September 13, 2011

The Jimmy Fund - a big cancer research fundraising effort here in Boston - puts giant photos of their patients at every mile marker. It always makes me tear up when I see them, but those kids keep me going.

I was one of them once. I still am. I survived Wilms’ Tumor as a kid, and the simple truth is that without the work of outfits like the Jimmy Fund, I never would have seen my 2nd birthday.

But here I am, 30 years later, still feisty and still kicking.

That’s why I’m walking in this year’s Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and to help those kids. I’m up to 32 birthdays now, so I’m asking my greatest friends to give $32 to support my walk.

So if you’re happy I lived through cancer (yep - I have NO shame when it comes to this), please click here to give 32 bucks to the Jimmy Fund.

The walk is Sunday, so please give before then. And I’ve set a goal of raising $500, so I’ll need lots of help to get there.

I can’t tell you how important this cause is to me. It’s quite literally the thing I’ve spent my whole life fighting for.

Please give what you can. Every little bit helps.

May 7, 2010

It’s like when the Red Sox won the World Series. It means something. It means something to this town, this team. It means something to the generations of mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who learned to love each other - oh, and baseball, too - in the company of a great man.

It means something to those who have lost the baseball fans in their lives. It means something to the vast diaspora of Greater Michigania that followed the car companies out of town, but never forgot the loyalty or great decency that defines the place they’ll always call home.

The viewing held today at Comerica Park started at 7:00 AM and isn’t expected to finish until after midnight. The whole state is in shock and mourning.

It’s like when the Sox won the Series, only it sucks.

I never had the great pleasure to meet Mr. Harwell, but I played catch with my dad and little league with my buddies. I froze under blankets at Tiger Stadium in April and strained to tune in WJR at some campground Up North. I treasured the chance to hear him call one last inning during the All-Star Game or the World Series.

We all felt like we knew him like a dear family friend, mostly because he was, even if he didn’t know it yet. I’ve been sobbing all week.

I’ll always remember the Voice the Turtle on Opening Day, “Stood there like the house on the side of the road,” and “Loooong gone!” I will always - always - remember the great joy i get every day from loving Michigan, Detroit, and the Tigers.

Ernie Harwell means something to us because he simply reminded us that we all mean something to each other. He will be dearly missed, but only because he had such a tremendous ability to make people happy.

Goodbye, friend. Thank you for gracing us with your spirit and humility.

March 22, 2010

It’s days like today that make it all worth it.

From union halls in Flint to walking precincts in Las Vegas, from registering voters in Florida to slaving over an internet program at an office to DC, from watching my hometown wither to tears of joy on the National Mall, it’s all lead to this - to real change for the millions of Americans who aren’t getting enough from their health care.

This is why I pour my blood, sweat, heart, and soul into my work. A piece of me is in this amazing piece of history. This is a great day for all Americans who believe in a country that works for all Americans.

Health care is immensely personal to me. I am a cancer survivor and that means a couple of things:

  1. I have a humungous pre-existing condition.

    Under the old rules, I was all but uninsurable outside of the employer-based system (or outside of Massachusetts).

    I twittered about the real fear I lived with every day under the old system. I couldn’t lose my health insurance, not for one minute. It was a constant cloud over decisions about my career, my residence, and my life.

    I am so grateful that no one has to feel that fear ever again.

  2. I need more health care than anyone you know.

    I’ve been extraordinarily lucky. Few of the post-cancer complications I’ve faced have been truly scarring or worse. But from hepatitis C to intestinal polyps to mysterious headaches, I’ve seen nearly every kind of doctor there is as I fight my demons.

    Without good insurance, I simply don’t get better. Everyone - every single American - deserves that chance. Period.

I’ve seen health care in America and I know it is broken. Tonight, we’ve made huge strides forward in trying to fix it.

I am so honored, so humbled, and so grateful to have played a small role in helping America keep its promises.

March 14, 2010

Did you know that CBS is changing “One Shining Moment” this year? Out with Luther Vandross; in with Jennifer Hudson. It’s true!

I find that I’m less able to deal with change as I grow older. Anyway, my only solace will be snacking on a box of free donuts after I beat everyone in my annual March Madness pick’em.

By now you know the drill.

Link: http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/en/group?groupID=47317

Group: Donutland
Password: lardlad

If, by some miracle of circumstance, you’re able to beat me, then you’ll win the donuts AND the right to make a papier-mâché crown so that you can force your co-workers to call you “King of All Donutland.” I mean, whatever floats your boat.

You don’t need to know anything about basketball. Tracy consistently beats me every year despite following a “closest to New England” selection strategy. This year she has Vermont beating Syracuse in the first round.

Besides, extra bonus donuts are awarded for good sports.

Tournament games start THURSDAY AT NOON. Be sure to join by then. I’ll send a reminder when it’s closer to game time.

I’m hoping we can get 50 contenders again this year. Please pass this along to friends.

todd



P.S. - First bonus donut goes to the first correct answer to the following word problem:

It’s 4pm on a Sunday, and Todd is sitting in his apartment, seriously jonesing for some donuts. What’s the address of his nearest fix?

Hint: It’s a trick question, but no, the answer isn’t “he already has some in his kitchen,” even if that might be true.



P.P.S. - If the link above doesn’t work, follow these instructions.

  1. Go here: http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/frontpage
  2. Create an entry.
  3. Join the group “Donutland” using the password “lardlad”
  4. Set your picks before the games tip-off THURSDAY AT NOON.

January 22, 2010

Earlier today, a friend asked me to talk him down.

He’s freaked out about Scott Brown and losing the filibuster-proof Senate majority. He’s angry that too many Congressional Democrats are walking away from a health care bill that really would still be a historic achievement that would do a world of good.

He’s frustrated that President Obama isn’t taking a more visible leadership role. He’s dumbfounded that the Supreme Court seemingly signed over our democracy to corporate cash earlier today.

It’s been a hell of a week for us Democrats.

In truth, it took me most of the day - and a stern talking to from my smarter-than-me wife - to figure out what to tell him. I’m angry and frustrated - probably more than you. Achieving real change has been my life’s work and I see it all teetering on the brink of catastrophe.

First, Tracy said it best: “It’s only been two days.” Our leaders in Congress are still figuring out what to do about health care. There is a real bind, because the House and the Senate don’t agree.

But they’re working on it. Everything they’ve said publicly indicates they actually do have some inkling that we need to achieve something with our majority.

On a broader scale, it’s important to remember that Massachusetts is only one loss after a nearly unprecedented string of victories. We weren’t going to go on winning every election from here on out.

Political fortunes ebb and flow. We’re at the bottom of a trough right now. But the media loves a good comeback story too much to not write the “Obama Recovers!” story about six months from now.

This is what Obama still understands better than just about anyone. Too many people try to win the news cycle. He’s playing a much longer-term game than that.

I still believe that the President knows we have to do more and we have to do it better. You do not organize poor folks in South Side churches and forget that they’re depending on you. I know it. I’ve been there.

I saw some of this from Obama when he spoke on Martha Caokley’s behalf last week. I think we’ll see more at next week’s State of the Union.

Finally, for anyone who has been frustrated with the pace of change or anxious over lacking leadership in this country, there has only ever been and will only ever be a single path to sucess:

(Ahem)

Don’t fight the power. Be the power.

If you’re concerned that your leadership in Washington isn’t representing you, then run for election and beat them. If you don’t think you can beat them, then find someone who can and work your tail off to get them elected.

If getting rid of someone who’s not representing you isn’t an option then organize your people to exert some influence.

The system sucks and all of that is gonna be hard. Boo hoo. It’s the best we’ve got.

The Lone Ranger ain’t riding into town to save the day. We must be the change we want to see in the world (h/t Ghandi, Obama)

# # #

Tuesday night, I was pretty dispirited by Brown’s victory. I didn’t have a lot to say, but I kept coming back to one piece of advice. I twittered it that night.

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

Ted Kennedy

The Lion roars one last time. Remember, these words were actually the closing passage from Kennedy’s concession speech after losing the nomination for President in 1980.

Senator Kennedy shows us the way here, in the face of a gut-wrenching defeat. It’s always darkest before dawn. It’s never as bad as it seems. But the only ones - the only ones - who can lead us to better days are us.

Ted Kennedy’s legacy isn’t the letter after the name of the junior senator from Massachusetts. It’s the spirit liberal, progressive Democrats have to make America live up to its promise.

Time for whining is over. Let’s get back to work.

June 12, 2009

May 29, 2009

April 30, 2009

On Facebook today, a friend of mine made the claim that she was going to honor President Obama’s 100th day in office by praying “for our country before that becomes a hate crime too.”

There’s a lot I disagree with in that statement, but one aspect is close to my heart and I can’t let it pass without clearing up a common misconception.

Hate crimes laws don’t make any new activities illegal.

Instead, for example, the current legislation before Congress provides for federal prosecution and enhanced sentencing for crimes that are considered especially heinous.

This is something we already do in a wide variety of ways. For example, crimes committed against children are generally considered “worse” and therefore these criminals face stiffer punishments.

In fact, we already have a federal hate crimes law, passed in 1969.

This law permits federal prosecution of hate crimes committed on the basis of someone’s race, religion, or national origin, but only when the victim was engaged in a federally protected activity like voting, going to school, or enjoying the National Parks.

The new hate crimes law - known officially as the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act - only expands the scope of existing law.

First, it expands the list of “protected classes” to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

Second, it removes the requirement that the victim must be engaged in a specific, federally protected activity.

The idea behind the law is that crimes committed against someone because they are part of a specific group is a “bigger” crime with more “victims” than a random act of violence. Not only do you have a physical victim, but it also creates a sense of fear within that entire community.

Ergo, the reasoning is that since this crime affects more people than just the individual victim, sentencing should be enhanced.

We can disagree about whether that’s a good reason to add years to a prison sentence, but it’s disingenuous to say that the bill makes new actions illegal. It just provides for enhanced prosecution and sentencing for existing crimes.

I pray for a country that doesn’t try to address violence and bigotry.

April 21, 2009

April 16, 2009

April 8, 2009

April 7, 2009

April 3, 2009

April 1, 2009

March 26, 2009

March 25, 2009

March 24, 2009

March 21, 2009

  • I thought this was amazingly powerful. President Obama is showing the world a true willingness to engage. To some extent, I think it backs Iran into a corner. After a beautiful appeal like this, can they really justify their bellicose attitude to the Great Satan? Makes those who called Obama naive on foreign policy look, well, naive.
    (tags: politics)

March 19, 2009

March 17, 2009

Photos

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