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

Ten Things That Are Better About Canada

Aguest post on this fine Canada Day by the lovely Meg Fowler, one of my many Canadian friends whom I love, despite her hatred of my hockey team and her blasphemous words about Stevie Yzerman

Ten Things That Are Better About Canada

10. Our national bird is tastier than yours.

9.  We know the secret to feeling rich — turn all your currency into gold-coloured coins!

8.  Our national flag is a leaf and two bars — something you can find in any town we have, too.

7.  We have more trees than we have McDonalds. And more hockey rinks than Wal-Marts. And more donuts than cops.

6.  Our annual military budget is approximately the same price as Jenna Bush’s wedding.

5.  One end of us looks to Europe, the other end to the Pacific Rim. And if you go to the middle of our country, you can get both pyrogies AND sushi at the food court!

4.  Our movies have more subtitles and boobies — AND the government pays you to make them!

3.  We have a monarch, which is kind of like when your parents go away and leave your Grandma in charge.

2.  If you make fun of us, we make you a citizen. And give you a job at the CBC.

1. If we had a woman and a black man running for office, we’d all vote for the gay Guatemalan-Scottish-First Nations-Tibetan monk performance artist with the limp.

Open Thread -Video Comments

Come be a rockstar and try out Seesmic video comments on my blog.

What do you think?

Will you use it?

Am I crazy?

Ok, yes I’m crazy but am I crazy for putting them here when the rest of you don’t use them?

Some topics to inspire you:

Laura’s post on PodCamp Boston being scheduled during BlogHer.

A reminder that while we bicker on candidate’s mispeaking and mommybloggers snarking, the World Is On Fire.

Sign the petition – helping to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and, ‘stand for clean rivers and streams all across America.’

Or how about just some lighthearted fun? Cute puppy.

Fire up those cams- leave me a comment!

Not Using Me.Dium.Com


I’m sorry, but this is your marketing?

Parody. Still.


Because what I need is yet another social networking service run by frat boys.

Hey wait-can you make me a hottie too? Do you have an Oregon Trail application? I can’t wait to show this to MY KIDS, because you know we mommybloggers just love to share everything with our kids.

Maybe I need to write an open letter to start up companies to grow the hell up, because their viral video marketing is just SOOOOOO professional and classy.

I guess they didn’t watch my show tonight to learn all about how women are the majority of web users.

Their loss.

An Open Letter To MommyBloggers

Back in 2006, as the PR companies started circling and the world was just starting to catch on to this ‘Mommyblogging’ phenomenon, I very clumsily attempted to tell Heather Armstrong the A-listers were hurting my feelings.

Of course this was at BlogHer con, and I was tipsy, so it came out very awkward and bitchy. I had heard grumblings of the cool kids’ club. I had heard complaints that all these new Mombloggers were just copycats. I wanted to know if the community I shoved myself into was, in fact, real and supportive.

Heather was, of course, gracious and understanding. She didn’t feel that way at all, she loves this community, and so on and so forth.

I felt better.

Flash forward to 2008 and BlogHer con just around the corner. I’m watching some high profile names make some pretty hefty accusations and some new and eager bloggers scratch their heads, fight back, and even second guess this amazing community.

The good thing about us bloggers, is we talk. We comment, we discuss, we post. Communicate. Sometimes we over-communicate…but at least it’s out there.

With the rise of Mommyblogging has come growing pains, competition, traffic, ad money, the works. It’s exciting and it’s frustrating. There are no longer thousands of us, there are millions and we have influence and reach.

What we can not stand to lose, is the community.

It is what makes us. It is what drives us. It is the entire reason we are who we are. There will always be flamewars and snarking and back channel chatter about who did what to whom. Human nature. But what is new is the megaphone’s power.

I learned this the hard way. I am one of the megaphone’s biggest abusers.

Like it or not, you are now widely read and widely heard. Like it or not, it comes with responsibility. Trust me, I’m the last person to like the responsibility part of it all.

Not too long ago a few entrepreneurs I know bickered over some ventures. One thought the other was copying, the other thought he was making it his own. The analogy that came up: it was like McDonalds getting mad Burger King had come to town and set up shop across the street.

I think that is a fair analogy here. McDonalds is mad Burger King is making hamburgers. However, as we all know, no one has the monopoly on hamburgers.

No one has a monopoly on snarky parentblogging either. Or the name ‘Queen’ or even who gets to be loudest at any given moment. I may protect my ‘business’ but I certainly can’t hate that someone wants to be the Pepsi to my Coke.

What we DO have a monopoly on is community. We own this one, outright. All of us. Not one of us is more of a rockstar than the other, and we all take inspiration from each other. MORE importantly, we all RELY on each other. We all know why we are involved in this blogging/twitter/fill-in-the-blank-social-media-service-here: it’s the support, the advice, the friendship.

As I have watched other communities get into pissing matches, it strikes me how much we may be traveling down that road.

Fame and fortune bring trainwrecks I guess. I’d like to see us remain the ‘closest knit community online.’

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, the world is watching.

Obama, Me, And BlogHer’s Questions

My exclusive sit-down with Senator Barack Obama for BlogHer.com

Senator Barack Obama & Erin Kotecki Vest -Yes ME!

Senator Barack Obama and Erin Kotecki Vest of BlogHer.com

Senator Barack Obama answered the questions drafted by the BlogHer community in an exclusive, one-on-one, video interview in Roseburg, Oregon.

More to come-check BlogHer for the video as I travel from Eugene, Oregon home to Los Angeles.

Thank you Senator Obama!

Camp Baby and BlogHer Biz Go-ers

This one is for you. Plus I really just wanted to play with Viddler.