Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Wednesday
    Sep142011

    How the CNN Tea Party Debate Scared the Ever-Loving Crap Out of Me

    Via Politico http://www.politico.com/

    Yesterday morning a colleague said that he was going to text me Monday night during the now infamous Gardasil Debate of 2011 but he wasn’t sure if I was awake and thought he might be disturbing me. Little did he know that I was already disturbed beyond belief and wide awake thinking that should one of these eight GOP contenders become President (well, all except for Jon Huntsman) then how would I and could I possibly flee the country. It becomes a very real possibility when all of the candidates did a Perry pile-on. The man who formerly proposed that his state of Texas secede from the union wants to now be President of the entire country. Oh, the irony of it all.

    I watch these debates in part to learn more about the ‘enemy’ but also because I enjoy being informed even if the process is maddening. Monday’s debate - the second in four days - was infuriating but at least now I know. I tell myself that knowledge is power as I listen to Tea Party audience members whoop and holler for the death of a coma patient who doesn’t have health-insurance. It’s disturbing, at least for me, but then again as someone on Twitter so brilliantly pointed out these debates aren’t ‘for liberals’ they’re for Republicans and their grassroots activists. So I sit back and watch while my toes curl in disbelief.

    Some of my favorite moments - all in jest of course because if I were to point out the severity and my genuine shock of what was said well, I’d question how Montreal would feel about having me as a citizen. And please - and I mean this genuinely - if you do agree with points that the candidates made, feel free to share and enlighten me.:

    1) Michele Bachman is definitely still around. Even better she hates vaccines or is unaware of the exact purpose of vaccinations. The definition of vaccine according to Merriam-Webster: a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.

    The Gardasil vaccine that she is so virulently against - and I will say that no one should be forced into inoculation but one (a parent) should also be aware of the deep consequences of not vaccinating their child. But that is also a different discussion and a bunch of moms are now giving me the evil eye. The point is that I think she is mistaken as to the purpose of a vaccine against HPV which is what Gardasil is. She ended up coming across as a woman who would totally be down with Measles, Mumps and Rubella making a comeback.

    2) That fucking fence to keep the brown people (from Mexico) out came up again. Apparently this is a good idea but the best part is the entire conversation against “illegal aliens” then less then five minutes later the candidates were asked how they plan to court the Latino vote. So..wait a minute: You’re going to keep a large population of Latinos out and/or insult them horribly by referring to them as illegal aliens and then you’re going to try and get them to vote for you? Again with the irony and head scratching on my part because really? I mean REALLY? At least Rick Perry had a Texas-sized DREAM Act to fall back on and the rest piled on because why should we allow these children of immigrants to get an education? How dare they?!

    3) Another word where the candidates seem to be unaware of the definition would be ‘treason’. Back to Merriam-Webster for the definition: 1: the betrayal of a trust 2 : the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family

    My memory isn’t what it used to be but I don’t remember Ben Bernanke selling nuclear secrets to North Korea regardless, all eight candidates thought that Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve should be tried for treason. TREASON. Like he’s Benedict Arnold or some such BS.

    I’ve run out of words for that nonsense save for; don’t any of these candidates own a dictionary? Or have access to Google?

    4) Rick Perry is so adorable. He thinks that he deserves accolades and credit for creating jobs in Texas and then goes on to tell his base how gosh darn awful President Obama’s stimulus programs were. According to Governor Perry the stimulus didn’t create and/or save jobs. How much trouble will I get in for referring to him as a lying liar? Ok..I’ll say that he is clearly getting information on job creation in his state from an unreliable source. Immediately after Perry’s statement on how terrible stimulus was and how he’s the Texan wonder for creating all those jobs, PoliFact showed that no, stimulus helped to save and/or create the jobs he’s now taken credit for saving. Oy.

    5) Jon Huntsman who? No, really, where was Ambassador Huntsman in all of this? Poor guy has one foot in the grave when it comes to this election and it really is a shame.



    I tend to be facetious in times like this because I cannot allow my brain to wrap around this amount of absurdity. Conservatives will of course say that by agreeing with any of President Obama’s policies I, too, am absurd and in need of a lobotomy. That might be true but I will and always have looked at all candidates to find out where we agree and disagree. I only wish to see more of that from the Tea Party.

    Did you watch Monday night’s debate? What did you think?

    Related:

    The Fix: The Florida Republican Debate: What We Learned

    Roland S. Martin: Best of the CNN Tea Party Debate (Video)

    Rolling Stone: GOP Tea Party Debate: Highlights and Lowlights

    Big Journalism: CNN Shows MSNBC How a Debate is Done

     
    Monday
    Sep122011

    Democracy Isn't Sexy 

    I didn’t vote in a proper voting booth for the first time until 2008. Until then I had relied on paper absentee ballots that only required a writing utensil and a mailbox. The very first election I voted in (2002) I readied myself with a pen to make my mark on the democratic process. I was finally able to put my two sense in. I got the paper, filled it out, mailed it back and that was the end of that. My first non-midterm general election took place in 2004 where I voted for doomed Kerry-Edwards while working at their headquarters. I voted for them not only because I believed but because I was sure that there were cameras abound watching my every pen stroke.



    My first voting booth experience left much to be desired. I was excited and nervous. What if I did it wrong, is what went through my head. What if for some reason my ballot was thrown out and Barack Obama lost by one vote in Albany country? What if. It was fine. Boring and uneventful but fine. There were retirees to point me in the right direction. Baked goods for sale. A father gripping the hand of his daughter. I pulled the lever and it was done.

    It’s the lead up to Election Day that gets my heart pumping. Of course millions of people chant and burn sage while crossing their fingers just to get the first Tuesday in November over with. These days both on and off year races start two years in advance with ad buys, fundraisers, the daily email with a personal subject line making the recipient think that it’s a real email when in fact is just another ask for money by the filing deadline. This can all lead to weary voters who would be happy with just a brief fact sheet and one debate a month before the election. But the 24 hour news cycle and laptop pundits - I will add myself as a pain in the ass in the latter category - make it next to impossible.

    It frustrates me when people don’t follow politics or care. When the act of living in a representative democracy turns into a royal non-stop pain in the ass full of mudslinging across the aisles, spin cycles and speculation. Unfortunately we have yet to find a happy medium. With our great fortune of a two party system and the first amendment come months - nay years - of in your face candidacy. Even I get sick of it and thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in New Hampshire or Iowa.

    There needs to be a middle ground - or people need to find their middle ground. Somewhere between being an informed voter and being completely apathetic. I, personally, would like for you to be informed and I am going to be that annoying person who writes and tweets about debates and candidacies and why I would totally vote for Jon Huntsman. More importantly I think living in this democracy gives us an opportunity to ask those questions and talk about things in a candid - non-threatening and non-menacing - way.

    Democracy isn’t the most exciting thing around but it's the weeks leading up to standing in front of the ballot box that are the most important. And I just want to talk about it.

    Related:

    The Fix has a breakdown of tonight’s CNN Republican debate
    (follow on Twitter #cnnteaparty)

    BlogHer Moms has a piece on why moms should get involved to make their schools better
    Wednesday
    Aug312011

    We're the Ones You Want

    My strong, unwavering passion for women in politics is sometimes called into question. Why are you so passionate is what is often asked. Why am I so adamant about political engagement when it comes to women? If I want women to run for office so badly, then why don’t I just run myself?

    In my mind the answer is pretty clear: Because we, as women haven’t been politically engaged. Because so many of us say that we just don’t care. Because we are an apathetic bunch. This concerns me greatly as I watch two 50 year old men duke it out on national television over one of the smallest increases of the debt ceiling in history. I grow concerned when congress prepares to end federal funding for planned parenthood and in a time when men are in control of both houses of congress and the White House, I find that women are sitting back on their laurels as the cuts happen. Right now everything is on the chopping block including education funding for your children, health care for you and pre-existing condition called ‘pregnancy’. Essentially services that affect us most are the first to go and yet we don’t care. Correction; we do care but not until it’s far too late.

    No party is immune from viewing women as an afterthought but since right now there’s a 2012 primary of the ages happening on the right, I figure I’ll look at them and their track record for thinking of women as blithely and blindly following along. Oh, but Heather, at least the GOP has women running for President, what does the other side have? True. But have you seen the options for women? Sarah - I gave up the other job I was elected to half way through but now I want to try out being President. Maybe. - Palin. And Michelle - Earthquakes and hurricanes are Gods way of sending a message to politicians - Bachmann. It’s like the lesser of two, possibly three, evils and neither have stood up for things like the need for women focused health care services and their views on education and most domestic policy are non-existent. To date, the only GOP contender prepared to offer any sort of jobs plan is Jon Huntsman.

    It isn’t fair of me to categorically summarize all women in politics as the Palin, Bachmann lot because there are plenty of others on both sides of the aisle who are focused on issues pertaining to those of us who make up a majority of the population. That doesn’t keep looks of deep concern from creeping on my face. I question every single day how do we change this? What can we do to get the conversation started?

    Quick digression to say that the reason for this post and deep sighs from me this morning was thanks to a piece by Patrick Gavin at Politico. He wrote about the number of political/2012 focused panels being proposed for the upcoming SXSW interactive festival in Austin. If you are unfamiliar with SXSW it is a festival exploring what’s up and coming in music, film and interactive media. While the number of proposals on politics in 2012 is large he makes reference to the following:

    "How Social Media Imperils Political Parties," with The New York Times's Matt Bai and political strategists Mark McKinnon, Joe Trippi and Nathan Daschle.

    "Reporters & Evangelists: Politics of Online News," featuring Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz.

    "Poli-Sci-Fi Punditry: Nerdy Political Bloggers," featuring Slate's David Weigel, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, the American Prospect's Adam Serwer and the Center for American Progress's Alyssa Rosenberg.

    "Big Data: Powering the Race for the White House," with The Winston Group's Kristen Soltis.

    "2012: Social Media's New Role in Politics," with The Huffington Post's Mark Blumenthal.

    "Election 2012: Campaigns, Coverage & the Internet" with Time magazine's Michael Scherer.

    The thing is that I am at least a fan or a follower of many of the proposed panelists. The one key politics and 2012 that Patrick managed to miss? The one that gets the conversation how women can involve themselves in politics and how politicians can get them on board? It’s this one:

    “We are the Ones You Want: Women online and politics”

    Women: 51% of the population who control 80% of the spending. We are naturally passionate and immersed in our respective communities. We rule the online world and have drawn the attention of marketers and PR companies, when it comes to politics and government there is still a tremendous lag. Those in the political arena still approach women as an afterthought and because of the disengagement, women feel ignored by politicians and develop a sense of apathy. Women and politicians are avid users of social media; this conversation will explore how both groups can engage each other over the course of the next election and beyond.Things across the country are heating up and it is important for women and politicians to engage with one another at all levels of government.

    Full disclosure: The panel was submitted by me along with Joanne Bamberger and David Wescott.  But more importantly it is a conversation that I and many others are dying to have. How do we get women involved in politics? How do we get women to realize that what happens politically on the local/state/federal level does, in fact, affect them? I don’t think we’ll answer my favorite question “How do we get women to care?” but at least it’s a start and just 14 months before one of the most watched presidential elections in our history, it’s a conversation that needs to happen. Sooner rather than later.