Tag Archives: politics

AUSTINITES: Call your local representatives *today* to help animals

The Cruelest Show on Earth

For years a group of animal lovers in Austin have been trying to stop some of the worst forms of cruelty to animals in our time. Yes, I am talking about the damn circus where they regularly control elephants and other animals through shackles and pain. Austin For Cruelty Free Entertainment is working to ban bull hooks and chains and they can win this campaign if you take five minutes to call your city council members today. I hear time and time again that the best way to actually make political change is to work at the local level. Just a handful of calls can completely sway a council member because not that many people are engaged so don’t put it off! I don’t want to call either but they even made a script for us so it will be super easy. Here are the details:

Hello Everyone. Thank you for supporting our campaign to protect animals in circuses all these years. We are now at the most important and critical phase of this years-long process to pass an ordinance that will ban painful devices used on animals in circuses, as well as banning chains used on elephants in circuses.
We need your help right now to help us pass this ordinance. Here’s what you can do today to help us out:

1) Call our city council members and mayor today and ask them to support this campaign. It only takes about 60 seconds to make each call. You will be speaking to a council member’s aide who may ask for your name and phone number; please give that information to them. Here’s what you can say when you call:

“Hello. My name is (your first name, last name). I live in Austin. I’m calling to ask Council Member (name) to support Council Member Tovo’s proposal asking the city attorney to write an ordinance that will ban painful devices used on animals in circuses, one that also includes a ban on chaining or tethering elephants.”

Our city council wants to hear from you about important issues so please call them now so they’ll know how important stopping animal cruelty in circuses is to our community. One last thing: Our city council is very busy so please make your call very brief.

Here are the city council names and phone numbers and email addresses:

• Mayor Lee Leffingwell – 512-974-2250
• Council Member Mike Martinez – 512-974-2264,
• Council Member Bill Spelman – 512-974-2256
• Council Member Sheryl Cole – 512-974-2266
• Council Member Laura Morrison – 512-974-2258
• Council Member Chris Riley – 512-974-2260

2) You may also email our city council and mayor all at once by going here http://austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members. Your email will be sent to all of them once you click the SEND button.

Here’s what you can write in your email:

“Hello. My name is (your first name, last name). I live in Austin. I’m emailing to ask Council Member (name) to support Council Member Tovo’s proposal asking the city attorney to write an ordinance that will ban painful devices used on animals in circuses, one that also includes a ban on chains or tethering elephants. Thank you.”

3) Join us at 10:00 a.m., on Thursday, December 11th, at City Hall where the city council and mayor will vote on a proposal asking the city attorney to write a law to protect animals in circuses in Austin.

We’ll need you to do the following once you arrive:

• Register your support for this proposal by voting at one of the kiosks located in the lobby of city hall. Two of our members will be stationed next to the kiosks to assist you with this step. This takes 2 minutes to do so please do this.
• If you feel comfortable speaking in support of this proposal then sign up to speak for 3 minutes during the city council meeting. You do not need to speak for the entire 3 minutes but you cannot go over 3 minutes either. Please be polite when speaking, give your full name and simply ask the city council to protect animals in circuses by banning painful devices used on animals in traveling shows as well as banning chains on elephants.
Follow Austin For Cruelty Free Entertainment on facebook or twitter for updates.


Stimulate My Pocket

I was watching John Stewart last night and he came up with an simple solution to the economic “crises”. He said that instead of giving the banks the money they should just divvy it up among the Americans, then we would either pay back the money to the banks to get out of debt and they would have money again or we would spend it and thus stimulate the economy. It seems like such an elegant solution that can’t fail. No one would just put 10,000 dollars under the mattress, everyone would either put it in the bank or go shopping.

Are there flaws in this that I am not seeing? Please let me know why this wouldn’t work. The only thing I can think is that it is a government conspiracy after all.


Special Comment on Gay Marriage ~ Keith Olbermann

I love Keith Olberman and his special comments. I thought this one was especially good. I can’t understand why people want to take others right to marry away. It just doesn’t make any sense to me in what is supposed to be a free country. Why should the governemnt tell me who I can marry? If you don’t want gay marriage than don’t marry a gay person. It is that easy.

President-Elect Obama

For the first time in my life I am truly proud of my country and hopeful for America. I can’t even believe it!

These feelings that I haven’t had since I was a child, that maybe we are not on a sinking ship of people that hate each other.

Maybe the elections aren’t always rigged. Maybe there isn’t a group of major coporations that decided how the country runs and which puppets win elections

Not only did a half-Kenyan, half-Kansan Chicago university professor, constitutional scholar AND community organizer win the election BUT the fundamentalists went down for the first time in a big way. In South Dakota they tried to ban abortion and birth control. It went down. In Colorado they tried to give a fertilized embryo all the rights of a citizen and it went down (oh and explain to me again why a small blood clot should have more rights than my best friend, a dog) and a horrible woman in in North Dakota, named Elizabeth Dole tried to paint her Christian opponent as an atheist in one of the worst campaign ads I have ever seen, and she went down. There were, of course some major set-backs. California decided to write discrimination and hate into their constitution and deny people, of all things, the right to have a family.

But I don’t see how anyone could not have been moved by Obama’s speech. It was a return to an America that I have only read about, where people work together in a democracy for the common good of the people.

Watching the celebrations for the election was like watching the end of the new Return of the Jedi where the Evil Empire is brought down and tyranny comes to an end. Who would have thought reality would have resembled Return of the Jedi?

The Speech

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.

Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton … and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years … the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady … Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia … I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us …to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe … the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod … who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics … you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy … who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Why Sarah Palin is good for democracy

When I first saw governor Sarah Palin I could not believe what I was seeing. For most of my life I have seen republicans as standing for everything that I would spend my life fighting against. The idea that these people think they should decide if I have a baby sends blood rushing to my fists. The fact that there are women in this party astounds me constantly since the republicans, so far, have shown no inkling of care or respect for children, health, the poor, the suffering, or keeping families together. This disgusts me to no end. The fact that their version of Christianity is the only correct faith and we in the US should all be forced to follow its teachings seems to be the most un-American scenario that I can imagine. The fact that the whole reason Europeans came here was to practice how they pleased or be financially secure are the tenants that this country were founded on. Freedom for different races and women came later and the fact that these Republicans are still fighting against that makes me want to run around screaming. Their goal is to keep minorities down through poverty and keep women down by keeping them pregnant. I have seen girls in the eighth grade boast about how they are having a baby and this is what the republican party seems to want the most.

As time goes on I have begun to realize that the whole Palin pick could subvert that whole notion. Here is a woman who was a beauty queen. Who became mayor of her town because she was cute, had a lot friends, and called herself a Christian. The other guy claimed to be a Christian too but you see he wasn’t the right kind. He kept his practice out of his mayoral duties. Palin claimed that this meant that he was pro-choice (which, by the way, is the law still in Alaska) and somehow she won the title. When the big boys at the top of state’s leadership got into trouble Palin saw her opportunity and she took it. Even though she had left her town having a financial deficit for the first time in its history she ran as a fiscal conservative. Even though her town is now known as the meth capital of Alaska she ran on a record of “family values”. Even though she spent millions on a hockey complex in her town and had the same contractors build her house she claimed to be the ethical choice. She got elected, fired most of the people who worked for the state and hired a bunch of her friends even if they had no qualifications whatsoever. She soon came under an ethics investigation. She gave Alaskans a tax rebate that was sometimes a thousand dollars and those same Alaskans just loved her.

Meanwhile, the Republicans trying to put their old white man into office were wondering what to do about the presidential election. Suddenly, the democrats had a candidate that appeared to be everything the Republicans were not and the people were loving it. Here was a smart guy, a professor of constitutional law, a community organizer, a man claiming both black and white heritage, and a senator. Instead of attacking the social issues that divide us he talked about bringing people together. He talked about a new direction for the country in a way that people actually believed. The cynical American culture suddenly was filled with something many young people had never experienced – Hope. It sounds silly and the republicans try to make fun of this fact all the time but the truth is, for the first time, many people suddenly felt like they had a political figure to believe in. For those in my generation where the only presidents we have known are Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton this was something entirely new. Though many us didn’t agree with different policy positions of Barrack Obama we finally felt like this was a man who could bring us together and lead the country as opposed to selling out the common American and the constitution. The Republicans didn’t know what to do, they spent the last two elections attacking the people in the democrat party and their beliefs but Obama was unwilling to go that route. They cynically thought that the reason people were behind Obama was because he was young and black and it was becoming a “historical” election. They wanted to be part of history too so they, apparently, did a Wikipedia search on female republican governors. They stumbled across Sarah Palin, pretty, well-liked, Christian Fundamentalist, antiabortion – perfect they thought!

Unfortunately for them they didn’t look into the fact that Palin had only been governor of one of the smallest states for 20 months. She was well liked (who doesn’t like a fat check from the governor) but completely untested. Additionally, she just wasn’t very knowledgeable about national politics (besides divisive social issues) or world affairs and therefore just wasn’t prepared to be on the national stage. Sure, she listened to am radio and knew the distorted neocon view of the world but the problem is that all that stuff is completely made up by the real elites with the soul purpose of keeping the people divided and ignorant of the world’s actual problems. She then went on the national stage and was completely unable to defend, or even intelligently talk about, her republican beliefs. The reason isn’t that she is inherently stupid, it is because those beliefs don’t follow any logic, you can’t be pro-life and pro-death penalty and pro-war. You cannot be a Christian and hate people on welfare. You cannot be pro-jobs when you are against unions. You can’t be for minorities and want to put up all wall and shoot poor people trying to cross our southern border. You can’t be a humanitarian but for torture. You can’t claim to be a patriot and try to take the country apart. You can’t be pro-democracy but then try to stop minorities, city dwellers, and poor people from voting. It just doesn’t add up to any scrutiny whatsoever. Now Sarah Palin might be a major factor in the Republicans losing the election (unless they steal it). She could even tear the party apart. Maybe then the democrats could fall apart too and we could finally have a true democracy where their all multiple parties and people must form coalitions to pass laws rather than just pitting US against THEM.

But that isn’t the reason I think that Sarah Palin will save democracy in the United States. I think there are many little girls out there, Lisa Simpson types, who are watching this campaign and thinking to themselves, wow she isn’t from the political establishment, didn’t go to a top school, didn’t even know elementary facts about the government, isn’t from a rich family, and can’t even speak intelligently. If she can almost become vice president than I definitely have a shot because I am smarter than her. I think many little girls will realize this and see that democracy doesn’t have to be only for rich white men. Anyone can do it.

A review of “The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur”

I was a little hesitant at first to read “The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur” because I thought it was going to be a really difficult read that would leave me emotionally tapped and hopeless. I ended up having a very different reaction. The author Daoud Hari has such a great outlook on life that I couldn’t help but love him and enjoy his story. The book starts with a little about what it is like to be a translator in Darfur but it quickly moves into an autobiography of Mr. Hari giving the reader a little background information about how he got to where he is in life. He moved around the region quite a bit before the conflict started and he hadn’t been back to his village in a few years when the war starts. We follow him as he goes to see his family in the village and flees with them and goes to refugee camps where he starts helping different reporters cross back over into Darfur and interview people.

Some of the scenes were very chilling and disturbing but what was great about the book is the tone of the author and his sense of hope in spite of so much destruction. The pages seemed so full of life and love although in a subtle way. It was easy to see how Mr. Hari earned so many friends among all sides of the conflict but it is hard to believe that he could keep such a positive attitude despite his many ordeals. His sense of humor was so enjoyable. When I finished the book I didn’t feel at all despondent but instead ready to help the people in Darfur which is exactly what his point was in witting the book. I would recommend this book to any one. It was a fast easy read and totally engaging and I learned about another place in the world. I highly recommend it. ( )