Saturday, February 11, 2006

Supporting Howard Dean: Why it's personal

I've been having a hard time trying to think of what I wanted to write on the first anniversary of Howard Dean becoming chair of the DNC. Corinne has a great post ready to go live at midnight, talking about what Howard Dean has accomplished this past year. But I feel like there's something *I* need to write, and I just realized what it is. It's the same thing I was struggling with when I was trying to write up something about the Democracy Bond event in Columbus last month.

In addition to the challenge of finding the distraction-free time to write something up, there was another hurdle to overcome. Throughout the events I attended on that day, I had these periodic flashes of, "Oh my gosh, I am soooo out of my element here. These other bloggers know infinitely more about what's going on in Ohio politics than I do, so they have good questions to ask all these Ohio politicians." And truthfully, I had the feeling that some of those politicians didn't think I needed to be taken as seriously as the other bloggers there. In other words, a significant part of the reason why it was hard to do my writeup is that there were feelings of inadequacy involved. Eventually, I just handled it by leaving that part out.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that's an important part, and it speaks to what's special about Howard Dean compared to a lot of other politicians. So, here goes--following up on some of those thoughts I had last month, and answering them.

Of course I don't know everything about Ohio politics. Where the hell would I find the time to do that with everything else I have going on in my life? It's a freaking *miracle* that someone like me knows as much as I do about politics, let alone that I feel so strongly that I *must* stay involved and keep working to make a difference. In spite of how hard it can be to find the time and energy to keep at it. That, my friends, is Howard Dean's fault. I first got involved in politics, in spite of my overall aversion to it, because Bush was *so* bad, that extreme measures were called for. But Howard Dean is a big part of the reason I didn't just fall back into my normal level of political involvement--pretty much just going to the polls on election days--after the 2004 election was over.

But, you know what was amazing about the Dean campaign? The fact that someone like me--someone who doesn't do any of the traditional political "stuff" like canvassing, making phone calls, etc., was able to somehow create my own niche and feel that I had a valuable contribution to make.

Small digression here... You may or may not know that Demetrius had created the "Flat Howard" graphic. For a long time, we had a printout of that on one of the walls in our house. So, at least a 2D version of Howard Dean lived with us for quite some time before we had our chance to meet the real Howard Dean. (In November of 2003, we got quite a kick out of watching a CBS video of the real Howard Dean reacting to Flat Howard in the hallways of campaign headquarters.)

Different people notice different things about Flat Howard. Some people noticed right away that he is wearing the infamous J. C. Penney suit. What we noticed was that he looked like he was in the middle of saying, "No, thank you!" And that, to us, is classic Howard Dean.

In a post entitled Thank you, Howard Dean, written in June of 2005, I put into words some of the things about Howard Dean that have earned my loyalty and support. Those things still ring true, so rather than repeating them here, I can refer you to that piece. Today there are just two things I'd like to focus on. The first is that "attitude of gratitude" I just mentioned. It's pretty important. When you're working hard just to "put food on your family", and add to that any other challenges your particular family is facing, well, yes, it is a big deal to fit political involvement into all that. Especially now that it's turned out to be a marathon rather than a sprint.

The other thing I really appreciate is that, again and again, Howard Dean has demonstrated that he "gets it"--in the sense of being able to look at root causes and think long term rather than succumbing to the "quick fix" mentality. While I, like many Dean supporters, appreciated his willingness to be blunt and "tell it like it is", his ability to be thoughtful issues was just as important. I recall that, during the presidential campaign, he discussed the importance of investing in education in order to reduce crime down the road. He said something like "Every kindergarten teacher can tell you which kids are going to be a problem..." and went on to say that was why we need to fully fund special education. Too many people just go for the "zero tolerance" approach, and focus on punishing the "bad kids" to "teach them a lesson" or some such. That approach pretty much amounts to writing some kids off at an early age...throwing them away. *And* still not fixing the problem.

Anyway, cutting to the chase. Howard Dean has a tough job--I know I sure couldn't do it. But he's earned my support many times over. If I had my druthers, I would be supporting Dean for President in 2008, but he ruled out that possibility when he decided to pursue the job of DNC chair. (I *think* I've forgiven him for making that decision...most days.) But I respect the decision he made, and understand the thinking behind it. And, given the sacrifices the job involves (including *continuing* to take crap from people in both major parties as well as the media), I feel like it's the least I can do to support his efforts in any way I can.

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Remember when Howard said capturing Saddam did not make us safer?

I am always telling myself to quit cleaning out old files, it makes me too upset over how we got to be in this mess in this country today. Well, today, nearing the one year anniversary of Howard Dean as chairman of the DNC....I openly admit to be wee bit sentimental.

I just found this article by Jimmy Breslin about the day Howard said we were no safer now that Saddam was caught. It is a truly great column, and we need to be reminded of it now and then. He points out the hypocrisy so well.

The New American System of Justice

He describes a scene in New York City around New Years after Saddam was captured.

In all my time in my city I have never seen this many guns. Not just little guns that you fit in a holster. But great big cannons that were being held by men peering out from under helmets and dressed otherwise for battle. This was on New Year's Eve, after our 140,000 troops captured Saddam Hussein and made America safe for freedom and liberty and democracy.

Then he reminds us of the one person who dared to admit we were no safer, and he reminds us how they ripped him apart for it. See, this is why I really do have to stop going through my old stuff.

On the other side of politics, Howard Dean, Democratic candidate for president, didn't think Saddam Hussein's capture made us any safer in America. The other politicians screamed that was un-American. It was John Kerry who said, How could Dean dare say that we were not safer now? Kerry is so sure we're safe that he mortgaged his house the other day to have the money to say Dean is a traitor. This is only before the first primary and Kerry goes for the roof over his head. He seems ready to go naked on these primaries.

Howard Dean then said that he was old-fashioned and he didn't think you could judge or punish Osama bin Laden until you had a trial and found him guilty.

Breslin goes on to excoriate the others who condemned him so soundly, and he calls Lieberman a "nasty little man." His ending is powerful.

Yet Joseph Lieberman, who is a peripheral candidate now and thus a nasty little man, said that because he relies on the Constitution, Dean is a weakling who would melt in the face of George Bush.

John Kerry and Dick Gephardt were wildly opposed.

Yet all Dean has to do in this big Des Moines debate today is ask each candidate, "Are you in favor of sentencing bin Laden before you have a trial?"

Let them answer in front of a country that is better than they are.

And this picture is of Howard Dean in Vermont this week, still fighting. Happy one-year anniversary to him.
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Stop me before I muse again!

I wasn't going to take the time to put up a new diary before going out to do some weekend errands, but how can I pass this up? In a diary by Overseas at Daily Kos:

Canadian Press
Published: Friday, February 10, 2006 WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. government concluded its Cyber Storm wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.

BLOGGERS?! We're the object of a WARGAME?

Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events.

Well, I've been accused of a lot of things, but guilty of "musings" is a new one for me. Wonder if it carries a jail sentence? Anyone else been "musing" lately and want to fess up right now? Does a muser eventually evolve into a ranter?

That cracked me up. Reminded me a bit of when Maura in VA was being interviewed on Nightline and one of the questions was whether she had revealed to Virginia Delegate John Cosgrove that she was a blogger when she wrote to him. And a number of us were writing "My name is ---, and I'm a blogger", like we were at an AA meeting or something. "Muser" is just that much more absurd.

I just read the above post to Demetrius, and he remarked, "I wonder what it's like to have a free press."

I sure hope we get to find out some day. In the meantime, when people like Howard Dean speak the truth, it's important to do what we can to "have their back". That's why we've got a bat. That's why I want to make sure we are ready with our *positive* stories in honor of Dean's first anniversary as chair of the DNC, because we know that there are bound to be some stories in the "mainstream" press about what a disaster Howard Dean has been as chair. The cupboard is bare and we can't get our poor dog a bone! Well, in any event, I know we'll be seeing some total bull-- er, crap, rolled out as "news". We'll need to be ready with rapid response.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

The bat is back!

From Joe Rospars' outstanding Kos diary, Dean's DNC: The Bat is in Your Hands...

The bat is a powerful symbol for me and a lot of people -- a symbol of empowerment, a symbol of hope. In the nearly two years since the campaign ended, it has become a symbol of what might have been.

But over the course of the last year, as part of Governor Dean's team reorienting and rebuilding the Democratic Party, it has become a symbol of what is, and what will be. Ordinary Americans are empowered in politics today as never before, and the Democratic National Committee under Governor Dean's leadership is not only breaking fundraising records but breaking new ground by putting grassroots organizers on the ground across the country and developing a new kind of relationship with people.

Here's the link to create your own bat. And here's the link to our brand new Howard-Empowered People bat. Who will be the first to give it a swing? For a little added inspiration, I'm including this picture that Corinne posted in Joe's diary.

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Larkin passed his finals...

...and his graduation is scheduled for next Saturday!

Mom just called with the news, and since I told you all about this last week in Saturday Night Dog Blogging, I wanted to pass along the good news.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Open Thread

Photo courtesy of the Infinite Cat Project.

Quick reminder that Blogger is going to be down again at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. So you might want to bookmark the alternative comment link so that you'll have the keys to get back into posting when that happens.

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Hackett's grassroots reception/grand opening in Columbus

Before moving on to the transcript, take a look at this post about personal fundraising pages at the DNC blog. Obviously, the one on the right fits well with what we're talking about here. Would anyone here, *other than me* like to volunteer to set one of those up? (There's also a Kos diary by Tim about this new fundraising tool.)

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On to Paul Hackett's appearance in Columbus...

I wasn't sure I'd be able to attend, but at the last minute I decided to head over to the grassroots reception and grand opening of the Paul Hackett campaign headquarters in Columbus. A number of people have done write-ups, and you can find links to those, as well as to the audio of Hackett's speech, at the Hackett for U.S. Sentate blog. Below, I have written up the transcript of Paul's speech.

Any Democrats in the house? (Cheers and applause)
All right, here we go! Here's the good news: in 2006, we can win, and we can win big in the state of Ohio. Now why is that important? Because the state of Ohio is going to help us elect the next Democratic president of the United States in 2008. (More cheers and applause, and the voice of a child, I'm guessing about 3 years old, saying something I couldn't make out. Hackett asks, "Turn it off or turn it on?")

That's why in 2006 we've got to be smart, and we've got to fight in all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. Because we as Democrats *can* win statewide in the state of Ohio. Despite the fact that in 15 years we haven't demonstrated that abililty.

So, how do we do that? Well, first of all, we've got to spread a message. (Small child again makes some noise, and Hackett, to approving laughter, says "Come here, guy", picks him up, asks "Ready?" and gives him a little "airplane" ride. Then, to the audience, "I haven't seen my kids in a couple of days.")

In the state of Ohio, we can, and we've got to win big in 2006. How we are going to do that is we're going to, first of all, spread a message of success. We as Democrats have got to be proud of what it is that we stand for. We are the party of fiscal responsibility, of limited government, of a strong national defense, and fair trade.

Now, some people every now and then when I say that, particularly Democratic activists, say, "Well, you sound like a Republican!" I don't think so...

Fiscal responsibility. We are the party that balances budgets! (Applause)
Limited government. Call me crazy--we don't send people to Washington D.C. to tell us how to live our private lives, educate our children, worship our God, or dictate to my wife or any of the women in this room, what decisions you make in the privacy of your doctor's office. (Applause and cheers)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the message of the Democratic party, and that is the message that we have got to fight for across all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. And that's how we're going to win in 2006.

Now, that said, you all are going to play a big role in that. We've got a primary coming up in three months--May 2. I need your help in the primary. I'm asking you to join me.

If you're happy with where we are in America today, then you probably are not interested in helping me. But if you share the same concerns that I do, that America is not on the right track, that we're selling the next generation down the river, that we're exporting our economy, and that we're not standing up and fighting for what is great about this country, and about our party. If you share that concern, I ask you to take part, join the team, help us take this fight to Washington D.C. So that we can return a Democratic party for the state of Ohio, to the White House. A Democratic party that doesn't simply *aspire* to deliver greatness, but a Democratic party that has the *commitment*, and the sense of service, and the will to fight for what is great about our party. Things like peace, prosperity, and the freedoms that define America.

I want to be the guy who's going to create and fight for the new Democratic party, and take it Washington D.C. Please help me, please join, and let's get this job done in 2006 in Ohio, so that we can deliver the White House in 2008. (Loud cheers and applause).

Crossposted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, and the way cool ePluribus Media, who front paged it. (Blows kisses)

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Transcript: Howard Dean on "GMA"

Kicking Ass, the Democratic Party blog, has a transcript of Howard's appearance this morning on "Good Morning America."

CHARLIE GIBSON: Joining us now from Burlington, Vermont is Howard Dean, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Good to have you with us.

DNC CHAIRMAN HOWARD DEAN: Thank you for having me on.

GIBSON: Senator Clinton's central point, it seems to me here, is that the Republicans are doing a far better job of convincing the country they can keep them safe and the Democrats aren't doing a very good job of countering that strategy. Do you agree?

DEAN: Your poll shows otherwise. Your poll shows that they have a small edge and that's a smaller edge than they had before. The truth is the Republicans haven't defended us any better than they had dealt with Katrina or senior drug benefits or balancing the budget. On this President's watch, Iran is becoming a nuclear power. The President has nothing, done little about it. North Korea-- after five years-- North Korea still has nuclear weapons. The President sent our troops in battle without adequate armor. He wouldn't listen to the generals who told him if he were going into Iraq that he needed more help. This is not a President who's been particularly strong on...

GIBSON: But --

DEAN: What about our borders? President has been in office for five years. What about the security of our borders? I think the President is weak on defense. They have a great propaganda machine but the fact is they haven't delivered on American security.

GIBSON: You're shot-gunning me on a lot of issues. But, on the issue of national security, 64% of the country says we're a stronger country than before 9/11. Given the mood of this country and the concerns are country and the personal fears, isn't that game, set and match for the Republicans?

DEAN: Absolutely not because the truth is we're not safer than we were when George Bush came into office.

GIBSON: but the country thinks we are.

DEAN: That's an interesting poll but I've seen many others with folks who don't agree with that. Polls are polls. The fact is this President has not defended us because he hasn't listened to the military. He has not treated our military properly. Our soldiers are losing their lives over there. For us to have to wait three years to get them adequate body armor, that is something the Democratic Party will not do. If we send our troops into battle after we take power, I can tell you two things. First, we will tell the truth to the country and our soldiers about why they have to go. And secondly, they'll be adequately equipped.

GIBSON: But she's saying essentially we've lost two elections because we were not able to convince this country that we could keep it safe. That is her central point. And I think there may be in people's minds a real question: What is the Democratic position on national security?

DEAN: The Democratic position on national security is that we will hunt down Osama bin Laden, enough is enough. Two, we will under no circumstances allow Iran to become a nuclear power. Three, we will make the deal that has to be made with the North Koreans and get that done and put pressure and pay attention to that. And four, that we will always adequately equip our troops if we need to send them into battle to defend the United States.

GIBSON: There has been a lot of discussion in Washington in recent days about the warrantless wiretaps that have gone on. The President says this is necessary to fight terrorism. Do you think this is a winner for the Democrats?

DEAN: Many in his own party disagree. Wiretapping is certainly necessary and the Democrats certainly approve of as much spying on Al Qaeda as we possibly can. What we don't approve of is breaking the law in order to spy on Americans. The present law is very adequate and the White House itself said so four years ago. All we ask is that we not turn into a country like Iran where the President of Iran can do anything they want at any time. The reason the constitution of this country has lasted as long as it has and this country lasted as long as it has as a real democracy is because there is a check on presidential power. Now, there's not a big check on this one. We just ask the President to go get a warrant after the fact if he thinks there is an emergency. But there is no reason this President shouldn't obey the law. And, we expect him to obey the law while defending the country.

GIBSON: Governor Dean, appreciate you being with us.

DEAN: Thanks for having me.

As always, Howard, thank you.

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Howard Dean on Good Morning America

Thanks, floridagal, for the heads-up.

Via the DNC blog's most recent Open Thread

1.) Tune into ABC Good Morning America tomorrow morning. Governor Dean will be interviewed by Charlie Gibson at 7:00 AM.
2.) We have an exciting announcement coming tomorrow afternoon regarding the availability of a new web tool for you to use.

Also, Howard Dean is going to be on Switchboard on Vermont Public Radio February 9 at 7 p.m. E.S.T. You can listen online here.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bush: EDUCATOR in Chief?!

How on earth did I miss this?

"My job's as much educator in chief as it is commander in chief." -President George W. Bush speaking at the Grand Ole Opry House, Feb.1, 2006.

I found this article via Columbus Progressive Alliance News, originally posted as President's Frightening Lesson Plan, in the Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion.
Read some of this article below, and click here for the whole article. Somebody please post some good visual interpretations of the "Educator in Chief". I need a good laugh to give myself a teeny break from the rage-athon.
Speaking to the crowd at the Grand Ole Opry, Bush sounded like Minnie Pearl -- minus the humor -- talking about her Uncle Nabob and her dim-witted brother. With condescending paternalism and that Alfred E. Neuman "What me worry?" look on his face, Bush added worrier in chief to his growing list of titles.

"I clearly see the threats to America," Bush assured folks. "My job is worrying about those threats. That's not your job. We've got a lot of people in government worrying about those threats so you can go on with your life."

We should "get on with our lives"? Hmmm--where have I heard *that* expression before? Oh, *that's* right. Bush telling reporters he needed to "get on with his life" rather than meet with Cindy Sheehan this past summer. I'm sorry, but when a guy whose priorities are that out of whack tells me not to worry about something, I tend to worry *extra*.

By the way, I posted this as a diary earlier today over at My Left Wing--check the comments for some funny graphics.

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On "appropriate" funeral behavior

Guess I'm not done talking about this. When I hear that so many people (see here and here for examples, are giving the "wag of the finger" to the people who discussed political issues at the funeral of a known *activist*, whose *activist* husband was murdered nearly 40 years ago, I am *almost* at a loss for words. Luckily, plenty of other people are not.

Check out this roundup by Chuck Currie:

Bush 2007 Budget Rejects Christians Values Of Hope And Justice

From Paul Wellstone to Coretta King by Marty Kaplan

Republicans love playing the civility card. I wonder where these Emily Posts were when the Pentagon lied about the circumstances of Pat Tillman's death at his funeral. I don't recall them denouncing Pat Robertson -- while the World Trade Center towers were still smoldering -- attributing 9/11 deaths to God's revenge on liberalism. Republicans get all huffy, and invoke Marquess of Queensbury rules, when it suits them, but somehow that's never when they're spreading malicious lies and assassinating their living opponents' characters.

At Caesar's funeral, as Shakespeare tells it, Marc Antony nicely ripped Brutus a new one. Jimmy Carter was no less rhetorically elegant at Coretta King's service. Why should an elegy be an occasion to turn your back on all you believe, and all that the deceased life's stood for? If they should outlive me, I don't expect that Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter would come to my funeral. But if they or their kind did, I'd hope that at least one of the speakers would have the cojones to call them what they really are. Nicely, of course.

Oh, and this is priceless...Tucker Carlson, in his interview with Rev. Joseph Lowery, said: it seemed very uncomfortable to say something like that in a funeral with the president right there. It seemed like bad manners.

You know what's "bad manners", Tucker? The fact that Bush sent this budget that increases defense spending while cutting aid for those that Bush's favorite philosopher called "the least of these", *after* Mrs. King died, but *before* showing up at her funeral. Actually, "bad manners" isn't even close to being a strong enough word for the unmitigated gall Bush displayed here. Coretta Scott King spent decades fighting for the "least of these", and you thought maybe no one should mention the harm Bush is doing to those very people, because it might make some (guilty) people squirm in their seats?

And, "uncomfortable"? I bet the Katrina evacuees who are being thrown out of their temporary housing feel more than a little bit uncomfortable. So do people without adequate health care, and without enough food to eat. Oh yeah, and people who are hurt and killed in Bush's Iraq war because this administration couldn't manage to send them effective body armor.

Fortunately, Rev. Lowery was not at a loss for words, and he was even able to use his polite words when responding to Tucker (I can't imagine managing to do so myself).
CARLSON: It's not hard to hear that [your remarks] and not draw the obvious conclusion that that's an attack on President Bush, which of course is your right to do, and I think completely fair. But again, it seemed very uncomfortable to say something like that in a funeral with the president right there. It seemed like bad manners.

LOWERY: Well, I don't think so. I certainly didn't intend for it to be bad manners. I did intend for it to - to call attention to the fact that Mrs. King spoke truth to power. And here was an opportunity to demonstrate how she spoke truth to power about this war and about all wars.

And I think that, in the context of the faith, out of which the movement grows, we have always opposed war. We've always fought poverty. And we base our - our argument on - on the faith, on the fact that Jesus taught us. He identified with the poor. "I was hungry; you didn't feed me. I was naked; you didn't clothe me. I was in prison; you didn't see about me." He talked about war. He talked about he who lives by the sword.

So I'm comfortable with the fact that I was reflecting on Mrs. King's tenacity against war, her determination to witness against war and to speak truth to power.

Well there you go. Perfect response--would someone kindly make sure this is sent to all Democrats who are in a position to be interviewed about this? Because that, right there, is the correct response. And any so-called Democrat giving a namby-pamby Republican pundit-appeasing response should get a *serious* metaphorical butt-kicking.

And, one more thing, Atrios has just said:
When I die, please let it be known that my family and friends are entitled to conduct my funeral in any manner they see fit, including but not limited to talking about the things which were important to me in life.

I would say, why not go one better? Write your *own* statement, that you would like read at your funeral or memorial service. Include it with your will. Have it notorized, or whatever else you'd need to do to prove that these are *exactly* the words you want spoken. That way, no one else can be accused of doing the "politicizing".

Most of us, of course, are unlikely to have a state funeral with Bush in attendance. Maybe we should just write ours anyway--speaking truth to power in our own voices.

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Save Americorps

I think this is important enought to frontpage, but don't have the time to write a post of my own. The following is a post from listener in the overnight thread. To help avoid confusion, since there are three different "voices" in the post, I've used different colors to distinguish the part written by listener, the letter from her clergy friend in NH, and the letter from Beth.

And yes, I did sign the petition.

Well, here's one for Coretta's sake...

My son served in Americorps for two years, tutoring underprivileged kids in the inner city of St. Louis.

Today I got a message from a clergy friend in NH, explaining that Bush is cutting funding to Americorps programs, and inviting me to sign a petition to help save one of them.

Please consider signing!!
The address is below.

Here's the letter from my friend:

Friends and Family

This (see below) is from a young woman in our church.

Need I say more---except that every young person I know who participates in this program (and there are quite a few) has come back a changed person, has grown and what's more, has contributed to the common good. I fear for the common good in these daze of dizzying self-righteous indulgence and political insanity.

Please support Beth and all those who have given and give so much for others through Ameri Corps -- National Civilian Community Corps(NCCC) and otherwise.



Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing this email to ask for EVERYONES support. AmeriCorps*NCCC (the program I will have devoted 2 years of my life to) is in Jeopardy.

President Bush has cut ALL NCCC funding from the 2007 Budget.
Anyone who knows my experiences and the experiences of other NCCC alum know how important this program is.

The amount of work that we are able to get done is unbelievable, and anyone who was an NCCC sponsor is aware of that. In the proposed budget, it states that AmeriCorps*NCCC has proven to be "ineffective" in their work.

This statement was also made by people who have never visited campuses or projects to see what is actually being done.

I have found a website that is forming a petition to keep NCCC, at the least I would love everyone to sign that.

The website is

On the other hand, SO much more can be done. Please please please write to your Senator and Congressmen, let them know the importance of the program and the lives that it saves every year that NCCC is in service.

If you would like more information on what NCCC does and the projects and amount of work that has been completed, please let me know and I can get that information for you. Also, if you do write to people, be sure to mention AMERICORPS*NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).

On a final note, I'm really calling on all of you to speak on behalf of me. I am unable to lobby for the program at this time because i am a current member. If I were Alum, I would be out in full force, as I'm sure you all know. So please if I can help you in any way, let me know!! Please don't let them end this program that is so important!!!

Hope all is well with everyone!

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

For war billions more, but no more for the poor

I just got home a little while ago, and had my first opporunity to see the video of Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery speaking at Coretta Scott King's funeral. You can see the video at Crooks and Liars. He said, in part (via Atrios):

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there [standing ovation]... but Coretta kew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."
Apparently there are already complaints that Lowery was "politicizing" the event. Bull puckey. I watched the whole speech/eulogy and on balance, not that much of it was political. Granted, a lot more rhyming than I personally can appreciate, but it's a style.

What a family reunion
Rosa and Martin reminiscing, they'd just begun to talk
when Martin seemed not to listen. He started to walk.
The wind had whispered in his ear
"I believe somebody is almost here!"
"Excuse me, Rosa," Martin said as he did depart.
His soul was on fire, he just couldn't wait
His spirit leaped with joy as he moved toward the Pearly Gate.
Glory, glory, halleluia, after 40 years, almost 40 years...
Together at last, together at last,
thank God almighty, together at last!

That was followed by a standing ovation. What struck me when watching the speech is how completely it struck a chord with the audience. Rev. Lowery's words were *exactly* right for the majority of the people in attendance. Not that much of the speech was political, but the part that was was entirely appropriate. From an article at MSNBC:
She pushed and goaded politicians for more than a decade to have her husband's birthday observed as a national holiday, achieving success in 1986. In 1969 she founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and used it to confront hunger, unemployment, voting rights and racism.

"The center enables us to go out and struggle against the evils in our society," she often said.

Two points here. First, Coretta Scott King clearly was an activist in her own right, and Rev. Lowery, as a long time friend of hers, was right to address issues he knew to be close to her heart. How do you think she would have felt about this?
President Bush on Monday sent Congress a proposed $2.77 trillion budget for fiscal 2007 that favors tax cuts and national security and squeezes domestic programs.

The proposal would eliminate 141 government programs, cut spending not related to defense and homeland security, and scale back the rate of growth for Medicare and other so-called entitlement programs. Even with those savings, federal spending would exceed anticipated tax revenue by $354 billion next year, down from this year's record $423 billion deficit.

Do you think she approved of her friend, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery chiding the powers that be for a budget giving "for war, billions more, but no more for the poor"?

Rhetorical question. Damn right, she approved.

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I want Bill and Ted held for questioning

In case you missed it, yes, Alberto Gonzalez really did say this:

Alberto: President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.

You can see the video at Crooks and Liars.

George Washington, the "father of our country" did that? That bastard! I know somebody who isn't getting anything for Presidents' Day this year.

Assuming, of course, that Alberto Gonzalez allegations are true. I'm pretty concerned about how Washington came into possession of equipment that could be used for electronic surveillance. I'm afraid these guys are going to have to be held for questioning.

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Howard Dean updates

I just received this notice about an upcoming Howard Dean appearance in Washington State from Howie in Seattle. If you know of any other upcoming appearances, please email the details to howardempowered at

Howard Dean in Washington State, President's Day, February 20th!
WHAT: Washington State Democrats Annual Crab Feed!

Also, Howard Dean has made the following remarks about the recent anti-gay hate crime in Massachusetts. From February 2:

"The horrible hate crime against members of the LGBT community witnessed in Massachusetts last night is a sad reminder that shameful efforts to scapegoat any group of Americans for electoral gain is a dangerous strategy that carries real human cost. It needlessly plays on people's fears and contributes to a political climate dominated by fear and division. The American people understand that scapegoating groups of Americans for electoral gain is not just dangerous, it is un-American and has no place in our society. Hopefully, born of this tragedy will be a renewed commitment to bringing all Americans together and embracing our diversity. It is time for Republicans and Democrats to come together to find real solutions to the challenges that confront all Americans."

And finally, don't forget to check in here and join in the brainstorming about how to celebrate Howard Dean's first anniversary as chair of the DNC.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Howard's 1-year anniversary--let's do this thing up right!

This morning and, yikes, into this afternoon, I have been busily cross-posting a diary about Howard Dean's one year anniversary as chair of the DNC. As some of us have already noted, we know that there is likely to be a spike in the negative stories (they're *always* out there, but this is a time of special celebration) in honor of one year with Howard Dean as chair of the DNC.

Please help spread the word about this--it needs to be a wide effort both online and offline. If I have time, I'll come up with something to printout and give to the "shoe leather" Dean supporters. But please post about this at other blogs you frequent, or your own blogs. Here are the places I've posted about this, if you are a member of any of these blogs and would like to give the story a boost by recommending.

Daily Kos
My Left Wing
Booman Tribune
Democratic Underground

And a big thank you to ePluribus Media for frontpaging my diary.

Please direct people to the link right under the seasonal picture of young Howard Dean, so that we can all brainstorm ideas.

If you'd like to submit a post for the front page here at Howard-Empowered People, in honor of this anniversary, you can email it to howardempowered at

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That 40 ft hole in the New Mexico desert with buried oil company papers.

First a brief public service announcement for anyone who is wondering what's up with Blog for America. At first glance, it looks as though there have been no new comments since around 5 in the morning on Sunday. While there have been no new posts after For a Responsible Texas, there are many newer comments, which are only viewable if you log in to post a comment. And if you scroll down a bit, you see this:

luigi dfa wrote on February 5, 2006 10:24 AM:

Sorry for the blog hiccups Joan. I've been up since 7:30 trying to figure it out. Here's the Sunday morning line up...

Oh, I freaking knew this would happen! I go to the trouble of writing this up, and and as soon as I get ready to publish, I check and see that all the BFA posts from yesterday are online now. Hang it! I'm leaving this here anyway for people who are would like to find out what happened without trying to track down the answer over there.

Floridagal had this in draft and I'm going to flip the switch and post it live. I took the liberty of adding the hotlink to her crosspost at Booman Tribune so that you can recommend the diary there if you feel so inclined.

Posted at Booman Tribune. I thought I would see how the html carries over to here. Never know until I try.

Remember these documents that were buried in the desert in New Mexico? They supposedly pertained to Shell Oil and a pipeline to Mexico. I have just GOT to stop cleaning out my old files because I find all kinds of things that were left hanging. I have two articles from 2003, and one from 2004. I can not find anything on it since.

From May 2003

EOTT finds documents while digging in New Mexico

Thousands of documents allegedly withheld when a surviving Enron subsidiary bought pipelines from another oil company were exhumed Friday from a 45-foot-deep hole on the plains of southeastern New Mexico.

EOTT Energy LLC, the buyer, was tipped off about the buried records by a confidential informant who once worked for Texas-New Mexico Pipeline Co., said Dan Dolan, an Albuquerque attorney representing EOTT. Texas-New Mexico was the Shell Oil subsidiary that sold EOTT the pipelines

The landowners sued Texas-New Mexico Pipeline and EOTT in March 2001 after discovering well water was contaminated in the early 1990s by a pipeline spill. The pipeline was owned at the time by Texas-New Mexico Pipeline.

EOTT workers used heavy equipment and dug by hand to excavate a 45-foot-deep hole on two acres southwest of Hobbs, near the Texas state line. Many of the documents were burlap-wrapped bundles. Most stuck together. They were placed in the boxes and taken to an EOTT office in Hobbs.

Then I read that they may have found more documents buried near Midland, Texas. This article is from June 2003.

More pipeline documents may be collecting dust near Midland

The case of the buried documents just keeps getting more bizarre.

Two weeks ago, a cache of 190 boxes full of documents belonging to Texas-New Mexico Pipeline Co. was dug up from a 45-foot-deep hole at a site along the company's pipeline in New Mexico. Certain assets of the Texas-New Mexico Pipeline Co., formerly owned by a Shell Oil Co. subsidiary, were sold to Enron Corp. and are now owned by EOTT Energy Partners.

There has been much speculation as to what the records might contain, why they were buried, and what impact they might have on litigation between Houston-based EOTT Energy Partners and Shell over an oil spill from the pipeline. But before the dust had even begun to settle on that strange situation, Shell revealed that there is a second site of buried TNMP documents, this one in West Texas.

EOTT has hinted that there could be some very serious illegalities at play. But Shell, for its part, keeps insisting that its relationship to TNMP is only "indirect" and that the documents are nothing important.

I found a very short article from 2004, and then nothing more.

Uncovered Documents May Be Trouble for Oil Company

The date given in this article says the documents were dug up in November 2003, but that does not go along with the other articles. I find the Shell statement at the end so very ridiculous. "pre-existing hole"...

Residents of Midland, Texas, filed suit against EOTT in 2001, claiming that their well water was contaminated by oil from a pipeline leak. EOTT settled with the residents and then sued Shell to recover costs of the settlements and remediation. EOTT argued it did not own the pipeline at the time of the incident and was unaware of any potential environmental problems when it acquired the company. The newly discovered records could change the course of the litigation and result in more legal woes for Shell.

New Mexico District Attorney Thomas Rutledge told the Houston Business Journal that his office will take legal action if it appears that the pipeline company buried the documents to hide or destroy criminal evidence. If the company did indeed try to cover up environmental problems or hide significant information from shareholders, the public, or potential buyers, it could have violated federal securities laws as well as federal and state environmental and pipeline regulations.

A Shell spokesperson told the Houston Business Journal that the documents are simply "office refuse" that was disposed of in a pre-existing hole.
That's funny, a pre-existing hole 40 something feet deep. Nah, we didn't dig that hole, it was already there.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday night mixed bag

I don't have any one issue to do a new post about, but wanted to use this thread to link to a few items of interest. If you haven't seen it yet, check out the DNC web site for Howard Dean's statement following the death of Coretta Scott King:

"Before her marriage to Dr. King, Mrs. King was a champion of civil rights and the non violent movement in her own right. During Dr. King's life and after his death, Mrs. King was integral to the struggle for equality and justice. A woman of wisdom, compassion and vision, she helped to preserve her husband's legacy and played a key role in making Dr. King Day a national holiday and the King Center a reality. As the work of the King Center continues, local, national and international programs have trained tens of thousands of people in Dr. King's philosophy and methodology of social change.

"Mrs. King once said, 'I want to challenge you to make a courageous commitment, not only to achieve personal success, but to use your success to help create this beautiful symphony of brotherhood and sisterhood, and if you embrace this challenge with prayer and faith and determination, you will surely succeed, and the 21st Century will become a glorious new age of peace and progress for all humankind.'

By the way, I was reminded, when I went to visit the "About the Chairman" page, that a week from today will be Howard Dean's one year anniversary as Chair of the DNC. We should do something nice for him.

Also, Denise recommended this video in the overnight thread. It's Sean Hannity interviewing cartoonist/columnist Ted Rall about the Tom Toles cartoon in the Washington Post.

And Alan in CA had this recommendation:

Published on Friday, February 3, 2006 by
The Pangs Of Your Sadness Shall Pass As Your Senses Will Rise
by Christopher Cooper

A very eloquent challenge to (or indictment of) TV newtainment.

Regarding the ball game that so many have been excited about tonight, if I hadn't read about it on the blogs, I probably wouldn't have even known it was happening today. But if I hadn't had a class to go to, I definitely would have watched the Puppy Bowl instead.

More about the candidate forum that took place yesterday, for anyone who is interested: Blue 88/DFA Candidate's Forum Roundup

And, for anyone who is interested, I just put up a new post at my Religious Left blog with some great Fred Rogers stories.

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Originally posted on The Underground Railroad

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

A promise is only as good as the character of the person who makes it, and this week we learned just how fickle political promises can be when 19 Democrats went back on their promise to stand up against rabid right-wing Supreme Court nominees. How can we deal with people whose "No" means "Maybe" and whose "Yes" means "Probably not"? How can we deal with people whose word is null and void? How can we have a substantive relationship with someone whose word we cannot trust?

We can't.

But there is One whose Word stands the test of time, One whose Word is from everlasting to everlasting, One whose word creates objective reality and who breathes the breath of life into human existence. If there is no one else in whom we can place our faith, in whom we can trust, we can always trust Jesus if we submit to his will. Someone once noted that many Americans would like to have Jesus in their life, but only as a consultant - they won't yield to His authority, they won't submit to His lordship, they simply won't trust Him. Far too many Americans have bought into the lie of humanism, that mankind is the measure of all things, and far too many Americans believe that it is all about themselves. America's "rugged individualism" is more aptly called "rampant self-centeredness" - it's all about self - but Jesus came to save all of those who would receive Him, those who would believe on His name. Finding faith in a land where iron-clad contracts and prenuptial agreements are the standard operating procedure is much akin to finding a 40 year-old virgin in Vegas, yet that is exactly what we are called to do.

You see, it is truly difficult to trust people - folk are fickle, fake, and phony - but we can trust Him whose word is true, whose word is truth, who came and died that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can trust Him because of who He is - the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He who is faithful and true, He who is wonderful, our counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Don't believe me? I don't blame you, but believe Jesus:
If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.
The choice is yours, but I'm here to tell you that once you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord: neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In all of these things - and I have had to deal with just about all of these things over the last couple months - nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are more than conquerers.

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 you to overcome the lies of the world,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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Statewide Candidate Forum, Feb 4 (OH)

I would have liked to be able to attend the statewide candidate forum that was held yesterday in Ohio--after all, it was held right here in Columbus. But it ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and web site said to R.S.V.P. by Feb. 1. I already had a commitment for that morning. If I was really on the ball, I could have contacted someone to find out if I could attend just part of the event, but, well, I wasn't. Or rather, I have to fit in this blogging and activism thing in around the rest of my life. Anyway, if anyone here did attend, I would like to hear your thoughts about the event.

Here's what I've found so far...there is some live blogging from Mrs. Editor at Ohio 2nd blog here. The first Kos diary I saw about the event was this one: Hackett Booed at Statewide Candidates Forum. Apparently he was booed by Brown supporters for going negative on Brown:

Today about 20 or so audience members "booed and catcalled" when Paul Hackett spoke of Sherrod Brown directly, saying Brown had been a "politician" since he was 21, and asking what was Brown going to accomplish in the Senate that he had failed to in the Congress?

Of course, I've read plenty of put downs of Brown to Hackett as well. Cut it out, okay? It's not cool. Say what *you'll* do if elected. Positive message, please.

The diarist, progressivearlintonian, added:
I had to leave before he finished his Q&A and I walked out thinking, gee, what a huge gaffe by Paul Hackett.

and then I remembered . . .

Paul Hackett is a Marine. He says what he thinks.

Yeah, he's a Marine. He's also an attorney, and as such, he presumably *does* know how to choose his words carefully when it really matters. You can do better than that, Paul.

Here's the writeup about the Hackett/Brown portion of the forum from BuckeyeSenate. He's also written about the rest of the day here and here.

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