Saturday, January 07, 2006

Fiore's latest: "Gentle Genocide"

Oh, man...what a heavy thing to watch right before going to bed. Just watched Mark Fiore's latest, Gentle Genocide. I was torn--hate to put up a downer post for the overnight, but then again, I can't bring myself to turn off the computer without drawing people's attention to this.

At the end of the animation, you will see the words "Click here to stop Gentle Genocide". If you click that link, you are taken to this web site:

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Out of Iraq action days

I just found out about "Out of Iraq" action days on the Progressive Democrats of America site. It's probably too late to join one of the January 7 events if you haven't done so already, but of course we'd love a first hand report from anyone who actually did attend one. Here are the details from PDA:

On Saturday January 7th, Progressive Democrats of America, along with many other organizations affiliated with After Downing Street, will hold Out Of Iraq events in more than 130 cities across the country. Most of the events are town hall forums, and several will feature members of Congress, including Bobby Scott, Diane Watson, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Bob Filner, Martin Sabo, Jim Moran, Marty Meehan, and John Murtha. Several other events will feature congressional staff, congressional and senatorial candidates, local elected officials, and leaders of the peace movement, including Gold Star Families for Peace founder and PDA National Board Member Cindy Sheehan, and After Downing Street Co-Founder and PDA National Board Member John Bonifaz.

But the second day of action is Monday, January 9, so there's still time to spread the word.
On Monday January 9th, PDA and other organizations are pushing a National Call-In Day to support Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and his call for the immediate censure of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. "This administration must be held accountable for its misdeeds," says Rep. Conyers. "I am taking steps against the Bush Administration's handling of the Iraq War and its collection of intelligence. I am going to need you to stand with me in fighting for accountability. Join me to demand censure for Bush and Cheney in addition to the creation of a Special Committee to investigate impeaching the Bush Administration for its widespread abuses of power."

Read more here.

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Odds 'n Ends

Just a few things I wanted to make sure got posted before I headed to the gym--for water aerobics, which will require some psyching myself up given that it is a bit nippy outside.

The new year has begun in earnest, with both new responsibilities and the resumption of others that were on temporary hiatus. In addition to posting here, I am a front page poster at Street Prophets, although I have been somewhat remiss in those duties. (I did do a post/discussion starter there last night that some of you may find of interest. Some pretty thought-provoking responses.)

Anyway, this would be a great time for some new front page posters here--any of our regular HEP commenters interested? If you would like to but think you are not "tech savvy" enough, I know that someone will most likely step up to the plate and offer to help you out. Anyone know Charlie Grapski and think you can cajole him to do a post or two? Other recommendations?

For those of you who are "bi-bloggal", here is my last post at BFA. It most likely differs from what "some" are saying over there. The practical purpose of mentioning this is that I will no longer be crossposting anything there, but I encourage others to do so if they think an issue is of interest to regular posters (only if you feel so inclined). Also, I told the longer version of the story in my New Year's post, and you can find that at the top of the links section if you are interested.

Speaking of links, I need to work on the links section soon, so if you know of any good ones that I don't already have, please pass them along. The same with action item diaries (seen top and center on this page).

Well, I really do need to head out of the house now, but will check back in later. Have a great Saturday!

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Friday, January 06, 2006

DNC Web Video: Wiretap

The DNC has put up a new Web video called Wiretap that's definitely worth viewing. In it you can hear incredible lies uttered, like this one:

On April 20, 2004, President Bush said, "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order."

Amazing! And his lips were moving, too!

The video looks at Bush's reassurance, the subsequent revelation that he isn't getting a court order, and the Nixon-like defense he's laid out since.

From Renee: I had actually not checked out this video, even though I kept hearing that it was good, until I saw that Corinne deemed it front page-worthy. And now I'm adding, yes, do check out this video (assuming you have a computer and internet connection that is capable) and share it with others. I'm also adding a couple screen captures as added enticement...

Totally different topic, but we don't really need another post tonight, and I do want to pass this link along. You might remember Dardango from BFA and the old Chat for America. He's got a new chat up and running at I stopped by a little earlier, and it was great to see some familiar names like DearPru_OH and JenAtlanta. And a few others I don't remember how to spell. Go check it out and say "hey" to some old friends.

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Howard Dean challenges Bush to come clean

We've had a great time celebrating blog family birthdays in the past couple days, but I'm definitely of the opinion that right now this blog could use more Howard! (Sort of like needing more cowbell except, well, different.) I was really jazzed that he was going to be on Anderson Cooper last night, and then bummed that he apparently was bumped (for what, the dog whisperer?) And here I was, all ready with my voice recorder so that I could transcribe it for you all. If anyone finds out when he *is* scheduled to be on, either that program or another one, please let us know.

This is from the DNC web site:

Gov Dean: President Bush Needs to Come Clean

Because President Bush has yet to return the more than $100,000 in money Jack Abramoff personally raised for him, and given reports of his extensive dealings with senior White House officials, the Administration has a responsibility to disclose their contacts and detail their relationship with this admitted felon.

As a Bush Pioneer, Abramoff bragged about the influence he held at the White House, as did his former lobbying partner who claimed that Abramoff had direct access to the President. Abramoff also arranged meetings with the President and members of the Bush Administration for his clients, who later received favorable treatment.

Until he was charged with committing three federal crimes, Abramoff used his Republican contacts, including his ties to the White House, to create an extensive pay-to-play system where political money was exchanged for policy outcomes. To begin to clear the growing ethical cloud over the White House, President Bush must disclose his Administration's contacts and detail their relationship with this admitted felon. The American people deserve the truth.

Also, 160,000 Americans, along with Howard Dean, recently signed a Freedom of Information Request regarding George Bush's domestic spying without a warrant. Those signatures were delivered yesterday to the Department of Justice. Here, Democratic party chair Howard Dean can be seen signing the request.

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Get Ready, Get Set, Get Fit

Teri Mills is a longtime Democracy For America community member. Her guest column on health care appears on Blog for America on Fridays and she blogs at

We are now six days into the New Year and most likely there are many of us who have set 2006 as the year to get fit. This will take an effort by the entire family especially those with children. Schools have cut physical fitness from their curriculum because of budget cuts, so our kids spend most of their day sedentary. Another contributing factor is that the most popular Christmas toys this year included dolls and computer/video games and neither encourage young people to go outside and play. Adults find themselves too busy with work both away and in the home to even consider stepping outdoors.

The benefits of exercise are many, but keep in mind they will not appear overnight or even in a week. The American College of Sports Medicine found that more than half of us who begin exercising end up dropping our exercise program within three to six months. Health experts want us to remember that exercise may add three years to our lives, allow us to enjoy our work and improve our productivity, decrease heart disease and diabetes, improve our backs, and help rid our bodies of that unnecessary and dangerous fat.

For progressive activists who want to see Congress turn blue in 2006, how about walking on behalf of a DFA-List candidate? Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), the head of the Senate Democrat's campaign efforts, is targeting seven states, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Arizona to win. If you happen to live in these states, grab your kids and head to your local Democratic Party headquarters. Children often end up role modeling their parent's activism—just ask "listener" whose daughter served as Chair of the Kennebunkport Democratic Committee this year. Ask party officials for a walking list and head out the door—this should give you plenty of exercise and you will be helping to take back your country at the same time.

Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP
Democracy for Oregon

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Happy Birthday, Catreona!

Hope it's a good one for you, Cat!

Birthday cake

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

A challenge to John Kerry

Paul in Illinois for passed along this link in an open thread earlier today.

John Aravosis is angry, and rightfully so, at the talk (probably puffed by Kerry's office), that he is in great shape to run in '08 because he boasts an e-mail list of more than 3 million. Obviously, those 3 million weren't fans of Kerry per se--they just wanted to get rid of the Dear Leader. Kerry wasn't an awful candidate, but he certainly wasn't a great one. He's had his chance.

Fortunately enough, there's an easy way for all of us in the netroots to fix this problem: unsubscribe from Kerry's list. It's easy, it helps to clean out your inbox, and it will send a very powerful message to Massachusetts' junior Senator that he should make other plans for 2008.

Demetrius and I were talking about this in the car on the way home from lunch, and we think the netroots should do one better than that. We need to challenge John Kerry to validate his email list.

See, after I read the excerpt above, I stopped to think whether or not I am one of the names on that list. When John Kerry was doing some pretty major Dean-bashing in December of 2003, I wrote him a polite but firm letter cautioning him that he needed to lay off. I suggested that if somehow he actually became the nominee (which did not look remotely likely at that time), his behavior now was going to make it harder for some of us to support him later.

Pretty much as I expected, I got back a form letter that did not remotely address the concerns I had expressed. But then I started getting campaign emails from him, as if I were one of his "supporters". I tried to use the unsubcribe link, and got an error message. *Eventually* I managed to unsubscribe once and for all, from that address, anyway. Once we were heading toward the general election and I wanted to be able to comment on the blog of the Democratic nominee, I registered to be able to post on that site. But I didn't use my regular email, because I didn't want his junk in my inbox. So I used a throw-away addy from Yahoo. Which one? Darned if I know. It's not one I still use, I know that.

Is your address listed among Kerry's 3 million supporters? Or, maybe you're listed under more than one address. I was on his list for sending a letter of *complaint*, which he, of course, did not adequately respond to. Others remain on his list, as mentioned in the excerpt above, because they were part of the anti-Bush masses in 2004. And, as I mentioned here, some people are added to his list when they sign his petitions about issues that matter to them.

So yes, I agree with the suggestion that people who do not wish to be considered part of Kerry's 3 million strong army of grassroots supporters unsubscribe from his mailing list. But I also believe that we need to press the issue that the onus is on John Kerry to validate that list. Are all of the addresses on it still valid? Are people signed up more than once? Because if he's going to publicly float numbers like that as evidence of his wide support, we're going to have to have some proof that this claim is accurate. Got any, Senator Kerry?

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President Bush, in the Oval Office, with the Screwdriver

Last evening, over at BFA, this comment was posted in response to an earlier comment laying responsibility for this week's disaster at the Tallmansville, WV, mine directly at the Bush Administration's feet:

that is dispicable. There is no evidence to blame Bush on this accident in any shape or form. To do this is horrible.

This person, whom I'll call "Cowpoke," doesn't seem to see the clues to connect Bush and the WV mining disaster.

Here is a clue from David Seldin at The Gadflyer:

...the "scandal" out of the West Virginia mine disaster will be in how the media got it wrong, either because they went out with unconfirmed information or because the company lied to them.

That might be the "scandal" but it's not the scandal. We shouldn't let an interesting kerfuffle over how information got reported get in the way of the fact that 12 men died due to their employer's negligence, and thousands more are at increasing risk because of their government's indifference.

For years, as the power of the United Mine Workers has faded and the government's regulatory agencies have falled under the sway of industry, protections for coal mine workers -- won through some of the most fabled fights in American labor history -- have grown weaker and weaker. This didn't happen by accident, but by the design of a political movement that thinks America can only thrive by throwing some of us under the bus.

Here are some more clues via Think Progress:

  1. President Clinton signed the International Labor Organization's Convention 176 concerning safety and health in mines, mining deaths dropped from 425 in 1970 to 85 in 2000.
  2. While citations have been issued, the fines assessed for safety violations are too small to force large corporations to make improvements.
  3. According to an AFL-CIO analysis, the Bush administration cut 170 positions from federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and has not proposed a single new mine-safety standard or rule during its tenure.
  4. Bush rewarded the coal industry (for raising $275,000 for him) by placing coal industry veteran Richard Stickler in charge of MSHA. Stickler spent about 30 years as a coal company manager with Beth Energy. Mines managed by Stickler were marked by worker injury rates that were double the national average, according to government data cited by the United Mine Workers union.
  5. Bush has not requested budgets for OSHA or MSHA that even keep up with the rate of inflation and mandatory pay increases over the past several years while penalties for OSHA or MSHA violations remain laughably low.
  6. And the administration has shut down any new worker protection standards in OSHA and MSHA.
According to Think Progress, "Jack Spadaro, former director of the MSHA National Mine Safety Academy, said inspectors told him privately that Labor Department opposition to vigorous safety regulation has hindered their work." (Another clue: Who made those appointments?)

So, Cowpoke, there is plenty of evidence to blame Bush for this event. He did nothing to prevent it, and his indifference and the actions of his administration made this tragedy inevitable.

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Open Thread

Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone for the lovely birthday wishes and kind words. I thought it was time for an open thread--figure if more people want to say happy birthday (and I am lovin' it!) they can still visit the old thread, but here's a new thread for other topics.

News articles to share? Action item diaries we should link to? Fun or interesting stuff you've found around the "internets"? Make with the conversation!

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Happy Birthday, Renee!

I figured it wouldn't hurt to have an overnight thread, and besides, I wanted to spread a few balloons around for Renee's birthday.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Impeach Bush Coalition

Ever notice that once something is around for a while, say, in your living room or on your desk, eventually you don't really "see" it any more? I was thinking that something like could happen with the "Impeach Bush" banner that is in the upper right hand corner of this page--especially for people who come here on a regular basis. Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to point out that, if you are one of those who agrees that we should be pushing for impeachment, it would be a good idea to click that banner on a regular basis. That way you can keep up to date on the latest discussion and action items regarding that issue. If you don't have a banner like that on your blog, and you would like one, there are also instructions on how to get your own banner.

One of the most recent stories at the Impeach Bush Coalition blog is that the Green Party has issued a press release calling for the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. And a bit further down, there is a post about January 8 being Guerrilla Action Day for the impeachment issue. (Hopefully you've noticed that diary highlighted under "action item diaries" at Howard-Empowered. I also recommend bookmarking this Action Alerts blog.

Impeachment: It's not just for blowjobs anymore

M Peach Bush

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Happy Birthday, Louis Braille!

Picture displays howard in braille
Picture displays empowered in braille
Picture displays people in brailleOn today's date, in 1809, Louis Braille was born. Braille invented a system for reading and writing used by blind and visually impaired people around the world. By passing one's fingers over embossed characters made up of an arrangement of one to six points, one is able to read.

Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France. A childhood accident left him completely blind by the age of four. While attending the Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles (Royal Institution for Blind Youths) in Paris, a school to which Braille earned a scholarship, Braille learned a 12-dot system developed by Charles Barbier, a former soldier who visited the school. Braille worked to simplify the system, and completed his 6-dot system before his 15th birthday.

Today, braille has been adapted to almost every major national language and is the primary system of written communication for visually impaired persons around the world.

Source: Wikipedia

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Media Matters action item

floridagal posted this action item in the comments yesterday, and some of you have already shared the letters you have written in response. I felt that this was important enough to be on the front page, and floridagal kindly wrote this up for me...

The Media Matters alert for today was to contact Newsweek and Meet the Press about their editor implying Howard Dean might be unheard of thing in this country for an editor to do. I hope everyone did contact.

Newsweek's Meacham called Sen. Feingold "a sane Howard Dean"

"RUSSERT: It is interesting, Americans seem to like governors as presidents. If you look back at -- through our history, the last two Democrats, [Bill] Clinton and [Jimmy] Carter, [George W.] Bush, [Ronald] Reagan. It's quite interesting. Picking up on Bill and Gene's theme, though, Jon and Doris, Russ Feingold is really positioning himself to the left of [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY], opposing the Patriot Act, opposing the war, coming out foursquare on the eavesdropping, really trying to position himself in a way where he can say to a lot of liberal groups, "Hey, I am very authentic and real on the issues that matter to you."

MEACHAM: Yeah, a sane Howard Dean, basically, I think is where he is. I think that's true."

But that wasn't the first time that Media Matters had chastized Meacham for such things. Here are two other articles I found there.

Newsweek's Jon Meacham repeated the accusation that Wilson implied Cheney sent him to Africa
"Appearing on the July 18 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham falsely accused former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV of suggesting in an op-ed and subsequent media appearances that Vice President Dick Cheney sent him to Niger in 2002. In fact, Wilson made it clear that the CIA, not Cheney, sent him to Niger to investigate the purported sale of yellowcake uranium to Iraq."

CNN, MSNBC failed to note that applause at Bush speech was prompted by Bush staffers
"Appearing on MSNBC, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham stated: "It was striking to me that the one moment of applause at that very well-disciplined military crowd was that 'we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.'" CNN host Wolf Blitzer stated that just once "the troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, interrupted the president and politely applauded him." CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash added that "it was quite noteworthy that there was only a round of applause at one particular moment" because the White House wanted it to be "sedate" in order avoid criticism for "having sort of a campaign or political rally."

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Democracy For Vermont Action Update

Dear DFV Members,

I hope you all made a New Year's resolution to take our country back! (No silly diets!!!) There's lots of work to do this year and it's time to get started.


There are many political events listed this month on our Events Calendar. Please check it regularly as events are added throughout the month. You can find an event near you at:

Featured Events

Jan 4th, DFA Link-Up
Meet local DFA members and plan future activities. Search for the Link-Up closest to you at

Jan. 5th, VDP By-Laws Meeting
Democracy For Vermont is endorsing 2 By-Laws changes. Please come show your support for more grassroots representation in their delegate selection process.

Jan 28th-29th, DFA Grassroots Training
Learn the ropes of effective grassroots organizing from national-level trainers and local experts, and find out how you can help upcoming issue and candidate campaigns. Sign up at


Democracy For Vermont will start making candidate endorsements over the next couple months. Please have candidates you support fill out the endorsement request on this page:

Instant Runoff Voting

Please encourage the members of our State House and Senate to do what's best for the people of Vermont and pass an IRV Bill this session so we can all vote for the best candidates running in each race. You can contact your elected official here:

Here's a good explanation of IRV using the Muppets:
You may wish to include that link and a good pun when contacting your elected official ;-)

Wishing you all success in your activism throughout the new year,

Jessica Falker
Democracy For Vermont

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This Just In: Abramoff Pleads Guilty, Makes Deal

There it is. "GOP Lobbyist to Plead Guilty in Deal with Prosecutors" sez the New York Times' Web site.

Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to three felony counts in Washington on Wednesday as part of a settlement with federal prosecutors, ending an intense, months-long negotiation over whether the Republican lobbyist would testify against his former colleagues, people involved with the case said.

Mr. Abramoff, 46, is pleading guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case.

...Abramoff will also announce a plea agreement in a related Florida case, in which he was indicted last year. In that case, he is pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy in connection with his purchase of the SunCruz casino boat line, and will face a maximum of about seven years' prison time.

And there will be more to come:

Now, after more than two years of investigations, prosecutors have developed a list of at least a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides and lobbyists whose work appears suspect and who are now at the core of the case. With Mr. Abramoff's cooperation, the Justice Department will have a potentially critical witness to alleged patterns of corruption or bribery within the Republican leadership ranks, which in some cases they believe also took the form of campaign donations and free meals at Mr. Abramoff's downtown restaurant, Signatures.

Already, prosecutors have a key witness in Michael Scanlon, once press secretary to Mr. DeLay. Mr. Scanlon reached a plea agreement last year, putting pressure on Mr. Abramoff to reach his own deal. Now that Mr. Abramoff has done the same, one person involved in the case said: "When some people hear about this, they will clamor to cut a deal of their own."

Personally, I hope DeLay soiled himself when he heard the news. This can't be good for his case, either. Even if he managed to get himself acquitted, it would be a snowy day in July before the Republicans let him back as Majority Leader.

Yup. Looks like 2006 will be a very good year to be a Democrat.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Sim Kerry/Open Thread

Was looking forward to the return of The Daily Show, but the web site says that tonight is a repeat. Hopefully that's just because of today being a holiday for a lot of people, and they will be back with new episodes tomorrow. But after finishing work I needed to get done, I'm in the mood for something silly. Since Kerry's name came up today, and since he has me freshly annoyed with him, I thought I'd post links to the "Sim Kerry" stories we did a while back.

The first Sim Kerry story, posted by Demetrius.

After that first one, I became motivated to learn how to play The Sims, *specifically* so that I could take out my frustrations on a simulated version of the tall, tree-like one. People voted on how Sim Kerry would meet his Sim Maker.

Sim Kerry, the potions, and the guinea pig

Sim Kerry and Mortimer
The Tragic Tales of Sim John Kerry II
The Tragic Tales of Sim John Kerry II, Episode II
Sim Kerry II: Finally the flies

Check out the links if you like, or, if you think this is waaaay too immature, don't. This is an open thread.

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MViMV Guest Blog

Tonight's MViMV Guest Blogger is Liane Allen, a linguistic framing instructor from The Progressive Leaders Institute. She will be answering questions about framing from 8:30pm-9pm EST on the MViMV Blog:

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No f***ing way, John Kerry

I saw this in a comment from Diana*in*northern*VA at Blog for America.

Just read a USAToday headline that Kerry is "reading" for another presidential run--one supposes the word is meant to be "readying."

Nah, he "read" for that part last time, and he just wasn't that good. We don't want to call you back for another audition. I know the word "wooden" is usually associated (in the Pavlovian way the press conditions our word associations) with Al Gore, but Kerry is stiff enough to make Gore look like a limbo champ.

Here's a link to the USA Today article. The teaser on the newspaper home page is where it says Kerry is "reading" for a presidential run. Yes, it's probably a typo, but it actually fits pretty well. Reading for the part of president, reading his lines at his stump speeches, but he never made me believe.

Check out the article here. The man's hubris knows no bounds. I don't think he has a clue how *grudgingly* many gave their support, because a tough situation called for taking some bitter medicine, and in November of 2004, voting for him was the only way available for getting the worst president in history out of office.

While most losing presidential nominees quickly fade into the political landscape, Kerry has worked hard at maintaining a high public profile.

"He's continuing the fight he began in 2004," said Kerry spokesman David Wade. "He wants to make it very clear he's a fighter who is going to continue to fight for his agenda."

Uh huh. He's a "fighter". When it's prudent. When someone else has tested the waters and determined that it's safe to go in.
Borrowing a page from Republican Sen. John McCain's 2000 postelection playbook, Kerry has kept much of his presidential political organization intact. He has also used his fundraising prowess to aid Democrats across the country, collecting chits that could be called if he seeks the party's White House nomination.

Let's talk about fundraising--you know what this reminds me of? The call the Kerry campaign put out before the election asking the grassroots to donate to a legal fund so that if there were any election irregularities (like the ones in 2000 that he had told people to "stop crying in their teacups" over), Democrats would be ready to fight.

Except, of course, he *didn't* want to fight when the time came. People might have called him something like "Sore Loserman" and that would have hurt his feelings. So he let the Greens lead the fight. A year ago, he scheduled a trip to the Middle East, allowing him to look "presidential" and keeping him far away from the Senate while those Democrats made of sterner stuff were actually challenging Ohio's electors.
Kerry has expanded his campaign's e-mail supporter list, a vital organizing tool if he runs again.

Uh huh. And this is precisely why I won't sign any of your damn petitions--no matter how noble the cause is. Like many of the netroots, I have my doubts that petitions are usually effective, there have been so darn many of them that I'm suffering from petition fatigue, and I know *damn* well that a big reason for these petitions, whether it's Kerry or Hillary doing them, is to expand one's e-mail supporter list.

Finally, there's this gem from Kerry spokesman David Wade:
"No other past presidential candidate, with the exception of McCain, has done what Kerry has done in terms of converting his presidential campaign into a grass-roots political and legislative operation," said Wade. "He's dedicated to electing Democrats."


No, John Kerry. No, no, no, no, and, did I mention, no. If you try, this time there are a lot of us ready to work a lot harder to squash your campaign like a bug way before the primaries begin.

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Monday Comics

Today's a bank holiday (i.e. I don't have to go to job #1 today) so here's some comics to start off 2006:

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

No more waiting for lemon-soaked paper napkins

In their New Year's posts on Blog for America, both Tara and Luigi thanked everyone for their patience in waiting for the rollout of the new blog software. For me, the issue is not so much how long it takes to get the software, but the efforts (or lack thereof) to keep us comfortable while "there will be a slight delay". Anyway, in the spirit of all the New Year's posts that are looking back and looking ahead, I thought it was a good time to do that with Howard-Empowered People. To really do that properly, I think I need to review the past two years.

New Year's Eve 2003 Blog for America was my first "blog home" and I came to consider the regular commenters there my "blog family". That particular New Year's Eve it was especially nice to have an online community to connect with and ring in the New Year, because Demetrius was busy most of the evening with a redecorating project. I remember that being a fun night on the blog, with the Dean campaign staff members doing a series of posts about their friendly fundraising competition. At one point Flat Howard made an appearance as a peacemaker between the battling staff members, and it was always a kick to see something that had been created on my husband's computer make an appearance on the big blog.

Anyone who was around the Dean blog at the end of 2003 knows that those were heady, amazing times. The future was indeed looking bright, and we felt like we were a real part of a campaign that was going to change life in the U.S. for the better. But for me, another layer is that I was amazed to have found a campaign that we could actually *be* part of. We'd decided that we were not cut out to be canvassers or phone-bankers, and our schedule often kept us from attending Meet-ups on a regular basis. But through our connection with Blog for America, we somehow created our own niche where we could do something that was useful and appreciated, and could work virtually alongside different people from all over the globe who shared our patriotic desire to take this country back from the Bush cabal.

New Year's Eve 2004 Very different from the previous one, obviously. Instead of the optimism we had heading into the primaries the year before, we were dealing with Bush about to start a second term. Didn't some of you think that, once the election was over, one way or another things were going to calm down a bit? Instead, as we entered the new year, there were all sorts of questions about how the election was conducted in Ohio. I'd been watching things progress well before November 2, and knew that Ken Blackwell was bad news. He was every bit as honest and fair as we would expect a Secretary of State who was also co-chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign to be. He was also planning to run for governor of Ohio in 2006. Just take it as read that he is a Very Bad Man--if I actually start trying to list all the ways, I'm never going to finish this diary. The point is, it was important to me to have the 2004 election *thoroughly* investigated--not because I expected the results to be overturned, but because I wanted that man and his partisan shenanigans exposed.

So, whenever I saw an article with a new piece of information, I was really motivated to get it "out there". It became increasingly obvious that Blog for America was not the best place to do that. I couldn't believe that the blog inspired by Dean's presidential campaign (now the Democracy for America blog) was so averse to posting *anything* about the revelations that were coming out about voter suppression, election irregularities, etc. Even when the stories were showing up somewhere as mainstream as Yahoo News, they couldn't even seem to make it into a news roundup at BFA. It was about this time that I started posting diaries at Daily Kos. The advantage there was that, even if none of the front-pagers deemed a story worthy of attention, an issue of interest to enough people could make the recommended list and be seen by a wider audience that way. (Making it a whole lot more "democratic" than the Democracy for America blog.) Around the same time, I also started posting on other blogs, like the DNC blog and the Majority Report blog, that had the familiar single thread at a time format like BFA. I was glad to start getting to know people from different parts of the liberal blogosphere, but somehow nothing ever felt like "home" the way BFA had. But it was also becoming increasingly clear that BFA was never going to feel like "home" in that way again either.

New Year's Eve 2005 Holy crap, am I still doing this politics thing?! Okay, so it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. But this sure isn't what I thought I signed up for. I have *life* to deal with, you know? The kinds of sacrifices that seem reasonable in the short term when there is a visible finish line in sight, well, not so much when you need to integrate political involvement with your day-to-day life on an ongoing basis. So, how does one find balance?

Well, for myself, it just doesn't seem reasonable to subject myself to consistent put-downs while I am using my almost nonexistent free time trying to make the world a better place. That was going on at BFA all through the previous year I just described, and the same person was still doing it all through 2005. His excuse is that "politics is tough, get used to it", or some such nonsense. But in the past couple years, I've come to brace myself for a put-down when I post *anything* over there in a way I don't need to on any other blog. (And I joined some new ones in 2005, like My Left Wing and Booman Tribune). It made me second-guess posting *anything* there, which might be hard for some people to understand, but I guess I just don't have the same tolerance level some other people do. I'm the same way with smoky rooms. The smoke in the air just bothers me more than it might bother some other people, and no matter how appealing I might find the people or activities in that room. Does that mean I don't have anything of value to offer in the political arena? I don't think it does. But I do need to find a way to stay involved that fits well with the rest of my life on a long term basis.

In my usual "Ready--Fire--Aim" style of doing things, I put a "Shadow" Blog for America online before I really knew what it was going to be about. At the time, all I wanted was to provide a place where those of us who wanted to could have pretty much the same discussions, without enduring the rhetorical equivalent of the face-slappy things in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. But over time, and with the addition of some great front page posters, a purpose did come more into focus, such that the blog really did need its own separate identity, and it became Howard-Empowered People. We're still a young blog, as blogs go, and in terms of readership, I suppose we're a smallish blog, but we're ready to roll up our sleeves and work alongside the rest of the left-leaning blogosphere at the ongoing challenge of taking this country back from the theocratic jerks who are giving the U.S. a bad name (but we aim to have fun, and occasionally be completely silly and off topic while we're doing that.) We're going to keep posting transcripts of Howard Dean interviews (because we still think he *rocks*!), so if you know of an upcoming tv or radio appearance, you can help us out by passing that along. And we've got a spiffy new section front and center for "action item" type diaries, to make it easier to collaborate with people on other blogs on the issues of the day. Again, you can help us help you by passing along such diaries when you see them.

Oh, and, ahem, a few more blogs linking to us would be a Very Good Thing.

Here's to continued progress on this "taking our country back" project in 2006, and to having fun together while we're doing that!

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Who's Your Daddy?

Originally posted on The Underground Railroad
Finalle of the Kwanzaa posts:
Day 1: Umoja!
Day 2: Kujichagulia!
Day 3: Ujima!
Day 4: Ujamaa!
Day 5: Nia!
Day 6: Kuumba!
Day 7: Imani!

Pedro Martinez is one of the best pitchers of all time - batters often fear facing him - but Pedro could never beat the New York Yankees when it counted in big games. Yankee fans began to taunt him with a chant - "Who's your daddy?" Sigmund Freud taught about the male desire to replace the father and it is colloquially said that in order to be the man you have to beat the man, and I believe this all goes back to mankind's Fall from grace, where man first went for the okie-doke - "...and you shall be like God." Martin Luther King spoke about the Drum Major Instinct, about the human desire to exercise authority over others, about mankind's desire for recognition and importance, about man's desire to be out front. King noted that the first cry from a baby is the desire for attention, and that throughout childhood the obsession with attention is all-consuming - children seek their daddy's love and affirmation. Whose affirmation do you seek? Whose approval do you need? In whom do you place your imani, your faith? Who's your daddy?

The general context of our text today begins with the woman who was caught in adultery being dragged before Jesus. (See Trapped In The Closet) Later, once the Pharisees picked their cracked faces up off of the ground, they stepped to Jesus to ask Him point-blank whether or not He was the Messiah. The Pharisees believed that their salvation came from their blood-connection to their father - Abraham. Jesus responded that their damnation came from their spiritual connection to their father - Satan. There are three things that we can learn about faith - imani - from this text.

First, we have to hear our Daddy. Jesus said, "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." Do you remember being a child, playing with your friends, and then your daddy called for you? You might not have recognized anyone else's voice - you may not have even heard anyone else's voice - but when your daddy called you knew who it was and what he wanted. The same is true with our heavenly Father. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." We have the privilege of speaking with God, as Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Jesus also said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." If we remain in Christ and walk according to His will we have the privilege of speaking with our Daddy, and we need to hear from our Daddy.

Second, we have to resist the devil. Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies. He deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden and he tried to tempt the Father Himself in the book of Job. Satan tried to tempt Jesus with that which seemed good, but looks can be deceiving and Jesus took Satan back to the source of all authority - the Word of God. It is Satan's desire to replace God, such that the term "Antichrist" - which popularly connotes "against Christ" - could be rendered, "instead of Christ." Someone once said, "That which controls your thinking is your God." Who controls your thinking? Who sits on the throne of your life? Who is your God? Who's your daddy? Many Americans have an Invictus mentality - "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." For too many Americans man is the measure of all things and they are the measure of all men - it's all about self (however they define "self") and everyone else should live up to their standard. It is much like the days of the Judges - in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

In this self-centered situation God's truth holds no value to those who are perishing - it is foolishness to them. God says, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." God says, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" Jesus said, "Go. From now on sin no more." Yet the world says, "It's your thang, do what you want to do!" The world says, "Let a playa cut somethin'!" So what you gonna do when e'rbody at the club gettin' tipsy? You gonna tell them to pass the Courvoisier? You gonna shake it like a Polaroid picture? You gonna make like Lil' John and get low? You gonna act juvenile and drop it like it's hot? Doesn't that sound Ludicrous? You wanna have some fun - hook up everyone - you with Satan or the Son? Talk to me! Who's your daddy?

Third, we find in this text that we have to love the Son. If God is your Father then you will love the Son - it's in the text. Those to whom Jesus' teaching is foolishness simply do not belong to Him, they are of their daddy - Satan.

Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."

Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Daddy who is in heaven."

Jesus said, "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you."

Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Jesus said, "You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Daddy is perfect."

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to Daddy but through Me."

Jesus said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."

Who's your Daddy? Jesus has come to save everyone who wishes to be delivered from Satan's influence. As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For the consequence of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. So if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Once Pedro confessed with his mouth he overcame his enemy - not by power nor by might but by his team. You cannot defeat Satan's grip on your own, but Jesus has overcome him and will save you from Satan's influence if you will submit to Jesus and join His team. Will you join with Jesus or will you continue falling for the oldest trick in the Book? This first day of the year, this final day of Kwanzaa, in whom do you place your faith, your imani?

Who's your Daddy?

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants to be your Daddy,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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