Friday, November 21, 2008

This is What a Real Pipeline Looks Like...

(Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius, Tim Geithner, Janet Napolitano, Eric Holder, Tom Daschle, Hillary Clinton)

Comparisons are inevitable in politics and news reporting, it makes for good drama and hence interesting news. Above are some of the people that Obama has supposedly selected for his cabinet (Commerce - Richardson, Agriculture - Sebelius, Treasury - Geithner, Homeland Security - Napolitano, Justice - Holder, Health and Human Services - Daschle, State - Clinton) even if he hasn't officially announced it yet. The media has made much about comparisons to Bill Clinton's transition time, specifically focusing on Clinton's desire to have more than just white men in his cabinet and in his supposed haste (and carelessness) nominating unknown people who were not properly vetted and whose nominations were hastily withdrawn (see Lani Guinier, Kimba Wood, Zoe Baird). The unfortunate fact that they were all women only made matters worse, as Clinton was derided for his "affirmative action" appointment attempts.

That was 1992, 16 years ago. Setting aside the differences between Bill Clinton and Barak Obama, look at how far the political scene has come.

Not only is Obama being lauded for his smart choices (politically and policy wise) but he is able to pick from an incredibly talented pool of top Democrats who aren't all white men. Janet Napolitano and Bill Richardson, both Latinos and governors; Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas is only one of 29 women to have been elected governor of a state; Hillary Clinton the first woman Senator of New York and only one of 35 women to ever have served in the U.S. Senate and the only woman to have had a serious chance of winning her party's nomination; and Eric Holder will be the first African American to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General, the top law enforcer in the country, including civil rights.

Step back and take that all in. We've come a long way, but this didn't just "happen." Building a pipeline of new talent takes mentoring, commitment of resources and taking risks by those in power to bring others along. Call it affirmative action, quotas, or preferential treatment, doesn't matter to me. What does matter is that creating a pool of qualified people not of the status quo doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen without tremendous effort.

So kudos to all the organizations and people who have made this possible. I'm so proud to see that work reflected in my current lifetime!

Love and Hugs!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Drooling Over an Overstocked Pantry

When I’m bored, I think about food. Not necessarily eating food, but preparing it. But this isn’t your run of the mill fantasy of creating sumptuous dinner parties or baking sticky sweet treats. No, instead I perform what I think of as Depression Era inspired food fantasizing; I mentally raid my pantry and set myself a challenge to make a full meal for 6 diners from whatever is there. And if I’m really bored, I start to stock the pantry in my mind.

That doesn’t mean I go shopping like any ordinary person. Oh no. My fantasizing of the perfect pantry is on the scale of old-school MGM Musicals. Just to give you an idea of the scope, pretty soon I’ve envisioned all of the canned goods that would have come from my 50 by 50 foot vegetable garden, and the dried herbs and herbal teas from my large herb and flower garden. Of course we can’t forget the dairy items – yogurts and cheeses – and smoked meats that would have come from my cow and sows. Naturally my house would be surrounded by luscious wild fruit trees and bushes – raspberries, sour cheers, plums, apples and pears – so the dried, canned and frozen items would be plentiful as well.

When I lived in the Midwest, none of this was far-fetched, and indeed, I also could have grown my own wheat, rye, flax, spelt, and corn to make flours to turn into a variety of baked goods. Chickens providing eggs and meat are increasingly a part of many rural and urban homes and I would have had them as well. The big joke is that I’m single – no partner and mess of kids to cook for from this cornucopia of a pantry. But dreaming is the first step to making it a reality!
Love and Hugs!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Putting My Education to Good Use…

Schweitzer * Richardson * Ritter * Napolitano

Everyone has pet peeves, whether they recognize them as that or not. It might be as small as being left with the cardboard roll of empty toilet paper or an unmade bed, but we all have little dislikes that just needle us to no end. One of mine is the “I told you so” attitude. It drives me nuts when people say or imply it, regardless of whether it’s for a positive or negative thing (such as, “I told you that they love you and you’ll get that job!” or “I told you that you’d burn your tongue if you didn’t let the soup cool”). No matter how small or larger or positive or negative, the sentiment is all about being right as opposed to being kind or supportive or whatever, and what does one get for being right?

That said, I am about to be the person that I can’t stand. I’m going to say I told you so since I feel vindicated in what I’ve been saying for about three years to whoever would listen: we are finally witnessing the decline of the so called Southern Strategy for Democrats winning the Presidency and the rise of the independent West. For decades, democratic pundits and operators have said that candidates needed to be either from the South (LBJ, Carter, Clinton) or have a running mate from the South (hence Kerry’s pick of Edwards) to win southern votes and the presidency. Not only did I hate that sort of pandering to conservative aspects of the Democratic Party (read racist) but I also thought that it sold short many parts of the county.

Call it the resultant mix of my intuition, intimate knowledge of state legislators across 50 states, and many years of political science education, but I’m proud to say that I saw this coming, this being the slow rise of Democratic leaders and larger democratic voting blocks in the American West. Looking at the electoral map, it wasn’t simply that Obama won Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, which went to Bush in 2000 and 2004. But look at the vote in Montana, Nebraska, Arizona and North and South Dakota (!) which slid towards Obama in the last days of the election. Westerners have a specific regional culture that can appear quite contrary if you didn’t grow up with it. It is anti-establishment and anti-government but has a live and let live quality (see New Hampshire as the East Coast aberration). But there is also that pioneer, help thy neighbor, communal bent, which has often translated into social conservatism because of the role going to church and religion play in daily lives, but it can also come out as, we’re all in this together, so let’s get that barn built! While an increased latino vote in Colorado and New Mexico and a growing black vote in Nevada definitely helped Obama, those groups are still outnumbered by white folks, who also voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

Before people elected Obama, they elected moderate democrats as governors – in Arizona (Janet Napolitano), New Mexico (Bill Richardson), Colorado (Bill Ritter), and Montana (Brian Schweitzer). While staunch progressive democrats may not see these moderates as victories, remember that most change, whether it’s from within or without, is incremental in nature.

So join me in continuing the post-election celebration and raise a glass to the bluing of the West, and if you’re feeling generous, an acknowledgement of my rightness!

Love and hugs!
P.S. Here's the map of the US that I looked at during the elections, and you can see the actual vote from the elections (notice Missouri still isn't final yet!) But what's even more interesting, is if you look on the right hand side of the page, you can click to see what the day looked like in 2004 and the difference is astounding!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trusting Strangers with My Life, Redux....

My loyal readers may recall my second post when I talked about using the local carpool system to get to work free, and with a lower carbon footprint. Well if I could, I would gladly bike to work, but the Bay Bridge does not accomodate bicycles. But in the post-election, President-Elect Obama glow, I believe in dreaming big. Reading about the proliferation of cities in Europe setting up easy bike commute programs made my heart sing. Take a gander and join me in the big dream!


Love and Hugs

Thursday, November 6, 2008

L'Chaim! To Life!

I am not sure how to explain it, but suddenly I am so interested in cooking again! I don't know if it's the fact that Obama is going to the White House and so some karmic release in the world has just occurred, but I created a fantastic dinner and new dish. I almost titled this post, "let's get shredded" because that was what it took to make my fancy-simple dinner, but I like the idea of toasting "Life," pure and simple.

It's an Asian (Thai perhaps) inspired grated coleslaw and I enjoyed it with slices of fresh avocado and chilled shrimp and it was divine! Sorry I don't have the camera to take pictures of the actual meal, but these pictures of the raw ingredients will have to do. If you try it, let me know what you think.

Grated Asian Slaw

1 celeriac, peeled
1 broccoli stalk
1 purple turnip
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 Thai green chili, deseeded, minced
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 avocado, sliced (optional)
5 chilled shrimp (optional)

Grate each of the vegetables into a bowl. Add the lime juice to prevent the vegetables from discoloring and add half of the salt. Mix well. Add cabbage, cilantro and chili and mix well. Toss in the sesame oil and mix well. Add black pepper to taste.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Obama Day!

I am FINALLY so proud to declare that I’m an American, that I live in a place that has finally done the right thing and not simply by electing an African American for President. But by electing a man who has all of the right political qualities that I admire – intellectually and street smart, politically savvy, not captured by the Beltway mentality – as well as the qualities of an outstanding human being – integrity, community focused, humble, and a loving, family, oriented man.

Oh Happy Day! I salute you, Mr. President and I can’t wait to see how you lead us into more history making moments!

Happy Obama Day!!!