Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Same Sex Marriage Matters (To Me)

A few weeks ago, my partner Daniel woke me out of a deep sleep. He was complaining of chest pains, so we got dressed and went to a nearby hospital. I went into emergency with him as they tried to find out if this was his heart or something else. It turned out he was having a gallbladder attack and he was scheduled to have surgery the next day.

The day of surgery, I met up with his sister and her husband and also placed a copy of Daniel's health care directive in my backpack just in case.

In the end, everything turned out okay, but all through the experience I was wondering how the medical staff would look at me, who in their eyes had no legal standing. Lucky for us, when we explained that we were partners, the staff treated us with kindness.

When some fellow Republicans and other conservatives talk about how same sex marriage will destroy society as they know it, I wonder if they think about something as mundane as hospital visits. You see, I was lucky in that Daniel and I live in an area where there is some tolerance for gays (I guess liberals do have their uses at times). And we were lucky that we were able to afford the $900 we had to pay a lawyer to make sure we had the right to make medical decisions on each other's behalf.

But that's all that we have: luck and the ability to pay for some legal protection. If we lived in area that was not as tolerant or didn't have good-paying jobs, we would have been in big trouble.

Heterosexual couples get these protections simply by signing a marriage license. But same sex couples don't enjoy those privileges automatically.

Many of my fellow conservatives see Daniel and I as a threat to society. But that fact is, same sex couples are doing something that is fundamentally conservative: wanting to enter in to the institution of marriage. We want to form stable families like our parents did.

There was a time when many gay people didn't even think of marriage or when they did, they might have seen it as a repressive tool. But these days, as we have become more open and more mainstream, we want to form life-long partnerships with each other.

I want to know how in the world Daniel and I can be a threat by simply wanting to make sure we see each other in the hospital or make sure we can get each others benefits upon death or other boring things like that.

If a church doesn't want to marry same sex couples, they are free to do so and I would defend that right. It's the conservative thing to do. But I want to have the right to legally marry my husband and be left alone. That's the conservative thing to do as well. Why do people who claim to want small government, want to have the same government decide who can get married and who can't? Isn't that government activism, something that is not very conservative?

My Dad grew up in Jim Crow Louisiana. He has told me that when he first moved to my native Michigan, he would sometimes drive down South to visit his mom. In Michigan, my Aunt Nora would fix a basket of food for him to eat on the way down, and his mother would do the same thing in Louisiana for his return trip. Why? Because in the 1950s, he couldn't pull over and stop at a restaurant for food, since they didn't serve blacks. He also couldn't stop at hotel for the same reason, which meant taking a snooze on the side of the road.

I know that those who are opposed to same sex marriage and for things like the amendment in California don't like being called bigots. They say this about larger issues. But the fact is, the only reason one would support such an amendment is because they have a problem with being gay. There is just no way around that.

Same sex marriage matters because we are talking about my life and the life of my partner and many of my gay friends who are also partnered. It's simply about our lives and the freedom to live our lives without interference from the State.

That sounds conservative to me.

The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

We haven't even voted yet and there are people thinking about 2010.

One of the things that I have noticed over time is that the hard left in the Democratic Party is acting very eerily to the far right in the GOP: looking for those who don't fit their agenda and taking them out via elections.

The Hill Newspaper
is reporting that a new progressive group backed by two unions, and two liberal bloggers are planning to target centrist Democrats in 2010 by running progressive candidates against them:

The Accountability Now coalition, whose members include the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the United Steelworkers of America, plans to target members of Congress who waver on their agenda. The group is raising money to fund progressive primary challengers in 2010.

Created by liberal bloggers Glenn Greenwald of and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, the Accountability Now political action committee has already raised $500,000 since starting up in March. The group hopes to press Democrats to use their majorities to pass liberal legislation and work with a White House occupied by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

“A lot of people see this as the way to make sure Obama is able to do what he wants to do,” Hamsher said.

Progressives in the party are trying to make sure that wayward Dems tow the party line or else face a challenge.

Republicans have long had "witch hunts" to get rid of people who were not conservative enough. I think that has diminished the party in the long run, because it is the appeal to the center that wins elections, not trying to be pure enough.

What these progressive activists fail to see is that appealing to the center is what has made Senator Obama so popular and has brought the party back into power. You think they would have learned that by now.

H/t: Poligazette

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Notes from a Disgruntled Hollywood Conservative

My partner told me about this post by Los Angeles Times blogger Patrick Goldstein, where he interviews Michael DeLuca, a Hollywood conservative (a rarity) who is leaning towards Obama in this year's race, but grudgingly. His words read like something I would say, heck it IS something I said. He liked McCain, but wonders what happened to the McCain of 2000:

As much as I’ve been impressed by Barack Obama’s ascension, I was sure that this year would be an easy call for me. McCain would have been my choice in 2000 had he survived the South Carolina bloodbath and won the nomination, and I was looking forward to having a chance to vote for him this time around. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the election. The McCain of 2000 vanished, and the man on the left who was supposed to stand for a new kind of politics proved he could pander with the best of them, in a decidedly old style of politics. Where to go now? What to do? Anguish has set in.

After the incompetence and cronyism of the last four years, fours years that I admittedly voted for, I swore to myself that this time I would be extremely well versed in all the issues and every candidate’s positions. I watched every single primary debate on both sides, I’ve read every op-ed piece, seen every pundit, heard every radio talk show host and devoured issue after issue of the Economist and Foreign Affairs. Through it all I’ve watched McCain 2008 with increasing alarm. The move to the hard right, that convention, the stutter-step on the economic crisis, the robo-calls, Palin’s positions and lack of gravitas, they’ve all stopped me in my tracks. There’s something more emotional than policy at work on me here. It may be shallow, but it’s affecting my gut and it has to do with the “type” of leader these men are revealing themselves to be. Disappointingly partisan and not transformative or maverick enough by half.

But don't count him as someone who is look at Obama with rose-colored glasse, either. He thinks both candidates are not ideal by a long shot:

Obama’s initial painting of McCain as out of touch and caught in a perpetual “senior moment” insulted my intelligence and offended my sense of fairness, as has McCain’s shocking effort to paint Obama as anti-American. When I want to believe the myth of “Obama the messiah,” he opens his mouth and sounds an awful lot like the hell-spawn of Jimmy Carter and George McGovern. When I want to believe in the McCain of 2000, the man who decried the “agents of intolerance,” he then goes out and seeks their endorsements. Like many Americans, I operate out of a base of centrist common sense. It makes sense to me to not raise corporate taxes in the middle of a recession if you want to protect job creation and lower the risk of inflation. It makes sense to me not to give tax refunds to people who pay no income tax. It makes sense to me to not afford regimes like Iran the same treatment you’d give countries like the former Soviet Union.

On the other hand, common sense also tells me it is blasphemous to threaten something as sacred as the U.S. Constitution by suggesting we use it to deny people equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation. Common sense tells me it’s about time the right stops calling evolution a “theory.” It’s not. Common sense tells me not to trust the government to get between a woman and her doctor on reproductive rights, nor to trust it with the power of life and death in the form of the death penalty. I want the government to keep its boot off my neck, hands out of my pocket, eyes out of my bedroom, I want it to keep the playing field fair so people can achieve and not just collect handouts, and I want it to keep us safe. That’s it. That’s a common sense role for government. Where’s that candidate?

Where, indeed. But maybe the part of the interview that was telling was this:

Maybe it is unrealistic of me to be a pro-choice, pro-school voucher, anti-affirmative action, pro-business, pro-environment, pro-gay marriage, anti-death penalty, pro-globalization, pro-universal health care, pro-tax cuts, anti-pork barrel spending, pro-war on terror Republican, but that’s where I am.

I think this sentence is telling because it sums up what is wrong with the GOP and the conservative movement as a whole: it has become rigid, only wanting people who line up with some imaginary checklist on who is a conservative and who is not, instead of trying to build a coalition of people who may not agree on everything, but agree on many issues.

The people who are falling over themselves at the sight of Sarah Palin seem more than willing to let people like this go by the wayside and vote for Obama. The enemy of good is the perfect, and that is what is going to determine how long the GOP stays in its well-deserved wilderness.

The Idea of Sarah

Danielle Crittenden, the wife of conservative writer, David Frum, is putting a lie to the belief among some conservatives that the only people against VP candidate Sarah Palin are elitist snobs who go to Ivy League Schools. But Ms. Crittenden is no such person. She never went to college, having gone straight into the family business of running a newspaper and becoming an "ink-stained wretch." She says that she like the idea of the Alaskan governor:

I love the idea of Sarah Palin. She conforms to an early American (and pre-feminist) ideal of womanhood: rifle on one hip, baby on the other. I love her modern incarnation of this ideal, complete with Sex-in-the-Tundra wardrobe and kick-ass Jimmy Choos (even if they are paid for by the RNC). I love the idea she represents "common sense" over fancy-pants theorizing. I love -- and certainly identify with -- her real world, "out there" experience over her opponents' closed-off years in Washington. Truly, there are few women I'd rather share a beer with.

On that note, I would agree. I like the idea of this folksy, gutsy woman who is tough as nails. The whole "hockey mom-field dress a moose-pistol packin' mama" thing is certainly appealing. That said, I agree with Crittenden when she says:

The problem is that the reality of Sarah Palin does not match the idea of Sarah Palin. It's as plain as day -- glaringly obvious! -- that she's unfit for the job she's running for. We wouldn't expect the best darn regional car saleswoman to be appointed the next vice president of General Motors. We wouldn't fly in a commercial plane piloted by someone with a Cessna license because we trusted her gut. We wouldn't follow a woman into battle because she's a crack shot at moose hunting. Why is it unreasonable -- or snobbish! -- to have expected a better choice from our party for the next potential leader of the free world?

And please don't reply with, "The other side doesn't have experience either!" That's an argument you can make without having graduated from elementary school.

I think part of the problem that I see is that many on the Right, especially the hard right are in love with idea of Palin and think that anyone be just one heartbeat away from the presidency. But conservatives are supposed to be realists, and the reality to me is that she is way out of her league and saying so, should not make you an elitist.

It's fine and dandy to pick someone from outside the Beltway, but they should at least have some idea who what they are doing, and so far, Ms. Palin hasn't gone beyond the act we first saw at the GOP convention.

Ideas are great and necessary. But our ideas also have to stand up to reality and the idea of Sarah just doesn't cut it.

(By the way, I went to Michigan State University, hardly an Ivy League school.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two More Ads from Republicans Against 8

Republicans Against 8, an initiative by Log Cabin Republicans to defeat the California proposition that would ban same-sex marriage has released two more ads: "Join Us," and "Defending Freedom."

Here is how both ads are described:

“We are Friends, We are neighbors…We are Republicans, We Are
Democrats,” states, “Join Us,” one of the newest ads produced by Republicans
Against 8. “Join Us” features a cast including Log Cabin members Steven Sion,
Carol Newman, and Len Greco, West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Chairman Joe Clapsaddle and Here! TV Network stars Brian Nolan and David Moretti...

Speaking directly to straight Californians, “Defending Freedom” highlights the accomplishments of gay and lesbian Californians in protecting the rights of their fellow Americans. Former U.S. Prosecutor Carol Newman, Boeing Rocket Scientist Sherry Green and Vietnam Veteran Paul Fredrix talk about their role in protecting the freedoms of their fellow Americans, then ask their fellow Californians to defend their freedoms by voting “NO” on Proposition 8.

And here are the two ads:

Even if you don't live in California (and I don't), this is an important issue, especially for me and many my friends. Please consider donating to either Republicans Against 8 or the the No on 8 Campaign.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why I'm (Grudgingly) Supporting Obama

One more rat is leaving the ship...

This is not the easiest post for me to write. I am at heart, a moderate Republican, a conservative. I have been involved with the party and have supported GOP candidates. I'm not looking forward to the coming Democratic tsunami that's coming. I have many liberal friends and I'm married to one, but that doesn't mean I always agree with them- which is why I am a Republican.

I also like John McCain. McCain has been a committed conservative and a reformer. He has been a leader when it comes things like climate change and immigration at a time when many in the party seem to put their heads in the sand at such issues. He also has a long history of reaching accross the isle and working with his ideological opposite in order to get things done. When he uses the slogan, "Country First" in his campaign, I know it speaks to his willingness to put his love of country over simple partisanship.

I want to vote for John McCain, I really do. I've given money to his campaign, I supported him in the Caucuses. But in recent days, I have found that I just can't pull the level for Mr. McCain. Not this time.

Running for President is basically a two-year job interview. We get to see how these people react during the interview and we make up our mind as to who can best do the job. For a long time, I thought the best person would be McCain, with his experience and knowledge especially on issues like foreign policy. But over time, McCain has made some mistakes and Mr. Obama has played a better hand that has made me think this guy could at least do a good job as President, even if he is a Democrat.

So, what has made me look at the young Senator and bypass someone that I consider an American hero? There are a few, that I have mentioned before, but I will repeat them again:

Sarah Palin. I've said it before, but I will repeat it again: she is just not ready. McCain made a lot of mistakes in this campaign, but picking the Alaskan governor was among the worst. She might fire the imagination of the true believers, but she has lost the moderates in the GOP and independents. McCain might have thought picking this "maverick" would have picked up some votes among independents and women, but as well have seen, her red meat rhetoric has turned many people off. She is now making forays into support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and has even had trouble saying that abortion clinic bombers are terrrorists, bring the stinging rebuke of conservative blogger Rick Moran of being a "moral coward." McCain just didn't do proper vetting of Palin and will end up costing him the White House and it also might permanently damage his reputation.

The Financial Bailout. When McCain said that he was suspending his campaign in late September to take part in negotiations in the financial "bailout" package, I thought this was a noble idea: signature McCain putting country first. It turned out to be a disaster. As the New York times has shown, he hardly said anything as the House GOP was balking. There is also no record of him working with Democrats on the package. McCain has a storied history of working accross the isle to get things done. He could have done that here; working to bring both sides together. And yet, what he did was nothing but show. When the package failed a few days later, it was McCain who had egg on his face, while Obama looked cool under pressure. If McCain could fail this test, then what would happen as President?

Lack of Policy. Yes, McCain is a hero. Yes, he is a maverick. But the decision to run soley on biography when the GOP brand was in the toilet was a mistake. He could have gone the route of French President Sarkozy who also had to run against a very unpopular predecessor and against a rock-star Socialist rival. But he chose not to. He could have ran as he tried to in 2000 as a different kind of Republican that could salvage the party and lead in a new direction. But that would require new ideas and new policies. He offered very little, which allowed the Democrats to tar him as Bush II. I have yet to read the Times piece about the campaign, but reports say that for the most part, McCain and his campaign were about repackaging and repackaging McCain and not concerned with proposing new ideas and new ways to jump start the GOP and move it towards the wide center.

Not tending towards his base. McCain had a base-among moderate Republicans, Reagan Democrats and independents. He could have ran on this base and created a new GOP coalition for the 21st century. But instead, he ran on the old Christian Right base which tends to skew old and male. Yes, I know that some of the commentators would say that this was suicide. But since we are now seeing political suicide happen, one has to ask, it is more important to widen the base, create a movement, or rely on the same old, same old? The reason that moderates like Colin Powell, William Weld, Arne Carlson and several others are jumping ship is because McCain failed to cultivate a relationship with his "base." So, like a person spurned by their lover, they find another with flowers and open arms.

The debates. Actually, it was the second and third debates. I remember being 11 years old and watching the 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the picture of cool, while Carter seemed off his game. Fast forward 28 years later, and it is Obama that shows a sense of maturity that looked presidential, while McCain seemd unsure of himself and trying to please too many people. A telling moment in the third debate, was when the subject of abortion was brought up. McCain seemed to not know which message to bring up. He shared that he had voted for Ruth Bader Ginsberg,a liberal who supports abortion rights, and then try to shore up his pro-life bona fides. He wanted to show he was willing to be the maverick and also be the loyal Republican on the same issue. It didn't work. I'm not saying one can't be pro-life and vote for a pro-choice judge, it's just that he didn't come off as confident. Perception is reality and McCain didn't come off as presidential during the debates, but came off as petty and small-something I thought I'd never say about John McCain.

While I am supporting Obama, it is with trepidation. I worry that once in office he will veer too far to the Left, pleasing the Democratic base. I can only hope that with so much support from independents and Republicans, that he will realize that he has to govern from the center or face a backlash in 2010.

As David Brooks said, John McCain would have made an awesome president. He is and will always be a hero to me. But he became a prisioner of a GOP that seems blind to seeing that it needs to become a movement again, reaching towards the center- instead of a party of resentment and exclusion.

So, with sadness and hope, I will vote for Obama. Hoping the Illinois Senator will listen to the center and sad at what might have been with John McCain.

Sorry, Senator McCain. I just can't pull the lever for you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Republicans Against 8

The common perception is that the GOP is anti-gay. While there are many Republicans who are homophobic, there are also many who are very gay-friendly and willing to stand up for gay rights and in this case against Proposition 8, the proposal that would ban gay marriage in California.

One such person is Tom Campbell a former Republican legislator in California. He says:

Republicans believe deeply that government should be limited. Government has no business making distinctions between people based on their personal lives. That's why, as a Californian and a Republican who has held elective office at the federal and state levels, I will be voting No on Proposition 8...

We've seen the walls fall down that once stood against women's rights; the same has been true for racial equality. When my mother was born, women still couldn't vote in many states. When I entered school, black and white couples couldn't get married in many states. It's easy to forget those things, but it wasn't all that long ago. Someday, we'll tell our children that, when two adults in our state who wanted to get married were told they couldn't, we had the chance to change that. I want to be able to tell the next generation that I was part of ending discrimination, not making it a permanent part of the law.

It's important that Republicans stand up to the discriminatory forces.

Log Cabin Republicans of California has taken part in the effort against Proposition 8 called Republicans Against 8. They have released two ads, including this one called "Backwards:"

Cheers to Campbell and other straight Republicans for their willingness to stand up for people like myself and my partner.

Colin, John and Me

I look up to Colin Powell.

He's a fellow black man that happens to be a moderate Republican like myself. When there was speculation back in the mid-90s that he might run for president, I was hopeful. Here was a black man who had a real shot at the White House. When he became Secretary of State under Bush, I was excited that we had our first African American Secretary of State, a black man sharing the world stage.

But it wasn't sheer racial pride that has made me an admire of the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was a moderate in his party. Save one other person, he was the head of a more moderate face of the party, one that was inclusive and spoke to our dreams and hopes and not simply our fears.

So, when Colin Powell decides to break with his party and support Barack Obama, that says something to me.

It's not as Rush Limbaugh says about a black guy supporting a black guy. What is says is how the GOP has lost centrists and independents that are key to helping the party win. If it were simply race, then Powell would have endorsed him long ago. No, this is about the dead end that the GOP, Colin Powell's party, MY party has reached- it has done everything to focus on the base and the result come November 4 is that it will for a time, be an undignified rump,having scared off everyone that could have made it a winning party.

When this election season began in January, I was pulling for John McCain. He was the only one that I wanted. When it was Minnesota's turn to vote, I supported him in the GOP caucus. I knew that he had a good environmental record and a solid history of reaching accross the isle. I knew he was a centrist conservative that could bring our nation together.

But he had to face the current GOP and that meant changing. I tired to hang on, knowing that this is what one has to do to get elected. The election is the silly season.

But what has soured me on McCain is what has soured Powell- the choice of a someone that isn't ready to be President. Maybe McCain thought he had to please his base. But in doing so, he scared off moderates and independents and even a few conservatives in the long run.

And maybe that shows one of the mistakes of the McCain campaign: he forgot to take care of HIS base: moderates and independents, moderate Republicans and Democrats that appealed to his way of governing. His focus on drilling, allowed Democrats to effectively paint him as against the environment when his record suggested otherwise. His willingness to focus on tax cuts, something he once opposed, again allowed his opponents to paint him as a big spender. Both moves frustrated his original supporters.

During the final debate, McCain said that he wasn't President Bush and that Senator Obama should not run against the President. One wonders, why didn't he say something like that six months ago? What if he proposed a new agenda, a new conservatism?

Like Mr. Powell, I still think McCain is a good person at heart. But he has not given people like Powell and myself a reason to support him. I think Powell's decision is something that is taking place among many Republicans tired of shenanigans of the last few years. Many of us hoped the Arizona Senator would chart a new course, but it didn't turn out the way we expected.

What Limbaugh and to some extent, McCain, miss is that moderates and independents are important to a party's success. The old strategy of the base plus one can't cut it.

Ronald Reagan showed us a conservatism that was inclusive and expansive. For some reason, his followers in the GOP have missed that message. In his 1977 speech called "The New Republican Party," Reagan had this to say:

And just to set the record straight, let me say this about our friends who are now Republicans but who do not identify themselves as conservatives: I want the record to show that I do not view the new revitalized Republican Party as one based on a principle of exclusion. After all, you do not get to be a majority party by searching for groups you won’t associate or work with. If we truly believe in our principles, we should sit down and talk. Talk with anyone, anywhere, at any time if it means talking about the principles for the Republican Party. Conservatism is not a narrow ideology, nor is it the exclusive property of conservative activists.

McCain forgot to widen the base. Maybe he has been listening to his consultants or hemmed in by the far right, but it shows that we Republicans have forgotten what Reagan told us so long ago.

What I hope is that after this election, the seeds of a new Republican party is born. I still believe in the GOP and still think it can change for the better. Yeah, I know that makes me a fool, but I am a conservative and this is my home.

In the end, Colin Powell had to do what he had to do: stand on principle and be true to himself. I just wish that was something John McCain had done.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Great Depression 2.0, Meet New Deal 2.0

The reason that John McCain and the rest of the GOP is failing this year is not because of media bias, or dirty tricks by the Obama campaign, but because conservatives have run out of ideas. McCain has never been an idea person, hoping that people would elect him on his august resume.

But you can only go without new ideas for so long, which is why the GOP is getting its head handed to them come November.

But I tend to think this is a Republican lost and not a Democratic win meaning, just because the GOP isn't doing so well, that doesn't mean that Democrats have new ideas ala Bill Clinton in 1992.

The Democrats have pretty much abandoned the "New Democrat" strategy, which placed a more centrist face on the party. It was that willingness to co-opt conservative ideas that gave Clinton two terms in the White House. But the base thought such moves were nothing more then "Republican-lite" and have worked to cast the Democrats in a more traditional liberal mold. Because of that, and because of the utter failure of the GOP under George W. Bush, we have a Democatic party running on policies that are 70 years old.

Politico is reporting that Democratic lawmaker see a need to bring back some of the programs that had their start in the Great Depression. Call it New Deal: The Next Generation.

With visions of a massive liberal majority in the next Congress and the power to remake economic policy for the next generation, Democrats are dusting off their New Deal history books and openly discussing the idea of re-engineering Depression-era agencies for the 21st century.

Several lawmakers want to bring back the Home Ownership Loan Corp., and others have discussed resurrecting the defunct Reconstruction Finance Corp., a federal program that made direct loans to businesses. Others see a lame-duck stimulus bill less as a short-term cash infusion for the economy and more as a long-term, government-driven jobs creator — a kind of modern Works Progress Administration that invests in infrastructure, bridges and roads.

The recent mess on Wall Street has led some to think that desparate times call for desparate measures and so we get this supposed New Deal sequel.

I think it can be wise to look at what worked in the past, and since the New Deal has been such an important part of history for the Dems, that makes sense. But it seems like they are trying to recreate some golden past instead of trying to work for the future. My personal feelings on government intervention aside, maybe some New Deal-style programs would make sense, but the fact is, we don't have the economy we had in 1933. Also, it's still murky as to whether or not a depression is an outcome. A lot of experts think we are headed more towards 70s-style recession than 30s-style depression. So, if that's what we are headed for, does it make sense to have such a big response?

I'm not saying the government should have no role. In such a crisis as this, government needs to have a role to keep us from entering a 21-century depression. But I wonder if this dream to establish a Second New Deal is overkill. The Dems need to come up with ideas that fit the current times.

The GOP have no ideas and that's bad. But to have the Dems dust off old ideas isn't any better and voters can only take that track for so long.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Long Time, No Post

I know, it's been a while since I've posted here. I've been posting a lot over at the Moderate Voice as one of the few center-right voices. I've also been trying a tandem post thing at the Square Deal, but don't know how long that will last. Here are a few examples of what I've been doing:

I haven't decided if I'm going to start blogging here again, but I just might. Stay tuned.