Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

This just came across my inbox! I’m very excited to see Obama and efforts to promote investment in urban infrastructure. Someone has also put up a website that lets you vote on specific urban policy issues. I’m not sure whether this site is officially connected to Obama’s administration, but it’s worth checking out. Maybe if there is enough internet traffic, it will pick up on Obama’s radar screen!

Obama to Create White House Office of Urban Policy

November 12, 2008 8:59 AM

On National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” yesterday, longtime Obama family friend and Obama-Biden transition team co-chair Valerie Jarrett said that the president-elect would, as pledged during the campaign, create an Office of Urban Policy.

Jarrett said the office would “have a comprehensive approach to our urban development,” who will be an “advocate for cities” within the White House, taking “all the variety of different federal programs and help target them in a logical and systematic way.

“For those of us who have worked in city governments across the country, we recognize how invaluable that person will be,” she said.

Obama discussed this idea in June in a speech before the U.S. Conferen.

“Yes, we need to fight poverty,” he said. “Yes, we need to fight crime. Yes, we need to strengthen our cities. But we also need to stop seeing our cities as the problem and start seeing them as the solution. Because strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America. That is the new metropolitan reality and we need a new strategy that reflects it -– a strategy that’s about South Florida as much as Miami; that’s about Mesa and Scottsdale as much as Phoenix; that’s about Stamford and Northern New Jersey as much as New York City. As president, I’ll work with you to develop this kind of strategy and I’ll appoint the first White House Director of Urban Policy to help make it a reality.”

– jpt

UPDATE: ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer points out that Obama lost small towns and rural areas by 8 points, won suburbs by a scant 2 points, and won cities (population 50,000+) by 28 points, 63-35 percent. (That includes a 59-39 percent margin in cities with a population of 50,000-500,000, and an even wider 70-28 percent margin in cities with more than 500,000 residents.)

<!–

Huma Khan

–>

It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that’s motivated me enough to start a new blog post.  Attending design school has been one of the most consuming and exhausting endeavors I’ve undertaken. But today I read an explosive speech by Jeff Chang, and it has helped me re-orient myself back to the first reason I decided to become a landscape architect/urban planner.

I’m starting to piece together and articulate how the policies that the past 40 years, which Jeff summarizes in his speech, also encompass the physical and spatial disenfranchisement of communities of color. When Jeff describes hip-hop as a response to the “story of the rise of the politics of abandonment and the politics of containment”, it is not just that these policies have socially disenfranchised communities, but that there is a a physical displacement and exclusion of communities that has resulted.  The urban renewal policies of the 1950s, combined with the drug economy, destroyed our Paradise Valleys and Hill Districts around the country, p

In school, this sense of urgency is mostly absent among students.  Too bad most of us are caught up perfecting our renderings and drawings, clicking away in front of computer screens (and here I sit blogging).  We need more conscious, justice-oriented designers to join the fight to restore our communities and take up the questions that Jeff posed at the end of his speech.

Continue Reading »

On a positive tip, I’ve copied a letter sent from the Obama Chinatown HQ below:

Dear Friends,
We in PA just can’t say enough about how much your support has meant to us over the past two months:
Thanks to you, United People for Obama went from meeting weekly in a restaurant basement to meeting in our own Philly Chinatown office with phone and internet. With your support, our Philly Chinatown office transformed from a simple meeting space to a vibrant Obama Philly Chinatown Headquarters.
To everyone’s surprise, with every Chinatown bus, the volunteers kept coming. Almost overnight, our Obama Philly Chinatown Office became well-known throughout the City as a vibrant, well-organized volunteer hub. On Saturday, our volunteers called 2,747 Democrats in PA and knocked on over 10,000 doors on Saturday and Sunday alone!
Thanks to you, we used to have to tell other Philadelphians where Philly Chinatown was, but now Philly Chinatown has been visited by Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, and German worldwide media. People are not just fascinated by an Obama for America office in Chinatown: They are fascinated by the incredible transformation of an office space into a movement, of volunteers into a family.
In short, we’re not closing up shop in Philly Chinatown because, quite frankly, the support of this wonderful community has put us in position to be a force for North Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, and beyond. We’re Fired Up! Ready to Go!
Thank you for giving from your heart and for being our inspiration. Thank you to Mr. Lee Deng, our office donor, and the staff-Van Tamom, Director of AAPI Outreach, Field Organizer Peter Harrell, and full-time volunteer Helen Liu for everything. Thank you to Senator Barack Obama, Maya Soetoro Ng and Konrad Ng for their support of our Philly Chinatown Office!
Now let’s get to work!!!
Sincerely,
Anna, Matt, Nina, and many, many others

Obama didn’t win the primaries in Pennsylvania. But with Clinton winning PA by a decent margin, we remain gridlocked. Something’s gotta give. I sense that some folks are losing steam, and I’m hearing more from people that they want this process to be over. I, too, confess that thoughts of Obama not winning the ticket occur more frequently. Corporate media doesn’t help, and their sound bites reduce the heart-and-soul of Obama’s message into sterile political stunts. Their poor analyses spin Obama voters into a composite of young, affluent, educated, and African-American. (Turn off CNN!)

Still, I’ve dug my own deep Obama trench and am unwilling to leave at this moment. I look over at Hillary’s camp, and I see a reinforcement of the power structure. Anything’s better than Bush, but I want a great leap forward, I want to us “push our humanity” by voting in an Obama presidency. Maybe people aren’t ready for that tough road..but if not now, then when?

Continue Reading »

The Clinton campaign swooped onto Penn’s campus late this afternoon.  Loud cheers and a whole bunch of hoopla took place until Hillary appeared around 8pm.  Obama supporters came out with signs and people to counter the rally, but the best show came from a neighboring fraternity house that blasted “Obama! Obama!” from their loudspeakers.

This last-minute Clinton rally was very telling about her campaign, and its lack of support among college-aged voters.  I’ve been hard pressed to come across any Clinton organizer or volunteer up until this evening’s rally.  Whereas the Obama camp had been present since February, tabling every day, registering voters, signing up volunteers, conducting dorm walks, holding visibility events.  Clinton’s campaign hardly tried, for whatever reason, and swooped in on campus the day before our primaries.   Plainly speaking, you can’t really top the 35,000+ folks who attended Obama’s rally last Friday.

This morning I was late to class because I couldn’t peel my eyes and ears away from watching a clip of Obama’s speech in Philadelphia.

Thoughtful, evocative, comprehensive, unapologetic and visionary.

Anyone who is frustrated by the filtering and spinning conducted by corporate media only needs to listen to Obama in his own words to understand and feel why this man is unequivocally qualified to be the next president of the United States.  Who else has the ability, the way Obama does, to move each one of us to work towards the change we believe in?   He calls on our communities to embrace “the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past.” In an eloquently direct way, Obama invokes messages of Gandhi (be the change we wish to seek), MLK (the fierce urgency of now), and James Boggs (America, love it enough to change it).

Click here for the full text and/or the entire clip.

Politician – 1. a person who is active in party politics; 2. a seeker or holder of public office who is more concerned about winning favor or retaining power than about maintaining principles; 3. a person who holds a political office; 4. a person skilled in political government or administration; 5. an expert in politics or government; 6. a person who seeks to gain power or advance within an organization in ways that are generally disapproved.

Statesman – 1. a person who is experienced in the art of government or versed in the administration of government affairs; 2. a person who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues.

kalpenn.jpg

Obama’s presidential campaign has arrived in Philadelphia, and I’m amped about the elections coming right to my backyard! Last week I took another step to seal my residency in PA by registering to vote. Pennsylvania’s going to be an important piece in the election, particularly since our governor has publicly endorsed Clinton.

Tonight, I went to check out a voter registration kick-off event, hosted by Philly Students for Obama. Featured speaker was Kal Penn, who’s been volunteering for Obama’s campaign since Iowa.

I’ve been a fan of Kal Penn, through Harold and Kumar, and more recently The Namesake. It’s pretty incredible that this actor, self-proclaimed cynic, and registered independent has put himself out there for a presidential campaign.

The crowd, mostly composed of college students, was quite diverse, something I think has become uniquely characteristic of Obama rallys and events. Much like what I saw in South Carolina, Obama truly draws people from a wide range of backgrounds. And the man wasn’t even in town tonight!

Throwing in a bit of humor through his speech, Penn talked about how he got involved with Obama after hearing his DNC speech in 2004. Penn outlined the three main reasons drawing him to Obama — college grants ($4,000) for anyone who wants to attend college, being against the Iraq war from the beginning, and universal healthcare.

Penn also shared a moving story about the head of the Iowa Independent Farmers Union who told Obama volunteers that this was the first time he met a statesman. I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone use the term statesman to describe someone. I was drawn to Obama because of his organizing background, but I believe that statesman captures an additional element to his integrity as an elected official.

For folks in Philadelphia, click here for Obama’s Pennsylvania Campaign.

A couple weeks ago, I received an email announcing a callout for photos of women who support Obama. My partner and I have a half-second cameo. 🙂 Click here for the final compilation.

Go Obama!

This week, Grace Lee Boggs featured some of my recent entries about presidential candidate Barack Obama in her Living for Change column of the Michigan Citizen.  Having been a movement activist for over 50 years, GLB has a keen sense of the pulse of our nation, and I have always appreciated her dialectical analyses.  Together the Boggs Center and members of Beloved Communities Network have been discussing the significance of Obama, the movement that surrounds his candidacy, and the potential for Obama’s campaign to spark actual change.

Below is the full text from Living for Change: Continue Reading »

In the wake of Super Tuesday’s results of how Asian Americans voted, particularly in California, there’s been a flurry of activity among APIA bloggers to figure out what happened. In particular, Jeff Chang’s article does a great job of breaking down Clinton’s political machine.

To our community and allies, let’s not give up because for all the discussion about how Clinton has a more diverse campaign staff, we have to remember that when Obama first came onto the scene as a presidential candidate, many (including myself) didn’t think his campaign would become what it is now. I’m not surprised that many organizers of color signed up early in Clinton’s campaign because it was more established.

Name recognition played a huge role in what had happened. But there is a clear difference between Obama and Clinton. The New York Magazine recently described Obama’s campaign as a “white boy campaign“. Despite the usual spin on race and ethnicity from mainstream media, I find that this article’s analysis is incredibly off. Obama’s campaign is a break from the old way of politics. His campaign is about movement building, not name recognition. What electrifies me about Obama is that he is talking about transforming our politics and ourselves, not giving out quick, token favors to our leaders and figureheads. Professor Scott Kurashige articulates this important distinction in his recent post (long but very worthwhile to read in its entirety). Here’s an excerpt:

The Obama campaign is about transcending the “minority politics” mentality that carves us all up into “interest groups” and pushes the hot buttons that reinforce our sense of victimization and vilify the other side. Mainstream observers focus on Obama’s invocation of “hope” as a rhetorical device, which appeals to the common decency in all of us to both transcend partisanship and support an agenda driven by the discourse of change. No doubt this is part of the appeal he is making, especially as he seeks to fashion himself as someone who can unite voters in both “blue” and “red” states and also “change the way Washington does business.”

But I sense there is something much deeper to both Obama as an individual and his campaign, which has the potential to develop into a movement. Obama has a deep respect for what Charles Payne (in I’ve Got the Light of Freedom) has called the “organizing tradition” that sustained the Black freedom struggle in the South. He recognizes the debt we owe the likes of Martin Luther King, Ella Baker, and Rosa Parks, but more importantly the lessons we must learn from their struggles. If you are just a “minority leader,” then you’re not really a leader at all. If you are only fighting for your “fair share” of the riches controlled by those in power, you’ll never address the root causes of oppression. Above all is the sense that none of us can be free in America until we change the whole country. Obama speaks in poetry and he is writing a song of redemption.

Yet, as Obama admits, his work is not done. To have built an impressive biracial coalition in the North and South is impressive. So is having won both the Black and white vote in California, which really should put to rest the media’s endless drivel about that divide. Yet, we now know that a biracial victory doesn’t cut it anymore, for all that historic act has done is create new challenges. I wonder how Obama’s campaign is processing their drubbing among Latinos and Asians in California. Was it just a lack of time? Is it an idiosyncratic result of the Clintons unique appeal? Was it a failure of execution? Or do they need a better strategy rooted in a deeper understanding of Latino and Asian communities and new people to be a part of the decision making process? My sense is that it is mostly the latter. In the future, I’ll try to say more about what is shaping interethnic attitudes and relations today, especially to counter the mainstream media’s new sophomoric fixation on “Black/Latino tensions.” What should stand out, however, is that we need to know a lot more about interethnic relations and recognize they are not a sideshow.

Remember, it was the media that asked if Obama can “transcend race” — Obama never spoke these words himself because his message is not about colorblindness at all.

I’m confident the numbers will change and that more Asian Americans will change support for Obama’s campaign. In some weays, our “loss” in California is very positive because it is continuing the contest between Obama and Clinton, giving us an important moment to talk to our community, peers, friends and family members. We can really highlight what sets Obama apart from Clinton. I don’t think we are last minute at all — Transformation is very different from identity and coalition politics, which is what Clinton is solely relying upon. We’ve seen the upsurge in the last two weeks, where folks went to the poll en masse to change their vote for Obama. Let’s keep building and reaching our communities.