Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Friday
    Dec232011

    Game Change!

    I have watched the trailer for Game Change no less than 10 times. I stopped right before 11 because I figured that someone from our IT department was going to come up and start lecturing me on my YouTube watching:



    You know how teenage girls line up for like hours to see the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn just so they can spend 45 minutes screaming at Taylor Lautner? That’s exactly how I feel about this movie but if Ed Harris (as John McCain) removes his shirt then I might ask HBO for a refund.

    Also: Jon Huntsman; it’s a damn shame you won’t win:



    And finally. If your family is anything like mine - oh, wait, you thought I was birthed from a bunch of progressives who protest corporate greed each weekend? HA HA. No. So this is for your crazy, right-wing family members who think that Barack Obama is single-handedly ruining this country and have a photo of John Boehner (orange and weeping) on their mantle via Media Matters:

    Tip Sheet for the Holiday Dinner Table: 2011 Edition


    This holiday season, here's our guide to talking politics over turkey and eggnog -- and winning the debate. Below are talking points to beat the 12 top falsehoods and attacks to expect from your Fox News-watching uncle. (Here's the PDF version to print out and take with you.)
    1. When they say: "We can't raise taxes on job creators."
    Then you say...

    We should be putting money in the pockets of the real job creators: the middle class whose spending keeps our businesses thriving and hiring.
    Instead, the GOP just voted to raise taxes on millions of middle-class Americans and protect tax giveaways for those few Americans who already have more than they could ever spend.
    We already tried "trickle down" economics and it didn't work.

    2. "Regulations kill jobs and economic growth."

    Talk to real business owners and they'll tell you they're hurting because they don't have enough customers -- not because of regulations.
    We don't have to choose between jobs and common-sense safeguards that protect the food we eat, the air our kids breathe, and the products we buy.
    New standards encourage industries to innovate and can CREATE jobs -- just like safety standards spawned a new industry in safety gear for construction workers.

    3. "Half of Americans don't pay taxes."

    Do you know anyone who doesn't pay property, payroll, or sales taxes? Didn't think so. That's because all Americans pay taxes.
    The real problem is that regular Americans are working harder and harder but getting paid less and less. With half of Americans making less than $30,000 a year, many just aren't earning enough to be taxed on their income.
    Now when it comes to income taxes, regular Americans struggling to get by would gladly pay the same income taxes as millionaires if it meant making as much money as millionaires do!

    4. "Obama is waging class warfare."

    As Warren Buffett tells it, the only class warfare in America is being waged by his class -- and they're winning.
    Middle-class families shouldn't have to pay higher taxes than any millionaire. That's not class warfare. That's a basic American value.

    5. "Obama made the economy worse."

    It's hard to feel optimistic when we all have friends and family members who have lost jobs and are struggling. But the reality is that Obama's economic policies put people back to work and kept unemployment from shooting up even higher.
    Just before Obama came into office, we were dealing with the worst recession since the Great Depression. We can't go back to the ways that caused the mess we're still dealing with today.
    We can create good jobs and get our economy back on track -- but we need leaders who want Americans to succeed more than they want the President to fail.

    6. "Obamacare is a disaster."

    Actually, the health care law is already working. Just ask the 2.5 million college age kids who are now covered through their parents' plans. Or the 24 million seniors who got preventative wellness checkups through Medicare or the 17 million kids who can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
    Let's stick with what's working -- we can't go back to the broken system we had before where insurance companies were in charge.

    Say this ... instead of that

    "Actually" or "As it turns out" ... instead of "you're wrong"

    "Teachers, nurses, and firefighters" or "Americans who keep our country running" ... instead of "government employees"

    "Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid" ... instead of "entitlements"

    "Our roads, bridges, and schools" ... instead of "government spending"

    7. "We need to cut spending to grow the economy."

    Actually, when we cut investments in our roads, bridges, and schools, Americans lose their jobs. That takes away customers from businesses -- and that means less hiring and less economic growth.
    The best way to get our economy moving is to put Americans back to work, not to lay off our cops, teachers, and construction workers.

    8. "Corporate tax rates are too high."

    Actually, we have the second lowest corporate tax rate in the developed world. And some companies like Bank of America don't pay any taxes at all, thanks to corporate tax loopholes.
    Right now, big corporations are sitting on record piles of cash, raking in record profits, and handing out record bonuses to CEOs -- while paying the lowest tax rates in decades.
    America's middle class is carrying too much of the burden and getting crushed -- we need to ask millionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share.

    9. "Wall Street didn't cause our economic crisis -- irresponsible homeowners did."

    Americans have always been advised to buy as much house as they could afford. What changed was that banks suddenly started telling homebuyers they could afford houses they really couldn't, because the banks knew they could sell the mortgage to Wall Street at a profit before it went bad.
    Wall Street greed caused the financial crisis. They sliced and diced risky mortgages into fancy financial products that no one understood, took a profit each step of the way, and dumped the risks on us.
    The more Wall Street abused the rules, the more money they made. Markets work when there is one set of rules for everyone and everyone plays by those rules.

    10. "Allowing gay couples to marry is an attack on marriage."

    Gay couples just want to be able to make the same public commitment and lifetime promise to take care of each other and their families as everyone else.
    With so many marriages ending in divorce, it doesn't weaken marriage to allow people who've been fighting so hard to commit to each other to publicly do that.What we really need are more couples willing to fight as hard for their marriages as gay couples do.

    11. "Government workers' huge benefits and salaries drove states to bankruptcy."

    As it turns out, our teachers, nurses, and firefighters make less than they would in the private sector. And they've sacrificed a great deal, like taking pay freezes.
    Corporate special interests, on the other hand, have enjoyed massive tax giveaways that have made our budget problems worse. Hardworking middle class Americans have sacrificed enough. It's time for politicians to ask the big corporations to share the burden.

    12. "The Occupy protesters are [fill in latest smear]."

    Do you disagree with them that Wall Street CEOs shouldn't be able to pay politicians to write the rules and get rewarded when they break them? Or that those politicians are putting the wealthiest 1% ahead of everyone else?
    These protesters are ordinary Americans from all walks of life joining together and speaking out. This is democracy. Like General Colin Powell said, that's as American as apple pie.

    Have a great holiday and I’ll see you back here next week wherein I will tell you how embarrassed I am to love congress. I know. I KNOW.
    Sunday
    Dec182011

    Over

    I remember the day the war started. Though remember, it wasn't a war, but a peacekeeping mission called Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was 20 when it began and today I am 28. When it began I remember the fear that gripped me after two years of turmoil it felt like another reason for Them to come after us and with each 'Breaking News' flash across the television screen my insides churned waiting for the next big thing. If I felt that way with such strong and visceral reactions to bring myself to think about how the parents of those overseas have dealt with each insurgent attack and IED explosion. I'm shaking my head: How do you do it? How did they do it?

    War became the new normal. The Mission Accomplished banner was bullshit and the finding of Sadam the most memorable. Found in a hole a former dictator thankfully knocked out at the knees. And knowing all these years later that there were never weapons of mass destruction. What was real and what wasn't is something that will continue to be debated for years to come and while we can be sure of how it ended it is the beginning that gives me chills. But today it is over. Secretary Panetta declared it so and the last troops moved across the border into Kuwait.


    (Photo via @richardengelnbc)


    It's over. There's no elation just somber and continuous reflection. How do you feel?
    Tuesday
    Dec132011

    The One With Jim Messina 

    If presented with the opportunity to ask Jim Messina - The Jim Messina. He of the 'Michelle Obama wants to meet you but only if you give $3' emails - a question then you should take it. With great trepidation of course and a shaky voice because clearly you are not worthy enough to be in such a situation where Jim Messina wants to know your thoughts. It took a few minutes (and tweets) but he kept mentioning the need for the "base". The base vote is key in most any race. It's that group of voters on whom a candidate can always rally. On the right it might be NRA members, pro-lifers and Evangelical Christians in the Bible Belt. On the left it's minorities, young people and women. Though there are no absolutes when it comes to a bloc of voters and to think such would mean writing your candidate's concession speech, this is more of a trend over the years that leads a group to be referred to as the base. As such, when Jim mentioned the Obama 2012 campaign needing their base I thought "Swell!" "Great!". Afterward questions came but mostly from people of a certain age who wanted to know about intricate messaging thus leaving me wanting more.

    In 2008 Obama for America was engaged. Excited. But where has that gone over the last three years. Once upon a time people were crying while watching the President give a stump speech. There was that rapt attention and thrill of breathing the same air as Barack Obama. Though I might still pass out at the thought of just being in his presence my peers are less than interested. That campaign was pure magic which has nothing to do with policy or politics but with its ability to make people feel as if they were special and this person running for the highest office in the world could reach out and touch a voter just by opening his mouth.

    During the 2010 midterm election my then 23 year old brother point blank said that he didn't care. He was apathetic to all that was going on. So while I did labor walks and pulled my hair out over voter mobilization and voter turn out he just shrugged. His excitement was long gone and as he would later say; "There was nothing there for me…they are not speaking to me". Of course he was neither the first or the last young black male to stop caring but because he was my brother - MINE - I had to wonder and know what had happened.

    So when it was my turn to ask Jim Messina a question, I did so with a tremble in my voice knowing full well that though I wasn't speaking for every other 40+ in the room I had to question this current campaign and how to get back those that buoyed them to success: "You have mentioned the base and the importance of the base vote but as a black woman under 30 clearly I am engaged…I am here, in this room…but what about others? What is the plan to get them engaged about this race? Because I can tell you right now that when I talk to them about the payroll tax extension their eyes glaze over."

    There were nods in the audience especially from those under the age of 30 where gave me a 'right on!' Another friend was just happy that I framed it around the payroll tax extension but it's the truth. Do you want to know the best way to turn off a group of 20-somethings? Talk about Social Security. That shit is better than Ambien.

    Messina acknowledged my need desperation for something from the campaign that would get people on their feet. There would be something coming in the New Year for the groups described and the kicker? If I didn't like what I saw? Then I should call him.

    I SHOULD CALL THE CAMPAIGN MANAGER OF OBAMA 2012 IF I AM UNHAPPY.

    Just let that sink in for a minute.

    The thing is that I would totally call up Jim Messina and tell him that my friends ain't buying what he's selling. I want them to win and I have very small doubt that with the current field of GOP contenders that they could win but right now I continue to scratch my head and ask what I think are the most obvious questions: What about your people? The ones who wanted your win at the beginning and those you have since left behind. You cannot get us - the collective young, black and female 'us' - on board with promises to veto any bill that includes the Keystone pipeline. Debt ceiling talk isn't a turn on and we only care about the Euro when it comes to traipsing around Europe on our parent's dime.

    And so, to Jim Messina I say this: Find us. We're out there. Seek us out. Use us. If a young black female wants to advocate for you; HELP HER. Talk to her. Listen to her. It will be worth it in the end.