The Mosque in the Room

In Elections, New York, Opinion - theirs and mine on August 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ” ~Dalai Lama

Every election there’s the inevitable Thing – from here on known as The Thing. It’s The Thing that drums up controversy but has nothing to do with what is actually going on in the real world. It gives something a little more exciting and enticing for voters to talk about: This Thing that can either make or break an election to an unwitting candidate. Could you imagine being Kendrik Meek in Florida and being forced to comment on something that is located a thousand miles away nowhere near the Gulf of Mexico where you have actual problems? But alas not, this Mosque and positions on it will be the cross to bear of politicians this year. Well, the Mosque and jobs but unemployment figures don’t pack quite the wallop as “Did you hear that they’re building a Mosque ON Ground Zero?”

You can read anywhere that the Mosque isn’t physically on Ground Zero. It is near Ground Zero and requires walking and perhaps a stop at Duane Reade on the way there. But who cares about those minor details. The Mosque is not being built because the ‘terrorists will win’ it’s being built because there was probably space. I dunno, cheap space, perhaps? It is Manhattan after all. And they figured why the hell not? I truly do not know. What I am very well aware of is how this Mosque that is NEAR and not DIRECTLY ON TOP OF Ground Zero is taking away from the real situation at hand. It’s a diversion of sorts where the magician wants us to focus on his right hand as he pulls a bunny out of hat with his left.

This midterm seems not more volatile but more out there and in yo’ face than any other midterm I have experienced and there are still 77 days to go! Midterms are usually quite boring unless you a) are in politics for a living or b) there is a brand new President and this midterm is the bellwether for his entire presidency. Or something. But that is an entirely different post. What happens to be driving me crazy right now is not just general discussion about Mosque and the debate on the Mosque from the right (They aren’t real Americans and people who agree with having a Mosque ON Ground Zero aren’t patriots) and the left (Well, everyone has their freedom of religion and they should be able to worship where they’d like) and the Tea Party (Well, I mean, yeah that whole defend the constitution thing but do we still want to defend the constitution when Muslims are allowed to practice the First Amendment? Have we decided on that one yet, guys?) It’s just that it seems so very constant. So! Instead of discussing a real solution to the unemployment problem, whether or not a July 2011 is actually feasible to be out of Afghanistan, what USDOE would like to do to public education or did I mention the 9.5% unemployment? Instead of discussing all of these very real issues we keep talking about the Mosque that realistically will not directly affect 97% of us. Because quite frankly the former aren’t all that sexy but a Mosque? HOOO BOY! Pass me a fan.

I have received several emails about the Mosque and my feelings on it and whether or not I wanted to debate the merits of “Having Hamas right next to Ground Zero” and I have to politely decline. To me it’s just The Thing. It had to happen soon enough and if we’re lucky we might get another Thing in the next 70 plus days but right now just watch and listen and politely turn the conversation back to jobs, jobs and more jobs.

Mosque related reading if you are so inclined (or bored):

Ted Olson, Former Bush Solicitor General and Husband of 9/11 Victim, Backs Obama on ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

Pelosi’s Preposterous Pontificating On the Ground Zero Mosque

Gibbs: Mosque by Ground Zero a Local Matter


The Unemployment Thing (See also; That Thing That Gives Me Agita)

In Congress, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:38 am

“[O]f all the aspects of social misery nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment.” ~Jane Addams

Early last week or perhaps the week before I was in a mood. A no good, very bad mood over a variety of things all of which were money oriented. All of which stemming from irresponsibility and/or a month of cross country travel that left me feeling destitute. I walked into my coworker’s office, plopped down in a chair and made a HRMPH type noise. Like “Dear God, life is so hard. With the living and the having to choose between having money and a trip to Martha’s Vineyard”. COME ON everyone needs R&R and I was on that cusp of needing to get to get out. To go somewhere. To breathe something other than badly circulated air conditioning. I needed to smell salt water and eat fresh clams.

And I walked into my coworker’s office and told her just that.

“All I want to do is vacay and I can’t vacay because I have to work and let’s face it, I cannot afford to vacay. Fuck my life”

She cocked her head to the side.

“I want five minutes of peace and quiet. There’s also a dress I’ve been eying but more importantly THE BEACH and I haven’t been to the Vineyard all year. WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD?”

Her head moved a little more to the left and she smirked. And with that I knew what she was thinking.

My head stayed straight ahead as I closed my eyes and repeated everything that had just spewed from my mouth in my head. The complaints about vacation and Martha’s Vineyard and why I had to spend a week in Seattle eating raw oysters and drinking French 75. Feel free to slap the shit out of me and my agony.

I rolled my eyes at myself and was ready to shut up and returned to my own office. The office where I sat among piles of papers with layoff and attrition projections. Dollars lost were staring me in the face. In the background played a debate on the Senate floor on the extension of Unemployment Insurance. I vaguely heard Mitch McConnell mention something about the unemployed needing to pick themselves up by the boot straps and find a damn job already (I’m paraphrasing here). For clearly that was the reason for trillions in deficit; all of those people who were sitting on their ass watching the Real Housewives instead of working. Of course.

Then more eye rolling and general head between my knees-ness over email upon email as to why it had become such a Herculean effort to keep teachers employed. There was a discussion of offsets so as not to contribute to the deficit and where the offsets should come from so as not to piss off that group or this one. But even if it was paid for someone had to have a problem because again, WHY CAN’T THESE PEOPLE JUST FIND A JOB?! Never mind that pesky recession. People just aren’t trying hard enough. People didn’t want it enough. Parents didn’t want to take care of their children. Dad’s didn’t get those bags under their eyes from sleepless nights after realizing that no bacon would be brought home. Moms didn’t fret about giving their children enough to eat. They just didn’t care and that’s why they didn’t get jobs and another “bailout” wouldn’t get them off their Bon Bon eating asses.

No one should have to go through that. No one should have to worry about how to care for their children or themselves. It’s so very liberal of me, I am aware but it is also the human side of me that doesn’t like to see people in excrutiating pain and awaiting foreclosure because of jobs lost. I cannot imagine being that terrified day to day and having the fate of my job in the hands of people who have never and could never be there. How can you help when you don’t know what it’s like to spend each day surrounded by worry. Will there be a job or won’t there? I don’t like What If and that’s on things that don’t matter like what if I can’t buy wine tomorrow or what if I can’t buy that new MacBook Pro?

I know that things are relative and we look at our circumstances and pain as individuals and not in relation to the world around us. It’s hard to see past our own problems – however small – to realize that there are those who are spend each day in a state of perpetual fear. That’s what made me feel like That Asshole; the one who couldn’t afford that trip to a beach house and didn’t want to work or just wanted a nap dammit! I turned into that person but what makes me less of an asshole – and probably you as well – is realizing that things are good. Relatively speaking. As long as I keep trying and I did keep trying and tomorrow there is a vote in the House to prove that I worked my ass off and that the gray hairs of stress were worth it.

I’m not a complete jerk. And what makes me less of an asshole is that I made myself aware. And I hope that for five seconds you can realize as well. Realize that as I type, others are in the absolute worst of situations and that vacation or no, we are some of the lucky ones.

The Art of Political Dialogue

In Poliogue on August 10, 2010 at 2:36 am

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Attributed to Howard Thurman

I just finished taking a quiz from the November 2009 issue of O Magazine. I found it laying on my mother’s bed and what drew me to it was a bold “Who Are You Meant to Be?’ on the cover. I flipped to the required page and then perused the section stopping at the quiz of the same name. The instructions involved a bubble test and excel at the bubble test. The answers ranged from Never to Always when thinking of reaction to certain situation. “Read each of the following statements and ask yourself how true it is”. Easy enough. As it turns out I am “Striving to Be Creative” as well as “Striving to Be Recognized”. It was suggested that I am an artist and achiever. I am an original and I know it. I’m ambitious, competitive and hardworking. I should write and I should be a politician.

I often use magazines to find out the obvious.


Way back during my trip to Houston I confessed to Susan and Maggie that I wanted to write more about politics. I’ve always wanted to write more about politics but I thought that people would find it silly. So to say it out loud was a big deal. It seems that I also need approval but there was no quiz about that. They both gave the thumbs up and said, “Duh, silly”. There was also some talk of how I wanted for politicians to use social media more effectively. To supplement but not necessarily supplant.

Quick digression because I’m smiling to myself right now: Supplement vs. supplant was a major part in the American Recovery and Reinvestment act with regard to how states could use Title I funds. I walked around for months with those two words written on an index card tucked neatly in my back pocket. But supplement and not supplant is what I think that politicians should do when it comes to using social media. I recently spoke with a member of congress whom I adore about his use of Twitter. I told him that I love that he has a presence there and he informed that he hated it. He feared that ‘our children’ were going to grow up without feeling a handshake and rely too much on computers as their form of communication. He missed the old days of going door to door and worried that we were moving to far from that. I couldn’t help but agree. But I do believe that using things like Facebook and Twitter can also assist the constituent/representative relationship. It’s another way for those who so frequently feel disconnected from what is going on within a Capital (or Capitol) or inside the Beltway to feel a bit more connected. It’s a new and different way to engage with those who are being represented but in no way should replace the art of doing a door-to-door on a Saturday morning. Never forgetting that people genuinely appreciate the latter.


Over the almost five years that I have had this site I have debated how and when to write about politics. I don’t want to bore people to death while regaling you all with tales of bicameral systems and voting (democracy is so boring). Then again if you really enjoy something, find yourself truly passionate about a subject, you write about it. The goal here is not to shove my political agenda and beliefs down your throat. The goal is just to engage and discuss and for me to do something I enjoy. We all as individuals need to make up our own minds when it comes to politics and our feelings towards what goes on in this country what I want to do is make it easier to have dinner party conversation on the economy or who is running or why midterm elections bring out the worst in politicians but very little from the electorate.

If you look at the top there’s a tab that says ‘Poliogue’ which is a word I made up meaning The Art of Political Dialogue. I don’t expect for people to be rabid C-SPAN fans and blubber when Steny Hoyer utters a simple hello. I would like for people to feel more engaged this election year and (to infinity) and beyond. I promise not to bore you to death or be all inside baseball and will continue to discuss what happens in this country with an air of humor and storytelling and not long winded and regurgitated polling courtesy of the AP. So join me. Please? It won’t hurt. Promise.

(You can follow here or tell me what you want to hear about here