Minneapolis 2010 Sample Ballot

As I usually do, I’m posting my choices for the upcoming elections and my reasoning behind them for those who trust me and may not have as much time to research their votes as I have. Find your balloting place and information on your ballot here plus candidate profiles and links here.

Note that I’m leaving off those judges and other officeholders who are running unopposed. I don’t know of any write-in campaigns that are either necessary or viable.

If you do something similar, please feel free to link to it in the comments. My friend Naomi is working through her choices as well.

Governor: Mark Dayton

Attorney General: Lori Swanson

Secretary of State: Mark Ritchie

Auditor: Rebecca Otto

Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 2: Helen Meyer

Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 6: Alan C. Page

Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Seat 13: Randolph W. Peterson

Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Seat 14: Larry Stauber

U.S. House District 5: Keith Ellison

Minnesota Senate District 61: Linda Berglin

Minnesota House District 61A: Karen Clark

Hennepin County Soil and Water Supervisor Seat 2: Amber Collett

Hennepin County Soil and Water Supervisor Seat 4: David Rickert

Hennepin County Commissioner District 4: Peter McLaughlin

Three Rivers Parks Commissioner District 3: Mark Haggerty

Minneapolis proposal to make the Charter Commission responsible for redistricting: Yes

Minneapolis School Board Members (2): Richard Mammen and T. Williams

My Reasons
Governor: Minnesota has gone 20 years without a governor who understood the value of public investment in the state. While I’m sympathetic to the cry to do more with less, that’s far too long to go with leadership that concentrates on the “less” part of that equation.

Attorney General: Has Swanson’s tenure as AG been perfect? No. However, there are no other credible candidates running. Even the Republican candidate doesn’t seem to know what the office does (or doesn’t approve of its role as legal advocate for the citizens of the state) and wants to use it for things like fighting health care reform and requiring voter IDs.

Secretary of State: I wish it were enough to explain that the Independence Party candidate isn’t actively running and the Republican candidate posts Fox News videos on his site, so Ritchie is the only real candidate. I’ll go further, though, and note that the Republican is campaigning almost solely on the topic of voter IDs (the other issue he mentions is one where he agrees with Ritchie), while Ritchie is working to use technology to lower costs and offer more services outside of elections as well, making him actually quite business friendly.

Auditor: Otto has received awards from her peers for her work in office. Her major challenger is the previous officeholder, a strong partisan whom Otto replaced after finding errors in her work. This one is a no-brainer.

Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 2: Meyer is the incumbent and endorsed by the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota as well as the big names in Minnesota politics on both sides of aisle. Her opponent doesn’t appear to be running for the position as much as using the election to campaign for judges continuing to face election. His endorsements come solely from parties that complain about “judicial activism.”

Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 6: Page’s opponent has this to say as part of his official statement: “I believe that justice is served when judges fear God” and is a “Constitutional originalist”. Aside from that, well, let’s just note that Page’s relevant accomplishments are such that his professional football career (including his admission to the Hall of Fame) are what have become the footnote to his life. He is exactly the person I want here.

Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Seat 13: The challenger in this race has put forth no information on her qualifications or reasons for running.

Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Seat 14: My reasoning on this is identical to that for Supreme Court Justice Seat 2, minus a couple big-name endorsements.

U.S. House District 5: Ellison is teh awesome. That is all. Well, except for the fact that his major opponent invokes the fear of God in his campaigning. Ew.

Minnesota Senate District 61: Berglin has served us well enough and long enough that her opponent is not bothering to campaign.

Minnesota House District 61A: Clark has served us well enough and long enough that her major-party opponent is not bothering to campaign. The Independence Party is fielding a conservative candidate without any government experience.

Hennepin County Soil and Water Supervisor Seat 2: This is the first time I can remember when there were actually multiple excellent choices for one of these seats. Tracy would also be an excellent choice; he has significant experience in this area. I went with Collett because she is already working to educate the public on the job she’s asking them to hire her to do.

Hennepin County Soil and Water Supervisor Seat 4: Rickert has far and away more experience in this area than any of his opponents.

Hennepin County Commissioner District 4: Laughlin’s opponent has not made any information available about his experience or positions on the issues that I can find.

Three Rivers Parks Commissioner District 3: Haggerty is an incumbent with a number of accomplishments under his belt. His opponent makes no case for replacing him in office.

Minneapolis proposal to make the Charter Commission responsible for redistricting: The people who are objecting to this proposal appear to be advocating for a means of redistricting that isn’t an option this time around instead of choosing between the old way (which is handled by the political parties) and this proposal. The Star Tribune has a short summary of the situation. There’s more discussion, including initial opposition that gave way to neutrality or endorsement, on the forums at E-Democracy.org. See here and here.

Minneapolis School Board Members: As I said on my primary ballot, school board elections in Minneapolis are interesting. Almost everybody is saying the right things about what needs to be done, so it comes down largely to demonstrated competence. My two choices have the most board experience directly related to schools.

Minneapolis 2010 Sample Ballot

The Beatings Will Continue

Well, it isn’t really a beating. It’s an arrest for “trespassing, resisting arrest and creating a public disturbance.” Ask Jon Taylor how big a difference he sees, though.

This arrest happened outside an event for Eric Cantor, who hopes to be the new Republican House majority leader after the election. You’ll never guess what Taylor, the desperate criminal who required three cops to wrestle him to the ground, was trying to do.

Taylor said Cantor had promoted the event on his website, so he assumed it was a public event.

“We RSVP’d,” he said.

He and three other Democrats went inside the coffee shop with the intent of asking questions of Cantor, who has declined to debate Waugh.

That’s right. He was trying to perform that terrifying act of asking a question. And what could possibly have him so dissatisfied, his morale so in need of improvement, that he has to risk a beating just to ask his questions?

Oh, I don’t know. Might be the fact that Cantor won’t debate his opponents and won’t generally answer anything but softball questions. Might be that when he does answer questions, he tells lies that would be damagingly transparent if anyone were allowed to follow up on them. So Cantor, and those supporting him have plenty of reason to suppress those scary questions by whatever means necessary.

Except it’s not just Cantor. The 2010 Republican campaign relies on voter dissatisfaction created by a web of lies about the events of Obama’s presidency: lies about health care, lies about tax cuts, lies about the bank bailouts, lies about the economic stimulus package, lies about…well, you get the idea. That is their campaign strategy this year, which means that letting anyone close enough to ask embarrassing questions is a very bad idea.

Given all that, how long do you think the violence will go on?

The Beatings Will Continue

A Movement of Cowards

Libertarians are generally characterized by (misplaced) arrogance. Liberals are generally characterized by…well, I don’t actually know, but I’m sure I’ll get suggestions. Conservatives are generally characterized by fear.

It informs all their policies. They need a big, swaggering military because we’re otherwise at the mercy of…those little countries on the other side of the world whose governments have massive contracts with ours. They need to keep immigrants out of the country, because otherwise, their job skills and way of life aren’t attractive enough to compete. They have to deny anthropogenic climate change, because otherwise, they have to find solutions that are beyond their ingenuity and willingness to sacrifice. They need guns, because otherwise, they’re at the mercy of all and sundry who happen along.

They need to keep gays and lesbians shamed and marginalized, because otherwise, what incentive would they have to refrain from all the gay sex they want to have (instead of just some of it). They have to keep power out of women’s hands, because otherwise, what woman would want them? They have to make abortion illegal, because otherwise, what woman would put up with raising their demon spawn without help? In the women’s case, because otherwise, how can they make up for having their own abortions? And oh, how many things must they do because otherwise, they stand no chance of being good enough to be accepted by their gods?

Most of all, for the broad swath of people who vote movement conservative, they need to side with the bullies, because otherwise, the bullies will turn their attention to them. It’s a somewhat effective strategy, and one the movement relies upon for support. It still isn’t good for anyone.

I’m not saying anything new here. There’s nothing about the politics of fear that should be a revelation to anyone reading this. So why am I talking about it now?

Three reasons. The first is that I simply think that no election should pass without people being reminded that the big, blustery candidates are really sniveling children. The second is that fear is a lousy basis for making complex decisions, which is the job we’re electing people to do. The third is that it’s rare to see this fear as well illustrated as it has been in recent days.

How scared did Joe Miller have to be to decide he wasn’t going to answer any more questions about himself? How terrified did he have to be to have an illegal security detail? How badly did his knees have to knock for him to blame the school for using that security? And what kind of quivering mess did he have to be to set that security detail on a journalist who was asking questions and have him detained in handcuffs?

Then…then there’s this:

Forget, for a moment, Paul’s cowardly reaction on Fox, referring to the incident as “crowd control” (well, don’t forget that at all; just set it aside briefly). Forget that the victim was already surrounded by several men much larger than she. Forget, even, that the stomping occurred well after Paul was out of the way.

No, in this case, let’s just pay attention to what the right is correct about when they’re describing this incident: the precipitating event. That would be this:

“Oh, noes!” they’re saying, “She tried to present Rand Paul with a sign! She was asking for it!” No, really, that’s what they’re saying. Here’s a really brief sampling:

  • so….she provoked a response. stepping on her head was uncalled for and uncivil, but this girl was not innocent in the confrontation either. Moveon.org is famous for their provocation.
  • We are living in the age of TERRORISM. If Lauren Valle had tried to pull this stunt on Obama, the same thing would have happened. The candidates must be protected from nuts and extremists. Given that Lauren Valle and MoveOn were there to make trouble, I think she is the one who owes the Rand people an apology.
  • Valle is a professional antagonist. She was just there to make people mad and she accomplished her goal. She is certainly not an innocent victim. I don’t condone the actions that were taken by the men but, if you are going to play childish gottcha games you get what you deserve.
    Lauren Lizabeth Valle, 23, an activist with MoveOn.org, tried to get close to Paul to give him a fake award portraying him as a tool of big business, as the group has done elsewhere. —————————————————– This alone is reason enough to stop this woman.
  • This is actually semi-funny to me personally. Yeah, this chick got ruffled a tad but that sort of thing should be recognized as simply “par-for-the-course” if you’re going to attempt to inflame and antagonize a Senatorial candidate and supporters in such a hostile political climate as this chick did.
  • This sheds a different light on the matter. It seems there is plenty of blame to go around. She was a paid protester by MoveOn who hired her to go to KY for the last three weeks of the campaign.
  • Profitt blames Valle for initiating the incident—a claim that actually does have some merit
  • A WELL DESERVED, but much too gentle, BEAT DOWN.

And then there’s the criminal himself.

“She’s a professional at what she does,” Tim Profitt, who was fired Tuesday from Paul’s Senate campaign, said in an interview with local television station WKYT. “When all the facts come out people will see that she’s the one who initiated the whole thing.”

Yes, this is what it takes to scare a movement conservative. A young woman with a sign who might make somebody look bad. That‘s the monster in the closet that they can’t bear to look squarely in the eye, preferring instead to try to crush it underfoot.

The whole thing, incident and movement and all, would be laughably pathetic–except for one thing. These people are also scared of me. They’re scared of you too, if you dare to talk back, or worse, laugh at them. They’re terrified of us both. And now we’re seeing what they do when they’re scared.

You might want to remember that when the time comes to vote.

A Movement of Cowards

Civil Liberties Gone, Not Threatened

So you’ve heard about the Republican candidate for Senate whose “security detail” detained a reporter trying to ask the candidate some questions, yes? Well, actually, it hasn’t gotten as much coverage as it should, so maybe you haven’t.

Christine O’Donnell won national attention yet again last week when she ridiculed the notion that the Constitution protects the separation of church and state. But she was only raising doubts about the First Amendment; Miller actually defied it.

That happened just over a week ago, when Alaska Dispatch Editor Tony Hopfinger tried to follow Miller to get him to answer questions about his work in Fairbanks. That’s when Miller’s security detail handcuffed the journalist and put him under a “private person’s arrest,” detaining him until police came and freed him.

It’s not clear why Miller thought he needed a paramilitary detail to protect him in the first place. He said the school that held the event required it, but the school said otherwise.

Then came word that two of the security guards were active-duty soldiers, apparently moonlighting at the political event without the knowledge of their commanders.

For context on why that last bit is so disturbing, see Glenn Greenwald’s take on the incident (via Ed Brayton). I’d like to focus on another disturbing thing about the incident: the fact that people are treating this as a novel incident.

This absolutely sent chills down my spine. Private goons with blank looks on their faces, refusing to identify themselves, detaining a reporter who broke no laws – and getting away with it. How quickly our civil liberties could disappear!

To repeat here what I said there: This has nothing to do with how our civil liberties “could” disappear. They have disappeared. We did nothing about the Patriot Act except cheer it on. We did nothing about warrantless everything except reelect Bush. We did nothing about TSA security theater except look suspiciously at our seatmates. We did nothing about “Free Speech Zones” except frown at the people at conventions clambering for their voices to be heard. We did nothing about police abuses of power except suggest that anyone who was abused had something to hide or asked for it.

This is the world we’ve bought ourselves. The fact that most of us have yet to pay for it personally is beside the point.

Can we get the old world back? Yes, we can. The cost will be high, but only because we have to pay for the last decade of that world as well. We’ll need to be those people we’ve refused to empathize with. We’ll need to call down authority’s displeasure on ourselves, and we’ll need to tell it to get stuffed. We’ll need to do it in large numbers and support each other as we go. Only then can we get back what we’ve lost.

Unfortunately, I see signs like this that tell me how much easier it is to get used to our loss than to take the risks and do the work we need to do.

Civil Liberties Gone, Not Threatened


She was about five weeks old. It was too young, but “Take her now, or we’ll take care of her.” They didn’t mean letting her stay with her mother for a few more weeks. At least she was weaned.

She was the not-very-runty runt of the litter. Black, with the tiniest of white spots on her belly. Her mother was half Siamese, and her father was presumed to be the same Siamese that was her uncle. Being black earned her the name “Humor.”

She wasn’t happy about being taken away from her mother. She spent the first evening yowling at the top of her lungs. The first night, too. Putting her on my chest, where she could feel my heartbeat, helped for about five minutes. Eventually, she went back into the cat carrier, as far from the bedroom as she could be, with towels over it to muffle the noise and just a little bit of air space left. She was still loud.

Over time, she settled into a bedtime routine that involved lying across the back of my neck and getting her face scritched for a little while before prowling the house, yowling, of course. She’d settle down after a while, but she never did lose the tendency to wander into a corner and yowl like a lost soul. She’d come running out if you called her name, terribly happy to find people, but she spent more time lost in closets than any cat I’ve known.

Once she got bigger, the routine changed again: demand I go to bed, stand on me and knead in an ecstatic trance until she came to again, then lie down for petting with her face in mine until she got bored. I was Mom.

In fact, I was all her people, and anyone else was viewed with suspicion at best. Strange voices in the house meant she was nowhere to be found, although if people stuck around for long, they might be graced with a glimpse of her. Those who came by often enough might be allowed to pet her briefly. Eventually, she allowed my husband to pick her up and hold her.

She was never the bravest of cats. She ran away when I sneezed, which was sadly and funnily ironic in such a danderous cat. Trips to the vet involved the drawing of blood–my blood–for getting her into the cat carrier the first time. Once we were in the car, she had to be let out and snuggled up on my chest if we wanted any hope of hearing other traffic.

She was determined, though. Enough heat was worth lying across the vanes of the radiator. No matter how many times she was yelled at for playing monster under the bed, ankles were always fair game. When I sat in front of the computer, the back of my chair was her preferred spot, with just a bit of her draped over my shoulder. When I read in the big, comfy chair, she’d settle onto one arm for a little while after enough petting, then wander between me and the book when she decided I’d ignored her long enough. And people food…well, she’d generally stay at a polite distance as long as I was actually eating. After that, all bets were off.

It was the eating that tipped me off. Humor had always been good about telling me when she needed more food or water: meow, wander in the appropriate direction, look accusing until I followed and fixed her problems for her. It took a few days to notice that, while she was getting fussy about her water being dirty, she wasn’t making much dent in her food. Last I saw her alive, she was busily tucking into some moist food that I’d given her to tempt her palate.

This morning, the moist food was mostly gone, and she was lying underneath the computer desk, where the warm air from the fan blows. She was racked out on her side , the way she usually slept. Usually, however, she would wake when I walked into the room. Not today, and not ever again.

I made my husband make sure she wasn’t just ill. I’m making him move the body, as well. She was the softest cat I’ve ever met, a medium-hair made up of just the fluffy underfur. I want to remember that, and I want to remember her as warm and pliant, tucked under my chin or curled neatly into my lap. I have seventeen years of those memories, of her being very much my cat, and those are the memories I want to keep fresh.

Oh, sweetest little black cat, how I will miss you. How I miss you now.


The Right Kind

It was the kind of wedding where the bridesmaid’s dresses were chosen, each for the individual woman, with an eye to appropriately displaying body ink. It was the kind of wedding where the little boys who participated were dressed as pirates, complete with plastic swords that formed an arch for the flower girls, and no one thought to suggest we weren’t being solemn enough. It was the kind of wedding where the bride wore a fearsome fashion creation in dark gray–and daisies in her hair.

It was the kind of wedding that wasn’t short but came without a wasted word. It was the kind of wedding where the bride and groom stood behind the officiant, whispering and giggling to each other whenever it occurred to them. It was the kind of wedding where the assembled made promises before any were asked of the couple. It was the kind of wedding where watching couples held hands and kissed–and smiled at each other over their marriages rather than their weddings. It was the kind of wedding where the wasp flying around became a memory shared between weddings rather than a mere pest.

It was the kind of wedding with readings like this:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

And this:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

It was the kind of wedding where the bride and the groom promised to plant their roots in each other’s soil and grow into both the wind and the sun. It was the kind of wedding where the groom interrupted the officiant, being too impatient (and silly) to wait for the proper time to say, “I do.”

It was the kind of wedding where the bride and groom didn’t need to stand together to receive their guests, where guests who only knew one party introduced themselves to the other. It was the kind of wedding where, when asked how I knew the bride, only then realized that it was because she and I had spent some part of one weekend a year together for almost the last ten years, and that she is incredibly important to me for someone I hardly ever speak to.

It was the kind of wedding where the compliments on the kilt came, not from the people who were indulging in being mildly scandalized by it, but from the woman with the primary-colored hair and the guy who paired a dapper suit with big hoop earrings and the guy whose accent put him somewhere close to Scotland–and the catering manager, who stopped to give us pronunciation lessons. It was the kind of wedding where the hipster look-alike was almost certainly not being ironic.

It was the kind of wedding where guests were seated by their reading preferences. It was the kind of wedding where someone at the dinner table says, “I’m ashamed to have a vagina because Stephenie Meyer has one too.” It was the kind of wedding where two open seats at your table result in the DJs inviting themselves to dinner and fitting right in, despite being a decade younger than everyone else there.

It was the kind of wedding where the Belgian-style ales were served in pint glasses. It was the kind of wedding where the catering staff made note of the brand of sparkling wine because it was both decadently delicious and cheap. It was the kind of wedding where drinks were poured by award-winning mixologists because they happen to be chummy with the bride and groom. It was the kind of wedding where you tot up everything you’ve had to drink, blink a few times, and still put your hand out when they say, “I’ve got an extra Aftermath. Who wants it?”

It was the kind of wedding where dancing skills are appreciated but not required. It was the kind of wedding where the tan kids were the ones lacking rhythm. It was the kind of wedding where a four- or five-year-old could steal the show, not by being a great dancer, but by being a showy, confident one. It was the kind of wedding where the DJs couldn’t stop dancing themselves, and the one with the fauxhawk (film major with a bright future ahead of him unless I miss my guess) gave it all he had, which was not insignificant. It was the kind of wedding where the bride’s now former PI got out there and shook her mad scientist hair just a little more mad.

It was the kind of wedding that could go on until all hours of the morning. It was the kind of wedding where people either left around their normal bedtimes or were prepared to stay forever. It was, in short, the right kind of wedding.

Many congratulations to my friend Tracy and her lovely husband John.

The Right Kind

Needing to Think

If the rest of the online universe hasn’t already directed you to John Scalzi’s post “Things I Don’t Have to Think About Today,” allow me:

Today I don’t have to think about managing pain that never goes away.
Today I don’t have to think about whether a stranger’s opinion of me would change if I showed them a picture of who I love.
Today I don’t have to think about the chance a store salesmen will ignore me to help someone else.
Today I don’t have to think about the people who’d consider torching my house of prayer a patriotic act.
Today I don’t have to think about a pharmacist telling me his conscience keeps him from filling my prescription.

It’s an exercise in the kind of empathy we can all practice from time to time. Read the whole thing.

Those of you who are bloggers may also appreciate John’s first comment on the post, particularly the reference to the Mallet of Loving Correction.

Needing to Think

The Cynicism of the “Realist”

I posted this almost exactly two years ago, before another important election. It still seems important. The races have changed, but they’re not the main point of this piece.

I ran into another one yesterday. You know them, the ones who say, “Obama isn’t perfect, you know. He’s just not that different from McCain. I mean, I’ll vote for him, but really….”

The next one gets swatted. Hard.

Aside from the fact that anyone with a brain can tell that there are big differences between Obama and McCain–of policy, of personality, of integrity–this statement is totally wrong in one thing. It reeks of cynicism.

This last one didn’t think so. He said, “Don’t confuse realism with cynicism StephanieZ. I do think there’s a legitimate case to be made for picking the lesser of two evils in swing states, but as Chomsky notes one should do so without any illusions.”

The lesser of two evils? If that isn’t cynicism, what is it? It’s certainly not realism.

How is it evil to suggest that more people should have access to affordable health care? How is it evil to say we need to understand the racial divide as a first step to closing it? How is it evil to suggest that our policies abroad are hurtful to the world and need to be changed? How is it evil to say that those who have profited from the last eight years need to help pay for them?

“But he’s not perfect,” I hear. Excuse me, but duh. Of course he isn’t perfect. Neither is the situation he’ll step into in January. Far from it.

Obama isn’t perfect. He’s progress.

Obama and his policies are progress that we desperately need right now. Every moderate to liberal politician we send to D.C. with him is forward motion. Each step we take in pushing those politicians to enact his platform is one step out of the mire.

That’s right. This doesn’t end with the election. We all still have plenty of work to do after that happens. We have to demand the changes we’ve been promised. Some of us will have to suck it up and pay our share where we haven’t been. We have to tell each other that hatred is unacceptable. We have to fight the lies that will be told.

We have to fight the cynicism.

This last piece is critical. We’ve been wandering deeper into the mire for far too long. It will take us years to get out. We’ll get tired. We’ll find it all too easy to say that another hard-fought step toward the edge still puts us in the muck, so what’s the difference? We’ll have all the realism we can handle.

It’s even possible that we’ll forget what the dry land beyond the edge looks like, but we can never dismiss it as an illusion. That way lies cynicism–and the realism of the mire.

The Cynicism of the “Realist”

Nobel Conference: Frances Moore Lappé

“Getting a Grip—Gaining Clarity, Creativity, and Courage for the World We Really Want”

Frances Moore Lappé, author and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The final lecture of the conference was delivered at the banquet. It was delivered, not by a scientist, but by an activist and writer who has spent decades understanding how various parts of the world make food work. As before, below is my summary of the lecture. Only a small amount of note-taking was delivered in tweets before my battery died, so I’m faking much of it below. The full lecture is available on YouTube.

  • “It is far too late and things are far too bad for pessimism.” [Thanks to geofisch for finding the source: Dee Hock, founder of Visa International (re: Y2K)] We cannot afford despair.
  • We don’t each actively choose a world in which starvation and climate change happen. Our feeling of powerlessness is our enemy.
  • We have solutions for most of the world’s food problems or they’re within our reach very soon.
  • The problem right now is confirmation bias: What we see, we believe.
  • If there are already cheaters, why not cheat? Current narratives are scarcity, lack, competition, selfishness.
  • Ironic but worth knowing that Monopoly was developed by a Quaker as an object lesson.
  • We have a privately held government. Skewed wealth negates even broad agreement when it comes to legislation.
  • Alienation leads to depression, which is the leading U.S. cause of disability. 50% more suicides than homicides.
  • Shock has the power to induce cognitive dissonance and clarity. One such moment led to the microcredit movement.
  • “There are no ‘parts’ in an ecological worldview. There are only participants.”
  • If we stop looking through a lens of lack, we can instead examine the conditions that promote pro- and antisocial behavior.
  • Cooperation stimulates some of the same parts of the brain as chocolate.
  • Humans have a need to “make a dent” in their worlds. Leads to less depression and feeling more in control.
  • Supporting the Fair Elections Now Act can help remove some of the influence of wealth on our government.
  • Having power concentrated in the hands of a few brings out the worst in us. We fail to be responsible for ourselves. We blame instead of acting.
  • Travels for book research: “I knew how out of step I was and how much hunger there was. What I didn’t know was how easy the solutions were.”
  • Brazil declared access to food a right. It didn’t lead to “big government” but to community involvement in fixing the problem, brainstorming solutions.
  • Diary cooperatives in India employ more people than the entire high-tech industry there.
  • We’re good enough to solve these problems if we have the backbone to break from the pack.
  • Fear is just one more idea, without inherent meaning of its own.
  • We can model ourselves on those more courageous than we are.
Nobel Conference: Frances Moore Lappé

Look Who’s Voting

Yes, I know Obama isn’t close to everything you wanted. He compromises too easily and isn’t as visionary as he sounded standing next to John McCain. Whee.

The Democrats in Congress haven’t exactly been all that, either. They’ve done their normal job of showing off internal disputes and demonstrating what the shifting Overton Window means for liberalism in the U.S. They may be up for reelection, and many of them may face plausible challenges for the first time in ages, but…blah.

I know. You’re not excited. The problem is that there are other voters who are.

Oh, yes. They’re voting. Know why? They’ve seen the progress that has been made in the last Congressional term, in Obama’s first two years in office, and it terrifies them. And even if that terror has only a tangential connection to reality, there’s a lesson there for all of us.

So the last two years haven’t been anything like idyllic. Does your memory stretch back far enough to let you think about the eight years before that? Do you remember how powerless we felt? Do you remember the despair we faced when confronting the idea that our country might keep moving in that direction?

No, having Democrats in control of the White House and Congress hasn’t given us everything we wanted in two years, but it’s time to remember what the alternative is. Your district and state may not have candidates as colorful as Carl Paladino, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle or Michele Bachmann, but there are plenty of candidates who share their politics, if not their blatant craziness. There are plenty of candidates who want to make sure government does nothing but enforce their pet social sanctions.

And there are plenty of people who will turn out to vote for them.

So it’s time. It’s time to make sure your friends and neighbors know what’s at stake in this election. It’s time to make sure they know who will be on the ballot, what the oddly worded propositions mean, where to vote. It’s time to make sure voters in your community are excited and ready to turn out, because the people in that video will, without your help or urging. And they’re really hoping you won’t.

Look Who’s Voting