U Didn’t Build That

It’s election season for all its warts. For the past two days, “U Didn’t Build That” by MCBAMA has been a really popular song in our house, getting lots of spins. “The guinea pigs love it.” “Well, the one who’s not afraid of life. She’s a Romney girl.” Thanks to Know Your Meme for the background on this.

Maybe it’s because I’m more liberal than not, or because I like old school Oaktown rap (I had Hammer pants when I was 7, don’t hate), or because I am just sick of politicians lying to the public and find the current state of the GOP especially galling, but I am more worried about Romney winning in November than Bush in 2000 or 2004. Think about that… Bush was pretty incompetent and disgusting, but I could sort of resign myself to his inevitable victory. Now though, it’s so clear how dogmatic the Republicans are in a way that really has nothing to do with small governments and fiscal responsibility. Romney’s 47% gaffe shows this disconnect from Bush’s agenda, and also show the malice they have for the poor. I’m fortunate to have a job with health insurance and be pretty OK, but I still feel we have a social obligation to the most vulnerable in society. I also feel that investing in our nation’s infrastructure is good for all. (Yeah…. that also pays my bills. I get it.) So really, while I don’t like a lot of what Obama has done (or hasn’t), I don’t think he’s going to govern like Montgomery Burns.

Reagen could have been 100, but I don’t care. I am much happier to still have Jerry Brown.

That’s the old California Governor’s Mansion, sort of. Reagan had it built in lovely Carmichael, which is some of the loveliest land in all of Sacramento County, because Nancy hated the old one. Nobody ever actually lived in it and Schwazenegger sold it, finally.

The thing is, on the eve of the Reagan Centennial, I just feel a lot of repressed childhood anger at the man resurfacing. It’s weird for me now as an adult to talk to people who actually like Reagan or the idea of him. Granted, I was raised by a couple of liberals, and while they didn’t force feed us their politics, it was clear that Reagan was not a figure to admire. No doubt, punk rock had a hand in it, but I just always had some weird sense that Reagan (and Thatcher!) were bad, selfish people, embodying the most selfish aspects of society, and ready to screw you over. To this day, when people speak warmly of the man or say “things were good under Reagan”, it makes me think differently about them. I’ll admit it, I’m prejudiced. Unless you’re a rich white man who got richer in the 1980s, I’ll think you’re a fool for liking Reagan. I just bite my tongue.

The empty Governor’s Mansion was a good symbol of that.

My mom would occasionally drive us past it (we live not too far from it), and point it out. Point out that Reagan built it, that it was a waste of money, and that nobody lived there.

Which gets me to the weird affinity and warmth I have for Jerry Brown. Growing up, hearing the stories of Reagan’s term as governor, there was usually the foil of Brown. He chose to live in a modest apartment downtown, rather than stay in that suburban monstrosity. He was a bit crazy, but was overall good. He wasn’t Reagan.

So this weekend, as people are going crazy for Reagan, I wanted to go back and look at Brown’s first term as governor. (I’ll admit it, I was excited to vote for him this past year.) I watched this video of news clips of his first term. Cutting the budget, raising taxes. Is it 1974 again?

I really wish the people celebrating Reagan would acknowledge the messes he created. I blame the boom in the homeless population on him. I blame the culture of fear on him. I don’t like what he did to this state or the nation. I’m not saying Jerry Brown is an angel, but I feel he’s much more realistic and put the state in a better position. I hope he helps us turn it around now.

election crazy

Election crazy, originally uploaded by kendrak.

this was me going insane at 6:30 tonight after being up for 14 hours and running on nothing but adrenaline. i was in the bubble of my precinct all day, so i didn’t really see what was going on. as soon as i announced the polls to be closed at 8pm, the janitors at the school started shouting “OBAMA!” they carried on intermittently for the next hour until i dropped off our ballots. it was weird.

i’m mostly bummed about prop 8. if i know you were opposed to prop 8, expect incoherent phone calls from me soon to complain about how you hate humans. seriously. i’m happy that bush is gone and that palin can’t ruin my uterus, but i really think that human rights took a hit tonight and it makes me want to hit people.

i need water and sleep. i’ll blog about my day at the polls tomorrow.

china, the ioc, the olympics, and the world- a total farce.

“think of the athletes.” people keep telling me this when i tell them i don’t plan on watching the olympics- somewhat out of apathy for most of the sports, but largely out of protest.

“it’s not fair for the athletes. they have nothing to do with politics.” this ignores the obvious question- who wants to be an olympic athlete and what good is that for the world? (especially if they’re the sort that keep quiet, train, and rake in the bucks through endorsements. for them, the olympics are about money.) it’s not to say that i don’t think people should train to be olympians, but that alone doesn’t really make them heroic or noble. it’s not to say it’s their responsibility to take a stand, but it’d be nice.

it’s nice to see there are some stands being taken- the u.s. olympic team elected lopez lomong to carry the flag during opening the ceremony. lomong is one of the lost boys of sudan who became an american citizen last year. he is also a member of team darfur, which was founded by joey cheek and brad greiner. cheek made the news this week when china revoked his visa, no doubt because of his vocal criticism about china’s involvement with sudan. cheek was interviewed by the huffington post, encouraging the team darfur athletes who made it inside china. when asked about his feelings about his visa being revoked, cheek said:

They gave me a visa, let me have it for a month, and then, 24 hours before my flight, they yanked it from me. It was kind of ridiculous and petty. And it speaks to a broader problem. They’re so desperate to have the Games look like their version of a success that they would threaten anyone who says something they don’t like. This is the story in general. It’s not just about my visa. We’ve heard tales from other members of Team Darfur whose embassies have been approached by the Chinese. If they stay a part of the team, they’ll be treated as suspect individuals, scrutinized, receive extra security, be threatened with heavy handed tactics. And this is all over. It’s not just the Beijing officials, but the IOC [International Olympics Committee] and sponsors are being complicit in this. That’s something that needs to be responded to.

there’s a lot of money at stake for china, the IOC, the sponsors, and so on. they don’t want anything to spoil the party.

“but this is for the chinese people to be proud as a nation.” the whole, theme of china’s coming out into the modern era like it’s some sort of right. this argument does stick with me somewhat- because i know the average chinese citizen has every right to be proud that their nation is hosting the olympics, and that the world is looking at them in a somewhat positive light. the chinese government, however, has done nothing they promised and instead of truly modernising china to the benefit of its citizens, they have spent lots of money to put a nice shine on the event, though the infrastructure may be rotten. the birds nest stadium is stunning, but why didn’t they actually try to tackle the pollution problem earnestly, rather than performing some superficial changes weeks before the games which don’t solve anything, other than hurting beijing residents? the new subway system was a great start, but they could have really done some great things to tackle congestion but dropped the ball. (i’ve had to read a lot about china’s transportation issues in regards to the olympics, that’s a whole other monster.) when china was first awarded the olympics, they promised they would work to improve human rights issues. instead amnesty international reported that human rights have gotten worse as a result. the country has become more severe and paranoid, and the world let’s it behave as such.

it’s sad because normal spectators are unable to watch at the games, making it unlike any olympics in recent years. maybe it’s a sign that the ioc and china deserve each other for being so unconcerned with humanity. the chinese government, i would expect this from. the ioc is supposed to be better than that though.

of course all of this ignores what’s going on in south ossetia.

Gay marriage and my rights to a civil union

California Attorney General Jerry Brown created a good stir this week when he changed the wording of Proposition 8. Previously it “had been described as a measure to limit marriage between a man and a woman.” Now, it states “the initiative as a constitutional change to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.”

Prop. 8 backers are now going to sue over the change. Am I surprised? No. Am I annoyed? Deeply. I really want to see Prop. 8 fail. I applaud Brown for making the issue explicitly about civil rights- it’s not about protecting straight marriages, it’s about denying people the right to marry. Fundamentally that is wrong, and I would hate to see the state constitution explicitly diminish any groups civil rights. It also upsets me because it would retain a largely religious definition of marriage that isn’t entirely based on reason. Not exactly separation of church and state. So the will of the majority (and their beliefs) get to impinge on a minority. Fantastic. On the flip side, I know people who will claim their beliefs against gay marriage have nothing to do with religion, rather they’re “not natural” and ignore “procreation”. Hmm, so does that mean only people willing to have kids can be married? And what about gay couples who adopt or have a child? Really a marriage is just a contract between two people and society. This idea of a contract was central to women’s liberation in Victorian Britain, and it’s something that I think people can’t ignore. Why do gays want to be married? They want all the security provided through the marriage contract. How is that going to harm heterosexual marriage?

If there was a true state contract, removed from any cultural or religious values, allowing couples to enter a strictly civil union, then I would be for it. California has the Domestic Partnership law, which grants same sex couples and straight couples where one member is over the age of 62 a contract that allows them to most of the rights of marriage. What about straight couples where both members are under the age of 62? Oh, we can get married. What if we’re opposed to marriage because it’s definitions are bigoted and tied to religious beliefs? Then you’re screwed.

I’ve been entertaining the idea of a civil union for years now, and I can’t do it. Of course I’m too stubborn to cave in to the terrible definition of marriage we have today- I’d rather not compromise my values. (This might not be fair to my other half.) Will the world end because of this? No. Is it silly? Yes. I’m starting to feel that I might have to fight for my right to domestic partnership if Prop. 8 passes, because then I surely wouldn’t want to be married in the state of California.

a woman’s work…

so clinton finally dropped out and endorsed obama. good. now the real campaign can begin. on wednesday, after it was clear she was going to drop out, one of my students was pretty bummed out by clinton leaving the race. she was a passionate clinton supporter, and was a bit confused why i didn’t support her. i remember talking about it in february before the primary here. she wanted to know who i planned on voting for, and i told her it would probably be obama since edwards dropped out.

“why not hillary?”
“i don’t really like her.”
“why not? you’re a woman.”
“yeah, but i don’t trust her.”

and it’s true- i still don’t really trust her. one thing that really boils my blood is when people assume we should support somebody for their gender alone. it’s pretty amazing that a woman made it this far in the primary, just as amazing as a black man becoming a presidential candidate. but should somebody be elected purely on their gender or the colour of their skin? no. ideally, it would be on shared values and principals. now, clinton wasn’t a devil or anything like that, but she seemed hell bent on being elected and seemed to lose connection with the people. she doesn’t haven the charm or charisma of her husband, but who does, but the way they ran their campaign was sort of the nail in the coffin for me. was i swept up with obamania? maybe, but he definitely seems more in line with my philosophies. the whole gas tax thing sort of sealed the deal for me- clinton’s, and mccain’s, proposal is totally irresponsible and will only worsen the situation. of course obama’s answer wasn’t comforting, but it’s the truth. i’d rather suffer in the short term and work towards a better future than bury our heads in the sand and hope everything is ok.

all right. i need a brownie.

the rules keep changing.

yesterday i had my poll worker training for upcoming june election. 2008 is a busy year, with three different elections in california. february was a statewide disaster, and the alameda county registrar of voters really seemed to have noticed. i noticed that the rules had changed somewhat, thanks to the secretary of state, but the acrov really improved the instructions so that we’ll have a better idea of what the rules are.

the thing is, most poll workers are still annoying and slow. i recognized a large portion of my class from my previous trainings- lots of regular berkeley types. older hippies/left wing radicals that still cling on to certain ideals but can’t pay attention to lots of things that matter- like what constitutes a provisional voter. the really frustrating thing is that many of these people think they know everything, and would constantly interrupt the instructors (who would of course point out that the person wasn’t correct). being right or wrong on election day is nerve-wracking. any mistake from the poll workers could hinder demcoracy. the inspector and judge are supposed to be the most competent people are the polling precinct, which sadly often isn’t the case. this is why i decided to become a poll worker (that and i hate the bottle neck of slow people working the street-index or signature roster). i was definitely the youngest person in the room.

one thing i took away from this is that the registrars of voters are in a tough position throughout california (and probably the rest of the country)- they have to follow the policies of the secretary of state, which are vague and not always practical. it’s sad, but i understand why the acrov people kept telling us to take our issues with the rules to the secretary of state- because they can’t do anything about it. i wish the secretary of state did a better job with voter education, but alas they make it as vague and confusing as most library applications. somebody lamented yesterday that voters don’t read the literature sent to them, but i can’t blame people for not reading long, dense, confusing packets giving them each possible option for voting. of course, the secretary of state’s webpage is terrible. way to promote voter literacy!

the funniest thing about the training was when we had to split into pairs to set up and take down the touch-screen and the scanner. my partner was a precinct coordinator from oakland who said, “you’re not too dumb for being from berkeley.” how’d she know i was from berkeley! “educated guess.” she then started insulting berkeley pollworkers for being soft and clueless, loud enough so that other people heard her. this milquetoast woman who looked like a librarian took offense and tried to talk about berkeley’s diversity, my parter laughed and told her to look around the room- all of the other precinct workers from berkeley, save for one, were white. i tried not to chuckle. one of the acrov workers said we were the most efficient pair, and let us leave early. the whole class went long though, and i was happy to go home and write an essay.

moral of the story- vote on june 3!

unfit to teach?

here’s another gem from sf gate. did you hear about the new ruling about home schooling in california? the court of appeals said people who home school need credentials.

Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.

“California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home,” he said in a statement.

But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, which represented the Longs’ two children in the case, said the ruling did not change the law.

“They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor,” she said. “If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers.”

Heimov said her organization’s chief concern was not the quality of the children’s education, but their “being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety.”

my opinion? i actually don’t really care. i think there needs to be some mechanism to enforce standards for home schooling, but that’s not to say that all kids who are being taught at home are being neglected or anything like that. it’s a choice, and if parents take it seriously and do a good job, more power to them. (i am a proud graduate of the california public school system from k-12, and my university degree.) the only reason i posted this, is because once again, the comments at “the gate” are amusing. this time the home school zealots come out to to rally the troops. it sort of a snoozefest, and makes me sort of dislike their cause, but i guess i just like reading personal accounts.

the best thing about primary coverage

Chris Matthews, originally uploaded by wnyc.

is chris matthews. oh, how i love him. i think the democratic party is going to implode in 1968 proportions, but it’s ok because matthews (not olberman) brings the funny.

i’ve been trying to give clinton a fair shake recently, but her victory speech just rubbed me wrong and i don’t know why it is. this article from the guardian is a good read and dissection of why clinton has floundered recently. i feel bad for her, really. she’s worked so hard to get to this point, and i understand why she’s going to keep fighting (even if it destroys the party), but she seems to be out of touch with a large portion of the electorate. i don’t really trust her, but i don’t want to see her implode or be humiliated. i can’t take her victory in ohio and possible victory in texas as signs that big states are behind her, because she hasn’t really decisively won any of the major states. if she got a super-majority, it’d be a different story, but even when she wins, it’s by a margin which is why obama’s still leading.

i can haz november? until then, i’ll keep watching chris matthews be way more entertaining than keith olbermann (who’s turning into a slightly more reputable (and less annoying) john stewart.)

quackenbush shoots a man

quckenbush- still looks dull.
it’s been reported that former california insurance commissioner chuck quackenbusch is now a sheriff’s deputy in florida and shot a man with a taser. it’s a little amusing to me (not that a man was shot) because i love that quackenbush, who fled california after corruption allegations, resurfaces for something like this. of course growing up in the state capitol, i always knew this guy was a sleaze ball. he still looks white bread.
[tags]chuck quackenbush[/tags]

life trucks on

this little blog is being dwarfed by my other super duper library blog, and my whole no blogging at work thing has slowed it down.
school is boring and painful. work is busy, stressful, and exciting all in one.
last night i saw dr. frank read from his book at moe’s. it was nice. i hadn’t been to raleigh’s in a while and they were bumping “straight outta compton”, pretty good stuff. i also got to talk to frank about politics and how insane this race has become. i’m really excited about tonight’s debate, if i can stay awake.

i also received a summons for jury duty yesterday. i have to show up on march 12. that’s two weeks! i thought they usually gave you more time.

today i went back to the doc for a check up and found out my plastic surgeon’s leaving kaiser. what’s it mean to me? means i gotta stop dragging my feet on reconstruction, so i have to go get cut up asap. i’m meeting him tomorrow to see what i can do. luckily, i think i got time to take off of work, but i need to get in gear because it’s the conference season.
today i went to the store to start planning my garden and buy lots of fruit. i need fruit.


it’s been almost 24 hours since the polls closed here and probably closer to 24 hours since the media proclaimed clintonthe winner in california. i was planning on rushing home and giving a big blog post about my day at the polls, but i was cranky, tired, and frothing at the mouth about the whole electoral process. the fact that they were reporting clinton winning this state before i had a chance to deliver my ballots was just a great way to cap off the day. it made me wonder if i had just wasted the previous 14 hours and that none of my precinct’s votes mattered.

yesterday just showed to me how poor voter outreach has been in the state of california. my precinct wasn’t beset with all the problems of some other precincts in alameda county, but things definitely could have been smoother. the biggest issue i saw was a lack of knowledge in the electorate of rules for voting in a primary. california’s weird “modified closed primary” only added to the problems. lots of people were upset that they were registered with one party and therefore unable to vote in another party’s primary. many people registered as green wanted to vote democratic. i tried to explain to them, as nicely as possible, that in primaries you get the ballot of the party you registered (if registered partisan), but many seemed confused.

“i voted democratic in 2006, doesn’t that count?” i tried to explain that in general elections (like the 2006 midterm), you can vote for anybody regardless of your party affiliation. “but i voted for feinstein.” that’s great, you’re still registered green! actually, the saddest cases to me were the people who registered as american independents but probably wanted decline-to-state/non-partisan. we’d give them the a.i. ballot and they would ask if they could vote for the democrats. i tried to explain that in california there is the independent party, and that’s how they registered, but that seemed to confuse them more. in the end, for anybody who was dead set on voting in the primary but lacked proper party affiliation (or lack thereof), i gave them provisional ballots. at least that way their votes on the propositions and local measures will count.

i think a lot of the problems people had stemmed from a lack of knowledge about the system, which the state (or at least the county) should have taken some steps to correct. the secretary of state’s website made sense if you’re pretty familiar with election terminology, but the average voter isn’t, nor are they going to take the time to sift through pages to find their answer. that’s assuming they would take the time to look on the website. most likely they will search the internet and find misinformation in some random person’s blog, and then tell their friends, and the whole cycle continues. i know from working in libraries that just having information around doesn’t mean people will find or read it. i wish the state did a big more than just print the party affiliation abbreviation on the back of your sample ballot in the midst of a page full of text. perhaps if they made it easier for lazy people to double check their registration and possibly change it.

i have more to talk about, but i’ll do it tomorrow.

cry, cry, cry

hillary clinton is crying again. it makes me feel cold and cynical to say this, but i definitely feel that she’s just pandering for votes. i imagine her inner dialog being something like this:

“oh crap, obama might win in my backyard.”
“how can i seem more human?”
“smile more? nah.”
“i know! cry! it worked in new hampshire.”

i know her supporters will tout the tears as showing that she’s a caring, compassionate woman. but seriously- it makes me even more sure that she’ll do anything for a vote. it really angers me that this historically strong woman will retreat to stale tactics to get empathy of the voters. instead of crying when it seems advantageous, why doesn’t she try to come off as sincere most of the time? smile like a human? stop moving like a robot? oh, that takes work. i know lots of young people love obama, and it’s because he’s too busy seeming genuine to be pulling crap like this.

remember to vote tomorrow.
[tags]hillary clinton, barack obama, democratic primary, crying[/tags]

party for rudy

last week i went to a party for rudy guiliani. my friend stephen was hosting it and promised vegan food if i’d attend. so i went, in support of stephen and in search of free food. the only person who showed up that wasn’t one of stephen’s friends was a writer for the huffington post. i think she helped keep the conversation lively. here’s her take on the event.

I’d been trying to find Republicans in San Francisco for weeks. Finally, someone named Stephen signed up online to host a house party for Rudy Giuliani. When I arrived, a twentysomething-year-old guy in skinny jeans and a shaggy haircut opened the door. I thought I was in the wrong place until I noticed his top: a slim, red t-shirt with a picture of Ronald Reagan.

“Love him or hate him, he’s an icon,” shrugged Stephen. As it turned out, he was the only Reagan-lover at his party.

[tags]rudy guiliani, republicans[/tags]