Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I Really Really Hate Sarah Palin

On Christmas Eve in 2006, I received a call from my sister about an hour before they were due to come to our house for a holiday dinner. Our mother, who had been battling colon cancer since her diagnosis in May, had collapsed and been rushed to the hospital.

My parents were at their home in Florida at the time. They had been love-slash-snow-birds for about 10 years. They were so happy down there doing their own thing. You'd call them in October after they settled in and they'd sound like they were dating again, giggly...having a blast.

They decided she would have her cancer treatment down in Fla because the side-effects of chemo included intolerance to temperature. Cleveland is too cold. Plus they had so many friends down there for support.

In September she had an MRI that showed the tumors had been eliminated. She did not tolerate the chemo well, was barely over 90 pounds when they halted it after the MRI. Of course, her oncologist said she should have her last two chemo treatments when she got up to 92 pounds, even though her MRI was clear. So after Thanksgiving...they put her back on it, she had two treatments in the following few weeks

Then, she started losing weight at an alarming rate and could not keep food in her system. At her funeral her friends told me the last time they saw her was December 10th. I believe that's about the time the chemo started doing it's damage. Mere days after her last treatment

I booked a flight down there on Christmas Day as did my other siblings. A couple of days later, she looked good. I got to joke around with her and make her laugh as I always love to do. When you could get a real laugh out of my mom? It was big, loud and beautiful. I got one of those out of her. We thought it was OK to go back home to Cleveland, that she would be back home with our Dad shortly after.

Weeks went by...we were told she had C-Diff, an infection unfortunately too many folks get in the hospital. But no, that's not it. I flew back and forth, paying through the nose to go see her stuck in a hospital, still losing weight, not getting better. My mom's condition kept declining and the hospital kept attributing it to everything else but her cancer or the effects of the chemo.

Finally, a few days after I returned home from the last trip I received a call from my sister again telling me my mom was at the end. But when we got there what we found was the hospital still trying to treat her and the doctors refusing to tell my father it was no longer going to work.

My mom was a totally different person from the last time I saw her. She was drugged for sure but she was also pissed. She wanted to die. But nobody would let her. Picture a kleenex draped over a pencil...that's what her arms and legs looked like. She was starving to death, she had no muscle left, her body had cannibalized every ounce of muscle and fat. I was told at that time she maybe weighed in the 60's. Her skin was full of black marks, a needle mark left a bruise the size of an apple.

So, while we're there and she's pissed and in pain and sick of shitting herself and waiting 45 minutes for somebody to clean her up; the doctor decides she needs a sigmoidoscopy. I'm in the room when the doctor comes in and recommends this. My mom's face just falls. My dad's face brightens, The Doctor is trying to save his unsaveable wife.

I dare to ask the doctor if this is wise, because my mom is staring at me....pleading... 'Don't let them do this to me'...I know her, that's what she is saying. My dad who wants to save her at all costs, who hasn't had a doctor willing to be honest with him yet, talks her into it and glares at me for thinking otherwise. At that point she gives up trying to have a dignified death. At that point I give up trying to help her get one. I still remember mouthing to her 'I tried' and her turning her head away. That moment haunts me still today.

After the Futile Sigmoidoscopy and the ridiculously horrifying attempt at making a dying woman who weighs less than 60 pounds get up and do physical kids finally have enough. We talk to my dad into having a conversation her oncologist whose responsible for keeping this bullshit going.

The doctor meets with us in the corridor outside of my mom's room.

I tower over and easily outweigh her by half. So, I have the guts to ask her very pointedly: 'Do you think my mom can gain the weight back...all 60 plus pounds she needs to and go back home and get better or do you think she is, in reality, dying and we need to get her to hospice?'

Undaunted..she smiles at me...and I'm so blown away by the ovaries this woman has to form a fucking smile at a moment like this. Smiling Dr. Ginormous Ovaries says 'I don't know'. But the kicker comes next. She says this: "I'm so disappointed, I thought she (aka my dying mom) was a fighter". This bitch did not just diss my mom for dying did she? Yes, she did.

I reply to the effect: 'Yeah mom is dying just to disappoint your pathetically self-important piece of crap ego'...I think.. in a more polite way, probably not, but who knows. I hardly remember, it's still fuzzy to this day.

My brother grabs my arm and pulls me down the hall. My dad is not amused. I make no apology. I really want to run back down that hallway and drag the smug doctor by her hair over to my mother and make her sit with her for the next hour so she can see. I want to make her put Vaseline on her cracked lips and stroke her head like I've been doing for the last hour. I want to make her understand the gravity...the humanity of what we're going through.

That meeting finally helped convince my dad to get my mom to hospice. After waiting for two hours on a gurney under the emergency canopy to be moved a quarter of a mile down the mom died 11 hours later. She weighed something like 55 pounds.

We said our goodbyes at the dad wanted to be alone with her. I understand. They were the quintessential love story, I've never known two people who loved each other more. He tried to live without her but loved her so much, he didn't last much longer without her and died literally a week after she had this past February.

But..looking back as we are all prone to do. My family sure could have used one of those Evil Nazi death panels to help us all decide what to do. But psychologist or psychiatrist visited us at all. Wasn't covered by that awesome Private Insurance Company...or Medicare for that matter.

Nobody with any authority or professional experience helped my dad make the right decisions for her or himself. Nobody helped us kids help him or her.

The woman who had brought us all into this world; who had kissed our boo-boos, dried our tears, stood up for us against bullies, made our Halloween costumes, nursed us through sickness & health, who had counseled us all on so many things that made our lives better literally up until the moment she couldn't....was treated like a freaking a dollar sign by the system and duped the man who loved her more than himself into thinking he could save her so the system could make more money.

I dare Sarah Palin to tell me to my face that end-of-life counseling is a 'Death Panel'...I'd tell 'Miss You Betcha' about how when I went to Florida for my mother's funeral in the first week of February, that under the Christmas tree my dad left up for my mom in case she came home, I found the gift he meant to give her and in the card I found atop the beautiful sweater he wanted her to Dad wrote: 'My Darling I will love you for Eternity'.

My father spent about two years trying to live without the love of his life. It didn't go well. He didn't know how. We tried so hard to be there for him but we were his snot-nosed kids whose butts he used to wipe.

We found out after he died from the lawyers he hired to prepare his estate and the financial advisors who held his accounts, that when they called him to talk to him about what he should do...he'd spend the whole time crying. They told us this happens often with widowers, they don't know how to function without their partners. My dad let everything go, the estate lost more money than I care to even think about because I know he didn't want that to happen but he was just so lost.

Had both of my parents had access to some real end-of-life counseling....spent some time together talking with a mental health professional, health professionals, etc. I think their story would have ended differently, I think their story might not be over. My heart tells me my father would still be alive. At the very least...a lot of unnecessary pain would have been avoided. And as you can tell from this post....that pain has a lasting effect.

End of life counseling is absolutely one of the most important services we can cover under healthcare. Ironically, before Sarah Palin became famous for being the World's Worst Running Mate Pick...she felt the same.

Sigh. I hate this woman but that doesn't change things, does it? Only we can.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hollow Men

Today John 'Oompa Loompa' Boehner stepped in front a room full of reporters at a press conference House Republicans invited said reporters to, in response to Obama's challenge to present their own Republican budget. Unsurprisingly, hilarity ensued.

When a stunned reporter asked why the numbers and facts that would normally be an essential component of what anyone with half a brain would call a budget, were missing; His Orangeness was forced to spin the five page document that, remember they invited the press to report on, as 'a 'blueprint' for a budget. Are you kidding me?

So the House Republicans made a huge public event out of showing everyone their plan for their plan. Really. This is how elected Republican representatives answer a challenge posed by a Democratic President of The United States. Isn't that kind of like calling the dean and your profs together to present your thesis and then handing them your outline? Frankly I'm not surprised. The Republicans don't like legislating, it's hard work.

Of course what Republicans did present was what any college prof would call plagiarism, you know copying an old well published idea and presenting it as new? Gee, I wonder how a struggling nation so disgusted by wealthy Wall Streeters gaming the system and getting bonuses for failing would view a big tax cut for those bastards? Because there are soooo many of us still buying their 'trickle-down' nonsense. It's almost as if they are itching for a pitchfork up the ass.

Instead of coming up with a real budget or working with the President to repair the damage their lack of real leadership wrought on this nation for 8 years, what is the ever unravelling right wing doing? Calling him fascist and 'uppity'. Fomenting ridiculous rumours. Attacking his wife and presenting legislation to track her activities. Oh no! That radical Michelle Obama actually planted a White House kitchen garden!!! How long will it be before we are all forced to work on government farms for rubles?

What all of this tells us is....the party that prides itself on ideology have no real ideas themselves. They rediscovered their dubious claim to Fiscal Responsibility well after they took the country from billions in surplus to trillions in deficit. But, only because the people took away their power. While 'their leader' was in office, Republicans passed whatever he wanted. They wouldn't even include the illegal unnecessary war he started in the budget in an effort to hide how badly they were screwing the pooch.

What's funny is that even their insults and conspiracy theories are unoriginal. Bush has been called a fascist, so they call Obama a fascist. They've taken the Bush concentration camp rumour and recycled into the Obama Fema concentration camp rumour. Haven't they heard that Bush was the Anti-Christ waaaaay before Obama could have been? You can't have two Antichrists as far as I know, that would be overkill...the whole idea of an Antichrist is that it's one scary dude...if he has a brother or cousin or That means there's family involved and don't we all have one relative we think might be the Antichrist? I know I do.

I'm sure a lot of liberals and Dems are out there very outraged at the GOP for all of the crazy crap they're flinging at the wall...especially because some of this stuff is beyond the pale. And frightening. But just remember, they're doing it because they have nothing of any real value to offer anyone, and the American people realize this.

The GOP is an archaic group, addicted to oligarchy, immune to the repercussions of their bent towards sending the poor to war to make them money masked in their 'strong national security platform', apathetic towards the plight of the less fortunate, a party organized around the entitlement of wealth that uses the age old tactic of divide and conquer to grab and maintain power. other words they are Hollow Men. And their time is up, at least for now. It's up to us to keep it that way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Green Is Good

Hat tip to Mr. Madoff and Gordon Gecko for the inspiration for this week's post title. I just decided to put a different spin on it...I hope the financial jack-offs that have destroyed our system don't mind. Or as Jon Stewart would say to them "F**k You!".

I have a confession to make fellow Cleveland Liberal Drinkers, not only am I a liberal...I'm one of those tree-huggin kind. Environmentalist whacko member of the NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife? Check. Granola for breakfast? Check. Community gardener? Check. And finally... Birkenstock wearer? Check. What? They're reaaallly comfortable and have cork soles which are a renewable resource! Sheesh!

Anyway, my love of the green life really took hold when I started gardening for the first time in my life, the year Mr. Drinking Liberally and I decided to buy a house and take root ourselves. Prior to, I lived in apartments for 8 years and there wasn't a houseplant that had a prayer if I got my mitts on it. But, then I inherited this little plot of land in front of my house. I had never mowed a lawn in all my years either and wasn't about to start that lame never-ending exercise, so I made my whole front yard nothing but garden. Much to my neighbors' chagrin I suppose but they're used to it now.

My life changing epiphany occurred that first spring when I glimpsed the plump pointy tops of the tulips and daffodils I had planted the previous fall poking out of the soil in my garden....'It's ALIVE!' I exclaimed. I felt like God. And that's huge for an ex-Catholic. I created life...well, Gales Garden Center helped a little bit. But I stuck them in the ground, fed them yummy organic fertilizer and mulched the little darlings so they'd burst forth and join nature in all it's glory.

Two years after my Frankensteinesque epiphany over tulips and daffodils, I joined a community garden. I read every book I could find on the subject of gardening, subscribed to magazines, started growing my own food and became a pathetic slave to the indescribably delicious taste of the first ripe homegrown heirloom beefsteak tomato from my own plant. Today, I'm like Gollum and his elusive ring with that first ripe's sooo precious sliced thinly and layed lovingly upon lightly toasted white bread with a thin layer of real mayo, salt and pepper. Mr. DL can't come near me when I make my first tomato sandwich of the summer or he'll lose a digit.

I guess what I'm trying to accomplish with my tempting anecdote is to convince all of you out there in CDL Land to grow your own food or if you're not able to, at least buy your vegetables at a local CSA or farmers market.

Growing your own has a different meaning these days. It doesn't mean 15-25 in the Big House but access to affordable healthy food that didn't need to travel 1000 miles on fossil fuels or was harvested by slave labor. Buying local isn't 'protectionist', it's smart. By supporting small local and urban farming, you not only reduce the amount of fossil fuels the industry uses but you help create jobs in your own neighborhood and a vibrant local economy.

If every country grew their own food to feed their own populations, there would be no for need huge factory farms here in America that pollute our air, water and soil. Or trade laws in other countries that force poor farmers to grow commodity crops instead of food their people desperately need. There is a wonderful organization called Oxfam that helps people third world countries do just that....unfortunately those places have to fight the same big companies like ADM, Dow and Monsanto that we do. The best way to counter Big Ag is to get involved in the local food movement.

The local food movement here in Cleveland is vibrant and growing. We have over 200 community gardens around the city. Urban farms are popping up everywhere and the Cleveland City Council even passed an ordinance making it easier for folks to keep chickens and bees. Since the foreclosure madness swept North East Ohio, municipalities are razing abandoned condemned houses and letting the land be used as gardens and small farms. An empty abandoned lot can become a productive local resource with some raised beds...or a beautiful orchard. Nothing is impossible because we have the land and imagination to remake our landscape. We have the opportunity to feed each other in every aspect..mind, body and soul.

Food and nature are themes in our lives that have the singular ability to bring people together and create lasting bonds. All of us have a favorite memory of meals with loved ones or taking refuge in the shade of a tree on a hot summer day. We remember picking stawberries at a local farm as children or having to weed to get an allowance. Some of us may have tended vegetable gardens with our parents or grandparents and remember that time we shared with fondness.

For those of us who love to garden, there is nothing more Zen than weeding early in the morning on a summer day before the wasps and bees wake up to get in our way...sitting still on occasion so as not to scare the robin less than two feet from you who is picking a bug from the soil you've just turned over; watching his/her careful deliberation in finding the bug, amazed in the trust they have you won't harm them or the risk they're taking to get food for their young.

Maybe I'm romanticizing the work of gardening a is hard, I've been laid up on the couch or a day or two after spreading 2 yards of humus on the community garden. I've gotten the dreaded 'wore the wrong t-shirt' sunburns that don't fade until six months later. Running a farm in the city has to have it's challenges as well.

But, what little pain there is in growing your own food, running an urban farm or searching out local resources we experience pales in comparison to the damage relying on Big Agriculture for food, something so essential to our survival, wreaks on our society as a whole.

So Cleveland DL'ers...this summer, think about finding a spot to grow your own or at least finding a connection to some great local food. Green is good.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

When People Show You Who They Are...Believe Them

While I expected the GOP to resist Obama's plan to save us from the brink of the destructive path they put us on well more than 8 years ago, I never dreamed of the absolutely mentally deranged reaction they are exhibiting now. Normal intellectual opposition is fine. We need folks to look at all angles and provide constructive criticism, but that's not what we're seeing.

What we are seeing reminds me of the time I accidentally came upon a potentially rabid possum cornered in my garage in the middle of the day. A scavenging creature used to skulking around in the dark; it was sick, scared and pissed, it had nasty teeth, claws and made the most gawdawful noises I've ever heard in my life.

So, of course that nightmarish episode reminded me of Michelle Bachmann (R-Stalker), a frightened sick scavenging angry creature who is really worried that we'll run out of rich people and Obama is going to make us a socialist country. My favorite Bachmann Crazy Overdrive quote comes when she discusses energy and healthcare: "And as the Democrats are about to nationalize cartels"...implying that our energy and healthcare industries are cartels...which would mean they'd be operating illegally. That's probably the first truthful utterance that's ever made it's way out of her psychotic Botoxed pie-hole, albeit accidentally.

Then there's the 'We Hope He Fails Crowd' following like rats entranced by the syphillitic rantings of their overly pie'd piper, the ginormous impotent college drop out, failed sportscaster and former(?) drug addict Rush 'Women Don't Like Me? Really?" Limbaugh.

I love how they say it's not that they hope "he" meaning Obama fails, but they hope what they call his liberal socialist plan to save the country fails. Because that would mean everything they believe in might be wrong and they won't control government if the United States has to become a third world country mired in conflict, poverty, starvation, and genocide like say, be it. At least their principles will be intact.

Wasn't this the party that used the tag-line "Country First" in their bid to beat Obama? I guess they don't get the connection or irony. I'm hardly surprised seeing they thought we'd all embrace a corrupt hate-baiting shallow bloodthirsty Hockey Mom for VP.

Next, we have the ground-breaking new RNC leader, Michael Steele. A political cross-dresser who made and distributed campaign signs and literature calling himself a Democrat so he could get elected in Maryland. He's ready to bring the hip-hop to fat white rich guys who yell at their kids for listening to Kanye West. He hates Rush. He loves Rush. Whatever, somebody puuuhhhleeez just tell him what to do so he can keep his plum job as RNC chair. If Mike loses this job, how can he be a loyal Republican who looks down on other people who don't have jobs? The universe would explode.

But my favorite Republican Idealogue of the week goes to another accidentally honest Republican who revealed his core belief that healthcare is indeed a privilege of class rather than a basic human right. To put this in perspective, this elected representative is from Tennessee, a state with more letters in it's moniker than people with jobs that provide said privileged healthcare.

What Zach Wamp (Sorry, but what a great porn name...dude really missed his calling) is telling Americans who work two or three low-wage jobs at companies that don't offer health insurance because they weren't born into privilege and couldn't afford college or running for Congress is: Sorry you poor healthcare for you. Meanwhile, taxpayers foot the bill for Zach Wamp and his family's very comprehensive government provided health care.

Never mind the fact that if we had universal healthcare we could save billions in administrative costs alone, not to mention the ability to negotiate drug prices like they do in those scary socialist nations in Europe who pay one fifth what we pay for prescription drugs.

So Zach "The Pizza Delivery Man With An Extra Large Pepperoni" Wamp wants to maintain the status quo where the poor can't afford healthcare so they are forced to use the Emergency room, which is subsized by the dwindling tax dollars the middle-class pays who are currently struggling with high co-pays and premiums..all the while the rich/government officials enjoy their birthright of free/affordable healthcare. Well, at least we now know where another Rush Republican stands.

The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes (by the inimitable Maya Angelou), it's simple and honest and true. Here we are in the most difficult time this country has faced in 60 years and we see a group of people acting selfish beyond belief, not willing to spend money on the people, their constituents..only the corporations and/or banks they view as patrons that keep them in power. They'll let families in their districts go hungry and lose their homes. They'll let their constituents who can't afford the exhorbitant cost of health insurance struggle with ill health or die because they don't have the money, rather than do the smart moral and honorable thing by reforming our system to make it fair, cost effective and universal.

When people show you who they are, like: Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Zach Wamp, Larry Kudlow, Rick Santelli, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, Tom Delay, and so on...believe them. Who they are is a group of people who couldn't give a shit who you are. I think it's time we returned the sentiment and fought for what's right. Healthcare for

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Out With The New, In With The Old

Welcome back to the blog Cleveland DL'ers!

Turns out, I just could never get used to the official DL blog site. No creative freedom, no linking ability, no blogroll, had to finish it all in one sitting within a certain time period or it would time-out on me...etc. So, I'm dusting this old baby off and taking her for another spin.

But this post's title has nothing to do with me bringing back our very own blog where ya'll can send me posts you want everyone to see, sites you want to link to and messages or anything.

No. This title relates to the Re-Gingerichization of The Republican Party. What these obtuse nostalgia-addicted yahoos have taken from their devastating electoral losses over the last two years is that they need to Newter themselves to remain politically viable. Well, at least they aren't digging up Reagan for the umpteenth time but still, this recent strategy is just as familiar and amusing.

The GOP believes what the American people want right now; while millions are out of work, under-employed, taking pay cuts, losing their homes, losing their health insurance, losing the value of their homes, telling their kids they can't pay for college, cutting back on any and every small luxury and/or necessity in for their only lifeline...the government, to completely stop working for them. No Money for Jobs! More tax cuts for Madoff! Cut Social Spending! Yeah, that's the ticket!

The same Republicans who voted to give the banks 350 billion when Bush was in office a few months ago, now say giving money to programs that will employ 4 million Americans who will pay taxes back into the system and buy more goods with their income is 'wasteful spending'.

Their groundbreaking new RNC chair Michael Steele (R-NoBama) actually tried to make the case on national TV that work and jobs aren't the same thing. That's like trying to argue a flower is not a plant. Oh. My. God. So. Freaking. Stupid.

The King of Revisionist Hypocrisy, Mr. February in this month's issue of Newt Gingerich Wannabee Magazine, is Virginia House Rep Eric Can'tor (R-Conflictofinterestville). My favorite thing about this latest Republican paper-hero isn't that he shoots wolves from a helicopter, has an unmarried teenage mother for a daughter or is under investigation (yet) for abuse of power.

What I love about this young buck ready to carry the Newtian mantle is the the fact his wife was a managing director at a bank that received hundred of millions from the TARP money he railed against yet voted for. I'm sure he had no idea his wife's bank would get some of that icky bailout rude of us to imply such a thing.

After 8 years of the worst president in history, a semi-former Republican Idol, sending the deficit into the stratosphere and spending our money like a shit-faced college student at Hooters with a no limit credit Republicans care about the money future generations are going to shoulder? Eric Can'tor now cares about what the future holds for non-zygotian Americans who made it through the birth canal?

Well, I'd thank him for his concern if it wasn't so laughable. But the fact remains that it is incredibly laughable. So... sorry Eric The Lame....the GOP is NOT 'Back in The Saddle' but instead continue to prove who they really are...American Idiots.

Finally to tie this all whole post and theme of bringing back 'the old' together is a word to our president. A currently good and potentially great man who has brought a lot of the 'old' back into the White House for admirable yet misdirected reasons. Damn that Doris Kearns Goodwin to hell.

Dear President Obama,

Your admiration for Lincoln is understood. But, eventually even he ditched bipartisanship and did what is right for the nation, even when it meant going to war with states in the union.

He was a man that despised slavery but was more concerned with pragmatism and holding the union together than abolishing slavery. He believed back in 1858 that ending slavery in 100 years was a realistic goal. Frederick Douglass showed him and everyone else 100 years was too long and that what is right, just and the best for the nation cannot wait for those unwilling to face change. Could you imagine if the United States waited until 1958 to abolish the enslavement of African Americans? Just 50 years ago? Well, my guess is that you would not be president right now.

Real change is not a slow evolving process. It requires a catalyst to set it into motion. It does not require all parties at the table...just one or a few brave individuals to take the leap and bring others along. You've done that. You've got a mass of people ready to take that leap with you. We can't bring the GOP along when their leaders reach back for the likes of Newt Gingerich instead of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.

We voted for change. They don't want change. It's done.

While I won't hold my breath for a response from the Obama folks, this does mean one thing, after a few weeks off from meeting and too many off from real blogging....Cleveland DL is back in the saddle again. See YOU at the next meeting kids.