Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Oakland showcased at Obama fundraiser rally last night

21 Apr

Last night, along with 3000 other people, I went to San Francisco to watch President Obama speak. I have to admit that I’ve been feeling pretty down on Obama’s presidency recently, particularly after spending this past weekend in San Diego with a friend of mine who’s a federal public defender. She deals with a lot of immigration cases and says Obama has been worse on immigration than Bush, which is pretty scary. She said she plans to vote for Obama again but is not excited about it.

I had her stories in the back of my mind as I reached the Masonic Auditorium last night, but even just as I arrived, the energy of the crowd infected me. I couldn’t help but feel a bit more optimistic.

My optimism grew throughout the night, particularly as Oakland was showcased at this San Francisco event. Peggy Moore, California Political Director for Organizing for America, and a longtime Oakland LGBT activist, opened up the night with a rousing speech, which had everyone in the crowd shouting “I’m in” by the end of it. Continue reading

East Bay Young Dems know how to party

21 Jan

Last night’s Barack n’ Roll Inauguration Party went even better than I could have hoped for. Throughout the night, about 800 people came to Z Bar to celebrate Barack Obama’s election, and to eat, drink, dance, and generally have a good time. We reached capacity at 7:30pm, just an hour after opening the doors, and had to regulate the flow of traffic until 8:30, when it cleared out a bit. Here’s what it looked like at the peak of the night:


It seemed like everyone in the East Bay at least stopped by the party – there were even a few San Franciscans there. I saw friends, co-workers, elected officials, city staff, a few Oakland bloggers, the leader of one of my favorite Oakland bands, and of course lots of Young Dems. The best part was that I didn’t know most of the people there, and many of them had never been to a EBYD event before. The crowd was diverse in every way – age, race, background – but also in attire. There were people wearing ball gowns and tuxedos and others in jeans and t-shirts, and of course everything in between. No matter what they were wearing, everyone looked fabulous – really, it was as if every attractive person in the East Bay was at Z Bar last night, and they were all looking their best.

The music was great all night, especially the opening set spun by EBYD’s own Chris Vaeth:


After Chris’s set, we played Obama’s inaugural speech on a large screen, and after that it cleared out a bit. Still, the line at the bar never died down, and we gave the bartenders quite a workout:


One of the best parts of using Z Bar as the venue was that the Chrysler showroom, which is adjacent to it, was opened up for spillover, which we desperately needed. As Oaklanders danced the night away, I fantasized about one of the car dealerships being converted into a nightclub. Maybe one day that will happen when Auto Row gets a makeover.


Besides finding a bigger location next time, I’m not sure I would have done anything different. Every detail down to the scrumptious appetizers and these gorgeous centerpieces was perfect:


Thanks to everyone who came last night and especially to all the East Bay Young Dems who worked so hard to make this night a success. Also, a big thanks to everyone on our host committees. If you weren’t able to make it last night, don’t worry, we’ll be holding an even more incredible party later this year. I’ll let you know about it here or you can sign up for EBYD’s email list at our website.

Happy Inauguration Day!

20 Jan

I don’t have much more to say as I sit here waiting for Obama and Biden to be sworn in. Instead, I’ll share the message I received this morning from Rocky Fernandez, President of the California Young Democrats and AC Transit Director:

With America watching today, I hope that President Obama’s first words to our nation will be ones of hope and a call to action and service.  One of my greatest fears is that all of us who worked hard on the campaign will be content with having JUST elected a president.  In reality, we need to work even harder, and make “Yes We Can” something we apply to our work each and every day.

We need to fix our economy; fund schools and expand higher education opportunities; bring forth the clean energy economy; and make sure our generation’s quality of life is better than what our outgoing President has handed to us.  When we’ve done that, we can finally proclaim, “Yes We Did.”

I hope all of you celebrate this amazing day in our nation’s history.  Enjoy the fruits of our hard work–our nation, and our generation, have earned it.  But tomorrow we get to the real struggles in people’s lives.  And like never before, we’ll have to work to change the status quo and shape the nation we want. Fortunately, our generation is up to the challenge, and will rise to meet it, like previous generations have throughout the history of our nation.

Today is certainly a day to celebrate so don’t forget to head to Z Bar tonight for the Barack n Roll Inauguration Party. See you there!

So many mixed feelings

5 Nov

Yesterday was incredible. I woke up with so much energy and went out and voted. Then, I spent the next four hours walking a very hilly precinct in Oakland where half of the doors were up several flights of stairs. It was completely exhausting but also very fulfilling. Most people had voted and I saw lots of No on 8 signs (though also a couple of Yes on 8 signs).

I managed to then get myself to my office for a few hours and somehow focused enough to get some work done. And then then the polls started closing at 3pm and 4pm. I kept reloading Talking Points Memo, Swing State Project, and CNN, getting some work done in between obsessively checking for results. By 5pm, no one in my office was fully concentrating on work anymore – we had one computer running the live feed from MSNBC while I kept reloading lots of pages. Once Pennsylvania was called, I felt like it was over already, but this was confirmed for me when Ohio was called. It started to sink in a bit – Barack Obama was going to be our next president.

I was starving so I grabbed some sushi at Ichiro and headed down to a friend’s office in uptown. We ate sushi and waited for the networks to formally call it for Obama. I called friends who had been working in swing states and congratulated them. I talked to my dad, who sounded like he was on the verge of tears. And then at 8:01, they called it. We all started crying, and shouting. My friend opened his window and shouted – and several people on the street responded with shouts of joy.

The night continued in this direction for hours. We headed over to the Marriott for Rebecca Kaplan’s victory party, and when we got there we found out she was up with more than 60% of the vote. We then found out that Measure KK in Berkeley was going down in flames. The two campaigns that I had dedicated nearly all my free time to over the past several months had won decisively. I felt proud of my work and proud of our country.

That feeling persisted for hours. Obama’s speech brought tears to my eyes. There were smiles on everyone’s faces as we congratulated Rebecca Kaplan and each other. When I headed back out, over to Radio, the streets were packed with people in cars and on foot. Most of them seemed to be headed to Jack London Square. There were hundreds of people in the streets in downtown Oakland and we were all celebrating. Inside Radio, everyone had huge smiles on their faces and at one point a crowd of people burst through the door chanting about Obama.

I managed to celebrate through most of the night, even though people kept telling me that Prop 8 was up (I refused to look at the numbers myself). I kept telling myself that the early voting was more heavily conservative and the first counties to report are always the inland counties. It would be hours before Alameda, San Francisco, and Los Angeles reported so why bother worrying?

But between midnight and 1am, the numbers were still looking pretty bad. I didn’t know what counties had been counted, but it started to look clear to me that Prop 8 was going to pass. I started to get sad and worried. The friend I was with convinced me to stop worrying – Los Angeles almost certainly still had more votes to count, and we both assumed LA would vote against 8.

Well, we were wrong. I got home a couple hours later and checked in on the vote. Prop 8 had definitely passed, and worse, Los Angeles had voted in favor of it. Also, Alameda and San Francisco had had abysmal turnout. It was clearly over, even though the No on 8 campaign wasn’t conceding.

I finally got to sleep at 5am and slept through most of the day. When I awoke, I surprised myself and felt cheerful, thinking about what it meant that Obama would be our next president. That feeling quickly faded though. Even as I looked through all the congratulatory emails from the No on KK campaign committee, I couldn’t bring a smile to my face. All I could think about was that more than half of Californian voters voted to write discrimination into the constitution. They voted to discriminate against me and so many others.

I also thought critically about Rebecca Kaplan’s win. When I was phoning last week for Kaplan and No on 8, I was surprised at how many people I talked to who were voting enthusiastically for Kaplan but were also voting enthusiastically for 8. I’m guessing most of those people knew little of Rebecca’s sexual orientation. But ultimately they voted a lesbian onto our city council and simultaneously voted to strip her of one of her most fundamental rights. So even here in Oakland, we have a long way to go.

A part of me knows that I should be celebrating right now. I helped win two very important local campaigns and our country is headed in a new direction (the seats Dems picked up in the House and the Senate will certainly help with that). But I can’t help feeling incredibly distraught and disillusioned. Though I’m still proud of myself and my country, I can’t bring myself to feel proud of California.

Doesn’t sound so bad to me

19 Sep

As you might have heard, Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden rides the train from DC to Delaware every night and is a huge proponent of trains. That prompted Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to accuse Obama and Biden of this (OneNewsNow via Swing State Project):

“This is their agenda,” Bachmann states bluntly. “I know it is hard to believe, it’s hard to fathom — but this is ‘mission accomplished’ for them,” she asserts. “They want Americans to take transit and move to the inner cities. They want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, [and] take light rail to their government jobs. That’s their vision for America.”

I think she’s trying to scare us, but besides the tenements and being forced into government jobs, this vision sounds pretty damn great to me. In fact, I think it’s what the East Bay should be aiming for. Let’s develop our downtown areas, help people move from the car-dependent suburban peripheries, and invest more money in transit.

And Oakland is poised to be a center of this vision. With Rebecca Kaplan spearheading a transit oriented vision for Oakland, State Senator Steinberg leading the senate, and Obama and Biden running the country, I feel confident that parts of this vision will become a reality. Now we just have to make sure they get elected.

Join me to drink to Obama at the Franklin Square Wine Bar

8 Sep

On Wednesday night, the East Bay Young Democrats are hosting an open bar fundraiser for Barack Obama at the Franklin Square Wine Bar. Sure, there are probably Obama fundraisers happening every night in the Bay Area from now through the election, but this one sounds like it’s worth checking out.

It’s only $25 and will feature San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Joe Green, the CEO of Facebook Causes, and Abel Guillén, member of the Peralta community college board. It sounds like the actual program will be short though and the fun of the night is to be had in drinking lots of wine and meeting interesting young, politically minded people. And if you haven’t been to the Franklin Square Wine Bar yet, this is a great chance to check it out.

Here are the details, hope to see some of you there.

Toast to Change: Open Wine Bar Fundraiser for Barack Obama
Join the Peninsula Young Democrats, East Bay Young Democrats, and Latinos for Obama for a Toast to Change!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Franklin Square Wine Bar
2212 Broadway
Oakland, CA

Accessible by 19th Street BART station or by AC Transit lines 1/1R, 51, 72, 11, 12, 15, 18, 59 (Please do take public transit and don’t drive to this one, assuming you plan on enjoying the open bar.)

Join fellow supporters for wine ($25 open bar) and conversation. Bring a checkbook, cash, or credit card to make your contribution. We’ll have three Bay Area leaders on hand to speak to the need for support, plus great networking opportunities with other young politicos.

Obama endorsed Wilma Chan?

30 May

Well, that’s what I thought when I first glanced at this mailer that I received last week:

I opened up my mailbox and there was Obama’s face, which I thought was incredibly weird. Once I realized it was a Chan mailer I thought, ok, this is strange, why would a presidential candidate endorse a state senator? But then I flipped it over…

As you can see, there’s a quote in very big writing, and then in small writing you see that it’s from Maya Setoro-Ng, Obama’s half sister. Look, it’s great and all that his sister endorsed Chan, but it still seems pretty disingenuous to slap a photo of our next president on the front of your mailer because of it.

It gets better though (well, worse actually). In the text of the mailer, Chan touts that she endorsed Obama early and was active on his campaign while Hancock took the “safe route” and endorsed Clinton. I’m a huge Obama supporter and I’ve grown to support Clinton less and less, but I’m not going to judge my state Senate candidate by who she endorsed for president. And I’m not going to assume that Hancock just took the safe route – I’m sure she had plenty of substantive reasons to support Clinton. Besides, I think this mailer would really piss of Clinton supporters – it’s pretty disrespectful. Is Chan just writing off those votes?

So all last week I was really annoyed about this mailer and ranted at everyone who would listen about it, and then two days ago, this came in the mail:

AAAAAAAHHHHHH! (I think I really did scream when I saw it.) If the other mailer didn’t make you think that Obama had endorsed Chan, this one certainly would. With at least 10 election mail pieces hitting a voter’s mailbox per day, who has time to actually open one up and read the fine print?

Look, I understand that Chan feels like she had to do something to counter the Hancock billboards and mailers with pictures of Rep. Barbara Lee, who actually did endorse Hancock. And I understand that few politicians are more popular in the district than Lee is, but this kind of campaigning is disingenuous. What’s more frustrating is that Chan IS endorsed by dozens and dozens of prominent leaders in the district and in the state.

I’m still undecided in this race, but these mail pieces have actually tipped me a bit towards Hancock. Has anyone felt this way about other election mailers you’ve received?

Obama: A bit too much like Dellums for my taste…

18 Jan

On Monday night, I joined hundreds of Oakland residents to listen to Mayor Dellums’ state of the city address. I’m not going to get into the details too much here, mostly because V Smoothe already did a much more thorough job then I could ever hope to. Really, go read her analysis if you want to know the real facts behind what Dellums said on Monday.

But something clicked for me on Monday night. Watching the crowd hang on his every word, as Dellums threw out clever lines and attacked the evils of the media and crime, I finally realized why I’m worried about the possibility (maybe probability?) of Barack Obama being our president.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike Obama. I think he’s overall been a good senator (much as Dellums was a great congressman), and I’d choose him over Hillary any day, but what scares me is how he speaks and how his supporters speak about him.

Just as Dellums campaigned on making Oakland a model city, Obama is heavy on the rhetoric of hope, change, and unity. But what does this really mean, if anything? Hope alone is not going to get us anywhere, as we’ve seen in Oakland. And unity with right wing Republicans and corporate lobbyists isn’t going to get us the change we’re looking for (at least not the change I’m looking for).

But his supporters (and the media) constantly fawn over his inspirational speeches. On the night of his win in Iowa, the pundits couldn’t stop praising him, saying it was the best speech of his they’ve ever heard (it sounded to me like the same speech he gave at the DNC convention in ’04). At a progressive event here in Oakland, one of his supporters kept going on and on about how if we would all just attend an event and hear him speak, we’d  put our support behind Obama.

You know what? I’m not interested in a president who’s inspirational without being specific. And I’m certainly not going to support a candidate whom you have to see in person to be convinced about his/her message.

And on Monday night, I saw such a similar phenomenon. Before Dellums spoke, a young African-American man (sorry, I didn’t catch his name and he never explained his affiliation) got the crowd pumped by talking about “getting down to town business” and how he “hella loves Oakland”. Dellums followed, talking about setting the record straight, and saying that Oakland is and can be a model city.

I looked around me, and really, people were eating this up. I’m not going to lie – for a bit there, I was reminded of my pride for this city and was falling into the trap of equating this city pride with support for our mayor.

But all of this inspirational speaking is ultimately just talk. And I’m worried that an Obama administration would look all too similar to a Dellums administration.

So on February 5th, I’m voting for John Edwards. I don’t care if people think he can’t win. The truth is that Edwards has been shut out of the race by the media, much more than Dellums has ever suffered from. And he talks about real issues – like health care, poverty, agriculture, and labor conflicts and I believe he brings real solutions to the table. And regardless of whether he wins or not, he’s done a great job of forcing both Clinton and Obama to at least talk about the issues I care about and to keep them from swinging even further to the middle of the political spectrum.

I’m guessing there are some Obama supporters reading this so go ahead and have at me – I’d be happy to be convinced I’m wrong, especially since I’ll eventually be voting for him if he’s the nominee.