Dear Pennsylvania voters

Dear PA voters,

You have a chance to make history and I hope you will come through for us. New Hampshire did it first, then Texas and Ohio stepped in and made sure that everyone knew that Hillary was the best candidate and now it is up to you. (this is not to disparage the other states that went for Hillary especially Michigan and Florida but these are the states that made the pundits eat their words). MSM labeled her campaign "inevitable" not Hillary, they went on and on about how perfectly run her campaign was run in those early days and how she just couldn't seem to make any mistakes (of course the new meme is what a bad campaign she has run but we shall see) and then the MSM fell for their new love- Obama (but only if he isn't put up against their favorite -the maverick).

Americans (and democrats in particular) have a fascination with the new and untried. It always seems so wonderful to see a fresh face and democrats swoon so easily. That is the attraction of Barack Obama. If democrats had been smart in 2004 they would have made their nominee Al Gore. But no we democrats never go with someone who lost (even if they actually won by over a half a million votes and if Al Gore didn't suffer from the same democratic wimpyness as the rest of them he wouldn't have been in that position because he would have used Bill Clinton to his full potential and Florida would have been moot -but that is another rant). We in all our wisdom decided that a war hero was the way to go and it wouldn't matter that he was a northeast liberal and had a foreign sounding wife.  And we lost yet again. Do you honestly think that if the Supreme Court had stolen the election so blatantly from Bush in the 2000 election that the republicans would have fielded any other candidate? Not a chance in hell.

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This is not 1968.

I enjoy reading and learning about history, but I think there is a real danger in drawing too many parallels between the present and the past. I have no idea what it was like to be alive in the late 60s, my parents never talk about that time, and I get the impression that it was really scary. I get the impression some of the time that there are old grudges and old scores that were never settled that date all the way back to that time that have suddenly resurfaced as the subtext of some of the dialogues we're having today.

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A Beginner's Research on Tibetan Buddhism and History

In one of those synchroncities that sometimes occur in life, shortly before I began to hear about the current unrest in Tibet, I had begun to read a book called The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings, edited by Rajiv Mehrotra and published by Penguin Books. The book is a compilation of essays and lectures on Buddhism by the Dalai Lama. It is a relatively thin book, under 300 pages, but I have yet to finish it a couple of weeks later, because each of the essays in the book is so full of meaning and deserving of further thought that I cannot read too much of it at once without stopping to absorb and ponder it.

I am not a Buddhist. I am someone who has a great deal of interest in spiritual questions about the actual nature of reality, but because of a questioning mind I have been unable thus far to accept any religion. As such, I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I want to convey some sense of what I believe is the deep importance of preserving the Tibetan culture. I have the impression that many Americans are unfamiliar with that culture and think of Tibet as far away and unimportant to them. I want to express why I think it is imperative that we support Tibet.

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Hillary and History

If History were keeping score, Hillary would be ahead of senator Barack Obama. She is Victorious.

Something has been lost in this election's whirlwind. Hillary Clinton has made history, but this achievement has not been covered as much as it merits. Its been lost in the ebbs and flows of a most thrilling election season. Things will be quiet for a while. We won't have another contest until late April and this pause allows for some belated plaudits for the first female candidate to win as many primaries as Hillary has. I am glad to be alive to witness Mrs. Clinton make her mark in the history books.

The same can be said of Obama being the first African American to win so many contests. I could skip the next obvious observation, but just in case it is not clear: Barack is a man who happens to be African American, so part of his achievement is familiar-the man part. It is not news worthy itself. Hillary is a woman having achieved thus far what no other woman has to date. That alone is strikingly different and uniquely deserving of  a particular attention, mainly the kind the press and best political minds ought to be dispensing but are not.

I agree that gender and race are irrelevant in electing candidates to office. I am not endorsing Hillary or calling on history to give her space in its archives or mention  because she has ovaries. I am simply acknowledging a first, or as the proverbial saying goes: there is an 800 pound gorilla in the room...This one is  beating it's chest for some attention and I think we should give it some. The press seems wary about or disinterested in giving more positive attention to Clinton's historical victory than is necessary.  I suppose it wants to avoid the gender taboo that is anathema in both political and media circles. This achievement should not be subject to any contention. It is historical. Period.

Hillary Clinton does her part to help keep her success and mark in American history from fading and becoming only a footnote. On occasion she mentions gender to excite a crowd or attract more female voters to her side. This has sometimes been received negatively by critics who charge that she is using the gender card. As a voter, who is on the sidelines learning a lot about politics this year, and as a female, I reject their charge.

It would be silly in fact, and a bit troubling, if Hillary never uttered a word about her female status in this election.  After all, her victories have helped make major inroads for women in the world of politics this year as never before in the history of our country. So it is natural for her to note this now and then. Many women, such as yours truly, have found new interest in politics because Hillary has made it so fun and refreshing. She has made many of her supporters so nervous at times but has put them at ease lately with her latest victories.

I hope Hillary continues to mention her success as a woman in politics. It would be too radical to push this aside. It is not something to gloss over. The mainstream media has scarcely mentioned Hillary's historical achievement so I thought I would, in this space, do what the media is supposed to do: report groundbreaking news. It has not happened. A lunar eclipse receives more fanfare.

I voted for Hillary based on her ideas of course and not on gender. But do I feel an extra sense of excitement because she happens to be female? Well, that's a no-brainer!

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Voting with feeling

Throughout history, various leaders of nations have had a mystique about them that has lead the people to either stand at attention or rebel. Consider Queen Elizabeth, the virgin queen. She led the country with a vigor, and she was portrayed as being almost sterile but full of life and hope. She gave people optimism until she did not care enough about their feelings.

In understanding the election, it's important to consider the role the president plays in directing our emotions. How will the president be perceived by the people, the heart of the country? How will the president be perceived abroad?

While economists can provide figures, directing the president's decision-making process, the president's role is really to negotiate power and emotion.

How will a woman president be perceived? Considering Clinton's past with her husband as a strong woman who stood by him even when he had an affair, a fact which the whole country knows, will the people see her as stable, able to forgive? Probably.

How will the country see Obama, who has stood up for the poor and cares for the individual? Certainly Obama's intentions have had less press. And who knows how many people have read his book? On a recent afternoon at my local library in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in San Francisco, two copies of his book, The Audacity of Hope, were still on the shelf. However intellectuals choose to judge him, for the people he still represents an image of hope. In the context of 9/11, he also represents to the world open-mindedness, that we Americans would embrace the "other."

The real question is, how will the people feel? Yes, a woman will make women in America feel empowered. A magazine article I read recently was giving direction about the color coat she should wear for MLK's birthday service, a regal plum. Ironic? Is she supposed to look like a queen? It is not always empowering to be told what to do, unless it is good advice. She represents a vision that women are equal, level headed, and able to raise beautiful and strong children.

But let us not highlight difference. Let us really examine their intentions, their character, and the possibility their being evokes. Even as a woman, I am inspired by Obama's story, his background, and his vision. And because of that, I feel empowered.

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