A Quick Education on Rahm Emanuel

rahmIn the rank of days of my life, it goes like this 1) and 2) the births of my two exceptionally amazing children, 3) marrying my sweet, totally awesome husband and 4) drum roll please….

November 4, 2008.

My children will now spend at least 4 years living in a country led by, without a doubt, the most exceptional individual to be elected to political office in recent, or even distant, memory. And perhaps to banish the inexperience and memories of chaos of the Clinton years, he has already chosen, as his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

So who is this guy? First, let’s chat about what the chief of staff does. Generally, this person corrals the Cabinet secretaries and keeps them in line with regard to the over-all agenda of the president. He or she (actually, unfortunately, this person has never been a “she”) also frequently is a key leader of the team that represents the executive branch to the Congress, pursuing votes and admonishing malcontents in the party. Think Leo in the West Wing. Essentially, the administrative version of the president.

Rahm Emanuel is the two term congressman from Illinois and is a tightly wound ball of hyper-kinetic energy. Since 2007, Emanuel has been the chair of the Democratic Caucus (kind of a big deal). He was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an instrumental force in taking the House of Representatives back from the Republicans in 2006. He worked for Paul Simon and was a chief advisor of Bill Clinton.

He is a young guy – 48 – and the father of three children. He has a 100% voting record on choice, supported the initial war resolution on Iraq but has since become a strong and vocal opponent of the war, has been great on the environment and is very well known for being a huge personality to that advocates tenaciously for a progressive agenda.

On paper, it all looks good. Now, let’s back up for a second. One of the key reasons that Obama won Virginia and Indiana and stood a chance in states like Montana and North Dakota, was because the Chair of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean (known in our house as Saint Dean), implemented a strategy of targeting each and every state, regardless of electoral history, as a potential Democratic site of victory. Brilliant. Exceptional. Pure genius.

While Dean struggled to implement this strategy, his most vocal opponent was Rahm Emanuel, who clung to the older strategy of pouring all of the resources into the states most likely to secure victory. Because of this, Emanuel has lost favor with some aspects of the Democratic Party.

In the end, though, the Obama campaign became a combination of both strategies …  Dean’s was used to get through the early part of the campaign, and when it came down to the final days, Emanuel’s older strategy was favored to target resources in key states (that’s why Obama never made it to Oregon during the general campaign).

Given this past feud, it looks like there might be some tensions between the party machine and the White House. But you know what? Never before have I trusted a leader to manage disputes, quell unproductive discord and listen to both sides of an argument more than I trust Obama.

Bring on the constructive debate.


MamaKristin and Shawn are LiveBlogging!

UPDATE: Shawn will now be a panelist for MOMocrats. You’re just going have to go back and forth.

MamaKristin is going to be liveblogging the Tuesday, October 7th presidential debate on BlueOregon. Maybe even be on TV (Koin, channel 6). I can’t wait to watch another installment in the Obama/McCain smackdown. I’m rooting for the smart one, btw.

Check it out… laugh…comment (nicely). Shawn will be IMing me over Facebook (whatever wit I include will most likely be from her.) Join us!!

Power to the People

Shawn and I gathered, with children, husbands and mint juleps (University of Mississippi, you know), to watch the debate. We were looking for a knock-out punch that never came, but I think what we got instead was a hearty, satisfying meal to digest.

We got one candidate who used astute reasoning to communicate complex ideas, someone who has put his faith in the American people to choose peace, compassion and intelligent solutions to intractable problems.

And we got another who was snarky, derisive, patronizing and who came across as just flat out grumpy. McCain apparently has quite a few frequent flyer miles (“I’ve been here, I’ve been there”), but little understanding of how to create an effective policy or thoughtful solutions.

We all had our favorite lines from Obama, but I think the best quote came today from our beloved candidate.

“The truth is, through 90 minutes of the debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me. But he had nothing to say about you.”

We’re going to win this thing. Obama will be our president. It’s going to happen. And watch…this is what we’re going to have (it’s the new one!)


Republicans Have Nothing Else To Throw At Us

Shawn and I talked at length today and we both confessed to a shaky, short-tempered mood. While we can perhaps chalk it up to other factors in our life (oh, YEAH, we ARE mothers of small children – hello?), we decided that, in reality, we had poll-itis. We were absolutely, totally horrified that, as a nation, we might just elect a bunch of idiots AGAIN.

I’ve convinced myself, though, that the worst of it is over, that it’s not going to happen. Why? Let’s review…

  1. Sarah Palin is all that they’ve got. Her bubble has reached its limit, and given her shockingly pathetic knowledge of foreign policy evident in the recent ABC interview, the bubble can’t grow any more. It might be ready to pop.
  2. The Republicans have gotten nasty, they’ve lied, they’ve scapegoated and Swiftboated. And they’re essentially tied with Obama. They don’t have anything else in their holster.
  3. Obama still has the edge in the Electoral College. Now, I’m one of those pathetic people who could go into detail about the combination of states that Obama will most likely win (either Minnesota + New Hampshire + Colorado or Minnesota + Ohio, if you were asking). McCain, despite the national polls, is still behind in many state polls and will most likely not win the key combination of states to win.
  4. Obama is going on the offensive. Kerry didn’t. Gore didn’t. Dukakis didn’t. Clinton DID. Now…lessee, who was the two term president? Obama has, perhaps a little late, learned that you can’t let lies go unchallenged. Hopefully, it will be in time.
  5. The Obama campaign has done what the Kerry and Gore campaign didn’t – they’ve poured themselves into the ground campaign. What does that mean? Well, for example, there are 600,000 registered African American voters in Florida who didn’t vote in 2004 – the Obama campaign is going door-to-blessed-door to ensure that they do vote in 2008. Considering that Kerry lost Florida by a little over 400,000 in 2004, efforts like these might make a significant difference. Another example is in voter registration — In Oregon, there are 130,000 new Democrats and 30,000, approximately, lost Republicans.

Perhaps these are hopeful musings of a political addict. Perhaps they are the dreams of a mother who, while Obama was far ahead, taught her older son the ins-and-outs of the Electoral College map and who now has to tell him, nightly, what the polls in Ohio are doing. I’m hoping they are the pragmatic thoughts of a woman who has been through a few of these elections and believes, deeply and rightly, in her candidate.

We shall see.

Two Months Out — What We Have To Do

We have less than two months to go before an election that will forever affect our environment, national security, health care and education systems, and the economic health of our nation. And the polls are tied. Yelp. 

It’s time to get to work.

First, we need to give money. If you don’t have much yourself, go to BlueOregon, where I have a post rewarding sleuthy fact-checkers by giving $10 for every Republican lie corrected. If you have some extra green in your wallet, turn it blue by giving it here or here, or to the progressive cause of your choice…it takes a village to take back a country.

Second, we need to make sure all of our friends and family members are registered to vote. You can even register to vote without a carbon footprint by going here. The voter registration deadline in Oregon is October 14. Not an Oregonian? Go here to find out when your deadline is.

Third, we need to educate ourselves and our communities. The supremely fabulous CityMama at MOMocrats posted a series of articles comparing the stances of Obama and McCain. While other posts are going up fast at MOMocrats, you can find them under those posted on September 5. The articles are concise and clear — go and start reading them.

Third, we need to do whatever we can to help the local campaign. The Obama office in Oregon is full of kind and cheerful people who will be happy to fit you with your volunteer job of your choice.

Fourth, we need to be visible. Walk through the mall with an Obama shirt on. Wear a button to your child’s back to school night. Put a bumpersticker on your car or bike. If you need merch, go here.

Finally, we need to keep ourselves inspired. Need a lot of inspiration? Settle in for Obama’s Convention speech.

Need just a little? Here’s the now-famous Will.i.am video…stil makes me cry…

Let’s make it happen — eyes on the prize.

More To Love About Biden – Advocacy for Women

Now that the dust is beginning to settle and more is being learned about Biden, the happier this mama is getting. His stance on violence against women is getting far more coverage and boy, is it great.

In 1994, Joe Biden wrote  (yes, wrote) the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and called it the most significant piece of legislation that he’s written in his entire Senate career. VAWA has provided billions of dollars to prevent, investigate and prosecute violence against women. It has been a tremendously effective piece of legislation, with acts of violence dropping in many states up to 50%.

Biden has since amended the legislation to prevent human trafficking and to provide resources for children who have witnessed domestic violence. He also successfully pushed for the creation of the federal Office on Violence Against Women.

In 2007, Biden introduced the International Violence Against Women Act with Senator Richard Lugar that would incorporate anti-violence efforts into federal foreign assistance programs. This legislation sought to fight genital mutilation, so-called “honor” killings, revenge rapes, and child or forced marriage, among other atrocities. It also created an advocacy program to work with foreign governments to put on their books anti-violence laws – remarkably, 102 countries have no such laws.

Biden has gotten tremendous praise from not only feminist groups in the United States, but also international human rights groups like Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee.

Great choice, Senator Obama! Full steam ahead to November!!

A Quick Education on Joe Biden

UPDATE: It’s Official — Biden is the CHOICE!!

OK, so the announcement hasn’t been made as I write this, but apparently, the Secret Service has been dispatched to Senator Joe Biden’s house, and Obama has a plane chartered to Biden’s home state of Delaware. After months of speculation, are we finally done?

So, who is Joe Biden and where does stand on several key issues? How does he compare to Obama, his apparent new boss?

Joe Biden has been a senator from Delaware since 1972 (sheesh – I was in kindergarten!). His first wife and his youngest of three children, a daughter, were killed the same year in a tragic car crash. In 1977, Biden married a school teacher, Jill, and their daughter was born in 1981.

As Senator, Biden has been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for much of his service, and has taken vocal stands against the genocide in the Balkans and now in Darfur. He’s been an innovative leader against the war in Iraq. Both Obama and Biden have been professors on Constitutional law.

Biden’s service has obviously been extensive and on a few key progressive issues, he has a fairly solid record.

On abortion:

In 2003, Joe Biden was given a 36% rating from NARAL, having voted against public funding for abortion and for the so-called “partial birth” abortion ban. Not so great, but he’s improved since then. Obama has a 100% rating on abortion rights.

On the Environment:

Both are innovative in different areas — Biden has had a solid record on issues like opposing coal, opposing several timber sales, and working avidly against the Bush Administration. Obama’s strength is in the area of promoting green technology and preventing environmental racism.

On Gay Rights:

Joe Biden and Barack Obama are essentially on the same page on gay rights – both oppose gay marriage, but both favor civil unions, the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and are strongly against a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

On Iraq:

This is where Biden gets interesting, at least to me. He voted for the initial Iraq war resolution, but then pulled a renegade moved and called for its repeal after Saddam Hussein was deposed. Now, like Obama, he favors a gradual withdrawal of around 16 months in order to prevent internal Iraqi chaos.

On Health Care:

Joe Biden is nearly identical to Obama on health care. They both favor, in the big picture, universal health care, but favor a gradual implementation starting with coverage for children first. He’s also strongly opposed to perks for prescription drug companies and the GOP plan for Medicare.

Civil Rights:

Total and complete slam dunk for both of them – 100% ratings from NAACP, both in favor of reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment and have both bucked the trend of weakening the Americans with Disability Act, among fabulous stands on a number of other issues. Mucho bueno.

On “Homeland Security” and Torture

Both Obama and Biden say no, never, under no circumstances should the United States participate in torture. See, because both favor a civilized society. Won’t it be nice? Unlike Obama, Biden opposed the extension of the Patriot Act’s jurisdiction to unwarranted wiretapping. Well, that’s good.

On Education:

Both are great, although Obama tends to focus on creating innovative college tuition programs while Biden looks at reforms of the primary school system, including the repeal of No Child Left Behind. They are both extremely strong on putting tremendous resources into early childhood education.

There are a few areas where Biden worries me – he’s been known to have little judgment with ill-chosen statements. And his ego could fill an entire room.

Given that, if it is Biden, is this a good choice for Obama?