Thursday, July 31, 2008

Um, Thanks Luda?

Just as Jeremiah Wright was finally beginning to slowly fade away into the abyss of political irrelevance, rapper Ludacris emerges with a new song “Politics: Obama Is Back.” Now I like Luda as much as anyone else, but the new song just gives Repubs more ammo. Most notably, he has some let's say "not too nice words" for Senator Clinton, Senator McCain and President Bush.

"Paint the White House black, and I'm sure that's got them terrified," Ludacris sings.

I’m all for getting celebs involved in the political process and all that jazz, but is this at all helpful? Seriously? It’s just one more thing that the Obama Campaign has to spend time and energy dealing with.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton issued a statement saying, “As Barack Obama has said many, many times in the past, rap lyrics today too often perpetuate misogyny, materialism, and degrading images that he doesn’t want his daughters or any children exposed to. This song is not only outrageously offensive to Senator Clinton, Reverend Jackson, Senator McCain, and President Bush, it is offensive to all of us who are trying to raise our children with the values we hold dear. While Ludacris is a talented individual he should be ashamed of these lyrics.”

And Now, What You’ve All Been Waiting For: Capitol Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful 2008

The old adage goes “politics is Hollywood for ugly people;” but this year’s top 50 defies this statement (well, you be the judge). For those of us that live outside the bubble that is Capitol Hill: Every year, The Hill Newspaper publishes its list of the 50 Most Beautiful People of Capitol Hill and every July, Hill staffers wait in anticipation to see who made “the list.” Drumroll please…

Topping the list this year is 24-year-old Tulani Elisa (pictured left), a Legislative Assistant for Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). Besides being a self-proclaimed klutz (story of my life), this fabulous chica’s name is Swahili for “one who is comforting” and is the oldest child in her family.

This year’s brains-meets-beauty contest received nearly 400 nominations of staffers, lobbyists and lawmakers. And of course I’m not bitter that I’ve never received a nomination. Nope, not at all. Smile.

Other list notables this year are Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Senator John Warner (R-Va), and Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New McCain Ad Links Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton

So what do Senator Barack Obama and BritBrit have in common? Well, they both appear in John McCain’s latest campaign advertisement. In an attempt to label him as too much sizzle and not enough substance, the ad refers to Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world” and shows images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

“He’s the biggest celebrity in the world. But, is he ready to lead? With gas prices soaring, Barack Obama says no to offshore drilling. And, says he’ll raise taxes on electricity. Higher taxes, more foreign oil, that’s the real Obama.”

Has the McCain campaign gotten so desperate that they’ve resorted to comparing Obama to a troubled music artist? The ad is the latest in a stream of negative attacks from McCainland questioning Obama’s ability to lead and his megaceleb status. But will it backfire?

In response, Obama Campaign Manager David Axelrod retorted, "The thing that is sad about it is that Sen. McCain entered this campaign as someone who was going to elevate the debate and talk about the future, and that is the reputation he had. And instead, we get some very familiar tactics. And it makes you wonder who is running the campaign, who is making the decisions, who is behind all of this. This isn't the John McCain we expect."

Zing! And on that note, I’m out.

Does Kaine Measure Up?

According to recent reports, Governor Tim Kaine has been in “very serious” talks with the Obama campaign as of late. Let’s just say they’re not sitting around doing each other’s nails and gossiping about the McCains.

The latest and greatest in the political rumor mill is that Kaine is at the top of Obama’s VP shortlist, along with Senators Evan Bayh and Joe Biden. I’ve been a Kaine fan since 2005 when he ran for Gov’na in Virginia and think he’s certainly worthy of consideration.

So what exactly does Kaine bring to the Obama campaign? I’ve measured him against my very basic VP litmus test. Let’s see how he does against these 5 key criteria. Here goes…

1) White? Check. Lord knows there’s a limit on the amount of “color” that Americans will permit on the presidential ticket. Hahaha. Seriously.
2) Reps swing state? Yes, M’am! Virginia is red with the (slight) potential to go blue in ‘08.
3) Political Centrist? Check. He’s moderate, Catholic and has no problem talking about his moral beliefs.
4) Executive Experience? Yes, but minimal. He’s only been Governor since January 2006. Prior to that, LG for four years and previously the mayor of Richmond. Let’s give a half-check.
5) Foreign Policy Experience? Nada.

So out of a possible 5 points, Kaine scored a 3.5. He passes (C-) but certainly not with flying colors. (Note: I have no doubt that Obama’s vetting process is much more extensive and involves a much more holistic method in determining his best possible political match.)

Although he has no foreign policy background, is a first-term governor and is certainly not a household name, Kaine brings southern white, working class voters to the table. What’s more, his freshness may play to Obama’s advantage in keeping consistent with his change agenda and out-of-the-beltway thinking.

Other Kaine bonuses: Came out for BO early in the game (first governor outside of Illinois to endorse his bid for the Democratic nomination); speaks fluent Spanish

The bottom line is that there is no perfect candidate – even Bayh and Biden fall short. Kaine may not be the best thing since sliced bread but he has a lot going for him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

‘Extreme Makeover' Home Facing Foreclosure

In what appears to be yet another sign that the housing market is in meltdown mode, a home that was built on ABC’s show “Extreme Makeover” in 2005 is now facing foreclosure.

Over 1,800 people helped to demolish a family’s home and replaced it with a beautiful mini-mansion within six days in January 2005.
Story is that the family used the pimped-out digs as collateral for a $450,000 loan to start a construction business that failed. Yikes! It's set to go to auction at the Clayton County Courthouse in Atlanta on August 5.

According to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller housing index released on Tuesday, housing prices dropped by a record 15.8% in May. No city in the index saw price gains in May and there has not been an overall home price increase in any month since August 2006. Las Vegas recorded the worst drop, with prices dropping 28.4 percent in the month and Miami came in second, with prices down 28.3 percent.

Fortunately, seven metropolitan cities (Tampa, Fla., Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Dallas and Atlanta) showed smaller annual declines.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Kicks Off Book Tour

Nancy Pelosi was on “The View” on Monday promoting her new book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters.” Her book encourages mothers and grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters to never lose faith, to speak out and make their voices heard, to focus on what matters most and follow their dreams wherever they may lead.

In the preface, she writes: "I find it humbling and deeply moving when women and girls approach me, looking for insight and advice. If women can learn from me, in the same way I learned from the women who came before me, it will make the honor of being Speaker of the House even more meaningful."

Pelosi will discuss and sign her new book at 7pm on Wednesday, July 30 at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW, in an event sponsored by Politics and Prose Bookstore.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Farewell Capitol Hill

After three fabulous years working on Capitol Hill, Friday was my last day in the office (tear). I am leaving the Mecca of the political world to study public policy in Los Angeles. The shift from professional to student, not to mention Washingtonian to Californian, will be a dramatic one but I am excited (and crazy nervous) for the change. Can’t wait to ditch the tailored black suit for a cute sundress and some shades!

Looking back on my years on the Hill, it has been an invaluable experience. Sure, there’s a daunting deliberative process, the politics, the occasional scandal and the excessive amounts of political posturing – but there’s also a lot of good. Once I got over my initial shock that members of Congress don’t personally respond to every constituent request (gasp!) and that the world is partially run by overambitious and self-important 25-year olds, I began to see the potential for good. There are Senators and members of Congress that are sacrificing their lives, health, and families for the good of the American people. There are Republicans and Democrats working endlessly to address the concerns of their constituents.

With all of our government’s flaws (and believe me, I’m its harshest critic), I honestly believe there is no better government in the world. Now there are of course things that other governments are doing better than ours, but I have felt more pride than frustration at the legislative process. It’s an amazing thing when you can introduce and pass a bill that could positively impact the lives of millions - maybe even billions - of people.

Although the congressional approval rating has hit an all time low, I want to encourage and assure my fellow female politicas that there are good things happening in Washington and good people working towards creating a better life for all Americans. It’s a system in which you don’t often see direct and immediate results, but that doesn’t mean that politicians have turned a deaf ear to the concerns of everyday citizens.

Below are pictures with me and some of my good friends on the Hill. I will miss you all dearly ☹

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Unhitched and Voting

It's amazing how much your demographic makeup can determine how you'll vote on Election Day. Under 35? Educated? And minority? Predictable. There are exceptions, but for the most part a simple formula will give you the answer to how any one person is voting in America. Likewise, whether you are married or unmarried plays a critical role in determining your candidate of choice as a woman.

In 2004 - according to exit polls - unmarried women voted for John Kerry by a 62%-37% margin, but Kerry lost married women by 11 points to Bush.

So why is it that women change their party registration with their marriage license? I think that there are a couple of key issues at play. Firstly, women tend to be much more easily influenced by their husband's ideological beliefs than vice versa. Men - who are more likely to vote Republican - play a large role in converting their wives to vote similarly. Second, their socio-economic status plays a part. Unmarried women's annual household income is much less than married women. As a result, they tend to be more concerned about social welfare programs and reliant upon the government for health care, education, and employment programs than married women. And lastly, when women get married, and especially have children, their primary concerns often shift to "family values" issues and they become more attracted to issues promoted by the conservative ideology.

It's no secret that women these days are marrying and having children later in life. According to the Census Bureau, in the last decade the median age for marriage has increased by one year to 26.7 years for men and 25.1 for women.

Today, women are on their own for a longer period of time and therefore, have developed stronger convictions about their ideological beliefs. As the median married age gets older, will we see an upsurge in the number of women voting Democrat? Who knows.

What we do know is that in 2004 twenty million unmarried women stayed home on Election Day. We need to do everything we can to ensure that these women get out the vote in '08, especially considering that unmarried women form the fastest growing large bloc of voters.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is Clinton Chopped Liver?

A few months ago (about ten years ago in campaign time), every political strategist and their mother opined ad nauseum about Obama’s lack of appeal to white working class and older female voters and how by putting Clinton on the ticket, he could attempt to fill that gap. A bitter taste still sharply remained on the tongues of Clinton supporters and many threatened to vote McCain or not vote at all if Clinton was not the VP pick.

And here we are. A few months and a Unity rally later and Clinton is no longer at the top of everyone’s list. Not to say that Clinton supporters have completely kissed and made up with the Obama campaign, but many sucked it up, murmured something about “for the good of the party” and moved on.

As time began to heal the wounds, strategists began to state that Obama no longer needed Clinton. Instead they resounded his need for someone with executive, foreign policy experience who represents a battleground state. However – they proclaimed – he did need a Clinton loyalist on the ticket to appease any remaining resentment and lock in the Clinton base. And then weeks passed and the story changed again. Now, strategists say he doesn’t necessarily need to pick a Clinton loyalist – but he absolutely cannot pick a woman who is not Clinton (i.e. Kathleen Sebelius). Picking a woman who is not Clinton is essentially twisting the knives into the backs of all of Clinton’s supporters.

In a matter of months, the story has shifted from it being absolutely critical for Obama to put Clinton on the ticket, in attempt to heal the party, to him having the liberty to choose anyone – unless of course it’s a non-Clinton woman. The general trend seems to be that the “Clinton factor” is no longer as important as it once was – and seems to be losing its steam by the minute.

What do you think? Is the “Clinton factor” still key to Obama’s success?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Political Women and Hollywood

On Monday night, I went to watch The Candidate (1972) with a group of coworkers and friends on the National Mall, as part of DC’s Screen on the Green. The Candidate is about an idealistic lawyer who decides to run for the U.S. Senate to draw attention to key community issues. But as his chances get better, he begins to get caught up in the politics. Although I enjoyed the film, I could not help but wonder about how few political women are portrayed in films.

Recently, actor Dennis Haysbert (you know… the “are you in good hands?” dude) rather “modestly” stated that his role as a Black President in ‘24’ paved the way for Barack Obama to be a viable candidate for President. Now that’s a little much. But we can’t deny that the images that the American people are exposed to can influence their belief system and notions of what’s considered acceptable. The fact that so few political women are shown in films may be a small but contributing factor to why so few women run for office. The films that do portray women as political seem to cast them in a pejorative light as power-hungry control freaks and not like the male political characters – confident, controlled and commanding.

Let’s look back at a few recent films/ television shows that have starred political women:

Manchurian Candidate (2004 film) – Meryl Streep plays Eleanor Shaw, a senator and a ruthless, manipulative mother. Many compared Meryl Streep’s character to Hillary Clinton.

Commander in Chief (2005 television show) – Geena Davis plays MacKenzie Allen, the first woman American President. Allen is smart, passionate and does not come off as a deranged woman on a power trip. The show was cancelled in 2006 (hmm).

The Contender (2000 film) – Joan Allen plays Laine Hanson, a senator who is nominated to be Vice President. She becomes the victim of various attacks on her personal life in which sexual accusations are spread. The media and various politicians work hard to portray her as nothing more than a sexual deviant.

It is worth noting that in both Commander in Chief and The Contender, the women ascend to their powerful roles because a man dies in office and an opportunity becomes available to them. It almost suggests that these women would not be able to ascend to these positions in their own right.

People often talk about Hollywood’s progressive views on sexual orientation and global warming. But when it comes to political women, they’re still stuck in the dark ages.

Well Hello Cyberspace…

This is the official launch of my blog for young fabulous women interested and involved in the political arena. Prior to starting this blog, I always had this rather vague notion that a blogger is this self-indulgent type who lives in his/her parent’s basement, eats cold pizza and wears pajamas all day.

My life could not be more different. Not to mention that I’m the least tech savvy person next to your grandmother. Every piece of technology I touch is rendered useless in a matter of moments (seriously, ask my boyfriend).

I finally succumbed to this so-called phenomenon because I am well aware of the lack of women political bloggers (believe me, I’ve looked) – especially young women bloggers and especially young women bloggers of color.

I was up at 3am one night… thinking (which is always dangerous). This is undoubtedly the time when I come up with my most outlandish/ unhinged/ irrational ideas about how I’m going to take over the world. And I knew that I had to create a blog for female politicos. It just had to happen. Period.

I am fully aware that my current audience consists of about 3 people (my mom, my boyfriend and myself) but hope to grow a following in the months ahead. Stay tuned for more fabulousness to come! I’m out.