Friday, July 29, 2011

The House vs. The Senate

I got frustrated this morning watching the daily news. I like to switch back between MSNBC and Fox (don't ask me why). Upon seeing both sides I have come to the conclusion that there really is a big difference between the House and the Senate.

It just seems to me that the House, these days, is extremely unintelligent. Freshman representatives do not know the "order of things" or simply do not understand how Congress actually works. I cannot recall how many times I heard a Republican (Tea-Party) Representative state that the Senate has not sent them any bills about the "Debt Ceiling."

Well, maybe it is because there is a proper order. The House, to the Senate, and then to the President's desk.

I know that things have maybe been altered at times in the past but right now, the "debt ceiling" (and I put it in quotes because I believe it is a made up crisis) needs to go through the proper channels.

House representatives change so easily, and the Senate seems to keep people for quite some time (i.e. John McCain). Is there a reason for this? Should we go to just the Senate for our answers?

I know there are a lot of class issues at hand here and educational competency but in a time when no one can agree on anything and the only people that seem to grasp what politics is really about are in the Senate, I have to ask the question: What is the point of the House anymore?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mitt Romney Should Not Be President... For a Lot of Reasons

I have to thank my friend Kirsten for showing me the link to CNN Religion blog where Tricia Erickson's new book, Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters? and Dr. Richard Bushman's great, but expected response to it.

First off, let me state that I have great respect for Dr. Bushman but frankly, he is to apologetic for me. Mormonism has become a big interest of mine in the past year and although I have never taken a class with Dr. Bushman (because of personal and academic reasons) I must say that I already knew what he was going to state.

His comments: "Mormonism has become this in the recent years.." or "Mormonism is gaining more respect than just being seen as 'that weird religion with rituals and such.." but more importantly, his comment:

"Both Dekker and Erikson are one-time Mormons who became disillusioned, and instead of walking away felt an obligation to discredit their former faith" -Dr. Richard Bushman

was what I expected.

It always comes down to the issue of if you have faith or not; whether you are a faithful Mormon or not. Frankly, it's all bullshit.

It is not about faith and it is not about whether Mitt Romney is a faithful and symbolic Mormon in the 21st century. The real issue is in the second part of Erickson's title: "The Mormon Church and the Office of the President of the United States of America."

Mitt Romney shouldn't be President for a NUMBER of reasons and one of them is YES, he is a Mormon but also another one is because he is a conservative with no hint of a progressive side.

Big money for the rich, big money for the Church that he serves are all a big flashing "NO!"

Mitt Romney being President is scary, plain and simple. He is George W. Bush II, but worse. Instead of having Dick Cheney and his corporate cronies to answer to, Mitt has the Mormon Church and the GOP.

Now this is where my liberal, left-winged brain comes out and the barrier between my brain and mouth does not stop me from saying certain things. Mitt Romney should be President because he is a part of a Religion that has taken pleasure and set principles around ostracizing specific groups. From African Americans to homosexuals, the Mormon Church is not a friend to "othered" communities. (And I don't want to hear ANYTHING about how "they are changing," I don't believe it.)

When it comes to any type of progressive issue if Romney was President, the Republicans will have a say and then the Mormon Church will as well. There is just no way around it. Frankly, to any one with a liberal or progressive brain, it is a scary to think of Romney EVER being President of the United States.

Have we forgotten what the United States would have looked like if Joseph Smith had been elected President when he ran in 1844?

I hate sounding like this, like a big bigot who is "hating" upon another religion. We have freedom of religion and speech in this country for a reason but sometimes, it's that freedom that scares me the most. It scares me the most when a religion now has the power, that they once didn't have, to drastically change the lives of minority communities around the world.

I know we can say this about MOST religions, so lets call this a rant AGAINST Mormonism and Romney for the time being. I don't have the energy to write about the cruelty of religion and frankly scholars are already doing this.

I have to say that I am very afraid for what will happen if he is elected President of the United States. I do not think he can serve his "two masters" and I think the country, just like when George Bush II was President, will suffer greatly.

More importantly, while the country will suffer, "othered" communities will face a double-edged sword that never seems to go away.

Now, one can say: "Well John, you shouldn't be President because you're gay!"

I agree that we get into a slippery slope when we start classifying why certain people should or should not be President. However, we have to classify the people that would say certain things like what I have said or what I just mentioned above.

Would a progressive or democrat say that a gay individual shouldn't be President? Would a Republican say that Mitt Romney shouldn't be President?"

When thinking about these issues I find myself thinking about the latter question and coming to the conclusion that "Yes, a Republican would say Mitt Romney shouldn't be President" for many of the same reasons I have stated here. However, while I have a problem with his politics and religion, a Republican from Texas or any other Red State, would be citing his religious beliefs before his political ones.

Religion is a slippery slope. Once we start going down the path of criticizing someone's religion we find ourselves falling into a tumble and unable to stop the downward fall. However, the trouble with my rant is that not just a "liberal" is stating this about Romney, it is his own political base as well.

And that, my friends, to me is a big, symbolic, "No, No!" In a time when a two party system cannot agree on anything except Mitt Romney's religious beliefs and the trouble it would bring to the office of the President, is quite scary but all to real.

In a post Citizens United world, what type of campaign contributions will we see to Romney's Presidential campaign to propel him into the White House? More importantly, where will Romney succeed where Smith and Young failed?

Part of me hopes I never have to find out.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Remember, Remember, the 23rd of July.

A year ago yesterday, I lost my hero.

Gladys Mae Hritsko (Jolly) was both my hero and inspiration. I dreaded the day but the thing I remember now, after a year has gone by, is that she taught me that time is like a road you don't always want to travel down, but we have too.

Although I didn't want to go down and throughout life without her, I realized something today that I think would make her proud. I can go on without my grandmother because she gave me the strength I need to always face life, chin up and with a smile.

I miss you Grandma. More than anything, I just miss talking to you. It didn't matter if you said anything or just sat there quietly, just being able to talk to you, about anything, always relieved my stress and made me feel better.

I dreaded the day that I would lose you but now that a year has come and gone since I did, I realize that I can go on. I can move on with my life happily and its all because of you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guest Blog Post for Feminism and Religion

I am very excited and honored to be a contributor for the blog: Feminism and Religion

Please take the time to click on the link and read the amazing posts from other guest authors and contributors. These are some amazing and upcoming scholars and activists in the study of feminism and religion. I am honored and blessed to know them!

My latest blog post is titled:

“It’s About Power”:

Reflecting Upon and Pondering About Men in Feminism and Religion

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Gay Community....or is the the Queer Community, or the Lesbian community? What Is It?!

A good friend and fellow blogger of mine posed these questions at the end of his post, "Singing the Post-Pride Blues":

From this, I extend the questions I’ve been asking myself to you. How can we overcome divisions in the LGBTQ community? What does this mean for the movement’s growth? How can we be more honest to ourselves and each other in the future?

Before I start I need to state that I do not define or situate myself in the same way that Kyle does. Where as he identifies as Queer, I identify myself as Gay. My coming out story and life experiences are in no way the same or fit into the same categorization that Kyle classifies and writes about in his writings.

I found myself puzzled when thinking about Kyle recent blog post. How can we overcome divisions in the LGBTQ community? What divisions are there and how did they get there? What historical linkages can be made from the LGBTQ (which isn't even the "latest" acronym out there in academic and activist circles) to other social movements as feminism or the civil rights movement?

The problem with inclusion, diversity, and social movements are that they serve many purposes: some good and some bad. The more freedom you give to people regarding how to identify or how to classify oneself (if you even go that far), the more factions and different individuals you have and ultimately have to satisfy.

However, within this diversity comes the reason why there is so many "inclusion" problems within the LGBTQ community.

Diversity is, in my opinion, the ultimate paradox.

Not everyone can be satisfied by a central movement. Specific groups and people can never identify the same way as the majority and then therefore become mad because their voices are not being heard and not taken seriously.

If we examine the ways the HRC and Transgendered rights have played out over the last couple of years (or just history in general) we can get a good picture in our minds about how the voices of the many outweigh the voices of the few.

While PRIDE is a time to celebrate and be happy for our diversity, I wonder if it is that exact diversity that will be our (as well as other social movements) downfall in the end?

How can we be honest to ourselves and in the future? Well that question, as my friend Kyle posed, is to me unanswerable. No one can answer that question because in today's pop-culture, academic, individualized, diverse crazy culture that we live in, no one can be ULTIMATELY pleased.

However, does that mean all social movements are left to fail? If this is the case then what are we fighting for? While its great to be a part of an organization and a movements, are we really only in it for ourselves?

I, like many people, do not know the answers to these questions, but as a person who is speaking from a privileged viewpoint, I have to ask if we will ever be able to answer or begin to answer these tough questions that could ultimately help push our movement (as well as others) forward into the 21st century.

So while we take pleasure in our post-Pride bliss and happiness, ask yourself the question: What are YOU fighting for?

Oh Hey, That Was Fast....

So I was very excited to start my job with the Fund for Public Interest in New Haven. I got there on the 27th and worked a full day and really enjoyed doing the office work, meeting with a team, and of course getting to know the in's and out's of the organization.

Needless to say, I was overexcited to have a job. It was great timing, but as usual, the path in life towards the right direction takes time.

I wanted to write this blog because before even starting my job, I did research into the Fund or PIRGs. Needless to say, the reviews were quite scathing. Job firings, quotas, long hours, etc.

I wanted to say, as a person who on their first day saw 2 people get fired for not making quota, the scathing results are not wrong, but with everything, there is a twist.

The twist is that depending on the office you work in and the Directors you have, the people who are on their "third day" of not making quota can be quite aware of what will happen if they do not raise enough money by the end of the night. In the New Haven office, I was happy to find out that the people that we had to fire KNEW what was coming LONG before. I am not excusing it or saying that they were right for having that stipulation but from all the scathing reviews, people were not just fired without knowing it would happen. The people that were interviewed that came in for an "Observation Day" were either invited back or not. It depended on how good their Field Managers thought they would be at fundraising out on their own, which they did the next day.

The next thing I want to talk about is the hours. You have to know what you are signing up for before the job. Yes, it is a 12 hour day, yes they are long. I was an Assistant Director, so I was able to be in the office for 12 hours the first day. They were long but the amount of work that they make the Directors and Assistant Directors is insane. The Fund at a corporate level is POORLY run and that, in the case of the smaller offices (unless your Directors aren't morons) makes the working environment very HARD.

I have to say I loved my first day. I loved working in the office, doing the paper work, making phone calls, talking to the Regional manger, everything. I went home, even after a LONG DAY, and really enjoyed my time. I loved the office part but I knew the next day I would have to go out into the field and do the other part: the canvassing.

I want to be honest. I went into this with the most OPEN MIND that I could have. I went out with my Director and went door to door (even Michelle Bachman's brothers door to be exact) and gave the "Rap," that I have committed to memory the night before. I knew it but I will say that if you don't know it or have a hard time committing things to memory, this job will not be for you. I am lucky enough to be able to "think on my feet" and therefore while I was out canvassing and talking to people who were not the nicest nor the happiest that I was knocking on their door and then asking them for money, I was able to quickly respond to their quips and questions that they had that did not relate to my overall purpose.

I kept hearing from my director that "Connecticut is the best place to canvass," and the truth of the matter is that from what I understand, it really is. People were bring in hundreds of dollars and our office was the second highest in the nation. People just GAVE money to these random strangers on their doorsteps who gave them the "rap." That's it. It was insane. But honestly, as the blogs and other reports have questioned, "where does the money actually go" is a big question I still have and had at the end of the night.

I knew I hated the canvassing part of the job around 6:00p.m. when we had to go back to houses that had either not been home or ones that had "lights on." My director was very sweet but frankly, it takes a different type of person to mercilessly go back just because you want to "get another 20 dollars."

I wondered, as my director waved like a trained monkey at every person who came to the door, how this actually works. Needless to say, I tried to disguise my true feelings until I went back to the office that night. I was quite unhappy. I was torn because I loved the office part of the job but absolutely HATED the canvassing aspect.

To be absolutely honest, I felt like I needed to walk around with a clump of dirt to throw on people's carpets or floors the moment they opened the door to try and sell them a vaccuum that they did not want nor need. The looks on people's faces, as they drove by us in our Conn-PIRG shirts, was to say the least, one of the main reasons I did not go back.

That point leads me to comment on how they recruit. Basically, they poster and post jobs on Craigslist to try and get "New Canvassers" every day. These people, not knowing the organization that well, call because they promise $15-20 dollars an hour, which as we all know in today's economy can help a lot of people. The FUND takes everyone. That part the blogs and scathing results cannot lie about. They TAKE EVERYONE who comes in and interviews and sends them out because you never know who will be a "good or bad canvasser."

There is a sad reality to all of this though. Canvassing in Connecticut does have some connotations to it and they are mostly ones of color. As my Director said, after she had to fire the one Black male canvasser, "He has been getting a lot of racist comments at the doors." Apparently, the rich Connecticut people did not like a large black man walking their streets and coming up to their doors. It was sad and hard to see and I didn't know what to say. I had to bite my tongue because all of the men that I had talked to on the phone and then interviewed the next day were black and they were all going to fall victim to this scam. It was hard to see because racism is still VERY PRESENT in this country and it victimizes at the earliest levels.

With all of this aside, I came home after a LONG and SWEATY day completely distraught. I wanted to stay with the job for longer than just two days but I honestly couldn't go back the next day and go out canvassing by myself to raise the quota of $130 bucks.

I couldn't be by myself ALL DAY and have people stare and me and look at me like I am garbage. I am not and will not ever do that to myself because I have worked too hard and done too much to further myself.

I talked with my Director and the "other me" at the end of the night and told them exactly everything I have written here. They said that they too "hated canvassing" when they first started and that I shouldn't just quit right now and to "stick it out." I honestly felt like they wanted and needed another warm body in there and that was it.

I came home defeated. I stayed up all night and talked with several people but by the end of the night I knew what I was going to do.

I called my Director the next morning, because I honestly could not get out of bed to go back and degrade myself like that again. I quit the job after two days of highs and extreme lows.

I knew that I was essentially "rolling the dice" with this move. What was I going to do next? Where was I going to turn? and what job could or should I get?

The answers to all these questions, like with most things, are still up in the air. For right now I still know what is important to me but I need to make sure that the job I do or what I study is something I am passionate about. I need to make sure that I am happy and in order to do that I need to get back on track with the overall end goal: PhD

So that's where I am. Waiting, wondering, and hoping that all will work out and if my life has told me anything up until now its that it does and I always seem to find a way back onto the right path.