Friday, April 30, 2010

And she can write, too!

I’m absolutely in awe of Redneck Mommy. I just took some time to read the latest entry of her blog, which I’ve just started following, and today I read some of the links that tell more of her story. This is a person to get to know and to emulate, not because she’s doing something noble or difficult, but because she’s dealing with life on life’s terms with grace, humor, patience, and wisdom. I have a whole lot to learn from this woman.

Oh, and be sure to read her post on why it’s not okay to use the “R” word. We are 100% in agreement on that one.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is this Postal Enough for you, Mark? Huh? Is It?

The very talented Mark King wrote the following on my Facebook page:
Sweetie, you're always apologizing. Now, going completely postal on somebody's ass? THAT'S a ... post I'd pay to see!
Really, Mark? Really? Well, gee, Mark, do you think if I were to go postal on somebody's ass, you might actually READ my blog once in a while? Huh? I mean, you know, beyond scanning it for your own name?

Because we both know you don't read my blog, Mark, despite your feeble claim to the contrary: "Oh, yeah, I read it, sure, umm, well, there was that, uh, Catholic thing, yeah, and, uh...uh..."

Catholic thing, Mark? Catholic thing? I've never written about Catholics, Mark. I even Googled it. I tried "subversive librarian" with Catholic. Pope. Priest. Nun. Alter Boy. Pedophile. Nothing!

And as for comments: Exactly how many comments have you really posted on my blog, Mark? One? Two?

How about zero? That's right. ZERO.

So fine, Mark. I get it. You're smarter, more talented, better-looking, and taller than I am. You're a genius and I'm a hack. But tell me, Mark, would your head explode if you had to read just one of my pitiful little posts that doesn't pertain to you?

Yeah, I know, you're a big star now. You're too busy going to Vienna, and hosting cruises, and interviewing US senators, and touring sex clubs, and insulting other, better-known bloggers in a truly pathetic plea for attention....

Uh... Ahem...

Whatever, Mark. I wish you all the best as your fan base keeps growing exponentially, while I languish alone in bitter, poverty-stricken obscurity. Yeah. The kind of bitter, poverty-stricken obscurity where they turn off your heat because you can't pay the bill. And I'll get sick from the cold and start coughing up blood. After a couple years I won't even have the strength to cough up blood anymore, and then I'll die of consumption.

But it'll be all right, Mark. You know why? Because the last thing I see on this earth will be YOU on television, accepting your second Oscar for best screenplay. And I'll be thrilled for you, truly thrilled, and I'll try hard not to cry when you refuse to take my phone call because you don't remember who the fuck I am. And that's when I'll die. All alone. And they won't discover my body until winter, after the rats have chewed off my bitterly frozen, poverty-stricken toes.

So, I just hope you're satisfied with your handiwork, Mark, because you're killing me here. Fuck you. Fuck you very much.

Monday, April 26, 2010

About that last post... An Apology

First, I want to thank my good friend for pointing out what should have been obvious even to me: War casualties are never, ever something to make light of. Whether American or Iranian, Palestinian or Jewish, Japanese or German or French or Confederate or Union, war is about death. It's about mothers losing children, husbands losing wives, babies who will never meet their fathers.

More than that, I agree that most soldiers who die for their countries feel deeply, profoundly committed to their cause, regardless of the world's eventual verdict regarding its righteousness.

So I apologize for my last post. It was insensitive and boorish. I am very, very sorry.

I referred to Confederate Memorial Day as peculiar, and I still think it is; not because the subject of the holiday is peculiar, but because there seems to be disagreement about whether it actually exists. When I was doing research yesterday (and I admit, it was extremely superficial research), I happened upon this debate string on Wikipedia about whether there is actually such a thing as Confederate Memorial Day. (The librarian in me feels the need to point out that this is why you can't always trust Wikipedia). Comments responding to the wiki article imply that some people, even those living in the South, consider Confederate Memorial Day to be an urban myth:
Having lived in Mississippi for my whole life and never having heard about this "holiday", it seems to be just some paltry attempt at either humor or insult to people south of the Mason-Dixon Line. --J. S. Freeman 18:53, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I don't know what cave in Mississippi Mr Freeman is living in, but CMD has been celebrated every year for the 30 years I've lived in Mississippi. (Ray) 22:37, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
I live in Atlanta, GA. The state recognizes this as a holiday and all state offices are closed - including my employer, the State Credit Union. ~Michael Cyr 28 March 2007
(to the above) That's interesting, because having lived in GA all of my life I never once had a day off from work or school on that day. And, if you read one of the links posted below, it says that from 1984 on the state government only observes federal holidays. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:17, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
For the record, there is such a holiday in Georgia. Today is it.

By the way, I continue to believe that the Civil War was indeed about slavery, and not just about states' rights; this is where my friend and I continue to disagree, and I say that knowing something about the history of the conflict.

That, however, does not diminish even slightly the depth of suffering experienced by Confederate or Union soldiers and their families; nor does it diminish their courage or commitment.

If there is anything else I need to do to make amends, I hope one of you will let me know.

An apology is forthcoming.

Yes, I ve got the day off for this peculiar state holiday. I m so excited I could spit!
More later...maybe... Right now I m headed for my favorite thrift store, where everything is always half-off on Mondays. Now, THAT S a holiday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

“Bless It or Block It”

I’m trying to make a tough, but happy, decision. I need cheaper digs, so I’m deciding whether to rent or buy a house. I love looking for houses, so this has the potential to be really fun.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m very, very good at self-sabotage, which unfortunately likes to dress itself up as rational decision-making.

My mother used to say, “Some of us are sicker than others, and it’s not always the other guy.” Well, that would be me. I pretty much wrecked my life emotionally and financially a few years back, and it’s taken well over two years just to get my lifeboat turned right-side-up and aimed in the right direction.  I’m only just now starting to paddle forward. Naturally, then, I’m rather anxious to avoid recreating The Titanic.

As I was talking all this over with a good friend yesterday, he gave me this simple prayer to use:

Bless it or block it.

If I’m making is the right decision, let it all fall into place seamlessly. If it’s wrong, throw a bunch of crap in the way. Better yet, if it’s wrong, make it impossible.

This little prayer is perfect for me. It reminds me that I can be really, really stupid about some things. It reminds god (whatever the hell that is, as if it needed any kind of reminding) that I’m none too smart and when the message comes it needs to be in extra-large print and in block letters. 

God, bless it or block it. Make it obvious even to me, because that’s the only way I’m going to get it. Otherwise I will spend all my energy trying to pound that square peg of a house (or girlfriend or car or horse or whatever) into this round hole of a life. Save me from myself.

God, bless it or block it. Aim the car in the right direction. When I think I’ve made a wrong turn (whether literally or figuratively), remind me that this could be just the turn I need to find the gift. Remind me that this is an adventure, and I’m allowed to have some fun watching it unfold. Remind me that if it’s taking a while, it’s because the gift isn’t ready yet.

Over my years in recovery I’ve experienced it over and over again: if I do the footwork and I’m open-minded, honest, and willing, the Universe conspires in my favor. The right solution appears in front of me. So much so, in fact, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll trip over it. 

I don't understand how or why it works, but it does. And for that I am very grateful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Law and Sausage

(Please forgive any weird formatting and punctuation issues. I m doing this on my phone.)

So many bills, so little time... I am in the gallery at the state capitol listening to a senator explain why the budget for 2011 is so freaking depressing. The senate has 45 bills on its calendar for today, including the budget. So I think I m gonna be here for a while.

One might question whether this is the best way to make laws: they meet for 37 days for a couple hours a day, not getting a whole lot done, and then they rush through 150 bills in the last 3 days of the session in marathon 12-hour days with loads of secret meetings.

Turns out that tired old chestnut is true: Making law really is like making sausage. Except that the latter is prettier and much more efficient.

(And yes, I am qualified to make this statement about sausage, because in the fourth grade I went on a field trip to the Cudahy meat packing plant, and my mom was one of the chaperones. But we got gypped, because the kids on the other bus got cow teeth as a souvenir and all we got was one raw hot dog per kid, and most of the hot dogs ended up in the pocket of the white lab coat my mother had to wear - except not mine, because I think I ate it. And my mom wouldnt cook meat for a month, which isnt surprising considering that the tour included a room with very wet, very slippery floors and a big old table with the chopped up faces of just-butchered cows, including a lone eyeball or two.).

Ummm... What was I talking about again?

Oh, yeah. about how meat processing is prettier than lawmaking. And so it is.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City.

April 19, 1995.

When I heard about the Oklahoma City bombing, I was in my home on the Navajo Nation. Five years earlier, I had lived in Oklahoma City during a federal judicial clerkship. My judge's office was in the federal building across the street from the Murrah Building, where the bombing took place. I called to check on the judge and his staff; as I recall, it took me a couple days to get through. When I finally reached him, the judge told me that the windows in his office had shattered from the blast, but thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

I took the bombing personally, because I felt kinship to the victims. My parking place was in the garage located underneath the Murrah Building, and I walked through the building daily. The Federal Employees Credit Union was my bank while I was there; most of its employees -- the people I had banked with -- were killed in the bombing. In addition, I was undergoing treatment for infertility, and in my optimism I had our day care all picked out: America's Kids Child Development Center, located on the second floor of the Murrah Building.

The clerkship was only for a year, so of course there was never a real chance that I would be directly impacted by the bombing. Still, it hit me hard.

Here is a list of the victims.


Drug Enforcement Administration

Shelly D. Bland, 25, of Tuttle

Carrol June "Chip" Fields, 48, Guthrie

Rona Linn Kuehner-Chafey, 35, Oklahoma City

Carrie Ann Lenz, 26, Chotaw

Kenneth Glenn McCullough, 36, Edmond

U.S. Secret Service

Cynthia L. Brown, 26, Oklahoma City

Donald Ray Leonard, 50, Edmond

Mickey B. Maroney, 50, Oklahoma City

Linda G. McKinney, 47, Oklahoma City

Kathy Lynn Seidl, 39, Bethel

Alan G. Whicher, 40, Edmond


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ted L. Allen, 48, Norman

Peter R. Avillanoza, 56, Oklahoma City

David Neil Burkett, 47, Oklahoma City

Donald Earl Burns, Sr., 63, Oklahoma City

Kimberly Kay Clark, 39, Oklahoma City

Susan Jane Ferrell, 37, Oklahoma City

Dr. George Michael Howard, 45, Vallejo, Calif.

Antonio "Tony" C. Reyes, 55, Edmond

Lanny Lee David Scroggins, 46, Yukon

Leora Lee Sells, 57, Oklahoma City

Jules A. Valdez, 51, Edmond

David Jack Walker, 54, Edmond

Michael D. Weaver, 54, Edmond

Frances "Fran" Ann Williams, 48, Oklahoma City

Clarence Eugene Wilson, Sr. 49, Oklahoma


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Diane E. (Hollingsworth) Althouse, 45, Edmond

Andrea Yvette Blanton, 33, Oklahoma City

Kim R. Cousins, 33, Midwest City

Diana Lynne Day, 38, Oklahoma City

Castine Brooks Hearn Deveroux, 49, Oklahoma City

Judy J. (Froh) Fisher, 45, Oklahoma City

Linda Louise Florence, 43, Oklahoma City

J. Colleen Guiles, 59, Oklahoma City

Thompson Eugene "Gene" Hodges, Jr., 54, Norman

Ann Kreymborg, 57, Oklahoma City

Teresa Lea Taylor Lauderdale, 41, Shawnee

Mary Leasure-Rentie, 39, Bethany

James A. McCarthy II, 53, Edmond

Betsy J. (Beebe) McGonnell, 47, Norman

Patricia Ann Nix, 47, Edmond

Terry Smith Rees, 41, Midwest City

John Thomas Stewart, 51, Oklahoma City

John Karl Van Ess III, 67, Chickasha

Jo Ann Whittenberg, 35, Oklahoma City


U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting

Sgt. Benjamin LaRanzo Davis, USMC, 29, Edmond

Capt. Randolph A. Guzman, USMC, 28, Castro Valley, Calif.


U.S. Department of Agriculture

Olen Burl Bloomer, 61, Moore

James E. Boles, 50, Oklahoma City

Dr. Margaret L. "Peggy" Clark, 42, Chickasha

Richard "Dick" Cummins, 55, Mustang

Doris "Adele" Higginbottom, 44, Oklahoma City

Carole Sue Khalil, 50, Oklahoma City

Rheta Bender Long, 60, Oklahoma City

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Paul Gregory Beatty Broxterman, 42, Edmond

U.S. Customs Office

Paul D. Ice, 42, Midwest City

Claude Authur Medearis, S.S.A., 41, Norman


U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway

Lucio Aleman, Jr., 33, Oklahoma City

Mark Allen Bolte, 28, Oklahoma City

Michael Carrillo, 44, Oklahoma City

Larry James Jones, 46. Yukon

James K. Martin, 34, Oklahoma City

Ronota Ann Newberry-Woodbridge, 31, Edmond

Jerry Lee Parker, 45, Norman

Michelle A. Reeder, 33, Oklahoma City

Rick L. Tomlin, 46, Piedmont

Johnny Allen Wade, 42, Edmond

John A. Youngblood, 52, Yukon

U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion

Sgt. 1st Class Lola Bolden, U.S. Army, 40, Birmingham, Ala.

Karen Gist Carr, 32, Midwest City

Peggy Louise Holland, 37, Oklahoma City

John C. Moss III., 50, Oklahoma City

Victoria (Vickey) L. Sohn, 36, Moore

Dolores (Dee) Stratton, 51, Moore

Kayla Marie Titsworth, 3.50, Lawton

Wanda Lee Watkins, 49, Oklahoma City


Defense Security Service

Harley Richard Cottingham, 46, Oklahoma City

Peter L. DeMaster, 44, Oklahoma City

Norma "Jean" Johnson, 62, Oklahoma City

Larry L. Turner, 42, Oklahoma City

Robert G. Westberry, 57, Oklahoma City

Federal Employees Credit Union

Woodrow Clifford "Woody" Brady, 41, Oklahoma City

Kimberly Ruth Burgess, 29, Oklahoma City

Kathy A. Finley, 44, Yukon

Jamie (Fialkowski) Genzer, 32, Wellston

Sheila R. Gigger-Driver, 28, Oklahoma City

Linda Coleen Housley, 53, Oklahoma City

Robbin Ann Huff, 37, Bethany

Christi Yolanda Jenkins, 32, Edmond

Alvin J. Justes, 54, Oklahoma City

Valerie Jo Koelsch, 33, Oklahoma City

Kathy Cagle Leinen, 47, Oklahoma City

Claudette (Duke) Meek, 43, Oklahoma City

Frankie Ann Merrell, 23, Oklahoma City

Jill Diane Randolph, 27, Oklahoma City

Claudine Ritter, 48, Oklahoma City

Christy Rosas, 22, Moore

Sonja Lynn Sanders, 27, Moore

Karan Howell Shepherd, 27, Moore

Victoria Jeanette Texter, 37, Oklahoma City

Virginia M. Thompson, 56, El Reno

Tresia Jo "Mathes" Worton, 28, Oklahoma City


America's Kids Child Development Center

Baylee Almon, 1, Oklahoma City

Danielle Nicole Bell, 15 months, Oklahoma City

Zachary Taylor Chavez, 3, Oklahoma City

Dana LeAnne Cooper, 24, Moore

Anthony Christopher Cooper II, 2, Moore

Antonio Ansara Cooper Jr., 6 months, Midwest City

Aaron M. Coverdale, 5.50, Oklahoma City

Elijah S. Coverdale, 2.50, Oklahoma City

Jaci Rae Coyne, 14 months, Moore

Brenda Faye Daniels, 42, Oklahoma City

Taylor Santoi Eaves, 8 months, Midwest City

Tevin D'Aundrae Garrett, 16 months, Midwest City

Kevin "Lee" Gottshall II, 6 months, Norman

Wanda Lee Howell, 34, Spencer

Blake Ryan Kennedy, 1.50, Amber

Dominique Ravae (Johnson)-London, 2, Oklahoma City

Chase Dalton Smith, 3, Oklahoma City

Colton Wade Smith, 2, Oklahoma City


Scott D. Williams, 24, Tuttle


Social Security Administration

Teresa Antionette Alexander, 33, Oklahoma City

Richard A. Allen, 46, Oklahoma City

Pamela Cleveland Argo, 36, Oklahoma City

Saundra G. (Sandy) Avery, 34, Midwest City

Calvin Battle, 62, Oklahoma City

Peola Battle, 56, Oklahoma City

Oleta C. Biddy, 54, Tuttle

Casandra Kay Booker, 25, Oklahoma City

Carol Louise Bowers, 53, Yukon

Peachlyn Bradley, 3, Oklahoma City

Gabreon D.L. Bruce, 3 months, Oklahoma City

Katherine Louise Cregan, 60, Oklahoma City

Ashley Megan Eckles, 4, Guthrie

Don Fritzler, 64, Oklahoma City

Mary Anne Fritzler, 57, Oklahoma City

Laura Jane Garrison, 61, Oklahoma City

Margaret Betterton Goodson, 54, Oklahoma City

Ethel L. Griffin, 55, Edmond

Cheryl E. Hammon, 44, Oklahoma City

Ronald Vernon Harding, Sr., 55, Oklahoma City

Thomas Lynn Hawthorne, Sr., 52, Choctaw

Dr. Charles E. Hurlburt, 73, Oklahoma City

Jean Nutting Hurlburt, 67, Oklahoma City

Raymond "Lee" Johnson, 59, Oklahoma City

LaKesha Richardson Levy, 21, Midwest City

Aurelia Donna Luster, 43, Guthrie

Robert Lee Luster, Jr., 45, Guthrie

Rev. Gilbert X. Martinez, 35, Oklahoma City

Cartney J. McRaven, 19, Midwest City

Derwin W. Miller, 27, Oklahoma City

Eula Leigh Mitchell, 64, Oklahoma City

Emilio Tapia, 50, Oklahoma City

Charlotte Andrea Lewis Thomas, 43, Oklahoma City

Michael George Thompson, 47, Yukon

LaRue A. Treanor, 55, Guthrie

Luther H. Treanor, 61, Guthrie

Robert N. Walker, Jr., 52, Oklahoma City

Julie Marie Welch, 23, Oklahoma City

W. Stephen Williams, 42, Cashion

Sharon Louise Wood-Chesnut, 47, Oklahoma City

General Services Administration

Steven Douglas Curry, 44, Norman

Michael L. Loudenslager, 48, Harrah


Rescue Worker

Rebecca Needham Anderson, 37, Midwest City

Athenian Building (Job Corps)

Anita Christine Hightower, 27, Oklahoma City

Kathryn Elizabeth Ridley, 24, Oklahoma City

Oklahoma Water Resources Board Building

Robert N. Chipman, 51, Edmond

Trudy Jean Rigney, 31, Midwest City

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Food Thing, Again

Enough with the politics. Let’s talk about me. 

I had something of an epiphany today about my off-and-on recovery from the food addiction thing. I’ve lost 56 pounds out of 125 that I need to lose. It has taken me a looooooooooong time to get this much off, and there have been many setbacks. Make of that what you will.

At any rate, I go to this weight-loss meeting every week. It’s the big famous one, if that matters to you.

Today, our leader did this thing where a volunteer puts on a vest with lots and lots of pockets, and the leader starts loading the pockets with 5-pound bags of sand, up to the total weight the volunteer has lost. Then the leader takes the apron off and the person gets to see how much lighter they feel.

Gimmicky but cute, right? Well, three people volunteered; each had lost about 25 pounds. I was surprised at their reaction: all three seemed genuinely shocked as each bag of sand got loaded. And genuinely relieved when the vest came off.

Something told me I needed to do this, too, so I finally worked up the nerve to volunteer. She loaded the sand on, bag by bag, until she reached 50 pounds – all she had.

I, too, was genuinely shocked. Up to about 30 pounds, each five-pound bag made an alarming difference in how heavy the vest felt. After about 30 pounds, though, the incremental weight of each bag didn’t feel as dramatic. (perhaps this is the “quantum weight” I’ve talked about before).

While the physical impact had diminished, each five pounds after 30 affected me more and more emotionally. I felt like I was suffocating.  Literally and figuratively, I was sinking. Drowning. I felt a growing despair that was too familiar. When she took the vest off, another surprise: a physical rush.

It’s one thing to carry that sort of extra weight voluntarily for a few minutes. It’s something else to live with it 24/7 year after year. I don’t ever want to forget the feeling I had with that extra 50 pounds, because the odds are against me. A recently released study suggests that junk-food addiction may be more like heroin and cocaine addiction than previously thought. I suspect they’re right.

A friend recently told me, as he was congratulating me for my progress in losing weight, that it was time to step up my game. He was right, but I haven’t done it. Indeed, even today I found myself thinking, “yeah, but people don’t actually do all this stuff, do they?” 

Most folks in recovery have heard that “this program isn’t for people who need it. It’s for people who want it.” But recently I heard someone say that the 12-step program isn’t for people who need it or for people who want it. It’s for people who do it. I agree. And – surprise, surprise! – I am not exempt from that.

So, it looks like I’ll be stepping up my game after all.

Friday, April 16, 2010

President Obama Mandates LGBT Rights to Hospital Visitation / Part Two: The Memorandum and Its Legal Effect

I'm not going to paste the whole memorandum here, because the post is already plenty long. But it does contains some really wonderful stuff. Take a look:
[E]very day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides.... Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.
 For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real [c]onsequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.
The memorandum goes on to instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:  
ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives … should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
 Now, this is a presidential memorandum, not an executive order. Does it still carry the weight of law? Happily, the answer appears to be “yes,” at least based on my (not even remotely thorough) research. The Department of Justice, in a 2000 legal memorandum,  advised the President as follows
It has been our consistent view that it is the substance of a presidential determination or directive that is controlling and not whether the document is styled in a particular manner. This principle plainly extends to the legal effectiveness of a document styled as a "presidential directive." Moreover, as with an executive order, a presidential directive would not lose its legal effectiveness upon a change of administration.
If anybody knows of anything that contradicts this, I hope you’ll pipe up.

Some people have noted with concern that the memorandum also contains the following disclaimer: “This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.”

This doesn’t concern me in the least, however, for two reasons. First, the language is pretty standard. Indeed, just this year such disclaimers have appeared in numerous presidential memoranda and executive orders including this one and this one and this one and this and this

Second, the disclaimer only applies to the federal government. It doesn’t say anything about not suing a hospital. So there may be limits on suing, say, a VA hospital, but the vast majority of hospitals are still vulnerable to lawsuits if they fail to comply.

So, what happens now?  Based on the wording of the memorandum, the Secretary is directed to enforce current laws regarding patient advance directives, specifically 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a). So, to the extent the law currently permits visitation by LGBT partners, hospitals and staff members are now on notice that ignoring such directives will no longer be permitted, at least in theory. That's the most immediate effect. 

The Secretary is also instructed to promulgate rules to carry out the memorandum's directives. Because the rulemaking process requires a public comment period, that will take a few months. 

Finally, the memorandum gives the Secretary 180 days to recommend "actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families." Other than the introductory stuff, this is the only part of the mandate that specifically refers to the LGBT community. 

I would like to point out here that the President didn't have to issue a memorandum to make this happen. And given that he decided to do it in writing, he could have very easily just stuck the mandate language in there, and not mentioned a word about LGBT discrimination. 

So yes, we've still got DADT and DOMA. And no, we're not going to let up on the President. But this was a courageous move all the same, and the President deserves considerable credit for ensuring our rights so openly and eloquently.

President Obama Mandates LGBT Rights to Hospital Visitation / Part One: Introduction and Background

There's a lot to say about this, so I'll be posting several times today. 

No doubt you’ve already heard the good news: In a presidential memorandum President Obama directed all Medicare and Medicaid-funded hospitals to honor patients' wishes about visitation and decision-making, and prohibited discrimination based on (among other things) sexual orientation and gender identity with regard to such matters.

After he signed the memorandum, the President placed a call to Janice Langbehn, who was denied access to the deathbed of her partner of seventeen years despite having provided a valid, written advance directive. Ms. Langbehn’s tragic loss and mistreatment, and her subsequent activism, were the catalysts that brought about this important development.

Here, she speaks with Anderson Cooper about the President’s action and about her case:  


Next up: more about the memorandum itself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Which the Subversive Librarian Bites her Tongue til it Bleeds

I love working in (okay, around) politics, and believe it or not, I'm glad that my issue area is one I don't feel too passionately about. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it's a positive for two reasons: First, I discovered a long time ago that I'm a much better advocate if I'm unbiased. And second, when I'm being buffeted by unfavorable political winds (which is usually the case) it's a lot easier to keep up the good fight if I can live with just about any outcome. It all comes down to my boss's advice, which I consider some of the best advice I have ever gotten from anyone, anywhere, about anything: 
"Have fun and don t take it personally."
Still, I often find myself on the margin of other issues about which I really do feel strongly:  Health care. Civil rights. Education. Immigration. And it gets sticky when I find myself in a conversation with a lobbyist or legislator who has views very different from my own.

As a private citizen I can speak my mind (although whether I am brave enough, often enough, to do so is another matter).  As a public servant and advocate, though, my options are limited.  

For one thing, there's the law:  As a public employee, I  am prohibited from participating directly in political activity. So I can attend a gay rights rally, but I cannot publicly speak or sing there (alas, would that I were asked!). 

But I'm even more constrained than that.  I can't allow my political views about (for example) gay rights to compromise my role as an advocate for my agency (which does, after all, pay the rent and put beans on the table, along with doing important work). 

So when I find myself in the middle of a really distasteful conversation, as I did today with a legislator and another lobbyist, I just smile, say something true-but-innocuous ("yes, health insurance really will be a big issue in November"), smile sweetly, and stuff another potato chip in my mouth.  Preferably kettle-cooked.  CRUNCH.

And then I go and I bitch about it. Right here.  Right now.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Play it again, George...

It's popcorn time! Yes, yes, I know you've probably already seen this. But it's just so great, I can't resist:  Here is the President of the United States speaking on Sarah Palin's qualifications viz a viz nuclear arms.

Delicious as it is, note that George Stephanopoulos doesn't let Obama get away with it. He rightly pushes the President to move past Palin and address the substantive issue. Which the President does (sort of), but without letting Palin off the hook. Sweet! 

Okay. My popcorn is ready, so I'm going to watch this just one more time... or maybe twice... 

Quebec Seeks Prohibition of Niqab: Canadians Have Individual Rights, Too.

When I was in law school, and everyone else was taking Bankruptcy and Wills and Corporate Tax, I was taking lots of international and comparative law courses. One of the things I loved about these courses was their ability to challenge long-held assumptions about, well, just about everything.

You see, somehow, somewhere I got the idea that nobody has any rights except us lucky folks in the good old U.S. of A. I mean, we pretty much invented free speech and stuff, right?

Well, no. As a matter of fact, we didn't. We have no monopoly on individual rights. We really don't. We're better at it than a lot of places, but we're just one nation among many that cares about individual rights -- about getting it right.

Which brings me to the question of whether a Muslim woman should be permitted to wear a burqa or niqab in the Canadian province of Quebec.

In a thoughtful, thorough, and provocative discussion, the law students at (and the folks responding) have analyzed Quebec's effort to prohibit the use of certain religious clothing.

It's a great article, because the writers provide a good foundational discussion on Canadian law. While it's similar to what you'd read on an American blawg, Canadian law is just different enough to challenge readers to think outside the (American) box when it comes to individual rights. Moreover, the writers have thoughtfully integrated a discussion of choice into the mix: what difference does it make if a Muslim woman chooses to wear a niqab, and how do we define choice in that context?

All in all, very enlightening.

Friday, April 09, 2010

A slight change of subject

Okay, so I was going to write this snarky but thoughtful piece about how the South is getting kind of weird lately, because there’s been talk of secession and because last year, some really creepy secession-ish legislation passed here in Georgia with overwhelming bipartisan support, and how I'd really like to know why just one person voted against it, or more precisely, why some of the most liberal members of the chamber voted for it. 

And I was also going to take a potshot at Pat Buchanan, who has been waxing all poetic about the "Lost Cause” (he means the Civil War). 

Oh, and I also figured I’d take potshots at Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly, just because they’re so despicable.

But my post kept getting longer and longer, and now it’s after one in the morning and, well, I’ve kind of lost interest.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Oh, so "religious" doesn't necessarily mean "conservative"

I'm happy to have discovered ReligiousLeftLaw, a thoughtful blog that may just become a major irritant to legal eagles on the far right. Hey. Somebody's gotta do it.

ReligiousLeftBlog has a distinguished group of contributors, mostly law professors from top-tier schools. In other words, really, really smart people writing about really, really complex things. It's not going to be an easy read. But it's sure to be interesting and highly provocative.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easier to Do than Undo.

Okay, so a friend gifted me a fabulous new haircut, and everyone is making a big fuss over me, and another friend is saying it looks like I'm in woman-hunting mode.

And yes, I've thought about dating. And then I've thought better of it.

Used to be, I didn't date. I just went straight from "nice meeting you" to "til death do us part." And then I hung on way past the relationship's expiration date. Way, way past. Like, if it was a plastic container in the back of the refrigerator, its contents would be black and fuzzy and smell like a body farm.

And what's worse, I've pretty much gone from one refrigerator container to another without giving myself a chance to air out. First relationship 28 years starting when I was 17. Second one 7 years. A whole 4 months in between them. Good people. Baaaaad decisions.

So now whenever I catch myself wanting to date, I look at my scar. Yes, I have a physical scar from my last relationship. Because I gained so much weight after my second marriage, I couldn't get my ring off. Someone finally had to cut it off for me. That was about two years ago, and the dent still hasn't gone away. Here, see for yourself:

The scar, or whatever it is, has become a constant reminder of this sobering truth: It's a whole helluva lot easier to put a wedding ring on than it is to get it off again.

So this time around I thought it would be good to wait a while. I told myself I wouldn't date for a year. The year came and went, and I still wasn't ready. Then I told myself I wouldn't date until my credit score improved. It has gotten better, but am I ready?

Well, perhaps when I lose another oh, I don't know, seventy pounds or so. And maybe just a little plastic surgery here and there. And naturally, I should buy a house first. And pay off at least half the principal. Of course, I can't do anything until my daughter graduates from college. And then there's....

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Blatantly Plagiarizing Others' Wisdom on this Lazy-Ass Librarian Saturday --

I watched a dear friend model some wonderfully healthy behavior today (I'm sooo not there yet), and it reminded me of this quote from Marianne Williamson.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I continue to be overwhelmed - in a good way - by the wisdom around me. The gifts of that wisdom are mine for the taking, so I'm told, as long as I'm willing, grateful, and I put my sobriety first.

Relapse prevented.

Sometimes, even after many years of sobriety, it's still about not drinking a day at a time. Tonight was one of them.

I spent the afternoon climbing onto everyone else’s merry-go-rounds, one right after another. People I care about very much. People I used to lean on. People I still lean on from time to time. Some drowning in tragedies of their own making; some just caught in tragic circumstances. I was drawn to their darkness, and I dove right in after them. Under the guise of “being of service,” of course.

I had just gone to a meeting and met with a sponsee. I had an errand to run in East Atlanta Village. It was beautiful out, and every single restaurant patio was bursting with people having a great time. The store I needed was closed. I had money.

And then I wanted to drink. I wanted … what, exactly? Companionship? A good buzz? The attention I would get if I picked up another white chip? I don’t even know. I just know I wanted to drink.

So I drove home, passing one food mart after another. Wondering what it would feel like just to pull in to one of them. Or maybe go in and just look. Or just buy. Or sit in the parking lot and call someone in recovery, holding a bottle.

But I did none of those things. I just kept driving. And when I got home, I called my sponsor, and I forced myself to tell the answering machine that I wasn’t okay.

My sponsor called a few minutes later. He told me I made the right choice, and he gave me specific instructions: I was not to leave the house. I was not to drink. He made me repeat it.

I watched Rockford Files and then I went to sleep.

This post would have been a lot more dramatic, a lot more interesting, if I had taken a drink. Am I glad I didn’t? Honestly, right now I don’t quite know. But I do know that in the morning I’ll still have the choice of whether or not to drink. And for that, I’m very, very grateful.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Washing My Mouth Out With Soap, or, I Swear To God I Wrote This Post Before...

...before I read this. Honest, I did. Really!! (God, I hate it when that happens!)

Oh, well... Let's move on.

Warning: this posting contains some nasty words. Epithets, to be specific. Words that ought never be used descriptively, even if members of the target community have reclaimed the words as their own. Words like kike. Breeder. Retard. Nigger. 

I've been thinking about the relationship between language and politics because of the recent controversy surrounding the film Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. (Full disclosure: I haven't seen it.)  GLAAD objects to the film,  but at least one Transgender writer has defended the movie,  finding it more realistic in many ways than TransAmerica.

But what strikes me most is what the two viewpoints have in common: both agree that the word "tranny" is highly offensive.

I've heard the word used by people in the LGBTQ community in contexts that struck me as friendly.  Still, if a word is offensive to a significant number of the people to whom it refers, that's all I need to know. I'm quite content to leave it out of my own vocabulary. 

Which brings me to the whole "politically correct" thing.

I know, I know, political correctness is so ... twentieth century. In fact, these days it's downright politically incorrect to be politically correct.  Just a quaint but hopelessly outdated remnant of liberal do-good-ism. Positively unfashionable.

Well, no one has ever accused me of being on the cutting edge of fashion. So it probably won't surprise you that I embrace political correctness.

The basic diatribe against political correctness goes something like this: "We're sick of having to watch everything we do and say. You're way too sensitive, so we're gonna decide what's reasonable. Get over it." 

But wait a minute: If I can't determine whether calling someone a cunt is offensive (answer: most definitely yes), then who can? Who is better positioned than a gay man to say how it feels to be called a faggot? If the word "squaw" offends many Native American women, who on earth am I to say they're wrong?

Somewhere along the way, a fundamental component of civil discourse got highjacked: respect for the humanity of every participant. In its place is the condemnation of political correctness, which has morphed into a subtle form of blackmail:  "If you get offended by (insert whatever here), we will not only continue to offend you, we will also make you look ridiculous for being offended." This strategy is preemptive: marginalizing the other participant blocks dialogue even before it begins. It is, at its core, an ad hominem attack.

Well, fuck that shit. If I am to enter into meaningful dialogue, I first need to listen to you. Because, see, I don't get to define your agenda. Or even assume that I know what it is.   

And by the way: if the very best argument I can conjure up is that you're oversensitive, then I got seriously ripped off in law school and I want my money back.

I am perfectly willing to adjust my language to honor your personhood, even if our substantive views are galaxies apart.

Call it political correctness if you like. It still translates into respect.  And respect is never out of style.