Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's see, last Tuesday ... where was I? Oh yeah ...

Here it is, a bit overdue, Kristin's 2009 Presidential Inauguration Report. At this moment, I survey my self and find I am still tired , still happy, relieved, elated, inspired and a bit disoriented ... for after a week like that, what do you next?!

My friends from the New Mexico campaign (a mix of staff and volunteers) started showing up Thursday before the Big Day. I felt privileged to show them my funky neighborhood including the ethnic restaurants and unabashed diveswith great hip-hop DJ's. We did the "We are One" concert on the Mall on Sunday (where at one point, the crowd got so tight that I felt in danger of literally becoming one with several strangers). The HBO/Inauguration Committee botch of the Gene Robinson opening prayer put me in a tizzy but didn't overshadow the exuberance of the moment. An early afternoon party around the corner from my place (networking for those staffers moving to DC) was quickly followed by my own party later that evening (I love it when friends apply me with their wines and their playlists). Monday was a bit of a rest (okay, recovery) before the next day's early morning wake up call. We did make a mad dash for Dupont Circle at 6 pm where Kate Clinton was holding a Sage-Out, administering the Lesbian Power of crystals and herbs to rid our town of the bad ju ju accumulated over the past 8 years. For me (who takes this stuff not seriously), I found it so fun and the closing song surprisingly touching.

We greeted the next day, Inauguration Day, with a mixture of excitement and battle-readiness (but, like, a kind battle where you have no enemies, keep each other warm and help everyone win). Alas, our group of 10 fell pray to the PIC planners' missteps and miscalculations. After we endured the 6-hour, purple ticket holders' tunnel to nowhere, we were ultimately fragmented by the push of the remarkably friendly but still pressing crowd. With three from the fellowship remaining (apologies for the nerdy reference), I made it through the purple gates of hell only as Obama was being sworn in. So it was with a tinge of frustration and regret that I witnessed The Moment and The Speech apart from our full group, nowhere near our ticketed area, on an tree-obscured Jumbotron and over distant and muffled loudspeakers. Worry not for Diane Feinstein says she'll make it up to me and my friends with a collection of limited edition as-seen-on-TV Barack Obama commemorative "Victory" plates (or something like that). Yet we all quickly recovered, heartened by our collective experience as still part of something awesome. Later that night, I happily passed on my ticket to the Youth Ball (for I may be "young at heart" and some would say "immature" but there were many more deserving and qualified for the position than I) and instead joined local friends at Station 9 where we danced-danced-danced.

Bonus Round: Wednesday night removed any last trace of I-Day regret with the Staff Ball at the DC Armory in SE. Both the Obama's and the Biden's addressed the crowd and were jovial and remarkably lose.
Photo by Linda Leu, New Mexico Campaign Staffer
I generally hate name dropping but I must say it was incredibly cool to hear from David Plouffe (that guy who stalked you with emails throughout the campaign he orchestrated and refused all press interviews).

By Thursday evenings all of my dear compadres were gone and my household was back to Corky and me. But no stopping just yet as I took off Friday afternoon for a weekend Buddhist retreat in Maryland. Although initially resisting the timing, I promptly took up the opportunity to go deep into silence like a warm shawl.

I have to add that one of my favorite moments was picking up Wednesday's Post and seeing this on the front page: Rob Emanuel in the Oval Office facing an Obama who was, relaxed and listening, seated behind that historical desk!!!
Photo Source: The White House-Getty Images

I was deeply struck by it's normalcy. This is our President. He's already ticked me off and at least confused me a few times and I expect that. But to trust the intentions, intellect and temperament of my President is not only a welcome change but a beautiful thing in its own right.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama on Religion-Politics: How a President just might help heal a family

After recently discovering this speech from June, 2006 and as someone who's family has become polarized over religion-politics, I'm considering the idea that Our New President may provide some healing amongst my own brothers and sisters. No melodrama here and I'm not kidding. This is long, but for those interested in the topic, more than worth it.

Keynote Address from the Conference "Call to Renewal: Building a Covenant for a New America"
Barack Obama, June 28, 2006, complete text.

Video excerpts are avaliable on YouTube. Here's the first:

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Sold Out

In response to the Rick Warren selection, here was my letter to President-Elect Obama (posted retroactively to sheepishly catch up my woefully behind blog).

To US President-Elect Obama,

It seems I've been sold out.

What I so strongly and overtly supported in this Campaign for Change was competent, transparent governance, a restoration of our constitution, cooperation on critical international issues and the vital need to move beyond ideology in how we run our country. Yet in the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at this historic inaugural ceremony, you voluntarily promote one of the most dramatic examples of "the politics of division" which you so forthrightly campaigned against. His overt support for California's proposition 8 reveals his ignorance of the exemplary morality of committed same-sex couples and is a direct threat to the separation of church and state.

As a full-time volunteer on your campaign in a swing state for 3 months and as an out lesbian, I am deeply disappointed by this decision.

And now I find myself needing to clarify the fundamental argument here to you and the members of your staff and upcoming administration. I am about to defend my own morality (sigh). Homosexuality is not a choice and it is *as moral as* heterosexuality. Denying my homosexuality and subjecting my family and community to all of the sociological and psychological fallout of such a denial, now that's immoral. I don't deny anyone's right to think me immoral and worship in a church that agrees, but they cannot lawfully deny me my civil rights. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" must apply to to all citizens.

Your message to me is that civil rights matter but not mine. Unity matters, but unity doesn't include me. We must educate and promote fidelity to the constitution, except when political bases can be expanded (for it is only political calculation, a cynical interest-groups-trade-offs analysis, that seems to explain your decision). Your defense has been a repeat of the "we need not agree on everything" argument. But this isn't working across partly lines of representatives, you have actively selected Pastor Warren to open the spiritual tone of your administration. Such explicit action discredits the very themes that motivated me to serve in your campaign.

Here's how you make amends: 1) see to it that Pastor Warren's remarks are thoroughly screened and confined; 2) in contrast, encourage Rev Dr. Joseph Lowery to explicitly clarify the moral argument for gay, lesbian and transgender rights in his benediction and, most importantly 3) use the first 6 months in office to aggressively push for equal treatment under the law for our country's hard working, law-abiding, gay, lesbian, transgendered citizens. Finally, if so moved, you might remember that part about promising to admit your mistakes.


Kristin Barker
Washington DC resident, full-time volunteer in the 2008 New Mexico Campaign for Change.

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At 10:42 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

After seeing this letter, some questioned whether I regretted my service to the campaign. Absolutely not. He's still my guy and, moreover, I consider it an obligation of my citizenship to be clear (and constructive) when I believe he is mistaken.


Monday, October 06, 2008

We are the ones

Already this movement, us, we've already come together and affirmed our common humanity, our fundamental interdependence, our common desire to heal. And in that, no matter what comes November 4th, a majority of Americans, we are already healing.

Here's the latest from DipDive:

And follow up from the creator,

People say Obama’s words are just words, but when was the last time "words" weren’t important? When was the last time a great leader didn’t use words to lead? ... we can all recall the last time "words" were used to divide us and install fear.

See the full text and comments here.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

NM Voter Registration Makes News

With the deadline for voter registration in New Mexico this Tuesday, we set up a big push to get volunteers to the opening weekend of Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta including the big launch site itself as well as Park-And-Rides bus service locations throughout the city. Our wonderful volunteers rose at 4:30 am to get in position to register voters. If you want to change the world, it looks like you really do have to get up pretty early in the morning.

Chris Foster, one in our fabulous army of registrar volunteers, was interviewed yesterday at Balloon Fiesta Park for this associated press article by Susan Montoya Bryan. Didn’t Chris do a great job of staying “on message”? ;)

The article was picked up not just by the Albuquerque Journal, The Santa Fe New Mexican and local news stations like KOB, but numerous media outlets all over the country including Newsweek, Forbes, USA Today, MSNBC, ABC News, Newsday, Fox News (yes, really), and, my little hometown’s rag, The Washington Post. Heck, here it is in the Taiwan News!

Press coverage is exciting but the real news is the number of new voters we've registered whether at the Balloon Fiesta, our local flea market, CNM’s voter registration drive, UNM’s North Campus, Coronado Mall, Goodwill, Sunflower Market, Target, the Lobo Grower’s Market, the Jewish Community Center and many other local stores, senior centers, high schools and parking lots. I'm intensely grateful to all of our hard-working volunteers who take time out of their personal lives to expand the voting base for Barack Obama and ensure that so many people have a voice in this and future elections.

And it’s not quite over yet. Tomorrow is our last full day to register voters and reach our state-wide goal of 30,000 voters in 30 days. From a geographical perspective, Albuquerque is a "big" place (sorta like Alaska) so almost everyone here still drives back and forth to work. New Mexicans love their drive-throughs so we have set up several drive-through locations during evening commute hours for “Last Chance” registration before Tuesday’s deadline. The drive-throughs have worked pretty well so far so we're hoping to catch all of those procrastinators and too-busy-parents with our final efforts.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Solutions for Believers

The Obama campaign has been fresh out of yard signs, t-shirts and stickers for months. There's some question as to how effective yard signs really are, but no matter, if you want one, give up the complaint and make one. This is the most on-purpose, explicitly diverse grassroots movement I've seen in my lifetime, so it seems to me that the home-made variety of swag is all the more powerful.

Here's the sign I made for one of our recent voter registration events (one of many in which we were allowed, even encouraged, to be partisan).

If you really want to help, canvass and register voters. Walking door-to-door and broadening the base are the two most important things we can be doing right now. But if you've still got energy after that, enlist groups to make signs and stickers for others. Any group of Obama supporters, no matter age or ability can help. Gather up all your materials from a local hobby store and host a sign-making party - guaranteed to be less stressful than a debate hosting party.

And while the following music and video will convince probably no one, I consider it important food for the workers. More than a message about Barack Obama, it is tribute to the vision and vibrant legacy of Dr. King.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Barack Obama Visits Northern New Mexico

I finally got to see the man in person as Barack Obama traveled to Northern New Mexico today. He gave his speech at the Plaza de Española where the event reportedly drew over 10,000.

I know Española only as we traveled through here so many times in my youth. It is Española, not Los Angeles, that is the birth place of the "Low-Rider," that large, usually black car with the chain-link steering wheel that moves ever-so-slowly down the street, occasionally showing off the hydrolics and always showing off chrome and sound system. Driving through here on a Saturday night took a loooong time but we enjoyed the street party.

The framework of Barack's speech was that of yesterday's in Colorado. You can see and hear that speech here. To that core, he enhanced the discussion of regulating Wall Street, funding capital markets and clarifying his tax policy. In the latter, he labeled McCain's recent ads on the subject, an "Untruth." Obama also made many references to the Hispanic and Native American communities in New Mexico with a closing plea to "vote your numbers" and "flex your muscle."

(To see a large version of this slideshow, click here. You'll probably want to up the interval by pushing the '+' next to 'seconds' along the bottom.)

He was all that he seems to be: a great orator, passionate, convincing and, to my read, authentic. Indeed I came away inspired and even more hopeful. With all that is going on in and outside the presidential campaign, I become ever-more convinced that this is indeed the most important election of my voting lifetime. I'm fortunate to be here and have the opportunity to contribute.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Canvassing and Expanding

New Mexico is certainly it's own place. Sky, vistas and dry air dominate so much how it feels to be here. That's obvious. Then there's the art and architecture, distinctively and sometimes overly Southwest. But when you spend some time here, look past the presentation and meet these people, hang out in their places, a character emerges. They are unapologetically unsophisticated, behind-the-times, dusty, rusty, complicated and strangely charming. Certainly California and New York have changed this place, but only a small part of it. Most New Mexico remains an intersection between, in order of domination, White, Latino and Native American cultures and subcultures. There are few Asian and African-Americans. Rough edges and tensions abound but largely go unspoken (the state motto being "Crescit eundo", "It goes as it goes"). Still, all seem to share the love of this land and sky.

We all know by know that politically, New Mexico is deep purple. Anti-BLM property-rights ranchers, off-the-grid hippies, retired Chicago businessmen, Hollywood expats, Mexican pro-America middle class, white born-again Christians ... there all here and sometimes it's hard to guess which of the two major parties any individual will align with, if either. It's in this context that we're trying to get the message across: "You're vote really counts. Look hard at the issues and positions. See past the lies and fear-mongering."

I had this little concern as I drove across the country that I wouldn't end up with much to do for the campaign. Well that was clearly wrong as I'm having trouble making time for much else. At the moment, I'm helping in the northeast region of Albuquerque as well as the "East Mountains" to organize weekend canvassing and voter registration. The voter registration effort is currently dominant with only a few weeks before the deadline of October 7th (Hey Reader, Are you registered?). So I'm helping to coordinate sites, events, and deputized registrars all in an effort to expand the Obama-leaning voter base. (Due to past abuses, in order to register voters in the state of New Mexico, one has to be deputized by the county, a mere two hour training.) We have over 175 deputized volunteers in our area and many target sites, so the effort is a lot of communication, placement and where needed, getting permission from site owners and walk the line of non-partisanship.

Belly BobThe newly opened East Mountain Obama office had their first open house last Sunday. There the guest-of-honor wasn't so much Martin Heinrich, candidate for New Mexico's 1st congressional district, but "Belly Bob" the donkey. Belly Bob gave good rides.

And, yes, Corky's "Dead or Republican" joke was a hit.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Miniature Traveling Companions

The route from DC to Albuquerque was simple: I-66 W out of DC, I-81 S to Roanoke where I boarded I-40 W for the long haul to Albuquerque. Two and a half days seemed a reasonable target time. Alas, hurricane Gustav had other plans for me.

After driving 12 hours on day one (Corky did none, N-O-N-E, of her share of the driving), I-40W brought me to Memphis Tenn. which seemed a nice place to stop along the "Musical Highway" (though not quite sure what that meant ... I rolled down my windows but didn't hear anything). But Gustav says "no" all the hotels and motels east of Memphis were full with evacuees. On to west of Memphis and hoping for better luck. But again, Gustav gives me the big blow off and there's no room at the inn. Okay, it's getting really late and I don't want to drive exhausted in this increasingly intense wind and rain. Best pull into a rest stop and resume driving after some rest.

Okay, see that little white dot halfway between A (DC) and B (Albququerque)? That's Memphis. Nice area, big river, lots of vegetation, lots of moisture. Corky and I find our little rest stop right about there, move everything out of the passenger seat into the driver's seat get her some water, roll down the windows a bit for ventilation, and settle in for some sleep. Not so much. Itchy is me. Must be all that dog hair on the seat mixing with moisture that's got my skin creeping out. Turn on the light, remove said dog hair with handy lint brush and it's back to shut eye. But now itchy is really me. Turn on the lights again and notice drops of blood on my legs. What the *&(%? Turns out Memphis is built on a swamp. Right. My car has been invaded by a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. Guess the car light was as good as a dinner bell. Thus began a tirade of cursing and throwing everying from the drivers seat to the back seats. Corky's freaking out not from mosquitoes (fur's too think, lucky dog) but cuz Mom's completely lost it. In less than a minute we're on the I-40 ramp with all windows fully down. Only its raining hard now and mosquitoes, being determined to live or something, have no interest in flying out the window into a downpour. They hunker down. Like soldiers on a hill, at least 20 of them stand waiting in the crevice between my winshield and dashboard. At least, for the moment, they seem less interested in eating .... me.

Now well after mid-night, I'm searching again for a Super-8 or somesuch with at least one spot in the parking lot. I decide to focus on towns with no major north/south artery that would bring folk up from Louisiana and Gustav's rain. I find just such a town 50 miles west of Memphis and sure enough, the parking lot is only half full. A friendly woman at the front desk set me up with a room. $10 fee for pets. No problem. Too tired to itch now, I don't remember unlocking the door before my head hit the pillow.

The next day, Gustav's wind and rain continued until noon, but I made it all the way to Albuquerque before 11 pm, periodically rolling down all windows when one of my miniature traveling companions would start circling for a meal.

Even now, a week later, my legs, feet and right shoulder are still covered with little bumpy souvenirs. Safe and mostly sound, we made it. After sleeping the sleep of the dead, I was perfectly refreshed and ready to go. I set out that morning to find the New Mexico state office for Obama's Campaign for Change.


Monday, September 08, 2008


I don't know about you, but I'm worried. Worried that the Rovain machine will scare Americans into choosing four more years of despicable governing. So concerned am I that I've decided to take off a few months from DC to work part time for Obama in my home state, a "swing" state, of New Mexico. The latest polling (if you believe in such things) gives Obama a slight edge for NM's precious, count 'em FIVE electoral votes. Doesn't seem like much, but the Obama strategy needs New Mexico by every wining scenario of close states. So off I go.

Here's the little ditty I came up with while packing the essentials (you know, computers and bicycles) before embarking on this 2,000 mile journey.

Barack Obama LogoWith bikes on the rack,
And Corky in back,
This will be a road-trip-o-rama.

Palin's no Hillary,
Find me a distillery!
Lest I become Drama-Mama.

It will be a long ride,
But McCain? Can't abide!
I'll get NM for Obama.

Hopefully, my ability to sway New Mexico voters is stronger than my poetry. And so it begins and not a moment too soon, what with the republican swift-boating ugliness in full swing. Readers of the Albuquerque Journal's online edition are already being asked to vote in an online poll: "Sarah Palin: Enough Already? Or Do you Still Want More Coverage?" I can hardly wait for the debates.



At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so funny and cute Kristin
Thx, kn