Recently in politics Category
Unlike many of the people I know endorsing Carl Malamud for the position of Public Printer, I've never met him. However, I have met the
current last Public Printer, Bruce James--who also served as president of RIT's board of trustees. I was part of a group of RIT faculty that went to the GPO not long after Bush appointed James as Public Printer. We had a grand tour of the facility, culminating with a chat with James in his office. James got the job because of his strong history as a commercial publisher, and he brought a traditional publishing company background to the post. And while there are many advantages to having someone with traditional publishing experience running what is in effect the largest publishing "company" in the country, there's baggage that comes with tradition, as well. When I heard from students who left RIT to work at GPO, they seldom found the agency open to new ideas, or able to recognize and reward new talent. The current Public Printer is James' former chief of staff, a very capable Washington insider, with an excellent understanding of how agencies run, and his own set of matching traditional baggage.
I believe that Carl Malamud would bring not only extensive experience with electronic publishing, but also a strong and public-focused vision for the role GPO can play in making information accessible to all. It's easier to hire managers to handle the day-to-day business mechanics of the agency than it is to hire and support people with that kind of vision (and the knowledge to back the vision up). Real change in dysfunctional organizations only happens when the people at the top have a clear vision that they can communicate to those below them. Carl, I think, can do that.
That's why I'm supporting this grass-roots campaign to encourage President Obama to appoint Carl Malamud as the next Public Printer of the United States. And I hope you'll do the same. To go on record as endorsing him, all you need to do is put up your own blog posts, and email the link to carl @ media . org (or send it to him via twitter; @carlmalamud).
(Changed to a version that HBO hasn't [yet] yanked offline for "copyright violations"--and how ironic is that? A government-sponsored concert, restricted outside of the US and pulled down from YouTube due to DMCA. Bah.)
It's hard for me to describe how much that video moved me.
I grew up listening to Pete Seeger, and like David Weinberger, have always thought of him as a true American patriot. Seeing him sing that song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial today was something I never thought would happen.
(In other news OMG I GOT TO HANG WITH TEH KOALAS!!!1! 4 REAL!! First photo already up on Flickr, many more of my wonderful trip to Taronga Zoo will follow in a few hours.)
"We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no
matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can withstand the
power of millions of voices calling for change.
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will
only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been
asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against
offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been
anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible
odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't
try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a
simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
Yes we can."
- Barack Obama
Four years ago, Elouise and I hosted an election night party at RIT, in the big IT conference room overlooking the atrium. We had decent turnout (though a less decent election result). I've noticed quite a few Google searches on "election night party" that have led people to my blog recently, which is why I wasn't completely confused when I got a call today from someone from a public radio talk show wanting to ask about my upcoming party.
I'd been debating (no pun intended) whether or not to hold another one on campus this year, and that pushed me towards "yes." So on Monday they're going to interview me about the party, and on Tuesday night we'll be back in the conference room to watch the early results come in.
If you want to join us, you're more than welcome! Bring your leftover Halloween candy and something to drink (no alcohol, please...I'd prefer not to run afoul of campus safety), and we'll collect money and order pizza. We'll have streaming video on one projector, and (if I can figure out how to have different things on different screens) an IRC chat on the other (freenode.net, #ritparty - if you don't have an IRC client, the easiest thing is probably to go to Mibbit.com and use their web-based interface.
While my partisan leanings are clear to anyone who reads this blog, the party is not restricted to people who share those leanings. Red and blue (and purple and polka dot) are all welcome. I ask that if you attend, you be respectful of those who may not share your views--although that doesn't rule out a little end-zone-style celebrating if the results warrant it.
For the first time in 75 years, Esquire Magazine has endorsed a candidate for the US presidency. Their lengthy, thoughtful piece is far from a fawning over Obama--in fact, it's quite harshly critical of him. But they still conclude that electing him is critical to the future of our country. It's worth reading the whole thing, but here's the closing paragraphs to whet your appetite:
More than any other recent election, we are voting this year not merely for a president but to overthrow two governments. The one we can see is the one in which constitutional order has been defaced, the national spirit degraded, and the country unrecognizable because so much of the best of itself has been sold off or frittered away. The other one is the far more insidious one, a doppelgänger nation of black prisons, shredded memos, and secret justifications for even more secret crimes. Moreover, the current administration has worked hard not only to immunize itself from the political and legal consequences of the government we can see, but it has also worked within the one we cannot see in order to perpetuate itself...
There is no evidence at all that anything will change under a President John McCain, who has already identified Roberts and Alito as his beau ideals of Supreme Court justices. He has made brave noises about torture and the extraconstitutional prerogatives of the executive, but President Bush and his men went on and did what they wanted anyway, and McCain walked away, begging for votes from fundamentalists who hate him, meeping his displeasure in ways that were barely audible. The virus will gestate and spread on his watch, all throughout the federal government. Bushism must be ripped out, root and branch, everywhere it has been established, or else the presidential election of 2008 is a worthless exercise in futility. Barack Obama may not be the man to do it, but John McCain, for all his laudable qualities, clearly is neither willing nor able to do so.
To continue to govern ourselves this way is unthinkable. It is unsustainable as a democracy to continue to mock so egregiously in secret what we continue to profess in public. That is the task for the next president. That is the main reason to vote for Barack Obama of Illinois. We strongly encourage you to do so.
(hat tip Andrew Sullivan)
Back in 2000, Budweiser ran an ad called "Whassup?" that became a bit of a phenomenon.
Recently, the cast of that ad was brought back together (not by Budweiser) to film an "8 years later" version that's pretty powerful.
Too cute. It says to send it to five white women I care about, but I'm pretty sure I can get it to more simply by posting it here...
John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.
At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, "Kill him!" At one of your rallies, someone called out, "Terrorist!" Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee - an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
(hat tip: TPM)
I apologize to readers of this blog who wish I'd get off the topic of politics. But we're 33 days away from deciding whether or not to put Sarah Palin one (72-year-old) heartbeat away from the presidency. Every person who plans to vote in this year's presidential election should watch this video of Katie Couric interviewing the two vice presidential candidates.
That is painful to watch. Painful. She cannot name one other supreme court case besides Roe v. Wade. Not one.
What about, say, Miranda v Arizona, since she was so contemptuous of the concept of reading accused terrorists their rights in her scripted acceptance speech?
Or New York Times v Sullivan, since it prevents her from suing the mean-ol' mainstream media that keeps picking on her?
Or, from today's headlines, the decision not to reconsider the death penalty for child rape cases?
THIS WOMAN COULD BE PICKING NEW SUPREME COURT JUSTICES IN JANUARY. That should scare the CRAP out of every single person in this country.
I'm a reasonably well-read, well-informed, well-educated person. And yet, even after reading through multiple news stories this morning about the events taking place on Wall Street, I still have no idea how this actually affects me and people like me (other than the fear that the federal government will throw even more tax dollars at these banks).
Is there a place that I can go to get the "financial crisis for dummies" version of what's going?
Well, it's not really McCain's video. It's a takeoff on the Obama will.i.am video, poking fun at McCain's "hundred years of war" comment. Priceless. via Weez, who found it here.
Until today, I was wavering on my primary vote decision. There are strong reasons to support both of the Democratic candidates. I've waited a lifetime to have the opportunity to vote for a woman for president, and I really wanted to support Hillary. But after a lot of thinking (and reading, and talking), I've made the decision to vote for Barack Obama.
There are two factors that pushed me in that direction. The first is belief that it is bad for our country to have nobody in the white house except Bushes and Clintons for a quarter of a century. That's not fair to Hillary, I know, but it's still true. I think it sends the wrong message to young people about the rich getting richer in politics as well as business. The second, which is more important, is the decision to prioritize hope and optimism over pragmatism. That's something that's hard for me to do, and I'm not sure it's the right path. I fear that Obama runs a great risk of being eaten alive by the piranhas in the congressional pool, and I'm not sure he's ready for the hardball any democratic president is likely to face.
But today I watched the will.i.am video based on Obama's "Yes We Can" speech.
Then I went back and watched his speech from the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
If there were ever a time to believe in the "audacity of hope," I think this is the time. So I'm making a choice to vote for the person I believe has the best chance to bring us together rather than deepen our divides. I may be naive, but I'd like to think that I'm audaciously so.
In a recent New Yorker. On health care.
John Perry Barlow has a new post up today that describes eloquently the feelings that I've been struggling with this week.
One of the things I've been struggling with has been the puzzling and disturbing discrepancy between exit polls and results in key states (which others have pointed to, as well). There's compelling evidence that our voting system is unreliable and easy to compromise--from the information at BlackBoxVoting to the Votergate documentary. But at the end of the day, I think Barlow's right when he says
...believing that 9/11 was a vast, right-wing conspiracy is as pointless at this stage as believing in the likelier possibility that the exit polls were actually as accurate in Ohio in Florida as they were everywhere else. Maybe it will all come out someday, but there's precious little we can do about it now. Who are we going to complain to? The authorities?
He goes on to describe a conversation he had this week with a young man he knows who voted for Bush:
"America," he said, "is like the captain of the football team, the most popular kid in school." He was describing his recent self, I expect. "The Europeans are like the chess club and they resent this guy cause he's the one who gets all the girls, even though he's not an intellectual like they are." I eyed him carefully, while secretly inspecting myself for similar resentments. It was lucky for both of us that he doesn't actually get all the girls. "Really," he said, "it's about character. It's about morality."
"Wait," I said, "What about the morality of killing a hundred thousand Iraqis for no good reason?"
"Saddam was killing them too." I doubted that even Saddam has ever killed as many Iraqis in a year and a half as we've just polished off, but I let that pass. "Besides, when Bush attacked, he thought he had a good reason. I can't believe he didn't think America was in danger." I could, but I let that pass too.
This young man had been trained to respect authority just as surely as I had learned to suspect it. Whatever our agreements, we would always be separate in that regard. It was something that had grown into him in his lower middle class Christian home in central Illinois, along with a good pitching arm, in the same way that Bohemianism had taken root in me during the 60's. Morality and character are words that have subtly different meanings to each of us. And a lot of the divide has to do with the degree to which we are willing to admit the feminine into our natures. I think he suspects I'm a little too sensitive. It's less about character and morality than it is about masculinity. We have different notions about what it is to be a man, and they are important to us.But they don't necessarily make a bad fella out of either one of us. We both represent aspects of the American psyche that need each other, the jock and the intellectual, the Boy Scout and the renegade, the guardian and the wild card. We both love this great and terrible country, even as we fear one another's excessive influence on it, and part of what we love is the creative fever that arises from our division. As we need each other, however unwillingly, so America needs us both.
I hope--I desperately hope--that he's right. That these divisions will generate creativity rather than crushing it, that what we see around us now is not as devastating as it feels to me.
In the comments of my political entries, most of the discourse has in fact been civilized, and I've tried--hard--to listen to the arguments of the people I disagree with, to understand their reasons for believing what they do. (There are a few comments I've not approved, because they were so meanspirited...but they were few and far between.) But I know that's not been the case in many of these discussions. And that's why this part of Barlow's post struck me most:
At the very least, I need to take the other side seriously. Dismissing them as a bunch of homophobic, racist, Bible-waving, know-nothing troglodytes, however true that may be of a few, only authorizes them to return the favor. I don't want somebody calling me a dope-smoking, fag-loving, one-worlder weirdo, however true that might be. We are all masks that God wears, whatever God that is. We might try to treat one another with according reverence. At least we might try to listen as though the other side might have a point.I truly think we all owe one another an apology.
Again I'm reminded of my recovery process. It's easy--so easy--to dismiss the addicts in my life as the cause of all my problems. But it's not that simple. We can't heal our own spiritual illness without letting go of our need to pass judgment on others. I'm not a religious person, but I'm increasingly a spiritual person. And I'm learning that anger, hate, and recriminations do more damage to me than they do to the subject of my resentment.
So yes, I need to listen more. I need to judge less. I need to understand why it is that my view of the world differs so significantly from the worldview of the millions who voted against the candidates and ideas that I value.
That doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the restrictions on freedom that frighten me the most--in libraries, in schools, in prisons, in polling places. But I have to focus on the actions, not the people. The issues, not the personalities.
I hope you'll read Barlow's whole post--the bits I posted here are only a small piece of it, and he has much to say that's worth reading and thinking about.
We have three choices: we can leave, which (as our friends who are not citizens of this country will tell us) will hardly save us from the effects of the Imperial Presidency. We can give in to despair. Or we can live as if what we do matters, even when we feel the most victimized, the least powerful. Let's face it, those of us with computers, and LiveJournals, and roofs over our heads are not the most victimized.
Okay, I've gotten the pettiness out of my system now, I hope.
The irony is that at the end of the day, my life probably won't be significantly disrupted by the results of this election. But many of the "heartland" people who voted for Bush--they're the ones whose children will die in the war, whose health care will be stripped away, whose jobs will be at risk. And the people most likely to be drafted into this war didn't care enough to vote--youth turnout was no higher this year than it was four years ago, it seems.
Yes, I know that many people who didn't vote for Bush--whether here or abroad--will be affected, as well. I'm not trivializing that. Just noting the irony that here in the US, Bush's "base" is likely to suffer more than many of his detractors.
Viewed through the filter of my recovery process, it feels as though the democrats are the co-dependents in this country, and the republicans are the addicts. We keep thinking if we just tell them they're doing the wrong thing that they'll see the error of their ways and change their behavior. But they won't--at least not through our sheer forces of will or displays of rationality.
Hand-wringing will get us nowhere. Lessig is right...we need to let it go, and move forward. We need to fix ourselves before we try to repair those we see as misguided. We need to understand how we encourage and enable what looks to us like insanity. (One of the things that people in Al-Anon come to realize is that they often end up looking far more insane than the addict in their lives.)
So, what happens next? Me, I'm taking a break from political thought for a couple of weeks. And then I need to think hard about how I become a force for positive change, rather than simply a shrill critic of what I see that's wrong.
Four more years.
(Video of Bush giving what he terms on the tape as "the one-fingered victory salute" via David Weinberger; his sources say it's from a taping of an Austin tv show late in Bush's term as governor of Texas.)
Don't forget, Weez and I are hosting one tonight in the IT conference room (70-2400).
If you're coming, it would be lovely if you brought a snack, drink, or dish to pass. But you're under no obligation to do so. We'll take up a pizza money collection at some point, too.
Those who can't make it in person are welcome to hang out in irc://irc.freenode.net/#ritparty (Use Mozilla to click on that link, or open the channel in a stand-alone IRC client if you prefer.)
I may have a Quicktime broadcast going, as well, if I can get an account set up on our local streaming server. Details to follow; I'll update this post as necessary.
I don't spend a lot of time poring over each candidate's statements and views--my daddy raised me on party line politics, and that's still how I cast my votes.
Now, this isn't blind vote-casting. My dad's a retired political science professor, who's spent his entire adult life watching and studying electoral processes. His advice to me was to vote for the party whose platform and politics I wanted implemented, rather than for the imperfect people representing those parties.
It reminds me a lot of a line in the "twelve traditions" of AA and Al-Anon--the one where it says "ever reminding us to place principles above personalities."
It's easy to ignore negative advertising when it focuses on the person rather than the issues. It's easy, too, to be fooled by advertising that pushes the character of the candidate over his or her positions on those issues.
At the end of the day, the ideas and goals of the Democratic Party are the ones that I believe in, so voting is easy.
We still use those lovely mechanical machines--the ones they've been using since I was a small child. I love pulling the lever to close the curtains--it has such a solid sound to it, a definitive announcement of presence. And there's no mistaking the line of levers next to my party of choice. (On some machines, there's actually a lever that lets you select all the party's candidates at once; this machine required me to select them individually.)
And then, with one more pull of the lever, my votes are cast. I take the self-congratulatory sticker from the gray-haired man by the door, and walk back out into the rain. It's going to be a long day.
Yes, we're having a party!
On Tuesday night, Elouise Oyzon and I are hosting a party in the IT conference room (70-2400). We'll have two projectors going--one with an IRC chat so that people can participate from the comfort of their own homes, and one with either streaming video from the web or broadcast TV (we're waiting to find out if there's a live coax jack in there).
We'd love to have you there--while you're welcome to yell and scream at the screens, however, we do ask that you refrain from abusing attendees who might not share your political leanings.
So don't sit home alone, watching the results trickle in all by yourself. Come join us--preferably in real-time, but at the very least in irc.
(Planned channel is irc://irc.freenode.net/#ritparty ; you can use a dedicated IRC client to connect, or you can use Mozilla--just type the URL into Mozilla and it will launch the appropriate software and connect you.)
As for refreshments, we'll collect $ for pizza and drinks, or you can bring your own food if you're broke. But given the glass walls of the room, it might be best not to bring any alcoholic beverages. :)
What if you show up to vote next Tuesday and election workers say you are not registered?
- Make sure you are at the correct voting precinct. You can check at My Polling Place or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance.
- If you are at the correct polling place and officials claim you are not registered, request a provisional ballot. It's your right under the law.
Please pass this on to as many people as you can.
(via Political Wire)
If you're a conservative planning to vote for Bush (and I know there are some of you out there), I'm asking you--as a personal favor to me, in exchange for any value or pleasure you may have received from this blog--to read this column by Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan is far from a liberal standard-bearer, or member of the "vast left-wing liberal media conspiracy." He's an honest-to-goodness conservative, one who supported Bush in 2000 and then supported the decision to go to war in Iraq. But he's decided that Bush is the wrong choice this year, and he's got specifics to back up his decision.
Here's an excerpt. Read the whole thing. Please.
I should reiterate: I do not hate this president. I admire him in many ways--his tenacity, his vision of democracy, his humor, his faith. I have supported him more than strongly in the last four years--and, perhaps, when the dangers seemed so grave, I went overboard and willfully overlooked his faults because he was the president and the country was in danger. I was also guilty of minimizing the dangers of invading Iraq and placed too much faith, perhaps, in the powers of the American military machine and competence of the Bush administration. Writers bear some responsibility too for making mistakes; and I take mine. But they bear a greater responsibility if they do not acknowledge them and learn. And it is simply foolish to ignore what we have found out this past year about Bush's obvious limits, his glaring failures, his fundamental weakness as a leader. I fear he is out of his depth and exhausted. I simply do not have confidence in him to navigate the waters ahead skillfully enough to avoid or survive the darkening clouds on the horizon.
If you haven't read the NYT Magazine's lengthy profile of President Bush, I highly recommend it. One portion that's been widely quoted, and has become somewhat of a rallying point for Democratic bloggers, is this:
The [senior Bush] aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: "Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you." When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, "Look, I'm not going to debate it with you."
I'm sure that there are people who could read this profile of Bush and see in it much to admire--his faith, his decisiveness, his leadership, etc. But what I see frightens me, deeply. The messianic rhetoric, the impatience with facts (and the "reality based community" that cares about them), the inability to tolerate debate or challenge--these are not qualities that I want in my leader.
When I hear people talk about their support for Bush, I seldom hear them talk about his policies--his impact on the environment, on civil rights, on health, on social issues, on foreign policy (not just the war), on massive job losses and shrinking salaries, on the ballooning federal deficit. Instead, they talk about his personal characteristics--his leadership, his personable demeanor, his commitment to his faith.
But as John Perry Barlow points out, "Whatever it has been traditionally, this Presidential race should not be a personality contest. I say this as much to myself to myself as I do to you. I have to snap out of it and remember we are not electing our new best friend here." Do I like Kerry? I don't know. I've never met him. And at the end of the day, I don't really care if I like him as a person. What I care about is the direction in which he leads this country.
What I want in a president is someone who doesn't hire people like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and other dirty tricksters and corporate apologists. I want someone who cares about civil rights, who understands that the US doesn't have (literally) a god-given right to dictate what's right and what's wrong worldwide, who won't allow corporations to destroy our environment, who won't fill the supreme court with justices who oppose a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body, who won't try to pass a "Defense of Marriage" amendment to the constitution that forbids marriage between two people who love each other and who happen to be of the same physical sex, who won't criticize "tax and spend" liberals while at the same time racking up record job losses and budget deficits.
If you've already made your decision about who you're voting for next month, I doubt that anything I write here will change your mind. But if you're an undecided voter, PLEASE take the time to learn about the candidate's stands on issues that you care about. Public Agenda's web site has issue guides on a wide range of topics that might matter to you. The Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and Issues 2000 all have sites that compare Bush and Kerry's stances on key issues. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the candidate's stances on the issues. Then make your decision based on policies, not personalities.
Was the pre-emptive military strike to remove Saddam in America's best interest? That is a question that receives a sharply divided response in our country with the trend being against the pre-emptive military action we launched. I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition. The cost in casualties is already large and growing, and the immediate and long-term financial costs are incredible. Our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened. From the beginning of the conflict it was doubtful that we for long would be seen as liberators, but instead increasingly as an occupying force. Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world.
- Nebraska Congressman Doug Bereuter in the Lincoln Journal Star
(Bereuter, a Republican, will step down from his 1st Congressional District seat effective Sept. 1 after 26 years in the in the House of Representatives.)
According to a news station in Las Vegas, a private voter registration group funded by the RNC recruited new voters outside malls and grocery stores in Nevada, then tore up and threw away the Democratic registration forms.
Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.
"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.
Amazing. Outrageous. Infuriating.
Is this the party that you want in charge of our country? If not, make sure your voter registration is properly recorded, and be sure to vote on November 2nd.
I am truly appalled by Sinclair Broadcasting's plan to use their television stations nationwide to broadcast Bush campaign propaganda--under the guise of it being "news." You should be, too. This kind of abuse of corporate power is a hallmark of the current adminstration, and it disgusts me.
On a lighter note, when I lived in Alabama I developed an unexpected taste for country music, and I particularly like this new song, Takin' My Country Back. Worth a listen.
Voting matters. If you're not yet registered, it's not too late. Most states are still allowing registration, including New York (where the registration deadline is October 8th).
Need some incentive (beside the obvious one--the ability to have an effect on how this country is run...)? How does the chance to win $100,000 sound?
All you need to do is go to Vote or Not, a site started by the guys from "Hot or Not" to try to get out the vote, especially among young people. Register there (no spam from it, guaranteed), and they'll give you the link you need to register for your state.
They'll also give you a link to send to your friends. And here's the best part...if someone you referred to the site wins the $100,000 prize, you win, too! You'll get a custom link to post to your blog, send out via IM and email, etc. The more people you convince to sign up, the more chances you have to win $100,00. And the bonus? More people voting in this year's election.
True, New York's not a swing state in the presidential election. But there are congressional elections, as well, and congress has a significant effect on what policies can be enacted.
Here in Henrietta (where RIT is located), there's a battle for the congressional seat formerly held by Republican Amo Houghton. This is one of the races that matters this year, and political activists across the country have taken a strong interest in one of the candidates, Samara Barend. She's a 27-year-old woman whose campaign web site sports a blog, and who's been politically active since she was a teenager. I'll be voting for Sam Barend this year, and I hope you will be, too.
If you haven't been reading Fafblog, you really should start.
Here's a bit from this morning's "VEEPSTAKES: Countdown to Flavor!" entry:
Yknow I can see this would be a pretty tricky decision. John Edwards gives you that youthful dynamic energy while Dick Gephardt gives you that youthful dynamic energy in the form of an old beaten rundown party machine crushed under the weight of its own obsolescence. So you gotta weigh the pros and cons for a while.
It's worth registering on the Washington Post's web site to read A Wretched New Picture Of America, an extraordinary, powerful essay by Philip Kennicott. I didn't think US newspapers still published pieces like this. I'm grateful that the Post did.
Every American should have to read it, and think about it.
Here's an excerpt:
But these photos are us. Yes, they are the acts of individuals (though the scandal widens, as scandals almost inevitably do, and the military's own internal report calls the abuse "systemic"). But armies are made of individuals. Nations are made up of individuals. Great national crimes begin with the acts of misguided individuals; and no matter how many people are held directly accountable for these crimes, we are, collectively, responsible for what these individuals have done. We live in a democracy. Every errant smart bomb, every dead civilian, every sodomized prisoner, is ours.
Read it. Read the whole thing. Think about it. And then think hard about what responsibility you and I have for changing the direction of this country and bringing us back from this moral abyss.
(Update: Via David Weinberger, I found (and signed) this MoveOn.org petition calling for a full, impartial investigation.)
Last night I attended the fourth-grade spring concert at my sons' elementary school. It was the first such event that I've been to since we got a digital camcorder as a gift (thanks, Dad!), so I've been playing with iMovie this morning.
For family members and other folks affiliated with the school, I've made a "web-friendly" (meaning tiny and highly compressed) full-length QuickTime version of the movie . Click here to see it streamed (could be slow, depending on server load), or right-click and choose "save target to disk" here to download it directly to disk and play it locally--it's a 42MB file. (If you want the higher-quality, uncompressed version on DVD, let me know).
For those with less patience for home movies of kids, especially those you don't know, here's a small QuickTime clip of the kids playing their recorders and then singing a verse from a song called "Peace Must Be Our Goal."
Given the state of the world today, this song--sung by such innocents--touched me deeply. These kids are too young to be drafted, but they're more than halfway to that age. Will their world be more peaceful than ours? As a parent who doesn't ever want to send her sons off to war, I can only hope so.
One of the talks I enjoyed most at sxsw was the keynote by MoveOn.org's Eli Pariser and Zack Exley. They were articulate, committed, and inspirational.I'm delighted to see that MoveOn has acted quickly to put together an ad based on Rumsfeld's "Face the Nation" appearance on Sunday. Well worth watching. Send it to a friend.
I was going to write a long, chatty, cheerful post today about what a great time Gerald and I had last night at the concert Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (of Little Feat) gave at Milestones.
Well, I'm glad somebody's angry. There's an awful lot to be angry about.
Me, I'm angry that the federal deficit is increasing at the rate of over two billion dollars a day. I'm angry that our government lied to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to justify military invasion of another country (hey, the ends always justify the means, right?). I'm angry about the lack of support for education and for the environment. And those are just a few of the things I'm angry about.
And it's going to get worse, not better, if this fall's elections don't bring real change.