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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! ☺