12/31/2008

2008: A Year in the Life of Scott



2008 has offered all of us plenty of ups and downs. I have grown in so many ways. My successes have inspired me to keep going; my disappointments kept me focused on what is most important. Through it all, 2008 has offered many memories which I will cherish for years to come.

I feel that I owe you all a look back at my year, so I want to take this opportunity to discuss what 2008 has been like for me, and to wish you all peace and, yes, prosperity in 2009.

A year ago, I set out on an improbable mission. Concerned that the Michigan Federation of College Democrats was not being nearly as effective as it ought to be, I ran for President of MFCD. I knew my odds would be long, but I also knew that doing nothing would have been a major mistake on my part. I want to thank those of you who supported me in that endeavor.

"Shoot for the moon," someone once said. "Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." While I did not win the MFCD contest, I did get appointed Officer-at-Large of MFCD, where I used my online expertise to help promote MFCD events such as the 'Make It Happen' statewide bus tour and the Campaign Invasion for now-Congressman-elect Gary Peters. (Not to make you jealous, but I had Peters as a professor in the spring!) I would say that MFCD is in better shape now than it was a year ago, although I do plan on working to make it stronger in 2009 (in what capacity? I am not sure at this point).

But more than that, I was appointed to the College Democrats of America's National Council! And when applications for appointed positions in CDA came out in September, I jumped on the chance to apply to be CDA's New Media Director. While I applied to be New Media Director, instead I got to be Deputy National Communications Director! It was quite a bit of work before the election, though not as much now. Still, I do have some ideas on how to move CDA forward for the rest of my term (which lasts until August).

A year ago I intended to run for Democratic National Convention Delegate. I opted not to for various reasons (yes, the primary debacle was one reason, but there were plenty of other reasons beyond that). Still, I was active with local Dems both in GR/Kentwood and in Mt. Pleasant. I helped to coordinate the Kent County Democrats and Obama campaign's participation in the July 4 Parade here in Kentwood. Approximately thirty people showed up to walk in our contingent. Meanwhile, the McCain campaign's contingent was also packed, as they had... oh, wait, there was no McCain contingent even though West Michigan is known for being Republican! (Incidentally, Obama became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win Kentwood since it became a city in 1967!)

The parade was followed a month later by the primary election, where, for the second straight time, I was on the ballot for Precinct Delegate. While in 2006 I was one of three candidates for three Precinct Delegate spots, this year I was one of three candidates for just two spots. As I found out the day after the election, one candidate received 34 votes, another garnered 29... and I earned 30 votes! That's right, I won by one vote! So let Al Gore, Al Franken, and myself be your proof that voting really does matter!

Anyway, like many of you, I put in my time at the my local campaign office throughout the fall - in my case, entering data and making GOTV calls. But as an intern for the Campaign for Change, I was responsible for the Michigan for Obama page on MySpace. I wrote blog posts, posted bulletins, approved friend adds, and responded to messages. It was neat to be able to reach out to so many people across our state (and country!) during such a key campaign season!

And I will not soon forget the emotions that ran through my head on October 21. That was my 21st birthday, and it was also the day I cast my first-ever vote (absentee) in a Presidential election. What an awesome feeling of power I felt when I filled in the oval next to Barack Obama's and Joe Biden's names!

And then, November 4. A day that, while bright and unseasonably warm literally in Mount Pleasant, was even more so figuratively. And the magic of that night was so profound, you'd think Houdini or Disney was involved! There was nothing quite like leading the countdown to 11PM at the Brass Cafe and then proposing my first toast - to one of the most transformational figures modern America has seen, our nation's 44th President!

In non-political news, in September I got a new job here at Central Michigan University! Instead of working at the dining commons (ugh), I now work at the Towers Computer Lounge! The TCL is a computer lab, coffee shop, and gaming center all in one room in my residence hall complex! Also, this past spring I signed a minor in leadership. CMU is the only college in the Great Lakes State to offer a minor in leadership. Elsewhere in the family, in June my cousin graduated summa cum laude from Gibraltar's Carlson High School as one of three co-valedictorians! She has since entered Wayne State, where she is majoring in biomedical physics.

So what does 2009 hold for me? Of course, none of us know for certain; after all, life takes many strange twists and turns, and great opportunities arise all the time! Overall I intend to work to build communication and cohesion in the Democratic Party to make it more effective for years to come. President-elect Obama has done so much to bring so many people into the process, many of whom had never been involved before. Making sure these people stay involved in American civic life well beyond the election will be a top priority for me. (I will discuss this further in the coming days.)

This spring I plan to go on an Alternative Spring Break related to state park preservation. Also, I am going to be captain of Team Carey/Kulhavi Combating Cancer for Relay for Life 2009 at CMU (Carey and Kulhavi being two of CMU's residence halls; I live in Kulhavi).

If there is one thing Barack Obama has reminded me, it's that every single one of us has the power to change our world and the people around it. "We are the ones we've been waiting for," implored our 44th President. "We are the change that we seek." Neither we nor Obama can do everything by ourselves, but what a wonderful thought it is to know that we each have the power to touch each other's lives and to change them for the better!

So, to all of you who read what I had to say this year, who recommended my diaries and comments, shared your own opinions, and who once again made me feel welcome here at Daily Kos, I thank you for touching my life this year and in years past. This one's for you!

12/30/2008

I Helped Banish "Maverick!"

It's that time of year again - time for an iconic tradition that is sure to be a game changer on Wall Street and Main Street! Yes, Lake Superior State University has released its annual List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness!

  • Green (in regards to something environmentally friendly)
  • Carbon footprint or carbon offsetting
  • Maverick
  • First dude
  • Bailout
  • Wall Street/Main Street
  • Monkey
  • <3 (Emoticon for 'heart')
  • Icon or Iconic
  • Game changer
  • Staycation
  • Desperate search
  • Not so much
  • Winner of five nominations
  • It's that time of year again
In 2007 I was quite the first dude when it came to nominating words for banishment, at least among progressive bloggers. This year, not so much. But, as we are all aware, quality is more important than quantity, as evidenced by this highlight from LSSU's page about the 2009 list. Here's what one person had to say about the word Maverick:
"You know it's time to banish this word when even the Maverick family, who descended from the rancher who inspired the term, says it's being mis-used." Scott Urbanowski, Kentwood, Mich.
Incidentally, I also nominated bailout. Maverick and bailout are my first two hits, if you will (nominations of words that did get banished).

My Heterosexual Blood

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect. Until this evening, it had been nearly three whole years since I had last given blood.

But when I did give blood today, I was reminded that my mere right to donate blood is yet another example of the blatant heterosexual privilege that continues to hinder our struggle for equality and - in a real way - endangers lives. Blood supplies are low - lower than they would be if gay men were allowed to donate. My heterosexual blood is no better than anyone's homosexual blood.

So I want to ask two favors. First, if you are eligible, please consider donating blood. This is the time of year when blood banks are in the greatest need. If you are at least 17 and weigh 110 or more pounds, you may be eligible to donate blood as long as you haven't done so in eight weeks (Tomorrow - Tuesday - will be eight weeks past Election Day). Here's more on blood-donor eligibility.

Second, please join me in urging an end to this deadly form of discrimination.

From the Harvard Crimson, December 18, 2002:

Under the current restrictions, no male is able to donate blood if he has engaged in sexual activity with any other male since 1977. At the same time, however, any heterosexual man or woman, even one who has engaged in sex with an HIV-positive partner, is able to donate only one year after the encounter. The discrimination is targeted specifically at homosexual men—homosexual women do not have the same restrictions.

This is not simply a case of an antiquated law that has been overlooked and unenforced. As recently as 2000, the FDA—with the support of the Red Cross—renewed this rule, despite the urgings of nearly half of America’s blood banks, which lobbied for a change that would set an equal standard for gay men as for any other donors.

It is easy to understand the reasoning behind the FDA’s implementation of the rules in the early 1980s when society’s understanding of HIV and AIDS was much more limited. When authorities lack the information necessary to have full control over a public health emergency, it is important that officials err on the side of caution. But 20 years later, when knowledge has advanced so rapidly, these rules stem more from reactionary prejudices than scientific reasoning.

The FDA estimates that ending this discriminatory practice would allow 112,000 new donors to give blood. In a time when the Red Cross is underscoring its urgent need for donation, it seems not only bigoted, but also dangerous to the public welfare, to turn away so many thousands of donors. The FDA should create more detailed questionnaires about potential donors’ sexual history, instead of fostering the implicit assumption that all gay men are promiscuous. Personal history is the pertinent information; blind predetermination based on orientation is not. The FDA must update both its regulation and its mindset on this issue of critical importance.

Six years after that was published, our gay brothers are still not allowed to give back to their community.

If you go to this Facebook group and scroll down to the discussion board, you'll see a link to a letter you can cut and paste and send to change.gov urging the Obama Administration to change this rule and save more lives.

12/25/2008

Good news of great joy for all the people

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:10-14

12/24/2008

Bits of Tid: December 24, 2008

"Santa, I've Been A Really Good Boy This Year" Edition

  • Guess what I did yesterday? I saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra!
  • Guess what I'm doing tonight? I'm going to Midnight Mass at the Cathedral! I like going to Midnight Mass on Christmas, but I've never been to the Cathedral for it!
  • Guess what I'm doing Friday? I'm going to the Motor City Bowl!
  • Never heard of this before.
  • Plenty of Christmas jokes here.
  • Yule Log anyone?

12/23/2008

Yes We Can Bring Hope to the Less Fortunate

I got this in an email from Michelle Obama:

This holiday season, the grassroots movement you helped build can make a big difference for those in need.

I hope you will join me in supporting your favorite charity or contributing to causes that are especially meaningful to me and my family.

While many of us will spend the holidays counting our blessings and sharing dinner with loved ones, millions of people around the country won't be so fortunate. Donating to your local food bank will help provide a holiday meal to people in your community who can't afford one.

Talking with the families of deployed troops was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during the campaign. Giving to Operation USO Care Package is a great way to send members of our military stationed around the world a reminder that someone back home is thinking of them.

This is a time to celebrate our blessings, the new year, and a new era for our country. But it's also a time to come together on behalf of those who need our help.

12/18/2008

Values

(This is a repost of a diary I wrote a few months ago on Daily Kos. It is also, in a way, Part 1 of a series about where I believe our Party should go in the near future.)

Why are you a Democrat?

What makes you vote for the Democratic ticket on Election Day? What made you decide that just voting for progressive Democrats is not enough - that you also need to volunteer for the Obama campaign or for other progressives running in your area?

To me, being a Democrat is not only about supporting this policy or opposing this action. Yes, I do hold most of the same stances as most Democrats when it comes to important issues of the day. I opposed the Iraq War before it started. I support healthcare for all. I believe in regulations for corporations. Dependence on foreign oil? Bad. Corruption? Bad. Regressive tax policy? Bad. Higher pay for teachers? Good. Diplomacy? Good. The right to form and join unions? Good.

But having these opinions hardly has anything to do with my being a progressive Democrat. It's why I hold these positions that has led me in my young life to call myself a liberal Democrat.

Each of us has our own unique set of values, molded by our own unique set of experiences. Our values are formed by the lessons we learn from parents, teachers, managers, coaches, clergy and so on. They come from our interactions with our friends, co-workers, and distant relatives we may only meet at family reunions or weddings. They also come from events of the world around us, such as a neighbor dying suddenly, a local factory closing, or September 11.

But every time I stop to think about the values that guide me, they all lead back to one word.

Respect.

What, then, are those values of which I speak - values which lead back to respect? Here is a look at the tip of the iceberg.

Why do I support access to health coverage for all citizens? Because I value compassion.

I also value responsibility. I believe that all of us - humans, corporations, the like - must act in a responsible manner to one another. Thus, I support regulating carbon emissions, making our country energy independent, and using diplomacy over militarism.

I value truth, and I understand that the best society is one where people understand the truth and seek it out when necessary. It is also why I believe in the importance of educating everyone, and that education is not merely about being able to determine the number of degrees in the corners of a polygon or the atomic number of each element on the Periodic Table, but in the ability to think for oneself. For those reasons I support strengthening our public education system, and I oppose deception and lies in all their forms.

Compassion, responsibility, truth... they all lead back to respect. As do the many other values I cherish.

I take the words "All men are created equal" to heart. Well, somewhat. All men and women are created equal.

This is especially true when you consider how fortunate you and I are. I was not born into wealth or privilege. Yet, nor was I born into poverty in Africa. I'm not in a high-rise condo, but nor do I find myself in Darfur or South Ossetia. As I said on Thanksgiving, I am not the most privileged person on the planet, but I am luckier than many.

To value respect is to understand the importance of every human being on this planet - that each human being can make our own life richer, if only we let them.

And when people deny this very respect to others, they are in effect denying it to themselves. A person is less able to show respect when they themselves are not shown respect.

Obviously there are those whom we hold closer to our hearts than most anyone else. Yet at the same time, there are countless different ways of showing our love to other people - volunteering at the local food pantry, helping out with Special Olympics, setting up care packages to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Respect. It's amazing how that one word sums up not only my personal values, but also why I am a Democrat.

With Democrats not being seen my some as a party of values, I would like to see more Democrats emphasize the importance of values. By discussing our shared values, Democrats can connect with voters in a way Republicans have been for years.

More importantly, I would like to see all of us Democrats - Party leaders, elected officials, and rank-and-file Democrats - commit or re-commit ourselves to these values.

More to come.

12/15/2008

Electoral College Tie Redux

By far, the post on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott that has received the most attention is this one I wrote a year and a half ago in which I explained that if this election were to have produced a tie in the Electoral College, the Democrat would probably win so long as no seats in Congress changed hands in this election.

I wrote that post based on the composition of the 110th Congress. What's important to keep in mind, however, is that it is the new Congress, not the outgoing Congress, that officially (and nowadays ceremonially) counts the electoral votes and, if necessary, breaks ties in the Electoral College. In other words, if there was a tie in the Electoral College in this election, members of Congress elected in 2008 (and Senators elected in 2004 and 2006) would be the ones to break the tie.

Today, members of the Electoral College are meeting in their respective state capitals to formally cast their state's electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States. Each elector was nominated by their party to vote for their candidates in the Electoral College if said candidates had won their state (or district) in last month's election. 365 electors are pledged to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, while 173 are pledged to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

But what if the Presidential candidates had tied? What if each had received 269 electoral votes? Well, chances are even greater now that Obama still would have won.

A reminder: Whenever no Presidential candidate receives a majority in the Electoral College (nowadays most likely the result of a 269-269 tie in the electoral vote), the US House votes to elect the President, while the Senate votes on the new Vice President. The twist is that while each Senator gets one vote for Vice President, in the House each state has just one vote.

So to get a good (but not necessarily perfect) idea of who would win, we look at how each state's US House delegation is divided in terms of partisan leanings of its Representatives.

Five states went from having Republican majorities in their Congressional delegation in the 110th Congress to having Democratic majorities in the 111th. Democrats picked up three seats each in Ohio and Virginia, two each in Michigan and New Mexico, and one in Nevada.

Democrats moved from a 4-4 tie in 2006 to a 5-3 lead in Arizona thanks to Ann Kirkpatrick. Walter Minnick's upset in Idaho means that very conservative state's delegation will have one Congressman from each party.

Unlike in 2006, the Republicans did pick up a few Democratic-held seats in 2008. One such changeover - which saw Kansan Lynn Jenkins defeat Nancy Boyda in a rematch of the 2006 contest which Boyda won - gave Republicans a 3-1 lead in the Kansas delegation.

The end result? What used to be a 27-20 lead for the Democrats in congressional delegations has now expanded to 33-15, with two ties.

So had the Electoral College Tied at 269-269 in this election, Obama would have won the vote in the House 33-15 had every member voted for their party's nominee. He still would have won had enough Democrats voted for McCain to cause seven states with Democratic control to go to McCain.

12/14/2008

Bits of Tid: December 14, 2008

Bail Me Out Edition

  • Sorry I haven't been blogging much. I just got done with the semester and have a month off.
  • Mitch Albom also has a few choice words. Probably the best rant I've seen.
  • Incidentally, here's a piece I found last week essentially calling bull$#!^ on the myths surrounding the auto industry.
  • Today is Dad's birthday. I have a present for him, which will arrive January 20 at noon.
  • With less than three weeks left in the year, now is your last chance to nominate words for Lake Superior State University's 2009 Banished Words List! My latest?
    Nine times out of ten - Why just say "nine times out of ten?" I'd like to hear someone say "thirteen times out of fourteen" or "65,876 times out of 65,877."
  • Absolutely beautiful.

12/13/2008

Election 2008 By The Numbers

I posted this a couple weeks ago on Daily Kos.

  • 1,573: Barack Obama's margin of victory in Kent County, Michigan, my home county
  • 54,292: Bush's margin over Kerry in Kent County
  • 1,951: Barack Obama's margin of victory in my hometown of Kentwood
  • 3,888: Bush's margin in Kentwood in 2004
  • 30: Approximate number of people who showed up as part of the Kent County Democrats/Obama for America contingent in my hometown's July 4th parade - I helped coordinate said contingent!
  • 0: Number of people who showed up from the McCain campaign in that parade
  • 369,282: Diane Marie Hathaway's margin of victory over Republican-nominated incumbent Cliff Taylor in the Michigan Supreme Court race
  • 24: Number of years since an incumbent Supreme Court Justice has been defeated, probably since incumbent judges and justices in Michigan are designated as such on the ballot
  • 67: Number of seats the Democrats will hold in the Michigan House of Representatives starting in January
  • 43: Number of seats the Republicans will hold in the Michigan House
  • 20: Number of seats Democrats have gained in the state House in the past three elections
  • 3,006,820: Number of votes in favor of Michigan's Proposal 1, which allows the use of medical marijuana
  • 249,923: Margin by which Michigan's proposal 2 passed; thanks to its passage, embryonic stem-cell research will be legal in Michigan!
  • 5 out of the last 5: Presidential elections in which Michigan has gone blue!
  • 1: My margin of victory in my re-election bid for Democratic Precinct Delegate!

11/27/2008

I'm thankful. How ironic.

I posted a version of this last Thanksgiving, but I think it bears repeating this year.

I am thankful for my family. Which is ironic, because I only have one brother, I don’t have many aunts, uncles, or cousins (not nearly as many as my parents), one of my grandpas died before I was born (as did all of my great-grandparents), and I only have one surviving grandparent (I’m 21). Still, I know that some have never met their families, while others are in very tumultuous family situations.

I am thankful for my health. Which is ironic, because this Thanksgiving, I have a cough. Still, I don’t have cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, or any other life-threatening condition. What’s more, I am pretty able-bodied. Not everyone can say that.

I am thankful for my financial well-being. Which is ironic, because I’m nowhere near wealthy. Still, I am far more fortunate than most people in the world.

I am thankful that I have a job. Which is ironic because it’s only a part-time job that pays $7.40 an hour, and it’s only 8 hours per week. Still, I am more fortunate than the more than 9% of Michiganians on the unemployment rolls. And the many more who are unemployed, but aren’t counted as such. And the many who work more hours and get less in return.

I am thankful for my home. Which is ironic, because it’s no mansion. It has many of the amenities, but no dishwasher, fireplace, or dining room. I live in a suburb (Kentwood, Michigan), but you can’t accuse us of being as extravagant as suburbanites are stereotyped to be. Still, not everyone can even afford an apartment, much less a house. And a vast majority of the world's population lives in substandard housing.

I am thankful for my cell phone, digital camera, DVD player, computer, TV, and other technological gadgets. Which is ironic, since my phone isn’t fancy, my camera doesn’t have very good resolution, and I don’t watch as much TV as I used to. Still, so many in this world go without having a single one of these gadgets.

I am thankful that I am a student at Central Michigan University. Which is ironic, given that it’s no Ivy League school. Still, how many people can say they attend an eco-friendly and gay-friendly college? And that's barely the tip of the iceberg.

I am thankful for those who have consistently fought for racial minorities, women, the GLBT community, the mentally ill, the disabled, and others. Which is ironic, given that I am an able-bodied, white heterosexual male who is not classified as mentally ill. Still, I realize that the fight for equal justice marches on - and all of us have an important role to play in that march.

I am thankful for all the people who have had a positive impact on my life. Which is ironic, since they are too many to name and I have forgotten many of them. Many I have met in real life, some I have known only through the "series of tubes." But they have impacted me all the same. And yes, I am talking about the Daily Kos community and the overall lefty blogosphere, among many others.

I am thankful for him:


Finally, I am thankful that I am alive. Which is ironic, because I’m only 21, and most people expect to live a lot longer than I have. I am definitely younger than most of the people who read this post. Yet countless millions don’t even get the chance to live to half my age. I hope and pray that I will be inspired and encouraged to use the remainder of my life in a way so that, when I die, my family and friends will be able to truthfully and sincerely eulogize me by saying, "The world is a better place because Scott Urbanowski lived in it."

I am thankful for so many other things that I cannot name, lest this post be a several-hour-long read. Which is ironic, seeing as how I take them for granted so often.

You see, folks, so many of us want so much more than we have. And don't get me wrong, there are many things I want that I don't have. Yet I believe that knowing that we are so fortunate is key to contentment and happiness in life.

I bet you're a lot more fortunate than you realize.

11/24/2008

How the late-night comedians celebrated Obama's win!

I've been so busy lately, but I wanted to make sure you had the chance to see what the various late-night comedians had to say about our historic election a few weeks ago! Thanks to Daniel Kurtzman at About.com for compiling these!

David Letterman

  • Attention passengers, the Straight Talk Express is no longer in service.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is our new president. And I think I speak for most Americans when I say, anybody mind if he starts a little early?
  • At the end of the evening, the electoral vote count was 349 for Obama, 148 for McCain. Or, as Fox News says, too close to call.
  • Last night's results mean one thing for John McCain. That is that Sunday's debate will be even more crucial. He's really up against the wall now.
  • But Republicans had a bad night all around. I mean, anywhere you look. Even the crooked voting machines in Florida broke down.
  • How about Sarah Palin, ladies and gentlemen. Right now on her way back to Alaska. And I'm thinking oh, I wouldn't want to be a moose now.
  • By the way, his concession speech last night was so effective, so positive that he shot up 4 points in the polls.
Jay Leno
  • You know, it's amazing, Barack Obama won in Florida and still became president. That never happens. In fact, today, Democrats are asking for a recount. They can't believe they won.
  • And, of course, it was a huge celebration over at Barack Obama headquarters, otherwise known as MSNBC.
  • Well, right after Barack Obama clinched the [nomination], did you see TV cameras caught Jesse Jackson standing at the celebration with tears in his eyes? Not because Barack won, because he makes more than $250 thousand a year.
  • President Bush said today that he watched the coverage on TV last night and he was amazed. He was amazed, he couldn't believe how many states there were. They're all over the place!
  • See, I got to admit, as a comedian, I'm gonna miss President Bush. Because Barack Obama is not easy to do jokes about. He doesn't give you a lot to go on. See, this is why God gave us Joe Biden.
  • You know who is really, really happy that John McCain did not win last night? The boyfriend of Sarah Palin's daughter. He doesn't have to get married now. 'Whew, thank God!'
  • A huge turnout in Hollywood. In fact, for the first time ever, there were more celebrities in voting booths than in rehab. That has never happened. They say this was most expensive election in history, costing over $1 billion. Do you realize that is the equivalent of three Wall Street CEO bonuses?
  • Anybody get a robo-call from Bill Clinton? They had those out there, too. See, I knew it was from Clinton right away, because if a man answers, it automatically hangs up.
Jimmy Kimmel
  • Obama thanked the President for his call and for all he did to help him get elected.
  • Hey if you think about it, President Bush is at least partially responsible for us having our first black president, so never let it be said he didn't accomplish anything. Maybe George Bush doesn't hate black people after all.
  • Bush invited Obama to come visit him at the White House, which was a nice thing to do. He wants to show him, I guess, the presidential tree house and teach him how to turn the Oval Office couch cushions into a fort. All the fun stuff.
  • The real challenge, though, is for Joe Biden because he's got to figure out how to get Dick Cheney out of the vice presidential mansion. As you know, Dick Cheney is armed and has a history of shooting old men.
Jon Stewart
  • Really, an historic night last night. You may have heard, Barack Obama will be the first black president of the United States of America. ... Obama is also the first Democrat to receive more than 50 percent of the vote since Jimmy Carter, the first senator to be elected since Jack Kennedy, the first Muslim to be ... I said too much.
  • As soon as the results were final, Barack Obama received a congratulatory call from still-President Bush, who told him, 'What an awesome night for you. I called to congratulate you and your good bride.' Why couldn't you just say wife? This being an official statement and all, I thought I would make it weird. Anyway, you all should come over to my family building at food eating time. We could hang out and word trade.
Craig Ferguson
  • I watched Obama's victory speech in Grant Park. I actually loved watching the shots of the crowd, which looked like a Benetton ad - different races, different ages, all different kinds of people. I thought it was fantastic. Meanwhile, over at McCain's speech, there were all different kinds of white people. They had tons of them -- yuppies, golfers, Osmonds.
  • Obama's victory would not have been not possible without the help of the leaders who came before him - Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, and most importantly, President Bush, who has set the bar pretty low.
  • The stock market dropped over 400 points today, which is not a reflection on Obama. No, the brokers just realized they've still got three months of George Bush.

11/21/2008

Bits of Tid: November 21, 2008

  • Remember this?

    Well, I bowled a 71 on Sunday! So there!
  • Speaking of Obama, he has started naming his cabinet! Eric Holder is set to become the nation's first black Attorney General, while Janet Napolitano and Tom Daschle have been chosen as the new secretaries of Homeland Security and HHS, respectively.
  • As for teh current Attorney General, it looks like Michael Mukasey will be okay after collapsing last night.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu's website looks a lot like Obama's.

11/14/2008

My election recap, ten days later

I've been pretty busy over the last few days, and it's taken a while to collect all of my thoughts toward this election. But, here goes!

Surprises
The biggest surprises of the election:

1. Diane Marie Hathaway unseating Cliff Taylor. It is considered all but impossible to lose a race for state Supreme Court when you're the incumbent. I figured Taylor had it in the bag - and quite handily, I might add.
2. Obama winning Kent County. I mean, hello!
3. Proposal 2 passing. In all honesty, I figured Prop 2 was toast. I saw a lot more organization from the "2 goes 2 far" folks.
4. The Democrats expanding their majority in the Michigan House. Just over a year ago, a small group of anti-tax conservatives launched recall campaigns against several Democrats (and a few Republicans) to punish them, if you will, for raising taxes. I had no clue that, a year later, Democrats would expand their majority in the state House by 9! Dems have gained 20 seats in the last three election cycles despite a Republican gerrymander, for a majority of 67-43.

What Obama overcame
A partial list of things Barack Obama overcame in order to win this election:
  • Inexperience
  • Bill Ayers controversy
  • The Rev. Wright controversy
  • The front-runner status of a former President's wife
  • The Republican nomination of a war hero
  • The standard lies about Democrats wanting to raise your taxes
  • I could go on and on
America: A Socialist Country?
Not according to me. But if you ask some of Obama's fiercest critics, America would rather pay higher taxes and live under a socialist President who "pals around with terrorists" than have four years of Bush-lite. Hmm, something to think about.

Do we need 60 Senate seats?
What we need is for 60 Senators to vote to invoke cloture on a measure in order for it to pass. If the next Congress convenes with 56 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and 2 independents - which seems to be the most likely outcome at this point - cloture can still be achieved provided that a handful of Republicans cross over to vote for cloture. (Likewise, if the Dems did get 60 seats, cloture wouldn't have been certain on any bill.) And cloture votes generally receive more support than the final vote to pass a bill, the latter of which only requires 51 votes as you know.

So save for very divisive issues, the probability of Obama getting much of his agenda passed through the Senate in the next two years probably will not be hindered so much by the fact that there will only be 56 or 57 Democrats in the Senate instead of 60. No, it won't be easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But nothing is impossible.

My most famous professor
Congratulations to US Representative-elect Gary Peters on a ten-point thumping of Joe Knollenberg! I had the privilege of taking a class with Peters last semester. Also, congratulations to Mark Schauer for winning his race in the 7th District, despite the fact that he too voted for a much-needed tax increase in the state Senate!

2010 offers us the chance to defeat another Republican incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, who won by only 20,567 votes over a little-known Democrat!

Thanks
I cannot begin to thank all of you who helped make Barack Obama our next President! I thank all who took the brave step of running for office, the field directors I met (Ted in Mt. Pleasant, Aaron in Kentwood, and many others), the high schoolers who helped put stickers with voting location info on door hangers, and everyone else of whatever age, gender, or race who called, canvassed, entered data, provided food for volunteers, wrote letters to the editor, etc., etc.

Thanks to you, I will have many fond memories of this campaign. But more importantly, hope has triumphed over fear, and courage has been rewarded over cowardice. May I inspire others as much as you have inspired me!

11/06/2008

Savor this moment



It hasn't sunk in yet.

My mind is not quite around the fact that Barack Obama will be President of the United States!

More than 48 hours after he was called the winner, I am still at a loss for words to describe my feelings toward this. Hope has triumphed over fear, judgment over temper. The conventional wisdom has been 

There will be plenty of time to think about the many daunting challenges that Obama will face. But now is a time to celebrate. We have worked too hard not to celebrate.

So, have a cake!!



And party like your country is changing for the better...





...because it is!

11/03/2008

This Is Our Moment

The skies were getting darker - along with, it seemed, the future of my beloved country and the world.

It was Wednesday, November 3, 2004. Four years ago today. The day was marked by clear skies - but that didn't matter. Inside we were all gloomy.

24 hours earlier I had been preparing to celebrate a convincing victory by John Kerry. But what had unfolded in the intervening hours felt like a gradual yet powerful punch in my gut.

My mom told me she felt like she was at a funeral - a funeral for America. My aunt - who once volunteered for one of Dick Cheney's Congressional campaigns when she lived in Casper - wore black to work in Denver. This was six months to the day after my grandfather's funeral, so I understood what she was talking about.

That evening, as the Sun set, I felt a sense of hopelessness I hadn't felt in a long time before and can't say I've felt since. How could Democrats ever win again if an experienced Vietnam-veteran-turned-Senator couldn't beat, well, Dubya? What can we expect when the GOP nominates someone who can actually put together a coherent sentence? And we lost four more seats in the Senate for a 55-44 Republican majority; one of those seats was Tom Daschle's (part of whose Senate farewell speech I have on tape at home).

That Wednesday night, as I tried to make sense of what had happened, I turned my focus to the future. I was not looking forward to a 2006 election in which Dems would have to defend more seats and my beloved Governor Granholm and Senator Stabenow would have to fight hard to keep their jobs in battleground Michigan. I also wondered who would run in 2008. Govs. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Janet Napolitano (D-AZ)? Now-Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)? Sens. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and George Allen (R-VA)? Jeb? Joe Biden and John McCain came to mind too, but it seemed unlikely that Barack Obama - elected to the Senate the day before - would be our nominee in the next election. And of course I had never heard of Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin.

Well, things sure as heck change!

I graduated from high school almost seven months after the election. Just three days before I graduated the Senate had reached a deal to avoid coming to blows over the 'nuclear option' controversy. My first day of class at Central Michigan University was August 28, 2008. While it was hot and sunny in Mt. Pleasant, Hurricane Katrina was making its presence felt in New Orleans. The ensuing mismanagement of the situation by the Bush Administration helped to begin the push Bush's approval ratings down.

Then came the indictments of such figures as Tom DeLay and Scooter Libby. Then, in a show of backbone that I didn't expect from Harry Reid (and in all honesty would like to see more of), Harry Reid forced the Senate into a closed session to discuss intelligence failures in Iraq. November came, and with it two Democrats - Jon Corzine and Tim Kaine - were elected Governors of New Jersey and Virginia, respectively. Kaine appeared on Obama's shortlist for the Vice Presidency this year.

The following month, the day before I left CMU to end my first semester here, pur College Democrats faculty advisor hosted a house party for Governor Granholm's re-election campaign. I still remember being in great company that night with not only other College Dems (whom I met during the second week of the semester), but a few members of the Isabella County Democratic Party. That was the night I met the Barkers, who are active in Isabella Democratic circles, as well as Peggy, the wife of the College Dems' advisor. Our College Dems VP made the announcement that he would run for State House the following year, while one of the Barkers announced a run for County Commission. Neither was elected, but still it was great to be in the presence of people who were willing to step up and take responsibility for the future of their community.

I have enjoyed being a part of the Isabella Democrats. Pete, who is running for Township Clerk, was the one who introduced me to Michigan Liberal, which became a gateway of sorts into my blogging. ;-) Another friend, Rob, asked me to run for Precinct Delegate, which I've done twice, winning both times (by one vote this year)!

Then came November of 2006. After being down by several points in the polls that summer, Jennifer M. Granholm was resoundingly given a fresh mandate, winning 56-42%. The Democrats, long seen as underdogs for control of Congress, won the House, and as we found out the next day, they also grabbed the Senate. The fears I had in 2004 ended up being for naught! I was delighted to see important legislation passed in Congress - legislation to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, to raise the minimum wage, to

Then... Presidential Campaign Time! I researched the candidates and told myself I'd be much more careful about picking one to support. I went from supporting Kerry, to Dean, to Graham, to Kucinich, to Clark, to Dean, to Edwards, and back to Kerry in 2002-2004. This time, it took me until September to pick Obama. But I stuck with him. Primary season was an adventure, to say the least - except that i live in Michigan. Enough said. But that's another story.

I have been waiting for this since November 3, 2004.
I have been waiting for this since I graduated from high school.
I have been waiting for this since CAFTA.
I have been waiting for this since Katrina.
I have been waiting for this since I first attended a College Democrats meeting.
I have been waiting for this since Roberts and Alito joined the High Court.
I have been waiting for this since the floodgate of scandals opened on the GOP.
I have been waiting for this since that night at the professor's house.
I have been waiting for this since I cast my first-ever vote - a 'Yes' vote to renew a school district sinking fund millage!
I have been waiting for this since that wonderful Election Night of November 7, 2006.
I have been waiting for this since the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress convened.
I have been waiting for this since the first of many attempts by Congress to bring our troops home - attempts that were routinely followed by capitulation.
I have been waiting for this since this campaign began at the end of 2006.
I have been waiting for this since attending a meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee here on my campus.
I have been waiting for this since my influence in the primary process was stolen. And there's plenty of blame to go around for that.
I have been waiting for this since that Saturday in April when, for the first time during this campaign, I exclaimed the words "Yes We Can!"
I have been waiting for this since I saw Obama speak in person in Grand Rapids.
I have been waiting for this since Obama clinched the nomination.
I have been waiting for this since my aunt lost her job in June.
I have been waiting for this since July 4, 2008.
I have been waiting for this since Joe Biden was introduced as our candidate for Vice President.
I have been waiting for this since the Convention.
I have been waiting for this for so long.

And now, it is here.

We have all waited for so long. We have dealt with so much. But it all leads up to this.

This is our moment.

Are you ready to change the course of human history?

YES WE CAN!

10/30/2008

Videos to motivate you to GOTV

Ouch:


Funny Ad:


Happy Ad:


30-Minute Ad:


Will YOU get out the vote this weekend?

10/21/2008

October 21, 1987 and 2008 - I cried as I voted.

I cried as I voted today. I had been waiting for this day for so long.

Today is my 21st birthday. At 11:37 this morning - the time listed on my birth certificate - I filled in the oval next to Barack Obama's and Joe Biden's names to cast my first-ever vote in a Presidential election.

I had envied those who were old enough to vote in 1996, 2000, and 2004. For countless national, state, local, and school district elections, I had felt a sense of being left out. I had learned about the candidates - even met a few every now and then - but I couldn't participate in that basic civic duty of voting.

This is the eighth time I've voted since registering just before my 18th birthday. The February after I registered, I found out that the school district was asking voters to renew a sinking fund millage. I went to City Hall, cast my first vote by absentee ballot, and a week and a half later I found out that the millage had passed. I felt part of the process for the first time, even though not many people voted.

My first in-person, at-the-polling-place vote was on Primary Election Day in August 2006. I had the chance to vote for myself as I was on the ballot for Precinct Delegate here in Michigan. It was uncontested as three of us ran for three spots. I still remember that chill I felt casting my first in-person vote.

A few other elections have since taken place, and I haven't missed one yet - not even the controversial 'primary' here in Michigan (which I discuss at length here). But then, when it came time for the state and local primaries this year, I found out that I was one of three candidates for just two spots as Precinct delegate, and the top two vote-getters would win. Long story short, one candidate got 34, another got 29... and I got 30! Yes, I won by one vote!

But voting in a general election for President... Now there's something I hadn't done. I applied for an absentee ballot a few days before I returned to school, and it came about a month ago. (I would've re-registered at my school address, but I would've given up my spot as a Precinct Delegate to do so - which I obviously didn't want to do!) Still, I wasn't eager to just vote it then and there and then mail it back, which I did in 2006. Instead, I voted it over bit by bit. Diane Hathaway for state Supreme Court one day, Carl Levin for US Senate another. Ballot proposals (to legalize medical marijuana and stem-cell research) another day.

But I saved the best for last. I chose this day - October 21, my 21st birthday - to mark my ballot for Obama and Biden.

This morning, at 11:37, I looked up at a sheet above my desk in my room and read this quote from my choice for President:

Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire; what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation; what led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom's cause.

Hope-hope-is what led me here today - with a father from Kenya; a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
Inspired by this wonderful diary on Daily Kos yesterday, I thought of my family and friends, of the many people who have struggled for freedom and justice through the ages, and of all those who today believe that 'Yes We Can' make our nation and world stronger.

I teared up as I thought to them, "This one's for you!" I used my pen, made from recycled materials, to fill in that oval next to Obama's and Biden's names.



When I go home this weekend, I will drop off the ballot at City Hall before celebrating my high school's Homecoming and then celebrating my 21st with my family.

And the, who knows, maybe I'll shed another tear.

10/17/2008

Leadership - "truly an amazing concept"

The concept of leadership is truly an amazing concept. It has power beyond all our imaginations.
Dan, a friend of mine who was president of a group I'm in at Central Michigan University, wrote that to me after a leadership conference last year. That was around the time I really started becoming enthusiastic about leadership, and Dan was a big reason why. I signed a minor in leadership last spring, bought a couple of books about leadership, and set some high goals for myself in terms of what kind of leader I want to be.

So why am I - like many others - so enthusiastic about leadership? Well, there are plenty of reasons. For one, many people probably see a personal benefit. It looks good on our resume to have been president, coordinator, manager, director, etc., of something. And of course, those in leadership roles are more well-known than others, so there may be (for some) a popularity factor.

But that doesn't explain it well enough. Many of you might be insulted if I told you that you only care about leadership for your own personal gain.

So why the enthusiasm for leadership? My best hypothesis is: It is through leadership that we can have the greatest impact on our society. Leaving our mark and improving the quality of human life in our community and on this planet - now that's an awesome dream to behold!

Who is a leader?
So then who, exactly, is a leader? How do we determine who a leader and who is not? Is the leader the one who holds the title - president, chair, manager, CEO, captain, director? Is it someone who has followers? Is it the person who works hardest? Is it the smartest person in the room? In many instances, yes, these people happen to be the top leaders.

If you ask me, you are a leader if you are a Homo sapien. Homo sapien is the Latin scientific name for a human being. Yes, folks: EVERYONE is a leader! Notice that I didn't just say that everyone can be a leader, which many would argue. Rather, everyone already IS a leader - just by virtue of being a human!

Here's why I say that. Though we may not always realize it, almost everything we do has an impact (albeit usually small) on our communities, our environment, and maybe our entire world. We give our time, talent, and treasure to certain people, groups, or businesses, thereby helping them to become more profitable or do their jobs more smoothly. We have a certain carbon footprint, which indicates how much of the Earth's precious resources we are using for our own selves. We answer questions people ask of us, leaving them better informed. We anger people by taking the last cookie from the cookie jar (oh come on, who hasn't? :-) ). We turn off lights and water faucets, saving energy and a little money. We influence our friends' music tastes by recommending albums. And on, and on, and on!

So regardless of whatever positions we have (or don't have), we are leaders by our human nature. The trick, then, is to be a great and effective leader. An effective leader is one whose actions spur a lot more change than most of the other 6.7 billion leaders do (so you could say effective leaders are more powerful). But a great leader is one whose actions are worthy of emulating. The great leaders are the ones thanks to whom we are better off.

What makes a great leader?
I'm not going to focus much on how you can be an effective leader. Being effective in one leadership role often isn't the same as being effective in another (i.e. an effective accounts manager doesn't inherently make an effective university president). Instead, over the next few days I will focus on being a great leader.

Everyone has an idea of what it takes to be a great leader. I think Norman Schwarzkopf summed it up best:
To lead in the twenty-first century…you will be required to have both Character and Competence.
I also happened upon this quote from Jim Rohn:
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
But what does ScottyUrb have to say? Well, there is no perfect set of attributes common amongst all great leaders. The above quotes by Schwarzkopf and Rohn, as well as The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John C. Maxwell, do offer some excellent insights on what kinds of attributes one can find in a top-notch leader. But as for myself, here are just a handful of the most important qualities I attribute to the best of leaders - attributes that I think are often overlooked or maybe should be viewed in a different light:

Great leaders help those who follow them recognize their own self-worth. I happened to be watching Oprah one day when she said something that struck me. To paraphrase her, "Everyone is put on this big, beautiful earth to do something great." You and I have some sort of purpose. What a joy it would be to be able to help someone see what they can do with the limited amount of time they have here.

Great leaders seek to understand the needs of those who follow them. How will people follow your example or do what you ask of them if you don't know where they're coming from? You will want people to understand why you want them to do something, but what if you don't understand their concerns? Many a leader-follower relationship has surely gone sour because the leader and/or follower didn't take the time to understand the other. That's why communication is always essential between leaders and followers.

Great leaders understand that when they lead, they serve. Markos serves the Daily Kos community. Howard Dean serves the Democratic Party. Jennifer Granholm serves the people of Michigan. Hopefully in a few months, Barack Obama will be able to serve the people of this entire country as our President. I'm not saying all of these leaders are or would be great (well, Dr. Dean is :-) ), and other people serve the aforementioned entities besides the people I mentioned (i.e. state lawmakers, campaign staff). But the point is, the best leaders acknowledge that they are to serve the people and organizations they lead before they serve themself.

Great leaders give and receive praise and criticism as appropriate. Let me dissect that a little. You must never tire of praising people to affirm for them that, yes, what they are doing is right. Yet you also have to steer people in the right direction. This will often involve a calm reminder of how to do something right, but of course you can't shy away from calling a spade a spade. When you are criticized - as a leader or otherwise - try to understand why you are being criticized. And when you receive praise, you must do with humility. Be confident, yes, but never rest on your laurels as you can always do better.

Great leaders strive for inclusion. When's the last time you felt alienated from a group? Have you ever felt like the people alienating you were the ones viewed as the top leaders of that group (i.e. a committee chair or team captain)? That has happened to me a couple of times in the last few months. On one occasion, I was treated with little respect while trying to stand up for what I believed was best for the organization. Another time, I was one of just a few people involved in a group who was not invited to a big celebration. When followers don't feel welcome, everyone - leaders as well as followers - will stand to suffer.

Great leaders see themselves as role models. I'll have tons more on this tomorrow or Saturday, but I have seen so many powerful leaders fail at their duties as role models. I once admired Mark McGwire - but is it okay to cheat in sports or in life? Or how about Mark Foley? And don't get me started on the greed, arrogance, and selfishness of certain other politicians, business leaders, entertainers, and athletes right now. Jamie Lynn Spears getting pregnant at 16? The lies we see in campaign ads? Who wants to send young people the message that lying, cheating, underage sex, and breaking the law are good?

I could go on and on about some of the important qualities of good leaders. These, however, are just a few of the ones I feel I need to stress the most. Over the next few days, I will have thoughts on the importance of character and competence in leaders - two topics .

10/15/2008

Bits of Tid: October 15, 2008

OMG I'm Almost 21! Edition

  • Chances are, you stand to benefit more from Barack Obama's tax plan than from John McCain's. How much so? Find out!
  • It was a creed written into a pumpkin that declared the destiny of a holiday: Yes We Carve.

  • I apologize for not blogging very much recently. To make up for it, I have a series of posts on leadership in the works; look for them in the next several days.
  • A couple of weeks ago, members of the Maverick family - who descended from rancher Samuel Maverick, whose refusal to brand his cattle inspired the term 'maverick' as we use it today - were found to be unhappy with McCain's use of the word. You know what I do when a word is being misused? I ask LSSU to banish it!
    You know it's time to banish this word when even the Maverick family - who descended from the rancher who inspired it - says it's being misused.
  • I finally (!) turn 21 next Tuesday! I'm not so much looking forward to drinking per se, but just being allowed to. That said, I'll probably have a cold one or two - any recommendations?

10/14/2008

The economy rolls along - except that it doesn't

Well, the stock market jumped yesterday:

Stocks rallied Monday afternoon, with the Dow rallying 976 points during the session, as investors bet that the worst of the credit crisis is over, following a series of global initiatives announced over the last few days.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) ended 936 points higher, after having risen as much as 976 points during the session. The advance was the largest ever during a session on a point basis. The point gain was equal to 11.1%, the best one-day percentage gain since Sept. 1932 and the fifth-best ever.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index added 104 points, its best one-day point gain ever, equal to 11.6%.That was also the best percentage gain since Sept. 1932 and the fourth-best overall.

The Nasdaq composite (COMP) added almost 195 points, the 10th best day on a point basis. The gain of 11.8% was its second-best ever, after a gain of 14.2% on Jan. 3, 2001, right near the end of the tech bubble.
You see, my friends, everything's gonna be alright!



Oh really?
The Wyoming stamping plant will be closed by General Motors by December 2009, 24 Hour News 8 has learned.

Tim Lee, the head of GM's stamping division, made the announcement at 2:15 p.m. Monday to a stunned group of employees. The 36th Street plant has 1,400 workers at this time.

Lee told the first-shift employees the work at the plant would be phased out and the plant would be closed in 14 months.

Greg Golembiewski, the president of UAW Local 730 that represents the stamping plant, told 24 Hour News 8's Rachael Ruiz the mood in the meeting was like a funeral, and the workers were shocked and devastated. Golembiewski said there was no indication the plant would be closed.

10/09/2008

Respect Our Vote!

Here's an article on The Huffington Post posted by Katie Naranjo, President of the College Democrats of America.
Senator Barack Obama inspires younger generations like no other politician in recent history. Rather than ignoring young people and writing off our entire generation as apathetic, Senator Obama reaches out to us and understands our needs. He offers the youth a refreshing alternative to regressive Bush-McCain policies, which continue to increase the financial burdens on college students. More importantly, our country is more vulnerable to another terrorist attack, and our economy is in crisis because of the current Republican administration. In this election, Senator Obama has inspired millions of people of all ages to get involved in our political system, making the point that change can only happen when "We the People" make it happen.

This is why according to a recent Rock the Vote poll, 87 percent of young people intend to vote this election cycle. Indeed, unprecedented voter registration numbers since the primaries have put a number of traditionally "red" states in play. In Virginia, home to 13 electoral votes, the Obama campaign registered nearly 50,000 new voters in August alone. The Obama campaign is rapidly closing in on its goal of registering over 150,000 new voters in Virginia by the October 6 deadline - a remarkable accomplishment in a state that hasn't voted Democratic since Lyndon Johnson carried it in 1964.

Yet with millions of young people preparing to cast their first vote, a shameful Republican misinformation campaign has emerged across the country. Inexperienced voters and young people are extremely vulnerable to miscommunication campaigns, and Republicans in Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia and all across the country have taken advantage of this over the past few weeks and months. In Colorado, a Republican county clerk falsely informed out-of-state students attending Colorado College that they could not register to vote in Colorado if their parents claimed them as dependants on their taxes. In Virginia and South Carolina, local registrars have intentionally lied to students registering to vote, telling them "you can't vote here." Indeed Republicans are discouraging young people from voting across the country, and these tactics must stop now.

But why would anyone try to strip someone of their right to vote? Yes, young people have voted increasingly Democratic over the past eight years - a USA Today/MTV/Gallup poll released yesterday found that 61 percent of young people support Barack Obama while just 32 percent support John McCain. But we live in a country founded on the premise that everyone has an equal voice on Election Day. We live in a country where you simply can't disenfranchise your political opponent's supporters because you cannot relate to their issues and their future.

To protect the essential right to vote and ensure that students are heard on Election Day, the College Democrats of America are launching a nationwide youth empowerment campaign. The project, entitled Respect Our Vote, intends to combat these despicable tactics and ensure that every student has all the information that they need to cast their vote on November 4th. Students will be able to educate themselves on their rights and report any incidents of voter intimidation on our new website: www.RespectTheYouthVote.com. More over, CDA will be transporting thousands of student activists from around the country to key battleground states to canvass colleges and inform students on the laws in their areas. The right to vote is a non-partisan issue, and we - as College Democrats - will do everything in our power to protect it. The youth vote will not be suppressed now or in the future.

Throughout our history, millions of people have fought to provide all Americans with the right to speak out, choose our leaders, and enjoy the freedoms that many of our peers are fighting for. We owe it to everyone in our generation to ensure that all of us are able to fulfill our civic responsibility. While Senator Obama continues to build a relationship between the youth and the political process, it is up to us to make sure that all students are able to voice their vote in the most important election of our lifetime.


I don't want to brag too much, but I will say that I wrote the first draft of this as part of my new role as Deputy National Communications Director for the College Democrats of America! Not every word in this article is mine, but Katie included much of it in the final draft. ;-)

No matter who drafted this piece, what matters is why it was drafted. Everyone who wants to vote should be able to vote.

Check out respecttheyouthvote.com for more.

UPDATE: Check out the comments for an excellent poem!

10/03/2008

Bits of Tid: October 3, 2008

Happy New Month! Edition

  • A belated Happy October to you! And in Washington and Lansing, it's Happy New (Fiscal) Year!
  • I turn 21 this month!
  • Yours truly is the new Deputy National Communications Director for the College Democrats of America!
  • Holy $#!^!
  • CMU faculty just might be about to strike soon.
  • Hi, I'm Mounty Bat Palin. Nice to meet you.
  • Since we have just three months left in the year, now's the time to think about what words you want to see banished by LSSU (if you haven't thought about them before)! Here's my latest pick:
    Bailout - Is there any word more deserving of banishment than this one?
  • Coming soon on GLGTGS: I'll be working on a compilation of late-night jokes as well as a photo gallery of sorts. Look for them soon!

9/30/2008

Get your compact fluorescent lightbulbs here!

Just 99 cents:

Michigan officials say now is the time to buy energy-efficient light bulbs because they are being sold at a reduced rate.

Starting Wednesday, about 500,000 compact fluorescent bulbs will be available for as little as 99 cents at Kroger, Meijer and Menards stores across the state. They also will be sold at Ace Hardware stores in the Lansing area and Upper Peninsula.

The bulbs are cheaper thanks in part to a state grant.

VoteForChange.com

This being the last week before next Monday's voter-registration deadline, I want to encourage you to visit an excellent website from the Obama campaign - VoteForChange.com.


This is where you can see if you're registered to vote, find out about registering (if you haven't registered already), and learn how to vote absentee (you can also learn more about absentee voting on Facebook ;-) ).

So check it out and share it with your friends!

9/20/2008

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Joe Biden, in an email to Obama-Biden supporters:

Right now, this race is neck-and-neck.

And it's all going to come down to what supporters like you do -- or don't do -- in these last 45 days.

...

Millions of Americans are counting on Barack and me to defeat John McCain and deliver the change this country needs -- but we can't do it alone.

Each of us needs to do our part. What's going to win this election for us is organizing on the ground, person-to-person, and growing this movement.
Biden took the opportunity to highlight the Neighbor-to-Neighbor tool, which is an online mechanism that allows you to get in touch with people in your neighborhood.

Check it out, use it, and spread the word!

9/15/2008

McCain: Economy fundamentally strong; right, and the Tigers will win the World Series

As of today, Lehman Brothers has filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch has been sold. But try telling that to John McCain.

Democrats are pouncing on John McCain's comments at a Florida campaign rally Monday morning that the economy is “strong,” even as a major Wall Street bank filed for bankruptcy protection and another was sold to Bank of America.
Or does he really think that? Honestly, it's kind of hard to tell what he thinks.
"Today of all days, John McCain's stubborn insistence that the 'fundamentals of the economy are strong' shows that he is disturbingly out of touch with what's going in the lives of ordinary Americans," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. "Even as his own ads try to convince him that the economy is in crisis, apparently his 26 years in Washington have left him incapable of understanding that the policies he supports have created an historic economic crisis."
Meanwhile, campaigning in Michigan for the first time since earning the nomination for Vice President, Joe Biden earns my nomination for Quote of the Day honors:
"Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn't run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well — unless I ran into John McCain," he also said.

9/13/2008

Double standards

From an email I just received:

Black teen pregnancies? A 'crisis' in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A 'blessed event.'

If you grow up in Hawaii you're 'exotic.'
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential 'American story.'

Similarly, if you name your kid Barack you're 'unpatriotic.'
Name your kids Trig and Track, you're 'colorful.'

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you're 'reckless.'
A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a 'maverick.'

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review,create a voter regstration drive that registers 150,000 new African Amerian voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.
If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an 'arrogant celebrity'.
If you are a popular Republican female candidate you are 'energizing the base'.

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are 'presumptuous'.
If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a 'shoot from the hip' maverick.

If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree you are 'an elitist 'out of touch' with the real America.
If you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Annapolis, with multiple disciplinary infractions you are a hero.

If you manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign, you are an 'empty suit'.
If you are a part time mayor of a town of 7000 people, you are an 'experienced executive'.

If you go to a south side Chicago church, your beliefs are 'extremist'.
If you believe in creationism and don't believe gobal warming is man made, you are 'strongly principled'.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years with whom you are raising two beautiful daughters you're 'risky'.

If you're a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you're an irresponsible parent, endangering the life of your unborn child.
But if you're a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you're spunky.

If you're a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you 'First dog.'
If you're a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you 'beautiful' and 'courageous.'

If you kill an endangered species, you're an excellent hunter.
If you have an abortion you're not a christian, you're a murderer (forget about if it happened while being date raped)

If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.
If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

9/10/2008

Why we need to support Diane Hathaway for Supreme Court

Here are a couple of excerpts about Judge Hathaway:

Known for her hard work and integrity, Hathaway will restore fairness and impartiality to the Michigan Supreme Court. As a Circuit Court Judge, she has a record of being fair and impartial, putting the needs of ordinary citizens and families over those of big corporations and special interests. As a prosecutor, Hathaway took on drug dealers, put hardened criminals in jail, and kept Michigan's neighborhoods safe by going after drunk drivers, sexual predators and scam artists. A wife, mother of five and daughter of a police officer, she is endorsed by law enforcement and firefighters.

Hathaway is trying to defeat current Chief Justice Cliff Taylor in the November election.

Taylor's decisions put the insurance companies and corporate special interests that fund his campaigns ahead of struggling middle-class families. He repeatedly sacrifices judicial ethics and ignores the severe human impact of his decisions while enjoying one of the highest salaries and packages of taxpayer-provided perks of any judge in the country. Taylor's decisions have made it easier for sexual predators, terrorists and drunk drivers to avoid responsibility for their crimes. He also has a pattern of discriminatory decisions that hurt women in the workplace, including ruling against victims in rape and sexual harassment cases, virtually eliminating the ability to legally enforce protection from sexual harassment.

Keep in mind that judicial offices are nonpartisan races, so merely voting straight Democratic will not mean a vote for Judge Hathaway. You will need to vote for her on the nonpartisan section of the ballot.

Bits of Tid: September 10, 2008

  • I got a new job here at CMU; I'm gonna be working in the Towers Computer Lounge, which is a computer lab/coffee shop/video game area all in one room in the basement of my residence hall complex.
  • So McCain is talking about change too. This is good for Obama in that he is setting the narrative in this campaign.
  • According to CNN, we have a tied ballgame. Or is it?
  • How much will Obama's tax cut be worth for your family? His plan would save my family several hundred more than McCain's.
  • IOKIYAR.

9/03/2008

Bits of Tid: September 3, 2008

  • I hope you will consider helping those affected by Hurricane Gustav. It wasn't nearly as bad as I feared it would be, but they would still appreciate your help.
  • So the year is starting off alright at CMU. I went to the first half of CMU's win over Eastern Illinois but left in the third quarter to see the speech.
  • Okay, I'm not gonna lie, I love the music behind one of Barack's newest ads.
  • What are you doing this weekend? I hope to attend the Michigan Democratic Party State Convention.
  • Honestly, why should it be my business that Sarah Palin's teen daughter is pregnant? I have other reasons to believe Palin would be ineffective (more on that in my previous post).
  • And speaking of which, what if the Republican VP hopefuls IM'd?
  • Palindromes!

8/31/2008

Is Sarah Palin the best McCain can do?

A 3 1/2-year member of the US Senate and 8-year State Senate alum who has shown high character, sound judgment, and selflessness is not as qualified to be President as a former beauty queen whose political experience includes being mayor of a town of 6,500 and governor of the third-least-populous state in the union.

At least that's what the McCain campaign wants you to think.

Meanwhile, here are some other things to think about regarding the Republican candidate for VP:

Here's a compendium of problems and controversies surrounding Palin.

Palin was nearly recalled as mayor of Wasilla.

McCain's pick has been criticized by Paul Begala...

For months, the McCainiacs have said they will run on his judgment and experience. In his first presidential decision, John McCain has shown that he is willing to endanger his country, potentially leaving it in the hands of someone who simply has no business being a heartbeat away from the most powerful, complicated, difficult job in human history.
...and plenty of conservatives:

It doesn’t seem as though McCain knows Palin well. Do we have much reason to think they would work well together?
She is younger and less experienced than the first-term Illinois senator, and brings an ethical shadow to the ticket. Just 20 months ago, she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of 6,500 where the biggest issue is controlling growth and the biggest annual worry is whether there will be enough snow for the Iditarod dog-mushing race.
She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?

And here's the Daily Show's perspective:



But really, folks, what does it say about the Republican Party today when John McCain thinks Sarah Palin is the best person to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency?

8/29/2008