We marched, now what? (aka Go out and make 'em do it)

I was inspired last night by a tale of FDR. During his presidency he met with a group of activists from the Labor Unions who were telling him what more he needed to do for them. He listened intently for quite a long time. After they were done he told them essentially, "I agree with everything you've just said, now go out and make me do it." (a recount can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/go-out-and-make-me-do-it_b_281631.html)

The idea was that while FDR personally agreed with these activists, he needed them to work to create the support and pressure that would allow FDR to pursue this agenda.

We now have in the White House someone who shares many of our progressive goals, be they health care, international relations, or my focus of LGBT rights. Obama has told us, during the campaign, and most recently at the HRC dinner that he agrees with our demands. And yet, he hasn't taken actions we would like yet. I believe that while he didn't say it, Obama needs us to go out and make him do it.

So on Sunday we took a first step and marched from the White House to the Capitol, 200,000 strong, demanding full equality. And we were heard, and we were visible and I believe many across the country took notice. But simply demanding our rights will not pass the legislation we so dearly believe in. No, we must take action, each and every day, to go out and make Obama, and every elected official in this country do it, pass legislation protecting LGBT people and ensuring we enjoy equal rights under the law.

This means writing elected officials, calling their offices, visiting them in DC and locally. It means writing letters to the editor, talking with our friends and family, and yes, engaging in difficult conversations with people who may not yet be with us. We cannot merely march and tell the government to do something, we must act and make the government do it. We must show a groundswell of support and show our elected officials that we will support them when they do what is right and just because what is right and just is not always what is popular.

No victory of Civil Rights was ever won just because a group asked for their rights. LBJ didn't sign the Civil Rights Act simply because he knew it was the right thing to do. He did it because millions of people spoke up and said, I'm with you LBJ, now put that pen to paper. So too must we make it clear to Obama that we are with him, that we are willing to fight, and that we will support him against the critics who will say he should not do this.

We've marched, shouted, demanded, now we must write, speak, and work to make 'em do it.

Some thoughts on the current (lack of civility around the) debate on health care reform

 I am pretty disgusted by what I see happening currently in the debate over health care reform in the US. 

First off, I should say that I am in favor of health care reform to help cover the uninsured and give the rest of us better health care and health insurance. That said, I don't know as much as I should about the current legislation being considered, but thats not really the point.

What I do know is that too many people I know don't have adequate health care and forgo basic treatments and procedures they should be having. I know that if I ever lose group coverage, I could be up shits creek, I mean, who wants to insure a 28 year old with high cholesterol, sleep apnea and a past hernia surgery (or at least cover this things going forward). I know that 47.5 million people not having health insurance (plus millions more with too little insurance), nearly 1/6th of the population is simply wrong in a country of our power and wealth. 

Members of Congress have been holding town hall meetings across the country to explain the current reform, take questions and hear from their constituents. However, a small group of loud individuals has essentially taken these meetings hostage, staging protests and shouting matches, thus making it impossible for an actual dialogue and exchange of ideas.

I have no problem with people who have problems with the current legislation, and I think its fine if you agree with the idea of health care reform (though I would venture to guess you are not one of the 47.5 million people without insurance). However, let's have a civilized discussion. You can share your points of view, and we can share ours, and we can agree to disagree. 

I'd also like to know what the other side proposes. Do they have other ideas they think would work better (including doing nothing), or is their plan, as it seems, to just oppose the democrats and Obama? I understand that politics is a game, and that each side wants to "win" but this is about the lives of the American People, can we stop trying to score points for a few minutes and actually get to work. I think thats what I pay Congress to do, but apparently I'm wrong on that front. 

So yes, let's restore some civility to this debate shall we. Here's a summary of my proposal:

1) Don't go to town hall meetings and health care forums simply to shout the other side down, share your points of view, your concerns, and your own ideas of what should be done.

2) Stop trying to defeat health care just to make Obama look bad, remember you work for your constituents, not the RNC.

3) Congress people who disagree with this current proposals should outline what they would do differently and even craft alternative legislation, let the best ideas rise to the top

4) Don't let perfection be the enemy of the good. These reforms may not be everything, or the best they could be, but they are a heck of a lot better than what's going on now. 

5) Basic reforms that must be made: Make it illegal for insurance companies to drop someone cuz they are sick. End pre-existing conditions exemptions. Create a public/non-profit health insurance option to end the masses of uninsured.

Health care reform certainly has its pitfalls, but in the long run we need to do this for our country. How much money could we save if people went to their doctor instead of the emergency room when they had a cold? How much taxpayer money and out of pocket costs would be saved if everyone had insurance (remember ERs have to treat anyone regardless of ability to pay, thus raising costs for everyone)? 

Something needs to be done, and the answer is not shouting matches, its hard work, its incremental steps if need be, but I do not believe that doing nothing is the answer and I worry that we are headed towards doing nothing.

There's always a weird random reason for things

So I'm getting ready to go on a short trip and don't want to check luggage so I go to Target to get some travel sized things.  I forgo the toothpaste because I'm sure I have some travel sized stuff at home.  Of course I don't, so now I have to go out just for that.  

I make a run to Lowe's to find a storage box for my deck but don't like what they have.  I then decide to hit Safeway on my way home.  I find the toothpaste and start roaming the aisle because I figure I might as well see if there is anything else I need especially since I feel a bit silly waiting in the lines (which were strangely long for 9:15pm) but find nothing.  I pay my $1.37 and head toward the door.  I notice the scratcher machine and decide, hey, I can afford a buck.  I walk outside, scratch the ticket and lo and behold I win $25.  Apparently this ticket type is hard to win on too.  

And think, if I had gotten the toothpaste at Target, or had it at home, or hadn't gone to Lowe's and decided to go to Safeway....

Not that I play that much, but this is the first time I've won more than a buck or two.  I probably won back all the money I've ever played on the CA lottery.  

Hope my luck continues on... 

Rest in Peace

It's funny, I was never a Michael Jackson fanatic, but he had a palpable effect on my life.  As a kid I had his signature vest and glove.  I remember that my parents had the Bad album on vinyl.  I believe that Dangerous was one of the first CDs I ever owned.  Much of his music inspired me (Black or White, Heal the World, etc) and what a story teller he was.  I remember watching an episode of The Simpsons just to catch the world premiere of the Black or White video featuring Macaulay Culkin and the bizarre scene where he smashed up a car (that scene as well as Culkins appearance I believe were removed later on).  

I'll be the first to admit that in his later years he got bizarre both personally and musically, but considering the childhood and family life he had, its rather understandable.  And yes, the accusations and trials were disgusting and if he infact did those things, its terrible.

However, more than the man, his music, his persona, his talent, it will forever be a part of the person I am and for that he will be sorely missed.

Michael, Rest in Peace and may your rest be much calmer and more sane than the life you lived.

Cool Festival in Downtown San Jose

100 Bands
40 Venues
1 Ticket for only $15

Left Coast Live is a new music festival taking place all over Downtown San Jose (including places like Hunter's and Splash) this Friday night.  You only need one ticket to get in to any of the venues.  And there are drink and food specials also.

I have my ticket.  Anyone else? 

Also, Thursday night they are doing a free movie screening of Before the Music Dies which looks very interesting.  I'm thinking about going.