LIVE! President Obama’s Fifth State of the Union Address (Updating!)

And, we’re done. Now for the four GOP responses. My preview, “Great speech. Except he didn’t quote the Communist Manifesto, so minus points.”

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10:20 PM :: Cory is strong, and so is America. And we can continue to be amazing. Let’s go.

10:15 PM :: This kid. 10 tours. Jesus, America.

10:12 PM :: USA! USA! USA!

10:08 PM :: Iran is sort of under control. You’re welcome.

10:06 PM :: Yes. We need to close Guantanamo, because (Tea Party) if the Constitution matters, we should follow it. #shutitdown

10:04 PM :: I am strong. I am invincible. I am the Commander in Chief, and I’ve got nuclear launch codes. I’ll fight when we have to, not because Congress is bored.

10:03 PM :: I KILLED OSAMA BIN LADEN. I DID. NOT YOU. ME.

10:00 PM :: No one is left in Iraq, which is nice. Afghanistan is almost done, maybe. Karzia, you’re on fucking notice.

10:00 PM :: Citizenship demands that you give up some shit in order to be safe. So get a goddamned background check before you buy your fucking gun.

9:58 PM :: Voting is important. People fought and died for that right. Do it. But also, you should always have it, even if your governor things you’re not going to vote for them/their party. Cut the shit.

9:57 PM :: GOP logic: The Affordable Care Act is like the Gardasil shot. If you have it, won’t it make you WANT to get sick???!!!

9:57 PM :: Seriously, Kentucky. Gold-effing-star.

9:56 PM :: Put up or shut up. You’re not repealing it. Stop voting against it. If you’ve got something better, let’s see it. Until then, stfu.

9:55 PM :: Kathleen Sebelius, you silver fox. Thanks for Plan B, OTC.

9:53 PM :: Pre-existing conditions prior to the Affordable Care Act: being a woman, being a victim of domestic violence, giving birth. After: NONE.

9:50 PM :: The stock market is rockin’, because I’m a great socialist/communist, but if you’re working to barely meet your needs month-to-month, you’re shit out of luck. But you freeloading losers only care about the people with the cash to fund your re-elections, you filthy animals. You can do this. You can be better people. You can help a generation find financial security.

9:50 PM :: $10.10, it’s easy to remember. Even you fools can remember that.

9:49 PM :: Follow Costco. Buy all the things, hoard them. The zombies are coming.

9:48 PM :: I asked you freeloaders to raise the minimum wage in 2013, and you didn’t. Now five states have done it without you. You’re useless, over paid, and ugly. Get out of here.

9:47 PM :: “I believe that when women succeed, America succeeds”  — GOP take note. Saying things like that help. Talking about being whores and sluts … does not.

9:46 PM :: WOMEN DESERVE EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK!

9:45 PM :: Student loan debt. Ugh. I just can’t even.

9:44 PM :: Cory Booker is super into this.

9:43 PM :: MY NEIGHBOR REPRESENTATIVE LOIS FRANKEL!!

9:43 PM :: Yes. We need higher standards in curricula, less focus on standardized test scores, and we need parents to get involved! This starts at birth, not when your kid brings home his first D.

9:41 PM :: Oh, God, all the feels for this kid. I hope he does amazing things and loves college.

9:40 PM :: Education. Have you seen the shit they teach in these public schools?

9:38 PM :: GOP: Did it make you feel warm and fuzzy to end long-term unemployment benefits?

9:37 PM :: Jobs training, technical colleges, lets get our kids ready to have actual jobs. If Congress wants to get involved, then that’s great, but again, you’re just there and I’m in control.

9:36 PM :: Immigration Reform – one of the only ways the GOP can win back the White House in 2016. WHAT DID ERIC CANTOR JUST MUTTER? It looked like “shit” to me.

9:34 PM :: We need to work on our carbon footprint, because climate change is for real and this shit is going to be Day After Tomorrow scary if we don’t stop with the hummers getting 2 mpgs.

9:33 PM :: Solar energy! Future’s so bright, gotta wear shades.

9:31 PM :: America is super close to being totally energy independent, which is super inconvenient if we’re using oil for starting wars.

9:30 PM :: VACCINES ARE GOOD, USE THEM. THEY PREVENT THINGS.

9:29 PM :: If we get more technologically based, I’m screwed. I can barely use my smart phone.

9:28 PM :: Lucy, my Dachshund, is sleeping/passing gas/snoring loudly.

9:26 PM :: Jobs here at home! Like, in my bedroom? I’ll apply for that one. But no, really, jobs. I’ve got a MA and I’m super smart and hilarious.

9:25 PM :: How did I not know that Boehner’s father owned a bar? Also, President Obama’s mother was the ruin of America. Because the GOP said single moms kill … nations?

9:24 PM :: No? No claps for marriage equality? You’re all assholes.

9:23 PM :: Michele Obama is making all of the fat kids less fat, which is great. Except it was probably the skinny, white, affluent kids.

9:23 PM :: President Obama: I’m more powerful than you, I don’t need you. I’ll destroy all of you.

9:22 PM :: CLAP FOR WORKING POOR, YOU LAZY TAKERS. Seriously, who are these people?

9:20 PM :: New Jobs > New Crises

9:20 PM :: SHUTDOWN. Can only think of Miley Cyrus SNL parody.

9:19 PM :: The GOP didn’t clap for a sick kid. Classy.

9:18 PM :: Seriously, America is great. Look at all these amazing things we, every day Americans, did with our own two hands. USA! USA! USA! Suck it, China!

9:17 PM :: Afghanistan, and so soon. Oh, Sec. Kerry, don’t look so sad.

9:15 PM ::  Minute 1: Americans are hard working and are doing their best. Seriously.

9:14 PM ::  Was that introduction a little sassy?

9:13 PM ::   How long until the first audible boo?       

9:10 PM ::  FINALLY! PRESIDENT OBAMA! Let’s get this party State of the Union started.

9:06 PM :: I don’t know what it is, but listening to Chris Matthews speak right now is making want to punch the teevee. But, alas, Kathleen Sebelius is there, and she sorta loves women and access to safe and legal abortion, so yay!

9:04 PM :: If I were on the aisle, I’d be in hot pink. Like, flamingo meets neon. Just FYI.

9:02 PM :: Michelle and Dr. Jill look fabulous. Emerald is such a great color, and I love the rich purple on Dr. J. 

8:59 PM :: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I love you. That’s an epic outfit. You go, girl.

8:55 PM :: Is that a planet I see so brightly shining on my screen? Nope. That’s John Boehner, who got a fresh can of orange today.

8:52 PM :: I wonder if the Duck Dynasty guy, what’s his face with the hair, will say something terrible. Who, BTW, is wearing a headband. Or is that a bandanna? In my Jewish culture, we call it a shmata. Jesus.  I wonder if Secret Service had to comb through his face pubes before letting him through.

8:47 PM :: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are en route, and I’ve got a fresh box of Girl Scout cookies. Get excited.

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Racist Reactionaries: Richard Sherman and the Interview Heard Around the World

Richard ShermanA week ago, Richard Sherman, a corner for the Seattle Seahawks, gave what is now an infamous post-game interview. After blocking a pass intended for the 49er’s Michael Crabtree, the game ended and with the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl. Moments later, Sherman said:

I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that is the result you are going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me. […] Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you really quick.

In the history of group sports, neither a player nor fan has ever, ever, spoken out in celebration while simultaneously jabbing their opponent. Except we all understand that the above statement is untrue. So why is Richard Sherman’s statement different?

In American society, we have allocated two acceptable roles for men of color: celebrity or criminal. As a nation we applaud Tiger Woods as an athlete; Tyler Perry for his movie empire; Jay-Z for his music and recording empire, entrepreneurship, and investment. We, as a nation, do not know of, or care for, the stories of the CEO’s of American Express, TIAA-CREF, Darden Restaurants, and McDonald’s, all of whom are men of color. Rather, we continue to embrace and further the dichotomy of good/bad black male. Richard Sherman brought this to fore, and it’s time America deal with it.

Immediately after the on-air interview, the internet was ablaze. Sherman was a “thug.” News outlets were enthralled with this unacceptble behavior. In fact, on Monday, January 20, 2014, the word “thug” was used 625 times. More than any other day in the past three years. More than the time Secretary of State John Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “thug.”  What did all of these people mean? Simply, they meant that Richard Sherman was an angry black man speaking out of turn.

When asked about it, Sherman said:

To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field—don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.

Sherman is correct, but our society doesn’t have a space for that. The mold that was once made for men of color has not changes, but rather shifted to fit modern society. The celebrity/criminal dichotomy leaves no room for the millions of men that are neither, or for men like Sherman, who is a Stanford University graduate and world class athlete. Worse, the dichotomy is embraced at all levels of society. On the upcoming Super Bowl, Senator John McCain said, “I think Denver [will win]. You know, everybody is such a [Peyton] Manning fan and that loudmouth from Seattle sort of epitomizes the Seattle team to me, but I’m sure I’m going to get in trouble for that one, too.” (Emphasis mine). You betcha, Senator McCain! Which furthers my point. You knew what you were saying was racist and inappropriate, yet you said it. Because in America, that is accepted.

Not by me. Not by millions of people. I hope that Seattle goes on to win the Super Bowl, not because I am a Patriots fan, but because America needs to see and accept an educated man of color stand up for himself and his team. America needs to see and accept men of color as more than celebrity/athletes or criminals. I hope that Richard Sherman’s interview and Super Bowl appearance will create a space for Americans to think through the racist, knee-jerk reactions by so many. The sad truth is that had it been Tom Brady acting poorly, this “controversy” would never exist. Let’s come together and learn something from this. Let’s pave a different path for our future and the future of America.

State of the Union BINGO

For those of us that are politically inclined, the annual State of the Union is basically the Nerd Olympics. This year it is like a dry run for the actual Olympics which start the following week. It should be little surprise to hear that I am a tried and true Democrat. True Blue. And I’ve got high expectations for the State of the Union.

I want to hear a plan to combat Military sexual assault and end the prevalence of gun violence in America. I want to know that women will continue to have access to safe and legal abortion.  Of course we know that the best way to cut the number of unintended pregnancies is through age appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sex education in all schools. Will that happen? As a fairly well-educated person that cannot find full-time employment, I’d like to hear about the economy. Will we let Wall Street decide how many families in America go without food and medicines, or will we work towards income equality? While I truly think through pursuing a Ph.D., I want to know that the students coming to college have the educational background to do the assigned work. No Child Left Behind is an abomination, perhaps a new plan will be announced. What about the unconstitutional bans on marriage equality?

The list truly goes on for a while. It’s going to be a big night for me, and I’m excited. However, there are many who watch it because, let’s be honest, it is on all the networks and you were just going to watch American Idol. That’s cool. Since you’re basically stuck if you don’t have cable, consider a game of State of the Union BINGO! I’ve made these super-fun BINGO cards. Just print them out. There are five different cards for group play. After, let me know how you fared. Even better, send a picture and send them to me on Twitter! (@RachelElise86)

To download the Bingo boards, click there –> SOTUBingoCards

A Few of My Favorite Things: A Holiday Gift Guide

As a Jewish kid, I always felt like my holiday, Hanukkah, sucked compared to Christmas. The lights on houses, Santa, the tree! As I grew up, I realized that the season generally is just a lot of fun. I truly enjoy giving my family and friends gifts, tokens of our love and friendship. The problem with the age of discounted Amazon is that people are suddenly harder to shop for. Since Hanukkah is so early this year (Thanksgivikkah post coming soon!), my gifts are all wrapped. What does that mean for you? A fun little list of my favorite gifts. I hope it inspires you this holiday season. 

Things My Friends and Family Should Look Forward To: 

My first choice for the person who has 100 different eye shadows is a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription to Birchbox. Every month for the selected subscription time, the recipient will get a monthly box filled with 4-6 premium brand samples, based on their profile. Products include makeup, hair care and styling products, jewelry, home accents, gourmet food, and fragrances. Three months $30, six months $60, one year $110, Women’s Ultimate Collection $200. 

I’ve never been in love with a lipstick before. That was until I tried ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick Trio. In a set of classic reds and coral, or neutrals with pink and nudes. This formula is rich and hydrating, and the color lasts forever. Highly recommended! Trio, Classics or Neutrals, $24.00.

We all miss Nora Ephron. Luckily, we have her books and films to cherish. We also have The Most of Nora Ephron. This hefty book is filled with her reflections on life, love, politics, her career, and even includes a screenplay. It ends with a list titled Things I Will Miss Most. Readers will laugh, cry, and fall in love with Nora Ephron all over again. $35.00

I don’t know why, but I love these Upcycled Gold Dinosaur Planters. Made by an artist in Portland, OR, these dinosaurs were once plastic toys. There is just something about them that could brighten any desk. $15 for one, $27 for two

Have kids? Then you should definitely check out this Doll World Pram. Fits dolls up to 19″ and is quite stylin’. $59.00. 

Unless you live in Florida like me, it’s cold out. That means you needs socks. What better than Superhero Socks with Built-In Cape? Answer: Nothing. $9.99. 

Opening bottles with your eyes, ears, and or other body part is so college. Get an instant upgrade with the Stout Bottle Opener. Walnut base has either 60 or 100 pounds of magnetic pull force, allowing it hold 52 or 100 bottle tops, respectively. $65 for 60lbs of magnetic force, $99.00 for 100lbs of magnetic force. 

There is always one person that has everything. My suggestion? Head to Heifer International. This wonderful non-profit allows you to buy livestock for families in the Global South. By giving animals, families can eat from their eggs, drink milk, and sell extras in their local market. Animals can also breed. Remember, if you give a man a fish, you feed him for one day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life. Full gifts begin at $20 and go upwards of $500. Price sharing for larger cost animals begin at $10. 

Contraception Emergency – Why Plan B Manufacturers are in Big Fat Trouble

After years of advocacy work, Plan B, also known as “the morning after pill” became available over the counter to women and girls throughout the United States without a prescription. With this victory still fresh in my mind, I learn today that this success is much more limiting than we ever imagined. Surprisingly, it is not because of draconian laws being introduced through state legisImagelatures. Rather, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Edinburgh, Anna Glasier, conducted a study with alarming results: Norlevo (European brand of Plan B) begins to lose efficacy in women weighing 166lbs. For women at and above 176, it is not effective in preventing fertilization.

Glasier’s research has caused Norlevo’s manufacturer, HRA Pharma, to include these finding on the package insert. However, in the United States women and girls are accessing this medication which will, for millions, have zero effect. The most popular generic medications that are available over the counter include Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, and My Way, all of which share identical chemical and dosage makeups to its European counterpart. However, these popular generic medications are not able to disclose this new, vital  information.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, generic medication manufacturers can only alter product literature if and when the brand manufacturer has done so. As of late Monday evening, the FDA reported to Mother Jones, who broke the story, that they are looking into  whether or not they will require American manufacturers of emergency contraception pills to update their labels.

While I applaud the FDA’s quick acknowledgement of the issue, adding a new weight limit does not solve the problem. In America, the majority (69%) of adults 20 and older are considered to be overweight (BMI over 25). Further, approximately half of them are further classified as obese (BMI over 30). According to our own Health and Human Services Department, 62% of women 18 and older are overweight or obese. With so much of the population outside of the indicated weight range, myself included, one must wonder what other medications the overweight majority is being prescribed, only to expect little or no effectiveness.

In looking at birth control and oral contraceptives alone, testing is not done on women whose BMI exceeds 125% of her optimum weight. We don’t know if our own birth control pills are effective. This should be a startling realization, considering that during reproductive age, 17.1% of women (15-44) are on an oral contraceptive. They represent the majority of all contraceptive users in America (27.5%). Is it skinny bias? Fat phobia? As a, shall we say, person of size, I can tell you first hand that the medical community, by and large (get it, large!) view obesity as a non-medical issue that greatly impacts health. It is about lack of self control, laziness, etc. How, then, are we as a community, supposed to look at an entire class of medications as being not for us? For me, it is a slap in the face. Was it that these studied didn’t have anyone over 125% of their optimum weight, or did those people not matter? The numbers are clear, these women exist and they are on oral contraceptives.

This isn’t a new, emerging trend. Sadly, it is a long, nuanced belief held among thousands of American-based doctors. If we as a nation are obese, our doctors and pharmaceutical companies need to make medication for all people, not those deemed to be of a socially acceptable size.