Saturday, September 12, 2009

deja vu

In the beginning of the year, Obama demanded a big stimulus and that Congress pass it before he was sworn in. They delayed a few months, it got watered down, GOP talking point line items were removed, it got a bit smaller, and the Maine Senators and soon to be Dem Spector were the only GOPers who voted for it. But it passed.
Call me crazy, but it seems like the same thing is happening again: getting watered down, slightly smaller, delayed past pre-Aug. Why won't pass by 60 votes and be signed into law?

Friday, September 11, 2009

the lessons of 9/11

My parents will never remember where they were when they learned President Kennedy was shot, and my generation will never forget where they were when they learned of the terrorists attacks in the morning of September 11, 2001.  We will never forget the clear, sunny skies, and the feeling of losing something beyond the lives of those who were murdered by Al Qaeda.   

President Bush stated that the lessons of that horrible day were that Americans are no longer protected by having the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans between us and our foes, and that we must be vigilant to prevent future attacks.  And for the most part (Pearl Harbor) I agree with him.

But there is another big lesson that was learned.

Americans and America at times is accused of being hopelessly selfish and demanding of instant, ever increasing demands for gratification.  Yet there were countless tales of people carrying others down hundreds of flights of stairs to safety while the Towers burned. Of firefighters and policemen and -women who weren't even called to the scene, yet stopped to lend a hand.  And of course, the courageous and selfless actions of the passengers of Flight 93, who stormed the cockpit and stymied another airplane strike aimed at Washington, D.C. 

While certain parts of America reared its ugly head in the weeks that followed (e.g. the assaults on Sikhs because of the religious turban the men wear), the aftermath of the attack also showed that Americans can be kind and selfless to strangers.  The Red Cross received millions of dollars, the blood banks were overwhelmed, and volunteers were turned away from clearing the rubble in lower Manhattan.  Many of my generation enlisted in the armed services or applied to a military academy.  

I would like to get that feeling back.  Along with the knowledge that the world was behind us, mourning with us, and vowing to help us exact revenge.  Much of that good will was squandered.  Even the organic urge for service was converted into a plea to go shopping and take a vacation.  

We know we have it in us.  It just takes a dramatic moment or a leader to actualize it.  Many were hoping that President Obama would be that leader.  So far, his feet are firmly planted on the ground, either by choice or by the realities of the legislative process.  Yet glimmers of hope arise, when, like Wednesday night, Obama gives a rousing speech and reminds those of us who voted for him why we waited for hours in line to do so.  

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Senator Reid, call their bluff

All this talk about 60 votes versus 51 votes in the Senate misses a big point. Let the minority filibuster health care reform. Let them read the phone book for insurance companies. Let the Nelsons and the Liebermans of the Senate vote against cloture and make them read the OED. How many times can you talk about "socialized medicine," "death panels," and "a thousand pages long" during that pajama party? Go ahead pompous windbags, I dare you. If Harry Reid wants to get reelected he will stand up and make these self-proclaimed moderates put their butts at their desks for days straight and stand in the way of the people who want their health care not to suck.

it gets more interesting

So my local city councilman Eric Jurgensen decided to not run again this year because his family business was facing some serious legal troubles. And while these city positions are technically non-partisan, it was pretty clear that he was a Republican (although he voted very liberally, at least for a Utah Republican). There are many people running for this open seat race, including a classmate and friend of mine from law school--Yossof Sharifi. Yossof is running as a libertarian. There are two obvious Democrats in the race--LIsa Allcott, whose signs and mailings say Democrat on them--and Stan Penfold.

Penfold was the director of the Utah AIDS Foundation, his black on yellow signage is a subtle sign that he is indeed supported by Mayor Ralph Becker. A number of other prominent Dems support Penfold as well, including former Congresswoman Karen Shepherd.

Allcott has more cash behind her, and has a raft of endorsements from the Democratic establishment as well, including Peter Corroon. And although Penfold is a gay man and ran the Utah AIDS foundation, Allcott has the support of the Utah Stonewall Democrats and Equality Utah (although these gay rights groups appear to be supporting both Allcott and Penfold).

These two appear to be the front runners, but it could be that they split the Democratic vote and someone else squeaks into the runoff (that's Yossof's plan). Both Allcott and Penfold have been sending mailings and flyers. I have had door knocks from Allcott's campaign (once with her personally, another with a staffer/volunteer) and Penfold has called my parents house for me twice, once even with a colleague from work. And while I have seen some signs for the other candidates, Jennifer J. Johnson and Phil Carroll, I have not seen any other forms of on the ground presence from them (and nothing from Yossof).

I wish all of the candidates the best of luck and will be following this race closely.