Saturday, July 22, 2006

Nevada & South Carolina Move Up in Primary Calendar

For some reason, Haloscan has decided I've been banned by the Webmaster and won't let me comment. Don't forget to see Renee's post below with a new pic of Howard taking the stage at DemocracyFest.

Today was the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee (RBC) meeting to add two states to the presidential primary calendar. Nevada will hold a caucus and South Carolina will hold a primary in the pre-window primary period. Iowa will remain the first caucus in the pre-window period and New Hampshire will remain the first primary.

Hotline On Call

The two open windows -- one caucus immediately following Iowa and one
primary after New Hampshire -- drew proposals and submissions from across the country, though by yesterday, only AZ and NV were considered finalists for the caucus slot, and only SC and AL -- finalists, for the primary. (A few other states--like Colorado and Mississippi--were mentioned this morning.)
The battle for the western caucus came down to Arizona and Nevada although RBC member Mame Reiley (you may know her from her work on Mark Warner's Forward Together PAC) opined that had this process begun earlier, Colorado would have been the front runner. (Personally, I don't see it.)

New Hampshire was hoping that the District of Columbia might be chosen to hold caucuses between Iowa and NH. DC sent a sizable contingent to the meeting, which sat in the front row, and applauded wildly at any mention of DC's bid.

Making the Case

The battle between Arizona and Nevada seems to center on the contest
between organized labor and Hispanic-American activists. Many supporting Arizona cited Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano during their speeches, while those backing Nevada cited the state's heavy labor population which, coupled with the state's
high Latino population, provides what one committee member characterized as a kind of double whammy.

Harold Ickes and DNC Secretary Alice Germond supported Nevada while Mame Reiley and former Gore advisor/Harvard Prof. Elaine Karmack supported Arizona. Hoping to protect New Hampshire's position in the primary calendar, NH Dem chair Kathy Sullivan supported DC as did Donna Brazile.

How They Voted

In the end, however, it wasn't even close. Nevada won the caucus state slot with 20 votes and South Carolina won the primary slot with 22.

Vote totals:

  • Nevada (20), Arizona (5), DC (2), Michigan (1)
  • South Carolina (22), Alabama (5)

The new calendar looks like this:

Iowa's caucus will be held on Monday, January 14th, which means Nevada caucuses on 1/19, New Hampshire holds its primary on 1/22 and South Carolina primaries on 1/29. The window for other states to hold their primaries would open 2/5.

Hotline credits two reasons for Nevada's win:

  1. Organized labor, which overlooked their own internal breach to support a service-union heavy state like Nevada. Labor officials made a persuasive argument behind the scenes that a labor-infused early caucus would excite labor rank-and-file around the country, would demonstrate the party's continuing respect for labor's foot soldiers, and help to more broadly vet the potential frontrunner.
  2. Harry Reid, the minority leader. Not only did he heavily lobby on behalf of his state, he's gone out of way to publicly and privately embrace DNC chairman Howard Dean. The two met recently to discuss Dean's 50 State Strategy and '06, and while Reid wishes that Dean would spend a little more on Senate seats directly, he told Dean that he was an enthusiastic supporter of the project in general and would do whatever he could to help. The vote today reflects the respect that members of the RBC have for Reid as the leader of the Democratic Party, as well as their gratitude that he, almost alone among Democratic leaders, is an ally of Dean's party-building orientation. Also: Reid's chief of staff, Susan McCue, has calcified her position as perhaps the single most powerful Democratic staffer in the entire party. (Note: I have a problem with anyone being identified as "the single most powerful Democratic staffer." I think it's asking for trouble.)

Arizona's position as a late favorite is attributed to Governor Janet Napolitano and the respect she has in the party. Hotline notes that as late as Thursday, Arizona was the odds-on favorite to win, if there hadn't been a swing in Nevada's favor.

Harold Ickes lobbied heavily against South Carolina, claiming a presidential bid by John Edwards would take the state out of play, thereby defeating the purpose of holding its primary early. SC Rep. James Clyburn said that was the "most ludicrous thing I've ever heard in my life." Clyburn said that if Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack were a presidential candidate the DNC wouldn't take Iowa's "first in the nation" caucus away from it.

South Carolina seemed to be a no-brainer to me, especially compared with Alabama but I can't explain why. I won't even try to dissect what Ickes was complaining about...

Howard's official comment:

"From the beginning, I have strongly believed in the importance of broadening participation in the nomination process to better reflect the rich racial, regional, and economic diversity of the Democratic Party and ensure that our Party produces the strongest possible nominee. The Rules and Bylaws Committee has worked hard to achieve that goal while pacing the process more evenly and balancing the need for change with Iowa's and New Hampshire's important, traditional roles. This has been a long, thoughtful and rigorous process. I want to thank the members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee for their hard work. They have conducted this process with the highest integrity; I support this final recommendation to add Nevada and South Carolina in the pre-window period. I also want to thank all of the states who applied, their participation has been absolutely critical in ensuring the rigor and integrity of this process."
The reaction from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan is predictable:

"The short sighted action taking by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee
exacerbates the current problem of frontloading in the primary calendar. In
addition to ensuring that the Democratic Party will have a nominee by February 5th after only a handful of states have voted, the committee trampled on the grassroots tradition of the New Hampshire primary. Instead of going door to door and meeting the voters face to face, the candidates will spend millions of dollars on television advertising."
I'll be curious to see how this plays out. New Hampshire could decide to hold its primary before the Iowa caucus to preserve its "first in the nation" status. New Hampshire law says that no similar state contest can be held seven days before or after the state primary.

Gov. John Lynch warned members of a Democratic National Committee panel
today that if they vote tomorrow to add a state presidential caucus between the Iowa and New Hampshire that the state is fully prepared to send the presidential nomination process into chaos.

In a letter to members of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, Lynch said they should assume Secretary of State Bill Gardner will move up the date of the state's first in the nation presidential primary, even in front of Iowa if it has to.

How far can New Hampshire push the DNC before it pushes back? I'm hoping Howard exercises his prerogative as party chairman to put New Hampshire in its place.

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Howard Dean, rock star

I know not everyone likes that phrase used in connection with Howard, but I look at this picture mprov took at DemFest, and that's my first thought. ;-)

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Apology to Chancellor Merkel

I posted a link to this diary in the comments last night, but since there's an update, I thought I'd do the frontpage thing with it.

Dear Chancellor Merkel: UPDATE petition

There were a lot of comments, so the page is hard to load, but here's a new diary about the petition:

Apology to Chancellor Merkel: Sign The Online Petition!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And, in case anyone missed it, here's the video of the segment Jon Stewart did about it on The Daily Show.

Somebody should have been to a social skills group a *long* time ago...

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A message from Charlie

Hello friends,

I have decided this morning to NOT qualify for the 2006 general election for the Florida House. This was a difficult decision - as I believe I could have won this race and played a significant role in bringing change to our political system from the level of the State of Florida.

With the legal battles ongoing I have had to neglect my campaign to instead redirect efforts into the fight for the rights of the residents of one city in my district.

I believe that, at this time, the best use of my talents and those of others who support me is to focus them inward - prove we can indeed take back our government for the people in one city - while at the same time building a true grassroots movement in the counties of North Central Florida in preparation for the 2008 election cycle.

This will enable us to refocus these efforts over a two-year period of organization and development so that we can be even more effective in our struggle.

I hope to build the Alachua Project in two directions: 1) Recruiting national support for a grassroots effort to take back one town - and prove we can do it; 2) Expanding this to taking back the local level of government town-by-town across Florida and across the nation - thus turning it into the Democracy Project.

I believe that if we can direct 10% of the national grassroots movement into a focused local reform effort - we can level the playing field and we can begin re-establishing the true rule of law and real democratic government BY THE PEOPLE. With our collective knowledge, energy, resources, etc. we can take back America one town at a time.

I believe, furthermore, that with two years of organization and mobilization through such a project we can lay the foundations for a truly independent grassroots wave of empowered citizens who will be the primary, rather than secondary, forces in the 2008 election cycle nationwide.

I will announce my plans for the next two years in the upcoming days. I apologize to all of you who have done so much to support me and I hope that I have not let you down. This is a very hard decision - but I believe that in the long-run it will prove to be for the best.

This is not about me alone - but about all of us - and I am committed to do any and everything in my power for the next two years to accomplish our goals and objectives. This is about all of us - as a community.

I will need your support in these endeavors - and hope that I can call on you for assistance in these efforts.

Feel free to call or email me to let me know your feelings on this and if you have any ideas or suggestions.

Again, I apologize to all who have done so much to assist me in this effort to date. Its people like you that have given me the ground upon which to remain optimistic that WE, together, can fight this very important battle - and it is a struggle that will not be won overnight - and bring it to a victory within the next few years.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Open Thread

jc has some new designs up at her graphics blog.

Also, earlier this evening I found out about a laughably bad web site by the Focus on the Family people.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

and later discovered that it was in response to a pro-gay ad campaign in Colorado Springs.

I've posted about both here.

So, what else is going on?

Update... one of the way too many times I woke up last night, I saw that cHeRyL had uploaded a picture of Howard speaking at DemFest.

I've downloaded the photo and posted it here. So, for anyone who's been clamoring for this, don't say I don't ever do anything nice for you. ;-)

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Ken Blackwell does African American voter outreach

Thanks, Corinne, for pointing this one out to me...

Crossposted at My Left Wing and Daily Kos

Have you seen this new ad Ken Blackwell has put out, targeting African American voters? Pardon my French but, holy crap is it bad!

From Openers:

Black voters should be afraid of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland, who is white.

That's the implied message of a glossy new piece of campaign literature being distributed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, who is black.

It features an image of a black man, dressed in a T-shirt and baggy sweatpants, who looks as if he'd just seen a ghost, mouth agape and hands up. The image is also distorted, which makes the man's head as big as his torso. The headline reads: "Strickland for Governor? NO WAY!"

Geez, and here I was trying to resist the temptation to go negative. While I was messing with bumper sticker ideas recently, I was thinking of stuff like sing with bumper sticker ideas recently, I was thinking of stuff like "White supremacists for Blackwell". Or "Ken Blackwell: honorary rich white guy".

"Blackwell '06: this time, he'll rig his OWN election".

Maybe we need some ads showing African American voters standing on long lines to vote, courtesy of Ken Blackwell. Or the picture of him acting all chummy with this person

You know, the woman who showed this kind of compassion for Katrina evacuees:

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this [she chuckles slightly]is working very well for them."

Yeah, Ken Blackwell is all about looking out for his homies.

Just only when they're agreeing with him on "values" issues. When they're standing in line in the rain on election day--or concerned about cuts in funding for schools and various social programs--not so much.

But I do have his blatant play for the Black "values voters" (as well as Bush's veto of stem cell research) to thank for these new bumper stickers Demetrius just made.

And remember, you can donate to Ted Strickland's campaign here.

Howard-Empowered Act Blue Page

For more on Ohio Republicans behaving badly, check out the current posts at Buckeye State Blog. In addition to Ken Blackwell having the nerve to put out this piece of trash, we've also got Mike DeWine using a doctored 9-11 photo in his campaign ad.

Oops--sorry for starting the day with more outrage overload. Here, how about looking at this for a while (or any of the other adorable animals here) to balance that out a bit.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Part 2 Demfest 2006

Part 1 is here and more DemFest and Howard Dean posts here. If you have photos from DemFest and would like me to post them, please e-mail me at howardempowered at

OK, so the plane lands safely with fire trucks and ambulances ready to rescue us.

On Saturday morning it was decision time. The opening speaker was a "mystery guest" but we wanted to have a decent breakfast. Marcia voted to see the presentation. I recommended, with input from Paula, that we eat at Denny's. Our pride was on the line, we could eat a warm breakfast with protein and possibly miss Howard Dean if he were the mystery guest, or we could have another missed meal and see someone we didn't even care about. We understood our risk because if we were eating instead of seeing Howard, we crushies would never live it down. True crushies were sorted out. Lois, Paula, Jennifer, Barbara and I succumbed to hunger. Marcia would never let hunger get in way of possibilities. In the end, our pride is still intact.

The evening "Blastout" was the big event of the fest. It was preceded by a BBQ which would have been lovely except for the atypical sweltering heat. The outdoor arena sloped steeply down to the stage but it gave excellent visibility to all seats. Unusual for a Dean event, there was assigned seating. Because we had bought out tickets on-line that meant none of us could sit together. This was disappointing because there is nothing like seeing Howard Dean while next to a crushie. I ended up making, "new best friends" with people sitting next to me. Al Frankin opened the event (I wonder what it cost to have him around for 2 days!!) There were several excellent musicians ranging from country to instrumental guitarist. My favorite outspoken female politician, Maxine Waters, was her usual inspiring self. I always feel like I am at a liberal revival when she is the speaker. The comedian, Mark Malon had me in stitches. I love line about Bill Gates having a giant bank account up in space that deposits all that time that "disappears" while we are on the internet.

There is nothing like Howard Dean in a room full of his supporters. He was at his best, reminiscent of his campaign days. Howard entered with shirt-sleeves rolled up, ready to inspire us. As he came on stage Marcia, who secured front section seats, moved forward and stood directly at his feet. You must see her incredible pictures.

Hopefully someone has the transcripts of what Dean said but tc described it well in her Dean report "Do you know what Americans really want from their government?" He paused half a second and someone called out "Truth and Love!!" Howard responded, "That's an interesting way to phrase it, but that's right. People want to know that their government will tell them the truth and respect them enough to care about working with all of them instead of trying to divide them."

By the time of the Bloggers breakfast, we had already found each other several times. Darrel was not able to be present, but the speakers recalled the first blogger"s breakfast. It was interesting to go around the room as we each introduced themselves. Several people said they used to blog or they hope to start blogging. Hope the do.

The spontaneous meeting put on by DFA at Sunday lunch was one of my favorite events. It was lead by Tom Hughes, Arshad and of course Jim Dean. It opened with everyone introducing themselves, plus what the most significant thing that happened to them in the last year. I wish this would have been video taped for Howard Dean. I never fail to be overwhelmed by what Gov, Dean has inspired. Paula stood up and thanked Jim Dean for supporting her husband during a difficult time of their campaign. Someone else followed this with praise for Jim. During all of this Jim kept turning a deeper shade of red. Arshad efficiently moved through his agenda of planning and networking.

It really is a disservice to San Diego not to visit the Pacific Ocean, so 5 of us trekked over to the lovely Coronado beach. It is a very deep beach so just hiking down from the street was a days worth of exercise. I have never been swimming on a California beach so I couldn"t pass it up. I walked inside the exclusive Coronado Hotel like a guest and changed into my bathing suit in the restaurant bathroom. The great waves were worth it. We closed out Deanfest with drinks at the beach bar.

It looks like the new plane will eventually get me home around 24 hours after I arrived at the airport. Back to the realities of the world.

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Battle Lines by Jon Stewart

Apparently there is a weekly column now by Jon Stewart. I did not know that (think Dana Carvey doing his Johnny Carson impersonation). I found it in one of our local newsweeklies, Columbus Alive, which I read while I was on break. You can find the column here.

The first part is about the nonbinding Iraq war resolution, which I think most of us heard about--saying that we are going to win the war on terrorism. I remember hearing that part on the Daily Show a week or so ago. What I don't remember is this part:

Look Who's Talking Points

It turns out the Republicans had some help in last month's game of rhetorical one-upmanship. Before the debate, the supposedly nonpartisan Pentagon sent Republican lawmakers something called the Iraq Floor Debate Prep Book.

Hmmm. Wasn't it just a few months ago that several former U.S. generals were chastised for criticizing the war effort in Iraq? The role of the military is to provide military advice unfettered by political concerns, they were told. You stick to your military stuff. Stay out of politics...

Unless, apparently, you can do it through the proper secret back channels.

The briefing book consisted of 74 pages of "rapid response" talking points defending administration policy and countering arguments that the war had been based on flawed intelligence or had been badly executed.

It was sent via e-mail, since, at 74 pages, it was much thicker than the Pentagon's actual Iraq war-prep manual.

Democrats blasted the Pentagon, saying the document's preparation and "limited distribution" was inappropriate and perhaps even illegal.

Uh, Oops

The briefing book became public after it was accidentally sent to some Democrats, prompting Defense Department officials to send out another e-mail a few hours later. It read: "Hey, my Pentagon roommate was totally drunk and I think he logged into my e-mail, so if you got anything from me, just delete it, OK?"

Another clue came from Representative Dan Lungren, a Republican from California, who, unlike other Republicans, didn't rewrite the talking points in his own words but read them—verbatim—to his colleagues.
Click here for the rest. I know nothing is beyond the pale for this administration, but isn't this, um, really, really inappropriate?

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Even More Howard

Kossack aimai was lucky, lucky, lucky, last night. She attended a DNC fundraiser last night, a reception and dinner for Howard. And Jim was there as well.

At the dinner the Governor spoke briefly about the 50 state strategy and what they were doing. He took questions from all sides and they were pointed but very supportive. He really showed his familiarity with every race, the polling in every region, the issues from the top to the bottom of tickets (people were constantly coming up to him and telling him personal stories about friends running for very low level positions because of Dean's influence on them and his insistence on really grass roots level politicking.)


He is very aware (and so was everyone else there, even quite elderly people) of the blogs, of dailykos (mentioned prominently by one of the donors), of the issues the bloggosphere thinks are important. Some of the things we talk about daily--framing, messaging, aggressive partisanship, were discussed in quite a bit of detail and Dean seemed very familiar with all the ins and outs. He argued that we could pick up the needed seats in the house, though he was sceptical about the Senate, but he stressed the need to keep our candidates on message. And he felt that was a difficult task, more difficult than it needed to be, because of the more or less free agent nature of the democratic party (my words, not his) and the inherent indpendence of the liberal mindset--that makes us "good at governing but not good at running elections" was his take on it. Keeping the candidates on message, 24 hours a day, until the election is important because (although he didn't use this phrase) it enables the public to grasp the brand/Democrat. It gives the public confidence that the democrats are a known quantity. He pointed out, in a wide ranging discussion,that this can be bad for individual politicians because its a risky proposition for them but that its good for the party ultimately because it helps the party define itself agressively. The analysis was strikingly good and he went back a bit historically to back it up.

He alluded delicately, and politely, to the DCCC/DSCC/DNC infighting but said that, in some ways, it had ended up being very good for the 50 state strategy because if there hadn't been so many complaints about it it wouldn't have been as well publicized as it had been and, since it resonates so strongly with the grassroots and the electorate, that publicity is important. Another example of "every knock's a boost." One of the Donors who had made many phone calls to help organize the events said she found that everyone she called to raise money knew about the 50 state strategy and was very enthusiastic.

Read the entire post, "My Dinner with Howard Dean."

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More Howard

Alert: There's a new article about Charlie Grapski at Raw Story--Florida House Candidate banned from city of Alachua by judge To help get/keep this story in the public eye, please recommend it at My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, and Daily Kos.

From tc...

Extra! Extra! Howard does an interview on our local KPBS station!

He was on last night.

Watch it here:

Click on Monday's archive on the right side of the page.

From Corinne...

Here's a photo of Howard:

Hekebolos has some DemFest photos and a Kos diary to go along with them.

Part 1 of Holly's report can be found here. tc's report on Howard Dean's speech, in case you missed it earlier, is here and truthout's story about Howard's speech at DemFest is here.

I will post additional links, pictures, and stories as I receive them. Meaning, of course, that I have to receive them in order to do so. Please let people at other blogs know we're collecting these things, and pass along your links/stories either in the comments or by e-mailing me at howardempowered at Thanks.

Also, there is supposed to be a Blogger outage some time tonight, so I'm crossposting this at the Wordpress blog.

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Unofficial Report of Demfest in San Diego 2006

Part 1

Putting the rest of the world "on hold" is the sign of a true vacation. Not knowing the date or the day of the week reminds me that I have launched myself successfully into a different world. My mind tries to ignore a deteriorating outside world but signs kept trying to nudge its way back in as I checked in on the blog threads or when I saw newspaper with pictures of cities exploding with bombs. Ironic that I should spend such a week of world turmoil cloistered at Deanfest in tropical San Diego while I become trained and inspired to work for a better America.

The idea of spending 5 days housed in a college dorm with fellow crushies and with the prospect of seeing Howard Dean sure looked like a dream vacation to me. Being surrounded by 1500 like-minded liberal activists could also easily entice me away from other choices for vacations. Husband and children were not invited because gripping about sitting in seminars or groaning when hearing to middle-aged women swoon over Howard could not be tolerated.

I never thought there was a perfect place to live in America until I came to San Diego. The city is a little oasis on the ocean side of the desert of southern California. It is understandable why the palm trees, new buildings with old southwest architecture, and the surf have grown the city to become the second largest in California. It feels like some grand architect designed the seaside hills so the home would have a good few of the ocean. No wonder the steep roads and year round perfect weather spawned the likes of Tony Hawks. The outdoor stairway rails have small knobs to discourage sliding down on skateboards.

Boarding the plane, I couldn't help but notice that the other passengers either where overweight bald men or tattooed women. When I asked the lady with the devil on her ankle where she was going, she answered, "the Harley Davidson convention". Oh dear, San Diego was being overtaken with bikers and liberals.

I was relieved to see I had transportation to San Diego State University because, Lois, had rented a car. She basically spent the day circling the airport as all seven of us arrive one by one from all over the United States.

When I heard we would be housed in the university dorm, I tried not to have a panic attack. I hoped that if I brought my own pillow from home I could sleep. But the facilities were amazing. I could understand the ten year-old kid who was with me in the pool later that day. As we swam viewing the nearby hills he said, "I am going to tell Dad that I want to go to THIS college." Our suite consisted of 7 single rooms connected by a kitchenette/living area. It would have seem like a nice hotel except for the "loft beds" that made me fear for a broken ankle if I climbed out of bed half asleep. The common area was perfect for crushie-talk that always occurred if 2 or more were gathered there.

Cheryl had emailed us prior to the weekend inviting us to attend a party put on by Bill Moyer. No, not Bill Moyers, but Bill of the Backbone Campaign. Transportation was on your own but Charlie G didn't mind squashing in the "Crushie mobile" with 7 women. I gave him an honorary C for D pin for surviving, The house party was located in a home that gave a beautiful view of the bay. The company was energizing and it was inspiring to see the work that Bill is doing with his media grabbing giant backbone and giant heads of Bush and Co.

While San Diego is known for its moderate weather there was no moderation in the near 100 degrees we experienced. The vender at the Quick Pick store swore that this was unusual. There is something unforgiving about an area that is taken back from the desert. Combined with the sea of cement sidewalks and the cloudless sky, heat came from both below and above. Luckily most of the classes were housed close together and the ocean breeze still seemed to find its way through the canopied throughways.

Air America's Al Franken started the conference. He was live on the radio for 3 hours and WE got to be his audience. In the cases of both Frankin and Dean, I am surprised how someone so "big" could be so short. Franken runs a disciplined ship. He did a short introduction prior to the show but during commercials he would sit quietly preparing his mind for the next segment. He always opens after a commercial with a laugh and I had always assumed I had missed out on a lot of fun during the breaks. Between live segments we used the time to find other DFAers. I met Carolyn, Puddle oc, and seashell for a short hello. Frankin interspersed interviews with news. The audience of about 500 would clap, cheer and groan appropriately. When Frankin interviewed the local newspaper writer we could no longer contain our displeasure when he sprewed his republican talking points. When he talked about immigration and how kids won't work the hard jobs, Barbara couldn't help but yell out. "Pay decent wages!" Don't mess with us liberals. This is a progressive gathering (unlike TBA) and if we hear republican spin the speaker is going to hear from us. I respect Franken because he knew exactly how to handle us. He would interpret accurately to the guest why we booed and then would ask an appropriate question.

Cheryl had written on the blog earlier in the week that she was more interested in socializing so I decided to adopt this philosophy. It was easier to pass up a session than a swim or a break with friends.

I was glad to see Jim Dean attended the entire event and made himself available between sessions so we could to talk with him. Here and there were small clutches of DFAers. Fearing that we wouldn't have a chance to meet as a group I spontaneously made reservations for a large group for dinner for Friday and Sarah spread the word to our internet friends. Jim and Arshad were asked to join too.

The dinner turned out to be the only time that most of us BFAers were together as a group socially.. The Italian restaurant in downtown San Diego lined up several tables so we could sit together in one long group. The food was excellent and the wine drinkers said that was even better. Thankful and I panicked a little when we were still $200 short after we gathered money for the bill but our friends pulled through. Next time we will order out pizza and meet in a hotel room so we can give the difference to a favorite candidate.

Despite the socializing, we did manage to make the majority of sessions. Often the problem was deciding on which forum to attend. I tend to choose the grassroot organizing sessions, Marcia would go to election integrity workshops and Lois would gravitate to speakers I also love documentaries and they are especially meaningful when the producer is present. Look for "Votergate" in the future because it will be very useful for motivating possible volunteers for poll watching. It was a difficult choice between hearing Charlie speak and hearing Arshad's presentation so our group split up. Charlie also had an interview on the local Air America radio station to spread the word about his fight with his local government over election integrity.

Christine Cegelis from Illinois was also a part of two panels so I braved the walk across the frying cement to distant classrooms. I was interested to see if Christine would talk about how the DCCC screwed with her primary, which she did but it bit more articulately. This is good because LINK television was recording. I can't report on Hackett's session because I missed it. Suggestion for future Demfest - print a program with font big enough to read and list speakers for each forum. Reports have it that many were not real happy with Hackett's statements about the servicewomen who was raped and his opinion that drafting everyone was good. Kind of makes you wonder if the DLC was right on this one.

Another must see presenter was David Sirota , author of 'Hostile Take Over'. He talked only a short while and discussed cooperate take over of our Democracy. He had a book signing afterwards, so of course I had to buy one. I have learned to ask if I can have a picture of him with me for the blog.

Most evenings we would gravitate to the swimming pool. Some of us have better endurance for staying up late than others. I tended to end up back in the room with my roomates but still rarely made it to bed before 1:30 (3:30 CDT!!!)

***Well I guess I will have more time to finish writing this because our plane just turned around due to "smoke in the cockpit"!?!?!?
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Open Thread

From Cute Overload. I really do feel about this sleepy right now, so I'm off to bed.

If you're checking in for the first time tonight, be sure to check out the news from Kimmy. And here's the link to tc's report on Howard Dean's speech at DemFest. And Kimmy posted this truthout story about Howard's speech as well as a link to a project she's been working on.

I've got a few new posts up at my Religious Left blog including one about how our weekend ended. I'm not trying to get sympathy, but if that's what it takes to get more DemFest stories and pictures from you people, so be it. :p

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Monday, July 17, 2006


So glad that Kimmy checked in! Read her whole comment here. Highlights...

A couple things kept me away .. moving into a new house for one! Now that theres another Cash-Valdez on the way we need more space!
So.. I'm gonna upload this ultrasound picture and share it with you guys! Its so totally cool. SO amazing.

I'm sorry I missed meeting everyone!~! BUT check this out, now that I have this AMAZING house its open house here and ALL OF YOU are always welcome. Was thinking about doing some kind of shindig when it cools down a bit.. would have to really plan it out but anyway...

Congratulations, Kimmy!

For Kimmy, and all the rest of us who were unable to make it to DemFest for whatever reason, if you attended, please share your stories, diaries, links, and pictures. Or even if you didn't attend, but you've seen posts about DemFest elsewhere, please share those links here as well.

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spazeboy debunks Lieberman's latest attack ad

You can see the ad here, and spazeboy's commentary here. For regular updates on the Lieberman/Lamont contest, remember to check out My Left Nutmeg. (Right now, the top post there is a video of Rep. Maxine Waters at DemocracyFest. Does anyone know where there are photos or video of Howard at DemFest?)

And don't forget that you can donate to Ned Lamont here.

Howard-Empowered Act Blue Page

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Crushies at DeanFest

More DeanFest pictures here. Did anyone get a good picture of Howard?

Update: Not wanting to be completely left out of the Dean community fun, and being in the Chicago area for a family reunion, we got together with Donna and Bill. As evidence, we offer this picture of Donna with her famous sea glass.

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Overnight Open Thread

Here's a kitten fix from our friends at Cute Overload

Traveling Mercies to those en route, and to all a good night.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Peace Out

In light of the current goings-on in and around Israel and some of the conversations that I've had over the last couple weeks regarding this round of fighting within the context of the previous rounds of fighting, I believe this would be a good time to revisit the question of whether or not the Christian is required to be a pacifist. Required?

- God

Any questions? How about Matthew 22:37-40? Does anyone desire to be killed? Isn't it rather difficult to love your neighbor as yourself when you're killing him? Didn't Jesus speak directly to this in Matthew 5:38-48? Anybody care to argue with Jesus on that point? Maybe it would be easier to argue with Paul. Couple that with Romans 12:17-21 and I have to ask the question: How can a Christian justify war?

The pacifists' position is alluring to the Christian because of our desire to live at peace with all men. We believe in and strive for harmonious relations with all people everywhere such that we may bring them the good news of our salvation. We try to emulate Jesus who, when taken by the Romans to be accused, beaten and crucified, never said a mumbling word. Given this, war is a difficult proposition for the Christian. It does not, however, preclude our support for and participation in just wars. As we seek to emulate Jesus Christ we must emulate his entire character, not just one aspect of it. As we seek to fulfill the commands of God we must reflect God's entire character and nature. God is indeed forbearing, bearing the transgressions of sinners for ages, but God is also just, bringing justice upon the heads of transgressors. Yes, God pours out His mercy upon those who will repent and receive it, yet God also pours out His wrath upon the unrepentant. You cannot have one without the other, we cannot divide God's character into sections we like and sections we'd rather not speak about - we must take God as He has revealed Himself to us, the whole enchilada. That said, how can Christians possibly justify war? Isn't the Bible straightforward on this point, particularly in the passages already mentioned? Let us look at these verses in detail.

Exodus 20:13 says, "You shall not murder." It does not say, "You shall not kill." What is the difference? The original Hebrew conveys the idea of laying-in-wait, what we would call 1st degree murder. Further illuminating the idea of this passage is the case law that followed it, the practical application of the Ten Commandments. Consider Exodus 21:12-14. This is a clarification of the "You shall not murder" command, highlighting the point that the prohibition is against, contemporarily speaking, sneaking up on somebody and shooting him in the back of the head. On the other hand, if they happen to encounter each other and get into a fight and one dies (2nd or 3rd degree murder), the survivor was to go to a safe haven where no vendetta could be carried out against him. The point here is fairness - do not sneak up on someone to kill him but give him a fighting chance by dealing with him face-to-face, man-to-man. The point here is justice, doing that which is just.

We see even more clearly that God was not prohibiting all taking of human life by His reaction to the Israelites' apostasy a few chapters later in Exodus 32:25-29. Clearly, God didn't have a problem with men killing other men.

But that's the Old Testament, what about the New? What about the Sermon on the Mount? Could Jesus have been any clearer on the pacifistic nature of the believer? The truth is that we must interpret Jesus' words as He intended them in this passage - hyperbolically. Hyperbole is exaggeration for effect, a literary device used to draw attention to an important point. When a suitor tell his lover, "I'll die if I don't see you today" he is exaggerating to make the point that he wants to see her. He knows that he is exaggerating and she knows that he is exaggerating. However, when the doctor calls you and says, "You'll die if I don't see you today," that is not hyperbole and you'd better take that literally.

So how can we tell the difference? One way is to see if literal interpretation would achieve the stated objective. Consider the passage just before the "eye-for-an-eye" section, Matthew 5:27-37. Would ripping out your eye keep you from lusting? Would cutting off your hand keep you from committing adultery? How long would it take for all of society to be handless and eyeless? Days? Minutes? Seconds? Is that the objective of the passage? Obviously not. Furthermore, where in the New Testament do we see anyone plucking out eyes or cutting off hands? Did those who heard these words of Jesus interpret them literally or did they understand them to be hyperbolic?

How does divorcing one's wife make her to commit adultery? Does the simple fact that her husband left her make her an adulteress? Again, this is hyperbole. Marrying one who has been divorced would be adultery if the previous man were still considered to be her husband, however Jesus seemed to take a different view with the Samaritan woman in John 4. If Jesus took the position that only her first husband was her true husband then in verses 17-18 He should have said, "You have incorrectly said, 'I have no husband' for you have broken faith with the husband of your youth and have been with five different men since leaving your husband." However, that is not what Jesus said. Jesus actually affirmed the fact that she had no husband in verse 17. If she has no husband then she does not commit adultery when she marries someone. Clearly, Matthew 5:31-32 is hyperbole as well.

Was Jesus against oaths? When He was brought before the High Priest he said not a word. However, when the High Priest put him under oath, Jesus responded. Look at Matthew 26:62-64. Jesus broke His silence because He was placed under oath and He respected it. Jesus' teaching was not that oaths were invalid but that their use to obfuscate commitments was invalid. Look at Jesus' correction of the Pharisaic abuse of oaths in Matthew 23. Jesus' teaching on oaths was not that oaths were innately wrong but that men must not try to weasel out of their commitments. Jesus' teaching on divorce was not that divorce is the unpardonable sin but that men ought not divorce their wives. Jesus teaching on lust was not that men ought to mutilate themselves but that they should control themselves. Jesus used hyperbole to communicate these truths in this section of the Sermon on the Mount as He continued to the end of the chapter.

Jesus was also correcting the additions to the Law and misinterpretations of the Law by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. The concept of "Eye for an Eye" had been mangled from its original intent of proportionality. Look at Exodus 21:22-25:

If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
This clear command for proportionality in justice had been misrepresented to mean that each person is entitled to personally seek vengeance for any and every wrong suffered. Jesus demolished this misrepresentation by saying that not only do you not avenge yourself eye for eye, tooth for tooth, but instead you turn the other cheek - exposing your other eye and the rest of your teeth. Jesus used hyperbole to expose the wrongness of the teachings of the teachers of the Law.

The teachers of the Law also misrepresented the command to love your neighbor by adding, "and hate your enemy." Jesus wiped this one clean by retorting directly, not hyperbolically, that we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He proceeds to explain why we should do this in verses 45-48, ending the section of hyperbole as He moved into a mode of didactic teaching. Thus, the passiveness inferred by pacifists from this passage is not a norm for all of life. We are to love our enemies and pray for those who would bring us harm, but we are also to defend ourselves.

Consider Luke 22:35-38:

And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment." They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."
Did Jesus tell them to get rid of their swords? No. Did Jesus remind them about turning the other cheek? No. Jesus said, "It is enough." There is debate over the exact meaning of this passage, but one thing is clear: Jesus did not oppose self-defense here. Even in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus rebuked Peter for attacking the servants of the High Priest Jesus notes that He could call legions of angels to fight for his defense. Look at Matthew 26:52-54:
Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"
Jesus said that he could have angels fight on His behalf if He so chose - clearly not a passive or pacifistic statement. The pacifist will undoubtedly point out verse 52b, "for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." Once again, we see hyperbole at work. Obviously, there are those who have made a living by means of the sword and have died fat and happy; Joseph Stalin is one example out of many. Generally speaking, however, taking up the sword long-term is hazardous to one's health - especially when taking up the sword against the strongest military power in the world, as the 1st century Jews were beginning to do. They felt the brunt of the truth of Jesus' words in 70 AD when Rome sacked Jerusalem and over 1 million people died. So the question remains, "Is it ever just to take up the sword?"

What about Paul's words on the subject? Unfortunately, Paul's words are often taken so far out of context that Paul would probably have trouble recognizing them himself. The passage that says, "for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh" is usually quoted in isolation from its context. Look at the whole context:

Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
In context Paul is talking about correcting ignorant speculations and beliefs about God. This passage has absolutely nothing to do with pacifism. It has everything to do with discipleship. How about the passage in Romans 12:17-21? Verse 18 is as conditional a statement as you will ever find, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." "If possible" - it may not be possible. "So far as it depends on you" - you may not have a choice. A straightforward reading of the passage gives the clear meaning - do not cause trouble.

But is it ever just to take up the sword?

Paul seemed to think so in Romans 13:3-4. Apparently, sword-bearing is not innately evil, but actually can bring God's wrath upon the one(s) who practice evil. The writer of the book of Hebrews links sword-bearing to the faith of the saints. Addressing the saints of the New Testament Church, the writer of Hebrews gave instances of Old Testament saints conquering kingdoms, becoming mighty in war, and putting foreign armies to flight as examples of faith in God, not as the faithless hardening of their hearts. They engaged in war because they believed in God - "who by faith conquered kingdoms..."

Furthermore, if bearing the sword were inherently evil, i.e. sinful, then Jesus would never be presented in that fashion. In Revelation 19:11-16 John sees the conquering Christ:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Is Jesus ever portrayed as a murderer? Of course not, because murder is innately wrong. Is Jesus ever portrayed as an adulterer? Of course not, because adultery is innately wrong. Is Jesus ever portrayed as a thief? No - his return is portrayed as a thief comes at night, i.e. stealthily, but Jesus is never compared to the thief himself. Notice that the passages that refer to Jesus' return being as "a thief in the night" never talk about Jesus stealing anything. Yet in this passage in Revelation Jesus is presented as a warrior who strikes down the nations. If bearing the sword in this fashion were innately evil and sinful then Jesus would never be presented in this fashion. Moreover, one of the highest words of praise that Jesus had for any human being was for a soldier in Matthew 8:5-10:
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it."

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel."

If Jesus was a pacifist then He certainly would have taken a moment to make a point here, yet He did not. One of the first Gentiles to convert to Christianity was a centurion and his household, and the man after God's own heart, King David, bore the sword to significant success. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament confirm the fact that there are times when it is just to take up the sword - the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever - so clearly, pacifism is not mandated from the Bible.

But Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and inasmuch as we seek to live in harmony with one another, to be sympathetic, loving as brothers, compassionate and humble, not repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, but instead blessing those that curse us, pacifism is certainly allowable from a Biblical worldview, it just isn't necessarily the best way to go when someone is threatening to kill your friends and family, when someone is currently trying to kill your loved-ones, when someone has tried at least three times to eradicate you from the face of the planet then the pacifistic option might not be the one for you. If you have no enemies, if you have no interactions with others, if you are isolated from the rest of the world then it is much easier to be a pacifist.

As for me and my house, we will fight back.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to accept the full characted of Christ,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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tc reports on Howard's DeanFest speech

Hi, all -

Just home from hearing Howard speak at DemFest...

He was amazing. Vintage Howard and yet somehow even more comfortable with his role and his mission than he ever was. He was relaxed, confident, serious and funny at appropriate times, self-deprecating, and gracious in his praise of all of us and all we do...

Howard listed what the Democratic Platform would be for the next election cycle.

1 - Truth in Government
2 - Strong Defense (a REAL strong defense)
3 - Health Care for All - and yes, he did mention Costa Rica
4 - Education that really doesn't leave any children behind
5 - Jobs for America starting with suppporting devolopment of resources for energy sufficiency using renewable sources

...He was sensational.

One last memory I have of Howard's speech. Towards the end he asked us, "Do you know what Americans really want from their government?" He paused half a second and someone called out "Truth and Love!" Howard responded, "That's an interesting way to phrase it, but that's right. People want to know that their government will tell them the truth and respect them enough to care about working with all of them instead of trying to divide them."

Mind you, I'm sure I've butchered the exact wording here, but I believe I've got the sentiment right.

From Renee--thanks *so* much for the report, tc. And don't feel bad for not transcribing it. I went to the first two DeanFests *before* I had my voice recorder, and couldn't remember squat of what he said after the fact. And for the Crushies, I couldn't remember what tie he was wearing either. ;-)

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