Saturday, December 03, 2005

Open Thread

Looks like time for a fresh canvas. Enjoy.

"Eric Crapton" CD cover courtesy of

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Cheryl reports from the national DNC meeting

Marcia Moody and I are in Phoenix attending the national meeting of the DNC. It has been quite an education. We started with a reception Thursday evening hosted by PDA (Progressives Democrats of America). We got to listen to true progressives like Mimi Kennedy (actress, activist and PDA board member) Tom Hayden, and our own Deaniac, Terry Lierman, now chair of the Democratic Party in Maryland. Terry was the one helping Dean at the March for Women's Lives in 2004 and he also was Dean's campaign manager for Maryland during the campaign.

Yesterday, we attended a series of caucuses. The Hispanic Caucus was the best, as the issues they discussed are near and dear to me living in Arizona. Very powerful speakers really kept me alert. The Republicans are trying to pass an initiative that would amend the Colorado constitution to basically create a Nazi system of spying on your neighbor and reporting them to if you suspect someone is an undocumented immigrant because they check out a Spanish language book in the library. In Arizona, we passed prop 200 which is a racist proposition and an attempt to hurt Democrats. Turns out at least in the last City Council race it actually inadvertantly hurt Republicans just as much.

We were blessed to have Howard speak at both our Western Regional caucus and Hispanic caucus. It turns out he also spoke at the Women's caucus which Marcia attended (I missed it).

In the evening, the Arizona Democratic Party sponsored a reception. This was a great opportunity to mingle. Governor Dean was just standing there talking to one person, so Marcia headed over to chat with him. She was a little mad at me because I chose the food buffet instead.

Later, a few of the Tucson original Deaniacs got a chance to get our picture taken with Howard. I feel for his handler, Fred, because everyone was bombarding him to try and get a pic with Howard. I really didn't know what to say to Howard. He never really remembers me, and was struggling to read my upsidedown name tag as I negated to introduce myself again. All I could think of to say was to tell him about the good news of Melissa Taylor getting hired as the Executive Director for Harris county in Texas. I guess I shouldn't feel badly because he didn't recognize her name either until I mentioned the Morrison campaign and then it seemed to trigger that recognition. Of course, he ALWAYS remembers Marcia. Marcia told me not to feel badly, that she had to meet him 13 times before she was sure he remembered her...and I have only met him 7 now. :)

The one oddity of the evening is that three times they tried to get us to move over to a local casino where they were partying or something. Most of us had no desire to go but it came across as an 'order'. I finally asked the speaker why they were telling us to go over to a casino when we were happy at the reception talking with one another. I think it was sponsored by the Young Democrats of America and it sounded like a lot of 'fun' to them, lol. I am not sure if anyone actually went to the casino or if they had a separate reception there because we ended up having a mini-meeting on women's issues in the political sphere.

This morning I am at the General Session, and guess who is the main speaker? Yes, you got it. He is now speaking to non-stop standing ovations. He is really *on*. Renee, you should be thrilled that I am blogging here with wifi instead of intently listening to Howard. Don't worry...I am hearing the main points.

Later today I will see him again at the volunteer awards dinner. I am trying to get into the pre-session to take pictures for people. I hope to have more reports to follow.


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Blog family anniversary/reunion

From the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

"I'm afraid you're going to have to accept it," said Mr Prosser gripping his fur hat and rolling it round the top of his head, "this bypass has got to be built and it's going to be built!"

"First I've heard of it," said Arthur, "why's it going to be built?"

Mr Prosser shook his finger at him for a bit, then stopped and put it away again.

"What do you mean, why's it got to be built?" he said. "It's a bypass. You've got to build bypasses."

I think that's the Douglas Adams version of "Why do you want to climb the mountain?"..."Because it's there!" I am having one of those moments. I got this idea lodged in my brain yesterday, and it hasn't yet gone away. When I woke up early this morning, I had the opportunity to go back to sleep, but I couldn't, because I've got to do this thing. A Blog for America "family reunion".

The idea was hatched here, after hearing from Grandma Marcia, a one-time regular commenter on Blog for America. I opened up People-Powered Howard: Meet the Blog Family, a "little" web project I took on back during the Dean campaign, to refresh my memory as to which "Grandma" she was. I knew there had been at least a couple of them, and one of the Grandmas had been the inspiration for Meet the Blog Family. Well, turns out that was Grandma J.
At 9:39 p.m. on December 5, 2003, in the Drive for Democracy: Innovation and Energy in Orlando thread on the official Dean blog, Grandma J wrote:
"Someone way up above mentioned a roll call. Does anyone remember the Sleepless thread(s) where we all responded about why we are so involved in this campaign? And I cried for days. Or the thread where someone asked how old we all were and it was amazing to find out our average age (can't remember now, but it was definitely over 30)?

Maybe it is time we do that again with all the new people we have here."

Wow! That was two years ago? Well, guess what I decided I "had" to do? A little background about my motivation husband Demetrius and I were really inspired by the Dean campaign, and got hooked on the blog pretty early on. Neither of us had really been political before, and neither of us was cut out to do phone banking or canvassing or any of the "traditional" campaign activities, so we needed to create our own niches. For Demetrius, it was pretty easy to figure out what he had to offer, and he started doing graphics and flyers for the grassroots, by request. For me, it didn't seem as obvious what I could offer. But I was always on the lookout for a way that I could be, as they said on Thomas the Tank Engine, a "really useful engine". So anyway, that's why it possessed me to respond to Grandma J's query with this:
I have vounteered to start this project, and be Keeper of the Blog Bios. Everyone who wants to can send me a brief introduction--your blog name/handle and a little bit about yourself. Only as much as you feel comfortable sharing publicly (in other words, no more than you have shared publicly in the blog already). And, if you have a blog "claim to fame", such as a slogan you suggested that caught on, a poster you created, or anything else people might like to know about you and your unique contribution to the campaign and the blog community, please include that too. Since we always have new people joining, and the blog moves pretty quickly, it might make it easier for people to get to know each other.

Holy cow! I had no idea what I was in for! When I asked people to send in their bios, those suckers just *poured* in. I barely had time to skim them, because I was so busy trying to get them organized and laid out on a page...which ended up being three pages, A-F, G-M, and N-Z. It was a huge amount of work, but it was definitely worth it.

Go ahead and scan the names on those pages. Are you one of them? Are there names you recognize there? I know a few still post at Blog for America, and a number post on a group blog like Kos, My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, and MyDD. Some have their own blogs. Some are not blogging much, but are very active in local politics. Two years after this project was "born", I'd like to have a blog family reunion or sorts. I'd like to hear what some of these people are up to. Yes, dammit, Howard Dean didn't get the nomination. And Commander Bunnypants is still in the White House (note to self for later: Google bomb). But I know that many of us who were inspired by Howard Dean's presidential campaign are still working to make a difference. What's your story? Please e-mail it to howardempowered at so that we can include it in a "Where are they now?" series this coming week.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Open Thread

Just got home, and not a creature is stirring. Well, actually, none of the human creatures are stirring. The dogs are totally flipping out, and I'm sure there will be a cat on my keyboard in short order.

I just posted a story over at Street Prophets about the desire to somehow have a sane Christmas season, and the challenges therein. It is similar enough to the discussion earlier that I decided not to crosspost it here.

Here's a link to the video of Howard on The Tonight Show.

Update: Thank you, jc, for adding the link and the Howard Dean pics. Before the day is over, I wanted to mention (this time on the front page) that I learned over at My Left Wing that today is Senator Harry Reid's birthday. Well, I've *got* this cake graphic, thanks to Demetrius--sure hate to pass up a chance to use it!

I also said "Happy Birthday" to Senator Reid in the comments over at his blog. If you'd like to do the same, click.

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Stress-Free Holidays: Reality or Fantasy?

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 we pulled out eight boxes of holiday cards to address and stamp, my twin sister had a great idea. Why not celebrate Hanukah or Christmas every other year? Of course, we realize the chance of this happening is slim to none, and if our country did so, we would leave our economy in ruins. Still, the idea is most tempting.

And so the rush begins (baking, decorating, shopping, and partying) the list seems to never end. Meanwhile, the activist's attention is always on what is happening right outside our home. We
await the hearings for one of the most conservative Supreme Court nominees, Sam Alito. Over 2,100 Americans and countless Iraqis are dead because of a senseless war. 30,000 GM employees will lose their jobs this month. Katrina survivors will be kicked out of their temporary housing in the next few weeks. Thousands of Pakistani women and children will die from lack of shelter and preventable disease. 47 million Americans are now without health coverage and many more are under-insured and face huge medical bills.

So where are our priorities? Last year Democracy for America
encouraged our participation in a phone card drive for our veterans and troops who would not have been able to phone a loved one over the holiday. Let's put our heads and hearts together and think of a DFACorps activity for this holiday season that the grassroots can work together on to make a difference and to help alleviate some of that holiday stress. What's your idea?

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

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Friday Comics

And my favorite for today: Breaking New Ground

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Grandma Marcia checks in

In the middle of the current time crunch--admittedly one I experience every year when end of the quarter grading coincides with the increasing intensity of the holiday season--it was a pleasant surprise to see this comment in the overnight thread.

As a member of Blankets for America, I can tell you that Susan is very busy doing good things for others. She is a real inspiration to all of

I know that making quilts, afghans, and warm clothing for Pine Ridge Res., many babies in hospitals, for women and children in shelters where they are safe, and for the parents whose babies die at birth or soon after, give me some hope. Also I feel like we are giving hugs to those in need.

I am still angry about so many things going on politically, and I still yell and scream at the TV, but I just sew and crochet faster which relieves that tension.

thanks for this blog...Renee and the rest of you wonderful people.

Thank you for stopping by, Grandma Marcia! I was delighted to hear from the Dean administration's Caretaker of Stray Animals and Crying Babies. That's from Bloggers Vie for Choice Positions in the Dean Administration--for a blast from the past, I invite you all to check it out. Myself, I just checked out the Meet the Blog Family pages to check for myself whether Grandma Marcia was the one whose post inspired that project. Turns out it was Grandma J:

At 9:39 p.m. on December 5, 2003, in the Drive for Democracy: Innovation and Energy in Orlando thread on the official Dean blog, Grandma J wrote:

"Someone way up above mentioned a roll call. Does anyone remember the Sleepless thread(s) where we all responded about why we are so involved in this campaign? And I cried for days. Or the thread where someone asked how old we all were and it was amazing to find out our average age (can't remember now, but it was definitely over 30)?

Wow--that was two years ago as of this coming Monday. We should do something to celebrate. Like a reunion, maybe.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Trying to Make a Difference

My posts are rarely of a purely political nature. Mainly because the political landscape today is full of hydra-headed monsters. Contemplating for too long the disaster that confronts us these days gives me heart palpitations and a strange roaring white noise in my ears. Once I was able to regard politics fairly dispassionately. Now I'm full of hatred for the right-wing extremists. I find those feelings extremely uncomfortable for two reasons: 1.) I can't do much to make them stop, and 2.) hatred is foreign to my nature.

So when I write a post I prefer to focus on something less painful. To take a break from the constant need to fight back.

In my daily life I take a break through quilting. I'm sure I've written about Blankets for America on the BBB. It's our Dean Corps group...yet another positive result of the wonderful "Dean Ripple Effect".

To date we've made and distributed 771 quilts and blankets to shelters, hospitals and pantries. We've sent blankets to Katrina survivors, hospitals in New York and Florida, Ohio and South Dakota. We've sent blankets to shelters in Pennsylvania and the state of Washington. I know we've sent them to other states I can't recall just now. Too bad, cause now I've interrupted the flow and can't yell, "Yeeeaaarrrrghhhh!".

I can't tell if I'm making a difference politically. I worked as hard as I could for the Reform Ohio Now issues, but they still failed. But when I take a stack of quilts to the shelter workers I know I make a difference. I know that I supplied what they needed, and that people will be helped because of my actions. It helps keep me sane. (Sort of)

Not that I won't continue to fight politically. I can't remember the source, but my quote to live by politically is: "We will fight them until Hell freezes over, sir. And then we will fight them on the ice."

Susan D.

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World AIDS Day

Are you wearing a red ribbon today? Every day?

As this is a 'from the road' post, I'll keep it to facts and figures. :-)

UNAIDS has as its theme for this 18th World AIDS Day:

Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise."December 1st is World AIDS Day and is recognized around the world as a day to renew hope, commemorate those lost and celebrate progress. This year World AIDS Day activities will call on politicians and the international community to keeping their promise and commitments in the fight against HIV and AIDS."

On December 11, 2003, G W Bush promised $15 billion in AIDS relief funding over the next five years. Promises. Promises.

According to the CRS Report for Congress HIV/AIDS International Programs: Appropriations, FY2003-FY2006 (updated 6 Sep 2005)(that's actually for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria programs): Spending in FY2003 was $1.65b, in FY2004 was $2.33b, and estimated spending for 2005 is $2.9b. The FY2006 budget proposal from the administration is just under $3.2b, the House proposal just over $3.2b, and the Senate's $3.6b.

Yada, yada. Big numbers galore. Let's look at FY2005 a little more -- actual spending on AIDS programs is $2.5b after subtracting the $87.8m appropriated but not provided to the Global Fund in FY2004 and the funding included for tuberculosis and malaria programs. All in all, start removing half a billion here and there and pretty soon it adds up to the fact that actual spending will need significant 'ramping up' for the 2007 budget year if we are to keep the promise of $15 billion in funding.

So get busy and PLEASE calI or write your congresscritter to encourage them to "Keep the Promise" and provide the funding to fight against HIV and AIDS.

p.s. The funding is only half the battle -- the Global AIDS Initiative requires that at least 33% of the funding go to abstinence only programs. Let me say that again -- at least $5 billion is being spent on programs proven to be ineffective.

Additonal information on World AIDS Day programs and HIV/AIDS funding:

World AIDS

World AIDS Campaign

Planned Parenthood

Move-on's Mislead

...And a wonderful organization to support:

Chicago House & Social Services, now in its 20th year of providing housing and support services to persons living with HIV/AIDS.


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Howard Dean on Jay Leno (Transcript)

This picture is from Howard Dean's 2003 appearance on The Tonight Show, courtesy of On Lisa Rein's Radar. Lisa's site has more great pictures, including the one you see below, as well as video clips from that earlier Tonight Show appearance. More pictures from that appearance can be found in John Pettit's gallery.

What follows is, more or less, a transcript of Howard Dean's appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. For some reason, even though we have cable, we consistently get really crummy reception when we try to watch anything on our local NBC affiliate. Also, our dog started barking for no apparent reason toward the end. The combination of those things made me miss the part at the very end, where Leno brought up something about Springsteen being a possibility for some office in New Jersey and punned "Born to run!" Maybe in the comments someone can clarify that for me.

Leno: Let's talk about some of the issues. Bush's speech today, what did you think?

Dean: Part of my job is I'm supposed to be tactful now, and it doesn't come easy.

Leno: Oh no-forget that!

Dean: I thought it was his usual nonsense and repetetive…drivel that we've heard for the last 4 ½ years.

Leno: Well, that's tactful. (Yep, cause we know there's a less tactful word than drivel that would have fit perfectly at the end of that sentence!)

Dean: He didn't say anything new. He's defending a strategy that was built on things that weren't true, and of course we're in trouble. And I think "staying the course" is not a strategy, especially when you didn't
tell the truth to get us there in the first place.

Leno: Well, how about Joe Lieberman, a fellow Democrat--

Dean: Now I really have to be tactful!

Leno: He's been there a few times to Iraq, and he more or less agrees with the President.

Dean: Everybody gets to march to their own drummer in this party. What we need to do is have a real plan for strategic redeployment. We need not to have 150,000 troops that are being attacked every single day in Iraq. We shouldn't have been there in the first place, and the fact is we've made a big mess over there. We've created more of a danger than there was in the first place, and probably one of the results is that we did something that Iran couldn't do, we helped them win their objectives in the Iran-Iraq war. So, we're in a lot of trouble in Iraq, and John Murtha's right, we ought not to be hurting more Americans, and having more American wounded kids come home.

Leno: So what would your plan be?

Dean: I think withdrawing immediately is not the right thing to do, but there is a plan that was authored oddly enough by a guy who worked in the Reagan defense department by the name of Lawrence Korb. Where we would withdraw the National Guard troops over 2006, and even Joe Lieberman voted for 2006 being the year of transition there. We would withdraw the Guard troops, move 20,000 troops to Afghanistan, where they are needed, keep a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq, because we are going to have to deal with the terrorist threat that Bush created by going in there in the first place. And then the rest come home over the period of 2006 after this election. That gives us a redeployment opportunity, it doesn't show weakness, and it does show the ability to continue to deal with the problems in Iraq without having our guys be the targets.

Leno: Let me ask you something. Now, normally-the President's approval rating is 35%, it's the lowest it's ever been. It seems in years past that when one party was down, the other party would be up. For all the things the Republican are doing wrong, the Democrats don't seem to be gaining. Why aren't they gaining?

Dean: Well in some ways we are. The polls show that if the election were held tomorrow that we would take back Congress and all that. But, the Democrats have a lot to learn about standing up for what we believe in. You cannot win elections simply by criticizing the other guy, you gotta stand up for what you believe in. We're beginning to do that. I thought Harry Reid was really courageous when he shut down the Senate and demanded some honesty out of Republicans about why we got in Iraq in the first place. And I thought John Murtha, a decorated 37 year Marine Corps veteran was incredibly courageous when he got up and said, "Look, this isn't working. We need a strategic redeployment in Iraq. We're going to have to do a lot more of that. We're going to have to do it on jobs, we're going to have to insist that we have health insurance for everybody in this country like 36 other countries in the world do. We've got to stand for something different from the Republicans and then we can win.

Leno: I remember once you said you HATED Republicans-you remember saying that? You said you hated--(There was some crosstalk here, and it's hard to hear Dean's response, but watching the video one could see the immediate bemused reaction on Howard's face, and he interjected something like, "Well, I was kind of misquoted there…") In the spirit of bipartisanship, can you think of one Republican you like?

Dean: Abraham Lincoln! (Laughter and applause)

Leno: The very first one! All right--

Dean: If he were alive today, he'd be a Democrat!

Leno: You're sure of that-really? Do you think Rove will be indicted?

Dean: I'm not a lawyer, but…I would say there's a reasonable chance. You generally speaking don't get asked to go to a grand jury and testify four times during the life of the grand jury without being under some suspicion. So, I guess that, though I'm not a lawyer, I'd be nervous if I were him.

Leno: This culture of corruption we see now…we were just joke about this congressman, 2 point (couldn't hear) MILLION dollars. Okay, he's a Republican, but this is the perception about politicians. Because this happens on both sides-how do we change that? Do we need campaign finance laws?

Dean: What we need is real ethics legislation in Congress, because the Ethics Committee has been a farce. There was a truce at one point where nobody would indict anybody, or complain about anybody else. That was ridiculous.We really do need real campaign finance reform. We need to get the big money out of politics.

Leno: How do you do that?

Dean: You know, in the state of Arizona, there's a wonderful Democratic governor by the name of Janet Napolitano who got elected on a clean money campaign. She did not have to go to special interests to raise money to do it. They've got a great law that was put in by the voters, because the legislature of course wouldn't do it. The voters of Arizona put in a law that said there would be public financing of campaigns, so that if somebody comes along and wants to spend a gazillion dollars of their own money, the state will give you more to combat it. Now, nobody who runs on that clean elections plan in Arizona owes anybody anything. All they have to do is go in there and do what they think is right, which is really what the American people want. It's not so much about being a conservative or a liberal or a Democrat or a Repubublican. What people are mad about is that politicians go to Washington and then they won't stand up for anything, and that's what has to be changed. (Applause)

Leno: What I would like to see is some sort of truth in campaigning law, because we see these ads, "My opponent voted to give handguns to pedophiles" But that isn't EXACTLY what the law was...and you end up voting for which one you hate the least.

Dean: (reception was bad here and I can't make this first part out). But the flip side is something that's been very good for this country, and that's the First Amendment. Being able to say pretty much whatever you want, within some reason. Britain actually has laws where you can sue somebody for something like that, and maybe we need to do something like that, but free speech is very important in this country.

Leno: Yeah, law suits, we need more of those! (Laughter.) Okay, how about the 2008 presidential election? I know you can't pick somebody. Hillary seems to be way ahead. Could a Democratic candidate, late in the game, come
from behind, out of nowhere? And possibly--

Dean: I know one that did, but unfortunately he went back to nowhere after that.

Leno: (Laughing) Really? Well, would you ever run again?

Dean: Not in 2008. I've sworn--well, not sworn, but I've said that as long as I took this job as DNC chair my job is to fix the party. I'd like to make a big change in the White House. Whether I'm there or not is not so important.

Leno: Like in 2012, you'll still be a young man, you could do that.

Dean: (Smiling) That's right…you're very kind. Thank you.

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Thursday Comics

And my favorite for today: Nonsense & Repetitive...Drivel

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Dean's Leno interview, Part 1

Here's the first part of the interview on Leno. I wanted to get some of it up tonight, because it looks like we need a new thread. I will post more of the interview tomorrow.

Leno: Let’s talk about some of the issues. Bush’s speech today, what did you think?

Dean: Part of my job is I’m supposed to be tactful now, and it doesn’t come easy.

Leno: Oh no—forget that!

Dean: I thought it was his usual nonsense and repetetive…drivel that we’ve heard for the last 4 1/2 years.

Leno: Well, that’s tactful. (Yep, cause we know there’s a less tactful word than drivel that would have fit perfectly at the end of that sentence!)

Dean: He didn’t say anything new. He’s defending a strategy that was built on things that weren’t true, and of course we’re in trouble. And I think “staying the course” is not a strategy, especially when you didn’t tell the truth to get us there in the first place.

Leno: Well, how about Joe Lieberman, a fellow Democrat—

Dean: Now I really have to be tactful!

Leno: He’s been there a few times to Iraq, and he more or less agrees with the President.

Everybody gets to march to their own drummer in this party. What we need to do is have a real plan for strategic redeployment. We need not to have 150,000 troops that are being attacked every single day in Iraq. We shouldn’t have been there in the first place, and the fact is we’ve made a big mess over there. We’ve created more of a danger than there was in the first place, and probably one of the results is that we did something that Iran couldn’t do, we helped them win their objectives in the Iran-Iraq war. So, we’re in a lot of trouble in Iraq, and John Murtha’s right, we ought not to be hurting more Americans, and having more American wounded kids come home.

Leno: So what would your plan be?

Dean: I think withdrawing immediately is not the right thing to do, but there is a plan that was authored oddly enough by a guy who worked in the Reagan defense department by the name of Lawrence Korb. Where we would withdraw the National Guard troops over 2006, and even Joe Lieberman voted for 2006 being the year of transition there. We would withdraw the Guard troops, move 20,000 troops to Afghanistan, where they are needed, keep a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq, because we are going to have to deal with the terrorist threat that Bush created by going in there in the first place. And then the rest come home over the period of 2006 after this election. That gives us a redeployment opportunity, it doesn’t show weakness, and it does show the ability to continue to deal with the problems in Iraq without having our guys be the targets.

(More to come)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dean on the Tonight Show

Consider this an open thread to discuss Howard Dean's appearance tonight, Jim Dean's chat earlier today, or anything else that's on your mind.

"File" Photo.
Photo by Maura Keaney (Thanks, Maura!)

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Tonight Show Reminder

Just a quick reminder that Howard Dean will be appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this evening.

The photo you see below is from Howard's appearance on David Letterman on October 12.

For anyone who hasn't noticed this yet, when I recently redesigned the site, I created a permanent space in the left sidebar for announcing Howard Dean's upcoming appearances. In that space I have posted the e-mail address you can use if you know of an upcoming appearance that is not yet listed.

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Live discussion with Jim Dean at 3 p.m. today

Photo courtesy of the Costume Goddess.

Passing this along from Blog for America, for anyone who might be interested.

Live Discussion with Jim Dean
Chair of Democracy for America
Today at 3:00pm EST on
Blog for America

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fitrakis & Wasserman: Ohio's Diebold Debacle

Yay! I'm finally back online! I was just now able to download my e-mail, and it included several articles via "keyword news"--that's how I get my Ken Blackwell updates. Several of the articles were about Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman withdrawing from the governor's race, and one was about Republican candidate Jim Petro's ad "trumpeting his conservative abortion beliefs". Finally, there was this piece from Scoop in New Zealand, originally published in the Free Press:

Ohio's Diebold Debacle: New machines call election results into question
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

Massive Election Day irregularities are emerging in reports from all over Ohio after the introduction of Diebold's electronic voting in nearly half of the Buckeye State’s counties. A recently released report by the non-partisan General Accountability Office warned of such problems with electronic voting machines.

E-voting machine disasters

Prior to the 2005 election, electronic voting machines from Diebold and other Republican voting machine manufacturers were newly installed in 41 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The Dayton Daily News reported that in Montgomery County, for example, “Some machines began registering votes for the wrong item when voters touched the screen correctly. Those machines had lost their calibration during shipping or installation and had to be recalibrated. . . .”

Steve Harsman, the Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections (BOE), told the Daily News that the recalibration could be done on site, but poll workers had never performed the task before.

The city of Carlisle, Ohio announced on November 22 that it is contesting the results of the November 8 general election as a result of Montgomery County vote counting problems. Carlisle Mayor Jerry Ellender told the Middletown Journal that the count on the city’s continuing $3.8 million replacement fire levy is invalid “since they are not sure if Carlisle voters received the right ballots on the new electronic voting machines.”

Harsman, according to the Journal, said, “poll workers incorrectly encoded voter cards that are used to bring up the ballots on the electronic machines in precincts in Germantown and Carlisle.”

At least 225 votes were registered for the fire levy in precincts with only 148 registered voters, according to the Journal. In addition, 187 voting machine memory cards were lost for most of election night in Montgomery County, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Read the rest here.

In case you don't recall, reports from the Free Press were an extremely valuable source of information in trying to get to the bottom of the "irregularities" in the 2004 election. And I just found out a little while ago that today is Bob Fitrakis' birthday. So, happy birthday, Bob, and thank you for everything you do to make sure those who count the votes are held accountable.

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The Gift

Why "The Gift" IS a True Story

By Subway Serenade

In March of 1994 I was reading through the newspapers and I noticed something that most folks at the time seemed to miss entirely. I saw that although there were civil wars, as in Africa, occupations in Palestine and East Timor, and post Cold War fallout in the Balkans and Chechnya, a remarkable thing had occurred. International War could be found nowhere on the planet.

This startled me, and as I researched it further, I found not a single editorial comment. No mention in the pages of the daily papers. No mention of it on TV, or even on the Internet. How could something this important happen and only a street musician could notice? Each week I would go to the library and look through the world news on the Internet. I couldn't find an international war anywhere. I started feeling pretty good about the future of mankind, and this continued straight through to the second week in September of that year. That Tuesday when I reached my spot at the Rector Street Station, I was thinking about the possibility that we could actually have a Holiday Season coming where no two nations were engaged in armed conflict, and it was going totally unnoticed by the rest of the world. As I was setting up to perform I laughed to myself, "I wonder if anyone told God about this? I'd bet He'd be surprised."

I played for three hours, as usual, and packed up for the return home. On the train, I took out my journal and began to write, as I usually did. Only this time, every time my pen touched the paper, I began to cry. On September 29 1994, the first handwritten manuscript was completed. I first called it "A Christmas Card to the World," but realized that that the card was not to the world, but to its Creator. So I named my simple work "The Gift, A True Story of the Holidays." Since that time "The Gift" has been read and heard by thousands of people. And "The Awakening" is closer than most folks would imagine. Share it with your friends and family this Holiday Season.


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My, How Time Flies

Has it really been a year since the netroots chose up sides over who would succeed Terry McAuliffe as DNC Chair? Kos posted this assessment that I think is worth reproducing here:

Dean flops as boogeyman
by kos
Tue Nov 29, 2005 at 01:54:57 AM EST

We're now at the rough one-year anniversary of the DNC chairmanship battle, in which us netroots hooligans helped propel Dean to the top of the DNC. We outmaneuvered Kerry, who wanted to install Vilsack and then Sheehan by fiat. We outmaneuvered Reid and Pelosi, who wanted Tim Roemer. We outmaneuvered Mark Brewer of the Association of Democratic State Chairs, who wanted to Donnie Fowler. (Here's Ryan Lizza's take on the whole affair.)

This was the first tangible "victory" for the netroots in its struggle for supremacy of the Democratic Party. But I don't bring this up to gloat. Rather, I bring it up to point out how little of the Dean Doomsday Scenario actually played out.

More specifically, the notion that Dean would be a boon to Republican propaganda efforts has completely falled flat. Remember those? Dem insiders were quaking in their shoes, Republicans were salivating at the chance to remind America how far-left and craaazzzyy those Democrats were with Dean at the top.

Yet you don't hear Republicans trying to make hay of Chairman Dean anymore. Why would they? Middle America proved, yet again, that they could give a rat's ass about who runs the political parties, whether it's Dean or the GOP's closeted homosexual robot. And while those early attacks on Dean fell flat with the general American public, Dean supporters responded with cash. Every attack on Dean suddenly became an impromptu DNC fundraisier worth tens of thousands in the bank.

Republicans aren't stupid. They're corrupt, craven, opportunistic and generally unpleasant, but they aren't stupid. So it wasn't long before the anti-Dean attacks ceased. (Well, Liddy Dole includes Dean in her fundraising emails, but given her fundraising performance thus far, even the GOP base couldn't give two shits.)

While the true measure of Dean's success will be the 2008 elections (rebuilding the party takes time, regardless whether we make gains in 2006 or not), the early praise from his fiercest Democratic detractors and the unilateral ceasefire from the Republican side proves that he's not the Scary Liberal Boogeyman many feared he'd be.

Hooray for the Hooligans! One commenter recalled how the Virginia GOP tried to use Dean in our elections this year:

January 11, 2005
It appears that some in Washington still fail to acknowledge that just two months ago Virginians overwhelmingly rejected the liberal beliefs shared by Tim Kaine and the national Democrat Party.

Tim Kaine needs to explain why taking millions of dollars from the DNC, where Howard Dean is the clear front runner to become the new Chairman, doesn't put him at odds with millions of Virginians who in November clearly rejected their liberal policies.

February 12, 2005
"The election of Howard Dean to lead his Party is yet another indication that the Democrats are out of touch with the beliefs and values most Americans hold dear. "

In Howard Dean the Democrat Party has chosen a leader whose support for higher taxes, abortion on demand, and assisted suicide does not square with the values held by a vast majority of Virginians. "


Tim Kaine has now been reunited with his true political soul mate. (LMAO. Ed.) And, it will take a massive political makeover for Tim Kaine to hide from Virginians his pro-tax, anti-death penalty liberal positions. As liberal as Howard Dean is, Virginia's Tim Kaine goes one step further in his strident opposition to the death penalty even for the most heinous crimes."

February 18, 2005
The Chairman of the Democrat National Committee (DNC), Howard Dean, said at a recent meeting of the Democrat Black Caucus, "You think the Republicans could get this many people of color in a single room? Only if they had the hotel staff in here."

Today, Kate Obenshain Griffin, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, called on Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine to tell Virginians whether he supports the racially insensitive remarks made by the DNC Chairman, especially given the recent press reports of the $5 million the DNC plans to provide the Kaine campaign:

"As the Democrat Party is overtaken by the national leftist liberal establishment, their policies of anger and pessimism are becoming clear. The intolerable remarks made by Howard Dean expose the fact that the Democrat Party takes minorities for granted. "

I call on Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine to immediately denounce the divisive remarks by the Chairman of his Party. The failure of Tim Kaine to condemn Howard Dean's remarks can only be interpreted by all Virginians as an explicit endorsement by the Democrat Party of Virginia of such discriminatory beliefs."

I call your attention to the liberal use of the word "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" when referring to the party. No matter how hard they tried, the Virginia GOP couldn't get any traction linking Tim Kaine to Howard Dean.

PS--Check out this photo.

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The SwiftBoating of Cindy

Cindy Sheehan has written a book, Not One More Mother's Child, and it is now available for ordering.

During her recent stay at Camp Casey for Thanksgiving, Cindy's publisher, Koa Books, donated 100 books to benefit the Crawford Peace House. Cindy appeared at a book signing in Crawford where all the books were bought, and $2000 was raised for the Crawford Peace House.

That is, however, NOT the story that corporate media or the right-wing "Freepers" wanted. Instead, what was widely distributed were pictures taken between the book signings, showing Cindy sitting alone at a table, waiting. These pictures have been posted on media outlets and right-wing websites with the FALSE information that Cindy gave a book signing and nobody came.

It seems that Cindy Sheehan remains quite a threat to those who still support our warmongering president and his failed policies. Because the truth is damaging to them, they are eager to replace it with their lies, with the willing cooperation of corporate media.

You can order Cindy Sheehan's book online from her publisher,
Koa Books.

Crossposted at jc's designs

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Tuesday's Comics

And my favorite for today: Reading Fundamentalist

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Guest Bloggers Needed

Every Monday night at 8pm EST, My Vote is My Voice hosts an interactive guest blog.

In the past, the My Vote is My Voice Board has relied on our personal connections from the Dean campaign, and beyond, to find guest bloggers.

However, we've realized that that's not very bottom-up, and we would love to hear your recommendations for guest bloggers.

Please post recommendations in the comments, or send them to

Happy Birthday, Subway Serenade!

I know people have been posting their "Happy Birthdays" to Subway all day--since midnight last night, as a matter of fact. But we just can't end the day without an official Howard-Empowered People birthday greeting...complete with the homemade cake graphic Demetrius created for this blog.

Happy Birthday, David/Subway! Thank you for sharing your music with us these past few years, and more recently thank you for contributing your insights in front page posts on this blog.

Want to know who else has a birthday coming up? Check out the Blog Family Birthday Calendar jc maintains.

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Site changes

Update: I am working on the font size issues now as well. Everything looked fine on my screen in Firefox, but apparently everything is all caps in Internet Explorer, and the text in the center column was huge. Working on it...

Update [11/28/05, 4:59 PM, by Oscar]: One can always ditch Internet Explorer by downloading Firefox, downloading SpellBound (spell-checking extension to Firefox), downloading AdBlock, and downloading BBCode (dKos mod). If you don't want all the bells and whistles then just download Firefox and set it as your default browser - you'll never look back. </proselytizing>

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you probably notice some layout changes today. I hope no one is too thrown by this, but the more images and links and resources I have added, the harder it is to make things easy to find--that one sidebar on the right side was just getting longer and longer. I went into the Blogger template section to try to find one that had both a right and a left sidebar like Atrios or The Majority Report.

No such luck. So I turned to trusty Google and did a search for templates. Little did I know this would involve messing with freaking CSS style sheets--ay caramba! I saved the old template in case anything got totally messed up, and I worked on the page a bit at a time seeing what worked, and how to make things work over at the old site.

I know it's not perfect, and there's still some tweaking I need to do, but I at least wanted to get the new layout up. I have now reset the timestamp on the post about Howard Dean's appearance on Jay Leno so that it won't be so confusing figuring out which thread to comment on. Also, in the left sidebar, right up at the top, I have created a place to post upcoming television and radio appearances, and I've included the e-mail address so that people can sent me the information about future appearances.

I will fix the alignment in the center column as soon as I figure out how.

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Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid

As if we needed further proof that Bush is increasingly disconnected from reality.

Author Seymour Hersh was on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer yesterday to discuss his new article in the New Yorker, "Up in the Air," which discusses the administration's proposal to withdraw from Iraq. (Or did they crib it from someone else? I can't keep track nowadays.) Hersh added some disturbing insights into Bush's concerns about the future:

HERSH: Suffice to say this, that this president in private, at Camp David with his friends, the people that I'm sure call him George, is very serene about the war. He's upbeat. He thinks that he's going to be judged, maybe not in five years or ten years, maybe in 20 years. He's committed to the course. He believes in democracy.

HERSH: He believes that he's doing the right thing, and he's not going to stop until he gets -- either until he's out of office, or he falls apart, or he wins.

BLITZER: But this has become, your suggesting, a religious thing for him?

HERSH: Some people think it is. Other people think he's absolutely committed, as I say, to the idea of democracy. He's been sold on this notion. He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change. I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy.

We have generals that do not like -- anymore -- they're worried about speaking truth to power. You know that. I mean that's -- Murtha in fact, John Murtha, the congressman from Pennsylvania, which most people don't know, has tremendous contacts with the senior generals of the armies. He's a ranking old war horse in Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The generals know him and like him. His message to the White House was much more worrisome than maybe to the average person in the public. They know that generals are privately telling him things that they're not saying to them.

And if you're a general and you have a disagreement with this war, you cannot get that message into the White House. And that gets people unnerved.

BLITZER: Here's what you write. You write, "Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the president remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding."

Those are incredibly strong words, that the president basically doesn't want to hear alternative analysis of what is going on.

HERSH: You know, Wolf, there is people I've been talking to -- I've been a critic of the war very early in the New Yorker, and there were people talking to me in the last few months that have talked to me for four years that are suddenly saying something much more alarming.
They're beginning to talk about some of the things the president said to him about his feelings about manifest destiny, about a higher calling that he was talking about three, four years ago. I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years.

He talks about being judged in 20 years to his friends. And so it's a little alarming because that means that my and my colleagues in the press corps, we can't get to him maybe with our views. You and you can't get to him maybe with your interviews.

How do you get to a guy to convince him that perhaps he's not going the right way? Jack Murtha certainly didn't do it. As I wrote, they were enraged at Murtha in the White House.

And so we have an election coming up -- Yes. I've had people talk to me about maybe Congress is going to have to cut off the budget for this war if it gets to that point. I don't think they're ready to do it now.

But I'm talking about sort of a crisis of management. That you have a management that's seen by some of the people closely involved as not being able to function in terms of getting information it doesn't want to receive.

This is a pretty frightening description of someone who is supposed to be the "leader of the free world."

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Monday Comics

K Street Project
Two Sizes Too Small
Tick, Tick, BOOM
Gone With The Wind
Season's Reason

And my favorite for today: Fool

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Howard Dean on the Tonight Show, 11/30

Just a heads-up that Howard Dean is scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, November 30. If you know of any other upcoming television or radio appearances for Howard Dean, please e-mail howardempowerd at or post a comment on this blog.

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As we say goodbye to a long weekend

...wanna have some playtime? Let's make snowflakes! (You need Flash 6.0 for this)

So, I guess what I'm saying pretty much is, this is an open thread. But feel free to share fun, even relaxing sites with us here.

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School of the Americas Protest Rally

I receive email updates from Faith Communities Uniting for Peace in central Ohio. At this point, there is no web site for the organization, so that "post an excerpt and a link for the rest" practice often doesn't work. But I did want to share a bit of this update, especially since it ties in with Catreona's post from last weekend. The subject of today's email was "Cleveland woman arrested for SOA protest"

I will include an excerpt here, and if you would like the whole thing, you can email me at howardempowered at and I will forward it to you.

The Cleveland InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) took 2 buses to the annual Vigil to Close the SOA at Ft. Benning, Georgia, including students, faculty and Ursuline Sisters from Ursuline College and students and teachers from St Joseph Academy and St Edward High School. Other school delegations included Kent State University, Walsh University, Walsh Jesuit High School, John Carroll University and Wooster College.

Laura Harrison and David Treska went to support their grandmother, Priscilla Treksa, who trespassed onto the Army base in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Priscilla and 40 others face federal trespassing charges and will likely go to trial in late January. Priscilla, refusing to post bail, is awaiting arraignment, and then will likely await trial in the Muscogee County jail. Her son Andrew, also along in support, calls his mom “a strong woman. I think she’s wonderful.”

This page has pictures from last weekend's rally. And here is the School of the Americas Watch home page.

"Nonviolence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Nonviolence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win." - Cesar Chavez

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Alternate Word For The Week

Not so much about religion, since if you're raised Mormon, and leave, you aren't going to feel comfortable about the subject ever again in your life. Instead, I've tried to focus on the spiritual. There I feel perfectly at home (and it was the difference between the two that lead me to leave the Mormons in the first place). Imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when I saw a study that had been done with brain scans: the two, religion and spirituality, don't even take place in the same part of the brain! Religion occurs at the left front, where math, standards, and feeling superior to others takes place; spirituality is on the right side, next to the ear, where pleasure, joy, and comfort takes place. . . .
That said, I'd have to say that although Oscar seems to be religious, I "feel" that he's spiritual, lol! I.e., he never uses religion to feel superior to others, only to state where he stands. No matter how the language sounds (especially to those of us who have been sensitized to the subject), he, in and of himself, a believer though he be, lives his life as a spiritual being, not as a religious one.

Word For The Week

Confession is good for the soul, though bad for the reputation.

This was going to be my GBCW* post since I will be moving this week and it looked like I would be without Internet access for some time to come - it still looks like I may be without Internet access for a while - but God has a strange way of getting a word to you when you least expect it. I picked up a seasonal retail job to help with my moving expenses and I have been on my feet for the better part of the last two weeks - a new experience for me - and yesterday, as I was helping customers, a sister came into the store and talked with me for a bit, telling me how the Word For The Week has been a blessing to her. She had no idea that at that moment I had figured that I'd written my last Word, that I was ready to leave all this be and just focus on taking care of my own food, clothing and shelter. She had no idea that I was on the cusp of yielding to the temptation of nihilism, of saying, "To hell with all of this." She had no idea that I was in Elijah's shoes, crying, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers."

Yet God works in mysterious ways.

While certainly cliché, it is still true that God works in mysterious ways, as Elijah found out in our text. Katrina-force winds were blowing all around him, tearing the mountains asunder, but God was not in the wind. Tsunami-causing earthquakes were rumbling all about him and yet God was not in the earthquake. Fires burned out-of-control like Uncle Gus at a barbecue and yet God was not in the fire. But there was this still, small voice, the sound of a gentle blowing, and there God was. Too often we look for God in the big events, in the major catastrophes. We cry out, "Where was God on September 11th?" "Where was God during Hurricane Katrina?" "Where was God on November 2nd?" But it is not necessarily in the earthquake, the wind, or the fire where we hear from God, but in the aftermath through the still, small voice, the sound of a gentle blowing. Once God has our attention we can then hear from Him.

We just have to listen.

Elijah was zealous for the Lord. He had just gone one-on-450 with the prophets of Baal in the cosmic showdown - where God rained fire down on Elijah's altar as a demonstration of His lordship - yet Elijah was distressed over Jezebel sending her agents to kill him. Elijah had resigned himself to his fate and simply asked God to get it over with quickly, but God had other ideas - there was still work to do - so while Elijah thought that he had no food, clothing, or shelter coming God sent an angel to provide for him. Has God ever made a way for you out of no way? Has God ever brought you out of a situation from which there was no escape? Has God ever visited you through an angel? You may well have entertained angels without knowing it, or you may have sent them on their way without showing them kindness, but know that God does and will reach out for those who are His - His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. Whose voice are you following? Who has your ear? Are you following the Lord God Almighty or are you following your own Drum Major Instinct? For me, come hail or high water (and the water's getting pretty high right about now), I will serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How about you?

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 still speaks in the small sound of a gentle blowing,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

* For anyone unfamiliar, this abbreviation stands for "Goodbye Cruel World", as seen here.

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