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Thursday, December 31, 2009

First is worst.... Second is best... but Fourth? Fourth is the one with the brains, beauty and braun


Voted # 4 in the running for Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” Nanci Pelosi continues to wow America. (Person of the Year #1 went to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake; #2 to General Stanley McChrystal; and #3 the Chinese worker). Furthermore, Pelosi topped the list of most the admired House Democrats in a recent poll of Washington insiders by National Journal. Indeed, Nancy Pelosi holds the highest post ever attained by any woman in U.S. history. She also stands second in line to the President. Moreover, Time magazine remarks that she has consolidated more power than any other Speaker in modern history: in the first year of Obama’s presidency, she—and, of course, an 81-seat Democratic majority, passed every item on its list—health care, energy, regulatory reform, education, and pay equity. In my opinion, part of her outstanding current leadership is in keeping her background with the Appropriations Committee, [where matters what matters in the end is not so much what you believe as what you can deliver]-- but regardless, whatever her secret is, she's on fire.

Additional key accomplishments signed into law under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi include: the toughest ethics reform legislation in the history of the Congress, an increase in the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, the largest college aid expansion since the GI bill in more than 60 years, and the largest increase in veterans health care funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration, as well as a new GI education bill for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Nonetheless, in the coming year, a few recent retirement announcements of several Blue Dog Democrats votes raise the question: Can the recent slew of House Democratic retirements be a (short-term) blessing in disguise for Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Obviously, the first big test of this question will be health care reform, which the House will revisit next month. Two of the three retiring Blue Dogs (Tanner and Gordon) opposed the Democratic bill when it came up for a vote last month -- as did Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., who is also leaving the House next year.

For those who are interested, find Nancy Pelosi on twitter: twitter.com/nancypelosi

You can also access the speakers blog at: http://www.speaker.gov/blog/

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Congratulations Martha Coakley, who just won the Democratic nomination for Senate!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fashion comes to the MA senate primary race




by: Elizabeth Rich


In the midst of phonebanking, canvassing, and doing visibility for all four candidates in the Democratic Primary for the Massachusetts Special Election, Smith Dems went to a Martha Coakley event today in South Hadley. Coakley spoke and answered questions related to higher education, disability services, and more. She also gave advice to women interested in running for office in the future and talked about the need for more women in public office. One of the many highlights of the day was Martha’s suit. Yes it’s a bit vain, and Smith Dems are concerned about things other than a politician’s attire, but you could not ignore her suit! It was gray, but a nice gray with a belted jacket. It was cut perfectly and fit her incredibly well. Even when Coakley was facing away from us, it looked great due to nice details on the back of the jacket. Needless to say it was a great and certainly fashion forward day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

This Tuesday, December 8th, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls to select the Democratic and Republican nominees for the Special Senate Election


by Kate Moore


I have looked up to Senator Kennedy my entire life. His passion, determination, and unwavering commitment to fighting for people whose voices often are not heard has always inspired me. The Democratic candidate chosen on Tuesday will hold this special Massachusetts seat for decades, and will make important decisions for both the citizens of the Commonwealth as well as for all Americans. This is why the Smith Democrats have committed so much of our time this semester to working for all four extremely qualified Democrats seeking Ted Kennedy's seat.

The Dems have had the honor of hosting Congressman Mike Capuano and City-Year Founder Alan Khazei at Smith this semester and we were able to meet Attorney General Martha Coakley in South Hadley this week. We have hosted phone banks for Capuano, Coakley, Khazei, and Steve Pagliuca. In addition, we have canvassed in Northampton for Khazei and Coakley and gathered as a group to watch the debates.

With 4 days left until the election, the Dems are in GOTV mode. Join us at the Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton this Saturday where we will be doing visbility for all four campaigns. We will also be phone banking for all four candidates this Sunday from 12-3 and during our weekly meeting on Monday in CC 103/104. For more information about these upcoming events, contact Kate at ksmoore@smith.edu

For more information about the four candidates please see their websites:


www.alanforsenate.com
www.marthacoakley.com
www.mikecapuano.com
www.stevepagliuca.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Will Obama's Troop Surge Make A Difference?


by: Caroline Sutcliffe, photo, the NY Times

President Obama has not, with his announcement of 30,000 more troops, reconfigured US military engagement with Afghanistan. He has simply confirmed General McChrystal's request for more troops and just reaffirmed his commitment to a military strategy that has been under discussion and in the pipeline since before his inauguration. Essentially, whether or not the troop surge will suppress the insurgency—much less 'finish the job' and 'bring a successful conclusion to the war—is extremely questionable.

My first premise is that early indications from the first troop increase of 21,000 soldiers announced earlier this year, points to an exacerbation and escalation of violence with record-high levels of military fatalities and civilian casualties. Regarding this, my question is: what these troops will do on the ground, and how will their increased presence is received by Afghans who are ‘war weary’? Accordingly, this week’s Economist asserts that uncertainty over the army’s progress may have dimmed support for the anti-Taliban campaign. Essentially, the problem is that if— the Obama administration has made it clear that the Afghan government needs to play its part in tackling the Taliban on its border—then the question that comes to mind is: will 30,000 more troops really renew the dimmed support of the Afghani people? Sure, the U.S. is setting out plans to quickly train large numbers of the Afghan army to take up their part in the fight, but this is not without its difficulties.

Second, remember: the Taliban presents a [transnational] threat. Thus my second problem with Obama’s strategy is that it has worrying consequences for Pakistan (which also houses the Taliban). For one, Pakistan fears that an American retreat from the region could mean an end to the lavish sum of U.S. aid—a figure of $7.5 million in the past five years. Pakistan is currently arguing for America to seek a high-level political settlement with its Taliban enemies [which won’t happen]. But— why it wants a hand in this settlement, which I find very interesting, is to exert its influence over Afghanistan—to India’s cost. (Intuitively, this reminds me of the ‘great game’ and the buffering of the British and Russia over Afghanistan, not too long ago). But arguably, such could easily fuel more Islamist blowback from its radicalized frontier.

Another factor on the transnational level, is that the U.S. is going to inevitably “butt heads” with Iran. Why Iran is one of Afghanistan’s most reliable trade partners, and through these economic activities its ties and influence over Afghanistan’s western provinces bordering Iran, particularly Herat, continue to grow. For example, Iran’s exports to Afghanistan amount to $500 million per year and it has pledged a generous reconstruction package to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure. This includes the plans to provide electricity to western Afghanistan through a multi-million dollar project.

The bottom line is that the Obama administration's answer to the worsening situation in the country appears to be: "more." More troops, civilians, tasks, and missions. And sure, there is nothing wrong with helping Afghans develop their country--however, if the goal is to give Afghanistan a strong, functioning central government and a viable economy, the task will require decades, not years. Obama's plan has no fix for the future. While I agree that Obama’s recently announced surge will definitely grey the hair on the Taliban and cause quite a few of their deaths, other options might be a more incremental approach. It’s a complex job. -This troop surge is framed within an exit strategy but you can’t simply [leave] things as they are. For instance, think of all the opium being smuggled out of its three drug trade routes--moreover, the high rates of attrition throughout the country, its ethnic imbalances—ex: Baluchistan, and on. So, will Obama’s counterinsurgency effort make a difference? Only time will see.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What's Up Iran?

photo complements of BBC

Again, Iran is rebuked over nuclear ‘cover up’ by the UN. Such has been repeated ad nauseam, this year. In September, it emerged that—as well as its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, Iran had a second such facility near the town of Qom. And—until two months ago, Iran had failed to tell the IAEA about the plant. Iran later claimed that it had kept the construction secret because it feared that its known nuclear plants could be bombed.

The three countries voting against the resolution were Cuba, Malaysia and Venezuela. Six other nations — Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey — abstained, and one, Azerbaijan, was absent. The resolution called on Tehran to confirm “that Iran has not taken a decision to construct, or authorize construction of, any other nuclear facility which has as yet not been declared to the agency,” according to diplomats familiar with the text of the resolution.

What’s also new, is Iran is looking to [Brazil] for help—as a sort of “new source of legitimacy to hide the government’s surreptitious goals.” The two countries said that they may discuss cooperation in the nuclear field, where Iran is under intense international pressure to stop uranium enrichment for fear that it is developing atomic weapons. "We can build partnerships to build nuclear plants," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Brazil's Globo TV News. "Our two countries need nuclear power to generate electricity. Both Brazil and Iran are entitled to benefit from nuclear technology." Indeed, it may not be as embracing as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, a close ally whom Ahmadinejad will visit next on his tour of South America. But it also shouldn't be as punitive as the U.S. or European approach.

Sadly, the UN has given it the golden opportunity for the uranium to be shipped overseas—which is a win-win solution if truly [truly] wants nuclear power for peaceful means. Nevertheless, a rejection of this resolution is not a sign of Iran's growing isolation. Iran’s hesitation to cooperate is truly indicative of its posture since ’79. However, its reluctance to engage in more constructive talks has infuriated even those countries which have protected it in the past.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fashion + Politics=Pashion


So this past Saturday you probably heard about how the House passed a health care bill. For fantastic, in depth coverage of the bill and controversy surrounding it take a look at Slate (http://www.slate.com/id/2220222/) Also make sure to see how your Congressman/Congresswoman voted on the bill (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll887.xml) Debate and votes on the bill took all day and not only was the drama Gossip Girl worthy but so were the clothes (seriously.)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi looked fabulous, outfitted in red, looking sharp and a little fancier than usual. Someone not nearly as high profile but looking fierce was Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT,) who as always, used color well and paired her green blazer with some killer accessories (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/11/08/health/policy/1108-HEALTH_index.html).

To jump across the aisle, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN,) also known as Captain Crazy, sported a lei. Seriously, check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkVdr8Z2y_M&feature=player_embedded# to learn why, it makes the list of craziest things she has ever done.

We could discuss what the men of the House were wearing, but that would not be nearly as fun. They all wear the same thing, dark suits with an occasional brightly colored or patterned tie (or a bow tie like Earl Blumenauer.)

In other D.C. fashion news Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) both wore Pumas at a recent press conference, with suits! Definitely not okay. http://www.politico.com/click/stories/0911/politicians_and_their_pumas.html

A member of the Senate who’s probably incredibly stressed out right now is Olympia Snowe (R-ME.) Make sure to keep an eye on her in the next few weeks, Snowe is almost always outfitted in printed suits, big jewelry, and turtlenecks. She has also been wearing her hair the same way for 30-something years (kind of like my grandmother.) Check out HuffPo’s slideshow http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/13/olympia-snowes-classic-co_n_310050.html.

HRC is glowing (her skin looks fabulous) on the cover of this week’s Time magazine (that’s for you Kate Moore,) outfitted in a red blazer and a chunky gold necklace http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20091116,00.html

So until Congress leaves DC for winter recess it’s going to be hectic, but make sure to pay attention to the clothes! You might spot Rosa DeLauro in some new hipsterish glasses or Michelle Bachmann wearing a fire hat, you never really know!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Post-Election Day Blues, and Other Musings

The Smith Dems, as well as the entire Democratic Party, had a rough night on Tuesday. Deeds and Wagner went down in Virginia, “the fat man beat the bald man” (Newsweek direct quote!) in New Jersey, and Maine said Yes on One. And, just to add insult to injury…the official Smith Dems boyfriend Nate Silver WAS WRONG. Silver, who called the ENTIRE ELECTORAL MAP last year, got Maine wrong! Has hell frozen over while we were all busy with week 9 of midterms?!

To the numbers: McDonell 56-Deeds 42 for Governor and Bolling 54-Wagner 41 for Lieutenant Governor.

Yes, the man who is against feminists, gays and condoms is now the highest in the land of Virginia. According to the Washington Post, his thesis said that working women and feminists are detrimental to the family, government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators” and he described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

In response to that, Mr. Governor, we say we’re the sons and daughters of working mothers and all we learned is that we can have it all. We say stay out of our private lives and we’ll stay out of yours. We say sorry but Eisenstadt v. Baird is still good law, and it’s certainly not going anywhere.

Jody Wagner ran an inspiring campaign and we are lucky to have worked for such an amazing woman. Keep an eye on that one…the lady is going places! Also, in Smith alum news, Gwen Mason, running in VA’s oh-so-red 17th district for House of Delegates, lost to Bill Cleaveland. After hearing her constituent’s accents, I dreamt of mint juleps and the smell of jasmine floating over the bayou, of sweet tea and wooden rocking chairs. They were that Southern, y’all.

New Jersey (and a personal apology to Liz Rich, who wanted to move the minute the results were final) also did not go our way. Chris Christie beat incumbent Jon Corzine, 49-44 (NYT). He’s the first Republican to win a state-wide campaign in twelve years. What’s up with that, New Jersey voters? And just to spark your interest, something might be rotten in the state of New Jersey: “In New Jersey, a sprawling corruption case begun by Mr. Christie, which culminated in July with the arrests of dozens of politicians and others, appeared to have taken its toll on the Democratic get-out-the-vote machinery. In Hudson County, a party bastion where a number of Democratic officials were charged, only 39 percent of registered voters cast their ballots, county officials said.” (New York Times)

And, maybe saddest of all, Maine said Yes on One. Maine already had a gay marriage law on the books, and this legislation repealed it. The moderate Northern state was looked at as a good barometer of where the dialogue on gay marriage was heading. The loss might mean a shift away from gay marriage initiatives all together…or it might mean an escalation. Personally, we’re hoping for the latter and we’ll be on the front lines. For our part, every area where the Smith Dems worked SAID NO! and we should be proud of our work there. Also, they had HUGE voter turn out- almost 89% of registered voters turned out- and the race was close, 53-47. In the inspirational words of Jesse Connolly, the campaign manager for No on One, “We're in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year-- until all Maine families are treated equally. Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for.” Tear inducing, non? Also, something funny to lighten the mood: Question 5 in Maine did pass…so Mainers can’t get married, but they can get high. Well, not really, but they did vote to expand their decade-old medical marijuana legislation. Congrats?

And while no one was watching, Democrats took NY-23. In quite possibly the strangest election of the cycle, the Republican party basically imploded, Sarah Palin and Rush made fools of themselves…like that’s something new?...and a Dem came out on top. Could we ask for anything better? Bill Owens beat Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman (LOOK UP HIS PICTURE RIGHT NOW), after being endorsed by his former Republican rival Dede Scozzafava. Scozzafava, who is a moderate Republican, was criticized by the right for being pro-choice and pro-gay marriage; their criticism cost them the seat. The seat opened up after long-term Republican congressman, John McHugh, was appointed by Obama as Secretary of the Navy. Cleverly done, Mr. President. Congratulations, Congressman Owens!

All in all, you should be SO PROUD of yourselves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Congressman Mike Capuano Visits The Smith Democrats


After gathering around a television to watch the debate on Monday, Mike Capuano came to speak to the Dems and talk about why he wants to fill Ted Kennedy's seat and how we can get involved in the campaign to make this work for him. While most of the Dems are actually not Massachusetts voters, most feel especially attached to this race due to our high esteem for Ted Kennedy, a senator who was so formative in inspiring us as young leaders. Capuano was a personable speaker and the Dems loved engaging him with questions. Indeed, the Dems--although not tied to any specific candidate--are extremely eager to volunteer for Mr. Capuano. The Dems have also been dedicatedly making calls for Creigh Deeds and Jody Wagner in the Virginia race.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Smith Dems health care events Mentioned in HuffingtonPost

"Don't Forget the Youth: College Democrats of America Fighting to Represent Students Across America..."
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-naranjo/dont-forget-the-youth-col_b_331936.html

Friday, October 23, 2009

Smith Dems Are Fired Up!!!

Last weekend, a number of dedicated Dems enthusiastically drove up to campaign against the marriage initiative in Maine. It was an extremely well-organized campaign and the Dems had a great time!

Additionally, the Smith Dems made 300 calls Tuesday night, encouraging MA residents to get in touch with their representatives about health care reform. Visit: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/health-care-action-center/ if you want to get involved too!

The Dems also recently road-tripped down to Washington D.C. in order to participate in the National Equality March, where they joined more than 200,000 in their demand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. Might I add, that these girls dedicated their Fall Breaks in order to do this! -Talk about true Democrat Spirit!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Want to get involved, but don't have much time to spare? Both the No on 1 campaign in Maine and Organizing for America are making it easy!


No on 1, the campaign to preserve same-sex marriage in Maine, has set up an online phone banking system. Just go to www.protectmaineequality.org/callforequality; you'll go through a quick training, and then can start making phone calls to Maine voters whenever you have the time. The website will even generate the calls for you! The best way to help out the campaign right now is to reach out to supporters and make sure they get to the polls. Organizing for America is busy mobilizing Americans, encouraging them to call their senators and representative in support of health care reform. If you haven't called your member of Congress yet, visit healthcare.barackobama.com. Making the calls takes only minutes, but makes a huge difference.

Friday, October 9, 2009

OBAMA WINS NOBEL PRIZE?!?!

A response by Alita Edleman

When I was awoken by the buzzing of Swain, my blackberry, this morning in order to receive the urgent NY Times news report that Barack Obama had won a Nobel Peace Prize my first reaction was WHAT THE HEY?? I mean look, I love Barack Obama. I ruined several pairs of shoes canvassing for him in the wilds of New Hampshire. I spent several weekends in the Philadelphia 'hood registering voters in his name. I changed by facebook middle name to Hussein. I am a democrat.

But I'm also real. Dude, why did he win this?? Even he was surprised! Nominations had to be in by early February--he'd barely even been president by then. Was it, like, a preemptive Nobel Peace Prize?

In any case, I know my boy Barack will treat this with the utmost caution and moderation as he has everything since he became president. Perhaps he'll even propose some milquetoast policy to go along with it, as seems the trend. Anyway, point is, now he has to earn it. I think he's done OK so far, but not great. Now he has to be great.

...Here're the keys to the Benz, Barry. Time to learn how to drive. Don't crash or else 304 million people will die!



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Meeting of the Year!


Please join us for the first Smith Dems meeting of the year, on Monday, September 14 at 7pm in CC 103/104! We will be introducing the new E-Board, as well as positions you can still run for, and filling you on all of our exciting upcoming events. Email smith.democrats@gmail.com if you have any questions. See you Monday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Smith Democrats Remember Ted Kennedy


Senator Edward Kennedy passed away early this morning, having battled brain cancer for over a year. Senator Kennedy represented Massachusetts for 47 years, the third longest-serving senator in history. He championed countless issues, from equal pay, equal voting rights, and equal marriage rights to poverty, the environment, and education. And, of course, he worked tirelessly to guarantee health care for all Americans, which he called “the cause of my life.”

Senator Kennedy challenged sitting President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980; when he left the race, he threw himself back into his Senate work, and compiled one of the most extensive and impressive legislative records in American government. Though known as part of a political dynasty, his devotion was to public service, and he was highly regarded for his ability to work, and get along with, all his colleagues. Despite his illness, Senator Kennedy was still working towards health care reform efforts, and his staff was reportedly deeply involved in Hill negotiations.

His niece, Caroline Kennedy, introduced him at the Democratic National Convention one year ago, remarking:

For 46 years, he has been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts. He's been a senator for all who believe in a dream that's never died. If you're no longer being denied a job because of your race, gender or disability, or if you've seen a rise in the minimum wage you're being paid, Teddy is your senator too.

If your children are receiving health care thanks to the Children's Health Insurance Program, if you see a nurse at a community health center or if you're benefiting from the Medicare program that he fought to create, and that just last month he returned to the Senate to save, Teddy is your senator too.

If your child is getting an early boost in life through Head Start, or attending a better school or can go to college because a Pell grant has made it more affordable, Teddy is your senator too. And if you're an 18-year-old who's going to vote for the first time - and I bet it'll be for Barack Obama - Teddy is your senator too.”
We thank Senator Kennedy for all his work, and for being our senator too.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Madam Associate Justice


A big Smith Dems congratulations to Sonia Sotomayor, confirmed today by the Senate to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court! Nine Republicans joined the entire Democratic caucus to approve Sotomayor's nomination. Justice Sotomayor will join her colleagues for a busy next session of the Court, beginning in just over a month. President Obama heralded her confirmation this afternoon, saying, "with this historic vote, the Senate has affirmed that Judge Sotomayor has the intellect, the temperament, the history, the integrity and the independence of mind to ably serve on our nation’s highest court."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blogging the Last Day of CDA


Day 4:

Sunday was the last day of the Convention and we met in the morning for the Closing Ceremony and Awards Ceremony. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton spoke and she was great! Following her speech CDA played a hilarious clip from the Colbert Report with the Congresswoman. Check it out: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/72238/july-27-2006/better-know-a-district---district-of-columbia---eleanor-holmes-norton

Heather Brown, the CDA Membership Director, then presented the awards for State Federation of the Year to Pennsylvania and Chapter of the Year to Catholic University, as well as many individual awards. Matt Zagaja, former CDM President, was honored with an MVP award and Pat Johnson, the current CDM President, was honored with a Rising Star Award. Go Massachusetts!

The CDA Convention was such an amazing experience! I learned so much and came away with great ideas for both the Smith Dems and the College Dems of MA, met a lot of people, had fun, and got really excited and motivated for the upcoming year. Definitely think about attending next year and feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Dems love,
KM

CDA, part three

Hey Smith Dems!

Saturday was the busiest and most exciting day of the CDA Convention because it contained both the convention’s keynote speaker as well as elections!

On Saturday morning we all gathered for breakfast followed by the Keynote Speech featuring DNC Chairman Governor Tim Kaine! We were on CSPAN, which was awesome! Governor Kaine spoke about the importance of being involved in our communities, and emphasized how important the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2009 are to the Democratic Party (look out for lots of opportunities to get involved in both races this fall through the Dems!)

After the Governor spoke there was a panel on “Government at Work: A Discussion on the Work of Young Progressives in Government” which led into the Faith, Vets, and Disability Caucuses. I went to the Disability Caucus, which featured Kareem Dale, the White House Disability Liaison.

We then went back to the auditorium to listen to all of the candidates running for national office introduce themselves. For the contested races, candidates were allowed to ask each other one question and rebut their opponent’s answer. Then they opened it up and allowed members of the audience to ask questions.

At 3pm sharp General Assembly began, which was by far my favorite part of the Convention. It was such an inspiring experience because everyone was so engaged. It made me so proud and excited to be a College Dem! Since I was the only Smith Dem at CDA, I got to be a voting delegate (Each chapter represented at the Convention is only allowed one vote). Massachusetts was the 3rd largest delegation at Convention behind Pennsylvania and New York.

After a heated debate and vote on amendments for the CDA Constitution, we finally got to hear the nomination speeches for the candidates as well as the candidates' speeches. The races for Programs Director and Political Director were the only contested races this year, and both candidates that CDM endorsed (Aarti Sheth for Programs Director and Jen Johns for Political Director, both running for re-election) won! Katie Naranjo was re-elected President and Jamarr Brown was elected Vice President of CDA.

In the last ten minutes of General Assembly, Lee Drake, the new National Council Chair, announced that we had to vote on an issue that had been tabled for the past two years: whether or not CDA should hold conventions every year or every other year. The DNC wants CDA to alter our Constitution and only host conventions on election years beginning in 2010 because of the huge cost of the conventions. Instead, the DNC says that they will use that money to provide more field support on the national, state, and local levels such as buses for campaign trips, etc. However, no one knew about the proposed change until we were being forced to vote on it with only ten minutes to go. Concerns about what would happen to the caucuses because they only get to meet at convention once a year, whether or not the terms for CDA E-board members would now be two years or not, as well as many other questions led almost every state represented at CDA to vote against holding convention every two years.

After General Assembly, I went out to dinner with the fabulous Beth Jacobson, while most of CDA went to a Nationals Game. The game was rained out, so I’m really glad I didn’t go!

-KM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kate Blogs the College Democrats of America National Convention: Day Two


On Friday morning, CDA arranged a White House Tour! I ended up sleeping in instead since I went on a White House Tour a year ago and I knew I would not be getting much sleep for the rest of the week, but everyone who went really enjoyed it!

At 9am I met up with the Massachusetts delegation for the Morning Plenary. Christine Pelosi came to run a Leadership Bootcamp based off her book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders. After giving a quick speech, she asked people to stand up and share their stories, concerns, etc. about health care. Dems stood up and talked about everything from not being insured themselves and the challenges they face to specific advice they would like to give Obama as he reforms health care. I stood up and talked about healthcare fairness for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV since I am working on Lambda Legal’s Health Care Fairness Campaign this summer.

After taking a quick break for a book signing, we listened to a panel on the Policy of the Obama Administration featuring Karen Richardson, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement; Greg Nelson, Associate Director, Energy, Environment, and Technology; and Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Then during lunch, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) came on a live webcast to talk to us!

After lunch Mitch Steward, the Organizing for America Director, gave a presentation on OFA and we had a Training Plenary with OFA Deputy Director Jeremy Bird and National Training Director Nicole Derse. They all told funny stories about their experiences campaigning in both the primaries and in the general for Obama. I believe it was Jeremy Bird who told stories about working for Obama in the Pennsylvania primary and making the horrible mistake of suggesting that Obama go bowling…we all know how that ended.

Next we split up and attended Training Sessions, many of which were run by the OFA staff members who spoke to us. Nicole Derse led sessions on Field Organizing, Alec Schierenbeck, the CDA National Vice President, led sessions on Building Your Chapter, and there were also sessions on Communications and an E-Board Open Session on What CDA Can Do for You. I attended sessions on Fundraising and Creating a Small Donor Base and a Women in Politics Media Training. In the Women in Politics Media Training we talked about the lack of women in the media, how to write an effective Op-Ed, and the importance of getting both women and young people writing Op-Eds, blogging, etc.

Friday evening I went to the LGBT Caucus, which featured Brian Bond, Deputy Director, White House Office of Public Engagement. Mr. Bond spoke a lot about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which is a primary focus of both the CDA LGBT Caucus and the CDA Veteran’s Caucus. He assured us that the President is focused on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and said it would be sooner than expected, hopefully even before the 2010 mid-term Elections! Mr. Bond spoke about ENDA, DOMA, the White House Stonewall Celebration this past June, the importance of the LGBT voice in the health care debate, and other topics important to the LGBT community. We got a chance to ask questions and Mr. Bond encouraged us to contact him with questions. He was fantastic! He also spoke about how he was blown away at the number of students (the caucus had a record turnout) that were able to be out on campus since he was not able to be out as a college student. He also took a minute to give a shout out to Smith Alum Tammy Baldwin who he refers to as “still a hero to me,” when talking about the LGBT Health Care Bill. He said that her election was one of the defining moments in his life, the other being the election of President Obama.

I also presented Smith’s application for Chapter of the Year to the Awards Committee on Friday night, highlighting all of our accomplishments this past year, especially with our voter registration and GOTV efforts as well as our many successful campaign trips and phone banks! Then I headed out to a local bar for a social held by the DC Federation. It was super fun and we ended the night with a huge dance party on the street!

Dems love,
KM

Smith Dem Kate Moore Blogs the College Democrats of America National Convention: Day One


Hey Smith Dems!
I just got back from 5 amazing days in Washington DC at the College Democrats of America Convention! As the Campaigns Director of the College Democrats of Massachusetts, I got to attend the annual convention, but members of any CDA chapter are encouraged to come, so definitely think about attending next year’s convention! I was planning on live blogging, but unfortunately I didn’t have internet for the entire convention, so my posts won’t be as detailed.

On Thursday morning I arrived at GW to check in and then rushed over to the DNC for lunch. After meeting up with the rest of the Massachusetts delegation and eating some pizza, Majority Whip Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) came to speak to us! He had to make it quick so he could get back to the House for a vote, but he talked to us for about ten minutes about the Health Care Bill. He focused most of his speech on the problems people with pre-existing conditions face in getting health care coverage.

The Convention’s theme this year was “50 Years of Service” so, accordingly, we split into groups following the luncheon and headed off to do a service project. My group went to the Septima Charter School to help the school prepare for the student’s arrival. Septima is an all boys charter elementary school, and after meeting with the school’s founder and having a chance to ask some questions, we split into teams and began our projects. I helped put up bulletin boards, and other teams moved furniture, organized t-shirts, as well as many other projects!

At about 3 we left the Septima School and I had some down time to hang out with other members of the Massachusetts delegation while the National Council Meeting and Elections and the Election and Credential Committee Meetings took place. At 6 we headed back to the GW Marvin Center for the Welcome Reception and Opening Ceremonies. After hearing Katie Naranjo, the CDA National President, and Cory Struble, the GW University Convention Chair, speak and gavel in the convention, Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) addressed the convention. As many of you know, Senator Specter recently changed his party affiliation after being an elected Republican for 44 years! Needless to say, the Pennsylvania delegation was especially excited to hear the Senator speak. After a quick speech, Senator Spector opened it up for questions, answering over 20 questions from College Democrats even though his staff was anxious to get him back to the House for a vote!

After the Opening Ceremonies, everyone headed to Tabaq for the “Celebration of Youth” CDA/DNC Youth Council Fundraiser where I got to hang out with and get to know the rest of the Massachusetts delegation and meet students from chapters from the 38 states represented at this year’s convention!

Lots of Dems love,
KM

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thanks so much for that great analysis, Caroline! 


It's always good to hear what our Dems think about current issues. That being said...if any of YOU are interested in writing for That Damn Liberal, email us! (smueller@smith.edu) 

(insert image of Uncle Sam here) 


The Islamic Republic of Iran: Recent Elections & National Uprisings


Take into account the transnational proxies, the cross-regional non-state actors, and the veiled threats against Iran — the complexity of recent protests in Tehran gain even more enormity when one considers just what these uprisings necessitate.

In recent weeks, photographs have crossed the world of Iranians, young and old, male and female, who have protested against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s corruption. Such acts do not exactly connote that they are fed up with religion. The more openly devout Iranians—the poor, the rural—voted for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Instead, Iranians appear to be fed up with theocracy.

Every Iranian dissident, from Akbar Ganji to Shirin Ebadi, has noted that the Bush administration’s talk of airstrikes on Iran acted to strengthen the regime. Interestingly, the United States still clandestinely funds guerrilla outfits such as Jundallah and opposition groups such as MEK who seek to topple the Islamic Republic. And, although most of these non-state actors are tiny groups with no chance of success, the Tehran government still portrays this as an ongoing anti-Iranian campaign. Nonetheless, President Obama is quite right to extend his moral support to Iranian protesters but not to get politically involved.

Currently, Iran stands at a crossroads; or perhaps a ‘mousetrap’ is a more fitting metaphor. Indeed, two weeks ago Ahmadinejad sought to illegitimately win the election and; while perhaps he might have gotten the ‘cheddar,’ he evidently underestimated the raw power of Iranian nationalism, a force which has newly set Iran’s horizon ablaze with possibility. For instance, were Iraq-based Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a man probably more revered in the Shia world than any other ayatollah to issue a fatwa condemning Tehran in any way, it would be a seismic event, and could result in the regime's collapse.

It is also worth mentioning, that roughly 60 percent of the population is under the age of thirty—a population that has read only about the ’79 revolution from its textbooks. This generation, caught between the burgeoning conflict between globalization and tradition, has no fear of forgetting its own national and religious customs exists. In short, what is happening in Iran could be more significant and more sustainable in the long run than the mere overthrow of dictators; a deep transformation is underway.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

...And then there were 60


ACTUALLY 60 now.

Nearly eight months after winning more votes than his opponent, Al Franken has officially been certified as the junior senator from Minnesota, following a unanimous ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court. Norm Coleman, who got the most laughs during the recount, despite being the candidate who hasn’t made his living as a comedy writer, finally conceded to Franken on Tuesday. The party of “limited government spending” had poured millions of dollars and lots of bitterness into the prolonged recount effort. According to some news reports Franni Franken, Al’s wife, has had a suitcase packed for months, a la a woman about to give birth, so the two could fly to Washington for a swearing-in ceremony whenever a final ruling was handed down. Said ceremony is expected to happen quickly – potentially this weekend – so Franken can take his seat and the committee assignments that have been saved for him (which rumor has it includes the very busy Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions). No word on what Franni will be wearing.

While some pundits have declared this a huge victory for Democrats, who now theoretically have the votes to block any attempt at a filibuster, it is important to note that a number of Democratic senators have emphasized that they will not rubber stamp the party line – something they have demonstrated on certain key votes. Franken does provide some help (read: a reliably liberal vote) for party leadership, especially with the absence of Senators Kennedy and Byrd for health reasons. Most importantly, though, we can now look forward to some better jokes on CSPAN.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"The fight for comprehensive, universal health care is the civil rights struggle of the moment" ~Sanders, Independent from the land of Ben & Jerry's

There are (at least) 47 million Americans without health insurance, and this number is only going to go up with the current recession and climbing unemployment rate. Cheery thought, non? We heard the mantra all through the campaign; it was consistently rated as a top issue with voters across the country and across demographics. However, politicians are…shall we say, reticent? to put forth comprehensive plans. Clinton’s epic fail in the 90’s, the terrifyingly wealthy pharmaceutical companies and the federal government’s decided lack of funds have made heath care the most talked about, but least acted on, issue. Until now.

Obama has big plans- he wants a comprehensive plan on his desk by October. (This is why we love him. Dream big, right?)

First option: Create a government-funded program that would provide active competition for the private companies, to keep prices down and coverage more complete. The problems? Would a program with the power and funds (however depleted they currently are) of the federal government behind it create an uneven playing field? Is it actually unfair to the companies already trying? (Do we care?)

Second: Privately owned companies would come together to form a co-op, to do essentially what the governmental program would do- provide competition to keep the market fair. This co-op would be funded initially through federal funds (estimated cost between 3 and 4 billion) but then be self-sufficient.

As of right now, the Republican proposal prevents any government funded, public option from competing with the privately owned companies currently in power.

And what about Medicaid? One plan makes employers responsible for their low-income workers. Employers would be responsible for paying half the cost of Medicaid for its workers. The serious danger in that is that it creates a big disincentive for employers to hire low-income workers. Bad news bears.

Here’s the even bigger question. Both of these plans would cost somewhere between 1 and 1.6 trillion dollars over the next ten years. It just begs the question “Where’s the money?”

But here are the big three things that Obama wants the bill to include: 1) require people to carry insurance, 2) federal subsidies for those who cannot afford it, and 3) require most employers to help pay for coverage.

House and Senate Dems are currently divided and the debates are just heating up. Check out NYtimes for really good coverage of the issue. That’s why I got most of this! ☺

Sunday, June 28, 2009

House Passes Crucial Climate Change Legislation

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the first Congressional attempt to regulate greenhouse gases. Sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), the bill establishes a cap-and-trade system, which places a limit on emissions, but allows a company to sell the remainder of its quota to other companies. Over time, the cap is decreased, encouraging an industry-wide reduction in emissions. It sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050, and aims for a renewable energy standard of 20 percent by 2020. The bill was highly contentious, with detractors arguing that it imposes a tax on consumers. The bill passed 219-212, with 44 Democrats voting against it and eight Republicans breaking ranks to support it. The legislation now moves onto the Senate, where a heated debate is expected.

At fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver writes about the politics of the bill and analyzes the state-by-state economics of a cap-and-trade policy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smithie to Play Key Role in SCOTUS Confirmation Process

As reported by the Grecourt Gate, Smith alumna Stephanie Cutter (’90) has been assigned to help shepherd the Supreme Court nominee (announced this morning as Sonia Sotomayor) through the confirmation process. Cutter was serving as Chief Spokeswoman for the Treasury Department. Cutter boasts an impressive political resume; she was Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama, adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the confirmations of Justices Roberts and Alito, aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy, and a strategist for the Kerry campaign in 2004.

President Obama Names Sonia Sotomayor to Supreme Court


This morning, President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill Justice David Souter’s seat on the Supreme Court upon his retirement at the end of the term. Judge Sotomayor is currently serving on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic justice on the Court, and only the third woman ever appointed. Sotomayor, raised by a widowed mother in New York, went on to Princeton and Yale Law School. She has worked in the New York City District Attorney’s office and in private practice, before being appointed to the federal district court by President George H.W. Bush and then to the federal appeals court by President Bill Clinton.

TDL will keep you posted on developments in the confirmation process.

Watch President Obama’s announcement and Judge Sotomayor’s remarks.

Read some of Judge Sotomayor’s past decisions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The State Dept. Honors Women of Courage


Here's the First Lady with Hadizatou Mani, one of the eight women being honored by the State Department's Women of Courage Award this year.

Hadizatou was born into slavery in Niger, a country which only outlawed slavery in 2003. Her master bought her for $500 when she was only 12 years old. He beat her, forced her to work in the fields, and raped her, making her bear him three children. When slavery was outlawed, he tried to tell the government that she was not a slave, but one of his wives. Hadizatou fought for and won a "Certificate of Liberation" and married a man of her own choosing, but her former master sued her for bigamy and she was forced to spend six months in jail.

She worked with the Niger NGO Timidria and fought her sentence, despite huge pressure not to do anything. She brought a case to the Economic Council of West African States (ECOWAS), which finally found that Niger had failed to protect her rights under the anti-slavery laws and awarded her 10 million CFA (roughly $20,000 USD), as well as her freedom. Thanks to Hadizatou's courage, there is hope for the many citizens of Niger who remain enslaved.

It's just one small reminder of the injustices women and men face all over the world, and our responsibility to be always be aware and active, fighting for better human rights in whatever way we can.

Read the rest of the profiles of the Women of Courage Award Recipients by clicking on their names below:
Norma Cruz, Guatemala

Mutabar Tadjibayeva, Uzbekistan

Suaad Abbas Salman Allami, Iraq

Veronika Marchenko, Russia

Ambiga Sreenevasan, Malayasia

Wazma Frogh, Afghanistan

The President's Council On Women and Girls

(Valerie Jarrett, Head of the new White House Council on Women and Girls, long-time Obama friend and big campaign fundraiser, Photo:AP)

When you were a kid, you probably took those physical fitness tests that were administered in the name of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Sometimes if you did the V-Sit really well or you ran a quick mile, they would give you a t-shirt or maybe some candy (the irony of giving candy as a reward for physical fitness never ceased to amaze me).

Today the President created a new council, and you get more than t-shirts from it (hopefully). Its an interagency panel, which means it acts as sort of a liasion between all the different cabinet and cabinet-level agencies (State, Defense, Interior, etc.), making sure that the policies they are planning to enact will help or at least not harm women and girls.

Women's groups are somewhat pleased, though there had been talk of pushing for a cabinet-level "Office of Women" which would have more weight and power than a Presidential Council, but would be infinitely harder to get approved and set up.

Susan Scanlan of the National Council on Women's organizations told Politico: "At one time, we were going to ask for a Cabinet-level office. We decided to hold back . . I’m going to withhold judgment. It’s certainly more than we have I had in the last eight years. We’re pretty happy with this administration.”

Generally, we agree. This is a positive step, but it's up to us women to keep pressuring the administration to respect our rights and our needs. We're excited about the council but let's make sure it has teeth. And maybe t-shirts.

For more on the Council, click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mid-Term Fun

Since our bloggers are a bit busy with mid-terms right now (and prepping for some Spring Break sun-tanning, er....serious campaign work in Florida), we're going to just post these awesome pics of the Obamas right now.

We'll have some serious stuff later, we promise. More on the education agenda, prop 8's court fight, Michael Steele's problems, and much more. But after mid-terms. Please. (Thanks to www.jezebel.com, AP, Getty, NYT for these photos)
How much do the Dems love the First Lady? Imagine a human chain of Smithies from the Quad to Mendenhall. We love her that much.

*Sigh* after spending hours campaigning for you, Mr. President, why do you not take the Dems to Camp David? We'll be good guests, we promise. We won't eat that much, and we'll play nicely with the Secret Service, and we'll only ask you ten, well maybe twenty, annoying questions a day.
I love Swing sets. So does the President. We are kindred spirits.

Um, this is pretty much my White House fantasy moment. There's still space for a Smith Dem or two on the tire swing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

So, You Want an INTERNSHIP?


We had to postpone, but nothing can stop the Smith Dems internship panel for very long!

Come and listen to interns from the Center for American Progress, The Middle East Institute, Coop Farms in Argentina, Congressional Offices, Political Campaigns, The State Department and much, much, more.

We'll share tips, tricks, experiences, answer questions, and steer you towards that dream internship. In this job market, it's the experienced candidates that win, and deadlines are already passing quickly, so don't wait to get involved!

MONDAY, MARCH 9 at 7 PM in CC 103/104

My Boyfriend releases New Senate Rankings, and it's all good news

Nate Silver (my boy friend) has released the latest Senate rankings this weekend. Dear Nate keeps tabs on which Senate races are most likely to be in play in the upcoming mid-term elections. What's that? Elections again? Yes, in the United States it's always an election season, and this one is warming up.

The last mid-terms foretold the Democrat's coming rise to power as we soundly beat the Republicans in most of the races. Will the next mid-term elections herald a re-election for President Obama?

As things stand now, it's looking very, very good. Of the Senate seats considered most likely to switch parties in the mid-terms, the top six are currently held by Republicans, including Arlen Specter's very influential seat. Republicans are pissed that the moderate Specter is helping out the Dems, so they may replace him and currently their top candidate looks like a serious dud. And then there's always the possibility that Specter will switch parties......

As for the seats currently held by Dems that are at risk in the next cycle, Harry Reid's Nevada race could get ugly. Also Chris Dodd's Conneticut seat may flip, and then there's the Roland Burris problem.

Still, with the chance to upset 6 Republicans, Dems have to be salivating. Get pumped Smith Dems, Mid Terms are coming.

Read the full details on my boy friend's senate rankings here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Day, Another Bad Bush Policy Falls

In yet another of his awesome executive orders to reverse all the bad policies we've had to deal with for the past eight years, the President is going to overturn the ban on embryonic stem cell research on Monday.

Currently, unused frozen embryos and their stem cells are simply discarded, since it is against the law for them to be used for federally funded stem cell research. Only a few lines of stem cells escaped the ban, about a dozen usable lines were grandfathered in.

Which means not only have we missed out on many scientific discoveries, but also that U.S. researchers were either leaving the U.S. for countries where they could be funded for their research. Let's hope this can reverse the brain drain!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

No TV Doctors for Surgeon General

This isn't really news, but since it's on CNN tonight, we're going to act like it is.

CNN's own chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of Surgeon General. Dr. Gupta was never formally nominated, but he had spoken with members of the Obama administration and was apparently their top choice.

Still, he'd have to give up practicing medecine in order to become the top doctor in the nation, and I'm guessing that Dr. Gupta's clients pay a lot more than Uncle Sam. That's often what "I'm doing it for my family" means (assuming that it doesn't mean he has some kind of shady past....)

You can read all about it here if you want the full details.

Personally, if we're nominating television stars to be our Surgeon Generals, I want this guy. Mmm, sexy......maybe they would put his face on those ciggarette warnings.

White House Health Care Summit Gets Going



(Image courtesy NYT)

More than 150 people have gathered at the White House for the President's Summit on Health Care. They include politicians (naturally), industry professionals, doctors, hospitals, insurance agencies, and consumer advocates. The President has vowed to stop the stalemate created by lobbyists and special interest groups that has prevented the U.S. from having a functioning health care system, and that starts with getting everyone in a room together and figuring out what our ideas are.

DID YOU KNOW: You can watch Live Feed of the Summit sessions on the White House Website. Click Here if you love open government

Seems pretty sound to me. Healthcare is expensive, and it's going to get a lot more expensive unless the government can do something to reign in the costs. Industry sure as hell isn't doing it on their own. Did you know that Americans spend $2.3 trillion on health care and that it accounts for 17.6% of our national economic output? By 2018, if no changes are implemented, it's expected to be 20% of our economic output and half of that cost will be born by public programs.

Working with the industry and with the laborers involved (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) we can control costs much better and help people get well. Sick people can't work, they can't turn the economy around, they can't pay down their mortgages, they can't help their children succeed. We need healthy Americans and healthy American health care.

So let's see what the summit can do.

Rush Limbaugh Leads Republican Party? Politicians Deny it....sort of

You've probably heard recently that Rush Limbaugh is now the King of the Republican Party. After calling his comments "ugly" and saying that he is an "entertainer", even the Chairman of the RNC had to call and apologize to His Majesty.
Here's what Steele Said First:

Well that didn't stand for very long because Rush Limbaugh went out and excoriated Steele on his show:

And then Steele quickly issued an apology, which you can read all about here. Bobby Jindal/Kenneth the Page's response? He's "glad" that Steele apologized.



My "boy friend" Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight has a good run-down of this controversy and also how it's not really that big of a controversy. Really, it's being perpetrated by the cable news anchors because I mean, who doesn't like to watch powerful people fight? BUT while it may not be a big deal nationally, it is indicative of a greater problem within the party. That is, the RNC does not have a leader right now, whether it's Rush Limbaugh or anyone else. And until they get a leader, these kinds of squabbles are going to be prime targets for the news media.

Which is great for Democrats, who can and are exploiting this situation ruthlessly, but in the long run it's damaging for the country. Without responsible political leadership, talking heads like Limbaugh, with no accountability to anyone regarding what they say but with apparently great sway over public opinion, get to run amok.

Read the great fivethirtyeight post here.

Court Weighs Prop 8 Overturn, Californians Wait Anxiously



One of the sad things about last November was that, while we were celebrating the election of Barack Obama, many of us were also mourning the passage of Proposition 8, an amendment to the California State Constitution to ban gay marriage. This comes after gay marriage had been legalized in California. Today, the California Supreme Court is weighing whether or not the new law is constitutional, and many people are anxiously waiting the decision on both sides.

I don't know for certain, but I beleive that a ruling is expected to be delivered today, so keep your eyes on the news and good luck to our GLBTQ friends and allies in California.
(Image Courtesy of the NYT)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Family Planning is Back in the Budget! And the Budget is on it's way!


(The President Loves Kids, but He Thinks Even Poor Women Should Get to Plan How Many Kids They Want and When They Want Them)

During the debate over the stimulus bill, the Republicans succeeded in getting a provision stripped from the house version that would have made it easier for states to expand coverage contraceptives through Medicare. Basically, it makes it easier for poor Americans to access things like birth control pills. It was stripped because the GOP didn't think it was stimulus, even though preventing unwanted pregnancies saves Medicare money in the long run, and we needed their votes on the Recovery Act.

BUT, they're back! The President has put the measure back into the budget bill and it will be much harder to get out this time.

Why will it be easier to keep in the budget? Because the budget is going to be a lot easier to pass. That's the fun part about being the majority. You see, normally, to get a bill through the Senate you need a 60-vote majority to force the members to stop filibustering and agree to have the Senate vote (yes, you need a vote in order to have a vote. It's Congress.).

BUT, for budgets, the 60-vote rule is suspended. You only need a simple majority to pass budgets. And the Dem's have that. So it's going to be impossible to stop the budget in the House and very, very, difficult to stop it in the Senate.

Which is great, if you support the budget measures for things like inexpensive and accessible contraception for poor women and girls.

Good work, Mr. President. Thanks for keeping your promises.

Read all about it here

(The Latest) Madame Secretary


It's Health and Human Services, take two (with a twist!): Katherine Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, has been formally nominated to fill one of the remaining vacant cabinet posts. Her first order of business? Getting Congress to agree to pass the President's ambitious health care plan.

When the President said he was gearing up for a fight, health care is primarily what he was referring to. This is an issue near and dear to most Democrats' hearts, and lately even insurance industry officials are saying we need some form of national health care coverage (paying out on those claims to the few people that manage to get through the insurance system gets costly, after all). Still, it hasn't ever been an easy fight for Dems (see Clinton, William Jefferson).

Governor Sebelius has some experience dealing with ornery lawmakers on health care however. She's been frustrated by the Republican majorities in the Kansas state houses to get even minor health reform passed, but hopefully she'll do better with a Democratic executive and Democratically controlled congresses. Read more about her here.

Best of Luck, Madam Secretary!

(photo credit: AP/NYT)

Internship Panel Postponed

Due to the snow day, the Internship Panel will be postponed until next Monday!!

See you there!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Internship Panel Tomorrow!

It may seem hard to believe what with the forecast that snow is going to hit us again next week, but pretty soon it will be SUMMER TIME!

Since you're probably a Smith student, that crushing feeling you're getting is the all-consuming pressure to find a summer internship.

But don't worry, there's still time to land the internship of your dreams, and you might even be able to skip the soul-crushing, heart-wrenching, Darwinian struggle that is internship searching because....

THE DEMS ARE HAVING THEIR INTERNSHIP PANEL!

That's right, the Smith Dems will be hosting their legendary (or at least semi-epic) summer internship panel this Monday, March 2 at 7 PM in CC 103/104. This is your chance to hear about opportunities and get the low-down on intern experiences from Real Smith Democrats Who Have Lived Them.

Don't miss out: Smith Dems Internship Panel, Monday, March 2, 7 PM, CC 103/104

The Gloves Are Comin' Off

Remember radio, that thing that you listened to before you found out that "This American Life" did Podcasts/discovered how to stream WOZQ off the web? Well, apparently the President remembers it too.

Every week in fact, the President gets on the radio and chats with folks out in the rest of the country. And last week's was a doozy.

Most notably, Number 44 called out all the opponents of his new budget, from student loan lenders, to banks, to insurance industry officials, oil and gas companies. Some say that he's even taking a covert swipe/passing a friendly hint to the Republican Opposition.

In his own words: "I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this: So am I."

I like this new Mr. President, the tough, firm, not afraid to call people out on their shit Mr. President. He does it without a smirk, without a hint of schadenfraude, but with the resolve that he's going to get it done because it needs to be done. It's refreshing, it's fresh, and it's kinda fun.

For those of you freaked out by antique technology like radios, who may have missed this address, below you can find the full video version. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Internships! Get Em While They Last!


It may seem hard to believe what with the forecast that snow is going to hit us again next week, but pretty soon it will be SUMMER TIME!

Since you're probably a Smith student, that crushing feeling you're getting is the all-consuming pressure to find a summer internship.

But don't worry, there's still time to land the internship of your dreams, and you might even be able to skip the soul-crushing, heart-wrenching, Darwinian struggle that is internship searching because....

THE DEMS ARE HAVING THEIR INTERNSHIP PANEL!

That's right, the Smith Dems will be hosting their legendary (or at least semi-epic) summer internship panel this Monday, March 2 at 7 PM in CC 103/104. This is your chance to hear about opportunities and get the low-down on intern experiences from Real Smith Democrats Who Have Lived Them.

Don't miss out: Smith Dems Internship Panel, Monday, March 2, 7 PM, CC 103/104

Friday, February 27, 2009

Choice Has Come to America


When the Clinton administration left the White House, they took the "W" keys from their keyboards with them. When the Bush administration left office, they tried to carry our right to choose out the door. Thankfully, the Obama administration is doing its best to recover what was stolen from us.

In December, the Bush administration passed new, sweeping changes to the so-called "conscience" rules. The idea behind the conscience ruling is to protect people in the health care industry from providing services that go against their personal ethics, meaning mostly abortions and birth-control pills to women.

If you grew up in a city, you might not think this is such a big deal. If one pharmacist won't serve you, there's always another one around the corner. But for women in rural settings, "conscience" rules are a major problem. In states like Montana, a woman may drive for 80 miles just to find a pharmacy that will honor her legal prescription.

To make things worse, the new rules established by the Bush administration cover a broad category of health services. In fact, the rule is so vague that it could be used to deny all family-planning counseling services, blood transfusions, and end-of-life care.

Moment of Rant: When your doctor writes a prescription, you should be able to get it filled. Period. When you and your doctor decide on a course of action for your body, you should have the right to follow it. Period.

Thankfully, President Obama agrees with me, and that's why his team is working on rescinding the conscience rule. Sanity and choice are on their way back.
-JR