Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mission Accomplished vs. Mission Changed (or Turn the Page): An open letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

I am cynical-maybe more than most.  But while watching the speech, I began to chuckle.  A few times, I outright roared with laughter.  Admittedly the laughter was caused by disbelief at the transparency of why you felt the need to take up 20 minutes of Primetime television.  If I were an east coaster, I would be ticked --- I would rather watch a rerun of NCIS then the rerun of this speech – I can imagine, if we were in your room kicking back with a beer, you would ask: Well Lisa, what do you mean?  What I mean is that we have seen this exact speech before, and I for one remember it.

First, I do not want to diminish the fact that our boys are coming home.  I fully support the military and the families of the military men that serve.  What gets me going is the political rhetoric you used tonight in your speech that I have entitled:  Mission Accomplished” vs. “Mission changed (or turn the page)”

President Obama, you said:  “So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”  Unless anyone has forgotten, on May 1, 2003, President Bush said, “Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”  Like I said, Mr. Obama, I have heard this speech before.

Why not be truthful with the American people.  We aren’t stupid; in fact we are pretty bright.  President Obama, you said in your speech tonight, “This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office.”  And the truth is your party is some major, major trouble if the polls are to be believed.  You are scrambling. People are mad at you, something that the polls support -- you know the same polls you used to point out American's disssatisfcation with the last guy that had your job. (I would now strategically pause for a cool sip of my beer). Why not tell the American people that the pull out of the Stryker unit was wholly symbolic?  And that our troops remain there, doing what they have since President Bush made his declaration……largely backing up Iraqi troops.  Mr. President, do not patronize me and please, please, please --- stop the rhetoric.

I have to tell you, that as I continued to listen to your speech, Mission Accomplished filled my mind.  You said, Mr. President, “From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq. Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency.”  Oh Mr. President, you chose your words very carefully. You said “fight” instead of “war.”  This plants the illusion that major combat has been going on all this time.  That your administration is responsible for some mighty change (which by the way you promised us all).  While it is true that you have reduced troop levels in Iraq, it’s also true that troop levels are increasing in Afghan.  By using the word “fight” – you didn’t outright lie to us, but creates a fallacy and an illusion that does not exist.

Furthermore, Mr. President, you said:  “The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given.”  That’s right they did.  God Bless them --- but wow,Once again you repeated the words of mission accomplished.  You also said that combat has shifted to security, that elections had been accomplished – well, so did President Bush….again, nothing new there.

Okay, now for the part that made me laugh until I nearly peed myself.  I mean, my sides still hurt (again, I take a cool sip of beer because by now I am really worked up and hoping that I don't get arrested for not kissing butt) Mr.  President, you also said, “Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.”  Can you imagine my mirth when I heard this one?  Oh it’s the double whammy!  It’s the rhetoric galore.  It is so transparent as to almost make someone choke.  And so patronizing that honestly, I am aghast. Where do I begin to explain to you just how insulting it really was?

First of all – you have spent the last several years avoiding President Bush.  Blaming and demonizing him.  “Time to turn the page.”  On what?  There are two messages embedded in this message – each means something very, very different.  One is to the President Bush supporters who might still exist and the subtext of it reads a little something like this, “Hey, I talked to your buddy.  We made friends.  I might not have always agreed with what he did, but he is a great patriot and we are united.”  Sounds good, right? You, the nice guy image that you have carefully cultivated, making peace and acknowledging President Bush for his vision and commitment to our country.  Until you read the more cynical message and subtext.  This one goes to the rest of America and goes something like this.  “So yeah, it’s President Bush’s fault for this war.  Remember that.  I am cleaning up his mess.  I mean, I know he really said he supported the troops, but I am the one that got them out finally.  But I have to play nice now.  And we are united” Gosh, I am still laughing at this line……….You Mr. President, have steel cahonas.

Both speeches, Mission Accomplished and Mission Changed, scorned terrorism and named Al Qaeda as enemy numero uno.  So, rerun.
President Obama:  “Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11.”  President Bush said something very similar in Mission Accomplished, “The Battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on.”  Same sentiment, so in essence, a rerun.

President Obama: “Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces; supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government.”  Did you catch that one ladies and gentlemen?  More mission accomplished speech while claiming we are turning the page.  Our troops remain, just as they have since 2003.

Here was my next big chuckle and laugh out loud moment (really you should have polled me before giving this speech because I am quite sure you didn't mean to make me laugh).  President Obama:  “Today, old adversaries are at peace, and emerging democracies are potential partners. New markets for our goods stretch from Asia to the Americas.”  Immediately what came to mind was, do you mean America and Iraq – or President Bush and President you?  Hum………. Depends on who you are I guess---giving you the benefit of the doubt, I shall believe you meant both.....generous aren't I?  Oh, and this beer is really good.

Now next in the speech is where you backhandedly blame our economic hardships on the cost of war, and the old administration (i.e. Bush).  (I guess we are no longer united).  What you did not acknowledge is that several Billion was spent by your administration in failed bailout attempts.  So the financial point of this speech was really to blame the Bush and Republican Congress theme we have been hearing for the last three years.  And even more implicit in this part of the speech is it’s all the war, we spent too much on that, instead of blaming the Congress for gorging at the table of the taxpayers.  And now that their bellies are full and they are uncomfortable, and the rest of us are starving and starting to wake up – you have to do something to protect your party.  You might actually just try to distance yourself.

Another thing, “ Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security.”  President Bush, “Our commitment to liberty is America's tradition.”  A little more concise, but Mission Accomplished again!  Mr. Obama, this is nothing new.  Same old, same old.

And there are a few, well let’s just say, little stretches of the truth or imagination:  “We are treating the signature wounds of today’s wars post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned.”  Unfortunately this is not happening Mr. Obama, and I for one am outraged.  The help is coming from the private sector with the help of Veteran’s Associations like the one a friend of mine Greg Warnock runs, there are some legislation moving to help and protect servicemen and women who suffer from these issues.  The military is still turning a blind eye to it…..but you want us to believe that you are doing all you can to help?  Talk to someone who does not know the truth on this issue.  And stop invoking powerful imagery of soldier’s being kissed by their mothers and hugged by their spouses to sell us this piece of misinformation.  I am insulted....and here is your beer back!

Mr. Obama when you said, “And we must project a vision of the future that is based not just on our fears, but also on our hope,”  it was a well crafted sentence, but we have heard this one from you before.  Change we can believe in.  I find it simply ironic that “change we can believe in so we don’t get more of the same” is in fact, shoveling us more of the same.

Rhetoric is defined as the art of speaking or writing effectively.  As always, your delivery was beautiful.  Your speech was even powerful, I mean, I even wanted to believe you……but was it effective? Maybe.  But for me, I think your speech writer should be fired for plagiarism (I am a recent law school graduate and could have done better.  You talked about wanting to put people to work, how about a job?)  We have heard this all before seven years ago from a different president. A president you made fun of.  A presidnet that you called a liar for Mission Accomplishent.  But here you are selling the same line of malarkey.  This mission has not been accomplished; it’s been shifted to a different country.  Let’s look at the death toll numbers for proof.  The last three months have seen our troops have the HIGHEST LEVEL of casualties in seven years…………ALL TROOPS.

I for one am not stupid Mr. Obama…..and I am watching and listening to you. And I, for one, am not sold.

The cynical Me.

Consolidating Student Loans.....

The last couple of days I have been getting everything together in order to consolidate the 100,000's of thousands of dollars that I have in student loans.....well, it's not that bad.....but close :)  When the last stimulus package was passed, there were several riders to the bill that included rules that effect student loans.  One major, major benefit was the restructuring that effects consolidations.   In the past, to consolidate your current lender had to approve.  This prevented a lot of students from consolidating.  However, the new bill has the federal government in charge of consolidation....makes life easy.

My first task was to find all my student loan information.  It was confusing as all heck.  But what I did find was a wonderful site by the Department of eduction that lists all the student loans you have taken out: http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/.  You will need your fafsa pin. For fun, check it out.  Gives you all the information you need about your lenders so you can contact them if you need to.

Then go to:  http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov/.  This site is where you apply for those consolidations.  You enter in all your loan information and can electronically sign your promissary note.......However, the process takes a lot of time.  I have spent 5 hours rounding everything up, and filling in the information but I am not done yet!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Good Friend completes her first week as an Attorney

My good friend from law school was one of the lucky few that snagged a job before getting the bar results.  She started last week.  I was itching to talk to her and hear all about her experience.

What was funny is she read that I was struggling with wanting school.  She and I are a lot alike.  She said she felt the same way until she started this job.  Because she figured out she knows jack crap about being an attorney and she is in the school of hard knocks figuring it out!  She is in love with her first job.  She said that private practice is nothing like the government work we did.  She works for a small firm (only two attorney's), in a small town.  So her tasks have been very, very varied....(lol, how's that for alliteration).  The point being one day she was learning how to fill out a deed, the next day she was drafting letters for a hot custody dispute.  She is becoming a master of several areas and satisfying her need for knowledge.

This has just made me want a job so much more.  I want to feel this excitement!  I want to be challenged and pushed.  And she is living it right now!  So happy for her, so excited.....now, please Lord, let me find a job!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Safety Net

I found myself the other day researching graduate schools.  I have been struggling with the fact that many of my friends are returning to law school, but I am now graduated and out of the club.  What is funny to me is they think I am nuts for wanting to be in classes.  I tell them graduating is not always all it's cracked up to be.  I found myself looking at options for forensic psychology or an LLM/JSD.  I am frankly confused by my behavior.

Then an astute family member said something to me.  School was my safety net.  I knew the rules, I was really good at it, and it's safe.  Right now I am without a safety net, my future is a bit uncertain, I have no job --- but rest assured I am ready to conquer this new area.

She was right.  I want to go back because I know I do not fail at school.  And right now, my life is in a holding pattern.  I really cannot do much until my bar results.  So I am stuck.  Without direction, and seemingly without a purpose.  I like goals, I like direction, I like to know where I am going.  Where I am at is scary and I am not seeing it as a fun journey, but an out of control roller coaster ride.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DDay has been announced.....

Yep, that's right, the Oregon Bar Association has announced that bar results will be available on September 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm.  Anyone wanna bet me on how agitated, freaked out and terrified I am on that day?

Monday, August 9, 2010

School is about to start

I have to say that it feels weird knowing that classes are about to start/resume for law students, and I will not be a part of this. Part of me is so relieved, the other part is sad. I loved school.

So, some last minute tips:

1. Party this weekend if you can.... get in some me time. Because hey, me time will be rare for the next 10 months.
2. Go get those school supplies...for you and your kids. Get it out of the way.
3. You still have enough time to get the booklist and buy your books online. This will save you a TON of cash.
4. Read a book for you... Shortly you will not have time to do so for yourself.
5. Depending on the age of your kids, prepare some "activity packs" you can get out for them in emergency situations. Little new items that will buy you time if you need some extra study time. This way, they get something neat, and you get some added time.
6. Go take a nice slow walk in the park and breathe in the air.
7. If you don't have Microsoft OneNote to do your class notes in, buy it now and figure out how to use it and tag important information. I LOVED this software for class notes. Absolutely made my outlining a breeze.
8. Brush up a bit on the structure of our three branches of government. The first couple of weeks of law school were a breeze for me because I had a poli sci background and understood the structure of government.  Others (particularly some psych majors I knew, struggled with this concept).  If you were not a political science major, check the following books out:
How The US Government Works
(This is a complete kids book, but it is GREAT for explaining the three branches of governments and the good thing is, you can give it to your kids so they can read about what you are learning about.  My daughter has this book and LOVED studying it).

(Not kidding.  If you did not take political science classes, this is a life saver for you.  You will learn the basics and have a step up on your classmates.)
9.     Get on top of your housework and laundry....... because the house is about to go to pot.
10.   Spend some extra time with the kiddos..... that extra time is about to get rare.

Good luck guys!  I envy you, I really, really do!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The MPRE nightmare

I was dumb.....I should have already taken the MPRE, but I didn't...I procrastinated.  So here is my story of what happened to me today while trying to get to the testing site......Please learn from my mistakes!!!  (This was copied from my facebook notes)

Some mornings, when your feet hit the floor, you know instantly you want a “do over.”  My do over actually started sometime around 1 am when I realized that sleep was nowhere near.  Knowing I had one of my last hurdles to bar admission, I was frustrated.  2 am rolls around and I am laying in bed praying for peace and rest .  Sometime later, as I am about to fall asleep, the two cats get in a cat fight in my bedroom.  I startle.  Yell at the cats.  Sometime later, one cat is in my room doing something under the bed, messing with stuff.  I yell, kick the cats out, close the door, lay back down.  Sometime later, one cat was not happy with the closed door and began scratching at it and the carpet……. 4 am, eyes now still wide open, stomach growling.  Get up, eat something, lay back down.  Nothing.  I slowly watch the light begin to pierce my curtains and realize, another night with no sleep.
As soon as my feet hit the floor I realize I forgot to pay the rent which was due by the 5th. I knew if I could get the payment in the drop box before the managers got there, it would not be late, and I would not owe a 75.00 late fee --- BUT I CAN’T FIND THE CHECKBOOK!?!?!?!?!?!  After a frantic 20 minute search, Ashlee locates one that was hidden somewhere – go figure.  Pay the rent, pour the coffee, grab my purse and realize that my ticket for admission to the test is not where I left it the night before.  Neither are the directions…. Can’t find it….. 7:45, I should have left.  Frantically print off another one and realize that the stupid thing required a picture to be affixed to it….. scramble to find one.  Affix it.   8 am out the door….. Get in the car, spill coffee down the front of me---scalding hot—turn the car on, head down the road and “ding-ding-ding” fuel light on…. WTH!?!?!?!  Someone surely designed this day to stop me.  But I stop and get gas and start praying – HARD!  Please Lord, let there be no traffic.  Please let me get there.  Please pave the way like the parting of the red sea.  And please, please, please, no COPS!
Off I go….time:  8:15.  Miles to go:  60.4.  Oh and by the way, I have no idea where the University of Portland is.  I mistakenly thought it was Portland State until I plugged it into the GPS at the gas station.  I am a dummy.  Tuck in behind a red car (the cop should get him first, he is flashier then my little blue car).  Speed along.  Thanking God no police (Sorry Jimmy), and no accidents…..gaining time on the GPS, might just make it with 1 minute to spare.
Hit Wilsonville --- Why is it when there is an accident going the opposite way, my lane stops?  Yeah….it did…..   finally get through……praying………..”God, if the traffic parts, I can make it still.  Please Lord, please.”  What happens next?  Yeah, the Terwilliger Curves…… where traffic ALWAYS stops.  And it did.  At this point I wonder if I should just turn around…. Nope.  Not gonna, I am going to trust God and go on.  5 minutes left, getting off the exit—I know I can JUST MAKE IT.  The school is only 2 miles away on the GPS……….OMG-----------------NO FREAKIN’ WAY!  THE CITY BUS (Betcha satan was personally driving that one.)  Directions are wrong….schools not there. 
I turn around…..9:05, frantic call to my mom.  She’s not available so I talk to Amy….I start crying.  At this point, the ticket clearly says they won’t sit you after 9.  Amy says, “Go – Try – We’ll pray.”  9:10, I rip into a parking spot, tear off my flip flops and run across the grass as fast as possible.  Heart is pounding……I run right into one of the administers.  She looks at me, I am crying… I said, “I have to get in there.  I just sat for the bar last week.  If I don’t take this test….I won’t be able to practice until after the 1st of the year.  Please.”  Her face softens and she says, “I just sat the last classroom.  Let’s go see if it’s okay with the proctor.”  And it was okay with the proctor.
At this point, I don’t even know if I passed the test.  I can’t remember it.  I was upset, tired, eyes puffy and completely not composed, but I was in there……with one thing left to do….Pray HARD.
Here’s what I learned today:  GOD LISTEN AND HE PROVIDES.  I could have given up.  I could have turned around.  I could have said, “Well the ticket says………”  But I didn’t.  I pushed and pushed and allowed Him to work.  I allowed Him to show me His glory.  To make a morning that was crap……turn to glory.

As I drove home, He was not done with me. I don’t normally listen to Christian Rock or radio…… all sounds pretty much the same to me, but I turned it on.  I needed so bad to feel uplifted and to feel settled.  Prayer wasn’t doing it.  I could see Him working, but Goodness I felt so alone……And then it was magic….the playlist was like listening to love songs that He wrote for me.  What I needed at THAT specific moment.  So here is the second thing I learned…. Sometimes there is purpose in our exhaustion.  I have not been listening to that still, small voice lately.  But in that drive home, my mind and heart was exhausted and it was then that the healing started to begin.  The assurance that things were going to be okay.  The absolute belief that I am loved ….. In fact a song by Matt Maher affirmed this in that moment, “It's waiting for you knocking at your door, In the moment of truth when your heart hits the floor, And you're on your knees.”  The exhaustion, the stress, the depression of the last several weeks, the insomnia……all the ugliness that had been thrown at me……were being used for a moment for MY HEART to hit the floor – and for me to experience that moment on my knees…..  And then followed it up with a beautiful love song by David Crowder:
 He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
That was my message for the day.  And I realized that I would not trade one minute of this hellish morning, if it meant that I would not experience the glory, the love, and the beauty of the affection that God has for me.  To realize that God has time out of his busy day…to speak to me.  He is not too busy to stop and listen to my cry for help and to answer it.  That my stress, my insomnia – my afflictions – he cares about those.  That He cared about a stupid test – for me.  How great is that?  How beautiful is that…. So it with a grateful heart that I thank Him for pushing me to have faith to believe in Him………So no do over for me today.  And you know what?  I am kind of sleepy now…..nap time.  Amen.
 EDITED TO ADD:  So, yeah the missing ticket?  Found it under the bed shredded, chewed on, and in pieces...apparently this is what the cat was doing last night.  Anyone want a cat?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Music while studying...

I got the following comment recently:

Hey Lisa!

This is totally off topic, lol! I'm getting ready to start classes in a week or two and I really want to put a ton of classical music on my iPod as well . . . can you recommend any songs or artists that were good for you while you studied? 

First, let me say that my ipod looks like a music store exploded in it.  I love music.  For me, I found that if I could sing along, I got distracted....which led me interestingly enough.....to Italian opera!  Can't understand a darn thing, because I don't speak the language, I really don't hum a long like I would to Mozart, but it's noise and it, for the most part is peaceful..... Pavoratti, The Three Tenors, and of course Bochelli!  that made me expand more into German opera to Wagner, Debussy and others.  I like the swells and emotion, but I can't understand a darn thing....AND the beat is not predictable so I don't try to tap my fingers, swing my foot, or tap my pencil on the table to the beat--- therefore annoying everyone else around me.

I also picked up this great classical CD at WalMart for 5.98 that had Mozart's greatest. 

And you know, it's not a silly question!  As single parents, we need noise to study I think.  We are use to the racquet and silence = child getting into something they are not suppose to!  Libraries drove me nuts if I was not listening to something.

BTW:  to the poster -- I am excited for you!  This journey is going to be awesome for you.  I am small parts jealous because I loved law school so much.  And that first year is a wild ride of ups and downs and new discoveries.  Good luck!  AND PLEASE, let me know your thoughts and impressions.