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Archive for October, 2009

Are we there yet?

Last night, I was all set to postmark the following letter to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

Dear President Obama,

What the hell is taking you so long?

Sincerely,
A frustrated young American

I didn’t send the letter. Because I woke up to this:

Obama at Dover

But really, would you blame me if I did? While I do appreciate Obama’s outright and ostentatious self-portrayal as commander in chief , the world waits with breath that’s more than bated—choked, perhaps, for his decision on a troop surge in Afghanistan. Obama wants to appear as though he’s carefully deliberating his decision. Understandable. But it’s been over a month since General Stanley McChrystal leaked to the press that the mission in Afghanistan would fail without a significant troop surge. And that month—October—has been the deadliest month for American troops since the war began in 2001.

Now the “good war,” Obama’s “war of necessity” is increasingly questionable, less and less certain. Recent events all seem to add up negative: we are fighting a losing battle. Al Qaeda is alive and well in Pakistan, where the war is now spilling over—over 100 dead in a bombing at a marketplace in Pakistan. The Taliban, as we have glimpsed from David Rohde’s captivating five-part series “Held By The Taliban”, may not be the kind of people we can work with. The Taliban Rohde witnessed were nearly hypnotized by jihadi videos—executions, road bombs, the final days of suicide bombers. They were fierce. Frightening.

And yesterday, deadly attacks in Kabul. Taliban militants stormed a Kabul guesthouse early on Wednesday morning, killing twelve, including six UN workers.  According to a Taliban spokesman, the attack was just the first of many planned to disrupt the upcoming presidential election run-off.

Experts say we cannot win—even with the surge—without a stable government ally. We need the runoff to deliver that. Yet, is it worth all this violence?

So what are we doing, Mr. Obama? And how long is it going to take?

Are we there yet?

We need more than a photo op–however poignant it may be.

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Over all this “Lost Generation” hubbub, I just want to say: I ain’t lost. I may not know just where I’m going, but I’m content right now to be wandering. Yes, I’m poor and yes, my future is uncertain, and yes, my parents still have to pay for my health insurance. I love what I’m doing right now: I’m the most intellectually stimulated I’ve been…ever. My college friends–the people who I’ve had the greatest connection with in my life–are still a prominent part of my life. And…I have fun. Relatively speaking, I’m feeling quite carefree.

I haven’t had much time to write the past few days…I had an interview with WNYC yesterday (holler) and have been writing some other things. But I’ve been wanting to post this Garrison Keillor recent blog passage since I read it last week. Life is too short to be unhappy, Keillor says:

Among the young and ebullient, there’s no worry about interest rates because they have no savings — they spend their weekly earnings and a little bit more on hair gel, iTunes, phone bills, $4 coffee and $100 jeans beautifully pre-ripped. They don’t see the headlights in the soybean fields at midnight, only the lights in the bars where they go to be beautiful and cool and maintain text-message contact with friends from coast to coast and then have sex.

Okay so my life isn’t exactly like that. And I hope I’m slightly less shallow than Mr. Keillor believes my peers and I to be. But old people are still jealous of us, unemployment and all.

But here’s to being young and ebullient. We’re only young once and we’re lucky enough to be young at a time when others’ expectations for us are low. When else in our lives will we be accountable only to ourselves and our own personal sense of fulfillment?

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A quick life update

It’s snack time here in Apartment 22…rice cakes and peanut butter…in the hour and a half break I have today between the internship and Job One. It’s been a big week for me, professionally, so I figured I’d do a bit of self-plugging.

I’m currently working as an intern at On Point an NPR daily news analysis show, hosted by Tom Ashbrook. I was actually a guest on the show twice last year: once on a roundtable with college news editors about the then upcoming election and once during an election reflection show. After those experiences, I applied to be an intern with the show. My main responsibility is preparing each Friday’s “Week in the News” show, mostly finding and editing audio clips that are dispersed throughout the hour long conversation. I get directions like: “Find a clip where Nancy Pelosi sounds exasperated.” I also help randomly with research for shows, booking guests, screening callers (it’s a live show), writing occasional blog posts (as in here and here), and sometimes pitch show topics. Today was a big day: one of my earliest pitches was made into a show! It’s about perceptions of obesity in America…another post on that later.

I’ve learned a ton and for the most part really enjoy the internship. It can get frustrating sometimes, because I’m used to being in charge of things. It’s different to suddenly find myself on the bottom of the totem pole. At least the one nice thing is that the only place to go from here is up!

Or sideways…just found out I was accepted as an intern at Salon. It’s based in NY. I also have an interview on Friday for a job/internship (still unclear) with WNYC. So maybe I can do the two of them at once. The key plus is that I’d get to be in New York. Boston is okay and all, but I just feel like NY is more my city. I used to think I wasn’t a city person…but now I think, for the environment‘s sake, everyone should be city people. I’m still waiting to hear back from internships/fellowships/jobs with places like the Atlantic and the NewsHour.

Okay, that’s my daily dose of promoting myself. Or maybe a little bit more. I’ve gotten lots of good feedback on this last paragraph of my most recent OnPoint blog post, so I figure I’ll re-post it here, for posterity’s sake. The key to getting through all this crappy economic stuff is keeping a positive attitude (or something like that):

The Class of 2009 is hearty. We don’t get fazed by much anymore. September 11 was our first week of high school. Hurricane Katrina our first week of college. Our political consciousness was shaped by the Bush presidency and officially awoken by the candidacy and election of Barack Obama. And I think we’ll definitely reach a point where we’re no longer “lost” but leading everyone out of the woods.

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coolest government ever?

The Maldivian president and his advisors met 13 feet underwater in the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting. The current rate of the sea level rising means the island nation might not exist at the end of the century.

Thinking about moving to the Maldives…I’m not normally a big fan of publicity stunts, but this is just cool. It definitely caught my attention.

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