Friday, July 14, 2006

DeanFest II Memories

Bummed that we can't make it this year, so I'm looking forward to lots of great reports from DeanFest III attendees. As I mentioned earlier, there is a moblog available for people who are capable of sending pictures from their phones. I've given the posting details to TeaTimeTim, Denise, Thankful, and puddle. The link to the arrival and planning thread is in the sidebar at the regular Howard-Empowered People blog, and I've also posted it at the emergency backup blog at Wordpress. It's a huge file and takes a long time to load, but here's a link to our DeanFest II memories.

Well, have fun, everyone--and check in when you can!

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Testing, Testing, 1 - 2 - 3

Welcome to the first OPEN THREAD posted by listener
who really has no idear what she's doing,
but knows you gotta start somewhere!

So here (if it works) is a photo of SUNSET
since the sun is probably setting out on the left coast right now
where many beloved bloggers are gathering for DEANFEST III.

Remember to come by and post, folks!

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Open Thread

More kitteny cuteness from Cute Overload.

Traveling mercies to all who are on the road or in the air. (If you're driving, you might want to check out this site for roadside attractions along the way.) Click here for the DeanFest arrivals/planning thread--I've also placed it in the right sidebar where the "buy tickets to DemocracyFest" link used to be, so it's easy to find. There's also a moblog page here that I've made available for DeanFesters to send pictures to.

Just a few more odds and ends. Demetrius made a few new bumper stickers, and we've added an e-mail address to our CafePress shop, so if you have any specific requests, you can e-mail him. You can find products by Demetrius and jc, as well as the National Nurse and Disabled Americans for Democracy schwag on our affiliate sites page.

Update: The Daily Show did a bit on Ted Stevens and his clogged internet tubes. (Somebody made a t-shirt, by the way.)You don't want to miss this.

Also, I've done a boatload of transcripts at my Religious Left blog, and I just gathered all the links into one post. Click if you're interested.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lieberman called OUR Maura a "plant"

Update: So what are we going to do about it? Idears?

From My Left Nutmeg :

Wow. I knew from reporters who asked me about telling Joe Lieberman he is a fair-weather Democrat that some of his staffers were saying I was a Lamont campaign plant. According to the New York Observer, though, Lieberman himself was pissed enough to call me a plant himself:

Joe Lieberman was incensed.

He'd just been confronted at a campaign event for Irish supporters in his hometown of Stamford, Conn., by a woman who lectured him about his lack of commitment to the Democratic Party.

"She was a plant," said Mr. Lieberman, complaining to two campaign staffers in the parking lot behind the Irish Tigin Pub. "It was a set-up."

This, writ small, is what has become of Mr. Lieberman's political career.
More here. For anyone who missed it, here is the account Maura posted the other night about what happened. You might also want to check out these posts at My Left Nutmeg while you're there:

Lieberman Recruits Outside Agitators, Wants You To House Them
"Oh Fudge" (about the Lieberman campaign's lies--or "use of metaphors" as they prefer to call it.
Lamont Fights Hate With Humor
And finally, there's lots of great CT-Senate stuff at Spazeboy--including videos.

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Net Neutrality for Dummies/Open Thread

On June 28 I posted "Anglicanism for Dummies", prefacing it with...

For anyone not familiar with the "Idiot's Guide to--" and the "for Dummies" series of books, they both capitalize on the peoples' desire for an unintimidating introduction to a topic they admittedly know *nothing* about. If you pick up a book with a title like that, you can trust that you will be introduced to the topic, whatever it is, without any assumption on the writer's part that you know *anything* about the subject at hand.

I would need an Idiot's Guide to Understanding How Football Games Work, for example. That is, if I was interested in learning, that is, which I'm not. But then, I don't *pretend* to know how football games work, or how poker is played, or whatever--while insisting on debating those topics with people and expecting my views to be seen as just as valid as the so-called "experts".

That said, I am not writing a post explaining net neutrality. I *need* such a post. Anyone have any good bottom line, quick explanations of what that's about?

Some odds and ends:

Thanks, Oscar, for sharing this link with us:

Lieberman's Real Problem By Harold Meyerson

Dave in Illinois notest that Riverbend has a new post, and her view from the ground in Iraq isn't as rosy as Lieberman's take on things.

Further updates to the affiliates page.

I set up a dedicated thread for people going to DeanFest, to check in with each other about arrival times and whatnot. Also, Demetrius and I set up this moblog back in December. We never actually used it to post pictures of our little Deaniac get-together in Chicago, but the page is still online and available for posting pictures from DeanFest. I've shared the details about posting with TeaTimeTim, who has agreed to pass it along to other DeanFest attendees .

Barack Obama did an interview with Pastor Dan at Street Prophets, and he has a front page post at Blog for America, asking for support for Sheldon Whitehouse for Senate.

I've been adding some links to the blogroll at my Religious Left Blog. If you have any suggestions for blogs I should add, please leave me a comment there.

Vermonter has a diary at MyDD about a Vermont Bloggers BBQ.

Finally, reminding everyone that you are welcome to submit a guest blog by e-mailing howardempowered(at) Or if you'd like to be a regular frontpage poster, let me know, and I can send you a Blogger invite.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

DJ Ted Stevens Techno Remix

Via Alternet, it's DJ Ted Stevens Techno Remix "Series of Tubes"...

The Bold Headed Broadcast would like to thank Sen. Ted Stevens for providing the online world with such an amazing sound bite this week. It's a skillful fusion of political doublespeak and perplexing ignorance on how the Internet works. In his honor, we've remixed the most amusing gems from his illuminating perspective of the Internet and remixed it into a techno track for the world to enjoy.

Ted Stevens remix

Click the groovy Ted Stevens image to listen.

Or maybe you'd enjoy the latest video I found at Cute Overload, instead: N'head butt pas!. If they're going to keep posting these things, I must just have to learn Japanese. Because I'd *love* to know what's going on here.

Reality show where you agree to live with two adorable red pandas for a period of time?

Update: TeaTimeTim asked if there is an "arrival page" for DeanFest. I don't know of one, but I've set up a dedicated comments thread for that purpose. If it will help, feel free to use it.

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That thing Lieberman is doing? It's called extortion.

Title updated in response to some comments to my Kos diary, noting that this really was an example of extortion more than blackmail.

I don't know how I missed this before, but something finally clicked for me this morning as I was reading DFA-Marin's letter to Barbara Boxer, pleading with her not to campaign for Joe Lieberman.

Right after Joe Lieberman announced his intention to run as an independent even if he loses the Democratic primary, we started to hear reports of which prominent Democrats declared they would support whichever candidate won the primary. Maybe it's because I was so preoccupied with another blog at the time, but somehow, when I heard those statements from people like Hillary Clinton and others, I was initially satisfied with their responses. But when I read the letter asking Barbara Boxer not to campaign for Lieberman, I realized that leading Democrats were only being asked who they would support *after* the primary. In light of Lieberman's not-so-veiled threat to be a spoiler should he lose the primary, no prominent Democrat reward that kind of behavior with an endorsement. They certainly shouldn't be campaigning for him.

Read this exchange between our Maura Keaney and the senator from Connecticut.

"My dad was a very loyal Democrat until he died. You mentioned how Irish American Democrats are great supporters because they're not fair-weather friends, and I totally agree. So why are you being a fair-weather Democrat, saying you'll only respect the results of the Democratic primary if you win?"

All of a sudden I found myself with a bunch of microphones in my face. Joe looked slightly stunned, and then started in on his usual talking points about how he wants even more Democrats to have a chance to vote for him in November and that not all Democrats know that they have to come out for a "hot day in August".

I said, "Don't you think Connecticut Democrats are smart enough to know on what day to vote?"

He said, "I hope so" and then started to wave me off.

I forget exactly what words I said after that (there is video and audio out there somewhere) but I said something like, "Look, if you win the Democratic primary, I'll be supporting you and I wish you would agree to support the winner, too" and he said, "Well, let's make sure I win in August, then!" and waved me away..."
Time and time again, Joe Lieberman has been asked why he will not support the nominee, and he has not given a satisfactory answer. Would people have accepted this from Howard Dean when he lost to Kerry in the primaries? Even Paul Hackett, who has taken some criticism for being a sore loser and not endorsing Sherrod Brown right away, has *always* said he would vote for the guy.

Lieberman has been whining about Lamont trying to impose a "litmus test" over his vote on Iraq. That, as many have already said, is a gross oversimplification of what this election is about. But you know what *should* be a Democratic litmus test? Agreeing to abide by the results of the primary.

Let's go back to that exchange between Lieberman and Maura. "Well, let's make sure I win in August, then!"

Lieberman has consistently dodged questions about how he can consider himself a loyal Democrat if he's already got a backup plan to run *against* the Democratic nominee, should that turn out not to be him. Instead, he says things like, "Well, let's make sure I win in August".

There's a word for what Joe Lieberman's doing. It's called extortion. And no Democrat should be rewarding that sort of behavior by endorsing or campaigning for Lieberman in the primary.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Charlie's speech (transcript) Part 3

All three parts of Charlie's speech can be found as a single post here. And Charlie has added some alternative video formats here for anyone who was unable to get the Quicktime version to play.

Now my second set of Es, I'm going to give to you very quickly. These are the more traditional, policy-oriented ones. And the three most important important ones that I think--and they're not exclusive--but energy, environment, and employment.

We all know what we are doing to this nation and to this world by our dependence upon fossil fuels. Why cannot we as a state lead the nation in creating new jobs and new technologies to bring *new* alternative sources of energy into reality? (Cheers and applause.) And that ties right hand in hand with the environment, which used to be this state's number one resource, and our number one source of income. And yet we are letting that heritage just be destroyed left and right, as south Florida's developers move up here, as they no longer have lands to exploit down there. This is the last bastion of what was left of Florida once, and we have a duty to fight to preserve it. (Cheers and applause).

And last but not least is employment because we constantly hear both Democrats and Republicans talking about jobs, and bringing Wal*Mart and "big box" stores from Bentenville, Arkansas, and telling you to give $2 million, $5 million, a billion dollars in tax benefits and exemptions to these multi-million dollar corporations. They can afford to come here and give us jobs on their own--they don't need our subsidies! Why don't we invest in ourselves? Employment should mean *ownership*, not a system where we are robbin' the hood, stealing from the poor to give to the rich through our tax dollars.

The Republicans call it when you give it directly to the people, redistribution and socialism, but somehow, if we put a corporate middleman, it becomes acceptable, and legitimate, and the American way?! That's nonsense! We need to take back the language and the rhetoric of our country.

The problem, ladies and gentlemen, is the game that politics has become, and the only solution to this, locally, state, and nationally, is to stop playing the electioneering game, and start standing up and fighting for your rights, and that means you as citizens, and anybody running for office, and let's join together, as a team, to take back this country. Let's remember that Democracy is when the people rule for the common and public good, not for the private interests of the few. Let's remember that citizenship is, indeed, the highest office. And I encourage each and every one of you to go by my booth and pick up a card about the Alachua Project, because let's start taking back our country one city at a time!

Part 1
Part 2

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Charlie's speech (transcript) Part 2

Let me diverge for a second and do something that's more typical of a campaign speech, and tell you what I'm for. Now, most people have platforms. And there's a sort of game politicians play. I'm a political scientist so I certainly know about the whole way of electioneering to get into office--something, by the way, that our founders *feared*, and wanted to set up up on a different model.

And "they" say, "Only give the people three things, because that's all they can handle". Well, I believe you can handle a little bit more than that, so I have what I call "The 6 Es". These are the things that I stand for aggressively, firmly, and without hesitation. Now, they're not everything, but I believe that these are the most important.

And the first set of three are the ones that almost no one in government office is standing up and fighting for, and they are the most important. And that is ethics, education, and empowerment. That is the foundation of a good form of government. In the state of Florida, we have a very powerful ethics law adopted by the people via a consititutional amendment, yet it has been eroded and ignored. We have the foxes guarding the henhouse in our ethics commission. This is intolerable.

We have a famous "sunshine" set of laws, open government and public records laws, and they are under attack. They are ignored in local government. They are destroyed in the state legislature, and the governor doesn't care one thing about your right to be part of the process. They look at you as subjects, not as citizens.

And the most important thing for a citizenry is education. If we cannot understand how to critically evaluate arguments and concepts, if we don't know our own history, if we don't know the principles of our government, how are we supposed to defend them as citizens. Forty-eighth in the nation in one of the largest, wealthiest, fastest-growing states is simply unacceptable! (Applause.) Teachers are not the problem, students are not the problem, and the schools are not the problem. The problem lies in Tallahassee, and yes, the problem also lies with us, because we allow the people in Tallahassee to neglect their responsibilities. We need to stand up and made education a top priority. I am here to fight to make this the education state.

Empowerment. Well that gets to the heart of it. That's what it means to be a citizen. It means that your voice is heard. It means that your voice is part of the process. Yet we in the state of Florida are known for what? Fraudulent elections. We're known for it from 2000 to 2004 and those of you who know what's going on in Alachua have seen that it goes on to this day.

This is intolerable! Do you know that in the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that you, the people, do not have a right to vote for the President of the United States, constitutionally guaranteed? Why do we have flag burning amendments, gay marriage amendments--why don't we have a Right to Vote Amendment? (Applause) I mean, think about it, *that's* what the amendments to the Constitution are supposed to be about!

We the people need to become empowered in order to rule again, and we need leaders in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. who will help us get there.

Part 3, the second set of Es Charlie mentioned, will be up later tonight.

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Charlie's speech (transcript) Part 1

Let me just start this afternoon or this evening by answering the question that almost every candidate gets asked by almost every person first. And that is "Why are you running for office?" And the answer I give is actually quite simple: We are in trouble. This nation, this state, this county, this community is in real trouble.

I don't know if you've noticed, but there is a war going on. And I don't mean the war in Iraq. I mean the war for the future, and for the meaning of our country. A war that is taking place in Washington D.C., across this country, and right here in your back yards.

Two hundred and thirty years ago last week, we celebrated our nation's declaring independence from a tyrannical government. Yesterday's patriots stood up--they were called "troublemakers", and they fought for what they believed in, and they fought for what was right. And they established in this country what was intended to be a democratic form of government where we the people rule.

Today's patriots are not those who will defer, as in a deferential society, to your corrupt or influential "betters"--those who claim to be your rulers. We are not subjects in this nation, we are citizens. (Applause and cheers.) We have to be active participants. We have to be treated equally and fairly and we *must* have a voice in the process.

Today's patriots are those who will stand up and fight to restore what this country did 230 years ago. In this country, the *citizen* is the highest political office. (Applause). That's why I'm running. Because I take the role of citizen--I take the duties of citizenship--to right for our rights, to fight for *others'* rights, to defend what we have established. Our rights, and our freedom, must be struggled for eternally, or else we will lose them.

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Watch Charlie's speech to Alachua County Democrats

From Charlie, in the comments of the previous thread...

Morning - still free, but still an outlaw!

Just checking in.

About to load up a video of my speech yesterday to the Alachua County Democratic Party's holiday picnic.

Check it out. Tell me what you think (I can take critical feedback).
OK - if you go to the Alachua Project (click homepage) you can see a link to a quicktime video of my speech yesterday.

Please take a look - this is the first video we have hosted there - and I am working on perfecting it.

Let me know if it works - and what you think.

Charlie Grapski | Homepage | 07.10.06 - 2:05 pm
You guys are great. Really great. I cannot express my incredible gratitude to all of you - and my feeling of being incredibly lucky to have become part of this community. I really mean this - but cannot put into words my feelings accurately.

I checked with Connie - and she said the video is working for her - although it takes some time to download (I am working on getting the streaming function going - and some other alterations to this - but want to make sure it is playable as is right now).

So you guys can be my beta-testers!


Click the photo to watch Charlie's speech

Click the picture above and see if it works. You might try downloading it (save as) to watch it offline.

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Open Thread

UPDATE: Apparently Paul Hackett is going to endorse Sherrod Brown. Watching for more details--that sure didn't seem like a likely outcome when Hackett did this interview in May.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Please recommend this Kos diary about Wednesday's DemFest deadline, and crosspost the link wherever you can.

Here's another picture from Tai Shan's birthday celebration. I was wondering what kind of cake would be appropriate for a panda. Apparently it's a fruit and ice treat.

Here's the CBS story about his birthday.

For anyone who was wondering about Charlie, he posted an update in the overnight thread.

I'm continuing to post parts of recent interviews with Katharine Jefferts Schori--the Presiding Bishop Elect of the Episcopal Church here. One of the segments, I posted as a diary entitled "Some thoughts on marriage" at Street Prophets, My Left Wing, and Daily Kos.

An Inch at a Time has a post about KJS today as well, from an interview she did with Time Magazine.

I've also got a partial transcript here of a video done by the Episcopal group Claiming the Blessing. There are some personal testimonies from same sex couples about what it meant to them to have their unions blessed in front of a congregation to which they belong.

As I mentioned here, I'm updating the affiliate sites page. Let me know if there's anything I should add.

Also, if you'd like to become a front page poster here at Howad-Empowered People, please send me an e-mail at howardempowered(at)

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cantwell campaign tries to corner progressives

Sen. Maria Cantwell's increasingly desperate re-election campaign has enlisted some outspoken Washington state progressives in a move to shore up her sinking poll ratings.

Republican candidate Mike McGavick was in a statistical dead heat with Cantwell in the most recent Rasmussen poll.

I suppose Cantwell will win some votes. For most progressives, however, these maneuvers are too little, too late and too obvious.

Mark Wilson is an anti-war Democrat and one of two Cantwell opponents in the Sept. 19 Democratic primary (the other is Hong Tran). Actually, I should have said "was." Wilson is to announce tomorrow that he's pulling out, endorsing Cantwell and even joining her campaign.

Obviously a lot has been going on behind the scenes.

It's a pretty amazing flip. Writes Seattle Times political writer and blogger David Postman:
"On his Web site Wilson asks, 'Does Maria Cantwell really represent you? ' and includes a list of things she voted for that he disagreed with, including the war, the Patriot Act, NAFTA, confirmation of Condoleeza Rice, and the Bush energy bill.

"Clearly the hope is that without Wilson in the race the anti-war and liberal criticism will subside."

Meanwhile, the Cantwell campaign issued a press release saying wealthy Washington progressive Dal LaMagna will be joining the campaign as a co-chairman. LaMagna is the founder of Progressive Government which tracks Bush administration nominees.

What Cantwell fails to understand is that she's not facing progressive dissatisfaction. She's facing a progressive revolt. For that, she has no one to blame for herself. For three years she has refused to explain her vote for the war, still less change her position. It's not just that she refuses to talk to progressives; she refuses to acknowledge that they exist.

The tipping point occurred when she voted for cloture on Alito. Some PCOs are refusing to carry her campaign literature. A 46th Legislative District resolution criticizing her failed by a tiny margin.

The Cantwell campaign has touted endorsements from one progressive after another. I regularly get pro-Cantwell emails from Barbara Boxer. It hasn't worked so far and I don't think it will work now.

Neither will removing Wilson. Depriving progressive voters of an alternative candidate won't compel them to vote for Cantwell in the primary. I don't think her campaign has any idea of the number of progressives who've already decided to vote for Tran or leave their ballots blank.

We'll have to vote for her in November, but we don't have to vote for her before.

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ALERT: DemocracyFest Ticket Purchase Deadline!

The Third Annual DemocracyFest will take place July 14-16, in San Diego, CA.

You must purchase your meals, lodging, and/or ticket packages by NOON on WEDNESDAY JULY 12th!

This deadline applies to both meals, all lodging, and all ticket package purchases:

Saturday Night Dinner: Choice of Mexican Fiesta or Barn Buster BBQ,

Sunday Morning Bloggers Breakfast.

On Campus Single or Double Rooms

The Whole Enchilada ticket package includes ALL events, lodging, and meals for a regular weekend stay: - Lodging for Friday and Saturday nights - Friday, Saturday and Sunday trainings, panels, and speakers - Saturday night BBQ - Saturday Night Blowout - Sunday Blogger's Breakfast - Only $245 per person!

The Enchilada Grande ticket package includes ALL events, lodging, and meals for an extended weekend stay: - Lodging for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights - Friday, Saturday and Sunday trainings, panels, and speakers - Saturday night BBQ - Saturday Night Blowout - Sunday Blogger's Breakfast - Only $365 per person!

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Happy birthday, Tai Shan!

Our favorite panda baby turns one year old today!

We don't officially have a blog mascot here at Howard-Empowered People, but I think Tai Shan is at least our *unofficial* mascot. SusanD wrote about him in Pandas and Puppies and Kittens, Oh My! way back on May 9, and before that we talked about him a lot in the comments, reporting on the cute things we'd seen him doing on the National Zoo's "Panda-Cam".

I know there's all sorts of heavy, depressing stuff we could be talking about, and all sorts of activism that must be done. but just for the moment I'm going to embrace the cuteness, succumb to the "Awwww!" factor, and say Happy Birthday to this adorable 56-pound toddler!

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Living The Testimony

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

A couple weeks ago Senator Barak Obama spoke at the Call to Renewal Conference sponsored by Sojourners made some poignant points about the thorny issue of religion and progressive politics. Senator Obama gave his personal testimony, detailing his journey from skepticism to faith in Jesus Christ (something, by the way, that we are yet to hear from a certain president - "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible"), giving the reason for the hope that he has in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is what all Christians are called to do - with gentleness and respect - so that people will have to address the claims of Christ and not our behavior.

This is the single biggest problem with the Religious Right from a Christian point of view - they sully the cause of Christ with their in-your-face politics and attaching such politicking to the name of Christ. I have said it before that the Religious Right must be opposed directly by those who believe in the authority of Scripture and who believe that Scripture mandates a progressive view of politics. Those who believe that the Bible authoritatively commands us to live in harmony with one another - to be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble - and to pursue political policies that reflect those values need to speak up in such a way that those who speak maliciously against our good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Those who speak maliciously against the Religious Right often have no reason to be ashamed because the behavior that they see from so-called Christians is anything but good. Too often people are forced to reject association with so-called Christians rather than dealing with the claims of Christ Himself, and that is the fault of the Religious Right and their politicking.

What shall we do?

The answer for political progressives is that we must speak from our core about what we value, what we believe, and how we apply those beliefs in private practice and in public policies. We must explain what we believe and show how our actions flow from our beliefs. People must see that our actions and policies flow from our source of authority, from our core beliefs, and that we will not waver from those core beliefs and policies. It is that character, that integrity that has been lacking from progressive politics since Clinton's third way triangulated Bill into the White House and the Democratic Party into the outhouse. Triangulation was a one-time tactic that worked for an exceptional politician, but as a long-term strategy it necessarily fails. The Democratic Party has taken a cynical view of the voting public in thinking that form trumps function, in thinking that certain traits and certain buzz-words will convince people to vote for a candidate to whom they have no other connetion.

This is why the Democratic Party nominated Senator "Milquetoast" Kerry over Governor Howard Dean, a man who would now be president if he had stuck to his guns on the Confederate flag comment and refused to try to sound overtly religious when he doesn't roll like that. Howard Dean should have stood firm and explained what he believed about appealing to guys with confederate flags on their pickups - the same thing that Martin Luther King meant in his sermon, The Drum Major Instinct:
The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I'm in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking -- calmly, because they wanted to talk about it. And then we got down one day to the point -- that was the second or third day -- to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, "Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes." And I said, "You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march."

Now that's a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he's superior because his skin is white -- and can't hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out.

Howard Dean firmly believed that we have kinship with such voters and that we do them harm by abandoning them to the Republican Party, a party that does not have their best interests at heart. Howard Dean was saying that the poor White has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors, and that the Democratic Party was the blind bigot. Howard Dean believed that the Democratic Party had to practice tolerance and not just preach it to others, such that people who don't walk and talk like Birkenstocked liberals could call the Democratic Party home. Howard Dean believed that the Democratic Party didn't belong to NARAL or ACT UP or the AFL-CIO or the NAACP or AIPAC or the NRA or National Right to Life or any specific interest group - Howard Dean believed that we, the voting public, had the power to make the Party into a platform for progressive policies that would change this country for the better.

Senator Kerry believed that he was electible.

People vote their values - not simply a certain subset currently called "values voters" but all voters vote their values. Those who value the right of a woman to choose an abortion over all other values will vote their values, as will those who value the life of an unborn child over all other values. Those who value a living wage will vote their values, as will those who value a corporation's freedom to set its own wage policies. Those who value American Idol and XBox 360 will vote their values as well - either by not voting at all or by haphazardly voting for whomever sounds familiar. Everyone votes their values - everyone - and the challenge for progressives is to state our values in such a way that people can relate to our values even when they cannot relate to us.

The answer for the Christian is the same - we must live our lives in such a way that people see Jesus Christ in our every word and deed. People must associate our every action with Jesus Christ, be that in how we carry ourselves at work, how we interact in politics, or how we present ourselves online, our every action must flow from our faith in Jesus Christ. That must be evident to everyone who witnesses our activities because if we call ourselves Christians then we are indeed witnessing about our faith in Jesus Christ and what that means in our day-to-day living. The question is this: what are we testifying about Jesus Christ in our daily lives? That we cherry-pick the commands that we'll follow? That we're good with the loving-you-neighbor thing but the sexual purity thing is for the birds? That we're good on the sexual purity thing but the rendering-unto-Caesar thing is addressing someone else? That we're good on rendering unto Caesar but some of our neighbors are simply unlovable? What are we witnessing about Jesus Christ?

For too many Christians, and I am no exception, there is too much "me" in our faith - our faith is not centered on Jesus Christ, it is centered on ourselves. We don't submit to His will, we expect Him to conform to our will. We don't want to work for His Kingdom, we expect Him to help build up us and ours. We have too many self-centered saints playing in the Kingdom, such that in many instances our hope lies not in Christ Jesus our Lord but in ourselves. In our hearts we have not set apart Christ as Lord, we have set Christ apart as Lackey: "Go get me this, get me out of that, do for me!" It's all about self for too many saints, and this is why many people who call themselves Christians will find themselves saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" just to hear Jesus plainly say, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"

Our testimony is more than just some words out of our mouth, it is the life that we live and we must live in such a way as to let our light so shine that people will see our good works and glorify God in heaven. People are quick - lightning quick - to demand that nobody judges them, but the truth is that if you call yourself a Christian then the world is already judging you, and it is the responsibility of fellow Christians to inform you - with gentleness and meekness - of your error, of my error, or of our errors. I am not my brother's judge but I am my brother's keeper - and he is mine - and we have a responsibility to each other to help each other to walk the straight and narrow way that leads to life, because we are living stones, living testimonies to the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. It's not about you doing your thing or me doing my thing, it's about us doing God's thing, and that must be the testimony of the Christian if we are indeed to be Christ-like. Senator Obama gave his testimony for all to see, to match his talk against his walk, and while we may disagree on some minor details we certainly agree on the big picture: we must submit to His will and dedicate ourselves to discovering His truth.

What's your testimony?

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 be a living testimony,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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