Friday, June 27, 2008

The Blues

Blogging is somewhat foreign to me now. I don't know how much I like that. Actually, I don't like it at all, but I am dealing with it. There are times to write about life and there are times to live it. For most of the last year I've been dealing with the former. So, right now it is exciting to be caught up in a new experience and something I really enjoy.

It has been a busy week. Tomorrow is a big day for the campaign. The Unite for Change House Meetings are launching tomorrow across the country. In Milwaukee alone, there are over 100 of these meetings taking place. I am leading one of them tomorrow. I should be leading two, but that host flaked on me. That's a different story. Anyway, I'll hit the house meeting again in a later blog.

Summerfest started yesterday. If you need a refresher, Summerfest is "the world's largest music festival". It is held every summer right here in Milwaukee. A bunch of us went down there to canvass the crowds coming in and it was a tough day for me. I think the Juneteenth crowd spoiled a lot of us because everywhere we turned during that event people were screaming for Obama. However, the midday Summerfest arrivals were on the opposite end of the spectrum. They were nearly all folk from well outside Milwaukee who had traveled in from the dairy land country of Wisconsin. I was told to "Fuck Off" several times. I also had an Obama shirt on that people liked to point at and simultaneously say "Fuck Obama." That was a lot of fun.

Right before leaving I was having a somewhat heated talk with a man that was wearing his son's dog tag around his neck. He told me his son was killed in Iraq. He was primarily concerned about Obama's stance on abortion, but I tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to guide the discussion elsewhere. He wasn't having it. He kept coming back to abortion and then to the question of experience. I then mentioned that Obama has as much experience as Lincoln had before he became the POTUS. His response came in three stages. First, he immediately mentioned that Lincoln was assassinated, which is a pretty disturbing response. What does that have to do with anything? Did the assassination of Lincoln make him a poor President? Second, he mentioned that many more Americans died under Lincoln than Bush. This was another pretty weak argument. Did he really expect me to think that the Iraq War should be fought and that the Civil War was a waste of our time? Up to this point he didn't sound like that much of a Lincoln fan, but then he switched sides on me with the third stage of his argument. He said the Lincoln/Obama comparison wasn't a fair one. That in no way does Obama measure up to Lincoln. I was confused and I had to cut the conversation short anyways. That was a frustrating moment for me because it is hard to cut those talks short because they really get me fired up and I want to stay engaged, but those people are not the people I should be spending my time and energy on. At this point in the game, we just shouldn't be doing that, but nonetheless, it was an intriguing conversation, but very, very depressing as well.

Summerfest left me in a funk, but all I had to do to get in a better mood was to think back to the guy I saw on Sunday. He must have just gotten out of church. I saw him get out of his car from where I was standing outside a Family Dollar store. He was dressed from head to toe in blue. Blue suit. Blue leather shoes. Blue hat. Blue accents on his sunglasses. The only thing he was missing was a blue cane.

I don't feel blue anymore, but I do feel tired.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shotgun Blog

A few quick thoughts.

My field lead told me working on a campaign is organized chaos. No, it's just chaos.

Campaigns don't have days off. Neither do the fellows.

It hasn't fully hit me yet, but I am a part of something quite special and historic. Never has a program like the Obama Organizing Fellows been implemented in a Presidential campaign. I have a feeling it is going to be very successful, but nevertheless, we are the guinea pigs and that is huge. I think of us as a fraternity of 3,500 pulled from over 10,000 applicants. We have 17 branches, all in battleground states.

The Wicklunds were very gracious and sent me a copy of Tony Campolo's Red Letter Christians. I wish I could say I am halfway through all ready, but I'm not. To tell you the truth, I haven't cracked the book, but as soon as I'm done with this job I will. It is number one on the reading list. Thanks!

I have to get a temporary cell phone for my calls. I am making a minimum 50 calls a day. They taught us our phone should be treated as a weapon.

Don't ask any Obama fellows if we have yard signs! We don't. Yard signs don't win elections.

I know there is a team in Colorado. Help them out.

Obama is going to win Milwaukee in a landslide. It's not going to be pretty.

I love this work so far.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Juneteenth

We marched in the Juneteenth parade yesterday. A brief story about the day can be found here.

Windshield Advertisements

You know when you go out and sometimes when you get back to your car there is an advertisement on the windshield? Well, I got one of those a couple of days ago and wanted to share it with you. The text:

Pass dat test
Got a drug test coming up?
Don't worry, rest easy!
Got to pay your P.O. a visit?
Don't worry, rest easy!
Need to take pre-employment drug test?
Don't worry, rest easy!

We have large selection of detox drinks,
Synthetic urine and hair shampoo kits if
You need to take a hair drug test.

I left out the line in which the author gives his/her pseudonym and phone number and I checked for iambic pentameter.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The First Days

Okay. I probably shouldn't be writing. I should be sleeping, but I just wanted to let you all know how it is going so far. There are four teams of volunteers in the Milwaukee area. My team has been assigned to the northwest region of Milwaukee. This is sort of unfortunate because it is a long way from my home, about a 24 mile drive to the offices. It is also going to be a very challenging part of the community to be in. First, I don't know anyone there. Second, every other person I asked to register as a voter on Sunday said they couldn't because "they're still on papers", meaning they are still serving part of their sentence for committing a felony.

The days are long, much longer than I expected. Every day starts no later than 9:30 and the day ends around 8-9 after calling potential volunteers. There are formally no scheduled days off. The biggest goal each of us have for the first two weeks is to hold two house meetings for Obama by the 28th. We need to find hosts for these meetings and get at least 20 people to each meeting. That's a lot of commitment.

I don't know how much I'll be writing during the next six weeks, but I do plan on keeping some sort of updates on this blog. If the thoughts and the stories don't come now, or in the next six weeks, I can guarantee they'll be up here in the following weeks. There are already so many stories, like the car chase that blasted by me today while I was in front of the office making phone calls. Yeah. That was fun.

Anyway. I am going to get some ice cream and watch Jon Stewart and crash.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Invite Only

As expected, but not expressed on this blog, I have to stop political blogging right now as long as I, in some small way, represent the Obama campaign. So, here's the deal. I'm going to keep on blogging, but I need to make this an invite only blog for the next six weeks. I know that sucks, more for me than you because I don't know everyone who reads this and I don't have all of your email addresses, but that's the way it's got to be for a little bit. So...starting tomorrow, this is an invite only blog. Please email me at bperica@gmail.com if you want to be invited or leave a comment on this blog with your email address.

I'm not at all excited about doing this, but it is what I have to do.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let It Rain!

video

Here is a quick video of the rain last weekend that caused extreme flooding throughout the Midwest. I took this right off our deck.

1950-2008

Tim Russert is dead at 58.

Now obviously, I don't know the man, but the news of his death is very saddening to me. It is a reminder, which I didn't need, of the fragility of life and the instantaneous absence of a person that meant so many different things to so many different people. For me, Tim Russert was a reliable political junkie. I could always count on flipping MSNBC on and seeing Tim go overboard with the latest polls and statistics. Sure, he got caught up in some of the shenanigans of the press corps, but he always remained pretty level headed, a trait that isn't too common in the cable news business and a trait that made cable news watchable sometimes.

Here in Milwaukee, channel 46 will never be the same.

Fellows in the news

Obama Campaign Dispatching Thousands

Searching for the Issues

I've been having a hard time staying interested in politics lately. The media has continued the discussion about irrelevant issues like the candidates' wives. I realize they will continue to discuss trivial things like that for the next five months and I am not quite ready to get pissed off about every little thing in the news again.

I wish by watching cable news programs I could be informed about the issues and the differences between the two candidates, which, I suppose, is now part of my job description.

TPM has a good post up today about the tax plans of McCain and Obama. They also link to this clip from CNN, in which they do some actual reporting. So read and watch if you care to know about the differences between the two.

I think it is worth mentioning that one expert said, after analyzing both tax plans, that they both lead to a greater national debt. Doh.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Could it be the end?

My immediate future remains blurry, but I know this, tomorrow is my last day at the Bucks for a while. I say "for a while" because I still don't know if I would end up going back after the fellowship, but the plan is not to. Maybe if I leave unexcited, like the way I came to the Bucks, it will have some sort of finality to it. Unlike my last last day (no, that wasn't a typo), I feel like tomorrow actually could be my last day.

I know a little more about this weekend and my training, but I'm not going to write about it until I have gritty specifics. They expect fellows to work 30 hours a week, but they want us to work more. I am going to try to work as much as I can and start saying "yes" to anything. For example, I got a call today from someone with the campaign asking me if I could go to city hall tomorrow to be deputized so I could register voters. I said "yes" and went from there.

This weekend sounds like it is going to be fun. I'm going to meet a lot of people and I am stoked about it.

Before that starts, though, Kate and her fellow residents have a graduation party at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Friday. It sounds like a decent bash. Drinks. Brief ceremony. Dinner. Dancing. Late night. Fun night. Good night.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

White for White, Black for Black

When talking politics with a few people in the last week I have mentioned this map and the simple fact that for quite a few voters in Appalachian counties, the color of one’s skin is the determining factor for one’s vote. To put it bluntly, the map shows that many Americans are still racist.

However, the counterargument that I have been trying to fend off is that this is not in fact proof that Americans in the strip of Appalachian states are racist at all. If I take the liberty to call them racists, then I should call blacks that voted for Barack Obama, racists as well. In other words, people are telling me that whites voting for the white candidate are no different than blacks voting for the black candidate.

While I realize racism is not exclusive to whites in the backcountry of West Virginia and Kentucky, but can also be found in black communities in the South, I strongly disagree with the argument that blacks voting black are no different than whites voting white.

Although I could provide more reasons as to why I believe this, I keep coming back to this explanation.

I believe the black community is voting for a candidate and the white community—within the area shown in purple on the aforementioned map—is voting against a candidate. Do you catch my drift? A portion of the black vote is fueled by a sense of accomplishment and pride when they get to vote for the black candidate. The equivalent is a portion of the white vote being fueled by fear and superiority that continues to try to suppress non-whites to a position of inferiority. While in a way we all vote against something, voting against the color of someone else’s skin cannot be a legitimate reason.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Greener Apple

I finally upgraded my phone a couple of weeks ago and like many of you, I can't throw my phone in the trash. It takes eons to decompose and is built of some toxic materials. It will probably be shipped to Africa and burned in huge piles of electronic waste. Click here for an article on that. That's not cool, so, what do you do? Well, regardless of what kind of phone you have, Apple will recycle it for you. For free. Go to this website. Fill out the form. Print the postage. Tape or glue it to the envelope or box you are shipping your phone in. Drop it off at the post office. Done. What's that? You have a bin of old cell phones and iPods. No worries. You can ship a whole box of them at once.

Short Horseracing List

  1. Ladies, get over yourselves with those ridiculous hats.
  2. You know why Big Brown lost? Because everyone was already calling the race for him. Sometime the horseracing community won’t say the Belmont is a gimme for the horse that wins the first two legs of the Triple Crown and that is when you will have your next Triple Crown winner.
  3. That’s what you get for gambling your money.
  4. Big Brown’s trainer guaranteed a victory. Plus, he seemed like a cocky jerk.
  5. Here is to next year’s Triple Crown, where the exact same thing will most likely happen.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Today at Work

We dodged a tornado. A number of customers pointed out that there was a funnel cloud right above us. Indeed, there was, but nothing came of it. I was a bit disappointed. I had been hoping to dive under one of our very sturdy counters at the last minute as a huge tornado rolled over us. It wasn't so. Maybe next week?

More and more people at work are finding out by word of mouth that my unofficial last day is next Thursday. I haven't put in my two week notice or anything like that. I'm holding off on officially hanging up the apron. Anyway, I mention this because it is fun to gauge their reactions when they hear what I will be doing and then tell them I will be doing it for free. I understand their shock though. I realize I am in an extremely fortunate position to leave my job and go work for free for something I feel much more passionate about than coffee.

A customer came through the drive through and reminded me to "fill up" my gas tank because "oil is up 11 bucks a barrel today." I didn't really have a response, but he went on to tell me that "it is all China's fault" and that if I "see a China-men give him a hug" while he did a punching motion. He drove off chuckling. It was all very disturbing, I guess because he was very casual and open about his racism, which is always disturbing, but even more so when you encounter someone who is willing to say such absurd things out loud as opposed to silently harboring such things in a quiet, tucked-away part of their mind.

And that's it. Hillary endorses tomorrow at 12 ET. There is speculation that she will once again bring up the popular vote and how she is winning it. Let's hope not. Those calculations are misleading and if she brings up the numbers then, she will not earn back the dignity, that she stripped herself of on Tuesday night, for a very long time.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Kitchen Table

It is a table for four. It hosts every dinner at home, serves as a punch and hors devours table, is the place to open birthday presents and eat birthday cake, hosts pumpkin carving in October, perhaps a turkey in November, and cookie decorating in December.

As the table has aged it has picked up scars. Some of the scars are from pencils scribbling out notes, essays and math problems. Other marks are from crosswords and newsprint ink rubbing off on the wood surface. Toward the edges of the table there are deep scratches from Emmons and Monte, the family cats. They love being on the table and will stand their ground if you try to push them off, sinking their back claws into the wood and swatting and hissing their way to the lip of the table. Many of the scratches run deep and have darkened over the years as the canyons of unfinished wood darken with grime and oily residue.

My family used to bother with the cats every time they would jump up on the table. After a couple of years we all tired of it. The scratches give the table character. A family lived and worked on and around this table. We left our marks too. I suppose the cats have that same right too.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Right Thing

Hillary does it, but will her voters in November? I think they will. It is best not to press them about it now, but give them a couple of months.

Obama's Victory

The moment seemed normal, almost expected. I had a feeling that he would eventually get there, but while I was watching him last night I forgot about all those moments of fear during the last six months; moments I remember this morning, moments when a choice between Clinton and Giuliani was inevitable. They were moments when Clinton won California, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I remembered the countless times, including last night, when I saw what Obama was up against, the Clinton machine, which is entirely focused on their place in history, a place they feel they are owed. The Clintons, still stubbornly pursuing guidance from their voters on what to do next instead of having the decency to drop out, couldn’t humble themselves tonight and face the music. Instead Hillary encouraged her fans to give her advice, but really to give them money. Read: help the Clintons get out of debt for a losing bid at the nomination.

Obama’s speech was in stark contrast to those of his opponents. He has all the right to be frustrated with Hillary, but didn’t exude any of that tonight. He expressed gratitude in Hillary’s direction, thanking her for being a tough opponent and praising what she has accomplished as a woman. Nothing in his speech was divisive. He was welcoming of all Democrats and Americans and didn’t speak just to his supporters as Hillary often does. His aura of promise and change was on full display last night and it couldn’t have shown more brightly since many Americans had just cringed through McCain’s speech.

I don’t buy the theory that people are going to make their decision based on the quality of a candidate’s speech, but if they did, Obama defeated McCain in a landslide last night. McCain was rigid and looked out of place in front of his band of supporters. Even his supporters missed a couple of punch lines and didn’t know when to clap until McCain’s voice trailed off to a barely audible decibel and he smiled ear to ear, literally. It was a very awkward delivery for McCain and he pretty much flopped on what really was the first night of the 2008 presidential campaign.

History was made last night. I tend to overlook that and just see the man that I want to lead this country, but it really was a monumental step for Americans of all races, but especially African-Americans. I will never know the pride that many African-Americans must have felt last night, but I can see some of it on their faces and feel some of it in their words and that makes me smile.

I know it is lofty praise, but last night hope was delivered to American politics and for the rest of the world to have hope in America is once again a common theme.

Clinton's Speech

I might have something to add later on, but I thought this comment on it was very accurate.

Sullivan:
The speech tonight was a remarkable one for a candidate who has lost the nomination, though not remarkable for a Clinton. It was an assertion that she had won the nomination and a refusal to concede anything to her opponent. Classless, graceless, shameless, relentless. Pure Clinton.

More:
She will not go away. The Clintons will never go away. And they will do all they can to cripple any Democrat who tries to replace them. In the tent or out of it, it is always about them. And they are no longer rivals to Obama; they are threats.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Five Months Later

Yeah. That's right. It has been five months since the Iowa caucus and tonight looks like the night that Obama will reach the magic number. While that doesn't mean Clinton will concede, it does mean that Obama and his supporters can breath a sigh of relief because if Clinton presses on her arguments will reach a new level of absurdity because Obama has reached the magic number.

Also today, Clinton shopping around for the Veep position. Choose wisely, Obama.

Well, I don't know exactly

I've been getting a lot of inquiries about what I will be doing for the Obama campaign. Example: "What exactly will you be doing?"

My answer: "Well, I don't know exactly."

Training starts June 14th and runs for three days. I am sure after that I will have a decent sense of the work I will be doing. I will keep you posted. Hopefully, I will have the time to keep you posted. I have the feeling that I am about to be really busy and for the first time in a long time I don't mind that.

My last day for a while, or dare I say permanently, at the Bucks is June 12th. I still don't know if my schedule will allow for me to work 4-6 hours a week there. If it doesn't, then I am done. If it does, I might keep one shift a week to maintain the discount and to see some of my only friends in Milwaukee.

**It is the end of the primary season tonight. I want undecided delegates to endorse Obama after tonight's primaries. I want Clinton to finally see the writing on the wall and drop out and endorse Obama. But down in my gut I feel like in this situation, she will push onward with pride, ignorance and a sense of redemption. I will wait and see.

Letters of Support

This is an excerpt of a letter sent to Senator Hillary Clinton:

We, the Illinois Finance Committee, want to show our full commitment to and support for Senator Hillary Clinton, in the fight for her rightful appointment as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee at the convention this August.

When did cheating become a right? Unbelievable.

Hat tip: Sullivan.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Encounter

Yo, Peeps. This is a plug for a new service that Jarrod is a part of. It is called Encounter and you can visit the blog here for more information. This is very short notice if you want to make it to the first service which is tonight at 6pm. The service is at 702 17th Avenue in Longmont.

If you don't go tonight, try it out some other night. I don't know that much about it, but I know Jarrod played a role in its foundation, so it has got to be cool. If I was in Longmont, I'd check it out.