Wow… “hearing [really] is believing!” We had the opportunity* to see Denver Brass perform yesterday, and it was fabulous! This particular show was very unique in that it was not just The Denver Brass, but performances from various others to make up the Ancient Threads… simply put, it was fabulous!
Artists and performances included Celtic Colorado Pipes & Drums, Rocky Mountain Highland Dancers, Wick School of Irish Dance, Todd Teske – Tenor, and Iain Hyde & Joanna Hyde – Fiddles. What a treat just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! The music, the dancing, the bagpipes, and all the costumes reminded me of my time in Ireland and Scotland.
All in all, what a great show, and performance. Amazing talent right here in our own backyard. The venue wasn’t too shabby either. The Newman Center for Performing Arts on DU’s campus is a perfect venue. You can check out all their other presentations and shows too! This particular show for The Denver Brass, along with all their other shows are very kid-friendly, and definitely are for all ages. I even saw a toddler who was mesmerized, and held very still during the whole show! I high recommend checking out The Denver Brass and their entire schedule, and venues.
*Disclaimer:I was compensated with free tickets to see and hear The Denver Brass at the Newman Center for Performing Arts (Denver University). My opinions and views expressed here are my own.
Do we ever look up anymore, or talk with one another? Or are our heads buried in our phones, smart devices, tablets, and readers?
Here I sit at the tire shop- my tires need replacing. I can’t replace just the one or two in trouble. I need to replace them all. The country song, “knee deep” is blaring on the radio. One guy is eating a meal from Whole Foods and on his smart phone at the same time! I’m engrossed in writing this blog post, another guy is watching movies and streaming Hulu with headphones on his smart phone. The guy across from me is watching all of us on our respective devices and is laughing. He’s an older gentleman and doesn’t understand what all this technology is about. He makes me uncomfortable because he is the only one looking for conversation, looking around, not reading or texting or streaming a movie. Why can’t he just look down? These are the thoughts in my head as I hum along to the song I recognize. I keep typing this post because I love the idea … do we ever look up? No, because it means we may need to interact. That seems uncomfortable to me.
When did we stop interacting with one another? When did we become so crazy and addicted to technology? I was mouthing the words to “knee deep,” and this provided him an opportunity to talk with me. A few awkward moments of conversation later, I look back down, and am relieved to be typing this post again. Typing, on my itty bitty magical handheld device. This provides me comfort, provides me with entertainment. This passes the time for me. I look up and no one is looking up or around save for that one gentleman who has no idea what the fuss is all about.
As I write this post, another guy has now sat down with his ultrabook and began working on it. That’s 7 out of 8 of us in this repair shop with our heads down, our eyes going bad from focusing on small writing and letters. That’s 7 out of 8 of us shut out from the world, but comfortable, happy, and completely complacent in not making awkward, unnecessary conversation with one another. Will we ever look up? I have no idea, but it is nice to have something to do while waiting for my car to get fixed.
They said it couldn’t be done. History indicates America has never re-elected a President in a bad economy or with the unemployment rate so high.
But despite the plan put forth by Gov Mitt Romney and running mate, Paul Ryan, Americans chose the team of Barack Obama and Joe Biden for four more years; for FORWARD. Camelot is here to stay another term.
I heard repeatedly from my GOP husband, independents, and tea party friends that nothing matters but the economy. And while Romney was not as strong of a candidate as Reagan, or Clinton (both beat incumbents in office to prevent a second term), he touted his record in Mass., the Olympics in Utah, and his corporate experience as claims to fame for economic growth. They looked promising to many. The platform by Romney/Ryan touted “Change” – platform that Obama won with in 2008. In the end, when the states turned beautiful shades of red or blue, Obama carried Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wisconsin which was telling. Paul Ryan is a Congressman in Wisconsin yet could not carry the state for VP; Michigan is where Mitt Romney grew up and touted as his home; and Massachusetts where his “victory” party was held and where he was once Governor went quite easily…blue.
How is this possible? Everyone seemed shocked. Well, everyone except for brilliant math/stat guru Nate Silver and his cohorts at the NY Times Blog, Five Thirty Eight. He predicted it very well. How can this have happened? The economy is in the tank, I am paying upwards of $3.00 per gallon for gasoline, and I did not get 100% of the change promised in 2008? Well, it’s simple really. It all comes down to those issues we all discounted during the entire campaign: Social Issues – they matter! If 2008 wasn’t a wake up call for the GOP, 2012 should be a slap in the face to wake the #^&! up, GOP. I can say that. I used to be a proud GOP member until the 2nd GW Bush term. There are some important issues defining this nation and it is no longer the country of our parents or grandparents. For first generation Americans like myself, it is no longer the nation of bigotry, discrimination, nor are we a “Christian” nation. We are a nation of different faces, beliefs, orientations, and we are here to stay! If anything, it will evolve even further from what your grandparents’ and parent’s generation believed in. And guess what? That’s okay people. If you feel you don’t belong, or your values are a thing of the past, my advice to you is: Evolve, join the new face, or honestly, get left behind. Again, if 2008 wasn’t a wake up call, last night should have been.
Here are some hot issues which defined this election:
(1) Equality for All- whether you are gay, straight, woman, man, Christian, non-Christian, black, white, Asian, or Hispanic, we are all a fabric of American society. Obama said in 2009 that marriage was 1 man 1 woman, but then since taking office, his administration never enforced the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines marriage as 1 man, 1 woman, and therefore, DOJ never prosecuted or enforced it. That means, it is essentially a dead law/a dead act and now, the final steps are in motion for its repeal. Mr. Obama changed his views and said marriage and benefits should insure to same-sex partners too in 2011-2012. Mr. Romney and Ryan from day 1 said no way – no how. No gay marriage, no gay rights, and that DOMA would remain. The military is better off with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy repealed and thankfully Paul Ryan finally did acknowledge that they would not have re-implemented that but still, Romney started off saying he would re-instate it. That is not FORWARD, that is backwards thinking.
(2) Equal Pay- another hot issue is equal pay for women. Can’t believe it’s 2012 and we are still talking about this but alas, the disparity still exists and during the debates while it came out a couple of times, there was no promise of equal pay for women by the GOP. Instead, women were objectified and put into “binders”. Gov Romney, in the second debate, stated, “I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.” Frankly, Romney and Ryan did not connect nor appeal to the majority of women in this country. Their platform actually stated that women should not be in combat roles or in combat. It’s 2012 and women are in the military.
(3) Healthcare– Healthcare actually influenced this election – there are those who are denied insurance and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) actually helps them. These people have jobs but their kids could have pre-existing conditions or women under plans are denied coverage due to such conditions as well. ACA has some success stories for middle income families too, and it mattered. Most were against ACA because while some health reform was necessary, I guess not this one. Maybe Massachusetts was better? Wait! Didn’t Romney assist with that plan with bi-partisan effort? Why didn’t he win then? Here is why: He vowed from day 1 to repeal it instead of vowing to reform it. Everyone wants health care reform and presidents since Reagan have grappled with the issue. This one did something with it so don’t repeal it- reform it to make it work. That is why he lost on this issue. Granted, he would not have been able to repeal it without support from the Senate or Congress anyway, but when you say you will take away something that affects millions, it has a negative impact on your chances of winning. Good leaders assess what is working or not working, and they make change based on what the people want. The people voted.
(4) Immigration & minority issues- this issue had an impact on the election too. Immigration was not addressed as thoroughly but Romney’s answer for immigration was “self-deportation” but allowing the kids of those that self-deport to stay here. Clearly, that did not go over well clearly as Hispanics overwhelmingly voted for Obama or other candidates.
(5) Women’s issues– listen, people, it’s not about ABORTION. It is not about baby killing- it is about CHOICE. It is about women’s health. Planned Parenthood is not an abortion machine. It is there to help women. We can’t have it both ways, folks. We can’t complain about young women on welfare with tons of kids if we don’t do something to help her prevent unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, or help them learn about women’s health to begin with. Education is the best tool we have and Planned Parenthood does more than offer birth control. Planned Parenthood helps teens, and women who need it for so much more than aborting a pregnancy. It is family planning too and ultimately, we should be empowering women with choice that makes sense – it is not the 1800s anymore. When you come out against birth control, against choice, against helping women with health and wellness (those who need it), then you are saying you don’t care. Oh and by the way, this issue was tied into healthcare a bit as well.
Bottom line- If you don’t think social issues matter, think again. They matter because they affect people on a more fundamental level than the economy. Social issues matter because they define who we are as a nation in principle. So, here are lessons learned from this for both sides:
FIRST, to both sides, did we really spend upwards of $2 billion in negative ads? People got it from the debates and all the blah blah blah talking- listen candidates, people are smarter than you think and that $2 billion could have been used to reduce our deficit instead of attacking each other and putting the nation through this. Negative campaigning is hurtful for the nation and there can be no recovery from it. So, we need legislation to stop and limit the campaign spending. This was beyond ridiculous!
SECOND, to the GOP, whom I want to see become a seemingly “normal” moderate party again. WAKE UP! Stop letting one religion spill over into social issues that people care about. Religious freedom means ALL religions are able to practice freely and without being persecuted not just Christians. It also means that Christians are not attacked either. More importantly, it means ALL religion stays separate from governance and is not wrapped up in it and therefore, no shoving your religious values and will onto others’ when it come to the law. There are a lot of atheists too who have rights too. So, if your Church is against gay marriage, that is fine- don’t let your preacher marry my two girlfriends, but for Pete’s sake, don’t discriminate against them under the law. They should be able to get married and enter into the same contracts heterosexuals do under state and federal law for benefits, health insurance, tax breaks, and other privileges that spouses get. A military same-sex partner should be able to get the same benefits when her same sex partner dies fighting in Afghanistan that a heterosexual military spouse gets. Also, another tip: Stop trying to govern women’s health issues and their right to choose what is good for them and seriously, old, white men, stop talking about reproduction and uteri like you know what you are talking about including rape. You really don’t know or understand. If you don’t evolve with the times, you will be a dinosaur party because if the last two elections have not sent the message, I do not know what will. And yes, Mourdock and Aiken lost!
In the end, a decision has been made and we must all unite and move on. The bickering, the ugliness, the spewing of hate and talk about revolution (yeah, I am looking at you toupe Trump) just brings our country further down and brings our way of life into question. The people have spoken (not overwhelmingly) but let’s not even talk about close elections -remember 2000? If you think GW Bush was popular, think again but we salute smartly, we respect the man in the office and move on! If you can’t, I got some real estate in the Ukraine you can use for four years.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are mine- only mine. They do not reflect upon my employers nor are the views of my employer and not sponsored by said employer. This is a personal blog, and is not associated in any way with my employment in the United States Government.
Well, here we are, 10 days before yet another Presidential election and this one is gonna be close. History has taught us a lot about close elections including the unprecedented decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Bush v. Gore (2000) – who would have thought that the Judicial Branch would decide who our President is, not the people? The decision brings into question our entire election process and since 2000, scholars and voters have asked their Congressmen and Senators to take another look at the Electoral College and how we elect our leaders. Here we are, though, 12 years later, facing another election in which popular vote may or may not matter.
History of the vote or suffrage in the United States fascinates me. Voting rights are part of the Constitution for all citizens, naturalized or otherwise. But it was not until 1870 that blacks received the right to vote under the 15th Amendment. And even later than that, in 1920, 92 years ago, women received the right to vote.
Today, only about half of the eligible citizens in America turn out to vote, which is generally the lowest among all the democratic nations of the world, but in 2008, voter turnout broke all records at 130 million people voting compared to 1960 (Kennedy won) when 122.3 million voters voted. (reference: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15306.html) If you look at a historical voter turn out chart (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections), it is sad how few people turn out to actually vote or in today’s world, send in their ballots. Why is that?
Have you voted yet? WHY DO YOU VOTE? I would love to hear your opinions on why you vote… (please no political discussions this time- just talk about suffrage and what is it that makes you keep coming back to vote- or alternately, why do you abstain from voting?)
And by the way, it is okay to admit you do not vote or don’t care. When I met my husband almost 10 years ago, he did not vote- he said, “my vote doesn’t matter really.” I disagreed with him, and since I met him, he has voted in every Presidential/Congressional election. This year he said to me, “wow, I have never watched all the debates, but this is the first time” and from them spawned some fascinating discussions about the pros and cons of each of the candidates and the entire political process.
Why do I vote? I vote because I think that is the greatest right I have and if I do not exercise it, I have no standing to complain about that which is going on around me that I did nothing about. Voting for local candidates, state candidates and ballot measures, for Senate, for Congress and for the Office of the President is the greatest right I have and even while I may hate the electoral process -namely, a representative democracy, I vote because it is a freedom guaranteed to me under the Constitution as a law abiding citizen. I cannot imagine a greater exercise of that which people fought for me to get – a U.S. born woman & citizen of immigrant parents, I vote because it is just something I cannot take for granted- ever!
There are only 48 days before Super Tuesday, November 6, and honestly, ever since the heavy political campaigning started about 32 days ago, I have wanted to and shied away from posting about politics. Well, now that I have attended my first grassroots event and really started following both sides, I cannot hold back. You can see some of my pictures from the Grassroots event I attended- my first ever.
I saw President Obama speak in Golden, Colorado on September 13, 2012, and had a blast! It helped to be in good company, my friends from work, and of course, the other 10,000+ folks that were there too. The weather was gorgeous- crisp, sunny, clear and beautiful Colorado through and through. It was a good time and it was nice to see the President – I had never seen him before. I wish I was closer but all in all, great event and as usual, the President delivered. By the way, I wrote these four years ago and worth a read before you read my article on politics below: ARTICLE 1 on EXPECTATIONS and the CAMELOT ARTICLE. There are more if you look under my political archives too.
So, attending that event got me thinking about a post and while I could just write about the Grassroots event and what an amazing experience it was, I decided to write some political stuff. So, here goes – Politics 101 based on my experiences to get us through the next 48 days of what promises to be a very tight race:
1. Family — ah… family! Family should always be important and more important than politics but for some reason every four years, families are on the brink of war and alienation all over some random guys and gals whom you never met nor know personally. My parents and I now have a rule because it is just not worth it – don’t talk about it. It is not worth giving my dad another heart attack over or regretting something said later down the road. In the end, family is too important. They can vote for candidate X and you can vote for Candidate Y- in the end, it doesn’t matter. Want to know why? The Damn Electoral College – that’s why. (read on below my rants on The Electoral College)
2. Yes… as I was saying and as you already know, America, while it calls itself a democracy and invades and assists other countries to get voting rights and processes in place, is not a pure democracy. Why? Some founding fathers, centuries ago, thought it was a wise idea to set up something called an Electoral College and put it in the Constitution. SURVEY SAYS: WRONG! The Electoral College lends itself to a representational democracy NOT PURE DEMOCRACY so bigger, more represented states get to choose our President for us. The other side effects of the Electoral College: campaign financing that can blow your mind- it sure does blow the mind of developing nations. People dump millions, and billions are spent on campaigning by mainly 2 parties because again, the electoral college is such that no other parties can really EVER get ahead or get any electoral votes to win or make a difference. Third parties cannot get ahead and thus, we as a country really don’t either. Ask yourself- when was the last time SINCE YOU STARTED TO VOTE you really aligned 100% with one candidate or the other? Yeah… that’s what I thought. While the Electoral College, like some parts of our Constitution, was a great idea back then when the country was smaller, and brand spanking new, we need to evolve as a people and end that too but alas, special interest groups, PACs, and some of these States will probably not let that happen. But alas, I could devote an entire book on why we need to evolve past the Electoral College altogether.
3. Now, let’s focus on the true concerns of why we vote one way or another- is it the economy? Sure, it is a huge issue. When we are doing well, people tend to think things are going well so they vote for who they think is responsible. Wrong- it’s not just the President. It takes a bunch of people and sectors to make things tick in the economy. The President plays a small role in that. Social concerns worrying you? That is another reason people vote a certain way for President. The biggest ones this year appear to be: gay marriage rights (including benefits and marriage itself), pro-choice v. pro-life (which appears every election year and nothing really has changed), and this year add in a new one: Affordable Care Act (health care). All of these concerns seem to drive how people vote but it goes deeper for others. For some, it is about taxation- who will raise them, who will not, or who will give to social programs rather than defense and the like. Religion, like it or not, plays a role in how people vote too.
4. Another big concern that moves people to vote a certain way is the Supreme Court composition. As a lawyer, and lover of the Constitution (I used to teach Constitutional Law) this concerns me too. Currently, the composition of the court is 5-4. This means 5 of the 9 are presumed conservative and 4 are liberal. But, this really shouldn’t be the decisive issue because Justice Kennedy has been a swing vote (he was a Reagan appointee) and very recently, a very conservative Justice Roberts upheld the Affordable Health Care Act as Constitutional. Justice Roberts was a G.W. Bush appointee. So… things aren’t always what they seem. But the obvious concern for this election is Justice Ginsberg. Many thought she would have retired under President Obama’s first term but that did not happen. Supreme Court Justices are life appointments so, the worry is that in the next 4-8 years, this can be a huge swing for the court. If Justice Ginsberg retires or heaven forbid, something happens while she sits on the bench, then the President appoints, through a nomination process, a replacement and this can swing the court very conservative to a 6-3 court which can then have the effect of revisiting Roe v. Wade and of course, other cases as well. This is a valid concern and one that SHOULD impact voting but keep in mind, not all Justices vote the way their party or President wants them to which is a great thing about the Supreme Court and the independence of the SCOTUS.
5. Foreign policy and international opinion have mattered recently as well. The President is a figurehead and someone who does represent us in a global economy to other nations. So, it matters and more and more because we are losing our status as a super power. Other countries’ economies and educational systems are pulling ahead of ours. It matters how a President handles him or herself in a global situation – crisis or otherwise. If anything, the Presidency of G.W. Bush taught us that how a President is perceived overseas also impacts our nation’s perception and ultimately, our standing in the world. I lived overseas when the events of 9/11 occurred and subsequent to that as well. Trust me, it matters. So, while not as important to Americans as other issues this is also a consideration when voting. Recently, there were some uprisings in the Middle East and how our leaders react to these situations is quite telling- about them, their character, and ultimately how they will handle foreign affairs and domestic matters when in office. When a small faction of our population (let’s use LA as an example) riot, we do not, for example, bomb all of California as a lesson. We punish the wrong doers, the looters, the rioters. We try to stop the rioting, and use diplomacy along with force to end the root cause of the riots. While the U.S. does not need another war, it will be interesting to see how we handle the uprisings in the Middle East and around the world. The country has at its disposal several instruments of power – diplomatic, economic, informational, and of course military. It is the use of all of these and the balancing of all when used that determine whether we are successful in a global crisis or war OR not.
6. Military, Defense and Wars matter. This was a huge reason why people elected Barack Obama in 2008. They wanted to end wars especially Iraq which really seemed like an invasion without justification. Our economy, our people, can no longer stomach the loss of lives to foreign wars anymore. It’s cyclical really. We were isolationists in the 40s too and WWII was hard to enter but we were basically drawn out to enter. When you talk to people today, more and more want peace and diplomacy to the “seek, attack and destroy” mentality of yester-years. It does not mean we shrink our military to nothing but it also means we pull some of the funding towards rebuilding and taking care of our own here at home instead of doing countless thankless missions overseas where sadly, some nations may not even want us there. Sadly, some nations where we are present kill our troops even though our troops are there to help and nation build. This issue is near to dear to me and I am sure to a lot of military families. Ending wars, engaging in well thought-out conflicts only where we have to, and whenever possible, using diplomacy and other instruments of our national power to hopefully resolve issues.
8. Conversely, using social media to spread messages that others have strong views about (pro-life, gay marriage and religion), can have a negative effect too. Depending on how it’s handled, some not only risk losing followers, they also risk losing respect of those close to them. Social media, when used properly in politics, can be a powerful tool. Just look at Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. He used social media in the right way to win. But, he had then and has now, a barrage of people running his campaign. You may not have people vetting your information or filtering what you say. So, engaging people on fundamental issues could really have a negative effect on your job, if social media is your job or promotes your company. And just like a job on the outside, bad publicity can have a negative impact on your earnings too.
9. And with that, I add one more thing about politics 101 to those who avoid politics like the plague and don’t want to talk about it- and I do mean this nicely: lighten up! Do not get upset every time you see a picture or a political post, and while you should certainly pick your battles, don’t shy away from it completely. Embrace the positive and the negative. After all, if you watch “Slutty Housewives of….” and can’t stomach a little political ad here and there (including the horribly negative ones), come on now! I agree that all politics need a make over in our country but this make-over can only come if we make it happen and write our Congressmen and Senators and maybe encourage the elimination of the Electoral College, which would also be a step in the proper direction.
10. Finally, there is a reason why elections are negative. Because we are a 2-party system, and less than 50% of Americans actually go out and vote, it begs the question that most people actually vote for the “lesser of the two evils.” Yes, that is how sad a 2-party system can be but that is what most Americans say. For example, “Why are you voting for GW Bush instead of Kerry?” RESPONSE: “I don’t like Kerry, and while GW Bush is a moron, Kerry is a bigger moron so I choose GW Bush.” WHAT?! That is how it works so in this game of building a house of cards, if the other guy can tear down your house, it’s simple really – he or she wins. That is why there are negative ads, and in social media, why people cut the other guy down. Plain and simple, most Americans who vote aren’t JUST voting for the guy they like and the reasons they like him, they are also voting for who they can tolerate the most leading their nation. That is why the other guy has to be painted in a negative light, or if he or she commits public gaffes, well then, not much negativity has to be done because the case is made for them. So, I understand why people are upset about negative ads or people on social media cutting down the other side but that is how politics truly works in a 2-party system. If you do not like negative ads, do something about it instead of complaining about it all the time. Like it or not, they are here to stay because of our current political climate, the 2-party system, and all the reasons why that exists.
And finally, to all those who despise this “most wonderful time of the year,” remember, this is once every four years and it is the only part of a NON-Pure democracy we can actually engage in, be heard and maybe, along the way, make some new friends out of … let’s hope not enemies. For me, it helps me understand those different than me. I may not agree with them but it helps me try to understand them or their background. Or, it just firms up how crazy they truly are. Ha! Either way, at the end of the day, and after November 6, we are all going to be EXACTLY THE SAME- Americans living our lives- sending our kids to school, going to work, paying our taxes, helping charities and doing community service, blogging away, attending our respective churches to pay homage to our respective Gods (or not), and saying the same pledge of allegiance: “one nation…. with liberty and justice for all.”
Disclaimer (small – very small – teeny tiny writing): This post is my opinion and it does not reflect on my employers or any of the positions I hold. I write this in my personal capacity as a blogger, a hobby I truly enjoy. And… finally, if you post a comment you believe should be posted but does not make the cut, remember, my blog is my own and a benevolent dictatorship not a representational democracy like the Electoral College. Thanks for understanding and go out there and vote- make a difference and get your friends to do the same. It does matter!