Archive for the ‘kelly ko’ Category

A Time For Thanks?

November 28, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
KO Zine)

This Thanksgiving may be one of the toughest for many of us. Some may not be able to afford to travel the distance to see their family. Others may not even have the money to recreate the traditional Thanksgiving dinner enjoyed year after year. Without the family or food of the holiday, some would say this holiday is nothing. Here’s something for you to think about, even if you have very little.

According to the History Channel, Thanksgiving was traditionally created following a particularly rough winter that killed many Pilgrims. After forming an alliance with some local American Indians, the Pilgrims were able to rack up enough food for the upcoming winter. Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to celebrate what they believed would be a less harsh winter.

You knew this already, right? Well, after being asked if Thanksgiving was an American holiday last week, thought I should do a little recap. Canada actually celebrates Thanksgiving, but it’s separate date with a whole different history.

While thankfulness is an important factor of this holiday, another aspect should be considered in the world of politics. The American Indians, native to what would become the United States, were willing to help their new neighbors, despite the fact that they had come from some unknown place. Today, many immigrants are simply pushed aside, left to do the jobs that many of us find menial.

When will this country finally start treating all immigrants with respect? Not just those who excel in math and science. – In June, President Barack Obama promised his commitment to “comprehensive immigration reform.”

He plans to “clarify the status of millions who are here illegally.” He believes those who wish to become citizens would be required to pay a penalty, learn English and go to the end of the line behind those who came here legally.

The president has asked Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, to develop immigration reform legislation that was said to be announced this fail. Some of the 7 main points he plans to include are an employer verification system, a path to citizenship for those already in the country and better control of the borders.

All of this sounds great, but will it ever happen? I know, health care must be first and the government also must deal with growing unemployment, global warming, the list is never ending.

Those of us lucky enough to have Thanksgiving dinner this year probably have so many different dishes to prepare. We have to cook everything at once, getting as close to perfection as possible.

The government has the same problem, only they’re dealing with millions of lives. Tackling each issue takes patience and debate. If immigration must be put on the back burner, I hope it’s not forgotten.

More Info:
CBS News
New York Times
Senator Schumer Government Wensite
History Channel

Health Care Reform Passed?

November 15, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

The House has finally passed a health care bill. Everyone in America can now jump for joy at this remarkable victory. But with one particularly big issue compromised and the dooms day that’s to come when the Senate tries to pass a similar version, I’m not sure the time has come for celebration.

Before I bring everyone down, let’s start with the positive: Democrats won a major victory with the inclusion of a public option in the bill. This will make health insurance accessible for those who aren’t covered by their employer and simply can’t afford it by allowing a government option at a much lower cost.

While this sounds great, one amendment that was attached to the bill stands out as a huge problem for those of us pro-choicers. The Stupak amendment prevents federal funding for any woman seeking an abortion. Now it’s nothing new for the government to refuse funds for an abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or harm to the mother (see the Hyde amendment), but this amendment is still the first of its kind. It also prevents abortion coverage for certain small businesses and families who qualify to receive a government subsidized insurance plan through private insurance agencies.

According to Mother Jones, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 18 million will utilize government subsidies to acquire health care for their family by 2019. Women may purchase their own abortion coverage, but like so many say, “Who really plans for an unplanned pregnancy?”

Pro-choice Senate Democrats have threatened to block any plan that includes this amendment.
On Nov. 9, President Barack Obama responded to critics by saying, “This is a health care bill, not an abortion bill.”

Next on my agenda is one specific opponent of this health care bill: Joe Lieberman. While I believe dissent is always a good thing, I think Lieberman deserves a good kick in the ass. Just because you label yourself an ‘independent,’ doesn’t mean you can ruin this moment for your former party.

So you want to filibuster the bill? Interesting, because in many other cases you have been an opponent of the filibuster, even for bills you did not support. You actually think this issue is worth standing up there and reading out of the phone book (or whatever) for who knows how long, more than say a high-tech fence to protect our borders (something you gave a nay, but it ultimately passed because you didn’t agree with wasting the Senate’s time).

Lieberman, you may not remember this, but last year you almost lost your committee chairmanship because you supported Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate. Because of the newly-elected president’s wish that you would not be punished, you were allowed to keep your position of power in the Senate.

President Obama choose to do this because he wants government to be more bipartisan. Politicians like you, who seem to be unwilling to compromise, prevent this bipartisanship dream from coming true. Mr. Independent, its time for you to start compromising.

Overall, this bill still has a long way to go in the Senate. All I know is I have a lot of friends who haven’t been to the doctor in years, including myself. I’m not happy with the abortion compromise and I hope it’s eventually killed in the Senate. But, unlike Lieberman, I’m willing to compromise a little for the greater good.

More Info:
Mother Jones
Huffington Post

Obama Admin’s Sudan Middle of the Road Approach

November 2, 2009

Written By: Kelly KO
(Editor, KO Zine)

Last week, the Obama Administration finally laid out their plans for how to deal the controversial Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The decision took months of debate, but will effect many, in the region and beyond, for years to come.

The policy will place pressure on al-Bashir and offer incentives should he comply with US demands. Both the demands and incentives have yet to be released. This middle of the road approach is much softer than President Obama had pledged on the campaign trial, but hard enough to avoid giving the Sudanese government a free pass.

The al-Bashir’s regime is responsible for genocide in their region that has killed more than 300,000 in six years, according to UN estimates.

The lack of harsh sanctions in the policy is somewhat aligned with renowned expert on Sudan Alex de Waal’s argument that aggressive international intervention is either ineffective or sometimes counter-productive.
Regarding the issue, the Program Director at the Social Science Research Council has wrote, “When peace and justice clash, as they do in Sudan today, peace must prevail.”

Two key members of the administration are said to be the reason behind the extended debate and the final decision is a compromise between the two’s arguments.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J Scott Gration, the US special envoy to Sudan, fought for more communications and easing of sanctions on Sudan. Gration preferred a “gold star” and “cookies” approach (as told to the Washington Post), which outraged many in the human rights camp.

The other side of the debate is lead by UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Rice believes that the on-going genocide calls for harsh penalties and some, including former envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios believe she, “want[s] to declare all out war.”
Of course, the US is not the only player in this issue. Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, leading the Sudanese government to tell the ICC to “eat” the warrant. In the following months, most aid workers were forced out of the region because of fear of unrest that the warrant was expected to spark.

The US policy is much like those of other countries efforts with Sudan, including many in Western Europe. To complicate the issue, Sudan’s strong relationship with China means that they don’t necessarily need to comply with the US and other countries that have similar policies.

Some may argue that compromise is just an indecisive leader’s way of making a decision. In some cases, this may be true. However, in the case of US-Sudan relations, a compromise should be just enough to finally bring this war-torn region closer to peace.

Find out more:
Washington Post

The Atlantic



The tunnel

October 15, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

Today, as shocking as it might sound, I’d really like to thank the Republican governor of the great state of California. Mr. Schwarzenegger, first, thanks for that Harvey Milk holiday. It was long overdue. But, Arnold, I’d also like to thank you for vetoing the 710 Pasadena tunnel. We’ve had our differences in the past (many, many of them), but you have my full support on the veto of this complete waste of time and money.

The 710 Freeway, also known as the Long Beach Freeway, stretches vertically on the east side of Los Angeles. The 23-mile route runs along the Los Angeles River, beginning in Long Beach and ending in Alahambra. Originally, construction was planned for an extension through Pasadena, but the community opposed this plan for various reasons and the freeway was never completed.

The tunnel idea came about to appease those Pasadenaens who thought the freeway would split up the city. The plan would have cost around $2-3 billion. How politicians thought this amount of money would be easy to come by, I have no idea – Or maybe I just don’t understand politics. Maybe money just comes out of nowhere. If that’s true, then everything I have to say is bullshit. But I’m pretty sure our tax dollars would pay for this tunnel.

I have never been opposed to paying taxes, but I want my tax dollars to go towards something useful, both now and in the future. Investing in a more efficient public transportation could help transition L.A. from a city infamous for its horrendous traffic to a mass transit mecca that rivals New York and San Francisco. And they should create more bike lanes while they’re at it.

While the Terminator vetoed the tunnel, he left the option open for an $850,000 surface highway. If the highway absolutely must be completed (and I don’t understand why it must be), this route is obviously much more monetarily feasible than the tunnel.

Many disagree with the construction of a surface highway. Some of the arguments are related to environmental concerns, while others think the highway could harm the community of Pasadena.

To be honest, I think all parties have forgotten that not only is this state facing a recession like only few have seen before, we are also dealing with a depletion in oil availability as well as the danger of global warming. And, no, public transportation isn’t the only option when it comes to this issue, but it’s definitely one that needs to be seriously considered.

When are Angelenos going to be ready to make a change? Only when public transportation becomes more efficient for commuters than their cars. And if the government can’t make a train more appealing than sitting in hours of traffic, I’m not sure I’m confident they can do anything.

Dick Armey

September 23, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

President Barack Obama has finally decided the time is right for a health care media blitz. I’m not so sure what the wait was, but let’s hope Americans can get more out of him than we have in these last few months of the health care debate. On the other side of the debate, those curiously named protesters the teabaggers (why would you call yourselves that??) are not throwing in their socialism-hating, research-lacking platforms quite yet.

Interestingly enough, those leading (manipulating?) these confused, passionate individuals into protests, including the 9/12 march in Washington, DC, have little or nothing in common with the marchers. FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey is one of those leaders.

According to their website, FreedomWorks has been around since 1984. Their slogan states, “Lower taxes. Less government. More freedom.” And they’re not afraid to use George W. Bush as a reference. Ok, so far not for me, but sounds fair enough.
Then former House Majority Leader Dick Armey comes in. If you missed “Bill Moyers Journal” last week, you may know little else about him other than his congressional career. On his show that premiered last Friday, Moyers tore into Armey’s credibility on some key issues he supports by highlighting just how different Armey is from all of the teabaggers.

Like so many politicians, Armey has lived a privileged life throughout most of his career. How so, you ask? Well, for starters, he has been lucky enough to receive government-supported health care, first as a professor straight out of college and later as a congress member.

Or, in Moyers words, “Dick Armey is the epitome of those people with power and privilege who are insured against the vicissitudes of life and want no government assistance for any suffering except their own.”

FreedomWorks isn’t alone in the teabagging world. The Koch Family, who accumulated their wealth from the oil industry, funds Americans for Prosperity, another organization involved in the protests. And, oh yes, you will also see this organization sponsoring pro-drilling grassroots events across the country. How curious.
I have to say that the teabaggers (I still can’t deal with that word) and I will probably agree on very little. However, I’ve always thought that a good debate comes with knowledge on the issue. Many may disagree.

Do the research yourself. Then, if you still feel the same, create your own group. Just please no more words with a reference to what drunk frat guys do to each other when someone passes out.

Think Progress – Lobbyists Planning Tea Parties
Huffington Post – Bill Moyers’ Tea Party
CNN – Tea Party
Freedomworks – Dick Armey

Why The Resignation of Van Jones Matters

September 14, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

The Obama administration recently lost one of its most valuable staff members. Van Jones, the now former Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), gave up his post last weekend, but since most of you probably have no idea that the CEQ even exists you probably also have no idea of the great asset this administration just lost.

After attending Yale law school, Jones began his career as a San Francisco-based activist, protesting police brutality and joining a group committed to Marxist politics. He continued to dedicate his life to human rights issues and, following Hurricane Katrina, developed a grassroots organization addressing Black issues called ‘Color of Change.’

More recently, he combined his activism for the working class with environmentalism to promote eco-capitalism. His green-collar jobs campaign works to lift people out of poverty with the creation of green jobs. He wrote “The Green Collar Economy” on this topic.

Jones spent half his life building his resume to get him to the White House, but it only took about a month for Glenn Beck and company to tear him down. Two specific issues are what those highly-respected commentators chose to focus on in their smear campaign.

First, there was the 9/11 truther conspirators that Jones chose to align himself with. He has said he doesn’t actually believe that the Bush administration created 9/11, but it was probably a mistake to even associate with these fringe activists.

Second, he probably shouldn’t call Republicans assholes. Last week, when asked why the Bush Administration was more pushy than Obama’s, Jones simply stated, “Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.” What he really meant is that Republicans tend to be stubborn and more willing to piss people off. Instead, he said assholes. I can’t say I disagree, but probably not the best word.

Citing this smear campaign as a distraction to the Obama administration (nevermind all of the positives in his career), Jones officially stepped down September 5. I am tired of this ‘distraction’ excuse. Distraction or not, Jones could have used his experience to help this administration accomplish something. Instead, they let him go. And, it seems, without a fuss.

Of course, unlike most of us, Jones has plenty of other options now that he’s unemployed. Blogger Arianna Huffington hopes that Jones will rediscover his voice on the outside, now that he no longer has the White House’s approval to worry about. As Huffington put it, since he no longer has to focus on detailed tax credits, he’ll have more time for speaking and firing up the public. Something the left is in dire need of these days.

So, Van Jones, let’s put this resignation to good use. I’ve heard there are some crazy town hall assholes who are ready for a battle.

The President Has Lost His Roots

August 27, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

Over the past couple of weeks, the Democrats have tried to use town hall meetings to explain in more detail what the new health care bill may look like and to answer any questions regarding the bill. Unfortunately, conservative protesters have taken over most of the town halls, which has helped in confusing Americans.

This has left many Democrats wondering where their supporters are. President Barack Obama won the presidency largely with grassroots programs, but, for whatever reason, many of these programs have slowed, or stopped, their support. So, what are those of us ready for change in the health care system to do?

First, Obama needs to deduce what it is he wants in the health care reform bill. Until he figures this out he will continue to be unclear and confusing to most Americans. Most of the public just wants the truth, plain and simple. Skirting around the issue encourages distrust.

And that confusion and distrust brings me to my second point. The Democrats must remember that a small number of their opponents are misinformed, confused Americans that could be won over with facts. The larger portion who show up to town hall meetings to protest with Obama-Hitler propaganda did not show up to be more informed. They’re there for a fight.

And fighting is pointless. As Barney Frank (D-MA) so eloquently put it at a town hall meeting, “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table.”

On a side note, all Americans have the right to bear arms (and in some states carry unconcealed weapons), but it only takes one stupid person to make all of you look like fools. Only one person has to snap.

Finally, supporters of health care reform – no matter if it’s single-payer, public-option or something else – need to stop their indolence. Democratic House member James Clyburn compared the town hall protestors to those whom he dealt with during the civil rights movement.

“I have seen this kind of hate before. I have seen this discussion before,” he said. “I have seen snarling dogs going after people who were trying to peacefully assemble. I have seen the eyes of people who were being spat upon.”

The movement to defend Americans’ right to health care needs to start and it needs to start now. More supporters should be at these town hall meetings, helping to expose the truth behind the protesters lies.

The Republicans have the Democrats backed into a corner, but both parties have forgotten one thing. The Democrats have the majority. They need to do something with it.

Health Care – We Have Options

August 13, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

Health care. All of us are probably tired of hearing about it by now. The problem is that most Americans only take the time to access mainstream media and they tend to focus less on the type of health care we may or may not be getting and more on the government and the politics among its members. A high percentage of the population is left with a whole lot of drama and no hard data to show for it.

Should the Democrats achieve some sort of health care reform, it would be the most significant domestic legislation since the Social Security Act of 1935 developed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. This piece of legislation gave the Democrats the majority in the House for a generation. Republicans, despite what the majority of Americans want, are doing their best to stop huge reform from happening.

With little to show of a health care solution on their end, a bipartisan bill introduced in 2007 by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has received Republican support. The bill would require Americans to purchase insurance through their employers and does not include a public option. I guess those who are unemployed or freelancers are on their own.
The solution that everyone is too afraid to push for, is single-payer health care. Originally, it seemed as if the Obama administration backed this, but as the health care debate evolves they have backed off tremendously. Some say the reason for this timidity is that Americans automatically link single-payer with socialism.

Single-payer involves payment to doctors and hospitals from a public fund. Private insurers would no longer exist, allowing for more equal coverage throughout the population. No more worrying about which doctors or hospitals you can and can’t go to. Wherever you are, if you need medical attention, you’ll get it. And the government pays, not you.

What many do not realize is that a fully-functioning, single-payer system already exists for US veterans. Veterans receive the best medical attention possible and most would agree that all other Americans deserve the same. This system has shown private insurers do not have to be the answer.

According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 37th among health care systems in the world. While it’s not always right to follow the leader, when it comes to health care whatever the US is doing does not work. Drastic change may be scary for some, but without it quality of life and life expectancy will only get worse. If you look at the 36 countries that outrank the US, you’ll see that most have some sort of universal coverage.

A public option is ideal, but it’s not a quick fix. The cost of health care must be controlled. While estimates vary, something like $1.3 trillion is spent per year on health care in the US. Even the most head-in-the-clouds idealist doesn’t believe that the US economy can support this. The cost of health care, especially pharmaceuticals, must decrease. Negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies and the Obama administration are underway, but there are conflicting reports on how successful said meetings are so far.

The healthcare plan currently being discussed offers an opportunity to buy a public insurance plan, but private insurers will also be in the picture. So, basically, the more money you have the better the coverage you receive. But I guess that’s the American way.

Find out more:

Sarah Palin’s Slight Return

July 28, 2009

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
Photo Credit: Bradblog

On Sunday former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stepped down as governor of Alaska. I couldn’t resist one final (I hope) opportunity to remind us all why she should pick a new career.

The first question most Americans who still care about Palin are wondering is, “What is she thinking?” Well, the ever-elusive former governor has given no definitive answer, leaving the journalists and bloggers with only speculation.

And speculate they do. Of course, the obvious answer everyone suggests is that Palin left to start her bid for president in the 2012 election. I seriously, seriously hope this is true because she wont even make it to the primaries, as the percentage of voters who actually support her falls well below the majority.

Plus, the swing voters, who are important in all elections, tend to vote moderately. Palin can be called many things, but she’s no moderate. And I would like to think voters would be discouraged to support someone who can’t even finish one term in office.

Another cause of her resignation could be the numerous ethics complaints filed against her. The former governor has admitted that these complaints have taken a personal toll and have harmed her ability to govern. So far, all 18 complaints have been dismissed.
With talented speechwriters a thing of the campaign trail past, Palin delivered her final speech as governor in “real talk,” meaning she stumbled over every other word. I will never comprehend why being inarticulate qualifies you to run the country. (See Exhibit A: President George W. Bush.)

While most of Palin’s speech touched on her positive achievements as governor, the tone eventually changed. Instead of taking the high road and going out in class, she used the platform to attack her critics, and shockingly broke new ground by attacking tiny Hollywood starlets who help promote what she called an “anti-hunting, anti-2nd amendment agenda.” She then went on to attack (and bait, I suspect) the press saying, “How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin’ things up?”

Oh, you mean like claiming people pal around with terrorists? Didn’t think so…
So what’s next for America’s beauty queen? Well, there are talks of an unconfirmed appearance at an upcoming Republican women’s convention in the Los Angeles area, so all hopes that she will instead enjoy a nice vacation of hunting moose and rallying for husband Todd’s dog races are lost, for now.

But if I know Palin, and I think I do, she’ll figure out even more ways to use those guns of hers to shoot herself in the foot – Let’s just hope “real talk” America is smart enough to notice when it happens.

Kelly KO

June 21, 2008

Position: Political Columnist/Editor (KO Zine)

Location: San Pedro, CA

Bio: Kelly KO recently graduated with her B.A. in communications with a minor in political science. She grew up in a small town in the Midwest. At the age of 20, she moved to NYC to work in the music industry. She moved to Los Angeles 3 years ago after visiting once and realizing she never wanted to see snow again. The 26-year-old deejays in her spare time and she’s also working on an independent magazine (“zine”) that she hopes to produce this summer. She is currently applying to grad schools.

Columns At CWG: Liberal Bias, KO Zine