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Baby Steps II: Tinker Bell’s First Firsts

February 22, 2012

On Sunday my entire family – well, the six immediate members – gathered around my mom’s new computer and were part of the first first they thought they would miss. Incidentally, it was Baby Girl’s dada’s first first too.

I put my laptop on the floor and scooted back. Slowly I wriggled my fingers away from hers and put them up high. “Sooo big!” An ocean away twelve hands clapped and six mouths cheered. I put my arms out to her and she didn’t even hesitate. One, two, three steps; like she’d been doing it all along. I knew that’s how it would happen, she would just wake up one day and know how, that’s how is was when she starting crawling too.

Our audience went wild! “She’s walking!” “She stepped!” “When did she start this?!” Was it a fluke? I put her back down and took a step back. She did it again, looking from the computer to me and back to the computer. As soon as she heard the applause she put her hands back in the air and started laughing. “You people are so easy to entertain!”

I ran to get Delta and we hurried back to see if we could get her to do more. Each time, sauntering back and forth between us, Baby Girl would look to the camera both before and after – just to make sure no one was missing this. With each clap she grew more giddy, with each step we grew more proud.

This child was just born to be on the stage! She’s just like Tinker Bell, she needs applause to live. She has really done well with this big move, getting used to a very quiet new house and just being with mama most of the time. I knew it would be harder for me, more lonely, more bittersweet. But getting to have my family be a part of this first first away, makes it easier for me to know it’ll all be okay. And my hubby, I’ve never seen his smile so big. He got a perfect first first.

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Baby Steps

February 22, 2012

It’s been (over) a month since we moved and I haven’t written anything! I’m going to try and get in the habit of recording everything Baby Girl does. She’ll be 14 months next week!

New words:

  • Elmo
  • hat
  • hot
  • kwa (like quack, what a duck says)
  • moo (what a cow says)
  • oink/snork/inward breathing (what a pig says, starting to notice a theme?)
  • Papa (like Grandpa, who visited us two weeks ago and brought yum yums)
  • No German yet, Baby Girl becomes very frustrated when I read her the story books I translated, but we do love Germany cartoons!

New tricks:

  • Took first steps on Sunday, Feb 19, 2012!
  • Can find my belly, eyes, hair, teeth, and toes – and loves grabbing mama’s and dada’s
  • Points to mama and dada’s door and says “Ssshh” – Delta works nights, so in her eyes, he sleeps most of the day and mama sleeps never
  • Helps mama with laundry by pushing buttons and taking clean clothes out of the dryer and handing them to her
  • Stands on one leg and does a (slightly tilted) arabesque in attitude
  • Yoga poses mastered: bharadvaja twist, downward facing dog, heron pase (krounchasana, sitting and holding one leg up by the toes)
New favorite things:
  • Whatever dada is eating
  • Using my own fork and spoon
  • When mama says “No!” (she is so funny, acting like the boss)
  • Playing mama’s tum tum like a drum drum
  • Slamming doors and hiding behind them
  • Playing hide and seek/get you
  • Rubbing things in my hair

Politics pays better than Service

November 11, 2011

In 2006, we paid pensions to 413 retired Congressmen, according to a 2007 publication from the Congressional Research Service. Their average annual pensions were $60,972 under the CSRS plan (290 retirees total) or $35,952 under the FERS plan (123). These benefits are earned unconditionally, for life, after a single term.

However, only 17% of military personnel receive retirement benefits. Those who don’t serve at least 20 years, leave with no benefits. None. Zero.

Tonight there was a special episode of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ raising money for various veterans charities (see list below). These foundations were created because we are not keeping our promises to wounded and returning soldiers.

I know posing questions is a cheap trick, but what exactly are our priorities if veterans programs and education must resort to fund raisers?

You Can’t Legislate Morality, Wall Street Edition

October 24, 2011

After the Tea Party Takeover of 2010, conservatives celebrated the success of political participation.

Now that Occupy Wall Street has turned the tables, conservatives are trying to write the newly active off as a crazed socialist mob. As Herman Cain said at the most recent GOP Debate, “They’re protesting in the wrong place.” But pundits and politicians alike are missing the point:

OWS protesters are essentially taking a conservative approach to a liberal problem.

The Tea Party is the first modern conservative movement to use protests as a democratic tool, but this isn’t about the method, it’s about the reasoning.

In choosing to protest on Wall Street rather than the National Mall, Lafayette Park, or in front of the Federal Reserve, the OWS protests are appealing to economic actors themselves. They have acknowledged that the the government isn’t solving the problem* and have chosen to concentrate on the free market.

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly was intended to limit the power of the government by granting specific powers to citizens. These freedoms, powers, and rights would then be used to participate in the government and protect citizens from an abusive government. Citizens have no such rights or protections in the free market. They have the very powerful freedom of choice, yes, but that is limited to purchasing power.

Today, citizens are applying these freedoms to the free market. Acknowledging that economic actors have as much, if not more, decision making power than our elected officials is a resounding statement on our democracy.

Cain’s suggestion that the people protest in front of the White House or the Federal Reserve will fall on deaf ears. He would know that if he looked at why the OWS movement has become so popular. What he suggested was that business leaders should not be held to the same standards of ethics and accountability as political officials. From a business perspective this makes sense: a business man goes to work to profit, he is responsible for himself, his business, and its bottom line. This came up in the first debate, too. Cain had said that the executives of a financial company had “acted responsibly” when it paid large dividends to its shareholders rather than use the funds to “create jobs.” The business, he argued, had satisfied the needs of those it was supposed to be accountable to.

A business can only be liable to its employees and customers, not to the general public. It is the same line of reasoning used when a conservative says that businesses shouldn’t be “limited” by responsibility for pollution or unsafe products.**

It’s the old conservative failsafe: You are responsible for you, and you alone.

You cannot legislate morality.

The question is: will the movement affect business or politics?

After the Tea Party Takeover of 2010, things changed: incumbents were replaced. Then they didn’t. Democrats started listening to the no-longer-silent majority of disgruntled Americans, those that still had their jobs that is. Republicans, even freshman Tea Party darlings, went right on writing the wrong checks, attempting to undo everything the previous Congress did, and discrediting President Obama’s policies.

The Tea Party’s big accomplishment was cleaning house, but one year later very little has changed. Occupy Wall Street’s very existence seems to prove that Americans have lost faith in the very foundation of our democracy: accountability to the voters.

*In this case, the problem being the control of the political system by the financial system and gross economic inequality as a consequence, among other things.

**I don’t buy this cop-out either.

Pride

October 21, 2011

There is a voice in the back of my mind that tells me not to celebrate. A death is a death, violence only begets more violence; but several times in the past several years, a death brings a wave of relief. Another evil man has met his end, a nation can move on.

An international coalition stepped in, prevented a crisis from becoming a holocaust, offered support, and declared an end date to operations in seven months. America was a big part of that; too big, but definitely a step in the right direction. Delta was part of that. As critical of our military as I’ve been this week*, the clips offered some much-needed perspective.

A young Libyan woman gave NBC her reaction: Finally! Finally! We get the freedom! Do you know that, do you know that feeling? That you get to say everything that you wanted!

In news of another front, tonight President Obama announced that he would fulfill his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq.

I jokingly told Delta “You must have cleaned that place up nice.” He is safely out of the suck, so there are three endings this week.

Both Buddhism and Christianity identify pride as the root of all sin, even pride in one’s husband.  But as far as emotions go, pride beats the sh*t outta fear.

*I’ll talk about it when I have the necessary signatures.

Welfare Abuse and Corrupt Capitalism

October 10, 2011

Two weeks ago, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren made headlines with an eloquent speech about paying it forward.

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Standing ovation. Brilliant. She is able to eloquently summarize two hundred years of socio-economic progress in just over two minutes.

Yes, we have social safety-net programs that are being abused. No one is disputing this fact.

But we also have an economic system that allows those at the top to abuse capitalism. Ethical business practices are rewarded in employee and customer loyalty, but not always in profit or legal protection. Unethical business practices are often protected and even encouraged under the guise of creating jobs.

In honor of my hometown joining in with the Occupy Wall Street* peaceful protest movement, here are five reasons voting is no longer enough:

  • For every mother who buys groceries with food stamps and then pays cash to get her nails done, there is a food company** that still uses toxic BPA in its packaging because it’s 2 cents cheaper than a safe alternative.
  • For every politician who calls Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme,” there are untold thousands of Boomers who built the American Dream, paid their taxes, gave their children the promise of a secure economic future, then lost everything in the market and are now struggling to live on the $2,366 maximum monthly benefit.
  • For every graduating high school senior, there are ten under-employed or unemployed college graduates who did everything right, but were left with a mountain of debt and nothing to show for it.
  • For every person who goes to the emergency room without health insurance, there is a Pharmacuetical company*** making billions of dollars in profit and paying zero in taxes.
  • For every minimum wage worker struggling to pay their bills, there is a company that moves to Texas to exploit cheap labor, avoids providing their share of employee income taxes and health care coverage, and incentivizes illegal immigration.

*Think Tea Party for people who understand and can recall history accurately. Disagree? Check out the wealth and power distribution of the Soviet Union just before it collapsed and compare it to modern America. Then ask yourself if it is better for capitalism to reach the same end as history’s grandest communist experiment or for capitalism to be balanced with a progressive social government policy.

**Examples of companies that do not use any BPA, baby food that is safely packaged, and companies that are trying.

***Pfizer profited $9.4 billion in 2010, but paid $0. ZERO. The estimated 2010 tax bill for a teacher earning $30,000? $4,500.

Commander in Chief

October 3, 2011

I don’t have to write anything today, because President Obama said it all this weekend:

We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders — one of whom could end up being the President of the United States — being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander in Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient. We don’t believe in a small America. We believe in a big America — a tolerant America, a just America, an equal America — that values the service of every patriot.

Click here for video of the speech