Friday, November 28, 2008

The He-man Helping the Skeletor?

I know this is from last week's SNL, but it's fucking hilarious, so I thought I'd share. If you've heard Arianna Huffington before, you'll probably laugh. Compare the performance with an interview on November 17th with Bill Maher on the Rachael Maddow Show after the jump. It's spot on. Michaela Watkins--so far, so good. The rest of the show was beyond mediocre. Go ahead and delete it off the Tivo.

The real Arianna Huffinton:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Harvey Milk, Hope, and Thanksgiving

A while back KBO posted a trailer for the new Sean Penn movie "Milk," a biopic about San Francisco politician and activist Harvey Milk. Well, it's finally in theaters, and I'm reminding you to go and see it. Here's the trailer:

If all goes well, we'll be at the 8:30 or 9:45 show tonight at the Tivoli. I'll let you know what I thought of it in a few days.

If you want to get a grasp on the scope of the Harvey Milk tragedy, watch the NBC newscast from the night of the assassination. The most heartbreaking part is at 2:20 of the video when then president of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein, makes the shocking announcement that Mayor George Mascone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been assassinated. The reaction of the reporters in the room speaks for itself.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to be thinking about Harvey Milk and people like him who refuse to be silenced by hatred and bigotry. He was assassinated 30 years ago, just before Thanksgiving on November 27th, 1978. Here is a man with courage. He was the country's first openly gay elected official. Here we are THIRTY YEARS LATER and we're still passing blatantly anti-gay and discriminatory legislation. Imagine what it was like back then? I mean, a man who assassinated two elected officials was let off with a voluntary manslaughter charge! Are you fucking serious? The Twinkie defense? More like the homophobia defense. It takes balls to lead a movement with such irrational and hateful opposition. And even though he knew people wanted him dead, he kept fighting. Here are his last words. He recorded them to be played in the event of his assassination.

Harvey Milk was a great man. He was a pioneer of a new civil rights movement. Though we have made great strides that Milk would be proud of, we still have a long and difficult journey ahead of us. It's time to stand up and fight. I hope this story inspires a new generation of LGBT leaders with the fearless determination that it's going to take to change this country.

I don't think I could say it any better than the man himself though:
"Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio there is a young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child, and the Anita Bryant's and John Briggs' are doing their part on TV. And that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide. And then one day that child might open the paper that says "Homosexual elected in San Francisco" and there are two new options: the option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight. Two days after I was elected I got a phone call and the voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And the person said "Thanks". And you've got to elect gay people, so that thousand upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world; there is hope for a better tomorrow. Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us's: without hope the us's give up. I know that you can't live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope."
-Harvey Milk, 1978, shortly before his assassination.

Morning Peace of Mind: I Don't Know How You Did It...But I'm Glad You Did!

There are some rumors going around the Internets via the New York Post that Ann Coulter may have been effectively silenced for a while. Apparently, she broke her jaw. While I would never wish physical harm to anyone, if this is going to stop Coulter from spreading her hatred around, I'll chalk this one up to karma and say a little thank you prayer tomorrow. Not because she got hurt, but because people won't have to hear her voice for a few months. Think of collective sigh of relief on January 21st when the country is free from the voices of George W. Bush and Ann Coulter. The moment may be fleeting, but that doesn't make it any less wonderful. I guess dreams do come true for those who wait.

Hey, remember when Coulter reacted to war protests in Canada by saying they should be thankful we don't "roll over one night and crush them one night." Watch her squirm as she mistakenly claims that Canada sent troops to Vietnam. Awesome!

Naomi Klein: Pick of Summers and Geithner, "A Profound Disappointment"

This is no secret to KBO, but I have a bit of an intellectual crush on Naomi Klein. I love everything she writes. Seriously. There were times reading The Shock Doctrine when I got so worked up, my hands started to shake. I found myself screaming obscenities at the bathroom walls and ripping pages as I furiously underlined the shit that blew my mind. MK-Ultra? What? Fuck no! I finally had to take a break from the book for my family's sake.

Anyway, Klein was on Democracy Now! yesterday talking to Amy Goodman. If I got to choose any two political minds to have dinner with, it would Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein. Hands down, two
of the smartest progressive voices in politics today. Klein does not like Larry Summers or Timothy Geithner...but mainly Summers. People forget that Clinton drank the free market/deregulation kool aid all through the 90s. Klein wants me to remind you that free market ideology has been guiding the economic policy of this country for well over 25 years. Yes, that's THROUGH the WJ Clinton administration. Like global warming to Republicans, this is a dirty and inconvenient truth a Democrat can never admit. Klein contends that right now, we are paying for "the intellectual dishonesty of the progressive liberals during the Bush years." Part of the reason these appointments have been widely seen as acceptable is that we "have not been honest about the legacy of the Clinton years."

Ouch. Nothing like Democracy Now! to kick you in the nuts with a little perspective. (If you ever want a sobering and honest take on any item in the news, go straight to DN!, but please, mentally prepare yourself). Klein goes on to conclude that Summers (former Treasury Secretary under Clinton) is not only a follower, but "a propagator of the very ideology that Obama ran his campaign against...He's been preaching the doctrine...he's a dyed-in-the-wool privatizer, free trader. And he along with Tim Geithner, his deputy, play[ed] key roles during the economic crises." This gives me heartburn.

It's important to understand that, in the past, when someone on the left like Obama had a "centrist economic policy," it meant that they accepted Milton Friedman's economic philosophy as "simple economics." You've probably had friends with an MBA chastise you about not understanding these simple principles. They can't comprehend anything outside of the free market realm. It's insanely frustrating. Ever since Friedman got hold of the Chicago School of economics and the hijacked the entire of the field of economics, we've been on a crash course towards this very moment. Well, the shit finally hit the fan. It turns out they were all wrong. When Alan Greenspan, the perennial god of the market admits that he had a "flaw in his ideology," you know it's over. The system collapsed and so should the theory.

This is why there is no need to panic. First, Barack Obama is our president now. He is in charge, and I don't see him just going along with an idea without getting several dissenting opinions. He is not an ideologue. He has repeatedly insisted that he wants the best solutions, no matter where they come from. One of the many reasons I voted for Obama was his his ability to view a problem in a comprehensive and reasonable way. I trust that he can analyze this crisis, sift through the many alternatives, and choose the plan that makes the most sense for the country. We can't ask for much more.

Second, in September, EVERYTHING changed. All assumptions now have to be reexamined. As DN's second guest Robert Kuttner reminds us, it is not politically viable to follow any of the ideas of Milton Friedman or the 90s version of Larry Summer. Obama ran his campaign on the promise of deregulation. If he wants any shot at being reelected, he'll follow through.

In the end, Obama chose to go with people who know and understand the steps that got us into this mess. Yes, they know and understand what got us into this mess because they helped create it, but you're not going to find a whole lot of qualified candidates out there who can claim otherwise. What matters most right now is that we have faith in the leadership skills and intellect of our newly elected government. It's never wrong to dissent, but in that dissension (especially if you voted for Obama), we have to avoid being bogged down by pessimism.

Keith Olbermann does a great job summarizing the Shock Doctrine theory as proposed by Naomi Klein. In the interview that follows, Klein gives several specific examples when this strategy has been used by free marketeers to plunder cities and countries. Watch it for your own good!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Morning Peace of Mind: Chinese Democracy? Not in My China!

I don't know if you heard, but with the release of the not-so-anticipated 14 year project Chinese Democracy, Guns N' Roses is officially a cooperating faction in the American conspiracy to "grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn." While I can certainly understand the paranoia coming out of China's state run newspaper after eight years of George W. Bush, I'm not sure if W is the type to conspire with the likes of Slash and Axl.

Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Qin Gang took the attacks on GNR to a personal level by contending, "As far as I know, many people don't like this kind of music. It's too noisy and clamorous."

The album has been banned in China.

No word yet on whether Axl Rose plans to travel to China to throw a flying forearm at Mr. Gang for his comments.

Watch more Megavideo videos on AOL Video

Guns N' Roses riot at Riverport Amphitheater in St. Louis. Sorry about the quality of video. You can see Axl burst out of the crowd and run around like a mad man at :30. Then, the fire hoses come out. It's worth a look.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Big Props to Mayor Francis Slay

Editor's Note: I've got a much longer, angrier post brewing in response to the passage of Prop 8. Stay tuned.

Yeah, I know. Missouri went to Old Man McCain. This is depressing for two reasons: 1. Missouri is no longer the ultimate bellwether state, and 2. Missouri went red, again, for the third election in a row. Shoot me. Thank god Obama won. Vancouver was seriously close to gaining a couple new citizens.

No need to get down though. St. Louis City went overwhelmingly blue (as expected), and we have a mayor who strongly supports the LGBT community in St. Louis and around the country. He's all about gay marriage, and that takes courage in these dark times.

KBO and I decided to support our brothers and sisters in Cali, Arkansas, and Arizona last Saturday at a Prop 8 protest at the Old Courthouse Downtown. While the results of these unconstitutional votes made me furious and depressed, I felt much better after walking up on the 1,400 St. Louisans who joined Mayor Slay, St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, State Senator Joan Bray, Angry Black Bitch, and many other great speakers to speak out against state-sponsored discrimination.

It was unbearably cold outside, and the traffic made it hard to hear at times, but it was well worth it. The passionate intensity of the speakers reverberated throughout the crowd. Eyes filled with tears, signs and flags were held high, people booed and cheered and laughed, loved ones held each other tight, and people came together. Listening to the stories of normal LGBT people and the families they love really helps to put the issue into perspective. We're talking about law-abiding, tax-paying, real-life citizens who want nothing more than the simple rights afforded to their neighbors. Marriage, adoption, family health benefits--these are not ridiculous expectations. This is a civil rights movement. And we will not rest until all people are granted them.

So, I commend Mayor Slay along with every politician across the country who has the balls to stand up for what is right and just.

Enjoy the pictures. My camera died halfway through the rally, so these are mostly of the first half hour.

Morning Peace of Mind: Pink Sari Gang

Driving down 270 today, I caught the tail end of a story on NPR that grabbed my attention. An impassioned female voice came over the speakers. Her words were translated from into English:

"A man will never have enough guts to raise a hand against me. I would just slap him back into place. If a woman really wants to, she can put a man in his place."

Whoa. I like her style. Instead of working this morning, I looked up the story on and listened to the entire thing (don't worry, it's only seven minutes long).

I found out that the defiant words are those of vigilante bad ass and leader of India's gulabi (pink) gang, Sampat Pal Devi. As you can tell by the above quote, these ladies do not fuck around. Armed with pink Sarees, pink sticks, and a wealth of self-confidence, Sampat and her gang make it their business to bring the corrupt men of a very patriarchal society crying to their knees--literally. They're pissed about the conditions for women in their communities, and heads are going to roll because of it.

They serve the often oppressed women of India by, among other things, moderating land and business negotiations, shaming dirty politicians and corrupt officials by assaulting them with their pink cricket bats, speaking out against and even stopping arranged teenage marriages, and forcing police officers to follow up on crimes against women. Most have little to no education, but don't underestimate them--they're smart and fearless. And they roll deep. In one demonstration against a corrupt police outfit known to take bribes, several hundred members of the Pink Sari Gang surrounded the police station and beat and tied up the officers as they came out. Hell. Yes.

The Pink Sari Gang is a great example of the power of organization. Women in India, though they've made many strides socially and politically, are often exploited and seldom empowered. Instead of accepting the horrible conditions in the overcrowded towns and cities around India, Sampat Pal Devi and her peeps decided to do something about it.

The Pink Sari Gang should serve as a positive lesson for young girls all around the world. It's a lesson I hope to teach my yet-to-be-born daughter(s) one day

You deserve respect, happiness, and the right to make
your own choices; and if some old dude ever tries to tell you anything different, beat the shit out of him with a pink stick!

Photos courtesy of BBC News and World Prout Assembly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Republicans...Get to Work!

Lee Stranahan over at HuffPo has an interesting pitch for the Republican party and the disciples of Ron Paul, and it got me thinking.

While I don't believe in many of Mr. Paul's ideas, his brand is much better for the nation as a whole than the seething madness we witnessed at the Republican National Convention this year. I'm tired of debating with crazies. You can't get anywhere in a conversation with these guys. A person consumed by an ideology can never step back and look at a decision objectively. It's never about what's best for the country or the world, because they believe that no matter how crazy something seems at the moment, the future will all work out because their God/Limbaugh/Friedman said it would.

As long as we have religious nuts like Palin, neocons like Bush, and war hawks like Rudy controlling half of our political discourse, this country is going to teeter on the brink of disaster. GET THEM OUT. Let's have a opposition party based on what's best for the COUNTRY AND THE WORLD, rather than what best fits a set of ideological principles. While I'll probably never vote for a Paul-like candidate, at least I could have a conversation with my Republican friends that was rooted in reason.

Okay, Paul wants to dissolve the federal government as we know it, he worships the small government gods, he doesn't really have much of an environmental plan, and on and on. Yes, I know these things.

So, maybe we should take this idea a step further. I propose a brand new, post-Rovian Republican party. Take those Ron Paul folks and give them a new type of candidate--one in Paul's mold, but a little less radical.

Ron Paul started with the idea that we need to end the War in Iraq, now. His appeal was rooted in a very liberal idea: peace. This new Republican candidate needs to seize on this and realize what Ron Paul did--the United States is a center-LEFT country.

I've been contending for years that a Republican with a true environmental policy would be embraced by many on the right. Social Justice doesn't necessarily have to be reserved for bleeding-heart liberals, either. Why can't a Republican believe in small government and care about poverty and equality? Why can't a Republican embrace family values and the constitutional truth that ALL people have the right to marry and pursue happiness, regardless of sexual orientation? Can't we lower taxes and promote ethical treatment of workers at the same time? Don't you think it's smarter to promote peace and hope, rather than bombs and fear? Maybe this new wave of Ron Paul Republicans would respond to a positive and honest campaign. You never know. This is a new age. Let's think outside of the box people. What do you have to lose?

The greatest lesson we can take from Ron Paul and Barack Obama is that there is a new nation of young voters out there craving a more responsible type of politics. While I would love to watch a slow, pathetic, bloody, and complete collapse of the Republican party, I fear that when the dust settles, we might be dealing with the 21st century version of Insoc. So let's get creative people.

I'm not a Republican, but I would like to see some major changes in our political system. This takes more than simply electing the right guy at the right time. The pendulum will inevitably swing back to the other side. It always does. I would just like that other side to be less crazy. That's all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Meet the New White House Press Secretary

It's official. Robert Gibbs is his name, and I like him! Watch him take Sean Hannity to school.

Hey crazies at Fox News, be very afraid. This guy does not fuck around.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This Woman is Crazy.

Seriously. Insane. She has absolutely ZERO respect for animals and thinks nothing of it. The cameraman asked her if she wanted a turkey getting its head ripped off as the background, and she replied, "No worries."

Just imagine for a second if McCain won. How would you be feeling about the future of this country right now?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Misery...I Mean Missouri

Editor's Note: If you voted for McCain, I must urge you to stop reading now. This post can do nothing but harm to your psychological well-being, and I don't really feel like reading your hateful comments.

It's November 18th, and the presidential vote in Missouri has yet to be called. Out of almost 3 million votes (2, 914, 866 to be exact), McCain leads by 4,393. That, my friends, is close.

This is my formal request to President-Elect Obama that he ask for a recount.

Here's why--I worked my ass off for Obama in St. Louis City all summer and fall. We knew we had a great chance before it was even considered a battleground state. I took the day off on election day and knocked on almost 400 doors. Thousands of volunteers sacrificed more than a small percentage of their free time to help close the gap in Missouri. A lot of field organizers I met worked 20 hour days for weeks without a day off. We DESERVE this recount.

I know it doesn't matter in the end, but I'd like people to think about this guy I met the last weekend of the campaign. He flew all the way from London the Friday before the election just to help get Obama elected. He spent hours upon hours knocking on doors and making phone calls with us until the polls closed on Tuesday.

The Obama people threw a huge watch party that night at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, and this guy bought a bottle of champagne to open when they called Missouri for Obama. I last saw him as we were leaving around 1 AM. The champagne had long since gone warm, but he vowed to stay true to his word and keep it corked until we heard the good news. I don't know if they let him take it on the plane back to London, but giving this guy's conviction, I'm sure he found a way.

I urge those who think a recount in Missouri is over the top or unnecessary to remember that guy from London and the rest of us here who dedicated everything we had to turn this red state blue.

So, here is the message I'm forwarding to Chicago:

Dear President-Elect Obama,

I know you have a lot on your table what with cabinet appointments, saving the country from financial collapse, tackling climate change, dealing with Joe Lieberman, ending the war, and everything else, but I guarantee you there are thousands of volunteers around Missouri willing to work a few more hours to get this thing done. We'll donate more money if that's what it takes. Hell, I'll count all three million votes personally. Just give us the thanks we deserve by asking for a recount. I'm sure it would take little more than a phone call.


Some dude who worked his ass off to help get you elected.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Elect Barack Obama

Say that a few times. I still can't believe it. What a night! Remember it, because your grandchildren will one day ask you where you were when we turned this country around.

To my Republican friends. Watch his speech, abandon your anger for a moment, and think about the possibilities. You are an American. You can be proud. It's okay. If you give President Obama a chance, you can still be a part of this defining moment in history.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


My day started at 6:45. I went to my Obama staging location. Drove around to a bunch of polling locations delivering things and getting phone numbers. At 9:30 I went out to bang on some doors. Did that until 1:00. Ate a sandwich. Went to bang on more doors. Did that until 5:00. My feet felt like they would fall off. Hung out at Iron Workers for a while. Went to my polling location to get vote count. 1400 out of 1600 voted at Mount Taber in the 23rd Ward. Hell yes! Now I'm watching the results come in.

McCain spent the last two weeks in Pennsylvania and they called it twenty minutes after the polls closed. IT'S GONNA HAPPEN!!! FUCK YES!

I'm heading up to the Royale, then Chase Park Plaza for the Obama (knock on wood) VICTORY PARTY! Prediction: Missouri is called for Obama at 9:28.

My Argument for Barack Obama

I keep a journal. My journal writing, like my blogging, is sporadic at best. In both cases, I wish I could be more diligent. Reflection is an important part of growth. It helps you understand and learn from the mistakes you've made in the past. Everyone should keep a journal of some sort, and I kick myself every time I look at my journal and realize that it's been three months since I last wrote. The other day I took out one of my old journals and realized it had entries from 2000-2004 in it. I checked the entry for November 4th, 2000. It's funny reading through the journals and watching how my political awakening occurred.

I was 20 years old and more or less apolitical. As a teenager, Bill Clinton never really impressed me when I paid attention (it probably didn't help that my dad is a RAVING conservative). Gore just seemed an extension of the legacy. Bush seemed like an idiot AND an obvious extension of a legacy. I thought both men were power-hungry cowards.

So, I didn't vote. And I watched George W. Bush win. And I didn't care too much.

When I woke up on September 11th though, something changed in me. I began to realize the importance of our leaders. I began the realize the consequences of destructive ideology. With each speech that Bush gave, I became more unsettled. I couldn't believe the things coming out of his mouth. The threats and cries of blood-thirsty revenge. I watched as anger gripped the country. I didn't feel angry though. I just remember a feeling of dread and sadness. War was coming. People were going to die. The balance of the world would be shaken. Then, war. And another war. When they didn't find any WMDs in Iraq, I vowed to leave the world of the passive bystander and do something to stop these assholes ruining our country. Ever since, I've been a political junkie.

Bush's reelection was a dark time in my life, but in 2006, I began to feel a tinge of hope. Bush continued to do stupid things and systematically dismantle the constitution, but we had this group of potential presidential candidates. And I liked them. When Obama announced he was running, I was excited (I remembered his speech at the convention and had looked up his speech in '02), but I didn't think he had a chance. I thought he had a better chance putting another 8 years in the Senate before making his run. Then, Iowa. That speech made me feel something I had never felt before, pride in my country (yeah, I said it).

Republicans want to pretend that we have some sort of obsession with Obama. It's nothing of the sort. He is a good speaker, but it's much more than that. It's his vision of America. He sees an America of optimism and promise. He sees an America where fear is countered with reason, not stoked by anger. He sees an America that embraces all cultures and faiths, not one that scapegoats and marginalizes those who look or sound different. He sees an America where there is hope for the future, trust in the goodness of ones neighbors, and sacrifice for the greater good. He sees an America where we celebrate compassion, not selfishness. This is an America of peace and prosperity and one I can't wait to see realized.

Here are my 7 reasons you should vote for Barack Obama:
  1. His plan for the economy. Many conservatives would like for you to believe that this economic crisis was inevitable. That the stars were just aligned against Bush. This is typical. The republicans haven't taken credit for any of the disasterous crises created by their dangerous, irresponsible, and blind faith in a tired and broken ideology (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, the housing crisis, the banking system collapse). The truth is that we are seeing the failure of ALL tenants the neoconservative ideological platform. I'm sorry Mr. Reagan, but trickle down economics DOES NOT WORK. Greed does not trickle down. Executives pocket those tax cuts while lowering wages, stripping benefits, cutting jobs and shipping them overseas, and plundering the earth.

    Barack Obama's plan eliminates Bush's tax cuts for corporations and restores them to the SAME LEVEL THEY WERE IN THE 1990s. He's going to give a TAX CUT to ALL people who make under $200,000 annually and most people who make under $250,000 (those who will not receive the cut will remain at their current tax level). McCain likes to argue that 23 million small businesses would have to pay more in taxes, but debunked that claim long ago: "McCain has repeatedly claimed that Obama would raise tax rates for 23 million small-business owners. It's a false and preposterously inflated figure."


    2. Barack Obama's Plan to End War in Iraq and His Proven Foreign Policy Judgment. Barack Obama was absolutely right about the invasion of Iraq. From the beginning. If you have any doubts about Obama's even-handed and pragmatic grasp of complex foreign policy issues, READ HIS 2002 SPEECH AGAINST THE INVASION OF IRAQ! Don't vote McCain until you read this. He gave this speech October 2, 2002 in Chicago. Here is the best part, and the first indication that Barack Obama had the potential to be our next great leader:
    Obama giving '02 Speech

    "I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

    What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median incometo distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

    That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.


  2. The Principles of his Foreign Policy Vision. Two words: direct diplomacy. It works. Unilateralism, isolationism, and threatening rhetoric has failed President Bush every step of the way. The more extreme your threats, the more credibility you lend to the extremists on the other side. President Bush was the best thing to happen to Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden. His response to the war played right into their hands. Their stated goal is to bankrupt the United States by provoking unsustainable and endless wars. Today, we're spending $10 billion in Iraq EVERY WEEK and our economy is in serious decline. This is not a policy we want to continue. Yet, McCain is as much of a warhawk as Bush. Just listen to him talk about Russia, China, or Iran. His foreign policy platform is no different from that of George W. Bush. Take a look at it. Why do you think he won the endorsements of Dick Cheney and Al-Qaeda? Does this make anyone else nervous as hell? Anyone?

    Obama will restore our credibility in the world by creating a more responsible foreign policy agenda. Along with direct diplomacy with friends and enemies alike, he will expand our diplomatic (not military) presence around the world, strengthen NATO, and seek out new partnerships in Asia. I know the far right has many people scared of direct diplomacy, but every president (including W lately) has sat down and had direct talks with the leaders of foreign threats. Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt. It's not a new concept. It's what responsible presidents have always done.


  3. He has the Ability to Motivate and Mobilize People at a Grassroots Level. Think about it. If Barack Obama can motivate and organize millions upon millions of people to sacrifice their time and money for his campaign, just think of what he can do for the country. I love his emphasis on encouraging young people to serve the country in other ways besides killing people and dying. Why don't we have more programs like Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps that reward service to country by forgiving student loans or paying for post-graduate degrees? Why not offer young people, eager to give back, the opportunity to serve their community? I'm telling you, this could have a tremendous impact on eliminating the overwhelming and disheartening apathy of young people across the country, while doing amazing things for impoverished communities.

    There's only one candidate talking about this type of service. That's Barack Obama.

  4. Refreshing Answers in Education. As an educator, No Child Left Behind is the absolute bane of my existence. It is has undermined the true goals of education by forcing teachers to analyze meaningless data and waste time teaching to unfair and biased tests. It has also created funding gaps for schools not seen since the segregation era. Barack Obama has promised to reform NCLB in two major ways. He's going to improve the assessments used to measure success, and reform the accountability system so that we are "supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them." He is also going to fully fund the program--something Bush never did. These improvements will not fix the system, but they're a step in the right direction.

    The next thing I really like about his education platform is it's emphasis on early childhood education. I taught lower-level readers for five years. These were kids that read at levels as low as the 2nd grade--in 9th grade. There are two main reasons for kids who fall through the cracks in the system without learning to read properly, and both have addressed been addressed by the Obama campaign. First, access to early childhood education. Most of these students were from lower income areas without access to Pre-K programs. They start behind, and never catch up. Second, many of these kids were never read to as kids. Obama has made an emphasis on parenting a major part of his education platform regularly suggesting that they, "turn off the TV-set. Put the video game away. Buy a little desk. Or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give ‘em help." These are both common sense ideas that could bring about major changes in education (and make my life easier).

  5. The Environmental Revolution. The minute McCain and Palin started inciting crowds to chant "Drill, baby, Drill," he discredited manyof his environmental promises. While he's a DRAMATIC improvement on Bush, he's still in the pockets of the same industries trying to get in the way of the dramatic changes we need to reverse global warming trends. Obama's plan, titled "New Energy for America" is ambitious, responsible, and comprehensive.

    If Obama is elected, I predict that this document will become one of the most important in the modern history of the United States. So read it now. If not for yourself, so you can tell your children you were a part of something important. We're talking about energy independence. We're talking about five million new jobs. We're talking about one million cars that get 150 mpg. We're talking about changing the gluttonous American paradigm. This is huge.

    I know that sounds scary to those of you who cling to the status quo like it's the steering wheel of your Hummer as you cut off a poor teacher in a station wagon, but just once, think with your brain instead of your penis as you read this thing. Please. Then compare Obama's ideas to the simplistic solutions of McCain (drill, drill, drill or nukes, nukes, nukes). If nothing else, you have to admit that Obama and his people have put a little more thought into this than McCain and friends. If that isn't a reflection of who is better prepared to lead right now, I don't know what is. If that isn't a reflection of a candidate with substance, I don't know what is. Don't listen to the bullshit anymore people.


  6. He Understands the Complexities of Race Relations. I know many readers of this blog don't care about this issue, but it is important. Barack Obama has a unique background that allows him to understand all sides of the extremely sensitive and volatile race relations in this country. If we can start now, to work towards his vision for "A More Perfect Union," we could finally move towards truly achieving the dream Martin Luther King Jr. had many years ago. He gave this speech on March 18th amid the media's obsession with Reverend Wright. It took courage to give this speech. It's the most honest assessment of race in this country by a politician I've ever heard. Here is my favorite part of the speech:
    "That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

    This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

    This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

    This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

    I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election."

    Barack Obama as "A More Perfect Union", ink on Bristol, John Sokol, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Scarier than ACORN?

No way, right!?!

The McCain camp wants you to be scared of ACORN. Maybe you are. Let my tell you why you shouldn't be. ACORN is a group that dedicates itself to protecting the rights of poor people. They run multiple campaigns to help families in low to moderate income areas. According to their website:
"ACORN members across the country work to raise the minimum wage or enact living wage policies; eliminate predatory financial practices by mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and tax preparation companies; win the development of affordable housing and community benefits agreements; improve the quality of and funding for urban public schools; rebuild New Orleans; and pass a federal and state ACORN Working Families Agenda, including paid sick leave for all full time workers."
Terrifying, I know.

They don't make a lot of money, but they do a lot of good. They should be applauded, not demonized. Every presidential candidate should work with them to help rebuild out country into a healthy, participatory democracy.

The far right wingnuts are up in arms because some of the people they hired this year, instead of doing their job and actually registering voters, wrote in fake names to make some easy money. The percentage of ACORN employees who do this is minuscule, and according to, "no evidence has yet surfaced to show that the ACORN employees who submitted fraudulent registration forms intended to pave the way for illegal voting." They are not destroying the fabric of our democracy.

These guys could though.

Diebold (now Premier Election Solutions) are the guys who won Ohio for Bush last time. They make voting machines. They donate to Republicans. And they have the power to rig elections. Huffington Post's Michael Carmichael wrote an eye-opening article called, "Arc of Darkness" that you should all take a look at. It takes a comprehensive peek at the lengths desperate Republicans are willing to go to in order to win an election.

Here's a Democracy Now interview of Mark Crispen about Diebold and 2004. You should watch if you still aren't convinced:


A lot of commenters on Carmichael's article made calls for revolution if the GOP steals this one.

Dear these people,

Be careful with the revolution talk. Violence only breeds more violence. It does nothing be lend credibility to the extremists on the other side (see Bush's response to 9/11 and the spreading of Al Qaida).

I hate to even consider this, but how terrifying would it be if the election was stolen again and there was a violent reaction? This is exactly how it would go down.

McCain declared winner despite overwhelming inconsistencies. People (whites and blacks alike) go nuts, hit the streets in record numbers to protest. Violence breaks out in a few areas. Mainstreammedia media shows image after image of these few instances. Limbaugh and friends rally the racists and stoke the flames of fear, making it look like the public wants the government to "restore order." President Bush finds some loophole to bypass Congress and declare Martial Law. Troops and tanks hit the streets. Funerals for American democracy held throughout the country. I move to Canada.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but I couldn't resist a scary story for Halloween. And though this scenario is unlikely (see state-by-state polls), it IS possible.

If you are not insane, and you want to prevent even the remote possibility of this nightmare, I have the following recommendations:
  1. VOTE. The only way to make sure this doesn't happen is if it's a landslide. EVERY vote in EVERY state is important. I don't care if you live in Illinois and Obama's up 30.
  2. VOTE WITH A PAPER BALLOT!!! It takes a little longer, but at least you don't have to rely on software that could easily manipulated.
  3. VOTE. Obama will win Missouri if there is a large turnout in St. Louis and Kansas City.

A guy who's concerned about people who talk about revolution and shit like that.