Thursday, December 4, 2008

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of DC

Last night was the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of DC (YNPN) Networking Happy Hour at Mackey's. And, unfortunately, like nearly all young networking events, this one was full of unemployed young idealists.

All cynicism aside, though, we met some great people.

There's an upcoming forum on Nonprofit Fundraising in Tough Economic Times on Tuesday, December 16th, which I plan to attend.

I think overall this will be a helpful long-term organization, so here are some links:
YNPN Home - Find a chapter near you or start one
YNPNdc Events
YNPN List of Career Resources

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waxman Fits the Description

California Democrat Henry Waxman was voted in as the Energy & Commerce Committee Chair in the House today. The 137-122 vote ousted Michigan Dem. John Dingell from the position. As a Michigan native, I have met and personally like Congressman Dingell, but this is an appropriate move. As the trifecta of crises (economic, food, energy) sweeps our way, the House must have an environmentalist willing to take bold action against global warming, while creating jobs in alternative energy.

Now, perhaps instead of handing $25 billion to Rick Wagoner for a failing business plan, the Obama-led government can offer a $25 billion grant to discontinue SUVs (since there's zero demand, ahem) and use the human resources they already have to build an innovative light-rail system for Detroit.

Where were you on that one, Dingell? Let's hope Waxman responds to letters with helpful policy suggestions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alaska's Redemption

It looks like Senator Ted Stevens (R) has lost the race for his seat in the Senate. Mark Begich (D), the former Mayor of Anchorage (born and bred) edged him out by merely 3,700 votes. This year, a lot of surprising things have come out of Alaska. This race is clearly one of them. Since 1980, no Democrat has represented Alaska in either the House or Senate. I suppose it takes an 85-year-old convicted felon (yes, the first to run for a Senate seat) to sway Alaskans away from "tradition"-- and even then, Begich's margin is shy of 4,000 votes!

Begich is a conservative Democrat, not surprisingly supporting drilling for oil in Alaska. Still, it's a step toward the left. Nearly anyone would have been better than Ted Stevens. (Yikes, don't tell Sarah Palin I said that. We don't want to give her any ideas.)

Still up in the air:
Minnesota: A 206 vote margin warrants a recount between former comedian Al Franken and incumbent Senator Norm Coleman. Another e-voting machine error warning and I don't know why we are supposed to think our votes matter...
Georgia: The Senate race will come down to a Dec 2nd runoff between incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democratic hopeful Jim Martin. Yes, that's right, a Democrat has a chance in Georgia.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Russian Sailors

A few days ago, I was following the story of civilians and sailors who were caught on a Russian submarine when the fire extinguishing system mistakenly went off, releasing Freon into the air, killing 20 and injuring another 21.

Like a spinning prize wheel at a low-budget fair, the finger of blame clumsily went in circles, pointing at every possible cause of the accident and updating the details of the Associated Press articles every hour or so this week.

Another Russian cover-up? Smells fishy (pun intended? perhaps) to me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Douglass-Debs Dinner

I've just come home from the Douglass-Debs Dinner in Dearborn, Michigan. The Democratic Socialists of America honored David and Judy Bonior and Judge Claudia Morcum.

It's a shame that there's no wealth of information out there about either Judy Bonior or Judge Morcum. Both are powerful, strong, amazing women who have been invaluable in the progressive movement, both with roots in the civil rights movement in Mississippi (that's right, Mississippi).

Mrs. Bonior spoke for a total of, perhaps, 2 minutes. She thanked her husband, David, and she told the following short story:

She went to an underserved Detroit junior high school to speak on a career day. Feeling like an odd duck in a group of professionals in "concrete" industries (of a tangible nature, that is, e.g. police officers), she spoke about the book that she and David authored about their walk from Macomb County to Mackinac. Not knowing whether she had connected or not, Mrs. Bonior went out into the hallway. A student physically grabbed her jacket, hard, and she tensed up.

"Hey lady," he bellowed, but then dropped his voice to barely above a whisper. "Was it beautiful out there?"

That touched her because this was his state, too.

And this being a meeting mixed of young and old, white, hispanic, black, men and women, civilians and elected officials, she turned it over to us, told us that our task is and will always be to make it beautiful out there for him.

Simple, articulate, and touching, Mrs. Bonior energized and inspired me tonight. I feel ready to take my career and my politics to the next level, in order to make it beautiful out there.

Thank you, Judy, David and Claudia. See you in Washington.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Congo

For someone whose early education was during the [Bill] Clinton era, to be talking again about the Congo feels strange. Hutu and Tsutis and Rwanda? Like some sort of deja vu. The "haven't we gone over this already" response.

But here we are again, after 8 years of [admittedly] international tom-foolery, the Congo has our attention again. Just yesterday I read about the fragile cease-fire, and now the Congo Summit is being held because that cease-fire has unraveled.

The United Nations has estimated that in recent months, as many as 250,000 people have been displaced because of fighting in the Congo. They're saying that the violence is a direct result of remaining tensions after the civil war of 1994.

The summit will be between regional leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and 7 African leaders from Nairobi and Kenya.

People to watch on your Google Alerts:
*Joseph Kabila (Congo)
*Paul Kagame (Rwanda)
*Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania)

The Obama Nation

Congratulations to all those who worked so hard, I know many of you, but even more exciting is that I don't know so many more.

Let's hope that the change we've demanded for the last two years manifests in the white house.

Now for the local issues:
Michigan -- Way to redeem yourself from banning affirmative action and gay marriage in recent years. Stem cell research and medical marijuana passed with flying colors.

Jennifer Granholm getting picked for Obama's transition team
-- Thoughts? I'm not sure on this one.

California -- Really? Animal rights, thank you, but over human rights? The ban on gay marriage passed, while the restriction on animal cages (making the current battery cage standards illegal) passed.

Other things to watch:
*Rumor has it that ConAgra announced an interim CEO, and is on the search for a new permanent one.
*Rahm Emanuel named Obama's Chief of Staff.
*Wal-Mart sales have skyrocketed amidst market troubles, and they are opening 4 smaller "Marketplace" stores in Arizona, a trial run of the small-town venue they'll likely expand upon in the upcoming years.