Tag Archives: Barack Obama

People Who Should Stop Talking

The idea for this post comes shamelessly from this brilliant video by my friends and coworkers, James and Amy, located here: http://youthnoise.com/user/feedthem/blog/view/12928/ I highly recommend you watch it, preferrably not in a library or other “quiet” place. Learn from my mistakes.

There are some people who just shouldn’t talk. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have the right to talk- the First Amendment is sacred, etc, etc, etc, and I’m a big believer of the rights of people, even really, really, painfully stupid people, to open their unwashed mouths and  spew lies and ignorance, as difficult as it might be to accept/listen to. But I’m pretty sure I have every right to simply wish those people WOULDN’T talk. So here’s my list of people I wish would shut their filthy mouths (in no particular order), in addition to James and Amy’s choices (including O.J. Simpson, Sarah Palin,  and Amy), all of which I fully agree with.

1. Bill Kristol

Perhaps no one is more connected to the destructive neoconservative movement than William Kristol, New York Times columnist, Weekly Standard founder, and son of Irving Kristol, largely regarded as the founder of neoconservatism. Bill Kristol is perhaps one of the few people who refuses to admit just how damaging neoconservatism has been to the US’s image abroad.

It is, after all, neoconservatism that has gotten us into much of this mess. It is the neoconservative ideology that put a target on Iraq and decided it was the going to be the first war in a series that aimed to transform the Middle East in the American image of a 21st century country. It was the neoconservative policy of  “democracy through a barrel of a gun” that brought upon us mountains of debt, international disdain, and the tragic deaths of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands upon thousands of deaths of innocent civilians. But after of all these tragedies, what does he recommend in his most recent column? More military spending.

2. YES on 8 self-appointed “victims”

On November 4th, 2008 in California passed Proposition 8 and took away the right for loving gay and lesbian couples to have the same protections under the law as straight couples. Thousands of marriages were potentially dissolved (the issue of whether the proposition was retroactive or not has yet to be decided by the CA Supreme Court), and countless other couples who were waiting to get married lost that right. Parents lost legal protections over their kids, couples who had been together for decades lost the rights to visit each other in hospitals and inherit each other’s belongings, and gay and lesbian couples were told that their love didn’t matter as much as straight love.

But the real victims of this proposition, if you weren’t aware, were those that pushed for its passage. Yes, they targeted a group of people and took away rights they already had and cherished. Yes, they ran vicious attack ads in which they lied about the consequences of gay marriage. And yes, they repeatedly used Nazi imagery when describing gay marriage. But, as Jonah Goldberg writes, it is them who are under attack! How dare equal rights advocates describe them as “bigoted” or “homophobic” or suggest that they are esentially walking into people’s homes and tearing up their marriage certificates. Such vicious attacks, which of course don’t suggest taking away anyone’s rights or discriminate against any group (not even Mormons), reveal the true bigots! A good response to this  ridiculous and self-pitying idea is here.

3. Norm Coleman

Norm Coleman wants a recount! After the Minnesota State Canvassing Board declared Al Franken the victor in the Minnesota Senate race today, Norm Coleman declared that he would take the fight to court in order to ensure all votes were counted properly. This in itself is not a ridiculous request (other than the fact that ballots in question had already been counted multiple times in the first recount process). The problem is that when it was originally thought that he had won the race all the way back in November (2008!), Norm Coleman went around asking Franken to step aside. “It’s up to him whether such a step is worth the tax dollars it will take to conduct,” Coleman said, telling reporters he would “step back” if he were in Franken’s position.

Oh, also he is one of the most corrupt members of Congress. Or, you know, he was.

3.5. Ann Coulter/Bill O’Reilly, but they don’t deserve acknowledgement.

There are certainly more- anyone have any suggestions?

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Done and Past

It’s over. The election, that is. I have spent the last 2 weeks “recovering,” by which I mean further putting off all of the things that I put off to do after November 4.

It was certainly an interesting ride. I spent my election day waking up at 6am and doing visibility in North Berkeley for NO on 8, the campaign to maintain the rights of same-sex couples in California, that unfortunately ultimately passed (more on that later).

I also was lucky enough to work for the Barack Obama campaign (spoiler: we won this one) in Reno, Nevada. I’m ashamed to say it was the first and last thing I did for the Obama campaign (which I should note that I fully and passionately support, regardless of my earlier work for Hillary), but I was glad to be a part of it nonetheless.

It has been said many times, most no doubt better than it will be here, but that Barack Obama will be president is an incredibly groundbreaking feat. In Europe, the United States is often thought to be a land still filled with racism and hatred (granted, much of this is probably true, but not to the extent believed). Great Britain, Ireland, Turkey, Finland, and others in Europe have all had women Heads of State, so having a woman president or vice president would not have been a huge deal for them (not to say that it wouldn’t have been a good thing). But a minority, a man who a little over 40 years ago may not have had the right to vote or marry a white woman? That is something that even Europe, in many ways proud of its progressive thinking, cannot claim to have had. For the first time in a long time, the United States is leading the world in a revolutionary and positive way, in overwhelmingly choosing to overlook racial divides to elect a black man as president. [Where is Europe’s Obama? this interesting BBC article asks] It’s a wake-up call for a part of the world that has gotten rather fond of hating and looking down upon us for the last 8-odd years.

Much is promised by Barack Obama, but he cannot, of course, perform miracles. He will not in his (hopefully) eight years, solve global warming. He will not untangle the US from the Middle East. He will not eliminate poverty, or world hunger, or racist tensions. He is one man who will direct American foreign and domestic policy, and many of his hands are tied up in the fact that much of what he will be doing is cleaning up after the Bush administration. He could not have come at a better time.

I went to a talk by a panel of polisci professors at my school answering the question “what will Obama change about American foreign policy.” The three of them differed on several things, namely, what to do about Iraq and the Israel-Palestine conflict, but what they could agree on is that the most important thing that Obama will bring to American foreign policy is not change itself but the concept and promise of change. That is, if foreign leaders and people think the United States is going to change dramatically, they will start treating it differently, and that is what actually could begin to facilitate the change necesary. They will begin to stop thinking of us as imperialists, bullies, etc, and even if we maintain many of the same policies (most of which are too old and embedded to be changed), good things will happen.

So I am excited, as you can probably tell. There are certainly still far too many racists in this country, as any visit to a white supremacist or conservative message board will tell you. But Obama’s election is a new American revolution, and I am incredibly excited to be a part of it.

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Not There Yet

I just returned from Reno, Nevada, a.k.a. where most San Francisco Bay Area Democrats (by which I mean, almost all Bay Areans) have been spending much of their time stumping for “That One” himself, Mr. Barack Obama. Over 1000 volunteers were at the Reno headquarters office, by which I mean warehouse, the vast majority of whom were from Sacramento or the Bay Area.  It’s really impressive to see so many people there, many of whom have devoted their lives/houses/money to the campaign for the last few months, weeks, and for some, over a year. I wish I could have stayed- there is so much to be done, so many people to be talked to, but there many, many things to be done at home here in California too, particularly the NO on 8 campaign (proposition 8 would amend the CA constitution to ban gay marriage), whose recent numbers have shown a frustrating amount of support for the proposition, particularly from youth. Anyway, I left knowing the campaign was in capable (and many) hands, and I look forward to Nevada going blue on November 4th.

Pretty much everyone not directly associated with the McCain campaign (and some who are) agree that Barack Obama will be hard to beat on election day. Fivethirtyeight.com currently gives him a 93.1 percent chance of becoming president-elect. He’s ahead by about 6 points in most national polls. Some in the media are reporting that this race is basically over. But we can’t believe that.

The fact is, complacency, presumption, and overconfidence on behalf of Democrats is helping Republicans right now. They have become the scrappy underdogs, determined to defeat those mean old Democrats who, according to their bizarre logic, are against real change. Sure, Obama is likely to win, but we want to make SURE. Republicans in many states are trying their darndest (Palinism, sorry) to steal votes, and we can’t let that happen. This election needs to be a landslide, a reaction to 8 years of neoconservative policies that domestically have put Americans in a worse place than they were in the 1990s and internationally have created a huge amount of anti-American sentiment.

So go volunteer: knock on doors, talk to people on the streets, call voters during the dinner hours, whatever. This is the most crucial election most of us have ever experienced, and we don’t want to leave it up to chance.

P.S. Voter registration in California (and many other states) ends TODAY. So if you are not registered, do it, or you may as well fall off the face of the earth- http://www.voteforchange.com.

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Doomsday Has Arrived, OR, Why Free Market Capitalism Doesn’t Work

I’m not an economist, and indeed my interest in the economy generally falls just above my interest in which “Hills” character is hooking up with which semi-celebrity. But this recent economic collapse has got me worried.

People on Wall Street.

People in front of the NYSE.

As I’m sure everyone is aware, the stock market fell 500 points today, the worst loss since the markets opened after 9/11. The reason for the fall is one that fascinates me because it takes place on such small scales but has enormous ramifications for the US and the rest of the word:

Step 1: Person wants to buy a house (or a car, or a boat, or whatever).

Step 2: Person can’t normally afford to buy the house they want to buy.

Step 3: Lending company offers them an awesome “adjustable rate” loan so that they can afford the house.

Step 4: Rates skyrocket, making payments impossible, and the house gets foreclosed.

This happened literally millions of times all across the US. It’s obviously bad for the homeowner because they lose their house (and the payments they already made), but, as we now see, when enough people cannot afford to pay back their loans, the lending company too runs out of money and goes bankrupt. In some cases, these lending companies were well aware that the homeowners could not afford their loans, and relied on the fact that they could get at least partial payment for the house, and then resell it on the market when the loan was defaulted. Other times, they gave uneducated homeowners great-sounding deals with rates that increased to absurdly impossible rates, up to 300% (interest, not increase!) in some cases. This is called predatory lending, and it went on for years all around the nation without anyone crying foul.
On a larger scale, these loans ended up seriously hurting the lending companies. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of the largest lending companies in the US, recently were bailed out by the federal government (and your taxpayer money) so they wouldn’t go bankrupt. But this isn’t a trend that could continue- we cannot keep paying for companies that screwed up, even if the economic consequences are dire. So when Lehman Brothers reached the edge, no one was there to keep it from destruction. The result is what Alan Greenspan declared “by far the worst economy I have ever seen.”

All of this could have been avoided with more regulation. Everyone is always terrified by government intervention, but it is cases like this that prove it is necessary. My general complaint with free market capitalism is that it overwhelmingly favors the rich- those who can afford to play the markets. But here, we can see that it didn’t even do that- everyone was screwed over by what John McCain called “Wall Street greed, irresponsibility, and corruption”. The problem is that Wall Street is SUPPOSED to be greedy. That’s the nature of profit-making. Wall Street has no need nor desire for a conscience. That is what government is FOR- looking out for those whom Wall Street will not. The government protects and serves the people. And in this case, as in many other cases, the government’s free market policies failed. And nothing in the policies of John McCain, a man who continues to insist that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” and whose top economic advisor insists that our problems are “just in our heads,” would change that.

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Catching Up- Who the hell is Sarah Palin?!

My apologies for not updating recently. I have been off in the magical land of “college,” full of all sorts of mythical challenges including “reading like a million pages a day” and “barely being able to afford food.” But now I am back, so we shall begin.
There’s a lot of information floating around about Sarah Palin. When I first heard she was John McCain’s VP pick, my (early morning, semi-awake) stream of consciousness went something like this:

1. Is this a joke?

2. Why would all the news networks conspire to report such a dumb joke?

John McCain introduces Sarah Palin as his runningmate

John McCain introduces Sarah Palin as his running mate.

3. I hate her voice.

4. Isn’t she under investigation?

5. Isn’t she like, terribly inexperienced?

6. WORST PICK EVER.

Of course, one woman’s terrible VP pick is apparently another person’s treasure, which is why her pick has been described as a “brilliant” but “risky” choice by some, and McCain’s numbers have shot up recently (also due to a probable “convention bounce“).

I’m still stuck in the mentality of #6, though. Let’s take a look at Ms. Palin:

1. She calls herself a “hockey mom” and “got her start” working in the PTA.

This is all well and fine, although none of these make her particularly qualified for president. If they did, my mom could do the job just as well.

2. She ran for mayor of the town of Wasilla, population approximately 6000. The Frontiersman (the local newspaper) reports that:
“When asked how she would run the city without experienced department heads, she responded, ‘It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.’ “[Seattle Times]

She later (at the RNC) compared this experience to Barack Obama’s as a community organizer. I have a few issues with this:

  • Community organizer was one of Barack Obama’s first jobs. This is sort of like saying I’m inexperienced because I one time worked at Jamba Juice, and her job of mayor was much harder.
  • Cesar Chavez was a community organizer. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a community organizer. JESUS was a community organizer. Just because you don’t know what it is doesn’t mean its a worthless position.
  • If you don’t know what it is, maybe do a little research? Perhaps read Obama’s book Dreams from My Father, in which Obama describes his tasks as an organizer, which included improving the housing situation for hundreds of people in the poor parts of Chicago.
  • How the hell do you make helping poor people sound like a bad thing?
  • Even if we say that Obama’s job as a community organizer did not prepare him for the presidency, we are forgetting that he was later in the Illinois State Legislature and then IN THE SENATE.

3. She is FANTASTICALLY inexperienced. And not in a good way. Let’s break it down:

She has LESS THAN 2 years of experience as governor. In these two years:

  • She was commander of the Alaskan National Guard, which the McCain campaign claims to give her foreign policy and executive experience. However:

Since governors have no role in overseeing Guard members federalized for service in Iraq, military experts said that should not count as foreign policy experience.

Furthermore:

Closer to home, the bread-and-butter duties of most state National Guards are natural disasters. During Palin’s 21 months in office, there has been one declared disaster: widespread flooding in June and July this year. Palin quickly signed a disaster declaration, officials said. The Guard’s role was limited to providing two water tanks and 30,000 sandbags to local authorities. [LA Times]

  • She claimed at the RNC that she said “no” to the Bridge to Nowhere. This is, of course, after she said “yes” to the Bridge to Nowhere.

…political leaders of both parties said the claim was false and a betrayal of their community, because she had supported the bridge and the earmark for it secured by Alaska’s Congressional delegation during her run for governor.

The best part?

The state, however, never gave back any of the money that was originally earmarked for the Gravina Island bridge, said Weinstein and Elerding. [Reuters]

  • She is currently under investigation:

The legislative council approved 100,000 dollars for the investigation that will find out whether Palin was angry at Monegan for not firing an Alaska State Trooper who went through a messy divorce with Palin’s sister…

Legislators approved hiring a special investigator to look into the controversial firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Monegan was fired two weeks ago without explanation and has said he was pressured by the governor and her staff to fire a trooper who was once married to Palin’s sister.Accusations have risen that Monegan was fired for his refusal to fire trooper Michael Wooten. The council’s intent is to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of Monegan and potential abuses of power and improper action by the Governor and her administration. [KTVA]

  • She was an enthusiastic member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group in Alaska that has the ultimate goal of the state seceding from the United States.

“Keep up the good work,” Sarah Palin told members of the Alaskan Independence Party in a videotaped speech to their convention six months ago in Fairbanks. She wished the party luck on what she called its “inspiring convention.”

The Alaskan Independence Party, founded in 1978, initially promoted “the Alaskan independence movement.” But now, according to its website, “its primary goal is merely a vote on secession.” [LA Times]

This is spectacularly ironic, since she is running on which a main campaign tactic, publicly or otherwise, has been to question Barack Obama’s loyalty to the United States.

  • She claims that as VP she will be an outspoken advocate for education and kids with special needs (as mentioned in the comments), but:

Before her run for the vice presidency, advocacy for special needs programs had not been a central part of her political campaigns or during her administration, despite her sister’s autistic son. [CNN]

4. But let’s get back to the Alaska thing. Here’s a few facts about the state:

Population: about 680,000

All right, that’s actually the only part I care about. Less than 700,000 people. The following cities have larger populations than all of Alaska:

New York

Los Angeles

Chicago

Houston

Phoenix

Philadelphia

San Antonio

San Diego

Dallas

San Jose

Detroit

Jacksonville

Indianapolis

[Wikipedia]

Not only does Sarah Palin lack foreign policy experience, she is the governor of a state that has fewer people than 13 major American cities. This is not to downplay the state of Alaska, since obviously it holds in its snowy bosom a favorite thing of all Republicans: oil. But the fact is, the state is not a huge economic powerhouse. Nor is it a huge political powerhouse. My point is that being governor of Alaska is simply not experience enough to become president.

To be fair, though, its no wonder McCain chose her, since he did so little research to look into who she actually is. Can you imagine how little thought McCain might put into important positions such as the Secretary of State, or Supreme Court justices? [NY Times]

To summarize, Sarah Palin has zero foreign policy experience, very little national policy experience (unless you consider getting enormous amounts of pork-y funding for your state national policy experience). And yet John McCain, potentially the oldest first-term president in American history, has put her one step away from being Commander in Chief. She is a no good, very bad, terrible pick, and if her selection process was any indication, McCain shouldn’t be president either.

Oh, and one more thing. If you’re still convinced that Sarah Palin can do a good job as vice president, you should probably tell her what a VP does, because she doesn’t even know.

——

By the way, everyone should read this awesome article by feminist icon Gloria Steinem in the LA Times titled “Wrong Woman, Wrong Message.” It will be a good wakeup call for anyone who thinks that having Palin on the ticket is good for women.

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That’s My Baby! A roundup of anything interesting, stupid, or funny around the web

This is a continuation of a feature that I started a couple of weeks ago and will continue to continue… whenever I feel like it. Here we goooo:

My personal favorite blog, Wonkette, has a great way to freak out your Obamaniacal friends with a fake text message announcing his VP as…. Michael Moore! Or whoever else you want. [Wonkette]

John McCain is gaining ground in national polls– a result of his performance at the Saddleback Church event? Of people getting tired of Obama? Or something else? Will this climb continue? This whole thing makes me nervous…. [Pollster.com]

Rudy Guiliani is set to be the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention, as Republicans are trying to live their post-9/11 days of domination. Did I mention that Giuliani was the mayor then?! Former Democrat and winner of the Benedict Arnold Prize for Bipartisanship, Senator Joseph Lieberman will also speak. [HuffPo]

If you want to learn more about Obama but wish you could be taught in your native language of “frat boy,” Brobama has your back. Learn about the issues and how they apply to you, the common bro. [Brobama]

Check out these TRULY, TRULY awesome buttons from Democratic Stuff: Bug Enthusiasts for Obama! Mohawks for Obama! Oil Barons for Obama! Etc Etc Etc- check it out- all 3 pages. [Democratic Stuff]

Anything else?

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From Me to You: Why Hillary Supporters Should Back Obama

So the media is blowing up over the idea that “embittered” Hillary Clinton supporters (affectionately called “Hilltards” by the Wonkette crowd) would be so angry at the DNC’s treatment of Clinton that they would vote for John McCain, who–get this– is a Republican.

I hope that these predictions do not come true, and I don’t believe they will. I have only encountered one person who, after Hillary lost, switched their allegiances. This person, “Mona,” responded to an email by the UC Berkeley campus coordinator who was trying to rally up support for Obama. Mona wrote (to everyone who received the original email):

When the leaders of the Democratic Party did not stand up to the Trinity Church of Chicago when they mocked Hillary Clinton and when they stayed silent while Randi Rhodes called her a f’ing whore and when the media disrespected her – they in turn showed me this is NOT a party I want to belong to.   Not only will I give my vote to John McCain I am seriously considering flying to a swing state – IF the race is close – which I doubt – to help GOTV on his behalf.  The DNC chose Barry before Country during the last 3 months of this race when she was kicking his ass.

When she was challenged by another person on the mailing list, she wrote back:

HILLARY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY DECISION and to blame her is frankly immature and just another “scare” tactic.   I have a brain — I am a leader not a follower.  I make my own decisions.  When Hillary stepped down today that left me a free agent.  I didn’t believe in everything Hillary stood for, however, I stood by her.  I for one hope she’s NOT the VP – she outshines Barry – he needs her – not the other way around.

You don’t get IT – what I am standing up for is WOMEN TO BE TREATED FAIRLY and with RESPECT.  That’s the stance I am taking.  The leadership of the Democratic Party needs to take heed.  When they lose in November they can blame themselves.  I won’t stay in an abusive relationship.

The whole exchange was melodramatic and frankly sad- the culmination of almost a year of hard work leading to a rapid decline and then failure, resulting in in-fighting and finger-pointing.

I quote this email because it gives us a glimpse of the logic behind a Hillary->McCain supporter. Otherwise, I really can’t grasp why any Hillary fan- Democrat or otherwise- could think that McCain is the better choice.

I mean, really:

  • Hillary- Pro-choice
  • Obama- Pro-choice
  • McCain- Mostly pro-life
  • Hillary- Against the war
  • Obama- Against the war
  • McCain- For the war (“100 more years!”)
  • Hillary- Against Prop. 8 (CA Constitutional ban on gay marriage)
  • Obama- Against Prop. 8
  • McCain- Supports Prop. 8
  • Hillary– Supports habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees
  • Obama– Supports habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees
  • McCain– Against habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees

…. the list could go on forever. The fact is, John McCain, while not maybe as truly terrible as some many most Republicans, he is still a Republican, which means, like it or not, he follows in the footsteps of George Walker Bush (remember him? the President?). Another Republican president not only means 4+ more years of Republicans claiming to represent mainstream America, it also  means Republican Supreme Court appointees (bring us even closer to the overturning of Roe v Wade), and the people who currently advise Bush on issues of foreign and domestic policy will just switch over to the McCain administration. We can’t have this happen.

Hillary Clinton supports Obama. I find it fascinating that Mona can be so enraged by the DNC’s alleged maltreatment of Clinton and then completely disregard the endorsement of the woman she so passionately admires. Furthermore, the idea that Mona is somehow punishing the DNC by voting for McCain is both delusional and self-important. She seems to miss the fact that she is hurting herself and the very rights she supported when voting for Hillary by voting for the Republican party- and therefore against abortion, gay marriage, and, most tragically, the Constitution.

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