Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hate to Hate the Haters

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab ("Umar F'in A") tried to bring down Northwest Airlines flight 253 using a PETN bomb in his bikini underwear, as we all know. On the flight he allegedly threw one of those germy airline blankets over his head and said, "I have a stomach ache," and then tried to blow up the plane and kill all the people. On Christmas.

If this incident wasn't so absolutely disgusting and disturbing, it would be funny. Tina Fey or Seth Meyers is going to stretch this material until the absurdity makes people laugh. Thank God.

The vignette might include an all-American "kid" the size of Bill Murray flying home alone, again, from boarding school. In his loneliness he tries to befriend Umar F'in A. Umar is distracted, however, with his evil plot and rejects Billy's overtures of friendship with distain. Billy's pissed, so when Umar pushes the button to request a blankie and no attendant appears because the airline is on the verge of bankruptcy, cute little Billy offers Umy his Harry Potter "Invisibility Cloak" (wink wink). We might then see Umar rubbing his hands, laughing menacingly, pouring steaming chemicals into science beakers he pulls from his pants, under what he thinks is a blanket...until he's whacked in the head and subdued by the SNL guest who runs in breathlessly and says in that old familiar way,

"Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"

But we are not there yet. Before we can joke at all about this very serious breach of national security we have the investigative reports to hear, the congressional committee hearings to withstand, the media slice-and-dice, the international reaction and the Republican fundraising to survive. Even worse, though, are all the blogosphere hate comments.

In one particular Facebook post, a right-winger Friend of mine posted a comment that suggested President Obama is responsible for the underwear bomber because two of the accomplices were released from Gitmo. He even cited a link to a story from ABC News! The story reported that two former Guantanamo prisoners were implicated in this terrorist plot, and that they had been released in November of 2007. A year before Barrack Obama was elected. Nevertheless, a comment followed that read:

"I honestly wanna know who voted for that stupid fucker because i ask everyone every day and NO one says they voted for him...."

You might have read some of these hate comments. I hate them. When a Bangor Daily News story wrote about Congresswomen Chellie Pingree's life and career, some anonymous person wrote:

"And your moron Pingree, who says she is against corporate welfare, beamed when she announced a $40 million stimulus gift to Mafioso wind company Firts Wind. Corporta welfare is good if it's for one of Chellie's pet causes. She is fired next November."

What kind of humanity tries to blow up innocent families traveling on Christmas Day? How can anyone who has a heartbeat not know someone who voted for the President of the United States? He got roughly 53% of the vote nationwide and all four Maine electoral votes! And, Chellie is a moron? I bet she can spell First and Corporate.

We were raised not to hate. It's hard not to hate the haters.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Land of Opportunity

My imaginary friend Ellen Goodman said yesterday she is retiring on January 1, 2010 as the leading syndicated columnist who writes about women.  Opportunity knocks when you are in the right place at the right time and know the right people. Clearly the time is now for some lucky person to slip in as Goodman's replacement, but where does she need to be, and with whom in order to vie for the job?

If you have been a professional for a while and just figured out the political game (by the way, I agree with you, and it looks like you lost weight) even thinking about a job as a writer is audacious. Yet here we are on the precipice of a brand new year. "2010" sounds perky and promising. If a black man can be elected President of the United States, surely a self-proclaimed moderate working mother from a small town in Maine can grab the megaphone for a few weeks and comment on the state of affairs of women and girls, right? You have thoughts. You were an English major. This is America. Go for it.

If writing isn't your forte, grab your clubs and cover for Tiger Woods for a year or so while he recovers from the crash. Or, maybe since Kate Gosselin and the eight kids are on their own; you could pick up a Rent-a-Husband franchise for a good price and make her an offer.

Somebody, anybody, run for senate in Connecticut! God knows Joe Lieberman needs a time out.

The 24-hour news cycle is chock-full of possibilities. Partisanship and polarization might be troublesome if your cup is half empty, but for every challenge there is an opportunity. This year you might get your lucky break. Alternative Dispute Resolution for Congressmen could take off if marketed and priced right. Your brilliant and effective Twitter Therapy for working parents with ADHD could get in to the healthcare bill as a covered benefit if you are from Nebraska or Louisiana.

It's cold, dark and raining. Surely an opportunity is buried somewhere under the discarded wrapping paper and pine needles. Turn off the Christmas music and put it away. Package up 2009 and put it on the shelf. Against all odds and in defiance of cable news shows, ring in the New Year and make it the best ever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Young and the Restless

Politics is defined loosely as who gets what, when and where.

Sounds a little like Christmas, don't you think?

If you are political and ambitious, the holidays might present an interesting challenge. You could choose to send politically correct "holiday" cards to the audience who will usher you in to victory at the next election. At some level you sincerely mean the wishes of good health and peace, but there is an ulterior motive. You are trying to win votes. For some, this is a conflict. For others, it's the game.

If you are a twenty-something coming of age in the digital era during a recession and a war on terrorism, the holidays might introduce the first of many chapters of family politics. You define yourself and stand apart from your kin yet simultaneously long to be recognized and accepted. Some of us have been that young adult. We graduated from college blessed and burdened with the knowledge that what our family told us was true about the world is not universally accepted. There is another view - and another way of life that is attractive, and feels good. You might express yourself and your cerebral awakening with long hair or vintage clothes. You might acquire a taste for strong black coffee, rioja and green olives. You reject, for a while anyway, red meat.  

The irony of studying and traveling on the family dime only to mature and find yourself at odds with some fundamental principles once believed to be self-evident is not lost. You see a crack in the ice and cold water separating yourself from the very people who raised and nurtured you, and put you on that plane to Europe with $500 and a back-pack full of clean clothes and wishes of safety.

All politics is about compromise. The elected officials who were passionate and unwavering on their soap box during the campaign learn quickly ideology takes a back seat when the election is over and governing begins.

The family, together for a day or two around the holidays, recognizes the common ground and embraces the differences among its tribe. There is compromise of a different sort. Tolerance is a value both old and young acquire for the survival and celebration of a shared journey.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Bright Side

Sure, the recession sucks, but look at the bright side. Being thrifty is now cool, and cutting expenses is all the rage. This is a wonderful opportunity to change your life. You can re-invent yourself - for less.

So go ahead - fire that cleaning woman that's been driving you crazy for the last three years. Rip us the renewal for the ridiculous Day-Timer refill that costs $30 and comes in a plastic tub filled with useless paper. It is way more fun to buy a pocket calendar at the local book store for $12.50

Pull out some clothes from the back of your closet that thankfully still fit and are woven with memories of yourself from a different era. Say out loud and without shame "I can't afford it" to the thirty-five people who ask you for money today. It's liberating - and true. Finish every bottle of product, including hotel hair conditioner. It frees up space in the bathroom and must be good feng shui.

Set aside this year's embossed and engraved gold foil Christmas card from the Maine Turnpike Authority and make a mental note to check on how much this exercise in political glad-handing is costing tax payers.

The recession might also be good for women, in a dark sort of way. Flex-time, recently only for "mommies" on a track, is now for anyone at a Fortune 500 company that wants a "sabbatical."  Businesses are cutting costs by offering employees reduced hours and encouraging creative ways to work less while meeting demands. This is not a bad thing.

Maybe all the guys on Wall Street are busy counting their bonus money, but did you see last week's NYT Sunday Business section? The Corner Office and The Boss, two feature articles usually about male masters of the universe, were about women. The cover story was about menopause, for God sakes. There were three other major pieces by and about women.

If the recession means less shopping, more soul-searching and a shot at the corner office, bring it on.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bon Appetit

If you were at that Holiday party last night and are now feeling a bruschetta and watch Julie and Julia with your long-legged 12 year-old daughter. Then blog about it. This exercise will string back together any loose brain cells and send feelings of comfort and joy to your core.

In the movie, Julie Powell (Amy Adams) whips up a batch of bruschetta for her adorable husband Eric (Chris Messina) and he wolfs it down while inspiring her to blog about cooking. It was during the scene with the chopped fresh yellow and red tomato medley piled on thick slices of pan-fried-in-butter French bread that we hit "pause" and headed to the kitchen. Isabel chopped, and I sautĂ©ed. She tossed plum tomatoes with olive oil, course salt, pepper and basil. I started the bread-seared-in-butter a second time without garlic so it wouldn't burn. Isabel squeezed fresh lemon juice in her mix. I sliced pieces of Manchego, fresh mozzarella and smoked apple cheddar cheese to have on the side. This wasn't in the movie, by the way. The dog's ottoman covered with a checkered table cloth set with white china plates made a wonderful table. She had orange juice. I had seltzer.

The tossed tomato concoction over the slices of bread browned with butter was gorgeous. Delightful. Heavenly. Medicinal, even.

Also in the movie Julia Child (Meryl Streep) discovers French cooking while in Paris with her adorable husband Paul (Stanley Tucci). It's difficult to describe Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Paris. The adjectives in my repertoire don't do justice. You can't help but fall in love, again, with this version of Streep and her relationships with people and food.

We left just a smidgen of the tomatoes but no bread or cheese for my adorable husband. Oh well.

You already know, of course, that the dream of being a successful writer comes true for both Julie and Julia in the books, the movie and real life.

 After we finished our spontaneous and delicious brunch, Isabel looked at me and said with satisfaction and confidence, "Mom, you should blog about this."

Where do I begin?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Happened Today

Has it happened to you yet? You know it will. It's just a matter of time.

The mind-altering spice cocktail of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger got me in the mood today. Inhaling this blend of scents making gingerbread on a snow day ushered in Christmas Spirit. 

Christmas like snow is layers that accumulate. Some get muddy. Others, fluffy with the right mix of environmental factors, are dazzling. We have a base of childhood that builds over time with various textures and depth for a limited part of every year. Forget 365 days of Christmas. It has a beginning and an end. The Christmas Spirit blows in and out year to year on different schedules that aren't on your calendar.

If the press of business, lack of funds, or sheer loneliness is creating a barrier, take a hit of A Charlie Brown Christmas, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Art inspired by art, these tunes are a delicious layer of frosting. Guaraldi's interpretation and self-expression of Charles Shultz's story is beautiful music that will soothe and wrap you in a blanket.  You will remember that night in Burlington, Vermont when it snowed for hours while you were in Leunig's listening to jazz. The windows were foggy. The candles burned low as the fat bartender with the handlebar mustache waddled around pouring and shaking and clearing. The bells on the door jingled and cold wind rushed in your face when you finally left to find the streets silent except for the forward clamor and backward beeping of snow plows off in the distance.

If Vince doesn't invite the spirit in, say out loud "Peppermint Patty" three times. That might also do the trick.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Power Lunch

Barack Obama gave his speech on Afghanistan, in case you haven't heard. If you didn't articulate immediately a strong and reasoned position about the merits of the Obama Administration strategy, don't be too hard on yourself. You weren't invited to the lunch either.

Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has an amazingly vivid and coherent opinion on the subject. He does not agree with President Obama's decision to escalate in Afghanistan. He said so yesterday. This is sort of interesting, and can be heaped in the pile of all the other opinions out there. Along with the columnists are the pundits, candidates, generals and radio jocks all arguing over whether the President is right or wrong. The speech is a big meaty bone they will gnaw on for our benefit and their paycheck until the next speech.

What is interesting in yesterday's Friedman article is the reference to a sneak preview he and others got to the Afghanistan speech. "At a lunch on Tuesday for opinion writers, the president lucidly argued that opting for a surge now to help Afghans rebuild their army and state into something decent - to win the allegiance of the Afghan people - offered the only hope of creating an "inflection point," a game changer, to bring long-term stability to that region."

What lunch? Who are these opinion writers? Was Fox News invited? Did President Obama smoke a cigarette with his coffee? Did the Salahis show up?

My gut says there is no precise right or wrong answer when it comes to fighting terrorists. There is no play book. To the people who are aghast that "never before" has our commander in chief put parameters around a commitment of American blood and money, I say get over it. Storming the beach at Normandy isn't an option.

I liked when President Obama said:

We must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended — because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.

Then again, I just had a tuna sandwich alone at my desk.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Shun With Me People!

Michaele and Tareq Salahi are the scoundrels who crashed the state dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Obama in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Now they are trying to cash in on their deception, and are banking on Americans like us to pay in one form or another for a peek show.

Not one red cent should make it to the Salahi coffers.

Sources far and wide suggest the Salahis are morally as well as financially bankrupt, and living beyond their means. That hardly makes them special. Their house in Virginia is reported to be in foreclosure and viral rumors are flying around the Internet that they do not pay their bills. Michaele, like most of us, is working three jobs. She is the manager of her Facebook page (with over 4000 Friends!), a make-up consultant, and working full-time as a candidate for the very popular and exciting reality show, "The Real Housewives of D.C."

Tareq is believed to be the former Chair of the America's Polo Cup, and spends the rest of his time telling people he owns his family's failing winery, even though he apparently doesn't own it.

When asked in April of 2008 to describe her style, Michaele said, "Classic and feminine with a slim rocker edge. I'm addicted to white clothes, and I love stilettos."

In other words these two people are ordinary Beltway Americans, except for one very important thing: they are not identified as either Democrats or Republicans. This really and truly sets them apart from most who thrust themselves on the Washington scene and in our face. More importantly, this presents a rare opportunity for all of us to band together and take a non-partisan stand. Let's all join hands in one big circle and turn our backs on these low-lifers.

AAWCL, Americans Against Wretched Cheap Losers, is starting a campaign to shun all that's Salahi. Turn off Larry King. Don't buy the anticipated book Going Opportunist. Call all your buddies at Half Yard Productions and vote Salahi off the Real Housewives Island.

Unfriend Michaele.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Getting Good and Old

Serenity might be too strong a word, but forgive yourself. Your mind is still foggy from heavy injections of sugar, butter, and tryptophan. You are experiencing Thanksgiving nirvana.

You always had mixed feelings about the holiday as a kid. Food was the main theme and everywhere. Some was very good and some so-called food was really, really gross. Stuffing was over-rated. Onions and celery were non-negotiable. There was love in the air, and something else. Momentum in the kitchen was palatable. The sounds of mixers, an electric carving knife and whisking, accompanied by the oven door opening and closing in crescendo. Foil-covered bowls and pots outnumbered guests. Your mother barked at your grandmother. It was hot. The dishes and pans to wash were overwhelming.

Then you got married and strived to be Martha Stewart. You toiled over an artichoke stuffing with free-range walnuts that nobody liked. The turkey was blessed and fed a last supper of organic grain before it was killed and priced accordingly. Roasted root vegetables with sprigs of herb you grew in pots on your deck were not quite the big hit you hoped for. You made that fourth trip downtown in traffic for the Gewurtztraminer you needed for dinner. The dishes were still overwhelming, and with a headache even more challenging. Your kids didn't eat anything and were hungry for macaroni and cheese. And you made it for them.

Thank God middle age set in.  You look yourself in the mirror and now see an old friend who never was much of a cook and you realize it doesn't matter. You really do want everyone to come and you don't fuss a lot with decorations. You don't think about going to Target. Butterball Turkeys and Bell Stuffing are gorged by laughing nieces and nephews. You happily surrender pie-making to your mother-in-law and daughter. You turn a blind eye to your children drinking soda and eating cookies minutes before dinner. You drink the wine that is closest to you and open. You ignore the dog hair blowing around in tumbleweeds. You give in to the energy and momentum. You have a vision of your limited days and years ahead and you know you have choices. The memories are in the making.

Presented to you on Thanksgiving is an opportunity to be in the moment and you now have the good sense to seize it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Boosters Gone Wild

Hollywood, hard knocks and parents prepare most of us for what to expect when we grow up. If you are old, like me, TV shows like Adam-12, Mod Squad and the Brady Bunch showed you the ropes.

If we ever get busted, we will listen intently for Miranda warnings and if they are not forthcoming we will sue their sorry bad-as_!

Of course we don't get busted and live in the suburbs. We practice tough love, like Carol and Mike Brady, and take family trips in a station wagon. We rake leaves. Our kids play sports on teams.

Whether its marriage, parenting, coming out, dying, or just jogging in slowmo towards insanity, we usually have a movie trailer to set things up and get us ready. We have been preparing for the future since first grade. There aren't a whole lot of surprises as we march onward and upward through life. We go to college, get the job, buy the house and blow out our backs and knees, just like we planned.

There are, of course, exceptions. Nothing quite prepares you for giving birth to a child, or conscription in to your high school Booster Club.

These Booster Titans can and do command you and your child to mandatory two or three-hour meetings with less than 24 hours notice, and yes, you will bring a pot-luck offering for hoards of strangers and your check book. No subpoenas are necessary. You and your kid tremble as you read over and over again the 25 emails that outline what you are supposed to do and buy. There are posters to make, food to prepare, car washes and bottle sheds to man, dinners to attend, road races to run. 

This powerful coven casts a spell, and whammo! You become a Stepford Booster.

"Buy a lot of stuff you don't need and can't afford!"

"Sell stuff to uncomfortable and guilt-ridden neighbors and relatives!"

"Buy more!"

"Sell more!"

Before you know it, you are dazed and numb, buying multiple plastic cards with discounts to stores you will never visit, tickets for raffles you have no chance winning, and clothes you don't need or want. You make casseroles of homemade macaroni and cheese and sheets of brownies around the clock. You wait nervously after the team dinner to see if your Caesar salad was the Chosen One.

Worse, you are depressed. No matter what you do, make or buy, you still don't quite fit in.  Admit it. You are an unhappy Booster.

So, you ask, what to do when you get that 7:30 am email blast in all caps that says Chief Booster expects all parents to decorate their kid's locker and fill it with candy by 3 pm that day?

Take a deep breath. Put your hand on your kid's shoulder and say, "son, I love you, and I hope you win your game today, but I am not going to decorate your locker and fill it with candy, again."

Hug him, and then turn away.  Fight back and resist the sobs of humiliation, angst and feelings of failure. Go to work. On the way to work stop and get a really big latte, read a newspaper, and eat a croissant. As an extra precaution, before you make that first call, watch a few You Tube videos of Jon Stewart.

And exhale. Everything is going to be all right.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Ultimate Paradox

John Allen Muhammad put to death by lethal injection, and the landmark legislation in the House of Representatives amended to insure not one government dollar is spent on legal abortion.

Scott Roeder murders Doctor George Tiller on "pro-life" grounds.

Strident hawks, eager to march our sons and daughters off to the black hole terror of Afghanistan, blockade immigrants and refugees seeking asylum in our United States.

The Catholic Church threatens to stop feeding the hungry and housing the homeless in Washington D.C. over a law that protects gay and lesbian people from discrimination.

You have to wonder what Aristotle and some of those other philosophers would do with this material. There is no logic. No moral consistency. Smug and self-satisfied in their convictions, radicals snuff out lives like candles fighting their crusade on the one hand, and kill in cold blood with the other. They are blinded by the screaming paradox of their beliefs. They see no gray in life.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Comfortable Majority

Emily Post is not someone I make reference to or think about very often, but her explanation of why we should use good manners comes in handy raising kids. "Do not burp loudly in front of grandma and grandpa, it makes them uncomfortable."

The reason we should say please and thank you, according to Post, is because it makes people comfortable and therefore encourages civil discourse and social order. It's that simple. Well-mannered people's subconscious message ("don't worry, nothing weird is going to happen") is the bedrock of civilization.

Etiquette and the fight for civil rights is not that cut and dry. The Suffragettes and the Black Panthers put a few people out of their comfort zone. Hippies made the Ward and June Cleaver set squirm. Barack Obama's strategy behind winning the presidency was making white people feel comfortable with him and his family.

Question 1 on the Maine ballot asked the people of the Pine Tree State if they wanted to repeal the marriage equality law passed by its legislature. For many this translated to "are you uncomfortable with gay and lesbian people?"

52.8% of voters said yes; some for religious reasons, but not all.

The sad fact is some people only know what they fear about gay and lesbian people. Flagrant expressions of sexuality and provocative parades make them uncomfortable, and that's what they choose to know. A local, very popular radio host said while he has "no problem" with gay marriage, when he sees two gay people kissing it "creeps him out."

More people have never seen two real gay or lesbian people kissing, but saw instead TV commercials suggesting gays and lesbians are monsters who will brainwash and eat their children. In a bizarre twist of democracy these same folks got up off the couch, cast the remote aside, and voted away the civil rights of their neighbors.

If we could anonymously vote off the island all the marriages that make us uncomfortable, the world would be very different.  Couples that argue too much make me uncomfortable. They're out. Mr. and Mrs. McD. are too fat. They're done. I don't like the way he treated her at the neighborhood Christmas party...they play mind games with their kids...they don't do their share of car pooling.

"Etiquette," Emily Post once said, "is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is the code of sportsmanship and of honor. It is ethics."

Marriage equality is that simple.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You're Likable Enough, Mr. President

Fox News suggests Barack Obama is a boor because he doesn't play basketball with girls.

Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News & World Reports wrote about the President, "I just don't get the impression this man is comfortable with women. Nor do I believe he cares about them beyond needing women's votes."

Even the New York Times ran a story in which an anonymous junior aide was quoted saying the "sports-fan thing at the White House" could become "annoying," and Maureen Dowd challenged the President to a game of Scrabble to see what kind of X words "the smarty-pants Y chief executive can come up with."

There are legitimate criticisms of President Obama. Has he dithered around Afghanistan? Has he bribed seniors to support healthcare reform with $250 social security checks? Has he done anything meaningful for middle class Americans strapped with bad mortgages?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But is Barack Obama a good ol' boy?

No. Not even close.

If anyone is desperate for votes, it's the radical right-wingers like Dick Armey whose men's club threw Republican Dede Scozzafava under the bus in upstate New York because she wasn't conservative enough.

So how does at least one XX love the President's treatment of women? Let me count the ways.

1. In November of 2008, President-elect Obama appointed Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Since her confirmation, Secretary Clinton has announced to the world that the civil rights of women and girls are a priority and at the core of American foreign policy under the Obama administration. Clinton has spoken out in a strong voice against violence, rape, economic and political persecution of women and girls around the world. That half of the sky women hold up in Africa and Middle East countries is finally graced with sunlight shining on the atrocities inflicted by guerilla armies, evil despots and brazen misogynists.

2.The first thing Barack Obama did as President of the United States was sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 ensuring victims of employment discrimination have a fair chance of bringing their claims. Since women today make 78 cents for every dollar men make, this is important, good law that slaps down a very bad Supreme Court case written by Justice Alito.

3. On March 11, 2009 President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls made up of 25 high-ranking officials including the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing, Transportation, Energy, Education along with the Attorney General. The Council's purpose is to "establish a coordinated Federal response to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and girls and to ensure that Federal programs and policies address and take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, including women of color and those with disabilities."

4. In May of 2009 President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, who was confirmed by the Senate and sits as the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice and only the third woman.

5. Seven presidential cabinet posts have been granted to women, the most of any United States President.

6. On Friday, the Obama administration recommended political asylum for a Guatemalan woman seeking refuge from horrendous abuse by her husband. This decision, a departure from Bush policy, offers hope to millions of women who are brutally tortured and abused in their homelands. The Statue of Liberty's torch is brighter and the melting pot of our American society once again includes a pinch of compassion.

7. There is a realistic chance a comprehensive healthcare reform bill will pass.

These are but a few examples of major policy shifts since the new president took office that directly impact and enhance the lives of women and their children.

Stories about male bonding in the gym and on the golf course are easy targets and cheap shots absent real women who felt left out or disadvantaged. The gender sensitivity violation issued by pundits, lacking any genuine narrative about real harm, does not come close to overshadowing the tremendous strides the Obama administration has taken to elevate the critical issues women and girls face around the globe.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are you out there?

How do you express yourself?

Decorate your front door. Write a real estate newsletter. Knit wool slippers. Wear a mini-skirt, reading glasses and thick tights. Run for school board. Paint a portrait. Give a speech. Photograph a stranger. Play a banjo. Harass your elected official. Be a blogger.

Expression sets us apart and keeps us alive.

Does it matter who sees the door, wears the slippers, hears the banjo or reads the blog?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eye is for Internet: the wonders of DPI

The debate over net neutrality is about more than just potential discrimination on the Internet and the wisdom of legislating a government mandate that all data traffic be treated the same.

Net neutrality is more than weighing the pros of regulation to insure access to content, applications and services of our choice, with the cons of potentially stifling needed investment in infrastructure because turning a profit under such a regulatory regime might be threatened.

It turns out net neutrality is also about deep packet inspection.

You haven't heard of DPI? It's sort of like cloning. A fine example of amazing science and technology, with a hint of Frankenstein.

DPI simplistically stated is a bunch of tools that network operators can install to collect data about traffic on their pipes. Not just run-of-the-mill data, but really deep and highly personal data. For you techies, OSI Level 7 deep. The digital equivalent of those X-ray glasses sold in the back of comic books that see through peoples' clothes.

Benevolent uses of DPI include identifying viruses, collecting data for business purposes and assisting law enforcement track down criminals.

Malevolent uses include spying on users like you.

Yup, network operators who spend millions for DPI can, in addition to managing traffic for business reasons, peek in to your email, chart your video habits and keep records of the various applications you use.

As the FCC refines and vets ideas in the current rulemaking process, the question of whether consumers have a right to be free from Internet Provider eavesdropping under the net neutrality rubric is an interesting one.

Senator Snowe is Net Neutral and Free

The Federal Communications Commission under the leadership of Chairman Genachowski, an Obama appointee, voted unanimously last Thursday to codify net neutrality rules over the coming months. This makes many Democrats happy and is supported enthusiastically by Google and Facebook, big users of networks that stand to lose a lot if telecoms start directing traffic on the Internet to give fast lanes to special applications and push competitors or bandwidth pigs to the slow lane.

On the same day Republican Senator John McCain introduced legislation titled the "Internet Freedom Act" to block the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules, calling such legislation a "government takeover" of the Internet.

So where does our good Republican Senator Snowe come down?

She believes net neutrality rules are necessary "as these fundamental protections are critical to ensuring Internet freedom and openness." Snowe herself introduced net neutrality legislation in the last Congress.

Freedom's just another word for...??

Friday, October 23, 2009

Community Connections

You walk in to a coffee shop warm full of people as bells ring on the door and espresso machines hiss and plates and cups sing and people on lap-tops in green glasses shaped liked parallelograms read the New York Times, legs crossed, and you feel flirty and alive.

And you log on to Facebook in sweat pants in your office in the morning with a cup of coffee as your dog gently snores to scroll through status posts, add Friends, carefully study photographs of artichokes and faces of cousins and children while you yearn for parents and grandparents as you write and rewrite a comment.

And you pull out your one pair of seersucker pants and white shirt with the American flag on front to march in the 10 minute Memorial Day parade behind the Veterans alongside the school board in front of the middle school band with your daughter throwing candy to bystanders clapping as you pass the town hall gussied up in bunting heading to the monument to hear In Flanders Fields and the Gettysburg Address.

And you Google hotels in Paris and click L’Hotel Vignon that brings you to a page with beautiful piano music and intriguing photos and you remember the cafĂ© filled with French words and Salade Nicoise and cigarette smoke.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pingree and Michaud Differ On Net Neutrality

Maine’s two members of the U.S. House appear to be on different teams in the net neutrality game in advance of the FCC announcing its much anticipated draft regulations tomorrow.

Congresswoman Pingree continues to favor regulation that will “assure baseline rules that allow consumers to access the lawful internet content of their choice, run applications and services of their choice, connect to their choice of legal devices, and ensure competition among network providers and content/service/application providers.”

Congressman Michaud on the other hand wants the FCC to continue to rely on the “exercise of regulatory restraint.” He along with 71 other members have a strong belief that “continued progress in expanding the reach and capabilities of broadband networks will require the Commission to reiterate, and not repudiate, its historic commitment to competition, private investment and a restrained regulatory approach.”

Net neutrality generally refers to Internet providers treating all data over the Internet the same, and prohibiting discrimination against content or applications. With net neutrality Internet providers can't restrict or delay access to any sites.

For the most part we all enjoy net neutrality now. It enables us to connect to the Internet with the device of our choice and have unfettered access to any application available, whether its Skype that might use a bunch of bandwidth or email that uses very little.

Proponents of net neutrality believe that incumbent telecom companies will use their market share to effectively block out competition and thwart innovative start-ups. The “little guy” will take a back seat and get slower connections and be blocked from accessing applications that might compete with a product associated with the network owner. Regulation is necessary, some say, to insure Internet neutrality remains to be the case, and can be enforced by the FCC.

The fear of some opposed to Internet regulation is that as technology evolves and more people and products enter the market, companies that invest in telecommunications infrastructure may legitimately want to manage their network traffic to offer different products to different consumers. Some use the example of Fed Ex. You can pay a premium to get a package delivered overnight to Machias on Saturday, or you can send it via the U.S. Mail and have it delivered next month.

In the Internet world, users of video applications have different bandwidth needs than consumers who only access the net to do email. A company that wants to offer premium packages to video consumers selling speed of connection at a price, and a different package to consumers of just email capability, would be prohibited from doing so under strict net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality was for a while a partisan battle. Democrats including President Obama made it a rallying cry. As the battle heats up differences of opinion within the caucus are emerging. It should be yet another interesting fight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Lie!

All hope for Shepard Fairey is gone.

Revelations that Fairey lied about stealing an AP photo to make his famous Obama poster are disturbing, especially since he sued the Associated Press seeking a declaratory judgment that he was entitled to use the image under the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law.

It is not fair.

This poster was symbolic of a monumental struggle for many Americans, including myself. I remember the summer evening we were having dinner and interrupted by a knock at the door. A man bearing the poster as a gift was outside. He had driven past our house where various campaign signs were hung before the Beach to Beacon road race in August of 2008 when 5000 people were expected to run by.  This man offered the poster as a gift to us to be hung in solidarity.

I was a Hillary Clinton delegate from Maine at the time getting ready for the Denver convention, where Barack Obama was expected to win the nomination. My town had overwhelmingly supported Obama. My kids were on the fence, so to speak. They knew how passionate I was about Hillary but were excited by Obama.

I thanked the man. My husband put the poster in a frame and hung it on our fence. It was a transformational moment for me. I felt part of the movement.

The poster remained prominently displayed in our kitchen for the remainder of the election season. I went off to Denver and returned wearing an Obama t-shirt and handing out the Shepard Fairey posters. My family cheered and cried when Barack Obama was elected and the poster now hangs on my 14 year-old son's wall.

Shepard Fairey created an icon and generously gave it to the world to use without restriction. For that we can be grateful.

The good Shepard went bad when he lied, transforming hope in to another golden calf. For that we are very sad.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Glenn Beck's Company Town

Glenn Beck is stinking rich and hates unions. He makes millions while his fans work for him for free. Meanwhile his good buddy Rush has been shut out by the NFL players' union and is indignantly playing his rejection up to hysterical proportions in order to squeeze out every penny from the story.

Oh, to be a right-wing fat cat! Forget about making billions at Goldman Sachs. A union-hating radio uber-man is the job to love.

Beck already has a couple notches in his belt for taking down Van Jones and ACORN, and now he's got SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, is his scope ready to pull the trigger as soon as he gets his ducks in a row.

It shouldn't be long.

He has called forth his minions on the air and commanded them to Google their hearts out and unearth unsavory information about SEIU's 2.1 million members. It's likely a handful of scandals will emerge about rogue janitors, greedy doctors or underperforming teachers. Moreover, certainly somebody in SEIU has been in attendance at a meeting with President Obama, so the link will be made.

Once the dots are connected on Beck's blackboard say sayonara to SEIU.

These poor suckers, I mean listeners, are going to spend hours doing mindless searches on their computers for absolutely nothing except the thrill of having Beck and his producers use the information in their quest to take down SEIU like a buffalo. Maybe they will get a virtual hug or a postcard from their charismatic leader. Beck will then reveal the stories with embellishment and fanfare on his show, shed a few big tears, and talk about his love of country and painful search for the truth.

Tears of joy! More money for Machiavellian Man.

Glenn Beck asks volunteers to do his smut-gathering, shapes the information with his fat little hands to fit his conspiracy theory, and rakes in the mulah. Melodramatic radio and television shows "connecting the dots" between President Obama and every bad person alive is a lucrative business.

Of course Beck hates unions! If his underlings were organized, Beck would have to pay them for their time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Liz Cheney - Sowing the Seeds of Fear

Did you know that for just $99 you can get a pail of seeds to plant a one-acre "survival garden?"

"Without the ability to grow your own food next year, your family may be in danger," says the commercial for Survival Seed Vault, a regularly featured ad currently starring on conservative talk radio. The picture on the company web site features an elderly woman pushing an empty shopping cart down a deserted grocery aisle along with the question: "What will your family eat when the grocery shelves are empty?"

Gosh. Like we don't have enough to worry about. Anyone who read the Sunday Times magazine a few weeks ago about anxiety is wondering if they or their children have a thick cortex. Most of us worry about our dwindling savings accounts, aging parents and declining memories. Close to 10% of Americans are without a job.

But growing our own food? Next year? Please.

Heirloom Organics, the company pushing the Survival Seed Vault is either really, really paranoid or just capitalizing on the fear-mongering movement made popular these days by right-wing hawks. Politicians and pundits alike rattle the sabers and spin stories in to a tornado of uncertainty and angst to exert power and create zombie-like followers.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was, and perhaps still is, the Master of Fear.  Liz Cheney, his 44 year-old daughter, is the Heir Apparent.

A former State Department official, lawyer, and mother of five children, Liz is one rising star in the Republican Party. She is Sarah Palin with credentials and GOP family pedigree. Like her father, Cheney espouses foreign policy that is short on diplomacy and long on scare tactics. When it comes to national security she is an aggressive interventionalist, not afraid to call out President Obama as a sissy, and was quoted saying he is "an American president who seems to be afraid to defend America."

Barack Obama? Afraid? It sounds scary, and Americans afraid play right in to the hands of the Neocons and Cheney, who likes to invoke the notion of our fragile "security" under the Obama administration when she makes the rounds and gives her stump speech. Like her father, she is a know-it-all. She alone knew, for instance, that "W" stood for women in the 2004 election. She knows better than George Mitchell what peace in the Middle East requires, and she certainly knows better than the 5 elected members of the Norwegian Parliament who awarded President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1895 when Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel died, his will divided his estate and left "one part to the person who shall have done the most or best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for holding and promotion of peace congresses."

An interesting legacy for the guy who invented dynamite.

The legacy of the Dick Cheney is also interesting. From the loins of the guy who sent us to war in Iraq based on make-believe WMD's, we have General Liz marching towards the 2012 election armed with rhetoric, chutzpah, and a soon-to-be aired web site

Don't worry America, Liz has got your back.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The People v. Worldwide Pants

Sexual harassment is not funny. If any of the women David Letterman had sex with at work have been harassed, discriminated against, or otherwise damaged by their relationship with him, they deserve to be fairly compensated and he should be held accountable. I would even consider taking the case.

A guy named Joe threatening a company called Worldwide Pants with a screenplay is kind of funny.

Not all relationships that transpire at work between employees are bad; in fact some lead to 19 year marriages.

No real cases about the exploitation of women are properly the subject of sarcastic editorial.

There is something humorous, though, about the producer of "48 Hours Mystery" lurking outside David Letterman's house in the early morning hours with a mysterious package. Not a pipe bomb or anthrax (because that would not be funny) but... a play! 

The evidence will show that Joe said "your world is about to collapse," and then handed a shaking Letterman the package. Letterman was really, really scared so he wrote a check for $2,000,000. That's what New Yorkers do, I guess, when they are scared. Joe deposited that check along with his paycheck for $214,000 and then got arrested and sent to jail.

The final scene might be Joe's ex-wife, who he tried to screw in a bitter divorce, laughing wickedly and stirring a big saketini. Or maybe Stephanie Birkett, his ex-girlfriend, appearing on Jay Leno announcing the publication of her new book "Not Trying to Go Public: A New Yorker's Life."

The moral to this story? Greed is not good unless it makes people laugh.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grayson's Gauntlet

Last night Congressman Alan Grayson gave the GOP the old one-two.

Grayson's bio quotes from the book of Deuteronomy. Justice, justice, ye shall seek. He has five kids who are named Skye, Star, Sage, Storm and Stone. The man has got a flair for the dramatic.

This Democrat is from Florida's 8th District, but he grew up in a tenement in the Bronx and it shows.

Grayson first gave an effective and powerful speech aimed at Republicans for their inhumane healthcare policy, which he says is "don't get sick." Excellent point. Does any Republican besides Olympia Snowe in the United States Congress have a good idea about how to solve our healthcare crisis? The time for keeping your cards close to the chest is over.

During his speech Congressman Grayson was a bit theatrical. He had props and used sarcasm. He employed clever rhetorical devices. There was irony and metaphor and he used the word holocaust.

Some indignant GOP members insisted on an apology. After all, Congressman Wilson was asked to apologize. Why shouldn't Grayson apologize since Wilson had to? It's only fair.

The Congressman was happy to oblige. He knows how to get to Carnegie Hall.

His apology was to the 44,789 people who die every year in the United States because they do not have health insurance. It was a second blow to the right. It was political theatre at its best. The new director of Tosca at the Met could learn something.

To judge passion as insincerity or disrespect, however, is a mistake. Grayson was very sick as a child and went to the hospital four times a week with his mother. He believes but for the grace of God and his health insurance he would be dead and his passion for life shows. Grayson put himself through Harvard University where he has earned numerous degrees. He has worked as a prominent lawyer, started a technology business that became hugely successful, founded an agency to help elders and has earned national recognition as the man responsible for routing out contractor fraud in Iraq.

Bravo.  Bravo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Snowe and Pingree on a Horse in the Desert

Maine's leading ladies on healthcare, Senator Snowe and Congresswoman Pingree, are both right. We can't have a public option and we must have a public option.

The public option Senator Snowe voted against and will continue to vote against would create a government bureaucracy to produce a taxpayer-subsidized insurance product. This big, brand new entitlement program would unfairly compete with private companies and therefore stifle innovation and market driven efficiencies. This behemoth would be invincible and forever defended by a Congress that hopes to be re-elected.

The public option that Congresswoman Pingree wants to vote for is a government entity that can provide some level of competition in Maine to drive down costs and pull more people under the insurance tent. This new entity would not be powered by the corporate profit motive that denies people with pre-existing conditions coverage, and puts caps on benefits. There would be no marketing campaigns, excessive administrative costs, or fat cat CEO's sucking up all the money so costs would be reduced.

Many people have drawn their line in the sand. Public option! No public option!

In my view, the words are getting in the way of a solution.

Let's pretend for a moment the phrase "public option" is extracted from our minds and linguistics. Poof!

The problem, simplistically stated, is we are a capitalistic, democratic, wealthy society with sky-rocketing healthcare costs, mediocre healthcare, and lack of affordable insurance. The causes are, among other things, a pay-for-service medical system with patchwork, state-by-state insurance regulation. The solution is a national policy that will regulate the insurance market, and fundamentally change the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for their services.

Let's look at Maine for example. One could argue that with great intentions Maine adopted policies to mandate minimum standards in the insurance market. Insurance companies were forbidden to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions, for example, or discriminate on the basis of gender. These laws to help consumers made making a profit harder in Maine so many companies left the state.

Maine designed a public-private insurance partnership to offer coverage to uninsured’s, and also to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care. Problem is it costs too much and therefore covers too few people. The program lacks the purchase power needed to bring down costs or change behavior.

Republicans in Maine routinely offer as a solution intra-state insurance markets. "We need competition in Maine! Why can't I buy my health insurance plan from New Hampshire where everything is cheaper?"

For starters, no states allow consumers to buy and sell insurance across state lines. Insurance is regulated in every state, so the states with the least restrictive regulations can attract many companies. Some might call this a race to the bottom. Some might argue having a "choice" in other states among several very poor plans doesn't address the problem.

If instead of state regulated insurance markets there was a national policy that made it illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, to have caps on benefits, and to cancel coverage because the consumer has the audacity to actually invoke it, people would benefit. If this national policy created a non-profit regulatory board that changed the reimbursement model to incentivize preventative care, and could oversee a competitive national market, businesses would benefit.

Who cares what we call it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rush Limbaugh is a Loser

Remember during the 2008 presidential election when Rush Limbaugh asked whether the people of America really wanted to watch a woman age daily in the Oval Office?

The visual for some, I guess, was a withering on the vine of Hillary Clinton. A rotten-apple face of a president tacked back at the ears by plastic surgery mixed with big jewelry and bleeding lipstick.

These people rushed out and caucused for anything with an X and Y chromosome.

The question today is do the people of America really want to listen to an angry, narcissistic, swollen orca of a man talk about his diet?

El Rushbo, as he likes to call himself, is on a diet. He and his side-kick Snerdley broke the story in April and drone about it on the Rush Limbaugh show. Apparently his BMI is broadcast excellence.

Broad, maybe, but anyone out there with an active imagination? What do you think of when you picture Rush weighing in every day before he hits the airwaves?

Is he in size 75 briefs with a gut the size of a Ford Pinto hanging over the waistband? Does he wear boxers that could be used as tarps to shelter the homeless?

Rush allegedly has lost 90 pounds and jogged, amazingly, one fifth of a mile yesterday. This is impressive. But how, where and what, exactly, is all that extra pink skin doing these days?

The visual might be a mix of a Sharpei and a pig.

A Sharpiggie.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Your Facebook: Fifth Grade All Over Again

My husband refuses to be my friend. It's certainly no surprise, then, that we are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary Tuesday. Ever since 5th grade I have liked guys who present a challenge.

Facebook is like 5th grade. Numbers, rejection, and obsession are major themes.

For starters, let's face it - the sheer quantity of friends when you are a Middle School kid, and when you play Facebook as an adult, is what counts. Especially if you are in politics. The idea is to rack up a couple hundred "friends" and then bombard them relentlessly with self-serving messages about what you would like them to think you are doing every day. For them.

"Helping to train the next generation of grassroots leaders today!"

"Exhausted after meeting with hundreds of community organizers to help stop global warming!"

"Just voted to send millions of dollars to my pathetic, forlorn district before I head out for martinis and sushi!"

Okay that last quote I made up. The others I didn't. The only thing worse than a politician on Facebook is a blogger.

Then there is the dicey game of requesting friends, and agreeing (or not) to be someone's friend. A trusted 9th grade Facebook consultant told me to accept all friend requests. It's hard to do. There are people who post every God darn thing.

"Just turned on the dishwasher."

Another stressor is that lingering friend suggestion. You know the one. You apparently have a lot of "friends" in common so the FB software thinks you would hit it off. Except you know you hate that person. What's a friend to do?

If you are shy like me you hesitate to ask people who aren't your friends to be friends. But you don't hesitate for long.

And then, what about when that certain person you barely know (or don't know at all) asks you to be friends with him? Sort of pushy, don't you think?

But what the heck. Friends are hard to come by. And besides, chances are there will come a time when somebody you request to be your friend refuses. I know. It sucks. It happened to me once:-(

And how about the games people play? Mafia Wars? Like I feel SO LEFT OUT!!

Finally, admit it. Facebook is addictive and you are obsessed.

"Why hasn't anybody commented on my witty status?"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Good Boy, Glenn

If a real Mom says the President of the United States is a Man-Child and comes from the Banana Republic, is it true?

If so, Glenn Beck is really on to something. Beck and His staff at Fox News dug up 50 women (that's right - 50!) who were willing to be chauffeured to New York, made up, fed wraps and diet soda, and appear on the Glenn Beck variety show to talk about how much they hate President Obama.

These 9-12 Project Moms (real American Moms!) wane nostalgic for the good old days of 2001, specifically September 12, 2001 when everything was wholesome and good in the United States. You remember, right? Fundamental American virtue was oozing out of every crack of our social fabric. Civic discourse was polite. People were tolerant of diversity. Americans cared for each other and there weren't any scary czars.

Not today, boy, and these Moms are not gonna take it any more! They are going to tea parties to blame liberal, Marxist, fascist socialists for the war we are losing and our country's debt! They are marching on Washington to protest that the Middle Class has eluded them and their children! They are writing nasty things on blogs. They interrupt meetings and spread false information about healthcare reform and climate change.

And thank God for Glenn. He brings us these truths on Fox News and 185 radio stations and in 3 best selling novels because we all know that darn fringe media won't cover him or these Moms.

These are authentic, right-wing, angry female Moms! Why isn't anyone listening to them except Glenn Beck?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hamburger Howie

The Great and General Court of Massachusetts, aka the Massachusetts Legislature, is made up of 160 Representatives and 40 Senators. Right now there are a whopping 16 Republicans in the House and 5 members of the GOP in the Senate.

You might think right-wing radio work would be hard to get. Not so.

The Howie Carr Show ("drive home with Howie") is a hit here, and in the Bay State.

Born in Maine, Howie Carr is a firecracker. He wrote a book or two about the Boston mob, and hates Mike Barnicle. Howie's alleged pet name for his wife for many years was "Submit."

No kidding.

This week Howie is broadcasting live from The Big E Fair in West Springfield and relentlessly heckling Governor Patrick because of the Kirk appointment to the U.S. Senate. The political maneuvers and good ol'boy Democrats make him sick!

Yesterday afternoon's broadcast was about Howie Carr exercising great discipline. He apparently was able to hold back on fried dough and milk shakes in order to save room for a double cheeseburger with bacon, in between two glazed doughnuts.

No kidding.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Axis Mundi

Guess how many registered voters there are in Glenwood Plantation, Maine?


Guess how many ACORN offices here in Vacationland?


Nevertheless, "Maine is the center of our political universe," according to Jonah Goldman, Vice President of GPG, and national expert on voting and elections.

Goldman, who has testified before Congress and regularly appears on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, CBS, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post as a national expert on voting and elections was in Augusta today for a discussion about the modernization of voter registration, and more importantly a bill brewing in Congress that really is aimed at California, Ohio and ACORN.

Maine doesn't really need voter registration modernization or another federal mandate. We come in first or second place nationally for voter turnout. We have election-day registration, an electronic central voter registration, easy-vote absentee ballots and progressive challenge voting. This means that all ballots are counted (Mickey Mouse's included) and only challenged if there is a recount and the legality of the ballot could affect the outcome of the election. In other words, disenfranchisement is a chore.

So why is Goldman pressing flesh in Maine? Seems our two senators can make or break just about any bill these days.

Let's hope they keep their powder dry, our kids in mind and egos in check.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Since the Denver convention last year, Barack Obama has been elected President, the world went down in economic flames, my son went to high school as a giant football player, I started teaching American Government, and took a gig occasionally filling in as a radio host on a conservative news show.

Oh, and Dawn Johnsen is my new bff.

So I now listen to conservative talk-radio in order to provide balanced teaching and defensive radio hosting. Think cod liver oil. Or a smelly gym. No pain, no gain. That sort of thing.

Glenn Beck is a trip. He has a formula that is really working for him. First, he says things to scare people. Then he reminds everyone that he had predicted the very thing that is so scary. Then he invokes the constitution. Then he tells listeners they are very patriotic and good. Then he exhales.

There is then a pregnant pause.

Then he blames liberals and ACORN for all human suffering and breaks for a commercial. Usually its about his sleep number bed, or Carbonite Online Backup, but today the-sky-is-falling-because-of-liberals Glenn Beck had a plaintiff's law firm invite "victims" of mesothelioma to call a 1-800 number to sign up for a socialist, liberal, ACORN-ish, feminsist, Marxist, Democrat lawsuit.