Help Britt Farbo Go To DC

Folks who have been active in Baja Arizona Democratic politics for a while probably remember Britt Farbo, the feisty badass from the Sulphur Springs Valley who made her mark on the Young Democrats back in the aughts. Since then, she has led a wandering life of adventure, including a stint in DC with EMILY’s List, studies in Norway, and work with an NGO in Afghanistan. Currently, she is doing NGO work for the advancement of women in Cambodia and is working on a degree in Phnom Pen.

Farbo is also active as an officer with Democrats Abroad, the arm of the Democratic Party that represents expatriate Democrats around the world. She is raising money so she can go to Washington DC to represent the Asia-Pacific Region in her capacity as a Regional Vice Chair at Democrats Abroad’s 50th Anniversary meeting at the end of February. In Farbo’s words:

My hope is that I can raise enough money to cover travel from Cambodia to the United States, in order to attend the Democrats Abroad 2014 Annual Meeting and 50th Anniversary as well as the DNC Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. (Febuaray 27th-March 5th, 2014) where I am looking forward to representing the Asia-Pacific Region and Cambodia.

At these meetings Americans abroad and Americans from all walks of life will meet with members of congress to advocate for fair applications of the law to Americans living abroad. Work hard with party leaders to understand our role better in the 2014 elections and pass ideas around. Democrats Abroad will also celebrate fifty years since our founding.

2014 is shaping up to be an interesting one political, economically and socially for the world and by extension the individual. For myself personally this year marks the half-way point in finishing my undergraduate degree, turning thirty and five years abroad. My hope is that through my life as a student trying to make it work, my continued participation in Democrats Abroad, and a different and emerging perspective that one day I might be a better change agent for my country and community.

Thanks for your support, patience, and encouragement over time.

In Solidarity,

Britt Farbo
Democratic Party Committee Abroad

Regional Vice Chair Asia-Pacific Region 2013-Present
Chair Democrats Abroad Cambodia 2012-Present
Frm. Secretary Democrats Abroad Afghanistan 2010-2011

Farbo is very close to her $2500 goal. Folks who want to help can contribute over at her site at gofundme.com.

Memories

It’s looking like the worst of hurricane Isaac will be missing Tampa. The Republican convention is saved! Of course this means it will be hitting New Orleans, Gulfport and Biloxi. But, as long as Ann Romney can make her speech, it is all cool, right?

Anyhow, the whole thing brings up memories for me of 1995, when a Young Democrats of America convention had its own hurricane scare.

The convention was in New Orleans that year. Delegates arrived just in time to hear about Hurricane Opal, which had caused the evacuation of 100,000 people and at least fifty deaths in Mexico and Central America. Yep, it was headed our way.

There were probably around a thousand of us and we were only in two hotels. General sessions went on as usual, but one evening women’s caucus event was moved from off site to the hotel for safety reasons.

In the end, Opal moved East of us, making landfall on the Florida panhandle. It devastated Alabama and caused problems as far north as Ontario. Because it was so bad, the name “Opal” is now retired. The “O” storm is now known as “Olga.”

We missed the brunt of the storm, but the city was still under a hurricane warning. This meant there were extra emergency vehicles on the streets and piles of sandbags in front of the entrances to large public buildings. Maybe it was a normal early October sight for the locals, but it was chilling to see for this Arizona kid.

The convention itself turned out to be the rowdiest that I saw in my time with the YDA (I missed the “Riot at the Hyatt” in 1989). The election of officers featured controversy and attendant outrage/silliness over the votes for Executive Vice President and Vice President of Student and Youth Affairs, of all things.

(The EVP we elected was Elizabeth Kennedy of Alabama. I only mention this fact because it gives me an excuse to post a picture of her.)

Oh, I also got mugged with two members of the Alaska delegation. Mugged in front of a police station. Welcome to the Crescent City.

The following year, I ran into Mike McHale, former YDA Vice President, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He was handing out buttons that said “New Orleans 2000.”

“Hey Ted, since you had such a good time in New Orleans last year, don’t you think that it would be a good place for the National Convention?”

“I got mugged and we got hit by a hurricane.”

“Oh, we’ve got all that fixed.”

Saying that they’ve got that hurricane problem “fixed” became a sad irony a decade later.

An Open Letter to…

Years ago, I was the regional director for the Mountain States for the Young Democrats of America. One day I open up my e-mail to find that the leaders of the Oklahoma chapter decided, in a fit of pique against their own regional director, to mess with me. It kinda ticked me off.

I kept thinking about it, mulling over some sort of response. I ended up making myself angrier and angrier. Finally, I called my friend Elizabeth, who was Vice President of the YDA. I gave her my take on the whole thing, and asked her what sort of trouble I should be making on my behalf.

She paused for a second and said in her fantastic Alabama drawl, “Ted, how many Democrats will this elect?”

She was right, and my energies were spent better elsewhere.

In a not entirely unrelated note, it looks like I’ll be carrying the proxy of one of the victims of the shooting to the state Democratic meeting tomorrow. It would be nice for us to honor what he’s going through by comporting ourselves with the same charity, civility and dignity that we have seen so much of over the last two weeks.

Kingfish

Once in a while, I come across a name I recognize from my far flung political past. In the growing scandal over Republican operative James O’Keefe (he of the now discredited “ACORN Pimp” video) breaking into Senator Mary Landrieu’s office for reasons unclear, one of the people being quoted is Louisiana Democratic State Chairman Michael McHale.

Michael McHaleMcHale was a muckety-muck with the Louisiana Young Democrats when I was active in the national organization back in the 1990’s. He was an entertaining speaker (the rural Louisiana accent helped, could have never carried it off with a Yat), and was the only guy I ever met that knew the lyrics to “Every Man a King.” McHale was instrumental in bringing the YDA convention to New Orleans in 1995, a tumultuous affair that was interrupted by Hurricane Iris and where I and two delegates from Alaska were mugged outside of the police station on Basin Street.

I encountered McHale later at the 1996 Democratic Convention, where he was handing out buttons with the slogan “New Orleans 2000.”

“You should wear this, Ted. Since you had so much fun at the YD convention, doncha think we should have our next Democratic Convention in New Orleans?”

“I got mugged and we got hit by a hurricane.”

“Oh, we’ve fixed all that.”

The words weren’t so tragically ironic at the time.

Anyway, I’m glad to see McHale still active and ornery. When you gonna run for Governor, Mike?

Make a Joke and I Will Sigh…

Durring my years with the Young Democrats of America, I used to run with a guy named Rickey Cole. In addition to his exalted position within the YDA, Cole served as chairman of his county’s Democratic Party.

Back in 1998, Cole was doing election day organizing for Ronnie Shows, the Democratic candidate for congress in his district. The election was hard fought and, as usual in Mississippi, Democrats needed to get out the African American vote. To help out with this, Cole rented buses to help bring African American voters from the smaller communities in the district to the polls.

Election day morning, Cole overheard a conversation between two leaders of the local Republican party:

“Did you see what they are doing? They are bringing in blacks from New Orleans to vote!”

Cole found this funny, but he couldn’t figure out why they’d think such a thing. Later, he saw the license plates on the busses: they were from Louisiana.

Of course, sometimes people can be so blinded by their own paranoia that they can convince themselves of all sorts of delusional scenarios with even less evidence.

Raúl Grijalva had a health care town hall in Yuma yesterday. Grijalva answered questions, and it seemed to be a success. However, a the venue was small and some folks couldn’t get in. So, of course, this leads to the paranoid charges, this from John Mitchell, quoted in the Yuma Daily Sun:

This is a small venue (Yuma Regional Corporate Center), and many of the people inside who are pro-reform he had bused in. They unloaded them off of the bus this morning and marched them in to get seats before everyone else got seats.

The article also referenced charges that supporters were being paid. Paid? Paid by whom? Judging by the usual comments on the Star message boards, calls to Grijalva’s office and charges being leveled by protestors against people I know that went to the event, the villain is ACORN. Yep, the omnipresent, omnipotent ACORN. Yeah.

I love the way that conservative activists have made these guys into some nefarious super-villain group on the level of SPECTRE or AIM, but I’m a little lost on how much ACORN has actually gotten done. I like the fact that y’all are so scared of them, but I wish they could be at least half the political force that right-wing shouters make them out to be.

Maybe there’s a little bit of projection here given how much corporate money has gone into groups like Freedom Works, or maybe these guys spend so much time talking to each other that they can’t imagine that anyone would support health care reform without being on the take.

By the way, I asked if there were any people being bussed in. It seems funny, since so many charged that these people were being bussed in from California. Given that San Diego and Los Angeles are four or five hours away, where from? El Centro? Calexico? It would have been easier to bus them in from other parts of Arizona, doncha think? Never mind, this isn’t supposed to make sense.

Anyhow, I asked if anyone was bussed in and I was told that there were people brought up from San Luís and Somerton, and some of them may have been in vans. These people came up from local senior centers. The Somerton Senior Center: the best known ACORN cell in the Southwest. Be very, very afraid.

When The Straw Man Is An Actual Woman

I had a bit of fun at Ryan Bailey’s expense, but I want to make clear to him and to others like him that I meant no insult to him. What I meant to poke fun at was that he was suprised that there were people out there who supported Barack Obama, a man that carried 28 states in the last election, and that there would be support for his policies expressed by a unappologetic Democrat writing on a left-of-center blog headquartered in the most liberal city in the state. Such a statement in that context begs to be mocked. He feels that my statements went beyond that. I appologize that I wasn’t more artful and precise in my language.

However, there is one other thing that he said that I feel must me addressed.

Bailey made the claim that he knows many Democrats that are dissatisfied with Obama, and this is why he is shocked at the my stance. What is problematic here was that he made this claim not just “oh, this guy I know,” but gave enough information about one particular person in question that she could be readilly identified.

Bree BoehlkeHe made a claim that he knew someone, a “Democratic Party Vice Chair and a Young Democrat National Committeeperson” who doesn’t support Obama’s policies. There is only one person in the State of Arizona that holds those two positions: Bree Boehlke. Turns out, Boehlke not only supports Obama’s policies, but she spent a night this week with volunteers at an Organizing for America phone bank to drum up support for his health care plan. Boehlke was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during last year’s often bitter primary contest, but by the time convention time rolled around, she was assigned as a “whip” to try to convince Arizona Clinton delegates to vote for Obama (and she herself voted for Obama when Arizona cast its votes). Not exactly the model of an Obama basher.

I wanted to make all of this clear, since she could so easily be identified from Bailey’s post. It would be hard for her to continue to do the work she does in her party positions if people thought she was bad mouthing the President. She does fantastic work and we need at least thirty more like her.

Wzniosły Osioł at It Again

Kevin “LD” Bondelli has a post over at Future Majority about his frustrations about youth inaugural activities being focused on young staffers rather than youth organizers and activists. There is an online colloquy between him and fellow Arizonan Stan Williams. It is worth reading.

Another symptom of the same problem was the silliness that happened at the DNC two years ago when the Young Democrats of America tried to assert themselves. It also is part of the broader problem of the relationships between paid staff and activists.

Here I Thought It Was Chris Stampolis

Ed EspinozaThis hit my e-mail box mere moments ago…

May 8, 2008 (Washington, DC) — MrSuper.org is a website which was created in March to debunk myths, offer insight and answer questions about the 2008 Democratic nomination process for President. The author, who has been posting under the pseudonym “Mr. Super” will announce his identity today.

The site was created by Edward Espinoza, an undeclared Superdelegate and elected DNC Member from California and a former Field Director to 2008 Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson.

The site gained the immediate attention of several political media outlets covering the web, being included in a story by Abbi Tatton on CNN, as well as serving as the subject of magazine articles published in The Nation and The American Prospect. It was recently mentioned in a San Jose Mercury News article, and the site has also been featured on other blogs including Democratic Convention Watch, TAPPED – the blog of the American Prospect, and has received mentions on DailyKos, Ben Smith’s blog at Politico.com and a number of other political blogs. All featured stories are listed on a page within the blog under a link labeled “In The News.”

So, why author the site anonymously? “I stand by everything I’ve written on the site – but I didn’t want the site to be about me, I wanted it to be about the topic of Superdelegates,” said Espinoza. “I put this together under the premise that it would be a public service and no personal gain to be made – there would be no advertising to earn money from and no name recognition for the author.”

Up until now readers have suggested that Mr. Super is a member of Congress, others think that Mr. Super is a senior member of the DNC. Because the author has participated in three national conventions and works as a political consultant, he carries experience that is normally associated with more elder members of the Party. Mr. Espinoza, age 35, is not currently affiliated with any federal campaign, has been on the ground in seven primary states this season.

Several notable items from the site include the author’s repeated notion that “there are no undecided Superdelegates – only undeclared ones,” thereby giving some insight into the shell game of presidential nominating politics. He has provides background on details pertaining to Florida and Michigan as well as offers insight as to why some Superdelegates remain undeclared.

At this time, the site rarely strays from the subject of Superdelegates – with the exception of a segment entitled “Friday Veepstakes” in which the possibilities of potential presidential running mates are espoused upon. On May 7th the site registered more than 5,826 visitors.

Edward Espinoza is a political and public relations strategist from Long Beach. He is the former President of the California Young Democrats and frequent guest on CNN. He is the author of a February 25 opinion piece published in Politico entitled “Superdelegates use powers for good, not evil” and is regularly quoted in the LA Times and other notable publications.

Alumni and long time members of the Arizona Young Democrats also know Espinoza as the ringleader of the lamentably gone Lat Pac.

Don’t Worry, It’s Not a Big College Town

Years ago, a couple of us worked the U of A to register voters. I knew that one of the candidates that year had a program where they contacted newly registered voters. I thought it would be helpful to give them the names of the folks that we had registered that day, 110 of them.

Instead of being happy that we registered these folks and brought them the names, we were told by a staffer, “College students? They don’t vote.” Never mind that they registered so that they could vote in that upcomming election.

Unfortunately, I see the same attitude in Dana’s latest post over at Democratic Diva. She talks about Hillary Clinton’s strength among older women, and dismisses Barack Obama’s strength among younger voters since she seems to think they won’t vote anyway.

Not only is this attitude short sighted, it doesn’t seem to have been the attitude of Clinton’s campaign in Iowa or New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, Clinton did better than Obama among young professional and working women precicely because her campaign did a better job working this group than Obama did (whereas in Iowa, Obama’s campaign specifically reached out to this group and he carried it).

God help us if Clinton’s Arizona campaign is counting on certain people not voting.

I Endorse Thee

Sisto Abeyta - A Different Name for PresidentI relent.

My friend Sisto Abeyta is running for President of the Young Democrats of America. He’s been unsubtly asking me “where is the love?” since, unlike many of his supporters, I haven’t put him in my MySpace “Top Friends.” Who is he suggesting I bump off for him? Lalo Guerrero? The Furious Truckstop Waitresses? Amy Muñoz? Tasha Kai?

Well, the reason is simple. I aged out of the YDA two years ago, and it would seem sort of silly to still try to engage in their elections (who am I? Bill DeMora?). Although, no less a figure than Bill Richardson has Sisto listed as one of his “Top Friends.”

The guy made a good point in his last plea with me. He is, at least partly, my fault.

Okay, let me explain. Way back in the last century, 1999 to be exact, some of the muckety mucks in the YDA told me that they were really worried about the leadership within the minority caucus. I had concerns too, since it was entirely dominated by folks from the Northeast and lacked Hispanic representation. At the previous convention, I had worked the some Southwestern delegations to look for a decent candidate. They decided that the best one would be, well…me. Didn’t go well.

Being that running a pocho with a Polish last name was probably not the best strategy, I found Sisto. Specifically, I found him in the bar at the infamous Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock. I think he had just gotten off his plane, still tired. I talked to him about the problems in the caucus, and convinced him to run. We didn’t manage to win it, but the guy became hooked. The rest is YDA history.

Irony here: at the next convention, we had a tumultuous minority caucus session here in Tucson. We elected Jennifer García Kozlowski caucus chair. Not sure if she’s pocha, but definitely Polish-surnamed.

Since I’ve been out of the group for a while, it is hard for me to address the issues within the YDA. I have seen some major changes in the direction of the organization, and what I’ve seen of Sisto makes me confident that he can take the group even further. Also, the guy is a great fighter and speaker. I’ve been proud when I’ve seen current president Chris Gallaway take on young Republican leaders on talk shows, but Sisto…man. I feel sorry for the pinheads they’ll put up against him.

Anyway, compadre, you have the endorsement of this humble blogger.

NB – Sisto’s my space page features a song about him written by Albuquerque band John Thayer and Hungry Mungry. Yeah, they are alright. Of course, any Southwestern band in my mind gets compared to our local greats…they sound a bit like Calexico, and lead singer Thayer even sounds a bit like a cross between Joey Burns and Howe Gelb. But, Thayer’s Spanish isn’t as awkward as Burns’s.