Saturday, November 29, 2008

So many thoughts, so little time

After seeing the film "Slumdog Millionaire" (which I reviewed over at Robert Parry's Consortium News site), it struck me how much more we need to be invested in raising up the poor around the world, if for no other reason than to improve our position at home. I've had to be on the phone with call centers of late, and so many of them are in India now. Why? Because they work for less than Americans do.

We have only two choices, realistically, in this matter. Either Americans would have to work for less, or we need to help others around the world work for more money. Because so long as someone is available to be exploited, there will continue to be a race to the bottom in terms of wages and labor conditions.

For many years, the establishment supported right wing dictators who kept wages low in other countries, allowing international corporations to exploit the least advantaged among us. I can't help but think the chickens from our greed have come home to roost in this latest financial crisis.

I just bought a book about the history of money, and will surely share what I'm learning, as I have a feeling there are a lot of parallels to our current issues, and I'm not just talking about the Great Depression.

I also want to comment on Obama's administration choices, and why they remind me of some of John Kennedy's mistakes. More on that soon, I hope. Meanwhile, I hope you continue to enjoy this holiday weekend.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Truly proud of my country

I have never been so proud of my country as I am tonight. Thanks to literally millions of volunteers, my country is back. The "America that never was America" to Langston Hughes finally is America, tonight. This is the country I love. This is the set of ideals I believe in. That a man of mixed heritage can ascend from the humblest of beginnings to the highest office in the land is the true fulfillment of the dream our founding fathers promised when they laid out the Declaration of Independence and said that all men were created equal.

Barack Hussein Obama. Who would have believed, a few years ago, that a man so named would receive the majority of the votes in this country?

I am so proud of my fellow citizens, who chose intelligence over blindness, articulation over obfuscation, hope over fear. I love you all. You have restored my long-shelved faith in this country. You have made me a believer again, and I am forever grateful. Nothing will ever be quite so bad again, because you have shown me that you understand that, despite the rhetoric, we are each others' keepers. You understand that everything is connected - that we can't act in one part of the world and not have ripples across other parts. You have shown me that you are no longer hypnotized subjects, reacting to triggers designed to control your behavior. America is a free country, after all, and we freely chose change.

We have a president now who truly cares about doing the right thing. Who says what keeps him up at night is how to best govern. He's not going to be perfect. But he cares. He aspires to greatness. And that's something we haven't seen in 45 years.

I have much more to say, but I need to call people and connect with all of those who have supported me as I spent this last year working to make this man our next president. I hope you heard his speech. He connected the dots right back to Lincoln. He is the fulfillment of the end of the civil war. He is determined to bring this country together, and if anyone can do it, he is the man.

And what a gorgeous first family we have been given. Michelle is not just physically beautiful. She has a strength of character that shines through. I've seen her in person. You should all be so lucky. His daughters will help keep him real, and help protect all our interests, as he considers how what he does will affect their futures, and therefore, all our futures.

We are truly blessed tonight. And I credit that to the faith of all those millions of donors and volunteers who chose hope and turned it into the most massive change this country has seen in over 70 years. Thank you all. I cannot express my gratitude enough.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Tale of Two Phonebanks

I thought I'd share my phone banking experiences today. I went to two different sites, and both were very encouraging.

I started at the Culver City Studios site. Yes, the movie studio lot on which the Atlanta burning scene from Gone With the Wind was filmed! I arrived about 12:30pm, and was shocked by how many people were there. The Commissary where we were calling from was bursting at the seams with people!

The organizers said twice as many people had shown up as had RSVP'd. Usually, you're lucky if 20% of the people who RSVP to an event actually show up. To get 200% is unprecedented. Amazing. Wonderful!

When I first arrived, they were out of call sheets - but told the large group waiting to get in to hold on - they'd have more in a few moments. Got my call sheet and went to the first open table. I got so lucky. One of the guys at the table was truly as funny as Jon Stewart, and made comments after nearly all his calls that were truly funny. I never did find out if he was an actor or a writer - he should be both! And there was another funny guy at the table as well. I wished they could have just riffed off each other, but both were very dedicated to the task at hand.

We were calling New Mexico. I don't know how the list was filtered, but every live person I reached but two had already voted for Obama, and the other two were planning to vote for him on election day.

Somewhere around 1:30pm, the people running the phone bank had us all to stop in our tracks, and switch to Indiana!! We were told they were switching several CA phone banks to Indiana. Wow! Evidently the campaign feels they have a real chance in Indiana.Indiana! They haven't gone for a Democrat since the 50s!

After a couple of sheets worth of calls, the bank ran out of numbers, again. This had been happening all day. But this time, the wait seemed interminable, so I left and went to the nearby Obama SoCal HQ to see if they were getting lists.

Imagine walking into a small office that might reasonably seat 40 people. Now imagine about 300 people in that space. (That's probably overstated, but it was a lot of people!) People were sitting on the floor, under tables, on desks, in hallways, just about anywhere there was butt space, frankly! And all totally heads down, calling, calling!

I was lucky enough to arrive just as someone left a chair, so I at least got to sit on a chair. The nearest person to me was this talented 15 year old young woman, who was so upset that she couldn't vote, but who was as professional as the best caller I'd heard. Another guy at our little hallway makeshift table told me he'd spent six hours yesterday in line to cast his ballot in Norwalk, the sole location for early voting in Los Angeles County. The last person at our table said this was the first time she'd been excited about the Democratic nominee since John Kennedy.

You just can't believe the dedication of these people. THIS is why Obama will win. This is a veritable army, the likes of which I've never seen, and I've worked on a few campaigns now. I mean, when you get twice the number of people showing up who RSVP'd, you know you have something very special going on.

I'm beginning to think this will be a landslide. But only if we keep the pressure up.

Btw the people I actually reached (as opposed to the ones I left messages for) in Indiana were more likely to be McCain supporters than Obama supporters, but it wasn't by a large margin.

If you haven't gotten involved yet, just take a couple of hours and hit a local phone bank. Sign up on the Obama site and go to "My Events" and you'll easily be able to find all kinds of options in your area. One of my friends was holding a phone bank at her home. But I wanted to be with the masses. But if you like small, quiet affairs, you can do that too. Lots of options.

It's just inspiring. There's something about masses of people pulling towards common cause that just makes me choke up a bit. Something is really happening. I'm CERTAIN the reason the country is turning blue on political maps is due to this incredible, and incredibly passionate army of supporters.