saying that you can’t even go back and own property in Alaska when you are old enough to decide that for yourself.)

And really, the truth is that the FACE Act, if enacted, will slow down the process of adoption for prospective parents: I think I can speak to this in a very personal way. DB works for the federal government. To change pieces of paper around, and move staff around from one office to the other (moving people from one government body to the other, to meet the requirements of this law) (don’t ask me how I know this) – but to CHANGE PIECES OF PAPER, do you know how long it takes?


The process will take MONTHS to sort out.

The government is *not* *slick*.

Bill 2: The Families for Orphans Act (HR 3070; I don’t know what the bill number is in the Senate yet)

(I really should have thought more about which tropical island I used in this analogy. Is Tahiti a nice place? If it’s not, take this to mean: I meant that Tahiti was a glorious, paradise-like place. 365/24/7. OK?)

This bill *sounds* good. I’ll give it that. It really does *sound* phenomenal.

But it isn’t.

It stipulates that foreign countries can have American debt relief and foreign aid IF THEY ACQUIESCE to having an international adoption program.

(There is already significant aid that accompanies any international adoption program. Do we really need to provide incentives to sending countries?)

In fact, it mirrors another existing bill (PL-109-95) whose mandate *is* finding permanent placements for kids in need of them. PL 109-95 is required to provide yearly report to Congress on the state of USG children’s programs.

PL 109-95 is unfunded.

PL 109-95 does not explicitly delineate inter-country adoption as an option for kids in need of homes.

FFOA does.

And although FFOA proponents will say that this is *not* an adoption bill, really?

Since it mirrors the PL 109-95 so nicely, save for the requirement that countries open up for adoption?

It is.

And it should not be. America should not be the child welfare police of the world. In fact, what status do WE have in telling other countries how to treat their children?!?

We haven’t even ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child!

Who on EARTH would want to listen to us? And why should they?!?

And why can’t we work with other countries in formulating a culturally relevant, child welfare plan…a la PL 109-95?

So here, I leave you with this thought:

Tahiti may be fabulous, and you may never ever want to leave.

America may really suck, and you might want to get the hell out of Dodge to escape it.

But *you*, my friends, are old enough to speak up. Ditto the women seeking asylum trying to come into this country: old enough to make decisions about where to live, when to move, and how to do it (or at least old enough to verbalize the choice).

Young adoptees: not so much.

Don’t we owe it to them to not assume one country is *better* than the other? To assume that they are here, we are going to do the very best for them, and we are going to advocate, advocate, advocate to retain *all* of their rights? To say, “We are going to work our butts off to ensure that you are considered an American citizen the moment you touch American soil, but we are still going to celebrate your first heritage. Your first national allegiance. We want to celebrate the culture and the family from which you emerged”?

To ensure that their birth culture is appreciated and respected? Ie, acknowledge that America might have some challenges, but Tahiti has other challenges, too? Neither is one “better” or “worse”, necessarily, but different.

Yes, I thought so.

For more information, you can go to Ethica.

And if you agree with me, please, please speak up. Join the Facebook group (linked on the Ethica website). Write your congressional representatives. Share your concerns with them.

Talk to them about Tahiti.

One of the blogs I lurk on read has a post about this horrific organization, the Westboro Baptist Church, which has a theology that is, in summary, stomach-wrenching and unthinkable, with abhorrent practices to match.

They are protesting in NYC today – at a synagogue – and will be in your neighborhood soon, too, and the synagogue where they are hatemongering is launching a campaign to raise money for the causes that are apparently worthy of such hatred.

Please, consider contributing to this effort. Reading their (the hate-monger) website is sickening.

If you cannot contribute, please pray. Our God is one of grace, love, righteous anger, and righteous judgement, but it is His prerogative, not ours, to deign what is abhorrent and not. Certainly the protests here – with signs like, “God hates you”, “God hates the USA”, and others that pronounce who, not what, the Lord “hates” – are not only horrifying, but not Biblical. In the slightest.

God is sovereign. Full stop. Period. And any attempt we make to usurp that is simply an abomination.

I was totally planning to NOT blog today.  But I have this to say, and it will be short, and it is (thankfully for you, I’m sure) not related to my gut.

I am totally concerned about Obama’s political capital.

I thought with Obama coming in with SUCH high public expectations and SUCH high approval ratings that he would sail gracefully and without a lot of drama through the entire first month of his presidency.  Seriously, I thought that.  I figured, “Who on Earth is going to want a public debacle with this guy, the most popular president to take office since…a long time ago?”  (You can tell I have done no research whatsoever for this post.  It’s a rough day today.  Sue me.)

But it turns out, I was totally wrong.

It scares me that he has gone around the country holding town hall meetings and press conferences and bringing Republicans and Democrats to the White House to watch the Superbowl, all to pass his economic stimulus bill.  I don’t even really care about the stimulus bill, if you want to know the truth.  What I care about is what the public thinks, because *that* is what is going to turn the economy around.  I majored in Economics, and although I frankly don’t remember much about it (sorry, my brain is a sieve and it’s way worse these days), I remember that the economy is, like, 90% related to psychology and only 10% related to everything we think it is related to.  So the less wrangling and thespianism that goes on over at the Hill, the better.  People will be less freaked out, they will slow down their trauma-inducing layoffs, the DOW will desist its traumatic plunges, and CNN will stop giving me a mycardial infarction on an hourly basis.

Pass the damn bill already.  Get on with it.

Here is why I am really concerned:

Do you remember Clinton and his campaign promise?  The one he made to reform health care?  Yeah, that one.  Well, it turns out that he got elected, right?  And then set to work to take care of some various political issues, including several that – oops – cost him a TON of political capital.  Then he proceeded to set up this massive task force, headed by his wife and this small man with what sounds like Little Man Syndrome (highly recommended text:  The System – it will give you a new insight and appreciation for Hilary) and by the time the task force was ready, and the President was ready, and the other political debacles had gotten sorted out (or not), it was too late.  Political capital spent.

You probably don’t remember it beyond the fact that Hilary’s health care program was a total embarrassment for the White House.

(Then, remember when the federal government shut down because of partisan bickering?  Yeah.  It was a great time for partisan politics.  I know because it was insanely cool to me, as a 16-year old working there.)

I say this because unfortunately, now we are in deeper $hit.

A lot of health care policy pundits saw Obama’s presidency as a PRIME opportunity for passing some much-needed, imperative health care legislation.  Health care is something I consider an imperative, similar to the “economic stimulus” bill that I am dubious will stimulate anything, although if it will give people a happier outlook, I’m all for it.

You might wonder why now (after weeks of this bickering) I am writing about this.

Well, for one, we (DB & I) have phenomenal health care.  We just got a bill for our 6-week ultrasound.  DB opened the bill, looked at me in shock, and said, “We don’t owe anything.”

That’s right, folks.  Our lovely government health insurance provides 100% of our prenatal healthcare expenses*.

Let that sink in a little.

How insanely logical is that?!?  Our littlest, most helpless citizens provided the very best level of coverage?

And THAT is our government health care!  (And it is not one bit like socialist health care at all, for those naysayers out there!  We go to a private hospital – one of the most highly rated in the COUNTRY!  We pick our own Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists!)

I cannot begin to wax about how incredibly blessed we are.  We are BLESSED.

And the basic health of America’s citizens should not be a source of anxiety for them, nor should it be the downfall for health care institutions that cannot be reimbursed for services rendered.

Health care is a RIGHT, not an option, and I am terribly concerned that in Obama’s bid to pass his stimulus bill, he is squandering critical political capital.

*Don’t get me started on how, if I deliver very early, our family will cost our poor health insurance company LITERALLY millions of dollars.  I am at high risk for this.  That is why we are seeing a MFM.  If you really want to know what I think, I think health insurance companies should cover a portion of the costs of an adoption, because *that* is the best deal they will *ever* get.  But who am I to say that to them?


And now…for something totally different.

Last week was an amazing week for our country.  We inaugurated a new president, a president who looks nothing like his predecessors.  People danced in the streets.

Our new president got very busy very quickly, signing executive orders right and left.  One such order was as exciting for many of us as it was predictable:  he overturned the Mexico City Policy, aka the Global Gag Rule.  I have been asked to write about this, so I’ll give it my best shot (keep in mind – I am still recovering from my three weeks of puking, so be kind in your dissent and be very effusive with any praise.  Hee hee).

We’ll start with a point-blank assessment of my opinion, so we can all be very clear up front:

I applauded the President’s moves on EVERY single one of his executive orders, because I applaud EVERY executive order that champions human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

I applauded his order to close the prison camp at Gitmo, because I strongly, staunchly believe in the value of our constitutional rights – even for the most hardened, most despicable of criminals.  I believe that if we have a sustainable case against any given terrorist, that person can be prosecuted in an appropriate court of law, accorded due process. Think about it this way:  if someone suddenly invaded the U.S., kidnapped *you*, and brought *you* back to an off-shore military base, with absolutely no end in sight, would it make you *more* or *less* likely to want to wage war on the country that kidnapped you in the first place?


I celebrated the executive order that eliminated torture.  Frankly, I find it hard to believe *any* confession obtained through coercive methods, and torture is an absolutely abhorrent method of procuring a confession.  Think about it again:  If *you* were being fake-drowned, or hung naked with Rottweilers snarling at your nether regions, would you seriously tell the truth?  Or would you say *anything*, just to get those damn dogs away from you?

I am not too proud to say I’d pretty much cry uncle.  Immediately.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one like that.

And I was excited, but not surprised, that President Obama overturned the Global Gag Rule.  YOU might be surprised that I was excited about this.  So let’s simply review what the GGR actually is:

In 1984, then-President Reagan signed an executive order to suspend federal funding for any U.S. organization  operating overseas with an arm that discussed, supported, or mentioned abortions in ANY country.  Lest you wonder, it was entirely political (don’t you think he wanted the votes from the Christian conservative base?).  It was certainly not to save the lives of unborn children.  In essence, those same organizations refused to stop their activities (which were primarily focused on PREVENTING pregnancies, rather than ENDING them) and they were forced to solicit funds from other countries.

In 1993, in his second day in office, President Clinton overturned the ban, stating that organizations should be able to receive federal funding for the family-planning work they did.

In 2001, on his second day in office, President Bush reinstated the ban.  (Are you noticing a political trend here?)

In 2003, President Bush ran into a slight problem:  he wanted to implement HIV/AIDS programs, but the organizations that delivered the HIV/AIDS treatments were the same organizations that were blacklisted by the Mexico City policy.  He partially overturned the ban.

And in 2009, President Obama, in what was a largely predictable move, overturned the ban entirely.

So why is it that I think it is a great thing?

First of all, I believe that this ban actually increases the number of abortions in the countries where funding for family planning services is reduced.  When there are fewer ways for women to prevent pregnancy – either through education on their fertility cycles, birth control pills, condoms, or even sterilization, women are more likely to get pregnant when they do not want to be pregnant.

Moreover, and perhaps this is something that is woefully missing from the American discourse on the topic, Americans tend to view things through their own, distorted, American lenses.  Here in America, we go to the grocery store and we have the option of 18 different types of potato chips to buy:  expensive ones, cheap ones, generic ones, organic ones.  If we get into a medical crisis, we can head over to our local emergency room and get at least basic medical care, even without health insurance.  We have luxuries that those in developing countries cannot fathom.

More than that, however, WOMEN in America have the rights that are simply unfathomable in many developing countries.  We have the right to articulate our needs.  We have the right to articulate the terms and conditions of our sexual relationships.  When those rights are not respected, we have a legal system that can prosecute offenders and advocate on our behalf.  This is not to say it is ALWAYS the case, but the system is in place.

This is not the case in many resource-poor countries.

Women often have no ability to negotiate the terms of their sexual contacts, even within marriage.  There are often situations when their spouse has been engaging in unprotected sex with other women, but he comes home and refuses to use a condom in sexual contact with her.

Women have no defense against the scourge of AIDS, and they often do not have the resources to support the children they already have.  Adding another child to the mix is simply unfathomable.

My point is this:  the organizations denied funding under the Mexico City policy are often providing valuable, righteous, services.  They are providing support and funding to women in the most desperate of situations.

When the U.S. withholds funding for political, not moral, reasons, those organizations simply look elsewhere for funding, or make do with less.  And the victims in this situation?  Are women, who seek more dangerous methods for controlling their fertility in instances when the more traditional routes have failed.  At their worst, these dangerous methods can kill women, leaving other children motherless. In many, if not most, countries, HIV/AIDS treatment is delivered through the same organizations as the family planning organizations, leaving women with no options for HIV/AIDS treatment – often for a virus they contracted through absolutely no fault of their own.  The victims there?  The women, who will most likely die, and their children, who may have contracted the virus themselves and will most certainly become the heads of their very, very young households.

The U.S.  is a wealthy, privileged country.  We have no idea how privileged we are until we examine the situation elsewhere, and realize that many of our political stances are simply the product of what is actually an entitled position.

It simply makes no sense.

Above all, when I think of this, I think of this Bible verse, which I decided to take from the Message because it really boils it down:

34-36“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Now, this may seem like an odd verse to use, since it is often employed by the National Right to Life crowd.  But why don’t we think about it this way: who, exactly, ARE the least of these?  The mother, dying of a virus she contracted through her committed relationship with her spouse?  Her children, who are hungry and clammoring for food, when there simply isn’t enough to go around?  And the unborn, who truly should never have been conceived?  These organizations help to PREVENT pregnancy.  Shouldn’t it be every woman’s right to control her fertility?

And moreover, how do we know what we’d do, if we were HIV+, poor, and pregnant with our 10th child?  Until we’ve walked in her shoes, how do we know the best decision?  To presume that we do know is entirely entitled and short-sighted.  I know what I would like to think I would do – but I do *not* know what I would *have* to do.

Life is precious from conception to natural (not famine-inflicted, or disease-afflicted) death.  It is not only precious from conception to birth.  The moment we begin to celebrate life, and ensure that life is valued and cherished and supported from viable birth until death, is the moment we can begin to have petty political arguments about the morality of funds overseas.

Until then, I choose to celebrate every decision that values the marginalized.

…is going to be an AMAZING day.

I’m watching the crowds at the Mall right now, going wild with excitement and chanting, “Yes, We Can!”  

The last time I saw this kind of crowd at the Mall it was under totally different circumstances.

I’ve mentioned that I was a House Page back in the day.  Well, “back in the day” means it was the class of 1995-1996, and I served for the entire school year (like almost every other page from the party I worked for.  Don’t ask which one that was.  I’ve had an epiphany since then).  

During that year, Louis Farrakhan decided that the black man needed to stand up and fight for his rights in what became known as the Million Man March.  The March was not without controversy.  I mean, it was Louis Farrakhan, leader of Nation of Islam.  And he only invited men.  Black men, in fact.  At the time, I frankly didn’t fully understand (nor will I EVER fully understand, but I can appreciate better now) the point of his gathering.  

Nevertheless, my fellow page friends and I wanted a piece of the action.  We wanted to know what it felt like to be in that crowd, at that time, with those speakers.  

So we went.  

It is difficult for me to remember all of my feelings from that time.  Fear, for sure.  I was a tiny white girl in a sea of very angry black men.  They were hanging from the trees (I believe to be able to see the speakers, but their vantage point high above me did not make me any more comfortable), and the speakers were yelling – angrily – into the microphone.  “Don’t they know that the microphones amplify their speech already?” – I thought.  I clung tightly to some other (scrawny) (white) male page, and we wandered through the crowd.

The gravity of the fact that I was one of a handful of white people on the Mall was not lost on me at the time, and it’s something I’ve considered in hindsight, too.  I will never understand what it is like to be a minority dealing with discrimination on a day-in, day-out basis:  every time I have been a minority, it is something I’ve chosen for myself.  I choose to visit foreign countries (and even then, I’m American, which creates some arbitrary status).  I choose to be in the middle of a crowd of black men.  

It doesn’t totally diminish the gravity of the experience, though.  So this is what it might be like, to be treated like an outsider.  All the time.

And there was an element of fascination, right?  Fascination because ohmygoodness, lookatallthepeople.  THEY ARE EVERYWHERE.  

It was a fascinating sociological experience.

And now – now we have many, many, many more people on the Mall.  And they are there for something oh so very, very, very different.

And they are men, women, and children from ALL walks of life.  

They are celebrating.  They are cheering.  

They are rejoicing.

Today – today is quite a tremendous day.  

How far we’ve come in 14 years.  

Oh, how far we’ve come.

I used to think I liked genetics problems. I used to think they were fun.

Now I really hate the fact that fruit flies ever existed. I hate you, little fruit flies. I wish you all just had one type of stupid wing and one eye color.

I just wanted to document that, in fact, I was very miserable studying for this exam, but that I did it for 12+ hours today (and I am not close to finishing), and that if I fail this exam, it is not for lack of trying over the immediately preceding weekend. (Physics, if you are wondering, is in purgatory. I’m not sure when I will even crack that book, given my dismal progress today.)

I do want to give a shoutout to my buddy, Hungry Liz, who has answered approximately 3 hours worth of questions about e.coli’s processing of lactose (is that what we were talking about, Liz? Please tell me it is) and all of the stupid genes in that process. She is amazing and very patient. I am very glad that she was willing to save my ass from my own stupidity.

And…back to studying. Actually, DB just brought food, so maybe I will take another break (this counted as a break. So did my eating of some red pepper hummus from Trader Joes, which was sell-by dated November 24th, and which I really contemplated eating, ate, and decided that maybe hummus isn’t good if it tastes funny, and put it *back in the fridge*.)

(If there was any doubt that I am an idiot, perhaps that helped to clarify for you that yes, indeed, I am lacking some intelligence.)

This is a pointless post. Thanks for reading, though.

P.S. Have you seen this blog? It is hysterical. It is an 83-year old woman who rails about Sarah Palin’s stupidity. I really thought I’d weaned myself from SP, but it turns out, she is on every corner. And now that she is being credited with Saxby’s win in Georgia, it looks like she isn’t going to be going away any time soon. I’m not sure whether to celebrate or cry.

P.P.S While I study, DB is putting up a fake Christmas tree.  We’ve actually never had a Christmas tree the whole time we’ve been together (how sad is that?)  We have lots of ornaments, but no tree, mostly because we are never home around Christmas and the point of Christmas is, you know, Christ, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t care if we have a tree or not.  But this year, I was determined to get a tree, but I was worried about it being a fire hazard (our house is 103 years old, and it is essentially a tinder box, and we are going away for 2 weeks over Christmas this year) so…DB bought a fake one today.

Can I say?  It is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.  Cheers to fake evergreen trees and no fire hazards!  Hee!  I’ll post some pictures in a few days when it’s actually looking Christmas-y.

Oh my gosh, it is so pathetic.  Poor tree!

Specifically, the cars manufactured by the fine folks at Ford, GM, and Chrysler, and managed by the moronic CEOs at the aforementioned F, G, & C. Actually, Chrysler is spared because it has not stepped up to the plate quite yet, apparently.

(This is a mini-rant, based on the NPR report of the Big Three‘s Two’s offers to Capitol Hill. If there is some amazing article out there, I didn’t read it. Short on time.)

Does it make anyone else a LITTLE upset that Ford and GM have graciously offered to take a token $1 salary if they utilize government money?

OK, I will admit it: It really bothers me. It bothered me all the way here, and it took me a whole 30 minutes to get here, and I was going to write this other blog post on this conversation I had with someone from my cohort (the ORIGINAL cohort – who is now an -eek!-graduating 5th year doc student, and wow, that could have been me), but instead you get my thoughts on the token $1/year salary.

I’m not even going to cover the laughable method of transportation to DC – by HYBRID CAR.

Are they TRYING to be like SNL?

No, let’s talk about the salary for a moment. To me, Mrs. Schmoe, the $1/year salary says this: “I know I was overpaid for what I did in the last

[Insert some internet research by Rachel here. Here is the AP article. Here is the article that says he is going to drive a hybrid to DC. There was a similar article in the Huff Post, and although I bet they’re psyched, I have my own (strong! of course! why wouldn’t I?) opinions about hybrids and they’re not all that warm and fuzzy on the environment.]

OK, so this is what $1/year says to me: “I know I was overpaid for what I did last year – I mean, I *thought* $22 million was appropriate when I started, but I guess you guys don’t agree, so now I see your point. In fact, actually, Ford paid me SO much last year that I don’t even need to work this year! Or next year! Watch me! I am so damn rich that I am running this company out of the graciousness of my heart!”

Only it says that in the most condescending way possible.

When one writes a grant, one must include a line item that states how much one will be reimbursed for one’s professional services. There are lots of grants written for people to service EXTREMELY at-risk populations, and they are still given a reasonable salary to conduct the work.

Otherwise, it is insulting to the people you are serving. It is your valuable time you are offering, and investigators should be reimbursed – at least at a livable wage – for their services.

I would be more impressed with Mulally’s gesture if he, say, chose to return some of the money to Ford to help bail it out (I mean, even a few million would probably pay a lot of salaries, right?) and opted to take a reasonable, fair-wage salary. A salary that will cover his living expenses (reasonable ones) adequately and still fairly compensate him for his time.

But no. He is doing this insulting, dramatic gesture instead. What a tool.

The OTHER thing that pisses me off is that he will not even PAY TAXES ON THE $1!!!!!! I personally think he should be compensated at a rate that will JUST HIT the maximum tax rate.

But that’s just me.

I am so fed up with greedy corporate people making decisions that screw the people that ACTUALLY get them places (like the people on the line, who made none of these decisions and are getting fully screwed for them) (I am not talking about the UAW leadership, and I am not thrilled with them either). UGH!

And that is the end of my little rant. Thanks for reading.

P.S. I am sitting next to some neurotic orgo students and I am just so, so, so, so, thankful that that bandaid is off. Orgo really sucked. Poor people.

PPS – First delivery of organic fruit and vegetables comes today. I have already FAILED multiple times at seasonal eating in the last 24 hours, beginning with the Basmati rice I just ate and the piece of pizza covered in tomatoes.

This is gonna be really, really hard.

PPPS – OH, and ALSO?!?  Who is gonna buy your stupid jet?!?

I think I just singlehandedly raised my pulse at my computer!  I thought that would only happen with Bush, but I guess I was wrong.  I can’t wait to see Jon Stewart tonight.

I really hope he agrees with me.  Ha!

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This is so not going to be what you’d expect from that title.

I will admit: I spend a lot less time reading the news than I did during the election. That’s not because I’m less interested; it’s more because I let a LOT of things slide while I was glued to the TV/computer/whatever to become the Most Informed Voter in America. So now it’s back to, you know, studying.

But one thing to which I have paid some attention is the whole Hillary-for-SoS-debacle/debate/whatever you’d call it. And I happen to be a person who thinks this is a brilliant move on Obama’s part, because it a) sets her up to be a competitive candidate in 2016 for the party, giving her some much-needed formal foreign policy experience, and b) keeps her from making a ruckus in the Senate (is that how you spell ruckus?), deepening the already-concerning rift in the Democratic party (I mean, seriously. I have to hand it to the GOP on the issue of team unity. I was working on the Hill when Newt ran his whole Republican Revolution, which, incidentally, was barely a “revolution” – according to the superawesome Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, only 37% of voters turned out for that midterm election! THIRTY-SEVEN PERCENT! That is hardly a mandate. But back on the topic – there were Blue Dog Democrats at that time, who were Democrat in name but voted with the GOP, but never did a GOP Member vote with the Dems. Hell, no. They were under significant duress during that time to toe the party line, and it made them a very effective voting bloc. Can we see this happening now with the Democrats? Sadly, or not sadly, depending on how you see the efficiency of the federal government balanced with the whole concept of elected democracy, no.)

So I think it’s not a bad idea to have Hillary for SoS. However, others disagree, obviously, and they are much more important than I am, for sure! So DB and I were talking about it this morning while watching the random Sunday news shows that we watch every week. Although they were talking about the Disaster Of American Cars, we started talking about the Potential Disaster of the Nomination of Bill Clinton as the Husband to the Secretary of State. (Did anyone see SNL last night? It was on there. I don’t think the skit is available online just kidding. Here it is:

Anyway, here is my meager research for this particular piece as evidence that people are concerned about Bill’s involvement with Hill (by meager, I mean I did one Google search and clicked on the first non-blog link). Bill would create issues given his global lectures everywhere, blah blah blah.


Nominate Bill as the Undersecretary of Transportation!

DB added, “With LOTS OF COMMITTEE MEETINGS in Washington!”

Think about it! All of the perks of Hillary with none of the drawbacks of Bill!

I am a genius.

There is nothing like people coming over to stop the procrastination binge.

We (DB and I) are starting our very own small group (church small group – aka Bible study) tonight.  And we are serving dinner.  I do not know how this seemed like a good idea to me – ?? – I don’t cook!  At all!  And because it starts at 7, I can’t rely on DB, either!

So we decided to blatantly copy the burritos that our friends made for us on Sunday night – that way, if we have picky eaters, they can just eat whatever they want, right?  Right.  So I found a good mexican rice recipe (it looks good, at least, and 176 other people thought it was yummy, too) and now I am looking for a black bean recipe.  Anyone?  Ideas?  Our friends put black beans, some water, some red pepper, garlic, onion, and cumin in a pot and simmered it.  We can’t use onions.  So ideas?  Help?

And in a side funny thing, the recipe for the rice (which I will admit is a little over the top, but I love rice, and if this works, I am going to be the happiest person ever) (and if it sucks, I am going to make white rice) – the recipe calls for jalapeños.  Just to reiterate how inept I am, I trucked out to buy said jalapenos in the grocery store yesterday.  Why the heck do they put all of the small greenish produce together?!?  There were jalapenos, some little tomatillo peppers (I have no idea if that’s what they’re called), and a billion other small, green peppery things all together, with only very vague labelling.  How cruel!  So I bought what looked like the picture for jalapenos – the problem being that there were 4 good options that looked like the picture, but they were all distinctly different peppers.  So either we will kill our poor new small group members with spice, or it will turn out okay…chances are, 176 people aren’t wrong, so if the rice sucks, it’s probably due to me (or my addition of fake jalapenos).

Speaking of which, can anyone tell me the difference between green chiles and jalapenos?  They aren’t the same, are they?

This should be interesting, this group.  So far it is not much of a group – we have only one other couple.  (We figure it’s like Field of Dreams – if you build it, they will come.)  The other couple is about as different from us politically as it is possible to be.  You might think this shouldn’t matter, and I am praying that it won’t.  I have a tendency to run my mouth when it is not appropriate….go figure.  I struggle with keeping my mouth shut when people assume things about me:  if they assume my political beliefs from our personal choices, they assume my religion from my last name…I hate assumptions.  It is one of my biggest pet peeves, but it’s to the point where I need to learn that often the assumptions I get worked up about are not worth getting worked up over.  What does it matter if someone thinks I don’t believe in evolution?  What does it matter if someone believes I voted for John McCain?  Or that I’m Republican, simply because I’m Christian?

But it does matter – to me, it really does. I think it matters because one of the things that drives me MOST crazy is the notion that all Christians should be Republican, because I feel a little bit like it is a judgement – if I DIDN’T vote Republican, I am a “bad Christian” – and my concept of “bad Christian” is that no human can judge whether someone is a “good” or “bad” Christian – God, and God alone, that can read people’s hearts.  But then, in a remarkable demonstration of hypocrisy (which upsets me that I am like this, because I really hate hypocrites), I kind of judge Christian Republicans, too.  I take issue with the notions that it is Christian to hate or condemn (as in gay marriage), Christian to support an unjustified war (as in Iraq), Christian to support the life of a very narrow population over a broader population (the unborn over the unborn and born, including mothers and those who are sick and could benefit from stem cell research), Christian to deny support for poor families.

It matters because I have come to see the Republican party as callously playing on the single-issue voters of the Christian right to advance their own, non-Biblical agenda, and it angers me to no end.  Where in the Bible does it say we need a small government?  Nowhere.  I mean, it doesn’t say that the government should necessarily engage in supporting the poor, either (my understanding is that the closest it comes is when Jesus says, “give to God what is God’s, and give to Cesar what is Cesar’s” (Matt. 22:21)- meaning, pay appropriate tithes and appropriate taxes – but the use of those taxes is not necessarily defined.  My personal belief system is that the government should (financially) support life EVERYwhere – but I wouldn’t dispute that it could be argued the other way, either.

What I DO dispute is that the needs of the unborn – even the ones that will never become viable (ie, frozen embryos in fertility clinics) always trump the needs of the born.

I really didn’t mean to write so much.  Let’s hope that by writing that, I will be more likely to have friendly, apolitical conversations with our new friends.  I really want to be friends with them.  Please God, if politics come up in conversation, please help me be a good witness to the way liberal politics can also advance your kingdom.  (Also, please do not cause them to question You because of my cooking.)

Little is getting groomed, which means the cat is exceptionally warm and cuddly.  She is always extremely thrilled when he’s not around.  It’s funny – if she’s nearby when we yell at Little, she’ll join in, hissing and swatting at him to reiterate our points.  They’re like…well, siblings.  Only honestly, I get it that they are animals, and not our actual children. (Really, I do.)

Oh, and my political opinions notwithstanding, a good black bean recipe that is easy would be humongously appreciated!

DB is from Michigan, and I’m sort of from Michigan…which means that we (he) pays attention to the auto industry. We could not stop giggling over this from the Onion:

Jessica Kornbluth,
Dance Instructor
“Obama doesn’t need to give government money to the auto industry. He just has to tell his disciples to go out and buy a Pontiac, and we’ll do it.”

And the funny part is – DB feels very guilty that we drive an import, having spent the formative years of his career in the auto industry.

I don’t.

I figure, if the American auto industry was a little stronger and a car didn’t lose 50% of its value once purchased, yeah, I’d buy a Ford. BUT…it isn’t, and it doesn’t. (Not to say that our VW is all that great. It isn’t. As previously mentioned, it sundowns and needs frequent defibrillation, to our chagrin…but hey! It’s still worth something at 6.5 years old!)

Anyway, that is the funny quote from the Onion that we thought you should all read.

And….I will write an update later tonight, I promise.

And now…for something way less intense.

One of the “major issue[s]” facing the Obama family is what type of dog to adopt. The future presidential dog must be hypoallergenic, since Malia, President Obama’s daughter, is allergic to dogs.

DB and I have decided that we should nominate our puppy’s breed, the Giant Schnauzer, for this Very Important Role.

Of course, we do not take this lightly. Although Little is a very good candidate for play time, romping around, and he is, as requested, hypoallergenic, he also has this certain other quirk: he doesn’t so much like new people coming into his space, although he’s very intelligent so he will sit and growl quietly at intruders until released (with a release word, which we unfortunately decided, with very little foresight, to be ‘OK’. Note to Obamas: do not use “OK” as your release word for your new furry friend.)

(For instance, a sample conversation in February 2009:

Mr. Obama:  “Little, lay down.”  (which means, “lay down and stay there” – we don’t use “stay” because otherwise what is he supposed to do?  right?  ok.)

Mr. Obama:  “So, Mr. Bush, it is interesting that you came back to see us so soon after you’ve moved out!  You really made a big mess of this country, and we are so glad that you’re far, far, far away!”

Mr. Bush:  “Oh, really?  Well,  Jed is planning to run in 2012…just to keep it all in the family, ya know?”

Mr. Obama:  “OK…well…”

(And Mr. Bush is a goner.)

(I know that was a stupid example, but do you know how hard it was to come up with something there?  It took forever!)


(Little demonstrating restraint.)

DB and I cackled at the thought of Obama meeting Putin with the Presidential Little next to him, growling away. We don’t think it would do wonders for our country’s international diplomacy efforts, although we do think that it would make the transition a little bit more seamless – Little could keep up the “if you’re not on my side, I’ll kill you” aspect of President Bush’s apparent foreign policy approach.

Little is an outdoor enthusiast and loves, loves, loves, loves, romping with children.



Oh, and pregnancy. He really loves pregnancy. It’s a little weird, so our suggestion is just to smile and nod. I don’t know if all Giant Schnauzers are like that, but man, he does love those pregnancy pheromones.

He is also very helpful around the house. He’s a great homework helper (sort of):


And if you have to fill in some holes in your cabinets because you have a mouse, well, he’s eager to help out with that, too.


(Note to GS owners: Yes, bad grooming on the tail. We really need to take care of that.)

And this I know is almost universal for his breed: he is a total food…well, he’ll do ANYTHING for food. He especially loves drive-throughs:


And he is very, very, very cute.


(OK, yes, I have picture-taking issues. I accidentally cut off his bottom face. Don’t hold it against him! Apparently we have a death of good pictures from when he is groomed.)

Little for First Dog!

I am completely stymied by something in this election.

Quoted here:

It was a great victory,” said the Rev. James Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego County and a leader of the campaign to pass the California measure, Proposition 8. “We saw the people just rise up.”

I’m not even going to get into the presumed “Christianity” of it all – as a Christian, and a believer in the gospel, the fact that this statement was uttered by a pastor makes me puke a little in my mouth, and I believe that it offends God, as well. If you would really like to see my views on the subject, you can go here, where I was not exactly shy about sharing my opinions. (I will write more about that later.)

So, on to my point.

What the hell is it that we, as people – I’m not even going to go into a party affiliation here – *must* always have a little guy to push down? A second class and a first class? What is it about supremacy that we crave?

Like, how is it that a state that votes for Obama 61% to 37% – a fairly decisive margin by any imagination – rejects gay marriage so decisively? That was the most striking state, but it happened in Florida, too.

Or a state that gave rise to Bill Clinton pass a law that prevents gay couples from adopting children?

If you look across the ballot measures across the country, there is a universal theme that jumps out: hatred. Bigotry, and I’m not just talking about the implicit association test. Discrimination.

It’s almost as if, in the new world order where a man of color is in the White House, we must find a new group of citizens to hate. To whom we can deny civil liberties.

In fact, looking down the results, it would appear that it’s not just “as if” – it is a reality.

I don’t get it, and here is where I am going to get a little bit more personal. For me – and for a lot of other people out there, I’m sure – I did not vote for Barack Obama BECAUSE of the color of his skin, although it certainly wasn’t something that took away from the experience, either. I voted for him because, in my mind, he was the best person for the job. There are lots of people out in cyberspace that will wax poetic about all of the ways Barack Obama will be a better president than John McCain might have been, or certainly, how he will be a better president than George W. Bush EVER was; the point I’m trying to make is that it wasn’t about race for me. It wasn’t about race for a lot of people. For me, it was about getting the Republican Party as far away from any decision-making roles so that we could get back to the business of being a normal, respectable, ethical, honorable, country again.

But I teared up watching his acceptance speech – and I certainly wasn’t the only one. I saw a man that had managed to conquer seemingly improbable odds. I was SO PROUD of my country. I was SO PROUD of the millions of Americans that voted for Obama, that CONSIDERED voting for Obama, and I was SO PROUD of the fact that in a country that looked the other way when Brown v. Board was essentially overturned last year, a Black man could become President.

And it started to become a little bit about race.

I have shared on this blog – over and over and over – that we are hoping to adopt a child (or more than one child) to grow our family. That it’s always been our primary plan, and if we are so blessed to have both biological and adopted children, we will be thrilled – but our vision for our family includes both biological and adopted children. And although we may put adoption on hold for ethical and financial reasons, we will make it happen eventually.

If you are very new to our story, you may or may not notice that we started this process last fall with Viet Nam. And you may or may not know the story of Vietnam adoptions, but for the purposes of this discussion, just know that we do not believe that it will be an option for our family in the near or distant future without some dramatic policy changes.

Consider that to be a huge cultural loss for us; I had worked in Viet Nam, learned some of the language, and we went there on vacation to grow our understanding of the country and the culture prior to taking the huge leap to adopt a child. So although we realized that Viet Nam was not going to be an option fairly early on – probably by January or February 2008 – we dragged our feet looking for additional country options.

Here were our options (or, at least the ones we considered seriously): Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Colombia. Marshall Islands. Liberia, Ghana, Haiti.

And those last three – those last three were ones that really caused us pause for thought.

Not because we’re racist.

Because we’re HONEST.

Because this country is not a country of tolerance, love, or acceptance. Because we’re not in the minority population, and we wanted to think very, very, very, very hard about how we’d feel knowing that we moved our child of color away from one country and into another where such intolerance exists.

Because DB works for the FBI, which could force us to move…anywhere. And how does it feel to be a child of color in the Deep South? We don’t know firsthand, but we can imagine that it isn’t awesome. Or maybe it is, and please feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

Because we want to move overseas, and other countries are just as intolerant as we are – perhaps, in some countries, they are moreso.

And although I know that it is a Good Thing for us to be recognizing this now, at the same time, we wanted to be Very Sure that we did as MUCH as we could to ensure that we, as parents, were prepared for parenting a child of color. I spend a lot of time reading things like this site. I listen and watch and read and we try, very hard, to understand what it is like to be a minority in majority culture. How can we affirm and celebrate diversity – in its myriad of manifestations – without becoming obsessed with race?

So sure, watching Barack Obama last night? I thought about race. I thought about what it meant for my country to have a president who had dealt with racism; a president whose children will deal with racism; a president who is showing the world that at least 52% of Americans see past his color to see his skills, qualifications, and gifts. And it made me so, so, so proud.

But what is this, this hate-based legislation? It sickens me.

And it makes me really wonder what on Earth is going on in our country. Can’t we just stop to celebrate ALL human life, without digging around for the next new group to trounce?

Is the feeling of sick superiority really worth it?

And you know what that means?

Even without NC or MO, we’re going to Chilis. (We decided to bet whether Obama would break 340 EV.)

(And the terms of our bet: If I win, I get him sitting next to me, awake, for TWO episodes of Grey’s Anatomy AND dinner at a non-chain restaurant. If he wins…Chilis, and he can eat as much as he wants without my commentary about how it is gross.)

Oh, well. Is this called taking one for the team?

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.

Martin Luther King Jr.,

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 11, 1964.

I’m crying reading this:


The Next President

This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts:

An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.

Mr. Obama spoke candidly of the failure of Republican economic policies that promised to lift all Americans but left so many millions far behind. He committed himself to ending a bloody and pointless war. He promised to restore Americans’ civil liberties and their tattered reputation around the world.

With a message of hope and competence, he drew in legions of voters who had been disengaged and voiceless. The scenes Tuesday night of young men and women, black and white, weeping and cheering in Chicago and New York and in Atlanta’s storied Ebenezer Baptist Church were powerful and deeply moving.

Mr. Obama inherits a terrible legacy. The nation is embroiled in two wars — one of necessity in Afghanistan and one of folly in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s challenge will be to manage an orderly withdrawal from Iraq without igniting new conflicts so the Pentagon can focus its resources on the real front in the war on terror, Afghanistan.

The campaign began with the war as its central focus. By Election Day, Americans were deeply anguished about their futures and the government’s failure to prevent an economic collapse fed by greed and an orgy of deregulation. Mr. Obama will have to move quickly to impose control, coherence, transparency and fairness on the Bush administration’s jumbled bailout plan.

His administration will also have to identify all of the ways that Americans’ basic rights and fundamental values have been violated and rein that dark work back in. Climate change is a global threat, and after years of denial and inaction, this country must take the lead on addressing it. The nation must develop new, cleaner energy technologies, to reduce greenhouse gases and its dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. Obama also will have to rally sensible people to come up with immigration reform consistent with the values of a nation built by immigrants and refugees.

There are many other urgent problems that must be addressed. Tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance, including some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens — children of the working poor. Other Americans can barely pay for their insurance or are in danger of losing it along with their jobs. They must be protected.

Mr. Obama will now need the support of all Americans. Mr. McCain made an elegant concession speech Tuesday night in which he called on his followers not just to honor the vote, but to stand behind Mr. Obama. After a nasty, dispiriting campaign, he seemed on that stage to be the senator we long respected for his service to this country and his willingness to compromise.

That is a start. The nation’s many challenges are beyond the reach of any one man, or any one political party.

You know what I am really sad about? That Obama’s grandmother missed last night by ONE DAY. One day.

And I am crying tears of joy at our voter participation, our turnout, our ability to actually follow these issues, our ability to vote for the improbable.

And I just watched his acceptance speech:  I cried.

This is just the proudest moment of our history!

I am so hopeful!!!!!