Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Chicago DNC fundraiser

When I looked back at the last few days I calculated that I have participated in six political events in the last nine days and a year ago I told my husband , ”I promise you I will have more time after the election.” Last night I attended the DNC fundraiser in Chicago with guest speaker, Howard Dean. Even though I had dug deep in my pocket to attend the DFA event the week before, I figured I could choke up a few more bucks to see the man who gave me so much inspiration.

My husband, Bob, had not participated in any of the other events but combing a dinner out in Chicago with Howard Dean successfully motivate his attendance. Choosing the right outfit is important. I decided to go with the black suit and hot pink shirt instead of my favorite red suit. This time I was not a host so I decided to save my red suit for those events where I was a more important player. We had opted for the “Cheap” $50 tickets passing over the $250 host and $1000 sponsor choices.

Going to Chicago is always an adventure. We thought we had allowed enough time but an unusually bad traffic jam found us stuck in the middle of barely moving line of cars. The sign over-head stated we had 117 minutes to the loop and the event started in thirty minutes. We decided to abandon the car in a Chicago neighborhood and hop the subway. This always puts a little more excitement to the event because in Chicago, one is not always sure that the car will be there when you get back. We have been in several big city subways in the last year but it has been thirty years since we have lived in Chicago so we were disoriented. We had difficulty getting the machine to exchange our money for a ticket and then figuring out how to get the ticket in the entrance gate was also a challenge. All this time I keep feeling like a middle age couple dressed up in suits looking ripe for mugging. Seeing the cars lined up in traffic as we whizzed by on the EL-train, helped us to feel like we made the right decision.

The event was held at the Elephant and Castle club. There have been other events there but the irony of the Elephant name still bothers me a bit. When we entered the lobby a cheerful lady named Rachel told me she remembered me from the previous week's event and instructed us to take the elevator to the 3rd floor. Bob was somewhat impressed that people are starting to know me. As we exited the elevator there was a sign-in table. They were sure that no one entered without paying first.

The room way a typical hotel low-ceilinged, reception room. There was a platform in the front, which I was happy to see, for the short Howard Dean to stand. As we entered, we saw around 200 attendees standing in small groups. They were holding drinks and talking. Bob and I decided to check out the food table and picked up plates and loaded them with chips, salsa, carrots and a large pretzel. We went over to the drink table and paid for our soft drinks. I reminded myself that this is a fundraiser.

The big plate of food was mistake. As I am standing in the middle of the room, I am trying to balance the food plate, drink and talk at the same time. I looked around the room, to see how others were managing this. I observed that no one else had opted for the food. People from the country DO eat, but I guess people from the city eat only when they can sit.

I was glad to find other IL DFAers present and I introduced Bob to them. He is becoming known and Holly j’s husband. We then got into a conversation with a young woman. I asked her if she came because she was a Democrat or a Howard Dean fan or both. She explained the she is a Democrat and was encouraged to attend the event by her mom and work. She is employed by CPT radio, Chicago area’s Air America radio station. William, our WEB master at our DFI website, joined us. When the young woman stated she was originally a Kerry supporter, William, in amazement, stated that she was only the second person he had met that started out as a Kerry supporter.

Our conversation turned to discussing the different political groups we were involved in. William stated he has been active in several different DFA groups and also enjoyed the “Drinking Liberally” group. The radio-woman also talked about how the AAR was looking at starting up social groups to promote politics. They were both discussing the fact that they are finding that their groups were only attracting young adults and wondered how they could get others involved. This made me laugh because the topic of our middle-aged progressive group was, “How to get young people involved.”

Bob nudged me and quietly told me to observe that most of the people in the room looked like they were the age of our children. This was probably the most inspiring point of the night. Here I was standing in the middle of a room filled with 20 to mid-30 year-olds that were inspired to work for a better America. Yes, they are out there and they are actually attending A DNC event. Hint: if you are a young adult and want to meet other intelligent, motivated adults, attend a Democratic fundraiser.

I knew it was time for Howard to enter because the high-end supporters started entering the room. These people had name-tags on. When I noted this fact to Sandra, she told me, “But yes, those are very expensive nametags!” My husband, the Deaniac, planted himself by the door in hopes of a handshake. I put myself up front in center so I wouldn’t miss any visual details of Dean’s speech. Conlin gave a quick introduction as Howard entered the room. Dean climbed the small platform and started right into his speech. My husband and I have debated about how Dean was dressed. I thought he looked great with a good haircut and nice charcoal grey suit. It was topped off with a hot pink tie, but my husband called off it red.

Dean talked about how Democrats need to define ourselves and that we should not let the Republican’s be the ones to send out the message about what Democrats stand for. He went on to discuss the Democrat’s, “Contract with America” and went into specifics points. I am not the kind of reporter that will go into this, so if you are interested you can find the details here.

The primary points were, 1. We need honesty in government from finance to election reform 2. We need to be energy independent that will help our economy while improving national security 3. We need to invest in public education with real science and financial support. Dean also talked about the importance of affordable health care but thinks that the Democrats will push affordable for all rather than insist on National Health Care Plan.

Dean re-emphasized his fifty state plan. He interjected that some people are concerned about him becoming part of the DC bubble, then he laughed at himself staying, “You don’t have to worry about that as long as I keep saying comments like, “hiding the salami”.”

Dean talked around forty minute focusing on the Democratic strategy. He went on longer than planned and motioned several times to his staff that he knew he had to get off to catch the plane. He wrapped it up, waved and exited quickly passing my husband standing at the door. My husband and I felt that there was a big part of Dean missing. Where was the true interaction with the audience that comes form a question segment? Where was the meeting face to face with supporters during the hand-shaking portion?

These are my closing thoughts. I have attended many of Howard Deans rallies and talks, My husband said, “If I would give grades with the Sleepless Summer tour getting an A++ this speech was a B-/C+. Dean’s talk was articulate and made several important points that I can embrace like renewable energy and supporting education. But there was something missing. Passion, and inspiration were absent. I know details and technical plans are necessary, but using Howard to talk about these seems to be an under use of his talents. I was one of the supporters of having Dean chairman of the DNC and I still think his enfluence is important to the Democratic party, but I miss the Howard that was not afraid to speak for me. I miss the passionate less refined orator.

Finally, where does the Democratic Party stand on the war? Dean made no mention of it. This was the elephant sitting in the room that the name of the conference center proclaimed. While healthcare and renewable energy are steps in achieving the American dream, the Iraq war appears to be the unclaimed illegitimate child of BOTH parties. If Democrats want to do a “make-over ” to America, providing healthcare and supporting educaton are like fixing the hair and putting on makeup and forgetting about the two missing front teeth caused by the Iraq war.

Thought you would like to know that our car was still there for us when we returned.

Ken Blackwell: Bizarro Howard Dean?

I had this "duh" moment yesterday. I was talking to my priest--we get together for coffee once in a while just to talk, and things invariably veer to discussion of politics. Anyway, I mentioned McCain, the supposed moderate, "straight shooter" endorsing Blackwell for governor of Ohio. He said, "There are three Republicans running, and he endorses Blackwell?"

Somehow that part didn't even occur to me when I heard that McCain endorsed Blackwell. I just thought, "Oh, more evidence that he'll shill for the Republican, no matter how awful the guy is." But no, it's worse than that. This is still the *primary* season, and he's endorsing the Spawn of Satan over two other Republican candidates.

Blackwell's endorsement by John McCain is one of the top stories in this week's edition of The Other Paper, one of central Ohio's alternative newsweeklies.

I will leave speculation about what sort of deal with the devil McCain has made for another time, but for now I'd like to focus on Blackwell's candidacy. From the article, Blackwell woos the Statehouse types:

It was another ho-hum week for Ken Blackwell. Yet another statewide poll showed the Ohio secretary of state with a commanding lead for the 2006 Republican gubernatorial nomination. Yet another national Republican celebrity, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, endorsed Blackwell's candidacy.

And in Columbus, Republicans establishment types continued to silently wring their hands.

Blackwell's biggest weakness—and so far his only weakness—is that the Republicans who have worked alongside him on Capitol Square for the past dozen years have yet to embrace his campaign. Blackwell fever might be sweeping the state, and even the nation, but it hasn't made its way into the corridors of power Downtown.

Traditionally, Republican power brokers—lobbyists, consultants and businesspeople—have coalesced around their favorite candidate for governor, and that candidate has tended to go on to win the nomination. For '06, there are two Republicans—Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery and Attorney General Jim Petro—with whom they feel comfortable.

But Blackwell scares the hell out of them.

Does that remind you of anyone? Makes me think back to the days when Howard Dean seemed to be running away with the nomination. He had huge grassroots support, was way ahead in the polls, and started to pick up some big name endorsements, but he had much of the Democratic establishment "wringing their hands". There was a definite "Anybody But Dean" movement that developed.

Of course, on the issues, Howard Dean and Ken Blackwell could hardly be more different. Howard Dean spoke out against the foolishness of tax cuts for the rich because it meant cutting necessary social programs and creating huge deficits for our children and grandchildren. One of Blackwell's key issues is pushing for a so-called "Taxpayer's Bill of Rights" (TABOR). Here is what the Ohio Library Council has to say about TABOR:
If Ohioans approve the amendment, the expenditure limitation placed on local governments will cut the very programs and services that residents want and depend upon. Services such as police, fire, EMS, and public libraries will all be affected. Education, human services, parks, and prisons will be hurt as well.

Then there's the issue of gay rights. Howard Dean supported equal rights for all citizens--even though people like Bill Clinton claimed that meant he "forfeited" his chance to win the Democratic nomination. Ken Blackwell heavily campaigned for Issue 1--an amendment to the Ohio constitution which, far from being a "same-sex marriage ban", as it was often billed, denied same-sex and non-marital opposite-sex partnerships *any* legal standing or protection. As if that weren't enough, he also managed to compare same sex couples--unfavorably--to farm animals.

So, on the issues, Blackwell and Dean are often lightyears apart. But consider this... Blackwell is far ahead of Betty Montgomery and Jim Petro in the polls. He has a huge amount of grassroots support. "Republican establishment types" seem like they'd prefer "Anybody But Blackwell". Why? Maybe, at least in part, because they don't think he's as "electable" as one of the other two? He appeals to a vocal, energized part of the Republican base, but party insiders may be worried he lacks the broad appeal necessary to win in the general election.

Is "The Blog" worth saving?

Blog for America

BFA... The Blog... The Big Bad Blog...

What purpose does it serve? Was it only for "cheerleading" during the campaign (as it was recently described)? Was it really a community or just a communication tool that has outlived its usefulness to DFA?

Dean for America provided us with a simple tool. We were given the ability to type simple text that instantly appeared in the public arena. Although we couldn't add graphics or color or even bold print, we learned how to SHOUT when necessary, and some clever bloggers even learned to draw pictures in ASCII. It took a while, but we eventually learned how to display hearts ♥ and Hebrew and other simple symbols in this otherwise bland-looking space. And, because DFA gave us the ability to link to email and other sites on the web, it opened us to the wonders of the "internets."

So, what were we able to accomplish with this cacophony of words? I thought a small stroll down memory lane might be in order...

Without the Crushies, would Dean himself have replaced the lost whale tie that he often wears during his TV appearances? And what a flat campaign it might have been without the humor and music and song! Are you part of the community that formed the Blog Family bios? Is your special day in the calendar? How many of you returned to this energetic presentation of Howard Dean's "What I Want To Know" Speech to reinvigorate you when things got tough, or perhaps turned to quieter pursuits like the Dean Crossword Puzzle, whose page still displays a blinkie? Does your collection of Dean gear include anything from the Unofficial DFA Button Collection? Do you remember the advice on how to winterize a Dean sign (PDF file)? Did you spend extra time and money on the blog whenever a bat appeared, perhaps even taking part in contests and challenges to get that money raised? Or did you wait to hit the bat when you just couldn't resist playing with a troll? When Dean's words were distorted by the media, did you print and distribute flyers to try to balance the message? Did you dream of a Dean Blimp or take a special logo with you to Iowa? Perhaps you were a Grassroots Mom or a member of Punx for Dean? Did you imagine Dean as the Lord of the Roots? Did you help new bloggers get oriented, or perhaps tuck bloggers in at night? Did you link other bloggers to political cartoons and news articles? When Dean was attacked by a silly ad in Iowa, did you create your own ad to set the record straight? What resources did you offer to the blog? Did you join in a book club discussion or meet online to talk about one of Dean's appearances? Were you in on the planning of DeanFest (Yes, I know that's not the official name.) Was the blog important to you?

But, what have you done for me lately?

Is "the Blog" still useful for Democracy for America? After all, the Dean campaign is over. I thought this thread might be a good place to discuss what the blog has done and can still do for DFA.

I'll start by remembering that the blog was the place where we coordinated getting the domain names reserved for the various state organizations' websites, after it became evident that HQ wasn't doing so.

Your turn...

Saturday Comics

Since I didn't get to do Friday's...

Yellow Dog Democrat
Green Voters
Republican Voters
Blind Faith
None Of The Above
In His Own Image
Ready, Aim,...
Far Fetched?
Hail Miers
Blow The House Down
Pod People
Circular Reasoning
May The Sun Set Soon
Eviscerate Miers
Amateur Night
Marilyn Munster
Defies Credulity
Small People Shorted

And my favorite for today: Coming Soon

Friday, October 14, 2005

Once Again Are We Prepared?

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

As the avian flu makes its way through ten countries, infecting more than 100 people in its path, federal and state governments are examining if the United States is ready to handle a pandemic of this nature. The Center for Disease Control reports the avian flu can cause a lethal form of pneumonia as well as acute respiratory distress. World experts claim this flu is not only deadly, it responds poorly to most drugs, and could spread throughout the world with lightening speed.

Last week members of the administration met with pharmaceutical executives whose responsibility will be to produce an effective avian flu vaccine and anti-viral meds to treat symptoms. The Senate's response was to approve four billion dollars to stockpile medications. Not surprisingly, these contracts were outsourced to overseas companies because they may be the best equipped to respond in a relatively short period of time. The top candidate to receive federal U.S. dollars is Roche, the Swiss maker of Tamiflu. Tamiflu is an anti-viral drug that must be taken during the first 48 hours from the onset of flu symptoms in order to have a positive outcome. Other European companies likely to receive a chunk of money are Glaxo Smith Kline, based in Britain, and Sanofi-Aventis, a French based drug giant tasked with the assignment of producing massive doses of avian flu vaccine.

Faced with an Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Stewart Simonson, who has no public health management experience, state officials are challenged to make sure their own communities are prepared to deal with an avian flu epidemic. New Hampshire state epidemiologist, Jose Montero says, "Don't expect that you're going to get reinforcements from somewhere else. Don't count on outside support."

The President has his own ideas and says he wants Congress to let him use soldiers to enforce quarantines should the flu enter the United States. This may be because the HHS does not have enough manpower to handle a crisis as large as the avian flu. Montero in fact says his own department only has eight nurses and that communities will have to work together if the flu comes to town.

Members of the National Nursing Network Organization have a better suggestion than opening your door to an armed soldier from the National Guard. Their proposal includes building an infrastructure of nurses to manage these types of emergencies. Nurses in every community will be given an opportunity to sign up to volunteer on a National Nurse Team. These teams will not only participate in four nationwide health promotion educational activities each year, but they will also ensure we as a nation are prepared when disaster strikes. If you are sick and not feeling well, who do you want on your front doorstep?

—Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP Democracy for Oregon

Cross-posted at Blog for America

Questions of Character

Here's today's Krugman, for those of you who don't have access behind the curtain.

Questions of Character

George W. Bush, I once wrote, "values loyalty above expertise" and may have "a preference for advisers whose personal fortunes are almost entirely bound up with his own." And he likes to surround himself with "obsequious courtiers."

Lots of people are saying things like that these days. But those quotes are from a column published on Nov. 19, 2000.

I don't believe that I'm any better than the average person at judging other people's character. I got it right because I said those things in the context of a discussion of Mr. Bush's choice of economic advisers, a subject in which I do have some expertise.

But many people in the news media do claim, at least implicitly, to be experts at discerning character - and their judgments play a large, sometimes decisive role in our political life. The 2000 election would have ended in a chad-proof victory for Al Gore if many reporters hadn't taken a dislike to Mr. Gore, while portraying Mr. Bush as an honest, likable guy. The 2004 election was largely decided by the image of Mr. Bush as a strong, effective leader.

So it's important to ask why those judgments are often so wrong.

Right now, with the Bush administration in meltdown on multiple issues, we're hearing a lot about President Bush's personal failings. But what happened to the commanding figure of yore, the heroic leader in the war on terror? The answer, of course, is that the commanding figure never existed: Mr. Bush is the same man he always was. All the character flaws that are now fodder for late-night humor were fully visible, for those willing to see them, during the 2000 campaign.

And President Bush the great leader is far from the only fictional character, bearing no resemblance to the real man, created by media images.

Read the speeches Howard Dean gave before the Iraq war, and compare them with Colin Powell's pro-war presentation to the U.N. Knowing what we know now, it's clear that one man was judicious and realistic, while the other was spinning crazy conspiracy theories. But somehow their labels got switched in the way they were presented to the public by the news media.

Why does this happen? A large part of the answer is that the news business places great weight on "up close and personal" interviews with important people, largely because they're hard to get but also because they play well with the public. But such interviews are rarely revealing. The fact is that most people - myself included - are pretty bad at using personal impressions to judge character. Psychologists find, for example, that most people do little better than chance in distinguishing liars from truth-tellers.

More broadly, the big problem with political reporting based on character portraits is that there are no rules, no way for a reporter to be proved wrong. If a reporter tells you about the steely resolve of a politician who turns out to be ineffectual and unwilling to make hard choices, you've been misled, but not in a way that requires a formal correction.

And that makes it all too easy for coverage to be shaped by what reporters feel they can safely say, rather than what they actually think or know. Now that Mr. Bush's approval ratings are in the 30's, we're hearing about his coldness and bad temper, about how aides are afraid to tell him bad news. Does anyone think that journalists have only just discovered these personal characteristics?

Let's be frank: the Bush administration has made brilliant use of journalistic careerism. Those who wrote puff pieces about Mr. Bush and those around him have been rewarded with career-boosting access. Those who raised questions about his character found themselves under personal attack from the administration's proxies. (Yes, I'm speaking in part from experience.) Only now, with Mr. Bush in desperate trouble, has the structure of rewards shifted.

So what's the answer? Journalists who are better at judging character? Unfortunately, that's not a practical plan. After all, who judges their judgment?

What we really need is political journalism based less on perceptions of personalities and more on actual facts. Schadenfreude aside, we should not be happy that stories about Mr. Bush's boldness have given way to stories analyzing his facial tics. Think, instead, about how different the world would be today if, during the 2000 campaign, reporting had focused on the candidates' fiscal policies instead of their wardrobes.

Ed. Note to Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The "acting president" strikes again

Crossposted at My Left Wing and Daily Kos

I'm sure most of us remember Bush playing dress-up on the day he announced (yeah, right) the end of combat operations in Iraq.

Some of us even remember the video of Dubya primping and mugging as he prepared to announce the imminent beginning the U.S. initiated terrorism against Iraqi citizens that was "Shock and Awe".

And of course we know that Bush routinely speaks to pre-screened audiences, admitting only people who have signed "loyalty oaths". After the election, he held "town hall meetings" on Social Security, where again, audiences were carefully selected so that they would *appear* to be regular people, but they were always supporters. And people with bumper stickers that said "No more blood for oil" were asked to leave. When he was set to take part in a town hall meeting in Germany that would be--holy #$%#!--the *real thing*, including people asking him challenging questions, he quickly backed out.

Given all of this, is it any surprise to find out that his video teleconference with a National Guard unit in Tikrit was staged and rehearsed? Sadly, no. George W. Bush doesn't just like to play "dress-up". His entire presidency has been a very long game of "make believe". Too bad the stakes are so high.

Try to see it our way, or we'll have to kill you

Meet the Washington, D.C. version of "The Sopranos": the Bush White House tries to behave like a gang of mob enforcers. Not satisfied with those Republicans who are still reluctant to toe the line on the Harriet Miers nomination, the White House is now threatening to use brass knuckles.

The New Hampshire Union-Leader has the story.

The White House political arm is taking a special interest in U.S. senators who are potential 2008 Presidential candidates, especially when they come to New Hampshire. The goal is to put them on the record on the Harriet Miers nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is under fire from the right and left.

Bush administration political director Sarah Taylor has been making calls into the state to advise local activists working on behalf of the nomination with the Washington-based Progress for America organization.

"They are obviously well aware of our special role in the political process," said political strategist Jack Heath.

As part of the coordinated effort, activists Tuesday night approached Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., at St. Anselm College with a letter saying that Miers is qualified, deserves "fair treatment" and a filibuster-free up-or-down confirmation vote.

It was signed by Republican National Committeeman Tom Rath, Cornerstone Policy Research head Karen Testerman, Ed Naile, chairman of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers, and GOP activist Susan Duprey, president of the Devine Millimet law firm.

Starting Saturday, when Republican Virginia Sen. George Allen visits the state, the group will not only give Presidential candidates the letter, but also ask them to sign a pledge to support fair treatment of the Miers nomination.

Heath says Democratic senators will also be approached. That would include Delaware's Joe Biden, who may campaign for Manchester Mayor Robert Baines before the end of the month.

The more the White House tries to spin this nomination, the worse things get. According to Tom Oliphant, writing in today's Boston Globe, "The original White House sales job was that the Miers choice was a welcome selection of a distinguished Texas lawyer whose gender only enhanced her status. That sales job was ineffective in avoiding a sudden explosion of conservative displeasure that Bush chose someone with no roots in and no ties to a movement to fashion a new judicial philosophy that stretches back at least to Ronald Reagan's election in 1980."

Via Atrios, more on the fomenting Republican civil war.

Finally, yet another conservative pundit leaves the reservation. This time it's Peggy Noonan on

Can this marriage be saved? George W. Bush feels dissed and unappreciated: How could you not back me? Conservatives feel dissed and unappreciated: How could you attack me? Both sides are toe to toe. One senses that the critics will gain, as they've been gaining, and that the White House is on the losing side. If the administration had a compelling rationale for Harriet Miers's nomination, they would have made it. Simply going at their critics was not only destructive, it signaled an emptiness in their arsenal. If they had a case they'd have made it. "You're a sexist snob" isn't a case; it's an insult, one that manages in this case to be both startling and boring.

The Miers pick was a mistake. The best way to change the story is to change the story. Here's one way.

So what does Peggy recommend?

1) Harriet Miers should take a bullet for Bush - Like Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy, who took a bullet for President Reagan in 1980, Miers should do likewise: Harriet Miers can withdraw her name, take the hit, and let the president's protectors throw him in the car. She would survive and he could go on to name a better nominee that the conservative establishment would feel obligated to support.

2) The Dan Quayle Solution - When Bush 41 picked Quayle to be his running mate, Noonan says that Quayle should have said, "Thanks, but I'm not ready..." (Noonan believes that Quayle would be president now if he had--Heaven Forfend!) Barring that, Bush could appoint her to the federal appeals court, which would be an opportunity to prove what a wonderful judge she could be. If Ms. Miers did what Mr. Quayle didn't do--heck, she could wind up on the Supreme Court.

What will fix things, she says, is a Republican gathering to sing kumbayah and have a group hug because, "Much old affection remains, and respect lingers, but a lot of damage has been done. . . . No one wants George W. Bush turned into Jimmy Carter." (Ed.--Although Bush is looking a lot like Nixon these days.)

An essential White House mistake--really a key and historic one--was in turning on its critics with such idiotic ferocity. "My way or the highway" is getting old. "Please listen to us and try to see it our way or we'll have to kill you," is getting old. Sending Laura Bush out to make her first mistake as first lady, agreeing with Matt Lauer that sexism is probably part of the reason for opposition to Ms. Miers, was embarrassingly inept and only served to dim some of the power of this extraordinary resource.

As for Ed Gillespie and his famous charge of sexism and elitism, I don't think serious conservatives believe Ed is up nights pondering whiffs and emanations of class tension and gender bias in modern America. It was the ignorant verbal lurch of a K Street behemoth who has perhaps forgotten that conservatives are not merely a bloc, a part of the base, a group that must be handled, but individuals who are and have been in it for serious reasons, for the long haul, and often at considerable sacrifice. They don't deserve to be patronized by people they've long strained to defend.

The bottom line, she says, is the White House put the cart before the horse by not making the arguments for Harriet Miers first followed by the facts about her (such as her religion). Sounds like they should have stuck to the playbook they used for John Roberts.

Blog Family Cookbook Orders

From the comments....
Yes! You can still order a cookbook.

Happily taking orders for the blog cookbook, officially known as
"The Unofficial blog family Cookbook for America"
(a grassroots project not authorized by anyone at all)

It's got favorite Dean photos courtesy of John Pettitt, Joel Feinleib, Maura in VA,

It's got a bit of blog history - Blog Events, Blog Tips & Resources, Open Thread (including the Dean x-word puzzle), and Tastes of the Blog: This & That, Firsts & Fun, Early Bat Fun, re: 'Bloggers Vie' list, and TYHD.

It's got great recipes:
Breakfasts for Blogging Champions
House Party Nibbles
Soups for Cold Campaign Nights
A Dish on the Side
The Real Meal
Ooh, Sugar!
Open Thread (Beverages to Blog By, Sauces & Salad Dressings, Fun Recipes and Recipes for Fun, plus more)

For order info:
DeanFestCookBook at gmail dot com

Books are $12.50 each

media mail $2.50 ($1.42 postage/.55 Delivery Confirmation/.52 towards envelopes ( I re-use what I have around first, then buy envelopes)

priority mail $4

(postage for multiple books will also be actual cost, figure about .50 more per book)

Thursday Comics

Emmanuel Goldstein Never Dies
Truth & Consequences
Banana Republicans
For Which It Stands
Too Late
Rights & Wrong
Impeachment Potential
Oil & Water
Cracked Out
Lame Thinking
As If
Tabula Rasa
Søren's Step
Protection Racket
Coming Soon
Crony Capitalism

And my favorite for today: Stem-To-Stern

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Preview Howard Dean's Late Show Appearance

I just went to the web site of the Late Show with David Letterman, to find out what time the show airs (Weeknights: 11:30pm ET/PT) and discovered that they've got a clip from the interview online already:

Is he "hiding the salami"? Howard Dean explains his comments.

Visit the Late Show site here. On DaveTV, it's the "Big Show Highlight".

Another Robertson Fatwa

People For the American Way has this one:

Pat Robertson threatens retaliation against conservative senators who oppose Miers

On today’s “700 Club” broadcast, the Rev. Pat Robertson responded to criticism from the Right regarding the Miers nomination and also offered a stern warning to those conservative senators who might be thinking of voting against her. Rev. Robertson suggested that people should look at who is supporting Miers before they doubt her conservative credentials. He named James Dobson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Jay Sekulow of the Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, and himself as proof of support for Miers’ nomination from the Right. Robertson concluded by noting: “These so-called movement conservatives don’t have much of a following, the ones that I’m aware of. And you just marvel, these are the senators, some of them who voted to confirm the general counsel of the ACLU to the Supreme Court, and she was voted in almost unanimously. And you say, ‘now they’re going to turn against a Christian who is a conservative picked by a conservative President and they’re going to vote against her for confirmation?’ Not on your sweet life, if they want to stay in office.

Sooooo, I guess Sam Brownback, George Allen and any other Republican considering a run in 2008 should vote 'no' on Miers if they know what's good for them (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)? I'm not quite sure; I can see how Brownback might push back although Allen might cave because he's such a wuss.

Not surprisingly, there's some teeny flaws in his reasoning. First, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the thinly-veiled "general counsel of the ACLU") was very qualified to join the Supreme Court--unlike Harriet Miers, who is very unqualified.

Second, what Mullah Robertson fails to realize is this: the divide over Harriet Miers is not a religious one, but a political one. According to today's NYTimes,

Miers nomination has already been greeted with wariness, even near hostility, by some conservatives Republicans, who have expressed doubts that Ms. Miers is really one of their own. The nominee has never been a judge and so has left no "paper trail" of opinions to dissect.

Critics on the right have also complained that Ms. Miers has given no sign that she has studied or even pondered the sort of constitutional issues that define the modern conservative-liberal divide, and that the White House bypassed conservative legal scholars and justices who had done so in favor of a presidential aide whose chief qualification appeared to be her proximity and loyalty to Mr. Bush.

Not only that, but Bush has applied a religious litmus test to the Miers nomination that was not applied to the Roberts nomination. With Roberts, the Times reports, conservative Christians resisted any discussion of religion. " 'We are going to be vigilant to make sure that there is not this religious litmus test imposed,' Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, an evangelical Protestant group, said in August."

However in today's discussions, Bush said that Miers' religion was pertinent to the overall discussion about her. "Part of Harriet Miers's life is her religion." Like that won't come back to bite him.

See, Pat, this is what you get when you pray for the deaths of Supreme Court justices. The moral of the story: Be careful what you ask for--you just might get it.

Word from our sponsor: Don't forget to watch or tape Howard on the Letterman Show tonight! I'm counting on you--we're out of blank tapes!

Open Thread/New sites

I'm heading out to teach now, but thought it was time for a new thread. Use this one to talk about what's on your mind.

And check out the new site Alan*in*Ca has been working on, as well as Catreona's new site, Howard Powered Poets, Artists & Musicians.

Quick update: Al Gore says he has no intention of ever running for president again. You can't see me right now, but I've got my frowny face on.

Former Vice President Al Gore said Wednesday he had no intention of ever running for president again, but he said the United States would be "a different country" if he had won the 2000 election, launching into a scathing attack of the Bush administration.

Swell. Next you're going to tell me that I don't get to see my pets in heaven. Throw me a frickin' bone here. I need some happy news. And the whole "this administration is soooo going down doesn't really do it for me. Schadenfreude only gets me so far, and I have a hard time being anything other than cautiously optimistic that anything will finally stick. Rove has been doing his thing for a long long time.

Hmm. Gore has no *intention* of running, but couldn't we, you know, *make* him...?

Garçon, a bottle of your finest bubbly!

News like this makes me glad I never stopped believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. From today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

Focus of CIA Leak Probe Appears to Widen

The New York Times reporter who went to jail to avoid testifying in the CIA leak case was quizzed by the special prosecutor again yesterday and has agreed to return to the grand jury today.

Judith Miller's additional testimony comes as the endgame is intensifying in the legal chess match that threatens to damage the Bush administration.

There are signs that prosecutors now are looking into contacts between administration officials and journalists that took place much earlier than previously thought. Earlier conversations are potentially significant, because that suggests the special prosecutor leading the investigation is exploring whether there was an effort within the administration at an early stage to develop and disseminate confidential information to the press that could undercut former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Central Intelligence Agency official Valerie Plame.


Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy.


Until now, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be focusing on conversations between White House officials such as Mr. Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's senior political adviser, after Mr. Wilson wrote his op-ed. The defense by Republican operatives has been that White House officials didn't name Ms. Plame, and that any discussion of her was in response to reporters' questions about Mr. Wilson, the kind of casual banter that occurs between sources and reporters.

Mr. Rove, who has already testified three times before the grand jury and was identified by a Time magazine reporter as a source for his story on Mr. Wilson, is expected to go back to the grand jury, potentially as early as today, to clarify earlier answers.

Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims.

Observes Josh Marshall, the WHIG did play a big role. "That's where the push back came from. If this description is accurate, it must have many folks at the White House in cold sweats."

Marshall goes on to say that if Fitzpatrick does succeed in nailing a criminal conspiracy, "the veil of protective secrecy in which the whole operation is still shrouded will be pulled back. Depositions and sworn statements in on-going investigations have a way of doing that. Ask Bill Clinton. Every key person in the White House will be touched by it. And all sorts of ugly tales could spill out."

We'll need snacks, too.

Wednesday Cartoons

Competence Deficit Disorder
Dueling Stains
Emmanuel Goldstein Speaks

And my favorite for today: Bagged, Tagged, & Mounted

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

National Coming Out Day

I wasn't aware that today was National Coming Out Day until I saw pamindurham's post about it on the front page of My Left Wing. She notes that the theme of this year's NCOD is "Talk About It". Click to read Pam's diary, which is cross-posted at Pam's House Blend, but here are the questions she poses in her diary:
Questions for the gay folks out there:
Are you out to...
-- your friends?
-- your immediate family?
-- your extended family?
-- any/some/most of your colleagues at work?
-- your boss?
-- your doctors?
-- your neighbors?

I'm happy to say that I can check off all of those today, but it took years of constantly coming out, choosing when "the right time" would be to come out to any of the above groups. It's a seemingly endless process, never easy, almost always awkward (since I'm an introvert to begin with). It's not like something that comes up in casual conversation, nor do you really want it to. But eventually kicking the door open beats life in the closet.
For straight readers:
-- are you "out" as an ally?
-- are you able to talk about gay friends or relatives with others?
-- are you comfortable shooting down homophobes when they spout off during a conversation?

Howard Dean, CEO

It's been a while since we've had a post with Howard in the title.

This AP story appeared on the Boston Globe website on Sunday but it's still worth highlighting:

Dean borrows from Bush, his own White House race to rebuild party

Howard Dean is no longer screaming. He's scheming.

The failed presidential candidate whose howling adieu to the Iowa caucuses helped seal his fate as a presidential candidate is plotting to overhaul the Democratic Party.

Borrowing ideas from President Bush's re-election campaign, Madison Avenue and his own Internet-driven White House bid, the Democratic National Committee chairman hopes to drag the party into the 21st century.

"What I'm trying to do is impose a system and run this place like a business," Dean said during an expansive interview in his office overlooking the Capitol.

That vision would be welcome news to party strategists who have complained that the DNC and its chairman of nine months lag behind Republicans in the political arts of messaging, targeting and organizing.

Some Democrats look back at Dean's rise-and-fall presidential campaign and wonder whether he has the management skills to carry out his plans or the ability to raise the money needed to pay for them. (NB: I'll confess to wondering about this as well.)

What's Howard's Plan?

Making Democrats the party of values, community and reform. Armed with extensive DNC polling, Dean is consulting with party leaders in Congress, mayors and governors to recast the public's image of Democrats with a unified message.

Improving the party's "micro-targeting," the tactic of merging political information about voters with their consumer habits to figure out how to appeal to them.

Building a 50-state grass-roots organization, using the same Internet and community-building tools that took Dean's presidential bid from obscurity to the front of the pack before Iowa.

A look at Dean's approach:

MESSAGE - The DNC is getting outside help from private-sector consultants who specialize in creating and strengthening corporate images -- or "brands." According to Howard, the last time the party was branded was when LBJ was president. While the party is unified in accusing Republicans of creating a "culture of corruption," Democrats still need to give voters a compelling alternative to GOP rule. Democrats must recast the values-and-morals debate, Howard says.

A Sept. 26 memo by Belcher found that people are placing a greater emphasis on community and sacrifice for the greater good. Dean tries to appeal to this sense of higher purpose when he says, "We can do better."

MICRO-TARGETING - Bush's campaign revolutionized the use of micro-targeting to find potential GOP voters and tailor messages to their tastes. Can the DNC catch up to Republicans by next year's elections? Or even the 2008 presidential race? Howard says no, but the Democrats can close the gap, again with help from the private sector. The Bush campaign worked with consumer data.m.ining companies to place every battleground state voter into one of 20 to 30 "clusters" of like-minded people. The DNC's current system has eight to 16 clusters and the goal is to have 40 clusters in time for the next presidential race.

ORGANIZING - Dean is putting four or five DNC staff members in every state with orders to organize every precinct. One of the organizers' first mandates is to conduct four major events a year, one or two of which are mainly social.

Dean learned from his own campaign that it is critical to form relationships that turn into small communities and build into networks of people who feel part of a bottom-up operation with a purpose larger than themselves.

It's a long-term investment that runs counter to the political culture in Washington that, in the last years of the 20th century, has valued multimillion-dollar TV buys over grass-roots organizing.

"You've got to recruit people. You've got to ask them to do something," Dean said. "You have to treat them like a community."

I bet that last part would generate an interesting conversation.

Bonus Feature: Kos has a summary of the Democrats' Contract with America from the subscription-only Roll Call.

Tuesday's Comics

P.I.T.A. P.E.T.A.
Mobius Economy
Exposing Boobs
The Disaster President
Billions and Billions
Southern Strategy
Pravda - American Style
Rogues Gallery
Payday Loans
Recruitment Strategy

And my favorite for today: Mutually-Assured Hypocrisy

Some links of interest

Front paging some links--may add more as I go through yesterday's thread. Just wanted to point these things out, but please don't let that keep someone else from putting up a new thread with content.

Why I Support Paul Hackett by ignatzmouse
Sign the Hackett Petition by Ann Driscoll
Bush: Just On the Today Show by litigatormom

An interesting article in the Detroit Free Press - Them thats got shall get. Prescient. ...Oscar

Catreona recommends a number of articles currently appearing in Truthout, but especially this one: Remove All Torturers from Power By Scott Galindez

Monday, October 10, 2005

Interview with Senator Reid on the Majority Report

Earlier this evening, Senator Harry Reid was interviewed by Sam Seder of the Majority Report on Air America Radio. The following is my transcript of that interview.

Sam Seder: Thank you for joining us, Senator.

Senator Harry Reid: My pleasure.

Seder: Now, I want to start off just by telling you that I’m a big fan of yours, and I think that the way you marshalled Democratic opposition to George Bush trying to tear apart Social Security was fantastic.

Reid: Well, I appreciate that compliment, but it was a team effort. It really was.

Seder: Well, I can tell you that our audience is very pleased that we’re going to have Social Security to count on in the years to come. But I want to turn to Iraq. As you know, things in Iraq have gone from worse to worse, and recently Senator Feingold from Wisconsin has called for a target date for withdrawal of U.S. troops, and today, Sentator Carl Levin of Michigan in an op-ed in the Washington Post, called for using U.S. troop withdrawal as leverage in forging some type of political solution on the ground, and meanwhile, President Bush has advocated basically doing nothing different, and maintaining an open end occupation. My question to you is, which plan do you think is more realistic in getting the U.S. out of Iraq, which I think has quickly become a quagmire?

Reid: Well, both Senators are, and I’m not exaggerating, they may not be geniuses but they’re very very smart. They’re both Harvard Law graduates, Feingold is a Rhodes Scholar, so this isn’t service station talk. These guys are very very smart, and their approaches are different. Feingold wants to set a definite time- first of all he wants to give the President a little time to get his act together..I guess these many years hasn’t been enough. Levin, however, wants to solve it politically with the Iraqis. I’ve spent a lot of time with him on this. If they, for example, the constitution doesn’t pass and the elections don’t go forward in January, he feels that should be a signal that we start drawing down troops.

But frankly, Sam, I think that if you listen to what the President’s own generals are saying, for example we had General Casey who testified just about a week ago, and he said that we’re going to start drawing down by the end of the year. So my point is, even the President’s own people recognize that this can’t go on forever. And as to whether you go for the Feingold plan, or you go for the plan set forward by Levin, you have to recognize that things aren’t going well. This is intractable war. And, what we have…more than 40 senators wrote to the President ten days ago and said, Mr. President, staying the course won’t work. Anything but staying the course, we have to change the course, and we’re asking you to tell us some of the things that we need to know. For example, how’s the money being spent? For example, how many troops are there really? Three months ago we were told that there were eight regiments…

Seder: You’re talking about Iraqi forces now.

Reid: Yes. Now we’re told there’s 1, so we’re kind of losing ground there. We need to know. We sent some specific questions, and I think as a result of this, we’ve raised the bar, because the Rumsfeld report, which is required by law, is supposed to be submitted tomorrow, and we believe that the President needs to change the course. This simply is not doing the trick. We’re spending upwards of two billion dollars a week there, we’re approaching 2000 dead American soldiers, probably 20,000 wounded, many of them grievously wounded, so staying the course isn’t the way we should go.

Seder: All right. Well, I also want to speak to you about the energy bill that recently passed in the House. This bill provides subsidies to builders of refineries, meanwhile, today, in Knight-Ridder, Shell Oil President John Hoffmeister said that there’s no need to build new refineries, and thinks that pushing for better mileage standards is a better idea. Tell us what you predict will happen with this bill in the Senate, and whether or not this bill addresses any of our short term or long term energy needs.

Reid: The House bill is a sell-out to big oil. It does a lot of things. It wipes out the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, endangered species…it’s just another sop to the oil companies. Now, keep in mind that whether it’s Shell Oil or British Petroleum, or Chevron, Standard, whichever company you talk about, they’ve made obscene profits. This year it’s estimated they’ll make as much as 80 billion dollars net profit. So, if the guy from Shell is crying poor mouth, that’s too bad, because they’ve got lots of dough.

Seder: Yeah, my understanding is the C.E.O. from Exxon is reported as saying their biggest business problem is what to do with all the extra cash they’re making.

Reid: Well, what they’re doing with a lot of the cash is buying back their stock. They don’t want to have any of the American people who own stock in those companies benefit at all, they want it to all go to the big company. Now, I would also say this regarding the so-called oil situation we have. If you consider that when someone goes down to fill up their car with gas, bells go off…something’s wrong some place. And to have the oil companies now say we should raise the efficiency standards, where were they when there was legislation that was introduced by Senator Durbin and others calling for increased CAFE standards? The oil companies were opposed to us. They and big automobile manufacturers were opposed to doing anything with CAFE standards. So, these people are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

And so I would hope that we put pressure on them. I have a web site that I’ve put up, Give Em Hell, Harry, and I tell your listeners that because if people go to that, you can help us by writing letters to editors, and frankly, it’s worked. We’ve had thousands of these since last Thursday, and the more the newspapers around the country, radio stations, the more they will recognize that oil companies can’t go on like they have been. The American people have to rise up against this.

Seder: All right, well, we’re going to put a link up on our blog at to Now, I have to ask you…and I appreciate your spending this time for us, particularly, I know you’re on a long weekend… You’ve been in politics a lot longer than I’ve been following them. Has it ever been this corrupt at a national level. I mean, literally every day it seems we’re talking about another indictment of someone, or another investigation-

Reid: The answer is no, and I have been in this a long time, going back to campaigning for McGovern for president a long time ago. But, you know, we have a very difficult situation here. They’re doing nothing about gas prices, doing nothing about Iraq, but we have the person that is in charge of the contracts for this administration, including those in Iraq and those for Katrina, who’s been led away in handcuffs. He’s been indicted.

Seder: You’re talking about David Safavian.

Reid: Yes, and we have Tim Flanagan who wanted to be the number two in charge, in fact, the Attorney General came and talked to me about him…while he worked at Tyco, he gave a contract to Abramahoff- -I never pronounce his name right, but everyone knows who he is.

Seder: Jack Abramoff

Reid: Yeah, I can’t say the name right. So he went through his nomination, that’s good, Karl Rove is under investigation, Michael Brown, you know, “Brownie”. Talk about cronyism, here’s a guy who specialized in Arabian horses, and they have him leading FEMA, and then you have Tom DeLay who’s been indicted for money laundering and conspiracy, and last night, we find out he’s still twisting arms to give money to oil companies instead of helping Americans with gas prices, it’s a corrupt-

Seder: Well, with all due respect, it’s understandable, ‘cause Tom DeLay’s going to need a new job soon, and one could suspect that it might come from the oil companies.

Reid: Well, that’s probably better than his previous business which was an exterminator for bugs.

Seder: Yes, and we all know the story of him getting into government, it was a function of him not liking the fact that government was protecting children and people from dangrous toxins.

Reid: Sam, the problem I have with all this, is I’ve always had a belief in government, since the time I was a little boy. I believed in government. I believed that government should serve the public good, do things that help people, make people’s lives better. And I’m very troubled that young people, and people not so young are going to become jaundiced on government. Everything that should be going up in government is going down…everything’s headed in the wrong direction. I want people to feel good about government because I think public service is something that’s important, I want people to think it’s a good place to go, and not a cesspool.

Seder: Well, Senator Harry Reid, thank you so much for joining us on the Majority Report.

Report: Chicago DFA Fundraiser with Jim Dean

Holly*J was kind enough to post this detailed report on a Chicago DFA Fundraiser with Jim Dean in one of the threads last night. For convenience and easy linking, I've combined her four comments into one post, which you can read uninterrupted after a couple quick headlines...

From Jessica: Tonight on the MViMV Blog from 8-9pm EDT - Tara Liloia -- Democracy for America Technology Director -- The Next Generation of Online Organizing.

If you would like to encourage Paul Hackett to stay in the Ohio Senate race rather than allowing himself to be talked into bowing out now that Rep. Sherrod Brown has entereed the race, you can sign this petition. You can also read (and recommned, if you wish) petition diaries at MyDD and Daily Kos.

And now, on to Holly's report:
The fundraiser was held at Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies office located on the 22nd floor above the Chicago Civic Opera House. It was at the same location as the last two DFA events so I didn’t enter the office with an opened mouthed, country bumpkin look and I was able to park closer than Sears tower knowing now that I could still find my car without looking up at the tallest building to direct me back.

The magnificent city office still had the great view, and again had Jim Dean but this time I was not so distracted that I was unable to absorb what was happening and I actually had enough nerve to get into some excellent conversation with other attendees.

I was greeted by the wife of Atty. Conlon. She took my coat and gave me my nametag. I always appreciate nametags because I am horrible at names. I was early as usual so there were only a few in the office. I spotted Jim Dean from across the room and he immediately came up with an outreached hand, saying, “Holly, I am so glad you could make it.” I first thought, YES he really does remember me, until I looked down and saw my big nametag with HOLLY JOHNSON. Well I still want to believe that after 3 times, I might be imprinting some memory on Mr. Dean’s brain. I told him I was very happy to come and support DFA.

Remembering how Jim says he rarely talks to Howard, I asked him if he knew that he missed his brother by only one week and that Howard was having a DNC fundraiser in Chicago next Friday. Jim said yes and this happens regularly and that once events were scheduled on the same day in California and they had to reschedule at the last minute. He laughed and said. “But I know mine would be better attended than his.” DFI founder, Eric Davis, joined us and said he meant to bring a picture of a baby named Dean after Howard. Jim went on to tell the story how someone was so inspired by Howard Dean that they named their newborn baby, Dean. Jim laughed in his gravely voice and then added that they didn’t choose Howard because their last name was Sterns.

After Jim moved on to greet others, Eric, did a quick update on the present state of DFI and we knew we would have to catch up on more things before the night was over.

This event was billed as a high-end fundraiser with a minimal cost of $250. This was enough to intimidate me in to buying a new suit or at least have a good excuse to buy one. There was about an hour of schmoozing, which before politics, would have been the most painful experience possible for me. But knowing that these people felt the same way about Howard Dean and they understand the need to “Take Back Our Country,” it enabled me to be energized to meet these like-minded people.

The White Sox play-off game was in the background and it definitely distracted from the topic of conversation. An occasional hoop or howl could be heard. What was great about this group was the variety of ages. The youngest were in their mid-twenties and the oldest were in the late sixties. My first conversation was with a young woman who was newly hired by a competing law firm located across the street. She was interested in civil law and politics; encouraging indeed. We were joined by a few other young people who rattled off their Chicago addresses. Most were amazed that I came all the way from Rockford. Living out in the sticks usually does raise a few questions. I had a lively talk with a fellow baby boomer, antiwar activist and we discussed our frustration with the Democratic Party and its lack of policy on the war.

I can’t brag about the food and drinks. I remember my mom going to $100 plate Republican fundraisers in the sixties and the cookies and bottled water at this fundraiser was a poor second. My husband reminded me “It IS suppose to be fundraiser.” So I am hoping all the money went to DFA.

Familiar faces of DFIers such as Lali, and Sandra were a welcome sight and putting faces on people such DFI webmaster William M. was also enjoyable. They updated me about what their local DFA linkups were doing. This always inspires me to work harder at my meetup. Sandra updated me about Fran and Toscha and how they are stepping down from their previous active roll as organizers. I find myself missing these familiar activists. I know people’s lives change but I still miss their energies. I always hope there will be others ready to step up to take their turn.

Jim Dean stood in the middle of the room and gave his talk about DFA. He re-emphasized the DFA’s goals of supporting candidates, educating activists and supporting the growth of local grassroots groups. He talked about how he hopes DFA will continue to grow into all congressional districts and how amazingly the groups are growing strong in traditional Republican strongholds. He said that he knows there is debate between groups about supporting issues vs. candidates but he knows all areas don’t have upcoming elections and that groups have the choice of picking what is important to them. He told how proud he was of groups meeting with their local congressman. He then stated that some upcoming, targeted issues would include the Iraq War.

Jim then bravely opened up for questions, and people fired them away. The fellow antiwar activist who had attended the rally in DC stated her anger at DFA for not backing this rally. I had the same question myself. To tell you the truth, I can’t remember what the answer was but I was not real reassured. Others went on about their frustration with the Democratic Party in general. Jim was unable to speak for the DNC nor for his brother. Discussion moved on to the importance of coordinating efforts between the many activists groups. We understand the importance of people relating to people in small groups and how it creates bonds and loyalty to a cause. DFA community groups are an example of this.

Someone asked, ”How do we talk to our friends that are close to realizing that the current administration is destroying our country?” The conclusion was that there was no easy answer. The best choice was to be gentle and not overwhelm awakening people with evidence. Eric explained that conservatives are becoming aware that they are yearning for something they have lost. Conservatives think “reclaiming” is the way to a better America while progressives think “moving forward” is the best route.

Lt Gov, Pat Quinn joined us at the end. Illinois is lucky to have such a high- ranking supporter of grass-root involvement. He reaffirmed his support of Howard Dean and DFA. When asked what we can do about the unresponsive and resistant traditional Democrats to our efforts, he encouraged to just “be in their faces.”

As I took in fully, the group gathered in the room, it occurred to me what power was contained in this single room high in the center of Chicago. These people held the potential to positively impact the future of America. There were highly educated lawyers, wealthy businessmen, influential politicians, grass-root activists and up-and-coming young people. Chicago is not unique. There are similar groups of people in every average sized city in the United State. People are ready to become empowered.

After all these lofty thoughts, there was something very comforting in seeing Jim Dean make his exit carrying a plastic bag with his old tennis shoes sticking out the top of the bag.

Monday Comics

Columbus Day
Grant v. Lee
Red Rover, Red Rover
Irony Cross
Excellent Advice
Thong Song
Home To Roost
Old Dog, New Tricks
Reality TV
Economics ∩ Ethics
Mutually-Assured Confusion
Totally Emasculated
Unnamed Sources
Guilty As Charged
Big Stones
The Scorpion & The Fox, Right Wing Remix

And my favorite for today: Next!


w00t! Thanks for all the clickies, everybody! I really need to get my silly, odometer-rolling-over-fixated self to bed now, but here's a fresh thread for overnight.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Fiona has all the luck! ;)

From Aldon Hynes:

Hey, I just got back from a fundraiser for the Connecticut Democratic Party, where Howard Dean was the guest of honor. He delivered a great speech, including listing other countries that provide health care for all. (Although he didn't include Costa Rica this time).

Most importantly, Fiona got another chance to pose with one of her favorite politicians. There is a story and link to the photo on my home page, or you can go directly to the photo at


Man, I'm tired. I say this as a way of apologizing in advance if this diary title doesn't make a boatload of sense. But I wanted to post links to Oscar's Word for the Week, as well as Pastor Dan's. But, in the same diary, I also wanted to link to this article in the Times Online UK, in which reporter Carole Coleman described her meeting with Bush, using the words "I wanted to slap him". To that sentiment, I could certainly reply "Word!" In the preface to the article, we are informed: George W Bush was so upset by Carole Coleman’s White House interview that an official complaint was lodged with the Irish embassy. The RTE journalist explains why the president made her blood boil

But as I listened to the history of Saddam Hussein and the weapons inspectors and the UN resolutions, my heart was sinking. He was resorting to the type of meandering stock answer I had heard scores of times and had hoped to avoid. Going back over this old ground could take two or three minutes and allow him to keep talking without dealing with the current state of the war. It was a filibuster of sorts. If I didn’t challenge him, the interview would be a wasted opportunity.

“But, Mr President, you didn’t find any weapons,” I interjected.

“Let me finish, let me finish. May I finish?”

With his hand raised, he requested that I stop speaking. He paused and looked me straight in the eye to make sure I had got the message. He wanted to continue, so I backed off and he went on. “The United Nations said, ‘Disarm or face serious consequences’. That’s what the United Nations said. And guess what? He didn’t disarm. He didn’t disclose his arms. And therefore he faced serious consequences. But we have found a capacity for him to make a weapon. See, he had the capacity to make weapons . . .”

I was now beginning to feel shut out of this event. He had the floor and he wasn’t letting me dance. My blood was boiling to such a point that I felt like slapping him. But I was dealing with the president of the United States; and he was too far away anyway. I suppose I had been naive to think that he was making himself available to me so I could spar with him or plumb the depths of his thought processes. Sitting there, I knew that I was nobody special and that this was just another opportunity for the president to repeat his mantra. He seemed irked to be faced with someone who wasn’t nodding gravely at him as he was speaking.

The whole article, found here, is worth a read. Apparently, it's an excerpt from a book Ms. Coleman is publishing, entitled Alleluia America!

Finally, Demetrius finally put his "Church of the Restful Sabbath" logo on Cafe Press gear.

The text on the pillow reads "Quiet in progress". I could probably say "Word!" to that as well. I attended services today at one of the more "official" mainline denominations, but came pretty darn close to engaging in some restful Sabbath style "worship" while I was there. Our rector is making a point of incorporating more silence into the service. If the pews were more comfortable, I probably would have ended up practicing the sort of "worship" that requires a pillow. ;-)

Random Sunday Morning Thoughts

I've had this Kitty Cat Dance song in my head. If I can get it in your head as well, my work here is done.

Well, not quite. There are a few other odds and ends I wanted to report. Yesterday in the comments, jc linked to an article about how Dean Aims to Overhaul Democrats. A number of people have commented that there is some "attitude" in the reporter's coverage of Howard Dean. I kind of thought so too, although this sentence was good:

Dean learned from his own campaign that it is critical to form relationships that turn into small communities and build into networks of people who feel part of a bottom-up operation with a purpose larger than themselves.

But from the tone of the article, I still wondered about Ron Fournier, and, you know, "what's up with him". I did some searching and found an interesting piece about his coverege of the Gore campaign.

Also, look who's being a good little soldier for the Republicans again...

To help promote his "year of reform" ballot initiatives, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned to one of the best known political reformers on the national stage — Arizona Sen. John McCain .

Here's a quote from Ahnold's campaign spokesperson:

"John McCain is known for two things — one is being a reformer, and the other is being a straight talker," Harris said.

Wonder how long it will be before he's just known for being the guy always willing to do his party's bidding. (Back when Kerry was considering McCain as a running mate, Demetrius wrote some parody lyrics to the tune of Eric Clapton's song, "Cocaine".) Also, as The Johnny was kind enough to point out in the Open Thread at My Left Wing, McCain has endorsed Ken Blackwell, otherwise known (by me, anyway) as the Spawn of Satan). That should be all the proof anyone needs that this "straight shooting centrist" is a party loyalist all the way.

For anyone who would like to learn a little more about Islam, I'd like to point you to this post (one in a series) at Street Prophets: Ramadan Day 4: Verses from the Quran

Kind of a non-sequitir, but before becoming preoccupied with politics, my previous unpaid calling was being the Puplinks lady. Determined not to leave my four legged friends behind, I remembered to change my topical link from Summer Pet Safety to Pet Safety at Halloween. The picture on that page is of Ellie, the second dog my mother raised for Canine Companions for Independence.

Update from a couple days ago--a commenter at My Left Wing has shared some information that lends credence to the stories of Bush claiming that God "tells him" to do things.

Finally, I've added a couple things to the page with our intentions. Please let me know if there is anything or anyone special you would like this community to hold in our thoughts and/or prayers, and I will be happy to include them on that page.