John McCain Losing Traction, Relevancy.

With John McCain’s temper tantrums on and off the Senate floor during the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal debate, I wonder more and more at his irrelevancy. With both his wife and his daughter coming out for “the other side” you’d think he might listen to the counsel his family offered. Nope. McCain led the opposition…and lost.

As this editorial points out, when George W. Bush was still in office, McCain often joined the Democrats.

So what is John McCain’s deal?

He’s an oppositionist.

McCain, for whatever reason, has to be on the minority side. Not in a good way–he doesn’t champion the cause of the “little guy” or the “everyday American” or even the poor and downtrodden. He likes to be the one arguing against whomever has the majority in Congress and holds the Executive branch.

His lack of consistency in sticking to any one party could be admirable, if it were based on any ideals. But it doesn’t seem to be the case. Getting criticism for both parties could be seen as a good thing–but not in his case. John McCain won the nomination in 2008 because of a split in the party, not in any large showing of support for his candidacy. I believe the same for President Obama–progressives were split in their support between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. In my analysis during the 2008 race, Obama was an idealistic politician, without any real chance for gaining the nomination. The same for John McCain, sans the idealistic part.

Yet he holds on, and Arizona keeps reelecting him. I suspect at this point it may be simply the incumbent’s advantage that keeps him in office, however. We’ll see if that’ll be enough when this term is up–if he keeps this up, I suspect it won’t be.

The Census Results: What it Means for Kentucky.

Kentucky is among those states that will not be gaining any seats in the House. Kentucky, however, won’t be losing any seats, either. Currently, Kentucky has six Congressional seats.

However, thanks to population declines in eastern and western Kentucky, the state will have to redistrict.

What does this mean?

Rural Kentucky has historically been more politically conservative. With the population declining in these areas, this could lead to the rural, conservative communities having less power in our Congressional races. Meaning, the possibility of more liberal, left-leaning Democrats getting elected. Now, re-districting alone will not turn Kentucky from a red state to a blue one, but it could mean that the Commonwealth will swing slightly more to the left, while still being considered a red state.

In the big picture, this doesn’t mean very much. Several red states have gained seats, including Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina. Of course, those states could be redistricting as well, but at this point, it’s too early to say.

This change will not come quickly. The Secretary of State, Trey Grayson, isn’t yet sure if the legislature will do the redistricting during a special session in 2011, or wait for 2012. My guess? They’ll do it during the special session in 2011. With election season coming again in 2012, everyone will want to know where to campaign, who to solicit for donations, and what issues to focus on.

Musings on Academia and a Blog Recommendation.

Recently, I’ve taken to visiting Clarissa’s blog more and more. I’ve previously read a post here or there, but was never a regular. Now, I’ve made up my mind to become a regular reader.

Who is Clarissa? Well, this should explain it:

An academic’s opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

This is the subtitle of her blog, which sums up the content quite nicely. (I’ve never been able to do that very well, for some reason, with my own blog title and posts.)

I left academia in May 2010, having graduated from WKU. I was extremely excited. To be done! with writing papers! forever! (for now.) It wasn’t long before I started to miss it terribly. For lovers of learning, there is no place quite like academia. The past several weeks, I watched via Facebook as my friends back at WKU chose next semester’s classes (jealous!), bitched about all-nighters, about presentations and papers and exams (oh my!), and started counting down til the winter break. Meanwhile, I’m working a second shift job, that has nothing to do with my degree, for the decent-ish pay and good benefits, and I’m going crazy doing it.

What does all this have to do with Clarissa? Nothing really, I don’t know her at all (but I’d like to!), but more her writing.

Her post on Fox News made me snicker. It appeals to my interest in politics and news. I bookmarked it to show my conservative friends at an appropriate moment mid-debate. The evil, evil liberal in me delights in the potential facial expressions her post will get from said friends.

Just from this last week, there were several posts regarding academia that made me feel in the loop, almost like I was back at WKU.

Misery is Fashionable. This post is about all the complaining that teachers do, but it reminds me of all the complaining college students (myself included) do as well. Why did I take up smoking? Oh yeah. College. To be completely honest, student government drove me to start, but striving to complete two majors, in addition to all the other things I was involved in, in only four years kept me smoking. For all the complaining, as Clarissa said, academia is well worth it, so much that I’m thinking more and more about becoming one of those awesome English professors that I so adore.

The Best Piece of Advice I Can Offer on Surviving Grad School. I was not so good about relaxing on weekends. I relaxed, all right, but I felt guilty the entire time. Perhaps I’ll be better in grad school, y/y?

This post, especially resonated with me, as a humanities student. I’ll probably write my own response to the “article” that Clarissa was responding to in her post sometime later.

 

DADT Repealed!

Today, the Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Today, Congress finally listened to the heartfelt pleas of American troops.

Today, our military is a stronger force–no longer facing continuing decimation of the ranks, and no longer are a significant portion of troops vulnerable to blackmail.

Today, a significant portion of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corp can now stand proudly in uniform, whole and free.

Today, hundreds of families can now freely support their loved ones in uniform, and hundreds of troops can now be stronger for that support.

Today, America and her Armed Forces are now stronger, freer, and more united.

The journey doesn’t end here. It will be a long journey before the damage from Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is undone. The discharge process must be stopped, the way must be opened for those discharged under DADT to return, if they wish. But that’s all paperwork. The biggest hurdle is behind us.

Let’s take this day to celebrate. Victories come all too seldom. Let’s bask in it, before we return tomorrow to work.

What Would a War on Date Rape Drugs Look Like?

Today I found this article. In it, the police speak about their stepping up on stopping crime during the holidays. But one snippet of the article jumped out at me:

“Operation Saturate has already seen drug dealer Leighton Foster, 21, jailed after he was caught with a £7,000 stash of the date rape drug GHB.”

When do we ever hear about police busting a date rape drug ring? Never.  So it was great to hear on that level—that there’s now that much less GHB on the street, and potentially, fewer women being assaulted.

But then, I asked myself, what would the American War on Drugs look like if it were a war on date rape drugs?

I pretended it wouldn’t be racist and classist like this one is. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded—why aren’t drugs that are slipped into nonconsenting women and men’s drinks, in order to commit a crime that is harmful to that non consenting person, given more of a priority? If it were, would it be possible that we would have a more constructive dialogue on rape and sexual assault? Might our dialogue be more focused on questioning, blaming, and prosecuting the one doing the raping rather than the victim? Might the reporting of rapes go up, since police would ostensibly take rape more seriously? Might we even be able to educate the masses on acquaintance rape?

Things might be a lot different.

Men Fighting Violence Against Women

A few days ago, I discovered an amazing organization.

A Call to Men

I found this organization via this wonderful video, which features a talk by one of the co-founders of A Call to Men, Tony Porter. He started this organization to encourage, teach, and lead men to end violence against women.

After watching the video, I googled Tony and watched as many videos of his talks as I could. It was truly wonderful to see, as a woman, and as a feminist, a man so passionate about ending violence against women. So much work in this area focuses on victim advocacy, victim-focused awareness campaigns, and the like. A Call to Men is different. He seeks out “well-meaning men,” the men who do not commit any violence. He educates them on behaviors and mind sets that encourage violence. Then he encourages them to hold men accountable–not just violent men, but well meaning men who, through seemingly harmless jokes, behaviors, and the like, encourage and foster such an environment where men come to believe that committing violence against women is acceptable.

As a feminist, I sometimes despair at the lack of men who work for equality. It’s hard, knowing that things just might be easier, more efficient, more fruitful if men were to stand with us against harassment, against domestic violence, against rape, and all the other inequalities women face in the world. I cried watching the video linked above, not only because Tony was speaking about things near and dear to my heart. But also because he, a man, cares, and he cares enough to found this organization, travel all around the country, and rally other men to the cause.

I know there are many men out there who care, and even many men out there who are active allies. But sometimes they’re hard to see. And A Call to Men is a great reminder that they’re there for us.

For all our male allies, I encourage you to check out this organization. Share the videos with your friends–they’re a great 101 tool, especially for men who may be reluctant to read or watch anything with “feminist” associated. Tony is straight-forward, an “everyman” kind of speaker, and a great storyteller.

Compassion.

Compassion is such an important thing. It makes all the difference to someone who is hurting, whether that person is a stranger or someone you care about. We can’t change the world in one fell swoop. We can’t (most of us, anyway) give someone all the money they need to take care of themselves, or a loved one. We can’t prevent bad things from happening. But we can show compassion. It’s such a little thing, and often it manifests itself in the smallest of actions. Here is where intent does matter, and the action doesn’t.

Compassion is the difference between hope and hopelessness, despair and endurance, feeling small and weak or feeling like someone who matters, despite being small and weak. It’s the difference between tears and a smile, feeling loved and feeling alone.