Saturday, April 08, 2006

Subodh Chandra in Columbus, April 8, Part 1

I was really wiped out this morning after a long day yesterday--really a long week. So it was a challenge to drag my carcass out of the house and go to the Subodh Chandra event sponsored by the Coalition of Democratic and Progressive Organizations in Central Ohio. Especially given that it was at Ohio State, so I had to pay to park, (I'm cheap) had to *find* parking, and then I had to, a good ten minutes after the event was set to start, wander through the rats' maze of the Ohio Union to find the Buckeye Gray Room. I think that's what it was called. I know it wasn't in the Scarlet Suite. I could tell I was finally headed in the right direction, and that I was apparently not yet late, when I saw Subodh smile and wave before ducking into a room at the end of the hallway. Okay, I really did *have* to go to this thing today. I mean, I've heard the guy on podcasts, read about him, and he was even kind enough to send me a guest entry to post at Howard-Empowered People (a month ago today, I just noticed). So I really didn't want to miss my opportunity to see him in person.

There were probably 30 or so people there--I'm not good at estimating these things--and Subodh was losing his voice. There was a major event going on, having to do with raising the minimum wage, and apparently that's where Marc Dann was. He was originally scheduled to debate Subodh, but instead, Dann's wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, came and spoke on his behalf. She described some of the sacrifice that comes with having your spouse run for statewide office. When it was Subodh's turn to speak, he quipped that Dann is ahead of him in the endorsement race, having secured his wife's endorsement. Subodh said, "I don't know who my wife's going to vote for on May 2!" and to Alyssa, referring to the sacrifice she described, "I feel your pain".

Below, you will find the first part of the talk Subodh gave in Columbus this morning. I'm still working on the rest of the transcript, and I will post more of it as I am able.
If you're like me, and you've watched our economy erode into shambles, our educational system crumbling, perhaps you're savvier than I am, but I was only attributing it to a difference in political philosophy, energy level, and perhaps intelligence level. That, well, these folks have kind of a funny philosophy about the world and, well, they're pretty lazy and don't do with governmental authority what I would do if I had the opportunity, and, maybe they're not that bright...some of them, at least, although probably some of them are quite cunning. But, what the scandal stories out of Columbus revealed, from the hundreds of millions of dollars lost out of the Workers' Compenstion facilities commission, spending recklessly but not paying the prevailing wage to their workers so they can support themselves.

What these stories prove is that these folks weren't just people with a funny philosophy, or people who were lazy, or people who weren't bright. No, these folks were lookouts at the scene of a bank robbery, whistling along while their pals were looting the bank. And it's a fundamental difference, and that's what inspired my wife and me to commit to this incredibly, painfully long job interview--the longest job interview I've ever been through in my life. Actually, I had stepped down as Cleveland law director last January with no intention of doing anything like this. My wife and I have triplet sons who just turned two years old, and the pregnancy had been a challenge, a terrible challenge. My wife had been hospitalized for three months. The boys were born healthy and happy but, the idea was to step back from public service because of its demands, if done correctly.

But, the scandal stories pointed me in another direction, because I have a professional background in cleaning up messes. That's what I do, and so, duty called.

So the questions that you have to focus on--that we all have to focus on--as the primary approaches, and the general election approaches are as follows:

Why should we even care about the Attorney General's race? And, who should you choose--how do you choose?

First, I'm going to talk about why you and your families and your friends and their families should care about this race. It's not often that I quote the President, but there's one phrase of his that's always stuck in my mind with respect to the Attorney General's race, and that's that we are the victims of the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

One of the reasons that people like yourselves, who pay close enough attention to politics that you're actually here on a morning like this--and it is a lovely day, by the way. I hate to tell you this, but you all are a little odd--you know this, right? But even the people like you who are so devoted to country and community that you're here, can't name anything that the Attorney General of Ohio has done for you after the last 12 years. It almost seems statistically impossible that people could be in those jobs for so long, and leave no footprints. How is it that that happened?

Well, the Attorney General's job is to run the people's law firm, to be the people's lawyer. To protect us from harm and from loss. That's the job. The governor's job is to lead us to prosperity, to take us to new places. (Spontaneous audience laughter at the mention of the governor leading us to prosperity.) Boy, heaven knows we need some prosperity--and heaven knows we need a new governor, and we will have one. But all the prosperity that a new governor brings through the front door of our homes will be rendered meaningless if thieves are looting us out the back door, and they have been.

And the Attorneys General that we've had over the past twelve years, who were supposed to be standing guard at the back door. They weren't just asleep at the back door, they were holding the door open for the thieves--and we've all payed the price.

We paid the price when instead of preserving money, and protecting it for injured workers, money that Ohio's farmers and struggling small businesses paid into that system, they permitted thieves to loot it, and invest it in goofy things like rare coins, Beanie Babies, autographed baseballs, the rare coins being used to purchase fine wine--some of you have heard me tell that story before.

We all paid the price when natural gas companies fleeced us with huge price increases, even though demand has been stable and supply has been stable. And four midwestern attorneys general, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, just three weeks ago released a report showing that, and demonstrating that the increase in prices must be due to the lack of transparency in the trade, and price manipulation, and called for greater Federal government oversight. And Congressman Kucinich joined me in press conferences when he endorsed me and said, we've got to fight for this, we've got to have an Attorney General who can go after these companies.

We all paid the price when predatory lenders wreaked havoc across our state. If you just saw the news, we continue to have the highest foreclosure rate in America. It's up 8% over the previous year. One out of 71 homes in Ohio foreclosed. It's astonishing--absolute devastation. It's another Hurricane Katrina happening right under our noses.

And what did the Attorney General do? Nothing! He didn't call for legislative authority, didn't use the legislative authority he had, and in fact, when I was Cleveland law director, we passed a law to protect our citizens from these predators, because the state failed to do so. And it didn't surprise us when the lenders got the General Assembly that they bought and paid for to pass legislation that they had written, and it didn't surprise me when they sued the city of Cleveland and Dayton trying to stop us from enforcing our law.

But you know what shocked me? Jim Petro, *our* Attorney General, who didn't even have a dog in the fight, moved to intervene in the case, and chose the predators over those who were preyed upon. He chose the lenders over the elderly and vulnerable. He chose private interests over public interest.

We all paid the price as four rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court say we need to fix our system of educational funding because it's unconstitutional and inequitable, and the children are victims, and the Attorneys General just blew it off. And aided and abetted the state legislature in blowing it off, instead of holding them accountable, which is the Attorney General's job.

We've *all* paid the price. That's why this office matters.

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The silence is deafening

Over at My Left Wing, sean mykael managed to put into words something that has been bothering me, but that I hadn't yet found a way to express, regarding the relative silence of most of the bigger blogs with respect to Maryscott O'Connor's television appearance last night: The Silence is Deafening...

No mention from DailyKos...where Maryscott has been blogging pretty much from day one and whom I have to think has played some small part in making it the hub it is today

No mention from BooMan Tribune...whose first surge of active participation came from a sojourn of Kossacks who felt disillusioned by percieved sexism at DailyKos

No mention from MyDD...a site that has been promoting the building of broad coalitions from the grassroots up to match the powerful political and media machine of the right

No mention from Atrios...who just today has posted about Mike Stark's most recent call to a conservative pundit as well as posting of Kos' recent televsion appearance.

No mention from AmericaBlog...whose curator has met Maryscott personally and has even particpated in media training seminars with Maryscott so that she can better do exactly what it is she is trying to do.

No mention from Crooks & Liars...whose whole gig is to post video clips of recent media happenings concerning liberal politics

No mention from FireDogLake...a blog run by fellow women bloggers, some of whom have also met Maryscott in person and should know a thing or two about trying to be an outspoken women in a big boys club

Click for the rest.

Once again, those of us who are not the bloggers with the big microphones seriously need to find a way to organize.

I've said it before, and I'm most likely going to keep saying it. I don't have an action plan, but maybe one of these days, someone else will.

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House GOP would rather play politics than help Ohioans

As I mentioned in the comments, this morning, at a Subodh Chandra event in Columbus, I saw Marian Harris, who was a leader in both Dean for America and the later Democracy for America-Central Ohio. She told me that a letter to the editor she had written had been published today in The Columbus Dispatch. Here it is...

House GOP would rather play politics than help Ohioans
Saturday, April 08, 2006

The budget-correction bill recently signed by the governor once again demonstrates that party politics dominate our state government. While House Bill 530 accomplishes a great deal, floor amendments were introduced in the Ohio House to address the critical needs of our residents. Those amendments were routinely tabled by the Republican majority.

And that means there's nothing correct about this budget-correction legislation.

This bill, as passed by the House, ignores the least among us, those for whom each House member promises to advocate and represent: widows, the elderly and the infirm.

For example, Rep. Peter Ujvagi, DToledo, offered an amendment to create the War Widows and Orphans Scholarship Fund to ensure that a college education is available to the spouses and children of servicemen and women killed in the war on terrorism. Ujvagi has offered this proposal on other occasions, and each time his Republican colleagues have tabled it.

The fund would provide some small compensation and a great measure of security to the families of those Ohio troops who make the supreme sacrifice to protect our country. But most Republicans voted to block the scholarship amendment not just once, but twice.

Similarly, Rep. Dan Stewart, D-Columbus, proposed an amendment to ensure the viability of the Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps elderly and poor Ohioans with their home heating costs. And likewise, that amendment was tabled by the Republican majority, signaling yet again the majority's lack of regard for the needs of certain Ohioans.

House Bill 530 did nothing to address school-funding issues. Our schools face budgetary crises and every child in Ohio will suffer, as do seniors on fixed incomes who see their property taxes increase on a regular basis. Nor did the bill repeal the secretive commercial-activity tax that allows state government to tax every link in the food-production chain, which results in higher costs passed on to consumers each week at the grocery store.

We endow our elected officials with the power to make decisions on our behalf, to represent fully and fairly the interests of everyone in Ohio. I am disappointed to learn that partisan politics appears to be more important than the public trust.

To my knowledge, every amendment offered by a Democrat in the current session of the House was tabled. There is no bipartisan concern about what is best for Ohioans, and I'm ashamed to say that my representative's role in the Republican leadership is to move to table any Democratic amendment that comes before the House.

We need legislators who can work together for the common good, who care about the least among us and who can put politics aside to accomplish good things for the people of this state.

19th Ohio House District

Here's a link to Marian's campaign web site, for anyone who would like to help out:

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Maryscott O'Connor on The Big Story (transcript)

The following is a transcript of the video podcast which can be seen here.

John "War on Christmas" Gibson: For our "Blue on Blue" debate today, moderate Democrat versus angry left--Fox's political analyst and Democratic strategist Bob Beckel and Maryscott O'Connor, a blogger from So Maryscott, let me ask you first, one of the things I read from the left is that people on your side of things really don't like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry seems to have shifted a little leftwards, and Al Gore was already there. What's wrong with Hillary?

Maryscott O'Connor: She's too much of a centrist.

John Gibson: Meaning what?

Maryscott O'Connor: ...and she voted for the war. She's a pro-war Democrat.

John Gibson: And she has not backed off that position?

Maryscott O'Connor: I haven't seen her back off of it, have you?

John Gibson No, I haven't. I take it though, that people in the blog world, and more on the left than Beckel, this is really sticking in their craw, and they're not going to support her come presidential talk in '08.

Maryscott O'Connor: She's not my first, second, or third choice, let's put it that way. (Smile)

Johh Gibson (laughing) All right, Beckel, did you think John Kerry in his latest statements has gone farther to the left than he has been, am I perceiving this correctly?

Bob Beckel Well, first of all, what you're perceiving incorrectly is that I'm a centrist Democrat. I've been proud to be a liberal my entire life! I started thirty years ago as a liberal, in the civil rights movement, and so I don't--that's your characterization. Now maybe--

Johh Gibson --but, Beckel, one's position on the spectrum depends on who's to your left. I perceive, and I could be wrong, that Maryscott is quite a bit left of you as of this moment.

Bob Beckel As of this moment. And let me just say this. If there's one authority we want to go to on Democratic liberal politics, it's you on this, (Maryscott laughs) and I'm glad you're asking the questions. But look, I remember back when I first started out in 1974--73--in politics. I was *outraged* that Democrats were *not* trying to impeach Richard Nixon. This was at the beginning of Watergate. It took them 18 months before they finally got him. I couldn't understand it--it drove me crazy. Now I can understand why--

Johh Gibson (interrupting) The circle is closed.

Bob Beckel --now wait a minute--I can understand why liberal blogs, and Maryscott feels very strongly about the war--so do I. But the truth is that this is not bad. It is not a bad thing that the tension is there, and I think the tension helps move some of these people from the dead center. There's no such thing as a moderate! What's a moderate? A moderate's a waste of time!

Johh Gibson All right. Maryscott, let me put it this way. If the candidates you support were to win in September, and Democrats take over the House again, would I be correct in assuming you would want them and you could expect them to either censure or impeach George Bush?

Maryscott O'Connor: I would expect both parties to impeach George W. Bush, because it's a question of honor and principle.

Gibson interrupts, asking if she means Republicans too.

Maryscott O'Connor: Yes, absolutely! The Republicans were behind the push against Nixon. I long for the days of the Republicans in Nixon's era.

John Gibson So, Beckel, is this a *good* place for the Democrats to be?

Bob Beckel Let me try to--you know, you're trying to get a fight between a couple of liberals here, maybe one farther to the left than I am. It's going to be harder to do, John. Let me tell you something. If I woke up tomorrow morning and George Bush was impeached and out of office, it would be the second best day since my children were born. (Crosstalk)

John Gibson But, but, you think that's a good thing to tell the American people you want to impeach him over NSA or something?

Bob Beckel Wait a second. Here's where Maryscott and I disagree. I think it would be almost impossible to impeach George Bush. It would get us off a lot of messages that I think can attract a lot of voters for this November. What is important, I've learned over 30 years is, if you don't have a majority, you don't get bills passed. And, at some point, your ideology can get in the way of winning--

John Gibson --all right, before we run out of time, Maryscott, does that sound like wisdom to you or not?

Maryscott O'Connor: It sounds like a strategist talking. This is about a principle. He broke the law. It shouldn't be about whether it's a "winning issue" or not. I think that Republicans and Democrats should be behind impeaching this man for breaking the law.

John Gibson All right, Maryscott O'Connor of, and Bob Beckel, my MODERATE Democrat, even though he disavows it, I appreciate both of you. And, of course, the question of whether he broke the law is still a jump ball, but thanks to both of you.

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Podcast of MSOC's Fox debut

Oh, man--is this taking one for the team, or what? I thought I would transcribe Maryscott O'Connor's appearance on The Big Story with John Gibson, since there is now a podcast available. The first few seconds have already made me throw up a little in the back of my mouth. So far, what I know about Gibson is that he's got Ken doll hair (if Ken were blond) and likes to engage in obnoxious stereotyping ("moderate Democrat versus angry left").

No, really...I can do this.

Wish me luck. Or...courage, maybe. Or that my gag reflex holds out...

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Needed: one pair of earplugs

See the birdie? The birdie is pretty, isn't she? The birdie is also playful and funny. The birdie is also...

Too. Damn. Loud.

I've had an insanely hectic day at work, being pulled in too many different directions and having to work with some pretty challenging individuals. I was supposed to call Demetrius at some point during the day and let him know if I wanted to go to the "First Friday" potluck at the local Unitarian Universalist church. About halfway into the day I called him to give a definite "no" on that, as I was sure by the end of the work day I wasn't going to want to be around other humans for a little while. I just wanted to be able to look forward to a bit of peace and quiet once I finally got through this day.

So, I'm finally home. Demetrius took the kids to the potluck, so there are no humans here with me. But "peace and quiet"? Not so much. When I thought about coming home and enjoying a quiet evening, I forgot about Zoe. She's not going to be quiet until she gets some attention. Oh well--the best laid plans of mice...

Anyway, as I mentioned in the comments of the last thread, I completely flaked about Maryscott O'Connor being on The Big Story with John Gibson today. She posted about the impeachment debate at My Left Wing and crossposted at Daily Kos, Booman Tribune, MyDD, and Political Cortex. Lots of comments on those threads if you're interested in following the discussion. If anyone posts a link to video of that appearance online, could someone please let me know in the comments? Thanks.

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Waking up from a bad dream

I don't seem to remember my dreams often any more, but when I do, I always seem to think about them until some "message" can be found in them. Right before I woke up this morning, I had a freakish, nonsensical, unpleasant dream. I don't remember much of the content, thank goodness, only that it started out fairly ordinary, and got progressively more weird and unpleasant until I could no longer stand it.

Here's the part I do remember. Demetrius and the kids had somewhere to go in the late afternoon, and I had decided I was going to lie down for a bit. I woke up several hours later as they were coming home, as were all sorts of people and animals and creatures, who were *definitely* not invited and were most unpleasant in their behavior. And I found the whole thing pretty disorienting because I had just woken up and I couldn't seem to find my glasses.

At some point I realized that this was a dream, and that I most definitely wanted out of it. I thought of what Daughter in Ohio told me years ago about how, when she found herself in a bad dream, she would just shake her head, and that woke her up.

Tried it.
Nope, didn't work.

Finally it occurred to me to look upon this unpleasant scene with its frightful beasts and proclaim "You are not real!" The scene started to fade. I said it again. "You are not real!" That did the trick--the whole disturbing scene just dissolved.

Thinking about the sequence of the dream--the fact that it started out with things pretty much okay and devolved into something completely unbearable...well, it's not hard for me to see a parallel between that and the last 5 years. I'm not suggesting that it's all just a dream, and that if we just shout at it, it will oblige and go away. But maybe some of it isn't real. At least, the more I think of it as "reality", the more defeated I begin to feel, making it harder to work for change.

Maybe I've found a mantra here. Obviously, I can't change anything by just saying to the Bush administration and all of its little wizards "You are not real!" I have to keep doing other stuff too. But maybe there's something powerful in asserting, out loud, that I refuse to have their vision of reality have power over me.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Scripted Bush Event Goes Awry

Update: Crooks & Liars has the video. --Corinne

From Think Progress. Check out the reactions of the two women sitting next to the gentleman with the microphone.

At an event in Charlotte this morning, a Bush PR event on the war on terror went off script when a man named Harry Taylor took the microphone:

" 'I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration,' [Harry] Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. 'And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself.' "

Q You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are -

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Q Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I - in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and -

There were boos from the audience but Bush let Taylor continue.

Q And I would hope - I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

Then Bush demonstrated that he heard only what he wanted to hear:

I'm going to start off with what you first said, if you don't mind, you said that I tap your phones - I think that's what you said. You tapped your phone - I tapped your phones. Yes. No, that's right. Yes, no, let me finish.

I'd like to describe that decision I made about protecting this country. You can come to whatever conclusion you want. The conclusion is I'm not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program, and I'll tell you why. We were accused in Washington, D.C. of not connecting the dots, that we didn't do everything we could to protect you or others from the attack. And so I called in the people responsible for helping to protect the American people and the homeland....

Now, you and I have a different - of agreement on what is needed to be protected. But you said, would I apologize for that? The answer - answer is, absolutely not. (Applause.)

Complete transcript here. Another head shaking moment brought to you by the Bush Administration.

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Open Thread

For folks who missed it (like me!), here is the transcript and video of Howard on yesterday's MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" --Corinne

I am *seriously* not a morning person.

Off to work amongst yourselves.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What might this be?

Back in September of 2005, I posted a diary entitled "Life lessons from an optical illusions web site". I described how a favorite ice breaker activity of mine at the beginning of a new Intro to Psychology class is to visit a web site full of optical illusions (sadly it has become riddled with pop-ups and annoying eye-grabbing ads, so click at your own risk). I especially like to focus on the images that can be seen two different way, like this one:

...because then we can discuss how sometimes people look at the same thing and see it differently, but that doesn't mean that one of them is wrong. They can *both* be right, and they can help each other see what it looks like from their perspective.

Of course, even if we don't try to get all deep about it, I just find this whole area fascinating. Have any two people look at clouds or at inkblots

and they will see very different things. When I was in grad school in psychology, we learned how to administer the Rorshach. Actually scoring it was much more complicated than I would have imagined, and I never quite got the hang of that. Of course at this point, that class is something like 15 years ago or so, and the only thing I remember clearly is part o the procedure for test administration. You would hand the person a card with an inkblot on it (we had to buy our own, and *dang* those things were expensive) and ask, "What might this be?"

When we look at pictures or images, especially ambiguous ones like inkblots or clouds, we often we see things we want or expect to see, or things we are particularly fond of. When Son in Ohio was really, really, really into the alphabet several years ago, the whole world was his "find the hidden letter" game.

Here's a new graphic Demetrius created a few days ago. What might this be? I can see it a few different ways. Maybe it's just a pretty picture of a peach on a tree. Or, it could make me feel hopeful, because spring is finally coming. Or it could be symbolic of all of our hard efforts finally "bearing fruit" in the 2006 elections.

Or maybe, something else...

Update: Just FYI, I've added the image to clothing items at Cafe Press. Clicking the image above takes you to a stamp featuring the same graphic.

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Ken Blackwell "accidentally" owned Diebold stock

No time for a real post this morning, but I wanted to have another post up so that Donna's birthday thread wouldn't become the "catch-all" thread for the day.

At My Left Wing: Ken Blackwell Owned Diebold Stock by: The Wife of Bath

At Buckeye State Blog: Blackwell "accidentally" owned shares of Diebold

At Plunderbund: Blackell/Diebold: Not Just About Stock

If you find more about this story, please post links. And never forget that John McCain endorsed this clown early in the process, when there were still two other viable Republican candidates.

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Happy birthday, Donna in Evanston!

Happy birthday, Donna!

Check out some wacky birthday songs here (scroll about half way down the page).

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Subodh Chandra Update

I first wrote about Subodh Chandra shortly after Paul Hackett was pushed out of the race for Senate, back in mid-February. It was in an interview Paul Hackett did with Ohio 2nd blog that I first heard of Subodh and the fact that he was not getting party support in spite of being highly qualified. Soon after that, I discovered that the Ohio Democratic Party was intent on endorsing candidates even in contested primaries, like the one between Subodh Chandra and Marc Dann for Ohio Attorney General. And I discovered that Paul Hackett certainly knew what he was talking about regarding this lack of support--Dann got the state party endorsement, and only endorsed candidates have their existence acknowledged on the ODP web site.

Anyway, that's a little background as to how the Subodh Chandra graphic link came to live on this site. And, in case you missed it earlier, here's a link to the guest blog Subodh wrote for Howard-Empowered People: Please Help Me Become the People's Lawyer

In spite of the lack of state party support, Subodh Chandra has gotten a number of endorsements from local party groups. And a few days ago, the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed him Here's an excerpt:

An attorney general serves as the lawyer of record for the people of Ohio. Chandra, who did an outstanding job as law director under former Mayor Jane Campbell, is well equipped to meet this mandate. He would work diligently to pursue predatory lenders - a primary reason why Ohio leads the nation in home foreclosures. He would also focus on consumer protection, the environment, and wage and safety laws. He vows a drastic reduction in spending on outside legal counsel.

From Ohio 2nd blog:
Voice your support for Subodh Chandra!
In order to get the endorsement of Democracy for America, Subodh needs a strong showing of online support. Please help Subodh by going to, clicking on "Voice your Support", and filling in the required information.

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Howard on "Situation Room"

Howard was on CNN's "Situation Room" this evening, talking with Wolf Blitzer about Tom DeLay's resignation from Congress.

BLITZER: Well, is this good or bad for the Democrats, the fact that Howard -- that Tom DeLay has now decided to step aside?

DEAN: Well, I don't know if it is good or bad for the Democrats, but it's very good for the country.

There's an awful lot of corruption, not just, of course, Tom DeLay, but Bill Frist, the leader of the Senate is under investigation for insider trading. Karl Rove still has his security counsel -- security clearance, despite the fact that he has leaked information to the CIA -- for the CIA identifications in a time of war.

The vice president's chief of staff is under indictment. So, this is a very deep problem, this Republican culture of corruption. But, certainly, for the country, it's a good thing that Tom DeLay has left.

Naturally, Wolf wants to know if DeLay's resignation represents "a net political gain for the Democrats, or a loss, given the fact that so many Democrats were trying to make Tom DeLay sort of a whipping boy for the Republican Party?"

Howard sets him straight:

The big problem with the Republicans is, they put their party in front of their country. And that -- Tom DeLay did it. Others have done it. And that is what we are trying to get away from. We are going to offer a real change, Wolf, in this election.

Do you want more of the same or do you want real change? Do you want ethics legislation that really means something? Do you want American jobs that will stay in America? Do you want real security, instead of just talk about security?

So, the theme of the election is not just going to be about Tom DeLay and the corruption the Republicans have brought to Washington. It's going to be about a real change for America, putting America back in the right direction again.

Later in the interview, Wolf runs some video of DeLay telling an audience: "A Democrat Congress in 2007 would, without doubt or remorse, raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, summarily cut and run from the war on terror, and immediately initiate an unconstitutional impeachment of President Bush." (Please note the use of "Democrat" instead of "Democratic." It's a Republican insult.)

Wolf wants to know "Would you, as the leader of the Democratic Party, take those three steps?" (Oh come on, Wolf.)

DEAN: No, we're not going to do any of that. That's why the Republicans are going to lose in 2006. They're -- I think the American people have finally figured out that what the president and the Republicans do is divide people and name-call.

What we are going to do is balance the budget. Nobody has done that in a long time, other than Bill Clinton. Not one Republican has balanced the budget in 40 years. Balancing the budget is a moral value, not simply a good-government piece.

What we are going to do is restore a real defense policy to America. And we're going to restore the moral imperative that the United States had before President Bush came into office.

Wolf tries to corner Howard into admitting that rescinding tax cuts is in effect raising taxes.

BLITZER: But, if you would eliminate the tax cuts that were approved by the Bush administration and the Congress in the first term, in effect, you would be raising taxes.

DEAN: Wolf, you know, I never used to like to say what I'm about to say when I was governor. But, in this administration, there is so much waste, fraud and abuse.

Just before Christmas, the Republicans passed a bill to put $20 billion into the pockets of HMOs, $10 billion into the pockets of oil companies. There is so much bad stuff the Republicans have spent out money on. All we have got to do is get rid of a lot of that, and we can go well on the way to balancing the budget.

Wolf wants to know "Why are you, the Democrats, having such a hard -- tough time convincing Americans that you do have a set of policies for the country?"

DEAN: Well, we do have a set of policies. And I just laid out some of them, in terms of health care, jobs -- American jobs that will stay in America, security, and honesty in government, retirement security. But, when you're in the minority party, you don't have a bully pulpit.

What I have told the House and the Senate -- and I believe this in all -- with all my heart -- that, if we have 435 members running for Congress with the same message, our values message and our agenda, from now until the election, we're going to win. But that's what it's going to take to get our message out, Wolf.

Wolf finally tries to get an opinion out of Howard regarding the incident involving Cynthia McKinney and Howard is smart enough not to comment on something he doesn't know about:

BLITZER: What -- what do you -- what do you think of this uproar over Cynthia McKinney?

DEAN: I think there's two separate issues.

First of all, racial profiling is a real issue. But, secondly, I have absolutely no knowledge of what happened to Congresswoman McKinney at that checkpoint. I wasn't there. I don't know any of the people involved, and I haven't talked to them. So, I have no comment on what went on when Congresswoman McKinney was going into the Capitol, since I have no knowledge of what went on.

If there's a separate question, do we still have a problem with racial profiling, yes. It's getting better, but we still have a problem.

BLITZER: Howard Dean is the chairman of the Democratic Party.

Governor, thanks very much for joining us.

DEAN: Wolf, thanks for having me on.

Thank you, Howard!

Complete transcript here.

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DemocracyFest Update

It's 34 degrees in Rutland, VT right now, and it's sort of pouring rain/sleet/snow. We're supposed to get 4-8 inches of snow tonight. Yup, it's spring in VT :-)

The San Diego For Democracy folks have been telling me all along that the weather in July there is "perfect". I've been skeptical, but given the weather here today, I decided to check for myself.

The average high in San Diego for July is 71 degrees, with 0 extreme temerature days, and the average rainfall is 0.0 inches...Well, that does sound pretty good!

Hope to see you at DemocracyFest, where we can enjoy the "perfect" weather together!

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Feingold Fox News Sunday Transcript, Part 2

As Corinne pointed out in the comments, Feingold is certainly deserving of another Howardly for this latest performance.

Wallace: Senator, you talk about other members of Congress. Let me ask you about other Democrats who you have accused of *cowering* before the president. In fact, when you held this hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Friday, let's put up some pictures if we can here. Among the Democrats who didn't show up for your hearing: Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Diane Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin. Democratic Senator Mark Dayton said about you recently, "It's an overreaching step by someone who is grandstanding and running for president at the expense of his own party and his own country. Senator, are *all* of those other Democrats cowering?

Feingold: Look, you know, this was one of the best attended hearings I've seen on a Friday. You know as well as I do, Chris, that Senators take off after there are no more votes announced, and we had 7 or 8 senators at this meeting. I think you're forgetting to mention that Senator Patrick Leahy came and said that he is inclined to support censure. So support for this is growing, and--

Wallace: (interrupting) How do you explain all these other people? Kennedy, Durbin, Feinstein, Biden, all those people--

Feingold: Well, Chris, you know very well that people often don't show up for hearings even during the week, and a lot of them took off because the votes were over. Senator Specter knew exactly what he was doing when he scheduled on a Friday, but here's the main point. Chris, you know very well that I was the only Democratic senator to vote to hear the evidence in the Clinton impeachment trial. And I was the first Democratic senator to call for a special counsel when it came to campaign finance violation of President Clinton. I am one of the least partisan members of the United States Senate by all accounts. I call them as I see them, and if this were a Democratic president, I think you know and everybody else knows I'd be doing the very same thing. This has nothing to do with political amitions. Believe it or not, it's because I believe in my heart that this is a threat to our system of government, and I will say that on a Bible.

Wallace: And, now that you've had your hearing, are you going to give up on this idea of censure, or are you going to push for a vote?

Feingold: Of course I want a vote--the president has broken the law. He has misled the America people in advance, and has thumbed his nose at the law afterward. I'm not talking about impeachment, although this may be an impeachable offense, I'm talking about some accountability. We should have accountability, and if we don't get it right away in this Republican Congress, maybe we can pass a censure resolution in a Democratic Congress, which would be a little more balanced and better for our country. We have a terrible problem that we have a Republican president and two Republican houses of Congress who are intimidated by this White House even to the point of not standing up--

Wallace: (interrupting again) But Senator, and we're running out of time--you make that sound like it's a coup, I mean, that's the result of the election. Elections have implications.

Feingold: Well, there's nothing wrong with it in terms of it being inappropriate, it's just that maybe the country wants to turn this year to a little more balanced government, where you have one house of Congress saying, Mr. President, you can't just make up the law. You can't just create whatever laws you want, we have to go through the system of government we've always had. You know, the Bill of Rights and the Consitution were not repealed on 9/11, and we all are unified in fighting the terrorists, but we're not going to give the terrorists the victory of destroying our own system of government in order to satisfy a White House that has very grandiose views of the extent of their powers.

Wallace: Senator Feingold, I want to thank you so much for joining us today, please come back, sir.

Feingold: I enjoyed it. Thank you.

Thank you, Senator Feingold!

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Feingold Fox News Sunday Transcript, Part 1

(Missed the very beginning of the program, thus the elipses and the mid-sentence beginning)

Wallace: ...and you called John Dean as a witness, and he said this is worse than Watergate. Senator, do you *really* believe there is *any* comparison?

Feingold: Actually, I do think this is worse. Not in terms of personal misconduct. Our greatest priority in this country is fighting the terrorist elements that attacked up on 9/11. But when the president breaks the law, and doesn't admit that he's broken the law, and then advances theories about being able to override the law and torture, and having a pre-emptive doctrine of war, what he's trying to do is change the nature of our government. He's trying to change the nature of our presidency into an imperial presidency, so this is one of the greatest challenges in our history, to Congress to stand up and make sure we still have the rule of law and checks and balances. That's why it's actually more significant than the very serious events that occurred at Watergate.

Wallace: Well, Senator, let me explore that comparison with you, if I can. Did President Nixon brief member of Congress more than a *dozen* times before and during Watergate?

Feingold: Certainly not, and that's not the point. In fact, President Bush broke the law when he did not brief the entire intelligence committee.

Wallace: But, but, but, the fact is, President Bush briefed the congressional leaders, both House and Senate, Republican and Democrat, also the leaders of the intelligence committee, Republican and Democrat, both House and Senate, before and during this NSA wiretap program, isn't that a big difference?

Feingold: Well, Chris, where I come from here in Wisconsin, if you break the law, and you go tell people you're breaking the law, that doesn't make it okay. If you're breaking the law, you're breaking the law. In this case, the president does not have a legal leg to stand on. And we have this problem of one-party rule in our system of government right now, where the Republicans in the House and Senate are not standing up like some Republicans did in Watergate, and saying "Look, we need to stand together and say that the president needs to return to the law. We all support wiretapping terrorist, but what the president is doing here is a frightful assault on our system of government, and he has to be called on it. I could have proposed something more severe. A censure resolution is, in my view, a modest way to acknowledge the illegality and cause the president to return to the law.

Wallace: Let me explore that Watergate connection a bit more. Has President Bush created an enemies list, has he used the federal government to punish his political opponents, has he authorized break-ins of his political enemies?

Feingold: Well, again, Chris, this is not a criticism of the President in some sort of criminal law, day to day problem like President Nixon had. This is really a much bigger deal. As George Will has said, this was the very reason for the Revolution that we had in this country, that we did not want a monarchical presidency. So I think these days, when we look at the Nixon impeachment and the Clinton impeachment, we forget what the real reason for high crimes and misdemeanors was. To make sure the president doesn't cause himself to be involved in personal misconduct, but that he doesn't achieve a power that is like King George III. So this is actually, even though in terms of the president's personal misconduct, not as serious, much more dangerous to our system of government, to our republic, and frankly, Chris, it weakens us in the fight against terrorism to have a president who is thumbing his nose at the laws of this country. This isn't good for us.

Wallace: Senator, I want to go back to the briefing of congressional leaders, because, as I did say, he did brief congressional leaders of both parties more than a dozen times. It has been reported that when he set up the program, before he actually started it, that the White House suggested that there should be perhaps some legal changes made to the program, and the congressional leaders said no, because if so, the program would leak. In that sense, aren't the congressional leaders complicit in the lawbreaking?

Feingold: Well, of course they were limited in what they could say about it, because of the rules in terms of the Gang of 8 and the intelligence committee people, and I want to remind you that the president broke the statute from 1947 by not fully informing the *entire* intelligence committees. So he didn't even achieve a legal basis there. That's not the main point, but to somehow suggest that the President of the United States gets off the hook because he briefed a few members who couldn't talk about it, is to miss the point. The point is that the president is making bogus arguments about somehow when we authorized the Afghanistan invasion we agreed to this, you know that's been laughed out of the halls of Congress. It's a very sad moment when the president can't admit, look, he can say he did it with good faith, he can say he was trying to do the right thing, but he has to admit he went too far here, and he could do what he needs to do under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We all support that, we just need him to return to the idea of the law, and not, really, create a very divisive situation in our country that weakens us in the fight against terrorism internationally.

Wallace: Senator, let's talk about what's at the base of this, which is the NSA warrantless wiretap program that the president authorized. Have you been briefed on the program?

Feingold: I've been briefed to some degree, but certainly not completely. I'm on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and we got *somewhat* more information than other senators get, but then the full briefing is only being given to a sub-portion of the intelligence committee, and that's one of the reasons I decided it was time for the censure resolution, because it became clear that there was not going to be the kind of investigation that had to happen to find out exactly what this program is all about.

Wallace: Do you know how the NSA decides whom to wiretap? Do you have any evidence that the civil liberties of *any* innocent Americans have been violated?

Feingold: I know some things about it, but I'm not able to talk about it. What I can tell you is this--is that I am absolutely convinced after five hearings, three in the judiciary committee, two in the intelligence committee, that there *is* no legal basis for this. I may not know all the details, but it's clear from everything we've heard, that you can't sort of create a new law, or a new statute, or a new Constitutional provision. The president has admitted publicly that he did this outside of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They have basically been laughed out of the room when they say that the Afghanistan invasion resolution allows this, and all they have left is the idea that somehow the president has inherent power to make up whatever laws he wants, and you know what? That would be the opposite of our system of government, so we know what we need to know to know that this conduct is illegal, but there's much more to be known about the program, and I think at *least* all members of the intelligence committee. Hopefully more member of Congress would be carefully briefed on this, because how are we supposed to consider legislation that the president might want here, or senators might want, if we don't know what this program precisely is.

Wallace: Let me ask you about that Senator, because almost two dozen members of Congress have been briefed in detail about the program, members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. None of them after those detailed briefings have criticized the program in public. I want to put up the comments of two Democrats who have been briefed. Senator Diane Feinstein said, "I think it's a very impressive program." Congresswoman Jane Harman, *the* top Democrat on House intelligence said, "I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security." (She's said other things too, Chris.) Senator, it seems that the people who are criticizing this program are the ones who know the least about it.

Feingold: Of course it's essential to national security, all we have to do is bring it within the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I know that Congresswoman Harman has said specifically that she does not believe that we need to change the law in this area, that it could be done within the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. So the very member of Congress that you've cited has said that, "We all think that this program is important", but it can be done within the law. That's the point. The White House keeps acting as if we don't want them to be able to do this. Of course we do, we just need a court check and balance, that's what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is all about, to make sure that the White House doesn't run amok or that somebody doing this doesn't abuse the law. So there's no dispute about whether we should have it, and those very senators, including Senator Levin, himself have certainly not said publicly that it's essential that we go outside of the law to do this. I've seen none of them say that, and none of them will say that.

Wallace: But none of them have talked about censure, so if you need to change the law, why not just change the law? Why do you have to call for censuring a president in the middle of wartime?

Feingold: Are we going to have a system, Chris, where whenever the president wants to make up his own law, he goes ahead and does it, and we say, "Gee Mr. President, you broke the law, that's too bad. Let's make a law to make what you're doing legal." What kind of a government is that? What kind of a system is that, what kind of message to our kids--you don't like the law, just make up whatever you want to do, and keep going. It's outrageous! And frankly, if there isn't some accountability, apart from the need to possibly look at some legislation, if there isn't some statement that the president can't just make up his own laws, what have we come to? Who are we? It's an outrage, and every member of Congress and every American should say to the President, "Mr. President, we respect your commitment in the fight against terrorism, but you've got to return to the law. You've got to return to the way we do things in country."

To be continued

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Florida teachers to rally against tying pay to test scores

The is an important issue. Please read, recommend, and crosspost as you are able.

Diary by floridagal at Booman Tribune and Daily Kos:

I have a feeling this will be a big event. If you are in this area of Florida, show your support for teachers who are fighting Jeb's education machine in this state. As a retired teacher, I take very personally what they have done to our public schools. They are giving tax money to private religious schools whose agendas are not monitored. They are planning on more vouchers, even though the courts have consistently ruled against their tactics.

Click here to read more, and to recommend the diary at Booman. Here's the Kos link.

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Feingold on Fox News Sunday

Coming up on Fox News Sunday this morning:
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., on censuring the president

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