Super Wicked Southern New England: The Land of Fauxcahontas, Ivy Towers, and Foliage

Boston, Massachusetts

After spending several days in Southern New England, I have returned back to Northern Virginia. It was a whirlwind but productive trip. I had never been to New England before last Monday, so I expected a lot of surprises going into the trip. I thought, would I be tormented by the resident leftists there or would I be able to blend in?

Over the course of three days, I visited three states (MA, CT, and RI)  and six universities (Harvard University, Boston College, Boston University, Yale, Brown University, and Providence College).

My trip started off well with this incredible and touching sight at the Jet Blue terminal in Reagan National Airport. The yearly honor flight for U.S. veterans made its return to Washington, D.C. God bless our armed forces!

My first stop was Boston, the capital of Massachusetts. When I first landed in Boston Logan Airport, I was immediately drawn to the city. It was surrounded by an expansive bay, high-rise buildings, and clear skies – it was a beautiful Fall day in Boston. I really enjoyed the city and how captivating it was. The North End was one of my favorite places to visit.

Boston’s North End

I enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets of Boston’s North End, and seeing sites like the Paul Revere statue and historic Freedom Trail.

Paul Revere

Freedom Trail

Despite the Northeast’s reputation for being a leftist hotbed, there was some semblance of sanity in Boston’s North End.

Romney/Ryan 2012 in North End, Boston

If you weren’t aware already, Massachusetts is also known for its resident “1/32nd Cherokee” Harvard Law professor, Elizabeth ‘Fauxcahontas” Warren. Fear not – she didn’t affect my trip.

No crazy leftist would ruin my time in Bean Town, but it’s interesting to see where these people hail from.

There’s so much history attached to this building and Boston as a whole. I really found Faneuil Hall to be impressive.

Faneuil Hall, Boston

My time in Boston culminated with visits to Harvard University and Boston College to meet with students. Both schools were architecturally impressive and wonderful to marvel at.

Harvard University

Boston College

After Boston, I traveled to New Haven, CT to visit pro-lifers at Yale University. If you’re familiar with Yale University and conservatism, then you’d  know that William F. Buckley, the intellectual godfather of the Conservative Movement, went there and wrote his famous treatise – God and Men at Yale – about leftist bias there.

Yale University

I spent my third and final day in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union with – ironically – the longest official state name.

Providence, RI was unique. It was definitely too hipster for my taste, but a place one can learn to appreciate. Its scenery and old buildings were charming. It’s a shame that this state, like its neighbors, abandoned their roots and embraced leftist ideas…That aside, it was refreshing to meet conservative students from Brown University and Providence College. (And, if I recall, East Ave. Bar in the heart of Providence serves the best cider. Highly suggest you go there!)

Southern New England certainly exceeded my expectations. I may have even liked visiting Boston more than NYC – who knows? All I can say is that New England is worth visiting. And in my case, from what I gathered, more promising than I thought on the youth activism front.

Next stop: Northern New England, including New Hampshire and Vermont!

Bastiat, Beautiful Scenery, and the Big Apple

I recently returned from a work-related trip in the states of New York and New Jersey. Being the sheltered Orange County, CA kid I am, I had never been to New York before and was excited to plan this trip. Lucky for me, my job allowed me to embark on this quest to find and seek out conservative activists at New York  and New Jersey campuses.

Over the course of four days, I saw many things and met many interesting folks.

En route to JFK, I sat next to a Czech man also from Alexandria, VA. He was making a connecting flight at JFK to get to Prague, Czech Republic. The elderly gentleman, Pete, noticed my Bastiat book and then proceeded to talk about how great his work was. Pete said how much he valued his [Bastiat's] contributions to society and also valued those of other notable economists from the Austrian School. Pete recounted how he and his wife (who hails from Germany) came to this country in 1976. Pete quipped, “I born under Hitler and raised under Stalin.” At that moment, I knew then and there that I had an ally in him. He reminded me of my paternal and maternal grandfathers in many ways. Like him, both of my grandfathers – especially my late Grandpa Misha  – wore baseball caps, large vests, and traveled lightly. He also boasted this kind demeanor commonly found in immigrants from the former USSR, particularly the ones who saw what a nightmare Communism was in the Old Country. You know when you meet a stranger for the first time and instantly hit it off with them? This is exactly the feeling I got when I talked with Pete. Like my parents, he understands the dangers of universal healthcare, the failure of forced “equality”, class warfare rhetoric, and other radical positions this sitting president touts on a daily basis. It is always heartwarming to meet people who come from a similar background. Although I was fortunate to be born in the United States, I recognize Pete’s and my parent’s concerns about this administration embracing socialism and Marxism. I befriended Pete and plan to keep in touch with him.

Gabby Conquers NYC? Sort Of…

Once I hitched a cab to my hotel, I laid eyes on the terrible traffic that is commonplace there. What made it worse was the fact that the Messiah himself, President Obama, was in town for yet another fundraiser with his celebrity surrogates. How lovely. Those of us who hail from Southern California are familiar with traffic, and my adopted home – Washington, D.C. – was recently named the city with the worst drivers in America. New York traffic couldn’t be that unbearable, I thought. Alas, I was greatly mistaken.

Aside from the traffic, I enjoyed navigating the subway system. It boasts many similarities to the WMATA, our beloved metro system here in the  D.C. metro area , but had far more stops and is more subterranean than it. I had to get from Queens, NY to Manhattan to meet with students at the King’s College, so the subway helped out.

Kings College is set in the heart of Wall Street and the Financial District in NYC. The skyscrapers surrounding it tower high above the streets, and are worth marveling. (Yes, I did see Occupy activists in and around Wall Street.)

And the New York Stock Exchange:

Of course, no trip to New York City is complete without a stop to Times Square. Despite the rain that night, I enjoyed being immersed in the popular hotspot. Our gracious tour guides – some new friends from King’s College – gave me and Brandon, one of my field reps, a great but quick tour of the area. I was the only one in the group playing tourist, but that wasn’t an issue. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the greatness that is NYC?

Following my visit to King’s College, I went to NYU and Princeton University.

Here’s a shot of Princeton, a campus I found to be beautiful with its High Victorian Gothic style. (If you were wondering, YES – conservatives exist at Princeton and most Ivy League schools. Sad thing is, many are closeted and afraid to publicly express their views.)

After spending several days in NYC, I went to upstate NY to meet with more students. I came across this thing before leaving the city. Apparently, unions display these rather disgusting, ugly-looking inflatable rats as a form of protest when they don’t get their way…

FACT: Upstate New York is gorgeous.

I’ve lived in suburbia my entire life, whether it be in Laguna Niguel, Coto de Caza, or La Jolla in California but have grown to accept and enjoy living close to a major city. Nevertheless, I’ve always been one for the outdoors since I enjoy fishing, camping, and hiking in my free time. That being said, upstate New York was anything but boring and uninteresting. The foliage, rivers, lush green pastures, and countless farms are great fixtures in the region. It reminded me of Lithuania, my ancestral homeland, with its crisp fresh air and nature. Here is a breathtaking sunset near Ithaca, NY.

One odd thing that I noticed was cemeteries located near every land-grant (public) university. Whether Syracuse, Ithaca, Cortland, or Buffalo, cemeteries are a commonplace in upstate New York. Beats me, but here’s more information about them.

One place we stumbled upon was this diner near Geneseo, NY:

It was NASCAR-themed and had a country flair to it. The food was also delicious. Here’s another view from the inside.

My other field rep, Simeon – who also graduated from UCSD this June – and I visited and met with students from Syracuse U, Cornell U, SUNY Geneseo, and SUNY Buffalo. I absolutely loved Cornell’s surroundings with its gorges, forests, wild deer, the Finger Lakes, and old architecture. SUNY Buffalo was our largest meeting with over 30 students in attendance. Each university was unique, and the students were equally passionate and dedicated to the cause. I can say that there is true, genuine hope in New York. Young conservative activists just need to be identified and equipped with the right tools to counter liberal bias on campus.

As I was heading back to D.C., I realized I was riding the same plane with Al Sharpton (think race-baiter, serial hypocrite) and Doug Schoen, Democrat and Fox News contributor. Talk about an interesting experience…

My takeaway from the trip? New York lives up to its reputation as an impressionable and exciting place. Los Angeles and San Diego pale in comparison to NYC with respect to size. Upstate New York reminded me of several places in Southern California, with its small towns, forests, and mountains – minus being a desert. While New York is a blue state, I learned to appreciate it and value the experience by not allowing politics to entirely get in the way of my trip. I’ll be going again in October to help students counter U.N. Day.

Next stop: Boston and Southern New England!

Update: I will resume blogging in the next couple of weeks. I’ve got some wonderful writing opportunities that I will .

Golden State No Longer: A Disaffected Californian’s Thoughts on Escaping from America’s Greece

I recently trekked back to California to visit my family and enjoy some downtime after two months in the District.  I certainly needed some R&R to recharge and relax. (The political arena is a hectic albeit wonderful sphere to be immersed in. I’ve learned that any getaway you get shouldn’t be taken for granted.)  I had the chance to see some friends, visit my extended family, and finally went to  the Ronald Reagan President Library in Simi Valley, CA. It was a much-needed trip!

Now, I’m back in Northern Virginia and ready to resume my job.  I’ve got wonderful Field Representatives working with me, and have connected with many eager and bright students excited to shake things up on their campuses. I’ll be traveling up North soon and will be sure to chronicle each trip I make (when time permitted).

With this recent trip back home, it dawned upon me that I will not be back to CA for a very long time. While I’ll miss my home state, I have no regrets moving to the DC-metro area. Yes, it’s muddled with corruption – but it’s full of life and culture unseen on the West Coast. I will always be a proud yet disaffected Californian, and certainly one for the right reasons. Some will accuse me of betraying my roots for fleeing the state. (Mind you, there are no jobs for young people – or any Californian – given the dismal economic and moral state it is in.) I seized an opportunity to work for a conservative nonprofit – Leadership Institute – and took it.

As a California refugee taking shelter in the Commonwealth, I have some interesting observations about my home state now that I no longer live there. Here are the reasons why I’m happy I left:

- Outstanding, high state government debt: As of August 28, 2012, California’s debt rests at $617 billion – the highest total state debt in the entire country according to State Budget Solutions. Need I say more?

-Democrat-controlled state legislature: Both the State Senate and Assembly are controlled by Democrats who  have ushered in radical and arguably anti-American legislation. For example, legislation includes the multiple parents bill, gay history in K-12, abortion carried out by mid-wives/nurses,  DREAM Act, bans on open carry of handguns, and more.

- Endless call for more taxes: Since the return of Moonbeam (Jerry Brown) as Governor, there are more calls for taxing wealthy individuals in the Golden State. Brown and his allies are pushing Prop. 30 on the November ballot, which would “increase California’s sales tax by one-quarter of a cent for four years. It calls for an increase in state income tax on taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 a year for the next seven years,” according to CBS L.A. AEI president Arthur C. Brooks writes in “The Road to Freedom” that when presenting the moral case for free enterprise, it is important reduce spending, not add more taxes, when solving budget problems.

-Welfare state: Yahoo!  reported in December 2011 that California, the largest welfare state in the U.S., “has one-eighth of the nation’s population but one-third of all welfare recipients.”

-Too much spent on education coupled with corrupt teachers unions: Total expenditures (plus state bonds) for education in Fiscal Year 2012-2013, including K-12 and higher education, totaled 35.7 percent of California’s state budget,  or $39,575,109 for K-12 and $10,050,905 for higher education as of May 2012. Tuition hikes plague the University of California and California State University systems, and administrators continue to receive high salaries. (As someone who recently graduated from a UC school, I see the problem beset in education, much like the state budget, in refusal to gut waste and deny tenure/pensions to professors undeserving of it.) Another problem plaguing education in California is corruption in the California Teachers Association and similar teachers unions, whose bosses and members are too concerned about their salaries and benefits – not the welfare of their students. (California is in great need of school choice legislation. It would diminish teachers unions and dramatically improve education there.) When a sex scandal hit LAUSD last year (think worst school district in the nation), the teachers unions – in true fashion -  refused to address the issue and supported the defeat of a bill that would have tackled it, according to CNN:

While senators overwhelmingly voted in support of Senate Bill 1530, it was met with strong opposition from the powerful California Teachers Association.

The teachers’ union says that Padilla’s bill would have eliminated essential legal protections for teachers and that it believes the current system is an appropriate process.

Additionally, the CTA protects bad teachers thanks to tenure. It is also a big political player in Sacramento.

(There’s a lot to discuss regarding education in California, so I’ll detail it in a future post.)

-Illegal immigration: Illegal immigration has proven to be burdensome to the Golden State. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed the California DREAM Act – AB 130 (private scholarships)and AB 131 (public scholarships). This gave children of illegal immigrants and young illegal immigrants access to tuition regardless of their citizenship. Another crippling move that has emboldened illegal immigration is the DMV’s plan to issue drivers licenses to approximately 400,000 young illegals. Talk about oy vey…

There are many problems facing California – too many to list in a single blog post. It pains me to see my home state falter and become like Greece. I’ll even go so far as to call it a state riddled by Marxist and La Raza interests. Unfortunately, the Golden State must collapse and build anew. Otherwise, I’ll maintain that it is a lost cause.

Although I rag on California often, I will admit this: I’m glad I spent my formative years living there. I learned right from wrong, learned who to trust/who not to trust, enjoyed the beaches and nice weather, got my political start, was surrounded by family, and got to see leftist abuses at work.

“You can take the girl out of California, but you can never take the California out of the girl.”

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