Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Time for Heresy 

Not usually a big thought-piece poster. But if you only read one over the next couple months make it this one by Bill Moyers. It's incredibly powerful:

This is a time for heresy. American democracy is threatened by perversions of money, power, and religion. Money has bought our elections right out from under us. Power has turned government “of, by, and for the people” into the patron of privilege. And Christianity and Islam have been hijacked by fundamentalists who have made religion the language of power, the excuse for violence, and the alibi for empire. We must answer the principalities and powers that would force on America a stifling conformity. Either we make the heretical choices that will inspire us to renew our commitment to America’s deepest values and ideals, or the day will come when we will no longer recognize the country we love.

Yes, we may all be talking to ourselves, but let's know how to articulate our worldview in case we encounter someone who will listen.

Happy Wednesday.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stand by Me 

I went to a cool event last night. It was put on by the Full Circle Fund.

I went there alone and was pleasantly surprised to find I actually knew some people. I don't know why I was surprised though because progressive politics is a pretty small world.

So I saw my new friend Steven. He was wearing a mint green plaid shirt. The other night he did his "talent act" for Kirstin and me. We were both a little worried it wasn't going to be funny and we would be stuck in an awkward situation at this nice restaurant but luckily it was funny.

He does these diatribes on politics where he flips his words. They are called spoonerisms. At first it's hard to understand and then your brain starts to adjust. It's pretty weird.

I also finally met another Steven who Erica and my roommate Leina both went to high school with. He manages a mutual fund and they have been telling me I should meet him. I even met his mom one weekend at the market with Leina before I met him. Last night we finally met so that was good.

The featured speaker at the event was Rob Reiner who discussed his involvement in Prop. 82 which if it passes will be a funded mandate for universal pre-school in California. Interesting.

As the face of the campaign, Reiner's getting a lot of mud thrown at him and you could tell from his speech it's really getting to him. Politics is a tough business.

I love how he directed Harry Met Sally, Princess Bride, Spinal Tap and Stand by Me. Making movies is supposed to be a tough business too. I wonder which is tougher?

I had the edited-for-TV version of Stand by Me on a beta tape when I was little and probably watched it 47 times. I remember how shocked I was when I finally saw the un-edited version... Especially when he reaches in his underwear and pulls out that huge leech.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sausage Fest 

My weekends in San Francisco keep getting weirder.... Last Sunday I helped my brother make sausage from a whole pig he bought. Tony, his wife, and his cooking club friends did most of the work, but I mixed up some sausage starter and ground some pork. I even got more familiar than I ever hoped I would with a cow bung.

Sorry for the gratutitous pictures, but my philosophy is that if you can eat it, you should be able to see it!

Then again, they have that saying about laws and sausage being the two things you never want to see made.... Well, now I've seen them both...

I think I actually prefer the latter!


Friday, March 17, 2006

I Heart Feingold 

As many of you know, I was an intern for Russ Feingold back in the day.

It was one of my first political experiences and one I would lable one of the "cleanest." I mean clean in the sense that it didn't contribute to the muddying of my idealism like so many other of my political experiences.

I went into the internship believing in him and left even more impressed. I was fired up enough to write an op-ed, published in the Capital Times in Wisconsin, complaining in a good way that his ethics are so strict he wouldn't even let his interns go to the fun capitol hill lobbyist receptions to dine on delicacies like free shrimp dinners and open bars (one of the only physical perks of being an unpaid intern).

I may not agree with all of his decisions (ascroft who?), but no one can deny the man has principles. He's also seriously smart. He actually reads all the bills before voting on them (yes, almost no Senators do--c'mon that's what staff are for). From being the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act to giving his payraises back to help the national debt, he demonstrates that you can take some controversial stands and still be popular among your moderate constituency. Of course, that does come at the expense of his popularity on the Hill where old-school pols don't like that he doesn't play "the game"--righteous they call him. But who really cares at this point? Does it really sound that fun or important to be buddies with the likes of this House and Senate minority leadership? I'd almost rather hang out with Ken Mehlman.

So now, here he is, in the vain of fighting Bob La Follette before him, he's taking one for the team again by calling for a censure of this scary President. And of course his own party is giving him hell for it.

Thank You Sir.

It's nice to know there is at least one Democrat that isn't willing to roll over on his principles time and time again because of some paralizing fear that the Republican spin machine will knock a couple points off of your job approval rating... Or worse, that his own allies will do what the Dems do oh so well....circle the wagon and start shooting inwards.....


Monday, March 13, 2006

A Political First For Me 

For the first time in 6 years I actually agree with a controversial stand Bush has taken. Wow!

He's actually realized the implications of sanctioning French ownership of U.S. ports while blocking the bid from a moderate and modern Arab country.

Maybe he's finally realized that blatantly pissing off one of our last remaining Arab allies isn't the best idea when you are trying to slow the spread of extremism?

Then again, Bush spent the last five years disseminating propoganda and fear of Arabs for political gain. How did he expect the elected representatives of the American people to react to something like this?

You reap what you sow....


My Sunday Evening 

A quick photo-essay on how I spent my Sunday night.

Click here to read the narrated version from my roommate Leina's perspective.... written by my brother....who was also my co-plumber. Don't ask me to explain....


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What's Next? Gandhi the Game? 

One of the cool things about my job is we find out about all sorts of interesting initiatives going on out there. Thought this one was particularly creative... Click here for the website....

Can a computer game teach how to fight real-world adversaries—dictators, military occupiers and corrupt rulers, using methods that have succeeded in actual conflicts—not with laser rays or AK47s, but with non-military strategies and nonviolent weapons?

Such a game, A Force More Powerful (AFMP), is now available. A unique collaboration of experts on nonviolent conflict working with veteran game designers has developed a simulation game that teaches the strategy of nonviolent conflict. A dozen scenarios, inspired by recent history, include conflicts against dictators, occupiers, colonizers and corrupt regimes, as well as struggles to secure the political and human rights of ethnic and racial minorities and women.

A Force More Powerful is the first and only game to teach the waging of conflict using nonviolent methods. Destined for use by activists and leaders of nonviolent resistance and opposition movements, the game will also educate the media and general public on the potential of nonviolent action and serve as a simulation tool for academic studies of nonviolent resistance.


Dima and Issam Got Engaged 

Just wanted to send a humungous congratulations to Dima and Issam (seen here in a file photo) on their recent engagement. I have to say I was really impressed with the romantic Valentines day engagement that tough-guy Issam pulled off. I wish them the best of luck and especially when it comes to planning a Jordanian wedding. They don't mess around over there. The last wedding I was at there they spent $40,000 on the flowers alone! Crazy Jordanians...


Friday, March 03, 2006

Hello America! 

Yes, I know I've been MIA. I've never been particularly good with transitions. But I figure I've been home for an entire month now and in San Francisco for almost 3 weeks now, so I can't use the excuse for much longer...

So far this transition is amazing!! San Francisco might just be the perfect city for me. It seems to combine the political activity of DC with the laid-back, un-pretentiousness of the midwest.

Plus, working at NPC is so inspiring. In this time of widespread political disillusionment and mud-slinging, I get to be a part of something completely positive.

Our mantra is that progressives have the talent, will, resources, and ideas to succeed, we all just need a little help getting our operation to match our vision. NPC helps provide the tools and resources that the organizations and entrepreneurs need to succeed. We also help progressive investors nagivate the complicated world of political giving. It all very exciting really and the response, from what I've seen, has been overwhelming.

And, I get to work in the coolest office. We are currently incubated by Skyline Public Works, a company founded by Andy and Deborah Rappaport that provides start-up support to a number of political and social initiatives. They have this bright office in Redwood City that even has a retractable roof that almost makes you feel like you are working outside when the sun is out and it is open (which has been admittedly not often lately due to a ton of rain).

Speaking of no sun, before I make you all sick with my current enthusiasm for life, I should be honest about some of the challenges I've faced over the last 3 weeks. Let me list them quickly in order of annoyingness:

Ah, but all these little annoyances are such a small price to pay for great mental health.

I used to talk so much smack to those folks who were so obsessed with CA, that they couldn't see going anywhere but there, but they may make a believer out of me yet...


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