On One Hand

September 30, 2008

The Great Schlep

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The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Schlep for Obama with Sarah Silverman

September 28, 2008

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September 25, 2008

In Defense of Patriotism

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Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 40 years after the end of legal segregation and 5 years after the launch of the war in Iraq – a day when compassion and intelligence were reviled as dangerous ideas – could we be where we are today in American politics. A woman and a Black man – two unheard-ofs in the presidential level of politics – were in close contest to be one of the two major candidates for the nation’s highest office.

In 2008 I was intimately involved in electing Barack Obama president. The effort has embodied everything I love about this country.

In the spring, Michelle Obama made a comment that struck a chord with my deepest emotions toward our moment in history. She said that in the midst of her husband’s campaign, for the first time in her adult life, she feels really proud of her country. The crowd was on its feet in heartfelt applause and agreement.

Yet this surge in pride and joy of the American spirit – as abstract and elusive as that spirt is – was immediately under fire by her political opponents. They asked, why wasn’t Michelle Obama already proud of her country? Why is she only proud of America now?

We ask instead, why did she choose that language to describe a patriotism that is just as real for her as anyone – and why were those words used against her?

For too long we’ve let ourselves sink into a narrow-minde definition of what “America” is and where in it is our pride. We’ve let other people tell us that we are not patriots, or that we are not fully members of American society. We’ve responded to America defined as a specific set of policies and ideas that do not benefit everyone – and rejected the America embodied therein.

We were affected deeply by that rhetoric. That’s why we haven’t always “felt” patriotic all these years. The negative influence seeped into our minds until on some level we surrendered to the false claim that the policies and ideas we oppose are somehow really the heart and soul of this nation – and that something must be fundementally wrong with our culture as a whole for enacting them.

The year 2008 reminded me where the America I love lay hidden. It wasn’t that we weren’t patriotic, it’s that the kind of stuff we feel patriotic about was pushed to the sidelines. We have someone who, rhetorically and intellectually, espouses the beleif that America is for everyone and everyone is for America. The tone of the Obama campaign summed it up – insisting that the America we love was America all along, and therefore we have always loved America.

The America that I am proud of is full of faces that do not all look alike, dress alike or act alike. There are men and women, young and old, American Indians, Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Middle Easterners, immigrants, natives, workers, students, pioneers, adventurers, teachers, doctors, priests, monks, imams and activists… you get where this is going.

Among them are heroes: people who lived, fought and died for the benefit of this nation both in the uniform and out. They are heroes like Martin Luther King Jr, like the freedom writers who were taunted and harrassed and beaten to give the decendents of America’s original sin, slavery, a chance at equality. Heroes like Abrahalm Lincoln, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy who died because after making a choice to fight for those rights for others. Heroes like Harvey Milk, Ceasar Chavez, Dorothea Lynde Dix, Dorothy Day, Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Thumban who took great personal risk to lead others to freedom.

Among them are pioneers, inventors and entrepreneurs: people who worked hard to reach or discover something that would change the course of history. They settled the West and laid down the railroad, which marked the beginning of American economic dominance. They invented the lightbulb and developed the alternating current. Pioneers and entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Carl Sagan, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver, Orville and Wilbur Wright and Albert Einstein.

Among them are historians, artists and thinkers: people who wove together the stories that define our self-identity. They are Walt Whitman, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ansel Adams, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsburg, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock and Billie Holiday.

I don’t see anything to indicate that one has to be a war hero to be fully “American,” or that one must be politically or socially conservative. Did those movements and narratives, recognizing the contribution of every person, suddenly subside under the Bush Administration, did they cease to exist on the day that American planes first showered bombs on Baghdad?

Or did we just forget that those stories are America, they are us and we are a part of them?

It is natural to lose affection for a culture or identity when one is told that he or she is not a true member of it. Blacks have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-ness. Catholics have not been treated as fully American and had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-ness. American Indians have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-Ness. Latinos have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-ness. Gay and lesbian Americans have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear whne defending their American-Ness.

But I am nothing less that fully American, I love this country, I beleive its history and its struggles taps the depth of human history and conscienceness. I want this country to keep moving on that path. That makes me a patriot, and I accept the charge.

September 23, 2008

Why are all the “good guys” already taken?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:31 pm

Someone posed this question to me recently, and I did my best to offer good advice. We all know the experience – you’re out looking for love, and every person who piques your interest already has someone slung over his shoulder, in what looks like romantic bliss, leaving you always high and dry. The rest of dating culture looks pathetic at best. Is it a “grass is always greener” scenario, drawing you to want what is inaccessible simply because it is inaccessible?

I don’t think the answer is quite that, but the situation is still a matter of perception. Those who are single are inherently not as compelling as those who aren’t, which has less to do with some essential quality and more to do with the circumstances related to NOT BEING SINGLE.

Being single when you don’t want to be (indicating some degree of desperation) can make you kniving and insecure. On top of that, it’s human nature to experience pangs of apprehension when you are close to getting what you want – sure, this guy’s good, but is there someone BETTER? I’m sure we’ve all experienced a period of confusion soon before a relationship starts. This impulse causes us to ruin everything at the last minute.

Those who are in a relationship, and stop looking for relationships, seem calm. They focus on other areas of their lives, they build authentic friendships which are not based on potential love or sex. Sure there are bad relationships everywhere, needy or unfaithful partners who don’t seem happy at all, but when a relationship is working, it makes its members more attractive and appealing overall. If you’re looking for a stable relationship, seeing your friend appear to be in one indicates to you that he is ABLE to have stable relationships – something so many others don’t seem to have – which makes your attraction increase.

That’s why it seems like all the “good guys” are already taken. I’ve been there many times – only to watch the seemingly perfect couple, eventually, perhaps through circumstances not entirely anyone’s fault, break up. And when it happens, its members join the same horny, desperate, wishy-washy mosh pit that the rest of us are in. Those who seemed to be a step above the rest of society are really just normal people. Come to think of it, you know you’ve seen that too, right?

I’m not entirely pessimistic about love. If you pull your fixation away from getting into a relationship NOW and find an accepting, patient, meditative approach to relationships which gives you all the coolness and sense of stability that guys-already-in-love seem to have. Perhaps the flaw in the approach is indicated in the initial, nearly universal problem, “to find a great guy to date.” That’s an attitude many will eventually grow out of; they might still be looking for it, but it eventually subsides to a more pragmatic level. Rather than specifically seeking someone to date, focus on your own life, having fun, enjoying your hobbies, being in the present, and let yourself naturally fall in love with someone who may surprise you.

September 22, 2008

State of Georgia Prepares to Execute Innocent Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:35 pm
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What do you call it when an innocent person is strapped to a gurney and killed by lethal injection?

Murder.

What does it mean when the decision to execute an innocent person was affirmed by a state Supreme Court and allowed to continue by all checks instituted to prevent a wrongful execution?

It means that the people who made the call to carry out the sentence are guilty of murder, that the people who strung together the flimsy and falsified case are guilty of murder, and that the state and the process that led to that decision is tragically flawed. It’s hardly arguable that the government that carries out the crime of murdering one of its citizens – one of those whom it has been entrusted to protect – continues to be a valid government.

Over a year ago, on July, 18, 2007, Troy Davis was within a day of his execution in the state of Georgia when a state parole board granted him a temporary stay to give courts time to review the case. (See more here.) The stay of execution was based on the fact that that 7 of the 9 witnesses in the original trial recanted or changed their stories, claiming they were coerced by police or prosecutors. No DNA or physical evidence linking Davis to the murder has been brought to court; instead, the conviction was made on the basis of witness testimony, which has since crumbled. The evidence now indicates that Troy Davis is innocent.

Davis is now scheduled for execution again at 7pm Eastern time, Tuesday, September 23, 2008. The United States Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal to his death sentence on September 29, 6 days after the execution will have taken place – the Georgia State Supreme Court today insisted there will be no stay of execution.

Georgia is one of three states in which the governor has no power to grant clemency, and state authorities have indicated that they fully intend to carry out the execution.

The heated election season is drawing media attention away from the crisis, which is sparking widespread controversy nonetheless. Marches have taken place in Atlanta, Georgia and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Pope John Paul II, former president Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, and Libertarian candidate for president Bob Barr have been part of the effort to save Davis’ life.

***Update from Tuesday, September 23, 11:43PM Eastern Time

Two hours before Troy Davis was to be put to death, the United States Supreme Court held an emergency session to grant Troy Davis a Stay of Execution. Davis first heard the news on television. In six days the court will hear his case to see if he should be on death row at all.

This is the second emergency stay Davis was given, which – weighed with the likelihood that he is innocent – is short of murder, but is not short of torture of an innocent person. If the Supreme Court finds that the death sentence so nearly carried out was indeed wrongful, one hopes that the fallout would be immense and warrant a second look at the death penalty in America.

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September 21, 2008

The Obama Tax Cut (continued)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:09 pm

http://alchemytoday.com/obamataxcut/

Based on my 2008 income I would get an annual $896.21 tax cut from Barack Obama and an $18.52 tax cut from John McCain.

If I had worked as many hours all year as I work now, it would have been a $480.98 tax cut under Barack Obama, and a $24.87 tax cut under John McCain.

(Use the link to calculate your own tax cut under the plan.)

September 20, 2008

700 Billlion

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:34 pm
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I love (sarcasm) that after years of advocating for federal investment in this country – in public transit systems that would reduce dependency on oil; in preventative healthcare that reduces the burden of more expensive treatment when diseases reach advanced stages; in improving funding and access to higher education to expand the high-skills workforce; in improved funding for K-12 and stay-in-school programs which can reduce adult incarceration rates and increase national productivity overall – the line of the conservatives has been, “it’s too expensive, it’s too expensive, it’s too expensive.”

Few of these grandiose plans were expected to cost much more than a trillion dollars over a ten year period and absolutely none were expected to cost a trillion dollars in a single month – or day. The underlying arguments for them was that they would eventually save money in addition to their other benefits; slow the drain of U.S. dollars to Saudia Arabia for oil as well as dollars spent on road and highway repair, save patients the cost of others’ medical bills that result in bankruptcy, expand the tax base through a more high-skill, high-paid workforce with less need for outsourcing, and save taxpayers from funding jails and welfare programs. All of them were expected to either save money or generate funds for the economy in the long-term. Meanwhile advocates were reviled as “socialists” because the money they want to invest with belongs to taxpayers.

Yet on the day that Tax Cut Himself Mr. President Bush proposes a plan to throw 700 billion public dollars to bail out private financial corporations that took grossly irresponsible risks and are on the verge of bankruptcy, there’s nary a wink from fiscal conservatives. 700 billion dollars in taxpayer money is 2,333 dollars per person, folks, and the worst news is that it still might not be enough to stop all the big banks from going under.

I’m not saying that 700 billion dollars is too much to spend on preventing a disastrious financial crisis. It is too much but that isn’t my point.

My point is that that money sure could have been useful invested somewhere else. It could go toward creating something new, not fixing something that shouldn’t have been broken to begin with.

I want an uproar from fiscal conservatives, establishing once and for all that Republicans don’t spend any less money than Democrats, they just spend it on less important things. Even if the deal eventually goes through (if it has to in order to prevent low-income people from bearing the brunt of an economic crisis) and we eventually have to cringe and bear it, I still want to hear that uproar from economic conservatives. Bush says that the government will earn some of the money back, and maybe it will, but it also could have reaped a profit for more worthy investments that it did not make. And I want observe at least some sense of regret from the free-market pundits and Mitt Romney Republicans.

I feel like a kid whose parents told me for months and months that they can’t afford to spend 100 dollars on a graphing calculator so I can take the accelerated math class, then went out and got a 120-dollar speeding ticket, came home, shrugged, and said “that sucked, oh well.”

September 19, 2008

Protected: World’s Greatest Photographs

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September 18, 2008

Another Case of Missing the Point of Feminism with Sarah Palin

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:18 am
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Invoice to women who want to be successful: WEAR A SKIRT.

Sarah Palin is a good VP choice because “men want to sleep with her,” says Donny Deutsch. He goes on to say that this is the golden ticket the feminist movement just hasn’t thought of yet after 40 years.

What I love most is that all the buzzers are going boing boing in this guy’s head when he thinks he’s made a crucial breakthrough – HAVE YOU CONSIDERED MAKING YOURSELF INTO A SEXUAL OBJECT!!?? Meanwhile any 16-year-old girl with even a mildly sophisticated upbringing can say it’s been going on since 34,000 BCE, and perhaps, feminists find the sexual objectification of women problematic for other reasons than being embarrased that conservatives thought of it first.

And perhaps the CEREAL BOX – O – CANDIDATE idea is just a little commodifying?

This video is like watching the really awful signer in the American Idol audition think he’s achieved vocal brilliance just before Simon Cowell’s brutal glare rips him apart. I feel bad for the female CNBC anchor who is trying to play ditzy to conceal what I can’t distinguish between annoyance and amusement.

But According to Deutsch this response would be dismissed as his “all Left-brained stuff, issues and all that – IT DOESN’T MATTER” (3:10).

The video came from Feministing.com (a blog I highly reccommend).

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