Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Sunday
    Sep182011

    How They Got Off the Sidelines

    Over the summer I attended an event with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and I spent a solid 10 minutes gushing to her (and her staff) about how much I loved the premise of Off the Sidelines and I couldn’t wait to get involved. Let’s just say that I am a true believer on getting women off the sidelines and into politics. During a moment of our exchange - and this is why I am a huge Senator Gillibrand fan because she’s a Senator who speaks to people like she isn’t above them as some politicians are wont to do - she said to me “You’re sick of being the only woman in the room, right? Because it totally sucks”.

    Yes, Senator, it does.

    Simone L. Ward, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood’s story of getting off the sidelines (full disclosure Simone is former colleague of mine and I adore her just a bit)



    New York State Senator Diane Savino’s story on becoming an accidental politician

    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