When I think of Bill O’Reilly, I often think of the entry in McSweeney’s Future Dictionary of America, where “O’Reilly” is a verb basically synonymous with lying in public. So it’s not surprising that in the aftermath of an election in which his beloved President Bush found out he actually does more harm than good, O’Reilly would lash out at an easy target — the liberal bastion of San Francisco. For those of you who didn’t hear, O’Reilly used his platform on his talk-radio show this week to slander an entire city. But before you dismiss these comments as “silly” or “just hyperbole,” take a close look at what he said, in reference to San Francisco’s decision to ban military recruiters on public school campuses, as well as the sale and possession of handguns citywide:
“Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead,” O’Reilly went on. “And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”
So here’s the thing. O’Reilly might have been able to get away with a comment like this, before Katrina. Before the federal government proved that, incredibly, it can fail to respond when a disaster strikes a city, leaving thousands of poor black folks to die in the streets. It’s not funny, because people did die. And it’s not hyperbole, because it actually happened.
San Francisco officials are right to go after O’Reilly, calling for him to be fired from Fox News. Others should do the same. O’Reilly could have made fun of San Francisco in myriad other ways — people have been doing it for decades. What he said, it’s not OK. And as a country, we should not tolerate it.
There was one moment in this months-long campaign that really sticks in my mind, and that I think is relevant to why progressives were able to defeat Gov. Schwarzenegger and his corporate-backed initiatives on Tuesday.
It was at the training for the Castro precinct walk in San Francisco last Saturday. Organizers were explaining to volunteers that we were targetting and trying to move only those voters who would be voting no all the first six initiatives. One of the volunteers asked, “What if they say they are going to vote No on 73, but yes on 75? Shouldn’t we try to get them to the polls?” Nora Dye, one of the chief organizers from Planned Parenthood who was decked out in a “No on 73” T-shirt and buttons, didn’t hesitiate. “We’re all in this together,” she said simply. “A vote for Prop 75 is a vote against all of us.”
Each of the initiatives Schwarzenegger backed in this election touched on a piece of the conservative ideology that is failing us as a nation: government intrusion into personal medical decisions, attacking school teachers for problems in public education while at the same time cutting school funding, and the “it’s my money” mentality that disregards the notion that we are all in this together, for the greater good.
Progressives are often criticized for infighting; we are too often defined by our inability to agree on anything. But we showed in this special election that on a very basic level, we know that our strength is in working together. A diverse group of public employees, private unions like the United Farm Workers, Planned Parenthood, consumer groups, good-government groups, the Democratic Party and multi-issue progressive groups like MoveOn, PowerPAC, the Courage Campaign and Speak Out California all came together to help in a beautifully coordinated campaign.
We didn’t all agree uniformly on the details of absolutely everything, but we agreed to work together. Our voter guide was a great visual example of that. We were proud to be a part of it, and we look forward to the great things we know we can accomplish as we move ahead.
This is probably about how the Governor and his campaign team feel right about now…
The results page from the Secretary of State is here.Thanks for everything you did; we’ll have an update tomorrow.
The Castro headquarter is cranking. The amazing Nora is doing a training, inspiring us to inspire voters to get out there and wrap things up. (I am paying attention, really!) Check the flickr stream for pics!
Today is Election Day, which means all of the polls and all of the speculation is over. Unfortunately, no matter what happens in this special election today, “the people” will not have decided it. Only about 7 million Californians are expected to vote, in a state where 13 million are registered to vote, and 22 million are eligible to vote. Turnout is expected to be around 42%, which, no matter what anyone tells you, is not something any of us should be proud of. Special elections are notoriously bad for turnout, which is exactly why Gov. Schwarzenegger is trying to push a set of unpopular policies now, rather than waiting for a general election.
We have to say No. Today, you have the opportunity to say no the the philosophy of governance that is directly responsible for the Katrina disaster, the lies of the racist war in Iraq, decades of economic stagnation and corporate rule and an ever crumbling wall of separation between church and state. We can’t directly mount the attack on Washington yet. The time is coming, but voting no here in California today is the first step.
Visit our home page for any last-minute information you might need about how to vote, and for information on campaign headquarters if you’d like to volunteer today. Volunteers are needed all the way until the polls close at 8 p.m.
Below, we have an analysis written by California State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, explaining why the Governor-backed special election initiatives are important to the LGBT community. I will be keeping her thoughts in mind as I help Get Out the Vote today in the Castro.
Why the special election initiatives matter to the LGBT community
By State Sen. Sheila James Kuehl
Proposition 73: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
- The right to privacy and control of one’s body has not only been the basis of protecting a woman’s right to choose, but also the basis for protecting the rights of LGBT folks.
- Civil rights should not be stripped by a ballot initiative. This becomes a tyranny of the majority.
- The women’s community and LGBT community are natural allies and the women’s community has provided significant support on LGBT civil rights issues. We need to stand strongly with them.
- This IS an LGBT issue, because our young women have historically been “punished” for their sexual orientation by rape and, therefore, stand in great risk of being involved in an unintended pregnancy. In addition, discrimination and harassment against our youth can result in LGBT youth engaging in a variety of risk-taking behaviors, including unprotected experimentation with heterosexual sex (often to prove that one is a “real man” or “real woman” or just prove that they are not gay). The ability to choose by discussion with one’s physician is important to us, too.
The campaign trail does funny things to people. It’s part of what makes politics so entertaining. Even just working in field campaigns, we usually wind up at home with the “thousand yard stare” at the end of the day. The pressure on the Governor must be enormous, because he’s still clinging to this belief that his corporate fueled agenda is not in fact a recipe for oligopoly, but “people power,” instead. He dropped this rhetoric a few months ago after it was pointed out how ridiculous it was, but it’s back now like a bad case of dandruff.
In another slipup, the guy who was – literally, I’m not making this up – doing a campaign event that featured “Cartaxula” a week ago today is accusing the actual people behind the actual people power in this election of using “scare tactics.” Mmmhmmm.
Tomorrow is it. Think about how you’re going to feel on Wednesday, win or lose: did you do everything you could? Think about how you’ll feel if you can answer that questions with an honest yes. The last survey results do seem like they’re breaking our way, but they’re so close I’m not even going to link to them. It’s just too tight to think about. The fact that we’ve taken on such an incredibly powerful Governor and made a real race out of this thing is truly heartening.
But none of that will matter if nobody shows up tomorrow. If you’re near San Francisco and want to help out but aren’t sure where to go, call my cell: 415.373.8972. We’ll be handing out copies of the voter guide at BART stations in the morning, and doing precinct work in the afternoon with the Alliance. Some of the Harvey Milk/Planned Parenthood/ACLU wing of the armada will be working out of the Castro Center field office (I’ll have the address tomorrow), and the main Alliance operations will be working out of the Plumber’s Hall Headquarters at 1621 Market, near Gough. Go go go go go.
p.s. There have been a lot of great (and sad) “one year ago” posts floating around the ‘sphere over the past week. This is where I was.
Thanks to our friends at MoveOn, we kept the server awfully busy today…
(time moves to the right in that graph, so the red triangle on the left is the most recent state) Welcome to everyone! A truly enormous number of voter guides have been downloaded. Thanks to everyone who contributed to our blogad campaign and forwarded the link to your friends – you’ve really made a difference in this election!
The LA Times has started a new, somewhat weblog-like feature called Golden State. They haven’t quite figured out comments or convenient blog-style formatting, but they do seem to have the telling the truth part down…
Most of the initiatives on Tuesday’s ballot have something in common: They’re facile solutions to complex problems. By “facile,” by the way, I don’t mean “simple”: Proposition 77, which would alter the redistricting process, has 36 provisions and runs to nearly 3,000 words. I mean they’re easily reduced to sound bites and slogans to conceal the agendas of their promoters and distract attention from their potential to unleash unintended consequences down the line.
Nice to see something to balance the mistakes their editorial page has been making.
By California Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg
Labor unions have become enemy No. 1 in this California special election battle waged by Gov. Schwarzenegger and his right-wing, Bush Administration allies. But one need only recall a little bit of labor history to realize just how off-base these attacks are, and to understand why we must defeat the Governor’s initiatives on November 8.
I spent my afternoon walking around Twin Peaks – in the rain. This sounds like it would be less than fun, but it was, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, San Francisco in the rain up in the hills has a particular kind of haunting and quiet vertical beauty that I find really appealing.
But there was also the hunt. I was after a very certain subspecies of voter – those who were so disgusted with this special election that they couldn’t bring themselves to dignify it by showing up on Tuesday. As it turns out, these folks had almost thought this strategy all the way through, and they just needed to be asked to vote. Beyond distributing a bunch of lit, I bagged a couple of these this afternoon. Beyond having the perfect excuse to wander around one of the city’s most beautiful and diverse neighborhoods, this made it worth it.
We’ve had some particularly aimless trolls come by here. Differing opinions are more than welcome, but a lack of politeness just isn’t. We’ve cleaned up after them and posted a new comments policy. Not sure if that will help, but it’s worth a try.
Less than 48 hours left! If you want to help somewhere, get in touch with any of us, the emails are on our about page.