Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It ain't over 'til it's over

Bill Richardson's endorsement and the role of superdelegates

There is no doubt that Bill Richardson’s endorsement is a much needed break for Barack Obama, who has recently been under intense fire for his association with Jeremiah Wright. The real question, however, is whether the assumption of many analysts that Richardson’s decision could influence other superdelegates will turn into a reality. I would argue that the answer is no.
Richardson himself said in February that “superdelegates should vote according to who they represent. If somebody's appointed as a superdelegate because they're Hispanic or a governor, they should pay attention to what their voters and their constituencies are saying.” This sentiment has been shared by the Obama camp as they have repeatedly called on superdelegates not to overturn the will of the voters. Richardson, however, is the governor of New Mexico, a state where Clinton won narrowly and was favored 2-1 by Hispanic voters. His reasoning, that despite his admiration for the Clintons, he doesn’t think it should be “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton,” may not be enough for his constiuencies to understand his change of heart. Nevertheless, other notable superdelegates have also gone against the will of their states including John Kerry, who also endorsed Obama despite Clinton’s 13 point win in Massachusettes.
So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, I don’t think there is one, and I’m not complaining. Richardson has every right to support the candidate of his choice. Superdelegates are supposed to exercise their best judgment in regard to the nation and the democratic party, and that is why this race is far from over. Though she is likely to end up behind in pledged delegates, there is a chance that Clinton could end up leading in the popular vote when the last of the 10 remaining contests is over. She will use that statistic, along with her advantage in the larger swing states to make her case to the superdelegates. If they buy it, she wins. If they don’t, she doesn’t. While the rules have caused a lot of uproar, they are what they are, and either way it’s a fair game.
To say that Richardson’s endorsement hasn’t already helped Obama would be false. As a long time friend of the Clintons and a former UN Ambassador under President Clinton, his endorsement is definitely a valuable prize for Obama. However, his repeated pressuring of Clinton to drop out of the race shows how political his motivations truly are, especially given the will of his own state.
It also brings attention to the fact that supporters of both sides are trying to spin this close race in favor of their personal favorite. While I support Hillary Clinton, I’m not going to pretend that she is winning. It’s definitely an uphill battle, but it’s not an impossible one. She was counted out before New Hampshire. She was counted out before Texas and Ohio, and now she’s being counted out again. All I’m saying and all that I think is necessary to agree upon, is that the race ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
When that day comes, I will support the nominee, and I have faith that other Democrats will do the same. I reject the belief that the Democratic Party will not be unified when our candidate is finally chosen, regardless of how difficult that may seem now. While the back and forth is exhausting and attacks have become increasing negative, there is too much at stake to lose in November. I’m confident that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will do what is necessary to heal the wounds and win back the White House: they will join together on the same ticket. If the party is as divided as the race is close, a joint ticket may be the only way to appease both sides. While it may seem like a dream right now, Clinton and Obama haven’t made it this far in the battle to risk losing the war.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What I believe... (Part 1)

I believe in forgiveness.
I wake up and walk into the living room to find my black lab, Chance, sleeping on the couch. He is not supposed to be on the couch. He knows he’s not supposed to be on the couch. He rolls over, yawns, and looks at me with those big brown eyes so unapologetically that I could strangle him, but I believe in forgiveness. I grab his leash and take him outside. In my slightly hungover morning daze, I manage to step in great big pile of dog shit. The apartment complex provides outdoor stands with bags to dispose of animal waste, but I guess some people are too busy to bother. I could shoot them, but I believe in forgiveness. I leave my feces-caked shoes on the porch and come inside to make breakfast. There are bread crumbs surrounding the toaster and two small jelly stained circles on the countertop of the kitchen that I spent two hours deep cleaning yesterday. I follow the trail to my roommate’s room and stand outside the door. Should I knock and then bitch or just yell from outside? I weigh my options, but I walk away. I believe in forgiveness. I get ready for the day, get into my car, and head for school. Like always, I take the Keller Springs Dallas North Tollway entrance. The person directly in front of me seems to have parked their Hummer, complete with one of those awesome W stickers, at the tollbooth. Apparently, despite the Bush taxcuts for the wealthiest Americans, this shithead is having trouble finding quarters. I could start honking so obnoxiously that I give the guy an anxiety attack or flip him off for kicks…but I don’t. I believe in forgiveness. I turn on the radio to KRLD News Radio 1080. It’s not my station of choice, but I had been listening for a weather and traffic update the night before. The Ernie and Jay Mid-day program is on, and before I can change the channel, I hear them comparing Hillary Clinton’s laugh to the cackle of the Wicked Witch of the West. For the life of me, I cannot fathom how the sound of someone’s laughter is more worthy of discussion than the capability of the presidential candidates to inflict positive changes upon our country. I pick up my cell phone and dial in immediately. To my personal gratification, I get through right away. I am put on hold during a commercial break and use the time to plan my vicious attack, but when they welcome me to the show, I speak my mind in a mild tone and thank them for their time. I believe in forgiveness.
At some point during the day, someone will look at me funny or say something derogatory about my sexuality, my big hair, or my annoying laugh. At some point in the days to come, somebody I care about will hurt me, someone I trust will betray me, and someone I love will make me cry. And yet I know, that because we are all equally human and equally flawed, I will at some point do these same things to others.
I will forget to pick up Chance’s crap, I will spill jelly on the counter, and I will be the person holding up traffic at the tollbooth. I will write an article that I think is amazing but makes somebody throw up in their mouth. I will hurt someone I care about, betray someone’s trust, and make somebody cry. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope that all the people I piss off in this lifetime, share this one belief. I believe in forgiveness.

Spring Break in a Blue State continued!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Break in a Blue State

Spring Break in a Blue State

Disclaimer: Texans, you have no reason to send me angry emails after reading this article. I may have been born a yankee, but I’ve spent about 16 of my 23 years on Texas soil and am truly proud of my red state roots. Okay, well maybe “proud” isn’t the best word to describe the full extent of my feelings, but I swear I ain’t tryin’ to hate, ya’ll!

It’s amazing how fast a four-hour flight can seem when you’ve knocked down a few stiff drinks. I owe a big thank you, by the way, to our lovely waitress at Cantino Laredo in DFW’s Terminal D, who so kindly recommended the extra shots of Patron. Before I knew it, we were arriving in San Francisco, one of the most unapologetically liberal cities in the United States.
While there are many obvious differences between Dallas and San Francisco, such as the geography and variances in ethnic composition, I made a point during my vacation to be cognizant of the little things that differentiate these two famous American cities. Frankly, the big picture is pretty clear. When the presidential election results pour in next November, it shouldn’t take too long for Texas to turn red and for California, despite the disapproval of Governor Schwarzenegger, to turn blue on the map. But why? Evidence providing reasons for this inevitable occurrence were all around me, even before leaving the airport. The following report contains five excerpts from the journal that I carried on my trip.
Clue #1- San Francisco International Airport bathroom. I reach for a towel to dry my hands. A sign in an extremely large font instructs me to take “only what I need,” in order to “conserve resources.” I smile at the green gesture and in an attempt to avoid being outdone, proudly wipe my wet hands on my jeans and exit the restroom. What harm is there in a friendly reminder to avoid wasteful consumption? The airport saves money on supplies, and the earth saves trees. Beautiful.
Clue #2- Asia SF, Restaurant and Gender Illusionist Show- The bill arrives at our table and it’s not as bad as we thought. As expected, there is a blank space available to tip the beautiful “ladies” of Asia SF, but there is another charge that I’ve never seen before. A 4% fee is automatically added to the tab, helping to cover the cost of a San Francisco city ordinance mandating that businesses provide health care coverage for all of their employees. On a $120 bill, the charge comes to $4.80. What a small price to pay for such an important step towards providing a basic human necessity to all Americans!
Clue #3- Driving through Sonoma- There is a banner hung from a property that reads, “Honk for George W. Bush in Prison!” Okay, so maybe there’s no real, universal justification for this, but I laugh…and honk.
Clue #4- Highway 101-For the first time in my life, I see more Smart cars and Hybrids on the road than pickup trucks and Hummers. The passenger count isn’t much different, but for some reason, California drivers do not feel the need to operate army tanks. What a concept!
Clue #5- Margaret Cho at The Warfield Theatre- Standing outside in line, I watch a drug deal go down in plain sight. I’m not sure if the participants feel like the two lesbians running by in wedding dresses are enough to distract nearby police officers or if they are just too high to care. Either way, I am utterly fascinated.
As you can infer from the previous paragraph, there are going to be negatives to living in any city or state, red or blue. What’s most important, from my perspective, is that you find the place in this world that you love the most, whether you fit in or not. For me, visiting San Francisco was a reminder there at there are like-minded people out there, and it was quite refreshing. It very well could have been a side of effect of the perpetual smell of 420 wafting through the city streets, but life just seemed a little easier and a lot more carefree in San Francisco than in Dallas. And while being an unapologetically liberal student at the future home of the Bush Library has its interesting moments, getting lost in the crowd was a wonderful change of pace.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island for HRC, bitches!!!

Even though my part was small, I can't even express in words how gratifying it feels to have been part of Hillary Clinton's March 4 victory in Texas. I know this post is a little late, but since Tuesday I've been trying to save my ass from failing six classes that I've neglected for the past few weeks. It's been such a whirlwind that I haven't even really grasped until now just how quickly you can transition from being a die-hard supporter to being completely wrapped up in working on the ground as a volunteer.
After working to sign up volunteers and manage crowds at an early vote rally with Bill Clinton at Grauwyler Park and Hillary Clinton's Fair Park Rally, sending countless emails, making signs and hours of phone calls as a precinct captain, helping a good friend of Chelsea Clinton organize an event with Rob Reiner at SMU, serving as temporary chair and permanent secretary of my precinct convention, and celebrating with Dallas staffers and volunteers at Metro Grill as the returns came in on Saturday night, I can honestly say that exhaustion has never felt so rewarding. Every step of the experience was an honor because I have never believed so strongly in any candidate.
I met some great people, had some great times, and wish I could quit school and fly to Pennsylvania to do it all over again. Here are a few pics of my adventures:

The Texas Two Step is a Bunch of Bullshit

On Tuesday night, I arrived at the apartment of Ina Ayliffe at around 6:20pm. While it was our first face-to-face meeting, we had spoken over the telephone when I was making calls to Clinton supporters in my precinct, explaining the “Texas Two-Step” and encouraging participation. At 84, she felt uncomfortable driving at night, and I happily offered her transportation to the caucus.

Unfortunately, Ina was not the only person without a way of getting to the precinct convention. Over the past few weeks, I spoke with many elderly voters with health conditions that made it extremely difficult for them to get out and vote once, let alone twice. In addition, the locations where the precinct conventions were held presented even more challenges for those who actually came. Earlier in the day I had visited my polling location and spoken with the Election Judge. I expressed my concern that there was not enough seating to accommodate voters with conditions that make standing for long periods of time a difficult task. He gave me the number of the property management. I spoke with two people who didn’t have an answer for me and finally left a message that was never returned.

Ina and I arrived at the polling location at 6:30. I was approached by the election judge who informed me that the Precinct Chairman was not going to be able to attend. He needed someone to run the caucus, and despite my complete lack of experience, I accepted the duties as temporary chair. At 7:00 I was handed a packet of materials. I had 15 minutes to review the process before the convention was called to order at 7:15. Getting everyone signed in was complete and utter chaos. The packet contained only two sign-in sheets with a total of 40 spaces for names. 195 people were present. I made sure that supporters of both Clinton and Obama were involved in monitoring the process and verifying that voters were eligible. Signing in was slow and tedious and many people became frustrated and angry, but we did the best we could with the resources we were given. In the end, I believe our results were fair and accurate; however, as confident as I may be in my own abilities, there is no freakin’ way that I, or anyone else without official training, should be in charge of something so significant. Period.

Later that night, I joined up with the Clinton staff to watch the returns come in, and I quickly realized that the problems at my convention were nothing compared to others. From stories of sign-in sheets being passed around without supervision and individuals signing in multiple times, to caucuses being held outside with over 900 people, almost every person there had a horror story to tell. I have no doubt accusations from both sides concerning voter intimidation, broken rules, and inconsistencies in results will continue to pour in throughout the state in the days to come.

The system in Texas needs to change. Even if there had been qualified election workers managing and overseeing the process and minimizing the unbelievably large room for error, it wouldn’t change the fact that the process silences certain groups of voters. It is un-Democratic and un-American that elderly, sick, disabled, or evening shift workers who are unable to attend the convention don’t get the full representation of their votes.

The good news is that many people found a way to the polls despite the obstacles. When the convention was over and I felt like I could collapse from exhaustion, Ina was ready to celebrate. As we drank our margaritas, we talked about how amazing it was to see so many Democrats in Texas standing up for their candidate of choice and getting involved in the process. I just wish that every single person had that same opportunity.