Project Wonderful

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Too Unlegit to Uncommit

Iowa Republicans are planning to revoke the uncommitted option in some counties after Occupy the Caucus announced its plans to caucus uncommitted in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

For those unfamiliar, an uncommitted vote essentially means you show up at the caucus and vote for no one. You literally stand in a clump of people (or vote or whatever Republicans do) supporting "uncommitted" as if uncommitted were a person and you were his or her loyal fan. In 1972 and 1976 "uncommitted" won the Iowa caucus.

There are three main reasons to caucus uncommitted. One, as happened to my favorite Precinct Captain in 2008, is that you can't get enough votes to gain an additional delegate for your candidate, but you can combine with another group in a similar situation to keep the front runner from gaining said delegate. Second is that you would be happy to support any of the candidates in the general election and you want to participate in the party business that takes place at the caucus without stating a preference. Third, as is the case in question, is to show a vote of no confidence in the candidates being offered.

"If you're not satisfied with choices, not happy with the system, this is a way to have our voices heard," said Drew Vesey, a 24 year old activist who plans to caucus with the Republicans.

Again, I couldn't be more excited about the Occupy Movement's choice to bring the fight to the politicians. Maybe it's because I'm an election nerd but participating in the system to threaten re-election prospects resonates much more with me than the ill-defined goals and game plan of the earlier OWS movement.

The Story County Republicans are sore losers. Not that it's any surprise. 2011 has been a banner year for Republicans attempting to "legally" but unethically disenfranchise those who disagree with them. It's not as if Republicans didn't participate in the 2008 Democratic primary in order to deflect support from either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama depending on who they found less threatening. Perhaps if one of the country's two large political parties was not in the business of suppressing the rights and desires of a large and vulnerable chunk of the population, we wouldn't need the Occupy Movement in the first place.

If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the caucus.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mexican Politicians Need to Game the System

Here's the gist. Candidates are not allowed to campaign for the general election until March. However, they can campaign in the primaries, gaining exposure to the entire electorate, now. "Institutional Revolutionary nominee Enrique Pena Nieto and leftist Democratic Revolution Party nominee Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are both running uncontested and their parties won’t be holding primaries....The ruling conservative National Action Party, however, has not chosen its candidate and the national electoral institute has said its three contenders can campaign for the party nomination until primary season ends in mid-February."

Now the other candidates are all "waaah it's not fair." If you ask me, The Institutional Revolutionary Party and the Democratic Revolution Party should have run puppet candidates in order to give their real candidates a national platform. Head in the game guys, head in the game.

Vaya Con Dios,

An Occupy Action I Can Get Behind...Sort Of.

Okay, so the protesters sound slightly like they're reading aloud from a Dr.Seuss book. They repeat like that in a ripple effect so that the entire crowd can hear them since they're not allowed to used a sound system. Occupy the Caucus is here!

I'm not a fan of the hyperbolic language they use:
"President Obama and the other bought-and-paid-for candidates who give us the brush-off when we try to ask real questions will be forced to hear us as we converge upon their campaign headquarters...we will chase the candidates and their Wall Street cronies around the state of Iowa, dogging their heels at all their black-tie dinners and staged media events, drowning out their empty rhetoric with the strong, clear message of the 99%."

However, there is one sentence in that I love, "We are taking American democracy back!" The difference between this and Occupy Wall Street is that they're bringing the movement to the source. They're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing: holding elected officials and candidates accountable.

It's not just that I love crazy activists causing trouble at the caucuses that does not involve me. It's that, despite its insistence on working outside the system, the Occupy movement is starting to organize to have impact on elections.

"The presidential candidates – including President Barack Obama – are essentially representatives of the corporate agenda, not the people, because both political parties and their leadership are beholden to the same network of corporate campaign contributors, elite, wealthy donors, war profiteers, and army of big money lobbyists and special interest groups. Our electoral system naturally reflects this reality and the resulting public policy outcomes of each election cycle predictably serve the interests of big banks and multinational corporations before the interests of everyday people, hardworking families, and the environment...The only way to counter the power of organized money is with the power of organized people."

I hope the movement continues to move in that direction. All that energy for change in one place is too good an opportunity to waste for self-righteousness and lack of foresight.

Happy New Year from Putin!

"Honest presidential elections in 2012," Putin told reporters in Moscow today, when asked what he can offer to Russians as a New Year's gift. The premier said he was ready for dialogue with the country's opposition groups, though they need to articulate a coherent platform.

Even though he claims that the December 4th elections weren't rigged. Pro-tip, Puty Put, generally when someone offers us a gift, it's something they don't think we already have. Let's call a bear a bear.

С Новым годом!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Taking Back Religion: How did Mitt Romney Get on the Non-Crazy Side of Gay Rights?

Brought to my attention by JoeMyGod. Crazy ultra conservative rabbis denounce Mitt Romney a "homosexualist.*" There's really no reason to watch this video unless you have a soft-spot for hate speech.

That's right. This Mitt Romney:

I shudder to think what that would make me!

I'm pretty sure being the most pro-gay in the Republican primary is like being the slowest qualifier on the Olympic team. You still beat the pants off a normal person. In case anyone else is confused, neither religion nor political office entitles one to be a bigot.

For my friends in the sane community, I enjoyed Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism's Jewish Voter Guide. He does not advocate for a particular candidate or party, but rather a thoughtful political process.

"Jewish tradition offers us an ethical framework to guide our political thinking. And the values it teaches are clear: dignity of the individual, mentschlikeit (acting with integrity), and, above all, rachmanut (compassion). God is addressed as El Male Rachamim (God who is full of compassion). Compassion is what enables us to go beyond ourselves to the beating pulse of the rest of the world, to feel the pain that is not our own."

Whatever your religion, I think we could all benefit from a little more integrity and compassion in our political process.

Happy Chanukah!


*PS. "Gomosexualist" is the actual word for a gay person in Russian. That's not super related.I just think its funny.

And Speaking of Single Women...

So remember all that gossip about Newt Gingrich serving his first wife divorce papers in her hospital room? Remember how he claimed that it was the first wife who requested the divorce? Wah wah. CNN discovered that's not true.
“Defendant shows that she has adequate and ample grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time,” her petition said. "Defendant does not admit that this marriage is irretrievably broken.”
And WHY did Gingrich want a divorce?
"A confidant of the former House speaker also told CNN that Gingrich said he dumped Jackie Battley — his one-time high school geometry teacher — in 1980 because she wasn’t “young enough or pretty enough” to be First Lady."
First of all, geometry teacher? Second of all, ew. Someone explain to me why Anthony Weiner had to resign, but this guy gets to run for President. But wait, there's more!
Gingrich initially refused to pay alimony — a claim supported by the court papers — and a church had to launch a food drive for Battley and her two daughters.
But you know, marriage is between one man, three women a church yard sale and cancer, so heaven forbid two loving, non-superficial gay people do it. And I guess Newt's children must be lazy if they're accepting that welfare. I guess we should not be surprised that his ex-wife was sick considering Gingrich once claimed that women should not serve in combat because they are prone to infections. (And they might menstruate all over the ammo!)

Don't get me wrong, I am not one for voters becoming the sex police, but this is not a marriage/sex scandal. This is a hypocrisy scandal. This is a misogyny scandal. This is a dangerous, narcissistic man who does not believe that his ridiculous moral standards apply to him. It is, unfortunately, nothing new.

Monday, December 26, 2011

All My Single Ladies

According to to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner single women are one of the least enfranchised segments of our population.

"Unmarried women - who make up more than a quarter of America’s voting-eligible population -- today feel disengaged and alienated from politics and that threatens their participation in the next election, according to new focus group research."

It's not surprising. Off the top of your head, how many prominent single female politicians can you name? No matter how many sympathetic officer holders there are, it's hard to feel enfranchised by a government in which you can only go so far. That's why I'm such a big proponent of The White House Project, "a nonprofit leadership development organization that invites, inspires, and equips the next generation of diverse women...[single and otherwise]... to lead in business and politics." Please click on the link to check them out.

Without question, single women are marginalized in politics and in society. But the solution is not to become less involved, it is to become more so. Don't you think, backing down is exactly what they want?. At a time when Republicans are attempting to balance the budget by taking away our say over our own bodies and the only woman in the Presidential race is Michele Bachmann, single women need to be more involved now than ever. We need to continue to become candidates, fundraisers, and influencers until it is impossible to even think about winning an election without us.

As Rosie the Riviter would say, "We can do it!!"

Make your lady vote count!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Tis the Season

Ugly sweater party, Christmas eve 2007 with my beloved coworkers.

Me with said friend, Christmas 2007. Look at us! We were babies!

I had the absolute pleasure of visiting with one of my best friends from Edwards '08 this week.
We stayed up all night drinking beer, watching West Wing Christmas episodes and reminiscing about the good, the bad, and the ugly of our days in Iowa.

That Christmas my boyfriend drove my car off an icy road into a cornfield and a friendly neighbor rescued us with a tractor. Then we drove to a former naval officer's supporter housing, ate various kinds of greasy overcooked vegetables and pies, and watched a special on the top ten most unique McDonalds. It sounds like the last place I'd want to find myself now, but at the time it was perfect. It was our first day off in months and one of the last times we'd all be together.

A week later, we'd participate in the historic Iowa caucuses. Then I'd be off to South Carolina on a losing campaign and the rest, as they say, is history. Still, if I could go back in time to tell myself one thing about that cycle, it wouldn't be that Barack Obama would win the caucus or what a jerk John Edwards was. It would be to appreciate those moments because for all the craziness, the yelling, the poor planning and the frustration, I would never be a field organizer again... and as glad as I am to have grown up since then, there are some experiences you just can't have doing anything else!

My New Year's resolution is to spend less time worrying about the future and find more things to appreciate in the moment.

I am incredibly grateful for friends I've kept from campaigns and the new ones I've had the good fortune to meet this week.

Seasons Greetings and Campaign Love,

Watch this Christmas themed 2008 Caucus video! I couldn't find a way to embed it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coffee Is for Closers Only

I had to share. This is sign hanging up in the Appleton, WI Recall Walker office. Love it. If you're a closer you should help them out.

(Click here for more info.)

Organizer Store- Holiday Edition 2011

What a year it's been! I can't believe it's been over a year since I've worked on a campaign! Grad school is incredible, but let's face it, nowhere near as incredible as my campaign family! This whole Gosling thing has reminded me of how special the people I work with are and how lucky I am to be a part of this community. I wish I could get these all, for all of you, but in true campaign fashion, I'm just going to encourage you to get some wealthy old volunteer (perhaps one who is so opposed to doorknocking he climbs down chimneys) to donate them. (And Click Here for last year's list!)

1.) The Democratic Dream Mug

Coffee is a Field Organizer's best friend. Now you can do your part to turn red states blue even as your pour yourself a mug! The map turns completely blue with heat! Big shout out to my friend (and sister), Arielle Jacobs who bought me this as a Secret Santa gift this year! From the aptly name Unemployed Philosophers' Guild.

2.) The Ostrich Head Pillow

I've often thought that campaign offices should have those cots in the back like they show in police stations in Law and Order, but that's not going to happen for a number of reasons. Behold the ostrich head pillow! Now you can nap through a conference call without ever leaving your desk! Also, I enjoy that it looks completely ridiculous.

3.) Organizer Wall Art
In case your organizer friend did not receive last year's t-shirt quilt, here's another do-it-yourself gift s/he might enjoy. Turn old campaign t-shirts into decorative keepsakes! Instructions here.

4.) Donation Alarm Clock
I posted about this over the Summer, but it deserves a second mention here. For the organizer who can't get herself out of bed in the morning, it's an alarm clock that donates money to organizations that you hate every time you hit the snooze. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to "when you're not working the other side is. "Also please note the "hateable" organization highlighted in the picture, it's like they were begging to be featured in the organizer store. As the product name suggests, you snooze you lose...literally.

5.) Doorknocking Mittens
A must-have for winter canvassing in Iowa! These are pretty pricey, but I'm pretty sure I bought mine for cheaper. Un-velcro the top to knock on a door, and then slip 'em right back on.

Hoping to have some more (potentially Gosling themed) gifts for you by the new year! Happy Holidays! Wishing you a 2012 filled with joy and success!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gosling goes Campaignsick

So in case you haven't heard, which is unlikely if you follow this blog, I made a Campaign Staff Ryan Gosling tumblr.

Various Gosling memes have been traveling the internet for weeks now, but I was particularly inspired when my classmate, Kelsey Keech created one for our public policy school.

Really, how could I have not done this before? It combines three of my favorite things: campaigns, puns, and off color humor! (Shirtless men talking about campaigns and puns are not half bad either.) Anyway the thing went viral. It was even shouted out by New Organizing Institute and VAN!

I got a reminder of the creativity and wit of my fabulous cohorts. Campaign people are some of the best and funniest people in the world! Here are some of my favorite posts:

You can get to the full tumblr by clicking on "Hey Girl" at the top of the page.

Peace, Love, and Walklists,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Supervillain or Newt?

Would that I could take credit for the funniest election related website today. Behold,! The site is exactly what it sounds like. You're offered 10 nefarious plans and you have to decide whether they were hatched by Newt Gingrich or a super villain. It's upsettingly difficult.

Yes, this is my second post in a row ragging on Newt Gingrich, but that's what you get for being the front runner.

Faithful Republican, Unfaithful Husband.

You can tell a lot about a person by who their friends are. Click to read the story behind the billboard.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Taking Back Religion: Weak

There's already a lot being said about this ad all over the internet, so I will let your own conclusions about what my thoughts might be. It is so offensive, such a parody of itself, that I would totally buy it as Jason Sudeikis in a wig.

My only explanation is that Rick Perry is throwing a Hail Mary, or as we liberals call it, a Homosexual Gaga.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In Post-Soviet Russia, elections hold YOU

The director of internationally funded election monitoring organization, Golos (voice), has been detained in Moscow, on the eve of Russia's parliamentary election.

As my host mother in St.Petersburg brilliantly pointed out, "Voting for president in Russia like voting for the weather." Meaning you can vote, but good luck with that having an impact.

I'm not disputing that tomorrow's election will be transparently corrupt, but if Russia sent people to monitor OUR elections we'd be all "You're kidding, right?" It's corrupt. We know its corrupt. They know its corrupt. They know we know. Leave it alone.

Congolese citizens take voter protection into their own hands.

"Dear Ballot Box, I hope you will tell me a story with a happy ending on December 6. It is the one I wrote."

This article is a must read for people interested in first or post-conflict elections, or anyone who is considering not voting in 2012.
People die for the right to vote and have their vote counted, whereas so many Americans take it for granted.

Out of the Frying Pan?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This video is a pretty good primer on last week's Egyptian election. One thing they don't cover is that, for infrastructure reasons, the country is voting in three waves, divided geographically, so although it was an election to national parliament, the national election is not over. As predicted, the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-Israel, sometimes anti-American, Islamist party took the most votes. Some protesters boycotted the elections saying that the military still held too much power, and that parties other than the Muslim Brotherhood had not had enough time to organize.

That's always a paradox that many Westerners don't consider in holding an election: Just because a country transitions from dictatorship to democracy, does not mean that it will necessarily share our values, which we saw as a concern during the Arab Spring. Moreover, the more democratic a state, the more free and fair its elections will be, but to be a true democracy, a country has to have had free and fair elections. At some point, you just have to hold the best election you can.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No Public Funding for Presidential Elections

This would be huge news. Except there's no way anyone was going to win a Presidential with public financing anyway.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Better Work!

I've heard worse ideas. Thank you people of New Hampshire, for having too much time on your hands.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be A Man, Stop and Smell The Roses

From a feminist perspective, I didn't love everything about this article...particularly the implication that men have a better idea of what to expect in the workforce or the description of competitive women as "catty."

However, I did find the article's explanation of why women burn out faster than men intriguing.
These early career flameouts are reflected through the corporate ladder. Today, 53% of corporate entry-level jobs are held by women, a percentage that drops to 37% for mid-management roles and 26% for vice presidents and senior managers, according to McKinsey research. Men are twice as likely as women to advance at each career transition stage. One rationale is that men are more likely than women to do things that help their personal wellbeing at work, thus negating burnout, according to the Captivate Network. Men are 25% more likely to take breaks throughout the day for personal activities, 7% more likely to take a walk, 5% more likely to go out to lunch, and 35% more likely to take breaks “just to relax.
I would argue that women are less likely to take breaks because they are more concerned that people are "counting on them." One thing I've learned in Women in Power class is that when a head hunter calls a women who is already in a job one of her first questions is "what will they do without me here?" Men simply don't ask that. Women also have less free time because they are expected to have the same responsibilities as men in the workplace, while taking on greater responsibilities at home.

Whether or not you're a woman this article brings up a good point: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is, sometimes its better to ask for an hour off (or give one to your organizers) so that you can get more out of the time you put in. This is a difficult concept in a business where we're taught time is our most valuable resource, but it is important to measure time in quality as well as quantity. That hour spent going to the gym or on the phone with your best friend, will make a difference later when you're not so burned out that you print the wrong call list or need to go on five coffee runs just to stay awake.

See? Women's wisdom comes in handy for everyone! (And for those of you with Y chromosomes, I promise not everything I write from now on will be gynocentric).


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why campaigns are making you fat

My rantings on women led me to check in on my Gender Policy facebook group where I found this article. Technically, it's about women and eating around the holidays...but just replace "woman" with "organizer" and "holiday" with "election" and you'll see why I found it relevant.

We all know about stress eating, but I thought the brain science in the article was particularly interesting. Maybe I'll think about it next time I look for my vote goal at the bottom of a pizza box.

Type E (Or Breaking Up is Hard to Deux)

Nota bene: Don't ever tell me not to do something. I was at brunch with my family yesterday when my Grandmother asked me "You don't write anything personal on your blog, do you?" Personal? That's hard to say. I once compared a candidate to an abusive boyfriend. I wrote an entry in which I literally broke up with campaigns and in doing so covered a fair amount of my animate romantic relationships as well. It was a difficult question to answer, because for me the political has always been extremely personal. "No but I mean you don't write 'I went out with someone the other night and I went to bed with him.'" Of course not...

If you read my blog or talk to me ever, you know that I struggle with separating elections from who I am. When I look at what I've accomplished and the person I am today, ambitious, driven, relentless, meticulous, passionate, it's hard for me to divine what traits I brought to campaigns versus what traits campaigns have given me. These days, when I find myself approaching a group project with "campaign mentality" I have to step back and wonder if it's really a "Nancy mentality" that's just used to having a more appropriate outlet.

All this would be an academic exercise if I weren't at a point in my life where I have to make some choices.
Around my twenty fifth birthday I got this sinking feeling that I didn't know where my life was going. My friends were getting engaged, joining law firms and buying houses. I was in a relationship with an undergrad, didn't know if and where I'd be working in six weeks, and was squatting on peoples couches. Organizing is the only job I can think of where at twenty five you can credibly say, "I'm too old for this shit."

Now I've just turned twenty seven and, as I do at every milestone, am forced to look back and take what one of my sorority sisters refers to as "mental stock." Besides teaching me a lot and giving me the leg up I need in my career, graduate school provides a woolly cocoon from which to assess the direction my life is headed. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to get where I want to be professionally. This blog is part of that and Columbia has allowed me to make some great connections to get me where I need to go. Romantically...not so much. Part of the problem is that you can't control other people's emotions and you can't create chemistry. The search for Mancy will not be solved by a google spreadsheet or by phone banking all the age appropriate gentlemen on the Upper West Side. (JVAN?) But there's another problem: I think I have a "thing" about elections. (That's elections with an "l.")

So I met this boy (sorry, Grandma). He used to work on campaigns and I went out with him the night before my birthday. Things did not work out, but it got me thinking, I only ever really like boys who have worked on elections. When I worked on campaigns, that wasn't so strange. Those were the only people I met. The fact that it's been true the past two years as well, kind of scary.

My friends used to joke with me that I had a thing for fat, tall, nerdy guys. This "slow, sweaty parade" as one friend put it can be easily traced back to my first boyfriend in college. Maybe we just incorporate what we're used to into our taste in significant others. It's also natural to seek out people who share your values. All things being equal, I would prefer to date a Jewish guy and elections are just as integral to who I am. However, while there is no shortage of heighty, chubby men who can fix a computer, and Jewish men abound where I come from, there are significantly fewer men who live in New York City and have worked on elections. More over, the same reasons I broke free from campaigns are the reasons I need a similar split from campaign boys.

Dating campaign boys is like dating my own id. I recently learned that men and women's brains are actually structured differently. Women have webbed brains which allow us to plan, to form relationships and see patterns. For a women everything is interrelated. That's why when I take stock of my life I consider my job as it relates to my relationships as they relate to my health, etc. Men do not have webbed brains, which allows them to be decisive and to compartmentalize.You know the Nancepaign vision I was talking about earlier? The intensity with which I approach a project? Multiply that times 1,000. And, (more information from Women in Power Class) men tend to prioritize the straight forward reward system of a job, where as women find more reward in relationships. Which generally means super intense time spent together, followed by me being totally ignored for work I while I perpetually reload my text messages and try to apply my organizing skills to a problem I can't control.

Why am I sharing this with you? Is campaignsick becoming a live journal? Decidedly, no. First, because campaignsick is life through a campaign lens, and this is a real part of my life. Second, and more importantly, if its bothering me its probably bothering someone else. I've spent a lot of time this semester thinking about women and power in the workplace, thanks to an incredible course I'm taking. One thing that keeps coming up in every class is how to balance an intense career about which you are passionate with life, family and relationships. Until recently the dilemma of "having it all" was taboo. Our Professor noted that it was more common for men to have pictures of their children on their desks than for women, since having a family to take care of on top of a career was perceived as a weakness, while women who chose not to have children were perceived as cold or odd.

One of those interrelated career/personal goals I'm pursuing is to be a role model for women who are unabashedly opinionated, especially in politics. It's hard for professional women to tell the truth about what we want in our lives without being criticized as weak or needy, but it's even harder to get what you want if you're not willing to say it. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen of campaignsick, ISO Mancy. It's gonna be tough to find someone to keep up with me though. After all, I have a pretty baller career going on, not to mention incredible classmates and coworkers to share it with.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pro-Tip: Be Thankful

Years ago, a career counselor at my alma mater advised me to write holiday cards to people who had helped me in my job search. Her logic was that this was an unobtrusive way of keeping myself on their radars, while reminding them of my impeccable charm and business etiquette should I need their help in future.

I thought this was sort of brilliant and I've adapted it to my own tastes over the years to include more than just casual business contacts and to take place around Thanksgiving rather than New Years. Every year I write an e-mail to candidates, bosses, co-workers and volunteers who have made an impact on me in the most recent election year. Yes, it's a good career move, but I'm recommending thankfulness in general. Here's why:

1) Elections are by nature a cynical business. We spend a lot of time talking about what's wrong, railing against injustice or warning about what could happen if the other side gets its way. There have been times on elections and even in school when I think about everything going on in the world and all the issues I care about and worry "how will we ever, ever fix that?" In our rush to make things better, we can spend our whole lives focusing on what's left to do and not consider all the progress we've made. This year I am thankful for (among many other things) Gilad Shalit, an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell, New York marriage equality, victories in Connecticut, continued protection for a woman's right to choose, and a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. In the lead up to what promises to be a challenging election year, let's not forget that we have a lot to be proud of.

2) It means more to thank someone when you don't need anything from them. Any organizer worth her call list knows to thank her volunteers when they come in the office, but what about the election? I once attended a training where a now fairly prominent field director told us that volunteers are like tissues because you get as much as you can out of them, and then you throw them out. Lovely. I know, I'm such the karma police that Radiohead could write a song about me, but it seems to me that if you thank someone you should mean it. Especially if you plan to go ahead and do it again with a whole new group of people next year. You're asking people to do things that are sometimes scary, often boring and often time consuming. As we all know, volunteers come into the office for the candidate, but they stay for you. One of the things that broke my heart about John Edwardsgate was that I had asked people to give up their time and energy to help him. I put my reputation and integrity on the line to them for him. Afterwards, I felt like I had let them down. Writing them a thank you note almost a year later allowed me to let them know that even though things worked out very, very differently than we had hoped, their hard work was not unappreciated, and not in vain.

3) We stand on the shoulders of giants. Whether you're in school, on a campaign, or doing something equally important but unrelated, sometimes its hard to stay motivated. It's less so when you think about all the people who have come before you to make your job/school/life possible. I am thankful for the founding fathers and mothers and revolutionaries who risked being hung for treason so that I could be part of the longest running democracy in history, for the people who have died defending it and for the women who took part in the suffrage movement. I am also thankful for the doctors and pharmacists who made it possible for me to be alive and healthy enough to contribute to a movement I find incredibly rewarding. I have no intention of letting any of them down.

This year I am thankful to all of you for reading my blog and sharing it with others, especially my darling friend Cole Imperi who helped me with its new design (official launch coming soon). Please let me know how I can help you achieve your goals this coming year. I wish you a festive and meaningful holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treating for Organizers

I'm actively upset that I didn't come up with this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ohio will upgrade voting sites to assist voters with disabilities

I love to see examples of when HAVA (Help America Vote Act) does its job! I feel like I've spent a lot of time writing about taking away voting accessibility lately. It's uplifting to do the opposite. ADA accessibility is actually a pretty big deal. It's one of the reasons I hate caucuses (because you have to physically BE there, regardless of how hard getting there is).

A very short article,but an important one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You can try my Kwanzaa CD's

Okay, okay. I know this is a few days old. I was trying to resist sharing, but I couldn't. I dare you not to crack a smile.

Florida Moves its Primary

Booooring. Florida moved its primary up, so South Carolina moved its primary up and Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada are going to do the same.

Who could have predicted that? Everyone. Why? Because they did it last year. And they will do it again. States want the economic benefits of the circus coming to town. State party officials and electeds want the bargaining power in the national parties and the gratitude of their constituents. They all want their state's issues to be more important. Going early is a big bargaining chip. Ever wonder why the corn lobby is powerful? The first caucus state is Iowa.

We're a long, long way away from having a national primary (whether or not that's something we want is its own discussion) because nobody wants to be the guy who suggests or supports it and then gets punished in Iowa.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution...

You know what I hate? I hate the influence that money has in our political system. I hate that people in our country are dying because they can't afford adequate healthcare. I hate how obscenely rich or well connected you need to be to run for public office. I hate that where you're born and how much money you have has more to do with where you go to college than how smart and driven you are. You know what else I hate? Occupy Wall Street.

Let me explain. My pro-empowerment credentials are pretty bona fide. I'm going to school for civic engagement. But Occupy Wall Street is not about that. It's not about...anything. And I don't mean to say that it's about nothing. I literally mean it's not about any one thing.
'We meet every day to decide what our demands are,' said Hero Vincent, 21, an artist and singer from Charlotte, N.C., who has been here from the beginning. Not allowed to use amplified sound, the protesters have devised their own means of communication. Each speaker says a sentence, and then everyone else repeats it, so it ripples outward. Decisions must be by consensus. Hand signals convey responses. For instance, holding your palms upward and wiggling your fingers means approval, while holding them downward means disapproval. Level hands mean uncertainty. " Uhuh....
People are angry, and I get that. They feel the government isn't listening and I get that too. That is a HUGE HUGE problem. It's one I plan on spending my life trying to solve. But what is the mission statement here? What are they hoping to gain? How will they know when they've won? Good community action involves goals and accountability. Even if your goal is public awareness, you have to know what you're making people aware of. NYT: "Not all of them can articulate exactly why they are here or what they want. Yet there is a conviction rippling through them that however the global economy works, it does not work for them." Well that's kind of broad...

President of the "make liberal activists seem irrational and annoying" movement, Michael Moore, thinks this lack of organization is a good thing.
"There's no or­ga­nized group with dues be­hind this. This is lit­er­ally an up­ris­ing of peo­ple who have had it. The great thing about what they're doing is that the work ahead is not as dif­fi­cult of other move­ments. Dur­ing the civil rights and other move­ments the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans were not with them. That's not true right now. The ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans are re­ally upset with Wall Street.You have al­ready got an army of Amer­i­cans who are just wait­ing for some­one to do some­thing and the some­thing has started."
The protest may be annoying but people who compare it to the Civil Right Movement or the Arab Spring are DISGUSTING. Our system is far from ideal, but nobody's shooting at us. We are free to practice or not practice our religions. Our government is not deliberately creating starvation or systematically killing its own people. Despite what these guys or the Tea Party might tell you, and however imperfect, we live in a liberal representative Democracy with civil rights and freedom of speech and expression. Note that the worst accusations of policy brutality involve pepper spray and are being investigated.

Occupy Wall Street reminds me less of an organized movement and more of my Freshman-year-of-college-liberal-angst.
And as enjoyable as that self-righteousness was, when I started working at Gay Mens Health Crisis the summer after the 2004 election, and met real people who had actually been forgotten by the government, I got over it. My clients there had a disease that the government had known about and denied, or blamed them for. They couldn't afford both their medication and food. They couldn't legally recognize their relationships. Disenfranchisement isn't a hat you try on between classes. To wit:
"Another speaker, an African-American, let everyone know that the occupation has a lack of diversity and not many in the hood that he is from know what they are doing. He explained Mayor Bloomberg just cut funding for subsidized housing so 12,000 will be out on streets. Latinos, Asians and blacks are ready to mobilize if the people in Liberty Park just talk about issues they want to talk about, he said. 'Too little of us are here because we don’t understand what this is all about,' he added. Then he said, 'You all look like a bunch of white kids who just lost their trust funds.' He told the crowd that black people have been having problems with student loans since the civil rights movement."
Here's how the Occupy Wall Street protesters are described in the New York Times:
"Most of the demonstrators are in their teens or 20s, but plenty are older. Many are students. Many are jobless. A few are well-worn anarchists. Others have put their normal lives on pause to try out protesting and see how it feels....'I’m angry because I don’t have millions of dollars to give to my representative, so my voice is invalidated,' said Amanda Clarke, 21, a student at the New School. 'And the fact that I’m graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in loans and there’s no job market'...Their politics zigzag wildly. An unemployed schoolteacher calls herself a fierce independent, while an employed teacher is a conservative. An anarchist photographer wants libertarianism to be reclaimed by the left. ..Sid Gurung, 22, a student at the New School who enlisted because he said he was 'extremely disappointed and angry that I have no future.'"
Watch the video. This thing is like a holy pilgrimage for unhelpful whacktivists. You know, the kind that "helpfully" make their own literature and want to meet face to face with the candidate.Speaking of which, I'm tempted to go down there and take a poll. I wonder how many of these protesters voted in the last election... or plan to vote in the next one. Not that voting is a unilateral solution to the country's problems, but it belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the process and problem with the way our generation tries to mobilize that anyone would think this is more effective.

"We don't have one central argument," said Jed Brandt of Brooklyn. "We have a lot, but the basic issue is our democratic structures are broken in this country." No argument here. But standing in an FDR mask on Wall Street isn't going to do it. When you start a 'movement' with no end game, no accountability and no message other than "Look at me!!! I'm angry," you make those of us who have goals and have a point look bad. If this was what political action was, if this was what Democracy was, I wouldn't want to take part in it either.

And by the way...when was the last time I was this worked up over a crowd of knee jerk upper middle class liberals who were more interested in self-congratulating than in actually creating quantifiable change? I'll give you a hint.
“'I’ve got my sleeping bag and my pad. I was told not to bring a tent so I left that at home,” said activist Ben Green, who flew in from out of state to camp here day and night. He had a simple message for the US president: “He’s backed out of everything he promised in the campaign. It’s like he’s asking to lose the next election.'”
If President Obama loses his base in the next election, it's not going to be Black people or Jewish people, it's going to be people like Ben who don't have an appreciation for the way things work and didn't understand what they were fighting for in the first place.

Friday, September 30, 2011

If you only read one article on the War on Voting...

I've been referencing the 'GOP War On Voting' a lot lately, but I realize I haven't provided much context for those who are starting at the subject from scratch. Luckily now I don't have to because this article did it for me!

I started reading the article thinking I could share the highlights with you, but honestly it was such a complete explanation and so much better than I could do that as a Campaignsick first, I am just copy and pasting it below. Please don't think I'm coping out on you! We'll be back to my regularly scheduled sneakiness tomorrow.

The national trauma of the 2000 presidential election and its messy denouement in Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court made, for a brief moment, election reform a cause célèbre. The scrutiny of election administration went far beyond the vote counting and recounting that dominated headlines. The Florida saga cast a harsh light on the whole country's archaic and fragmented system of election administration, exemplified by a state where hundreds of thousands of citizens were disenfranchised by incompetent and malicious voter purges, Reconstruction-era felon voting bans, improper record-keeping, and deliberate deception and harassment.

The outrage generated by the revelations of 2000 soon spent itself or was channeled into other avenues, producing, as a sort of consolation prize, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, an underambitious and underfunded law mainly aimed at preventing partisan mischief in vote counting. The fundamental problem of accepting 50 different systems for election administration, complicated even more in states like Florida where local election officials control most decisions with minimal federal, state or judicial oversight, was barely touched by HAVA. As Judith Browne-Dianis, of the civil rights group the Advancement Project, told me: "The same cracks in the system have persisted."

But most politicians in both parties paid lip service to the idea that every American citizen had a right to vote, and that higher voting levels of the sort taken for granted in most democracies would be a good thing. "Convenience voting" via mail and early on-site balloting, or simply liberalized "absentee" voting, spread rapidly throughout the last decade, often as a way to minimize Election Day confusion or chicanery. In Florida itself, Republican Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist relaxed and then abolished the state's practice of disenfranchising nonviolent felons for a period of time after their release.

No more. In the wake of the 2010 elections, Republican governors and legislatures are engaging in a wave of restrictive voting legislation unlike anything this country has seen since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which signaled the defeat of the South's long effort to prevent universal suffrage. This wave of activism is too universal to be a coincidence, and too broad to reflect anything other than a general determination to restrict the franchise.

Millions of voters are affected. In Florida new Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation reversing Crist's order automatically restoring the voting rights of nonviolent ex-felons. In one fell swoop, Scott extinguished the right to vote for 97,000 Florida citizens and placed more than a million others in danger of disenfranchisement. In a close contest for the Sunshine State's 29 electoral votes, such measures could be as crucial to the outcome as the various vote suppression efforts of 2000.

As Ari Berman explained in an excellent recent summary of these developments for Rolling Stone, restrictive legislation, which has been introduced in 38 states and enacted (so far) in at least 12, can be divided into four main categories: restrictions on voter registration drives by nonpartisan, nonprofit civic and advocacy groups; cutbacks in early voting opportunities; new, burdensome identification requirements for voting; and reinstitution of bans on voting by ex-felons.

While new voter ID laws have clearly been coordinated by the powerful conservative state legislative lobbying network ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), other initiatives have spread almost virally. Virtually all of these restrictions demonstrably target segments of the electorate -- the very poor, African-Americans and Hispanics, college students, and organizations trying to register all of the above -- that tend to vote for Democrats.

Virtually all have been justified by their sponsors as measures to prevent "voter fraud," a phenomenon for which there is remarkably little evidence anywhere in the country. As Tovah Andrea Wang, an election law expert at Demos, has concluded: "[L]aw enforcement statistics, reports from elections officials and widespread research have proved that voter fraud at the polling place is virtually nonexistent." The Bush administration's Justice Department tried to a scandalous degree to find cases of voter fraud to prosecute, and failed.

But as Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, observes:

So-called anti-fraud laws are almost always thinly veiled attempts to prevent large segments of the population from making it to the ballot box ... low-income voters, college students, people of color, the elderly. The people behind these laws know that there is no "voter fraud" epidemic. They just want to make it as difficult as possible for certain types of people to vote.

If so, is the motivation simply and purely partisanship? That's the conclusion reached by former President Bill Clinton, who told a Campus Progress audience in July: "They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate."

The prevalence of restrictive measures in key 2012 swing states certainly reinforces this impression. With Scott's order Florida rolled back the early voting that played a key role in Obama's 2008 victory. New voter ID laws were pioneered in Indiana, the red state most famously carried by Obama in 2008. A voter ID bill passed in the Legislature in North Carolina, but was vetoed by the governor, a Democrat.

Cynical as such actions may seem, they do reflect an ideology. For some conservatives, however, there is a deeper motive than partisanship that helps explain the rapid proliferation of restrictive legislation. It hearkens back to much older debates over the franchise that raged from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries: the belief that voting is a "privilege" rather than a right, and one best exercised by "responsible" or "productive" members of the community. And it's not really surprising that old-school doubts about the very concept of "voting rights" have accompanied the dramatic rise to power of "constitutional conservatives" who strongly believe that no popular majority should have the power to modify fixed concepts of property rights and limited government as handed down by the Founders, who themselves acted (according to many Tea Partyers) according to a divine mandate.

You hear echoes of this ancient anti-democratic conviction scattered all across the Tea Party Movement and among many state legislators active in voting for restriction legislation. Tea Party Nation president Judson Phillips created a furor in November of 2010 by suggesting that voting should be restricted to property owners, as it often was prior to enactment of the 15th Amendment.

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers flatly claimed voting was "not a right" during debate over a photo ID bill (a statement he later partially walked back). So, too, did Florida state Sen. Mike Bennett in a similar debate. Republican legislators and party leaders in Wisconsin, Maine and New Hampshire said all sorts of disparaging things about the civic qualifications of college students in the process of seeking to keep them from voting on campus.

Suffusing much of this sentiment is the pervasive Tea Party fear that voters without "skin in the game," that is, "property ownership or significant tax liability," will be prone to voting for big government and "welfare" at the expense of "productive" citizens. Few would publicly go so far as right-wing author Matthew Vadim, who briefly became a Fox celebrity for his argument that registering poor people to vote is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals," since they "can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians."

But throughout the conservative and Tea Party subculture you find countless people who subscribe to the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" (popularized by Glenn Beck) that liberals have been engaged in a deliberate effort for decades to buy votes with expanded welfare benefits. And from practically the moment the financial crisis exploded, a preferred conservative-activist interpretation (advanced most aggressively by presidential candidate Michele Bachmann) has involved an elaborate variation on the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

The story is that the obscure community organizing group ACORN utilized the provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act to destroy the housing and banking industries with mortgages for shiftless poor and minority borrowers who were then encouraged to elect "socialist" politicians like Barack Obama to bail them out. This particular conspiracy theory has been especially potent since ACORN's often-clumsy voter registration efforts also happen to be at the very center of Republican claims of widespread voter fraud.

Conservative suspicions that letting poor people vote leads to "socialism" have been most evident in the strange furor among tax-hating Republicans about the number of Americans who do not have net federal income tax liability. These "lucky duckies" (as the Wall Street Journal famously called them in a 2002 Op-Ed deploring the low taxes paid by the poor) have no "skin in the game." Thus, as the Journal put it, "can hardly be expected to care about tax relief for everybody else ... [and] are also that much more detached from recognizing the costs of government."

While it's unlikely Republican politicians will come right out and advocate higher taxes on the poor (although some "fair tax" schemes calling for a shift to consumption taxes would have the same effect), the resentment of them as freeloaders who get to "vote themselves welfare" probably does operate as a fine rationalization for placing landmines on their path to the voting booth.

All in all, the conservative commitment to full voting rights, which used to be a bipartisan totem that Republican operatives undermined in the dark and out of sight, is probably dead for the foreseeable future. And the war on voting will continue.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taking Back Religion FROM OUR SCHOOLS

"Because of this, people in public schools are going to get to know who Jesus Christ is."

The above video is from a mandatory meeting at a public school in South Carolina."I never get mad because they teach evolution." don't get mad when they teach math and social studies either, right?

I was reflecting recently about how hard it would be for me to be part of a religion that evangelized. A man was screaming out bible verses on my way home from synagogue. I thought "Even though it makes people uncomfortable if you really, sincerely, believed that they would burn in fire for all eternity unless they changed, wouldn't you try to help them?" And then I thought, "That's why we have Separation of Church and State." If someone comes up to you on the street you can just walk away. If you go to a religious school it's your choice to attend. If you're uncomfortable at these places, you can leave. All children are required to attend public (or choose to go to private) school. I can't even imagine how uncomfortable a Jewish or Muslim or just non-religious student would feel at this assembly...or at the school afterwards. I think religion can play a hugely important role in a child's life, but no one ever got the benefits of religion by being coerced into it and the resentment that can stem from that kind of coercion is exactly why so many people distrust religion.

Please join me in signing the ACLU petition.

L'Shana Tova,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2012 E-Voting Machines are Super-hackable

Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois says

I found the video pretty boring, but if you're the "take it apart and see for myself" type, you might find it appealing.

In case you don't want to watch the boring video or read the less boring article, let me break it down for you. They are not talking about cyber attacks, although they imply those are possible as well. They are talking about physical attacks on the machine, basically rewiring it to run by remote control, which they call a "man in the middle" attack. That is in a way scarier, because you don't need highly specialized knowledge to pull it off. Apparently it's pretty easy (they keep referring to being able to do it with an 8th grade education, but I must have skipped that day) and very cheap and if it happened, there would be no physical evidence to arouse suspicion.
Test team member, John Warner explains, "The really nice thing about this attack, the man-in-the-middle, is that there's no soldering or destruction of the circuit board of any kind. You can remove this attack and leave no forensic evidence that we've been there...Gaining access to the inside of the Diebold [that's the brand of voting machine] touch-screen is as simple as picking the rudimentary lock, or using a standard hotel minibar key, as all of the machines use the same easily copied key, available at most office supply stores."
This is why I tell people it will be years before we have national at home ivoting. We can't guarantee security when we have the physical machines.

Now granted, we assume that the machines will be stored in a place with trustworthy personnel (...or you know, underpaid disgruntled board of elections workers). And more reasonably we realize that for this type of hack to have any sort of widespread effect, there would have to be a national or statewide conspiracy to physically tamper with machines. Sure one super corrupt County Party Chair might be able to rig an election (a problem in and of itself), but I would put it past even the least scrupulous of national parities to be able to pull off that kind of coordinated attack. You would really need cyber hacking for that. (I mean what? I was home all evening! I want an attorney!) Still, when it comes to the integrity of our voting systems are we really okay with "it's probably fine?"

So, while I don't find it overly concerning, I do find it dumb that we made voting machines that a zealous intern could hack into. So does the team at Argonne National. Team leader Roger Johnston explains:
"The machines themselves need to be designed better, with the idea that people may be trying to get into them. If you're just thinking about the fact that someone can try to get in, you can design the seals better, for example. Don't do things like use a standard blank key for every machine. Spend an extra four bucks and get a better lock. You don't have to have state of the art security, but you can do some things where it takes at least a little bit of skill to get in."
Why don't Republicans focus on this if they're so concerned about election fraud?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fusion Voting: I've been meaning to talk to you about that.

Start this video at 1:32

Did you know that New York has Fusion Voting? Okay, back up. Do you know what Fusion Voting is? It's cool. I didn't either until I applied for a job with The Working Families Party in 2009. I've been meaning to write about Fusion Voting (also called Electoral Fusion) since I started this blog. Talking with colleagues this week about the rules we create when setting up electoral systems resparked my interest.

Here's how it works: WFP, or another third party, endorses a candidate already in the race. For WFP it is usually, but not always, a Democrat. Voters can vote for the candidate on either the Democratic or the Working Families Party line, and the votes for the candidate from both lines are tallied together. For example, if candidate X receives 30% of the total votes cast on the Democratic Party line and 20% of the total votes on the WFP line, while candidate Y receives 45% of the total votes on the Republican line, candidate X still wins!

In a country where we have first past the post, as opposed to party list proportional representation, critics argue that Fusion Voting doesn't make much of a difference. Voters who would have voted for the candidate on one line vote for her on the other, but ultimately the result is the same. But Fusion Voting allows voters to voice discontent with the two big political parties without "spoiling" the election ala Ralph Nader in 2000. It also allows a party like WFP to put its resources (particularly its spectacular paid canvass) behind candidates that actually have a chance of winning. Because WFP does not endorse in every election, a WFP endorsement does hold some weight in and of itself, signifying to educated voters that the endorsed candidate is someone who will take working class issues seriously. At the same time it holds elected officials accountable to these voters and their interests. A large percentage of the winner's vote on the WFP line sends the message "you were elected to fight for minimum wage, health care, affordable housing, etc and you better do it or next time you may not be so lucky."

Watch the video from 1:32 to 4:52 for a great explanation of Fusion Voting as well as the reason it is now only legal in 8 states (hint: special interests). Fusion Voting does not solve all the problems inherit in our electoral system, but it does ameliorate some. I think most Americans who pay attention would agree that we've created a system so entangled in special interests and money that it's hard to see how to pull ourselves up out the rabbit hole. So while Fusion Voting might not solve everything, at this point in our electoral history, are we in a position to turn a good idea down?

NGP VAN: A Match Made in Heaven


Peanut butter and Jelly. Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski. Beer and baseball. Some things just belong together.

For those of you less obsessed with the Voter Activation Network than me (ie everyone) let's take a step back. As it says in the press release, "VAN is the architect of the Democratic National Committee’s VoteBuilder database, which is distributed to thousands of Democratic campaigns across the nation. In 2008, VoteBuilder was used by Obama for America to manage the largest voter contact and volunteer program in campaign history." For the record, VAN (the actual product is called VoteBuidler and the company is VAN, but we use the two interchangeably) was around before the Obama campaign and it's basically a field organizer's best friend. Votebuilder is how we track and manage volunteer and voter contact data. If it's not in the VAN, it doesn't exist. It's what make us better at field campaigns than Republicans and frankly a large part of what made me good at my job. It can generate lists of volunteers or voters based on where they live, what events they've attended, even create a walklist complete with map and driving directions or a call list with phone numbers, sex, age and party registration. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Without the VAN, I'd be useless.

The one drawback to Votebuilder has always been that it doesn't effectively track donor data. It's tools are set up for field, not finance. Consequently we have needed another tool to track donor data; who has gotten an ask, who we need to follow up with, who has maxed out, etc. Enter National Geographic and Political Software. From the press release, "NGP is used by the DNC, DSCC, DCCC, DGA, and DLCC; over 75 percent of the Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate; almost all the Democratic state parties; and in total over 1,700 Democrats, PACs, and other organizations and corporations. For 14 years, NGP has helped clients succeed and win by delivering a mix of products, political and technology expertise, and outstanding client services." NGP is the gold standard for tracking finance data.

The problem is, it's possible for field and finance to be working very similar lists at the same time and not know about it. Their asks are not coordinated. When I call to ask if you'll attend a fundraiser on Thursday, I don't know that you're scheduled for door knocking that day. If I make a persuasion call to a voter and she pledges a donation, I don't have the tools to enter it in the system. Or at least...not until now...

NGP and VAN are getting married! It's true, most campaign relationships don't last, but I think these two crazy kids are gonna make it!

"NGP has focused on the financial side of campaigning (fundraising and compliance tools) and VAN on the field (voter contact and volunteer management). The combined company will offer an array of campaign technology services including systems to manage voter contact, volunteer management, fundraising and compliance, union organizing, membership management, and phone services. These services are complemented by a suite of new media tools: broadcast email, online contributions, website tools, all integrated with the VAN and NGP databases. "

Apparently this press released happened in November?! How is it possible that I didn't know about this? It would be like Perez Hilton missing a press release that Elton John got Lady Gaga pregnant. It's that big a deal. When I sent the link to an old bro-worker, amidst his shouts of glee he commented "If I had been waiting for a sign from God about something, I would have just assumed this was it." I suspect I will have to edit this post tomorrow, but I was too excited not to share. And seriously...if I found out you knew about this and didn't tell me...well...let's just say you will not be my plus one to the wedding. NationalField is gonna be so jealous!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Campaign Quickie

J: So, some old dude on the phone threatened to kill me because I called him... he's my candidates neighbor... and when he found out I was from the campaign he hung up.

Me: Oooh tell me more!

J: Then called back and left a message saying "if you're a solicitor take me off your list."

Me: Ahaha. Does he know he is the dude's neighbor?

J: Yes, we gave him a yard sign on Saturday. He seemed fine.

Oh...les joies de campaign.

At least SOMEONE is making it easier to vote

You've gotta hand it to the OFA new media team. In the throws of what has been termed the "GOP War On Voting" they've created a tool to fight fire with civic engagement. does everything for you but put the stamp on your registration and drop it in the mail (which some people would *still* need to get in their registrations but that's another issue).

You choose your state, fill in the fields provided and populates a voter registration form ready to print and mail. It can even help you request an absentee ballot or change your registration address. The PDF generated by the site comes with a handy instructions (basically fold, stamp and mail) and an envelope already addressed to the board of elections. As if that weren't enough, your submission triggers an automatically generated email reminding you to submit the form (and how), thanking you for your support of the President (voter reg drives have to be non-partisan so you could technically register as a Republican, but the site is being marketing to Dems) and linking you to ways to stay involved. That's some field organizer follow up at its finest. (Okay, better if I got a phone call five seconds later asking me to volunteer, but the election year is young.)

I just want to throw out there...when one party is making it easier to vote while another is trying to keep people from voting, you gotta wonder who truly represents the will of the people.

For the record, I registered Democrat.

<3, Nancy
UPDATE: received another (2nd) follow up email from, a day after I signed up, copy and pasted below. Way to follow up.

Nancy --

It's been 1 day since you filled out your voter registration form. Have you signed it and mailed it in yet?

The signed voter registration form must be postmarked by 1:00 AM on October 14, 2011 -- just 17 days away.

If you haven't yet, please mail your completed form to:

NYS Board of Elections
40 Steuben Street

Albany, NY 12207-2108

If you've already mailed your form, click here to let us know:

I mailed my voter registration form

Do you have questions about registering to vote? Call:

(518) 473-5086

You can print a new copy of your registration form by clicking here

If your form is incorrect, you've recently moved, or you need to start over, you can edit your form.

After you mail your form, make sure your family, friends and neighbors do the same.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saudi Women Will Vote in Local Elections

Grad school is kicking my butt, but I am too excited about this not to share. Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation's women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015.
Saudi women have been capitalizing on the air of reform in the region by organizing protests against the ban on female drivers and other inequitable Saudi laws.

Critics rightfully point out that women are still not allowed to drive in the kingdom and that the advancement won't take effect until 2015, but I still believe that King Abdullah deserves praise. Saudi Arabia is in an interesting situation in that the ruling family is considerably more liberal than the highly politically and economically influential ulema (the body of Islamic religious leaders and jurists). King Abdullah made it clear that he consulted with these leaders, however ultimately the decision was his and arrived at in part because of a social networking campaign led by female activists. Times they are a changin'.

Is it a small step? Yes. But it's a step forward.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I can't make this stuff up

Arizona State Senate President and author of the controversial Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, Russell Pearce is facing a recall election.

First, I'd like to take a moment to appreciate that. Whatever problems we may have with our system of governance, we live in a country where voters can hold politicians accountable for their actions and, miraculously, activists in Arizona were engaged and organized enough to make that happen. Bravo to them and to United States for having this system! See what happens when you get involved?

Now, here's why this story is interesting. Pearce and his supporters are running a campaign so sleazy, I can't decide whether to laugh or cry. These illegal campaign signs, are just the tip of the iceberg. There is debate as to whether Pearce supporters were responsible for an attempt to intimidate his opponent, Republican Jerry Lewis, (no relation) by THROWING A PADLOCK AT HIS GROIN.

More substantially, Pearce's campaign was caught plagiarizing anti-immigration material from...wait for it...white supremacists. And, running a fake Mexican American candidate (particularly obnoxious considering his views on immigration) in an attempt to split his opponent's vote. See the yard sign above.

I would like to write some witty commentary for you, but some things just speak for themselves. Stay classy, Tea Party.