March 29, 2010
So who, really opposes healthcare for children and ensuring that families with pre-existing conditions are not prevented from care? Not many and certainly not me. However, the fact that these examples were used to ram through the largest government takeover of a section of the economy with no true accounting of the cost — KILLS me.
Shame on Republicans who were in control years ago and didn’t deal with some of the real issues — spiraling costs, the need for tort reform, testing of new ideas like buying across state lines – that could have helped address some very real deficits in the system. And now we pay for it. We’ve been bludgeoned with the hammer of government takeover, the consequences of which we probably can’t even comprehend yet, not only fiscally but in the way our healthcare will change and ultimately, be rationed.
At the end of the day… how can we afford this? Leave it to Robert Samuelson to paint the stark budget reality picture. Bottom line: we can’t. Unless, of course you see Charles Krauthammer’s prediction — that the only way the President will really be able to ensure a windfall of cash into federal coffers — the Value Added Tax.
Is there anyone who still believes the “we won’t raise your taxes one dime” claim?
January 7, 2010
It’s funny. Mention Michelle Obama and it seems to me that you get either fawning adoration or back-handed compliments from those who don’t really like her but aren’t quite sure how vigorously to oppose her. As with most First Ladies, the majority of the U.S. public are indifferent; they are happy to see her stick to her “issue” whatever that might be, and don’t want her to ruffle too many feathers.
Sunday’s Style section had an odd piece on her — at once acknowledging the duty portion of her role as first lady in hosting more traditional “women’s issues” events — such as around Breast Cancer and mentoring — and simultaneously showing how much more effective and warm she is when she comes out from behind the podium. The Robin Givhan article suggested that Michelle’s first year lacked focus… I disagree…Yes, she tried to do a lot, and honestly, that is one thing I like about her. She’s not afraid to try a lot of new things as she finds her way as First Lady. Yet even her key ”pet” issue, promoting healthy childhood and family eating, got a TON of traction and attention.
It’s probably no big surprise that I often find myself on the opposing political side when she takes to the airwaves and whitehouse.gov videos in an attempt at amplifying her husband’s policy (read: healthcare) agenda. However, in most settings, she comes across to me as refreshing and fun. Here’s my top 4 list of things I love about Michelle:
4) Her honesty about finding balance in managing work and family — while always putting her family first. Sure, she now has a lot of help so probably no longer has to manage the tasks that many of us do, including laundry, makeup, packing lunches, errands, and shopping. However it wasn’t always this way for her. She often refers to times when her husband was off politicking and she was the one who had to find a way to manage the essential meeting at the office while tending to a sick child at home. It may be because she still has young children that she seems to “get” the tug-of-war struggle that most working parents feel.
3) Her kitchen garden! This has been an amazing hit — it almost seems crazy that the White House inhabitants haven’t created or magnified the benefits of a White House garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden plot during WWII! Not only does it tie nicely to Michelle’s platform on healthy eating, but it allows her to bring in everyone from local children to the Iron Chef America crew in order to get the message across. Her team has done an amazing job of creatively promoting the garden.
2) Her inclination to tease…starting with her husband. We first saw this right after Obama was elected and the incoming First Couple sat down with Barbara Walters. Babs asked then President-elect Obama what chores he did around the house. Obama started to wax poetic about finding relaxation in washing the dishes. Calling bull*&%@ on him for the world to see, Michelle said bluntly, “Really, when you have last washed dishes?” So busted. Of course she’s much more cautious now, as it seems people didn’t like how she would pick on him. I found some of her “he doesn’t pick up his socks” comments just plain real.
1) Her style!! Yes, I said it. I am always looking to see what she is wearing!! Very shallow yes — that is if you think fashion is shallow – - I actually don’t. Like no First Lady since Jackie Kennedy has one taken such an interest in fashion (publicly). Although she has some misses and people make fun of the JCrew get-ups as if JCrew precludes her form truly being a fashion diva, I actually think this all makes it more real. What woman doesn’t hit and miss sometimes if they are truly adventurous with fashion? Yes Jackie had the storied relationship with Oleg Cassini. Yes, Laura Bush stuck pretty much with Oscar de la Renta. All perfectly fine, perhaps wise and safe. You could argue that these women knew what worked for them and didn’t drift far from their ”uniform.” But, Michelle is young enough and her personality vivacious enough that she’s willing to explore. In in the process, she’s given new life to the State Dinner Red carpets…. and, since Inauguration, kept us guessing as to ”who” she’d wear next. One need only to read Robin Givhan’s 2009 summary on fashion hits and misses to see that Michelle is all over the BEST of the year.
So, we’ll see what 2010 brings…My vote is for less of the President and more of his wife!
December 2, 2009
There have been some amazing women in my life under whom I’ve had the privilege to learn… starting of course with my Grandma Naomi Good (the essence of faithfulness and humility) to the model my mom is to me today — demonstrating the priority of taking care of family, while simultaneously pursuing excellence in career. Even my sister-in-law’s creative spirit sparks my own energy day after day as I read her blog and talk to her when I drop the kids off at school.
There are many others, but one of my mentors who comes to mind is State Rep. Katie True. In short, she rocks. From her I have learned the following:
– what fantastic customer service looks like (in part, thanks to her right hand, Barbara Kauffman)
– how to tell someone no with humor and kindness
– when to be blunt
– how to articulate what the gal next door is feeling
– how to keep your promises (Katie term limited herself and always stuck to that commitment)
– how to choose a few issues and really own them — she’s done this consistently on womens issues, childrens’ issues and in the fight against drugs
– the importance of sticking to conservative principles but in a way that still allows you to be a bridge builder and catalyst for change
The Lancaster New Era just had a great editorial on her impact. All the usual suspect Lancaster County white boys are lining up to take her spot, but they won’t be able to fill her shoes… Two of my favorite quotes from the Editorial:
“Over the years, True’s tireless advocacy for children and families sometimes put her at odds with House leadership. She is a conservative, but one who has put principle above blind obedience to party.”
“Because of True’s work, children are safer in their schools and women are safer in their homes. All Pennsylvanians owe this remarkable legislator a note of thanks for making Pennsylvania a better place to live.”
November 6, 2009
By most accounts, last night’s event was pretty standard Washington fare .. fancy house of an Ambassador, political jokes at the expense of both parties, accomplished speaker. But what broke through all the fluff was the small (yet powerful) voices of Monica, of Angelique — those lives transformed through Romanian Christian Enterprises (RCE).
I have not known suffering in my life, nor have my children… nothing remotely close to the kind of evil visited on poor, disabled, abandoned children in that country. For more than 15 years now, RCE has served them, clothed them, taught them, LOVED them, and often placed them in loving families — in Romania. Their work is so powerful and impact so great that not only do the local politicians support RCE, but the Romanian Federal government has given it its blessing and partnership.
The organization is living out the life essence of the Hebrew man Job. When we think of Job, we know he suffered, but we forget how he served…. Here from Job 29:12-17:
“I(L) delivered the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to help him.
13(M) The blessing of him who was(N) about to perish came upon me,
and I caused(O) the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14I(P) put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
my justice was like a robe and(Q) a turban.
15I was(R) eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
16I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out(S) the cause of him whom I did not know.
17I(T) broke(U) the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth.”
Each year, in Romania alone, nearly 5000 children exit the state system. They are essentially released to the streets, seemingly destined to perpetuate the cycle of hopelessness and hurt that has been visited on them. Evil spreads. Yet mercy spreads too and there is hope. There is a wideness to God’s mercy that is wider than the sea. But it begins with those who are faithful. God is using Romanian Christian Enterprises — and frankly the skills and dollars of people thousands of miles away — to bring healing.
Lord give me just a fraction of Job’s heart — your heart — and mercy.
July 5, 2009
I don’t agree with Ruth Marcus on very much, but on this, I think she has it right with her op-ed: Jenny Sanford, Role Model. Mrs. Sanford, wife of pathetic diarrhea-of-the-mouth Governor Mark Sanford, is neither playing the victim, nor enabling her husband’s disgressions. Although she’s left the door open to reconciliation, her pride and her basic sense of right and wrong, as well as caring about what her 4 boys see in the situation, have led her to leave Mark until he changes his scumbag ways.
In her statement about the situation, she spoke clearly and decisively about love, forgiveness, and commitment… while tacitly negating his blather about “soul mates”…
“I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal.”
Should she take him back? Not for me to say but I can’t help but hope that it’s her sense of character and love that is passed along to those boys.
February 11, 2009
Living in Washington has me a bit jaded, I suppose. Even though my husband goes to work every day to a place of great prestige and power, which some have only seen on television, we often do the requisite complaining about his commute and hours. For shame!!!
Why this mea culpa? I was called to account and to a renewed respect for this place called the White House this week, not through any Christmas party visit, after-hours WW tour or presidential press conference, but through C-Span, which has created the most comprehensive and beautiful documentary of “the People’s House.” From the descriptors of Washington’s (who never inhabited the House) plans to pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt’s (first only female reporters allowed) press conference, to the first ever video of the 3rd Floor Coolidge Solarium and a peak into Laura Bush’s yellow oval room, it is a fascinating and top-notch exploration.
It seems every president, including our current one, wants to be like Abe. The references to President Abraham Lincoln were ummatched in this documentary, punctuated by the recent refurbishing of the Lincoln Bedroom to match the style of the room when he inhabited the White House. How amazing and fitting now, as tomorrow we mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
The C-Span documentary crew had few restrictions placed on their exploration; only a few Mansion spots were off limits apparently — the swimming pool and the Presidential Master bath (come on!) but other than that, most of the House was fair game, even the Chocolate “factory”.
For the C-Span show, you can see the trailer here, but we bought the DVD for $10 and I plan to buy many more to give as gifts. Now, if you want a close up tour from 2008 Christmastime, “A Red, White and Blue Christmas”, go over to Big Red Kitchen and see Rob and Robin touring the public rooms of the House.
You can always book the public tours, but when the wicked-cool West Wing tours open up again with the new Administration, we just might know some insiders….
January 31, 2009
One of my favorite blogs out there is Motherlode at the New York Times, by Lisa Belkin. She keeps it simple but seems to be able to weave significance, pop culture, and every day honesty into her posts. There are a few I’ve really liked recently about keeping kids home from school (or awake past bedtime) for significance sake. She did one back in November around summer’s highlights, including the conventions…
Seems the timing for doing the same thing with my little ones was upon us this month when we escaped the mayhem of the city and instead decided to stay home from school at Nana and PopPop’s house to witness our nation’s historic transfer of power, the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Being little, my munchkins preferred playing with their barbies and cars instead of listening to a swearing in, but I forced them to pose, flags in hand, in front of the TV so that I had something to remember and show them later. The best picture really ended up being when Aretha Franklin, big grey hat ‘n all, was about to sing.
January 20, 2009
Of course, that was the song today, the one they danced to over and over at the balls. But the real two words we’ve really been waiting to hear are those that reveal the name of the designer of Michelle Obama’s dress. I was wrong about when it would be revealed. We had to wait til today, tonight even, to hear: Jason Wu.
Not al all what I expected, but i thought she looked beautiful. This dress, by a young, relative newcoming to the fashion world, Wu, may be nothing like the sketches that have been circulating in Womens Wear Daily for the last month. However, it really managed to convey a sweetness, softness that contrasted her otherwise potentially powerful and strong features (her height, shiny/straight dark hair, toned arms). Already her spokesperson has said it is headed to the Smithsonian — hooray!!!!
I was equally struck and in probably more in awe of the gorgeous ensemble she wore all day today. The golden dress and matching coat just sparkled. In some ways, as Laura Bush did 4 years ago, choosing a color so neutral (not the traditional black/blue/red) helped her stand above the fray, stand out and look fantastic.
I love the way Robyn Givhan of the Post put it: “The easy shift between price points has captivated observers who are so accustomed to recent first ladies who have dressed in either pricey designer fashions by Seventh Avenue heavyweight Oscar de la Renta or nondescript blahness. Obama dresses the way contemporary women do, mixing J. Crew with the splurges in their closet. They combine pragmatism with polish. And for this inauguration, despite the dire shape of the economy, they also brought glamour.”
January 15, 2009
As an impressionable 21 year old, way back in early 1992, I had my very first college PR internship in DC at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. As luck would have it, I arrived at the perfect time — the overhaul of the First Lady Exhibition. The most popular exhibition at the museum had the gowns, dresses, even jewelry of the nation’s First Ladies (not all wives, mind you) — I loved to stop and just admire it all — from Nancy Reagan’s red suit to Jackie O’s little pillbox hats. I even remember meeting then-First Lady Barbara Bush, ever gracious and funny. She joined us to cut the ribbon on this exhibition, which took a first step in looking beyond just the gowns to also showcase the important roles that each First Lady played in their leading man’s presidency and for the nation.
So, here we are at the dawn of a new presidency. A new opportunity for another very special woman to put her mark on the role of First Lady and present an important image not only to American daughters but to the world. What is one of the first ways she will do that — by choosing an inaugural gown. Maybe it sounds silly to speak in such symbolism, but I’ve taken a few cues from Robyn Givhan and heck, I’ve watched “The Devil Wears Prada” so i know the message that fashion sends!
So, I for one, have been watching with anticipation to see when we’ll get introduced (my money is on this Sunday the 18th) to the designer of and the gown itself that our incoming First Lady, Michelle Obama, will be wearing for the evening inauguration festivities here in Washington.
There has been so much written already about her style (or lack thereof, according to some). How she’s still figuring it out… how Mr. de la Renta, who’s enjoyed such promenence not only with Laura Bush, but with Cindy McCain, will likely not be the sylist of choice. As classic, stunning, and flawless are de la Renta’s creations, Michelle (we’re on a first name basis!) is more likely to take chances, try a variety of young up and coming designers — Maria Pinto of Chicago or even stick again with Narciso Rodriguez, who designed the election nightdress she wore.
Robyn Givhan, who will most likely be the one who gets the big news first, is already driving the discussion around what “The Dress” could look like. In Sunday’s edition of the Style section, Givhan announced the winners and entrants in the “Formalwear Design Contest” to design Michelle Obama’s gown. The winner…..a sleek deep green gown, symbolizing what else, “Hope, Optimism.”
By a budding fashion designer, Katie Ermelio, this dress is gorgeous, even if this is not what we see next week…
For the record, I have actually liked how Michelle Obama has taken chances with her fashion choices. Maybe she hasn’t always gotten it right, but she will bring some new names, styles and statements to the White House. I can’t wait to watch…..
January 3, 2009
I am not an expert on the Middle East. But I have been there. In Jerusalem; in the West Bank. That alone doesn’t really give me any credibility. What it does give me is sympathy. For both sides, actually, in this current conflict around the Gaza strip. Because as much as we’d like to make it a cut and dry Hamas vs. Israeli conflict, it is and it isn’t.
For the most part, i agree with the Krauthammer AND Gerson editorials in today’s Washington Post — if there was ever directional moral clarity, it is clearly shining through this week. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Period. They put their own people, the Palestinian people, at risk of death, to further their own organizational ends. Contrast this disregard for Palestinian human life with the humane warnings of the impending strike, which the Israelis have given citizens of Gaza prior to the strikes this week. Apparently, and rightly so, Israel is fed up with having many of its citizens live in constant fear of missile attacks.
It is inconcevable to me that Hamas is in a position of power. Save Iran, most of the Arab states don’t know what to do with the situation from a positioning point of view. The cannot publicly support Hamas, yet they still seek many of the key goals to which the Palestinians have held strong for decades — land, access, sovereignty. Its incredibly unfortunate that some of the long term goals of the Palestinians — goals around access to Jerusalem, free flowing travel capacities, cannot even be on the table in this current discussion. How can they be when Hamas refuses to even recognize the right of Israel to exist?
When I visited Deheshu refugee camps in the West Bank and saw their suffering, when I stayed with Palestinian Christian’s in Bethlehem who couldn’t travel to work in the city – I saw first hand the true second-class citizen status they could not shake and under which they had to live, work and breath, day-in and day-out. However, until Hamas is no longer in power, how can we hope that things will improve? That Israelis living in the settlements within missile striking range of Gaza will be able to sleep at night? Any true cease fire must at least start here…
May God have mercy and spare more innocent lives of a people so desparate to live…..in peace…Right now, children on both sides of this conflict are growing up knowing only fear.