Tag Archives: politics

I was there in Washington D.C. in July 2014

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. has wide streets and there are many trees. The crepe myrtle is blooming with pink and white flowers. This morning it’s not too hot. In fact, it is perfect. The window is open and when the wind blows I can see the leaves on the tree outside rustle. Then I feel the air on my cheeks and it’s refreshing like water.

The streets of D.C. are straight and laid out in an orderly fashion, a mixture of numbers and letters and state names and other names of governmental significance. They all feel very purposeful. They were built in relation to the capitol and all streets lead there if you go the right way.

If you go the right way and go to the Capitol building, you’ll see lawns. You’ll see green. You’ll see landscaping and trees with little plaques on them to tell you what kind of tree it is. At this time of year, there is usually a group of people taking a picture on the Capitol building steps. In front of them and across the street and down the hill there are men and women wearing slacks and dresses and going to work in large white marble buildings.

There are fountains with muscley old men and long hair riding mythic beasts, and beautiful women riding muscley horses. Turtles spout water forever.

People with maps and phones try to figure out which way to go. Air conditioning units work overtime to pump gigantic museums full of cooled air to accept the huddled masses, refugees from the sun and the oppressive openness of the National Mall. Interns are everywhere, but you can’t see them.

I did pushups on the landing at the National Gallery in the morning, and banged on the doors of the Supreme Court at night. I walked the same blocks as people who have their name printed in the newspaper and have many followers on Twitter. I swam in that fountain, the one with the turtles and the horses and a muscley old man.

I didn’t have any pockets so I shoved coins down my pants to have something to remember the moment by. I took a penny and a quarter. But then I accidentally flushed the penny down the toilet, and without thinking I put the quarter into my purse with all the other coins, so I don’t know which one it was even though I probably still have it.

And somewhere in the National Air and Space Museum, a raw almond rests underneath a display case, accidentally dropped from my hand and then kicked out of sight to rest forever until vacuumed up.

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Did You Hear? Them Right Wing Politics Is Crazy.

The mustache says “I’m reasonable.” Everything else says he isn’t.

When I came back from Egypt to Oklahoma and American politics, I was disappointed to find similar political currents in the two countries.

Just like advocates of the Muslim Brotherhood, there are some people in the states who would love to see the ascendance of religion in government. And I’m not talking about Muslim extremists plotting a White House takeover.

Rather, I’m talking about a bunch of rather special conservatives who are doing their darndest to take American politics back a few hundred years.

Take Paul Blair, for example. This is a man from Edmond, OK, a pastor at a local church, who has decided that he wants to run for Senate in order to keep the government from getting any bigger (or better), and defend “traditional, Biblical values and our constitution.”

His biggest selling points are his mustache and his exclusively conservative voting record, if that tells you anything about the environment here. And despite how much I attempt to ignore politics, I have heard about this man and seen his ridiculous mustachioed political advertising, which means he has a crap ton of money to campaign with. Plumber Joe, don’t believe Blair when he says he’s just like you.

One of the things that pisses me off the most about Mr. Paul Blair’s campaign is his logo, which is really dumb. Take a look at it here. It’s an American flag topped with a tiny cross.

I’m sure what Blair meant to convey with this truly horrendous act of campaignage was that he’s going to haul his Christian morals to Capital Hill so they remain in our government where they belong.

What I understand from the flag/cross hybrid is quite different. I understand that Mr. Blair either knows very little about American history and government or is willing to bait voters with dangerous religious rhetoric. I understand that Blair does not respect the division between church and state and would prefer the two again become one. In this way, we can re-create ourselves in the image of great nations like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Egypt, where religion is an integral part of state identity.

I understand that just like supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Blair believes that the government should have a central role in regulating morality, especially through legislation based on a holy document.

Between me and Blair, I believe I am the only one that has lived in an extremely conservative society with a poorly functioning government. (Just to clarify, I’m talking about Egypt here.) There were aspects of Egypt that I liked, but for the most part, I don’t want to see America becoming like it politically in any way, shape, or form. Pluralistic societies are awesome.

So, Mr. Blair, please put down your American cross bayonet before you march into office and start any more ridiculous wars or legislation, and think about the fact that many Christians would be disgusted to see you using a symbol of their religion in order to promote your campaign. While you’re at it, consider how scary it is for many people to see that you are a “Patriot Pastor,” part of an organization called “Reclaiming America for Christ.” Yikes.

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We Can Make America Better

Sunsets can make anywhere beautiful.

I graduated from college on Sunday, May 22, 2011 and one week later I was in Boston Logan International, throwing my sheets away to make weight for baggage and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

Within twenty four hours, I was standing in the lobby of the Mayfair Hotel in Cairo, suppressing the urge to cry as I begged the concierge to let me check in without my passport, which I had left at the airport when I was filing a claim for my lost baggage. No possessions and no identity, I was ready to start the year.

Things looked up from there, however. I made friends with people in my program, found an apartment despite the fact I had never been to Cairo and didn’t speak Egyptian Arabic, and never died on the Metro (by asphyxiation) on my way to class.

That being said, Cairo was not an easy place to live for me. My (subjective) opinion of Cairo is that it’s not a great place for humans to live in general. There’s no room for them and the poverty crushes everyone. Though I had traveled before to the Middle East, to countries with dictatorships and to places with poverty (including the U.S.), I never felt it like I did in Cairo.

This was a people that had been robbed of their money, of their dignity, and in some cases of their humanity. The former regime stole billions of dollars, exploited and oppressed the people, and dis-empowered them completely through poor education programs, through intimidation, and through endless lies.

As the year went by, I slowly became more resentful of the city, of the pollution, of the seemingly endless harassment, of the constant nuisances, and at the bottom of it all I was reminded daily that I, through no power of my own, had been born in America to a nice middle class family. I was a walking symbol of power and of global injustice. The fact I carried an American passport gave access to more respect and opportunities than most Egyptians would ever get.

When people in the states ask me, “Did you love Cairo?” or something about the Muslim Brotherhood or if it was safe over there, it’s hard for me to know how to respond because these questions don’t mean anything to me.

I want to talk about a people crushed by the boots of an exploitative government and how repression reflects itself in every social facet. I want to talk about women’s rights and equality in the Middle East and in the United States of America. I want to talk about how ignorance affects political systems in America and in the Middle East (I’m not saying that people who support the Muslim Brotherhood are necessarily ignorant. That’s a different blog post). I want to talk about how violent crime is more prevalent in many American cities than in Cairo.

Usually I come back from abroad slightly more patriotic. I want to kiss the sweet American earth and hug Uncle Sam while setting off firecrackers and singing “God Bless America.” It was the same this time but different.

As I looked at the rows of American flags in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport and listened to patriotic music in the immigration line, I kept on thinking, “We can make this better.”

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7 Uses of a Unicorn Carcass

3rd time I’ve used this picture. Gotta stop talking about unicorns.

A message from the U.S. Executive Office of Wildlife Conservation:

Unicorns are a blight on our country. Not only are they a destructive and invasive species, but their very presence is an abomination. Unicorn eradication should be America’s number one priority, second only to starting another war somewhere (Iran!) and eliminating women’s rights.

For this reason, the U.S. Executive Office of Wildlife Conservation has issued a direct order mandating the death of each and every unicorn on sight. No longer will they sweetly neigh their morning songs or gently traipse alongside country paths on pearly hoof. Not one more day shall they terrorize school children by defending nerds and making lollipops sprout out of the earth with their suspicious unicorn magic.

With the help of faithful US citizens and patriots, such as yourselves, these meddlesome unicorns will soon be dead, and ‘round the piles of their motionless bodies shall many a child, mother, and father dance the dance of the victorious. Unfortunately, since current budget restrictions do not allow the US government to participate in the Great Unicorn Corpse Removal, we are calling on countrymen and women to do their part in this effort after they finish the dance of the victorious. We realize this is a rather gruesome inconvenience, but we hope you will soon some to realize that killing the unicorn is merely half the fun.

In order to help you, our loyal citizens, we have spent billions of dollars creating a new department and hiring thousands of employees in pursuit of the best ways to use the entire body of a dead unicorn. We are certain that the American people will once again come through with impressive innovation skills and make some wonderful home crafts while also purifying the earth of this reprehensible paranormal being.

Here are the top 7 uses our experts have found for the various parts of the unicorn carcass.

1. Unicorn horn chandelier: A wonderful project if you’re located in a particularly infested area. The horn is even more luminescent during full moons. Warning: see health risks section.

2. Unicorn hoof ashtray: The pearly finish is sure to go with any décor, especially nursing home and doll house themed interiors.  The ashtray perfumes the room with the scent of a secret midnight garden.

3. Meat: self explanatory. See our website for glitter stew, sparkleballs, glimmer nuggets, and shine steak recipes. Warning: see health risks section.

4. Magic powder: The horn, hooves, and bones can all be ground to create a powder of mysterious magical qualities. Our experts are still studying its properties. Whatever you do, don’t give any to Ron.

5. Unicorn pelt lunchbox: The status symbol of the year. Changes colors with the unicorn queen’s mood, provided she’s not dead. Warning: see health risks.

6. Vest with no buttons: A statement your neighbors are sure to notice. Let the vest flap in the breeze as you sparkle along and leave a visible glitter trail in the air behind you.

7. Halloween costume: Go to your local unicorn taxidermist and have the body prepared as a human garment. Wear it next Halloween when you really want to scare the kids, “Ahhh I thought we killed all of them! I don’t want any more lollipops! Ahhhh!”

Now get out there and do your duty. Start slaying!

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This Guy Sucks

Hey! You suck! 

There sure are a lot of problems these days. The way I see it, things kind of suck the whole world over. Here in Egypt, people are pissed off that life isn’t much better after the revolution. It turns out you can’t teach old scum bags new tricks and the old men who stayed in charge from Mubarak’s era are still good-for-nothing tax gobblers. In America, even though we are completely satisfied with our politicians, we are still constantly embarrassed by, among other things, the extravagant cost of higher education, pesky racial divides, our obesity, our impressive income inequality, and the fact we want to stay really rich but seem to have no money.

I could go on and discuss the pathetic state of our judicial system, the fact we’re losing our competitive edge to  developing countries whose foods we like, and the seeming illiteracy of the coming generation, but then I’d start to get sleepy from the sadness.

When confronted with all these issues, it’s hard to know who to blame. There are simply too many candidates. Do I blame Barack Obama, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Soviets, Europe, poodles, Mom, Dad…who? And I can’t blame something nebulous like “human nature” or the “capitalist system” or “greed.” That’s not nearly satisfying enough. I want a face I can yell at, an ugly mug I can jab at and say, “You suck!”

That’s why, for the past five minutes, I’ve been searching relentlessly for someone who can be the recipient of all our rage, some lame schmuck that can be the symbol of every inefficiency and injustice that exists. After minutes of intensely focused effort,  I think I found him. It’s this guy.

It’s all his fault! He did it! He decided to invade Iraq, Vietnam, and Cuba at great financial and moral cost to the US. It was him! He’s the one who has been melting the glaciers and strangling endangered species.  At night, while good Americans are at home with their families, reading their children bedtime stories, he’s out whispering into the ears of politicians and selling them his fancy new weapons and giving them ideas for how to use them.

He causes skin cancer! He stokes the fires of racial division! He made our educational system unequal! It was fine before he came along, but then BOOM everything was awful!

He’s why Americans are too fat! He’s why middle school girls dress like Ke$ha! He’s the cause of partisan conflict in the White House! He’s why Oklahoma isn’t Colorado! He’s why many Americans have their most intimate relationships with TSA officials! He made healthcare expensive! He created Valentine’s Day!

It’s his fault! I don’t care about the other issues. What will the stance of our future political leaders be on this guy? Will it be a resolute “Let’s get him!” or a pathetic “Let’s allow him to continue trampling our society and future.” Isn’t the answer obvious?

I say let’s get him and while we’re at it, let’s have a good yell.

“YOU SUCK!”

photo credit: Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net

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