Thursday, November 30, 2006
The free speech triumph of Lisa Jensen and Bill Trimarco may herald a less repressive climate, at least for some who dissent.Howie request: Can anyone help me get my own Peace Wreath?
Jensen and Trimarco of Loma Linda, Colorado, put up a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace symbol on their house. For doing so, they were threatened by the Loma Linda Homeowners Association with a $25-a-day fine. They said they were displaying the peace sign in part because the association made another couple in their subdivision, Will and Nancy Dunbar, remove their peace sign from the end of their driveway a few days before.
“People have heard our message of peace.”
“Jensen and Trimarco crafted their peace wreath Nov. 18,” the Denver Post reported. “Within 24 hours, they received a notice from their homeowners association stating that the wreath violated covenants against displaying signs and advertisements.”
The letter said, in part, that “Loma Linda residents are offended by the peace sign displayed on the front of your house.” Bob Kearns, who was president of the association at the time, said, “Some people have kids in Iraq, and they are sensitive,” the Post reported, adding that he also said some viewed it as a sign of Satan.
When word got out, the homeowners association was besieged by negative reaction, including from Loma Linda residents and from families of Iraq War soldiers. On November 27, the association apologized to Jensen and Trimarco. Kearns and the other board members resigned.
Meanwhile, people in nearby Pagosa Springs have rallied behind Jensen and Trimarco—and have put up peace signs of their own.
“A new lighted wreath in the shape of a peace sign now graces the tower of the old Pagosa Springs town hall, and a band of townspeople marched Tuesday carrying peace signs and stamping a large peace sign in the snow of a town park,” the Denver Post reported. “Peace-sign wreaths are also popping up on homes as Pagosa Springs becomes part of a wide-ranging holiday wreath movement that has been sparked by controversy” over the Jensen and Trimarco case.
“Score one for peace and comity,” editorialized the Denver Post when the association backed down.
“People have heard our message of peace,” Jensen told the paper. “It’s been phenomenal.”
Will Dunbar reflects back on the whole incident.
“I just thought someone needed to put it out there,” he tells The Progressive, explaining why he posted his own sign earlier this month. “Peace is a good thing.”
After the homeowners association made him take it down, “We put a peace wreath made of Christmas tree lights in our window.” The Dunbars weren’t hassled about that one.
Dunbar doesn’t want the town to get a bad reputation. “We’re in a healing process right now,” he says.
“There’s been so much positive response within our subdivision,” he adds. “Lisa got so many positive calls. Several other people put up small peace signs in support of Lisa, and I personally never heard any negative comments, and last time I asked Lisa, she never had heard any, either.”
Dunbar was one of those who participated in the Pagosa Springs march.
“I think there was only 20 of us,” he says. “We didn’t start organizing until the night before. The walk was at 9:00 in the morning. It was snowing out, so we made a 150-foot peace sign in the snow” at the local park. “There was a lot of support in the town. People waved and gave us the peace sign.”
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Paul Rogat Loeb:
Just as cities have adopted environmental and wage laws that exceed federal standards, maybe it's time for local initiatives protecting the integrity of the vote. We've been seeing electoral abuses and manipulations since the Bush Administration took power. So we need to insure the Democrats make national electoral protection a priority. But we can also act on a local level.
To prevent similar future abuses, Illinois Senator Barack Obama's Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act would make it a felony to deliberately give misleading information on the time, date or location of elections, or about voter eligibility. New Jersey Congressman and former Princeton physicist Rush Holt has offered the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, which mandates a verifiable paper trail for all election machines, requires random audits to insure ballots are properly counted and bans wireless connections to make machines less vulnerable to hacking. Holt's bill had the support of a majority of House members even before the midterm election, and should have an irrefutable additional argument with the meltdown of the machines in the Jennings/Buchanan race--not to mention the inability of Republicans to do comprehensive recounts in states like Virginia, where most machines lacked a paper trail. An even stronger alternative would be Dennis Kucinich's HB 6200, which would require paper ballots to be hand-counted at the precinct level.
But just as local minimum wage and environmental ordinances often surpass federal standards, local election standards can be made stronger than national efforts to protect the vote. Because most of the areas targeted by voter suppression attempts are urban and minority communities, Democratic mayors, county executives and governors already control many of the key jurisdictions. They just need to act on the power that they have.
Passing tough new local laws to protect the vote could create an immediate check against voter suppression in a situation where the Bush Administration is unlikely to prosecute its own political allies. If such laws were enacted before 2008, they could prove a major deterrent to the abuses we've seen in the past several elections, insuring their perpetrators could be prosecuted no matter who won at the national level. We still need strong national laws to safeguard elections in Republican-controlled states--Florida, for instance, has continued its voter purges and has instituted draconian procedures and penalties that have made it virtually impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters to begin major registration drives.
For all the legal eagles, here's the follow up document to Elizabeth de la Vega's original post, "The White House Criminal Conspiracy," a legal brief in the matter of United States v. George W. Bush et al.
Elizabeth de la Vega is a former federal prosecutor with more than twenty years of experience. During her tenure, she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Chief of the San Jose Branch of the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Her pieces have appeared in The Nation, the Los Angeles Times and Salon.
The Young Turks talk with Nichols today about the media's changing coverage of Iraq, Howard Dean and other matters (16:05).
They are basing their conversation on this piece that Nichols did in The Nation,"News Flash: Major Media Begins to Think for Itself":
They are basing their conversation on this piece that Nichols did in The Nation,"News Flash: Major Media Begins to Think for Itself":
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The notion that the Democratic Party is in some state of electoral crisis requiring radical revisions of existing doctrine has almost no evidence on its behalf. Democrats made gains in congressional elections in 1996, 1998, and 2000. They won popular pluralities in presidential elections in 1992, 1996, and 2000. They won a sweeping congressional victory in 2006. Their political problems in recent decades consist entirely of poor ballot design in the state of Florida and the two post-9/11 elections of 2002 and 2004. The resurgence of public concern with national security issues after the catastrophic terror attacks of September 11, 2001 was a serious political challenge for a party that had been bedeviled by the politics of security ever since the mid-1960s or so.In another look at the Dems today, Terry Leach offers "The Democratic Penchant for Self-Sabotage."
It was a challenge that the party met very poorly. Soon after the attacks, the Bush administration began moving toward an invasion of Iraq. A timid Democratic Party leadership, given cover by a surprisingly large band of "liberal hawk" intellectuals, chose to go along for the ride. Dubious intelligence claims and dubious strategic assumptions were not seriously challenged by the relevant congressional figures (Carl Levin, top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee is an honorable exception here — but a rare one) or the leading presidential candidates. This was supposed to save Democrats' skin in the '02 midterms, but it didn't work. It also ensured that when the war was clearly going poorly in 2004, the party was ill-positioned to take advantage of it.
By 2006, things had changed. Nancy Pelosi, an Iraq dove from the beginning, was in charge of the House Democrats. Howard Dean was installed as Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Senate leader Harry Reid, Ike Skelton and John Murtha, the top House Democrats on defense issues, had defected to the dove camp. "Moderate" Republicans who'd backed the war went down to defeat all across the Northeast and in many parts of the Midwest. Strong candidates like Jim Webb and John Tester divorced a hard-headed anti-war message from countercultural associations and won in Virginia and Montana.
It was, in short, a triumph of the doves.
Under the circumstances, the number of people arguing on behalf of a rear-guard holding action by the dwindling ranks of Democratic hawks is truly remarkable. Somehow, the conventional wisdom has become that Emanuel and Hoyer are the keys to Democratic political success and that it's vitally important for the hawkish Jane Harman to run the House Intelligence Committee. James Carville was seen arguing loudly that the Democrats should take the unprecedented step of booting Dean from his DNC Chairmanship in the wake of a win. Hillary Clinton, somewhat astoundingly, continues to be the frontrunner for the 2008 nomination and all eyes are turning to James Baker's Iraq Study Group. This outfit's avoided organizers experts with extreme views on either side of the Iraq war debate" even though in this instance the "extreme" left view — that the war was a mistake and we should stop fighting it — has majority support.
All told, it looks like a remarkable effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; to take power out of the hands of the people who were right on the leading issue of our time and put it back in the hands of those who were wrong, both substantively and politically. That's crazy, but it's what's going to happen unless liberals get serious about national security policy. Not "serious" in the Beltway sense of "inclined to favor starting wars" but actually serious about waging and winning these intra-party battles instead of letting the hawks drive the bus off the cliff and then starting to fight back.
The Nation (editorial):
On the day after the election, Clintonistas-in-Waiting awoke to realize their wing of the party is not represented at the top of the party. For them, it seems, restoration of a Clinton White House--getting Senator Hillary Clinton nominated in 2008--needs inside influence. Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite their cultural differences, are both labor liberals. So why not take a shot at Dean and see what happens? Senator Clinton issued a limp disavowal, but if her side wants to start a fight, she can't have it both ways.
Now that the votes have been counted, the American people are ready for swift steps to extract U.S. forces from a no-win situation.Susan Hu gives us "Predictions DIRECTLY From Baker's Iraq Study Group," from "a member of the Iraq Study Group. I am simply posting the report. The source is trusted."
Yet, while Democratic leaders talk of "going slow," smart Republicans are recognizing the political opening and seizing it.
Case in point: Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel's opinion piece in Sunday's Washington Post.
Hagel has long been blunter than his Democratic colleagues about the disaster that the Iraq occupation has become for the U.S. The Nebraska Republican was making comparisons between the Vietnam War, in which he served, and the Iraq imbroglio months ago -- at a point when most Senate Democrats were holding their tongues.
Hagel has now taken the mightly leap of declaring that it is time to "form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq."
If they are outflanked by Republicans like Hagel on the central issue of our time, Democrats will also pay a high price. They will lose the popular support and the moral authority that their November 7 successes gave them. And Americans, who polls show are ready for rapid withdrawal, will give their support to the leaders who are willing to say not just that it is time to bring the troops home but also, as Hagel does, that it is time for the U.S. to radically alter its approach to the Middle East.
There is no solution. We’ve destroyed Iraq and we’veThanks to Annie Robbins for passing this along. Atrios goes down the memory hole to pull out Bush's "Deck of Cards."
destroyed the region, and Americans need to know this. This isn’t
Rwanda where we can just sit back and watch the Hutus and Tutsis kill
each other, and be like wow this is terrible should we do something? We
destroyed Iraq. There was no civil war in Iraq until we got there. And
there was no civil war in Iraq, until we took certain steps to pit
Sunnis against Shias. And now it is just too late. But, we need to know
we are responsible for what’s happening in Iraq today. I don't think
Americans are aware of this. We've managed to make Saddam Hussein look
good even to Shias at this point. And what we’ve managed to do is not
only destabilize Iraq, but destabilize Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran. This
is going to spread for decades, the region won’t recover from this, I
think for decades. And Americans are responsible.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Maybe this explains why I can't seem to get into the "holiday spirit" this year.
Americans are shopping while Iraq burns.
The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City — where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs — and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight.
A Wal-Mart in Union, N.J., was besieged by customers even before it opened its doors at 5 a.m. on Friday. “All I can tell you,” said a Wal-Mart employee, “is that they were fired up and ready to spend money.”
There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it.
Representative Charles Rangel recently proposed that the draft be reinstated, suggesting that politicians would be more reluctant to take the country to war if they understood that their constituents might be called up to fight. What struck me was not the uniform opposition to the congressman’s proposal — it has long been clear that there is zero sentiment in favor of a draft in the U.S. — but the fact that it never provoked even the briefest discussion of the responsibilities and obligations of ordinary Americans in a time of war.
With no obvious personal stake in the war in Iraq, most Americans are indifferent to its consequences. In an interview last week, Alex Racheotes, a 19-year-old history major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said: “I definitely don’t know anyone who would want to fight in Iraq. But beyond that, I get the feeling that most people at school don’t even think about the war. They’re more concerned with what grade they got on yesterday’s test.”
His thoughts were echoed by other students, including John Cafarelli, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, who was asked if he had any friends who would be willing to join the Army. “No, definitely not,” he said. “None of my friends even really care about what’s going on in Iraq.”
This indifference is widespread. It enables most Americans to go about their daily lives completely unconcerned about the atrocities resulting from a war being waged in their name. While shoppers here are scrambling to put the perfect touch to their holidays with the purchase of a giant flat-screen TV or a PlayStation 3, the news out of Baghdad is of a society in the midst of a meltdown.
According to the United Nations, more than 7,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in September and October. Nearly 5,000 of those killings occurred in Baghdad, a staggering figure.
In a demoralizing reprise of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, the U.N. reported that in Iraq: “The situation of women has continued to deteriorate. Increasing numbers of women were recorded to be either victims of religious extremists or ‘honor killings.’ Some non-Muslim women are forced to wear a headscarf and to be accompanied by spouses or male relatives.”
Journalists in Iraq are being “assassinated with utmost impunity,” the U.N. report said, with 18 murdered in the last two months.
Iraq burns. We shop. The Americans dying in Iraq are barely mentioned in the press anymore. They warrant maybe one sentence in a long roundup article out of Baghdad, or a passing reference — no longer than a few seconds — in a television news account of the latest political ditherings.
Since the vast majority of Americans do not want anything to do with the military or the war, the burden of fighting has fallen on a small cadre of volunteers who are being sent into the war zone again and again. Nearly 3,000 have been killed, and many thousands more have been maimed.
The war has now lasted as long as the American involvement in World War II. But there is no sense of collective sacrifice in this war, no shared burden of responsibility. The soldiers in Iraq are fighting, suffering and dying in a war in which there are no clear objectives and no end in sight, and which a majority of Americans do not support.
They are dying anonymously and pointlessly, while the rest of us are free to buckle ourselves into the family vehicle and head off to the malls and shop.
Maybe this explains why I can't seem to get into the "holiday spirit" this year.
Tracy Joan (the Online Outreach Coordinator/Blogger for the DNC)on Kos:
When I first read about the "Great Howard Dean Birthday Card Project" on DailyKos I must say that I wasn't surprised that so many Democrats had jumped on board with the idea to celebrate Governor Dean's birthday and deliver a nice big grassroots "Thank You" for his special day! Coming up with, organizing and executing this kind of project is the kind of thing that makes this community so special. And it's the kind of thing that we've become accustomed to - people power in action.Hat tip to Renee in Ohio.
* Tracy Joan's diary :: ::
I mentioned to the folks in the Chairman's office, and in the mail room, that they should be on the look-out for cards (from the blogosphere, with love!). A few days later when the cards started rolling in everyone here was, once again, amazed at the outpouring of support that Governor Dean, and by extension, the DNC, has received time and again from grassroots Democrats.
The same Democrats who are out there supporting the Governor, the 50-State Strategy and Democratic candidates who are fighting everywhere, everyday, are the Democrats who took the time to send in a Birthday card and the gesture was much appreciated.
Hundreds of cards and thousands of dollars came via snail mail to the DNC. We saw some Personal Fundraising pages break out the old Dean bat to raise some Birthday donations and a slew of online activity, all because it was your way of helping Governor Dean celebrate his birthday - by supporting something you already know that he loves - our Party.
So this is just a brief diary to say thank you for the hours and hours of time you have given, your kind words, your hard earned dollars, your words of encouragement and and your on-going support. It means a lot to us here, and it means a lot to the Governor. It's because of Democrats like you that we are going strong at the DNC and ready to get back to work and win in 2008!
So from the DNC, with love, thank YOU!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Three Democratic congressmen who are about to take important leadership posts said on Sunday they plan to pass popular legislation blocked by Republicans but would refrain from pushing some of the most controversial elements on the liberal agenda.
The three, appearing on Fox News Sunday, are among the most liberal Democrats who will take over key committee chairmanships when Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives in January.
Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who will take over the U.S. House of Representatives committee that covers banking and other financial institutions, mentioned raising the minimum wage, providing cheaper drug coverage for the elderly and providing more affordable housing and help with college tuition as the focus of Democratic legislation.
"Our first efforts are going to be to do those things that I think the mainstream of America wants," Frank said. "Some things have become liberal because the right wingers who control the Republican party have abandoned them to us."
Asked about his opposition to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gay service men and women, Frank, one of the few openly gay members of the House, said he would fight discrimination but that issue was "not what we're going to begin with."
"Democrats like winning elections," said Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the longest serving member of the House.
"We want to win elections and we're going to do our best to do so," he said. "This doesn't mean to get into any extreme positions on any matter. We'll do what makes good sense."
Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who is about to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee which handles tax matters, said, "We don't want really a fight with the president. What we want to do is to prove we can govern for the next two years."
While he stood by his proposal to bring back the military draft to spread the burden of the Iraq war more evenly throughout U.S. society, Rangel said he would not push the issue and recognizes the obstacles to it ever passing.
He pointed out that Democrats' majority in House and especially in the Senate was thin and in the end President George W. Bush always had the power to veto what Congress passes.
House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi has set off a power struggle among fellow Democrats and drawn unusually dire warnings from editorial writers coast-to-coast as suspense builds over who will chair the House intelligence committee.Thanks to SusanUnPC for the tip.
Pelosi, who has already named most of the committee heads along traditional seniority lines, has balked at picking fellow California Rep. Jane Harman, who is now the top Democrat on the highly sensitive intel panel.
Former Rep. Timothy Roemer, co-chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, said his advice to Pelosi would be "to be creative" in her choice.
Roemer, who was a "Blue Dog" Democrat when he served in the House, said the decision would be one of the most important for the new speaker. "It's like the president picking a cabinet," he said, adding that the intelligence committee post is a key indicator for the party's foreign policy positions.
"This is no short order cook" job, he added. "She needs to get somebody who is an articulate spokesperson, open to new ideas, (who) can be effective in the media, and also work in a bipartisan manner."
Roemer suggested that Pelosi could go outside the committee to select Rep. Norm Dicks of Washington, who previously served on the intelligence panel; Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois lawmaker who led the party's successful election campaign in the House and who previously worked in the Clinton White House; or Rep. Adam Schiff of California, currently serving on the House International Relations Committee.
Asked about the reaction if Pelosi should pick Hastings as chairman, Roemer said, "There will be a beehive full of Republicans with their talking points already written, ready to go after whoever she picks. She has to make sure she doesn't give them a lot of ammunition on this particular appointment."
After Downing Street.org:
Ellsberg is optimistic that Gates less likely than Rumsfeld to attack Iran, and that Democratic Congress will investigate bogus claims used to justify an attack on Iran: VIDEO.
According to credible Iraqi sources in London and Amman, a secret story of America's diplomatic exit strategy from Iraq is rapidly unfolding.
Earlier this year, an American peace delegation, including Cindy Sheehan, found themselves in two days of meetings with Iraqis of every political stripe. US Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) was crucial in making these contacts by his persistent efforts at mid-east dialogue. Dal LaMagna, a self-described "frustrated peacemaker" made both trips to Amman, and provided this writer with videos and transcripts of the interviews on which this article is based.
It must be emphasized that there is no reason to believe that these US gestures are anything more than probes, in the historic spirit of divide-and-conquer, before escalating the Iraq war in a Baghdad offensive. Denial plausibility - aka Machiavellian secrecy - remains American security policy, for understandable if undemocratic reasons.
Yet Americans who voted in the November election because of a deep belief that a change of government in Washington might end the war have a right to know that their votes counted. The US has not abandoned its entire strategy in Iraq, but is offering significant concessions without its own citizens knowing.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
From bob fertik on Kos:
Wednesday's open thread turned into a terrific debate on impeachment.
Kos is opposed to impeachment because
1. "'President Cheney' is fucking scary."
2. "We have a chance to show America what a governing Democratic Party looks like. And a governing party governs" - which excludes impeachment.
3. "We spend all of our time and media oxygen trying to convict, and it costs us Congress" in 2008
* bob fertik's diary :: ::
Kos's objections were vigorously disputed by commenters:
1. We must impeach Bush and Cheney - perhaps Cheney first.
2. Oversight and investigations are an essential part of Congressional governing. Besides, Democrats can walk (govern) and chew gum (impeach) at the same time.
3. After Democrats hold hearings, prove the case for impeachment, and win support from the 60% of Americans who already disapprove of Bush, the Republicans who stand in the way will be endangered, not the Democrats who support it.
Vote in the poll below.
I just returned from seeing the new movie “Bobby” about RFK. It was a very rich, textured movie, and one that left me with an incredibly empty feeling. I wasn’t around back then, but from what I can tell as an amateur student of history and political junkie is that, at least at the end of his life, RFK managed to inspire people; to make them feel like the day-to-day issues they faced were finally being confronted by the political Establishment; and to let them know that politics could be an arena where citizens - regular citizens - could be part of something larger than themselves. He did this by using the celebrity power that came with his family name to shine a bright light on the taboos the Establishment back then and now would rather sweep under the rug: war and economic inequality.Howie opinion: I was around then and wouldn't leave Obama off the list quite yet. Unlike others, he did oppose the war in Iraq, back when it wasn't so popular to do so.
What brings me down about the movie is not only that RFK was killed, but that there are so few leaders today who aspire to his model. Yes, there have been flashes. Bill Clinton’s populist campaign in 1992 was a flash, even if Clinton’s behavior in office and historical revisionism in Washington has now converted it into the supposed triumph of microwaved Fortune Magazine talking points. John McCain’s race in 2000, too, had Kennedy-ish themes to it, not necessarily because of any of his issue positions, but because it had a genuine anti-Establishment feel. That McCain’s subsequently dove right back into the muck that is the Beltway’s destructive faux “centrism” does not negate what his momentary flash evoked in many.
But when you look around today, at this moment, there are only a very few national political leaders who are willing to spend their political capital even trying to build something larger than themselves. To hear Bobby Kennedy’s voice in this movie, you can hear traces of people like Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Brian Schweitzer, Byron Dorgan, Jim Webb, John Edwards and, of course, RFK’s brother Ted Kennedy - people who are at least willing to talk about the immorality of economic inequality and of Old Serious Men sending other people’s kids to die in a war those Old Serious Men fabricated a motive for. But on the national stage, that’s really about it. Most of the other players are concerned about building something for themselves and themselves only. Their celebrity is used in pursuit of their vanity, not a cause (And please - don’t insult people’s intelligence or dishonor the memory of the dead by saying with a straight face that someone like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton emulates RFK - these are not people who, at least not yet, have shown themselves to be serious about using their celebrity power to talk about or act on issues of economic inequality or ending the war in any serious way).
Friday, November 24, 2006
E. J. Dionne, Jr. in the WaPo today (so it should get some attention from the insiders):
Americans can be grateful that Sarasota County is in Florida and not in Montana or Virginia.
There's nothing wrong with Sarasota, a lovely place. But if the voting snafus in the contest for Florida's 13th District had hung up either of this year's two closest Senate races, we still would not know which party had won control of the Senate.
Supporters of new voting technologies have been patting themselves on the back, saying there were no big voting problems this year. Let them go to Sarasota.
The U.S. Supreme Court has insisted that "[h]aving once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another." Thousands of voters in the 13th District have an interest in demanding that the system live up to those words, which came from the decision in a little case in 2000 called Bush v. Gore.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Courtesy of Booman:
Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other then we shall have no more wars. We shall be all alike -- brothers of one father and mother, with one sky above us and one country around us and one government for all. Then the Great Spirit Chief who rules above will smile upon this land and send rain to wash out the bloody spots made by brothers' hands upon the face of the earth. For this time the Indian race is waiting and praying. I hope no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.
Looking back on my post yesterday on JFK, I realized it was focused on his assassination. From Firedoglake:
Kennedy's genius as a leader was to appeal not to the worst that is in us, but to the best — and to make that appeal tug at our heartstrings and our brains at the same time, planting little ideas that if we would only stretch a little bit further, that we might be able to reach a star.
Hope is very powerful. Hope in the hands of a people who are inspired to reach even further toward a dream of a better society is more powerful still. Let us all take President Kennedy up on his challenge, and rise up together to reach for the stars.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle:
House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi made clear Tuesday she's not willing to cede the public spotlight to President Bush in the weeks before his State of the Union speech.
Pelosi plans to start the 110th Congress with a bang on Jan. 4 -- when the House holds its ceremonial swearing in and elects her as speaker -- by immediately setting off on a sprint of several weeks to enact the Democrats' ambitious 100-hour agenda.
Pelosi's thorniest task will be setting committee assignments for longtime members and the new freshman. Those decisions are handled by the Democratic Steering Committee, but the panel is stacked with Pelosi's allies, including its chair, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Capitol insiders are already speculating that Pelosi will deny Rep. Jane Harman of Venice (Los Angeles County), the ranking member of Intelligence Committee, the chairmanship of the panel because the two Californians have clashed in the past.
Decisions on committee posts could come as soon as the week of Dec. 4. Pelosi said she has scheduled a Dec. 5 forum for Democratic members on the future of Iraq, with former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke and retired Army Major Gen. John Batiste.
For some of us, this day remains remarkably vivid in our memories, considering it was forty three years ago. Library of Congress:
For the next several days, stunned Americans gathered around their television sets as regular programming yielded to nonstop coverage of the assassination and funeral. From their living rooms they watched Mrs. Kennedy, still wearing her blood-stained suit, return to Washington with the president's body.
Many witnessed the murder of accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, on November 24. Viewers followed the saddled, but riderless, horse in the funeral cortege from the White House to the Capitol where Kennedy lay in state. They saw the president's small son step forward to salute as his father's coffin was borne to Arlington National Cemetery.
Television played a significant role in the collective mourning of American society. For the first time, the majority of citizens witnessed ceremonies surrounding the death of a beloved leader, creating a shared experience of the tragedy. Even now, television programming maintains public memory of the assassination by transmitting vivid images from those difficult days to successive generations.
Despite this intimate experience of events surrounding the death of John F. Kennedy, the nation failed to achieve closure. Oswald never confessed, and the facts of the case remain mysterious. The Warren Commission's conclusion Oswald acted alone failed to satisfy the public. In 1976, the House of Representatives' Select Committee on Assassinations reopened investigation of the murder. The Committee reported that Lee Harvey Oswald probably was part of a conspiracy that may have involved organized crime.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Jonah Goldman and Tova Wang:
Rolling Stone version: "Missing Votes? Who Cares? We Have a Winner."
The mainstream media in its instant analysis has proclaimed the election system worked surprisingly well in 2006. While it is true that no single catastrophe of election administration grabbed headlines this year, it is quite dangerous to suggest that the problems voters encountered on Election Day were not serious. As over 25,000 callers from across the country to the 866-OUR-VOTE voter information and protection hotline confirm, these problems led to thousands of eligible Americans being denied the opportunity to cast a ballot.
There’s a sense that the book is already closed on the 2006 election. But despite the nation’s attention now turning to the seismic political shift in Washington, several House races remain undecided. In Ohio, two of the races hinge on thousands of provisional ballots that likely were cast by legitimate voters but because of misguided and confusing election rules, will be thrown out, clearly affecting who wins the race. In Florida, it is likely that problems with electronic voting machines caused far more votes to be lost than the current margin of victory.
While the case should not be overstated, it is critical that as we immediately enter the 2008 presidential election cycle, we undertake a more honest assessment of what happened in this election so we can concentrate on ensuring real, meaningful reform before the next federal election cycle. Only if we understand the problems that voters reported in 2006 can we enact real solutions that will move us toward a more fair and accurate system of elections.
These problems underscore the importance of fair and effective protocols for matching voter registration information and the elimination of rules requiring an “exact match”; the abolition of rules requiring proof of citizenship in order to register, when voters already must swear an oath under penalty of a felony that they are a citizen; and only reasonable rules governing third party voter registration drives, not rules that are meant to shut such worthy and essential services down.
Of course, Americans deserve better than what many thousands of them experienced on Election Day 2006. The infrastructure that supports our voting system should be strong and responsive to the will of the voters. Our democratic values demand that issues around election reform be considered outside of politics and the campaign cycle. In short, Congress and the states must move forward on meaningful reforms that strengthen citizen confidence in the system and expand access to all eligible Americans, as well as the resources necessary to make our democracy the model for the world.
Rolling Stone version: "Missing Votes? Who Cares? We Have a Winner."
USA Today (excerpt; there's lots more here):
Signs that the Democratic Party is getting the message:
•The Democratic National Committee this year added Nevada to the early presidential nominating contests. Nevada's caucuses will be in January 2008, between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. The DNC wanted to move up a racially diverse state and to please Las Vegas' powerhouse, 60,000-member Culinary Union, says Michael Gehrke of the Senate Majority Project, a Democratic group separate from the party.
•Denver is a finalist to host the 2008 national convention. The DNC will decide between it and New York City next year.
•DNC Chairman Howard Dean's "50-state strategy" put field operatives on the payroll and dispatched them a year ago for groundwork in Mountain West states that Democrats used to write off.
Salon's guide to robo-calls, push polls, vigilantes and other murky dealings from this year's elections.
Nov. 21, 2006 | Before the 2006 midterm election, you couldn't escape the predictions of Election Day disaster: voting machine meltdowns, interminable lines, endless recounts. But the control of both houses of Congress was decided without interference from Diebold or hanging chads, so few (outside of Florida's 13th Congressional District) are suffering flashbacks of 2000 and 2004.
But while this year might not have included any repeats of Palm Beach County or Ohio, that doesn't mean the midterm elections were squeaky clean. This November there were some old-school dirty tricks that had nothing to do with voting machines or secretaries of state. An unscientific sample seems to show that most were the product of a party that was desperate for something, anything, that would help it protect its doomed congressional majorities. The bulk of this year's murky dealings took place in those tightly contested races -- from the battle for Virginia's Senate seat to House races in Illinois, New York and Connecticut -- that were crucial to control of Congress.
Monday, November 20, 2006
KIFI 8 News:
Democratic National Chairman and former presidential hopeful Howard Dean was in Jackson, Wyo., Friday to say thank you to all of the volunteers that made Wyoming Democratic candidates competitive in this last election.It was Howard's birthday, so you can guess what happened.
Wyoming is typically a state, like Idaho, that is very conservative. Wyoming Democrats don't typically get a visitor like this, especially with it being the home field, so to speak, of the vice president.
Friday Dean was in Jackson for a meeting with all of the state Democratic chairs from each of the 50 states. Before that meeting began Friday afternoon, he stopped by the Snake River Lodge and Spa to say thank you.
UPDATE: Keith Goodman continues his series of posts on microtargeting with "GOP Microtargeting Doesn't Live up to the Hype (Republican Perspective)."
Pundits have ascribed the sweeping Democratic victories in this year's midterm elections to a number of factors, including dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq. But Democrats had at least one more thing going for them: microtargeting. That's politico-speak for their mining of vast databases to target likely Democratic voters. The Republicans have built and mined their own "Voter Vault" databases since 2002, helping drive the 2004 presidential victory. While the Democrats had similar databases, until these latest elections they were rife with problems, such as incorrect address fields that had Florida residents living in the city of Fort and the state of Lauderdale, and data errors that resulted in more names being listed for Colorado than there are state residents. The Democratic National Committee spent $8 million this time around on a multiterabyte relational database from Netezza. Instead of assembling an Oracle database, EMC storage, and IBM servers, Netezza's Performance Server stores, filters, and processes terabytes of data within a single Linux-based appliance, installed in hours rather than weeks and at lower cost, says Gus Bickford, a consultant who helped implement the DNC database.
Ken Strasma, president of Strategic Telemetry, a microtargeting company that works with the Democrats, says the technique may have tipped the U.S. Senate races in Virginia and Montana by identifying voters in bright red counties that may have otherwise been overlooked. However, the Democrats still lag the Republicans in volume of data and in experience. "It's good for us, just as it is in any industry, to go out and make our universe larger," consultant Bickford says. After all, the 2008 presidential race is just around the corner.
UPDATE: Keith Goodman continues his series of posts on microtargeting with "GOP Microtargeting Doesn't Live up to the Hype (Republican Perspective)."
In my final pre-election post, I wrote that the Republicans faced a major problem in 2006 with their microtargeting and 72-hour plan:
One of the interesting features of microtargeting is that the intelligence is a snapshot in time. That is, microtargeting is built from a large poll that is, in most cases, conducted MONTHS before an election.
If the environment is static, the microtargeting will be pretty accurate on Election Day. But what happens when conditions change between the date the microtargeting is completed and the election? This is precisely the problem facing the Republican 72-hour plan.
Now that the election is over, Republicans have started talking about this problem. One of my favorite quotes from this article, referring to the 2005 VA governor's race:
What I found was frightening and mind-boggling. Voters who were microtargeted and estimated to be pro-life at a 75%-90% confidence rate (meaning 75%-90% chance that a voter will vote for a candidate who supports the pro-life position), were actually measured at an average rate of 45%-50%—suggesting that half of our get-out-the-vote turnout universe would be voting for the Democrat candidate for governor, Tim Kaine.
Now, this is no disgruntled peon. His bio from the article:
Mr. Stutts served as the national 72-Hour/GOTV director during the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. He is president of Phillip Stutts & Company, a political consulting firm.
Yet more evidence that Republican microtargeting and the 72-hour plan are not as great as advertised. In fact, this Republican perspective makes it highly likely that Democratic microtargeting was far more effective in 2006.