Saturday, October 01, 2005

Two States Join IA & NH in 2008 Primaries

According to the AP:

Dems to Add Contests to 2008 Calendar

WASHINGTON - Democrats trying to change their party's presidential primary for 2008 agreed Saturday to allow at least two other states to join Iowa and New Hampshire in voting during the opening days of the nominating campaign.

That expansion, debated before a commission considering changes in the primary calendar, is intended to provide more racial and geographic diversity to an opening process now dominated by Iowa and New Hampshire. Those states, representing about 1.5 percent of the country's population, have residents who are mostly white.

The additional states, expected to be named later, were likely to include a smaller state from the South and a smaller state from the Southwest or West.

Democrats agreed that it is critical that the early part of the voting be dominated by the personal, door-to-door politics that allows candidates to compete without a huge amount of money.

This is an interesting twist:

However, Democratic consultant Steve Murphy warned that it is critical they make no changes that help Republicans. Murphy and Iowa Democratic activist Jerry Crawford said Democrats should avoid stepping on the leadoff roles of Iowa and New Hampshire because they could anger voters in those states and make GOP victories there very likely in the general election.

I guess this was a topic of discussion at the DNC Presidential Nomination Commission today. Personally, I think that's a pretty stupid reason. I don't care about angering Iowa and New Hampshire voters--this whole being first thing is pretty childish. I think the idea of ending the influence of the Iowa caucus is pretty appealing. (Anyone else having some Dean flashbacks?)

Fortunately, Sen. Carl Levin agrees:

"I do not think we should make the assumption that Iowa and New Hampshire should always be in the group" of states leading off the voting, said Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan lawmaker whose complaints about the current calendar prompted the formation of the commission.

But the final plans are still a bit up in the air:

Longtime Democratic activist Harold Ickes of Washington questioned whether those changes will help the party's chances because the current calendar moves too quickly. Ickes noted that Democrats worked for a faster selection process of a Democratic nominee in 2004. By March the party had all but nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

"We wanted to shut down the system and get our candidate out early," Ickes said. "If ever there was a foundering ship that was it. The longer we went on, the lower we went down in the polls. If we'd had a year we'd have been down around zero."

And we all know how well that worked out.

Other people have put their thoughts on the table in response to Barack Obama's hit-and-run post yesterday at Kos. Here, here, and here.

It's simple IF you ignore the complexity posted this on the front page of My Left Wing. I encourage you to read it, especially if you're a Mel Brooks fan.

Libby Hearts Judy.

"I have in my hand a list..."

Josh Marshall says we shouldn't miss this post about Bill Bennett and his values.

They never learn: Push-polling against Bernie Sanders.

I have just started reading firedoglake by Jane Hamsher. Did anyone miss this too? Jane has also offer up some interesting thoughts here. Scroll up for today's diary by Jane but be warned--the image that accompanies it is not family-friendly.

What I wanna know...

The other day in the comments, Kim Baily posted a link to her Kos diary, which was entitled "What I wanna know...". I reposted the link in a new thread, some of us recommended it and one of us left a comment, but I know it didn't generate the level of discussion she had hoped. And I certainly relate to the frustration of putting time and thought into a diary only to watch it sink like a stone because new diaries are posted at such an amazing rate. And since the diary is on a topic of interest to many here, I thought it was worth another look.

Howard Dean's speech to the DNC convention back in early 2003 was a life changer for me. I think it was one of the greatest political speeches I have heard. (By the way--go back and listen to it again, here is a link.

(click on the bottom video link "Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting General Session - Day 1" and go to 1:57 for Dean speach by scrolling forward)

If we had a candidate for 2008 who could sort of riff off of that speech, and relate it to the current political climate/scene, I think that could be the way to come up with a coherent means to crystallize our "new" party platform.

Follow me......

The main points of the speech, make a very logical "new" party platform. In other words, we can develop a message/platform of hope and new direction, rather than simply being AGAINST the anti middle class policies of this administration and the radical right.

Click for the rest, and discuss. (If you're not a Kos member, or even if you are, feel free to discuss it here.)

A belated happy birthday to Alan in CA (yesterday) and cdmarine (September 29).

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Great Turning (a metaphor)

Crossposted at Street Prophets

I just saw Armando's diary at My Left Wing, entitled "I'm Tired". I clicked, thinking, "Well, I don't know if I can be much good, given that I'm having what he's having." He started with Hi everybody. Mind if I sit a spell with you folks over here? I promise I won't yell at anybody.

Well, it's a reassuring opener. ;-) As I read on, the words were all too familiar. I'm just tired. Tired of losing. Tired of fighting. Tired of blog fights and internal conflicts and all of it.

I'm spent. I've lost my righteousness. I've lost my fight.

Yep. Me too. I'm full. Couldn't eat another bite. Check, please!

He ended with this plea: Give me some words of encouragement. Please. Awww--he even said please. Well, I shared what came to mind, and since I know that this tired thing has reached epidemic levels of late, I thought I'd share it here too, for what it's worth.

I'm tired too. I have things I need to do for my family, my pets, my students, and then I have the activist stuff, which is theoretically optional but sure doesn't feel that way. For one of the "big names" on the blogs, I imagine it feels even less optional.

Side note--if Godde, in her infinite whimsy, ever chooses to cast me in a role where I am seen as a movement leader, I am going to have a giant disclaimer sign put up. It will warn people that they are following me at their own risk, because I really am just making this up as I go along.

Anyway, a notion I have found useful as a metaphor is that of The Great Turning. I imagine most people on the left wing blogs would find the writings that address this rather nutty, but it has become second nature for me to "take what I can use, and leave the rest". For what it's worth, I find this passage to be helpful, especially the part about falling back from lead position when necessary...

Yet we can certainly see the great turning happening now, and most clearly if we look at three particular dimensions of it. These three are interdependent and mutually supportive.

The first I call "holding actions." These are the many forms of legal, political, legislative, and regulatory activities by which we are slowing down the destruction caused by the industrial growth society. To be included also are the many kinds of direct action "blockades, boycotts, civil disobedience, tree sitting. Through these we are managing to save some species and some ecosystems, save some lives, save some genetic material for the life-sustaining society that's coming.

These holding actions can be exhausting, though. It's good to know that it's OK to step back. Many of us, if we step back when we feel bruised and bent out of shape from being there in point position on issue after issue, feel as if we are abandoning ship. We feel guilty about it. But we need to know that the great turning is vast,

 and if we step back, it's like the lead goose dropping back from point position to fly in the windstream of the others. We're not abandoning anything. We don't cease being who we are, and we don't stop being deeply allied with the ongoingness of life.

Karen Hughes, Enemy Combatant

I thought briefly about titling this "Karen Hughes, Girl Diplomat" but I liked the other one better.

Via Kos, The Guardian has a column by Sidney Blumenthal about our intrepid Girl Diplomat as she makes her way through the Middle East, winning friends and influencing people. Problem is, her efforts may be working against the country's best interests, according to Blumenthal.

Bin Laden's little helper
US administration lectures about God delivered to Muslims are a dangerous folly

Hughes's simple, sincere and unadorned language reveals the administration's inner mind. Her ideas on terrorism and its solution are straightforward. "Terrorists," she said, "their policies force young people, other people's daughters and sons, to strap on bombs and blow themselves up." That is: somehow, magically, these evil-doers coerce the young to commit suicide. If only they would understand us, the tensions would dissolve.

"Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," she said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why Mr Bush mentions God in his speeches, Hughes asked him whether he was aware that "previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our constitution cites 'one nation under God'."

"Well, never mind," he said.

I think the part about our constitution citing "one nation under God" is the part that's written in invisible ink. I bet the Freemasons thought it up.

Anyway, you go, girl. Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted extensive research into the motives of suicide terrorists says that if you wanted to help Bin Laden, you couldn't have done better than Karen Hughes.

Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural byproduct of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological strain, independent of certain highly specific circumstances.

"Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there first must be the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals.

Is this the part where we demand that Hughes be remanded to Gitmo for aiding and abetting the enemy?

Blumenthal also mentions that Hughes got her job because two undersecretaries of state for public diplomacy resigned this year in frustration, in the face of the precipitous loss of US prestige around the globe. Maybe it's because they understood that the nature of the task was unrealistic? I don't know.

However, it's interesting that Hughes mentions God because though the Turkish are religious (I've been there during Ramadan) their government is very secular. Ataturk was widely admired for westernizing the country (he resembles Geo. Washington) but he wasn't big on religion. He believed Islam was a major impediment to Turkish development. He also gave women equal rights and opportunities and encouraged educating both sexes.

Here's another perspective on our Soccer Mom/Girl Diplomat from BAGnewsNotes.

Nocturnal Submissions (TGIF Comics)

Holy Grail-Themed Friday Comics:

Møøse Blogging
The Person Responsible For Captions Has Been Sacked
Ford Llama GT
Those Responsible For Sacking The Person Responsible For Captions Have Also Been Sacked
Roberts, King Of The Smitten
Attempting The Anatomically Impossible
Bring Out Your Dead
Not A King
Watery Tart Throwing Stuff
Just A Flesh Wound
The Black Knight Always Triumphs
I'll Bite Your Knee Off!
He's A Beyotch!
Burn Him!
Er, Burn Her!
She Floats
Knights Of The Oval Office
American K-nig-hts
Fetchez La Chèvre
Fetchez La Vache!
Pirates Who Say "Ni!"
No Longer Want A Shrubbery?
Castle Anthrax
Grail-Like Beacon
Rescuing Sir Galahad
Rabbit Punch
With Big, Nasty Teeth!
Cave Of Abramoff
The Black Beast Of Aaarrghh!
The Bridge Of Death
What Is Your Name?
What Is Your Quest?
What Is Your Favorite Color?

And my favorite for today: Prepare To Attack

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Lunchtime Notes

A couple of diaries over at Kos that might be of interest to you.

First, Joe Rospars has a diary up about the DNC's 50-state strategy. He wrote it in response to this comment in another thread:

When he first started talking about needing to create a staff in all 50 states, I was like "What the hell do you MEAN the DNC didn't already have staff in all 50 states?"

Joe also mentions that the Democracy Bonds community is "a core of Dean's financial plan for the party." I don't know about the rest of you, but I haven't bought a Democracy Bond and don't know if I will. Between taekwondo and gymnastics lessons, the cost of commuting (which isn't cheap here in DC), monthly bills, our weekly donations to church and soon, the capital fund, I really can't get into the idea of "giving till it hurts." I like to have a bit of a cushion, a strategy that worked out well when some unexpected dental bills came up over the summer. Besides, I have an aversion to tying my political support to a dollar figure. I think any political figure ought to work just as hard on my behalf regardless.

And that position means I won't be getting any special attention from the DNC any time soon. Kos member Ramsay blogged about a briefing by Howard for DNC contributors last evening.

The final vote to confirm Roberts, by the way, was 78-22, with more than half of the Democratic caucus voting yea. I do not want to hear one more word about "keeping our powder dry." I'm not saying we should have filibustered but for pity's sake, Harry Reid should have been out there getting Democrats to vote the party line. Most disappointing was Pat Leahy: all the noise he made about Roberts at the beginning was for naught. And now they're warning about stiff opposition if they think the next candidate is too conservative? Talk about a toothless threat.

The Democratic Party has further hurt its credibility by not mounting an effective opposition to Roberts--and they hope to capitalize on what's happening to the GOP to pick up seats in 2006? I think they've got their work cut out for them.

Tom Oliphant opines that Ted Kennedy's doubts about Roberts may prove right:

Where most of us saw reassurance in John Roberts's confirmation hearing as chief justice, Kennedy saw spin. Where most of us saw the absence of a solid, evidentiary peg on which to hang a no vote, Kennedy saw the absence of a basis for a yes vote that is too important to be cast on traditional grounds of qualification and temperament. Where most of us saw a detail-dominated mind resembling a grounded conservative like Anthony Kennedy, Kennedy saw disturbing similarities to a revolutionary who masked his views 14 years ago: Clarence Thomas.

And the latest on Tom DeLay is that he will eventually plead nolo contendere ("I will not contest it.") A plea in a criminal case which does not require the defendant to admit guilt--although it has a similar legal effect as pleading guilty--but the defendant does not contest the facts on which the charge is based. Some judges refuse to accept such pleas in criminal cases.

Howard Dean on Nightline (Transcript)

Last night on Nightline, Howard Dean was interviewed by Ted Koppel in response to Tom DeLay's indictment by a Texas Grand Jury. I recorded the interview, and you can find my transcript below.

Koppel: A little over four months ago Governor Dean, you were prepared to see Tom DeLay in jail without benefit of an indictment or a trial. Uhh…I mean, you already had him there. So, what’s your reaction now that there is at least an indictment? (Editor's note: Not only is that a bratty question, but it was executed badly. If you’re going to go the asshat route, you really need to finesse it better than that.)

Dean: Well, I think that this is endemic, both in the White House and in the government. It’s a culture of corruption; the Republicans have bought Washington. A couple of weeks ago, the chief procurement officer in the White House was arrested on corruption charges, Tom DeLay is now indicted, but he has been convicted three times in the ethics committee of the House for ethical violations. Karl Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House is now under investigation along with a senior person on Vice President Cheney’s staff, and now of course the majority leader of the Senate Bill Frist is being looked at for insider stock trading. So the Tom DeLay issue is an issue that’s been at the forefront, but it’s not just about Tom DeLay. It’s a thorough culture of corruption which has permeated the Bush administration, which has been brought to Washington by them, and we need to change it, and we can do better in this country.

Koppel: Governor, you were careful enough in each case to indicate that there are charges, there are suggestions—in no case has anybody been convicted of anything. So, to speak about a culture of corruption before any legal procedure has confirmed that seems a little premature, doesn’t it?

Dean: I don’t think so. I think when you have the Majority Leader who is now under indictment, having been admonished three times by the ethics committee, there is already a culture of corruption. You have the Senate leader trying to protest that he had nothing to do with insider trading. Look, this is a pattern, Ted. It’s a pattern that recurs again and again in this particular administration. We need a fundamental change in Washington—we need to get away from this. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If this was one case of one congressman, that would be one thing. The House Majority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House, Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, the Chief Procurement Officer in the White House…this is pretty serious stuff and I think that the President frankly ought to repudiate it and he hasn’t done anything. He’s stood by all these people. You know, we need some leadership in this country, and we need a president who will stand up for ethics in government, and we don’t have that president now.

Koppel: You clearly believe or you wouldn’t be saying these things that somehow this is going to resonate well with the American public. I guess my question would be do you think the American public is going to respond to what it sees as a partisan attack, by which I mean an attack which comes before the courts have spoken.

Dean: Look, Tom DeLay was indicted by a jury of Texans. I don’t know if there’s 12 or 15 that sit in the Grand Jury in Texas, but this is not a partisan indictment. This is an indictment of his peers. His peers thought there was enough evidence to turn this into a trial, and it’s going to happen.

Koppel: Look, you know full well that an indictment—they often say that a good Attorney General can get an indictment with a ham and swiss sandwich. An indictment doesn’t mean necessarily mean that someone’s going to be convicted.

Dean: The Republicans, of course, would make that scheme. But this problem is, this is a pattern with Tom DeLay. This is not the first time he’s been in trouble. This is not the second time or even the third time he’s been in trouble. This is the fourth time he’s been in trouble, and the previous three times he was found by his own committee, his ethics committee in the House to in fact have been guilty of what he was charged of. So I think we again see a pervasive pattern of corruption in Washington at all levels: in the White House, in the Senate, and in the House. And this is the first indictment of a major political figure, but there have been previous indictments, both Jack Abramoff who was both a big fundraiser for the President and very close to Tom DeLay, the arrest of the Chief Procurement Officer in the White House…again and again we see a lot of this, and I think where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Koppel: Let me ask you to keep your hat as Democratic National Chairman on for a moment, and give me a frankly partisan assessment of how, if at all, this can help the Democrats.

Dean: Well, I don’t think it helps the country at all—that’s the big issue. I mean, in times like these you kind of wince. This is not good for America. We’ve had some terrible blows: we’ve had the President’s blunders in Iraq, we’ve had the disaster Katrina which embarrassed us in front of the whole world, and now the whole world again gets to see the leadership in both the White House and the House and the Senate be indicted or investigated or arrested for corruption. It’s not a great time for America. I think Americans are sick of this. And I can tell you one thing; when we get back in power, which I believe is going to be in 2006 in the congressional, we’re going to have some ethics reform in Washington. We’re going to get tough, and we’re going to get tough on everybody, not just Republicans. Enough of this in Washington! We ought to have substantial ethics reforms in Congress and to get serious about this.

Koppel: Governor Dean, it’s good of you to come in and join us. Thanks very much.
Dean: Thanks, Ted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Howard Dean on TV

Via the DNC blog, Howard Dean will be on Nightline tonight discussing the indictment of Tom DeLay. He will also be on CNN's "American Morning" and ABC's "Good Morning America" tomorrow morning.

Root Camp Information Update

I received updates from both Pam Paul and Aldon Hynes regarding Root Camp this morning. From Pam:

Hello everyone!

Thank you for all the work you have been doing!

We will be using the Intranet as our formal spot for consistant Root Camp work and updates. If you wish to join the Intranet please visit and fill out the mentor form. This form helps us gather information and organize Root Camp in a more effective manner. Mentors are representatives of Root Camp and help to build our resource pool as well as facilitate or partake in different local trainings across the country. Resources may also be used from the Root Camp pool. has a different look so do not be surprised if you visit the site.

Root Camp updates:

We will be putting together a peer review team, comprised of RC mentors, so we can start working more diligently on Root Camp curriculum and shared concepts. Please let me know if you wish to be a part of this team. This team will be working on a regular basis to keep things running consistently and smoothly and will act as the organizing team for Root Camp. We would love to have your help so we can continue to make Root Camp a success!

Andrew Hoppin of Civic Space will try to join us for the next call to discuss what types of activist technology they are working on that may be beneficial for us. To include precinct organizing packages.

Linda Wade of OKC organized an excellent training session which occurred recently. With help of Root Camp and other tools this training covered a wide variety of topics and is just the beginning of things to come in OKC. Linda has deposited the OKC training resources onto the Intranet. She also compiled a wonderful CD with Oklahoma and National based information.

We will be gathering our Root Camp team for the next DemFest training sessions. The venue has not been chosen yet but we are going to start planning as soon as possible. I have a list of a few members/mentors who wish to participate as Trainers or other during the event. Please email me and let me know if you wish to participate!

We will spend the next couple of months organizing our state teams and working to build an agenda for 2006 with established goals for Root Camp.

Todd Smyth has been working on video technology for Root Camp and we will begin using these videos on a regular basis as we promote Root Camp. These videos have been taken from Latinos for America/ Democracy for America and other trainings. If you have video which you feel you would like to include in this effort or if you wish to work more directly with Todd on these efforts please let us know!

We will be looking for help on keeping the training calendar updated. If this is something you can do please let me know!

We will also be working towards building more solid relationships with other groups who are working on training and activist organizing across the country. I know many of you have sent in suggestions and since I have been in transition the last couple of months I would appreciate it if you would resend those suggestions you may have sent as well as any new ones.

Many activists from across the country have been working hard to create home grown education and training teams. There is much going on- so please join the Intranet if you haven't already!

Thanks for all you do!

Pam Paul
"Never Underestimate the Power of the Grassroots!"

And a follow-up comment from Aldon:

I would also like to point out that we have set up a CivicSpace rootcamp site at which you are all invited to explore. Anyone who wants to dig deeper into CivicSpace should feel free to contact me directly.


Wednesday Cartoons

Natural Selection
Flip Flop
Circular Reasoning
Barbarians At The Gate
Divine Retribution
Up Yonder
Don't Laugh
The Disaster President
Unspoken Intent
Out Of Gas
Yep, Out Of Gas
The Conservation President
Design Evolution

And my favorite for today: Do As I Say

New bumper sticker from jc

From the comments:

I made a new bumper sticker, and the graphics are online for you to download and print yourself, if interested.

"We need more Cindy Sheehans"--Howard Dean Posted by Picasa

This actually gives me the opportunity to mention that I have added jc's Take Your Country Back link to the sidebar on the right, as well as Demetrius' and my People-Powered Gear.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Howard Dean, on his meeting with Cindy Sheehan

I just checked the DNC blog and was pleasantly surprised to see, not only a message from Howard Dean, but a message about his meeting with Cindy Sheehan after Saturday's rally. Here are his impressions after that meeting:

She is a delightful person. She had not a drop of holier than thou zealotry. She is unpretentious and very clear. All this I expected, given the terrible sacrifice she has made, and her willingness to speak out.

What I was surprised at was her ability to be so comfortable in her own skin. After she became a phenomenon in Crawford, the Republican spin team realized she was a real threat. Cindy Sheehan , made a tremendous personal sacrifice. A sacrifice being made by too many American families who have had loved ones killed or maimed in this war.

Cindy has credibility the Administration does not have. Even the President tried to diminish her by saying that she did not believe in fighting terrorism. His minions, of course, did much worse, trying to make out that she was a media savvy manipulator -- and even spreading false rumors that she was anti-Semitic.

No one is untouched in the face of personal attack, but Cindy exudes an inner calm and a self-confidence which made it clear to me that she will not back down. I respect and support what she is doing in standing up and speaking out.

Whether you think the Iraq war is a good idea or not, all of us should support Cindy Sheehan . Perhaps the grossest disservice the Republican leadership has inflicted on our country is not the war, the huge deficits, or even the divisive appeals to the worst fears of voters. Rather it is the notion that it is unpatriotic to disagree with the most partisan President in our life time, and that dissent harms our country. Nothing could be farther from the truth -- we are a strong country because we have the right to dissent.

In fact it is the attempts of the Administration to fight dissent with personal attacks as they did during the Nixon era are that diminish our country in the long term.

Cindy Sheehan is honest in the face of a dishonest and corrupt Washington culture. She is plain spoken in an era of cynicism and propaganda, she in committed and idealistic in a time where our government has abandoned what is right for America in favor of what is right for the Republican party. We need more Cindy Sheehans .

Red text, bold-faced emphasis of Cindy Sheehan's name is my own. Apparently, according to some, whether or not Howard Dean actually calls Cindy Sheehan by name is of great, earth shaking significance. As you can see above, Howard Dean shows no squeamishness at all in calling Cindy Sheehan by name, and even states "We need more Cindy Sheehans."


Kudos to Hypatia (mmm...Kudos!)

This is from ELR, about the Blogger's BBQ in Washington D.C. Pictures, please? *Somebody* must have some.

Dean may be 1st, but Hypatia is #2.

What kind of woman would invite 10 people to her home whom she had never met simply because a Dean blogger contacted her? Someone with a heart as big as all outdoors and that is the person I found when I met her. On hearing that we were in Washington for the March, she invited not only Lenore who she barely knew but all the rest of us as well for her BBQ dinner that evening. The delicious food stretched to feed all the "5,000" that showed up and the company was delightful as well. A whole yard full of activist citizens is my idea of heaven.

Would Hypatia accept a small donation to cover the feast? No. But we insisted. As it got dark, we made arrangements to get taxis to take us back to our overnight arrangements and she would hear none of that. Hypatia and another drove us all home.

My Dear, you are a wonderful example of the marvelous types of individuals that have been attracted to this movement and I only hope that one day you will come to Western North Carolina and let us return the favor of your wonderful generosity.


(Could someone repost this at the top of a blog? I was hoping to catch one but don't want to delay any longer.)

Maintaining the momentum: what next?

Update: This entry has also been crossposted at My Left Wing, and was promoted to the front page. If you are a My Left Wing member, you may also wish to add your comments there.

Consider the following...

George W. Bush's approval rating is at an all time low. From Marvin Kalb's piece in International Herald Tribune, A hurricane strips off Bush's teflon:

Up to this point, Bush's one undeniable strength has always been that sizable majorities of the American people (62 percent only months ago) considered him a "strong leader," who could be "trusted in a crisis." Now that number has dropped to 49 percent.

The latest Gallup poll, highlighted in USA Today, the paper with the largest circulation in the United States, shows the president's approval rating slipping to a historic low of 40 percent, his disapproval rating rising to a new high of 58 percent.

Recently, Bush made an unprecedented appeal to the American people to pitch in out of their own pockets and help pay for Iraq reconstruction. According to an article in The Observer, that didn't go so well:

An extraordinary appeal to Americans from the Bush administration for money to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq has raised only $600 (£337), The Observer has learnt. Yet since the appeal was launched earlier this month, donations to rebuild New Orleans have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hmm, why the tepid response, do you suppose?

It is understood to be the first time that a US government has made an appeal to taxpayers for foreign aid money. Contributors have no way of knowing who will receive their donations or even where they may go, after officials said details had be kept secret for security reasons.

Maybe it has to be kept secret because the American people would balk at the administration's sheer audacity in asking us to "pass the hat" in order to help poor, struggling HALLIBURTON.

At a time when the mainstream media seems to be rediscovering their cajones, as Susan Hu notes in this piece on Booman Tribune, it would seem that we need to "strike while the iron is hot". Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. of the Crisis Papers lays out the case for impeachment hearings, including reasons why Republicans and "CEO types" might be persuaded to support the cause:

Why would Republicans want to abandon the Bush cabal that helped turn them into the majority party in Congress? Well, for one thing, they want to get re-elected and Bush could well be an embarrassing and politically radioactive albatross around their necks in 2006. If Bush and Cheney were to go, they could run campaigns devoid of their association with that pair, and might well return to their seats of power in the Congress.

Likewise, CEOs and other business types, including stock market brokers and economic powers that be, see the damage being inflicted on the budget, on deficit financing, on the economy, and so on, and might well believe that three more years of this bumbling, ideologically-driven administration could well take the country down with it. Better to cut their losses now by abandoning Bush & Co. to the retribution of the public for four-plus years of reckless rule, and then stabilize things and get the country back on track.

What about the recent march/rally in Washington? There has been much criticism that it was "hijacked by A.N.S.W.E.R", or that it didn't have a "unified message". In her excellent diary, Coalition Ain't Pretty (aka ANSWER, Anti-War Marches, and Hullabaloo), shanikka makes the case that the historic March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King made his historic "I have a dream" speech, only appears to have unity of message when viewed through the gauzy lens of history.

The March on Washington certainly was not a "single issue march," even though again historical revisionism has made it so for most people today because all they know of it is the last 20% of Dr. King’s speech. As you will see below, there were lots of “issues”. The list of demands for the March was rather omnibus, but ultimately whittled away in favor of the Civil Rights Bill in no small part because the “leaders” insisted that the larger concerns of the grassroots give way in order to pacify JFK and the "mainstream" politicians, who IMO were scared shitless about the prospect of hundreds of thousands of angry Black folk descending upon Washington DC demanding anything.

As Holly*J recently shared, there was great energy and diversity in Washington D.C. this past weekend:

As soon as we boarded the train we were surrounded by talkative ladies in funny pink outfits. They invitated to join their group, Code Pink, but we told them we were already connected with 3 other groups, DFA. PDA and United for Peace and Justice. At each stop more and more peace activists boarded; Grandparents, college students, old hippies and parents with kids in tow.

Those are just a few of the groups that participated in the events of this past weekend. Shanikka, in her diary on My Left Wing, continues:

The crowd that ultimately appeared in DC was recruited by all these organizations. Each had their particular constituencies, with their particular emphasis, represented. Yet despite these differences and the rivalries between the organizations, the intended audience for these different constituencies voted with their feet - they showed up - because there was at least *one* thing they all agreed on.

It seems clear, to me, anyway, that it is unrealistic to expect a high degree of organization or unity of message (herding cats, anyone?). But we do have numbers. We have public sentiment increasingly on our side. We have a president who is increasingly being seen as detached and uncaring in the face of the suffering experienced by ordinary people. The woman who has become the public face of the anti-war movement, a suburban youth group minister who has been trying since early August to get Bush to meet with her face to face and answer the question, "What was the noble cause my son died for?" was arrested in front of the White House yesterday.

We can't go back. We can't let this moment pass, or let this momentum fade. That much I know. But, here's what I don't know...what next?

Tuesday's Comics

Cat Blogging
One Child Policy
Single Payer Now!
Mercury Mission
Team DLC
Too Late
Not-So-Benign Neglect
Birth Tax

And my favorite for today: Holey Umbrella

Monday, September 26, 2005

Open Thread

Here's a nice clean thread for overnight. Cindy Sheehan updates here.

Rally pictures here. Do you have a rally report (with or without photos) to share? Send it to howardempowered at

'Night all.

Irony is dead. Again.

Irony is officially dead. I know, I know--it died pretty early on in Bush II's first term. So how can it *keep* dying? I don't know, but apparently I lack the sufficient vocabulary to adequately respond to this (from Olbermann):

And, that's when it was revealed that FEMA had apparently rehired a former employee as a consultant. You might recognize his name, too — Mike Brown.

At a meeting with staff of the special House committee looking into Katrina preparations today, the disgraced and displaced former FEMA director said he had rejoined the agency as a consultant to "provide a review" of how the agency functioned before, during, and after the storm. This according to two congressional sources.

Excuse me while I sputter incoherently. When I think of all the talented, *competent* people who have been laid off as a result of the Bush economy, and then think that the one incompetent Bush actually let go is being rehired as a consultant--you know, my mind is actually refusing to hold those two thoughts at the same time. It's kind of like trying to stick two like poles of magnets together--they just keep repelling each other.

Imagine anyone in the real world being fired for gross incompetence, and then *rehired* at consultant's rates, to explain exactly how they screwed things up. But in Bushworld, this sort of things doesn't even surprise us any more.

I've had enough of this dream. I'd like to wake up now, please, before anything even weirder starts to happen.

Progressive Christian Interactive Blogging Tonight

Tonight on the My Vote is My Voice Blog at 8pm EDT, Kety Esquivel blogs on behalf of CrossLeft, a progressive Christian group. From the CrossLeft web site:

We believe that we have the power to take back the way that we are perceived as a community of faith. We believe that it is possible for us to create a space where our voices can be heard and we can be fully self-expressed in our ministry of compassion, service and love. We believe that we can help to influence the conversation through our faith and our politics so that other Christians are inspired and in action around both.

Please join us as we reclaim our faith and help to reframe the conversation that is being had around faith and Christianity. We believe that we, as a community of Christians have a role to play in making this happen. Although many of us may not be "official" or "ordained" leaders of the faith, we are believers and as such, we believe that we can help.

Click here to learn more about CrossLeft, and here to join in the discussion at My Vote is My Voice tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

Cindy Sheehan arrested in front of White House

Thank you, jc, for posting this link about Cindy Sheehan's arrest.

Civil disobedience meant to protest Iraq war

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who has used her son's death in Iraq to spur the anti-war movement, was arrested Monday while protesting outside the White House.

Sheehan and several dozen other protesters sat down on the sidewalk after marching along the pedestrian walkway on Pennsylvania Avenue. Police warned them three times that they were breaking the law by failing to move along, then began making arrests.

Sheehan, 48, was the first taken into custody. She stood up and was led to a police vehicle while protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching."

Seems like a good time to revisit Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

UPDATE: Via Booman Tribune, I was directed to this piece in the Village Voice, which says in part:
Saturday’s march, estimated at anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 people, marked a revival of protest on a scale not seen since the start of the U.S. invasion in 2003. More significant than the size of the march was its tone. In contrast to the almost giddy Bush-bashing of previous demos, there was a sense of somber urgency brought by the presence of hundreds of military families and alienated Iraq war vets. Their voices have given the movement a new center of gravity.

You can read the full article here. It ends with this:
Sheehan offers no way out of this political conflict or this war, and it’s hard to say what will become of her iconic status. For now, she pledges to just keep talking, believing more and more people are listening. “It’s hard to tell these stories,” she says. “But we do it to heal ourselves and to heal this country. We do it because we have been broken, and we don’t want anyone else to be broken. We’re doing it for the innocent Iraqis in harm’s way, and we’re doing it for the other families, so they don’t have to hear that knock on the door.”

I just read on Daily Kos that this link from United for Peace and Justice indicates that the arrests are the result of planned civil disobedience.

Nonviolent Direct Action
UFPJ invites you to participate in a mass civil resistance action at the White House on September 26. As part of three days of public protest against the war in Iraq, this action will provide a dramatic opportunity to more directly express your opposition to the war makers.

Building on many traditions of nonviolent action and civil resistance, the protest at the White House will bring together people from different communities and constituencies. For some people this will be the first time they have risked arrest, for others this will be something they have done before. But for all who participate, the action at the White House will be a vehicle to communicate our deeply held convictions that this war must end now.

Reform Ohio Now

I'm not following this issue *nearly* as closely as I should be (although, I did just add a link to them on the right side of the page a few days ago.) I know Marian from our Central Ohio DFA group has written:

Endorsing (and campaigning for)RON and expanding our membership are immediate goals. With all that's coming up in 2006, we have our work cut out. Anyone who's interested, sign up at

Just a little while ago, DavidNYC front-paged a story about Reform Ohio Now over at Daily Kos, adding that "RON is the most important thing happening this fall."

The Most Important Election of 2005


With less than a month to go before August 2nd, the blogosphere began to rally around Paul Hackett's campaign for U.S. Congress in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District. Whatever the reason you cared (a fighting Democrat or you as a Democrat just wanting a fight), the world took notice of our efforts while the collective blogosphere set the terms of the debate for 2006. Reform Ohio Now is the equivalent of six Paul Hacketts... and then some.

(See action items at the end of the entry.)

Read the rest of the diary here.

The labyrinth: walking a sacred path

Crossposted at Street Prophets: Faith and Politics

Last month I wrote a diary entitled Following your own spiritual practice...religiously. I felt this was especially important for people who are involved in politics these days. There is this urgent need to "save the world", and new attacks against things that matter deeply to us are happening all the time. Speaking for myself, I know that if I don't check in on a regular basis with my Something More, I find myself sinking into a "people suck" slump in response to current events. And when my "bad wolf" dominates that's not good for me, or my family, or the creative energy that I need to fuel my activism. In any event, it seems that our bad wolves have had plenty of opportunities to feast lately, and I thought this would be a good time to offer our good wolves "a little something"...

There are several Chartres style (12 circuit) labyrinths in our area. On this page, I will take you on a picture tour of the one at First Community Church (north campus).

As you walk up this path, the bushes and trees block your view of the labyrinth, so if you weren't intentionally looking for it, you probably wouldn't discover it.

Locally, there are also outdoor permanent labyrinths at The Ohio State University's Chadwick Arboretum, and St. Alban's Episcopal Church. To find a labyrinth in your area, visit the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.

Here is a full view of the labyrinth. From the Lessons 4 Living web site, an explanation of what the labyrinth is, and what it is not:

A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience.  We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to "That Which Is Within."

Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.

A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.

Here is the stone plaque that greets you at the entrance to the labyrinth.

It reads:

Hear the voices of the day and night
Know thyself
Find the secret...
the Truth that sets your Spirit free.

The entrance to the labyrinth. At the web site of the Andover Newton Theological School, the following guidelines are suggested. (The release, receive, return pattern is a common suggestion.)

  1. Find your own pace: Allow your body, and not your mind to determine your own natural rhythm. You may pass others, you may stop along the way at any point, you may allow others to pass you.
  2. Be intentional: Ask yourself: What do I need? What do I seek? May I be open to experience the experience?

WALKING IN: Purgation
RELEASE: allow for letting go, quieting the mind, surrender, opening. Be attentive to whatever may come up for you.
IN CENTER: Illumination
RECEIVE: Stay in center until you are satisfied. You may stand, sit, kneel, lie down (as space permits.) Be open to receive what is there for you: peace, clarity, awakening, insight, guidance.
RETURN: A time for communion, reunion, remembering. Being granted the power to act. Allow yourself to take back into the world whatever experience this labyrinth walk held for you.

Soon after you begin your walk, you approach and circle the center, yet at this point you have quite a long way to go until you actually arrive at the center...

...but at a point when it looks like you are as far as you can be from your destination, the truth is that you have only a couple more turns, and you're there.

I'm almost positive that says something really deep about life, and our journeys therein.

Sitting on the stone in the center--looking down. The rocks are prettier and more varied up close. I noticed a few ants on the ground, and could  hear birds and airplanes above me. Out of sight, but not out of earshot, were cars on the freeway. It occurred to me that I really was "in the middle of everything" in more ways than one as I sat here.

The view out. The way out is the same way you came in...hopefully carrying with you something you found on your journey. For some people, on some visits, that might be inspiration, revelations, or new important insights.  Or you might just feel that you had a relaxing little walk. It's all good.

Monday Comics

Cat Blogging
Grill Abuse
Debt of Gratitude
Keeps Going And Going And Going
Whistling Dixie
No Child Left Solvent
Day After Tomorrow
Bin Forgotten
Feeding Frenzy
Cutting Edge
New Kid On The Board
Sticks & Stones
Conserving Compassion
All Hat
Porch Monkeys

And my favorite for today: Heavy Tax Cuts

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday late-night thread

Yes, I'm brimming with creativity right now re: post titles (not to be confused with post turtles). But I'll make up for it by gracing this post with a lovely photo of Agatha, puddleriver, and Holly J, that Sylvie was kind enough to send me.

You can see more of Sylvie's DC rally pictures here, along with the pics from kheart and Alan in CA.

And, before going to bed, I wanted to front page this good news from jc, because I know a lot of people have been worried about her...

As Howard Dean would say...


I made it safely through Hurricane Rita, except that I've been without power until just minutes ago, so had no way to let you know. Even my cell phone battery was used up with a call to my parents, who passed the word on to other relatives.

No flood water here in my neighborhood, just a very scary storm to ride out with winds that were pretty terrifying, and tons of rain, but apparently good drainage where I live. Lots of people weren't so lucky, expecially in Parishes west of me. The hardest part for me was riding it out in the dark, not knowing how much we had left, because I had lost cable and then electricity.

My car was under a carport, so no damage there, but I had to move lots of pretty big branches just to be able to get out of my driveway. One of the prices for living among the trees.

Anyway, I'm lucky and safe, and just wanted everyone to know.

Thanks for checking in, jc. We're so glad you're safe.

See Ya NPR. Bye.

By donna in evanston. Crossposted at Daily Kos. You can go there and recommend it is you like. G'head--this blog will still be here when you get back.

I admit that I'll probably still listen when I'm getting ready for work. I've listened for so long that it's kind of like brushing my teeth as part of my morning routine. But they'll get no more bucks from me until they start reporting real news.

In keeping with "the media can only focus on one story at a time" meme, this morning's Weekend Edition was all Rita all the time, including a first person report from a woman who left her hurricane threatened Texas home along with her two elderly cats in tow, and scurried along to Mother's, where there was no rain and no hurricane; just a pleasant gust of wind once in a while.

So, what we're seeing here is that this Texan's two elderly cats, who were never in harms way, deserved more coverage than a hundreds of thousands of marchers rallying in Washington, DC.

The story of the march came in the second hour of the show, directly before the "Puzzle Master, Will Shorts." The story was brief, shallow, and made sure to cover the counter-ranting of the spindly group of counter-protesters while ignoring the meat of the anti-war protest. To be fair, they included a blip of Cindy Sheehan's speech. NPR gave more time to this tepid exhange between one counter-protester and an anti-war protester:

CP: "I was a Marine for ten years! I was a Marine for ten years. I don't have time for people like you!"

AWP: "Then leave!"

Yes, well that was enlightening, wasn't it?

Oh, and the cats are fine.
--donna in evanston
More and more, we have to look to alternative sources for our news--aren't you glad we have bloggers to fill in the parts the mainstream media overlooks? This is my attempt at a segue. Not one of my best, I'm afraid, but the kids keep distracting me. Really I just wanted to add a link to puddleriver's blog to this most recent entry, since she's got a report from Washington posted there.

Here's a link to Cindy Sheehan's diary about yesterday's rally/march. We're still welcoming more rally reports (with or without photos. Send them to howardempowered at

Word For The Week

Originally posted at The Underground Railroad

One thing that I have found to be absolutely certain is that hubris will always precipitate a fall. That is a Biblical principle that has come into play repeatedly in my life, both personally and vicariously. I am a huge University of Michigan fan - I bleed Maze and Blue - and my Wolverines went into Madison, Wisconsin yesterday thinking that the Badgers would just roll over and play dead for them. They were dead wrong and they lost a game that they should have won. I have been in Louisville long enough to have been assimilated into the ranks of the fans of the Louisville Cardinals - so long as they're not playing Michigan - and the Cards ran into the same problem in South Florida yesterday. Thinking themselves invincible and their potent offense unstoppable, they meandered down to Tampa for what they expected to be a cakewalk and got their hat handed to them. USF put foot to coccyx yesterday, beating the Cardinals 45-14, kicking that tail all the way to Kenya.

The lesson here, as Yogi Berra might put it, is that you haven't arrived until you've arrived. Too many Christians get to thinking that we have arrived, that we have already attained God-likeness such that everyone should be exactly like us, and this has no basis in reality. Paul, in our text today, noted that he had not been entirely sanctified, that he had not been made perfect, but that he pressed on toward that objective - to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. This was Paul speaking - the writer of almost half of the New Testament - and if Paul can confess that he is not perfect then why do today's Christians get to thinking that we have already arrived, that we've got it all together?

Lord knows that I fall short - I have a temper, I don't suffer fools gladly, and I can't abide stupidity. Yet I, of all people, know that sometimes the best way to identify an ignorant fool is to find a mirror, because we all get into foolish activities or foolish conversations or foolish thoughts. And sometimes it's not just foolishness but sinfulness - I'm guilty, and so are you. But the one thing that we must do is press on toward the goal - we have to keep our eyes on the prize - and when we fall short we much confess our sins for He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. But if we claim that we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives. Once our fellowship is restored through confession and repentance we must press on toward the prize, consistently trying to become more and more like Jesus Christ - that is sanctification, and it drives out prideful hubris.

Michigan lost yesterday in large part due to prideful hubris. Louisville lost yesterday in large part due to prideful hubris. Today, my beloved Steelers play the New England Patriots at 4:00 PM EST. I pray that they remember what prideful hubris brought them the last time they played the Patriots...

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 implores you to press on toward the goal,
My He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

What Does Democracy Look Like?

Here's a link to Pastor Dan's rally diary at Street Prophets: What Does Democracy Look Like? Also, check out My Photo Journal of the DC March by RenaRF.

And National Nurse Teri Mills checked in:

80 DieHard Dean Activists traveled to Seattle and joined a people powered rally and march of thousands.

Here's a picture from DFA Montgomery County PA

Finally (for now) Aldon Hynes posted at Blog for America about Hypatia's Blogger BBQ.

Do you have a rally report (with or without photos) to share? Send it to howardempowered at