Saturday, December 09, 2006

Open Thread

Deep thoughts from Albert Einstein...

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
We used this as our reading for this evening's Advent candle, and I thought I'd post it here as well. Figured it could sort of "cleanse the palate" (or something) after having cartoon Bush at the top of the page all day.

Sweet ones, all.

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L'il Bush

Click here for Rene's candle page.

For anyone who hasn't heard about this yet...

Comedy Central has ordered "Lil' Bush: Resident of the United States," a cartoon satire that re-imagines President George W. Bush and key executives in his administration as elementary school misfits.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Bodhi Day

During our family's nightly Advent candle lighting, I'm making a point of talking about the other "holidays of light" that are celebrated in different faith traditions. I know very little about Bodhi Day, so if anyone has anything to add, please do...

DEC-8: Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu) is when Buddhist celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha in 596 BCE.

He is said to have achieved enlightenment while sitting under a bodhi tree

Excerpted from a Bodhi Day sermon by Ryuei Michael McCormick

We should not think that this awakening is something that we must revere from afar. It is not that this Buddha is somehow set apart from us that makes him worth remembering. Instead, we should realize that the Buddha is important precisely because he was one of us, a human being who could and did wake up to a new vision of life and a new way of living in the world. What he did, we can do as well. The Flower Garland Sutra teaches that upon his awakening the Buddha thought, “I now see all sentient beings everywhere fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the enlightened ones, but because of false conceptions and attachments they do not realize it.”

It also says, “Then the Buddha observed all the beings of the cosmos with his pure unobstructed eye of wisdom and said, ‘How wonderful! How is it that these beings all have the wisdom of the enlightened ones, yet in their folly and delusions do not know or see it? I should teach them the right path to make them abandon illusion and attachment forever, so that they can perceive the vast wisdom of the enlightened ones within their own bodies and be no different from the Buddhas.’”

Some other links--not specifically about Bodhi Day, but I thought they were cool...

Walking with Peace and Presence

There's a video of Thich Nhat Hahn's "Peace is every step" walk in Los Angeles here, as well as a blog post about the experience.
by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Update on Thankful's brother, Rene

From Renee with two Es...lot of multi-tasking going on at Chez "in Ohio", so I'm just frontpaging Thankful's comments (along with a couple comments by other people for context).

Sigh... Can we have a President Dean if we ask "pretty *PLEASE*"?
Demetrius | Homepage | 12.08.06 - 1:50 pm |

Only if you eat ALL your spinach, Demetrius.

Me, I LOVE spinach.
donna in evanston | Homepage | 12.08.06 - 2:54 pm

Donna - Rene just asked for spinach! He'd prefer it to the boring beans I was just feeding him!
He woke up much more yesterday - ventilator tube removed, he's talking, joking, hungry, we've had a couple serious discussions... rollercoaster can still take more turns, but we are soaking up every one of these minutes.
I wasn't online after early afternoon yesterday - can you believe one of my sisters has no internet. Anyway, was very hesitant to report what looks like good news too soon.
♥ to all

Could I ask for one more round of candles - gotta show him tomorrow - he'll be in a regular room and I think I can take the laptop in.
Here's the link to Rene's candle page. Let's light that puppy up nice and pretty for him.

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Message from Senator Leahy

listener passed along this e-mail from Senator Leahy for use as a front page post--Renee

Thank you for contacting me about torture and the Bush Administration. I appreciate hearing from you on these important issues.

Like you, and so many Vermonters, I have strongly objected to a number of President Bush's actions and policy objectives. The Bush Administration has repeatedly tried to bypass established legal procedures and courts. I have been deeply troubled by the President's efforts to expand presidential power, such as using a signing statement to try to create exemptions to laws prohibiting torture. This Administration seems to believe it is above the law, but it is not, and neither is any Administration.

I reject the view that torture can be a useful tool of interrogation. This ineffective and cruel practice runs afoul of our Constitution and laws, our international obligations, and basic standards of humanity. In March of 2005, I introduced a bill to prohibit the transfer of persons by the United States to countries where torture is known to be used or to where there are otherwise substantial grounds for believing that the person would be in danger of being tortured. Unfortunately, no action was taken on this bill during the 109th Congress.

Recent press reports have indicated that, after years of denials, the Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged the existence of documents detailing the Bush Administration's policies on detention and interrogation techniques, as well as the existence of detention facilities outside of the United States . I wrote to Attorney General Gonzales on November 16 to request these documents, but I have yet to receive a response.

Congress and all Americans deserve to know the truth about the Bush Administration' s interrogation policies and practices. Like all Americans, I am committed to preventing future acts of terrorism and bringing to justice those involved in terrorism. I believe we can achieve these goals without sacrificing this nation's centuries-old commitment to the rule of law and without abandoning the values that make thi s nation great. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the 110 th Congress, you can be sure that I will continue to hold this Administration to account.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please stay in touch.

Patrick Leahy

Please visit my website at:

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Howard Dean in Europe

From the comments

Howard's trying to repair our image abroad. Good pics and write-ups.
floridagal | 12.07.06 - 7:48 pm |

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Rejoice (and celebrate diversity)

Click here to light a virtual candle for Rene (Thankful's brother).

Here's the latest holiday design I came up with for our Cafe Press store.

I find the so-called "culture wars" with regard to saying "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" disheartening. Where's the joy in that?

Perhaps you've heard that Walmart has "learned its lesson" and has officially decided to rename their Holiday Shop, "The Christmas Shop." (And some other things--click the link.)

Yay--my holiday *totally* kicked all those other holidays' a$$es. We sure showed them! We're #1! We're #1!"

You knew that was sarcasm, right? This "victory" for Christmas leaves me cold. It's counter to everything I believe the season is meant to stand for.

This Advent, as our family takes time out each evening to light a candle and ponder something about this season, I'm trying to include things from the different "holidays of light". It takes some effort, because when I was growing up, I never really learned much about traditions other than my own.

So, I'm trying to learn more. Here's something I wasn't aware of until recently--December 8 is celebrated by some Buddhists as Bodhi Day, and honors the enlightment of Siddhartha Gautama.

So, what else are people celebrating at this time of year, and how are you celebrating?

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It's Cold Outside

Last week, we had an unseasonable, and rather unsettling, heat wave with highs in the 70s. This week, we're back pretty much to where we ought to be in December. There's been no snow, but the ground has been white with frost on recent mornings; and there's been frost on the northern and eastern windows, that sometimes doesn't melt at all. The house is full of the comfortable rattling, clanking, hissing, and humming of radiators. They don't keep the heat quite as high as I prefer it, around 68. They claim that's "too warm." Still, as President Carter pointed out, there's nothing wrong with wearing a cardigan, and our house is certainly comfortable.

That leads me to my point. Some people in this country aren't as fortunate as I am. Fuel is expensive, sometimes too expensive. Last year, while I was looking around the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation site, I came across a page listing addresses to send donations to assist with winter heating. (I can't find that page now). Among the project addresses, this one caught my attention:

Bob's Gas Service
Winter Heating Project for the Elderly
P. O. Box S
Martin, SD 57551

This particular cause is very important to me, not for a direct, personal reason, but because my heart burns with anger at the thought of old folks having no means of staying warm in the brutal South Dakota winters. I send a little bit each quarter - well, I forgot in June, but I reckon that's all right. I urge you to join me this month in sending a donation to Bob's Gas Service. I'm quite sure they can put a $5.00 check to equally good use as a $50.00 or $500.00 one.

Everyone has a pet project, and God knows there's no shortage of projects, and desperate needs, at Pine Ridge, a community of some forty thousand souls. It is a microcosm of the want we fortunate ones associate almost dismissively with the Third World, right here in our own back yard, in this country that prides itself on being the greatest nation on earth. I'm reminded of an exchange near the beginning of a favorite movie, Finian's Rainbow.

Sharon says: "But, Father, are there no poor in America? No hungry or ill housed or ill fed?"

"Of course," her father answers blithely. "But they're the *best* ill housed and ill fed in the world."

Note that the quotation is from memory, and thus approximate. You get the idear though. Charity begins at home, they say. And, we don't need to look beyond our own heartland to find conditions as bad as any Save the Children or Christian Children's Fund commercial. In fact, it's worse, because these are Americans, our brothers and sisters.

I wish we could all go out there in the summer and work renovating and insulating houses. But, like I said, it's a huge reservation with forty thousand residents. And we're a very small group. And, even if we could get out there all at once, I daresay few to none of us have the requisite skills…

I wonder, though, if we could write as a group to Habitat and say we see this need and would like to help sponsor a project. What do you guys think?

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy St. Nicholas Day

As Mahanoy at Street Prophets reminded us last night, today is the St. Nicholas Day. There are some stories about St. Nicholas on the Saint Nicholas Center web site. Tonight, at Advent candle time, I think I'll encourage the kids to think about how the stories can be "true on the inside"--what message these stories might have for us today.

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.
More here. The image of Saint Nicholas seen above is from the gallery on the Saint Nicholas Center web site.
Reposting the link to Rene's (Thankful's brother) candle page.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Here's what we used for our family's Advent candle lighting this evening. I found it in last year's Christmas Eve service at the local UU church.

The year ends soon.
The year ends.
The noise of it, surely,
the sadness and joy of its days
grows quieter now,
muffled by this surprisingly temperate night.
A finger is put to the year’s trembling lips. Sh…sh…
The stars add no word of their own.
The candles bestow the gift of their light quietly,
asking nothing in return.
And the window panes reflect it back
without even a hint of commentary.
The darkness comforts and holds us,
like children rocking in a welcoming lap.
To and fro, up and down, are no more, now,
their rush, rush, rush now sleeping quietly,
cradled in the soothing arms of mother silence.
Stars, keep your peace.
Breath, move slowly now.
Silence, beautiful silence,
I bow in welcome. I bow in thanks.

Click here for Rene's candle page.
I found the picture you see at the top of this thread here.

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Gates confirmation hearings

I'm working on grading right now and don't have much time to post or blog, but thought we needed a new thread.

Apparently the confirmation hearings for Robert Gates for Secretary of Defense are taking place today. Judging by my use of the word "apparently", you might guess that I haven't followed this particular story too closely. What do you all know about him?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Alachua City Hall Catches Fire

(Photo By Ronald Dupont Jr.)

Charlie mentioned this in the comments of the previous thread, but here's a link to the breaking news story in the High Springs Herald.

Charlie's comment:

The fire started in the computer room where the records are kept.

It seems to have focused primarily on the offices of Clovis Watson and Alan Henderson and the financial and other records.

Henderson actually locked me IN his office last Friday (I kid you not) when I was trying to get him to give me records.

I have been pushing for a number of key financial and other related public records.

I stated that if I did not receive them by today I would take legal action.

Then last night - about midnight - the fire.
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Taking time for pondering

So, Christmas is coming again, huh? I was just remarking to my EfM group last night that I don't think I've experienced a single Christmas where I wasn't either a teacher or a student. Or if I did, I was probably a very new parent at the time. So at the time when I hear others talking about how they've done *all* their shopping already, or are at very least finishing it up, I'm in the midst of end-of-the-quarter/semester frenzy. "Soon..." I will quietly reassure myself. "Soon, I will be finished with what I'm working on, and will be able to turn my attention to the holidays."

But at the point when I am finally able to do that, some two weeks out from Christmas, all the ads are urging me to check out some "last minute gift ideas".

Last minute? No, this is hardly last minute--and believe me, I've *done* last minute! I've shopped on Christmas Eve more times than I can count. But still, those messages are out there, gently scolding me for not getting started sooner. (They have to do it "gently", of course, because they still want me to buy stuff).

And I say back to those messages, maybe not gently, but quietly, "Bite me."

The season of Advent is about waiting and preparing. The pre-Christmas frenzy of consumerism is about preparing, in rushing around, getting ready for the big day sense, but Advent is about preparing our hearts. I say this, not just to you, the readers, but as a way of reminding myself.

The liturgical season of Advent started yesterday, and I decided that this year, for the first time, we are going to do a nightly Advent ritual. I have always liked the idea of family rituals, but have never made a serious effort to start one and stick with it. Given the diversity of our family, though, I can't just take a pre-packaged ritual "off the shelf", but pretty much have to make one up.

I was raised Catholic, and am now Episcopalian. Demetrius was raised by Evangelical parents, but does not practice any faith tradition now (except, in a tongue-in-cheek way, the Church of the Restful Sabbath.) He appreciates hearing people share their stories from the journey. Humans are united in their search for meaning, wanting to make sense of the big picture, find reason for hope in dark times...

Son in Ohio, now 13, has been an "unbeliever" to some degree or another, almost from birth. His unbelief seems to be in inverse proportion to his perception that others to convince him to believe something, so I never push. But he's watched things like National Geographic Channel's Science of the Bible. We've talked, over the years, about the various "holidays of light" that are celebrated at this literally dark time of year. And we've talked about how there are some stories that are "true on the inside", whether or not one believes they are true on the outside, i.e., actually happened.

Daughter in Ohio, 11, has always been more religiously oriented than her brother. She doesn't attend Sunday school, but has been part of a church children's choir for 4 years. It's at a different church than the one I attend, which is kind of a hassle, I guess. In a perfect world, maybe our family would have a common place of worship. But it feels right to give everyone the space to do what best feeds their spirit/soul. I finally found a church that feels like "home" to me, but it's not the church that has the children's choir for my daughter, so we split our time between the two.

Yesterday was the first Sunday of the month, so she sang with her choir group:

Light one candle for hope, One bright candle for hope.
He brings hope to every heart, He comes, He comes...
Whether or not you believe that the biblical story of Jesus "really happened", there is something universal about the "hope in a dark time" theme at this time of year. That's one of the things I said last night as we lit the first candle on our makeshift Advent wreath. And I read part of the nativity story in Luke, emphasizing this verse:

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
And I said, whatever we believe, or don't believe, I think it's important at this busy, sometimes sensory-overloading time of year, to take time to ponder.

By the way, the quarter is *not* yet over--I still have to put finishing touches on an exam and grade some papers today. And I guess I need to run to the grocery store, because Demetrius is on a tight deadline and probably won't be able to get out. So I don't know yet what poem or song or piece of writing we will be pondering when we light our candle tonight, and am open to suggestions. ;)

Update: Via Father Jake Stops the World, a Meditation for Advent I. The song is "Quiet", by Paul Simon.

I've also really been appreciating (since discovering them only yesterday) the reflections of Sr. Claire Joy on her blog Flavor of the Month.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Open Thread

Since comments are so slow to load, I thought we should have a new thread. Here's a picture of Mom's dog Bridget, dressed for Chicago winter weather.

It almost wants a caption. ;)

I finally watched the video of Howard Dean in Canada. I agree with those who have said it's worth taking the time to watch. That man is pretty darn inspiring...AND he's got a great smile!

Part 1
Part 2

Finally, here's the link to the candle page that was set up for Thankful's brother, Rene. Candles stay lit for 48 hours, and then you need to light a new one.

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You know (at least I hope you do) that I love you. Have since nearly the beginning of meeting you on DeanforAmerica. I honor the path you have taken in your life, and honor the man who came to that place through, evidently, some very hard roads. I adore the honest man, the brave man, the caring man that I have always conversed with. The man who always had my back during the late night/early morning "to do"s with the anti-semites. I value beyond rubies the very funny man who's lifted spirits everywhere I've seen him. I value the watchman, who for the sake of our souls is willing to endure his own discomfort.

I grew up with souls like that. I love them still. It is ironic to me that their beliefs and yours, certain as they are, absolutely knowing with all that is in them, would disallow each the other. While they as Mormons can assume no place in Hell for anyone, since they have no Hell, they *know* you to be as wrong as you know them (and also me) to be wrong. They sorrow for your loss (and mine). For your stiffneckedness (and mine). They know that we would be happier, and on our way to the highest degree of heaven if only we would just listen to them, for they have exclusive right to the truth of God. In my missionary training classes when I was 16, we learned: "14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." And debated if we would ever be brave enough to curse a person, or home, or town, in that way. . . . I could not. And will not. I have come far from that girl, on many roads and pathways, but I agree with her.

When I came home to care for my mother in her last days, after the believers of my family had given up, the president of the ward (parish) Relief Society (Women's Organization) called to make an appointment to meet me and thank me. Evidently she had not been apprised that I was they only one of my mother's children who was not a Mormon. I assume that she did become apprised of that fact, because she neither showed, nor called to apologize for not showing. A number of my nephews, returned missionaries, and cocky in the way of the young, took to opportunity to "have at" me once again vis a vis my non-membership in their beloved church. I listened. And finally had to tell them, that their God, their church, was to me, much like a very beautiful teacup. My god was like a pitcher, who when pouring quickly overflowed the teacup. I was sorry that was so, but had no intent to abandon the capacity of the pitcher for the capacity of the teacup, however lovely, however filled with friends and family. Because my belief included them, while theirs excluded me. And I feel sad for them. Sadder perhaps than they feel for me.

If I were a believer of their way, or yours, I would have to despair for the soul of the one whom I just lost. I do not. I rejoice in his path that lead him so far from his beginnings, to a way of light, and joy. I feel that joy daily, even as I mourn the loss of his actual physical presence. While I don't believe he's twiddling his thumbs waiting for me to join him, I do know he will greet and meet and enfold me when I come. That is as close as I come to testifying. That is what I know.

I hope, indeed I pray, that you will stay with us. We do need you. We do need your voice. And your love.


p.s. This is a very interesting story: I listened to him talking on NPR on my way to Baltimore to join Thankful for Thanksgiving.

The Watchman

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

Son of man, say to the house of Israel, 'This is what you are saying: "Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?"' Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'"

"As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, 'Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.' My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.

When all this comes true — and it surely will — then they will know that a prophet has been among them."

Ezekiel 33:7-11, 30-33
You know, it wasn't my idea to post here on Sundays. I posted the Word For The Week on The Underground Railroad for African Americans For Democracy and I was asked to cross-post it here as well. I knew full-well - and I protested to this effect - that nobody hereabouts would be interested in anything that I had to say about eternal matters, but for the sake of a diversity of views it was insisted that I participate here on Sundays, so I did so with all that is within me. To the best of my ability I have stood as a watchman on behalf of this community, offering prayers for the well-being of all who grace this place, offering encouragement or a different point of view whenever I could get by here during the week, offering a chuckle and a smile on Saturdays, and offering a word from the Word on Sundays.

I shall return to my former way of things.

I found it interesting that people thought it perfectly fine to ridicule Christians for behavior that they deemed inappropriate, yet the same people cry bloody murder when a Christian points out behavior that we understand to be inappropriate. Putting Jesus in a clown suit and calling Him "Jeebus" is just harmless fun, but plainly saying, "The Bible calls certain behaviors 'sin'" is somehow "bashing."


I have done that which I can do to point out that the Redcoats are coming - we all will die, it's just a matter of when and how, but what then? When it's all said and done we will each come face-to-face with Him who created us and we will have to give an account of all that we have done. I have learned a lot in the time that I've spent here, debunking some beliefs that I'd held while reinforcing others, and I have tried to stand as a watchman for this community.

"We don't need no stinkin' Watchman!"

As you wish.

May the LORD watch
Between me and thee
While we're absent
One from another

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repost Meeting with Howard Dean 11/04

Thought you might enjoy reflecting on an old report I wrote up 2 years ago. He had a plan --- and his insight on what he had to do is amazing.

Looking out the wall of windows from the 22nd floor over the streets of Chicago, I knew this was no regular meeting. The highly glossed walnut table was surrounded by 14 upholstered swivel chairs. This was not just anybody's city office, it was the office of Wilhelm and Conlin Strategies. I found out after the meeting that Wilhelm was the former DNC chair under Clinton. Some how I, a woman from the Illinois prairie had amazingly been included in this group of high profile city people.

The building was so large there were separate sets of elevators designated to specific floors. I arrived early and found a fellow blogger sitting in the waiting area. We exchanged names and compared notes on how we were involved with DFA. Bruce eyes widened and sat up straight. I turned and there entered Howard. " Governor Dean", Bruce announced as he stood up and walked over to shake his hand. I immediately followed him. "I am Holly from Rockford IL. Thank you for meeting with us." Dean smiled looked straight into my eyes as he shook my hand. "It’s nice to meet you." The secretary interrupted us to lead him off, to meet with Wilhelm.

Because Dean was in a meeting, our group of 14 had a chance to talk first. There were several people you know from the blog including Toscha and Franster. Of course our first topic was Dean and the DNC chair position. We have all heard positive input about this but were also aware of how long time Dean supporters still preferred that he run for President.

The glass door opened and in entered Gov. Dean followed closely by Tom McMahon. The admiring group stood up and clapped spontaneously. "Sorry for the delay, but I was just getting some advice from the former DNC chairman." Dean smiled broadly and sat down at the end of the table. I was sitting 3 chairs down on his left and Tom M was to his direct left but not at the table.

Dean broached the topic first so someone was brave enough to ask him what he was thinking regarding the DNC chairmanship. "I am seriously considering it because I don't know that the DNC will reform without me. But if I decide to do it, it won’t be as much fun as what I am doing now. I don't feel I have to agree with everything such as giving corporate tax breaks. I am aware that there are some Democrats that will be nervous thinking of me in this position but I want to emphasize that what ever I do I want what is best for the Democratic Party. I would NEVER do anything to hurt the party. If I run for DNC chair and lose it could be the end of the Democratic Party as it now is. I could tear the party apart. I fear that this could cause the progressives to give up on the party. If I lose, the DFA could be harmed too. That is why I am taking my time to make the right decision."

Someone asked if he took the position would it stop him from running for president. He looked up seriously and said, if I don’t become chairman, there may be no Democratic Party for me to ever run in. I had come armed with this question (thanks to my son who had the foresight to think of it). I knew this was my opportunity so I leaned into the table looking Dean straight on. "If you become DNC chairman, can"t you just 'pull a Cheney and say 'I looked everywhere and I have found the best candidate for President and it is ME?"

Howard eyes twinkled with the thought, grinned with the corners of his mouth and broke out into a full smile. "Well I certainly wouldn’t say anything like that!"

Eric asked, "Gov Dean, how can we help you?" The group decided it is a little too early to do anything and that it was best to see how events unfolded. Then Eric stated, "Did you know Mayor Daley doesn’t want you to run? Howard pulled his chin back into his neck and looked out from the top of his eyes. Mayor Daley had supported him in the past and you could tell Dean was wondering why Daley would feel this way. It was relayed that Mayor Daley didn"t want Dean to be pushed around by anyone. Relieved that this was the reason, Howard and the group laughed thinking of how Dean’s personality is one far from being a push-over.

Eric brought us back to the reason for meeting. He asked about what type of group DFI should be, a PAC vs 527 etc. Dean and McMahon stated that states vary and that we needed to get legal advice. He gave examples of other DFA state chapters including DFA Colorado and DFA Georgia that already have moved in this direction.

Eric emphasized how Illinois was the bluest of the blue states and someone proudly reported that his precinct had voted 96% Democratic. Dean threw his head back laughing at his own joke stating, "Hey this is Chicago, it should be 106% Democratic.”

Gov. Dean went into how our goals include getting people into office for the next cycle (April 04) and how we can put our picks on the blog. DFA can help these people and that it will take less money and that the candidates will need less votes. It was important to bring together candidates with the grass roots. Building a party is best achieved by supporting candidates at the lowest levels working up and when some are successful encouraging those with experience to help the new ones coming up. He told us that it is important to get Deancorps going and that we need to get good Democrats out into our community, and in our churches, working to make where each of us live a better place. "That is how we make red states blue, person to person; from the bottom up not from the top down." He encouraged us to work with the party and to be there to replace the older folks when they leave, filling the spots with more active new ones.

One woman could not hold back any longer, "Gov. Dean, you are the one who inspires us. We need to see you more. We need you words of encouragement." Combining her request with the need to get moving on the April elections someone asked if it would be possible for Dean to make a DVD to use at meetups.

"I think that is great, I will do it." Howard turned the upper half of his body as one unit to look at McMahon, "Do you think we can do it in time for the Dec. meetup?"

The secretary entered the room stated that Pat Quinn was here and it was time to meet with him. We thanked Gov. Dean as he left the room. Tom stayed to talk about DFA and the importance of the grass roots, framing the debate (using Lakoff), capturing the energy of our national community, holding the people we support "feet to the fire") continuing to use our dedicated email supporters and developing a snail mail to reach out to others.

In the middle of our discussion, Dean burst open the door and led Pat Quinn in. "I want you to meet these great people. They will help you fight for the citizens. You really need to work together." Dean was like a child, excited to introduce two beloved friends, in hopes he could build a new relationship.

We thanked Gov. Dean once again as he exited the door.

Well Gov. Dean never did come through with the promised DVD but he sure did come though with strengthening the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

Thank you Howard Dean!

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