Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Memory of Chris Lanier

1962-2012
I first met Chris in the Spring of 2008. I was still in college then, and he came to a Campus Democrats meeting with Hannah Beth Jackson to recruit interns for her Fall State Senate campaign. I’ll confess that he was completely overshadowed that night by Hannah Beth, who can fire up a crowd like almost no one I’ve ever met. Still, after the meeting I gave him my number and told him that I was ready to start then if they had anything for me to do. I was na├»ve then, I actually thought there was the possibility the campaign might not have anything for an unpaid intern to do yet. Chris quickly disabused me of that notion.

He told me that they hadn’t opened an office in Santa Barbara yet, but if I was willing to drive down to the Ventura office I could help make volunteer calls. For those not familiar with California’s Central Coast, Ventura is about a 45 minute drive from the UCSB campus. But I was inspired by Hannah Beth and saw this as my opportunity to make the jump from being a student activist to actually becoming a real campaign organizer, so I did it. Five days a week after class I’d drive down to the Ventura office, make 4 or 5 hours of volunteer calls with another intern and staffer, and then drive home. On the good nights, Chris would order us this delicious pizza with cashews on it from some local joint I never got the name of. On the bad nights, homeless people would wander in demanding to know where they were. A month in Chris arranged for me to get a gas stipend so that I wasn’t out of pocket on the whole thing and told me if I kept working hard and proved myself I’d be given more responsibility and might even get hired.

Shortly after that I got to start staffing the candidate at events and experienced the unique terror that is driving with Hannah Beth. A month later when the Santa Barbara office opened, I was hired as a phonebanker, then as a field organizer, and ultimately overseeing the internship program I was initially recruited for. Chris was my first campaign manager, and without him taking a chance on me and giving me that chance, I don’t know that I’d actually be an organizer today.

But I didn’t really get the chance to become friends with Chris until the following year. We both ended up working for the Party running a coordinated campaign for the Mayor and City Council. I have no idea how many hours we spent together in the cramped little cubicle we called Dem Headquarters. In quieter moments he told me stories about campaigns he worked on in New York and I got to meet his little nephews who he loved more than anything (at first it confused me why his email handle was “Henry’s uncle” but seeing him with them it made perfect sense). The rest of the time was spent doing the hard work of the campaign, he taught me the finer points of the art of cutting turf, gave me my first opportunity to write a mail piece, and narrowly averted a fistfight with a jackass campaign manager who was verbally abusing our volunteers.

Since then we worked together closely on a number of projects and Chris always threw work my way when he could. More importantly to me, he made the effort to make sure we got together at least once a month for a meal or coffee just to catch up and shoot the breeze about politics. I don’t think I realized how much those gab sessions meant to me until they were gone. After more than a year of struggle, Chris finally succumbed to cancer yesterday. He taught me so much, from the practical (“get to the ask as quickly as possible”) to the more philosophical (“there’s no one you can’t beat if you can out organize them”), but I think the most important thing he taught me is this:
Politicians will let you down and the petty personal bullshit will drive you crazy, and absolutely none of that matters compared to the importance of the work we do. Politics affects real people’s lives and you have to look beyond individual cycles, candidates, and personal vendettas at the broader agenda you are trying to enact.
In victory and defeat Chris always provided that long angle view. I can’t express how much I miss you already, but the work goes on my friend.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hostess Snack Break: Iron Man in "The Charge of the Rhinos!"

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:


Now, I'm not a scientist.  But I'm pretty sure fission is the process that causes nuclear explosions.  So basically the soldiers are defending Fort Knox by shooting mini-nukes at charging robo-rhinos....there were no survivors.

Obama Now Giving Out Dating Advice

I can't decide if this is awesome, sweet, or disturbing.  Maybe all three?  Your opinion and/or first date ideas in the comments:

Romney Spokesman is a Fan of "Who's on First"

Let's play a game.  Imagine you're Rick Gorka, the Romney campaign spokesman.  The Supreme Court has just ruled that most of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, is unconstitutional.  You're in a tricky spot.  On the one hand, if you don't improve your support among Latinos who were strongly against the law, you will lose this election.  On the other hand, if you piss off your Tea Party base who are strongly in favor of the law, you will lose this election.  You know you're going to be asked about the Supreme Court's ruling, so what are you going to say?  Blame Obama of course.  But what do you do when the reporter just won't quit (Politico's Ginger Gibson is my new hero):
GORKA: "The governor supports the states' rights to craft immigration laws when the federal government has failed to do so. This president promised as a candidate to address immigration in his first year and hasn’t, and waited actually ‘til four and a half months before the election to put in place a stopgap measure." 
QUESTION: So does he think it's wrongly decided? 
GORKA: "The governor supports the states' rights to do this. It's a 10th amendment issue." 
QUESTION: So he thinks it's constitutional? 
GORKA: "The governor believes the states have the rights to craft their own immigration laws, especially when the federal government has failed to do so." 
QUESTION: And what does he think about parts invalidated? 
GORKA: "What Arizona has done and other states have done is a direct result of the failure of this president to address illegal immigration. It's within their rights to craft those laws and this debate, and the Supreme Court ruling is a direct response of the president failing to address this issue." 
QUESTION: Does (Romney) support the law as it was drafted in Arizona? 
GORKA: "The governor supports the right of states, that's all we're going to say on this issue." 
QUESTION: Does he have a position on the law, or no position? 
GORKA: "The governor has his own immigration policy that he laid out in Orlando and in the primary, which he would implement as president which would address this issue. Whereas Obama has had four years in the office and has yet to address it in a meaningful way." 
QUESTION: But does the Governor have a position on the Arizona law besides supporting the right of states? 
GORKA: "This debate is sprung from the president failing to address this issue, so each state is left and has the power to draft and enact their own immigration policy." 
QUESTION: But the Arizona law does very specific things, does the governor support those things that the Arizona law does? 
GORKA: "We've addressed this." 
QUESTION: What is his position on the actual law in Arizona? 
GORKA: "Again, each state has the right within the Constitution to craft their own immigration laws since the federal government has failed." 
QUESTION: But does he think about the law in Arizona? You're just talking about the states right to have a law but you're not giving any position on the actual law. 
GORKA: "Ultimately this debate comes back down to the federal government and the president failing to address this. If the president followed through on his campaign promise to address illegal immigration in the first year, this debate wouldn¹t be necessary." 
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that he has no opinion on the Arizona law? 
GORKA: "Look, again, I¹ll say it again and again and again for you. The governor understands that states have their own right to craft policies to secure their own borders and to address illegal immigration." 
QUESTION: You're not answering – what does he think about the policy in Arizona? Is it fair to say he has no opinion? You're refusing to give us an answer. 
GORKA: "Arizona, like many other states in this nation, take it upon themselves to craft policies for their own specific states. Governor has said repeatedly that states are a laboratory of democracy, what one state crafts may not work in others but ultimately this, again, goes back to the president failing to deliver on his campaign promises. As candidate Obama, he said he would address immigration in the first year and hasn’t and instead put in a stopgap measure four and a half months before the election." 
QUESTION: The statement that Mitt Romney released this morning doesn't say one way or another whether he agrees with the Supreme Court decision. Does he have a reaction as to whether he agrees with this decision? 
GORKA: "Again, Jim. The states have the right to craft their immigration policy when the federal government has failed to do so." 
QUESTION: But the Supreme Court just said three out of four of those, the states didn’t have the right to do that, so how does that square with the governor’s statement? 
GORKA: "States have the right to craft their own immigration policies….and those [inaudible] went through the process." 
QUESTION: But we don't have a statement one way or the other whether he agrees with this decision today by the Supreme Court-the statement itself doesn't say. 
GORKA: "This country would be better served if the president wasn’t suing states but the president was actually fulfilling his campaign promises to enact an immigration policy." 
QUESTION: So if your statement stands as you expressed it then, you want to remain silent as to whether or not Romney accepts today’s decision. 
GORKA: "Arizona has the ability under the 10th amendment to address an issue that the federal government—" 
QUESTION: But that wasn’t part of – the judges were not ruling whether or not the 10th amendment exists today. They were ruling on an Arizona statute. And you’re saying that his support for the 10th Amendment is effectively silent on today’s discussion, are you not? 
GORKA: "The bottom line, Carl, is that if the president followed through on his campaign promise and addressed this issue, we’d be better off. The governor’s put forward his own proposal." 
QUESTION: But it’s safe to say he sides with the state of Arizona in this case before the court today. 
GORKA: "I think states have a tough job. The federal government has failed to secure the borders and to enact policy on this issue, and the states are left to protect their own borders and to work within their own system and to come up with a policy that works for them." 
QUESTION: Can states do anything, even if it defies the Constitution? 
GORKA: "That’s not what I was saying." 
QUESTION: But tell me where the distinction is. 
GORKA: "The bottom line, the fundamental problem of this debate is that the president has failed to enact a policy, has failed to address this, has failed to live up to his campaign promise again and again and again. This stems from states having to deal with an issue like illegal immigration, and come up with a policy that actually works for them." 
QUESTION: Can you -- (overtalk) 
GORKA: "We have to get going. I'm more than happy to talk about-- I'm with you guys all afternoon at the hotel. We can--" 
QUESTION: Why isn't the governor up here talking about this. He's not addressed any of this. 
GORKA: "The governor has issued a statement and if there is ah" (Overtalk: The statement doesn't explain...) GORKA: "It’s still a long day. And there's still an opportunity."
 And that ladies and gentlemen is what real journalism looks like.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why I Love Comics: Praying with the Future Foundation

If you've spent more than a day reading the Entertained Organizer, you know I love comic books. This is one of the many reasons why:

Recently, super-genius Reed Richards, founder of the Fantastic Four, decided it was time to start training the next generation of super-geniuses to solve the worlds problems.  Towards that end, he created the Future Foundation, a school for super-geniuses whose current students include his daughter, some fish people, a few super-evolved mole-people, the young clone of one of the Fantastic Four's supervillains, and a robot dragon.  And here in FF #1, we see everyone sitting down for dinner:


And that's: Why I Love Comics!

(PS. FF is part of writer Jonathan Hickman's run on the Fantastic Four, which is arguable the best run in the comic's history.  Everyone should go track it down and read it.)

Frontline of the Class War: Doubling Down, Obstructionism, and Semantics

The Republicans are right, there is a class war going on in this country. And they're the ones waging it against the middle and working class:
Welcome to the Working Week!

I Miss Michael Steele

Sure as the Chairman of the RNC he was incompetent, crazy, and actively harmful to the Republican Party but....wait, actually that's pretty much what I liked about him.  So here's Steele desperately trying to avoid saying that Romney and Bush have the same economic policy (spoiler: he fails).  The real fun starts at about the 3:30 mark:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Love Lessons with Lois Lane: The Phantom Lois Lane!

In much of the civilized world, Saturday night is date night. And everything I know about dating I learned from Lois Lane. So before heading out for the night, let's see what advice she has for us this week:


Murdering your romantic rivals is never ok and probably won't work out the way you think it will.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Gorilla Reporter!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?


Friends DON'T let friends be the victim of "a weird experiment."

Friday Freakshow Roundup: Young Romney, Conservatives on Cocaine, and the Religious Right

In the political news system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Republicans who do insane things, and this blogger who mocks them. These are their stories:
  • Speaking of young Republicans, the average age of the GOP's "Young Guns" (up and coming new Republicans running for Congress) is 52 years old.  So, you know, that sounds like a Party with a future.
And on that note, have a great weekend!

Weekly Weekend Caption Contest: Winner!

And this week's winner is:

Anonymous!

Mrs. Doubtfire: The Horror Movie

This reminds me, at what point did Robin Williams stop being the hilarious wacky guy and start being innately disturbing?  I feel like it was at some point after Patch Adams, but I'm not really sure:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Published as a Public Service Announcement: The Right to Be Different!


The 1950's, where the "Right to Be Different" doesn't include being gay, non-christian, or non-white, but does include the right to collect rocks.  No one should miss you.

Helping Richard Mourdock Be Internally Consistent

Some of you might remember Richard Mourdock as the conservative psycho who beat Senator Dick Lugar  in the Indiana Republican Primary a month ago.  And I guess in an effort to prove me right for calling him a 'conservative psycho' Mourdock told reporters on Monday that businesses should be allowed to refuse to cover cancer treatments in their employees health insurance coverage "if they want to keep their health care costs down."  Even in Indiana this has gone over about as well as you'd expect it would, and so his campaign has tried to walk it back by explaining that while Mourdock doesn't personally want businesses to deny their employees cancer treatments, he thinks they should be legally allowed to.  Now I'm going to put aside for a moment the morality of letting businesses to decide who gets to live and who gets to die based on how it effects their bottom line, because I want to suggest to him that their might be a couple other instances in which his governing philosophy might be applicable.  For example:

  • He might not personally want gay people to get married, but they should be legally allowed to.
  • He might not personally want women to get abortions, but they should be legally allowed to.
That said, his position on healthcare is in fact monstrous.  I just wanted to point out that besides being a heartless monster, Richard Mourdock is also a hypocrite (well and a sexist bigot).

Monday, June 18, 2012

President Obama Addresses Bloggers

A week late, but here's President Obama addressing Netroots Nation (hint: we're awesome):

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Short: In the Rough

Sundays should be a day to rest and relax. And what better way to do that than to take a few minutes to watch an animated short:


In which a rock is an all purpose tool:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Love Lessons with Lois Lane: Lois Lane's Revenge on Superman!

In much of the civilized world, Saturday night is date night. And everything I know about dating I learned from Lois Lane. So before heading out for the night, let's see what advice she has for us this week:



You probably shouldn't indulge your partner when they're acting childish.

Weekly Weekend Caption Contest

It's the weekend and you know what that means: The Entertained Organizer's Weekly Weekend Caption Contest! The rules are simple: You have until midnight Sunday to submit your caption to the photo either in the comments here or on Facebook. Then on Monday we'll vote to see who is this week's Entertained Organizer Caption King or Queen:



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Want to Believe....

...that if we just keep pointing out how terrible the Republicans' record on the economy is that eventually it will slowly start to sink in that they are not in fact "the Party of fiscal responsibility":


Then again, they've been successfully attacking "Tax and Spend" Democrats for decades.  "Tax and Spend", of course, being another way of saying ACTUALLY PAYING FOR THINGS WE USE.

Hostess Snack Break: The Joker as "The Cornered Clown"

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:


For reference, in his first appearance in 1940, the Joker poisoned a bunch of people.  In probably the best Joker story ever told, 1978's "The Laughing Fish", the Joker poisoned a bunch of people (and fish).  In the Joker's canonical first appearance (1986's Batman: Year One), he attempted to poison Gotham City's reservoir.

Now we could focus on how stupid the cops would have to be to eat something the Joker gave them, but I prefer the subtler message to kids that Hostess Fruit Pies are poisoning them.

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: LGBT Rights, Warren, and Your Moment of Krug

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week:
  • A California Judge ruled last week that DOMA was unconstitutional.  Which frankly seems like the most obvious decision ever for anyone with the vaguest familiarity with the Contracts Clause, but hey, I'll take it.
  • The first gay marriage on a military base happened at Fort Polk in Louisiana.  Since gay marriage is still illegal in Louisiana, the military is describing it as "same-gender private religious ceremony," personally I call it a good start.  And of course, congratulations to the happy couple!
  • Finally, here's Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman explaining why Republican austerity is quite possibly the stupidest and most dangerous response to an economic depression imaginable:
We are in a depression. We are actually in a classic depression. A depression is when nobody wants to spend. Everybody wants to pay down their debt at the same time. Everybody is trying to pull back, either because they got too far into debt, or because if they’re a corporation, they can’t sell because consumers are pulling back. The thing about an economy is that it fits together. My spending is your income. Your spending is my income, so if we all pull back at the same time, we’re in a depression. The way to get out of it is for somebody to spend so that people can pay down their debt, so that we don’t have a depression. So that we have a chance to work out of whatever excesses we had in the past, and that somebody has to be the government. 
We ended the Great Depression with a great program of government spending for an unfortunate reason. It was known as World War II…but when the war broke out in Europe, and we began our buildup that Great Depression that had been going on for ten years. People thought it would go on forever. Learned people stroked their chins and said there are no quick answers. In two years, employment rose 20%. That’s the equivalent of 26 million jobs today, the depression was over. We had full employment, and it never came back, or it didn’t come back until 2008, because people managed to pay down those debts, and we had a durable recovery.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wreck It Ralph Trailer

Bonus Points to anyone who can name all of the Video Game Villains in the Support Group:

Frontline of the Class War: Olympic Juicing, Class Sizes, and the Bluths

The Republicans are right, there is a class war going on in this country. And they're the ones waging it against the middle and working class:
  • While organizing the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Mitt Romney was also investing in a company producing banned performance enhancing drugs.  Now I'm sure Nutraceutical International makes many other fine products, but if during the leadup to the Olympics Romney thought it was a good idea to invest in a company that ran completely counter to the spirit of the games, don't you think maybe we should find out what else he's been investing in before letting him become President?
  • Meanwhile if you apply the standard that Romney is insisting be used to evaluate his time as Governor of Massachusetts to President Obama, it turns out he's created a whopping 3.7 million new jobs.  But obviously using the same standard for both of them is not fair for some reason.  Probably because it makes Romney look bad.
  • Just in case you missed it somehow, here's the video of Romney saying that it's time to "cut back" on teachers, firefighters, and police officers.  While I don't really know anyone who thinks we would be better off with fewer professional life savers, attacking teachers sadly isn't new for Romney or the Republican Party.  Indeed he thinks that class size doesn't matter, well unless you're talking about his own kids.  Then he sends them to a private school that advertises an average class size of twelve.  But those are his kids, they're way more important than yours.

Apparently the DNC Likes Facebook Timeline

I've got to admit it makes for a pretty good ad:

Weekly Weekend Caption Contest: Time to Vote

This one's been delayed a bit by last week's election, so to review here's the picture:


And here are this week's submissions:

Reader Nathaniel:


Now you know what to do, vote for your favorite caption in the comments and we'll decide who our next Entertained Organizer's Weekly Weekend Caption Contest King or Queen is!  Will it be:

Reader Nathaniel

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Short: Distraxion

Sundays should be a day to rest and relax. And what better way to do that than to take a few minutes to watch an animated short:

In which sometimes you have to follow the beat of your own drummer:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

When You Think About It, Who REALLY Needs Teachers, Firefighters and the Police?

I mean maybe Romney is right, do you really want to live in a world where you are protected by the police and firefighters if it means that CEOs might have to pay taxes?

Love Lessons with Lois Lane: The Jealous Lois Lane!

In much of the civilized world, Saturday night is date night. And everything I know about dating I learned from Lois Lane. So before heading out for the night, let's see what advice she has for us this week:


Jealousy is rarely a constructive emotion, even if you probably don't need a metallic backpack to tell you when you are (I also think Lois's bigger problem here is that Superman's making out with Lana, not that he "hates jealous women").

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Adventures of Private Olsen!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?


Friends DO help each other out when they've got a big project.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where I've Been (Not Dead)

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in the last couple of days.  I am not dead nor have I abandoned you.  Instead I've been taking care of some old business.

As some of you may know, my first job working in professional politics was on Hannah Beth Jackson's 2008 California State Senate race.  A proud progressive, Hannah Beth faced off against Tony Strickland the former President of the California Club for Growth, an organization whose sole purpose was to fund primary challenges against Republicans that were deemed not conservative enough (these guys were the Tea Party before the Tea Party).  After a brutal campaign and a month of State mandated recounts, we lost by 856 votes out of more than 400,000 cast (less than 0.0002%).

During that campaign, I helped lead and organize the most successful college voter registration drive in the country.  While not quite enough to put Hannah Beth over the top, it was enough to elect environmentalist Doreen Farr to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, tipping the balance of power in the county back to Democrats.  Her opponent was Steve Pappas,  I may have mentioned Steve Pappas before.  To summarize, he sued claiming that rather than a voter registration and GOTV effort, it was actually a massive voter fraud scheme and that every students vote at UC Santa Barbara should be thrown out and subpoenaed me and everyone else he could think of.  The first trial Judge said there was absolutely no evidence to support any of his claims and said that Pappas "should be ashamed of himself" for bringing the lawsuit.  The next 8 judges to hear Pappas' appeals agreed, and he currently owes Doreen Farr more than half a million dollars in legal fees.

Which brings us to this past week.  Redistricting after the census meant that rather than a grueling slugfest in the General Election against a Republican, Hannah Beth Jackson would face a grueling slugfest in the Primary against self described "Democrat who doesn't want to raise your taxes" Jason Hodge, who received his funding from oil and tobacco companies.  And the lack of other challengers meant that the rematch between Doreen Farr and Steve Pappas would also be decided in the Primary this past Tuesday.  Additionally, my friend and mentor Daraka Larimore-Hall faced a challenge to his reelection as Chair of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party from more conservative forces within the Party.  And so I knew where I had to be.  I drove back to Santa Barbara on Friday after work and crashed on a friends couch through election day.  From sun up till sundown I was doing lit drops, canvassing, and talking to voter:


And it was worth it.  Hannah Beth won her primary getting 3x the number of votes as her challenger.  Doreen Farr was reelected, this time increasing her lead over Pappas from 2% in 2008 to 9.5%.  And Daraka was reelected.  I cannot begin to describe how immensely personally satisfying all of those things are to me or how important they are to the progressive movement in the Central Coast of California.

It also left every muscle in my body aching, much of my skin sunburned, and little time for blogging.  While the election was two days ago, it's only just now starting to not hurt when I walk.  I imagine I'll probably post more later today, and probably resume my more normal schedule tomorrow.  Thank you all for your patience.

And remember, there is no one you cannot beat if you can out organize them.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Short: This Way Up

Sundays should be a day to rest and relax. And what better way to do that than to take a few minutes to watch an animated short:


In which sometimes things are harder than they look:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Love Lessons with Lois Lane: Superman's Secret Family!

In much of the civilized world, Saturday night is date night. And everything I know about dating I learned from Lois Lane. So before heading out for the night, let's see what advice she has for us this week:



If you suspect that your partner has a secret family with an alien mermaid, you should seek immediate psychiatric help.  But if you have a suspicion that they're keeping secrets and cheating on you, there may be something to that.

Weekly Weekend Caption Contest

It's the weekend and you know what that means: The Entertained Organizer's Weekly Weekend Caption Contest! The rules are simple: You have until midnight Sunday to submit your caption to the photo either in the comments here or on Facebook. Then on Monday we'll vote to see who is this week's Entertained Organizer Caption King or Queen:



Friday, June 1, 2012

One Sentence Review of Snow White and the Huntsman


While Snow White and the Huntsman is still enjoyable, it turns out that even if you add an extra dwarf there is not actually enough story in the fairy tale to fill a two hour long movie.

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Super-Brain of Jimmy Olsen!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?




Friends DON'T lord their intelligence over each other.

Ask Entertained Organizer Anything

I like to hear from my readers and so I want to give you this opportunity to ask me anything.  Whether it's pop culture and political trivia, a question about how or why I write the things I write and believe the things I believe, or if there's just something you've wanted to see me talk about that I haven't, if you ask it in the comments over the weekend and I will try to answer them all next week!

So what do you want to know?

The Republican Primary is the Gift that Keeps on Giving

I'm fairly confident that the primary lasted long enough to give the Obama campaign enough soundbites like this so they could release a new one every single week between now and the election: