Category Archives: Politics

Democracy in Action!

For the past two days, I had the distinct privilege of working as a volunteer on Sarah Ledford’s campaign for Youth Chair of the Michigan Republican Party.  This entailed a two-day (most expense paid) whirlwind adventure to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Republican State Convention, with my (admittedly small in number) Republican buddies.

My Buddy Evan and Sarah herself.

And it was awesome.

Living where I live, if you’re a Republican you generally choose not to talk about it.  Because the minute you mention that you’re a gasp Republican, people tend to assume that you hate women/homosexuals/people of color.  If you don’t mention it, you tend to stand a chance at keeping friends.  At a convention filled with people who identify similarly, conversations about politics didn’t automatically devolve into an absolute blood bath.  Individual viewpoints were discussed and agreements to disagree were made.  It felt really good to be completely politically authentic.

Highlights of the convention?

  • There was an after party hosted by Representative Foster at this sweet dueling piano bar called Mojo’s.  The pianos were on the first floor, but on the second was this really killer bar/dance floor.  If you’ve always figured that Republicans are buttoned down, uptight people, you would change your mind after this party.  An absolute blast was had by all, despite the 6:25 am call time for the next day.
  • I finally got a really sweet GOP/Elephant pin.  Elephants are my favorite animal regardless of political affiliation, so it was super exciting to find a piece of jewelry that whispered instead of screamed.  (I also got my dad a pair of GOP logo cufflinks, but I didn’t get a picture of them.)
  • Finally, and most importantly, our candidate won!  Congratulations to Vice Chair Ledford!  She was awesome, and the victory was awesome.

After Party.

Volunteer uniform/caught mid-laugh.

Hotel where portions of the convention were held.

New swag!

Partners-in-crime.

So how about you all?  Do you ever feel like you need to hide what you think in public?  Have you found a place where there are tons of people just like you?

Thoughts on the State of the Union Address.

Credit: Associated Press

The political speech I best remember is George Walker Bush’s first inaugural address on January 20, 2001.  The absolute best part of the speech was this:

“We are not this story’s author, who fills time and eternity with his purpose. Yet his purpose is achieved in our duty; and our duty is fulfilled in service to one another. Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today: to make our country more just and generous; to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life. This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.”

I can’t even properly articulate why I like it so much, I just know that those lines in particular have adhered well to my brain in the ten years following the speech.  My least favorite speech, meanwhile, is also a George W. Bush gem.  As I’m sure most of the planet remembers, he used his 2002 State of the Union to express his “Axis of Evil” theory..  My visceral distaste for that particular speech might have a lot to do with the fact that I was living in Korea and terrified that my family would be uprooted but yet another Bush War (or maybe it had something to do with the fact that he was a loose cannon).  These two speeches are neither here nor there, really, but they should give you a good impression of the place from which I approached President Obama’s State of the Union Address tuesday night.

Friends for life? (Credit: Associated Press)

To be fair, it’s probably going to take me a few more days of quiet reflection to really formulate any strong opinions on the true substance of the speech, but I will say – from a rhetorical standpoint – it wasn’t that earth shattering.  The only part of the speech that had me even remotely close to tears (and I have been known to get teary eyed over CSPAN if the moment is right) was the opening bit:

“But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.”

As for the rest of the speech?  Well, I was mostly confused.  Especially with his “Winning the Future” theme.  By the fourth time he said it, I really really wanted to know what the prize was.  Is my prize for “winning the future” going to be a job in the state of Michigan?  Probably not.  Will my prize be a job anywhere?  Time will tell.  But how are you “winning the future” and what are you winning?

The rest of the speech was what it was.  Which is to say that it was a State of the Union address delivered in Obama’s typical style.  The policies he put forth were a little all over the place, but he did focus on innovation, which was a nice touch.

As for the Republican response?  Well, let’s just say that Paul Ryan should have used some Visine before he went on camera.

But really, what did you all think?

A polisci major reflects on Saturday.

This past Saturday, a twenty-two year old man named Jared Lee Loughner went on a shooting spree at a congressional event at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona.  The attack on the “Congress on Your Corner” event, hosted by Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords, left six dead and eighteen wounded.  Among the dead: Gabriel Zimmerman, Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ director of community outreach, federal Judge John M. Roll, 9 year old Christina Green and three retirees, all of whom were there for the opportunity to speak to their representative.  Representative Giffords, shot in the head, remains in critical condition.

AP Image.

The news on Saturday was chaotic.  Some who were reported dead, we know now have survived.  Some who were initially reported as wounded have since passed away.  One branch of the media was quick to point out a possible connection to Sarah Palin’s “Take Back the Twenty” campaign, which used bulls eye (or perhaps surveyor’s marks) to pinpoint twenty districts that supported the Healthcare initiative.  (The graphic in question has since been removed from the SarahPAC website, although it remains highly findable.)  The opposing media forces immediately lauded Giffords for her moderate stance within the Democratic Party, including her support of the second amendment.  Those who watch Fox News, for whatever reason, were treated to Shepard Smith bumbling his way through breaking coverage sans teleprompter.  (If you were looking for levity, comfort in a time of confusing tragedy, I sincerely hope you weren’t watching Shepard Smith.  Bizarre slips included: “She’s [Representative Giffords] going to have a difficult day.”)

The attack on Representative Giffords marks a grim milestone.  For the first time in United States history a political assassination attempt was made on a woman.  One certainly hopes that it will be the last, but not unless we-as a system-make a change.

If anything, this should be a wake-up call that we ought to think carefully and critically about how our political system functions and how political rhetoric therein affects our society.  I am nowhere near pointing fingers at Sarah Palin for this, but what if the Tea Party’s violent rhetoric did influence this mentally ill young man?

Some contributor on some cable news station made the comparison that violent rhetoric, like influenza, preys on the weak.  Communicable diseases go after our elderly, our children and our immunodeficient.  Does violent rhetoric prey on our mentally ill?  If it does (and I do think it does), who or what do we hold responsible?  Is it the person who employs the violent imagery?  The one with the gun?  The system that stigmatizes mental illness and makes it unnecessarily difficult to get treatment?

I don’t have the answers.  Do you?

What were your holiday gifts worth to you?

The WePay Blog recently posted a very interesting breakdown of what gifts are worth to the recipient. Apparently, there is a significant devaluation to the gift-giving process, especially where gift cards are concerned. (For those of you cynical enough to think about gift-giving in terms of valuation, this is the post for you!)
Collect money online, girl scouts, boy scouts, fraternity dues
I’m of a mixed-mind when it comes to the gift card debacle. Having worked in retail, I know that stores lurrrve gift cards, because they invite people to spend more. This is an axiom that I’ve found to hold true in my own life. Let’s do a quick break down of what these cards are worth to me:

$25 Meijer Gift Card: I’ve already decided that I’m not using this card on “normal” groceries, I’ll be buying fun and special food-type stuff instead. Still, I’ll probably spend close to $40, so the card is worth -$15.
$25 AMC Gift Card: This is a little different, because my brother got one as well. Our combined worth is enough for both of us to see 2 movies (at our heinously expensive local theatre). However, we’ll have about 6 bucks left, so we’ll see a third. Meaning a loss of about $10.
$50 Visa Gift Card: Here’s where it gets fun. I’m using this card to buy two things I was going to get around to buying anyway. (A curling iron and a blender.) I view this as win-win.
Cash: Many people prefer to receive cash for the holidays. I tend to disagree. When I get cash, I immediately throw it in savings or parlay it into fixed costs. (I’d like to thank my Grandma for buying my Korean books and my Aunt Elaine for buying my half of a split-polisci set.) But I do appreciate having the extra cushion right after the holidays. (Re: Lost paycheck.)

But then again, my overly sentimental sensibilities push for me to arrest these overjoyously capitalist valuations of my presents. Because I like getting presents and I love that people in my life are thinking about me when they buy them. It means so much to me that my boyfriend’s mother knows that Meijer is my food purveyor of choice and that my Dad wants to offset the cost of my brother and I’s holiday film binge. Even gifts that start to devalue immediately upon purchase (electronics, that schnazzy pair of gloves I got this year) far exceed their cash value in sentimental currency.

But what say you, miniscule readership? Are your gifts worth face-value? More? Less?

Holiday travel. You, too, can survive it!

You can set your clocks to the idea that holiday travel is going to be a huge pain in the ass.  Really, in the post 9/11 world, most any travel is a pain in the ass, but the extreme congestion associated with the holiday season really adds insult to injury.  Before you go, mentally prepare yourself for the following psychologically hazardous situations.

Whatever your method (train, plane or automobile), leave yourself plenty of time to get there and get settled.  Sure, it’s obnoxious that a two hour flight is a six hour ordeal, but arriving with extra time to scope out the security line, get your bags checked and finish chugging your bottle of water (lest it get thrown away, natch) will give you enough leeway to arrive at the body scanners relaxed and not displaying any of the nervous body language that almost guarantees you a thorough groping.  (Bonus for the smokers, more time to slam back some nicotine before heading into the no man’s land of recycled air!)

Goodbye, Detroit!

Second, don’t be the jackass who has more than they can carry.  (Of course, if you have small children, are moving across the country or have any special needs or considerations, this doesn’t apply to you…carry on.)  As a general rule, I have one checked bag and one (monstrously large) purse.  If I’m doing the all-carried-on route, I have one (size-approved) roller bag and the same (monstrously large) purse.  That’s all I can carry, and it works just fine.  Later in the week, I’ll be doing a fun post on how to pack a suitcase…you’ll love it, I swear.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, do not screw around with the Transportation Security Administration.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  If you’d like to be on the evening news, testify before congress or make the no-fly list, then go on right ahead.  If you’d like to make your flight, keep your cool.  Don’t make terrorism jokes, take off all relevant outerwear and be polite to the personnel.  More than likely, you’ll pass through with no problems whatsoever, safe and sound in the knowledge that a bunch of rent-a-cops have seen back scatter imagery of your junk.

If it just so happens that you are pulled out of line for “additional screening”, do your best to remain calm.  Remember, that unless you are actually a terrorist, you have nothing to hide — and no reason to be detained — unless you piss them off.  So whatever the reason you think they have for delaying you on your way to the duty free shops, stay polite and focus on making it to your flight on time.

During the inspectigation, you should absolutely make your best efforts at the following:
-Determine why you have been selected for extra security.
-Ensure that there is another agent present for observation of all proceedings.
-Ascertain as much information as possible about the agents with whom you are dealing.  (First name, last name and any applicable identification numbers).
-Try to remain in view of a camera at all times.  (They’re in the ceiling, I like to scope them out while I’m waiting in line.)

Hello, Chicago.

And, as always, if at any point you feel uncomfortable (that is, beyond the usual level of TSA discomfort) or discriminated against (for any reason whatsoever), calmly demand to speak to a supervisor.

And remember, try to be polite to the flight attendants.  Their lives really suck this time of year.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

MorningGloria over at Jezebel wrote a very interesting post yesterday, lambasting celebrities for co-opting the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Her examples were: Katy Perry (Brand?), who has apparently changed her mind on the social acceptability of homophobic slurs and lesbianism for male approval and Lady Gaga.

Here’s where I got lost. Feel free to correct me, but I was fairly certain that the Lady was bisexual. (Bisexuality: Putting the ‘B’ in LGBTQI for as long as is memorable!) And a bisexual who has long campaigned for this repeal in a very public manner. Putting aside all the problematic issues that come along with an ostensibly very liberal blog continuing the trend of refusing to believe that bisexuals are oppressed and that (furthermore) you needn’t act on your sexual identification for it to be your identity, it was sort of bizarre argument to make.

Credit: CrooksandLiars.com

Because, really, to whom does the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell belong?

It certainly belongs to Army Medic Sargeant Lacye Presley and her partner, former Servicemember Holly Tomson. It belongs to Lieutenant Dan Choi and it belongs to every one of the many Arabic translators who were discharged for being gay. It belongs to every member of the Armed Services — future, past and present — who has ever had to wonder if their sexuality will prevent them from remaining employed.

Those days are over, after 17 long years of believing that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the most tolerant solution for our Armed Services. And this incredible triumph for human rights belongs to each and every one of us. We should all be celebrating.

Do I enjoy watching heterosexual cisgendered celebrities pat themselves on the back for their involvement in the repeal? Not especially. Do I think that the shitstorm going down in the comments is inappropriate and detracts from this incredible page in history? Absolutely.

Ironically, by criticizing the celebrating celebrities, MorningGloria has done the very same thing that she is railing on: missing the point entirely.

It’s not about you, Jezebel.

Information found at CBS News and The New York Times.