Friday, December 7, 2012

The Nightmare before CLIFFmas, and All Through the House

Twas the night before Cliffmas,
And all through the House (of Representatives)
Not a reasonable negotiation was stirring...not even, well, anything. At all.



The proverbial fiscal cliff is looming near, and it is now a waiting game to see if House Republicans are going to be able to handle a tax hike on the wealthy 2% of Americans. Obama is not budging on this one, and quite honestly, he shouldn't. If the Republicans want to kick us all off the fiscal cliff at the start of the year, I think America will really see who the GOP cares about: the wealthy 2% (if they couldn't see that already). At this point, it is unreasonable to think that a tax hike on the wealthiest of Americans is going to send the country spiraling into another recession.

But you know what will most likely send us back into a recession? Going off the fiscal cliff and raising taxes of hard-working middle class families by $2,000 a year. Now that is something that all of us regular people will feel. I think we should all be very worried about what will happen if we go over this cliff.



So right now, the GOP leaders have a choice: Agreeing to Obama's plan to hold down tax rates for most Americans while simultaneously allowing higher rates on top earners or....being blamed for everyone's taxes going up in 2013. After this election, things are not looking good for the GOP, and refusing to budge on this issue is going to sink the Republican party even deeper into the ground. It would be a huge political error, not to mention it's just plain wrong and completely against what the American people just voted for in the Presidential election! Even Ann Coulter agrees that the GOP needs to go with Obama's plan, for PR purposes if nothing else.

Recent polls show that...

  • 65% of Americans want a tax hike for those who make over $250,000
  • 85% oppose the GOP pledge against raising taxes
  • 51% think the GOP is negotiating in bad faith
  • 53% trust President Obama more in debt talks!
The people have spoken, and I really think it's just a matter of time before the GOP gives up on this issue. Personally, I think Boehner would have given in a long time ago if he didn't have the rest of the party constantly pressuring and emasculating him. I actually feel kinda bad for the guy. Rush Limbaugh called the GOP's negotiations "weak." I like to call it "cautious" because that's what they have to be at this point to maintain their image, whatever is left of it.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Over. Finally. My 2016 Election Predictions: Hillary 2016, Anyone?

Ok, I'm back. As a huge political nerd, even I was sick of hearing about the 2012 Presidential Election. It was a long road full of shitloads of money and an endless supply of attack ads. But, as I suspected, this country is still not ready for a President who will set us back 50 years.

Victory was achieved! Barack Obama will live to see another term! This just goes to show that even with all the money in the world, you still just can't buy a presidential election in this country The OFA team worked with diligence, passion, and never-ending faith and hope. I spent the weekend before the election in the OFA office in the Castro here in San Francisco, and never have I seen a group of more dedicated people who really love this country. I am confident that OFA's campaign strategy will go down in the history books as one of the most brilliant and well-thought out campaigns this country has seen.

Inside of the OFA Office in the Castro. San Francisco, CA
Now that this is all over, it's hard not to start thinking about 2016. Ok, maybe it's just hard for me. All I can think is HILLARY HILLARY HILLARY. The incredible Secretary of State seems like the perfect candidate to me. She has repeatedly stated that she will not run again, but we shall see. Clinton plans to step down from the State Department in the new year, and I do not blame her for wanting to take a bit of a breather...but four years is a long time in politics (pretty much an eternity) and I would not be surprised if she feels the political urge creep up again. Hillary has always been a huge role model of mine, and I would love nothing more than to see a woman like her in charge of this country. I think we are ready for it. I am curious to see what having a strong female head of state will be like.

This is my dream. Hope I will be wearing this pin in four years!
Others have speculated that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is a potential candidate. He made history at the Democratic National Convention this year as the first Latino to deliver the keynote address. Plain and simple, he rocked it. Everyone instantly fell in love with him. Of course, like Hillary, he denies any plans to run in 2016. However, from the outside observer, he seems to be positioning himself to run in 2016; much like President Obama, he signed a deal to write his autobiography, and started his DNC speech thanking Londoners (the U.S.'s closest ally) for the successful Olympics. He is incredibly politically astute and amazingly mature and wise for his age and level of experience. He even set up visits with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and George Osborne during his two day visit! Besides being on the radar internationally, Castro is on the radar in DC. Everybody is talking about him.

While I am obviously loyal to Hillary, I definitely would not mind seeing Castro on the ballot in 2016. Other names that are being thrown around are of course Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emanuel (who I also love), and Newark mayor Cory Booker. 

On the Republican side, there has been talk about Paul Ryan, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. 

Who would you like to see on the ballot in 2016?



Monday, July 9, 2012

Money, Money, Money: How Unregulated Campaign Spending Is Taking Away Your Rights

As a law student, I know firsthand how murky and confusing the law can be. I also know about loopholes. However, it seems to me that Karl Rove may have once again crossed the line between what is legal and what is not.

The Citizens United decision allows unlimited corporate spending on elections.

On June 22, Karl Rove gave a speech right outside one of Romney's donor retreats. The event was hosted by Solamere Capital and he spoke to about 200 wealthy donors. By the way, this private equity firm was founded by Tagg Romney (Mitt Romney's oldest son) and Spencer Zwick, the Romney campaign's chief fundraiser. Not shady at all...

Also, it must have merely been a coincidence that the event he spoke at was not only at the same time as Romney's donor retreat, but also in the same city at an adjacent hotel. Oh yes, purely coincidental. Because, you know, it's actually illegal for Super PACs to coordinate advertising strategies for attack ads against political candidates with campaign committees. The GOP wouldn't want to do something illegal, now would they? Rove and Romney are really walking on thin ice here.



I know I have blogged about Super PACs before, but the sheer amount of money that the GOP is using to try to buy our country and buy this election disgusts me. It goes against everything that I love about this country. Unregulated and anonymous cash is being used to try to "win" America.

This worries me; not only because it is corrupt, but because voter turnout is already going to be much lower than it was in the 2008 election. People are cynical and their bank accounts have dwindled, the youth is no longer fired up, and the message of "hope" that tied together Obama's campaign in 2008 has faded. The message that the GOP and Super PACs are sending us is that our votes do not matter. They are telling us that money is everything and if you have enough of it, you can run this country.

Is that the spirit upon which this country was founded? I don't think so.

The less power the people think they have, the less they are going to want to vote. The fewer the people who are excited and go out to vote, the less our government is a true representation of the people. The less our government is a true representation of the people, the less it is a true democracy. This is a slippery slope and I think you see where I am going here.

If we let money run our elections and basically give up all the precious rights that our people have fought for, the next thing we know, we will wake up, and we will not recognize where we are living. Our basic rights will have been thrown out the window.

You know how conservatives are always saying they need to "take back their country?" Well you know what? It's high time liberals grew some balls and stood up to TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY too. We will not stand for this. We did it grassroots style in 2008 and we will do it again this year. America will not be bought.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Violence Against Women Act: Who Does It Actually Protect?

This past Wednesday, the House passed their version of the Violence Against Women Act on a 222 to 205 vote. Although this seems like pretty great news, I personally think the bill is much too narrow.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) shares her stories of being sexually assaulted as a young woman. "As a woman of color, I am particularly aggrieved that this bill ignores the special circumstances of women who are minorities. Women who are in the shadows."
Women in the lowest income category experience more than six times the rate of domestic violence as compared to women in the highest income category. African-American women face higher rates of domestic violence than white women, and Native-American women are victimized at a rate more than double that of women of other races.

President Bill Clinton signed The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law for the first time in 1994. The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. This law greatly improved the nation's response to domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. In United States v. Morrison, SCOTUS struck down the VAWA provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. The Court's conservatives saw this as an attack on state's rights.

Needless to say, the law has borne the brunt of conservative opposition for years now. VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and then again in 2005. This time, in 2012, Republicans had a huge problem with the fact that Democrats wanted to extend the Act's protections to same-sex couples and allow battered illegal immigrants to obtain temporary visas.

VAWA provides invaluable services to victims of domestic violence, including community violence protection programs, protections for victims who are evicted from their homes because of domestic violence, rape crisis centers and hotlines, as well as programs for immigrant women and women with disabilities.

What Are Republicans Complaining About?

Well, the new version of the VAWA included LGBT couples. The bill also included a provision from the SAVE Native American Women Act, which allows tribes to prosecute Native American and non-Native American offenders in domestic violence cases. Republicans also did not like the provision that would have protected female illegal aliens. This provision would have provided visas for undocumented victims to encourage them to come forward when they are abused without the fear of deportation.

Not to sound like a broken record, but this is undeniably yet another event that lends credence to the fact that the GOP is waging a War on Women! For those who think that The War on Women is a silly fantasy or a made-up scam by liberal America, I ask you to take a step back and look at the actions of the GOP lately. How can one NOT come to the conclusion that there is a war on not only women, but Americans who are LGBT! Domestic violence is severely under-reported in the gay community for many different reasons, and this is all the more reason to protect them under the VAWA.

Apparently Republicans think that it is "unnecessary" to include minority groups in the VAWA. Apparently these are "divisive distractions."  I have a huge problem with this.

Once again, politics, bigotry, and racism are blocking the doorway to justice.


Alas, the House did not adopt the Senate version of the bill, which protects all women, regardless of nationality or citizenship status, and LGBT individuals. Once again, the GOP says NO to justice.


The Republican-authored bill raises requirements to prove domestic violence and assault, erases protections for undocumented women, and eliminates protection for LGBT victims of domestic violence. This is going to hurt many Americans, and in my opinion, violates Constitutional principles of equal protection.

The fact that these protections were denied in the same week that President Obama formally announced his support for marriage equality/same-sex marriage is ironic and sad.

It's one thing to deny women the health care that they deserve, but it is another thing to tell certain groups of people that they do not deserve equal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation or citizenship status.

What Is Going to Happen Now?

The bill will now go to a House/Senate Conference Committee along with the VAWA passed by the Senate. I can only hope that the expanded protections under the Senate version are included in the final law.

If you are unhappy with the House version of the VAWA, click here to protest it!

VIOLENCE IS VIOLENCE, no matter who the victim is.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Stand Up for Justice" Rally at SF City Hall: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Today I attended the "Stand Up for Justice" Rally at San Francisco City Hall! This event was organized by the Bar Association of San Francisco, and our Attorney General Kamala Harris showed up as well as many other amazing lawyers and politicians. The focus was on how the lack of court funding is affecting our most vulnerable citizens.





CA Attorney General Kamala Harris addresses the importance of the court system to access to justice and equality for ALL



SF Mayor Ed Lee

Kelly Dermody, the President of the Bar Association of San Francisco, hosted the event and introduced all the speakers. The first was of course, none other than Miss Attorney General, Kamala Harris.  Harris stressed the importance of proper funding for our court system. The people who will suffer the most from the drastic cuts to the court system in California are the underprivileged and underrepresented. She emphasized that having access to justice is a fundamental tenet upon which this country was founded, and to close the doors to the courts means to close the doors to justice.

Supervisor David Chiu

SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi (also a Hastings alum!)

The severe defunding of the court system has given rise to some really crucial constitutional issues such as due process of law. People will be waiting longer and longer to receive justice. Hearings are postponed time after time and the line for the court clerk (which is open one hour less each day) is out of control. At 4:00 pm when the clerk's office closes, whoever is still in line is out of luck. They cannot even use a drop box; they must simply COME BACK another time.

Many of these people are victims of domestic violence. Imagine this, ladies: Your abusive husband just beat you and you have bruises all over your body. As you pick up the phone to call the police, he yells at you and tells you that if you call the police, both you and your child won't be long for this earth. You have no choice but to leave and go immediately to the court to file a restraining order. You get to the court, wait in line for hours with your restless and frightened child, and alas, it is 4:00. The court doors close in your face and you have not even had the chance to file your papers.

Now what? Do you go back home and risk your lives? Do you stay in a shelter? Nobody in this country should be faced with this kind of dilemma. The courts need to be open, accessible, well funded and staffed so that every citizen has equal access to justice. The de-funding of the court system is real, and it is a scary thing for many people, especially victims of domestic violence.

Take a look at what has happened just in the Bay Area alone:

  • San Francisco has closed six courtrooms
  • 67 court personnel were laid off, including 29 court reporters and ALL 8 court funded commissioners
  • In San Mateo, 114 positions were eliminated

There is a crisis going on in the justice system, and it affects all of us. Here were some of my favorite speakers from today.
Senator Joe Dunn (Ret.) (State Bar of California)

Justice Carlos Moreno (Ret.)

Judge La Doris Dordell (Ret.)

Ramon Arias (Bay Area Legal)

Julie Rumsey (SEIU)
If you are unhappy and outraged with the state of the justice system in California, PLEASE call your representatives and tell them that you care about court funding! Remind them how important court funding is to our communities and businesses.

Click here to find your elected representatives! If you are not familiar with them, this is the time to find out who they are and what they are all about! They were elected to serve you and if you are unhappy, you need to let them know.

Call Governor Jerry Brown at: (916) 445-2841.


Me (second to the right) and 3 of my awesome BLSA buddies at the rally!
Talk to your family and friends about this, and let everyone know that you care about justice for all!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Who is Spending Too Much Now? 2012 Presidential Campaign and How Super PACs Are Running the Show

Gingrich $4.5 in debt!


It seems like the Republican party is constantly bashing Democrats for "spending too much." Ironically enough, Newt Gingrich's campaign has spent about $4.5 million more than it has raised! Trying to keep up with Romney has proved disastrous for Gingrich (who also has almost no chance of winning). Who is spending too much now, Newt? Not too responsible, eh?

Super PACs - The New Craze


Interestingly enough, Obama was the first presidential nominee to forego public funding for the general election cycle, which created a huge advantage in his campaign against John McCain in 2008. Neither Obama nor Romney will take out the public fund this fall. If they did, it would limit each of their expenditures to about $91.2 million.

Awesome political cartoon by Dave Granlund


Super PACs (political action committees) are where the money is at. These groups basically exist as a legal means for corporations and trade unions to make donations to candidates. They are not legally permitted to do this directly. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose political candidates! As with almost anything that is "unlimited," things can get out of control...

Right now, President Obama's fundraising is not nearly where it was in 2008. Of the top 10 super PACs backing presidential candidates, 9 are Republican and have raised a combined $116 million! This is some serious money, people! Priorities USA Action (the only Democratic Super PAC) took in only $6.5 million. That's a huge discrepancy in funding. Democrats are having a really hard time adjusting to this super PAC era. It seems that a lot of people underestimate Romney as a potential threat to President Obama. This kind of thinking is dangerous, and if you want to win an election, you gotta be ready to fight until the end! It also does not help that we are in a recession...

I don't know about all of you, but I am not at all comfortable with the idea of unlimited amounts of money being spent on campaigns. This inevitably leads to corruption. There is a reason why there are limits on contributions to federal candidates, and I do not believe that using super PACs to basically get rid of this limit is fair or wise.

What do you think? Do you think super PACs should be made illegal?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Deceiving RNC ad about "ObamaCare" Trivializes the Real Issues

The Republican National Committee never ceases to amaze. Two days ago, they released an ad entitled: "ObamaCare: It's a Tough Sell." Needless to say, the ad is so heavily edited that it changes Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's entire opening statement and makes it look like he was helplessly stumbling over his words.



True, Verrilli did stumble over his words in the beginning of his opening remarks and did take a short break to take a drink of water. Umm...give the guy a break. He was giving oral argument at the Supreme Court of the United States on one of the most important issues right now for heaven's sake! The health care law is also not the easiest thing in the world to explain; it is highly complex. Perhaps it took him a minute to get composed, but he eventually did. As a law student, I have quite a bit of sympathy for him.

The video compresses these moments that Verrilli stumbled over his words and puts them all together so it sounds like he had no idea what he was talking about. The video also labels Verrilli as "Obama's lawyer." This is entirely incorrect. He is the Solicitor General and represents the government, not Obama, in litigation before the Supreme Court. It seems nit-pickety but it is just another way that the RNC tries to characterize the health care law as being all about Obama.

Courtroom sketch by Art Lien: Solicitor General Donald Verrilli speaking to Justice Antonin Scalia on March 26, 2012 as he argues his case before the Supreme Court


Alright, forget the stupid ad. The main issue is whether it is constitutional to require Americans to buy insurance coverage.

What I think:

1. I think the individual mandate comes within Congress' right to regulate interstate commerce. Whether or not people have insurance inevitably affects interstate commerce. Like Verrilli said, 
"Uninsured Americans each year use $43 billion of health care they cannot pay for, effectively transferring those costs to other American families to the tune of about $1,000 per year."
2. On its face, the individual mandate may look like it is "forcing people into the stream of commerce" by requiring someone who might not have obtained health insurance to obtain it. However, virtually everyone will end up needing some kind of health care at some point in their lives. Somebody has to pay for it...

Cut the crap, Republicans. Stop making this debate about "freedom" when it's really about every citizen's right to secure affordable health care. This is a very unique issue and I highly doubt whether this interpretation of the Commerce Clause is going to set a precedent for unlimited power of the federal government to control everything we do.

Plus, wasn't this A REPUBLICAN idea in the first place? In the words of Sarah Palin, "You betcha!"

Before the Affordable Care Act, health care was a complete mess in this country.


Now...
  • Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with "pre-existing conditions"
  • Small businesses can sleep at night, without the extra burden of figuring out how they are going to afford health care for their employees
  • Women will get the preventative care that they need
  • Medicare is stronger for seniors

The Supreme Court is probably going to vote on the health care law on Friday, although the rest of us will not know the results of that decision until late June. Drafts of the opinions will be written and re-written in the meantime.

Stay tuned! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Make No Mistake, Racism Is Alive and Well. RIP Trayvon Martin.

It's been nearly a month since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in a Florida gated community by George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman is not in jail right now. In fact, he's hiding out after receiving numerous death threats. Why is this? Because of Florida's disgusting "Stand Your Ground" law.



Basically, the law eliminates the legal requirement that a person outside of his or her own home retreat rather than use force. However, there is nothing in the law that allows one to pursue and confront someone. Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow Trayvon even after the police advised otherwise.

The problem is that the actual language of the statute says that anyone can use deadly force when "he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or any other." This leaves a lot of room for anyone to get away with doing horrible things by saying they were acting in self defense. Even though this law does not explicitly give people the right to pursue and follow someone with a gun, it might as well.

This is a horrible piece of legislation that was heavily supported and lobbied by the National Rifle Association (NRA), obviously for financial reasons. Because of this legislation, more people bought guns and more people joined the NRA. Now an innocent young black boy is dead and his killer is still not in jail.

Leaving the law business aside, let's be honest. Trayvon Martin was murdered because he was black. He was wearing a hoodie and Zimmerman thought he looked "suspicious." To leave race out of this issue is to ignore the real problem here. Apparently some people think that there is no way that Zimmerman could be racist since he's Mexican. This argument is wrong on so many levels, but I am not going to go there right now. Unfortunately, racism did not disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, people. We are far from being above it.

As a girl who is half black, this disturbs and saddens me, but I realize that it is a fact of life. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and I was the only black girl in my graduating class in high school. I know how it feels to get weird looks when my dad and I are driving in our neighborhood. People used to turn their heads as we passed by and I knew they were probably wondering "what we were doing in that part of town." I am not saying this to evoke pity or to complain. I am saying this to spread awareness that racism is not over. The fight for equality is not over.



I think a lot of us forget that we have not come as far as we think in this country in terms of race. Most Americans tend to think of themselves as being pretty progressive. Most would say that they have quite a few "close black friends." This is great, but we are naive if we think that race did not come into play here. It is up to all of us to take a stand, no matter what race we are, and to say that THIS IS NOT OK.

The "Stand your Ground Law" must be repealed. It is a useless and harmful statute and it is the sole reason why Zimmerman walks free today.

In the name of justice, please sign this petition to repeal the law. It will not bring Trayvon back, but it could prevent another grave injustice.

We will not stop. The fight has only just begun.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Governor Romney, I Don't See How a Young American Could NOT Vote Democrat

As if Romney hadn't put his foot in his mouth enough. Yesterday afternoon, after a question-and-answer session at the University of Chicago, Romney said:
"I don't see how a young American can vote for a Democrat."
Um...excuse me, but....WHAT?!



As usual, he attacked Democrats for racking up "trillion-dollar annual deficits that [his] generation will never pay for."

Whatever the circumstances of the national debt are right now, it is a known fact that young people have consistently voted Democrat for many years now. Exit poll data show that in every presidential race since 1992, 18-29 year olds have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. In 2008, 66% of 18-29 year olds voted for President Obama.

Things have changed since 2008 and enthusiasm is nowhere near what it was four years ago, but it is still not going to be enough to make the majority of young people start voting Republican. It's just not going to happen.

Young people vote Democrat because:

1. Democrats recognize the value of education for all citizens, regardless of socio-economic status and they have consistently made education a priority in their policy-making decisions. Democrats also recognize that access to education is directly linked to economic growth.

2. Democrats have made affordable health care a national priority.

3. Democrats recognize that science is real and global warming is real.

4. Democrats have supported small businesses and businesses that do not ship their jobs overseas.

5. Democrats supported and repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," finally giving equality to young, gay members of our military.

6. Democrats support women in getting fair pay. The Obama administration passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, ensuring that women get equal pay for equal work.

7. Democrats supported bringing and end to the Iraq war and did.

8. President Obama has fought for veterans rights and has introduced his Veterans Job Corps Initiative to ensure that veterans returning from war have jobs to come home to.

The list goes on and on. These are just a few reasons why young people vote Democrat.

If, like Rick Santorum, you think that it is "snobby" for Obama to think that every young American should have the chance to go to college, well then...you may want to think about voting Republican.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The War in Afghanistan: Why We are Not Winning ANY Hearts or Minds

Yeah, I'm gonna go there.  The War in Afghanistan has been going on now for almost 11 years and I am beyond infuriated. Operation "Enduring Freedom" is not obtaining freedom for anyone, let's be real now.



After the September 11th attacks, the United States has been obsessed with dismantling Al-Qaeda and removing the Taliban regime from power. Once again, the United States thinks that it knows everything and that everybody should have a government like we have here. What everyone forgets is that you cannot force a way of life and a way of thinking on people.You just can't. Afghanistan is fundamentally an entirely different country than the United States. Sharia law rules over there and religion is not seen as being separate from the law. Islam is the state law. Already, their entire system is so completely different from ours.

Sadly, I think we are just at a loss now.  Things have escalated over there very quickly in the past few weeks.

1. Last week, five U.S. soldiers were involved in the incineration of a pile of Korans in Afghanistan.  This sparked a week of protests that left 30 Afghans dead. In the past week and a half, there have been six American casualties that are most likely linked to this incident. It was apparently an accident and the Korans were mistaken for garbage. Accident or not, it was a costly accident. Afghans are not going to forget this; in fact, they are demanding that the perpetrators be put on public trial in Islamic court. Soldiers are now being trained how to handle religious materials. Eleven years into the war, and this is just happening....fantastic. We are really winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people now.

2. Today, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta arrived in southern Afghanistan after the shooting rampage incident.  The shooter, allegedly a U.S. Army staff sergeant, shot and killed 16 Afghans, nine of them children.

These two incidents have angered Afghans beyond belief. We have now really dug ourselves into a hole. With all of this going on, any U.S. negotiations with Karzai for a long-term alliance are not looking likely.

Honestly, it's time to get the fuck out. Obama says that we need to "responsibly" wind down the war in Afghanistan. Hilarious how anything involved with something so nonsensical could be regarded as "responsible." Blows my mind. Love him, but I just don't get it. As soon as we "responsibly" withdraw, things will go back to the way they were in Afghanistan, and we will have ourselves a lovely little 21st century Vietnam. Fabulous.

These incidents are terrible atrocities, and it makes you wonder what we are really trying to do. It is amazing what this country subjects its military to, and then when the veterans get back, we treat them like shit. It makes me sick. One third of all people living on the streets are VETERANS. WTF?! Alas, that is a rant for another day.

This little rant reminds me of the time I gave a speech at an Optimist Club speech competition when I was 13. The topic had something to do with America. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were brand new, and I was already not a fan.  I gave a less-than-optimistic speech about the real reasons why I thought we were at war and I went on a tirade about foreign oil. Needless to say, the 65-80 year old Republican men were not too impressed. My parents' jaws were on the floor. The other two students gave glowingly patriotic speeches about how great everything was. Uh oh. A few of the men approached me afterwards and interrogated me about my views, and I was slightly confused. I think they thought I was a Communist. At 22, not much has changed. I would still give that same speech today, although I might choose to present the speech in a different arena. HA. I got second place in the competition. Not bad for pissing everyone in the room off.

So before you start to hate me and think that I am attacking the military and I am un-American, slow your roll. I am attacking war in general and the politicians that encourage it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Super Tuesday Results: Who Was the True Winner?

Super Tuesday sure was an exciting day! The results were semi-predictable but Romney is not sweeping up states like he should be (considering the massive amount of money he has spent). On Tuesday...

Mitt Romney won:
Alaska
Idaho
Massachusetts
Ohio (narrowly)
Vermont
Virginia

Current number of delegates: 429

Rick Santorum won:
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Tennessee

Current number of delegates: 169

Newt Gingrich won:
Georgia (his home state)

Current number of delegates: 118

Ron Paul won:
not one state...

Current number of delegates: 67



Needless to say, Romney dominated, but not as much as he should have! Romney's campaign spent about $11.9 million just in the month of February. Oh, and by the way, despite his vast personal wealth, he has not dipped into any personal funds to support his campaign WHATSOEVER.

Rick Santorum is really giving Romney a run for his money, and the vote was so close in Ohio that it was scary! For a while, I really thought Santorum was going to take Ohio as well. Fun fact: Romney's campaign spent $1.2 million on ads in Ohio attacking his opponents. As the votes were coming in, everyone was speculating about whether Santorum would be able to pull through. Romney got 37.9% of the vote while Santorum got 37.1% of it. Unbelievably close!  It doesn't matter too much, though, because in the general election, Obama will most likely take Ohio anyway.

As I was glued to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, I got to see all the candidates' Super Tuesday speeches. Pretty entertaining, really. Santorum was related to pretty much every damn person in the room during his speech and Gingrich was supported by lots of very naively optimistic southerners who somehow think he still has a chance at being the GOP candidate. Old ladies decked out in sparkly American flag apparel referred to Gingrich lovingly as a "good ol' boy," while Romney blabbered on about restoring America and repealing "Obamacare."

While Romney technically won the most states on Super Tuesday and has the most delegates, Santorum definitely broke the record for being the most "talked about" candidate on Super Tuesday! A big part of winning elections is about having the conversation and the buzz be all about you, and everybody seems to be talking about Santorum these days. More than 40,000 tweets sent out from 6 am on Tuesday to 6 am on Wednesday mentioned Santorum's name. This was a 2012 election record for the highest spike in Twitter mentions of any GOP candidate! Although this sounds like a good thing, most of the tweets were negative in content. They always say, any press is good press, right? We shall see!

Romney has criticized Obama for being "feckless" and says that "hope is not a foreign policy."  What did Obama have to say to that? This is why I love Obama.



With all that said, I am still convinced that the real winner of Super Tuesday and the true front-runner of this election is President Obama.  What do you think?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two Days Until Super Tuesday - The Race for the GOP Nomination

Super Tuesday is quickly approaching and all the presidential candidates are trying to rack up as many delegates as they can! The reason why Super Tuesday is so important is because it is usually a pretty good indication of who is going to win the party's nomination for the election.



This Tuesday, primaries/caucuses will be held in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.

Not surprisingly, it looks like Romney is probably going to come out on top on Tuesday.  Exit polls showed that Michigan voters' top priority was the economy, and Romney definitely has more experience with business than Santorum.  Santorum was going strong in February, but definitely lost a lot of his momentum with some of his controversial statements about contraception and separation of church and state.  He is just too conservative for a lot of conservatives.

Gingrich is definitely feeling pressure to win in Georgia, his hometown.  Santorum will most likely win Ohio, and maybe Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.  As for Ron Paul, well...he is at least doing better than he did in 2008.

Stay tuned and I'll keep you updated on what happens on Tuesday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Calls Georgetown Law Student a "Slut": A Disturbing Start to Women's History Month

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh (conservative radio talk show host and political commentator) called Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, a "slut" and a "prostitute."



Why, you ask?  Because Sandra Fluke is a courageous woman who is standing up for her basic rights. She was initially denied the right to speak at a Congressional hearing about the Obama administration's contraception policy. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Darrel Issa, the committee chair at the meeting, denied her the right to speak while allowing a bunch of men to testify about the policy.

She recounted a heartbreaking story about her friend who suffered from a huge ovarian cyst. The cyst unfortunately ruptured because of Georgetown's insurance coverage rules (they are a Catholic university). This woman could not afford the $100 a month treatment on her own. At the Congressional hearing, Sandra also stood up for women who do use the pill as birth control.

What makes me so angry is the mere fact that Sandra was initially denied the right to testify about something that is SO relevant to her personally and as a woman. How dare Darrel Issa let men testify about something that does not concern them and with which they will never have any first-hand experience?

Once again, this very important issue is trivialized by people like Rush Limbaugh. He assumes that every woman who takes birth control engages in a plethora of casual sexual encounters. To quote Limbaugh directly:
"Can you imagine if you were her parents how proud. . . you would be?" he said. "Your daughter. . . testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she wants President Obama to provide them, or the Pope."
As per usual, Limbaugh takes it to another level. His argument could not be more flawed. Limbaugh suggests that the more sex a woman has, the more birth control she needs. Whether or not this is what he meant, this is what his words mean when broken down. She's "having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills."Really?! Ridiculous.

Limbaugh then goes on to say that this makes her  a "prostitute." "She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex," he said. Not only is Rush Limbaugh a complete asshole, but he's also stupid. In order for Sandra to be considered a "prostitute," she would actually have to have sex with the person paying her to perform that service. For Limbaugh, that would include himself and every American taxpayer. If this sounds outrageous to you, it's because it is.


Limbaugh then went on to demand that women post sex tapes online if they use insurance-covered birth control. He basically said for all the "Feminazis" out there, if you want us to pay you to have sex, then we want to see something for it. Once again, Limbaugh fails. An essential element of prostitution includes actual physical contact between the prostitute and the customer. Need I say more? It's making me sick just thinking about it.

The GOOD news today 


The Senate blocked the Blunt amendment to the health insurance bill, so President Obama's policy that women should have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives at no charge (through an employer's health plan or directly from an insurance company) is upheld so far.

Ladies, don't let anybody trample on your rights or your pride. Men, don't forget that true feminism is NOT about man-hating. It's about equality.

Happy Women's History Month!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Romney vs. Santorum: The Battle in Michigan and Arizona

Primary elections for the Republican presidential candidates will be held in Michigan and Arizona tomorrow!  While there are numerous rumors floating around about Romney having the upper-hand in both states, these races have been known to be highly unpredictable.

Rick Santorum (left) and Mitt Romney (right)

Michigan

In 2008, Romney won Michigan with the support of the state's conservatives who turned out in huge numbers to vote. However, with the added drama of Romney's op-ed piece entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," (details his opposition of the auto bailout), the citizens of Michigan may not be so friendly towards him anymore. So basically, Romney supports bailing out the banks, but not the auto industry. Pretty typical Romney.  The problem for him is, polls show voters in Michigan approve of the bailout.  Some analysts have claimed more than 1 million jobs were saved by the bailout.  With that said, Romney's feeble attempt at lessening the blow of his op-ed included a statement that his wife owns "a couple of Cadillacs."  Ok...

As crazy as Santorum is, at least he is more consistent than Romney; he opposed both bailouts.  Santorum has attacked Romney for "support[ing] his friends on Wall Street and then turn[ing] his back on the people of Detroit." Good point.

Although Romney was born and raised in Michigan, he has been struggling to connect with the average blue-collar Republican who is still struggling and feeling the effects of the recession. Also, let's not forget, Romney is "not concerned about the very poor" and he thinks "corporations are people." This kind of rhetoric is simply not going to fly with the average American.

Romney recently attacked Santorum for being a career politician, saying that since he has never worked in the private sector, he does not know enough about economics to lead the country in an economic revival. Advertisements by both Romney and Santorum have been flying around like crazy, signaling that this is going to be a tight race between the two. We will have to wait and see what happens in Michigan tomorrow, but Romney better watch out!

Arizona

At first glance, it looks like Arizona might just be a slam-dunk for Romney.  With the endorsement of Senator John McCain and Arizona's large Mormon population, many are saying this is probably a done deal.  But maybe not...

Rick Santorum is putting up a pretty good fight!  The Tea Party in the state is strong and immigration issues are close to the heart.  

Although about 10% of voters in Arizona are Mormon, this might just not be enough to pull Romney through.  It looks like it will be a battle between Mormons (who are known to be loyal voters) and evangelicals and tea party members (who make up about 35% of the Republican party). Voter turnout is projected to be low in Arizona this year.  The lower the turnout, the more likely Santorum will win, and the higher the turnout, the more likely Romney will prevail.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

What do you think will happen in the primaries tomorrow?  Do you think Romney will be able to pull through?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Race-Based Affirmative Action: Does it Really Promote Equality?



From personal experience, I know that affirmative action has always been a hotly contested subject on college campuses.  Is it fair?  Should colleges take race into account when making admissions decisions?  Does it really promote true equality?  Is this policy unfair to qualified non-minority students?  Today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case during its term that starts in October.  This will be the first time affirmative action has been revisited since the 2003 University of Michigan case.

First, of all, here is a little background on affirmative action.

1.  The Supreme Court first approved affirmative action in 1978 in the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case.

2. In 2003, Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the court's decision in Grutter v. Bollinger reaffirming this practice (involving the admissions policy of the University of Michigan).  The reasoning behind this was that a diverse student body improves the education of all students.  O'Connor mentioned that if in 25 years, racial prejudice was no longer as prevalent, affirmative action would no longer be necessary.  Of course, not all the justices agreed with this statement.

3.  (Side note) Here in California, the state outlawed "preferential treatment" by race in 1996 with Proposition 209, so the ruling in Texas will not really affect us here.  A few other states have adopted similar laws.

4.  In 2005, Justice O'Connor (a well-known moderate) retired and George W. Bush replaced her with Justice Alito (pretty conservative and not a big fan of affirmative action).  Also, Elena Kagan, the newest justice, (pretty liberal) has announced that she will recuse herself since she worked on this case in a lower court when she was solicitor general.

5.  The Texas case that the Supreme Court has decided to deal with this October started in 2008 when Fisher, a white applicant, was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin.  Her record was not good enough for admission, but she still felt as if she was turned down because she was white.

What has affirmative action in college admissions accomplished? 

Well, since the University of Texas has adopted this policy, the number of African-American students matriculating has nearly doubled!  


The number of Latino graduates has increased by almost 50 percent.


The University of Texas is ranked sixth nationwide in undergraduate degrees awarded to minors.

If the Supreme Court ultimately chooses to take race completely out of the equation in college admissions, this will affect students nationwide.  Will this help or will it hurt?

What does this mean for President Obama in the upcoming election?


The presidential election is in November.  Arguments for this case will be heard in October, just weeks before the election!  Indubitably, the President will be interrogated about his stance on this delicate issue.  If Obama's view is anything like what it was in 2008, I really like it.

He mentioned that an edge should be given to ALL low-income high school students, regardless of race.  I think that this is a good balance between completely abolishing affirmative action policies and keeping the current race-based policies.  I personally do not think it is fair for a student who is equally qualified for admission to get denied purely because they are not a "minority."  I can understand the effort to put students on an equal playing field, but I still cannot fully accept the fact that well-qualified individuals sometimes get denied admission because of their race.  With all that said, I am still very torn on this issue.

How do you think the Supreme Court will decide?  More importantly, how do you think they should decide?


Friday, February 17, 2012

My Night with President Obama

"We're starting to see what change looks like." President Obama, at the fundraiser tonight.


Tonight I got to see President Obama live and in person!  It was honestly the most excited I've been since I shook Bill Clinton's hand last year.  Tonight, he appeared in SF for a 2012 election fundraiser at the Nob Hill Masonic Center.  After waiting in line for 3 hours in the freezing San Francisco February weather, 7 of my friends and I had one of the most memorable nights of our lives.  I have personally been an Obama fan since he was a Senator in Illinois.  I was a fierce supporter of Obama in 2008 when he ran for office, especially since he was the first President I ever had the privilege of personally voting for.

UC Hastings College of the Law BLSA
As we anxiously awaited the President's speech, we were lucky enough to be serenaded by the beautiful guitar playing and raspy rock voice of Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden and Audioslave).  My two favorite songs he performed were "Redemption Song" and "Imagine."  Very mellow, yet very nice start to the night.

video

The almost 3,000 San Francisco residents who attended the fundraiser were definitely fired up to see their President tonight!  He was greeted with standing applause and outbursts of "I love you!" and "You're amazing!" Obama emphasized that winning this election is not going to be easy, just like it was not easy in 2008.  "I told you," he said jokingly.  He urged all of us to become involved in the movement and to take an active role in the vision we want for our country.

The crowd went wild when Obama gave a heartfelt thanks to teachers, when he mentioned that everybody should "play by the same rules," and why nobody who makes more than $250,000 should pay less in federal taxes than their secretary.

My personal favorite was when Obama said, "Higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic imperative."  Some of you may remember a similar quote from the recent State of the Union speech.  The President encouraged us to work together and to not let partisan politics stand in the way of doing what is right for our country.

Regardless of how popular President Obama was with most of the attendees, there were still numerous groups protesting outside the event and a few rowdy screamers that had to be escorted out in the middle of his speech.  A few of the group protesting include: the Center for Biological Diversity (wants to halt oil drilling in the Arctic), medical marijuana activists (angry about the administration's crackdown on dispensaries), Code Pink, World Can't Wait SF, and of course, people from the Occupy movement.  After a lady was carted out for screaming about killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama remarked about how "there is always something going on in San Francisco" and "Folks are not shy about sharing their ideas in San Francisco." This surely is anything but a dull city!

Protesters outside the event. The crowd grew as the night progressed.
All in all, it was a wonderful night! Although Obama is going to face some significant challenges in this election, I have high hopes for this man to continue changing and shaping our country into somewhere we can all have the opportunity to learn, grow, and prosper.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Obama's budget proposal: We can't "cut our way to growth"



Everybody loves a good ol' election year budget proposal.  Economic recovery and job creation now, and the budget deficit later.  The main points of Obama's budget proposal include:

1. Job creation!  That was the central focus of President Obama's election year budget proposal this morning.  Obama proposes pouring $8 million into community colleges and shifting the nation's focus to job training, infrastructure, and research and development.  This is a much needed initiative if we are to get anything done in this country.  Our education system is broken and other countries are beginning to take the lead.  It's about time we put value on educating our citizens and getting them back to work!

2. Asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.  The 2013 budget will have $1.5 trillion in increased taxes, and we can all finally say goodbye to the Bush-era tax cuts for the 1%!  Estate taxes will be raised, and there will be higher rates on investment income.

3. Bring troops back and cut military spending.  The extra money saved here will then be able to go to improving the nation's transportation network.

Although Obama is not exactly planning to cut the deficit in half as soon as possible like Republicans want, this plan will most likely give the country the jumpstart that it needs to get the economy back on track again.  If we don't invest in education and infrastructure now, we will end up paying for it in the long run.  There are so many jobs out there that most Americans just are not trained to do because of lack of education.  There is NO reason why we should have empty jobs and nobody to fill them.  This is a recipe for disaster, especially as more and more jobs are getting shipped overseas.

One of the important issues missing from Obama's budget proposal:  The President did not call for any structural changes to Medicare, which accounts for a large percentage of the nation's debt.  We will have to wait and see what will happen with that one.

Good news for Obama: The President's poll numbers are up again!  Troops are completely withdrawn from Iraq, the payroll tax cut victory happened, and January and February (so far) are bringing in good economic numbers.  As the economy improves and we shift our focus to jobs and improving education, so do the President's poll numbers!

What do you think about the President's proposal?

For a quick overview of who the "winners" and "losers" of Obama's budget plan are, watch this video with Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's governor.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Is it really "Obama vs. Religious Freedom?"


Is President Obama waging a war against religious freedom in this country? Well, there are those new Health and Human Services regulations that require some religious groups who provide health care to their employees to include contraception...war is surely declared!

NOT.  After going to Catholic school from Pre-Kindergarten through high school, I have my doubts about these radical and highly exaggerated statements.  After the Florida primary, Newt Gingrich emphatically stated that Obama's administration has "declared war on the Catholic Church and other religious organizations," and Mitt Romney thinks that the President is forcing "religious organizations to violate their conscience."  These statements just do not add up with what is actually going on here.  The Obama administration is not "forcing" anyone to do anything that would violate his or her "conscience."

No woman will be "forced" to buy or use contraception; it is simply made available to women who choose to use it.  Thus, I fail to see the "forcible" element here.  Also, what most people have not realized is that there is an exemption for churches who mainly employ those of their own faith.  They will NOT be required to provide free contraception in employees' health care plans if it goes against their religious principles.  Regardless of her faith or lack thereof, no woman should be denied access to affordable health care because someone else thinks it is morally "wrong."  Despite what most people think, a large percentage of Catholic women support using birth control and most of them use it themselves.

Personally, I think these new regulations have been a long time coming and I am glad that women's health is finally being lifted from the back burner.  With that said, this could potentially diminish Obama's chances at winning the Catholic vote in this upcoming election.  However, I am satisfied that he is doing what is right for women instead of caving into political pressure, which he has been guilty of in the past.

Religious freedom is in little danger here.  Every woman in America will still have the choice to either take birth control or not.  At least now, women of more modest means will actually have a choice in the matter.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is Congressional Insider Trading a Thing of the Past?



The Senate just passed a bill that will ban insider trading by members of Congress and force members to disclose stock transactions within 30 days!  Kudos to President Obama for calling out Congress on this horrible practice in last week's State of the Union.  Watch President Obama in the State of the Union state boldly that he would immediately sign a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress.  Congress' ratings are at an abysmal rate of below 15% and I think this is their first attempt at stepping their game up!

Finally members of Congress, who seem to think that they are practically royalty these days, will be held accountable for their actions under federal law like the rest of us.  Although this bill is a step in the right direction, I wonder what new schemes Congress will come up with to get around it.  Time will tell!

Although my view seems a bit cynical right now, I think most Americans are feeling a deep distrust for the people who are supposedly "representing" our interests.  It's about time Congress steps up and helps make sure that the lifestyle regular Americans are able to live is a little bit more like the lifestyle they live.

If the House is as receptive to the new bill as the Senate was, we'll be heading in the right direction.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Breast Cancer Screenings, Political Pressure, and the Pro-Life Battle Against Women




As most of you already know, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation cracked down under the pressure of right-wing political groups and ended its support of breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood.  This is a huge slap in the face to women all across America who have counted on these services for the preventative care that they deserve.

When some people hear "Planned Parenthood," their mind immediately shifts to young teenage girls sneaking off to the center to get birth control behind their parents' backs.  Although this may be partly true, this misconception trivializes the important and essential services that Planned Parenthood provides for women.  Women all across the country rely on the free or low cost breast cancer screenings that Planned Parenthood (used to) provide.

1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of her lifetime.  Catching breast cancer at the earliest stages is absolutely KEY.  I am appalled that so many Republicans choose to disrespect women on such a large scale.

What can YOU do to put GOOD pressure on the RIGHT people:

1. Click here to sign your name at the end of this letter to say that you stand with Planned Parenthood!

2. Donate to Planned Parenthood. Any contribution helps!

Thank you for reading my first blog entry!

--Ashley