Politics and Purl

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Butterflies in Formation

We have, at our disposal, a captive audience of schoolchildren. Some of them don't go to the blackboard or raise their hand 'cause they're think they're gonna be wrong. I think you should say to these kids, 'You think you get it wrong sometimes? You should come down here and see how the big boys do it.' I think you should tell them you haven't given up hope and that it may turn up, but in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in a room and start building Galileo VI. Some of them will laugh, and most of them won't care, but for some, they might honestly see that it's about going to the blackboard and raising your hand. And that's the broader theme. -CJ Cregg

So now I sit, ready to post, while my totebag is in my washing machine. I have done a first check. The two colors of yarn are felting at the same rate, so it all looks good. I am still nervous. I will be nervous until it's done and dried. I'm serious about the Jacobellis curse. I could totally jinx myself(I shouldn't pick on that poor girl).

We all need to back off Cheney about this shooting incident. It was a hunting accident. It didn't happen because he's an evil nazi bent on ruining the world. While I'm not sure he's not an evil nazi bent on ruining the world, this was a total accident. I happen to believe that there's nothing wrong with responsible hunting. It is not only a nod to our past as Americans, it's a nod to our past as human beings. And as always when guns are involved, accidents can happen. It was a relatively mild incident. Someone whom I respect a great deal used this to sustain an already great hatred toward the man. I share that hatred, but it doesn't serve us to dwell on this.

And as I write this, the bag has gone through the felting process! It looks great and it's in the rinse now. I am feeling better about how this process is going and about doing this in the future. So, people, working on your projects. Keep going, no matter how daunting.

Words, Words, Words, Words, Words

Abby: ... I mean, women talk about their husbands overshadowing their careers. Mine got eaten.
C.J.: Your husband got eaten?
Abby: My career...
C.J.: I know, I was on dangling modifier patrol.

The olympics are on, people are going for the gold, and I am way ahead of schedule on my project. I added a bit of a fair isle wave to raise the level of difficulty. I have the attached pouch left to do, I've started on it. Of course, as that adorable Lindsey Jacobellis found out today, it's not over until you reach the finish line. I still have to felt the thing. I have never felted anything in my life. I run the risk of ruining the entire project.

Not that I find it likely that I will ruin it. I read up on felting and I'm felting two yarns of the same brand that are the same type of color. They should felt just fine. I'm using the same brand and weight as the pattern calls for. I should be fine. Really. Even if I grab the board in midair.

The Article came out Monday. All in all, it wasn't a bad picture, nor was it a terrible article. I have some issues with it. Susan Levine did a wonderful job of illustrating just how badly we need our medications. She stressed how important our medications are, and how important particular medications are. I think she was trying to emphasize that psychiatric meds can't be swapped out for cheaper alternatives. I know that's where she was going when she listed mine.

Unfortunately, I think she missed. She made us look more fragile than we are, and I don't think she effectively made the connection between how badly we need our meds and why Medicare part D isn't working. Of course, I am coming from the standpoint of being upset that my medications were so expensive when I went to the pharmacy. She didn't even mentioned that. Well, not in my case.

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I envisioned. And I really can't blame anyone for that, I didn't write the article. The pic wasn't great, it wasn't terrible, it just was. It was my fifteen minutes and now it's over. There.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Always Wear a Hat

"I didn't realize babies come with hats. You guys crack me up. You don't have jobs, you can't walk or speak the language, you don't have a dollar in your pockets, but you've got yourselves a hat. So everything's fine." - Toby Ziegler

My story didn't run. I am going to assume that it will run tomorrow or at least by Monday. I'm going to call the reporter if it doesn't run by then.

So I will use this time to catch up. For Christmas, I made hats and scarves, but mostly hats. I became obsessed with hats. I made baby hats, I made hats with earflaps, I made hats out of dk weight and out of two strands of chunky yarn put together with big fat needles. I was cranking them out every couple of days.

I have left the hats for socks. I made some with the leftover dk wieght acrylic that I made a hat for my cousin's three-year-old. They were great, but I made them too big and wore them with shoes, so one of them has a big hole. I may just throw them out, the yarn was cheap, and it's about the process. They were more fun to make than to wear. I also made some with Lion Brand Magic Stripes yarn, using the pattern on the strip that holds the skein together. I love them. I will get a picture of them soon. Now I am making a pair of toe-up socks out of this handspun alpaca/angora yarn I got at the Virginia Renaissance Faire last summer. They are going to be gorgeous, but they're being knitted on size 00 needles. I hope I get them done before the Olympics.

I participated in the Leadership Empowerment Advocacy Project(LEAP) in December. I had a wonderful time, learned a lot about leading in the Public Mental Health System(PMHS), and met some cool people. One of them is my new friend Miriam, who runs the Silver Spring Drop-In Center. I have been hanging out there.

On the last day we were asked what two things we'd change about the PMHS in Maryland and our communities. Mine were affordable housing(which I have covered in length) and GLBT mental health services. I have been volunteered to do something about the second. I am actually quite excited about putting something together. Miriam has already offered the drop-in center as a venue. I just need to learn what I am doing. Susan Kadis, the LEAP coordinator, has been incredibly supportive of this goal and has connected me with some people in Baltimore who offer the services that I'd like to see here in Montgomery County.

To that end, I leave you fine people and wait for my check to come in tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

And he shall, from time to time...

Since I have entered the the knitting olympics, I suppose I'd better come back to you all. Besides, a lot has happened. Hell, I haven't been here since the election! None of my candidates won. Rockville is still a place that Michael Stipe would beg someone not to go back to.

"Partisan politics is what the Founders had in mind. It guarantees that the minority opinion is heard, and as a lifelong possessor of minority opinions, I appreciate it. But if you're troubled by it, Governor, you should know in this campaign, you've used the word liberal 74 times in one day. It was yesterday." -Jed Bartlet

I watched the State of the Union and the Democratic Response last night. There was nothing really surprising in there, except that he actually said that America is "addicted to oil." I loved it when he complained about a bill not passing and the Democrats stood up and cheered.

There wasn't much substance to this speech. It sounded good in spots, but as some reporter at ABC said, the devil is in the details. We need to fund alternate energy sources, true; but what wasn't mentioned is the easiest way to cut emissions, mass transit. He said that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid need to be reformed; what he didn't say was that he'd do that by making sure that the recipients of Medicaid go from almost nobody to absolutely nobody. He made a lot of declarations that on the surface appeal to the left, but in reality won't serve to help the working poor with no insurance or the disabled.

The last day that I posted, I said that I had sent a letter to Congressman Van Hollen. Well, I got a response to that letter today. I'm not going to gripe about the fact that it took three months to get a personal response. I'm going to be in the paper tomorrow. My fifteen minutes is about to come and go.

Anyway, it's only fair that I post both sides of the correspondence:

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to provisions restricting voter registration in H.R. 1461, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

I share your strong opposition to the provision of this bill that bars low-income housing groups from participating in nonpartisan voter registration efforts. I believe we must do all we can to encourage voter registration, and that provision is designed to block such efforts. To this end, I voted in support of a motion designed to strip this provision while preserving other measures of the bill containing needed reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, that motion was defeated.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter, and please do not hesitate to contact me whenever I may be of service.


Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress

[P.S. removed for lack of content]

I think that's pretty cool. I'm going to be in the Washington Post tomorrow. Last week, a few of my peers and I were interviewed in regards to our problems with Medicare part D. I am not going into detail tonight, I'll post a link to the article tomorrow and respond to it. I think it will speak for itself. The cool part about the article is that Gerry and I got to pose for a picture, too! I shouldn't be excited about this, but I am. I even called my mom.

Finally, I will talk about the knitting olympics. I came across it, and I can't resist. I mentioned it in the Development Committee meeting at St. Luke's, and I will be donating the finished product, a felted tote bag with an attached pouch, to St. Luke's for the silent auction fundraiser on June 8. This is exciting, since I'll for once get to post pictures! Seriously, people, donations accepted to get this poor, knitting, liberal, sporadic blogger a camera! I'd post more, I promise!

Anyway, good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Follow Up

I need to clear up a couple of things.

First, my opinion in my previous post that the right wing doesn't care about us, etc., is strictly my own. It is not endorsed by St. Luke's House or any employee or representative thereof; it is also not to be construed that I am speaking on behalf of any other company or organization.

Second, Six Things brought up a good point. We really do need to be involved in local elections. I feel that my post may have been irresponsible.

While I continue to express that it's difficult to be involved in local affairs, I also concede that it is of the utmost importance. On a local level we can make the most difference of all. It really does all start at home.

Get Up, Stand Up

I've been really remiss about getting posts out, which is really bad considering there's stuff actually going on.

"Does my government really believe that the law can create a family? Do these old fat-ass men really believe that if they just pay people to act like Leave It to Beaver everything will be fine?" - Amy Gardner

I just wrote a letter to the The Honorable Chris Van Hollen(D-MD) in regards to an amendment to HR1461 that would eliminate funding for affordable housing to non-profit organizations that engage in ANY kind of advocacy. Here is the letter in its entirety(excepting my name and address):

To the Honorable Chris Van Hollen:

I am writing in response to a proposed anti-advocacy provision in HR1461, the Housing Finance Reform Act currently on the house floor. I urge you to oppose this provision.

I, like many other Maryland residents, rent from non-profit organizations that buy affordable housing. Because of physical and/or psychiatric disabilites, most of us are unable to afford housing from any other source. HUD Section 8 funding cuts have made these other housing sources even more important to the residents of this district.

We need to be able to advocate for ourselves. Many of these organizations provide services other than housing, and part of our empowerment and independence comes from the advocacy skills we learn through said organizations. These programs teach us how to vote, how to stay informed regarding the issues that affect us as disabled citizens, and, yes, how to contact our representatives and senators so that we can voice our concerns to the men and women for whom we vote. Simply put, we need to be given a voice, and advocacy help we get from non-profit organizations is usually all we have.

Your voting and response record has been exemplary in regards to the issues facing Maryland's disabled citizens. I thank you for your help in many of these matters, and once again, I urge you to oppose any amendment or provision in HR1461 that would reduce or eliminate funding for affordable housing on the basis of advocacy help to clients.

Thank you for your attention in this matter,

If this amendment were to go through, this would screw St. Luke's so badly. As I said in the letter, we need to learn how to advocate for ourselves. A few of us at St. Luke's participate in advocacy and are helped by a supervisor at the agency. This advocacy is non-partisan and empowering. Some would argue that we lean toward the left, but that is because the right doesn't care about us. If the right wing had their way many of us would be institutionalized for many, many years. Ironically, this is so much more expensive than funding programs that promote independent living. Most of these decisions made by the right wing in this country are pound foolish and not even penny wise. It ends up costing more money, not less.

You don't need to live in Maryland to write in opposition to this. This is a federal issue, and is probably even more sensitive in other states. If you have the time and inclination, I urge you to write your own representative. You can find out how on The US House of Representatives Website.

If it seems like I have neglected this blog, don't worry, I've neglected everything. I'm getting over a downwards swing. I haven't made any hats, either.

Anyway, that's enough to digest for now.... take care.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Involvement Begins At Home, or Something Like That

The theme for this year's event is Learning Is Delightful and Delicious. As, by the way, am I. - CJ Cregg

I finally got to wear my sweater yesterday. I still think it's a bit big.

A couple of days ago, I sat down to learn a little bit about the candidates for this year's Rockville city elections. I was excited; it would be a chance to participate in politics on a level where I would actually be allowed to make a difference.

Yeah, whatever. Rockville is an incorporated city in Montgomery County. The city government does very little. We established a park to honor Mattie Stepanek, a kid who had a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. He lived here in King Farm and died last year. He was on Oprah and Larry King and everyone loved him. Who would be against naming a park after him?

I am looking, and everyone seems qualified and I can't tell who to vote for. The issues on this level pretty much include parks and stop signs. I don't think any of the candidates are going to do anything different.

The only thing I know about the current mayor is that he stole my seat at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference two years ago. I look at his record, and I don't care that he's a father, a businessman, etc. It's all the same stuff.

At least on a county level you have some real issues, such as welfare, disability, housing, and taxes. Sure the city taxes you, but the bulk of local taxes are taken at the county level. Rockville is a small city in its own right, so there's not much that's of any consequence.

Anyway, because I feel compelled, I will continue to look at the issues and the candidates. I'm amazed that I even know who the mayor is. If we're apathetic about national elections, we're totally clueless about our own communities. There's something wrong about that, and I can't figure it out.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Who is this God person anyway?

My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? ... One last thing: While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the ignorant tightass club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits. - Jed

Jed: She's skipping over the part that says, "Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church."
Abby: I do skip over that part.
Jed: Why?
Abby: Because it's stupid.

Okay, in case anyone at this point has any doubt, the constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." There are all sorts of problems that people have with the various clauses in this one-sentence paragraph. The most disturbing is the wholesale dismissal of the first clause, known as the "Establishment Clause." This is the clause that ensures separation of church and state. It makes it unconstitutional to make any move to make Christianity(or any other religion) a state religion.

Things that signal a state religion include school prayer and using biblical law to create secular laws. It is only religious objections that preclude teaching evolution and allowing same-sex couples the legal protection and legitimacy of marriage. The only intelligent argument against either of these things are religious ones. These arguments force Christian values on everyone.

We strive to live in a pluralist society. We should accept more than one idea. I do not believe in taking away the right of any church or other religious institution to dictate the lives of its members. For instance, I support the Catholic church's right to not endorse homosexual behavior(although that makes it difficult to be a sexual minority), to require clergy to be celibate, and to disavow divorce by not allowing divorcees to remarry. I am not a member of the Catholic church so it is not for me to say. There is nothing wrong with a religion that requires women to cover their hair or men to grow a beard. It's when failure to follow religious doctrines becomes a crime against the State.

Failure to follow Christian laws which create victimless crimes should be an issue between church and parishioner, not between police and individual. This hasn't been the case since this country was created, but several of the founding fathers certainly had it in mind. Taking God out of schools and courtrooms does not threaten His followers; rather, it strengthens our community by including everyone. We pride ourselves on being a pluralist society. Let's make Franklin proud and be one.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mistakes Were Made

This is the White House. If we only screw up twice before breakfast, it was a very good morning. - Jed Bartlet

Since before I took up the hobby, I've been wanting to work with ribbon. All that color, the overlays, and you don't have to wait until November to wear it. So I was in AC Moore the other day and there was this gorgeous 3/4" wide blue and green ribbon with bits of gold here and there. I spent way past my budget for such things, and I got the idea that I was going to make a tank top out of it.

I was in no way prepared to work with this stuff. I started off with the suggested 10 1/2 needles, and the fabric was too dense. Also, if I were to use these needles I'd need ten hanks of this stuff, and that would be even more expensive. I had to go to Woolwinders anyway to look at baby patterns, so I picked up a size 17 circular needle. Now, as those of you who have used these needles know, they're as awkward as those gigantic pencils they made us use in first grade.

I have done five gauge swatches and five other false starts. I've put in at least ten hours of work and at the moment, all I have is a gauge swatch. Granted, I'm not using a pattern, but this is getting ridiculous.

Against my better judgement, I will say something about the disaster on the Gulf Coast. A lot of people are blaming FEMA and the Bush Administration for bad disaster response. While I will not let them off the hook(and I will admit that I have absolutely no faith in Bush), much of this disaster could have been totally averted. The levees were in terrible repair. Bills had gone before Congress that would have funded levee repairs, but they got dismissed as just another series of pork. Scientists knew that this would happen. Not that it could happen, but that it would. But we can't afford to fund local projects. There was nothing we could do about Katrina's approach(and I know that might even be debatable), the levees needn't have broken. They would have been far cheaper to fix than it will now be to recover, and we may have spared almost all of the lives lost.

This disaster was a lot like the Titanic in that a series of unfortunate circumstances lined up just right to create the perfect disaster. There are so many ifs and shouldas, and if just one thing had been different, we would most likely have had a totally different story to read. There are so many people to blame, but we cannot overlook that the whole thing is just a disaster, and other than some investigational work to ensure that it never happens again. Just as the Titanic's sinking brought about monumental changes to ocean liner safety, let us hope that we really do learn something. People will have to be blamed, but more importantly, changes will have to be made.