I am 100% in support of our troops and have complete respect for our intelligence personnel as well. What I’m conflicted about regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden yesterday and the subsequent announcement last night were the celebrations that occurred in Washington DC, at Ground Zero, and elsewhere. I think a retweet that ended up in my twitter feed summed it up fairly well: “Tonight is a night for sober and mature reflection, not glee. Mindless celebration is both spiritually inappropriate and politically naïve.”  (@marwilliamson)

I admit that the Team America: World Police song popped into my head last night – “America, f**k yeah!” – but I wasn’t ready to fly my American flag and chant “USA! USA!” with the others they were showing on TV. It was an important enough event that I made sure my oldest daughter was in front of the TV with us to hear Obama’s address, but as my husband and many others commented on last night: it’s morally hard to cheer for the death of someone else even if we know that person committed such atrocities against other human beings.

I’m grateful that Obama was able to come into office and focus on the mission that Bush seemed to lose sight of when he turned our military attention to Iraq as well as Afghanistan, but it’s still crazy to think that it took almost 10 years to bring bin Laden down. That means all the college students out celebrating in the streets were 10-12 years old when 9/11 happened and don’t really have the perspective that older folks have on it.

I am absolutely proud to be an American and to have such an amazing military to protect my freedoms, but I know that the celebrations are not the most appropriate way to mark such a serious event. I appreciate that Obama mentioned that we know bin Laden was not a Muslim leader since he killed just as many Muslims as not; I laughed when someone else mentioned that Obama’s speech was interrupting “Celebrity Apprentice”; and I grew quiet as I tried to figure out how I felt the event will shape America’s future. I thought to the fact that we’re supposed to be withdrawing our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and that bin Laden’s death will only help in the long-term stability of the region. I also know that bin Laden’s al Qaida and the Taliban had parted ways so it’s not really as simple as that, but it is a step in the right direction.

I respect the political maneuvering that Obama made last week by “finally” offering up his birth certificate and stating that it was time to move on to more important things – knowing all the while that the final stages of the bin Laden mission were in action. I think he proved that there were certainly more important items on the horizon than his long-form birth certificate.

I’m avoiding the news today so that I can filter out the truth from the opinions as time gives us a little perspective on the events of yesterday. I can only hope that this perspective will bring us together as a country. I know that yesterday’s events probably mean more to the military troops and families as well as anyone directly affected by 9/11 – either through proximity to the events or relation to those who were killed. But even for this 30-something West Coast girl, I can appreciate that bin Laden’s death means a great deal to many people. I just hope that we can be respectful of the rest of the world as we mark the end of that era.
So this post is going to have the overarching theme of: VOTE!  Next Tuesday is the mid-term election in the U.S. and people need to make sure they cast their ballots.  I’m honestly of the camp that I don’t care who you vote for as long as you get out there and do it.  I’ve been interested in politics since high school, but never on the level to seek elected office or even major in political science.  I’m just interested enough to make sure that I vote in every primary and election from the time I turned 18 (7 days after a major presidential election - grr!) until now.  I think the hardest part is keeping up with the initiatives!  Even the nonpartisan positions you can generally get a sense of the people running, but initiatives are so fully loaded, that it’s hard to figure out what you really want.

For example, in Washington State, there are two initiatives that are meant to overturn the Prohibition-era laws that allow the state-run liquor stores (1100 and 1105).  We can only buy beer and wine in grocery stores; the rest come from specific liquor stores that have specific hours of operation and prices set by the state.  One initiative is sponsored by Costco who want to be able to sell and price the alcohol as they do in many other states.  The other takes a slightly different approach, but has the same general idea.  The concept of getting the state out of the liquor selling business so they can concentrate on enforcement of liquor laws I’m all for, but I don’t think either of these initiatives are going to be the way to do it.  Why not have the state sell the liquor stores rather than forcing them to close?  Let’s get some money into the state coffers first if you’re going to do away with future income.  I’m also following this one because of the new issues regarding the energy alcohol drinks that are gaining popularity.  If one can of Four Loko or Joose is the equivalent of 5 beers and then also adds enough energy that instead of passing out, you can keep drinking until you get alcohol poisoning, that’s a red flag right there.  And I’m sorry, but the brightly colored cans are absolutely aimed at minors.  I’m sure if these products had come out 10 years ago I’d feel differently about them, but I’m an old fogey with kids now.

Another initiative is to add income tax to the upper income brackets in the state (1098).  I certainly don’t make over $200,000 as an individual or $400,000 as a couple, but I’m still not really in favor of opening the door for an income tax in the State of Washington.  I know the initiative says that it’s unlikely to happen, but there have been too many that have passed recently that have been put “on hold” or changed by the legislation and I would prefer that not to happen on this one.

What’s funny is that in having grown up in California, I always thought it was strange not to have liquor sold in regular grocery stores and income taxes were just how things existed, but now having lived in Washington State for the majority of my adult life, I’m not quite ready for the whole state to go those directions in the way they are proposed in this election cycle.  As I said at the beginning of this blog post though, I really just would prefer everyone to get out and vote!  It’s much easier to feel good about the outcomes when you know that everyone gave their say rather than just skip out and whine about the results when they don’t like them.

I know there are other initiatives out there in other states that people have opinions on – what are some hotter-button issues where you live?  Are you going to vote?