sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 7, 2017

a plea from the disenfranchised
posted by soe 3:03 am

Election Day has arrived. Many of you have the opportunity to head the the polls to vote for local officials. After the dumpster fire we’ve had politically the past 365-plus days, it might be tempting to stay home, since what does it matter anyhow? They’re going to do what they’re going to do and there’s nothing that can be done, some might think. Please don’t do that. Please get out and vote, no matter how inconvenient or insignificant it may seem.

It’s easy to see how voting for members of Congress or governor is important, but what about for state representatives or town selectmen or local sheriffs or comptrollers? Do they really matter? Can’t we just skip voting in those elections?

In a time when the federal government isn’t doing its job properly, those people become even more important. They’re providing checks and balances to our national leaders. They’re setting the tone for what’s important to local communities, be it standing up to ICE raids on local immigrants, suing for environmental protections, legislating gun restrictions, or putting money aside for local arts programs or after school programs. The federal government is no longer looking out for everyday citizens, so state and local governments have to step up and do it. So the people in those offices are crucial to protecting not only your community but the rest of the communities around the country.

Discouragement and hopelessness can spread like a fire. People in it for themselves, as they seem to be at the national level, can make it seem like your one voice is screaming into a hurricane. And that’s what they want you to think. They want you to stay home. They want you to feel like there’s nothing you can do to stand up to them and their power. As Luna Lovegood says to Harry Potter, “If I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else; because if it’s just you alone, you’re not as much of a threat.” You and your fellow voters aren’t alone. You and your local elected officials can be a threat to the powers-that-be. Because hope and optimism and kindness spread, too, if just a little more quietly.

So please go to the polls. Support the people who’ll protect the most vulnerable amongst us. If there’s only one person running for an office and they’re a jerk, write someone else in. There is nearly always that option, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

Vote today. Speak truth to power with your ballot. Stand up and be counted because there are always those who can’t who are relying on you to speak on their behalf. Be the change you want to see and the citizen you want others to be.

Category: politics. There is/are 7 Comments.

February 4, 2017

show us what america looks like
posted by soe 3:10 am

This is what America looks like:

No Muslim Ban March

I’d suggest clicking through to see that in a slightly bigger version.

These were all taken at the protest at the White House — which turned into an impromptu march to the Capitol — as a result of the anti-Muslim/anti-Middle East ban enacted last week.

If you are feeling alone in your anger/sadness/grief/rage, know you are not. We are all there with you.

No Muslim Ban March

This protest came together in less than a day. I don’t think anyone, including the organizers, expected this many people to show up. (I do think the surprisingly strong response was due, in part, to liberals in D.C. receiving a week’s worth of emails demanding we call the Congressional representatives that we lack to express opposition to Cabinet nominees and executive orders. We might not have anyone to call (or protect us), but, damn it, we can show up in person‚Ķ)

No Muslim Ban March

People of all size, shape, age, color, creed, and ethnicity came. A friend brought his children, making it the first protest rally for all of them.

No Muslim Ban March

No Muslim Ban March

The cheer at this point was, “This is only your ninth day. We’re not going to go away.”

No Muslim Ban March

This is the Old Post Office Building, which is now owned by the same family occupying the White House. Locals do not use the new name.

No Muslim Ban March

I wish I could give you a sense of how many people were there. Let’s just say that it’s 16 blocks from the White House to the Capitol. When we reached Pennsylvania Avenue (2 blocks in), we could see crowds seven blocks away, which I guessed at the time were associated with the Chinese New Year Parade. They weren’t. When we reached the Capitol, there were still people streaming all the way back. The best I can offer you is a link to one of the photos of the people taking pictures from the balcony at the Newseum.

No Muslim Ban March

No Muslim Ban March

As my friends and I headed off to find a late lunch, the crowd was chanting, “See you next week!”

(This week, though, instead of hitting up the White House & Capitol Hill, I’ll be taking part in the candlelight vigil tomorrow evening between D.C.’s mosque/Islamic Center and the Vice President’s mansion a few blocks away in my own neck of the woods.)

Category: dc life,politics. There is/are 2 Comments.

January 25, 2017

women’s march: d.c.
posted by soe 2:13 am

Saturday, I headed down to the Mall to the Women’s March along with 1.3 or so million of my closest allies. I was by myself, so I went a little later and, as such, ended up back in the crowd, far past where the sound system for the rally was capable of projecting. Without being able to hear those in the front, folks in the back got restless and started the march an hour before the program was due to end. According to my coworker, the official march didn’t actually get moving until two hours after it was supposed to, by which point I was already walking. So what you’re seeing in my pictures is part of a march that stretched more than four hours long.

Women's March on D.C. 2017

That first shot in the slideshow is from the teach-in Politics and Prose, one of my local indie bookshops, held the afternoon of the Inauguration. Just after I took this shot, an employee had to come and close the door, since they were packed.

The second shot is of the new addition to the Hinckley Hilton, where President Reagan was shot in 1981, taken the night of Inauguration, as I was walking home from grocery shopping.

The rest are from the march itself. (And, really, the shots are just better bigger, so I’d suggest heading over to Flickr to look at them.

Category: dc life,politics. There is/are 5 Comments.

November 8, 2016

i’m with her
posted by soe 1:23 am

I’m sure no one here is surprised, but I’ll be casting my presidential vote for Hillary Clinton tomorrow.

Hillary has long championed an affordable health care system here in the U.S., women’s and girls’ rights around the world, and a moderate Middle East. She was an able Senator for New York and a fierce Secretary of State. And my mom, who volunteered in the White House during Bill Clinton’s presidency, has great respect for Hillary as a politician and as a person. (This is just a little thing, but she once mentioned that if Hillary noticed lowly volunteers trying to photograph her during events, she’d pause and look directly at them so they could get a good shot). Is she the perfect candidate? No, but I think her faults fall within the reasonable margin of error.

Add to that, the barrel-bottom-scraping candidate that the Republicans have put up on their side of the ticket — one who unfurls his banner beneath fear and bigotry and suspicion of our neighbors. While it’s true that Trump himself probably isn’t quite as bad as the media makes him out to be, he spews hatred and champions fear in both his platform and his supporters.

Lines at polls around the country are expected to be long. Please know that as long as you are already in line when the polls in your community close you must be allowed to vote, so don’t leave the line. If you don’t show up as registered, even though you should be, as long as you’re at the correct polling place, ask for a provisional ballot, and be assured your vote will still count. Know your rights as a voter and know the rights of others. And, please, if you see someone being treated unfairly, speak up in person and get in touch with poll watchers at your voting location or call 866-OUR-VOTE to get outside assistance.

America, if you’re able to vote, please cast your ballot for Hillary and for the things that are best about us, rather than the things that make us seem small. History has its eyes on you: do us proud.

Category: politics. There is/are 2 Comments.

November 23, 2014

mayor no more
posted by soe 4:10 am

Marion Barry has died.

The feisty, unapologetic, larger-than-life Barry may have been dubbed “Mayor for Life” facetiously by D.C.’s City Paper, but he made the designation his own and wore it like a mantle. Never was he without an opinion about the city or about how something affected it.

His entire career was devoted to helping people, first at SNCC (where he served as its first chairman), then through the non-profit he co-founded, and finally through the city political machine, where he served on the Board of Education, in the Council (where he was shot in the line of duty), and as mayor. And he did many good things for people and for the District over the years.

However, it cannot be said that Barry lacked pride in what he accomplished or in himself. As with many people (particularly men) in power, he seemed to feel himself above the law — and a victim to it when it took him down. Certainly it can be argued that his own addictions made him slower to react as drugs became a growing problem in the urban landscape.

His misdeeds and personal failings will paint how the nation remembers him. And it isn’t wrong for those things to be counted in a final tally.

Yet, I understand how he continued to be elected to the council to represent Ward 8, something that outraged and confused many of my peers as we moved in from elsewhere with our own desires to see and help D.C. move forward with its urban renewal. In an area of the city where poverty, unemployment, illness, and past mistakes haunt a large percentage of its residents, I can see how they would have seen Barry as continuing to represent and champion their views. When they — or their kids — needed jobs, or a turkey to put on their tables at Thanksgiving, Barry came through for them, or at least seemed to make an effort at a time when the case could be made that their needs were considered far below people in wealthier sections of town.

Say what you will about him (and people will say plenty in the coming days), I really believe Barry cared about his constituents — and they about him.

May he rest in peace.

I should not be allowed to write just before bed because I misspelled Marion Barry’s name as Marion Berry when I first published this and awoke realizing the mistake I’d made. My apologies for the error.

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April 22, 2013

elections — again
posted by soe 11:26 pm

Tomorrow we have an election in D.C.

First, and foremost, let me urge anyone in D.C. who’s registered to vote here to do so. Even if you don’t care who wins the council seat, there is a referendum question on the ballot that is an important one to address. It concerns the District’s ability to decide how to use the money, such as tax revenue, that it raises.

Currently, we are at Congress’ whims for all our budgetary concerns. Regardless of how you might feel about the Founding Fathers’ opinions about D.C. governance and our representation (or lack thereof) in Congress, it seems only fair that we should have some autonomy in setting our own budget priorities. You know how everyone’s talking about how sequestration will affect various government bodies? D.C.’s one of them. When the government threatens to shut down all non-essential federal agencies? That includes D.C.’s libraries, because Congress gets final sign-off on our entire budget. An argument could be made that it is fair that the national government should oversee the District’s use of federal funds. However, it is harder to see how it’s fair that they dictate how we spend the percentage of our budget (roughly 70%, by the way) that comes into our coffers via our own sources of funding, such as local taxes. Voting yes tomorrow on the referendum will indicate that residents of D.C. would like and expect to receive that same privilege that other local governments take for granted.

Harder for me to offer insight into is the at-large council race seat that’s being contested. This is the seat that opened up when Phil Mendelson won election to council chair, which in turn was vacated by Kwame Brown in a corruption scandal. So at its heart, this election should be about ethics. And, at least on the surface, it is. All the current contenders bandy the term about. If we eliminate the candidate who’s already dropped out (but who still remains on the ballot and, thus, will take at least a certain percentage of the vote), we’re still left with six candidates, four of whom are running in the District’s de facto single party. (more…)

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