Tuesday, January 13 2009

Tuesday was dedicated to the national TV-program C-CPAN. “If women rule, there would be no war”, said a caller who called to C-SPAN. This is one of two things; either really stupid or really smart. I will explain the latter. Within feminist movement there are two main branches. One belief is that woman and men have different minds but equal value, and the other belief is that women and men have the same mind and therefore are equal in every aspect. In the latter one there would not be a difference in men or women ruling. In the first belief, on the other hand, where the minds of men and women work different, there would be a difference in governance depending on who has the power. This is where the challenge comes. The spoken quote does not state how that change would take place, which is impossible. So; the statement is dumb as hell. The art of political power is so set in its ways so the outcome would be the same regardless of which theory apply to us. 

There is no way we can erase history and everything that has happened has shaped how we look at thing and how we run out societies, which are our culture. Because of that both feminist branches struggles with determine what is a result of our gender and what is a result of our culture. Is the ability to prepare food something women are good at because of our genes or is it because women has been the ones raised to cook food all through history? I am not making any statement whether women are good at cooking or not, I just want to give an example of what I mean. 

When it comes to politics it has always been men but even though women are starting to get into politics they have to do politics in the way that it has always been done. If that way is a masculine way or not I leave up to the scientist to figure out. My point is that it would be impossible to see if there would be no war if women ruled. Because that history has already decided how politics work and gender can no longer do anything about it. In theory most people would probably say they belong to the first one of the beliefs about men and women, but by saying the quote is dumb they join the second belief. Most people are not feminist and do not consider these kind of things when statements are made but I get curious of what exactly the caller meant. The guest on C- span spoke mostly about that Obama have a big challenge ahead of him and I don’t know if he can live up to the expectations. As a foreign exchange student I see the election from another perspective and from a position where I am not affected of his politics in a direct way. I have to say that the expectations on Obama are very high and that people seem to believe that he will solve all problems in a heartbeat. This might be the attitude before every president’s inauguration, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there are some people who are going to be disappointed when they realize that he is not going be able to solve everything in a heartbeat. I am not making judgment on however Obama will solve the crisis and problem U.S seem to be in, I am just saying that even if he do solve them it is going take time for him and effort from everyone else. I noticed that many of the questions from the audience to the C-SPAN guest concerned education and that makes me happy. I believe that education is a problem solver. Educate people and the will get a better understanding for everything.

Monday, January 12 2009

On the second day of the seminar there was a secret service agent, a museum director and two journalists that made my morning interesting. The secret service agent’s hardest question for the day concerned the shoe throwing incident in Iraq December 14, 2008. This question however had a lot of thought behind it. The girl who asked wouldn’t settle for the answer that the secret service could not do much because it was just shoes and nothing else; she wanted to discuss the principle, the principle of allowing people to throw a shoe at the president. My guess is that she wanted to discuss that it wasn’t really about the shoes, it was about respect. If the secret service allows someone to throw a shoe at the president they show the world that they don’t really have to respect the president of U.S. She finally gave up and I don’t think she was too overwhelmed with the answer. I can understand her. But I can understand him as well. A shoe is just a shoe and while in Rome you do as Romans do as long as you possibly can and especially if it is about such sensitive things as politics. The world would have gone crazy if Bush’s secret service agents had jumped out and beat the journalist up and that would not have done any good for anyone, because in the end, it was just shoes.

Theory and practice are two different things, which became very clear with the student who had put a lot of thoughts in theories and principles and the secret service agent who lives in that reality. In reality theories and principles does not matter, every situation speak for itself. Other than that particular question his lecture concerned what he do on his job. Even though this matter interests me, it was the authors of the book "Common grounds" that made time fly.

They were witty, funny and had a good idea to pursue. It was obvious from the start who was conservative and who was liberal and I am sure they do it on purpose; they are both media personalities and know how to work a crowd. Never-the less, their message is one of the smartest things I ever heard and is exactly what I am trying to live by. It is not about who’s right; it’s about going forward and solving problems and bickering is not a good way of doing that. Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel gave a well rehearsed performance about why people with different opinions should discuss. They stressed that it is important to discuss the goal, because the goal is mostly the same; everyone wants to achieve something good and make the society and life better; the difference lies in how to get there. To be able to criticize oneself as well as the other person is a key factor in making the discussion work. Even though Thomas and Beckel were very humorous about it, it is not that certain that a discussion between people who do not know each other would be as fun but they make a good point that you should keep yourself distanced from the matter discussed. This idea, however is not new. In ancient Athens, Greece, discussion was the central thing in their society and the starting point for democracy. I grew up learning that no matter what, discussion is always a god thing. No matter with whom or about what, you can always learn something new and you will always teach someone else something new by discussing with people you meet.

Sunday, January 11 2009

Steve Bell, Professor and faculty director, Dana Bash, Senior Congressional Correspondent CNN, and Michael A. Genovese, Ph. D. and author of “A memo to the President” was the speakers of the first day. Steve Bell began with his first lecture about politics and the media. Dana Bash came second and told us all about her career and what she has experienced. Michael A. Genovese was the last speaker with his lecture “The peaceful transition of power”.

Two things struck me during Bell and Genovese’s lectures and those things concern Hillary Clinton and the difference between New Yorkers and DCers. When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ran against each other I knew immediately that the world and U.S is not ready for the largest economic power in the world to have a female president. I never once doubted the fact that the democrats would win, there was no other option, and my guess lay with Obama. Friends and others around me doubted my intuition and argued that Clinton would win due to the fact that she is white and race goes before gender. But allow me to remind everyone of certain dates. In 1870 the former slaves got the right to vote, which extended to right to vote to all male citizens, it took until 1920 until the right to vote was extended to include women as well. These dates (among other facts) make it obvious to me that all revolutions precede the women’s revolution. For example, the language is always under control for condescending words and they slowly disappear from the language as people evolve and more and more minorities win respect. Words such as Negro is not used to the same extent anymore and the word Jew is fighting for its right to mean nothing more than a person connected to the Jewish religion. We watch our language of what we say and what we mean by that. Words that are demeaning to women are however still common and people get almost defensive when it comes to using them, it is only a joke or it is only a saying and nothing more.

Thus, the world’s largest economic power will see any, if not all, minorities as a president before there will be a women as a president. This was my conclusion and when Clinton announced that she would no longer continue as a candidate I was even more certain that Obama would go all the way to the top.

This brings me to the first thing that struck me. Bell stated that Clinton was portrayed in a sexist way and that sexism definitely played a part in the fact that she lost the candidate post. I don’t like to be right about these things because that means the world is not as developed as I wish it were but really as slow as I suspect it is.

The second thing that struck me is also an evidence of that the world is as slow as I suspect it is. One of the speakers told us that the question asked each evening in New York is “How much did you earned today?” and in Washington DC the question is “Whom did you help today?” and that this sums up the differences between the two cities. I get disappointed when I hear these kinds of statements, even if they are meant in a fun and friendly way, because they lay the groundwork to biases and how people in the end treat each other. I’ve been to New York, I loved it and I am counting on that I am going to fall in love with Washington to.

The main event for today was Dana Bash. During my past semester I have studied beat reporting, my main education has always evolved around news journalism and I expected beat reporting to be the same thing. It is not. As a news journalist all the news is your working field and you write about them as they came along. As a beat reporter you find the stories. A beat reporter’s main source is contacts, without contacts there would not be any stories. A beat reporter must therefore protect her contacts to be able to get her stories. Bash is a beat reporter and as such, she can’t give her sources away and she has to keep them on her good side.

I found her lecture lacking the real inside scoop story until she told us she was a beat reporter. Bash told us only about her career and how much she loves her job and Washington because she can’t really tell us anything else because that would jeopardize her relationship with her contacts. Her career story however, gave inspiration to who of us that want to be a journalist. I might be damaged from actually being in the industry but a reporter is a journalist that is on front of a camera. All people dealing with some form of media text is a journalist. A media text is not only word on a paper but sound and video as well.

Campaign 2008; The Presidential Inauguration

From Jan 10 (Saturday)  to Jan 20 (Tuesday), 2009 I participated in one of the Washington Center seminars. The seminar's name was Campaign 2008; The Presidential Inauguration.

Before I went there I had no idea what was coming. I drove there with my teacher and another student and the first thing we had to do was to pick up our room keys.

I shared a room with five other students from my group. The 600 participants of the seminar were divided into smaller group under the responsibility of a teacher. My group contained of ten people from Tennessee and Mikronesia.

We had six days of seminars. Every day was alike, first we were in a auditorium from 8:30 am to 12:30 am listening to various speakers. After that we had lunch and small group meetings. I think the idea was that we were supposed to discuss the speakers and what they talked about. Which we did but due to the lack of some place to be, we struggled sometimes to find somewhere to sit.

The afternoon looked a little bit different depending on which day it was.
On Sunday we ha a three hour bustour.
On Monday we had the evening free.
On Tuesday we had a reception.
On Wednsday we had a tour of the Capitol.
On Thursday we had An evening with Mark Russell.
On Friday we met with the Washington Vote.

Friday was the last day of seminars and on Saturday we went to the Newseum and then it was just to wait for the inaguration.

During the seminar we were supposed to write a journal for every day and then a final essay. The essay should have the same name as the book we recived and red throughout the seminar, A memo to the President by Michael A. Genovese.

I will in this category post all my journals and the final essay. I will have a complementary category, Washington Center - Private Thoughts, where I will post things I scrabbled down durin the seminar that are more general thoughts I have that wouldn't fit in the journals.

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