Category Archives: Politico

Prayer for Change

Dear President Mugabe,

I know we haven’t seen eye to eye in the past. I can’t understand how you are still in power, how you’ve ruled Zimbabwe my entire life. I don’t know why your country, once called the breadbasket of Africa, has such a life-threatening issue with hunger today. I really can’t comprehend how a nation so rich — with some of the best universities, hospitals and businesses in sub-Saharan Africa — could crumple in such a short period of time.

Today, it’s cholera. You’ve pushed your people around for more than 20 years. You’ve run out the white Zimbabweans, stolen their land, killed those who refused to leave and ruined your economy in the process. You’ve created one of the most impressive brain drains in the history of man. I spoke with a friend from Zimbabwe last weekend. He teaches at the seminary in Harare. He makes $50 a month, which doesn’t cover the cost of going to and from the school daily.* The economy you’ve led has the highest inflation internationally — at something absurd like 1000%. How can that be? How can money be printed with an expiration date? A billion dollar bill? Really Bob, even you can do better.

You have single-handedly ruined this nation and the world has stood by, watching with a lazy, voyeuristic eye. I’m not sure which is the bigger disgrace. News is today that your reign of cruelty may soon be coming to an end — only because once again your people are suffering. Today it is cholera, as if the hunger, soaring HIV rates and severe poverty weren’t enough. While the world watches the tragedies and violence in India, Pakistan and the Middle East, I’ll continue screaming about Zimbabwe. This is nothing short of an African holocaust that the world is once again ignoring. We’ve learned nothing from Rwanda, Sudan or Somalia.

Mr. Mugabe, I am a person who doesn’t hate. I try to find something good in everyone. But for the life of me, I simply cannot see the silver lining of you breathing another breath.

May your people rise and may the world finally respond. May Zimbabwe once return to its state of grace and honor as a fruitful, healthy and beautiful country. May peace reign in Zim!


*{I begged him to let me come work in Harare next summer and he agreed. If I am allowed in the country, there is an opportunity for me to work in one of the many orphanages.}


Healthy eats

Whole wheat tortilla, black beans, spinach, tomatoes, Colleen’s spicy tomato chutney, and quinoa — health wrapped in happiness.

This is the dinner I ate the night I voted for America’s first African-American President. I know one day I’m going to be telling my kids about today. It gives me chills.
Finally. Finally! We are going to have a president who represents my values, makes me proud and makes me want to be better. Thank you Mr. Obama. I know it hasn’t been easy going, but I’ve never been prouder of our nation.
January cannot come soon enough.



I took a friend to see a lawyer yesterday. About a decade ago, when she was a small girl and far too young to know what poor decisions were being made on her behalf, her parents left Mexico and drove the family to the United States illegally. They settled in Arizona, found odd jobs, raised their young family, and she was enrolled in the public schools. Her lack of American citizenship became her problem when she received scholarships for college. She couldn’t claim the funds; she didn’t have a Social Security number. Instead, she now attends a small private university paying for course by course out of pocket. She pays out of state tuition even though she’s lived here nearly her entire life. She works like you wouldn’t believe to help her family, manage her coursework and avoid ever drawing even a wink of attention from anyone in uniform.

Living in Phoenix, and having lived in Mexico, every side of illegal immigration seems incredibly ugly and miserable. Whether you are the poor rural Mexican family paying a coyote to shuffle you through hundreds of miles of hot desert, only to land in a drop house in a Phoenix suburb where you are enrolled in indentured servitude to pay off the smuggling fees, or the American families who pretend not to notice nearly everyone cooking their food, mowing their lawns, washing their cars are brown skinned and being paid under the table — the system is broken. Arizona schools are overwhelmed. Our hospitals cannot handle the emergency room cases, where non-citizens know they will always receive care. Our public services are feeling the strain of many who don’t pitch for their portion of the bill. It makes me sad the economy of Mexico isn’t strong enough to provide ample opportunities to their people. However, their corrupt government has made one bad economic decision after the other and when officials began distributing pamphlets for safe-desert crossing, I nearly lost my mind. Bureaucratic avoidance of responsibility at its worst! Governments should stand up for their citizens and work to make their countries stronger, not encourage their people to move to other lands to work illegally.

It took quite a bit of convincing on my part to even get M before the lawyer yesterday afternoon. I’m not sure if she knew before then that her parents had made a series of decisions that would forever influence her life, or if it was just sinking in when sitting across from a great immigration attorney in a fancy conference room, we heard the bad news.
She’s got few options as an illegal immigrant in the United States and even fewer considering one of her parents is now a legal resident. Family nonsense aside, this is the story of a sweet, smart young woman who simply wants to finish college and live the American life she’s loved for the last 20 years. She was brought here as a child, but is being punished as an adult. The attorney was blunt: don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t go near the border. Avoid cities with large immigration check points — namely southern California. Oh, and if you can swing it, marry an American. He specifically warned her against marrying anyone with a green card or residency permit. He must be a citizen, otherwise she’d more than likely be deported to Mexico for at least 10 years as a punishment and then could apply for a visa to live with her husband in the US. No bother that she doesn’t have anyone to return to in Mexico. She’s the baby. Everyone else is here and well settled.

M’s story is that of countless illegal immigrants living in the US. I’m not sure about amnesty, but I am certain that immigration reform is absolutely necessary. Living in a border state, having friends on both sides of the issue, it is crucial our leaders sit down and discuss openly how to create some solutions to this huge problem. With the recent economic craziness, issues like immigration reform get tossed aside in the national debate. I hope our next president does make immigration a top priority. While I am not sure how to make any of this better, I know the children who are brought to the US only to become hard-working, adults with character deserve better than a boot back to their home countries.

I wasn’t sure yesterday what smarted more — my pink, sunburned skin itching underneath my dress from the recent Mexican beach time (ironic?), or listening to the lawyer tell M to consider marrying and having babies to stay in the country. She is 21, bright and has so much she wants to do professionally. There simply must be another way.


Just Sign the Bill, Mr. President!

Duncan Farms, May 2008 47

You may have heard of the Farm Bill; it’s been in the American news a bunch lately. Last week the Senate approved it by a large margin. The House passed it a day earlier. Today it is supposed to reach President Bush’s desk, where it is anticipated he will use his trusty veto. Thankfully, it seems Congress has enough votes to overturn his veto if that occurs.
I won’t get into the specifics of the politics behind keeping or vetoing this bill from the President’s perspective (or reported perspective), but I will say that as a relatively new advocate in the food banking community, I am so relieved this bill has finally made its way through Congress and will be soon funded. It is controversial. There are subsidies for the farming industry that don’t make sense, but there is a silver lining that does.

Duncan Farms, May 2008 33

In a nutshell, this legislation influences every single American’s life. It addresses food prices (expected to jump 5% this year) by increasing nutritional programs by more than $10 billion. This helps get more food in food pantries and more people who qualify for food stamps enrolled. This isn’t socialism by any means; if there is anyone who advocates for the community — not the government — to be responsible for helping the needy, it’s me. However, there are gaps in that philosophy that I’m not solving anytime soon and this funding will help in the meantime.

It also helps make sure that senior citizens — many of whom are homebound — get fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority of those Arizonans (80,000) who go hungry each day are children and the elderly. That makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

Duncan Farms, May 2008 22

This morning I volunteered to take photos of a gleaning project in the far West Valley. Talk about collaboration — prisoners from the nearby facility are used as volunteers to pick crops from fields donated by a local farm. Duncan Farms has certain fields it plants and then sets aside for food banks state-wide. Today these ladies picked cabbage, which will be sent to food banks this afternoon and hopefully placed in food boxes for anyone in need tonight. My favorite part about this gleaning system is that there is little waste. A lot of the produce within this program would otherwise end up in a landfill and there is nothing more disgusting to me than the fattest nation in the world throwing away food. As one of my colleagues said yesterday, “Hunger in America isn’t a supply issue; it is a distribution issue.”

Duncan Farms, May 2008 21

If you want to reduce the food waste in your community, check out this blog. And if you’d like to see what the average American family throws away each month, take a deep breath and then click here.

If you are interested in helping your local food pantry, the best items to donate are: canned meat, canned fruits and veggies, peanut butter and juice in containers that won’t break.

On a side note, if you are ever feeling a bit unfeminine, spend your morning with a bunch of female inmates in a sweaty, dirty, hot, farm field. You’ll skip away feeling like the most delicate, fragile ballerina to ever get her slippers dusty.


An Anniversary, as I Understand it

We entered this version of the Iraqi war five years ago this week. No one could have guessed (although I’m pretty sure we pay a couple branches to do just that) how miserable the last 60 months would pass. Initially, it seemed like we’d made the best choice by invading Iraq. Americans were still smarting from 9/11 and looking for a culprit to blame. Our leaders told us those villans were in Iraq; we’d find them there. We’d have our justice. We nodded, like scared sheep and laughed at the pacifics. There would be blood and we would enjoy it.

The statues of Saddaam came down. The Iraqi people, Shia and Sunni alike, partied in the street praising Allah that the violent, horrific Hussein tenure was finally finished. In the US, we waved flags, patted ourselves on the backs, praised the administration for a job well done. Alas, the celebration was premature. Saddaam was found in a hole. We watched him assassinated months later. His sons were killed too. Some how we knew these deaths were not our justice, but we celebrated them anyway.
In the meantime, the Shia and Sunni remembered why they weren’t too keen of each other’s views. They retreated to their prospective neighborhoods and came up with a plan: survival meant killing the other. The US was suddenly in the position of courting men we’d never wanted to have a relationship with. Iraqis turned on each other. They turned on the US soldiers trying to create a government and stabilize the region. The Kurds pushed north, strengthening their own communities and trying desperately to stay beneath the radar until they could sharpen their claws against their No. 1 enemy — Turkey.

We watched. Initially, CNN was on every television and news radio drowned out Musak in elevators, the dentist office, the convenience store. But when one year turned into two, we became accustomed to the death and violence of war. It was still disgusting, but not as horrifying as it had been in 2001. Subconsciously, we were disgusted with ourselves. We watched great men fall for the government’s lies and have their careers ruined in the process. Instead of taking to the streets and rioting like other democracies around the world, we went on a shopping spree. We made ourselves feel better at a real estate buffet, borrowing until we couldn’t borrow anymore. Now, five years later, we’re tapped. The war is still killing boys and girls from our hometowns. Iraqis are still understandably upset that they have some of the world’s richest land and yet cannot get a steady government in charge to do anything to protect their resources. Bank runs, democratic candidates tearing each other apart by the limb, and a war that continues to rage — the news is no longer entertaining. We’ve switched from The Economist to US Weekly and hate ourselves for it, but the enemies are much easier to understand in Hollywood.

To the soliders of the United States and all the other countries in the world who’ve selflessly served in this war — my thanks. I am so grateful I live in America and I am incredibly and deeply touched that you are fighting to promote liberty. I have to think that is why we are there; even as the bodies stack up, I have to think the United States had and has good intentions and we are in Iraq and Afghanistan because we want the world to be better tomorrow.

To Iraq, I am sorry we haven’t done a better job of stabilizing your country. I’m sorry this war has taken so long and that so many of your innocents have died in the process. I am sorry that Americans seem bored by the violence that plagues your daily lives. I have hope we’ll be celebrating the incredible economy and stability of your country in five years to come.

That is an anniversary I’ll celebrate.

A Step Back from Stepford

hooray for frozen beer

I’d be remiss if I let this whole Spitzer thing pass without throwing in my two cents. And those two cents would be spent as follows:
1. Dragging his wife from the podium where she keeps “standing behind her man” into reality to remind her that hey! Silda! You were a very successful attorney before you married this clown and had three kids with him. (All daughters, naturally.) He just spent $80,000 on a 105-pound hooker. When was the last time you spent $80,000 on yourself? Now is the time honey. Now is the time. (And I’m not just talking lawyer fees. We’ll let him cover those. Mkay?)

2. Seriously? Hookers? Eliot, didn’t you get the memo? A quarter of American girls have an STD. And if you think your waspy wanker is protected because these girls you are paying to spend time with are “high end,” you’d be wrong. Oh, and by the way, thanks again for your excellent leadership. You, my friend, are an immoral moron. A pox on your house. Oh wait…

Yes, PapPap and Grandma, I did just use the term “waspy wanker.” No, please don’t call me about it. I have my days too and this latest political scandal has me rather annoyed. It may be because once upon a time I dated a man who worked in government and had his eye on bigger politics (there by putting me in the role as that glassy-eyed doe with a Stepford zip code). Really though, I just think it’s the fact that some how this keeps happening and the women, the dedicated wives, keep looking like the idiots. Is power corrupting? Or are these fools immoral before they get into office?


genius freezing plan

P.S. I froze beer. No idea if this ruins the yeast, but I’m hoping it works for future loaves of no knead bread. Now I don’t have to run out and buy a 40 in a ghetto koozie every time I want to bake bread.

Madame Esme

We are one step closer today to having Madame President, who would be sworn in by our Madame Speaker of the House and holy moly I can barely contain the feminist in me from doing cartwheels around the office. Yahoo!

my happiness

To celebrate Spring, the changing of the political tides, puppies, fresh flowers and all the other nonsense that makes me giddy on an 80 degree day in Phoenix, I pulled out my cruiser bike for a ride. The tires were long since flat, so I cleaned up Esmeralda {She’s green, and there is a theme here. Her perkier cousin Ruby wasn’t too pleased I was cheating on her with the older, more established model. Then again, Esme has never not once dumped my ass in traffic. I still have scars from my last crash with Ruby. Just goes to show you there is often something comforting to the wider, softer, sweeter model.}


Esme needed new tires ($25) and to be hauled to the bike shop in my trunk. She’ll be picked up and ready to go by tomorrow, when I plan to ride her all over Tempe to get my groceries and errands accomplished. Exercise, enjoying the beautiful weather and not a bit of carbon wasted in the process. Ah, life is good. January 20, 2009 cannot get here fast enough.

Afternoon joy


Not Even A Glimpse of Hillary Pie*


Last night I decided to drive to Ceasar Chavez High School to hear Hillary speak.The high school is only a 12 mile straight shot west from my house, but with the rally traffic it took more than an hour to get there. Finally fed up with yet another hour of my life wasted behind the wheel, I pulled over and decided to walk the rest of the way. I could see the high school football stadium lights; I guessed I was within a mile.
This high school sits in an odd area of Phoenix. Plopped at the northern base of South Mountain, nearby flower fields and farms were recently razed and giant stucco monstrosities were planted in their place. This new suburbia crashes into the pre-existing rough neighborhood once you cross Central Ave. Then, oddly enough, the high school is surrounded by large dairy farms that have fought back developers and keep on a planting in the midst of a sprawling city.
As I got out of my car to walk toward the rally, a man parked his car at the same time and got my attention.
“You going to hear Hillary speak?”
“Yes,” I replied, noticing the full moon was the only light on an otherwise dark side street. The dairies’ thick earthy perfume clung to the night air and I tried not to look at the graffiti surrounding me. “Do you want to walk together?” I asked a bit more meekly, thinking even walking with a total stranger would be safer. “It would probably be a better move.”
By now “Charlie” was out of his car. Dressed in a red, white and blue tracksuit, he looked me up one side and down the other and said, “Honey, I’d be fine out here. But someone’d want a piece of you.”
As we walked, Charlie told me about how he didn’t care for Obama, even though as a black man he thought he should. He also told me how he was a Bush supporter and he was just attending the rally for the historical context. I started to argue with him, but caught my breath when we walked under a street light and I realized Charlie was wearing lipstick. Bright pink lipstick. I hadn’t seen his face clearly until now and I had to stifle a laugh.
I walked into a Hillary rally with the only known transvestite Bush supporter on earth. The fact I didn’t even get to see Hillary because — as the traffic predicted — I was way too late to get a seat, didn’t matter. Meeting a republican tranny was worth all the driving. When we walked back to our cars, he shook my hand and said, “See you around Kelli!” I thought, “Where? The Lancome counter?”. In fact, just between us, you would probably be more likely to see this individual on an adult website such as!

Deep dish pie -- it's what's for breakfast

In other news, today is National Pie Day. Why do I know this? Because I subscribe to Country Living and hunt out opportunities to have any reason to bake. I took the opportunity to make veggie quiche in phyllo dough for my staff and mini quiche for friends.

eggie goodness
hot from the oven
pie crust on the bottom

Here’s hoping you get a slice of something sweet today too!


*Inspired by Waitress.


buttery sunflowers

I’m saddened today by the murder of Benazir Bhutto. I’ll be the first to tell you I know nothing of Pakistani politics or the influence of her presence. I am fairly certain, however, that strong female leadership in Muslim countries is scarce and her death is a true loss. {Who are we kidding? Strong female leadership is ridiculously scarce internationally regardless of the religious majority.}
I’ve looked at the photos of those mourning and I did wonder — would I take to the streets to mourn an American leader? Would I pull my hair out and beat my chest if someone killed my candidate? I know reactions vary geographically to such violence, but I’m not sure an assassination would result in much more from me than a sincere cry and angry blog post.
A friend emailed the following in regard to Bhutto’s murder. The sentiment is beautiful and I’m thankful that I’m still naive enough to hope her death will encourage positive change.

Franciscan Benediction:

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor. Amen.