Obama: The Wait and See Candidate

 I’ll be watching for it, though, with great hope.

MissLaura at DailyKos sums up my feelings on Obama perfectly.  He seems to be in a constant state of protentional, with a full realization of his promise just around the corner.  He already takes flak for for not being concrete, and those kind of critiques can only grow in number and resonance as time flows on.  Laura’s own analysis nails two particular points of interest.

First, his desire to embrace the struggle for equality, and his desire to move beyond struggle (Mike via MissLaura):

So, much as Elwood has suggested on this site, part of Obama’s message is Camelot awaits: after a period of vicious partisan fighting, he is ready to lead us to that peace beyond.

This is an acceptable message in itself, and it’s similar to what centrists like Bayh are preaching.

But is it the final destination of Obama’s thought? Within 30 seconds of stating we have to come together as a nation, he begins to give examples of Americans bonding together in “hope” and overcoming obstacles. And a good number of them are very us v. them: The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, The Women’s Suffrage movement, the Civil Rights movement.

There’s a very clear rift here which Obama will have to resolve.

Second, the kind of campaign he is running (MissLaura, emphasis mine):

My second question about Obama comes when he says that “change never comes from the top down. Change comes from the bottom up.”  Drawing the kinds of crowds he is – over 5,000 at Dartmouth College (located in Hanover, NH, population around 11,000) – is impressive, and word from around New Hampshire at least is that Obama has much larger numbers of active volunteers than is usual for a campaign this early.  The potential is there for a really participatory, movement-oriented campaign.  But it is not yet entirely clear how Obama is running a new kind of campaign, organizationally speaking, how he’s incorporating bottom-up voices in his message and his leadership.  I’ll be watching for it, though, with great hope.  Such a campaign strategy embraced by a top-tier candidate has the potential to transform politics in a much-needed way.

He has promised what every Democracy afficionado truly hungers for:  greater participation.  “Bottom-Up” Politics is an incredibly seductive thought, left or right wing.  Arguably, aside from issues of survival political determination is the issue in a republic.  Obama is tapping into the accompanying desire very effectively.  The question is will he follow through?

I’ll wait and see.


Immigration: Icky Thump

The White StripesIcky Thump:

White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don’t you kick yourself out?
You’re an immigrant too.

Immigration Reform in this country is a mess.  But there is a world of difference between civilized discourse and paranoid nativist ranting:

What, in turn, raises questions of racism is how readily the discussion turns to how Latinos are polluting or diluting white culture, how they’re bringing crime and disease, turning America into “a third world cesspool,” how they’re “invading” the country. In other words, it isn’t talking about immigration that makes people hear racism; it’s talking racist shit that does.

The frame shifts from the legal status, safety, and human rights to one of fear mongering and naked appeals to racist nationalistic pride.  It becomes mainstream to adopt ever more hateful positions in regards to the immigrants, and the anxiety level is cranked way the hell up.  Suddenly an immigration problem becomes an invasion.

This makes life difficult for legal immigrants who look like the illegal immigrants who are scapegoated by the media (Laura Fern via Nezua):

Will my husband, who speaks English with an obvious accent, be frowned upon for the rest of his life? Will people always wonder about him, about us?

The reality of immigration is markedly beyond the simple “they steal our jobs and dilute our [white] culture”:

In reality, immigration exerts many positive and important impacts on a country’s economic, cultural and social structure. It will be hard to find any country in the world where immigrants never contribute to the development of a country. However, here in the Good Ole U.S. of A, immigration is being called into question by immigration critics who are compiled to exaggerate how the large influx in immigration has contributed to the increase in unemployment and other serious social problems. Some critics even go so far to argue that this country is losing it’s cultural heritage.

It is sober commentary like this we need more of, and it is social critique like that offered up by the White Stripes we benefit greatly from.  Our cultural heritage is alive and well, and it can be seen most clearly in the pro-immigrant rallies and in the voices of reason and dissent that strive to protect the rights of all.

That is the frame to discuss immigration reform in.  The reasoned discourse of law and human rights.

Mickey & Amelia: Spinning Gay Rights as Trivial

I was listening to Mickey and Amelia on 98 Rock this morning.  They were discussing the eHarmony lawsuit:

A lawsuit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay.

The M & A show laughed the whole matter off, comparing the suit to walking into a dog store and demanding a cat.  The discrimination, they argued, was something companies should be allowed to do (via Oliver Willis):

Moderator: Governor Thompson, same theme. If a private employer finds homosexuality immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?Thompson: I think that is left up to the individual business. I really sincerely believe that that is an issue that business people have got to make their own determination as to whether or not they should be.

Moderator: OK. So the answer’s yes.

Thompson: Yes.

How is that even logical let alone legal? Tommy Thompson just seems to have endorsed discrimination. As far as I know firing someone simply for their sexual orientation is not legal – and certainly not moral. I’d like to see the media ask the rest of the field this question – and particularly if the Republicans agree with fellow GOPer Tommy Thompson.

I’d throw the same question back to Mickey and Amelia.  Why should companies be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation?

The company said the allegations of discrimination against gays were false and reckless.

“The research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages,” it said in a statement.

This isn’t like walking into a dog store and asking for a cat.  Its like walking into a supermarket and being told to leave because “We’ve only done research on how to feed white people.”.

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When Companies Try to Own You

I was checking out this post from Web Worker Daily, and caught the link to Hasan Luongo’s tale of IP woe.  Apparently he started working on a startup without quitting his day job.  He was fired, and not content with severing his employment, his former company sued him without even turning around.  Pretty vindictive.  Among his lessons learned, he notes:

4) Don’t underestimate the potential vindictiveness of your employer. While managers and executives may strive to appear supportive and understanding, their primary responsibility is to protect and defend their company. Once your relationship with the company is severed, all good will is out the window. Prepare for this ahead of time.

5) Don’t be bullied. Companies don’t want long legal fights, and good CEOs are experts at talking tough. They will set arbitrary deadlines in your negotiations and warn you against engaging in a legal fight, but don’t loose your cool. Most importantly, don’t let them scare you. This is happening because you have developed something they want.

This is happening because of greed.  Simply put, there is a legal chance the company in question (who appears to be E-Myth Worldwide) can make money off of work done on his own time, and so they pursue it.  This also puts the fear of corporate into their current employees.  It all cycles back to the combination of profit and control that drive corporate interests.

Ethically this is thievery.

We can help:

I’ve been blogging about the IP contest, and contacting third-party blogs to generate some buzz. While I have not yet named the company and am seeking to resolve the matter as quickly and quietly as possible, [my lawyers tell me] it is important to leverage all available resources in my defense.

We can contact his former employer (politely but firmly), and branch out to their clients and business associates.  We can let them know this behaviour is not viewed well by the community at large.  We are employees, not serfs.

We can also check out his new startup, and help create some buzz.