Thursday, January 27, 2005

Barbara Boxer's Post on Dailykos

Condoleezza Rice received 13 votes against her confirmation -- the most votes against any Secretary of State's nomination since 1825.

The note from Boxer is nice, but most important this is history in the making, which comments from 500 greatful Kossacks and an exchange with her staffer who says she did indeed write the post herself. Jay Rosen said at BloggerCon III that people running for Senate ought to write their own blogs. Barbara Boxer at leasty partly gets that.

How Many Bush Administration Officials Does It Take to Screw In a Lightbulb?

None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb. Its conditions are improving every day.  Any reports that it is dark are due to bias from the liberal media.  The light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect.  Why do you hate freedom?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Religious Right Threatens Bush Over SS, Gay Marriage

A coalition of Christian leaders, including Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, have sent a private letter to Karl Rove threatening to pull their support from Social Security Piratization if the Administration doesn't make good on their promise for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Firedoglake has more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Don't miss the massive, multi-blogger-signed letter to our Senators asking them to vote against the confirmation of Gonzalez.

Monday, January 24, 2005

My Letter to Hillary Clinton

It emerges that Hillary Clinton is interested in standing in the way of Howard Dean's run for DNC Chair. Especially if you live in New York, I would urge you to contact Senator Clinton about this matter, with a polite and inspring note. Here's mine:

Sen. Clinton,

I am writing to urge you to support Howard Dean in the upcoming vote for DNC Chair. I know many in the DNC will value your opinion.

Howard Dean brings immense energy to the table, and many fresh Democratic troops . As you know, this past year John Kerry got millions upon millions of dollars from small donors, setting a new record for Dems -- and why he got all that money is because of people like me, people activated by Howard Dean. I'm proud to say that I was able to give Sen Kerry $1500. But I did it only because I have been so encouraged by the grass roots energy that surrounds me. I gave to John Kerry because I believed he could win in 2004 -- and I'll give in 2006 to the Democratic group that I think has the best chance of winning House elections and deepening the bench of statewide elected officials who can run to move up in 2008. I'll give my money to whatever organization I think will do the best strategic job of using it to fight for my values.

I'll give it, most likely, to an organization headed by Howard Dean. And that organization, I hope, will be the Democratic Party.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fresh Horses

A report from the DNC Meeting today in Sacramento, CA. This is also posted at mydd, where there are many comments from others who were there. A video will be made by the CA Dem party and will appear on their web site.

Condoleeza is my color, but Barbara is my kind.

About a dozen of members of our local DFA group drive the 100 miles to Sacramentoto support Howard Dean for DNC Chair. We arrive at 9:00, just as things start. Once we get there one of the locals tells me, "We originally thought 80-100 people." But by this morning they knew there would be 400+ of us, and indeed we fill the 400+ seats in the room where breakfast is being held. While we eat Cal state Sen Joe Dunn speaks, a progressive who represents the conservative Orange County California, who was involved in catching Enron with their hands in my wallet. The Reverend Al Sharpton enters, to applause, interrupting Joe. Ultimately Joe Dunn's highminded speech about freedom and justice receives a standing ovation at the end.

Sharpton begins speaking. During a short preamble praising Barbara Boxer Sharpton recieves three standing ovations.  "I want the people of California to know: Condoleeza is my color, but Barbara is my kind.".  Supports Marjorie Harris for one of the five Vice-Chair positions.  We need young people in the party.  We need to expand this party, stop having pity parties.  They beat us because we were too cowardly to stand up and fight for morals.  [hits the basics on why Democratic values are moral values: poverty and Iraq].  By the time his 8-10 minute speech was done he had recieved about 10 standing ovations.  That man is an orator, and the only speaker who held a candle to him during the entire day was Dr. Dean.

Sharpton's protege, Marjorie Harris, then gave the 90-sec version of her stump speech.  She spoke of bringing "the hip-hop voters" into the party, and said that being progressive on the issues is the way to do that.

We then stood for a brief reflection on our guys and gals in Iraq.  I was shocked to find that it brought tears even to my eyes, which, through thick and thin, are almost always dry.  It was a very sobering moment, to be among such a large group of partisan Democrats and share with them my support of our troops, which is the best kind.

Then members of the DNC were then introduced.  There were perhaps 20 of them at breakfast, mostly from California of course, but plenty from throughout the west: 2 from Alaska and 1 from Arkansas and quite a lot from Colorado.

90 seconds each from the grass roots

Attendees had been told ahead of time that they could apply for the right to speak for 90 sec.  Of those who asked, 5 were then randomly selected, and they spoke next, mostly in support of progressive values.  The second spoke in favor of health care for all and said there is no one better to fight for it than Howard Dean, and that it should be the centerpiece of our domestic agenda.  The third, also a Deaniac, spoke at length in favor of reform.  

The 4th speaker was introduced as a young person -- a black woman probably in her early 20's who said she had been activated by seeing Howard Dean on Good Morning America.  She introduced herself with an apology about her weak rhetorical skills, and proceeded to demonstrate speaking skills that would only occasionally be matched during the rest of the day.  The 5th was a woman who just lost a Cal State Sen race in a very red district to a Republican who was much better financed.  She began with the point that the Cal state party had given her $100, while her opponent had received great amounts of support.  She talked about running an all-county campaign.  She endorsed Howard Dean.

The grassroots talks were to continue, but after an intermission:

Candidates for DNC office begin speaking.

First Mike Honda, who is running for Vice Chair.  He was running on regional representation.  An unconvincing pitch.

Second Nelson Diaz: we've got to stop being lucky.  "I go to church every day.  We've got God in our corner."  

Third Alvaro si Fuentes, current Chair of the Hispanic Member of the DNC.  Decentralize and move away from DC.  We have to assist state parties in electing Dems.

Fourth: Susie, running for Vice-Chair [currently Deputy Chair of the DNC].  Spoke out in favor of social justice and Roe v. Wade.  "It's the counts, stupid"

In my book two and three are the reformers, I hope they do well.

Fresh Horses

And back to the 90 second talks from the grass roots.  Five more attendees were selected.  First: from a progressive Dem club that is here to revive the Dem Party.  Endorses Dean.  We need a leader that doesn't run from the Repubs, that stands up  for our values.  Second a Dean Dem club of Silicon Valley member: After losing 3 elections its time to stop being afraid of DLC warnings that we're not enough like Repubs.  When Dean ran for governor he got votes from 1/3 of Repubs and then turned his state into a blue state.She was also a good speaker -- I hope she's running for office.

4th is the Chair of Sac'to for Democracy [Caryn or Karen Bernali?], with her 3-year-old daughter in tow: no more republican-lite.  There is a disconnect between the grass roots and some of the Dem leaders.  Since when did our party decide to cross the line between civilization and barabarism by voting for Gonzalez and Rice.  There was more.  Appeared to be Hispanic.  She was rhetorically powerful to the point where again conchis began to tear up.  Rhetorically, she was the 2nd-best so far.    Somebody run this woman for elected office: ten years from now, I want her to be my senator

5th spoke of her win out in mostly-red eastern CA.  Praised Boxer.  Endorsed Dean.  Next: I want a DNC Chair who isn't driven by fear.   The Republicans are using fear of terrorism as a distraction.   Next Ralph Hiller a founder of Latinos for America.  Endorsed Dean.  Next Kathleen Hill: Addressed her remarks to the DNC.  I'm about nuts and bolts.  I was Cal coord of Howard Dean's Presidential campaign.  I would venture you have never seen most of hte people in this room.  These people are the grass roots.  Most of them were trained to do campaign work as part of the Dean Pres. run.  Next speaker from Fresno (which is cow country).  She spoke about how much rural Dems need clubs, seek them.  Next a guy from Silicon valley who heads his Dem club, who says he was activated by Howard Dean, and then he went from 2 years ago not really being active to now spending 30-50 hours/week doing Dem activism.  Next another Dean activist from Sil valley who represents the Dem wing of the Dem party.  She worked for Montdale, she worked for McCarthy.  She feels that in later years she has not felt Dems have represented her.  Dean turned her libertarian son back to the party.  Next a woman from Santa Cruz, about 150 miles away.  Says she hadn't been active, for decades.  After seeing Dean, she held half a dozen house parties.  Next a rouser from an older white guy from a rural area, who spoke about the women they've gotten elected this year.  

Next a Sonoma DFA guy [Malacondra on dkos and mydd].  I'm newly activated.  I have immense respect for the people who've been fighting in the trenches for the Dems for all these years.  You may fear that all these new Dean people are barbarians at the gate.  "We're fresh horses".  Next woman from a different DFA group.  Improvises and picks up the previous line: we are fresh horses.  Talks about the competence and energy in the grass roots.  

Next another DFA member endorsing Dr Dean, activist since 1968, talks about how powerful the effect of Dean has been on doing the spade work of Dem activism.  Next woman from Marin and Sonoma DFA groups endorses Dean.   A woman from El Cerrito gives an impassioned issues speech and endorses Dean.  Woman from Grass Valley stands up and almost tearfully spends 90 sec talking about how much the environment is under thread under Bush Admin.  Closes by endorsing Howard Dean.

There were a few more, then a recess, after which Howard Dean was to speak.

Howard Dean gives his stump speech to 500 people

We ran a great campaign in 2004.  The Repubs ran a better one.

Win races at all levels

Secretaries of State

When I made my Pres. run, to get power we gave power away

We enable your leafleting, but we let you decide what to say in the leaflets.

The Repubs have a great organization.  

But it's top down.

We are not like that.

We are not gonna give you talking points from DC.  We are gonna let the message be generated bottom up.

If this is a typical DFA crowd there are greens, Perot voters, McCain voters, even moderate voters who are tired of borrow-and-spend

We are gonna computerize your activism, so you don't have to look up the same phone numbers over and over

But we're not gonna tell you what the message is.

We're gonna fight to win races in CA, because if we don't, some day CA is gonna be a red state.

And we're gonna win in [he begins listing other states, and builds into his Dean Scream Parody, which is always is a big applause line and gets the biggest standing ovation of his speech.]

"Barak Obama was a Dean Dozen candidate before he was Barak Obama."

"You can't trust the Republicans with your money any more."

"We're gonna be the party of moral values.  It is a moral value not to leave debt to your children.  It is a moral value not only to have the strongest military in the world" but to also provide moral leadership.  It is a moral value to have health care for every American.  It is a moral value to tell the truth to the American people before you lead them into war.

Truman quote: the real Repub beats Repub lite every time.

Then did his nice bit on free trade.  His main point here is that if we're gonna have globalization for corporations then we ought to globalize the rights of working people.  Walmart is bringing down wages in China, and that's hard to do.  I tell this to business leaders: We need to support organized labor and the right to organize, because that is good for capitalism and democracy.

Closes with the story of the Texas evangelical Christian, who tells him he disagrees with many of her most important convictions, but supports him because he is a man of conviction.

We are going to be the party of reform: political dialog, issues, party.

Nonlunchunch Break

Introduced myself to Sharpton and Marjorie Harris.  

Talked to some folks from one of CA's reddest counties, out in Yosemite country.  It was refreshing to talk to committed activists from so far out.  They clearly would have appreciated more help from the DNC in building their local base.  They complained about having so little support from the CA Dem Committee, which didn't even pay for the filing fee of the candidate who ran against their Republican US Representative.  But what they spoke about most strongly is that they don't want outsiders sent in to help canvas.  It seemed pretty clear that they viewed this as harmful, or at least as something that embarasses them in the face of the very voters they seek to persuade, rather than merely as inefficient.

Howard Dean provided free ice cream for all.

Afternoon: The Big Meeting

The meeting is translated into American Sign Language (ASL).

7 DNC Candidates are on the dais.  Curiously, none of them is typing at a laptop.  

50 DNC Members were present, seated at the front of the audience.

A number of people running for vice-chairs and other positions.

The candidates introduce themselves:

David Leland

Ohio Party Chair for 7 years, got Dem mayors in all 50 cities, there when Clinton won the state in 1996.

50 state strategy,

Dem Community Action networks:

365 days/year.

[In my view, it's easy for him to say all of this.

Not clear to me why this guy is bothering to run.]

Donnie Fowler

They've asked us to concede the South, West, rural, religious voters.

I am tired of conceding.

DNC doesn't mean Do Not Change -- It means Do Not Concede

Swing v. base voters -- this is a false choice.

[As a strategist about voting groups, he's not terribly convincing.  Indeed, his riff about our base being women and minorities is recognizable as a Dean riff.]

Argues that he's the only candidate that has a lot of experience in the trenches in local races etc.

Howard Dean

Lays out his plan to pay for each of 50 states' Exec Dir, finance people, and 2 grass-roots organizers.  For $250,000/year/state, it's worth it.

We will empower you to improve on the things you're already doing that we can win Gov, Congress, Sen, and ultimately Pres 2008

Martin Frost

Starts by mentioning Matsui, and then weirdly talks for most of a minute about his role in getting the Japanese reparations bill through.

Tells us who he is: a civil rights guy, deeply committed.

Talks about his experience in retail politics

For years, I beat Karl Rove in Texas.  I beat Karl Rove way beyond when he thought I could.

[This counts as an accomplishment?  You're the guy originally responsible for losing civilization to the anti-Christ, but you feel you slowed him down, so you want us to appoint you as protector of humanity so you can lose some more?]

Wellington Webb

Appeal to base, e.g. minorities.

Talks about how the 447 DNC members just sit and applaud while they recieve their instructions: wants them to have a role and be listened to.  This drew substantial applause from the DNC members, while the rest of us kept quiet and let them be heard.  He scored some points here, now I see why he polled well in Orlando.

His message is very much a racial (and gender) justice message


[said lots, I didn't get it all.  This was a great stump speech.]

The people need a voice in this political system

We've got to build a media machine

We've got to fight and win every day of every year.

End monopoly of Iowa and NH

People from the south and minorities must have a voice in choosing the nominee

Roe v. Wade

We're on the right side of history

We've been on top before and we'll be there again.


First a Dem, last a Dem, and always a Dem.

I'm a fighter.

Praises CA

Our national security message is better than Bush's?  Goes on to give Kerry's stump speech on Bush's national security record and on jobs.  [Does he know that the 2004 election is over, and furthermore that he's not running in it.

Curiously, he sounds just like the guy in the Firesign Theatre comedy troup who does the parodies of political stump speeches.  Perhaps he has a future in comedy.]

Truman: doing the right thing, that's easy.  Figuring it out: that's tough.  [He brought this up in the context of the Jersey Girls, who he didn't mention explicitly, but he might have been talking about his whole speech: I don't see any concrete ideas here.]


These were given ahead of time by DNC Members.  The audience had the opportunity to give questions to the DNC members, who were free to submit those to if they liked.  Questions were randomly assigned to the 7 candidates.  In each case I list the candidate who got the question, then the question in a single sentence, then, if I got it down, his answer:

Dean: How would you have won in 2004 [answered well, much as this morning]

Frost: How do we convince rural voters we represent them?  Take back the issue of keeping them safe.  By rights, we own it.

Leland: Western Primaries Terry Mac is organizing a commission to look into this: but probably what we need is less primaries, and instead more caucuses. [conchis begins coughing up blood.]

Rosenberg: How are you going to get youth involved?  Only demographic we increased our percentage in during the last 4 years is young people.  We must speak to their core values.  Focus on letting young poeple have a leg up.  The college Dems of America were kicked out of the Dem party by LBJ over View Nam -- I brought them back in during Clinton 1992.  My investment in media has always been about winning in the coming America.

Fowler: How do you win Latino voters?  You let Latino voters set the strategy.  A lot of people don't understand that Latinos of different origins speak in different dialects, and when you're placing ads, you need to be developing tthem with people who know the relevant dialects.

Roemer: What have you done concretely to promote gay rights?  He's proud of our position on gay rights.

Webb: What can we do to get acceptance for our message on gun safety?  Chuckles at the irony of this question being given to an urban mayor.


[bagel finally]


Rosenberg: what have you done while on your state central committee? Simon answered with a cataloging of the ways in which he has, e.g. as the head of NDN, helped various state parties.

Frost: asked about getting the DNC and its staff out of the beltway: Spoke convincingly about this.  First, says he wants to break the consultant class of losers.  Talked about guys he'd hired when DCCC head and said they were all over the country all the time.

Leland: What grass-roots organization have you done in your home state.  He seemed to feel incredibly qualified as a result of his experience as head of the Ohio DNC.  [As an aside, conchis points out that we lost Ohio in 2004 and 2000.  This is perhaps partly thanks to Leland's 7 years as head of the Ohio DNC.]

Roemer: ...

Dean: If not the next DNC Chair, will you pledge to support the party under its next chair, and ask your supporters to. [Remember, these are assigned randomly.]  Of course, as pledged.  This isn't about the Dem party for me.  The reason I want this position is because I think helping the party is a way to give America back to the American people.

Frost: Do you support the Fowler rule. [Over my head.]


Fowler: How will you use technology to improve communication with the party?  Answered that he has 6 years experience in tech, but offered no ideas.  The big problem is the antagonism between the national and state parties.  We need to stop this.  I have the experience of doing grass roots work on the ground in 14 states, not just giving money from a national organization.

Rosenberg:...We must view the people in the party as participants.  The old model was to think of you out there as an ATM. [props to tim tagaris]

Question for all 7: Specifically what role do you envision doing with the state parties, both structurally and financially, and what role do you envision for the state parties in helping you.

Dean: I want to see the state parties everywhere empowered with grass roots support to be able to go out and knock on doors.  Chair in Kansas expressed his gratitude for all these new people.  And we need not just people in the party, but we need people running for office.  I want the state parties to get those people to run.  This can't come from Washington: even if I were twice as smart and twice as rich, I'm not the right one to do it.  

Leland:  I've been doing this since 1995.  A lot of what you're hearing up here are ideas that've been around.  Grass roots.  365 days a year.

Frost: The key is partnership.  The state chairs have asked that we put at least $200,000 into each state, and I will do that.  I have worked with my state party for 35 years....We will win Govs, Reps, Senate seats in 2006.

Rosenberg: We begin by listening to all of you.  There are people who know how to win here, and the foolks [typo retained] in DC need to listen to all of you. [Throughout the afternoon Simon repeatedly made it obvious that he was addressing the larger audience, rather than the DNC audience in the front that I would think it is really his job to persuade.  I don't know why this is]  4 points: (1) Message, fight fiercely, take ideas directly to them in all 50 states every day every year (2) infrastructure, got to start by building the state parties. (3) Grass roots, nurture the passion that has exploded in the last couple of years (4) Got to feel like we're on the same team again.  Our coalition has got to stand together despite our differences in position.

Roemer: [doesn't answer the question] I ran six times in red IA and I made it blue, winning against a Repub incumbent and then getting reelected as an incumbent.  In rural CA we want to lose by 10 points, not 20.  We need to go door-to-door

[Moderator Art Torres repeats the question.]

Fowler: I love being in the states.  I love being a Colonel in the field more than being a general.  Shout out to grass roots.  Here's what I'd do about national/state antagonism.  Dems: New Sen in CO.  Atty Genl in GA.  Montana.  We have a lot to learn from the states.  We need a ballot initiative strategy.

Webb: I was mayor for 12 years, and mayors think local.   First of all, after this election, the 7 of us need to all work together.  Money back to states. Talks about reaching out to women and minorites.  As chair I'll visit every state, and I'll let you know before I show up.  [laughter] Western primary earlier in the process.  Young people on the party payroll.

If I was to be hanged, there would be 10 times as many people waiting to see

Final summations.

WebbGeorge Bush said he wants to fight freedom and liberty abroad.  I think we should fight for freedom and liberty at home.  Unions, Roe, Education, SS -- which demonstrates that Bush is neither compassionate nor conservative, environmentalism -- need to deal with the problem that ranchers dislike environmentalism.  We need to stand up for our values.

Fowler As Democrats, we share so many core values and issues, we fight for the same things.  Once we remember that we're more than a collection of issues and interests and we talk to the American people about our hearts and souls and not just our minds, we've going to take our country back for a progressive agenda: economic justice, diversity, etc.  We are a party that believes in access: health care, education, jobs.  We are a party that likes to stand up and fight, when we're lead the right way -- ask Barbara Boxer.  Ask Christine Gregoire, who did not succumb.  Ask Carol Migden, Eugen McCarthy, ask Napolitano.  We need leadership that's going to get us back to the top. [The end was rousing in tone, but every bit as incoherent as my transcription makes it seem.]

Rosenberg Repubs have more power today than since the 20s.  We have to have the courage in the next 4 years to do the things that are going to put us back in power.  This is about the future of our country.  We have to be better than the Republicans at: grass roots, modern party, internet arena, everything that's now different.

Leland.  Strong Dems means building strong America.  Dems led us to victory in 2 world wars.  ....Dems put a man on the moon.  Dems gave us longest period of prosperity in our history.  We carry the aspirations of people who are voiceless without us.  [More vacuous stuff given in a rousing and climactic tone.]

Roemer.  Thanks all -- and thank you for not putting me after Howard Dean.  Churchill was once asked "Aren't you going to go outside?  There are 10,000 people waiting to hear you speak."  He replied, "If I was to be hanged, there would be 10 times as many".  There are people here wanting to see me hang.  If I believed everything I read, I might be out there watching.  My mother is a staunch pro-choicer, and I hear from her every day.  As DNC I would not overturn Roe v. Wade.  Let's talk about ways to achieve what we did in the Clinton years -- a redux in the number of abortions: they went up under Reagan and down under Clinton.  Let's fight and win. [BTW, conchis agrees with him on this point: the Clintonian safe/legal/rare rhetoric is the one we should be pushing.  That aside, Roemer is in no way qualified to be DNC Chair.]

Frost.  Thanks moderator and Cal State Party Chair Art Torres, thanks opponents.  If I win I will ask each one of them to play a major role in taking our message to our country.  One of the DNC Members asked me during a break to say more about myself.  I was elected 13 times in the reddest of red states and I maintained a committment to core Dem values that entire time.  I supported civil rights, human rights, choice, union organizers.  You need a leader who can articulate the values of our party.  I can go anywhere in the country and do that.  We are the majority party in this country.....If I am Chairman I will wake up every day asking how I can beat Karl Rove.

Dean.  [I only got bits of this.]  Last week I was endorsed by Murtha, right winger.  Last week, I was endorsed by a bunch of Oklahomans.  Job: raise money: in Pres campaign we raised money, independent of corporate money.  Job is to excite our base.  In any of your states I can come and raise money, I can come and energize your base.  I am working on a red-state special speech.  I'll make sure you have the money 365/every year.  But most important I stand for our values: [lists -- ending with balancing budget and moral foriegn policy]

And then we wrapped it up.  All in all a very satisfying day.  I'd be delighted to hear comments from people who weren't there (or were).  My analysis: Dean is an ace, Rosenberg is a strong B+, and everyone else falls far behind.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Rathergate vs. Saddam's WMD - A Quantitative Comparison

From the always excellent Poor Man:

RathergateSaddam's WMD
Investigation recently concluded?YesYes
Use of highly questionable supporting documents?YesYes
Central claims disproven?NoYes
Media spread questionable information?YesYes
Number of firings resulting from investigation40
Number of high-profile reassignments resulting from investigation10
Number of wars started using flawed justification01
Cost to American taxpayer$0.00~$150,000,000,000 (as of 1/12/05)
Number of American soldiers killed as a result01,357 (as of 1/12/05)
Number of British soldiers killed as a result076 (as of 1/12/05)
Number of other non-Iraqi allied soldiers killed as a result084 (as of 1/12/05)
Number of Iraqi policemen killed over last 4 months as a result01,300+
Number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result010,000-100,000+
Number of al-Qaeda training camps destroyed as a result00
Number of terrorist plots against the US foiled as a result00
Percentage of Iraqi people who view the US as "occupiers" as a resultno data available92%
Saddam Hussein removed from power as a result?NoYes
Saddam's torture chambers shut down as a result?NoNo
Iraqi people enjoying freedom as a result?NoNo (as of 1/12/05)
US's reputation severely damaged as a resultNoYes
US's military stretched thin as a result?NoYes
Posts mentioning story on NRO's "The Corner"100
Advantage blogosphere?No Please

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Reform Democrats

The fundamental goal of regular Americans for politics today is reform.

For Democrats, the fundamental kind of reform is to move away from corruption.

We need to move toward raising money in small contributions from individuals, from the grass roots, because an excess of corporate campgaign contributions has corrupted the Democratic party, and we need to move away from this. Now, make no mistake here, the reformed Democratic Party will be a friend of business. We stand for economic progress, in fact that's one of our core values. But progress benefits -- and must benefit -- all Americans. We will never let corporate interests get in line in front of the people -- business has to take a number and wait in line along with everybody else. In the last ten years Bill Clinton and the Washington Democrats have let corporations cut in line. This has got to stop.

Reform Democrats seek not only to clean up our party, but also to clean up the mainstream media. The mainstream media, too, is corrupted by corporations -- the corporations that own it. We reform Democrats speak out against the mainstream media: we prefer not to read it, because we read every day on the internet about how much right-wing bias there is in the mainstream media; when people call it "the liberal media" we stand up and you in the media do not represent my interest. Maybe you are somebody's kind of liberal, but you are not my kind of liberal.

Today's Democratic Party must stand for reform.

DNC: Tell Them You Support Howard Dean

I've been encouraging people to support Howard Dean for DNC Chair, because he has the reformer spirit and the grass-roots know-how to turn the Democratic Party from the weak, corporate-beholden party that it is into the strong people's party that it must be. Why do I think so? Because his Presidential campaign raised unexpected millions in small contributions from indviduals over the internet, thus giving the party more fuel and giving corporate donors proportionally less influence. Because his campaign listened to individuals at the grass roots.

If you support Howard Dean, this is a good time for you to make your feelings known to the DNC Committe Membersfrom your state, most especially those from your local area. You can also contact your State Party Executive Director. Let these people know how you feel about Howard Dean and let them know who you are, especially if you're an active party member or hold office within the Party.

And if you live near LA, there's an opportunity this weekend to show up and make your voice heard in person:

Patriotic Hall
1816 S. Figueroa St, Downtown Los Angeles
(directions/location. Patriotic Hall is south of the Santa Monica (10) freeway, about 4 blocks from the LA Convention Center. The Metro blue line (Grand Ave )stop is 1.5 blocks away.

The DNC California delegation is looking forward to your input!

Approximately one third of the DNC members from CA are expected to attend

If you cannot attend, please feel free to provide your input by e-mail to:
Or send written input, by mail to : L/O Pam Cooke, 6454 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 209, Van Nuys, CA 91401.

Republican Noise Machine: A Quick Summary

From Lewis Lapham, via mydd:


(in $ Millions)
The Bradley Foundation584
Smith Richardson Foundation494
Scaife Family (Four Foundations)478.4
Earhart Foundation84
John M. Olin Foundation71
Koch Family (Three Foundations)68
Castle Rock (Coors) Foundation50
JM Foundation25
Philip M. McKenna Foundation17.4


(in $ Millions)
(in $ Millions)
The Heritage Foundation 33
American Enterprise Institute 25
Hoover Institution 25
Cato Institute 17.6
Hudson Institute 7.8
Manhattan Institute 7.2
Citizens for a Sound Economy 5.4
Reason Foundation 4.9
National Center for Policy Analysis 4.7
Competitive Enterprise Institute 3.2
Free Congress Foundation 2.7
Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis 2.5


Pat Robertson's 700 Club
Fox News Channel
MSNBC's Scarborough Country
Oliver North's War Stories
The Rush Limbaugh Show
The Cal Thomas Commentary
Radio America
Eagle Publishing, Inc.
The Washington Times
The Wall Street journal


(in $ Millions)
George Mason University 7
Harvard University 6
Intercollegiate Studies Institute 5.8
University of Chicago 5
Yale University 5
Washington University 4
Stanford University 3
Institute for Humane Studies 2.9
National Association of Scholars 1.2

Give to $10 your local thinktank today (see the sidebar for details).

What Liberal Media?

Atrios has a catalog of reporters who lied about the Whitewater scandal in the 1990s, and yet recieved far less attention than the errorful Rather.

I could go on and on. But, the worst Rather has been accused of by sensible people is letting partisanship cloud his judgment. Accepting that as true just for sake of argument, it's still a far less egregious sin than most of the Whitewater-era horseshit which has never been acknowledged as horseshit by the liberal media, even though unlike the Rather incident, much of that horseshit was clearly deliberately manufactured by the producers and reporters. These events were recycled and echoed throuhgout the entire liberal media, with no one calling foul and no one calling for their heads.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Daily Show on Harry Reid

Harry Reid's message to his party: At least we're not dying in a mine shaft.


Malibu, CA.

Fire the Consultants

A fine serious article from Amy Sullivan:

Hansen is part of a clique of Washington consultants who, through their insider ties, continue to get rewarded with business even after losing continually. Pollster Mark Mellman is popular among Democrats because he tells them what they so desperately want to hear: Their policies are sound, Americans really agree with them more than with Republicans, and if they just repeat their mantras loud enough, voters will eventually embrace the party. As Noam Scheiber pointed out in a New Republic article following the great Democratic debacle of '02, Mellman was, perhaps more than anyone else, the architect of that defeat. As the DSCC's recommended pollster, he advised congressional Democrats to ignore national security and Iraq in favor of an endless campaign about prescription drugs and education. After the party got its clock cleaned based on his advice, Mellman should have been exiled but was instead...promoted. He became the lead pollster for John Kerry's presidential campaign, where he proffered eerily similar advice—stress domestic policy, stay away from attacking Bush—to much the same effect.

Hansen and Mellman are joined by the poster boy of Democratic social promotion, Bob Shrum. Over his 30-year career, Shrum has worked on the campaigns of seven losing presidential candidates—from George McGovern to Bob Kerrey—capping his record with a leading role in the disaster that was the Gore campaign. Yet, instead of abiding by the “seven strikes and you're out” rule, Democrats have continued to pay top dollar for his services (sums that are supplemented by the percentage Shrum's firm, Shrum, Devine & Donilon, gets for purchasing air time for commercials). Although Shrum has never put anyone in the White House, in the bizarro world of Democratic politics, he's seen as a kingmaker—merely hiring the media strategist gives a candidate such instant credibility with big-ticket liberal funders that John Kerry and John Edwards fought a fierce battle heading into the 2004 primaries to lure Shrum to their camps. Ultimately, Shrum chose Kerry, and on Nov. 3, he extended his perfect losing record.

And why do these losers rise to such high positions?

The consultants are filling a vacuum....

All well worth reading.

Conference on Journalism and Credibility

Harvard's conference on Blogging, Journlism, and Credibility has been announced. As you'll note from the list of participants, it doesn't involve many legitimate bloggers; despite its title, it appears to be meant for journalistic handwringing specifically. joshyelon gives his take as part of a discussion at mydd:

This is the second time I've read about a formal conference at which journalists scratch their heads and try to figure out why they aren't trusted any more.  This is analogous to me hosting a conference of Ph.D. computer engineers at my house to figure out why my computer is unplugged.

If you want to know why journalists aren't trusted, pick a random day and read the front page of the New York Times.  Usually, the errors and omissions are so blatant that anyone with half a brain can see them.  And the NYT is a good paper, relatively speaking.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Fafblog Compares Alberto Gonzalez to a Baked Potato

From Fafblog!

Alberto Gonzales: Doesn't offer own legal opinions to the president, can't remember previous legal opinions for the senate, can't explain current legal opinions to anybody.
Baked potato: Doesn't offer own legal opinions to the president, can't remember previous legal opinions for the senate, can't explain current legal opinions to anybody, and is covered with hot melted butter and sour cream!
Advantage: POTATO

Social Security: Why Private Accounts Don't Work

One reason of many, from the TalkingPointsMemo mailbag

You've mentioned Social security as insurance, previously, but I think the point deserves more emphasis. Reducing social security benefits and replacing (some of) the lost benefits with private investment accounts is still gambling EVEN if the accounts earn a relatively optimistic rate of return, and EVEN if the accounts are limited to conservative investment options. The reason why private investment accounts are RISKY is because people don't know how long they will live. Someone living to (say) 95 is going to do much worse with private investments, simply because the privately invested money is going to run out well before they die.

The scam here (on the part of those trying to sell private investment accounts as a substitute) is that they (implicitly) are talking about what someone who lives to the AVERAGE lifespan will be getting. But half (or so) of retirees are going to live LONGER than average. This half will either have to withdraw money more slowly (live less well) [and how will they be able to predict this?] or will exhaust their private investment accounts long before they die.

So with private accounts, those who die early end up with some (or much) of their money going to the heirs, and those who die late end up (potentially) in poverty. Only the hypothetical "average" person (the one who dies at an average age, having exactly exhausted his/her private investments at exactly the right time) is going to do as well as any "predicted" outcome for private investment accounts.


In the Google World, Newspapers' Impermananence Becomes a Serious Oversight

Says Jay Rosen:

I think it shameful, not to mention a crisis in authority, that the solid journalistic achievement of most people in daily newspapers across the land is being lost to Google, lost to bloggers, lost to online forums and conversation, lost to the long tail where value is built up.

Does your average hard working environment reporter even know that her comprehensive portrait of an ecological disaster in the making won't ever make it into search engines so that people can see where it all began, so that high school kids researching an assignment would find it and get the whole story? Do the newsroom troops understand this "lost to the future" quality about their best work? Who was supposed to tell them?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

San Fernando Democrats Resolve to Oppose Phasing Out Social Security

This from The Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, i.e. much of suburban LA:

WHEREAS Social Security is the most successful domestic program in American history, having provided a guaranteed retirement safety net for millions of Americans since 1935, and

WHEREAS current Congressional Budget Office projections report the trust fund will remain solvent through 2052, afterwards covering 81% of promised benefits, with no change to the program, while transition costs alone for abandoning Social Security in favor of private accounts are estimated at 2 trillion dollars, and

WHEREAS the so-called "crisis" in Social Security is a manufactured scare tactic intended to bolster President Bush's plans to replace Social Security with an unstable market-based system,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley opposes any effort to phase out and/or replace Social Security, in whole or in part, in favor of a private accounts-based system, and

RESOLVED that the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley will not endorse or support financially any Democratic candidate who expresses support, advocates for, or votes for such a plan.

Passed 01/03/2005

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Jon Stewart on the Gonzalez Confirmation

Hearings began today to confirm San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matthew Conzalez as George Bush's Attorney General.

-- err, not that Gonzalez.

No sign of due diligence in the Senate today. Orin Hatch, for example, fell all over himself and thanked Gonzalez for bringing his lovely wife and his tremendous mother. Retaliated Jon Stewart: "Yo, Senator Hatch. Yo mama's so tremendous that when she hauls ass she has to make two trips."

And Howard Zinn on our rulers: "They're addicted to power. They're addicted to war."

Ohio Vote Debate on C-SPAN and C-SPAN2

A joint session of Congress is convening now (C-SPAN) to count the electoral votes from 2004. It is expected that an objection will be raised over voter suppression related to Ohio's electoral votes, by American Patriot-of-the-month Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH). There will then be separate debates on the subject in the House (C-SPAN) and the Senate (C-SPAN2).

Always strange to see these Republican crooks held to account by the American people. Fasten your seatbelts.

[Update] 10:22: They've just objected. Cheney has just announced that the houses will seperate for debate. The Senate is "retiring" (i.e. walking) to its chamber.

Harry Reid has just announced that Senators who want to speak should come to the chamber and speak now. The Republicans, it appears, might choose not to speak further. I presume they've decided that an intial 5-minute broadside by DeWine (R-OH) has provided enough soundbytes for CNN, MSNBC, and the rest of the corporate media, who naturally will be interested in covering this episode largely from DeWine's perspective: that of ignoring Boxer's objection, and referring instead to other, less-well-substantiated objections about the Ohio vote that have been made over the last few months by random citizens on the ground.

Boxer is In

NOW reports that Sen. Barbara Boxer has agreed to call for Congressional debate on the Ohio vote count -- which means debate will occur. It's helpful now if you contact your own Senators and Congressman and ask them also to work today in the legislature to get to the bottom of voter suppression in Ohio. NOW also suggests that you "Take a minute to write a single paragraph to your local newspaper's editor, or call a radio talk show to praise Sen. Boxer and all of the House members, Democrat and Independent, who took a stand for democracy."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Voter Suppression. Contact Boxer. Now.

At 1 pm EST Thursday, because of concerns about the massive voter suppression efforts by Republicans in last Novembers' election, Representative John Conyers will make a procedural objection in Congress, bringing about a debate over voter suppression and related issues. Lots more details are here from Olbermann. This debate will only happen if one Senator joins Rep. Conyers in objecting -- and the Senator most likely is California's Barbara Boxer. Californian? Contact her by 1 pm EST, via her email or her fax at 415-956-6701. Her phone, which I'm told is now always busy, is at 202-224-3553. Otherwise, contact your own Senator at Contacting the Congress.

From MoveOn's letter on the subject

When Congress reconvenes this Thursday to ratify the 2004 Presidential election, Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) will object to the vote count in Ohio, and if even one Senator joins him, Congress will have to debate the widespread voting problems that have been exposed. Nobody expects this election to be overturned, but it's time in this country to seriously grapple with the issues of voting rights, un-auditable computerized voting, and the suppression of minority votes.

Call your Democratic Senators today and ask them to join Representative Conyers in challenging the 2004 voting process. With your support, they can step forward and force this important debate. Just call [the numbers for your Senators at Contacting the Congress; for Boxer, see above]

Please let us know you've made these calls at our site

In November's election, Americans in inner cities were prevented from voting by eight-hour lines. Local officials changed the rules on which votes were counted. Technicians were allowed to tamper with balloting machines unsupervised. We've attached an editorial by Rev. Jesse Jackson with more details below.

The winners of these tainted elections assert that their outcomes didn't depend on the fraud. But even in sports, referees call penalties and enforce the rules, whether or not the game is at stake. Nowhere in the Constitution does it describe some acceptable level of denying Americans their votes. When Congress meets this Thursday, January 6, we'll have a good opportunity to make it clear that Americans want every vote counted, period.

A sound democracy depends on elections that everyone, winners and losers, can agree were held fairly and honestly. America doesn't have that now, and it's got to change.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Evangelicals v. Professors

I've felt for a while that a big problem with the Democratic coalition is that the coalition between Christian Democrats and secular Democrats isn't nearly as tight as it should be. Here William Stuntz goes one step further. Stuntz is a Professor at Harvard Law School and worships at an evangelical church, where most people vote Republican. He argues that the two groups have a lot in common -- they just don't know each other:

Most of my Christian friends have no clue what goes on in faculty clubs. And my colleagues in faculty offices cannot imagine what happens in those evangelical churches on Sunday morning.

In both cases, the truth is surprisingly attractive. And surprisingly similar: Churches and universities are the two twenty-first century American enterprises that care most about ideas, about language, and about understanding the world we live in, with all its beauty and ugliness. Nearly all older universities were founded as schools of theology: a telling fact. Another one is this: A large part of what goes on in those church buildings that dot the countryside is education -- people reading hard texts, and trying to sort out what they mean.

Another similarity is less obvious but no less important. Ours is an individualist culture; people rarely put their community's welfare ahead of their own. It isn't so rare in churches and universities. Churches are mostly run by volunteer labor (not to mention volunteered money): those who tend nurseries and teach Sunday School classes get nothing but a pat on the back for their labor. Not unlike the professors who staff important faculty committees. An economist friend once told me that economics departments are ungovernable, because economists understand the reward structure that drives universities: professors who do thankless institutional tasks competently must do more such tasks. Yet the trains run more or less on time -- maybe historians are running the economics departments -- because enough faculty attach enough importance to the welfare of their colleagues and students. Selfishness and exploitation are of course common too, in universities and churches as everywhere else. But one sees a good deal of day-to-day altruism, which is not common everywhere else.

And each side of this divide has something to teach the other. Evangelicals would benefit greatly from the love of argument that pervades universities. The "scandal of the evangelical mind" -- the title of a wonderful book by evangelical author and professor Mark Noll -- isn't that evangelicals aren't smart or don't love ideas. They are, and they do. No, the real scandal is the lack of tough, hard questioning to test those ideas. Christians believe in a God-Man who called himself (among other things) "the Truth." Truth-seeking, testing beliefs with tough-minded questions and arguments, is a deeply Christian enterprise. Evangelical churches should be swimming in it. Too few are.

For their part, universities would be better, richer places if they had an infusion of the humility that one finds in those churches. Too often, the world of top universities is defined by its arrogance: the style of argument is more "it's plainly true that" than "I wonder whether." We like to test our ideas, but once they've passed the relevant academic hurdles (the bar is lower than we like to think), we talk and act as though those ideas are not just right but obviously right -- only a fool or a bigot could think otherwise.
There is even a measure of political common ground. True, university faculties are heavily Democratic, and evangelical churches are thick with Republicans. But that red-blue polarization is mostly a consequence of which issues are on the table -- and which ones aren't. Change the issue menu, and those electoral maps may look very different. Imagine a presidential campaign in which the two candidates seriously debated how a loving society should treat its poorest members. Helping the poor is supposed to be the left's central commitment, going back to the days of FDR and the New Deal. In practice, the commitment has all but disappeared from national politics...

I don't think my liberal Democratic professor friends like this state of affairs. And -- here's a news flash -- neither do most evangelicals, who regard helping the poor as both a passion and a spiritual obligation, not just a political preference. (This may be even more true of theologically conservative Catholics.) These men and women vote Republican not because they like the party's policy toward poverty -- cut taxes and hope for the best -- but because poverty isn't on the table anymore. In evangelical churches, elections are mostly about abortion. Neither party seems much concerned with giving a hand to those who most need it.

That could change. I can't prove it, but I think there is a large, latent pro-redistribution evangelical vote, ready to get behind the first politician to tap into it. (Barack Obama, are you listening?) If liberal Democratic academics believe the things they say they believe -- and I think they do -- there is an alliance here just waiting to happen.

Humility, love of serious ideas, commitment to helping the poor -- these are things my faculty friends and my church friends ought to be able to get together on. If they ever do, look out: American politics, and maybe American life, will be turned upside down.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Alan Keyes' Blog

Finally, from Alan Keyes, a right-wing blog that's really readable. Start the New Year right.