Oh, Thank Goodness!

Thank Goodness, Thank Goodness the House approved a spending bill just before deadline. Could you imagine? How disastrous! I really did not want to have to start blogging daily again about it!

I know for certain I would not have been able to keep my tone civil. Up to this point, I have argued that somebody somewhere must provide a match light’s flare of reasoned discourse, and better yet if multiple people (dare I wish for “many” people?) strike a tone of civility. Some consider this a trifling exercise, but as the current modus operandi of unyielding non-compromise has proved unsuccessful, why not try a different tack?

Thank Goodness I don’t have to spend hours editing a post that, in a vain attempt to be “family-reader friendly,” would never be so. My anger would spill. It wouldn’t be pretty. And I doubt I would apologize for my curt and unceremonious missives.

At what point do I completely “lose it” and succumb to the very tactics I abhor? One of the most telling moments of my life came when I shouted at a mother carrying her child out of a line. This mother carried her young daughter past the hundreds and hundreds of us holding official purple tickets as we stood in a freezing tunnel in Washington, D.C. waiting to be let into the VIP section to witness the first inauguration of President Obama. The mood inside the “Purple Tunnel of Doom” changed as time passed, from joyful anticipation to a speculation that the sheer numbers of ticket holders could never proceed through the line and security in time, then to the stark realization that we were not going to get into the inauguration at all, and finally to a controlled but palpable near-panic that we would not be let out of the tunnel. I believe I was overcome by an initial sense of injustice. We had all waited so patiently, and here was this woman, leaving the line, just walking and pushing her way through the crowd, going on ahead of us. This was a wrongdoing.  And so I shouted at a mother carrying her daughter. It was only after this moment passed that I realized that this mother was securing her own, and her daughter’s safety.  I will forever remember my deep frustration, my anger, my fear for my own safety, and my almost immediate embarrassment, remorse and shame.  When pushed to the brink, I blew it.

Talk about your life lessons. This is not a surprising finding; there is often the threat of violence in large demonstrations. Reasoned and reasonable people, passionate over a cause, fervent, find themselves engaged in escalating arguments. Right now people are convening throughout the U.S. and abroad, raising their voices every night in response to Grand Jury findings related to the death of black men by the hands of police officers. Scary things can happen when people are angry. This country has a proud history, and this history includes stories where members of the highest political office engaged in debate that went beyond charged rhetoric. There was a wild floor brawl in the House that progressed from insults to blows to general melee.  I’m not talking about the House and Senate now, this happened in 1858.* And this continues to happen around the globe today.

I had figured the Congress would strike a budget deal. Everybody seemed to be fairly certain of it. But the fact that our elected leaders waited so long, with what appears to me, anyway, to be a “thumb your nose” attitude, once again not seeming to care that peoples’ lives are on the line, that our country’s image is reaching new lows, and that folks are getting sick and tired of business as usual, is disturbing. So knowing that I once yelled at a mother holding a child while she tried to escape a tense and dangerous situation, I’m not sure I can keep my goal of “showing the leaders how it’s done” in line.

I’m not condoning violence – far from it. I was scared in that Purple Tunnel of Doom. But I don’t know how to “attack” this situation. I’m getting really tired of business as usual. My efforts to model proper behavior to legislators might be a useless exercise. My pen may have to drop the “Miss Manners” approach. The question is, how do I ensure that I don’t sink to lows that rival elected legislators’ tactics?

* U.S. House of Representatives: History, Art, & Archives

http://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1851-1900/The-most-infamous-floor-brawl-in-the-history-of-the-U-S–House-of-Representatives/

Kathy Galgano

December 12, 2014

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Something We Can All Agree On – (Please, read to the end)

Dear Democratic Leader Pelosi:

I write to you here because as I do not live in your Congressional district,  my attempt to email you failed.

Congratulations on your election to remain the House Democratic leader.

Having said this, please know that I am removing myself from this email list, sadly. I am personally surprised at my fatigue in all things politics, especially now, after this month’s mid-term elections, when my Party’s numbers in Congressional representation have been reduced so significantly. And while I want and need to stay informed, I feel that there is a constant free-for-all in the emails that are sent to me. I am done with the emails that sensationalize everything, that always request a contribution, and that appear to divide the gap between the two parties even further.  

I received the news that you have been re-elected as House Democratic leader, and was asked for a contribution. I am always asked for a contribution, no matter what the news. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity, but, (and yes, there is a “but” here) must all emails include a request for money? Perhaps an announcement, and a call to rally would have been sufficient, and not tipped me over the edge. I am unsubscribing to these emails.

Here’s why I am tired — through this constant barrage of emails, the appearance is that elected representatives from both houses cannot do their jobs without airing dirty laundry, without constantly asking for money, without inane and sensational “Subject” lines that are at best humorous, and at worst, infantile and embarrassing. I am tired of reading multiple times a day that all is lost. I am also tired at the lack of respect for the offices of representing citizens; that respect has been whittled away by infighting, and also by these so-called “chummy” emails. Remember, citizens get these emails multiple times a day. Representing the people of the United States is serious business, and the behavior of elected officials as portrayed in these missives is unprofessional. This goes not only for the legislative branch, but also for the executive branch. Compound this constant campaign of ridiculous emails with the work that is not getting done in the beautiful and historic chambers in the Capitol building, and one might begin to understand why voters, well, I can only speak for myself here, why I am tired of the way business is being done today,

While something deep inside me knows that money is needed and campaign reform laws are paramount, I have been worn down to the point that I can no longer spend energy every day sorting through these missives, reading accounts of how the political parties continue to fight and how nothing is getting done, and then cringing as I am asked for and yet another contribution. 

Again, I sincerely congratulate you, Congresswoman Pelosi, and I wish you all the very best. I appreciate your hard work and tenacity and service. I also hope that a sense of decorum can be re-established, that people can see that the Congress is willing no longer to use the citizenry to jump in and take sides as if this were a big sporting match where we shout each other down. I fear that we have become a laughing stock. I look forward to a day when, while entrenched in vehement disagreement, there will be some respect for each other and for the electorate.

As you prepare for a new Congress, my thoughts are with you as you attempt to negotiate policy in a profound climate of non-partisanship, and urge you to take a new tack. I also urge your party members to do the same. Who knows? Perhaps this is something to which both sides can agree.

Respectfully,

Kathleen M. Galgano

Lessons Learned

Last fall, when the government shut down, I blogged daily and submitted my Kathy’s Musings pieces, and many more formal letters in email form, to elected officials on both sides of the aisle. These missives were respectful in nature and tone, even when I pleaded with officials to end the nightmare. While I knew that my grassroots kitchen campaign, one citizen’s efforts to halt the shutdown, was most assuredly in vain, I figured it might be worth the effort if only to demonstrate that a tone of civility, a spirit of cooperation, and a sense of decorum are all still possible.

In due course, I received the standard “form” reply emails from the officials, thanking me for my interest, and would I like to receive updates from their offices? While it would have been nice to have spoken with staff members during the shutdown, the sheer numbers of furloughed staff, and the fact that emails rarely receive responses within a day or two, made it understandable that these replies came long after the shutdown ended. But sure — Why not? I could keep up with political news, and so I clicked on the “Yes” button to receive legislators’ updates. During the shutdown, I did come by one most appreciated response. One evening I was cooking dinner, and answered the house phone. Did I want to listen-in to a live Q and A session/ townhall meeting in progress with the Representative? This was the same Rep I had written to earlier, describing a specific heart-wrenching, shutdown-related situation in her district, which neighbors mine. I wasn’t able to ask any questions, but I welcomed hearing a live voice.

When all was said and done, my letters and hard work were not the catalyst for ending the shutdown, but I had achieved my goal. I had communicated my ideas, sentiments, facts, and accounts of how the shutdown wreaked havoc on real people to readers in the U.S. and countries around the globe. In my letter-writing campaign to representatives and senators, I maintained a sense of decorum. I never engaged in name calling even though the press was having a field day describing the jabs emanating from Capitol Hill. And, I refused to give up on my quest, even though I was tempted. I urged readers to join me in my campaign to contact legislators, and many did; political involvement and activism is always a good thing. In addition, I was happy to receive email replies from the reporters I contacted, having informed them that I had quoted their information and facts in my blog pieces. I received advice from the people I connected with, and I especially enjoyed talking to folks at the Los Alamos National Bank, a fiscal organization I highlighted for coming up with a way to help furloughed citizens.

And since the shutdown, I have been receiving emails from many Congress members. I like being informed, and I don’t have to agree with all the politics to keep up with the news. However, there is fallout from my kitchen campaign, and I should have anticipated it. Every single day I receive email after email from political organizations and elected members requesting I join them in either signing a petition or contacting someone to fight a particular cause, or that I donate money, or both.

Okay. Since I’ve put myself on lists, these emails are to be expected. True, but I’m fairly certain I haven’t hit this many “Yes” buttons. I delete a lot of these missives without opening them because I’ve come to recognize the authors’ names and their respective political groups. I understand how campaigns work; I, too, asked my readers to barrage their reps’ inboxes during the shutdown.  I describe these daily email campaigns this way: Hit ‘em often, Hit ‘em hard!, and Act Now! — We’re on the brink of disaster! And somehow, it seems that we are always on the brink of one kind of disaster or another.

These campaigns are successful. I know because at some point I receive emails thanking me for my contributions, even though I haven’t donated a dime. The typical requests don’t ask for a lot; usually, it’s a request for three bucks, or five, but sometimes it’s for more. When there are fiscal deadlines, I get tons of emails, and I truly wish the authors would adhere to some semblance of decorum. I bristle a bit when I receive an email from the President addressed to “Hey, Kathleen.” In the back of my head I can hear my childhood friend’s grandmother saying, all those years ago, “Do not address me as ‘Hey.’ I do not live in a barn.” And the President frequently signs these personal emails as “Barack.”

Leading up to midnight, June 30, 2014, my Inbox was filled with many, many passionate pleas for donations. Some of them were going to be triple-matched; political campaigns must have learned something from public broadcasting membership drives, with the announcer chanting, “Call in the next five minutes and your donation will be matched!” Well, these Congressional campaigns needed, demanded, implored me for contributions. The subject lines of some of these emails read: “We keep emailing,” “Another Email?! (DON’T SKIP),” and “Things are getting a little loopy around here.” (The “loopy” email shows a video of a bunny running around a person’s legs. That was a strange one.) In one series of requests, I could have won a chance to meet the President. These came along with the “We need you,” and “LAST CHANCE,” and “We’re Running Out Of Time,” plus the personal plea, “Don’t sit this one out, Kathleen.” Then there were the subject lines that were all doom and gloom: “TRAGIC Conclusion,” and “Devastating Losses.” The one that really got me was the “All Hope is Lost” email.

Tell me, if all hope is lost, why the heck would I donate a dime? The definition of a “lost cause” is, well, a lost cause! Then there’s the drama. If a campaign purportedly is being outspent by $9 million, the amount is written in the emails like this: “$9,000,000.00.” I’m guessing the author was hoping people might read this as $900 million instead of $9 million? Well, if that’s the case, would a potential donor actually think a three dollar contribution would make a difference? Hmmm, well, maybe. After all, I was hoping my miniscule kitchen campaign might make a difference.

So here’s what I’ve learned in a nutshell: 1) The President and I are good buddies; 2) I have so impressed political campaign organizers that they believe I can save the day, every day, and that I’m personally able to make contributions, large and small, multiple times a day, every day; 3) It’s okay to dump decorum, and 4) It’s also okay to barrage legislators’ inboxes with requests for everything, all the time.

Lessons learned. Got it!

Kathy Galgano

July 7, 2014

KEEP IT OPEN!

I love Lick Observatory. It was built well over a hundred years ago on a peak that is 4,200 feet high in the Diablo Range to the east in San Jose. There are a number of domes at the observatory, and you can see them on the ridge from downtown San Jose and from around Silicon Valley.

Recently, the newly-hired President of the University of California, Ms. Janet Napolitano, announced that the facility will be closing for financial reasons. Since 1888, the University of California has operated Lick Observatory. Citizens, scientists, students, business leaders and political lawmakers have drafted letters and begun campaigns to save the observatory. Today, my U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren was one of 35 members of California’s Democratic Congressional delegation that urged the U.C. President to keep the observatory open. The text of the press release can be found at this address: http://lofgren.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=377280.

I, too, have written to Ms. Napolitano, and explained to her the positive impact this institution has had, and continues to have, on San Jose, greater Silicon Valley, the UC System, and the larger, global community. As a San Jose resident, I have felt a swelling of pride every time I have read an announcement, such as a discovery of a planet, hailing from the local observatory. I have driven up there many times over the years, for daytime tours of the facility and for evening summer programs. Years ago, in 1986 to be precise, I and many, many others drove the long and winding road built in the 1870s at a seven per-cent grade because that was the maximum for horses pulling large loads. Independently, people all over Santa Clara County chose the one viewing area they knew to be the best. The good people working at Lick Observatory did not sanction this event; it just happened. While most of us that night may have been unsophisticated in the night sky, two points were a given: First, Halley’s Comet was worth seeing, and second, Lick Observatory was the best place to view it unobscured, since it was soon to leave our field of view and not return for another 75 years. I am certain that no one drove down the mountain that night disappointed. Mars was gorgeous, too, if memory serves me correctly.

When touring the Lick facility, with its beautiful observatory buildings, the guide will probably tell you there are 365 curves in the road, one for every day of the year. True, it’s not the easiest road to drive, but can you imagine doing it on horseback or in a wagon? Once there, it’s an amazing sight. I remember looking east from atop this vantage point some years ago, clearly seeing the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada range, about 130 miles away. Instantly, that image was indelibly captured in my mind’s eye. And while there is an old photograph that was taken from Mt. Hamilton of the Sierra Nevada range on display inside the visitors’ center, it’s the night-time work that goes on there that is, well, stellar. Just a very few of the discoveries at Lick are moons of Jupiter, asteroids, and planet systems, and now Lick scientists are using the first ever robotic telescope to find planets near stars close to earth. (http://news.ucsc.edu/2014/03/apf-telescope.html)

Lick Observatory is a jewel, physically, and metaphorically. It is the vista I seek every time I am a few blocks away from my home in my urban neighborhood in San Jose, and can look out to see the Diablo Range, and specifically, the highest point capped with white domes. The history of the observatory is fascinating. The science is top-notch. What I find inspirational is that as Silicon Valley is home to thinkers and scientists working on the most minute of scales, with computer designs smaller and operations faster, thinkers and scientists at Lick Observatory use the same precision to make discoveries in the largest of fields, our solar system and universe. It is fitting that San Jose, and Santa Clara Valley, be called “home” to the industry of science representing both scales of exploration.

I know that other sources of funding are being explored and ascertained by business and government leaders, and as a citizen, I urge you to keep this monument to history, science, and our future, fully operational. There are ways we can all help. Below I’ve added a few links so you can see for yourself this historic, remarkable facility that continues to do fabulous work.

If you’re a history buff, or if you just like a good tale, you’ll enjoy reading about the man, James Lick. There’s intrigue in this bio; he survived a storm at sea in South America only to be taken prisoner, and then made his escape. There’s a lot of talk of gold, and some of heartbreak, and idiosyncrasies (Lick had trees planted upside-down!), and chocolate, Domingo Ghiradelli’s chocolate, to be exact. James Lick figures prominently in the gorgeous Conservatory of Flowers open today in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. He almost had a giant pyramid built, but thankfully, science won that argument and the observatory came into being. Go to:
http://collections.ucolick.org/archives_on_line/James_Lick.html

Click on the following link for fabulous photos: http://collections.ucolick.org/archives_on_line/bldg_the_obs.html

If you live in the area or are planning a trip, you can hear some great music this summer at 4,200 feet. The “Music of the Spheres” Concert series, held annually each summer, gives you two great reasons to visit Lick Observatory. Not only do you get to enjoy a concert, you will also observe through the Great Lick Refractor and the Nickel Reflector. Go to : http://www.ucolick.org/public/music.html

Lick Observatory offers another wonderful program each summer. You can observe through both the 36-inch Great Lick Refractor and the Nickel 40-inch Reflecting Telescope. Also, you will hear two speakers who will present programs even if the clouds or fog prohibit viewing. Check the web site for further information and to buy tickets, which are very reasonably priced. The Summer Visitors Program information is found at: http://www.ucolick.org/public/sumvispro.html

Whether you can get to Lick Observatory or not, you can help save it. Click on the link below to join “Friends of Lick Observatory.” http://www.ucolick.org/public/friends/index.html

Or, you can go to this page to: Make a donation; Get the address of UC President Janet Napolitano so you, too, can write to her; and Get the address of the UC Regents to send them some mail. But here’s what I really love — Lick Observatory wants to hear from you. Do you have any ideas to save this treasure? Click on: http://www.ucolick.org/SaveLick/help_save_lick.html

Thanks, folks.

Kathy Galgano
April 24, 2014

 

 

 

WELL, THEY’RE BACK. DO YOU WANT AN APOLOGY, TOO? – DAY AFTER SHUTDOWN ENDS

We’ve been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a Cincinnati radio station. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.*

With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, you not only “just didn’t win.” Your sixteen day experiment caused great damage. Your sixteen day experiment caused us to lose, and to say, “We fought the good fight” is disrespectful, patronizing and the poorest choice of words possible. How about an apology to the citizens of the United States for starters? It’s as though now that this “inconvenience” is over, there’s an “Oh, well…” attitude, with perhaps a moment to let the end of the shutdown sink in, and then it’s on to business as usual.

And in the meantime, the rest of the country is looking at the new date just after the holidays, and one can’t help but wonder if a shutdown is going to happen again, right when the holiday bills are due. So, do we spend generously this Christmas, or worry that another shutdown looms?  From the same Washington Post article quoted above, we have this recap of the bill that was passed last night:

“Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.”*

And then there’s the default issue again. From the same article:

“Enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until Feb. 7, setting up another confrontation over the national debt sometime in March, independent analysts estimated.”*

The thought remains in the forefront of our collective mind, “Is the United States of America going to partake in these shenanigans again?”

While I write, and all this swirls in my mind, I hear President Obama on the radio.

 “Now that the government is reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do — and that’s grow this economy.”**

“Need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers….” I’m a blogger. Hey, the President is talking about me! At first, I was incredulous. Do I understand this statement correctly? President Obama does not believe that my concerns are legitimate because I represent them in a blog? It’s okay for me to write a letter, but just not publish my thoughts?

Then I had an amusing thought; I had no idea that my individual campaign to draw attention to the ramifications of the government shutdown, including my pleas to elected representatives to tell me what I can do to help, is in a class of activism that precludes anyone from focusing on growing the economy. And just for the record, the only profit I’ve taken is a bit of personal satisfaction that I have done something, but clearly not enough, to bring attention to this shutdown and to end it, to contact my government representatives, to talk about the problems and the positive points, and yes, the negative ones, too, to attempt to remain civil in tone, and to try not to lose too much sleep with worry. Oh, and I also derived satisfaction when my “Stats” page indicated that somebody else, somewhere, read my posts. It’s strange, of course, but I had no idea the President believes I wield so much power.

My point is that ramifications to the shutdown continue; there are large economic issues at stake, and personal ones. Plus, I don’t think the government can expect everybody to forget what they’ve been subjected to because Congress members got to work and struck a deal. Frankly, I feel that collectively, we’ve been put through the wringer. I feel that way, anyway.

But you may not want to pay attention to anything I write, because, well, I’m a blogger and the President says you should stop focusing on me.

*The Washington Post, “Obama Signs Bill To Raise Debt Limit, Reopen Government,” by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Published: October 16, 2013  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-effort-to-end-fiscal-crisis-collapses-leaving-senate-to-forge-last-minute-solution/2013/10/16/1e8bb150-364d-11e3-be86-6aeaa439845b_story.html?hpid=z1?wpisrc=al_special

**Here’s a link to the President’s quote, (although I heard it on National Public Radio news): http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/10/obama-hits-bloggers-radio-talking-heads-who-profit-175330.html  “Obama hits bloggers, radio ‘talking heads’ who ‘profit from conflict’” By Dylan Byers, October 17, 2013

Kathy Galgano

October 17, 2013

To Hell In A Hand Basket – Day Sixteen of Shutdown

“So, the mortgage [or rent] is due, but for sixteen days, nobody’s worked. Hmmm. What happens if I can’t pay?

You really don’t want to be the doc telling your patient the devastating news that he or she has cancer. There is a bit of a bright spot, however, because at least there’s an appropriate clinical drug trial that just might help. But oh yeah, even though the cells are multiplying like crazy, the treatment’s off limits because the government says so.

Federal courts have enough funds to continue until the end of this week. Then each Federal court will have to decide what’s essential; most likely, “essential” doesn’t cover civil cases at all. And, if you’re in the jury pool and actually serve, don’t expect to be compensated until this mess is over.

If you have been waiting for your green card, you better dig in your heels because the wait just got longer.

It’s Okay, Kids. Mommy’s not worried that our WIC money to buy food will go away in a few weeks. Everything’s going to be fine. Just fine.

Oh well, most of the people who inspect the food aren’t working anyway. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the government has stopped U.S. food inspections overseas.

But the little one may not be able to go to her Head Start school.

Here’s some more non-essential stuff “With two-thirds of personnel sent home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The FDA has halted the review and approval of new medical products and drugs. Nearly all staff at the National Science Foundation has been furloughed, and new scientific research grants are not being issued.” (NY Daily News, October 14, 2013*)

In case you like to get ready for Christmas and Hanukkah a little early, here’s an uplifting bit: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission is no longer screening products at ports of entry to prevent potentially dangerous ones from reaching store shelves, such as children’s products containing excessive levels of lead.” (New York Daily News, October 13, 2013*. Merry Christmas.

Just in case there’s a problem with the car, auto recalls are on hold. You can still file a complaint, of course, but don’t expect anybody to look at it.

Here’s something that really instills a lot of confidence. The Guardian** reports: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission closed most of its operations on Thursday, though on-site inspectors will remain on the job and the government says it will handle any immediate safety or security issues.” Are they kidding? We’re expected to trust that the NRC will be able to handle problems while employing a skeleton crew, and that the government is going to keep us safe? Has the government been paying any attention at all to what it is doing? I’m speechless.

Oh, but here’s something that’s still working: “The more than 12 million people who requested automatic extensions on their spring tax return must still file their returns, which are due on Tuesday.” (The Guardian, Monday, October 14, 2013.)**

I can’t make this stuff up. You know what they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Here are my sources:

*New York Daily News, AP, October 13, 2013, SHUTDOWN IMPACT: 13 Days after the federal government closed, affects are felt across many agencies: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/shutdown-impact-13-days-federal-government-closed-affects-felt-man-article-1.1484061

**The Guardian, October 14, 2013 by Amanda Holpuch, “US Government Shutdown: which agencies are next to run out of money?” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/14/government-shutdown-closures-money

Kathy Galgano

October 16, 2013

Letters to Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer – Day Fifteen of Shutdown

(NOTE: I emailed this letter to both Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer representing California, and I also emailed a similar letter to Representative Lofgren.)

Dear Senator:

I realize I have written numerous letters to you. As long as this shutdown continues, I will continue to work from my vantage point in my kitchen to end it.

Is my kitchen grassroots campaign having an impact? To a few readers, perhaps it is, but to the country and our elected representatives, probably not. However, I must do what I can because this shutdown is utter madness. And in a broader perspective, I am trying to prove to young people that one person makes a difference, that one vote matters, and that there is still respect in the world (though I admit that yesterday’s blog posting was much stronger in tone.)

Here is a letter I just sent to Vice President Biden. It contains my message to Congress, and a plea from me.

Kathy Galgano

Dear Mr. Vice President:

I have been posting a daily blog about the shutdown. Yesterday I implored my readers to send invoices to Congress for reimbursement of money Congress has denied them, such as salaries and lost business revenues.

What causes me the most angst, however, is the collective attitude of Congress. (I have stopped calling congressional members “leaders” or “officials,” as I do not believe they are embodying the qualities inherent in leaders representing constituents in a democratic republic. I invite you to read my post.

https://kathygalgano.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/there-is-no-distinctly-american-criminal-class-except-congress-mark-twain-day-fourteen-of-shutdown/

Mr. Vice President, I urge you to relay to this body that I, as a voter, am most ashamed of their behavior and their collective attitude, because not only is the 113th Congress failing to do the business of the United States, it is failing to responsibly represent the United States in a global economy.

Thank you, Sir.

Kathleen Galgano

Letter to Vice President Biden – Day Fifteen of Shutdown

Dear Mr. Vice President:

I have been posting a daily blog about the shutdown. Yesterday I implored my readers to send invoices to Congress for reimbursement of money Congress has denied them, such as salaries and lost business revenues.

What causes me the most angst, however, is the collective attitude of Congress. (I have stopped calling congressional members “leaders” or “officials,” as I do not believe they are embodying the qualities inherent in leaders representing constituents in a democratic republic. I invite you to read my post.

https://kathygalgano.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/there-is-no-distinctly-american-criminal-class-except-congress-mark-twain-day-fourteen-of-shutdown/

Mr. Vice President, I urge you to relay to this body that I, as a voter, am most ashamed of their behavior and their collective attitude, because not only is the 113th Congress failing to do the business of the United States, it is failing to responsibly represent the United States in a global economy.

Thank you, Sir.

Kathleen Galgano

Kathy Galgano

October 15, 2013

When All Else Fails, Take A Walk In A Pool – Day Ten of Shutdown

For the first time since the shutdown began, I didn’t wake up with that urgent need to sit down with my mug of coffee and start researching and writing my daily post, clicking away at the keypad on my kitchen table while watching the sun rise. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. On the contrary, my head was filled with ideas and topics for discussion. So what was the problem? Well, I considered this all morning, even after I shut the lid of my laptop and got on with my day. As I exercised in the pool, walking laps in my lane as a physical therapist working with a dozen other people on the other side of the pool conducted a healthy back class and then aquarobics, I pondered my surprising apathy. I puzzled over my false starts and inability to delve into the research I conducted. However, when I’m in the pool, I find it easy to clear my mind. I pay attention to the water and the light dancing on it from the windows and sky lights. The ninety-two degrees relaxes even the most tense of patrons. And it came to me, not all at once, but lap after lap as I walked. It was simple, really; I felt overwhelmed.

Adjectives peppered my head. I was elated and even smiled, remembering that the beautiful Cliff House restaurant in San Francisco reopened this week despite the shutdown, but immediately found myself disgusted and disheartened because the government forced it to lock its doors again. (While a concessionaire of the National Parks Service, the Cliff House fully supports itself.) And then I worried because family members and hundreds of thousands of people cannot work, so they can’t get paid. Even though the House has passed a bill guaranteeing backpay for federal employees, it’s not law yet. And remember, most government contractors and subcontractors aren’t included in this bill. Regardless, everybody’s rent payments are due. Then I thought about a conversation I heard yesterday. This dialogue encompassed worry and fear. Is it really safe to fly? Air traffic controllers must work with reduced teams because many people have been sent home as “nonessential.” And again, none of them are getting a paycheck.  Will the eventual fatigue and justifiable anger of these controllers get in the way of sound judgment at some point? Then something I read yesterday made me optimistic; several members of the House of Representatives demonstrating in Washington, D.C. chose to be arrested in order to make a statement. Activism in a time of political stagnation? I felt like cheering. Then I considered just a few of the programs that need their funding right now. WIC gives healthy food to young mothers and their children. Shelters for battered women are running out of their reserve funds. Scientific research is doomed. A dear friend may not get funding to complete her Ph.D. project.  I can go on and on. It’s all so depressing.

Frankly, the perennial optimist in me felt tired, disgusted, perplexed, disgruntled, angry, enraged even, worried, scared, and just plain sad. But there’s one thing that walking in a pool does for me – it helps me relax. And afterwards, I feel renewed. So I’m not giving up the fight, and you shouldn’t either. This shutdown is ridiculous. Am I fighting windmills? Maybe. Are the parties listening? I don’t know – perhaps not. Does this bother me? You have no idea. But with so much of the country in “standby” mode or even just plain turned “off,” somebody’s got to do something, so it might as well be me. So send somebody a letter. Write a few sentences for your paper’s Opinion page. Share this posting with your friends. Let somebody know you’re disgusted, too.

See you tomorrow.

Kathy Galgano

October 10, 2013

Congress Should Donate Their Salaries to Charity

Members of Congress, according to my sources, are not deemed “unessential,” and are constitutionally required to receive pay during a shutdown because of a provision that limits their ability to change their own pay.* So while Representatives and Senators cannot be forced to work for nothing, in deference to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees now on furlough, we CAN ask them to donate their salaries to non-profit organizations for the duration of the government shutdown.** Please join me in contacting your members of Congress to implore them to donate their pay to charities to help people negatively impacted by the furlough.

To email your Representative, type your Representative’s last name followed by .house.gov, or go to: http://www.house.gov/ and enter your zip code in the upper right hand corner. This will lead you to a map of your area and your Representative’s name. 

To contact your Senator, go to: http://www.senate.gov/ and search for your state in the upper right hand corner, click on it, and your two Senators names will appear. Click on the appropriate name and continue to send your letter by email. Or you can type http://www.senate. (TYPE YOUR SENATOR’S LAST NAME HERE).gov 

To write a letter to the President of the United States, go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Here is the USA.GOV Web site information: What’s Affected by a Government Shutdown?

Below, find an overview of some of the government services and operations that will be impacted until Congress passes a budget to fund them again. For detailed information about specific activities at Federal agencies, please see federal government contingency plans.

  • Vital services that ensure seniors and young children have access to healthy food and meals may not have sufficient Federal funds to serve all beneficiaries in an extended lapse.
  • Call centers, hotlines and regional offices that help veterans understand their benefits will close to the public.
  • Veterans’ compensation, pension, education, and other benefits could be cut off in the case of an extended  shutdown.
  • Every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, will be immediately closed.
  • New applications for small business loans and loan guarantees will be immediately halted.
  • Research into life-threatening diseases and other areas will stop, and new patients won’t be accepted into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Work to protect consumers, ranging from child product safety to financial security to the safety of hazardous waste facilities, will cease. The EPA will halt non-essential inspections of chemical facilities and drinking water systems.
  • Permits and reviews for planned energy and transportations projects will stop, preventing companies from working on these projects. Loans to rural communities will be halted.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees including many charged with protecting us from terrorist threats, defending our borders, inspecting our food, and keeping our skies safe will work without pay until the shutdown  ends.
  • Hundreds of thousands of additional federal workers will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay.

Services That Will Continue During the Government Shutdown

  • Social Security beneficiaries will continue receiving checks.
  • The U.S. Postal Service will keep delivering mail.
  • Active military will continue serving.
  • Air traffic controllers, prison guards, and border patrol agents will remain on the job.
  • NASA Mission Control will continue supporting astronauts serving on the Space Station.       

*http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/30/politics/shutdown-congress-staff-paid/index.html

** http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/10/01/which-lawmakers-will-refuse-their-pay-during-the-shutdown/ 

Thank you.

Kathy Galgano

October 2, 2013