Saturday, April 26, 2008
Head on over to read what I wrote about today's Salt Lake County Convention. See you there!
Friday, April 25, 2008
So, Utah for Obama is taking part in the 50-state Voter Registration Drive on May 10. Since the date happens to correspond with Utah's Democratic State Convention, Wayne Holland has been nice enough to let us mix it up with the convention. Of course, that is because Democratic voter registration benefits the party, and not just the Obama campaign. Hell, if Obama were to disappear into a black hole, leaving Hillary to get her hands on the Democratic nomination, that would mean voter registration would benefit her, too.
Anyway, the really great thing about this is that on one of the planning conference calls for this event, I got to hear the Deputy Campaign Manager talk about why the Obama campaign is doing this. They still have the last few straggler states to get votes in, so why worry about the General Election this early? Well, it's because Obama isn't trying to win the office of President. He's got much grander plans than that, and it involves you and me, and every level of the Democratic Party across the country. He's very serious about making sure that Democrats win every seat and office available to them in the nation, because that will help us to accomplish our goals. Registering voters is just a first step in that.
And registering voters on May 10 is just the first time, we'll continue registering voters through the fall.
So, if you want to volunteer for this event, please let us know. I'll be posting more information about this soon, but since it's already making news, I thought I'd at least blog the basics. We're still setting up the committee that will handle this event, and the ones in the future, so all the details aren't available quite yet.
Update: The campaign's announcement about this is now out. Check out this video with Barack talking about the importance of voter registration.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
- A woman calls in and lies about who she is, saying she's being abused
- Texas "authorities" round up babies, toddlers, teens and mothers as if they were cattle
- Nursing babies are abused by those authorities by being separated from their mothers
- Toddlers are abused also, although at least they haven't had their only chance at nursing ended
- The whole community is being paraded in the news as a circus spectacle
This is the worst violation of basic human rights that I can imagine our country coming up with, short of declaring these people to be "3/5 human"! If there are abuses going on, and I'm sure that there are, is the way to prevent this to round up hundreds of the victims themselves and subject them to massive human rights violations? I fully consider depriving the infants from their mother's milk to be an aggressive act of abuse.
This is America. We sit in our warm, cozy houses thinking we have the perfect country, where our human rights are protected more than anywhere else in the world, and watch this debacle unfold on television, where it seems more like an HBO special happening to fictitious characters than something horrible happening to US citizens.
This is not right. And the most I've seen anyone suggest that I can do about it is sign an online petition sure to get ignored. I don't want to sit on my hands about this. Yet, what else can I do? This is a sad day for Democracy.
Update 1: Well, if you think that the Houston Rockets basketball team are responsible for the FLDS mess, there's another option. KSL reports that some are planning to protest the Jazz vs Rockets game, along with stalking the players at their hotel rooms. Brilliant!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
If you can loan yours to us, please put your name and phone number inside the sign, so we can return it to you.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 386.7729 if you're able to help.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Listen to Dimitri, and tell me that you can continue ignoring healthcare issues in this country. I dare you.
My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) ...by Michael Moore
April 21st, 2008
I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.
So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?
I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.
Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.
Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!
This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!
Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you
But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.
How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).
There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.
That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.
I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?
I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.
I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.
Don't get me wrong I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.
It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.
Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"
But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.
That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.
But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.
Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.
I will be joining Congressman Chris Cannon to discuss his proposal for
nationwide free wireless Internet tonight at 8:00 PM on KSL Nightside.
KSL is broadcast in Utah on 102.7FM and 1160AM.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Geez, how is it I'm supposed to carry this CD case around again?
Next is the Dyson vacuum head.
Look close, and tell me exactly how these instructions are supposed to translate? I won't even start with the amazingly difficult instructions, where we're told not to vacuum up objects while they're on fire...
You can help by making phone calls to Pennsylvania undecided voters. The first opportunity is to join Utah for Obama on Saturday to Phone Bank for Obama.
*Bring your own CELL PHONE*You can also make calls from your home (which isn't quite as much fun as joining the group on Saturday, but will still be enjoyable and helpful to the campaign!)
Please join Utah for Obama for a Get Out The Vote phone banking session! We will be calling Pennsylvania. Change can’t happen without you!
The Obama campaign has asked us to make these calls, in an effort to get them out to vote! Please join us on Saturday, April 19 at The Pleasure Palace, to make phone calls from lists provided by the campaign. You do need to provide your own cell phone. We will not be able to provide any phones.
If you live too far away to attend, and would like help hosting your own phone banking party, please contact us.
Time: Saturday, April 19 at 1:00 PM Duration: 3 hours Host: Misty Fowler Contact Phone: 801-386-7729 Location: The Pleasure Palace (Salt Lake City, UT)
780 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
There are only five days left to go before the state's April 22nd primary, but there are still countless undecided Pennsylvania voters.
Like you, many of these voters are tired of the distractions and negative campaign tactics that we’ve seen over the last few weeks, and are eager to discuss real issues that effect Pennsylvanians and Americans across the country.
This morning, we launched a new calling campaign targeting these undecided voters. In conjunction with our Get Out the Vote operation on the ground, we’re making an effort to reach out to undecided voters throughout Pennsylvania and raise the level of debate.
With one on one contact, we can cut through the spin and the distractions to talk about real issues and real change. No matter where you are, you can help by making calls to Pennsylvania to share your story and to talk about why you support Barack.
It only takes a minute to get started making calls using our online phonebanking tools. There are five days left to make a difference in Pennsylvania – five days to let Pennsylvania voters know that their voices are being heard, and that their vote can make a difference.
Obama Puts Manufactured Political Distractions (by news media) On Notice in Surprise Colbert Report Appearance
In this surprise appearance on The Colbert Report, Senator Obama asks Colbert to officially put Manufactured Political Distractions "on notice". We're not putting up with them anymore! Do you hear that, ABC? We want more substance, and your pathetic attempt at a debate isn't going to be tolerated anymore.
Oh, and Hillary? Buh-bye. It's been fun while it lasted, and you almost had us worried a few times, but that just made us work harder for what we know is right, and for what we want as the future of America, the future that our children will live with. You didn't make the cut, and this continued attempt to subvert Obama in the general election is simply ruining your own chances for "next time". If you won't step down, I agree with Howard Dean - it's time for the Super Delegates to stand up.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I can't help but be impressed every time I've heard Michelle Obama speak. I love seeing this side of her. It will a great thing when she becomes our next First Lady. Class, style, honesty and concern for everyday people. I love it!
What is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is in fact the impediment to peace?
Carter is on the third day of a nine-day "study mission" to the Middle East, as part of his "ongoing effort to support peace, democracy, and human rights in the region," according to the Carter Center Web site.
During a visit to the West Bank on Tuesday, Carter placed a wreath at the Ramallah grave of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He also said he hoped to meet with exiled Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal when he visits Damascus, Syria, in the coming days.
"I'm going to try everything I can to get him (Meshaal) to agree to peaceful resolution of differences both with the Israelis through Gaza and also with Fatah," Carter said.
The ever wise Condi Rice says that's a bad idea.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she found it "hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is in fact the impediment to peace."
Seriously? She can't understand what can be gained? Let me put this in simple terms, Condi.
I have two sons. They're always fighting, and for the life of me, I can't understand why they can't just get along. So, when they're in the middle of a fight, and I can clearly see which of them is being a stubborn little twit, I generally talk to that child, and try to get the issues resolved, so he'll stop harassing his brother. Now, I don't always play peacekeeper with them. But, sometimes it's necessary. And if I were to talk to the child who was not being stubborn, while ignoring the stubborn child, all hell would break loose, and the stubborn child would definitely not stop.
If Condi Rice seriously can't see what might be gained from talks with Hamas, she should consider stepping down and allowing someone with a true interest in the peace process to step up. I'm tired of the US being the world bully, and that's what it's come down to.
Monday, April 14, 2008
We went to the Olympus Hills location Saturday afternoon, along with Jacob, and ordered the "11 in 11", which consists of 11 damn hot wings. You can drink all you want prior to beginning the wings, but once you start, there is no food or drink or even ranch dip to cool your burning mouth until you're done! If you finish within 11 minutes, you get a free t-shirt and your (red-faced) photo up on their "Wall of Shame". I've always liked hot food, and I have to say that their sauce is great! It's extremely hot, but it's got a lot of flavor, too. Apparently, there are 11 spices in the sauce, which is where the name comes from.
If you ever decide to try your tastebuds at it, have a jug of milk ready for when you finish. And prepare to let your sinuses run! And note that when they say that it helps to be crazy, they aren't kidding.
Apparently, they had a lot of response to being in City Weekly, so the t-shirt is on backorder, but when I get it, I'll be sure to post a photo of me proudly displaying my
I definitely plan to go back for more, but next time, I'll be enjoying them with a side of ranch and a beer at a much more leisurely pace. If hot isn't your thing, there are plenty of other options, including the mild teriyaki flavor, to enjoy.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I guess my point would be that the fact that I’m raising issues accordant to the LGBT community in a general audience rather than just treating you like a special interest that is sort of off in its own little box – that, I think, is more indicative of my commitment. Because ultimately what that shows is that I’m not afraid to advocate on your behalf outside of church, so to speak. It’s easy to preach to the choir; what I think is harder is to speak to a broader audience about why these issues are important to all Americans.If you read the context in the article, you'll see that what he's saying is that GLBT issues, or African American, or any other special interest communities like them, are every day issues, that shape his entire outlook, and don't concern him only when he's speaking to interested press. He doesn't have to pander to them as an audience, because these issues affect everyone in one way or another, and he brings them up often.
I very much appreciated his candor and honesty when being asked the "tough" questions on topics such as gay marriage and employment discrimination. His goal is to pass these laws as they should be, but that in each of them, he will take the issues as far as he can and still have them pass, even if they're not yet perfect. He isn't coloring his words to make them believe what they want to hear, and he's presenting his reasoning in a well-thought manner.
Later in the article he talks about how to have the difficult discussions:
I tell you what -- my campaign is premised on trying to reach as many constituencies as possible and to go into as many places as possible, and sometimes that creates discomfort or turbulence. This goes back to your first question. If you’re segmenting your base into neat categories and constituency groups and you never try to bring them together and you just speak to them individually -- so I keep the African-Americans neatly over here and the church folks neatly over there and the LGBT community neatly over there -- then these kinds of issues don’t arise.And this is how he always is when talking about the difficult issues. Barack Obama will be a wonderful change from the lying bastard election stealing bigoted racist asshole currently occupying the White House.
The flip side of it is, you never create the opportunity for people to have a conversation and to lift some of these issues up and to talk about them and to struggle with them, and our campaign is built around the idea that we should all be talking. And that creates some discomfort because people discover, gosh, within the Democratic Party or within Barack Obama’s campaign or within whatever sets of constituencies there are going to be some different points of view that might even be offensive to some folks. That’s not unique to this issue.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
It looks like the rooms start at around $190, although since the booking feature has the DNC dates blocked out, who knows whether that price will go up or down? The web site describes the smallest room as 500 sq ft, though - with a mini bar and a marble bathroom. If I go, I'll likely split the costs with someone else, though. So, that really won't be too bad.
Last year, when I began volunteering for the Obama campaign, I thought about how great it would be to be a delegate, but "knew" there was no way it would happen. Of course, it might not, but the fact that I am even running for it, and feel good about my chances, is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me (not counting my children). The whole process of running and being so involved with the Democratic Party at all levels is absolutely thrilling, even when whatever I'm doing is mundane. This process isn't the "smoke filled rooms" that I used to believe it was.
I'm in the middle of moving. Well, I'm not quite to the middle, actually. I'm at the part where I'm staying with my sister, and looking for a new place. So, if anyone knows of a 3 or more bedroom home that will allow my 2 cats in, and is near SLC downtown, or possibly Sugar House, please let me know. I'd also like to be able to have a large, well-trained dog, but that part is negotiable.
I'll be back to blogging, soon! I can't wait to write about the two candidates for the Legislative seat in District 28. Having met with both of them, I'll just say it's great to have two great candidates on our side, going for Roz's old seat. And I'm running for National Delegate. So, there's just no way I can go without posting for much longer.
See ya soon!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
This coming Tuesday, March 25, Democratic County Caucuses, aka Mass Meetings, will be taking place across Utah. Most of them are at 7 PM. The Democratic Party needs every one of you to participate. You can get information about the location of yours at the Utah State Democratic Party web site, or at the Salt Lake County Democrats web site.
What is a County Caucus?
At the County Caucus, the local Democratic party organizes at it's most basic level. Precinct Officers and Delegates to the County Convention are elected. Some of this varies by county, so do check into it for your county. For Salt Lake County, County Convention Delegates are also Delegates to the Utah State Convention.
A Precinct Officer is an elected representative for their precinct, which is a very small area in most cases. They should keep in contact with people in their neighborhood, so that everyone can feel connected to the Democratic Party. They are part of the gateway between the average person and the highest levels of the Democratic Party. They help candidates for elected offices organize local action, such as walking, phone banking, etc. Most of the year, this communication requires only a few hours a month, depending on what the Precinct Officer wants to do. When it gets close to election time, a Precinct Officer might spend a couple of hours per week helping organize the local action. Of course, there's not a "required" amount of time, but in general, a Precinct Officer should have an idea of who in their neighborhood might want to volunteer, and can help campaigns reach those people, and should help contact their neighbors to get them to vote in the election (Get Out The Vote - GOTV). Any further questions on this will be answered by the Legislative Chair at the Caucus.
A Legislative Chair is responsible for communication between the Party and up to 20 or 30 Precinct Officers, depending on the area. They will work very close with their State Representatives when there is a campaign going. Sometimes there could be a lot of work involved, which is why many areas choose to also elect a Legislative Vice Chair. In Salt Lake County, there is a Regional Director that they will work closely with, to help keep everything organized and moving, and keep the lines of communication with the County Democratic Party open. In other counties, they will work directly with the County Party. I am one of 5 Regional Directors in Salt Lake County, and I know that there is a lot of support for our Legislative Chairs, so don't be afraid to step up, if you're interested in doing this.
A Delegate represents the Democrats in a precinct at the County Convention, where they will vote. This is the really fun part! Some of the County Delegates are also State Delegates (this varies by county). If this is not the case for your county, another Caucus will be held where the County Delegates will elect the State Delegates.
And where this gets very exciting, in May, the State Delegates will be the ones who choose the National Delegates. National Delegates are the people who attend the Democratic National Convention in August to nominate the Democratic Presidential Candidate.
Now, there's tons more information about how that all works, and I'll be writing at a later date about that, but right now this means we need everyone to get involved with the local Democratic Party! In many places, the Precinct Officer positions are empty, because in the past, people have not known about them or feel like it's a waste of time. With what I've seen over the last year, I definitely know better than that, and I hope you do too! This is the year for Democrats in Utah! Many of us are seeing the opportunity around us, right here in Utah. We have been so close on so many elections in Utah, and your participation will make a difference! If you have any desire to be a part of this local change, please consider becoming a Precinct Officer, or a Legislative Chair or a Delegate. You won't be alone once you take one of these positions. The County Parties and the Utah State Democratic Party have really got good things going and will help you every step of the way. But, having people in these positions is vital to the success of Democrats at all levels, from City Council all the way to President, this fall.
And, even if you don't want to take one of these positions, please attend, and cast your vote for the person you think will be the best. This may seem like a light matter, but really, everything that happens at the County, State and National level with the Democratic Party is based on what happens at the Precinct Level. The people you vote for will directly impact this November's election. So, please attend. And get your friends and family to go, too.
More information about the Salt Lake County Caucuses can be found on the party web site.
If you are outside of Salt Lake County, check your local county Democrats web site, found through the Utah State Democrats web site.
Who can go?
Anyone who qualifies to vote this coming November can attend and participate in the Caucus.
I have attempted to explain the information above to the best of my ability. It is possible that I don't have things exactly right, or that they vary from county to county. Please check with your local County Democratic Party with any questions you have, and for verification. The "legal jargon" for all of the rules surrounding the process can be found through each County Democratic Party. Feel free to let me know if you discover any errors in the above information.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Barack Obama: On My Faith and My Church
The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He's drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.
Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.
As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.
With Rev. Wright's retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.
However, MTV sucks, and the Flash code they provide for the trailer gives you a still image with no sound, then redirects to Corey Feldman's interview. So, here's MTV's page where the trailer actually works. Apparently, they're the only ones with the trailer as of yet.
It will have both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, in case you were wondering. Unfortunately, this will go directly to DVD, which totally dashes my hopes for the film. But, I'll be buying it anyway. I own the original on VHS, and I'm pretty sure it's one of the videos I kept when VHS went the way of the dodo bird. However, I'll probably be buying the original on DVD, assuming it's out already or coming out.
The Lost Boys is (in my limited experience) the "original" vampire movie. I wasn't allowed to watch anything like that growing up, but The Lost Boys was one of the first movies I watched that I "wasn't supposed to", and is largely why I love vampire movies to this day. It wasn't the best, but it is one of my favorites.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
And former representative Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that because of his "radical" views, "if Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race."Oh, wait. That was 20 years ago. This year's quote was:
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color), he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.Then, she actually
Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?At least I agree with her on one thing. About 3:25 in, she calls herself a lunatic:
Clinton refused to distance herself from Ferraro after the first remark, and that I know of, hasn't since the second, either. As a fundraiser and BFF of the Clintons, I can only agree with a commentator I saw last night who believes she's actually acting as a mouthpiece for Hillary, who can't say these things herself.
The thing is, every campaign will find itself associated with someone who is less than perfect, and who does or says something stupid, or just plain IS stupid. However, it seems to me that Hillary has surrounded herself with nothing but stupidity. It tells you a lot about the candidate when you look at those who are the closest to them, and it's looking like Hillary might just be dripping slime.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Alt: I would take 'kibibyte' more seriously if it didn't sound so much like 'Kibbles N Bits'.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
This entry was me at age 10. I realized that I've been failing at being organized for 20 years!
I even remember breaking times down to under the 5 minute mark (7:38 am).
The above realization makes me wonder if there's any hope for me now.
(I think I need this made into a poster)
If you're not yet a fan of PostSecret, prepare to "waste" a lot of time checking it out, and have Sunday (when the new ones are posted) become your favorite day of the week. Here's a hint of why:
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail
in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
Just one caution - the postcards aren't always safe for work, though I wouldn't call them pornographic either.
I often wonder what sort of postcard I would send in.
Meanwhile, Dax walks by to take the dog out and gives me a funny smile. I couldn't figure out why.
So, I go back to my computer, but it does indeed tell me it's 4:15. So, I had to look it up. Apparently, today is the day.
Crap. Why didn't anyone tell me? So, I'm telling you. Set your clocks ahead an hour.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Alt: I never understood why someone would expect me to accept their rules right after they'd punched me. I'm sure it's all very symbolic or something.
You can just make up the rules as you go along, right?
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Hopefully some of the hair I've pulled out will grow back now.
Now I can access my calendar at home or on my laptop, on Google Calendar or in Outlook. When I add an event to the Outlook calendar on my laptop, Google Calendar Sync syncs it to my Google Calendar -- and since I also have Google Calendar Sync running on my desktop, the event then syncs from Google Calendar to Outlook calendar on my desktop. All of my calendar views are always up to date, and I can choose whichever one I want to use.My only complaint is...why in the hell couldn't they do this when the Obama Campaign was in full-swing here in Utah for the primary? Ah, well. I still love Google.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Hillary Clinton put out a campaign ad where a picture of Barack Obama was used. The photo was altered to make his skin darker. If that wasn't bad enough, the ratio was also altered, or "squished", to make it seem as if he has a wide, flat nose.
In this ad, she also lies about his subcommittee, saying it's responsible for Afghanistan, and that he hasn't held hearings. Problem is, Afghanistan is under another committee.
Then, when confronted, the Clinton campaign denies that the ad is theirs. Except the ad was on Clinton's own site. Oops.
Seriously, go read this, look at the facts. This is absolutely horrible behavior. This woman does not deserve to be president, by any stretch of the imagination.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
The Dallas News reports that already, polling places are experiencing a “crush” of voters for today’s primary elections. The Texas Secretary of State office said that “early voters last week had already surpassed the total early-voting numbers for both the 1996 and 2000 elections,” and that interest is expected to continue today. GOP polling sites, however, “were not as busy.”
I think maybe no one wants to be seen voting for a Republican, even in red states. Thanks to Mark for the witty reply that I turned into the title.
I've said over and over since this started that record turnout was the only prediction I would make. And it seems that record turnout on the Democratic side has been the theme through every state so far, and again in Texas. This is bad news for Hillary, I think.
I'm hosting a Watch Party tonight at Mo Diggity's, and plan to live blog from the party (my first attempt at such a thing). Let me know what you think as the results come in, and I'll share with the crowd.
And if you want first-hand information on what it's been like in Texas, read this entry by a guy who's been in my hometown of Sugarland, TX (aka Houston).
I love the part where Bill tells the crowd (for Kerry during the '04 election):
Now, one of Clinton's Laws of Politics is this; If one candidate's trying to scare you, and the other one's trying to get you to think. If one candidate's appealing to your fears, and the other one's appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person that wants you to think and hope.
I sure as hell don't want another 8 years of Bush style politics.
Monday, March 03, 2008
This is exactly what Hillary has reminded me of so many times, and towards the end when it shows her saying she had a specific social security plan, then her saying she wouldn't endorse any social security plan until she's "approaching fiscal responsibility" just eats at me.
I saw Countdown earlier talking about her accusing Barack of making side deals with Canada about NAFTA, and a friend (hi, Nikki!) sent me a link to an article about it. As I told her in reply, tfahese are the things I've known about her since the start, just knew inside. She'd lie to get us to go to war just like Bush, if it suited her purposes.
And that's why, as much as I'd really, truly like to see a woman in the White House, Hillary is not someone I believe should be in there. I hope that tomorrow's primaries and caucuses (aka primacaucuses) will answer any doubt about the Democratic Nominee being Barack Obama. The Results Watch Party will be quite a thrill!
CBS News titled this: Clinton Says She and McCain Offer Experience, Obama Offers Speeches
Hillary Clinton told reporters that both she and the presumtive Republican nominee John McCain offer the experience to be ready to tackle any crisis facing the country under their watch, but Barack Obama simply offers more rhetoric. “I think you'll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say,” she said. “He’s never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”
The only thing I can say is "What a bitch!"
She has obviously abandoned the Democratic Party. Will they abandon her now?
Watch for yourself:
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
So, come watch the results with us at Mo Diggity's! This is a 21 and over event, because Mo Diggity's is a private club. You don't need to worry about a cover charge to come watch the debate, though.
Mo's has a really great kitchen (I recommend Tenley's Famous Philly!) and the room we will be watching the results in is non-smoking. There are Love Sacs and plenty of seating. Mo and Digg let us watch a debate here last fall, and everyone had a really good time.
I hope that you'll join us! More information may be available later, so please check back, or watch your email.
We are hoping to have as many watch parties as possible, so if you would like to host one yourself, please contact me.
|Time:||Tuesday, March 4 at 6:00 PM|
Mo Diggity's (Salt Lake City, UT)
3424 S State
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
|Directions:||Look for Arby's, and you'll find Mo's in that parking lot!|
You can RSVP here, to stay informed of any additional information.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
According to my friend Joe, here's the translation:
in order for obama to win.
he needs a lot of latin votes
up up, i will register.
I am not a clinton supporter
in order for obama to win.
he needs to explain his positions
for you and for me
in order for obama to win.
he brings change
the kennedys like him, and so does oprah, and scarlet johansen
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
- The first item up today is a preview of the housing we may someday have to consider, when everything floods due to global warming. And I thought the FEMA trailers were bad.
- Mayor Corroon's re-election campaign kicks off next week. Hope to see you there! (Anyone know what his web site is?)
- MAKE always has neat stuff, but today's photos from the 2008 NYC Toy Fair are pretty fun. Of course, my favorite is the Barack Obama sculpture, even if they didn't capture his tall, skinny aura.
- Heckler & Koch, gun manufacturer and makers of my favorite knife I've owned, are breaking up with Blackwater. As Wired said: Wow, when you're not good enough to hang out with a gun manufacturer, it's time to really take another look at your public image.
- The winner of the Greener Gadget award is the Gravia - a gravity powered LED lamp. This is something I'd definitely buy! I hope it makes it into production!
- Did you see the challenge that Glen Warchol issued to the Utah Democrats? Glen, dear, have you seen what's going on with Utah Democrats this year? We're kicking ass and taking names when it comes to being organized. And it's only going to get better from here. And the Obama campaign has a whole lot of activists with lots of energy that will likely turn towards the Democratic Party in Utah.
- I gave $10 to the Chris Buttars Retirement Fund today. Thanks to Jason of The SideTrack for putting out the word, to Megan Risbon for starting the fund, and to whoever runs against him for standing up for all of us.
- Speaking of lynch mobs, Bill O says he doesn't "want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels". Wow, is there some kind of virus going around that only affects Republicans, causing them to spew hate?
- While Buttars' racism is embarrassing to our state, Hatch's national profile is even more so. This headline made me shudder: Senator Hatch: Immigration Reform On Hold, National Debt Not Debilitating. Yeah, not debilitating to old men who don't care what happens to their grandchildren. Asshat.
- You've seen me complain a lot about campaigns (especially Ron Paul) who break FEC rules. This time, Clinton has a 527 spending money to help her campaign in Texas. In December, both Barack Obama and John Edwards demanded that 527s purporting to support them cease their activities and denounced their efforts; will Clinton do the same?
- I think that if I had to vote for a second choice for President, I would choose Skippy. His platform makes a lot of sense.
- Who knew that the Utah State Legislature was capable of doing a good? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the crap they pull that when they do something great, it floors you. Or at least it does me. Like tonight, when I read that the House Committee unanimously passed a bill prohibiting implementation of the Federal Real ID program in Utah. Here's to hoping it goes all the way!
- If you remember that guy who got fired for posting a Dilbert comic about management being drunken lemurs, you'll love today's Dilbert.
One last thing for tonight. As of this writing, 929,843 people have donated to the Obama campaign. If you'd like to be part of this million man movement, please consider donating through the Utah for Obama group. Even $5 will get you in this not-so-exclusive club. And your voice will be yet another adding to the growing chorus that says our voices will be heard. Obama's campaign has been funded mostly with donations under $100, and that is just another reason why I believe that the hope isn't just a fantasy, it's real, and we are a part of it.
That's all for tonight, folks. Ciao.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Alt: What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!
(Baby, I love you and I'm shutting down as soon as I send you the link to this post, so I can come give you that hug.)
I received this email from Senator Obama earlier this evening:
Today, the people of Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new kind of politics.
They rejected an onslaught of negative attacks and attempts to distract them from the common concerns we all have about the direction of our country.
No doubt we'll hear much more of these attacks and distractions in the days to come.
But the noise of these tired, old political games will not drown out the voices of millions calling for change.
You can help bring a new voice to our political process. By giving through our matching program, you will double the impact of someone giving for the first time this year.
We're nearing our goal of 500,000 people giving so far in 2008. You've already donated to this campaign -- but now you can help push us over the top and bring in someone new.
Make a matching donation right now:
We won't know until late tonight the results of today's Hawaii caucus, but we'll let you know how that turns out tomorrow.
If we win in Hawaii, it will be ten straight victories -- a streak no one thought possible, and the best position we can be in when Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont vote on March 4th.
Thank you for making this possible,
According to MSNBC, he split the female vote in Wisconsin with Hillary, which makes me believe that women who previously were going for Hillary solely because of her gender may now be looking for something more, and have found that in Barack.
With 60% currently reporting, Barack has 56% of the vote, with Hillary at 43%. That should give Barack a pretty good chunck of Wisconsin's 74 delegates.
Yes we can!
Val Kilmer apparently has a new gig - Kitt, as in Knight Rider. Apparently, it's only redeeming feature is that the bad guys are the BlackRiver Security Corporation, who are attempting to take over the world. I may just have to watch.
As far as Pledged Delegates go, many of us have been up in arms that there is a very real possibility that pledged delegates, and not citizen voters, may determine the outcome of the Democratic nomination. How pissed would you be if one of the campaigns planned to try to sway pledged delegates to the other side? You heard me - pledged delegates, not unpledged. To
flip or not to flip?
The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Snelgrove Ice Cream is going the way of the dodo bird. Speaking of the Trib, does anyone else have an issue with their "Was this article worthwhile" question? The way most people seem to be using it is to indicate if they like or dislike the subject of the article, or the views presented therein. So, since I don't like the idea of Snelgrove going buh-bye, if I go with the crowd, I would hit the thumbs-down. However, since I'm glad the Trib reported this, shouldn't I be giving it a thumbs-up? They should refine the question somehow.
Tomorrow evening, a total eclipse of the moon is expected starting around 6:45 PM until 10 PM. More information about watching the eclipse from various parts of the state is available on the Trib.
In case you're bored, Woot has come up with a Best of the Worst List for your jaw-dropping pleasure.
And as a final note, watch Brit Hume talk about Michelle Obama:
As C&L said:
Ya know, I thought we’d hit bottom on right wing stupid with Glenn Beck’s “ugly women are progressive” comment. Guess what? The admittedly lovely Michelle Obama?[...]
Brit? It takes a lot to out-stupid Glenn Beck. Congratulations, my friend.
I just think it's hilarious that this seems to be the worst that the right-wing can throw at the Obamas. No wonder the polls say Obama would definitely win against McCain.
On that note - Good luck to Senator Obama in Wisconsin and Hawai'i tonight!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Alt: It was also fun when those teenagers tried to egg our house and it insta-cooked the eggs in mid-air.
Interestingly, MAKE covered trebuchets today.
Alt: Oh, look, the 'make everything better' button was here behind the bookshelf all along.
That's right. But the desire to is in our makeup.
Alt: But seriously, there's loads of intelligent life. It's just not screaming constantly in all directions on the handful of frequencies we search.
Alt: It's pi plus C, of course.
Barack Obama's latest round of endorsements includes Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. You read that right, folks. Ben and Jerry of ice cream fame have endorsed Senator Obama.
My main question here is.... what's the new flavor going to be?
Monday, February 11, 2008
Anyway, I've been waking up every day for about a week with back pain, and it gets worse by the day. So, time to see a chiropractor, right? No, because I'm scared that they'll mess my back up, and so I won't go unless they come highly recommended. And they don't do all sorts of new age, homeopathic type stuff. The only one I know of that fits that bill is in Draper, and I can't get out there on a regular basis. So, it's on to finding an orthopedic specialist. I decide that finding one from the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital would be a good place to start.
So, I tell UHC's web site to show me all of the physicians affiliated with them, and pick a random one from the list and call. I'm then told that this doctor is no longer at the clinic I'm calling. So, I ask if all the doctors are orthopedic specialists (yes) and if they accept UHC insurance. That insurance question was a doozy, I tell ya! The woman on the other end of the phone blurts out some kind of confusing explanation about how they usually do but they can't guarantee payment so she really doesn't know. So, I try to simplify the question, and ask if any of the providers are on UHC's provider list. Somehow, she modifies her answer to be less clear, and 'they maybe are and maybe aren't, but here's the original doctor's phone number that you asked for'.
Wow, that was painful.
So, it's on to calling the original doctor I was looking for. This time, I verify that the doctor is indeed still practicing through wherever the hell it is I'm calling, that he does take UHC and he is taking new patients. Yep, yep and yep. So, I ask how long it will be before I can be seen. I'm then transferred to his assistant's voicemail. Surprisingly, I actually got a call back about 5 minutes later, only to find out that it'll be almost 2 weeks before I can be seen. Then I find out he specializes in knees and shoulders.
She was very nice and referred me to both a clinic (Spine Clinic) and another doctor, neither of which I can find in my insurance directory.
So, with an hour wasted, I'm back to square one. At this rate, I'll end up waking up unable to move before I can find a doctor to help. And I was supposed to find a doctor to treat my endometriosis, a regular doctor (for annual checkups and medication refills) as well as a new dentist. I think I'll go stick my head in a hole in the ground, instead.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
- Wow, I've seen a lot of lists comparing the way things are between generations, and nothing has made me feel so in-between as this one has. I understand how these are things that this generation has always known, but I'm also right there with the previous generation, and I remember when a satellite was a 15' dish, the Tiananmen Square Massacre happened, when everyone knew the etiquette of party-line phones (which might be why I can't stand the idea of anyone listening in on my phone calls!), and I miss Johnny Carson!
- Thanks to the newly engineered tear-free onion, I might not have to buy those onion-chopping goggles, after all.
Reminder: Valentine's Day is next week. Here's a great collection of 1950's Valentine Cards.
- Does it surprise anyone that former SCO Chair Ralph Yarro is behind the Utah WiFi Age Verification bill? Let's see, chair of a company that died a slow painful death due to his stupidity convinces Utah lawmaker Bradley Daw that he should kill free public wireless because it'll protect kids? Yep, not any better thought out than anything else Yarro's done. Hope Daw puts 2 and 2 together to figure out that it's a bad idea all the way around, and won't protect a single child from anything.
- Have you heard how wretched the Canadian health system is?
- When Obama HQ announced that we won Utah, they used my photo of Theo, Strider and Devon during last June's Walk for Change for the blog!
- (h/t to Boing Boing for much of today's most interesting stuff, as usual.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Today is Utah's chance to help make Barack Obama the next President. Please help us get as many people to the polls today as possible!
Three easy ways to do this:
1) GO VOTE
2) Tell all your friends, neighbors and co-workers to go vote. Send out an email to your whole list, call through all the numbers in your cell phone, etc. There are a lot of people in Utah who still don't realize that today is the presidential primary and the best person to tell them why they need to go vote for Barack is YOU!
3) Help us make calls and knock on doors to Obama supporters. Call 801-886-2262 or come down to our office at 1747 South 900 West in SLC if you can help out. (We also have locations in Park City, Ogden, and St. George if you are closer to any of those locations and want to help out there.)
There is a lot of support for Barack in Utah but it won't mean anything if we don't get our supporters to go VOTE! We'll be on the phones and the doors all the way through 8pm, when doors close. Please help us help Barack!!
Monday, February 04, 2008
Democrats and unaffiliated voters can cast ballots in that primary. (Members of other parties, such as the Green Party, will technically be considered unaffiliated voters, except for those registered in the Constitutional Party.)And while we're at it:
Utah by the numbers
* 1,709,629 registered voters
* 1,043,905 independent (not affiliated with any party), 61 percent
* 538,305 Republicans, 31 percent
* 125,992 Democrats,
* 1,427 Constitution Party, 1 percent
Rules of the game
* Independent (small i) voters have a choice. They can vote in the Democratic primary just by asking for a ballot. If they are willing to sign up as a Republican at the polls, they can vote in the GOP primary.
* Registered Republicans can vote only in the GOP primary; registered Democrats only in the Democratic primary.
Here are the photos I took. I hope to have other photos later.
Yes, we can, Utah! And we will!
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a movement looks like:
Click on it, and let it load - talk about amazing! BoiseNoise took this panoramic photo of the 15,000 people there to see Barack.
Yep, I said 15,000. Say it with me, slowly. Fif-teen thou-sand people. In Idaho. Did you get the shivers, too?
Here's what the photographer had to say:
I volunteered to help with Obama's visit to Boise. When we breifed we expected to fill up maybe four sections of the Taca Bell Arena at BSU. There was a curtain placed behind the stage as they often do with small crowds. Well we had more than a small crowd. Between 14000 and 15000 people attended the event. This was a great surprise to everyone. Idaho is traditionally a strict Republican state.Yes, we can!
At this point I'd have to say get on the train. Don't stand in front of it. There's too much momentum.
[Update] In 2004, Idaho had 642,000 registered voters. 172,000 of them voted. If you look just at Boise, there were 159,000 registered voters, and 25,000 of them voted. And on Saturday, 15,000 people showed up to see Barack? Simply amazing!!
Ed Coghlan was just starting to prepare his dinner in the northern San Fernando Valley the other night when the phone rang. The caller was very friendly. He identified himself as a pollster who wanted to ask registered independents like Coghlan a few questions about the presidential race and all the candidates for Super Tuesday's California primary.And there's plenty more before the story wraps up this way:
Ed, who's a former news director for a local TV station, was curious. He said, "Sure, go ahead."
But a few minutes into the conversation Ed says he noticed a strange pattern developing to the questions. First of all, the "pollster" was only asking about four candidates, three Democrats -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, who was still in the race at the time -- and one Republican -- John McCain.
Also, every question about Clinton was curiously positive, Coghlan recalls. The caller said things like, if you knew that Sen. Clinton believed the country had a serious home mortgage problem and had made proposals to....
freeze mortgage rates and save families from foreclosure, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for her?
Ed said, of course, more likely.
Every question about the other candidates was negative. If Ed knew, for instance, that as a state senator Obama had voted "present" 43 times instead of taking a yes or no stand "for what he believed," would Ed be more or less likely to vote for him?
"That's when I caught on," said Coghlan. He realized then that he was being push-polled. That malicious political virus that is designed not to elicit answers but to spread positive information about one candidate and negative information about all others under the guise of an honest poll had arrived in Southern California within days of the important election.
Phil Singer, the spokesman for the Clinton campaign. was contacted by e-mail last night. He answered that he was there. He was asked if the Clinton campaign was behind the push-poll, knew who was behind it or had any other information on it. That was at 5:27 p.m. Pacific time Saturday. As of this item's posting time, exactly eight hours later, no reply had been received.
Thankfully, I still got to see the best Superbowl commercial of '08!
I know it must have cost a fortune, but I think it was a brilliant move, and a brilliant commercial. Yay!!
The Chronicle invited readers to send in questions for the major presidential candidates, prior to the California primaries on Feb. 5. Some sent in a question for all the candidates. Others were directed at a specific candidate. Below is the full text of the questions to, and answers from, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
- Andrew S. Ross, Chronicle interactive editor
I'm a Republican. I was a very liberal Democrat growing up during Nam, Civil Rights, etc. I became a Republican when I opened my own business and ran into the buzz saw of governmental "protections" of everyone except those that create jobs in small businesses. Based on a Baby Boomer's experience such as my own, why should I vote for you?
- Steven Wright, 55, Pacifica
Sen. Obama: I believe that America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It's led to a standard of living unmatched in history. In order to continue this prosperity, we'd restore fiscal discipline in Washington by reinstating pay-as-you-go rules, cutting pork barrel spending, and ending wasteful government spending.
My administration will also seek to level the playing field for American businesses - particularly small business owners like yourself. Many small businesses are struggling with the cost of health insurance, and I have introduced a plan that will save businesses $140 billion annually in premiums. My health care plan will help small businesses that want to cover their employees by letting small firms buy into a new low-cost, high-quality national health plan similar to the one offered to members of Congress. And my plan will reimburse employer health plans for a portion of the catastrophic costs they incur above a threshold if they use the savings to reduce the cost of workers' premiums.
In the Senate, I cosponsored the bipartisan Small Business Lending Reauthorization and Improvements Act. I will work to help more entrepreneurs get loans, expand the network of lenders, and simplify the loan approval process.
I will provide tax relief to small businesses. I will provide self-employed small business owners a $500 tax credit to offset their self-employed tax. I will also eliminate capital gains taxes on investments in start up companies.
And I will task the appropriate federal, state, and local leaders and agencies to ensure that every urban community has access to capital and the resources it needs, whether it's a new community development financial institution, additional small business loans for new entrepreneurs or more private financial institutions in underserved neighborhoods.
With the recent positive news coming out of Iraq, can you be the first Democrat to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the war is not lost and there is some hope of American/Iraqi success?
- Jeff Farmer, 57, St. Helena
Sen. Obama: The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq's political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq's civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq's political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.
The time to end the surge and to start bringing our troops home is now. This problem has no military solution. The Iraqi people must take responsibility for their own future. I support beginning immediately to withdraw our forces from Iraq at a pace of 1-2 combat brigades per month. At that pace, when I am president we can have all our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2009.
If either of you [or Sen. Clinton] won, you two would literally change the face of the presidency in this country. What kind of impact do you think that'll have on our country and economy? How do you think the outside world will react to such a drastic change from what is not typically or historically the face of a U.S. President?
- Gary Lee, 36, Daly City
Sen. Obama: I believe that if I'm elected, this country will look at itself differently from the moment I'm inaugurated. And the world looks at America differently. And if you believe that we've got to heal America and we've got to repair our standing in the world, then I think my supporters believe that I am a messenger who can deliver that message around the world in a way that no other candidate can do.
I am someone who has lived in a foreign country. My grandmother lives in a village in Africa without running water and without heat and indoor plumbing - a village that's been devastated by HIV/AIDS.
When I go to Africa, I'm not speaking based on what I've read or what I hear in a Senate hearing or what I've seen visiting the ambassador's residence in Nairobi. I'm speaking from experience, in the same way that when I talk about issues facing the inner city here in the United States; I'm not looking at it from a distance. I'm speaking from somebody who's worked in public housing projects and dealt with trying to find ex-felons a better life for themselves. And so that experience, I think, gives me more credibility to talk about these issues.
How would you confront radical Islam regarding its impact on U.S. security? How would you protect us?
- Norman Vogel, 61, San Francisco
Sen. Obama: I've laid out a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy to secure America.
First, we must bring a responsible end to this war in Iraq and refocus on the critical challenges in the broader region - on the conflict in the Middle East, where Hamas and Hezbollah feel emboldened and Israel's prospects for a secure peace seem uncertain; on Iran, which has been strengthened by the war in Iraq; and on Afghanistan, where more American forces are needed to battle al Qaeda, track down Osama bin Laden, and stop that country from backsliding toward instability.
Second, I have proposed making U.S. military assistance to Pakistan conditional on that country making substantial progress to close down terrorist training camps, evict foreign fighters, and prevent the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan. And I've called for an increase in funding for development and secular education to combat extremism in Pakistan.
Third, I have called for enhancing the capabilities of our civilian agencies to work alongside our military, and for the creation of "Mobile Development Teams" that bring together personnel from the State Department, the Pentagon, and US Agency for International Development. These teams would operate not simply in war-zones, but also in weak, unstable, and hard to access areas around the world. I have also proposed a "Shared Security Partnership Program" to increase resources by $5 billion over three years for counter-terrorism, police and intelligence cooperation in countries around the world, including information sharing, funding for training, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and targeting terrorist financing.
Fourth, we must also work to prevent nuclear terrorism. As president, I will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years.
Finally, we must dry up support for extremists. As president, I will double U.S. investments to combat instability, poverty and extremism - particularly in weak states and conflict zones - to $50 billion a year by 2012. Included in this investment is support for a $2 billion "Global Education Fund" to counter radical madrasas with secular education.
I have also called for a comprehensive public diplomacy program, including funding for "America Houses" to incorporate youth centers and libraries that are needed throughout the broader Muslim World, and the establishment of a "Voice Corps" to rapidly recruit and train fluent speakers of Arabic, Bahasa, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish who can ensure our voice is heard - and that we listen - throughout the world. As President, I will lead this public diplomacy effort, beginning with a speech at a major Islamic forum in my first 100 days.
What do you see as the most significant difficulties that American children today face, and what should the government be doing differently to solve them?
- Geoff Geiger, 55, Alameda
Sen. Obama: Millions of children across this country lack health insurance; are living in poverty; and attending crumbling schools. In this country - of all countries - no child's destiny should be determined before he takes his first step. As president, I am firmly committed to tackling these great challenges so that all of our children can live healthy and productive lives and reach their potential.
On health care, I have a plan to sign legislation providing quality, affordable health care to all Americans by the end of my first term. My health plan will mandate coverage of children. My plan will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) programs and ensure that these programs continue to serve their critical safety net function.
On poverty, I will increase federal funding for anti-poverty programs and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit 12 million Americans. Additionally, I have called for the creation of a new program that replicates the success of the Harlem Children's Zone - an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck anti-poverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children in a neighborhood where they were never supposed to have a chance. As president, an important part of my plan to combat poverty will be to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone in twenty cities across the country.
And on education, I will launch a Children's First Agenda that provides care, learning and support to families with children ages zero to five. I will create Early Learning Grants to help states create a system of high-quality early care and education for all young children and their families, so that children are prepared and ready to succeed before they enter kindergarten. I will also increase Head Start funding and quadruple Early Start to include a quarter of a million at-risk children. And because the most important factor in a child's education is the person standing at the front of the classroom, my plan will recruit, support, and reward teachers and principals to ensure that every school in America is filled with outstanding educators.
Our public education system is becoming less globally competitive and more separate and unequal from the weight of No Child Left Behind and economically driven district gerrymandering --thus widening the education gap between the affluent (haves) and the poor (have-nots). What solutions do you offer to have a more rigorous, relevant, equal, and global competitive public school system?
- Cory Haynes, 33, Napa
Sen. Obama: The goal of NCLB is the right one - ensuring that all children can meet high standards. But unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Department of Education, and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support among many people who care deeply about our schools and our students.
One of the greatest troubles of NCLB is that we have spent too much time preparing students for tests that do not provide any valuable, timely feedback on how to improve a student's learning. We need assessments that are useful to improve student learning. As president, I will work with the nation's governors and educators to create assessment models that will: provide educators and students with timely feedback about how to improve student performance; measure readiness for college and success in an information-age workplace by testing reading comprehension, writing skills, scientific reasoning, and other critical thinking skills; and indicate whether individual students are actually making progress toward reaching high standards.
We also need to work together to ensure that a qualified and successful teacher is in every classroom in America. While the current "highly qualified" standards for teacher quality are important, it is not clear that they are the only criteria on which we should assess the quality of our teachers. Particularly at a time when our nation is facing a shortage in teachers due to retirement and retention problems, it is important to ensure that we can attract, support, and retain high-quality teachers. Many states and local governments have seen successful results from experimenting with alternative preparation programs, innovative incentives to subsidize teacher training and interest in serving in high-need schools, and increased teacher support through mentoring, effective professional development, and the support of professional learning communities within schools, so that teachers can work together to improve their practice.
In the Senate, I've introduced legislation to create Teacher Residency Programs to provide incentives for talented individuals to enter profession by teaching as apprentices in the classrooms of expert veteran teachers while completing coursework for certification and pledging at least three years of service in the sponsoring district. As president, I will expand the number of Teacher Residency Programs by providing funding for 200 new programs that would each serve an average of 150 candidates each year. Each year, my plan will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools to provide long-term commitment and leadership in these districts.
In addition, I have proposed a substantial program of service scholarships to underwrite the preparation of teachers who will teach in high-need locations and fields and the provision of mentors to beginning teachers so they will stay in the profession.
But fixing NCLB is not an education policy. It's just a starting point. That's why I introduced a comprehensive plan to give every American child the chance to receive the best education America has to offer - from the moment they're born to the day they graduate college.
Since standardized tests offer such a limited measurement of student learning, and have undesirable consequences, are there other means you could envision schools and teachers using to measure student learning?
- Anthony Cody, 49, Oakland
Sen. Obama: I've set forth an education plan that describes in detail robust measures of student learning. And I've made clear that I do not support traditional "merit pay" if that simply means paying teachers more on the basis of student test scores. Linking teacher pay to a single standardized test does not accurately reflect teacher performance or student learning, and I believe we need develop more innovative and robust systems.
I support systems such as those being used in Denver right now, and my Career Ladder initiative will encourage the adoption of such educational reforms throughout the country. Measures of student learning in specific subject areas may include scored writing samples or reading samples, mathematics assessments, assessments of science or history knowledge, or even musical performances. In some schools, teachers use their own fall and spring classroom assessments as a way of gauging student progress. These measures can also be tailored for the learning goals of specific students (for example, special education students or English language learners.)
So if you're a Language Arts teacher, a Career Ladder might look to your students' papers, or how many books they've read, in addition to their performance on classroom exams. If you are a science teacher, it would collect evidence about the quality of students' science investigations as juried by evaluators at a science fair or about the number of students passing the AP test in their field.
Student success can also include other outcomes, such as improved behavior, attendance, work completion, and course passage.
In Denver's system, teachers set two goals annually in collaboration with the principal, and document student progress toward these goals using district, school, or teacher-made assessments to show growth. So the teachers themselves are involved in selecting the criteria upon which they are evaluated.
I would like to know what kind of role Michelle Obama who is also a Harvard trained lawyer would be if she were to become first lady.
- Steve Pardee, 49, Berkeley
Sen. Obama: I think I will let Michelle speak for herself on this, but what she has said in the past is that her first priority would be helping to make sure that our young daughters are happy and healthy and settled in a new city and school. She appreciates the platform that a First Lady has to reach and help people, and has said that she would be interested in focusing on issues like work-family balance for women and encouraging young people to get involved in service and give back to their communities.
I've heard ever since I was a child how almost every single politician in congress or in the White House has promised to work with the other side of the aisle for non-partisan politics -- usually without much luck. I, as well as most people, am tired of hearing politicians talk about one hot topic to another to get themselves elected only to not follow up on these topics once they are in office. We are interested in moving the country forward and reestablishing the USA as a country to look at for inspiration and leadership. What would you do to bring back the public trust and earn our votes?
- Anthony Vann, 36, Alameda
Sen. Obama: Like Democrats, Republicans and Independents are hungry for change. They too are tired of the same old partisan fights and re-litigation of decades-old battles. And they are just as hungry for a politics that puts the people's interests above special interests. For these reasons, I think the same qualities that make my candidacy appealing to Democrats will make me attractive to Republicans. And one of those qualities is a willingness to listen to opposing sides when people disagree with me - and not belittle or demagogue their concerns.
I have demonstrated this quality throughout my career and have learned that what unites us is far more substantial than what divides us. That's why I was able to work with Republicans in Illinois to pass the most significant ethics reform in our state's history. That's why I was able to extend health care to 154,000 children and adults. And that's why I was able to cross party lines to reform a broken death penalty system and to create an Earned Income Tax Credit to help working families throughout my home state. For me, I don't just talk the talk about the need to build consensus and work across party lines in pursuit of a progressive agenda. I have done just that throughout my career, and I will continue to do the same as president.