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Joe Goes to Washington…

7 Sep

…actually the King Street Art Festival in Alexandria, but today was his first time campaigning!

Excited and ready to go:

At our booth (he was a big hit):


NRI Summit

31 Jan

This past weekend the National Review Institute held a summit in Washington, DC addressing the future of conservatism.  When we moved to the DC area I vowed to get involved in the local political scene and also take advantage of exciting events, so I was thrilled to be able to attend this three day conference.  I am a HUGE fan of National Review–I read the online magazine daily and receive a few of their e-mail newsletters–so my expectations for the summit were pretty high.  Well, after a devastating election this was like a balm for my battered spirit, and I came away refreshed and energized for the future.

The summit began on Friday at 5 and ended Sunday at 2, with back-to-back panels on everything from changing demographics to the morality of markets.  There were also speakers, interviews, and receptions.  My highlight was meeting my very favorite writer, Jay Nordlinger.  Faithful readers will remember the letter I wrote to Jay back in October, which he published a good deal of on The Corner (NRO’s blog).  When I introduced myself to him on Friday evening he remembered me and was incredibly gracious and interesting to talk to.  He even suggested we take a picture together to send to my friend William, who is also a huge Jay fan and had written to him in response to my letter.  I think that this picture, while terribly unflattering of me, accurately portrays how thrilled I was to meet Jay:

photo 5

Another bright spot among many was meeting Jonah Goldberg, another of my favorite conservative thinkers.  I told him I felt like a pre-teen girl at a  Justin Bieber concert and he said that he described the summit to his wife as Comicon for political nerds.  Ha!  I think that’s about right.

photo 4

The last NRI summit was in 2007 and I am *really* hoping that they don’t wait six years to host another one!

March for Life

28 Jan

Last Friday was the 2013 March for Life in Washington, DC.  I had been looking forward to going for a long time, but after a week of illness in our house and a sudden, severe cold snap Ruby and I almost stayed home.  At the last minute I decided to head down to the Mall and am so glad we did.

It was bitter cold but the turnout was tremendous (500,00+).  There were throngs of young people in particular and the energy was palpable.  Ruby had a bit of a breakdown so we didn’t stay for the end of the rally or the march itself, but I am so glad to have been there at all.  Wandering among the crowd, I saw many disabled people and beautiful children with Down Syndrome, who are being aborted at a rate of approximately 90%.  I had to wipe tears from my eyes many times as I read simple, homemade signs giving thanks for the gift of life.  Next year I will take two precious babies with me to march for the millions who cannot.

Ruby was nice and snuggly warm bundled up in her stroller blanket:Image


I love GOProud:


These beautiful, happy people made me cry with their simple message of hope and redemption amidst despair:Image

The Day After the Day After

8 Nov

I had every intention of writing a post-election post yesterday but spent most of the day on a short trip to Richmond to meet up with my family.  I had started getting sick (a cold) while watching the election returns, and by the time I got home yesterday I was in pretty bad shape.  Rather than try to muddle through my feelings I decided to wait until today to jot down my thoughts.  I’m glad I did–I think that the extra time gave me a little bit of clarity.

First let me say that I was shocked by the results.  I realize that there was quite a bit of polling data that pointed to the actual outcome, but I did not think there was any way that Democratic turnout would be as high as it was in 2008.  I was wrong.  Hats off to President Obama’s team for their tremendous ground game.

Four years ago, this is how I felt when Barack Obama first won the presidency.  A lot has happened in the four years hence: I got engaged, got married, bought a house, had a daughter, got out of the Navy, moved to Virginia from California, lost a baby.  Also in those four years we have actually witnessed the presidency of the candidate of hope and change.  I truly wish that I felt as optimistic today as I did in 2008.

In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned as a healer, a uniter.  It was easy to get swept up in his beautiful rhetoric and personal story.  Today, not so much.  At least not for me.

I have many, many thoughts about this election and why things turned out the way that they did.  People who are much wiser and have better access to data will pick everything apart, from the primaries to campaign commercials to changing demographics.  Political scientists will suggest fine-tuning this message or making a dramatic reversal on that issue.  We’ll see what the future of the GOP has in store, but from where I sit I think that we may be fighting a losing battle.

I am saddened, really, by where I think our country is today.  It appears that more citizens than not feel that the answers to our myriad problems lie in an ever-expanding federal government.  It is a good and noble thing to want to help the poor in our society, and well-intentioned people used to be able to disagree on how best to accomplish this important task.  Now it seems that if you do not believe that the answer is food stamps and 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and redistribution of wealth and “free” health care then you are selfish and greedy and only care about “the rich.”  Never mind if these programs actually work or if they perpetuate a hopeless cycle of dependency.

It is also my belief that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party lost the “war on women” war of words.  I live in Alexandria, Virginia, and was inundated with ads about how Romney wanted to take away women’s rights, which were never enumerated.  I thought about what those rights could be and surmised that apparently  women’s rights encompass the right to abort an unborn child at any stage of development for any reason, and the right to free birth control.  We can argue about the merits of either of those “rights” but the message got through to the intended audience; women preferred Obama to Romney by a 10-point margin.

So my heart is a little heavier than it was four years ago.  I worry a lot more–now it is not just me that I have to think about but the futures of my children and grandchildren.  I do still hold out some hope, mostly because some of my dearest friends believe so differently from me.  I don’t agree with their views but we are all sincere in our beliefs.  Maybe they will be proven right and I will be proven wrong, or maybe the pendulum will swing back in a few years.   In the meantime a Thomas Jefferson quote keeps repeating in my head, over and over again:  Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…the course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.

Four Years Ago

8 Nov

In November 2008 I was serving with the 101st Airborne in Iraq.  This is how I was feeling the day after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America.

November 5, 2008, COB Speicher, Iraq

On November 5th, 1992 I was 10 years old.  The night before, William Jefferson Clinton had been elected the 42nd president of the United States.  My 5th grade math teacher, Mrs. Leyton, wore a Clinton/Gore pin to school to show her support for the president-elect, and I told her something to the effect of “well I think that Bill Clinton is going to ruin this great nation with higher taxes.”  We were instructed to write in our journals about our post-election feelings and I wrote that I was in mourning for our country.

Fast-forward 16 years and I am now a LTJG in the Navy, serving with the Army in Iraq.  The polls on the east coast started closing at 3 am local time, so I woke up in the middle of the night, wrapped myself in a blanket to guard against the recent chill in the air, and watched the election returns on AFN.

The soldiers I work with took to calling me their “election headquarters” because I kept up so well with the polls throughout the seemingly interminable election, and I was always more than willing to share both the facts as I knew them and my endless predictions.  Over the past few months my moods have vacillated depending on the plethora of polls.  After the Republican National Convention I was flying high and nothing could get me down, but after the market started its freefall and McCain’s polling numbers followed I was increasingly agitated that the only thing I could do to stop Obama’s blue wave was to cast my Pennsylvania absentee ballot and hope for the best.  An eternal optimist, I remained fiercely convinced that one of my personal heroes, Senator John McCain, could pull off another upset and land himself in the White House all the way up until I actually saw Senator Barack Obama’s supporters dancing through the streets of Chicago, and one of the men I admire most give a deeply gracious and moving concession speech.  By the time our first African-American president delivered his acceptance speech I was already out the door on my way to a meeting, but I read the transcript later and was impressed by his words as well.

Being a political junkie, November 4th was like Christmas in autumn for me.  As much as I wanted my candidate to win, I also love the political process.  Watching the numbers come in, painting the once grey maps blue and red and proving the pundits either right or wrong gives me no small measure of satisfaction, and this year it was especially gratifying to see the tremendous voter turnout.  I’ve grown up quite a bit since Clinton’s first victory, and I no longer wallow in misery at the thought of my candidate losing.  Granted, I was disappointed and am concerned for the future of our country, but the same optimist in me who hoped for a McCain upset now prays that I will be proven wrong and that President Obama will govern with wisdom and strength.  On January 20th he will become my commander in chief, and I will obey his lawful orders as I support and defend the Constitution.  My candidate lost, but every time Americans participate in a free and fair election democracy wins.  The increased interest in our legacy of government for the people and by the people is certainly something to be optimistic about, especially because the great honor of my life is to put on a uniform and defend that freedom every day.

Election Day!

6 Nov

Here is Romney’s cutest surrogate, doing her part to paint Virginia red today!



2 Nov

I will be working the polls on Tuesday so today I took advantage of Virginia’s in-person absentee voting. Ruby behaved beautifully and we were in and out in about ten minutes. Here we are outside the election office:

And here Ruby is with her Romney/Ryan button and “I voted” sticker:

This one was just too cute not to share: