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Heather Barmore
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    Thursday
    Aug092012

    Resist Apathy 

    Apathy (noun): 1: lack of feeling or emotion 2: lack of interest or concern. See also; indifference

    I’m often told how passionate I am about politics. And it’s true. I am. Sometimes to the point where it’s annoying and no one wants to spend their evenings discussing the failures of congress and sometimes it’s charming. It’s well meaning and not meant to harass the listener. It’s also a hope of mine that my passion outweighs the apathy of another. Honestly, I understand. It’s hard to feel engaged in the political process with a constant back and forth and watching adults speak over one another. Politics can be noisy and to filter out the truth from the bullshit is a full time job that requires a gas mask. In fact, I feel for those who try to pay attention and care but cannot because there’s way too much going on.

    Then there are those who say, “Oh...I’m not political”, with a head shake and a shrug. The same people who send their children off to public school, drive on roads, go to the doctor, breathe clean air. Politics is staring us in the face each and every day and we need to (wo)man up and face it. More importantly if there are things in this country that make us unhappy what are we going to do about it?

    Don’t look over there at your neighbor. Don’t point across the room. What have YOU as a citizen of this country done to participate? I keep coming across people who are upset over the state of things or have found themselves shrugging their shoulders after the win of President Obama in 2008. People who live on the assumption that once a vote is cast and a candidate has won then it’s all over. As if there is no work left to be done.

    If you aren’t angry; you aren’t paying attention. If you are angry but think that the root of your ire is the President of the United States, then you are mistaken. Have you expressed your concerns to your representatives? Have you attended a town hall meeting? Have you called your mayor/Governor/Senator? Or have you cast one vote in November of 2008 and then sat back on your laurels hoping that Barack Obama would take it from there? If that’s you then I hate to break it to you but that’s not how democracy works. Democracy thrives on the participation of all individuals in the republic. Which means that we all hold some responsibility as to the direction of a country. We ALL need to do our part and right now I’m watching folks shrug their shoulders and not want to put up a fight. That fire of 2008 has been extinguished in so many. I want to see it lit again.

    ***
    Yesterday my friend Torrie introduced me to 90 Days, 90 Reasons, an initiative to remind people why they voted for President Obama in the first place, why - despite some setbacks - voting for him will not be voting against our best interests, and why we cannot be complacent. We’re never going to have another moment like 2008 but we need to remember how we got there, what we wanted and to finish the job that was started.

    Tuesday
    Jul242012

    Aurora, CO

    For five days now, I’ve been wondering what to say. Some would surmise that in an event like this that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing as there is no need for (additional) commentary and conspiracy theories from the masses. To be honest I wasn’t going to say anything about what happened in Colorado because anything I wanted to say or could say was trite and cliche at best though well-meaning. But, really, who cares at a time like this.

    That is until yesterday when I popped over to a few blogs and on Twitter and noticed a trend that had started the day of the shooting and will be something to be argued and debated until we know why this happened. I believe that in the face of pure evil, we wonder what could drive the perpetrator to act in such a horrific fashion. Until we know why we can only wait and speculate. And speculating is what we humans are most excellent at.

    The posts in question all dealt with 'victim shaming' or whether or not a child of six years of age or three months old should have been at that particular movie - The Dark Knight Rises - at that particular time - midnight. Perhaps it’s because I am not a parent that this isn’t immediately where my mind went in the aftermath of the shooting. My first thoughts were “Oh God...”. Followed by stunned silence and, as I mentioned before, wondering how and why.

    One would think that as a single person that I wouldn’t want children in the same theater as I. And you would be correct for the most part. While I love children - and I really, really, do - I tend to be that grumpy asshole who sighs deeply when I see a toddler about to sit near me on a plane. Something about confined spaces and being disturbed when all I really want to do is get to my destination. Under normal circumstances I would make sure I lived up to being a real single, childless, asshole and make some remark on Twitter. Under normal circumstances being asinine is accepted.

    What happened last Friday wasn’t normal. In the aftermath I am far less concerned about why a child was in a movie theater and more concerned as to why there aren’t proper protections and safeguards in place to prevent the sale of assault weapons to the general public. There is a difference between being allowed to bear arms and having what amounts to gearing up for World War III in your apartment. Then there’s the case of ‘concealed carry’. The argument here is that if other members of the audience had a weapon on them, then they would have stopped the perpetrator. Never mind (and I know that what I’m about to state has already been said) that it was a dark movie theater with tear gas and one gunman firing so of course adding another gunman to the mix wouldn’t have created an insurmountable amount of chaos.

    But issuing stricter gun control legislation for a state or nationally are far more difficult to comprehend or to make happen. It’s barely even tangible as, let’s face it, Congress is far too politically divergent right now to take such a divisive vote. Then there’s that pesky health care situation where despite mandates for mental health parity they often only apply to group/employer-based plans and only if there are over 50 employees. Despite some coverage you cannot force people to address their mental health issues until it becomes too late and/or a public problem.

    The reality here is that nothing can be done about the larger problem at hand (guns, mental health). The larger problem at hand requires an act of Congress and an act of Congress, in this day in age, requires an act of God. But if you’re up for learning how to lobby, I am totally down. What can be controlled is where our children are and when and with whom. In times of distress where many find comfort is in what is perceived to be preventable. In the case of Aurora, what is preventable is making sure that one’s six year old or three month old is not at the movie theater after ten. It’s not the most important issue here but it is, by far, the easiest to deal with.

    I’m at a loss for how to end this just as I was at a loss for days when it came to describing my feelings about the unthinkable. It is what it is, I suppose. Until we can change the big things, we can focus on the smaller issues that hit closer to home. That doesn’t make it right or appropriate but it’s the least we can do. For now.

    Tuesday
    Jul172012

    Veepstakes!

    Image via the Associated Press

    Spoiler Alert! I have no idea who Mitt Romney is going to choose as his running mate but that will not stop me from speculating along with every other armchair pundit in these great United States. I often think of it as some absurd math probability type thing where every possible pairing is imagined. From the far out (Condoleeza Rice has said numerous times that she doesn’t want to be Vice President but far be it for us to, you know, LISTEN) to the more likely (Rob Portman! He’s a white male from a midwestern state! He’s boring! He’s perfect!). I’d be remiss not to mention that anyone reading this site has a pretty decent memory of what happened when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his number two so I can definitely say that the choice of number two will make or break a campaign.

    I remember thinking that we - Democrats - were screwed when Palin was picked. She’s a woman. She will easily split the voting bloc of what is normally viewed as the Democratic base of women voters. She’s a mother from a fairly conservative state. THERE IS NO HOPE. Then she...well...perhaps the vetting wasn’t done as best as it should have been because Sarah Palin helped to sink that ticket. Right now every Tom, Dick and Harry on the right thinks that they can give Romney the boost he needs to cross the November 6th finish line. Most think of him as far too moderate thus unable to be the effective, Medicaid slashing President of their dreams. He waffles too much, the public still feels they don’t know anything about him and let us not forget that a vote for Mitt Romney isn’t so much for Romney but against President Obama. Romney needs a strong surrogate who can bring Republicans and conservatives together. One that will hopefully appease his currently unhappy base. Below are the folks who are at the top of Team Romney’s VP list:


    Rob Portman: junior United States Senator from Ohio; won in 2010 with 57.25%; fiscal conservative who was selected by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to participate on the failed ‘SuperCommittee’ that was charged with reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion; well-liked in his home state of Ohio which Team Romney will look at as a major plus in their quest to defeat President Obama.

    Tim Pawlenty: former Governor of Minnesota; former 2012 candidate for President; his campaign ended after coming in third in the Ames Straw Poll in August 2011; after withdrawing from the race Governor Pawlenty immediately endorsed Governor Romney; blue-color “Main Street” Republican who often criticized Mitt Romney’s immense wealth; fiscal conservative who rejected federal funding from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    Kelly Ayotte: junior United States Senator from New Hampshire; former New Hampshire Attorney General; pro-life except in cases of rape or incest; opposed to marriage equality and adoption by same sex couples; against TARP and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    Marco Rubio: junior United States Senator from Florida; Tea Party darling; son of Cuban immigrants; opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable care act; favors a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution; in favor of making cuts and major changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    Bobby Jindal: Governor of Louisiana and former member of the House of Representatives; pro-life and opposes all abortions (including in cases of incest and the health of the mother); opposes marriage equality; was opposed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; in 2011 Jindal was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award by the American Legislative Exchange council and organization composed of conservative legislators and business which promotes free-market and conservative ideas.  

    Paul Ryan: Congressman from Wisconsin; Chairman of the House Budget Committee; has credited Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged for getting him involved in politics; responsible for the ‘Ryan Budget’ a budget plan passed in 2011 and 2012 that would dismantle Medicare, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and make drastic cuts to domestic spending in all areas except for defense.

    Others mentioned: Condoleeza Rice - former Secretary of State for George W. Bush, "mildly" pro-choice, some would say that she’s not conservative enough and Chris Christie - current Governor of New Jersey; faux of organized labor.

    Reports - specifically “friends of Romney’s” have said that he has, in fact, made a decision and it could be announced at some point this week. We will see. Whoever it is, they have their work cut out for them, that’s for sure.

    Elsewhere:

    The Case For (And Against) Bobby Jindal for VP

    Inside Romney's Search for VP

    Veepstakes: The fine line between safe and boring

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