Friday, March 31, 2006

"Bill Clinton's A Convert To Dean's 50-State Project"

"Both Dean's admirers and his critics blame the money gap on the priorities of major donors, who are race-and-cycle centric. And Dean, in the words of one of his friends, "never sucks up to donors" and is "clinical" when he discusses politics with them.

A new DNC hire -- finance director Carl Chidlow -- was brought aboard to help bridge the two cultures. Chidlow was deputy finance director for Sen. John Kerry's record-setting presidential bid and considered one of the party's best professional fundraisers.

A friend says Chidlow decided to accept Dean's job offer after finding evidence that Dean truly was committed to competing everywhere. One of Chidlow's prime tasks today: to evangelize Dean's state-based efforts to major donors.

And Dean has one supremely important new ally who, when he goes public, will almost certainly help with donors. In late February, Dean traveled to Harlem and sat down with former President Bill Clinton, often said to be privately disparaging of Dean.

But as Dean walked Clinton through his 50-state capacity-building project, Clinton became a convert. He vowed to help Dean win the attention of donors."-from MARC AMBINDER's post on Hotline on Call.

Kos signs on, too.

"Front Burner"

David Goldstein (Goldy) reminds us on that it's time to cough it up for Darcy:
"The national Dems are paying attention to Darcy Burner’s race and they’ve got a bunch of money to dump on her—provided she raises $320,000. By tomorrow (Friday). Burner has already raised $281,000, and if she can pull in the remaining 39K by tomorrow she’ll likely get $250,000 in new funds from the national Dems."-Dan Savage in The Stranger.

Goldy adds this: "Burner raised $20,000 yesterday alone, so this is doable. I put so much of my personal time and effort into my political activism that I normally don’t make contributions to candidates. (Plus, I don’t have all that much spare change at the moment.) But because I believe so strongly in this race, and because I believe so strongly in Burner as a candidate, I just donated $100.00. If I could have afforded $1000.00, I would have given that. So please give what you can and help push Burner over the top, either by clicking on my Act Blue link, or going directly to her website. If all you can give is 10 bucks, then give 10 bucks. One of the measures of grass roots support is the number of donations, so every little bit helps."

Howie's contribution: $11.33 (hey, it's more than ten bucks!).

Dems Offer "Security Agenda"--Where's the Coverage? (UPDATED)

"Democrats understand that homeland security begins with hometown security. We offer a bold vision for a safer America. We will not only hunt down the terrorists and provide our troops with the tools they need to stop future attacks, but we will do a better job of securing our ports and our nuclear power and chemical plants. Instead of their continued failure to take the steps necessary to protect the safety and security of our communities, President Bush and Republicans in Washington should join Democrats in fighting for an agenda that will provide Real Security for the American people."-Howard Dean on the DNC website. Senator Barbara Boxer described the Bush approach to security as "all hat and no cattle" on the The Ed Schultz Show Wednesday, but they didn't put the audio up on their website. They did put up John Kerry talking about on this subject on the show here.

The Carpetbagger Report observes: "I'm glad the Dems put the "Real Security" document together; it's a solid piece of work. I'm also glad the Dems held a well-planned, well-executed event yesterday in DC. The problem is the news coverage. If the party releases a national security strategy and the news outlets blow it off, does it really make a sound?"

Update: Firedoglake offers "Progressives and the Democratic Security Plan" to help us sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

'If you start looking at them as humans, then how are you gonna kill them?'

"They are a publicity nightmare for the US military: an ever-growing number of veterans of the Iraq conflict who are campaigning against the war. To mark the third anniversary of the invasion this month, a group of them marched on Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. Inigo Gilmore and Teresa Smith joined them."-from the Guardian Unlimited (UK). Blurb:
"Jody Casey left the army five days ago and came straight to join the vets. The 29-year-old is no pacifist; he still firmly backs the military but says that he is speaking out in the hope of correcting many of the mistakes being made. He served as a scout sniper for a year until last February, based, like Blake, in the Sunni triangle.

What upset him the most about Iraq? "The total disregard for human life," he says, matter of factly. "I mean, you do what you do at the time because you feel like you need to. But then to watch it get kind of covered up, shoved under a rug ... 'Oh, that did not happen'."

What kind of abuses did he witness? "Well, I mean, I have seen innocent people being killed. IEDs go off and [you] just zap any farmer that is close to you. You know, those people were out there trying to make a living, but on the other hand, you get hit by four or five of those IEDs and you get pretty tired of that, too."

Casey told us how, from the top down, there was little regard for the Iraqis, who were routinely called "hajjis", the Iraq equivalent of "gook". "They basically jam into your head: 'This is hajji! This is hajji!' You totally take the human being out of it and make them into a video game."

Thanks to Annie Robbins for passing this along.

"Crashing the Gate: Markos and Jerome Tell it Like it Is"

"Last September I posted an essay entitled “The Triangle: Limits of Blog Power” in which I attempted to assess the scope of progressive blog influence. I concluded by saying that it was reasonable to assume “that the best strategy for the progressive netroots is to go after the media and Democratic Party leaders and spend less time and energy attacking the Bush administration."

I argued that
"if the netroots alone can’t change the political landscape without the participation of the media and Democratic establishment, then there’s no point wasting precious online space blasting away at Republicans while the other sides of the triangle stand idly by. Indeed, blog powerhouses like Kos and Josh Marshall have taken an aggressive stance toward Democratic politicians they see as selling out core Democratic Party principles. Kos’s willingness to attack the DLC is mocked on the right, but it is precisely the right’s fear that Kos will “close the triangle” that causes them to protest so loudly.”
Six months later, Kos (Markos Moulitsas Zuniga) and co-author Jerome Armstrong are receiving much-deserved accolades for their new book, Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. True to form, the pair takes direct aim at the structural flaws, strategic failings, and ideological timidity of the Democratic establishment. It isn’t a blanket condemnation - several courageous Dems are praised - but it is an unflinching look at the Party through the eyes of two netroots visionaries. While Republicans are by no means spared, it’s the brutally honest look at the Democratic establishment and progressive infrastructure (if such a thing exists) that makes Crashing the Gate an essential read.

Some of the key attributes of the progressive blog and online activist community are a confrontational disposition, pride, realism, intellectual candor, and scorn for those who fail to recognize that strength is not defined by focus-grouped policy positions but by fierce devotion to principle. Markos and Jerome reflect that blogospheric disposition and mince no words in their assessment of the current political landscape.

The split between the Dem establishment and the netroots may be tempered by Bush’s depressed poll numbers, but a serious split it is, a difference in worldviews and attitudes, and one that risks expanding into a deeper fissure as we approach the midterms.

The good news is that steps are being taken by a number of bloggers and Democratic insiders to build bridges across the netroots-establishment divide. Whether these efforts will bear fruit remains to be seen -- hopefully we can avoid open warfare. Until then, read this book to get an accurate understanding of the fault lines and a good sense of where we’re heading…"-Daou Report.

The Seattle stop on the book tour (Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave, Hall 1, April 7, 7:00 p.m.) is confirmed here.

"Is the Mainstream Media finally getting half the rigged voting machine story?"

"The fact that electronic voting machines don't work may finally be sinking into a segment of the mainstream media. The fact that e-voting machines can, have been, and will be used to steal elections, continues to go unreported.

At least the corporate media has moved from framing the allegations of e-voting fraud as “conspiracy theory” into reporting epic errors in election results.

Both USA Today and the New York Times have run recent articles on the mechanical problems surrounding electronic voting that mirror much of what happened during the theft the presidential election in Ohio 2004. On March 28, USA Today's front page reported, that "Primary voting-machine troubles raise concerns for general election." The story focused on primaries in Illinois and Texas, where all-too-familiar problems include more votes being counted than there were registered voters, and thousands of votes missing from a recount.

On March 23 the Times editorialized in support of a unanimous resolution by the Maryland legislature to dump Diebold touchscreens and use opti-scan paper-based systems instead. The move "is just the latest indication that common sense is starting to prevail in the battle over electronic voting," said the Times.

Yet, the e-voting machines are just part of the digital problem facing U.S. voters. Diebold’s election software packages include what many activists describe as “one stop shopping” for election fraud. Most of the e-voting machine companies also sell software that creates digital electronic voter registration databases. In the Cleveland area, an estimated 7000 voters were knocked off the voter registration rolls when Cuyahoga County Board of Elections adopted the Diebold registration system. The e-voting machine companies can control everything electronically, from voter registration to election day vote recording to final vote tabulation and recounting.

Neither the Times nor USA Today nor any other major national publication has been willing to take the problem to its logical conclusion. None have seriously investigated how these very electronic machines were used to help steal the presidential election in Ohio 2004, or to defeat two electoral reform issues in Ohio 2005, or to swing key US Senate races in places such as Georgia, Minnesota and Colorado in 2002.

But the fact that these publications are finally acknowledging the obvious, overwhelming mechanical "glitches" with these machines is at least a start. Now that the Government Accountability Office has confirmed electronic voting equipment is easily hackable for mass vote stealing, and now that the Times and USA Today have reported that there are serious mechanical problems, maybe somebody at one of these media outlets will finally come to the obvious conclusion: electronic voting machines are merely high-tech devices designed to steal elections. And that is precisely why George W. Bush is in the White House today."
-excerpted from The Free Press story(OH).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Time to Recall Bush?"

Kevin Phillips, who I believe is still a Republican, surveys the various options available to those of us who are troubled by the prospect of enduring the current national regime until January 2009, and comes to this conclusion:

"Which brings me to the remedy sought a few years back when Californians got tired of their governor, Gray Davis. Under state law, they were able to mount a recall effort that took away his job. To set up a simular federal mechanism, a constitutional amendment would seem necessary, and that could not happen overnight. Still, with impeachment losing credibility as a constitutiional remedy, the possibilility of having an "incompetent" president with a 35% job approval rating in office for almost three more years represents enough of a threat to an unhappy and beleaguered United States that a wide-ranging debate is in order."

-from The Huffington Post.


Employing highly sophisticated and inexpensive software, it has come to our attention that the two most loyal readers of this site get their connection via the above locations. Thanks for showing howieinseattle so much cyber love.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Dan Savage launches pro-impeachment Web site"

In case you don't know, Dan is the author of the nationally syndicated column "Savage Love" and is the editor of Seattle's alternative newspaper, "The Stranger." The new website has a rather "irreverent" title, and the url is You will have to go there to find out more.

''The American Soul''

"In 1978 or so, Mstislav Rostropovich, the famed cellist who ultimately made the National Symphony Orchestra into a national treasure, arrived on our shores from Russia from which he had been exiled by Leonid Brezhnev. While a student at Georgetown University, I was honored to be present for his honorary degree ceremony there.

He could not speak English well, so he instead played the cello as a response to his honor. Gaston Hall was silent, not only during his soul-stirring solo, but even after the thunderous applause, becauase neither ovation nor words expressed what we felt, what he had touched.

Al Gore spoke tonight at the Human Rights Campaign dinner here in Los Angeles, after many stirring talks by Al Franken, Torie Osborn and the Mayor, among others. Al's was the last speech of a late night and yet, as with Rostropovich, the enormous ballroom was silent during his talk. I found myself leaning forward, perched on the edge of my chair as he moved easily on stage, rarely looking at even a note.

He stirred souls tonight.The former Vice President, the should-be president, spoke from his heart, his soul and his intellect about equality, about fear and about the future. The subject happened to be equality of gay people in this country. But it was really a call for America to stand as what we have been for more than 200 years, to be that porous bastion of hope and grace that has struggled at times with itself, but has always risen to greater heights.

After he finished speaking, the standing ovation seemed almost an interruption of the soul. Just as Rostropovich played chords that defied description, Al Gore tonight hit commanding, courageous notes that are America. We'll make it through the current time of trouble, but only because we can rise above the small, insulated minds that would rather destroy our world than make it safely humane. How different our unstable world today would be had Mr. Gore been President. How hard we must work to assure that 2006 brings us the beginnings of balance, and 2008 the end of one of the most dangerous times in our history. "

-from Rick Jacobs on The Huffington Post.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Will the Presidency be Restored to Al Gore in 2008?"

"Here's the scenario: Hillary Clinton continues rolling forward, amassing establishment support and locking down the large donors. Anti-Hillary voters prove unable to coalesce around a single champion, so Clinton is able to suck up all the oxygen but, as with most faits accomplis, attracts little genuine enthusiasm. At the same time, her hawkishness and ostentatious moderation sparks widespread disillusionment among the online activist community. Inevitably, the liberal wing of the party begins calling for a Bigfoot of its own to enter the primary, and the obvious prospect is Gore., which already exists, amplifies the drumbeat, collecting pledges and holding events. The press corps, sensing a Godzilla vs. King Kong battle, begins covering the events. As Marty Peretz, publisher of The New Republic and a longtime friend of Gore, says, "if he were to find that there was some groundswell for him, I think it would be hard to resist."-from Ezra Klein's post on The American Prospect.

Censure Update

"Kennedy, Reed won't rule out censure," according the AP story. Meanwhile Georgia10 says Bush is the "Liar in Chief" on Kos and wants Harry Reid to "Shut down the Senate, Senator Reid. Shut. It. Down."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

''Crashing The Gate'' looking to organize a Seattle event April 7 (UPDATED)

"Jerome Armstrong (of MyDD) and Markos Zuniga (of DailyKos) have a new book out, Crashing The Gate. They're starting a national book tour today in Washington, DS, and will be in the Seattle area April 7th and April 8th.

The April 8th event event will be in Redmond, at Marymoor Park, from Noon until 2:00pm.

The April 7th event is still not defined, and they are inviting people to schedule an event for the tour."-Mike Begley, posting on

Update: According to David Goldstein (Goldy) at, an event is being organized at the Labor Temple, and the SEIU has offered to cover the costs.


"Only 30% of the country is ultra right-wing – but, here is the thing – they turn out 90% of their membership. Meanwhile the remaining 70% only turns out at about 50%."
-Gloria Steinem, speaking in Seattle, as quoted by Lynn Allen on Evergreen Politics, in her post, "Piling on What Goldy Said."


"Two news stories this week should have resulted in 44 Senators signing on to censure the President of the United States for his abuse of power in ordering massive domestic spying on American citizens without a warrant. Two administration actions reinforce the fact that Congressional laws have been rendered meaningless: (1) the President's signing statement on the Patriot Act; and (2) the administration's answers to Judiciary Committee questions about the warrantless spying program."-from Georgia10's post this morning on Kos, with all the details.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Feingold and McCain Visit Iraq

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - As a gunbattle raged south of Baghdad, Sens. John McCain and Russell Feingold told Iraqi leaders Saturday that American patience was growing thin and they needed to urgently overcome their stalemate and form a national unity government.

"We need very badly to form this unity government as soon as possible," McCain, R-Ariz., said at a news conference after meetings with President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. "We all know the polls show declining support among the American people."

Feingold, of Wisconsin and the ranking Democrat in the U.S. delegation joined McCain in pressing for the quick formation of a government, but he spoke bluntly of his concern that the continued presence of American forces was prolonging the conflict.

"It's the reality of a situation like this that when you have a large troop presence that it has the tendency to fuel the insurgency because they can make the incorrect and unfair claim that somehow the United States is here to occupy this country, which of course is not true," Feingold said.-from the AP story.

"Dean’s Speech Catalyzed Law Student Dems"

It seems the "framing of Howard Dean" as somehow not honest and direct never ends. This commentary corrects another example of this story line:
"Your article on Howard Dean’s speech at Harvard Law School this weekend (“Press Barred at Howard Dean Talk,” news, Mar. 20) missed the fact that Dean’s speech was only a small part of a much more significant event that occurred at HLS this weekend: the founding of a new national organization of Democratic law students. Dean spoke during a three-day conference featuring more than twenty presenters and attended by over 100 law students from more than thirty law schools. The conference kicked off the National Democratic Law Students Council, a student group dedicated to increasing Democratic presence at law schools and getting law students involved in voter protection and campaign work. Students left the conference with the knowledge, network, and inspiration needed to fight for social change. So the real story here is that Democratic law students are getting organized—and Howard Dean wanted to motivate and congratulate those students, not deliver a public speech."
-Russell Anello in The Harvard Crimson.

Russ Baker: 'Ganging up on Feingold'

"Was it my imagination, or did I see the ghost of Joe McCarthy heading into the RNC headquarters the other day? And was that the ghost of Don Knotts’s quivery TV persona holding court in the Senate Democratic cloakroom?

Only a conscienceless bully—like the one dissected in the movie “Good Night, and Good Luck,” about Edward R. Murrow’s television crusade against McCarthy’s serial abuse of the public trust—could have come up with the disgustingly misleading radio ads now attacking Sen. Russ Feingold. And only the chickenhearted—or those henpecked by consultants—would fail to back up this courageous figure.

Democratic senators were reportedly upset that Feingold didn’t notify them of his plan to introduce the censure resolution—and doubly wounded that he criticized them for “cowering with this president's numbers so low. The administration ... just has to raise the specter of the war on terror, and Democrats run and hide." Some of Feingold’s Democratic colleagues may also have resisted lining up behind the Wisconsin senator’s banner on this issue because they plan to compete with Feingold for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The fact is, a Senate censure resolution would be a legitimate catalyst for discussion of the levels to which this administration has sunk in debasing democratic safeguards and process. It is not the same as impeachment, which must emanate from the House of Representatives. It is at once more attainable than impeachment and a strong symbolic reprimand.

Yet leading Democrats have started their customary throat-clearing exercise, saying that more time is needed to study the issue, and so forth. Even if that were true, allowing a censure resolution to advance need not preclude a serious Senate investigation of the truth behind the administration’s confusing justifications for ignoring the law in its domestic wiretap program. Indeed, with stonewalling by the GOP majority a given on almost any topic of import, a vote on a censure resolution that has garnered substantial public support may be the only way to force our representatives to do their jobs as watchdogs of the public interest.

Taking their cue from Welsh and Murrow, the Democrats should be airing their own radio ads—if not to back Feingold, then at least to inform the public about the RNC lies—and to take the liars and those behind them to task. If people understood the facts of the situation, they would be appalled—and furious at being manipulated in this manner. Instead, the Democrats are running from Feingold as if he had the avian flu."-from Baker's commentary on, via The Smirking Chimp.

"Wash Post Front-Pages Impeachment"

"One could easily get whiplash trying to keep up with the Washington Post's behavior of late. First they hire a serial plagiarist and right-wing hack to provide balance for a serious and credentialed reporter in Dan Froomkin. Then they put the case for impeachment on the front-page.

To be sure, Michael Powell's piece is more descriptive than rhetorical. But, it lays out the case, and it does so without apology. Whether or not impreachment is good politics is discussed, but the merits of impeachment are not strongly questioned in the piece (except, predictably, by Cass Sunstein).

The public groundswell for impeachment is finally acknowledged on the front-page of the Washington Post. That's a move in a positive direction. Perhaps they know it is time to appease the left for a few days."-from the post by my east coast cyber-boss on Booman Tribune.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Feingold does the The Daily Show (UPDATED)

Update [2006-3-23 8:47:5 by howieinseattle]: Matt Stoller says this in
"Mattering on Censure"---
I've been in and out of meetings and the gist of what I hear is that the conventional wisdom on censure is moveable. Senators were stunned and angry that Feingold didn't tell them what he was going to do (and that he called them spineless), but they are moving to the need for a strong investigation. This is still not enough. Glenn Greenwald has a post on this. The President broke the law, and the Republicans are scurrying away from warrantless wiretapping as quickly as they can. Now, the extent to which he broke the law isn't clear, because there has been no investigation (the GOP is stonewalling that, of course). But that he broke the law is clear, and a censure would demonstrate clearly that the Senate takes its oversight role seriously. And a censure does not preclude an investigation.

Jane has a way for us to make an impact on this. Show up. It's recess week and Senators are at home. You can make a difference here."
Stoller quotes Jane Hamsher, who says showing up in person will add to the messages they are receiving in support of censure and will demonstrate that we are not "just keyboard phantoms spamming them with email."

"Anybody who didn’t see Russ Feingold on the Daily Show tonight needs to do so (Crooks & Liars has the video.) He truly comes off as a man who has the confidence of knowing he did the right thing when everyone around him was doing the Bob Shrum shuffle into the center, standing up for what he believed in while others were too preoccupied with calculating their own political futures to bother."-from the post on Firedoglake.

And here's a blurb from the AP story in The La Crosse Tribune(WI) :
"“A lot of your Democratic colleagues are reacting as though you’re Jack Abramoff and you have a casino you want to talk to them about,” Stewart joked, referring to the disgraced lobbyist.

Feingold, who has accused his Democratic colleagues of “cowering,” said it was important for the party to show some backbone.

“How many times are we going let George Bush and (Vice President) Dick Cheney say, ’You guys don’t support the troops. You’re not patriotic,’ and let them push us around?” asked Feingold, whose appearance was via satellite from Milwaukee. “We have to stand up to them.”

Stewart played a clip from a recent news conference of House Majority Leader John Boehner, in which the Ohio Republican said of Feingold, “Sometimes you begin to wonder if he’s more interested in the safety and security of the terrorists as opposed to the American people.”

After the audience groaned, Stewart asked, “How long have you been working with the terrorists, and are they nicer than they seem?”

“Oh no, they’re a bad bunch,” Feingold said, laughing.

Feingold conceded that a member of his own family questioned the proposal.

“My daughter called me up and said, ’Dad, what are you doing? This thing hasn’t been done since the 1830s,’ so it takes some explaining,” Feingold said.

“That’s what I like about you, senator,” Stewart said. “You’re kicking it old-school.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


HELEN THOMAS: "I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?"-from Bush's press conference today, via Talking Points Memo. Crooks and Liars has the video.

"Senator Murray: Why Censure Clinton but not Bush?"

ActForChange asks,

"In 1999, Senator Murray co-sponsored a resolution to censure President Clinton over his conduct in the Lewinsky affair. So now that President Bush has admitted to his illegal wiretapping program, shouldn't we censure Bush as well?

Click here to tell Senator Murray to be consistent and censure President Bush for his illegal conduct."

Freddy Freaks Out

If you wonder if the neocons are worrying these days, all you have to do is listen to what their pundit Freddy Barnes is proposing, courtesy of my cyberboss at Booman Tribune:
"Bush needs to shake up his staff, and he makes all the recommendations. Most interestingly, he calls for Donald Rumsfeld to resign and for Dick Cheney to take his place as Secretary of Defense. Condoleezza Rice would then become Vice-President, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman would take over as Secretary of State."
Howie opinion: Now we know this advice is guaranteed to fall on deaf ears. Or you may prefer to describe it as pissing in the wind. So why did Freddy guarantee his permanent exclusion from the rovian hereafter? I have two possible theories.

a)Freddy is consuming massive quantities of the White Man's Medicine.
b)Freddy is channeling Hunter S. Thompson's evil twin from an alternate political universe.

Russ Feingold: What About Our Base?

"The idea that Democrats don't think it's a winning thing to say that we will stand up for the rule of law and for checking abuse of power by the executive --- I just can't believe that Democrats don't think that isn't something, not only that we can win on, but it does, in fact, make the base of our party, which is so important, feel much better about the Democrats. The Republicans care deeply about making the base of their party feel energized. What about the people of our party who believe in the Democratic Party especially because they fight for the American values of standing up for our rights and civil liberties?"-Digby has this excerpt and more from Feingold's appearance on Charlie Rose last night. Crooks and Liars has video.

"Iraq War: Cantwell's choice"

"Cantwell can hardly campaign against a war her vote sanctioned, even though a large portion of the U.S. electorate and a decidedly larger portion of her own constituents are unhappy with the course of the war and President Bush's handling of it. It's a campaign issue that could bleed votes from the traditional Democratic base.

But Cantwell may be able to benefit both her re-election prospects and the nation's foreign policy. She helped lead us into this war; now it's incumbent on Cantwell to help lead us out of it.

If Cantwell is simply wedded to a stay-the-course strategy in Iraq, she's lost touch with her constituents on the central foreign policy issue.

If, however, she recognizes that we're in a quagmire that will continue to drain U.S. blood and treasure, Cantwell should bring a legitimate voice to the debate on how to best get out of Iraq."-from the editorial in the P-I today.

Monday, March 20, 2006

"A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon"

"DURING World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."-Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, from his op-ed today in The New York Times. He was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. He now lives in Fox Island, WA.

"Sign of The Times" (UPDATED)

I was struck by two things about The Seattle Times' Sunday coverage of the downtown anti-war march on Saturday.

1. They covered it, with a nice photo, too.

2. The coverage was not unsympathetic. For example:
"When the anti-war procession reached Fourth Avenue, some thought it was another St. Patrick's Day event. Despite the confusion, the protesters were encouraged by the cheers of shoppers and some leftover St. Patrick's parade-goers."
Update: Dina Lydia Johnson has some great photos to share.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Murtha: "Rumsfeld, Cheney should resign"

"On Sunday's edition of Meet the Press with Tim Russert, Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) said that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign for misdecisions in the war in Iraq, RAW STORY has found.

Crooks and Liars has a video excerpt from the interview at this link." -RAW STORY.

Excerpts from transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: The president picks up the phone and calls you up, and says “Jack, come on down. You voted for this war, you now think it was a mistake, but we’re in a fix. And if I get out right away, we could leave behind a civil war, we could leave behind a haven for terrorism. Tell me specifically Mr. Murtha, what should I do today?”

REP. MURTHA: Here, here’s what you should do, Mr. President. First of all, you should fire all the people who are responsible for that, which gives you international credibility.

MR. RUSSERT: Including his secretary of defense?

REP. MURTHA: Well, he, he should—well, let’s say he should offer his resignation, because he certainly...

MR. RUSSERT: And it’s sure to be accepted?

REP. MURTHA: I would accept it, that’s exactly right.

MR. RUSSERT: What about the vice president?

REP. MURTHA: Well, you can’t fire the vice president, so I think he’ll, he’ll have to handle this himself.

MR. RUSSERT: Should he offer his resignation?

REP. MURTHA: Yeah. Well, certainly the vice president has been the primary force in running, running this war, and many of the mischaracterizations have come about. You and I talked before the show about some of the things he said on your show, right before the war started. None of them turned out to be true. This is why the American public is so upset.

OK, I say fire some people, that’s the first thing.

MR. RUSSERT: Who should he fire?

REP. MURTHA: Well, he, he, he’s got to make that decision himself. Anybody that’s been responsible, first of all, for the intelligence-gathering; second of all, for the characterization; and third of all, for the maintaining and running the war. For instance, from the national security office down to the secretary of defense’s office. I mean he’s got to make that decision."

The full transcript can be read at this link.

Durbin: Censure or Impeachment? (UPDATED)

"A top Senate Democrat said Sunday that President Bush should be held responsible if he violated the law in authorizing the domestic spy program.

But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said it is too early to tell if either censure or impeachment of Bush would be appropriate.

"I can't rule anything out until the investigation is complete. I don't want to prejudge it," said Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat. "But if this president or any president violates the law, he has to be held accountable. "It's valuable that Senator Feingold is moving us forward to finally be a catalyst to have the kind of hearings and the kind of deliberations as to what lies behind this warrantless wiretap situation," said Durbin, calling the overall inquiries so far by the Republican-controlled Senate inadequate.

"We have a responsibility to ask the hard questions, to find out what the nature of the program is and whether the president violated the law." Durbin said. Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Durbin said he so far has not heard a valid legal justification for the spy program that was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks."-from the AP story.

Crooks and Liars has some video, too.

[UPDATE] FAUX News now has a partial transcript up.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Feingold, the Dems and the Netroots

E. J. Dionne, writing in the Washington Post via WorkingforChange Friday:

"Democrats, unlike Republicans, have yet to develop a healthy relationship between activists willing to test and expand the conventional limits on political debate and the politicians who have to calculate what works in creating an electoral majority.

For two decades, Republicans have used their idealists, their ideologues and their loudmouths to push the boundaries of discussion to the right. In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terror.

That would demand coordination, trust and, yes, calculation involving both the vote-counting politicians and the guardians of principle among the activists. Republicans have mastered this art. Democrats haven't.

Turning a minority into a majority requires both passion and discipline. Bringing the two together requires effective leadership. Does anybody out there know how to play this game?"
On the same day:

CNN's Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider awards Senator Feingold the "Political Play of the Week" for his bold introduction of a resolution to censure President Bush. Schneider describes Feingold as "principled" while he suggests that other Democrats might need "Spines. Backbones. They help you stand up for what you believe."

Schneider says "Acting on principle need not be political suicide."-with VIDEO, from THE BRAD BLOG.
Are these two dots, just waiting to be connected?

"Stop the War March"--Today 1PM

If you don't have a ticket to the Cantwell/Obama "Innovations in Education" Community Meeting at Garfield High School today, you are then free to come on down to the Federal Building (Second and Marion).

"The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition joins with antiwar organizations globally in calling for March 18-20, 2006, to be Global Days of Action. This is the third anniversary of Bush's criminal aggression against the people of Iraq. Gather at 1pm; march begins at 2pm."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Howard Dean on Darcy Burner

"Howard Dean believes she can help the Democrats take Washington State's 8th Congressional District and the U.S. Congress—with your help.

In his speech, Dean dropped Burner’s name more often than any other Democratic candidate running in Washington State this year. That’s an unusually high- level plug for a 35-year-old woman who’s never held elected office. But it makes sense: Dean is hoping to turn this year’s widespread voter discontent into a Democratic takeover of both the House and Senate in November. While the 2004 presidential election was about the swing state, this fall’s congressional elections will be all about the swing district, and Burner, a former Microsoft executive, is running in Washington’s swing district par excellance, the 8th Congressional District.

Most of the people at the crab feed weren't residents of the district Burner wants to represent, but they cheered whenever she was mentioned. Their enthusiasm for a race they likely won't be voting in felt familiar: During the 2004 presidential election, many Washington Democrats, propelled by this same type of enthusiasm, flew on their own dime from safely blue Washington to volunteer in contested swing states like Ohio and Iowa. Their "Will Travel for a Win" attitude sprung from a recognition that national elections, be they for control of Congress or the presidency, turn on outcomes in relatively few locales. This year, however, Democrats in the deep blue cities of Western Washington don't have to go all the way to Iowa or Ohio. To be a part of halting the Bush agenda, they simply have to drive 15 minutes across Lake Washington."-from the article in The Stranger, via Darcy Burner.

"An Open Email to Senate Democrats"

Ellis Weiner, on The Huffington Post asks, "Why did twenty of you (i.e.,

Daniel Akaka

Max Baucus

Byron Dorgan

Dick Durbin

Dianne Feinstein

Daniel Inouye

Ted Kennedy

John Kerry

Herb Kohl

Mary Landrieu

Carl Levin

Joe Lieberman

Blanche Lincoln

Barbara Mikulski

Patty Murray

Jack Reed

Harry Reid

Jay Rockefeller

Chuck Schumer

and Ron Wyden)

vote to censure Bill Clinton for lying about a blow job, but can't bring yourselves to do the same to George Bush for illegal wiretapping--let alone lying us into an unnecessary war?"

He has a few other choice comments there, as well.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Feingold on Truthiness"

"The New York Times this morning gleefully claimed that the censure move is rallying Bush's base. From Soledad O'Brien to the NYT to the pundits on TV who snickered and sneered when Feingold made his announcement, the press has minimized the story. During this morning's press conference, Senator Feingold put the press in its place."-from Georgia10 on Kos, linking to the full transcript of Feingold's press conference, with audio.

Allard's linking of senator, terror "out of bounds"--Digby Responds to Dems

"Apology sought for Feingold remark---Washington - Activist groups, bloggers and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday castigated Sen. Wayne Allard for saying that another senator sides with terrorists.

In an interview first broadcast Monday, Allard told Denver radio station KOA-AM reporter Roger Hudson that Sen. Russ Fein gold, D-Wis., "has time and time again taken on the side of the terrorists that we're dealing with in this conflict."

Allard, R-Colo., made the comment when asked his thoughts on Feingold's introducing a resolution in Congress to censure President Bush because of the domestic wiretapping program by the National Security Agency.

"It is completely out of bounds to suggest that anyone demanding accountability is siding with terrorists," Dean wrote to people on the Democratic Party e-mail list.

And, a Colorado liberal website, called on Allard to apologize, calling his remark "despicable." Allard declined to answer other questions about the matter, saying he was late for a hearing and would talk later. He could not be reached later in the day, but his office re-released a statement it had given Tuesday to a liberal radio program. Allard did not address the statement he made about Feingold siding with terrorists.

"Senator Allard's comments were unfortunate," Feingold said in a statement Wednesday. "Supporters of the illegal domestic- spying program know they don't have a legal leg to stand on, so they are reduced to questioning the patriotism of those who point out the simple truth that the president is breaking the law."-from today's story in the Denver Post(CO).

Responding to Feingold's critics on another flank, Digby takes up some Democrats' objections to Feingold's censure motion, one by one.

Pithy Quote: "The only prominent politicians I have any respect left for now are the four horsemen of the Democratic Party -- Al Gore, Russ Feingold, Howard Dean and Jack Murtha. They must rebuild this party from the ground up."-Cenk Uygur on The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Stop Attacking Russ Feingold" (UPDATED)

"Republicans are so scared of having a legitimate debate about Iraq or national security that they have only one reaction to news of their failures or calls for accountability.

On Monday, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to censure the President for breaking the law by creating a secret domestic spying program. Agree or disagree with his proposal, as a Senator -- and as an American -- he has the right to speak his mind and express his views without Republican Senators questioning his patriotism.

But that's exactly what happened. This week Republican Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado, in an interview with Fox News radio, said in response to Feingold's action that he has "time and time again [sided] with the terrorists".

Send a message to Senator Allard: shame on him for questioning the patriotism of another Senator. Sign this petition and it will be delivered to Allard."-from the DNC.

Feingold told Ed Schultz today during an interview today on his radio show that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has agreed to support his censure resolution. Schultz told his listeners that the interview would be available on his website later today.

Update: Blue Mass. Group is saying that Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) is also supporting Feingold's resolution. DEMAGOGUE says, "Donate Your Spine to Senate Dems .... Call Now!" The Rude Pundit opines, "Message To Democrats: Supporting Feingold Is the Path To Enlightenment." RAW STORY surveys the political scene in the Senate. "DINOs Strike Again: They Cower, They Cave" is from

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"BREAKING: Feingold Accuses Senate Democrats of “Cowering” To Bush"

Update [2006-3-15 9:39:27 by howieinseattle]: "Feingold says he has a small number of private commitments. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said yesterday that she would support Feingold’s resolution if it ever gets a floor vote."-from Wednesday's story in The Hill.

Sen. Feingold said the following to Fox News’ Trish Turner:

"I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide. … Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues. … [Democrats shouldn’t] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists."
-from Think Progress.

"Dean seen boosting DNC from bottom up"

"Efforts on local level strengthening party, winning over skeptics---ALBUQUERQUE -- When Howard Dean took over as chairman of the Democratic National Committee last February, the selection of the man known for ''the scream" sent chills down the spines of many Democrats in Southern and Western states, where a Dean-injected dose of East Coast liberalism carried the risk of dooming the party for years.

But a year after the crusading former Vermont governor took over the DNC, the party has reacted in some surprising ways. It's the East Coast liberals who are grumbling about Dean's talk-show gaffes and staring at the DNC's near-empty coffers with dismay.

Meanwhile, many Dean skeptics in state Democratic parties -- especially in places like New Mexico, a swing state that voted Republican in the last presidential race -- have been won over. The reason is the millions of dollars Dean has spent rebuilding Democratic organizations in places that haven't seen a coordinated Democratic effort in a long time.

It's a high-risk strategy: Democrats have historically done this kind of grass-roots organizing only in the voter-rich big cities, and right before Election Day. Building the party in rural areas involves spending precious resources long before voters go to the polls.

But as Dean's mini-army of more than 150 DNC-paid operatives have fanned out across the country, many rural and conservative-leaning Democrats are nodding with approval.

''I've never really been a Dean guy," said John Wertheim, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. ''But I've really bought into his program. Is it risky? Sure. But I think it's a darn good investment."

In Albuquerque, four energetic young staff members -- trained by and drawing paychecks from the DNC -- have divvied up the map of New Mexico, a state that was more closely divided than Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.

From a cluttered warren of offices tucked into a strip mall, the DNC's new employees are building voter lists, organizing county-level Democratic caucuses, and installing precinct chairmen in rural portions of the state that have voted overwhelmingly Republican in national campaigns.
But Dean's push to rebuild state parties has been costly, and has left the DNC coffers surprisingly bare. He has burned through nearly all the $61 million the party has raised since the beginning of 2005, according to Federal Election Commission data filed last month. That leaves the party with a nest egg of just $6.9 million, virtually all of it left over from the 2004 campaigns.

Though the DNC's fund-raising was up 20 percent last year over 2003 -- the last year that didn't have congressional elections -- the party has brought in far less than the Republican National Committee.

Ken Mehlman, RNC chairman, has already begun amassing a war chest for use in 2006 and 2008 -- it stands at $38.9 million so far -- even as Dean sends huge sums to many states where Democratic prospects appear to be bleak for the foreseeable future.

The funding gap has provoked private grumbling from some Democrats, who would rather see the national party save its resources for the presidential campaign and targeted state races. And some are skeptical about the party's ability to build comprehensive voter lists; The Washington Post reported that a group of high-profile Democrats -- led by Harold Ickes, a former top aide to President Clinton -- is starting a private firm that will essentially compete with the DNC's efforts by building a voter database that can be sold to Democratic candidates.

But Dean has made clear that his goal is to rival the grass-roots juggernaut that Republicans have built in recent years. In 2004, White House political adviser Karl Rove was able to bring together some 1.2 million volunteers for the president's campaign push, an effort some credit with securing Bush a second term.

''We weren't everywhere, and we weren't in the rural areas," Dean said in an interview. ''You can't win the presidency unless you pay attention to the school board and the city council and the mayor's race."

Dean promised just such a program last year, helping him win the votes of state party officials who otherwise had their doubts. Now, the money that's flowing to the states has erased those doubts, virtually ensuring that he'll stay in his job no matter how much some in Washington tire of him.

''When we first met Howard Dean, we thought he'd be a nut," said Nick Casey, West Virginia's party chairman. ''But that's not the guy who's been delivering the goods, and he has been delivering to us."

Casey's state party has doubled its number of precinct chairmen and is halfway to its goal of having one in each of West Virginia's more than 1,900 voting precincts. The three new staff members sent by the DNC have given the state party more than twice its previous manpower.

Party chairmen across the nation tell similar stories. In Ohio, the five people being paid by the DNC have helped set up ''Victory Squads" -- teams of about 10 Democrats who are eager to knock on doors or set up lawn signs -- in 65 rural counties where Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry fared poorly in 2004.

Mississippi's Democratic Party has established an infrastructure in 10 counties where the organization had atrophied. The DNC has sent resources to hire five full-time workers -- up from just a single part-timer previously -- helping Democrats secure victories in five special legislative elections over the past year, party chairman Wayne Dowdy said.

State parties are generally used to this kind of attention from the DNC only in the six months or so before a presidential election, and then only if they're among the small group of states that are considered in play.

In 2004, as in other recent presidential years, the DNC under then-chairman Terry McAuliffe saved most of its cash to help the nominee with television ads and paid operatives.

But by the time teams from the national Democratic party showed up in swing states like New Mexico and Ohio in the summer, they found state parties that were too cash-strapped to have reliable voter lists. And many of the new arrivals had no clue about the states they were sent to.

In New Mexico, the Kerry campaign sent thousands of volunteers into urban areas. Kerry won big in the cities, as expected. But Democrats watched in vain as thousands of Bush volunteers streamed over the Texas border into eastern New Mexico. Bush won the state by nearly 6,000 votes. The pattern was repeated in other closely divided states, such as Ohio and Nevada.

Dean's efforts are aimed at making sure that doesn't happen again. Though he insists that the party will be able to raise plenty of money for the presidential race as 2008 draws closer, Dean said building the infrastructure is the party's top objective.

''No matter how effective this effort ultimately is, it's going to be judged in the results of 2006," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist.

The four fresh-faced DNC workers who began working in New Mexico in October are concentrating on 2006, even as they dream of a Democratic majority in 2020.

Said Jenny Garcia, Democratic chairwoman for Colfax County, ''We're letting the community know, we do have a Democratic Party here."

-from Rick Klein's story in the Boston Globe.

I met Rick Klein in Iowa in 2004. He didn't seem too impressed with Dean then, but I think he has been "won over," too. Thanks to Lynn Allen for scooping /tipping me on this article.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Censure Bush: Action Form (UPDATED)

Click here for link to a handy form to send your message to your Members of Congress and your local newspapers. A commenter on Booman Tribune says: "And just so you don't miss it, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has staffers who have said that Sen. Kerry supports Feingold's censure motion "absolutely."

Update: Feingold on Kos:

"Today I will introduce a Senate resolution censuring the President.

The facts and the case for censure are clear. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, makes it a crime to wiretap American citizens without a court warrant - which is what the President has admitted doing. Before the program was revealed, he also misled Congress and the American people about the wiretapping that was being done. For example, at a 2004 speech in Buffalo, he said, "Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires, a wiretap requires a court order." And at a 2004 speech in my home state of Wisconsin, he said that "the government can't move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order."

When the domestic spying story first broke, the President went from saying he wouldn't be able to talk about it, to suggesting there was no other way to wiretap terrorists, to implying that the FISA law is out of date. He went on to claim that sweeping inherent powers of the presidency or the authorization of force back in 2001 gave him such authority -- neither of which is legally or factually correct. While the President has cherry-picked information before, he cannot do the same with the laws of our land.

Censuring the President is not something that should be taken lightly. But the President has BROKEN the law and there needs to be action and accountability."

Update: "Sen. John Kerry said yesterday that he will need to take a closer look at a proposal that would censure President Bush over the president's domestic spying program before he decides whether to support it."-from the AP.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Action Steps for the Feingold "Censure Bush" Proposal "

"I have a request: Russ Feingold really stuck his neck out today, and it would be great if he -- and every other Senator -- knew that we had his back. It's a gutsy move, not without risk in the polarized environment that is Washington these days and with the hatchet squad that Rove and his ilk generally deploy when their actions are questioned, so you have to hand it to Sen. Feingold for having the guts to raise the censure issue -- not just in the privacy of his office or at home, but right there on national television for all the world to hear.

So, what am I asking you to do? Something small by comparison, but if enough of us do this, it could start a little snowball rolling down the hill. By the time it reaches bottom, who knows how big it will have gotten -- but I sure like the sound of the word avalanche, so I say we get it going.

Your action steps: call both your Senators first thing in the morning and ask if they support Russ Feingold's censure proposal. If they don't, ask what their position is on the issue -- and why.

The more people we have calling, the more staffers in the offices start to realize that Feingold struck a political chord with a bunch of us in America. And then the more we continue to call, the more that message starts to sink in...and then some. Plus, it forces Senators to go on the record one way or the other, which is useful information for all of us to have.

We're going to keep track of it here on Firedoglake, so once you've called, please report back to us -- either through e-mail or in the comments -- and we'll put up a tracking list of yes, no and no comment. That's it. It's pretty much pain free and you can help us get an idea of which Senators are dodging and weaving. And, frankly, you can help us nudge them again to do their jobs. Thanks in advance for your assistance!

You can contact the US Senate via the switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and they will connect you with any Senator's office. Or you can find your particular Senator's direct dial here."-ReddHedd on Firedoglake.

BREAKING: Feingold will introduce censure motion against President George W. Bush

"Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), speaking on ABC's "This Week," said he will introduce a censure motion over the President's warrantless wiretapping program tomorrow," Feingold spokesman Trevor Miller told RAW STORY Sunday. Asked by George Stephanopoulos why he wasn't proposing impeachment, Feingold said he wanted to do "what's best for the country." Feingold says Congress needs to stand up to the President. He declared that martial law wasn't declared on Sept. 11, 2001.

RAW STORY will post the transcript when it moves later today." ABC News reports this quote from Feingold: "This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors."

Will the media and the political pundits "hear this" now?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"Stop your meddling, Iraqi minister tells US"

"AMID rising American frustration with the political deadlock in Iraq, the National Security Minister, Abdul Karim al-Enzy, has rebuked Washington for interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs.

In a remarkable broadside against the US, Mr Enzy charged that it was deliberately slowing Iraq's redevelopment because of a self-serving agenda that included oil and the "war on terror".

The attack came as the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, told a Senate inquiry in Washington that Iraq's political leaders needed "to recognise the seriousness of the situation and form a government of national unity that will govern from the centre, and to do it in a reasonably prompt manner".

To that end, US diplomats have demanded a more generous sharing of key portfolios among Iraq's religious and ethnic populations than the dominant Shiite religious parties are willing to concede.

In particular, they are urging the dismissal of the hardline Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr.

But in an interview with the Herald, Mr Enzy snapped: "The last time I checked, Bayan Jabr was Interior Minister of Iraq - not of the US or the UN. He is one of our best and this is interference in our business."

Mr Enzy argued that if the US-led coalition in Iraq had been more serious about rebuilding the country's security forces in the first year of the occupation, it could now be making substantial cuts in foreign troop numbers in Iraq. "We don't want foreign forces here, but it's impossible for them to leave now, because we're on the edge of civil war," he said.

"The truth is the Americans don't want us to reach the levels of courage and competence needed to deal with the insurgency because they want to stay here.

"They came for their own strategic interests. A lot of the world's oil is in this region and they want to use Iraq as a battlefield in the war on terror because they believe they can contain the terrorism in Iraq."-from the news story Friday in the Sydney Morning Herald (AU).

Let's see if any of these remarks end up in any newspaper in this country. Thanks to Annie Robbins for passing this along. Read the rest of the story below.

Asked if the West - and the US in particular - understood Iraq and the region, Mr Enzy said significant differences of culture and tradition complicated the relationship.

"We don't want to be a part of international problems - the US has a problem with Iran, but as an Iraqi government, we don't. We are not a part of the Israel-Palestine problem, but the deployment of foreign forces in Iraq puts pressure on that issue."

The minister's spiel was symptomatic of a rising anti-American sentiment among Iraq's Shiite majority. Mr Enzy said many Iraqis believed the US wanted civil war in the hope it would break the power of the religious parties still struggling to form a government.

"This is not the view of the Government; it is street talk. But it could be why the coalition forces are being targeted in the [Shiite areas] of the south and east."

At the Washington inquiry into the Bush Administration's request for $US70 billion ($95 billion) more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Rumsfeld told sceptical senators the plan was to prevent a civil war "and to the extent if one were to occur, to have … Iraqi security forces deal with it".

At the same time, Iraq's cabinet announced that 13 self-confessed insurgents had been hanged "by the competent authorities".

It named only one of them - Shukair Farid, a former police officer accused of working with Syrian fighters to enlist Iraqis to kill police and civilians.

Mystery still surrounds the abduction of about 50 guards from a private security firm in Baghdad on Wednesday.

There were claims they had collaborated with the insurgency and that the Iraqi guards were being held at a government detention centre.

But persistent government denials of any role in the round-ups of the Sunni guards heightened fears that it was the work of a Shiite death squad.

The US military has confirmed it plans to shut down the infamous Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad in the next three months.

A spokesman said that the more than 4500 people being held there would be transferred to a new US-run prison at Camp Cropper at Baghdad International Airport."

"Howard, stick to your guns"

"In January, while giving a speech at Mississippi State University, I happened to meet a DNC staffer, a former executive director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, who was assigned full-time to party-building in Mississippi. In the 33 years that I have been involved in politics, I have never heard of the national Democratic Party assigning a full-time staff member to organizational efforts in Mississippi.

Although organizing in Mississippi might not seem important to Pelosi and Reid -- after all, the state won't have competitive House or Senate races this year -- at some point, conservative Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor will retire, and then the House Democratic leadership may see the wisdom of their party already having a presence in southern Mississippi. When Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott retire, the Senate Democratic leadership just might have a similar revelation. Keep in mind that if Lott had opted to retire at the end of this year, as many had expected, Democrats would have had a pretty fair shot at winning that seat by running former state Attorney General Mike Moore.

The Democratic congressional leaders' shortsighted, penny-wise/pound-foolish complaints show why their party has become bicoastal. Congressional Democrats have trouble winning in many interior states, in part because leaders like Reid and Pelosi have failed to appreciate the importance of maintaining a strong national party apparatus. The Democrats' inability to consistently win elections in places where gun shops outnumber Starbucks is a big reason the party controls neither the House nor the Senate.

Right now, one of the biggest obstacles to Democrats' taking the House back is their failure to recruit strong candidates in many Republican-held districts that ought to be in play. Party building means lining up a solid team -- organizing and winning lower-level offices that give the party a talented bench from which to draw for higher contests.

Dean's view -- that Pelosi, Reid, and their party committees have their jobs and he has his -- is the one that he ought to stick to. He should also resist pressure from interest groups, such as the Congressional Black Caucus, whose members raise very little money for the DCCC even though a Democratic takeover of the House would elevate many black lawmakers to chairmanships."-from the subscription-only Cook Report, via Kos.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Enough of the D.C. Dems"

"Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, “unpatriotic” by a bunch of rightwingers.

Take “unpatriotic” and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? “Unpatriotic”? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.

This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.

Who are these idiots talking about Warner of Virginia? Being anodyne is not sufficient qualification for being President. And if there’s nobody in Washington and we can’t find a Democratic governor, let’s run Bill Moyers, or Oprah, or some university president with ethics and charisma.

What happens now is not up to the has-beens in Washington who run this party. It is up to us. So let’s get off our butts and start building a progressive movement that can block the nomination of Hillary Clinton or any other candidate who supposedly has “all the money sewed up.”

I am tired of having the party nomination decided before the first primary vote is cast, tired of having the party beholden to the same old Establishment money.

We can raise our own money on the Internet, and we know it. Howard Dean raised $42 million, largely on the web, with a late start when he was running for President, and that ain’t chicken feed. If we double it, it gives us the lock on the nomination. So let’s go find a good candidate early and organize the shit out of our side."-Molly Ivins in The Progressive. Thanks to Rachel Smith Manrique for passing this along.

"The Democrats: Still Ducking"

"On the advice of top party consultants, the Democrats in the run-up to the 2006 midterm vote are either ignoring Iraq and shifting to domestic issues (the strategy in the 2002 midterm elections) or supporting the war while criticizing Bush's handling of it (the strategy in the 2004 presidential election). Three years into the conflict most Democrats can finally offer a cogent critique of how the Bush Administration misled the American people and mismanaged the Iraqi occupation, but they're unwilling or unable to suggest clearly how the United States should extricate itself from that mess.

To be sure, some highly visible leaders of the party, including Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, have publicly advocated an end to the war. "We do need to make it clear to the American people that after this savaging we've taken at the hands of [Karl] Rove, we are going to stand up for the country and that we have a better plan," Dean told The Nation. "We're not going to make a permanent commitment to a failed strategy, which is what Bush has actually done." But even Dean and Pelosi have done little within party channels to push for a change in position among their prowar colleagues. For now, many prominent Democrats continue to follow the advice of the party's risk-averse consultants and foreign policy intelligentsia--a cautious tack that is unlikely to satisfy voters' desire for change on the crucial issue of the day.

Democratic officials' decision to listen to the political elites is proving costly. This past September a Pew Research poll found that while only 30 percent of voters thought Bush had a "clear plan" on Iraq, a mere 18 percent believed that Democrats in Congress promised a "clear alternative." For a moment on November 17, when Representative Jack Murtha boldly called on Bush to bring the troops home, the Democrats seemed to have found such a voice--and with it an opportunity to shift the debate to how to exit Iraq, not whether to stay. Sure, plans to redeploy US troops within a year or two, sponsored by Russ Feingold in the Senate, the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House and the Center for American Progress (CAP), were already on the table. But none brought with it the standing and sense of urgency of Murtha, who previously had been known on Capitol Hill as the dean of the defense hawks.

"The tone, unfortunately for the Democratic majority, has been set by the two Clintons," says Brzezinski, a longstanding hawk and vocal critic of the Iraq War, "who have decided that Senator Clinton's chances would be improved if she can manage to appear as a kind of quasi-Margaret Thatcher, and therefore she's been loath to come out with a decisive, strong, unambiguous criticism of the war, with some straightforward recommendations as to what ought to be done. And I'm afraid that has contaminated the attitude of the other Democratic political leaders."

It may be impossible to assume that discussion of the war can wait until after November, given the recent events on the ground. If most Democratic strategists have continued to counsel caution on Iraq, a few do not--for moral and pragmatic reasons. "I think the Democrats are afraid of the issue, but I don't think they should be," says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. Lake had previously fallen into the camp of consultants who advised Democrats to ignore the war and pivot to domestic issues. Now she says that approach is no longer possible, and that Democrats must talk about a plan to bring troops home. "Iraq is the essential factor in the voters' landscape," Lake says, the number-one issue feeding distrust of the President and a desire for change.

And contrary to conventional wisdom, the public is much closer to Murtha than most strategists realize, adds public opinion expert Ruy Teixeira. "There is a big bloc of centrist voters dissatisfied with the President who don't believe in Iraq, detest it and want to get out," Teixeira says. Independent voters in particular favor a timeline for withdrawal by 54 to 36 percent in a January CBS News poll. "There's an awful lot of people in the party who think Jack Murtha was right," Dean says. "They may not be saying so, but we know that they agree."

A growing number of Democratic politicians, like their strategists, are slowly beginning to realize that Democrats cannot focus on national security without highlighting Iraq. Murtha has nearly 100 co-sponsors in the House. Prominent Democrats, including Dean, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and Senator Dianne Feinstein, have endorsed a moderate version of Murtha's plan, sponsored by CAP, that would redeploy all US troops by the end of 2007.

Dean personally believes that Democrats can, and may, coalesce around the CAP plan. "My argument is that we need to be specific, because we need to show strength and brainpower on defense," Dean says. "I think having a clear plan to redeploy our troops, which would result in a much smaller footprint in Iraq, makes sense." Democrats can win back the House, Dean says, only with a "broad, clearly differentiated strategy" from the Republicans, including on Iraq. Democratic candidates ranging from Montana to Ohio to Rhode Island have bucked the permanent Washington establishment and made ending the war a crucial part of their campaigns.

"Prolonging the war is damaging us in every respect," says Brzezinski. "The costs are quite extensive and if you add the economic costs [$1 trillion] and the costs in blood [roughly 20,000 US casualties], staying the course is not a very attractive solution or definition of victory. And I think Democrats could make that case intelligently and forcefully."

If Democrats once again fall into what Lake calls an "absence of articulation," the midterm voting--despite all the Republican scandals--could bring a replay of other years, proof of a party that has become so afraid of losing it has forgotten what it takes to win."-from Ari Berman, in The Nation.

The headline for this should have been: "MANY Democrats: Still Ducking."

"Voting debate makes odd bedfellows: Ehrlich, leftists ally in fight against Diebold machines"

"ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has joined forces with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard B. Dean, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Sierra Club, Progressive Maryland and a group of Takoma Park activists.

The Republican governor has not become a member of the Democratic Party’s left wing that he often demonizes, but he has jumped on their bandwagon by blasting the state’s election system — particularly electronic voting machines.

‘‘It’s an interesting coalition of Montgomery County good government types and Republicans raising not just serious issues but irrefutable questions about the integrity of the process,” Ehrlich said in an interview.

At the heart of TrueVoteMD’s argument is that the state should require Diebold to install the technology to produce a ‘‘paper trail” for voters to take with them after their ballots are cast to ensure the integrity of the election process.

Ehrlich turned up the volume in questioning the state’s voting system this week with a letter to the state Board of Elections supporting a bill that was passed 137-0 by the House on Thursday to lease optical scan voting machines to replace the touch-screen Diebold machines for $12 million to $16 million.

TrueVoteMD’s coalition consists of many organizations, such as the ACLU, that are almost never among Ehrlich’s allies.

‘‘We’ve said from the beginning that this is not a partisan issue ... whether you’re on the left or on the right, you want your candidate to have a fair shot,” said Schade, who ran as a Green Party candidate for the House of Delegates in Montgomery County in 2002.

Ehrlich’s lack of confidence in the state’s electronic voting system is proof ‘‘that the legitimacy of the Diebold system is in tatters,” Schade said.

Also, many of Howard Dean’s ‘‘Deaniacs” have taken on the paper trail issue as their call to arms.

‘‘It’s quite safe to say that there are a lot of people across the political spectrum who are passionate about having a voter verified paper trail for this year,” Schade said."-from today's story in The Gazette (MD).

Seattle Times: Republicans say legislative moves by Dems dim GOP election hopes

"OLYMPIA — When majority Democrats wrapped up this year's legislative session Wednesday night, some of their biggest achievements read like a Republican Party wish list.

They took steps to resolve long-standing water disputes between farmers and environmentalists in Eastern Washington. They handed sizable tax breaks to farmers and the timber industry. They won a truce in the years-long war between business and labor over unemployment insurance. And they pushed through tougher penalties for sex offenders.

What's going on here?

Republicans say passing those bills was more about politics than policy — a strategic move by Democrats to take away GOP campaign issues ahead of the fall's legislative elections.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, said he doubts any of those bills would have gotten far this year if elections weren't a few months away. "You have to ask yourself why, in a short session, so many big things came out of here," he said.

"That's absolute nonsense," House Speaker Frank Chopp replied in an interview. "We were just trying to get things done."

Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire also shrugged off Hewitt's assertion, pointing specifically to the landmark bipartisan water deal.

"It wasn't some political strategy," Gregoire said. "We knew we had to do something about water."

Democrats did plenty to please their traditional allies. They put money in the budget for cleaning up Puget Sound and added thousands of children to state-funded health care.

But Democratic leaders acknowledge that the more centrist items on this year's agenda will leave little campaign fodder for the Republicans.

"What are they going to complain about?" Chopp asked.

Even some Republicans are grumbling about how difficult it will be to go after Democrats.

Chopp and the Democrats have been "eating our lunch," said Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island.

Lawmakers on both sides say the odds are good that Democrats will gain seats in the fall and return next year with even bigger majorities. That prospect worries Republicans and even moderate Democrats, who fear it could send the Legislature careening leftward.

But Democratic leaders insist that they won't let that happen.

"The only way we keep [the majorities] is if we govern from the middle," Gregoire said. "That's where the public at large is."-from today's Seattle Times.

P-I: As an anti-war candidate, Dixon says he's no 'spoiler'

"I do not look at myself as a spoiler," Aaron Dixon insisted Thursday as the one-time Seattle Black Panther leader announced his anti-war Green Party candidacy opposing Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.

At a news conference at an assisted-living center in the Central Area, the black community activist made clear that his campaign is built around the Iraq war and the one-term senator's votes supporting it as well as her votes for the Patriot Act and a few other Republican military and security initiatives.

State leaders of both major parties acknowledged that Dixon will take votes from Cantwell.

"We welcome his candidacy," state Republican Chairwoman Diane Tebelius said.

"I think that the Republican Party has learned from its excesses in the past that it's not good to have a third-party candidate out there who could siphon away votes from their main candidates," Tebelius said. "So I would think it could be a problem for the Democrats."

State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz said Cantwell "has a double-digit lead in the polls right now, and we don't think the people of Washington state want to help get Mike McGavick elected, and be one more vote for George Bush, by voting for a third-party candidate."-excerpted from the article in today's Seattle P-I.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Feingold Makes a Serious Move Toward Running in 2008"

Chris Bowers takes the leap on MyDD: "Apart from the TX-28 election, this has been a fairly slow week. However, I have to say that this caught my eye:
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has recruited veteran party operative Paul Tewes to help him begin the long process of courting Iowa voters.
I don't think that I have exactly kept my preferences for Feingold a secret around these parts (and if I had kept it a secret, then it isn't a secret anymore). I have no special information on whether or not Senator Feingold will run for President, but I have to say that this is news that excites me very much.

Since I am sure that more than a few people will bring it up in the comments, I would like to mention that over the past year or so, I have frequently thought about the potential challenges a Feingold campaign would face. The most obvious of these challenges would be to face the onerous "electability" process question that the established news media, the party and progressive establishment, and even party and progressive grassroots force any "outsider" candidate to answer. In Feingold's case, the question would be phrased along the lines of "can a recently divorced Jew known for unusual and left-wing stances wint he Presidency?"

The notion that a progressive can't win, which is a main component of most electability arguments targeted at Democrats, reinforces the narrative that progressive ideas are wrong. This is perhaps the most damaging of all electability narratives.

The notion that a Democrat has to be from a specific region (which always means the south) reinforces the narrative that Democrats are not a national party.

The notion that a Democrat needs real leadership in order to win reinforces the narrative that Democrats are wishy-washy and sand for nothing.

The notion that a Democrat needs a national security resume in order to win reinforces the narrative that Democrats are weak on defense.

The notion that you can't be divorced and / or Jewish in order to win reinforces the false narrative that "values voters" are the path to victory, and that progressives are weak on values. And what people really mean by "values voters" are white, conservative Christians who go to church regularly. The entire "values voters" narrative is designed to complete destroy anyone who ever attempts to run a progressive campaign via electability process story death.

Most important, the notion that Democrats need to always be focused on electability crushes the notion that Democrats stand for anything, have any strength at all, and have any ideas at all. If we are all about process, then we have no ideas, no strength, no nothing. The focus on electability is deadly to the national image of the Democratic Party and reinforces basically every narrative about Democrats that Republicans have been trying to spin for decades now...

The best strategy, I think, not only for Feingold but for any potential Democratic insurgent faced with the electability narrative, would be to simply say something like this:
I know that in some ways I do not fit the definition of the sort of candidate that the established news media is used to and that Washington is used to. I also know that as a person I have flaws. However, I am not going to hide my past or these flaws, because I am not ashamed of my personal life, and because I never believe it is a good idea to change who you are for other people. I am also not going to argue over whether or not standing up for what you believe in will hurt you at the ballot box. In the end, the only thing that makes a candidate electable or not is if people vote for that candidate. If you want to focus on process, that is your prerogative. I believe the American people would rather hear about ways to make government work for all of us."

Howie question: Do progressives have the appetite for another insurgent candidacy that will kick-off another fight for the soul of the Democratic party?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Democrats pass great budget for Washington families"

"Democrats in Olympia today passed a budget we can be proud of and did it a day early!

The budget passed by the legislature reflects our Democratic priorities; it will create jobs, improve education and help make healthcare more accessible.

This budget is fiscally responsible, creating a savings of over $935 million. It is good for all working families in Washington.

I commend Speaker Frank Chopp, Majority Leader Lisa Brown and all of our Democratic legislators for their efforts on behalf of all Washingtonians. They have proven what we’ve always known; Democrats are leading Washington State in the right direction.

At the same time, Republicans in the other Washington are attacking our values and the middle class. They inherited a budget surplus and have given us record deficits, now over $8 trillion. They attack our education system by making massive cuts and raising the cost of college. They have failed miserably to reduce the cost of healthcare, and under their watch less people are covered in America.

Today’s budget in Olympia is one that we can all be proud of as we work to elect more Democrats in 2006 and fight back against the Republican culture of corruption in DC.

Some highlights:

· $40 million to help students pass the WASL and help them with math and science

· $6 million for more enrollments in higher education

· A pay increase for teachers

· 6,500 more people will be covered by the Basic Health Plan

· 14,000 more children will be covered by the Children’s Health Program

· $50 million in tax relief for small businesses and farms, which will create jobs

· Our state parks are more accessible to everyone because of the elimination of the parking fee

· $14 million for affordable housing

· $50 million more for mental health programs and hospitals

· $935 million in reserve funds

To read more about the budget, click: here.

Couple this outstanding budget with Democratic successes in passing the anti-discrimination bill and investments we’re making in alternative energies such as bio-fuels; it’s clear our leaders are getting results that are helping Washington’s families.


Dwight Pelz
Washington State Democrats"

"Former Black Panther Aaron Dixon to run for Senate" (UPDATED)

"Aaron Dixon, a black community activist and icon of Seattle's political left for nearly 40 years, is running for the U.S. Senate, posing what could be a potent threat to Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell's chances for re-election.

Dixon, 57, a co-founder of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, is announcing at a news conference Thursday his candidacy for the Green Party nomination. In a close general election, he conceivably could peel enough liberal votes from Cantwell to help hand the election to Republican businessman Mike McGavick.

In other words, Dixon could do for McGavick what another third-party candidate, Libertarian Jeff Jared, arguably did for Cantwell when she unseated Republican Sen. Slade Gorton in 2000. Cantwell won by 2,229 votes, and many Republicans think the 64,734 votes for Jared cost Gorton the election.

"This has got to be great news for McGavick and bad news for Cantwell," University of Washington political scientist David Olson said of Dixon's candidacy. That's particularly so, he said, because Dixon could pull votes from two reliably Democratic constituencies, environmentalists and African Americans."-from the story in today's Seattle P-I.

Update: Goldy on makes the "green" case for Maria:

"I’d like to ask my Green readers (assuming I still have any)… um… so exactly how “green” does a Democrat have to be before you decide there’s no difference between them and the Republican? I mean… take a look at Sen. Cantwell’s ratings from some very green organizations:
100% from NARAL (2005)

100% from the ACLU (2004-05)

100% from the Leadership Conference On Civil Rights (2001-05)

100% from American Association Of University Women (2001-04)

100% From Brady Campaign (2001-03)

100% from Children’s Defense Fund (03-04)

100% from Sierra Club (03)

98% from US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) (2004-05)

95% from NAACP (2005), 100% (2003-2004)

95% “liberal quotient” from Americans For Democratic Action (2005)

93% from Human Rights Campaign (2001-04)

90% from the League of Conservation Voters (2005)

“Wildlife Hero” from Wildlife Action Fund."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Data Mining Stirs Debate Inside Democratic Party"

"With Private Effort on Voter Information, Ickes and Soros Challenge Dean and DNC---A group of well-connected Democrats led by a former top aide to Bill Clinton is raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage.

The effort by Harold Ickes, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is prompting intense behind-the-scenes debate in Democratic circles. Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party.

"From an institutional standpoint, this is one of the most important things the DNC can and should do. Building this voter file is part of our job," Communications Director Karen Finney said. "We believe this is something we have to do at the DNC. Our job is to build the infrastructure of the party."
-from the front page story in Wednesday's Washington Post by Thomas B. Edsall.

Howie opinion: Blue State Digital, the company that the DNC has been using for this work, was originally created using a grant from Soros, also. It is unfortunate that this effort has now become "privatized" and, apparently, the information from the new company, Data Warehouse, will be used in the future to assist only those who can pay for, or somehow can otherwise arrange to receive the information, outside the Democratic party structure.