Equality

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So unless you were hiding under a rock, you were at least marginally aware that we’ve just wrapped up two weeks’ worth of political party conventions. The every four years parties to tell us why we should support your party.

Perhaps equally obvious to you if you know me at all is that this week’s DNC convention was a little more agreeable to me than last weeks GOP event 🙂

You probably also know that what finally dragged me away from the GOP were social issues, specifically the issue of marriage equality.

Therefore it will come as NO SHOCK to know that MY favorite speech of the two weeks was not all that obvious and not even in prime time. There were surely many tear inducing, cheer inducing, goose bump inducing moments this week. But this one – this one spoke to my heart and the issue that is more important to me than all the others.

I’m a sixth-generation Iowan, an Eagle Scout, and I was raised by my two moms, Jackie and Terry.

People want to know what it’s like having lesbian parents. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m awesome at putting the seat down. Otherwise, we’re like any other family. We eat dinner, we go to church, we have chores. But some people don’t see it that way. When I was 12, watching the 2004 Republican convention, I remember politicians talking about protecting marriage from families like mine.

Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn’t radical. For many people, it’s a matter of faith. We respect that. Watching that convention on TV, though, I felt confused, frustrated. Why didn’t they think my family was a real family?

Governor Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father. I think every child deserves a family as loving and committed as mine. Because the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us; that’s what makes a family. Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.

President Obama understands that. He supports my moms’ marriage. President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right. Without his leadership, we wouldn’t be here. President Obama is fighting for our families — all of our families. He has our backs. We have his.

— Zach Wahls

May 9th – Leadership

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It’s funny because I was going to post something on my political site about the one issue that has disappointed me with this President in terms of lack of courage and leadership.

No need for that post anymore 🙂

Really – is there anything else to say about the day? Being the political junkie that I am it pretty much dominated my world in the hours leading up to the announcement. Reading reactions after just solidified to me why this needed to happen. So many heart warming from people whose lives were touched so positively by hearing a sitting President state his support for them. Sure, I worked. I went out to dinner with the boyfriend. I had the usual tussle with 15 over how he is preparing  for his AP exam. But all of that happened somehow in the background. The boyfriend and I walked about this and how it is such a no brainer to us but then, we live in So Cal. Even though voters in our state made a huge mess of things in ’08, in our experience personally this is no big deal.

In fact, we’ve come so far that at one point last night I saw a tweet go by that pretty much summed it up (wish I could remember who it was but they were flying so fast & furious it was impossible to keep track:

“Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank is talking to openly gay TV host Rachel Maddow about POTUS supporting marriage equality. LOVE”

 

 

Book #49 – The Promise

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The Promise: President Obama, Year OneThe Promise: President Obama, Year One by Jonathan Alter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#49

Reading this just after the GOP sweep in the midterms has left a bitter taste in my mouth. So much opportunity lost! Yet, Alter in many ways explains why, even though the book was written before the election. It is amazing how an administration can do so much and receive credit for so little. Yes, a lot of it is superficial messaging. Yes, many of us who are political junkies were dying for a man like Obama to speak to us like adults after 8 years of  ‘Git ‘er done!’ But once elected, the White House team’s unwillingness to bend to some of that need for superficial messaging meant that he lost touch with all BUT the most dedicated, wonky supporters. Sure *I* loved learning how the sausage was made, but I’m a nut! The average out of work, or barely working American losing his house didn’t give a rats ass. Alter does a great job explaining the machinations behind the scenes that happened and he rightfully highlights the very real, long term advances in foreign policy achieved by Obama personally. He also lists thoroughly the many domestic advances made and notes the rather high record for promises kept in just that first year (tracking thank to Politifact’s Obamameter).  But this book also reveals those shortcomings that would grow into the discontent leading to the mid term losses.  Short comings that, IMHO, are much more about optics & messaging than actual policy failures (though I admit to my own impatience on the DADT issue!) It’s a great read for both supporters and detractors of this President.

View all my reviews

That was my official Goodreads review, this is something that I jotted down midway through the book because it was a point which struck me very sharply:

Page 280 –

After his Asia trip in November 2009 Obama vented about the media. It was bad enough that they misreported the bi laterals, wrongly assuming he got nothing in return from the Chinese. (In fact, he said, they had moved in his direction on both climate change and sanctions against Iran.) The trip reinforced his view that the American media was fundamentally unserious. He bowed too deeply to the figurehead emperor of Japan. So what?

The United States had big challenges ahead in staying competitive, and much of the media, he thought, was clueless about what was truly important. For instance, he noted that President Lee Myong Bak of South Korea, presiding over a “very competitive” economy, had said that his biggest problem in education was that Korean parents were too demanding and were insisting on importing English teachers so their kids could learn English in first grade instead of having to wait for second grade. This is what complacent America was up against. “And then I sit down with U.S. reporters, and the question they have for me, in Asia, is ‘Have I read Sarah Palin’s book?'” At this point, the president shook his head, incredulous. “True. True story.”

As I tweeted while reading this book: Barack Obama is exactly the man I thought him to be when I voted for him. When I read Dreams of My Father I was mightily impressed with a man of such depth, self confidence, pragmatism & thirst for knowledge. I felt like on a personal level I connected with who he is and what he wants from the country more than any other politician. Perhaps because he is from my generation. Perhaps because he didn’t come from a privileged background. I’ve often felt like we see the world very from a very similar perspective.  One of the main issues we agree on 100% is the lack of substance in the media. I mean – look at that up there! This is a man traveling the world & seeing things that could help inspire our own country’s focus on how we educate our kids. He’s thinking of the generations to come who will lead us and how we are often failing them – and the reporter wants to talk about a book written by a failed VP candidate & quitter Governor? WTF? It is often no *wonder* that the things he has achieved flew under the radar or have been grossly misinterpreted/simplified or viewed largely through a Fox News conservative prism.  Even as much as I pay attention to multiple news sources & enjoy learning about the sausage making processes, there were still things in The Promise that had flown under MY radar! And that’s a problem. I think the WH needs to just admit that they cannot FORCE the media to suddenly change into something more substantive & that they may need to dumb down their own approach to explaining their goals & procedures. It sucks & I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but the bottom line is that a media driven by the bumper sticker 24/7 news cycle who absolutely lapped UP the Git ‘Er Done methodology cannot just swing back out the other way to longer sentences, nuance & intelligence. The WH is going to have to meet them part way on the messaging just as they have to keep struggling with negotiating with a GOP leadership whose one goal is to make his Presidency a failure at ANY cost.

Washington DC trip report Part 2

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I’m going to combine the Friday and Saturday visits into one so as not to be repetitive. Yes, we went twice since we had two sets of tour tickets from different congressional offices and because some of the group were not there Friday morning it made sense to go again Sat morning. Good thing! A lesson we learned – guided tours stop at 10:00am. You can still get in, but it’s a wander at your own pace thing with agents in some of the rooms who can explain the portraits on the walls, but you that’s it. Fridays tickets were for after 10, Saturdays time was 9:30. So if you go, request an early time to get a guide – it makes a HUGE difference.

The other thing to know – don’t bring anything! You don’t need anything except your ID. They allowed cell phones but they watched you turn them off and there was no way you were going to be able to sneak that puppy out and turn it on 😉 There are eyes everywhere! Also, no lockers. All of this is on the forms you get with you confirmation of a time but, you know, there is an idiot in every bunch right? On Saturday someone ditched a backpack on the grounds. Brilliant! It merely delayed the tour for a bit until they had gone around asking everyone about it. I assume a visitor admitted to ownership because it was only a momentary blip. On Monday though we were watching tv and the grounds were locked down due to an abandoned backpack! Media types were herded inside. The few who I follow on twitter indicated that it happened rather frequently. Groan. C’mon people! If you get lucky enough to secure a White House tour – follow the damn instructions!!

Lecture done 🙂 Here’s some pics of the rooms we went into that I snagged off the web since we clearly couldn’t take any of our own. Some cool tidbits of trivia will follow:

East Wing layout open for tours

East Wing layout open for tours

East Room

East Room

Those chandeliers? Stunning. Apparently it takes 30+ hours to clean each one piece by piece. Considering how they sparkled, I’d say it happens quite frequently too! I recognized this room as soon as we entered it. It’s where Obama has held some prime time news conferences and his health care town hall. As I stood in the doorway that led out to a hallway, I got a bit of a chill. This is the hallway:

East Room Hallway

East Room Hallway

Oops – guess I grabbed a thumbnail..but you get the idea. Red carpeted hallway leads into East Room and right inside the doorway (where I was standing at that moment) would be a podium where the President would stand for the press conference. I was standing where the President stood!! Weeeeee!

(yes, I know, the whole time we were in the White House we were going into places where ALL the President’s and their families have been and shoot, the entire family was right upstairs while we were there Saturday, but it was a particular thrill to stand in a spot and take in a view which was very recent. I was picturing the teleprompters & tv cameras and chairs full of reporters with the portraits of Mr & Mrs Washington on the wall behind them. Pretty awesome!

Green Room

Green Room

I am not even going to mention specific portraits in the rooms! I was impressed enough that the Secret Service agent could rattle them off. Oh, yes, our guided tour was conducted by an SS agent. He said they did the job because it helped to make them seem less scary to visitors. Good plan. Yes, he had the classic ear bud and was in the traditional dark suit. But he was not scary at all, in fact he was pretty nice & occasionally witty. He said he liked learning all the details of the house because then he could appreciate what he was protecting.  Anyway, each room has portraits of President’s, First Ladies & the occasional landscape. The furniture is all original as is the china on display.

Blue Room

Blue Room

Yes, these rooms really are as beautiful as they look in photos. More so of course as you can really see the textures. The carpets are gorgeous too.

Red Room

Red Room

When we were there Friday one of the moms noticed people touching the wall coverings and furniture as they wandered through. Aack! Are they nuts? Well, wouldn’t you know it but while we were in this room and even AFTER the SS guide told us NOT to touch anything – we saw some yahoo reach out and touch the wall when the guide was talking about it! Ugh.

Dining Room

Dining Room

The Dining Room is unique in that it only has one portrait in it – Lincoln. The painting was given to the collection under the request that it be the only one in the room. Given the many floor to ceiling windows, it works perfectly in there.

From there we exited out the north portico. Once outside we could turn on our phones & that is how I got the pictures that I posted on the very first Quickie Report. Now the cool thing about the north portico is what is ABOVE it. Here’s a more clear photo of it off the web:

North Portico

North Portico

So we were walking out of that door under the hanging light. The center window is conference/sitting room which is where Lincoln gave his last speech before his assassination. To the left as you are looking at is Sasha’s bedroom and to the right is Malia’s. How did we find that out? Because on Friday as we looked up we noticed a butterfly cutout hanging in the window on the left. We asked the SS guide about it at the end of our tour and they confirmed that the bedrooms were indeed up there.

Since we were kept strictly to the east/north end of the house, we never did see anything in or around the West Wing. The girls’ swing set is not visible from any of the public places either. Which is nice because it otherwise felt somewhat as if we were intruding when it was pointed out in one hallway that the screen blocking it off is removed when tours are over and then the family has the run of the house and that they do go everywhere.

Now for the fun trivia – yes, even cooler than knowing where the First Daughter’s bedrooms are!!

James K Polk

James K Polk

The shortest President at the time, his wife noticed that people would not even see when he entered a room so she requested that a song be played to announce his arrival. Hence, Hail to the Chief was born.

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President William Howard Taft – one of our larger Presidents was also a big baseball fan. He would regularly attend games. And part way through he would stand up between innings to stretch his legs. Let’s say – around the 7th inning? And since he was the President, everyone *else* would have to stand up too out of respect. Hence, the 7th inning stretch.

I just loved how two traditions that we’ve all just taken for granted as “we’ve always done it that way” and that seem so formal were born out of rather every day events & needs.

And that does it for Part 2. I promise more personal pictures in the next installment. I just had to document what I could remember of the White House before details seeped out of my porous memory. You’ll see that while we didn’t formally walk in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, we may have logged as many miles on our own not quite prepared for it feet ;->

Quickie DC report

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I’m sitting in the hotel restaurant having lunch as I wait for my airport shuttle. Last one here. It’s been the usual weekend of wonderful company with tons of laughter (gobs really), counselling, great food and sightseeing. Here’s the few photos I took with my phone that I can post right away. The rest, and there are a lot, will have to wait until later this week when I can get them off my camera. It’s been so liberating NOT having the laptop!!
We had to leave cameras behind on White House tours so here’s a few from the North lawn as we exited the grounds on Sat and then a Capitol shot and the Washington monument from yesterday.

What do you mean it’s not Adam Lambert Tuesday?

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I know I know, give it up right? Sigh..fine…but I’m taping all of the interviews they are making them do this week to get my fix.

I have to say though, that it’s turned out to be quite the eventful/historic Tuesday hasn’t it?

President Obama makes his first ever Supreme Court Nominee – Sonia Sotomayor:

080725_justices_sotomayor

What I know about the law and judges you could fit on the head of a very small pin so I wont opine too deeply other than to say that what I have read about her since this opening came up was very impressive and what I heard from her today at the announcement made me feel confident this is a very wise selection. And whether I agree with what Obama does or not, I always know he has put great thought into things and consulted with many voices first.

Then the California Supreme Court released it’s ruling to uphold the passage of Prop 8 but also to uphold the 18,000 marriages which took place between the first court ruling legalizing same-sex marraige and the passage of prop 8 in Nov.

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It’s an old cartoon, but it still applies and the decision is extremely disappointing but not unexpected. So, the fight continues. There will most likely be another initiative introduced in 2010 which will be more CLEAR about what people are voting on. I am also confident that the groups supporting equal rights will do a much *better* job about getting the word out than they did in ’08. Of course, even state recognition is just a part-way answer. As my friends explained who did get marriage in that window of opportunity, they still had to file taxes seperately on the federal level since all marriages are not recognized with them. *sigh* Gotta keep chipping away!

Today is also the 7 year anniversary of a guy just starting his own blog to release his frustration at the direction our country was going in:

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Well, now, that little sideline endeavor seems to have turned out pretty well, dontcha think? Happy Blogiversary Markos!

So I guess there is enough going on to distract me from missing the lack of a new Adam Lambert performance tonight.  Allow me one thought on him: I swear that kid is the second coming of Elvis! Perusing some fan boards this weekend the level of passion devoted to him is pretty stunning and it’s not all young girls and boys. It’s international and multi-generational and really pretty phenomenal. As was said to him in one interview this weekend – he will never be anonymous again.

Obligatory 100 days post

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Of course I had to write something since I was so into everything last year right? And heck, my guy won so it’s all good, right? Oh wait, you forgot I’m not a blind follower didn’t ya? Actually all of my liberal friends are neither blind, nor followers of ANY kind so no no no, we do not just sing the praises of our Democratic control in DC. Overall though, I certainly think things are much better that it would have been with McCain by a long shot so I’m pretty happy with the first 100. I give him a solid B (since the media seems so intent on a flipping letter grade!!)

What I love mostly is this flickr photo stream they released last night.  Some really awesome pictures of the first 100 days. You know what freaks me out though? That I can name almost all of those people in the pics with him! Of course, that’s probably good overall that I am so informed – and I certainly never was as aware in any other previous administration. Still kinda scary though 🙂

Here’s two of my favorite shots:

George Clooney in the Oval Office

George Clooney in the Oval Office

That shot of hotness took me by surprise as I viewed the slide show. MmmmMMmmm good! Check out that paint on the wall outside too! I love how many of the transition areas are decked out in some really bold and beautiful color schemes.

Blackberry dump

Blackberry dump

A pile o’blackberries on a table outside a meeting room with post it notes indicating the owner’s name. Guess that was to prevent the lawmakers from twittering from the meeting!