Category Archives: Politics

The West Wing — a learning experience

A few days ago I watched the final episode of The West Wing. I began watching it several months ago, not expecting to like it, but after a couple of episodes (and definitely after the first season) I was hooked.

I knew about the program when it was on television but, not being particularly interested in politics, I was not interested in The West Wing either. Also I was still boycotting anything featuring Rob Lowe. Also I was probably too busy dealing with the kids and working on a master’s degree — at least when the program started.

I knew a few people who watched The West Wing but still wasn’t interested — ugh, politics. More recently I knew people who loved it and the actors in it. Here is an example:

A certain bird I know online mentioned she loved the TV series, Psych because of Dulé Hill. I’d never heard of Dulé Hill and, while his character in Psych is cute and quirky, didn’t quite get the attraction. Now I do.

Another online friend wrote about being distracted by “…CJ, Toby and Sam, Josh and Donna, Charlie, Leo and the President…” Had I not been watching the series I would have had to ask what in the world she was talking about.

I learned to love most of the characters on The West Wing. I did not love the dark-haired woman who left after the first season though. She almost made me quit watching The West Wing after a few episodes, but the other characters/actors (even Sam/Rob Lowe) made me stick with it.

Now when something happens in the real world — in the current administration, I can usually relate it to something that happened on The West Wing and remember what President Bartlett did or what his staff advised him to do or not to do.

I’ll miss my daily visits with the folks on the series, but it ended at a perfect spot and in a perfect way. Another 8 years with a different administration would have been wrong. Anyway, I can always go back and watch it with my husband — he is still on season 1. Lucky duck.

Why I support the bag tax. Sort of.

This morning I read an article about a dog owner who opposed the Montgomery County bag tax. While the article was interesting, I mostly paid attention to the comments and wondered where I stood in this issue.

The post — which I see now was posted under the “events” section of our local “Patch” website — is now gone, but there were some interesting comments.

Backing up — if you don’t live in Montgomery County Maryland, you may be wondering what I am talking about. See, as of January 1, 2012 stores are required to charge 5¢ for each bag used to hold purchases. From what I read this morning (which may or may not be true) 4¢ of this is tax and 1¢ is retained by the business. Apparently the tax was created to curtail the problem with plastic bag litter and something to do with stormwater.

The initial article was by a woman who felt the law was a problem for dog owners because dog owners recycled plastic bags by using them to hold their dog’s waste. She also mentioned how she reused other plastic bags for lunches. Other comments agreed with the initial post while a few disagreed. Some agreed but for different reasons.

When I first heard about the tax I was concerned. Not because I worried I might have to pay 5¢ a bag at the grocery store but because I worried about the dog people who would need to buy their bags for their dog’s waste and because I was using plastic grocery bags to dispose of lumps from my kitty litter at the time. I also worried about the workers who traveled to Montgomery County on public transportation. What if they wanted to buy something at the store before going home? They would have to carry cumbersome reusable bags to avoid paying 5¢ a bag.

For me the tax is no big deal. I’ve sporadically used reusable bags for years. In fact I have a very old, waxy and sturdy bag from Giant Food that I probably bought in the early 1990’s — back when you were looked at strangely (and hostilely by some cashiers) when you presented your own bag, especially when you requested they not first put your groceries in plastic bags before putting them in the bags you brought.

I also spent some time in Ireland a couple of years ago where one is charged quite a bit more than 5¢ a bag. I think it was more like 45¢, but those Euros confuse me. Thinking about that trip, a  tax seems like nothing.

I like the tax for myself because it makes me remember ((Some of the people complaining about the law said that those of us who brought our own bags were doing to to “avoid the tax”. I like to think of it more as “to help save the environment”, but that’s just me…)) to bring those bags I’ve collected over several years to the stores. There is no need to add more plastic bags to landfills. We can figure out a different way to dispose of our cat’s waste and my husband will need to figure out a more creative way to transport his lunch to work.

I’m sorry about dog owners and their plastic bag issues, but the lack of free plastic bags has made me a tiny bit more respectful of the resource.

We’ve come a long way from me having to remove my gallons of milk from plastic bags in front of surly cashiers in the checkout line to cashier’s being surprised that the woman in line behind me didn’t have her own grocery bag. It is a small step, but I think it is a step in the right direction.

That said, if the law were repealed I’d be okay with that too. But I’d still bring my own bags.

(Please note that the tax includes all retail shops [with a few exceptions] which means if you go to any store in Montgomery County you’ll need to either have brought your own bag or pay the tax)

Red & Blue by Doug Miller

Remember Doug? My multi-talented hair stylist/colorist & friend? He’s back to songwriting and has a fun and timely song ready for the world (and the upcoming elections).

Red and Blue

Here are the lyrics:

Red and Blue

It was logical to use red and blue
No one could foresee the damage it would do
Now we stand divided by a load of crap
And that terrible red state/blue state map

When it started I cannot say
But I will never forget November Y2K
When we stared at that damn thing every day
‘Till we began to see ourselves that way

And the media, whether left or right
Likes to keep it simple, paint in black and white
And the red state/blue state paradigm
Reinforced their dumb-ass storyline

Shape Up! Grow Up! Wise Up! Rise Up!
Wake Up! Grow Up! Wise Up! Rise Up!

Everywhere I go I have always found
The greatest folks and much common ground
In this promised land there is room for all
But I fear divided we will fall

And the problem now, from what I can see
Isn’t with the views of group A or B
But the ever growing tendency
To see the other guy as the enemy

Shape Up! Grow Up! Wise Up! Rise Up!
Wake Up! Grow Up! Wise Up! Rise Up!

Riding shotgun with Mom and Dad
On the way to Grandma’s, they got so mad
Which road to take, they could not agree
But there was never a doubt that they both loved me

So when Glen Beck’s off his meds again
In a war of words with Keith Olberman
Over who’s the true American
Can we admit that it’s way out of hand

Shape Up! Grow Up! Wise Up! Rise Up!
Wake Up! Grow Up! Wise Up! Rise Up!

And maybe next time use yellow and green-

Music and lyrics by Doug Miller © 2010
mp3 and lyrics posted with permission