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Heather Barmore
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    Tuesday
    Jan252011

    Of Pomp and Circumstance

    "He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the state of the union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient" - Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution

    You guys? I am so excited for tonight. In fact it's a not so well kept secret of mine that the State of the Union makes me a little giddy. It's the pomp and circumstance of it all. The Sergeant at Arms announcing the dignitaries and then that bombastic way he announces the President. The way the crowd - both sides of the aisle - stand up and give applause. The pomp and circumstance and pageantry of it all. In fact before Gabby's shooting I was all ready to write about how that first day of Congress made me feel. The excitement despite what happened before because hey, at least there might be something to look forward to. It's just that for those brief moments at the start of something I'm far less cynical and a little bit of hope seeps in that we're all - or they're all on the same side and want to work together. But yeah. No.

    I get all goosebumpy with anticipation but never over what he might say but because of the allure and aura of it all. To sit in that room one day during that one event is on my Life List. And it all seems so silly, this I am aware but it's true and I cannot help but sit back and watch on C-SPAN - never watch on network television unless you need a play by play of what is being read at you and an analysis and it's like having Pam Oliver show up in the middle of a game to chat: ANNOYING.

    This year members are using the buddy system. You probably don't care and yet in all of the talk of civility and rhetoric and coming together kumbaya-ness this is significant. It's usually blue team on one side, red on the other. They stand with ovation at different times only to prove that they're totally not buying what he's selling. But this year will be different. I'm enjoying the speculation not on what the President will say (say it with me now "JOBS") but with the whole will they hold hands? Are they gonna be BFF for life?

    So I'm trying to go into this, the official start of what is really to come with an open mind that things can and will get better. I've just been so full ofcynicism lately, unbecoming for me and it's a shock when I tell friends that I cannot handle congress anymore because they're just so damn mean.


    So tonight. It will be a fun thing to watch but the real question is how much of what is said will really come to fruition. Then again that's the problem with most everything in life.

    *Meet Congress' Five Biggest Aisle Hogs

    *You've Never Seen a State of the Union Address Like This via the White House Blog

    *State of the Union speech won't change most American's opinions
    Monday
    Jan242011

    Mr. Obama Goes to Schenectady

    "So our challenge, especially as we continue to fight our way back from the worst recession in our lifetimes, is to harness this spirit, to harness this potential, the potential that all of you represent." - President Obama


    Air Force One


    It's not as catchy as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and there's no devilishly handsome Jimmy Stewart. But, see that wee plane in the background above? You might have to squint to see the lettering but it says 'United States of America and it landed at Albany International on Friday afternoon as I was chipping ice from my windshield. There I was pounding away, putting my back into it and whoosh! da plane, da plane!

    Prior to the President's trip to the Albany area I'd been so full of mocking of the choice of Schenectady. It's not a glamorous city by any means and while those of us living in Albany or Troy even guffaw at it's nothingness. It's so harsh and that is the point one would suppose, of visiting a city that is long past its heyday and only looking for that chance to pull a phoenix. In the end it makes me sad to see the devastation when heading west on I-90.  Things that were once are no longer and once vibrant places, hit hard by even harder economic conditions.

    Have you been to the southern tier? Or Corning? It's vast emptiness of what was before is shown in boarded up shops and buildings. There are spots of revitalization in bars on the main streets and yet...It's sad. The thing you must know about New York is that it's segregated. Not in the Birmingham 1955 kind of way but in the Upstate v. Downstate: What matters more? way. What people from the outside see is the thriving metropolis of the island of Manhattan. There's still hustle and bustle and when they were down and out on their luck there was TARP to save them. But west of Albany is a different story starting with Schenectady. It's like no one cares and so I mock in jest knowing that those who do live there stay because they do believe that State street headed towards Proctors only needs the volt of a crash cart to get it going again. Hence the President's visit there to a GE plant that made it the Electric City but has since lost its flicker.

    Tomorrow evening is the State of the Union where the President will talk jobs, jobs and more jobs and why the economy is slowly rising and yet continues to suffocate some of our most deserving citizens. It's hard? You know. To see these hard hit areas who seem to continue with their struggle. So what to do, what to do? A speech won't help, will it? There's that SOTU bounce back that the administration hopes for but I hate playing with the politics of polling when it comes to people's livelihoods. Wait and see what happens I suppose. Knowing that these cities didn't fall in a day and it will take much more than 90 minutes of pomp and circumstance to bring them back to their feet.
    Monday
    Jan102011

    Gabby

    "Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. " ~John F. Kennedy


    A few years ago one of my best friends took a job with then newly elected House of Representatives member, Gabrielle Giffords. You know when you think about something that happened so long ago and at the time was not newsworthy? At the time it was something I would never have thought to write about or think twice on. Just a job with a House Member. Now some three years later every conversation is remembered and replayed. Quite honestly, Gabby's staff adores her. Meet enough politicians and you know who the good ones are a fact not based on the bills introduced or leadership positions held but because of their staff.

    And now...Now I find myself at a loss for words. It's probably easier to comment on a situation when you don't feel close to the subject matter. Hence the ability for reporters and the whole of Twitter to chatter off to anyone and everyone. Meanwhile all I feel is that complete sadness and helplessness that occurs and overwhelms when the inexplicable happens. This isn't some random, far off person, this is someone I know and people I know and love have long loved Gabby. It was my already precarious state that made me so livid on Saturday; the who said what that caused what instead of genuine feelings of sadness and sorrow. We've become a mass of people who are able to provide our every thought, discuss our every whim and more importantly able to provide color commentary for any event. With all of these things comes some sort of responsibility...at least I would hope or maybe the knowledge that as adults we should know to keep the hateful rhetoric down and yet we aren't.

    I spent the better part of Saturday oscillating between grief and being furious. Angry not just at the situation but the piss poor behavior of those bearing witness to the events via social media. I love good political back and forth more than the next person but we should all know that there is a time and a place for speculation and the blame game and four hours after a horrific event might not be the best time. Who benefits from such a thing? It made me feel no less better about the previous hours to hear Liberals blaming the entire Tea Party movement and vice versa.

    This is a complete stream of conciousness so you must forgive me but the last thing I must say is this: What happened was awful and incomprehensible and it happened at a public event with a Congresswoman doing her job. Now never mind my overwhelming love of our bicameral legislature but I have a bit of a soft spot for the House. Though all 535 members of Congress can be seen roaming the halls of the Capitol, saying Hi to passersby it is the House that has representation mastered. Which is their job of course and I feel honored to know so many members who take that role seriously. I enjoy the unfettered access to our representation as part of living in a representative democracy. What happened on Saturday affects all of us and the life to which we are accostumed  hings that I along with others have taken for granted. I think of the number of political events, rallies and the like I attend each session and never before have I given any of what I do second thought. But now? I don't even know. I'm not fearful I am just...well...I don't even know.The one thing I do know is that this changes everything and that's what scares me most.