Open Carry

So I was wandering across the front of a Giant Supermarket in McLean, Virginia this past weekend, thrilled to have found a normal sized grocery store with a fully functioning deli counter, when I did a double take. No, it wasn’t a pretty girl. No, I didn’t see an Aston Martin cruise by the storefront window. It wasn’t even a famous politican. Instead, it was a shiny, black handgun.

Even more shocking, I was the only one who seemed to take any notice of it. Moms, kids, and old ladies alike strolled on by, pushing their shopping carriages full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, frozen dinners, and whatever 12 pack of beer was on sale this week.

Now thankfully this wasn’t a hold up- though I guess that would have made for an even more exciting story. It was simply an older gentleman, clearly not a cop or some other sort gun-toting agent, wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a holstered gun attached to his brown leather belt.

Can you imagine the looks that man would have received back home in Massachusetts? Here, though, no one batted an eye.

When I got home I paid Wikipedia a visit and learned that only seven states and D.C. completely prohibit the open carrying of weapons. However, the vast majority of states- like Massachusetts- severley restrict the practice. Virginia, at its core a Southern state, has pretty limited restrictions on both open and concealed carry. Obviously it’s more common in central and southern parts of the state, but even in the tony suburbs of Northern Virginia it’s perfectly legal.

So, I ended my day a bit more cultered and knowledgeable, I guess. But more importantly, I ended my day with my first taste of freshly sliced, white American cheese since returning to Georgetown. A success.

A Lesson in Chaos

President Barack Obama and the Democrats crafted an election campaign based on strict discipline. Every appearance, word, and even question was part of a formulated strategy meant to propel the then-Senator to the White House. To the Republicans, his defense seemed inpenetrable. Over the past weeks and months we have witnessed both the President’s and the Democratic Party’s focus descend into a blurry state of chaos. From health care to czars to accusations of racism, the party message seems to be spinning out of control- much to the delight of Republicans hungry for a 2010 turnaround.

The serverity of the situation for Democrats especially struck me this morning when I opened up Drudge Report to a barrage of headlines displaying contradictoy and accusatory statements being thrown around the Democratic U.S. political circle. First up, former President Jimmy Carter alledges that racism lies behind the motivations of many conservative protesters seen across the nation over the past weekend. Accusations of racism are a political third rail that no Democrat wants to touch at the moment, for fear of alienating the white, Independent vote. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer were quick to distance themselves from Carter’s statement- not the first time Carter has caused Democrats to grimmace in the past year.

Next, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Robert Byrd (D-WV) jump on the anti-czar bandwagon, questioning the constitutional authority of White House czars, who avoid Senate confirmation and oversight. These czars are a new invention in presidential politics and have thus far avoided the headlines. However, constituent’s concerns on ever-increasing govenment powers have brought them into the spotlight.

Most imporantly, the left seems to be in disarray over the bill released by Democratic Senator and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana. Baucus’ bill was meant to attract bipartisan support by not including a so-called “public option”. Instead, legislators on both sides of the aisle have announced their displeasure with the document, including RINO (Republican In Name Only) Olympia Snowe of Maine. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), under intense reelection pressure himself, released a statement yesterday saying that the bill “won’t work” for Nevada and that he won’t vote for a bill until it does. Rockefeller (D-WV) and Schumer (D-NY) are but a few more Democratic politicans who came out against the bill yesterday, too.

And finally, everyone’s favorite corrupt organization: ACORN. Democrats, who claimed that Republicans assault on President Obama and his ties to ACORN were simply political games, have realized that such a stance is nowadays “nuts”.
After an undercover sting showed ACORN volunteers advising a couple on how to avoid taxes in a child prostitution ring, the House voted 345-75 yesterday to completely defund the group.

The Republicans are in no position to sit back and enjoy the ride, though. As has been noted by many political analysts, the growing frustration with the Obama administration doesn’t necessarily equal GOP votes. As someone who attended the Taxpayers March on DC last weekend, I can assure you that the majority of both sentiments and signs were anti-government and anti-Obama, not necessarily pro-GOP. In fact, a whole lot of the attendees weren’t very happy with Republicans either.

So, the Democratic PR train has seemingly been derailed. Now we can only wait and see if the party comes together with a common message on these important issues and prevents the caboose from falling off the tracks.

I'm Back

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, has been painfully inactive for quite a while now. No, I haven’t gone on strike. No, I don’t all of a sudden hate blogging. No, I haven’t forgotten how to type. Instead, I decided to do something a little different this summer- something that took my mind far away from politics, annoying drivers, and Georgetown life. I decided to attend U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA.

OCS is a 10-week training camp that stresses physical fitness, military knowledge, and, most importantly, leadership potential. The program I took part in (called PLC combined) was comprised of kids who had also just completed their junior and senior years of college. After graduating, juniors return to college for their senior year to decide whether or not they will accept their commission to become a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Seniors immediately commission after graduation and move on to the next training school, TBS.

People continually ask me about my experience this summer. I’ve decided that the best response is: “It was miserable, but in the good sort of way you’d expect it to be”. I survived the first weeks by going meal to meal. After “morning chow” each day I would say to myself, “Well, only two more meals until lights out”. Every day. Mentally, it got better as time went on. Or, maybe everyone just got used to it.

Our days began at 4:00 AM (0400) when we awoke before lights turned on at 0500 to shave, brush teeth, etc. before the bathroom (head) closed at 0415 for cleaning by designated people in the platoon. We would then make sure that the items needed for the day were perfectly layed out on our foot lockers as ordered, the “house” was relatively clean, and our uniforms looked presentable before hopping back into the racks a few minutes before lights to “wake up” at 0500.

What followed was generally some sort of chaos involving getting dressed quickly, cleaning the house even more, and getting the heck outside as soon as possible for either a morning PT (physical training) session or a march to morning chow. The rest of the day generally included a few classes on subjects like military history, customs and courtesies, etc., some sort of physical course like an obstacle course, drill (marching) practice, or “transition training”, whereby the instructors worked on transitioning us from civilian to military life.

The offical day concluded just before lights out at 9:00 PM (2100) with “evening devotion” and mail call. Catholics would head to the back of the squad bay and Protestants would meet in the middle for a few minutes of prayer and reflection on another busy day. Mail was treated sacredly, especially during the first four weeks when we had no other contact with the outside world.

Though lights went out at 2100, the day was nowhere near over. Many nights I’d find myself up until 000 writing letters home, studying for exams, and remarking identification on clothing and gear using permanent markers and black boot polish. Despite all the hours we were awake, the days went by pretty quickly. We were constantly moving, never having much time to stop and think about what we would rather be doing back home or outside the confines of Quantico, VA. That is, until the last few weeks when all the yelling and hustling let up just a hair.

So, 36 out of the original 65 members of Bravo Company 1st Platoon graduated on August 9th- a month ago today. Upon returning back home, I took it upon myself to become as lazy as possible and enjoyed every minute of it, though it took me almost two weeks to be able to sleep past 6 AM and I still eat meals quicker than ever before. I even made my bed down here at school a few weeks ago with hospital corners. Yikes. But, school has snapped me back into action a bit. I’m back to working out again, preparing for the Marine Corps Maration in DC in late October (I had already signed up for this prior to learning about my summer options. Coincidence). And I’m back to putting in a bunch of hours as the credit union (yes Jimmy, they’re unpaid), no matter how much griping I hear from family and friends about it. Classes for the semester have begun, and I’m off to the races for my senior year at Georgetown.

Learn more about OCS