On One Hand

May 31, 2008

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May 25, 2008

Protected: Another tragic disconnect

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May 16, 2008

Obamagrandma

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My grandma just called me to congradulate me on graduating and to ask if I own The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama.

She said “oh, I was just wondering, because I’m a big Obama fan.”

Oh yeah?

“I think this has been the most fun election of my life!”

She’s 69 years old and my grandpa is a 70-year-old 30-year National Guard retiree who has teased me about the fact that he is probably voting for John McCain. “McCain’s the man,” he said gleefully at restaraunt with the rest of my family a few months ago, “he’s the guy to vote for!” At the time I told him “you had your 8 years and now we get ours,” and he laughed. But he’s not entirely Republican, he just votes for whoever has been in the military. I don’t think he voted for Bush, though I doubt he ever voted Democrat even once before the year 2000. And I know he hates the Clintons with a vehemence.

We will see what happens. If Obama picks Wesley Clark as VP I think it brings a big chunk of my grandpa’s type of voter over. My grandfather is the kind of guy who doesn’t mind Obama, but likes John McCain a lot so needs a good excuse to vote for someone else. He wasn’t for the war but you have to be very delicate in the way you argue against it; anything that would offend a military family is going to turn him the other way.

I was worried because my other grandparents, on the Catholic side of the family, who are lifelong Democrats, do not like Obama. My full-blooded Italian grandma said she doesn’t like him because he won’t put his hand over his heart “because of that religion of his.” I don’t know if they’re representative of a lot of other older Democrats. I still think they’ll vote Democratic out of habit because they have voted Democratic their whole life. Their families came to the party in the 1930s when they were poor immigrants who always voted with the unions.

Those are the two sides of my family, the Catholic Democrat side and the Military side. So the Military family is crossing over to vote for the Democrats and the Catholic side is more likely than before to cross over to vote Republican. That’s how an Obama candidacy turns this thing – he loses some long-time Democrats and gains some long-time Republicans who have children who vote Democratic. They’re all among senior citizens, who is Obama’s hardest-got group.

But I think my family is pretty liberal as a whole, they’re probably all registered independents right now, and I doubt anyone (aside from my grandpa) is going to vote McCain. The younger generations on the Catholic side (my mom’s age and younger) are very Californiaesque: materialistic, mildly religious and socially liberal, but often vote on personality. I’m not sure if this tells me anything about where the country’s going to go.

Spoons

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:22 am

There are big spoon days and there are little spoon days, I told him.

That is, days you can be the big spoon and days you need to be the little spoon, you just don’t have the energy or strength and hope someone will wrap you up.

So I said P—— today am having a little-spoon day, and he said, “OK I will hold you,” because he knows exactly what I mean when I say things even if I’m vague. He was a long way away and all we could do was talk, but I still felt it over my shoulders. And I had a dream that confirmed it for me that night.

I was disappointed because my grades came back worse than I had hoped, and because something I wrote got rejected (well a few things did) and I was having a hard time finding a job. My total college GPA was less than my target GPA, which made me feel, I dunno I said, made me feel like the last 5 years have been a failure. When I was a kid, everybody said I was so intelligent, that based on my IQ test I am supposed to be smarter than 749 out of 750 people and every teacher was always telling my parents “that kid has potential,” but since that time I’ve been on a steady decline. In high school they were calling me “slacker” and “lazy” and in college the kids in the journalism deparment were saying I “don’t belong in this profession” and professors didn’t know my name. If course I say fuck that, there isn’t a day in my life I haven’t worked hard even if it’s just to sit still and listen to boring shit they teach you (the same stuff again and again). But I don’t even meet the minimum requirements for the grad schools I want to go to. That’s minimum; not the ideal requirements, the minimum requirements. I know so many things, but I can’t put the knowledge together, I lose passion too quickly – even when things are going well I lose passion because if it’s going too well it becomes boring – and I can’t write it down, I can’t put it into a product that I can sell (everything about this culture says what you have is worthless if you can’t sell it), and everything I have learned or discovered in my life is going to wasted.

Of course he said no, that’s not true. I also knew it wasn’t true but I needed to hear him say it. And I needed to know he would do that for me.

I said someday I will be strong for you. Someday I will be the rock and you’ll be the church and I will do all I can to hold you up. I’ll bite my lip through the worst of it, you know, face into the wind and all that, because that’s what we do for each other.

Things are going to turn around soon, you know.

Once I felt love flowing over my left shoulder and that’s how I knew where Chicago was, that I was facing south. P—— had gotten some bad news and it was a good time for me to be the big spoon, so I did it, sending it over my shoulder past the cornfields and praries.

That was then, and now it’s my turn to be the little one.

May 15, 2008

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California Court Reverses Same-Sex Marriage Ban

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The California State Supreme Court just overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, making California the second state, after Massachusetts, to allow same-sex marriage.

Those defending California’s same-sex marriage ban argued that since California already gives same-sex couples some benefits, the fact that they coudln’t get legally married was not discrimination. The 4-3 decision agreed with gay rights groups who argued that calling same-sex unions something other than marriage is akin to second-class status, and is not permitted by the state’s constitution.

Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would uphold the court’s ruling, and will also oppose a ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to reverse the ban. The ballot initiative will likely get enough signatures to appear on the ballot this November for all Californians to vote on it.

My guess is that the ballot initiative will fail, because a similar initiative in Arizona failed in 2006 in a state that is culturally similar but on balance more conservative than California.

California is the most populous state in the United States with about twelve percent of the United States population. Cities in California are magnets for GLBT people from around the country who are seeking a more tolerant cultural environment, so I would guess that something around 1 in 5 American same-sex couples live in the state and will be allowed to marry because of the California court decision.

But same-sex marriage is often a campaign talking-point for Republicans, some of whom have visceral responses to gay marriage and surge to the polls in droves to vote on same-sex marriage ballot initiatives. This is extremely unlikely to overturn Obama’s lead in California, where he is polling against John McCain by double-digits, but the enthusiasm may ripple out to surrounding Oregon and Nevada, two crucial swing states, and culturally-conservative Ohio and Virginia across the country. It is still to be seen whether or not the timing of this court decision will result in a bounce for John McCain against Barack Obama nationwide, or if various Senate or House races will be effected by this news.

May 11, 2008

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May 9, 2008

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May 8, 2008

African-American turnout in November

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Assuming Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, we can guess that African-Americans will turn out in numbers at higher than they did in 2004 for John Kerry. Just how much the African-American vote will impact the election is up for debate – many will point out that the highest African-American populations are found in the Deep South where no Democrat can expect to win. But the nation, as a whole, is about 12 percent African-American, and a 30 percent increase in their turnout amounts to a 3.6 percent bump for Democrats over their total popular-vote score in 2004.

Obama could expect a state-by-state bump proportional to the African-American population in that state in his race against John McCain. Polls usually do not factor this increase in hypothetical matches against John McCain, so it indicates that Obama may outperform the polls. Assuming, again, that the turnout increase is exactly 30 percent over 2004 levels, that leads to the following boosts for Barack Obama against John McCain:

4.08 percent over current polls in Florida
10 percent over current polls in Louisiana
4.17 over current polls in Michigan
3.21 over current polls in Missouri
6.6 over current polls in North Carolina
5.64 over current polls in Virgina
3.18 over current polls in Ohio
2.76 over current polls in Pennsylvania
4.77 over current polls in Arkansas
4.8 over current polls in Tennessee
3.57 over current polls in Texas
8.7 over current polls in South Carolina
2.67 over current polls in Indiana.

I am not including states in the Deep South (where turnout will be countered by equal numbers of white voters who do not want an African American president) and states that are solidly Democratic already.

These boosts would significantly impact the following states because the Obama vs. McCain margin is close to the expected boost in the African-American turnout:

Florida had McCain +1 on 4/26
Louisiana had McCain +11 on 4/9
Michigan had Obama +2 on 4/7
North Carolina had McCain +9 on 4/29
Ohio had McCain +1 on 4/26
Pennsylvania had Obama +9 on 4/26
Texas had McCain +5 on 5/1
Virginia had McCain +8 on 4/12
South Carolina has McCain +3 on 2/27
Indiana has Obama +1 on 4/29

If Obama’s African-American support helps put him over the top in any 3 of these states, he is mathematically almost certain to win the election. By this math Black voters should certainly help him secure those numbers. But this scenario depends on the following circumstances:

That Barack Obama increases African-American turnout by 30 percent.

That other factors do not boost overall turnout along with African-American turnout.

That pulls accurately predict or underestimate Barack Obama’s support among whites.

That Barack Obama’s candidacy does not galvanize or boost anti-Black turnout (among Whites and Hispanics) in crucial states.

May 5, 2008

Word of the Week – “Anti-American”

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Rising to popularity in the tumultuous era of the early Cold War, is today’s buzzword, “anti-American,” followed by its accomplice “un-American,” which, together, constitute one of the most popular and scathing insults hurled in modern United States politics.

Barack Obama’s embattled pastor Jeremiah Wright is the most timely example for what an “Anti-American” is, but in 2004 the term applied to the Vietnam vet. and presidential candidate John Kerry, and in 2002 it was used to describe the Democratic party as a whole. It has been used to describe people on both sides of the political spectrum, from Conservatives accused of suppressing votes to Liberals accused of refusing to wear an American flag lapel pin.

There isn’t a clear definition for the terms “anti-American” and “un-American” because, the concepts, as they are used, employ shifting definitions of the word “American.” The United States seems to be unique in that its name extends far beyond the nation as a whole; the terms “anti-UK” or “anti-French” are rarely heard because those nations are just nations and not models of a certain kind of spirit. One would reasonably surmise we must first define “American” or “America” as a starting point before we determine on what grounds a person is labeled as being against it.

Possible definitions for “America” include:

The geographical boundaries of the United States; the lower 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii. Here, Anti-American would mean opposing the climate or geography of the United States of America. Do you hate prairies, mountains or temperate coastal forests? Then you, my friend, are an anti-American. You fulfil the milder definition of being un-American if you are a piece of land not within the United States.

The 300 million people who are U.S. Citizens. Here, anti-American would mean being a non-American who supports discrimination against Americans. Do you want to make it illegal for Americans to enter your country or make them use separate drinking fountains or public restrooms? Then you’re an anti-American, in the purest sense, which precludes the possibility of you identifying as an American citizen yourself. You are un-American if you are one of the world’s 5.9 billion people who does not happen to be a citizen of the United States.

The United States Constitution. Here, Anti-American would mean having a political position that violates the Constitution or the Supreme Court’s determination of constitutionality, as currently understood. It includes those who support abortion bans in spite of the finding of Roe v. Wade or someone who supported the women’s vote before 1920. It probably also includes those who support changing the Constitution – until they do manage to change it, at which point they suddenly switch to being American and those who opposed it suddenly switch to being the anti-Americans. It would also include British loyalists who are unhappy with the outcome of the Revolutionary war.

The United States military. Here, Anti-American would mean supporting the abolition of the military. While no elected official in the United States supports this, you could find people across the political spectrum who don’t think there should be a government-funded military. They include some hard-core libertarians (who may say that the military itself is “un-American”), and Meninites who are religiously opposed to militias. If “American” is the military, un-American pertains to the 295 million people who are U.S. citizens but are not enlisted in the U.S. armed forces.

The current American executive administration. This means that everyone not within the 28 percent of Americans who “approve” of the Bush Administration are anti-American. Un-American applies to anyone outside the 100 or so people who work directly with the White House.

The current body of elected officials. This means that the 80 percent of Americans who disapprove of the current congress are anti-American. The 300 or so U.S. citizens who are not in elected office face the milder definition of “un-American.”

Representative Democracy. This is a commonly used definition of the term, and it means that a large percentage of the population living outside the United States is just as “American” as Americans are. All Europeans (including the French), North Americans, Australians, Brazilians, Indians, Russians, Japanese, South Africans, South Koreans or members of any other democratic nation who support their form of government are Americans. Furthermore, anyone in undemocratic nations like China or Saudi Arabia who would support their nation becoming a representative democracy would be Americans too. Those in any country who support overthrowing democracy for the installment of dictators is Anti-American, and anyone who is indifferent is un-American. Fortunately, Anti-Americans constitute the most tiny fraction of the world, however, many Anti-Americans in Saudi Arabia or China are important U.S. allies or trading partners.

Current U.S. Policies. This means that no actual human being is “American,” because the word applies to concepts and laws. An anti-American is anyone who wants to change anything about government; this includes all Republicans, Democrats, independents, centrists and Libertarians. Actually, it includes almost everybody, leaving the tiny few who are perfectly content and satisfied with everything they see (such as those who are very drunk or those in a state of meditation) as the elite group that does not classify as un-American.

Blue-Collar Midwesterners. According to Hillary Clinton, this is true; these “Regan Democrats” are the heart and soul of the United States. Saying anything disparaging towards them, or by extension, critical of unsavory attitudes toward African-Americans, Jews or Gays, is an Anti-American statement. Unfortunately, New York and California, you are not American after all, nor are Iowans, Coloradans or anyone from those darned un-American “Caucus States.”

My own personal views. This is the most commonly-used definition of “American,” with which anyone who disagrees with you can be called Anti-American. Liberals can use it on Conservatives, but more often, Conservatives use it on Liberals, deciding that whatever nuanced boundaries of their political philosophy are the exact boundaries at which a person crosses over into being an enemy of the United States. There are a bajillion ways to be “un-American” under this umbrella and everyone is some other American’s anti-American.

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