More US Troops FINALLY Out of Iraq

Well, a bunch of them anyway. And it’s long overdue.

This photo is from 2003, the day my son was born:

My son's birthday and the war

This is my son today:

photo.JPG

This is taking far, far too long.

Excuse me, but…

Hillary for Secretary of State. Whoo hoo. Horray. And all that jazz.

Now, forgive me here, but why exactly is the media so hell bent on focusing on the ‘sexism’ of world leaders?

Last I checked, our current Secretary of State was a woman. I may not like the Bush Administration policy or …well…anything about the Bush Administration, but I’m not going to pretend Dr. Condolezza Rice didn’t exist for 8 years simply because Clinton is taking over.

Safe

We took down the ribbon.

My daughter takes down the yellow ribbon, her uncle is home!

We retired the flag.

Retiring our Flag

15 months. Second time. Safe.

cody6

Now I’m off to Denver to see our next President who will hopefully bring ALL our brave men and women home.

Hi. My Name Is Erin, And I AM A Patriot

I have never considered myself a patriot.

I have never served in the armed forces. I have never served as a lawmaker, or heck, even a volunteer.

I thought patriots died for America, they lost their homes or sacrificed their sons. I thought they did what was asked when the United States was in need and always stood by her side.

Those people are why I never once considered myself even close to a “patriot.” Sure I have a loyalty to my country, but I also question her. While it may be one of the things that makes this country great, it was always one of the things I thought disqualified me to really be patriotic.

Guess I was buying the spin too.

Senator Barack Obama spoke of patriotism this week in Independence, MO.

“Most Americans never bought into these simplistic world-views – these caricatures of left and right. Most Americans understood that dissent does not make one unpatriotic, and that there is nothing smart or sophisticated about a cynical disregard for America’s traditions and institutions. And yet the anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments – a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.

Given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions. None of us expect that arguments about patriotism will, or should, vanish entirely; after all, when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be. But surely we can agree that no party or political philosophy has a monopoly on patriotism. And surely we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America’s common spirit.”

The Senator has a point. While I never fully bought into those views, I also never publicly would call myself a “patriot.”

Then, on the heels of this speech, my husband said to me, “Erin, anyone who follows politics with a passion, who loves this country enough to constantly seek out information, and be passionate as to find out what is happening, wants to have a hand in where this country is going, and truly CARES, is a patriot.”

I thought of all the hours I spent following politics. The loss of time with my children as I work to bring information via blogging.

I am a patriot?

In his speech, Senator Obama made reference to the war in Iraq and those opposing the administration being “unpatriotic.” Of course my ears perked up, he was talking to me.

Then everything took an unexpected turn when the Senator said “…and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.”

I was prepared for the part defending ME, as I have been against the war from day one and heard ALL about what a bad American I was. The curve-ball that made me sit up in my chair, was the vague mention of MoveOn.org.


Tennessee Guerilla Women
writes, “Ahem, would anyone like to venture a guess as to why Barack Obama saved his criticism of Move On until after the Democratic primary? And how many millions did Move On raise and spend on Barack Obama’s behalf anyway?”

StereoHyped says, “Obama’s aides say he’s keeping up the patriotism theme all week. However, its strongly doubtful his words will have much impact with certain segments of the population until he does something drastic, like bleach his skin or reject and denounce his blackness..”

WakeUpAmericans says, “…this came as a complete shock to see him rebuke them for it now…then again, he has won the presumptive nominee status so he really doesn’t need MoveOn as much as he needs the Independents and Moderates and he may just be sick and tired of them trying to push him around about his FISA…”

Honestly though, I think this just another reminder by the Senator that we can rise above the fray and find more constructive ways to deal with disagreement than name calling.

In a week where General Wesley Clark’s feet are to the fire over comments he made about Senator John McCain, it seems to me Senator Obama isn’t necessarily disagreeing with the message, but the tone and approach of the messenger.

If I can, for the very first time, publicly call myself a patriot- I would like to think I can do so without those taunts of “but you are not for the war!” and “how dare you call yourself that as our men and women stand in harms way and you refuse to support their efforts!”

However the Senator is right, and felt the need to give an entire speech on the subject this holiday week. He would be remiss to NOT hold accountable those of us so quick to decry our accusers while we call names at the other side.

I am a patriot.

Despite a brother-in-law fighting in Iraq, despite a yellow ribbon in front of my home, I still feel the need to defend my patriotism. Senator Obama felt a need to defend his.

Do you?

Get home safe

Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog

Cross posted at BlogHer.com

Politics As Usual in the ‘Change’ Campaign?

Cross-posted at BlogHer.com

Image control is nothing new in politics. Campaigns try and make candidates look more down to earth, more athletic, more like someone you’d have a beer with. They try and make them look less old, less harsh, even less intelligent.

This has been the way of political campaigns for as long as I’ve been voting and it’s been the way of the media to eat up each photo op and event and regurgitate it for the world to see.

Then came Senator Barack Obama and his constant theme of ‘change’ and ‘hope’ and the promise to do things differently.

I believe that message. I respect that message. I even buy that message coming from a politician. NOT an easy task for this former new reporter who’s instinct is to trust no one and question everything.

So maybe I am just buying into the spin. Maybe I am being used as a pawn in this image-conscience media game. Maybe I am naive and a sucker for blogging this…but my eyebrow raised once a few days ago and again this morning as some ‘image’ issues hit the news.

From Politico:

Two Muslim women at Barack Obama’s rally in Detroit on Monday were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women’s headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.

From ABC News:

“Michelle Obama makes her debut appearance on ABC’s “The View” Wednesday as her husband, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama, fights for key women voters. Her appearance on a popular women’s daytime television program coincides with subtle attempts by the Obama campaign to soften her image and combat efforts by some conservatives and critics to paint her as an unpatriotic, angry, black woman.”

Two ‘image’ issues that would seem to directly conflict with the messages we hear from the Obama campaign, and arriving at my attention on the day the Senator announces he will forgo public financing for the the general election.

Taken one by one these issues come with explanations, as a voter, I totally understand. However put together, it made me raise my eyebrows and wonder if the image spins were occurring behind the scenes. If this was the scripted misstep and then inevitable backpeddling of politics as usual, with campaign strategists plotting how to get rid of the persistent rumors that the Senator is Muslim and the Fox News host discussing the image of ‘angry black women’ on television in relation to Michelle Obama.

On the ‘women wearing headscarves’ issue Sepia Mutiny writes, “I have no doubt that Obama is disappointed in his staffers over this but the buck has to stop at the top of the ticket. By forcefully refuting rumors that he is a ‘secret Muslim,’ I think he is beginning to overreact and hurt his reputation among the very people who believe in him to bring a change. I mean, how in the world do you expect to campaign in Detroit and NOT be associated with Muslim supporters?”

This discussion constantly drives me crazy for many reasons, not the least of which is “What the HECK is wrong with being MUSLIM???!” Of course we all know there is anti-Muslim sentiment in this country, particularly since 9-11. However most thinking people understand the difference between terrorism and organized religion of any faith.

Every time the Obama campaign has to denounce the rumor the Senator is secretly a Muslim, I always feel a twinge of sympathy pain for Muslim-Americans.

Rochelle Riley at the Detroit Free Press blog writes, “That his campaign apologized, as it should have, for the badly mishandled incident by campaign volunteers was not the bigger story.

The bigger story is that hateful extremists who used to exist on the fringe of society are now taking over and too much is being done to appease them instead of ignore them.

The Obama volunteers who didn’t want the women to provide fuel for rumors that Obama is a secret Muslim chose to let hate-mongers dictate their actions and hurt the women’s feelings. They made a mistake, as far as we know. (Of course, the Web would have you believe that they did it on purpose because they KNEW that these women were actually plants by Sen. John McCain’s campaign, an unlikely but possible scenario that seems all the more impossible when you read about their wonderful attitudes.)”

And in the broader picture, when putting all the incidents together, Shakespeare’s Sister writes, “To be quite honest, I don’t really have anything in particular to say about either of these items. They both strike me as completely predictable from a middle-of-the-road, mainstream, establishment Democrat, which is what Obama is (and always has been) and are therefore predictably sigh-inducing, at least from this non-partisan progressive.”

Again, even my eyebrow was raised seeing all these headlines at once-however just a *tiny* bit of reading into each made me quickly realize they were not the lack of change we expect. Moreover, they seemed to be the expectation of perfection, and the need to push a headline.

Should we expect the Obama campaign to be cautious about all things ‘image’ related whether it is legitimately a policy issue, like the public financing for the general election, or a trumped up spousal media circus? Of course.

As Michelle Obama said on the View, “You have to be really careful in what you say because everything you say is looked at and in many cases misconstrued.”

Cindy McCain is No Baby Mama

Or Laura Bush. Or Barbara Bush. Or Hillary Clinton. Or myself.

Why?

We’re white.

As discussion swirls around ‘fist-bumps’ and so-called ‘news stations’ labeling the next potential First Lady as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama’ let us all be very clear: racism is not ok just because it’s on Fox.

It is not ok because it’s in West Virginia or Kentucky. It’s not ok because it’s part of the culture or the heritage or the geography.It is certainly not ok as the caption on a major cable news network, regardless of their ‘right’ leanings.I may be as white and suburban as Cindy…strike that…maybe McCain’s first wife is a better example, either way I KNOW ‘baby mama’ is certainly not meant as a term of endearment.I’m sure Mr. ProducerMan at Fox News thought maybe tagging it under ‘Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking on Obama’s Baby Mama!’ would blame this on Democrats or maybe just ‘progressives.’

Nice try asshat.

What part of ‘we are not stupid’ do you fail to get?

Let’s also be clear, the ‘blogger’ you see in the clip, Michelle Malkin, would be branded a ‘baby mama’ far quicker than I ever would. I wonder how she feels about this racism and sexism going on as she sits and spins for the GOP that uses her skin color to gain credibility with minorities? (yes, GOP, we see what you are doing)

Oh wait, apparently she thinks it’s ok because Michelle Obama has been treated with kid gloves and allegedly used the term ‘baby daddy.’

She’s kidding, right?

Sadly, she is not kidding.

Here is what that half of America is missing:

This has nothing to do with feeling the next first lady is ‘off limits.’

I expect everyone within an inch of Senator Obama be scrutinized.

I also fully expect Michelle Obama can take care of herself, and do not for one second worry the media is too hard on her or the right-wing bloggers too nasty. I get the distinct feeling Michelle Obama would and will handle herself as I would expect any strong, American woman.

Any strong, American woman who’s not a Republican, anyway.

What I will not do, however, is sit by and watch sexism and racism on national news. THIS woman might moan and groan over feminism and Clinton, over which supporters are voting McCain and which are too angry to kiss and make up with the Democratic party, but just as we called-out sexism with the Senator from New York, we are calling it out with the rhetoric surrounding Michelle Obama.

Let’s ask that producer if he would put the caption ‘Bush’s Baby Mama’ under First Lady Laura Bush. Of course not, because Laura Bush is white.

Maybe Fox News would consider ‘Trailer Trash Mama‘ under their next First Lady caption?

Or would THAT be offensive? Playing into stereotypes?

Of course it would.

How about a ‘McCain’s Stepford Wife’ under the next Cindy McCain story?

Of course not, Fox would never dream of anything so crass and offensive while labeling the woman who could be the next First Lady.

Yet Fox is fine with ‘Baby Mama’ as the words describing Michelle Obama.

Why?

It’s called racism, sexism, and it is as clear as Rupert Murdoch’s bias.

Yes, Stefania at MOMocrats has it right:

“Just who do you think your audience is, Fox News? A bunch of 11-year-olds? Didn’t you forget to call her Obama’s ‘boo’ as well as his ‘shorty?’ /eyeroll It would be so easy to get outraged by this, but instead these tactics make me howl with laughter, because it shows that the right is scared out of their minds. Yesterday’s ‘terrorist fist jab’ is today’s Obama baby mama. Tomorrow will bring something worse, but it ain’t gonna make their cause look any better. The Republicans are are going to get handled come November. This I know…

In the immortal words of Kimora Lee Simmons, MOMocrats co-founder Stefania Pomponi Butler ‘will beat a bitch’s ass’ for messing with our country’s next First Lady.”

Updated: Liza at Culture Kitchen gives us a background reminder on Malkin.

Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog, BlogHer.com, and MOMocrats.com. She thinks Fox News can suck it.

I Am Voting Republican

via my friend Baratunde-

Let’s DO This Thing

Truth time.

You are not over it.

I am not over it.

There are threats to vote McCain.

There are snarks about older white women.

There are accusations of it being my (and other women who voted Obama) fault Clinton didn’t break that ‘ultimate glass ceiling.’

There are sore winners, sore losers, and even discussion of what our daughters will take away from this, other than our inability to STOP fighting.

So I say, time to get it out all out there. Time to lay it all on the table and say every nasty thing, or upsetting thing, or even offensive thing you need to say. Time to fight it out with that Obama supporter. Time to fight it out with that Clinton backer.

Time to do what we need to do in order to move on.

It’s time to stop pitting women against women.

After we have our virtual pillow fight, I’m not talking about it anymore.

Unless of course, Clinton fucks up again (see, see why I need to do this? I have issues! ISSUES!)

7pm Pacific. We’ll start off on Stickam so as many people as possible get a chance to yell and scream and cry.

and then with any luck…by the wee hours of the morning, we’ll be back to feeling ya-ya.

What happens here tonight, stays here tonight.And if you are lucky you’ll win some skin care products to take away the bags under your eyes tomorrow morning from all the crying.

So we’re having it out in this virtual Red Tent to emerge stronger. And also to learn why each side is so entrenched so we can understand and come together.