Category Archives: politics

Political. Rant on!

Consequences

Dharun Ravi at trial. File photo, AP.

It’s time again to talk about bullies.

Yesterday, a jury in New Jersey found former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi guilty of most of the 15 counts against him, including anti-gay intimidation, a hate crime. Ravi is the former roommate of the late Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after learning that Ravi was using a webcam to view his encounters with other men. Clementi was gay.

Now Ravi is a convicted felon, facing at least a few years of jail time and possibly deportation to his native India after he serves that time. When a firm nationwide policy of zero tolerance arrives for the bullies — and it now seems it will — it will probably look like this. Continue reading

Say No To SOPA

You know something's bad when these people agree to hate it.

Hi all. Despite a huge response from Teh Internets, and steady pressure from giants such as Tumblr, Mozilla, and many others, SOPA is still on the table for our completely out-of-touch Congress.

Keep up the pressure. Spread the word: This is not China. Freedom of speech leads our Bill of Rights. We will fight for it.

What you can do: Continue reading

It’s Not Them, It’s Me

I listened to President Barack Obama’s speech in Tucson last night — after reading it online.  I’ll admit it:  I cried.

Naturally.  The words he used last night hit all of my cognitive reward centers:  humility, empathy, listening, love, family, children, partner, future, better, community, hope.

Hope.  Barack Obama always did have me at hope.  I elected this man because I knew he would be the Dad In Chief:  the leader who is also a father, one who continues to aspire to the hopes and dreams of his own (and indeed all) children.

I loved the President’s speech.  I wanted to celebrate it.  So I went to Wordle, and made an image of the most frequently used words in the full text of the speech.

This is lovely enough, but it is not what I remember.  Where is empathyHumility?  Why isn’t hope bigger? Continue reading

This Is Who They (We?) Are.

United States of America, meet some of the people you consider your leaders.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

[I] have deep concerns that some, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that [threats of violence against Democratic leaders during the 2009-10 health care reform hearings] incidents be used as a political weapon.

Eric Cantor, March 2010

Michele Bachmann, R-MN:

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue [of the energy tax] because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing’, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.

Michele Bachmann, March 2009 Continue reading

What Happens When You Sit One Out?

The morning after, the numbers are in.  One in five people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted.  One in five.  Those who did vote turned out for Democratic candidates over Republicans by a wider margin than any generation before (56 to 40 percent — all of us before them, my generation included, have been an even split).

The rest — we’ll call them unlikely voters — break down along the same lines.  But who cares how you identify if you don’t vote?

Sure; there was no President to elect this time.  No rallies, no viral videos on YouTube.  Sorry about that.  There’s only so much dancing baloney those of us who are already working are obliged to make, know what I mean?

It’s early yet, but I thought I’d tackle the consequences.  Now, a few months from now, and later.

Here is what is already gone:

  1. The judges who approved gay marriage in Iowa. Voted out.
  2. One Senator so good he was actually an institution (Google “Russ Feingold”). You might want to look up “McCain-Feingold Act”, “USA PATRIOT Act (nay vote)”, “bipartisan”, or simply, “integrity”.
  3. Voter protections under Federal law. In Oklahoma, voters approved a measure requiring the use of photo ID at polling places.
  4. Locally:  Legal marijuana in the State of California. I guess you can say we never really “had” this one.  The over-30 population was all over the map about it, but many people under 25 were excited about legalization.  Not stoked enough to vote!
  5. Even more locally:  The right to sit or lie on any public San Francisco street between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., with the exception of special events (like today’s Giants Victory parade).  Eat your Ben & Jerry’s walking, hippie.

And here’s what’s next in the crosshairs:

Health care reform. Not that this is a subject that really matters to young people.  “Although [President Obama] has pushed efforts with health care reform, that’s change that hasn’t affected the majority of 18 to 29 year olds,” says Lillian Nottingham, a Harvard student who helped craft a survey of youth voters this year.

I guess Nottingham missed this little event.  She’ll really miss it sometime after she graduates, when her inability to read about the events she’s covering costs her a real job.

Student aid reform. Republicans have promised their Tea-Party backers that they are going to start cutting the budget somewhere.  Where else can they possibly go?  To Social Security?  Medicare?  The people affected by those programs actually vote.

I fought like hell to get President Obama elected.  I fought doubly hard for the passage of health care reform, because it was — and still is — the right thing to do, for generations I will never live to meet.  But after some time working in that particular salt mine, guess what I’ve decided might be the new right thing to do?

Stop fighting.

I have never lived that way.  It’ll be new.  How does it feel, Millennials, to wait for someone else to do stuff for you?

I think I’m finally ready to find out.

Get Up.

I have cared about politics since I was in grade school.  I was so excited to vote for the first time, as a college freshman (in 1984!  Such a big year!  Okay, it wasn’t), it didn’t matter that I had to cast my vote for Walter Mondale.  I told myself I was really voting for Gerry, his running mate; that seemed to make it better.  There was an hour or so between the time I cast my vote and the moment it was crushed in the Reagan landslide; but for that hour, I felt great. 

Geraldine Ferraro was the name of that running mate:  the woman who would have been Vice President.  Decades before the big ol’ fake from Alaska showed up, Gerry was the real (and quite modest) deal.  Because of her, I did not consider my first vote wasted.  I thought it was cool to be involved, at last.

You can say it.  I know.  I’m an antique.

Current college student Jessica Glicker was not eligible to vote in 2008, but she went ahead and campaigned for John McCain anyway.  (Loves an underdog, that Jessica!)  Two years later, the once-plucky voice for the veteran Senator is going to sit this one out, according to George Washington University’s GW Hatchet

“Basically, I just haven’t got my absentee ballot figured out,” she says.  I guess absentee ballots are, like, hard?  Continue reading

The Real Problem with the Fake Blogger

Image from Operation Beautiful: a great idea, from a real blogger.

By now, everyone has heard about it:  “blogger” Maura Kelly’s screed for Marie Claire Magazine about “fat people kissing”.  Last night people reacted:  New York City held its Big Fat Kiss-In, staged in front of the Marie Claire offices.

(Has this magazine ever had a worse week?  Month?)

For anyone who does not know:  Marie Claire started the month in rare form, going after the most popular female health and fitness bloggers in a piece called “The Hunger Diaries”.  The editorial angle on that one is all negative:  fitness blogs by women, it implies, are not about good writing or healthy living but body image disorders.  From there, it was a glaring straight line to Maura Kelly’s post.

About Kelly, and her rant against those who have never looked at a meal with a mind to what it’ll feel like coming back up:  I wonder how many people have actually read it.  I did that, because real writers do research, and because (unlike more responsible publications), Marie Claire has left her post on its site, to encourage further troll … excuse me, comment.  (NOTE:  As of this writing, MC appears to have removed the post without explanation or apology.  I have linked to a cached copy below.)

That post — taken in context with the rest of what’s on Maura Kelly’s page — is one of the saddest, most revealing things I’ve seen in a long time. Continue reading