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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Lurking about at Kos' place (again). But the diary I just read has me in tears. Tears for the diarist's loss. Tears of joy at what the diarist celebrated with his beloved Lauren. Tears of hope that I met a man who loves me the way the diarist loved his wife. I hope he won't mind me sharing excerpts of his diary here, and I hope you will head over to Kos' and show him some love.

Fifteen years ago, on an ordinary March night in an ordinary town, I opened the door to an ordinary pub and first laid eyes upon the extraordinary woman who would change my life forever. I’ll never, ever forget the first time I saw Lauren: those beautiful cornflower blue eyes and her long, curly auburn hair made my heart skip a beat, or maybe two, and a strange feeling came over me; a feeling that something important had just happened.

She happened to be sitting with some people I knew from school, so I sat down at the table, across from her, and it was then that I got to hear for the first time that lovely, lilting English accent. I felt smitten, and I proceeded to spend the next hour or two flirting shamelessly with her, trying to make her laugh, and sometimes even succeeding.

Over the next few months a deepening friendship developed between us. I noticed she had the gift of making others feel comfortable with themselves; she had an infectious and generous smile; she had a serenity about her. As the months passed and we drew closer, I found myself opening up to her more and more; I felt like I could tell her anything about myself, and she made me feel like whatever particularly unflattering detail I might reveal could never lower her opinion of me. Lauren had an innate understanding of the inevitability of imperfection and this allowed her to see past faults and to focus on the good side of people.

As that year drew to a close, Lauren neared the completion of her master’s degree, which meant that her student visa would soon expire and she’d have to return home to England. As her last couple of weeks here passed by, I felt sadness over her leaving, but the sadness puzzled me; I hadn’t yet realized I’d fallen in love with her.

Two nights before she was to head back home – Saturday, December 19th, 1992, for the record – in the deep, late night quiet of her living room, we finally both gave in and confessed our true feelings to each other.

So began a very long distance love affair, her in northern England and me in upstate New York. This was the early 90’s, remember; the days before email and cheap long distance. A couple of two to three hour phone calls every week, even if made during off-peak hours, could eat a big chunk out of your paycheck. So we’d write these long, long love letters to each other. Lauren would scent her letters with her perfumes, and oh, how my heart soared when I smelled the arrival of a new letter in the mail. I’d hold the letter up to my face to breathe in the perfume, and then I’d tear open the envelope and read the letter over and over and over again.

Four months into our affair, in April of 1993, she came out to see me for two weeks and those two weeks were, without a doubt, the best two weeks of my life to that point. And when those two weeks ended, I took her down to JFK to see her off, and after she walked away from me and through the doors marked passengers only, I sat down and cried my eyes out, because I knew, for certain, that I had found the one thing I truly wanted in life.

A year and three months after that painful goodbye at Kennedy, me and Lauren married, on July 23rd, 1994. A gorgeous and magical day on the shores on Lake Windermere – right out of a movie, my father always says – that set the tone for the next thirteen years. We honeymooned in the Lake District and then I had to come home and wait for Lauren to get her green card, and a long wait it was; nine months in fact, and she couldn’t travel here during that time, and I had just started a new job that I needed to keep to prove to the INS I could support her, so we did not see each other once during those nine months. When that wait finally ended, we treated ourselves to a second honeymoon, a week in Maine in April of 1995.

But truly, for me and Lauren, the honeymoon never ended. Our love for each other never stopped growing. During all the time we spent apart, we always used to say, in letters and over the phone, that ALL we wanted, ALL we cared about, was being together. And when the time came for us to be together, we savored it. We truly and deeply appreciated the gift of being present with each other.

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Friday, November 23, 2007


Sometimes, there are bloggers who make my job easier.

I still lurk around at DailyKos. Occasionally, I post a comment or two - but I don't diary there anymore, because far from allowing for dissenting opinions and meaningful discussions, Kos' blog has turned more into Kool-aid drinkers who flame you for disagreering with Kos himself, and not backing down from that position until Kos does. (Sigh).

Oh, well, I didn't want to rant about Kos (that's for another post when I good and pissed off). What I wanted to post was a good diary I found at Kos' place that provided a rational, well-articulated, analytical post from a young woman about what she can't vote for Hillary Clinton (aka "The Borg Queen"). Read it and then, head over to Kos's to give Progress for America some love:

This is an appeal to rational women.

I’d like to talk to you about Hillary Clinton. Almost 15 years ago, I asked my mother why so many people hated the President’s wife. She didn’t have an answer that she was comfortable giving her 10 year old daughter. Even if the answer would have been appropriate, she would have withheld it. In my family, women did not assert their political (or otherwise) opinions fiercely. And support for either of the Clintons would have been in great opposition to my neoconservative father.

My mother’s father, my paw-paw (what we call our grandpas in Louisiana), was a lifelong democrat. I remember my paw-paw telling me about the Great Depression. He told me that he had to walk miles to sell a bucket of snap beans for 5 cents. He said at that time, the world was without a bright light at the end of the tunnel. He taught me the value of work. He taught me the value of integrity. And he taught me about Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

He told me that FDR saved not just the United States, but the entire world by exuding extreme courage and conviction, and challenging conventional thought. My paw-paw told me that when his country needed him, he proudly served. He did it without thinking twice. He did it because his country had not forgotten him when he was in need. He told me that America defeated fascism abroad and had sown the seeds for democracy in Europe. He told me why democracy was so important and why America was so great. He told me that the American people are the government. That a [man] who didn’t represent the people’s needs was a “traitor to democracy.” He said, “money and power can corrupt even the most noble [man]” and so “the people must hold the government accountable.” That’s tough language from a strong willed patriot.

He told me that my college money had been depleted by the neocon’s policy of deregulation throughout the 1980’s. He said Ronald Reagan hurt many small business owners like himself (he installed septic tanks for 30 years with his three sons). He said that things were starting to get better in 1992. He said it was because “...a democrat has been elected.”

I was pretty excited. My paw-paw got a breath of fresh air. But then my paw-paw got sick. After two open-heart surgeries (the second one partially due to poor care at the hospital facility), his savings were completely depleted. His surgeries added 5 years to his life, instead of 10-15 years which some recipients enjoy, due to the poor care. In those 5 years, he mostly talked to me about the influence of money in our political system. He probably didn’t fully understand Washington lobbyists, but he understood greed.

And then there was Hillary Clinton. She was a hero to me. Maybe because she was the first woman I had heard pushing to make a change for women and children. I was young, but she was what I wanted to be. Someone speaking for the voices of those who would otherwise fall through the cracks. She was smart. She was tough. She was a role model.

I am sorry to say that she is no longer that role model.

Sisters, I know that many of you see Mrs. Clinton as the living example of the progress that women have made in America. It is our birthright to be treated and valued as absolute equal, capable members of society. We will hold every office in this land. After 231 years, the country is finally ready for a Woman to lead the free world.

I know that you see Mrs. Clinton as ready to assume the highest leader position in the nation, the Presidency. There is no doubt that she is also ready to assume the role. She is ready, but is she right?

Her strongest points seem to be that she is experienced. She points to her prior years as an advocate for women and children. She points to her work in the Clinton administration (as the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing!). She points to her work as a Senator serving the state of New York. She is ready to lead, “from the first day she’s in office.”

Point 1: Prior years as an advocate for children and women’s rights.

I applaud Mrs. Clinton on everything she has done for women and children. She has led an extraordinary life of service.

Point 2: Experience in the White House

Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent role in the Clinton administration was her health care plan in 1993. Unfortunately, it was defeated, not even receiving enough support from the House or Senate to get a vote on the floor, with Democrats in both houses. America would have been better if her bill had won, but it was defeated by lobbyists and cheap politics. The Democratic Senators and Congressmen did not support Mrs. Clinton’s health care plan because they were (and still are) taking money from Healthcare Industry lobbyists.

Mrs. Clinton now receives more money from those same special interests than the top three Republican candidates for President combined.

Point 3: Her work as a New York Senator

Mrs. Clinton has been a consistent Democratic vote in the U.S. Senate. No one would dispute that. However, the Democratic party has done a very poor job of representing the American people for at least the last 15 years. This is mostly due to the influence of big money and corporate interests in our government. This is not a difficult concept.

How has your life improved over the last 15 years? Is it easier now to care for your family? Has providing healthcare for you and your loved ones become easier or harder? Cheaper or more expensive? Have your wages (in real dollars) increased or decreased? What about child care? Are we providing more for our mothers in need or less? And although Democrats haven’t been in charge this whole time, they’ve proven to lack leadership in the face of great challenge.

Many would argue that the Clinton administration used the idea of the “welfare queen” to reduce the social programs that disproportionately benefit single, needy moms. This is not an attempt to discredit the economic prosperity that we experienced under his administration, rather to make the point that fighting Republicans is harder than saying you are fighting Republicans. Bill Clinton adopted the Republican talking point about welfare and using it as a political tool, made it central to his campaign. Today, we have more women living far below the poverty line trying to care for their children. They have five years, working thirty hours a week to “get back in line” then we exclude them from receiving benefits. This has worked against the ultimate goal of lifting our nation’s poor out of poverty. This system, instead, punishes those women and their children. What happened in the 1990’s with social programs in this country is a perfect example of corruption infiltrating the Democratic Party. If you take bribes from lobbyists, you are telling the American people that their needs are second to those of business. This is what Mrs. Clinton has done.

This party once stood for regular people.
This party once stood for the working class.
This party once stood with single mothers.
This party once swore to protect the rights and interests of the voiceless minorities.
This party once cared for our nation’s children.

We cannot be that party and be the party of big business. There is no room for compromise.

Many people ask me, “Do you think that Hillary Clinton is really that bad? You know about her early work with children.” The fact of the matter is that when you are evaluating a presidential candidate, you have to consider who they are now and what they will do in the future. As much as I respect Mrs. Clinton for her service, I must look to who she is now. I must recognize who she represents. And as a woman in America, whose right to vote has only been guaranteed for 87 years, I must make the decision that guarantees each woman after me a better life. That better life lies in economic equality. The next president will have to address the role that American business has played in women's struggles.

I have not disposed who I am voting for. It is each of our responsibilities’ to look at the candidates and their platforms. Look at where they stand on the issues and look at what they say. Do not become distracted by political language. We have a right to compare these people based on what they stand for and who they represent. If they appear frightened to use strong, clear language, you should be weary. We’ve been down that road. It’s time to change course.

Who will make the best candidate for women? The candidate who places poverty above all else.

This will take great courage and conviction. This will take challenging conventional thought. Our country needs us.

It is time to proudly serve.

As a clarification has been requested, I will not support Clinton in the primary. Until we have a candidate chosen, I will not reference who I will or will not vote for in the general election.

'Nuff Said.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I could write about what a maroon Bush is, or how the Democrats never fail to engage in their own circular firing squad while the ReThugs have basically giftwrapped the POTUS as an early Christmas present if they could slow down long enough to stop shooting themselves.

I could. But I'm not going to. And here's why.

Yesterday, I had to deal with the IRS. Unless you're anticipating a tax refund, you don't want to think about the IRS until April, and if you're like me, April 15th, to be precise. When Bill Clinton, and now, George Bush, decided that more of the working class needed to make up for the taxes that the wealthy weren't paying, all I will say is that they weren't thinking about single people who make up the working class. Especially GeeShrubya. I remember that tax refund we all were supposed to get back in 2001 (the tax cut that got former Tresury Secretary Paul O'Neill fired for asking who was going to pay for it). Something about $300.00, right?

Well, since I owed the IRS about $250.00, they sent me a note, first telling me I was going to get the money; then a second note telling me they were going to keep the whole $300.00.

"So, where's the $50 you still owe me?" I whined on the phone.

"You're not getting it, even though you only owed $250.00" said the voice on the phone before I slammed it down in anger.

That, was but the beginning of my frustration with the IRS. I can't help it if I'm single, and I can't afford to own my own house yet. I can't help it if I don't have children. But, according to GeeShrubya (set into motion by Bill Clinton, I might add), if you're not married, don't own a home or other property, don't have kids - well, we're going to take 40% of what you earn out of your hide, or threaten you with jail if you don't pay up.

I remember watching a documentary where a couple had to actually get a divorce because the wife's deadbeat ex-husband had an IRS garnishment on his wages, and since they couldn't find the ex-husband, the IRS came after the ex-wife and her new husband (a doctor with a decent practice). How fair is that, since, by the IRS' admission, the husband incurred that tax liability after he'd divorced his wife?

It took girlfriend a literal act of Congress by Rep. Henry Waxman to clear that up. But if Waxman lets up, how much you want to bet the IRS will come after homegirl again? For taxes she doesn't owe, but her deadbeat ex-husband?

The IRS is but one glaring example of the lack of oversight on the part of Congress. It is an agency run amok. They harrass, snatch your bank accounts, garnish your wages, all without warning, and without proof that you actually owe them. If Congress does its job, there's real oversight and the head of the Agency would be having his ass fried on C-Span.

Now, the IRS are coming after me for tax years I've settled already, and the statute of limitations have run out. I sent in the paperwork to prove these facts.

After three hours on the phone calling everyone and their mother (besides breathing foul invectives under my breath) here's the "responsible goverment" we supposed to have:

Me: "So, that should clear things up, right? I proved I don't owe for those years."

IRS: "No, it means you need to agree to a payment arrangement until we can sort this out."

Me: "But, I've sent you the paperwork showing that I'm not responsible for those tax years. Why are you asking for a payment arrangement for tax years I've clearly proven I don't owe?"

IRS: "Until we get more documentation..."

Me: "What more documentation can I give you apart from what you requested from me?"

IRS: "We don't know yet. Just set up the payment plan or else we'll place a garnishment on your paycheck..."

Now, I'm pissed. So, we proceed to set up the payment plan, after they ask me how much do I make (gross, never mind that I take home 50% of that gross), what do I spend for groceries, rent, car payment, health insurance, property tax (yes, in the commonwealth of Virginia, even if you rent a damned apartment, you're paying property taxes if you live in Metro Northern Virginny). After demonstrating I'm pretty tapped out, I'm asked:

"Can you pay $1400 a month? Based on your gross, you can afford that?"

Me: (after hollering WTF at the top of my lungs) "If I had $1400 a month extra after paying my bills, I sure as hell wouldn't be on the phone to the IRS because I wouldn't owe shyt! Am I not supposed to do the normal things, like eating, on a payment plan?"

IRS: "Can't you borrow the money, or get a family member to co-sign a loan for you to pay off the debt?"

Me: "Let me get this straight - I'm supposed to incur more debt to pay off the IRS of a debt, by your own admission, you're not even sure I still owe? And you don't know me well enough to ask me if I have family members that will co-sign a loan to get me out of this. So, what happens if I'm right, and I don't owe this money - if I agree to a payment plan, and you find out you're wrong, do I get the money refunded to me?"

IRS: "Unfortunately, that might not be the case. So, I'll take that as a 'No.""

Me: (perverse female mode now) "You damned right, that's a "no"! And since you're insisting I go on this payment plan or get garnished, I offer to pay $200 a month. Not a penny more than that."

I need a drink at this point - I have developed a raging headache between my eyes, and I want to call out for my mother to make this boogey man go away.

Now, keep in mind, I pay a tax accountant out in California to look after shyt like this, right?

He's MIA. Not to mention FIRED, because he has me stuck like Chuck on this.

Now I know how it feels to be waterboarded, because I literally drowned in this bureaucratic red-tape, where they tell you to get out of debt by incurring more debt to pay it off. How sick is that shyt?

And, because of this problem, even in Bill Clinton's administration, I could still call on Congress to bail a sista out. Now, because we have a Congress with an 11% approval rating; with leaders who are more inclined to blow Bush as opposed to standing up to him and his bullying; and all the infighting going on, if Waxman were my Congressman, I would probably call him with this tale of woe with the IRS. Hell, I'd probably still call Waxman anyway, even though he's not my Rep. But he's at least going after bastards like the IRS. Even if I still lived in Oaktown, I could take this to Barbara Lee. And now, I have a glimmer of hope with Jim Moran (cause I'm in his district), but I've decided not to go to him until after Christmas (when I have to start paying on the arrangement, yes?) Cause I want Mr. Moran to demonstrate he has a smidgen of Henry Waxman's cojones in fighting for me, the tax-paying constituent strung up by the IRS.

For all of you facing similar troubles, let me hear from you. Even if you can rage, rage, rage about agencies like the IRS, I welcome you to comment. You're not alone in this.

Imagine, being punished by the Government because you're single. Jeez

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