Archive for 'Politics'

I Heart Goshen

Posted on November 7, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

Check out The Goshen Chronicle …

Goshen — The Orange County Board of Elections was singled out for kudos in the national media this week, when a columnist for the Huffington Post commended election commissioners for going the extra mile to get her an absentee ballot.

Hannah Ingber Win was working on election coverage for the Huffington Post, the most famous and influential liberal blog in the nation. But she procrastinated when it came to getting her absentee ballot.

Continue reading here.

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New Yorkers Count Too

Posted on November 2, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

This was cross-posted on the Huffington Post.

I was so close to writing a post explaining why during this historic election I wasn’t going to vote. Well, I wanted to write about it but didn’t because of all the potential finger-pointing. (Not that I tend to be one who shies away from controversy.) Our society does not look favorably on those who don’t vote. The people in my world look at those non-voters like they are irresponsible, uneducated, apathetic jerks who take their democratic rights for granted.

I’d likely get twice the finger-pointing because I am working on election coverage right now for the Huffington Post. I enjoy my job, love the Huffington Post, and figured that it would not look good if an employee who works on election coverage wasn’t a good enough person to vote.

Luckily, I don’t have to write that post. I am going to vote tomorrow.

I am registered at my parents’ address in upstate New York. I spent two years living in Los Angeles and kept my New York State registration primarily because I wanted to keep my New York driver’s license and plates. If I ever got pulled over by a cop, I was prepared to explain that I had NY plates because I was a New York resident — hey, I’m even registered to vote there! I never had the opportunity to use that line. But I was prepared.

Sure if I had attended graduate school in an important state like Ohio or Florida, I would have changed my registration. But since my vote in neither New York nor California matters, I figured I should prioritize my license plate. Yes, I have New York pride.

I voted by absentee from LA in the primary. Then I moved to Brooklyn and was too busy working on election coverage to think about changing my registration, so I planned on voting again by absentee. But then the days went by. Day after day. I kept reminding myself — to do lists, sticky pads, knots on fingers — to print out that absentee ballot application. But I was too busy thinking about voting and editing voting stories and reading about voting problems and following all those polls.

At this point, it was days before the election, and I still hadn’t printed out the application form to receive an absentee ballot. I was sure I had missed the deadline. I knew my ballot wasn’t going to swing the election, but the guilt built up inside of me. Here we have an historic election, historic election, historic election, how many times do we need to remind ourselves it’s an historic election — and I wasn’t voting? Here I was working on campaign coverage, and I wasn’t voting?

What really got me was imaging my grandchildren asking me about this election. Could I say that I didn’t cast my vote in it?

In an attempt to alleviate some of the guilt, I finally printed out the absentee ballot application and put it in the mail. I knew that it wouldn’t make the deadline and I’d probably never receive the actual absentee ballot let alone mail it back in time. But I figured I could try to convince myself that I did my civic duty. If I just pretended it got there in time, that’s enough, right? I mean, this is New York. Not like we’re going to be staying up all night waiting for our results.

But then…lo and behold…my step-dad called on Saturday morning. It turns out the Orange Country Registrar in Goshen, New York, had tried sending me an absentee ballot in Los Angeles plus got my application from Brooklyn. I had thoroughly confused them. Luckily, no Acorn accusations.

Goshen is a rather small town, and someone working at the registrar’s office recognized either my name or my parents’ address. She cared so much about my ability to vote in this election that she tried calling my parents all week. We may live in New York, but that is real America. (Update: She also tried calling my dad’s house in the next town. Now that is real real America.) She finally reached my step-dad, who explained what had happened, and he is going to bring my absentee ballot to the city on Monday. Just in time for me to vote.

When my step-dad told me this, I was surprisingly thrilled. I still am.

All along I thought my need to vote was just about appearances. I thought I wanted to participate not because it mattered to the electoral count but because not voting would look bad.

But now that I actually can vote, it feels so good I want to brag about it. I too can cast my ballot. I can be part of something much bigger than me. There has never been an election in my lifetime that I have worked so hard on or followed so closely (and I spent the summers of 2000 and 2004 working for campaigns). Now, in 2008, I finally have the opportunity to choose a candidate who truly inspires me, who gives me hope and confidence. If my candidate wins, I can stop cringing during State of the Union addresses. If he wins and I travel abroad again, I won’t have to explain to every foreigner I meet that I do not agree with my government. I can be proud again to be American. And if he wins, I will have helped get him there.

I keep thinking about those photos of men and women in Iraq who voted for the first time. I feel like dipping my finger in ink and waving it in the air for all to see. My voice might not swing the election, but at least it will be counted.

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Is Muslim The New Queer?

Posted on October 11, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics, Religion.

The U.S. presidential election has led to fairly significant debate on black-white race issues as well as gender politics. This campaign has triggered passionate hatred for Muslims and Arabs in this country, and yet that form of racism and prejudice has barely been discussed.

Just yesterday an elderly woman at a campaign event with John McCain rambled into the microphone about how she doesn’t trust Barack Obama and then said, as if it were her kicker, “HE’S ARAB.”

McCain took the microphone back, shook his head, and acting like he is suddenly better than gutter politics, said something along the lines of, “No, no, Mam. He’s a decent, family man.”

What?! That old lady did not say Obama is a terrorist. She did not say he is a murderer or a rapist or a drug dealer to little children. She said he is “Arab.” And yet, McCain automatically understood her point and equated “Arab” with “bad man.”

Similar things have been happening on a regular basis throughout this campaign. Every time people spread emails and rumors that Obama is Muslim, they are not trying to inform voters of the man’s religion. They are saying, Don’t vote for him because he is Muslim. Every time some religious-right radio talkshow host uses Obama’s middle name of Hussein, he is saying, Don’t vote for Obama because he is Muslim.

Obama has on occasion said that it shouldn’t matter if he were Muslim or not. But he has not done that enough. Usually, he just denies it, as if being called Muslim were an accusation. Wouldn’t someone who wants to run on a mantle of hope and bring this country forward on race relations say over and over again, “There is nothing wrong with being Muslim. Muslims have the right to run for office. Muslims are not all terrorists.”

When people accuse Obama of being Arab, he should similarly say, “There is nothing wrong with being Arab. We have many allies in the Arab world.”

Step back a moment and think again about that old lady at the McCain event yesterday. Imagine her instead saying that she doesn’t trust Obama and…. “HE”S JEWISH.” Or she doesn’t trust Obama and … “HE’S CHRISTIAN.” Or she doesn’t trust Obama and …. “HE’S POLISH.”

And then, imagine the man running on the Republican Party ticket to be president of the United States say, “No, no, no, he’s not Jewish. He’s a decent, family man.”

Yes, of course, there is still plenty of hatred against Jews out there in the world. But a Republican presidential candidate would never say that because there would be a backlash from the Jewish community, and probably (hopefully) from many other communities.

So where’s the backlash now? We hear a lot about this election getting “uglier” and politics getting “dirtier.” We discuss those voters in the South or rural PA who say they’d never vote for a black man. So why don’t we hear about the ongoing racism against Muslims and Arabs that has been coming out in this campaign?

I am Jewish and grew up learning about the Holocaust and the apocryphal story of the Danish king who wore the Star of David when the Nazis tried to round up the Jews. As the story goes, all the Danes then wore the Star of David, thereby protecting the real Jews from being sent to concentration camps. I grew up hearing stories about the German families who risked everything to hide Jews in their basement. And, of course, about the families who stood by and did nothing. To them, we said Never Again.

Now, in post-9/11 America, it is the Muslims and Arabs who are the object of racism. While there are so many Americans who are quick to correct the facts and make sure the public knows that Obama is not Arab or Muslim, where are the people speaking up and saying that the Arabs and Muslims are not evil, bad people? How come now almost nobody is saying it’s not OK to hate?

Rather than correcting these lies by proving that Obama is Christian, we should be denouncing them. And, like the story of the Danish king, we should all be willing to say, I am Arab, I am Muslim.

This was cross-posted on the Huffington Post.

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OffTheBus — Palin Did Not Implode

Posted on October 4, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Media, Politics.

I have been working at the Huffington Post’s OffTheBus section for the past month. We cover the U.S. presidential campaign by enlisting citizen journalists, professional journalists, students, professors, doctors, teachers, and just about everyone else to write ground-level reports on the campaign.

Yesterday, OffTheBus writers from across the country (and a couple in Canada) went to VP Debate Watch Parties and contributed stories on how the audience reacted to the candidates. Check out the stories featured on our page today. OffTheBus members also contributed reports on how their local media covered the debate.

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“Mom” for Vice President!

Posted on August 29, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

Check out my blog on the Huffington Post today:

Watching Sarah Palin accept the Republican nomination for vice president, all I could think was that I am so grateful my mother did not run for president or VP while I was a baby. This is hardly good judgment on Palin’s part.

Such a sentiment is surely anti-feminist of me. Women, including mothers, should be allowed and encouraged to pursue high-powered careers. And having a mother who works is the best way to teach one’s children that women should be financially independent and treated equally in the workforce.

But running on a national ticket months after your child was born? Let alone a son who has Downs Syndrome and therefore under the best of circumstances is going to need every last bit of attention. How can one possibly be an involved and nurturing parent while campaigning in such a heated race?

Read more…

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Oped in Hartford Courant

Posted on August 26, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Culture, Media, Politics, Religion.

Check out my personal essay in the Hartford Courant this Wednesday. It’s about driving cross country and learning about the presidential campaign and American culture from the radio shows along the way. It was on the Los Angeles Times/ Washington Post wire and also ran in the Chicago Tribune.

My husband and I just finished driving from our home in Los Angeles to my parents’ in upstate New York because I will be taking a job on the East Coast. The trip was a great success: We slept in a budget hotel each night and never got bed bugs — just one night with a spider — and we made it to New York without crashing or getting a speeding ticket. More important, we learned about this country we live in, yet know so little about.

Neither of us had ever been to most of the places we visited along the way. My husband was born and raised in Burma, and I have never traveled in the South or much of the Midwest. We got to check out the vistas in the Grand Canyon, art galleries and jewelry shops in Santa Fe, beautiful brick mansions in Tulsa, Cardinal fans in St. Louis and cornfields in Illinois. But what was most interesting to us about our trip was listening to the radio.

Throughout the entire country — between Los Angeles and New York — we couldn’t flip through the radio stations without finding multiple shows dedicated to people talking about Jesus. Some were singing songs about him; most were discussing how their lives had changed since they had accepted the Lord into their heart. On one station a host was interviewing a child about which Biblical verse was her favorite.

Read more.

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Interpreters for U.S. Left Behind

Posted on July 9, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Immigration, International, Politics.

Check out my story on the Huffington Post today:

Every couple of weeks an email from Baghdad pops up in Iraq War veteran Joey Coon’s inbox at his home in Washington, D.C. It’s Coon’s 23-year-old Iraqi interpreter, nicknamed Dash, pleading for help to get out of Iraq and into the United States. Dash feels in constant grave danger that he and his family will be killed because of his work with American troops.

“People like Dash put their lives on the line to help keep people like me and my friends and fellow soldiers and Iraqi civilians safe,” said Coon. “It was a very admirable, heroic thing that he did, I think, and I do feel that both soldiers and the American people in general have a certain responsibility here.”

That responsibility, however, is one that is more or less being shirked off by the presidential campaigns. While both candidates hotly debate each other’s plans for withdrawing or maintaining troop levels in Iraq, virtually nothing is being said about the 4 million Iraqis who have been displaced by the war or about the tens of thousands of Iraqis like Dash who feel at immediate risk for having worked with the Americans. Even less is being said about how the incoming administration will deal with the humanitarian crisis still evolving.

That’s why Coon and veterans like him are working harder than ever to mount a national campaign to save the lives of their interpreters by bringing them to the United States. Although there has been some progress recently made in establishing special immigrant visas for Iraqis who worked for Americans, the process of getting these Iraqis to the United States continues to be filled with long, bureaucratic delays. As papers get shuffled, untold thousands of Iraqis are left in danger.

Read more here.

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I Want a Leader

Posted on July 3, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Immigration, International, Politics.

Barack Obama can find time in his schedule to have two press conferences on his timeline for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq - in one day. Couldn’t he fit in one press conference - say in one month - in which he discusses his plan for Iraqi reconstruction, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement?

The chair of the campaign’s immigration policy group, Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, insisted to me that the senator is deeply committed to helping the almost five million Iraqis displaced by the war. He said Obama feels that the United States has a responsibility to these people.

So where’s the press conference?

Leadership is about bringing up sticky, uncomfortable issues. It’s about taking a stand when others want to hide under a blanket. A president with true leadership can force the American people to grapple with the difficult questions - like what the hell are we going to do about this massive humanitarian and security crisis that the war we started created - and get them to rally around an issue simply because it’s the right thing to do.

We’ve been in this war for five years. Debating how quickly we remove combat troops is the easy part. Figuring out what happens once we leave is the real challenge. And it would be nice if the candidates took 30 minutes out of their months of campaigning to tell us what they plan to do.

(P.S. Sorry, I can’t tell you how committed John McCain is to Iraqis displaced by the war. His campaign won’t return my phone calls or emails.)

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Obama Crashes My College Reunion

Posted on May 26, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

Check out my column on the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus today about Sen. Barack Obama coming to Wesleyan this weekend.

Wesleyan University, my alma mater, is a small liberal arts school that gets a disproportionate amount of media coverage, usually for its uber-liberal ways. It has made the press for having a naked dorm and co-ed rooms. This time we made the headlines, and we didn’t have to take our clothes off. Sen. Barack Obama veered from the campaign trail to give Sunday’s commencement address for Wesleyan’s class of 2008.

I happened to be going to the campus this weekend to celebrate my five-year reunion. I flew in to Connecticut from Los Angeles; others came from as far as Madrid and Buenos Aires. We left behind spouses, fiances and at least one baby so we could focus on each other and our memories. We love our Wesleyan.

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Obama Speaks at Wesleyan

Posted on May 26, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Politics.

Sen. Barack Obama veered from his campaign trail to give the commencement address at Wesleyan University this weekend. I was there for my five-year reunion. Here are some pix:

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