UIUC College Dems

This blog is published by the UIUC College Democrats. We focus on state and local politics, but are willing to discuss pretty much anything.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

3.31.06

-So is it Kossacks or Bush who live in a bubble?
-Great satire series at DailyKos.
-Jill Carroll is released then savaged by a lunatic.
-Cool animations about how blue our country is becoming.
-Insurgents in Iraq continue aim at soft targets.
-Seems more like an idol of crass consumerism than pro-life sculpture to me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

3.28.06

-Bush's chief of staff resigns.
-The immigration bill moving to the Senate has lost much of its teeth.
-Jack Abramoff to be sentenced tomorrow.
-McCain is snuggling up to Jerry Falwell, what a political hack.
-Emptywheel gives a great run-down of the role of pseudonyms in American history.
-PastorDan is promising to take the airwaves back from religious extremists.
-Homeland security is working hard for the pharmaceutical companies.
-We now have a party chairman who will hold Republicans accountable for their actions, which is somehow controversial.

copy/paste update:

Today: at 8:00pm in 213 Greg Hall, Illini PAC is holding a panel on the Israeli elections (also on March 28th). There will be a debate between the three candidates for Prime Minister of Israel (people playing them obviously) and a vote among audience members.

Wednesday: at 8:00pm in 210 Illini Union, a team of College Democrats will debate a team of College Republicans on a wide range of national issues, from Iraq to Social Security. Come cheer on your fellow Democrats!

A day you will forget in the not too distant future: The Annual College Dems Spring Bar Crawl will be on Thursday, April 6th, we'll send out the schedule next week. The t-shirts will be $10 and will be black. The back will feature an FDR campaign poster promoting his opposition to prohibition and will say "Democrats: The party that ended prohibition" and "celebrating the 73rd anniversary of the 21st amendment." If you would like to order a shirt, please e-mail your size to Jake ( smallhor@uiuc.edu).

Election Results: Well it was a good day for incumbents, boring for us blogger underdogs.

Governor- Rod Blagojevich
Treasurer- Alexi Giannoulias
Cook County Board President- John Stroger
3rd District Congress- Dan Lipinski
6th District Congress- Tammy Duckworth
14th District Congress- John Laesch

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What it's like to be poor

It's hard to sleep at night.  Your mind is so anxious with burning thoughts of how to survive can only be calmed by substances, preferable a $1.70 40 oz. of Ice House.  Being poor doesn't justify violence, stealing, or vandalism but it affects every action you take.  It weighs on your mind like a burden, it forces a fatalism onto your every thought and spoken word.  It means walking your sneakers thin and wearing whatever you raided from Old Navy's clearance rack for years.  You cling to all your possessions and your past because it's all you have.

Your dreams are haunted with scenarios that you awake from relieved that it's just your weary imagination. But then reality hits and it's little better. You're always on the brink, waiting for the next disaster that if it doesn't kill you, desensitizes you even more. Thankfully, for now, living in poverty in America still provides many comforts, food is plentiful and cheap, the police guard your safety, there are public libraries, and tv or radio to inform and entertain. You probably don't have a car, so you either adventure to work, school, or the store on unreliable, time-consuming public transportation; walk yourself scrawny, or car pool. Car pooling forces you to associate at work with whoever is friendly enough to take you, but most likely your fast-food job has a turn-over rate so high that soon you'll fell like a car-whore. High-turnover jobs force you to become desensitized to the coming and going of the new same-old-face as they come and go.


But maybe instead of working retail of fast-food you're a janitor, which is like being a better paid but less glamorous house-wife: you're only acknowledged when you mess up. If you're paid by the hour but improve your inefficiency you take home less pay, and for some reason it's physically strenuous jobs like Fed-Ex package handling that don't offer health-care.


Human beings are social animals, and that doesn't change when you're poor. We spend to conform in an attempt to feel secure and live comfortably among friends. The poor like everyone make stupid choices in an attempt to fit-in. It's hard having to see the upper-middle class norm in tv shows, magazines, and movies and not become hopelessly envious which clouds our decisions. It's equally hard to watch people drown in New Orleans or come back from Iraq minus a limb and resist the urge to give what little you have to charity when it may mean missing your rent. Our generosity and weaknesses are scientifically exploited by advertisers who prey upon our insecurities and desires. You slap "all natural" or "reinvested directly back" on anything and it's hard for me to resist buying even if it costs an extra dollar that I really shouldn't be paying.


Money is the prime tension between broken families and marriages, and it's not hard to imagine why (except to the Bush dynasty I'm sure). Living with limited resources forces one to adopt a de-facto Social Darwinism philosophy that no matter how hard you try to combat keeps being proved true again and again. You calculate a parents love by comparing what they do for you compared to another sibling. It makes men feel impotent and any sexual act becomes an expression of frustration rather than love. All your social relationships are affected. Any friendship will naturally wane when you can't go out to eat or on that even-modest spring-break trip when others can. Soon you feel like a parasite and act out, hyper-defensively, to prove you aren't, straining the friendship even more. If you ever do crawl out of poverty you wonder if one of the countless friends that disappeared from your life will one day turn-up on your porch to ask for some ridiculous favor. You fear the nightly-sirens are coming for a friend who crossed that precarious line between desperate and criminal. People wonder why you don't talk about yourself and its because you'll just depress them and yourself.


And even though you might be white, strait, and male you too know what it's like to be pre-judged negatively when your credit card bounces at the grocery store or you're flagged and followed at Wal-Mart by "disguised" security guards because of your worn-out clothes. And it makes you fear taking control of your life and planning your future because your past is full of disaster. You lack job-skills because your family didn't have that spare computer to tinker with. Your public school is full of both wonderful teachers and those who couldn't care less about you because they have their own problems, let alone whatever potentially violent adventures you might face walking home or on the playground that day.


And from the comments of Booman Tribune, you can find the original essay here:

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.


Being poor is knowing you're being judged.


Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.


Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.


Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.


Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.


Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.


Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.


Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.


Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.


Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.


Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.


Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.


Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.


Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.


Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.


Being poor is seeing how few options you have.


Being poor is running in place.


Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.




This is the sad reality of our current system:
Being poor means having to pay your bills with money orders because all the banks have you blacklisted and won't let you open a checking account.

Being poor means having to pay a fee to a check-cashing service because you can't open that checking account.

Being poor means having to pay your car insurance bill monthly, including the $3 service charge that you wouldn't have to pay if you could pay the whole bill at once.

Being poor means late charges.

Being poor means higher interest rates.

Being poor means no sick days; if you don't go to work, you don't get paid.

Being poor means having to pay a $50 fine becuase you got a ticket for a busted muffler that you couldn't afford to fix in the first place.

Being poor means throwing mud on your license plates because you couldn't afford to renew them on time, and hoping that you don't get stopped in a roadblock.

Being poor means higher heating bills because you live in poorly-insulated housing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ides of March

-So basically the Government now has Googles sex searches, which lord knows what they're going to do with it. If they really are just using it to prevent children from accessing pornography then I suppose it's a good thing. Especially considering this DISGUSTING revelation (gee I wonder why they acted now?). Imagine having those leaked to your mom!
-Disputed number of Iraqi's killed.
-Problems with our only 9-11 Trial, thank goodness bin Laden promised to save us the trouble (good I say, since I oppose capital punishment).
-Read this.
-Why I love the internet.
-Bush caught in another war exaggeration (at least).
-Heh, Clooney's post explained.
-Support Feingold's censure.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Gill's volunteer appreciation night:

Last night I attended the Dr. David Gill Volunteer Appreciation night at our Champaign office. David Gill is an emergency room physician running to unseat Rep. Tim Johnson in IL-15. In true grassroots fashion we're making the most of our money and energy even though "political insiders" don't think it's a winnable race. But progressives must stand up for their beliefs in every district, we know no "red state/blue state". So that's what we're doing.

We had some pizza, ate some brownies/frozen peaches, soda, and watched Outfoxed. I unknowingly took the last slice of pizza, but hey, ya snooze you lose (my finances are such that I rarely pass up free food). I'd say at one point there were maybe 30 people there, basically 4 seniors, a middle age couple, and about 20-25 of us college kids. After the movie the room naturally divided into those below 25 and those not, except a women who deals with healthcare issues in the area approached us and began asking us questions about local politics. She was very smart and at one point commented "What do people under 25 see their role as in a future neo-conservative world?" Well I gave a lot of thought to that and basically my answer is: either you're a lawyer, engineer, in the military or you're a bitch. Boy, I hope we never reach such a world! My thoughts on Outfoxed below...

I hadn't seen Outfoxed, I prefer "objective" to propaganda documentaries, although if I remember correctly the film's directors did try to interview Fox executives (still, it's not like that's they only "pro-Fox" source you could get). But Fox played with fire, so they were just asking to get burned. The film is basically setting up Bill O'Reilly and his lesser cohorts at Fox to look stupid or maniacal, but that's what Fox has been doing to it's competition for years and all is fair in love and war. The film inspired a new understanding of people like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter.

Basically you have these people who wake up, read the newspaper or watch those cheesy Morning News shows, then write an opinion on whatever they find distasteful (it's not like this would even be hard...). They then go to their radio show and repeat the same opinion, then their Cable TV show and repeat the same message, and that's in between their book tours which are just a collection of those same opinions. They have a large, collectively-wealthy, niche who can comfortably support all their advertisers and buy their books! They've created this niche by basically demonizing 49% of Americans, but what I just don't get is what do these people have to be so upset by? I remember Ann Coulter writing something along the lines "I wish I was doing as well as Cindy Sheehan" financially. But if I had to guess, I'd say Ann Coulter is already more wealthy than Sheehan will ever be. No wonder her biggest concern is Islamic terrorism, she's made a career on personally provoking it! Mean while the rest of us who aren't worthy of making millions for simply repeating our formulaic opinions over and over, again, have to worry about other things in addition to Israel and Iran. You know like school loans, depleted uranium and health care.

I really liked O'Reilly's line "Hey, I believe in global warming," it struck me with the sincerity of "I'm not homophobic I read Andrew Sullivan." Conservatives attitudes toward energy alternatives to oil and nuclear power basically amounts to "why bother?" Well we have to start some time and just imagine if conservatives got half as excited about energy inventions as compared to latest way to bomb a country into a democracy. I was also struck by just how boyishly charming George W. Bush can be, I had never seen some of that footage. Like O'Reilly and his ego-maniac ilk, I too like to write my opinions into my writing, but unlike them, I enjoy being corrected where I'm mistaken and my personal rants edited by others where they seem to think their opinions are beyond reproach. It's definitely worth renting or buying.

Friday, March 10, 2006

3.10.06

  • When she's on she's on, Cindy Sheehan has a great diary at Daily Kos about her recent UN protest:
    Why was I targeted for the abuse? Is it revenge for my work at exposing the lies of BushCo, of which John Bolton is a leading co-criminal? Or is it to discourage other activists from taking the same path I have taken: demanding an end to the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq, and demanding that our freedoms be returned to us? I wish the Senate had the courage to stand up to the fascists in our government--or are the 90 who voted "Yea" to extend the Patriot Act also co-slitherers into fascism?
    ...
    When we were in the cockroach and feces-decorated jail system in NYC the other night, we met some other women who felt they had to resort to crime to try to survive in BushWorld. We met intelligent young women who felt their last resort was to resort to victimless crimes. Now for their petty thefts, they will have to spend months in institutions where they are stripped of any human dignity or comfort. All of the women we met knew they broke the law and were resigned to their punishment but where is the justice in our system where all people are supposedly equal?

    However, we four white, middle-class women were the lucky ones. We only had to spend one night in jail and we knew our lawyers would be there in the morning to spring us. When we were heading for court, we walked by our sisters in the holding cell and our hearts sank, because we know what it is like to spend even one night in jail. Our souls also connected with our sisters and brothers all over the world who are imprisoned in far worse conditions by the policies of BushCo and are being inhumanely tortured by these same medieval and draconian policies.

    Even if John Bolton, L. Paul Bremer, George Bush, Halliburton execs, etc. ad nauseum are ever punished, we all know the conditions won't be (but should be) as harsh as those of the other people who live in subhuman conditions because of them. These people operate on the standard of having all the money and all the power and they don't care for anyone who they victimize on their way to obtaining their obscene and ill-gotten gains.

  • UIUC Democracy for America's latest newsletter makes clear why any one who actually values lives other than their own should vote Democrat in the fall.

  • There have been some incredible Daily Kos diaries the last couple days:
  • Urban Education, Slate sucks, Iran summary, georgia10 slaps Melhman, and I dug up this gem.
  • I actually found a great Pajama's media story (I guess he's not with Pajama's)last week.
  • Great tag.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Illinois Gov Primary

So I thought I'd let everyone know about Edwin Eisendrath who's running to replace Blago as the Democratic candidate for Governor. He's really an amazing guy, here's an excerpt from a Daily Kos diary:
On state funding of the education budget, Eisendrath wants to increase education revenues by $2 billion by diversifying the tax base. Currently most education revenues come from property taxes, which he believes is not only detrimental to the business environment, but creates a school funding gap from wealthy to poor areas. By using the state's general fund, education would be paid for from all state revenue sources, thereby providing broader funding distribution, and ensuring that schools in economically depressed areas are not short changed just because they are in neighborhoods with low property values. Eisendrath also pointed out that he was once a Chicago public school teacher. In fact, much of his professional career has been in the educational and public service fields.

After graduating Harvard University, Eisendrath taught in the public schools of Chicago, spent 8 years as an alderman on the city council, and was involved in the creation of the "Clybourn Corridor," one of the most successful commercial areas in the Midwestern US. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be Midwest Regional Director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he oversaw the task of cleaning up the corrupted Chicago Housing Authority. By the time Eisendrath was finished, the Chicago Housing Authority received its first "clean audit" in more a decade. By his tone, you tell could it was something he takes great pride in. He now works as a college administrator, and pointed out that the IT director of his college, an Illinois National Guardsman, was just called up to serve in Iraq. He also stated emphatically that he has always been against the war and can see the toll it is taking among the Illinois National Guard.

So when are we going to invade Iran?

From Intel Dump:

And, incredibly, Bush was re-elected based on the impression that he was better at national security. War with Iran is now increasingly likely, and war with Iran risks the very survival of our republic. All because 19 guys with box-cutters flew some planes into some buildings, and people who have never known fear got scared.


Well here we are, 3 years later with a fresh new war for BushCo to frighten people into voting Republican in the mid-term elections. It's interesting that those of us who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning were implicated as racists who didn't believe Iraq could achieve democracy. Even though last time I checked, it's people who think they can benevolently bestow democracy on other cultures they don't even understand who are probably racist, or at the very least completely ignorant.

If we were to begin a war of choice 3 years ago it would have made much more sense to support the once rising pro-US youth of Iran, but no doubt Bush has shredded whatever respect Iranian reformers had for the United States. If only Iran had Iraq's oil reserves, we'd probably be there already, but heaven forbid they develop nuclear power to you know, power hospitals and schools and stuff, Bush just can't allow that!