Saturday, August 04, 2007

Open Thread

Talk amongst yourselves.

Haloscan comment thread

Howard Dean's YKos keynote address, Part 3

Howard Dean: Now, the Republicans are making a "good faith effort" to convince the Americans that this is a do-nothing Congress, that we haven't done anything. First of all, they're filibustering everything we can do. If we get it by the filibuster, then the president threatens to veto it, or he does veto it. So, let me tell you what we've done in spite of the president. In the last six months we have accomplished more than they did in six years: increasing the minimum wage, make college more affordable, healthcare for kids is going to pass, and if the president vetos it, the Republicans are going to have to atone for that on election day. Passing the 9-11 recommendations to make our communities safer--they talk about being strong, we actually do it--passing real ethics reform. The United States Senate is going to pass it today--let's see if the president will sign that. Passing a balanced budget requirement with pay-go requirements so there will be no tax cuts or new programs without saying how we're going to pay for them. We'll put an end to the notion that we're going to borrow money from our grandchildren in order to pay for what we want today. I think that's a pretty good accomplishment for six months. (Applause.)

Now, on the matter that's at the front of most of your minds--Iraq. The fact is, we started out with 49 votes in the Senate on Iraq, because Joe Lieberman doesn't vote with us on Iraq (booing) and Tim Johnson is out sick. So, 49 votes. I know how tough this is going to be, but we need to make it clear to the American people who it is that's obstructing their will on Iraq. (Applause.) It was the Republicans that kept us up all night because they wouldn't let us pass a bill a few weeks ago. And we're going to keep voting on Iraq, and voting and voting and voting and voting again. And if George Bush wants to veto the will of the American people, and if the Republicans want to obstruct what the American people want, then we'll give Susan Collins an opportunity to vote on that. We'll give John Sununu an opportunity to vote on that again. We'll give Norm Coleman and Gordon Smith an opportunity to vote again and again and again until our troops come home from Iraq! (Applause and cheers.)

It is not an accident that every single one of the Democrats running for president of the United States has a plan and has clearly said that they will get our troops home with a reasonable timetable. It is not an accident that every single one of the Republican candidates, with the exception of the Libertarian, want our troops to stay in Iraq as long as George Bush does. It is not an accident that every single Republican thought it was a great idear to commute the sentence of Scooter Libby and every single Democrat did not think that was a great idear. We are committed to ending the Republican culture of corruption that they brought to Washington, and we are committed to ending the culture of corruption in the United States Department of Justice, which fired Republican lawyers for trying to prosecute Republican congressmen. We will do better than that! (Applause and cheers.)

Our men and women in uniform have bravely done their duty. We need to support our troops and bring them home! And the American people are with us.

Haloscan comment thread

Howard Dean on the power of the internet

More from Howard Dean's Yearly Kos keynote address.

Howard Dean: Now, I want to say a few things about the net. This is an extraordinary thing, and, speaking for myself, even after the campaign four years ago, I didn't realize what a powerful tool this is. This is the most extraordinary invention for empowering ordinary people since the invention of the printing press in the `400s. It really is. It has re-democratized America. There is an enormous shift in power. I thought the YouTube/CNN debate was sensational. And why was it sensational? That is the first time since the Nixon-Kennedy debates when ordinary people, not members of the media, but ordinary people in large numbers got to ask in front of a national television audience, any question that they could dream up. Censored of course by the CNN people, but I know the person who did this. He's about 26 years old, and he basically did, I thought, a pretty good job, putting up a generation of questions that were direct and directly from people's hearts and minds, aimed at the candidates. Put them on the spot--I thought, frankly, some of those questions were a lot tougher than what the media would have asked.

But even if it was tougher or not as tough, the point is, it got the exchange outside the cozy realm of the beltway and put it out in the rest of Ameria, where it belongs. (Cheers and applause.) It's okay to make politicians a little uncomfortable--it's good for us! And what a surprise that the Republicans don't want to do it. (Laughter.)

It turns out that as the influence of the internet expands, both by more and more people using it, and by the extraordinary innovations--remember, YouTube essentially did not exist when I was running four years ago. And today, without YouTube and the people who use it, we would not have a Democratic majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.) That is true. So, what this party is about is change and evolution, and that's not not easy. There are forces of resistance even inside the Democratic party--I know that would surprise you! (Laughter.) But this party is about evolution. This party is about the future, the other party is about the past. Look at who they have running for president--doesn't that look like something out of the 1950s? Look who we have running for president! (Applause and cheers.)

The fact of the matter is, it shouldn't be true, but it is a revolutionary idear to have the public taking over the agenda of campaigns and political parties had better get used to it, because they are going to lose and become irrelevant if they don't get used to it. The power in campaigns belongs as much to shifting networks of committed citizens as it does to the political establishment. And in the long run, community-built networks will have a more dramatic effect in bringing democracy to both America and to creating democracy where it doesn't exist now--I predict now, that because of the net, and because of the extraordinary binding of the world together, that Iran and China one day will have to decide that they have to become democracies, simply because they are forced to by the extraordinary devolution of power to their citizens because of the internet. (Applause.) Nations run by authoritarian forces will not stop the dynamic of technologically enabled citizens working together. Hundreds of thousands of networking citizens will find ways to circumvent and evade government interference in the free exchange of idears, as we have already demonstrated in the United States. Repressive governments at the helms of nations that would become world or regional powers, face a difficult choice. They can allow democracy to evolve and flourish on the internet, or they can destroy the technology that enables their best and brightest and most determined citizens to network, and that will cause them to fall back into third world status.

So, we can still win the battle for a democratic world. It will not happen by sending troops to Iraq to establish democracy at the barrel of a gun. (Applause.) The truth is that the most important weapon in the struggle for world democracy is a free and open, commercially and politically unfettered internet that empowers ordinary people from across the globe to speak and act in the interest of their own communities. (Cheers and applause.)

When I started as Chairman of the DNC, I said that Democrats had to show up everywhere and campaign everywhere, and ask for everybody's vote. And that includes the way we interact with communities online. In the Democratic party we're focussed on connection, empowerment, and community organizing. And I'm incredibly proud that our candidates have begun to change with the times. We are running what I call two-way campaigns. That is, we're using technology to start a dialog and engage ordinary Americans. Traditional campaigns have relied on enormous amounts of TV advertising, 30 second spots, aimed at you, telling you what we think, and what we think you ought to do. The new campaign, the two-way campaign is, we listen to you before we start talking, and we, throughout the campaign, have a dialog between the people whose votes we're hoping to get, asking for their advice as we go through, and taking it to heart. This is not a gimmick or a "schmooze" as we call it in the trade. This means real two-way campaigns where the views and opinions of the American people have an impact on the leadership, so leaders are with the people instead of seeking to lead folks that aren't interested in being led by them. (Applause.)

It is an extraordinary evolution. An extraordinary evolution. Essentially it means that politicians have to acknowledge something that's been true for a long time. Which is, power is loaned to us--we don't own the power, and we need to earn the power every two years. (Applause.)

Haloscan comment thread

Howard Dean on voting and democracy

The video can be found here.

Howard Dean: You know, this is an extraordinary conference--1400 people--I think the people that organized this really deserve a huge hand. Thank you very very much. (Applause.) And next year I have it on good authority there are going to be 2000 people--that'll be even better!

Let me just thank you, mostly, not just for coming to the conference, but thank you for what you've been doing. I want to spend a little time talking about the net and about a program that we're doing. But first, I will say this: what you have done in the last six years is to set this country on the path of restoring the democracy that George Bush and the Republicans have tried to undermine. (Applause and cheers) and I thank you for that enormously.

That's a long haul, because there's a lot to be done. And I want to talk about a project that we just announced today. The fifty state strategy and all that has been a lot of fun, and you all have been fantastic in defending what we're doing, and I appreciate that. But there's a lot of stuff that goes on in the DNC that doesn't get in the papers, or barely gets in the papers, and I want to share one of those things because a lot of the work that we do is piece by piece and bit by bit. It takes a long time to put folks out of power who have entrenched themselves the way that the right wing has.

And, next week marks the 42nd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. But, as you know, the Republicans believe that the fewer votes are cast, the more likely it is to benefit them. And we believe that the more votes are cast, the better it is for the United States of America. (Applause.) We're the party that actually believes there is something more important than our party, and that is our country.

So, over the last 30 years or so, we've seen roadblocks and outright attacks on the right to vote, all kinds of schemes, restrictive voter ID laws, phone jamming, voter purging, voter intimidation tactics. Manipulating the mission of the Department of Justice who fired United States Attorneys who refused to pursue phony voter fraud cases. Turning the Civil Rights Division into the "voter suppression division". We can do better than this, and we will do better than this! (Applause.)

The right wing of the Republican party believes in talking about their "values"--evidently democracy is not one of them. It is a value of the Democratic party. (Applause.) So, we want everybody to be able to vote. And there's a bunch of things we've done. But, for the first time, we're going to try to do this prospectively instead of after the fact. As you know, we have paid staffers in all fifty states, and, in every single one of those states over the next couple of months--we started about three weeks ago--we are going to go to every single county election official, in charge of every single precinct in America, and find out how they run their elections. How they assign voter machines, to which precincts, what they do about voter ID, if it's required in their state. What they do about vote by mail, what they do about early voting, what they do about absentee voting. How do they do voter registration, do they have centralized voter databases.

The reason for this is, we know that election laws are written at the state and federal level, but they are often subject to interpretation at the local level, which creates a lot of variation around the country in terms of how they're run. Now, we know about the corruption that the Republicans have used, particularly in the state of Ohio and Florida and some other places like that in order to suppress votes. But a lot of the problems in voting in this country are not because of Republican corruption. It's simply because of underresourced folks at the local level, and undertrained folks at the local level. And we're going to put together a handbook for every single candidate on the Democratic side that will tell us in advance where the problems are going to be in terms of voting, so we can plan how to deal with those ten months before the election, not ten weeks or ten days before the election. (Applause.)

And the reason we're going to do this is, voting is the fundamental act in every democracy that is required to maintain a democracy, and we want everyone in America to vote. Because the fact of the matter is, voting is good for America. It also happens to be very good for the Democratic party--the more people vote, the better it is for America, but the better it is for us as well.

We also need your help. There are about 1400 people in this room. I would really appreciate it if you would you out yourselves, and get a whole lot of folks who pay attention to what you have to say and do on the net, and launch an effort aimed at every single congressman to get a voting machine right bill passed that is going to get rid of DREs by the year 2008, so that we can have ballots that will actually be counted in 2008, and stop fooling around delaying. We need that bill now! (Applause.) And we need a good bill now. And there is no group of people in America that can do this better than you. Not one group of people in America will have more influence on this bill than you do. So we need your help in Washington. The bill is stalled, it needs to be improved, and it needs to pass now so that it can have an effect in 2008. Two thousand ten could be too late. So--I think it's H811. H811. So, write your congresspeople, and write your friends and tell them to write your congresspeople.

Haloscan comment thread

Friday, August 03, 2007

Douglas Adams on "Do re mi"

I mentioned this yesterday, and today I've found a link to this bit by Douglas Adams. It's from a piece entitled "Unfinished Business of the Century", which was included in the book Salmon of Doubt. And yes, shame on me, I'm reading that before I read Al Gore's The Assault on Reason.

[34-35] “One particularly niggling piece of Unfinished Business, it occurred to me the other day in the middle of a singing session with my five-year-old daughter, is the lyrics to ‘Do-Re-Mi,’ from The Sound of Music. It doesn’t exactly rank as a global crisis, but nevertheless it brings me up short anytime I hear it, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to sort it out.

“But it is.


“Each line of the lyric takes the names of a note from the solfa scale, and gives it meaning: ‘Do (doe), a deer, a female deer; Re (ray), a drop of golden sun,’ etc. All well and good so far. ‘Mi (me), a name I call myself; Fa (far), a long, long way to run.’ Fine. I’m not saying this is Keats, exactly, but it’s a perfectly good conceit and it’s working consistently. And here we go into the home stretch. ‘So (sew), a needle pulling thread.’ Yes, good. ‘La, a note to follow so...’ What? Excuse me? ‘La, a note to follow so...’ What kind of lame excuse for a line is that?

“Well, it’s obvious what kind of line it is. It’s a placeholder. A placeholder is what a writer puts in when he can’t think of the right line or idea just at the moment, but he’d better put in something and come back and fix it later. So, I imagine that Oscar Hammerstein just bunged in a ‘a note to follow so’ and thought he’d have another look at it in the morning.

“Only when he came to have another look at it in the morning, he couldn’t come up with anything better. Or the next morning. Come on, he must have thought, this is simple. Isn’t it? ‘La... a something, something... what?’

“One can imagine rehearsals looming. Recording dates. Maybe he’d be able to fix it on the day. Maybe one of the cast would come up with the answer. But no. No one manages to fix it. And gradually a lame placeholder of a line became locked in place and is now formally part of the song, part of the movie, and so on.

“How difficult can it be? How about this for a suggestion? ‘La, a..., a...’ -- well, I can’t think of one at the moment, but I think that if the whole world pulls together on this, we can crack it. And I think we shouldn’t let the century end with such a major popular song in such an embarrassing state of disarray.”
Anyway, that's the excerpt that inspired this yesterday.

Haloscan comment thread

Howard Dean at Yearly Kos

Thanks to floridagal for posting the link to the video of Howard Dean's speech last night at Yearly Kos, and to Donna for linking to Scarecrow's writeup at Firedoglake, Howard Dean: A tough act to follow.

Dean let us know that he gets it, that he understands how important this amazing community is and how much it’s changing the way democracy functions in America. He knows how this movement is transforming the Democratic Party and bringing America back from the abyss Bush created and towards which he is still driving us. Dean won the crowd early on, and as they listened many had tears in their eyes, lamenting again what the media did to a man who so clearly saw in 2003-04 where the country was going and tried to warn us. But he was not one of the beltway’s privileged and they got him. But the man was not done.

Dean pulled it all together — the trampling of the Constitution, the disgracing of the Justice Department, the neglect of government’s legitimate and necessary functions, the need for checks and balances, the need to restore our civil liberties and to stop commuting the sentences of people who lie and obtruct justice and betray patriots, the need to end the occupation of Iraq — yes, it was all there in the same terms we use to describe what we see and how we feel about what has happened to our country. But then he let us know, as few other politicians can, that he undertands what we, the blogging community, are about.

Click here for the rest.

Haloscan comment thread

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Yearly Kos

I'm aware that the Yearly Kos convention is beginning today. While I'm not a fan of the proprietor of the big orange blog it is named for, I am a fan of grassroots organizing. And of getting the opportunity to meet, in person, people who have previously been only words on a computer screen. I look forward to hearing some great stories.

Haloscan comment thread

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Open Thread


To go along with the photo, here's a link to the audio of Jonathan Coulton's Re: Your Brains.

Haloscan comment thread

Twenty Years of R & D!

Happy anniversary to Renee and Demetrius, those HEPpest of HEP cats!

Haloscan comment thread

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Open Thread

Just wanted to mention we've got our Back to School portal up at our Cafe Press store.

Any news stories to share? I realize I haven't updated my shared items for a few days...will try to do that when we get back from the gym.

Haloscan comment thread

Happy birthday Paul in Illinois

A very happy birthday to my little brother.

Have some virtual cake. :)

Haloscan comment thread

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Rumpled Jedi Rides Again

Thank you, Barry, for posting a link to the article Joe Trippi's Renaissance in the comments. The link didn't work for some reason, but I was intrigued enough to go track down one that did. Ah, where to start...

This cycle, three presidential candidates courted him. He signed on with ex-Sen. John Edwards after bonding with Elizabeth Edwards -- there's a whole separate story here about how he's fitting in. But he's in. That "Hair" video -- vintage Trippi. Edwards hired Trippi in part because Iowa is Trippi's specialty -- he helped Walter Mondale and Dick Gephardt win the caucuses -- and Edwards needs to win the caucuses.
Well, obviously I can't let the words "Iowa is Trippi's specialty" pass without comment. Let us all take a moment and think back fondly to the magic that Joe worked for the Dean campaign in Iowa. Oh, wait...

As far as the "Hair" video, I did see it, and agree that it was clever, but as one of the people who commented on the Trippi article remarked, it came too late. Now that sounds familiar--raise your hand if you remember being frustrated with the Dean campaign's sluggish response to the "scream" story.

Here's something else I remember from the months leading up to the 2004 primaries. I remember, for the first time in my life, actually donating to a political candidate. Not only that, but putting up a "bat" and actually soliciting donations. That is so not me. But I believed in Dean. And I believed that I was part of a "people powered" campaign. I remember many other people feeling the same. Remember "Ramen for Dean"--someone was going to eat Ramen for lunch and donate the savings to the campaign. At least that's my recollection. The point is, people made real sacrifices.

But ultimately, we were not really "shareholders" in the campaign. Many of us balked when the official ads started going negative. We were disappointed in general with the low quality of the ads, and begged anyone who would listen to use some of the ideas that we in the grassroots were offering for free. Like the "Who we are" ads some of us made in response to that dreadful ad the Club for Growth ran against Dean in Iowa. Begged "anyone who would listen"...ah, there's the rub. The article goes on to say
The small-dollar Internet donor base attracted by the Dean and flogged relentless by Trippi has transformed the party's fundraising. Democrats actually counterpunch these days. Every single campaign uses Trippi-patented tactics to raise money. The men and women Joe Trippi cultivated on Dean's staff have stormed the gates and occupy positions of power in major party and campaign offices.

More "gate storming", huh? Much like the "gate crashing" that the proprietor of Daily Kos touts, the ordinary people are still stuck outside those gates. It's all well and good for the campaign professionals to pat themselves on the back for the "genius" of soliciting small donations from the teeming masses. But if that's all you want from us, and you're not going to listen to our ideas or be prepared to answer to us when you make bad choices in the way you spend the money we donated...well, we might just decide we can put that money to better use.

Haloscan comment thread

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Something so right

Some people never say the words "I Love You."
It's not their style to be so bold.
Some people never say the words "I Love You,"
But like a child, they're longing to be told. -Paul Simon

A couple of weeks ago I said that we are Love's imagined Lover. It can be hard to imagine that Love desired to Love and be Loved so deeply that, in a burst of unfathomable Force and Wisdom, multiplied itself by itself and, by simply adding the speed of Light, created all the universes that exist from scratch.

Love is patient. Love waited billions of years as here on Earth, and probably many other places Life emerged and became self aware, and here we are, together. Love and Beloved.

Over the past few weeks I've discovered that I resist being Loved. This, to me, was a profound revelation. Most times I consider myself as having too much Love as it is. Huge self storage warehouses of the stuff that I have to give away in thimbles as fast as I can to keep from drowning in it. I'll tell you right now, it's not easy being the happiest man on Earth.

Yesterday, the revelation hit me very simply. I was walking up the hill to the bus stop and a friend offered me a cup of coffee, which I politely refused. As I continued on, I began to realize that although I've rarely had trouble giving compassion or caring, I seem to lack the inner mechanism to RECEIVE.

Renee posted the Prayer of St Francis a few days ago. "It is in giving that we receive."

So often it seems in daily life that all we do is give. That's not a bad thing. It's meant to be joyous and uplifting. Love, after all needs to be Loved. So when we give Compassion and caring for one another, we are Loving the Love that imagined us.

Sometimes however, Love needs to Love you back. Sometimes Love needs to seduce YOU. Sometimes Love needs to show you its open heart and say " I may be Eternal and Omnipotent and all that, but it's really comforting to know that your shoulder is there for me to lean on whenever I need it."

This is a community of compassionate, caring and giving people. So my message here today, is "Be as open to receiving Love as you are in giving it away."

May the Love that knows no comprehension find refuge in your hearts and in your homes forever.



Haloscan comment thread