Tag Archives: washington

Farewell, Capitol Hill

Politics brought me to Washington, DC.  As I have told countless people, and National Public Radio (story here), I worked on my first campaign when I was eight.  I went door-to-door for a local NY Assemblyman who was running for Congress.  On election night, we went to the campaign headquarters to watch the results come in.  When the areas I canvassed had a huge turnout for my candidate, I thought it was because of my hard work (Who can resist a cute, little girl with red hair and freckles?  The mean woman at the end of the street with the mean and large German Shepard, that’s who.  She had her dog chase me from her property.) and was hooked.

My first job after college was on Capitol Hill — for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca).   I have lived here most of my time in Washington, DC.  I am obsessed with Congress and the legislative process.   Will always believe that the Senate is like grad school where the House is kindergarten.  And if you have never gotten into watching C-Span coverage of the House of Representatives, well, it can be like a good tennis match.  Rafa Nadal v. Roger Federer good.

Life on the Hill has been a great experience.  This is like a small town in a, well, my frame of reference is New York so, in a small city.  People here really look out for each other.  Case in point, back when I had a landline, I returned from work to get the following messages:

  1. This is your neighborhood watch, we think we saw some suspicious people outside of your place.  Please be careful when you come home.
  2. There are definitely two people outside your apartment and we think there may be a third in the bushes.
  3. We went by again and there are the three people – it looks like they are waiting to rob you, or anyone else, when you get home.  We’re calling the police to report it.
  4. We called the police and they chased everyone away from your place.  They are also keeping a car on the block for the next few hours so you should be fine coming in.  Hope you have a nice night.

I remain relieved that I didn’t get home at anytime before message number four and it could be my inherent, dark personality but that whole exchange left me feeling like my neighbors had my back.  Another time, right after I was mugged, one of my neighbors (this happened right in front of my apartment) made it a point to keep his pitbull, “Precious,” outside in his yard around the time when I usually came home.  People would cross the street to not walk by that dog.

The community feel extends beyond my safety, of course.  When the best dive in the world, the Tune Inn, had a fire last summer, a bunch of us came out and helped clean the place.  We painstakingly took each item from the walls and cleaned it.  Yes, I enjoy my Jameson and like to have it there but that’s not what inspired me to help out.  This really does feel like a community and it was heartwarming to see so many people come out to help each other, that is the point of things, right?  If you go in, make sure you look at the Guy Fieri plaque in the front window.  Then look at the plaque just below it.  You may notice a familiar name. (Thank you, Lisa and Thomas.  I feel like I will always be a part of the Hill.)

So, from the feeling that my drinking water is infused with political knowledge to the fabric of neighbors helping each other and looking out for each other that makes this such a special place.  I make a point to be as impressed as possible when I look up at the Capitol Building because it is a beautiful thing.  This place brings out the Mr. Smith in me (I know you know this but I am referring to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

So, it was not without a heavy heart that I am moving from this magical place on the hill.  I need a change of scenery for personal reasons that I am sure I will explain in excruciating detail at some point and hope this will force me to do the big things I want to do this year but I love this place and the people who inhabit it.

Thank you, Capitol Hill.  I am not leaving, I am just going part-time!

Molehills out of mountains and vice versa

In the middle of a campaign for the most important position in the country, we should be talking about the global economy, tensions around the world such as problems in Iran, Syria and elsewhere.  We should be talking about how to best prepare ourselves for the new economic circumstances our world now inhabits or how to overhaul our tax and entitlements systems.

But we are not.

The GOP presidential nominees aren’t talking about these things.  They are focused on contraception and questions of “good and evil.”  The Republican Party, seems intent on not returning our country to a more prosperous state but to a different era.  It has become normal for politicians on both sides to wax nostalgic about “the good old days.”  Those days seems always have been in the 1950s, when — by the way, the tax rates for the highest earners was at its highest level ever.   But the current crop of candidates don’t think going back to even the 50s is enough.

I get why the Republicans feel the need to return to social and religious issues, their base loves it.  Think about what they want to talk about: contraception, religious wars, gay marriage.  Really?

Newsflash:  It’s 2012, Women can vote and most use contraception.  Gay marriage will be legal everywhere in the United States during my lifetime.  Nothing you do will change either of those facts.  Just to be as clear on this as possible — you are on the wrong side of history on these issues but that isn’t the real problem.  History doesn’t care.  The problem is by wasting everyone’s time on issues that won’t be changed at this level, we fail to talk about the policies that will.  You cheapen the process.

All of this is great for the Democrats.  And I want President Obama to win.  But as good as this is for his reelection prospects, it is bad for the country.  Presidential campaigns provide an opportunity to really examine and evaluate the state of the country and the best ways to deal with the challenges we face.  These should be lofty conversations and debates not petty bickering about social issues that were settled years ago (not to harp, but nothing Rick Santorum can do will turn that clock back).

When President Obama took office, I characterized the situation he faced as his “Himalayan problem.” All problems were so large individually but it was hard to gage their enormity when clumped together.  I misspoke, this was not his Himalayan problem, it was ours.  By choosing to focus on issues that excite  one base or another at the expense of those that impact all of us, the GOP is making molehills out of our Everest sized problems and that’s unfortunate.

Why I like Jon Huntsman

I am a liberal Democrat and always have been.  I want President Obama to win re-election.  So why on earth am I pulling for Jon Huntsman to win today in New Hampshire?  He has the best chance of beating the president.  And yet, here I am, hoping he pulls it out.  Intellectually, it makes so sense.

Even if Huntsman didn’t have the best chance of beating the president, I shouldn’t like him. He is really a conservative guy — ‘pro-life,’ supports the horrible Paul Ryan plan to dismantle Medicare, is all about the Second Amendment, you know, my type of person.  So what the hell am I thinking?

Running for president is serious business.  It’s a serious job.  I write political satire so the whole circus that has been the GOP presidential nomination process has been like a gift from God.  Come on, I was all about the Cain Train.  But as a citizen, the idea of a President Cain, Santorum, Gingrich or Bachmann scares the crap out of me. Whenever I want to bring up Ronald Reagan as a positive an angel loses its wings but one thing he had in his arsenal when negotiating with the Soviets was intelligence. (Oh, and hell just froze over a little bit.)  Can you imagine a Herman Cain in that kind of situation?  No?  That’s because we all probably wouldn’t be here now to think about it.

When did we go from picking the best candidate to picking the least insane?

That is why I like Jon Huntsman.  I like that he is sane and reasonable.  I like that Pew called Utah the best run state in the country when he was governor.  And to me, it is a plus that he served in the Obama administration.  What happened to politics ending at the coasts?  When I travel overseas, I am am American first and a Democrat second.  That is what I like about Jon Huntsman.