Reasons to Vote for Gillibrand or Warren & Not for Biden

I can appreciate that former Vice-President Joe Biden is willing, so it appears in some respects, to speak his conscience and advocate for unpopular policy positions.

That said, his stance on abortion– upholding the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits use of federal funds for abortions with the exception of rape, incest, and the life of the mother) more specifically– troubles me.

Also, Biden recently “elicited confusion” — as The Daily Beast’s  Emily Shugerman puts it— because, before changing his official stance today, he had voiced his support for abolishing the Hyde Amendment.   

CNN’s Rebecca Buck reported by tweet today

The Biden campaign says he misheard this woman on the ropeline and thought she was referring to the Mexico City rule

(The so called “Mexico City rule,” as Planned Parenthood website explains, “prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money.”)

I cannot help but wonder, is this really what Biden thought?

While I don’t mean to doubt his honesty or his sharpness of thought, I ask because I’m not sure why he thought she was referring to the “Mexico City rule.”

The ACLU activist, who goes by Nina according to the ACLU tweet sharing the video– did ask Mr. Biden rather directly, “Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment which hurts poor women and women of color?” and he really had absolutely nothing to say about this policy other than to immediately emphasize how he’s “got a near perfect voting record my entire career” and to add “Right now it can’t be, it can’t stay. Thank you,” and then he walked away.

How aware was Mr. Biden of this specific interaction, and how genuine? To me, it comes across as (though I cannot prove it is) insincere, as if he was sort of mindlessly going through the rhythms of shaking hands, saying hello, and quickly acting on hasty guesses as to what he thinks the people want to hear.

Not that this is a unique problem among politicians and not that Biden should be singled out as the only one guilty of this. Still, between the dynamics of Trump’s electoral success in 2016 for appearing “different,” and Hillary Clinton’s failure in part for seeming like more of the status-quo, one would hope Democrats and sympathetic #NeverTrumpers have learned that politics in the last few years has been changing drastically. Likewise, the kind of politicians we are in need of has been changing.

More disconcerting though than Biden’s inability to appear especially genuine and cognizant of what he’s saying and who he’s saying it to is that his belief in upholding the Hyde Amendment disadvantages women who don’t earn much income.

As the Planned Parenthood website says, “When policymakers deny a woman insurance coverage for abortion, she is either forced to carry the pregnancy to term or pay for care out of her own pocket.”

Biden’s position is thus an affront to efforts made both by women’s advancement in society and efforts to promote the well-being of the economically insecure. Moreover, along with the basic unfairness of the policy, it contradicts conventional Democratic values.

Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are quite savvy and pro-active on this point.  Of the 20 plus candidates running in the Democratic Presidential primary, along with the 89 year old former Senator from Alaska– Mike Gravel (who is not making a substantial splash in the polls)– these two are the boldest when it comes to their protectiveness of abortion rights, making it clear that they believe it ought to be a matter of law that women be permitted to have abortions should they so choose.

In the process of evaluating Democratic candidates in the midst of this primary, Gillibrand and Warren put their exceptionalism thus far on full display. In contrast, Biden, the mainstream media sweetheart, seems to be either somewhat confused, trying too hard to play politics, or simply fails to demonstrate his awareness of the consequences of his continued support of the Hyde Amendment.

On the War in Afghanistan & Ethical, Courteous Marketing (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #22)

Children killed in war. And not just that day. But the day before and throughout the week. Such a thing should not be. I am not a Utopian but…in a world where we can do so many complex things with tiny “Smart” phones, is it not mind boggling that we cannot at least stop children from dying in war?

And are we even winning this war?

TRANSCRIPT:

Happy Memorial Day to y’all. But actually isn’t it inappropriate to say “happy Memorial day” about a day that is in fact…about something inherently sad…reflecting on our extremely courageous ladies and gentlemen who lost their lives as part of their service in our military? A very sad day it is indeed…to acknowledge that there should ever be such a thing as war…that political entities at times go so mad that the only way to address the madness is through fighting.

We are still fighting in Afghanistan- 18 years- the longest war our nation has ever fought, if we exclude our battles with Native Americans. And maybe we shouldn’t.

And how much coverage does the war in Afghanistan get in the news? How many people remember throughout each day that we are still in fact…fighting a war. I want to let that awful word sink in.

War.

Aside from ensuring quality healthcare access to all, and removing President Trump from office from his plethora of crimes and abuses of power and of the office of the presidency, should we not consider finding a proper way to end the war in Afghanistan a political priority? Why does it not get treated as such?

If it does get treated such…I must tell you, I haven’t heard of it and I need you to show me by who.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about this  out of respect to those who have fought there, who have lost their lives there, who have lost their loved ones there, who are without their loved ones today in one respect or another because of this war.

I really think it is important to remind ourselves today our nation remains in this war with insufficient talk of bringing it to an end.

I just found out today while researching a little about updates on the war that the New York Times keeps a “Afghan War Casualty Report.” I need to start reading this more. The report states that:

[on]  May 22 Ghazni Province: two security forces and two civilians killed. Two children and two members of the security forces were killed and 12 people, seven civilians and five members of the security forces, were wounded, when a Humvee laden with explosives was hit by a rocket before reaching its target in Ghazni City. Four suicide attackers inside the Humvee were also killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.”

Children. Children killed in war. And not just that day. But the day before and throughout the week. Such a thing should not be. I am not a Utopian but…in a world where we can do so many complex things with tiny “Smart” phones, is it not mind boggling that we cannot at least stop children from dying in war?

And are we even winning this war?

There was a sobering article published last week– May 21– the headline reads: “Attacks on Girls’ Schools on the Rise.”

The article mentions how:

on two successive nights, armed men on motorcycles set fire to two girls’ schools just outside Farah city, the provincial capital. Both were badly damaged and the teaching materials inside were destroyed, ending classes indefinitely for nearly 1,700 girls.

Now, between destroyed school records and traumatized girls, their education has been severely disrupted. While some within the Taliban claim to condemn this, others don’t. And while we are in the midst of so called “peace talks” what does real peace in Afghanistan look like?

I remember Ashley and I watching an episode of Madam Secretary which depicted an agreement whereby the U.S. supported Afghan government accepted a deal with the Taliban– that the Taliban would agree to a Democracy if no women were allowed to have seats in the legislature, raising the fundamental question– is such a compromise an acceptable one? I was enraged by that episode. I understand that international politics is complex and severe in its difficulties but I don’t think democracy as such is enough of a fundamental political principle for a polity to develop itself upon. I think the Weimar Republic is astounding proof of that.

It’s really a strange time for democracy isn’t it?

How can we even pressure the Taliban to surrender to a certain kind of democracy when ours is so divided, being put to the test by President Trump and his gang of obstructionist Republicans who seem hellbent on accountability from the executive branch…who seem to have surrendered their oversight responsibilities now that Hillary Clinton isn’t being investigated for her failures in Benghazi anymore.

Not only does it sadden me to see the war in Afghanistan linger into its 18th year on this memorial day, but that our commander in chief is so fundamentally corrupt…this does not give me so much confidence in what may come of our efforts in Afghanistan.

I do however, have tremendous confidence in our ladies and gentlemen in our military and want to again reiterate my gratitude and I want to say…I can’t wait until we get you all home with your loved ones.

Something else I’ve been to other than lamenting our situation in Afghanistan this memorial day is trying to improve my marketing skills.

Article after article on marketing, YouTube vlog promotion and such insists on emailing people about your vlog.

I find this nerve racking, imagining how busy people might be, and feeling like just one small voice in the wilderness of voices competing for five minutes of your time or my time. But, like snake skin, my insecurities are shedding because I do believe sharing is paramount to worthwhile relationships.

Healthy relationships.

Telling each other “Hey!Here is what I’m up to! And what are you up to? Let’s trade stories and feedback!” I vow to no longer feel ashamed of this mentality. Afterall, attitudes should be encouraging and constructive, not discouraging and destructive, right?

Why did I feel ashamed of sharing my thoughts? As I’ve mentioned before part of it has to do with how I used to view myself as incompetent. But also, sometimes I can get these day mares of people thinking I’m a vain narcissist, thinking “Who the hell does this O’Connor Cat think he is for supposing his little contemplations are worth my time? It’s not like he’s going to make me rich, powerful or healthier. This O’Connor guy is obsessed with himself!” I don’t want to be perceived as obsessed with myself. Because I’m not.

I am obsessed with “thoughts” though and as I mentioned yesterday, preserving them, polishing them, and sharing them which someone’s got to do if we truly value them…these pieces of our “selves,” our souls…so for me to treat this as vain narcissism is…illogical…inaccurate…and so I can begin to feel more confidence about it and indulge more in the fun of it.

Of course, there is such a thing as excessive interest in the self… that would be narcissistic vanity…when you allowing it to cloud your concern for the “world around you,” like president Trump does. (Not sure how it doesn’t occur to him that when literally everything must be about him being the biggest, the greatest, the most, of this or that…I mean…it’s like this obvious con-artist formula BS thing…does he know how obvious his nonsense appears to the world? Or does he and just not care? Which is the more disturbing prospect?

Where did I develop a fear of being a narcissist?

As a kid and teen and young adult I had a dislike for cockiness in general… people who seemed only to think of themselves as infallible (again, president Trump serves as a most unfortunate example) and the only one whose endeavors are worth discussing.

As a kid also I always tried so hard to be “nice.”

One teacher joked of her shock when I talked a lot on class and called me a goody-two-shoe. I got sick at some point of thinking about myself in such terms and worried that “nice guys finish last” (to use that cliche phrase) and I grew aware of the importance of self confidence- self esteem, positive thinking.

As a result I really began forcing myself to believe I could do anything… which led to an inflated ego.

And during my Ayn Rand phase…i guess roughly 2011-2014 or so… I thought I was a genius of philosophy and that I could come up with an answer for anything and alas… I became quite the pathetic elitist.

I remember once refusing to attend a Christmas party because I was not a Christian and didn’t want to corrupt my integrity by associating with people who hold a belief I thought was so “wrong”…I didn’t want my attendance at the party to somehow suggest to them I condoned their religious beliefs. I was elitist, snobbish, pretentious, cocky, anti-social and isolationist.

I also recall the brief time Ashley and I spent in California, when I told someone I think I was going to save the world with my philosophy…I mean…as if I really did know everything about the universe somehow.

And I had this belief that we were all “Goddesses and Gods” with karmic thought powers that were responsible for the co-creation of the physical laws of the universe.

Now I don’t think that way. I still don’t subscribe to a religion but I deeply cherish the freedom to think what one wants as long as one values human life and other people’s’ freedoms to believe as they wish.

So…I really have been reading up as much as possible on marketing and self promotion lately.

Last night I was up till about 12:30 am reading– probably the latest I’ve been up since the winter when I had some time off from work the Tutoring Center. You see…I’m determined to improve my marketing skills!

I want to not just because I want my vlog to be successful, but because I really do care about my political activism as well and want to be effective on that front. Moreover, I think that marketing/self-promotion is just a reality of social life and a crucial element of self-confidence.

Not that our conversations need to be myopically fixated only on our business endeavors so to speak but I suppose one of my themes for today is–and I think this is also a continuation from yesterday’s points I made about actually enjoying commercials and ads– our businesses are so much a part of who we are–the fantasies of our minds in the process of fruition.

To that end though, I’m also determined to become knowledgeable and practiced in theory of ethical and courteous marketing and integration of business into social interactions, whether the marketed item is political, technological, artistic, academic, financial or otherwise.That is to say, I want to present myself in the most palatable but yet honest way I can. I do believe one can be both. I do not believe one has to choose between bluntness and diplomacy.

So what have I learned and employed from my research on Marketing? (Thus far, backlinko.com has been quite informative)

Well, one example would be the alteration of my YouTube layout. It comes pretty widely recommended that we make some of our playlists horizontal and others vertical as to stand out from those YouTube channels where the creator is a little less invested. I also learned to write 1-3 sentence introductions in my video summaries followed by  descriptions of my channel. Something else I read said that thumbnail text should be blue, green, orange, or yellow. So I’ve also been making new thumbnail texts to that end.

Something is going right because now when I search “vlog” and “public comment” some of my videos are showing up on the top 10 search listings.


The first time I ever found my own work on top any list of any online search. This is what I found when I searched the keyword “vlog.” Screenshot taken 5/27/19
This is what I found when I searched the keyword “public comment.” Screenshot taken 5/27/19

This is really quite shocking and unbelievable to me honestly as I feel I’ve failed so much in life, from self publishing a book to my runs for political office to my pursuit of a teaching assistantship. Anyway..that doesn’t even matter anymore. I feel so free from all of that. So beyond it…so purely and solely interested merely in….talking to you.

It really is amazing how permitting myself freedom of thought is revolutionizing my sense of self. I just can’t begin to tell you. Lately I feel so…cleaned up…so remade…so new…so fresh…so reborn…

Part of it, I imagine, no doubt, is my anti-anxiety medication but I mean…more so in the long term because even when the medication first kicked in, even as my doctors increased the dosage…this feeling I’ve had…really since I began this vlog…it’s one of the most exceptional feelings I ever had. I think only the feeling of being with my wife brings out of me a better and more purifying, clean kind of feeling.

I suppose another element is no longer having the burden of homework assignments. My mind has finally been freed up do contemplate more extensively based on its own interests as opposed to being compelled to do this and that and that and this that way and this way for professors. Not that that was a bad thing. It made me who I am now and taught me how to think critically and work harder than I ever had before. Still…it’s nice to have more time to think on my own without worrying about some assignment due in three hours. Also…to be free of whether or not some graduate school program is going to like me…I was really fixated on that. I forget if I mentioned that to you in an earlier video.

But I wasted a lot of time….a lot of mental energy, having anxiety attacks over whether or not I’d amount to something by getting a teaching assistantship at a graduate school. Now…while I have nothing but adoration for the concept of academia…I’m not sure that’s where the most constructive community is anymore. I think social media is redefining our concepts of constructive community building.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
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