Reflections on Restoring Honor

August 31, 2010

Normally, I find Glenn Beck to be just mildly annoying. He’s like a mosquito that buzzes in your ear – not biting, not landing – just perpetually floating without fail and creating an annoying hum in your ear. However, Beck’s resent actions are totally inexcusable. He is having a rally in order to restore honor to our nation. When I first heard of this idea, I thought, honestly, that it was a joke. A talking head from spin central is going to restore my nation’s honor? I’ll get Hugh Hefner right on restoring my modesty while we’re at it.

The first problem with this is obvious. My honor is not in need of restoration. Neither is that of my nation – not, at least, in the sense that Beck believes. He claims we are only as honorable as our virtues – a word he uses, dare I say, liberally – are in proper alignment. Acting more like a man at the pulpit than at the podium, Beck plays the sensitivities of his followers. He evokes humility when it looks best – calling up soldiers – both of the current conflict and wars past when convenient. My heart broke for them because not only had they served our country and lost, without doubt, something significant in each instance, but now they seemed to be losing something more. In the closing prayer, I man who had lost his face in Vietnam was paraded out after having the more grotesque details of his injuries retold by Beck. He told a story of loss in the name of defending freedom. He prayed to God that our troops be protected. The whole time he was standing there, Sarah Palin, failed governor and current talking head, was standing behind his left shoulder shaking her head in agreement. Beck stood to his right. He was bookmarked by two terrible people who spend day and night cooking up ways to brainwash the people into giving up their babies to warfare, giving up their shores to drilling, and giving up their dreams to inequality. I kept thinking, “This guy deserves better than this.” Though I’m a peaceful person, I don’t think there was anything wrong with this man’s honor – or that of the nation he served in the military – and I think it is pretty fucking smug of Beck to assume so. Using people is not bringing honor to them. If you really want to honor our veterans, Mr. Beck, help us get out of our military conflicts so no more of them have to become memories that never walk through the doors of their family homes again. Just today I saw a news snippet of a nineteen-year-old child who died in Iraq. The honorable thing to do would be to really learn from all these casualties we keep racking up and work to stop them. The only silver lining to this event is that the money raised – after Mr. Beck and his crew’s expenses – went to a very worthy charity, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The second reason I’m coming down on Beck has to do with Mr. Beck’s own integrity. He’s a liar. He said – on national television – that the date of his rally wasn’t chosen for any particular reason other than it was the only free day in everyone’s schedules where the stars aligned. Bullshit.

I don’t really care that Beck chose to have his ‘Restoring Honor,’ rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s, ‘I Have a Dream,’ speech. I don’t care that it was in the same location as Dr. King’s famous speech. I do care, however, that Beck claims that the logistics of this event are just coincidence – the result of open nooks and crannies within the bowels of conservative crony schedules and surprisingly open venues. There is no way – no way – that it just happened to be that the anniversary of the most remembered and cherished speech of the civil rights movement happened to be the same day when nothing much was going on in the spin factory and the Lincoln Memorial was free. What’s appalling isn’t that Beck thought to utter this lie in the first place – he’s a snake and that’s what snakes do – what’s appalling is that he said it on national television with a look on his face that said, “I know you’re going to believe me even though this is bullshit.” I mean, he should have just come out and said, “Yeah, I know this is an important day. I want to put my mark on it – whether it is a shine or a stain.” At least that would have carried the weight of honesty.

Beck tried his best to seem holy, but to me he just came off as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He evoked the word God more times, I believe, than the Rev. Dr. King in his famous speech. It seemed semi-sacrilegious to me – like using God to advertise Foldgers Coffee, or “The View,” or something like that. He made God seem like a patriot – on our side (America’s side) and our side alone.

The most terrifying thing about this event, though, wasn’t the man of the hour. It was the misguided nonsense he was spewing out into the atmosphere. It wasn’t the fact that the media was lapping up his nonsense. No, the most terrifying thing about this event could be found in the reflecting pool at the national mall. Beck’s followers, ready to take his message anywhere to anyone, gathered in staggering numbers. There stood apostles of a fake messiah, waving handmade signs and sporting Beck-inspired t-shirts. I didn’t feel honorable watching this unfold on television. All I felt was shame.
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Parent Trapped

August 17, 2010

The Today Show kind of freaks me out. I mean, Matt Lauer seems like one of those mannequins from those campy Old Navy commercials, and Lester Holt is always on television – ever present and wafting through the atmosphere, like Jesus or the flu virus.

I recently had a few weekdays off of work, though, and discovered that there’s nothing interesting on daytime television. If any network executive ever brags about The Today Show’s ratings, he or she should get punched in the throat for being such a schmuck because there is nothing that glorious about beating out infomercials for the Shark Steam Vac or reruns of Sister Sister.

So, as I sat on the couch with remote fatigue, I settled on giving The Today Show another crack. Dina Lohan, Lindsay Lohan’s mother, was on television talking to Matt Lauer about her famous daughter’s unfortunate trips down the rabbit hole that had landed her in jail. I don’t know much about Lindsay Lohan aside from the fact that she was in Mean Girls, and that’s an awesome movie to watch when you start to feel nostalgic for high school. She rattled on about going to various rehab clinics and how her daughter was now doing better and how it was the media’s fault for following her around all the time – blah, blah, blah. I was wondering, while blindly watching, who could possibly find this interesting when something happened that did peak my interest. Matt Lauer asked Lohan if she thought her daughter would die an early death and, after much skirting, she said something along the lines of, “I don’t foresee that.” You don’t foresee it? Seriously? What are you, a Magic 8 ball?

I got a creepy feeling all over me, and I knew exactly why. Why type of mother answers a question like, do you expect your kid to keel over dead at any moment from a constant diet of paint thinner, speed, and diet cola with such a flippant, generic response? I know what my mom’s response would have been; she would have said, “Fuck no, Matt Lauer, and fuck you for even asking that – I would never let that happen!”

Even if your mother has no control over the situation at all, she’s supposed to imagine that she would have the power to protect you from yourself. That’s what parents – good ones – do. They are able to do it because, hopefully, they’ve been practicing your whole life. I thought to myself right then, “Wow, no wonder this Lindsay broad is so messed up.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a blame-your-parents kind of chick. I’m plenty messed up, and I know it had absolutely nothing to do with my folks (who are amazing parents, by the way). There was just something so cold and surface about that comment. The way that it was packaged to seem innocuous made it that much more chilling. It was pretty clear that the whole thing was a package – her daughter was a package to her. The more I listened to carefully crafted phrases and the inflection of her dialog, the more I started to be reminded of that ice-queen reporter and capital bitch Suzanne Stone Maretto from To Die For. The only difference I could see was Maretto was fictional. The former Mrs. Lohan appeared to be, at least physically, existing in reality – even if just barely.

I’ve got to disagree with the principle thesis of her defense that fame had caused her daughter’s downward spiral. I don’t think fame screws people up unless they let it. I, of course, don’t know this first-hand as a nobody, but I can imagine that there’s some control factor there or else everyone that was ever on the cover of People Magazine or in The Mickey Mouse Club would die at twenty-seven of
an overdose and be found sprawled out naked, needle in arm in their shower. Some celebrities survive and grow up and all that – so I don’t think it is like fame is the toxin. (Though that’s the angle that Mama Lohan was pitching.) Why would Betty White be allowed to work her way through the corn maze of fame without so much as a paper cut while others seemed to be bleeding to death at some sort of fame
altar?

I’d pretty much had enough of the carnage myself for the day. I was still convinced that the Today Show sucked, and now I felt a little bit dirty myself for watching it. I looked at the two plastic people staring at each other on television. They were talking, but they weren’t saying much.

Get Off Your Asses Or Elephants

October 20, 2008

Get off your asses. Or your elephants. I don’t really care. Sure, I would like you to be mobilized for my particular candidates and issues, but in the grand scheme of things, I believe more in the political process than I do about arguing over issues. I want people to be impassioned about their role in choosing their leaders and making their community the best place in which to live.

I grew up longing to vote. The year I turned 18 I missed a pretty major gubernatorial vote by a matter of weeks. I knew all the Schoolhouse Rock songs about politics by heart. All that, and I never really considered myself patriotic. A lot of the time, I didn’t even respect my country as a force in the world. But I always felt that voting was not simply a right, but a duty that, even the greatest of dissenters should partake of in order to make their voices heard.

As a Florida voter, I have seen some fiery elections in my short voting history. An absentee voter in 2000, I single handedly held up the election of our president. I’ve seen bullet trains added to our constitution and the rights of pigs protected. And still, I want to get out and vote.

As an avid voter, I find it shocking when a friend tells me she or he isn’t registered to vote. I count my friends as fairly intelligent, most of whom have jobs where they are focused on service to the less fortunate. The feeling of apathy that these friends feel towards voting won’t change if candidate x is elected senator or if bill c passes. Like many other things in life (the Quarter Life Crisis included) it is hard to care about something until you are directly affected by it. Until you are dropped from your health insurance and need to find coverage, until you fall in love with someone of the same sex and find yourself unable to adopt children, until your best friend is shipped off to Iraq…

Being a QuarterLifer means that you have the burden, but also the opportunity to hammer out how you feel about life. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind down the road. Over the last ten years I’ve certainly changed how I feel about capital punishment, market economies, and climate change intervention. But being able to discuss and debate politics with anyone, of any age or leaning, is one of the few times in life that the generational walls are really broken down. I’ve been able to talk politics with professors, employers (careful with that one), and even my grandfather. Simply staying uninformed and apathetic is not an option.

I get it, it’s intimidating. Talking to people when you feel like you don’t really know how you feel about an issue, or not feeling like you have enough information to hold your ground in a heated debate is threatening. But during a time when we feel like we have so little control over the rest of our lives, this is an easy area to cling to. Start small. Call your local election headquarters (and yes, I will be at my Democratic headquarters) to see what you can do to help out. You don’t have to start by knocking on doors. Most places will be happy to have you stuff envelopes or answer phones. By taking the first step, you can get started in solidifying how you feel on issues, learning how the system works, and making sure that your voice truly is heard. A few hours a week can make all the difference to a candidate running for the first time or to people who didn’t know the registration deadline was approaching.

Now, here is the hard sell. You’ve only got a few weeks left. There is still time to get involved. Even if you aren’t interested in the big show, your local candidates effect what goes on directly in your life. On your day off, just go. Go to the Obama headquarters or the Nader camp or see if Bob Barr needs some help. Go look into Amendment 2 in Florida or 8 in California and make some calls from the comfort of your home reminding people to vote “NO!”  At the very least, take a look at The Daily Kos or Andrew Sullivan to expand your knowledge of what is going on out there.

Get off your asses and make a difference. Not for your country, but for you. No one can ever say that the knowledge that you gained is worthless. But first, you have to get off your ass.

Yes Man for President in 2008!

October 20, 2008

You, my presumably informed dear reader, are undoubtedly aware that our nation is on the cusp of presidential election. Illinois Senator Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate, and Senator John McCain is the Republican candidate. The Democratic National Convention is taking place in Denver, Colorado, as I am drafting this article. The GOP invades Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, for its rah-rah sis boom bah only days after I have finished this fine piece of literature.

Here at Quarterlives.com, the urge to abstain from commentary on the political process is now officially abandoned. Politics and civics are a significant aspect of our lives because it identifies whom we are as a country, for better or worse. As unofficial flag bearers for a large sector of the voting population known as “Twentysomethings,” it is our responsibility to jump on the hot topic bandwagon, and generate discussion amongst ourselves.

“Politics” makes for an interesting conversation topic among family and friends. Spirited discussions abound about how our country should be improved, and who the person should be to improve it. Which party has the better ideas, Democrats or Republicans, Liberal Weenies or Right Wing Nut Jobs? Elections have significant impact on our lives. It reminds us that the citizenry must choose a path for ourselves, and prioritize our most important social issues. Whether we actually resolve our social problems is a whole different ball of wax.

However, with every presidential election, I find myself wondering the same things time after time: what do I stand for? What do other people my age stand for? What social issues bother me? What issues should be bothering me? Why not let some one else fix it? Why worry at all? How much does my vote really matter? Would my vote have more significance if I lived in Florida? Should I associate with any one at the polls named Chad?

My attention to politics has dwindled lately because I currently live along the Canadian Border. My geographical location tends to eliminate a few of the problems facing most Americans. There aren’t too many Canadians trying to illegally penetrate the US northern border, and the Canucks are too damn friendly to surmount any type of a serious military threat. I am fairly certain that International Falls is low on the list of terrorist strike points. Crime rate? It consists of drunk driving arrests and citations for too many walleye. What about marriage rights? It is hard to identify homosexual lifestyles here because the overwhelming majority of people, both male and female, like wearing plaid or camouflage, and enjoy hunting while wearing it. But all joking aside, there are many issues that our country is confronted with: the economy, the skirmish in Iraq, energy production, tort reform, health insurance, home foreclosures, etc.

I tend not to associate myself with the ass or the pachyderm. I rarely, if ever, share political thoughts with former classmates, friends or family. I generally avoid conversations that have politics as the focal point. This is probably peculiar for a person that took political science for his college major, and then went on to graduate law school.

I currently clerk for a District Court Judge. When there is snow on the ground, or the temperatures remain consistently at 30 degrees or less, I put on my referee equipment for ice hockey. I watch sporting events without cheering for a particular team, and often times will be more focused on the officiating. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate against people’s political views. I am about as neutral as a chocolate-making Swiss nationalist.

So what are my political views? I am not sure. If I have developed opinions about any issues my stances are not set in stone, and are subject to remolding at any time. Hypocritical you say? Maybe. But I could probably be lumped in with most Americans that are “in the middle.” As a “middler” I believe that the economy sucks worse than a Shop-Vac and Iraq is the sunnier, drier version of Vietnam. We middlers are the group that our presidential candidates desperately seek to sway in their direction hours before the polls close. We are the politically undefined who have the power to shape our country’s future. Middlers tend to like some of what Barack has got and a little of what John has got.

However, despite the significance and importance of our President, I have a large problem with presidential candidates and the selection process. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Chief Diplomat and Chief Executive. It is the sole responsibility of the President to faithfully execute the laws of our nation. But my question is when the hell did it become so important for presidents to decide that they need to be the people’s chief legislator? I thought it was the responsibility of Congress to conduct the brain storming and law formulation for our country, to decide what the priorities of our country are and how best to fix the most pressing problems. The president is supposed to be a Yes Man for Congress. So, in my opinion, this presidential election is about who is the better Yes Man between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Does a Yes Man really need a platform? To me, the election for President is no different than an election for county auditor. May the best Yes Man win.

Don’t get me wrong- political views and agendas are needed in our country. We need ideas and people who can get those ideas into executable laws that benefit the entire nation, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic class, and whatever other type of social label entitled to be placed in this sentence. I think politics belong in the legislature. It is why we have the legislature. It is the melting pot of ideas.

But in order to get the laws onto paper and to the all important Yes Man for their execution, we must vote for those individuals who have the ideas for the laws. It is our responsibility to vote for this person so that our country may continue to thrive or survive. We have to identify those political candidates whose platforms are best tailored to serve our social demands. And it is with this parting thought that I ask you Quarterlifers out there in Internet land two questions: (1) What are the most pressing issues facing Twentysomethings today? And (2) who are the best political figures to represent our interests?

Tell Us What You Think – Win a T-Shirt!

March 6, 2008

We’ve been working hard on this site for the past few months, and wanted to take time out to thank everyone. We’ve received some very nice comments from many of our readers over the past couple of weeks. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

That said, we know things can be improved. We plan on making changes and additions very soon, and we want YOUR input. After taking a look around and reading articles, what do you think? Like something? Hate something? Wish for something more? Let us know! We’ll pick the person with the most comments and/or best idea, and they will win a FREE Quaterlives t-shirt.

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Experience is for Wussies

March 4, 2008

I’m not getting my MBA because I love business. I’m getting my MBA because it was easier than working. It’s not that I’m looking for an easy way through life- God knows that I sure haven’t been a slacker. The path to Managerial Accounting started when I tried to get a job. Educated at the Honors College of the Florida State System, the number 3 high school in the nation, and with some hard-core graduate work and internships I went into my search fairly cocky that I would find my dream job.

Six months later I was starting to rethink my, well, my everything. Why wasn’t anyone calling me? I had a resume (with a super cute template), experience in a variety of academic avenues, and even had some killer references. I started to look through the jobs and see if there was something I was missing. I noticed something. All the jobs I was applying for; marketing, administrative, research, warehouse forklift operator; required 3-5 years experience. Actually, 3-5 years experience OR an MBA. Well, I said to myself, “It would take me 2 years to get the MBA or I could have a crappy entry level job for five years.” So sign me up for deferred student loans and get me a Trapper Keeper- I’m a grad student. [Read more]