She’s In!

15 09 2011

I’ve never had much of a desire to live in Massachusetts. It’s not that I don’t like the place – my cousin used to live there and one of my aunts lives there with her husband – it’s just never had the same appeal that New York or DC have for me. That said, tonight I wish I lived in Massachusetts because then I would be able to cast a vote for Elizabeth Warren. Today Dr. Warren formally announced her candidacy for United States Senator from Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren has been an advocate for middle and lower-income people and workers for a long time. She was the architect of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Republicans made it clear that they would fight her confirmation so President Obama never nominated her to run the agency she put together. Since the end of her service in the administration that wouldn’t bother to defend her in the confirmation process the question of whether or not she would run for the Senate has been out there. Today she gave her answer – she’s in. I wish she were running in the great state of Connecticut so I could not only vote for her but maybe even work for her campaign, but alas, all I can do is put a link to her website  – elizabethwarren.com – up one my blog and wish her the best of luck.

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Michelle Obama, You Were Right

14 09 2011

I’ve been trying to watch at least part of the Republican debates in the name of remaining well-informed. Frankly,the fact that one of these people might be president disturbs me, but their audience disturbs me more. Last week, in response to a question about the 234 executions carried out during Rick Perry’s tenure as governor of Texas, the crowd broke into cheers. Cheers?!

My issue is not over the death penalty itself. I have my opinions on the issue and I think responsible people can intelligently debate its pros and cons all day long. What I found so jarring was the raucous applause and whoops from the audience. We’re talking about killing people, not a great football play. Whether or not you believe a criminal deserves to die for their crimes, I think we can all agree that executions aren’t exactly cause for celebration.

Last night I had another of those “what country are these people living in” moments. A hypothetical question was posed to Texas Representative Ron Paul about what should happen to an individual who is uninsured and suddenly needs expensive medical care. Ron Paul tends to get a little long-winded, so the moderator pushed him asking if society should just let the man die which lead to several calls of “Yeah!” from the audience. Not as much glee as the death penalty mention some days before, but still creepy.

It isn’t just the fact that the idea of someone dying really pleases a few of these audience members. The thing that blows my mind is that not one of the candidates stepped up to say one of our strengths as a nation is our compassionate nature and that there would be something out there to keep citizens unable to afford insurance from being forced to go without necessary care. Looking out for one another doesn’t mean the “nanny state” is taking over. It means that we are part of a community – local, state, and national. Remember? “E Pluribus Unum”  – out of many, one. It’s on the national seal. (That was our motto before the 1950’s when “god” was added to our pledge to the flag and our money and the national motto became “In god we trust.”) A conservative can still have a soul, but you’d never know it. Empathy is apparently a facet of godless, socialistic, liberalism which must be abandoned as quickly and completely as possible.

In early 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama’s wife Michelle was taken to task by Republicans (and supporters of Hillary Clinton) for saying that America could be a mean country. Well, Mrs. Obama, I have to say that you were at least partially correct. A country which cheers execution, calls for those can’t afford that which will save their lives to lose their lives, and lacks any feeling for those who don’t plump up some corporation’s bottom line is a mean, mean place. The thing is, that mean place is not where I grew up. I don’t even recognize it. When I was growing up, if someone lost their job due to downsizing, lay-offs, and etc they weren’t the problem, whatever lead to their job going away was. A social security check, and the check and medical benefits of a union pension were the well-earned reward my grandmother and many others of the “greatest generation” received for decades of hard, honest work building our modern society. No one ever said they didn’t deserve it or were stealing from their children and grandchildren. Times have gotten harder, but I don’t think getting meaner as a society will solve anything. I’m hoping that logic will overcome whatever makes seemingly ordinary people cheer death and view compassion as a curse.





John Boehner, Joe Biden, an Unattended, Live Microphone, and What That Should Remind Us

13 09 2011

Before President Obama’s speech on jobs before a joint session of Congress Americans got an unlikely opening act – John Boehner and Joe Biden joking around and talking golf.

Speaker Boehner also had something to say about the Vice President’s wife.

For the record, the Vice President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is the one in the red dress. You can decide for yourselves whether or not she’s the “cutest one in the row by far,” or not.

You might be wondering why I’m making a fuss over such a few soundbites that are too mundane to be of any importance. They are just basic human interactions. Well, that is exactly why I’m pointing them out.

We long ago forgot that politicians are, in fact, human beings – much like the rest of us only with better connections. Even on the local level – the level I work round as a camera tech for a small town’s government access television channel – a politician with an opposing point of view is not a fellow town resident with whom you have a difference of opinion. No, they are the enemy and no piece of hyperbolic, incendiary language goes too far in describing them and their kind. These alleged “people” across the political aisle are cruel, inhumane, lying, cheating, unpatriotic, anti-American, etc, etc. Pick your adjective, they are nearly innumerable and if you do run out, take a page from the strategy books of several politicos and make some up. Even the politicians from your end of things seem more like robotic characters – or caricatures, depending on the day and the issue – than flesh and bone human beings. Moments like this briefly point out that is not the case. Neither of these gentlemen is the scheming, devious Disney-style villain we might image them to be and they aren’t. They aren’t androids either, though former Vice President Dick Cheney does come the closest to inorganic life with his mechanical heart. (That’s not an attack, by the way, it’s a fact, so relax.) These two men are merely two guys with big, important jobs who enjoy a joke, a good game of golf, and think that Jill Biden looks particularly fetching.Conversations like these happen in workplaces all across the country and might sound familiar if you swap out a few points. If a comment had been made that “anyone who doesn’t like the Yankees is an asshole,” the conversation could’ve gone like this at the water cooler or in the break room of an office in the real world.

John – Hey, I’m one of those assholes you were talking about.

Joe – Haha, yeah, you’re nuts, man. You don’t know what you’re talking about.We have that meeting today. I hope it doesn’t drag on forever.

John – Yeah. So, did I tell you my in-laws are visiting?

Joe – No, how’s that going?

John – Not too bad if you’re comparing it to, say, a root canal. I swear I have no idea how anyone ever slept in their house. Her father snores so loud you can hear it on the other side of the house! And then this morning I’m woken up by my mother-in-law yelling at her husband through the bathroom door. “Harold, do you have a pair of undershorts in there? You have a pair? Did you say yes? Yes? I can’t hear you! I’m bringing you a pair.” I hope I survive to the end of the week.

John – That’s gonna be the two of you in about twenty years. I’ve been meaning to ask you, did you see that new girl? In HR?

John – Yeah, I saw her. Cutest one in the department. By far.

See? Told you.

Politicians are people, even though they don’t always seem like it and even when they say things that we don’t like. At the start of what is sure to be a vicious presidential election process, I think it’s a good thing to be reminded of. I’m not sure the President’s plan of action for jobs really lived up to all the pomp and circumstance of a joint session of Congress but I think getting all of our elected officials together and talking and so on did get them in a slightly less partisan mood and the country needs that every so often.





The Trickle Downgrade

12 08 2011

I have mentioned that I got a job a couple times now, but I’ve never discussed it too much because it’s sort of difficult to do. I record local government meetings for broadcast on a nearby town’s government access television channel. It isn’t easy to write about what goes on at work because you don’t want to offend people or appear to be imparting a bias. Some issues get people’s blood pressure up and, if their statements are taken out of context, they could seem rather foolish. Actually, a lot of politics and debate is context and that’s why you hear so many people in the public eye complaining that their words are being “taken out of context,” and I can almost guarantee you will hear that phrase a lot more as the presidential election process gets moving. With all that said, this information comes directly from a meeting I covered. The meeting was public and I think this little tidbit of information serves as a reminder of how irresponsible it is for elected officials at the national level to play games with important issue like our nation’s economic stability for the sake of pleasing a small portion of the population. There is no ‘I’ in democracy no matter how many flags you wrap yourself in, how many times you say the word “constitution”, “patriotism”, or “common sense”, or how much you know – or don’t know – about eighteenth century colonial history and historical figures.
The town I work for is small, rather affluent, running a small budget surplus at the moment, and – according to the First Selectman – has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. They use the Moody’s agency to rate their credit. When Moody’s changed its outlook for the US economy from stable to negative because of the ridiculous brinksmanship of some in Congress, they changed this town’s outlook from stable to negative as well because a town, city, or state is really only as reliable as the country it’s in. That makes sense, but it still doesn’t seem fair and that’s not the fault of Moody’s. It’s the fault of those in the House of Representatives who decided to hold their breath until they got what they wanted even if it endangered our nation’s economy. These people have been called a lot of things – and I’m about to say my piece as well – but I will be avoiding a couple popular terms. I’m not going to call any elected official a terrorist. That is a very loaded statement that I’m not going to level at anyone willy -nilly.  I also think that calling these people hostage takers gives them too much power. I’m calling them children because that’s exactly how they behaved – like spoiled, undisciplined children throwing a tantrum until they get something that shuts them up for a little while. Is that how America is led nowadays? Really!? By grandstanding and ranting and putzing around instead of getting things done they are screwing over places that they couldn’t identify on a map if they wanted to. A note to these congress people – think before you act, don’t act before you think!

Then again, they may find the suggestion that they think to be too elitist. Fear not for I have other suggestions for what they can go do.





The Debt Ceiling Debate Summed Up in One Photo

21 07 2011

In case you and no idea, I’m a geek – specifically, a political geek. And not just a Daily Show/Colbert Report fan political geek either, but a Politico-reading, Rachel Maddow Show-watching one. Did I mention my job is covering town meetings for Government Access TV? Yeah that much of a geek. The results of my geekiness is that I’ve learned a lot about the debate going on in DC about whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. I could get into the issue, but I’m not sure anyone would be interested in the opinion of someone who gets no say in the matter. Honestly, I really think this about sums it up.

Nancy Pelosi looks appalled, John Boehner seems on the verge of tears, and the President is pouting. We do not have a deal, folks! Back to the drawing board!





Wedding Season Political Junkie Style

13 07 2011

There are a few things that are clear this fine summer evening – we are in the midst of “wedding season” and that our politicians will fight rather than compromise on any issue, however large or small, for as long as they can stretch it out. Seriously, House of Representatives?! Light bulbs?! Pictures are fun (especially while I sort out a more substantial post), so I’ve combined these two topics for your amusement. Here are a collection of wedding pictures of people who would be political players some day.

John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Is there any picture of them that doesn’t look like a scene from a movie?

I couldn’t find a picture of Lyndon and “Lady Bird” Johnson’s wedding, but this them as newlyweds.

I’m not posting a picture of the Nixons’ wedding because I didn’t find one. This is a photo of them dancing at their daughter Tricia’s White House wedding.

I did find a photo of Gerald and Betty Ford on their wedding day. How ’bout those socks, huh?

This is Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter and they look about fourteen. It’s kind of creepy.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan cutting the cake. Nancy Reagan’s hat reminds me of Princess Leia’s hair. Just thought I’d share that observation.

George and Barbara Bush. It seems odd seeing them as young people.

You can’t mention the name “Clinton” and the word “marriage” without pissing someone off, so I’ll say as little as possible on the topic. The bride’s hairstyle is a bit much, but it was the seventies so I can’t hold the fro against her.

Bush wedding 2: The Dubya edition.

Barack and Michelle Obama have supplied the cutest photo of this post.

There’s not much in the way of non-Presidential political wedding photos (as it should be, frankly), but I looked anyway because I saw this one in a political ad and wanted to have a reason to add it. Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate wins the award for most awkward looking groom, but we are a country that has elected some odd-looking gentlemen.

This is Mitt Romney before he looked like what designers at Mattel would create to fill a box with the word ‘President” on it.

As a sort of flashback, this is John and Cindy McCain.

When Nancy Pelosi was poised to begin her four-year stint as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a lot of biographical pieces were done on her and this photo is from one of them.

I will end this rose petal-sprinkled wander through recent political history with this photo of Texas governor Rick Perry. So far he just the Republican governor of Texas, but the are presidential campaign rumblings once again coming from the Lonestar State. I think we’ll soon be seeing much more of him.

Enjoy the wedding season/political spitball war that is this summer!





Admirable Women – Ahead of Her Time and Misunderstood

5 03 2011

Eva Perón, or Evita, hasn’t really gotten a fair shake, historically speaking. Considering the kind of power and popularity she had in her country and her advocacy of trade unions and her successful campaigning for women’s voting rights, her very public persona, and her power within her husbands’ presidency, she didn’t fit in with America’s Father Knows Best, Wonder Bread, Happy Homemaker view of women and how they should behave. There was also the fact that Argentina still had strong ties with Franco’s Spain. In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, having any sort of friendship with the fascist government was extremely unpopular with most of the rest of the world. Argentina at the time had a large population which was of Spanish descent, so they saw things a little differently. The overthrow of her husband’s government and the incoming government ‘s ban on Perónism also had a lot to do with the way she is seen even now. She was not a saint or without flaws by any means, but I think it’s about time we take another look at her and dispense with the myths and legends and whatnot.

She was an illegitimate child and when her father went back to his wife, her family was thrown into poverty. There was a significant stigma attached to be born illegitimate at the time. When her husband was president, she altered her birth records to make it appear that she had been born to married parents. That’s not good, but her efforts to improve the standing of those who she referred to as “natural children” in Argentina was. As a teen, she left home and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue an acting career. That didn’t really go too far, but she did get a job doing radio shows and eventual she was a co-owner of that company and was making a very good living. Her newly attained socio-economic status allowed her to meet new and more influential people who eventually came to include Juan Perón and the rest, as they say, is history. They married and were extremely devoted to one and other until her death. She toured Europe as Argentina’s first lady and, like all first ladies everywhere, her clothing and hairstyle choices where fodder for columnists who could rarely, if ever, be pleased. Reading her history now as the post Women’s Lib, Millennial, twenty-something that I am, she sounds like the first contemporary first lady – strange blend of Sarah Palin’s fanatical fan base and use of media as a political tool, Nancy Regan’s complete adoration of her husband, and everything bad anyone in the nineties said about Hillary Clinton’s involvement in her husband’s administration, fierce ambition, and solo traveling to other countries. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a lot has changed since the late 1940’s and being ahead of your time isn’t usually well-received. I find the real story of Evita much more interesting than the movie. It’s hard to believe that she died at 33.