Obama’s Civil Rights Agenda

November 20, 2008

Hey everybody, this is Geoff.  I work at the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief and I’m a former student of Laura Beth’s.  I have not been writing for the blog lately because law school applications have consumed me.  With all of that thankfully behind me, I am excited to get back to blogging.

I am sure that you know about Change.gov, the website for the office of President-elect Obama.   What you may not know is that this page is already in its second iteration.  Obama’s team wiped the site of its substantive content — i.e. specific policy changes — five days ago and replaced it with a simple statement of change.  Bloggers have done a great job of cataloging the pre-wipe content.  For example, here is what the “Civil Rights” section of Change.gov looked like on November 7th.

Notice the text, “Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement: Obama and Biden will reverse the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice. They will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.”  That language has been removed from the re-launched website, here.  There is also a new, much larger explanation of Obama’s GLBT-related policies.

This change is not very surprising, but it does raise a few questions.  First, why remove the old content entirely before changing it?  The act of taking down all of the issue-pages certainly raised flags here at the ACLU where we were wondering what sort of pushback could have caused Obama to do so.  Now that the page has been restored to a similar state, I am confident that this civil rights agenda will be stable going forward.

Second, what do you think about this language regarding employment discrimination?  “Combat Employment Discrimination: Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that curtails racial minorities’ and women’s ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” Laura Beth, what role can the executive branch play in helping to bolster plaintiffs’ standing to bring these types of lawsuits?  I don’t think the Department of Justice will be brining any cases of this sort, but I hope that I’m wrong.

In any event, there mere existence of this website is a positive development for the future of the executive branch.  Could anyone imagine Bush/Cheney launching a similar page in ’04?  Yikes.  I am just glad to see that transparency will rule the day over secrecy in the new administration.


Cool video–calms the spirit–

October 31, 2008

I can’t link directly to the video, but if you go here, you will find a really cool rap that I find soothing . . .

how dumb do they think we are?

September 24, 2008

John Mccain needs to postpone the first debate so he can rush back to Washington to put “country first.” Give me a freaking break. The country needs to move forward on this election and since the date of the election is constitutionally required, the vote is not going to be postponed. But I bet McCain would like it if he did not have to debate Obama. Sheesh.

Yes, they have jobs as Senators and just this morning I wondered if Obama would go back for the vote on the bailout. OK, so maybe move the debate to DC, but I am sorry, we don’t change the election.

There was a great proposal on Scatterplot to change the first devbate to allow them each 15 minutes to outline what they think the plan for the economy should be and then ask each other questions. Americans need to know more, not less abotu the candidates given this crisis. Sheesh.

PS blogreaders — some day I am going to have a swear word in the title of a post — it will make my mom very sad so I try to resist but this time it was difficult.


August 27, 2008

Tonight we saw history being made.  The first African-American candidate for president from a national party.  I must admit, when driving home I heard the report from the convention floor of Hillary Clinton calling for a suspension of the convention rules and for the nomination of Barack Obama by acclamation, I got teary-eyed.  When I got home and watched the video on tv, twice, both times I got teary-eyed again.

I think tonight is a moment we should relish.  That is enough analysis for now.  Let us just take in this moment.

Hillary’s speech

August 27, 2008

Hillary’s speech last night blew me away.  I am sure I could not have written it, but if I had been asked to, I couldn’t have done a better job.  At the beginning of this race, I said I would happily campaign for either of them as hard as possible (my goal in the beginning was to elect ANY Democrat – even one with 2 heads if need be!). 

But, if you read this blog, you know she subsequently made me very angry as she refused to accept her loss when it was clearly inevitable.  I worried that her continued running would divide the party.  Now we have PUMAs (party Unity My ass) — the 35 and up white women who had vowed to vote for her in the (now-not-happening) roll call.

All that said, toward the end of her speech last night, I was crying.  All of the feelings of empathy for someone who worked so hard and missed it by a hair overwhelmed my angry feelings toward her.  (Yes, I worry about the 4th place person in every Olympics match I watch too).  I guess it makes me a bad person because it took her doing what i wanted (trying to unite the party) before I felt much empathy for her.  As she swallowed her bitter pill with good cheer, I wished we had seen that Hillary on the campaign trail!  That was a hell of a speech.  She looked great, she gave a great speech, and she did all she could to repair the damage. 

If you believed in Hillary and are now willing to vote to continue this war, for this crappy economy, for dependence on foreign oil because you are so mad that she was not the nominee then you need to have your head examined.  I think they are Republicans faking it to make a story.  I have no evidence of this and am half kidding, but not totally.

So Hillary — I hope you become a Supreme Court Justice or a cabinet official and maybe run again.  Everyone was worried about the Hillary lovers — Could she convince them to go for Obama?  But there was another job — Could she convince those who were really pissed at her that she is really one of us?  The answer is yes for me.  Yay Hil!

Go Negative?

August 25, 2008

OK so what do we think about going negative? Interesting OP-Ed here and a great article on alternet here entitled, “What’s so heroic about being shot down while bombing innocent civilians?”

Obama certainly can’t go THAT negative, but what do we think? How far can/should he go? This “Mccain doesn’t know how many houses he has” is mildly negative. It is not a horrible lie (like the Swift Boat ads) — it is ribbing him about something he ACTUALLY said and something he ACTUALLY owns (multiple houses). But it is not a positive message about what Obama will do, so I call this mildly negative. This is fine with me, but where is the line? I think it may come before the Michael Moore question. At the same time, as the Op-Ed says, I don’t want my guy to bring a knife to a gun battle. Hate the violence metaphor, but you get the idea. Lives are at stake in the US and around the world. The world itself is at stake. We gotta fight hard. How hard? Discuss.

My best friend forever comes to see me again

July 16, 2008

Tomorrow, the Democratic party’s nominee-apparent comes back to my little neck of the woods to take part in a panel discussion on national security with, among others, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh (who had been rumored to be on Hillary Clinton’s VP short list).

Guess who’s got a ticket? 

So, Bob, I will be taking some time off work tomorrow. The event is at Purdue University’s Memorial Union at noon; doors open at 10; maybe I can take my laptop and some work (yeahrite!).  Probably no chance to ask him about the Supreme Court this time, you think?  But I bet you real money he’d still remember me if I did.  I promise this time I will ABSOLUTELY NOT FORGET TO MENTION THE AMERICAN BAR FOUNDATION . . .