Monday, July 31, 2006

"Getting Involved - My interview with Darcy Burner"

Jason Black:

This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to go to a concert by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame. He was in town for a tour date, and came to town a day early so he could do a benefit/fundraiser for my favorite Congressional candidate, Darcy Burner. At the end of the evening, after most folks had left, Darcy was kind enough to let me interview her for a while about her campaign, her family, and her take on how this whole political season is shaping up. Excerpt:

JB: So what's your take on the pulse of the district?

DB: There is an unbelievable amount of energy in the district around the idea of changing the direction of the country. We're going door to door in the district, we're talking to people on the telephone, I'm talking to people at fairs and festivals and things. And huge numbers of people, huge numbers of voters, are ready to see this country change direction and are ready to act to make that happen. I'll give you a quick anecdote. So I filed for this office on the 15th of June last year. And on the 4th of July of last year I marched on the 4th of July parade in Carnation.

JB: Right, there are pictures on your website.

DB: Right, there are pictures on my website. And in that parade, I got at best a lukewarm reception. There were some people who wouldn't shake my hand, a couple of people who shouted out that, you know, they didn't like Democrats. I had a couple of people greet me enthusiastically, but literally most people were like "eh, not interested." We marched again in that parade this year, and the experience was completely different. This year I had huge numbers of people shouting enthusiastically. As I would walk by, I would hear people shouting "That's Darcy Burner! She's the Democratic candidate for Congress!" They were like "Yaaay!" I had nobody--nobody--who wouldn't shake my hand. Not a single person.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dueling Dollars

Corporate Sponsors for McGavick:
The (Washington)State Democratic Party has posted a list of McGavick's corporate sponsors. The list comes straight from McGavick's recently-released FEC report:

Insurance Industry: In addition to McGavick’s illegal $28 million golden parachute from his time as an insurance CEO, members of the insurance industry have shelled out more than $275,000—almost $65,000 in new FEC disclosures alone—directly to bankroll McGavick’s campaign. McGavick previously served as a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association, and his contributions from the insurance industry top all other special interest funders of his campaign.

Big Oil: McGavick, a big supporter of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, raked in another $8500 from the PACs of big oil – including another $4000 from ExxonMobil’s PAC ($5000 total to date), $2000 from BP’s PAC and $2500 from Conoco Phillips’s PAC.

Halliburton: McGavick accepted $1000 from Halliburton’s PAC, even as the company remains mired in scandal relating to abuse surrounding no-bid contracts Iraq and ties to VP Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force.

Social Security Privatizers: McGavick raked in another $4000 from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC, for a total of $5000 to date. The Roundtable is a group of approximately 100 CEOs of the largest financial services companies in the nation, who are at the forefront of the push for Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. The Roundtable has already hosted two separate fundraisers for McGavick.

Rx Money: Even as McGavick fails to support drug re-importation from Canada, he accepted $2000 from Pfizer’s PAC, and another $10,000 from the PAC of Express-Scripts, one of the largest prescription benefit managers (PBM) in the country.

Ted Stevens: McGavick took a $2000 personal check from his good friend Ted Stevens – who appears to be making good on his pledge to seek revenge against Maria Cantwell for standing up and successfully blocking oil drilling in Alaska. FEC records show that Senator Stevens doesn’t donate much personally to other candidates, and has never written a check of this size to someone challenging a colleague.

It's hard not to compare such sponsorship to that of top sports figures who speak for their car or beer sponsors in return for the funds that pay their expenses for competing. This list tells us pretty much who will get McGavick's attention if he becomes our Senator and who will help him write the bills that he will introduce in Congress. It used to be that corporations supported former Congressional staff who had proved loyal or lobbyists they knew well for public office. With McGavick, former CEO of Safeco, they are now eliminating the middleman. They are going straight for office themselves.

Let's not allow that.(Evergreen Politics).

Feingold leads Democrats in share of small donations:

As he explores a 2008 presidential bid, Sen. Russ Feingold has raised a little more than $2 million this year, putting him ahead of some potential Democratic rivals and well behind others.

But in one respect, Feingold's fund raising sets him apart. Unlike any other '08 prospect in his party, his early money is coming mostly from small donors.

In the first half of 2006, the Wisconsin senator raised 62% of his funds from people giving $200 or less, a much higher share than any other potential candidate. His total of roughly $1.3 million in small donations is topped only by Hillary Clinton, by far the dominant Democratic fund-raiser.

Whether Feingold has the ability to finance a presidential campaign remains to be seen. He says he won't make a decision about running until after the November elections.
Cultivating small donors can be expensive. Although some small donors make unsolicited contributions online, many are solicited through costly mail appeals. Feingold's reports show his political action committee has spent almost $300,000 this year on direct mail and more than $70,000 on phone appeals.

"It's the most expensive form of fund raising known to man," political analyst Charlie Cook said of direct mail, terming that a potential downside to relying too much on small donors. The strongest campaigns achieve a balance between large and small donors, he said.

The payoff to that investment is the development of lengthy donor lists that can be tapped regularly. Spokesman Trevor Miller said more than 25,000 people this year have given to either Feingold's Senate committee or his political action committee, the Progressive Patriots Fund.

Miller would not say what share of Feingold's small donations have been made online, which costs a campaign little. In an interview last month, Feingold expressed confidence that if he ran, he'd be able to tap the growing potential of the Internet as a fund-raising tool.

"I think it would explode if we went in that direction," he said.(Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

"Shorter Sirota: Think Nationally, Act Locally"

Evergreen Politics:
David Sirota, renaissance man of progressive politics, spoke to a rapt crowd at Seattle’s Town Hall Thursday evening. The event was part of a tour to promote his latest book, Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government – And How We Take It Back. As the former press secretary for independent Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders, Sirota witnessed firsthand how the economic realities of D.C. politicking can infect the system so completely as to make good government and true public service rare commodities.

The predominant message of the book is that - despite the efforts of representatives like Sanders, who focus their policy objectives on what’s beneficial for the working people of America – the system has been rigged by special interest money filling the pockets of both Republicans and Democrats alike. Everything that happens in D.C. hinges on who has money, who doesn’t, and who is really served by legislation passing in Congress. Sirota makes the case that the worst forms of corruption are the legal ones, where campaign finance laws - and the Supreme Court - heavily favor special interests by bolstering the theory that money = free speech.

While the media focuses on hot-button topics like gays, guns, and God, the corporate lobbyists concentrate on manipulating economic and military issues, because that’s where the impacts of legislation reign supreme. Lobbyists revel in the distraction that’s created by emotional, social issues as they quietly go about greasing the wheels of government. More importantly, it means the big money gets to frame the debates on legislation, and they succeed most when they frame the debates very narrowly. Sirota refers to this as the “artificial narrative”. Look at the recent energy bill. Congresspeople didn’t spend days and nights immersed in heated debate over whether wind, solar, hydrogen or biofuels offered the best hope for a fossil-free future. Instead they locked horns over which energy companies would receive the biggest tax breaks, and whether or not we should drill at ANWR.

This summary of David Sirota's Thursday evening talk in Seattle comes to us courtesy of "shoephone" a friend who attended and wrote about this on a new sub-blog (is that a new term?) at Firedoglake and agreed to cross-post the summary here. Sirota has been described as being the conscience of the progressive blogosphere. I think this summary illustrates that role nicely. Thanks to shoephone for covering this.

There's more after the fold.

"CSNY fan the political flames as only they can"

Seattle P-I:
There's no denying it, there's no hiding it: Neil Young is mad as hell. It has been almost 40 years since Woodstock and America seems more lost than ever. No more big marches, no big protests, nowadays things are different. Americans don't burn flags, they blog.

For Neil Young, it's not enough. It's not the way of the '60s. So rather than sitting around waiting for someone else to pick up the reins of the revolution, the grandfather of grunge decided to show post-9/11 America how it's done: first, record an album of protest songs. The resulting "Living With War" pulls no punches, berating the Bush administration like a Bill O'Reilly from the left.

The legendary Young then called upon his comrades David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash for a "Freedom of Speech Tour" to combine these new songs with older songs in one cohesive three-movement show: the way to do it, who we were when we did it, and why you should do it now.

The first movement was mainly a "Living With War" showcase with "Military Madness" and "Deja Vu" woven into the protestation. Altogether, this section clearly advocated the Howard Zinn maxim "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." And dissent, Young did. From "Flags of Freedom" to "Families," he wielded his love of country like a sword, lashing out at government, consumerism and war.

The next movement shifted gears with a tide of harmonies beginning with "Helplessly Hoping" and ending with "Our House." Attention then turned to the individual, letting each member showcase himself through a song. After cycling through, the four returned to proffer some of the greatest wisdom ever committed to song: "Teach your parents well/ Their children's hell will slowly go by/ And feed them on your dreams/ The one they picked/ the one you'll know by." Or more simply, "Teach your children well."

Thereafter, no more beating around Bush. The final movement was a pure Bush bashing, "Let's impeach the president." The effect was meant to incite action, but again, CSNY contained the strike with a string of dreamy folk songs (the political variety of which they are champions), book-ended by a vicious combo of "Ohio" and "Rockin' in the Free World." The latter stretched its highest moment into an extended climax of distortion and feedback with Young bucking his guitar across the stage like a crazy horse, breaking most of his strings along the way.

It was a show with a message, one as implicit as "We can change the world/ Rearrange the world." The proof was in Joni Mitchell's remembrance of "Woodstock," the song's harmonies and hope drew thousands of hands into the air waving the "peace" sign.

It's been too long since the gesture has flown so freely, perhaps now, America can again fly it high. Peace may never go out of style, but let's hope it doesn't go out of practice.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"A Senate Race in Connecticut "

From Sunday's NY Times:

Earlier this year, Senator Joseph Lieberman’s seat seemed so secure that — legend has it — some people at the Republican nominating convention in Connecticut started making bleating noises when the party picked a presumed sacrificial lamb to run against the three-term senator, who has been a fixture in Connecticut politics for more than 35 years.

But Mr. Lieberman is now in a tough Democratic primary against a little-known challenger, Ned Lamont. The race has taken on a national character. Mr. Lieberman’s friends see it as an attempt by hysterical antiwar bloggers to oust a giant of the Senate for the crime of bipartisanship. Lamont backers — most of whom seem more passionate about being Lieberman opponents — say that as one of the staunchest supporters of the Iraq war, Mr. Lieberman has betrayed his party by cozying up to President Bush.

This primary would never have happened absent Iraq. It’s true that Mr. Lieberman has fallen in love with his image as the nation’s moral compass. But if pomposity were a disqualification, the Senate would never be able to call a quorum. He has voted with his party in opposing the destructive Bush tax cuts, and despite some unappealing rhetoric in the Terri Schiavo case, he has strongly supported a woman’s right to choose. He has been one of the Senate’s most creative thinkers about the environment and energy conservation.

But this race is not about résumés. The United States is at a critical point in its history, and Mr. Lieberman has chosen a controversial role to play. The voters in Connecticut will have to judge whether it is the right one.

As Mr. Lieberman sees it, this is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party — his moderate fair-mindedness against a partisan radicalism that alienates most Americans. “What kind of Democratic Party are we going to have?” he asked in an interview with New York magazine. “You’ve got to agree 100 percent, or you’re not a good Democrat?”

That’s far from the issue. Mr. Lieberman is not just a senator who works well with members of the other party. And there is a reason that while other Democrats supported the war, he has become the only target. In his effort to appear above the partisan fray, he has become one of the Bush administration’s most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates.

Citing national security, Mr. Bush continually tries to undermine restraints on the executive branch: the system of checks and balances, international accords on the treatment of prisoners, the nation’s longtime principles of justice. His administration has depicted any questions or criticism of his policies as giving aid and comfort to the terrorists. And Mr. Lieberman has helped that effort. He once denounced Democrats who were “more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq” than on supporting the war’s progress.

At this moment, with a Republican president intent on drastically expanding his powers with the support of the Republican House and Senate, it is critical that the minority party serve as a responsible, but vigorous, watchdog. That does not require shrillness or absolutism. But this is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler, and embrace a role as the president’s defender.

On the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Lieberman has left it to Republicans like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to investigate the administration’s actions. In 2004, Mr. Lieberman praised Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for expressing regret about Abu Ghraib, then added: “I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized.” To suggest even rhetorically that the American military could be held to the same standard of behavior as terrorists is outrageous, and a good example of how avidly the senator has adopted the Bush spin and helped the administration avoid accounting for Abu Ghraib.

Mr. Lieberman prides himself on being a legal thinker and a champion of civil liberties. But he appointed himself defender of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the administration’s policy of holding hundreds of foreign citizens in prison without any due process. He seconded Mr. Gonzales’s sneering reference to the “quaint” provisions of the Geneva Conventions. He has shown no interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons. There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance.

If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.

Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

RJ Eskow comments:
Will we now hear The New York Times editorial staff described the way Lamont's blog supporters have been - as "liars," "fascists," "Stalinists," and "weirdos"? Will the Times be described as supporting a "purge" of the Democratic Party? Will the term "journalofascism" enter the political discourse?

"Arab American Community Coalition Appalled by Attack on Seattle Jewish Federation Office"

For more information contact:
Majdi Daher 425-503-2699
Ibrahim al-Husseini 206-406-4967

The Arab American Community Coalition and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Seattle denounces the apparent crime that took place earlier today at the Jewish Federation building in Seattle. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We urge our law enforcement agencies to take immediate action against the perpetrator or perpetrators, and take all necessary actions to prevent such crimes from happening against Jews, Arabs and Muslims in the future

Violence against anyone because of ethnicity or religion does not advance the cause of peace, justice and liberation in Lebanon, Palestine or Israel. Attacks on civilians must stop in Gaza, Beirut, Haifa, and certainly in downtown Seattle.

Seattle is a beautiful city, blessed with diverse communities of all colors, histories, religions and heritages. The Seattle community is a leader in advancing the cause of tolerance and inclusion. This crime is not a reflection of what our community is.

We call on all media outlets to be responsible in their coverage of this crime and to avoid divisive, inflammatory or sensationalistic reporting. We also hope that the community at large will avoid hasty judgments and honor the victims of this crime by thoughtful and deliberate inquiry and actions.

A silent March calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel was scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) in Kirkland, but, in light of today’s violent actions and out of concern for the safety of members of the Arab-American community and the general public, we have decided to postpone the event to a later date. Some organizers of the event from the Arab and Jewish communities will be available at the Kirkland Marina starting at 10:00 AM to answer any questions or concerns.

The Arab American Community Coalition.
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Friday, July 28, 2006

"TRAGIC: Innocent people killed, wounded in shootings at Seattle Jewish Federation"

Andrew says it better than I can.

One of my neighbors works in the building.

"A Ned Lamont Landslide?"

Jerry Policoff:
Taking its cue from a press release that accompanied the latest Quinnipiac poll, the mainstream media is predicting a close Connecticut primary contest that could go either way. Ned Lamont holds a narrow 4-point edge over Joe Lieberman, but that falls well within the polls +/- 3.8 percentage point margin of error. Is it really that close? Careful analysis of the data suggests otherwise. In fact, Lamont may be heading for a landslide victory on August 8th.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Hellfire, Damnation And Rational Thought"

The (liberal)Girl Next Door:
That Israel has become an occupier and aggressive state due to circumstances that have forced them to seek security above all else does not negate the reality that they are an occupational and aggressive force in the region and have become so, largely with the help of the U.S. government, stepped up dramatically under the stewardship of GWB. I am not unsympathetic to the situation Israel finds itself in, but this latest inflammation of violence smacks of collective punishment, message sending and the beginnings of a much bigger conflict, one that is desired by the neo-conservatives that have a death grip on the governments of both the United States and Israel. This is not an “isolated conflict” but rather one that has roots in a philosophy that seeks to reshape the world in a way that is most beneficial to a very select few.

I believe in coincidence only up to a point, and the fact that the very same shady characters that brought us Iran-Contra are manipulating the chessboard again now for their own sick power play, tells me this is chaos by design. Bush hasn’t been silent because he’s too ignorant to know what to do (well, not completely anyway) and Condi hasn’t been kept on ice for so long without reason. We are letting the violence escalate and the tensions boil for a purpose. The neo-cons are hell bent on regime change in Iran and this is their shot.
Howie opinion: I'm trying to sort all this out. Being raised as Jew hasn't really helped me to do this. I remember, way back when, living in Paris and meeting people from all over the world and the people who reminded me the most of Americans were the Israelis. This was a not good thing. I was quite surprised about that.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

About Howard Dean, John Murtha, and Elections

"Dean calls Iraqi PM an 'anti-Semite'"---Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel.

Al-Maliki has condemned Israel's offensive, prompting several Democrats to boycott his address to a joint meeting of Congress and others to criticize him. Dean's comments were the strongest to date.

"The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."

On Tuesday, leading Senate Democrats said in a sharply worded letter that Al-Maliki's "failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raises serious questions about whether Iraq under your leadership can play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East."

Murtha hits the campaign trail---Helping Democratic candidates could pay dividends in a race for majority leader against Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Murtha says he thinks such a race is likely and told The Hill that if the election were held now Democrats would be catapulted into the majority.

"If it was today, we'd win 50 seats," he said, adding that Democratic strategists have assessed the field of competitive races in which they think he can help.

"In 41 seats they think I can help," he said. "They've got it narrowed."

Murtha said he plans to campaign in all of them. He also said, "I'm going to where Nancy sends me," referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


How to Rig Elections---In March 2001, Republicans held a five-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of its massive size, California would account for 53 seats in the House--or almost one out of every eight seats. Political junkies across the nation eagerly waited to see whether California--where Democrats controlled the state assembly--would redraw district boundaries to replace three Republican incumbents with Democrats and steal the U.S. House from the Republicans.

The task of actually drafting California's new districts did not fall to officeholders or their staffers, but to a chain-smoking, rumpled political consultant hired by Democrats. Fifty-three-year-old Michael Berman was a principal partner of BAD Campaigns, a firm known for running expensive campaigns featuring hard-hitting television spots and direct mail for many of California's most powerful Democrats.

Democrats, who held 62% of California's U.S. House seats and a slightly higher percentage of State Senate and State Assembly seats, effectively controlled the process and hired Berman to draw the new U.S. House and state senate maps (another consultant would draft the state assembly map with Berman's input). State Democrats paid Berman $1.36 million to draw the state senate districts, and sitting Democratic members of Congress collectively paid him about $600,000 ($20,000 each) to draw the U.S. House map.

"Twenty thousand is nothing to keep your seat,'' Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez told the Orange County Register. "I spend $2 million (campaigning) every election. If my colleagues are smart, they'll pay their $20,000, and Michael will draw the district they can win in. Those who have refused to pay? God help them."

NY Times:

Democrats Map Out Election Plan---Democrats plan to press for a minimum wage increase and ''tough, smart'' national security in their final push to wrest power from the Republicans in the November elections.

House and Senate Democrats will hold a joint meeting on Thursday to discuss events planned for the 100 days leading up to midterm congressional elections and lay out their party agenda, called ''A New Direction for America.''

It's a compilation of positions the party has staked out over the past few months on income, national security, energy, education, health care and retirement accounts.

''We're going across the country to make our case,'' Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. ''We're going to reject the divisive politics of the last six years, and unite America behind an agenda that works for all.''

His counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, said Democrats offer change. ''Americans know the country is going in the wrong direction,'' she said.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nuts and Bolts

Scott Galindez:
Here we go again … There is a grass-roots movement picking up steam in the nutmeg state, but the old guard is rushing in to maintain the status quo. Bill Clinton is rushing to Connecticut to save Joseph Lieberman for the party insiders who don't want to lose their power in the party.

We saw the same thing when Howard Dean energized the grass roots in 2004. Clinton and others rallied to John Kerry to make sure that a nominee would emerge that would answer to the party's moneyed interests.

Washington Post:
Last year, a report called "Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting" took a look at the issues surrounding the move by most of the country's election jurisdictions to electronic voting machines. The report's theoretical approach contrasted with the often bitter dispute about the security of the technology between activists and voting-machine vendors.

The report's authors -- a committee of National Research Council experts, including prominent computer scientists and two former governors -- then turned their attention to this year's elections. What they found, according to a council analysis released yesterday, is not reassuring:

Jane Hamsher:
Welcome to the Bush/Liberman Police State, Wherein I Am Ejected From Bill Clinton's Speech. (video)

David Postman
Michael Hood,who follows talk radio at blatherwatch, listened yesterday to Eyman being grilled by 710 KIRO's Dori Monson — who Hood describes as an ordinarily loyal libertarian and I-917 supporter — and 570 KVI's John Carlson. Hood says neither seemed to be buying Eyman's tale or purloined petitions.

So the calendar in 2008 should look like this, provided the full DNC approves:

Iowa (caucus): 1/14
Nevada (caucus): 1/19
NH (primary): 1/22
SC (primary): 1/29

They've got to be celebrating over at Edwards' HQ, because this map is designed to give him a huge boost.

"Dem Poobahs Need to Learn That Winning is Defined by Winning, Not Coming in a Close Second Place"

BuzzFlash (the whole damn op-ed):
Somewhere along the line, the Democratic leadership forgot that you win by winning. For the Republicans, that is all there is to politics -- that and then permanently maintaining power.

For the Democratic leadership, it seems enough to say "well, we tried hard and came in a close second." Coming in a close second in politics is defined as losing, not a consolation prize.

Of course, the Republicans don't care how they "win." They will mug you, rob you, hide votes, suppress votes, miscount votes, steal them -- it doesn't matter. And the Dems shrug, "What can we do? And do you really think that they would steal an election?"

Duh, just ask Al Gore. Heck, just ask Antonin Scalia or Katherine Harris. Just start there and move on through each election.

Part of the Democratic leadership mentality is "playing dumb." They pretend that the felonious Republican tactics are inconceivable and that the Dems on the Hill are too "gentlemanly" to accuse the Republicans of rigging elections.

But the Republicans don't have to steal EVERY election. Many they actually win. By all accounts, the GOP is much better -- no surprise here -- at mining data on voter personal preferences and getting out the vote in marginal districts. They use computers and phone banks and direct mail that's targeted down to the flea in your dog's navel.

And of course, they use wedge issues, demagogic emotional appeals, and understand the power of television images better than the Dems.

In short, the Republicans are better marketers, much, much better.

They have been, ever since author Joe McGuinness documented Nixon's resurrection in "The Selling of the President." Roger Ailes, who runs the FOX GOP News Network, was one of the early masters of packaging, branding and treating candidates as products.

George W. Bush's entire presidency is one big marketing campaign, using themes and narratives that best "catapult" the sales of the product, the product being Bush.

The main vulnerability of the GOP brilliance at marketing is that since it is based on selling the fantasy of a brand -- rather than the reality -- its products run into trouble when they run into reality.

You can, to a great degree, control the consistency and predictability of how Fritos taste, for instance. In fact, every bag prominently displays a customer service number that you can call if the bag of Fritos that you are eating doesn't live up to the "brand quality" (not that we are recommending Fritos as a junk food, but we are talking about their marketing strategy and brand consistency).

The Democrats need to be the customer service number for democracy.

They need to drag reality kicking and screaming before the American public -- whether it is the GOP's failure to really protect America or the theft of elections; whether it is the willful destruction of the middle class in our nation or the appointing of incompetents to respond to domestic crises; whether it is the vetoing of stem cell research or the hijacking of domestic policy by religious zealots.

And then there's that little dismantling of the American Constitution thing that the Bush Administration is pulling off.

You can't -- Joe Lieberman style -- pretend a bag of Fritos is fresh and tasty when it is crumbled and filled with cockroaches.

But that's what Dems too often do. They are paralyzed by the GOP marketing brilliance and then rendered speechless about denouncing how the product that is being marketed is foul, distasteful and harmful to your health.

And so the Dems all too often end up in second place. They are happy with a pat on the back for "putting up the good fight."

But they really haven't put up a good fight because the cards were stacked against them all the time -- and they were too timid to expose the reality of the situation.

When will the Democratic big shots define winning as winning, not coming in second place?

Because coming in second place in politics, however the vote was counted, is losing.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"Democrats Still Fiddle While Iraq Burns"

Trey Ellis:

This same headline could have been written over a year ago. And it will be just as valid a year from now when the midterms come and go with the Republicans still in power because Democrats did not present a coherent plan to save our military and by extension our nation itself from ruin.

Almost all of the bloggers on the Post, including myself, have written in these pages over and over that Democrats across the spectrum need to check their egos and coalesce around a central theme to get us out of Iraq. Yet every time a bold proposal comes from a fighting hero like Jack Murtha or Russ Feingold, Republicans and their propaganda machine reduce, distort and reframe the message and all the other Democrats rush in to smother the newborn idea as if it were a two-headed calf. Despite the great news in poll after poll, Democrats have been so trained to wither in the face of Republican disapproval that all Republicans have to do now is raise an eyebrow and other Democrats pile on and kill the Democratic idea.

The timetable for an Iraq pullout is just such a baby.

We have allowed Republicans to reframe the debate instead of boldly saying,

"All Americans want the same thing: our troops home safe and sound. Bush's folly is destroying two nations, ours and theirs. No Democrat has ever talked about cutting and running. That is only some of the same infantile Republican thinking that bungled us into this useless war in the first place. Instead, we are calling to pull our troops out of the daily line of fire immediately, while keeping enough of them close by for selective operations. This is what the Bush administration is ineffectively trying to do already with their creation of permanent megabases inside Iraq. Inside the walls are Taco Bells and movie theaters. Outside burns the fires of hell. Yes that has lessened the daily rate of young American lives thrown away because of Bush's incompetence.

Yet the very existence of these permanent bases ensures that the grandchildren of the troops currently holed up in these homes-away-from-home will be fighting the grandchildren of the current insurgents.

We Democrats pledge to stop this madness. A president is not a king. We the people do not want his war and when we take control of the government in November we will give it back to him."

I guess he means to say we'll take control IF we stop fiddling.

"Moderate Democrats unveil economic agenda"

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, his counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean say voters have a clear choice — more of the same under Republicans or a new direction with Democrats in charge.

But some critics within the party have criticized those leaders in Washington, saying they have failed to articulate a clear and detailed policy platform heading into the midterm elections. Some question whether Democrats need a document like the "Contract with America," which was credited with helping Republicans seize power in 1994.

The DLC's effort to create an economic agenda began a year ago, when Vilsack asked Clinton to lead the charge and solicit ideas from political, business, labor, civic and intellectual leaders across the country.

The result is what Al From, the founder of the organization, called "a set of ideas around which Democrats of all stripes can rally as we head into the fall election."

Still, he and other moderates are under no illusions that every part of the party, liberals in particular, will embrace the agenda. Said From, "My guess is that there are some people who will not be happy with the ideas."

"White House Preparing for Democratic Takeover?"

How optimistic should the Netroots be heading into November's midterm elections? Perhaps we should take a cue from the Bush White House, which according to Time's Mike Allen is making preparations for the possibility that the Democrats will capture one or both chambers of Congress.
Howie opinion:
At the same time, they are making plans to retain control of both Houses of Congress by any means necessary.

"The Hippies Behind the Youth Movement"


"Dean's presidential campaign was remarkable at the time for its extensive use of the Internet to reach out to its supporters," a Wikipedia summary now notes. "The candidate's staff, and occasionally even the candidate, frequently 'blogged' while on the campaign trail and even sought advice on important campaign-related decisions -- in at least two instances even making decisions through online polls of supporters."

Dean's approach was certainly innovative at the time, but what most people didn't realize was that his supporters were not generally the disengaged college campus youth who wouldn't have been involved if not for Dean's Net tactics. Instead, Pew Internet Research reports in a 2005 study that "the group's overall age distribution" was "fairly close to that of Democrats in the general public." They were also "far wealthier" than general Democrats and were not the most frequent Internet users.


According to a 2006 survey by comScore Media Metrix, netroots members at flagship blog DailyKos are positively grey-haired. The survey states, "the demographic snapshot of readers reveals that while all adult age groups are represented, there is a very large skew toward adults 65 and older. In fact, this age group is nearly four times as likely as the norm to visit the site."

And, in a related matter, The Freeway Blogger leaves his mark on Seattle.

Some Things You Can Do

DFA Night School:
In order to build a grassroots army and elect progressive candidates up-and-down the ballot, we need to make sure that DFA members have the skills to be effective in the campaigns ahead. We are offering three online sessions of the DFA Night School that will focus on media training.
July 25: Working the Mainstream Media
August 1: Leveraging Blogs and Online Media
August 8: Sustaining your Media Presence

100 Days to Win: Just Desserts
With the election a little more than 100 days away, we're organizing dessert potlucks on July 31st to kickoff our big program to win in November.

MoveOn members across the country are going to get together to share some delicious pie and launch our massive get-out-the-vote program. We'll link all the parties with a conference call featuring Senator Barack Obama and Al Franken, and we'll fill everyone in on how the program works and what you can do locally to help give Republicans their "just desserts" in November

Sign-up to attend a party in your neighborhood or host your own.

Uncaged Cabaret, a benefit for Jim McDermott:
Citizen Artiste and members of the Seattle/Vashon
performing arts community will collaborate to produce
“UnCaged Cabaret,” a dazzling variety show, Sunday,
August 20th, at Columbia City Theatre. The production
is a benefit and statement of support for 7th District
Congressman Jim McDermott.

"CT-Sen: Rasmussen has worse news for Lieberman"

The challenge for Lamont isn't just to win the primary, which looks increasingly likely, but to crush Lieberman. A small victory, while better than a loss, would fuel Lieberman's claims that the primary was decided by a bunch of people not representative of the state's electorate. A good turnout and a crushing defeat (as in Tester's win in Montana) would send a different signal -- that Lieberman has utterly lost the state's rank and file Democrats.

Given the incredible press a solid Lamont victory would generate, what little support Lieberman had would evaporate. No one wants to back a huge loser. Well, except, perhaps, Connecticut Republicans. But there aren't enough of those and they'd be just as likely to back their candidate in the hopes of stealing a seat in this safe, blue state.

With such a vote of no-confidence hanging over Lieberman's head, party elders would be more motivated to lean on Lieberman heavily to exit the race.

So polls showing the race swinging in Lamont's favor shouldn't be a sign to slack off. It should be a sign to throw Lieberman an anchor. If you have family, friends, or neighbors in Connecticut, help get the word to them about Lamont. It doesn't cost anything. And as always, please help however you can, whether it's volunteering (preferred) or contributing.
Howie opinion: I think it's important to "crush" Joe to send a message to the world about what kind of Democratic party we want to create.

Some Bi-partisan Opposition

"A Republican Woman asks why Democrats do not demand Impeachment"
"The tea was held upstairs, past open doors that held the portraits of First Ladies and mementos of previous administrations. I don't think I will be having tea with Laura Bush again."

I wrote the above to appear in a newsletter for the National Federation of Republican Women soon after the event. I had gotten my invitation to the White House Tea as a Regent for NFRW. The sandwiches were delicious - but subsequent events have persuaded me that what America needs most is an impeachment and more honesty in politics. Since it is clear the Republicans are not going to clean their own house I am urging Democrats to act now and remove both President Bush and Vice President Cheney from office.

"US Democratic opposition chief attacks Bush on Middle East"
Democratic National Committee chairman and former presidential hopeful Howard Dean accused US President George W. Bush of losing control of the Middle East by neglecting specific regional powers.

The opposition party chief said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's planned trip to the region was an "important first step" but that she would have trouble finding a solution of the Lebanese conflict.

"The fact remains that the Bush administration has failed to substantially engage in the very difficult arena of Middle East peacemaking over the past six years," Dean said.

Dean said the Republican administration had to keep channels open with all regional players, despite its refusal to deal with either Syria or Iran, which it views as state sponsors of terror.

"Refusing to engage while talking tough and ignoring international problems is not a foreign policy. We must have a foreign policy that is both tough and smart," said Dean.

He called for "direct negotiations with all the people of the Middle East."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Ava Lowery’s New Santorum Ad"

Here's some hope for the future of our political process:
"Had Enough of Rick Santorum?"-the fifteen year old videographer extraordinaire has produced her first political ad.

Post-Podcast Pondering

My brother and his nine year old son flew in from eastern Canada last night and our two families are heading out today to the Olympic Peninsula for four days of hikes and campfires. Before I take off, I have to do some last minute grocery-shopping. I also have to clean out some thoughts that are kicking around in my head about the need for progressive Democrats to get our fellow citizens fired up and engaged in the political process as we approach the fall elections.

One of the points that was made in the podcast is that people have a hard time believing that they can make a difference by "doing politics." Sadly, this feeling even extends to the act of voting. In Washington state in 2004 we witnessed an election where Democrats came together and achieved a victory in the governor's race with the help of recounts and the judicial system. The effort was partially financed by Howard Dean's leadership as well as John Kerry's campaign and many progressives who got involved via Air America. Our opponents attempted to discredit this effort, but failed. I am told that should the initial results this fall return either or both houses of Congress to the Democrats, our opponents will attempt to overturn any victories with charges of voting "irregularities" and once again seek to discredit the political process and manipulate the system, as they did so successfully in Florida and elsewhere in 2000 and 2004. We need to be prepared to win, again.

Posting will resume late Sunday or early Monday.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Turnout in the dumps"

We, the Dems (and the Netroots), are not getting the registered voters activated. From Kos:
One of the reasons, I am pessimistic about November is that I don't see Democrats turning out in huge numbers in the contests we've had so far. Democrats are so afraid to lead and inspire, that rank and file Democrats are unmotivated to turn out.

And it won't matter how poorly Republicans do, and how many Republicans tune out of the electoral process, if we can't get our own people to vote.

The Republicans are making a mess of things. Democrats don't seem to be learning their lessons. So why should they get vested in the elections and participate? So they can get their hearts broken in yet another November? It was a sentiment I saw a great deal of while traveling the country in my book tour, and it shook me greatly.

My suspicions have been born out.
Halfway through this year's primary season, voters are showing little interest in picking candidates for the Nov. 7 elections that will determine control of Congress and elect more than one-third of the nation's governors.

Twenty-five states held primaries through June 27. Sixteen of the 22 states that have certified figures or provided estimates to USA TODAY recorded voter turnout lower than 2002, the last national election that wasn't in a presidential year [...]

Turnout hasn't cracked 40% in any state. In most, primary participation was in the 20%-30% range. Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia posted their lowest primary turnouts in at least eight years.

So far, the year's rock-bottom has come in Virginia, which did not have a 2002 primary. The June 13 Democratic Senate primary drew national attention and was open to all Virginians, regardless of their party. Fewer than 4% of more than 4.5 million eligible voters showed up to nominate former Navy secretary Jim Webb to face Sen. George Allen in November.

It's not too late to motivate and inspire Democrats, and there's evidence that national Democrats have gotten the memo and have ratched up the rhetoric. The Republicans will do whatever it takes to motivate its base to vote -- flag burning, abortion, hatin' on gays, and even Bush's first-ever veto of life-saving stem cell research. If their base votes and ours sits November out, we'll have completely missed a huge opportunity.

Chris Bowers, commenting on this story, notes that while overall turnout might be lower, that it has grown amongst two key demographics -- students and immigrants.

"Podcasting Liberally - July 18th, 2006"

Thanks to Richard Huff of Podcasting Liberally (LISTEN HERE):
Oh, what happens when Goldy is away. The older crowd gets the reins. Lynn Allen, of Evergreen Politics gathered together a gang of political and social activists from the Vietnam War era who are still active locally and we talked about activism then and now and how activism gets transmitted across the generations. Joining Lynn were Don Hopps of The Institute for Washington's Future, Alice Woldt of the Washington Association of Churches, Michael Hood of the blog, Blatherwatch, and Howie Martin of the blog, Howie in Seattle. We discussed the demise of political parties, the impact of right-wing consolidation of the media, the impact of the blogs and much more.

Hey Shrub, "we're not morons"

If the Seattle P-I covered politics like it covers sports, we could see this headline at the top of Page ONE!


Quite unexpectedly, he showed up last night at Seattle's Drinking Liberally. Does this mean we may see some of his work here soon?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Dean, activists target evoting honesty in California"

“We need honesty and openness back in American government …and that means we do not need election workers taking voting machines home,” Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said at the 3rd annual DemocracyFest at San Diego State University on Saturday, July 15th.

His remarks were met by applause and cheers from the crowd in San Diego State University’s open air theater. “I am tired of electronic voting machines we can’t trust,” added Dean, who also called for equal distribution of voting equipment in African-American districts and other improvements to protect citizens’ voting rights. “All I’m asking the Republicans to do is count every vote!”

San Diego has become a national focal point for election reform following controversy over Registrar Mikel Haas’ decision to allow pollworkers to take home electronic voting machines with programmable memory cards inside for up to two weeks before the election. Hack tests on identical optical scan systems have demonstrated that cards can be rigged in less than a minute; when a hacked card is later placed in a central tabulator, it can change votes for a large geographic area and actually flip the outcome of an entire Congressional district.

The Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute has now called for a complete hand count of all 150,000 ballots cast in California’s 50th Congressional District. The DNC has joined with numerous citizens’ and activist groups that have declared “no confidence” in machine-counted results of the hotly contested June election to replace convicted former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

According to the machine count, Republican Brian Bilbray narrowly beat Democrat Francine Busby in the first Congressional race of 2006. Bilbray has been sworn in to fill the seat (unless a hand count or legal challenge should alter the outcome) until November, when the term expires and Busby-Bilbray will face off in yet another election contest.

CA-50, a citizens’ group of election reform advocates, held a press conference outside the gates of San Diego State University’s open air theater shortly before Dean’s speech. Local citizens were joined by national representatives, including Progressive Democrats of America president Mimi Kennedy and Brad Friedman, founder of and cofounder of Velvet Revolution, a national election reform movement.

“We are all thrilled and delighted by the DNC’s call for a hand-count,” said Friedman. “San Diego is now ground zero for federal integrity in elections,” he said, noting that Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Democracy for America (DFA), and the California Election Protection Network (CEPN) have all “joined in this cry with citizen patriots in calling for a full hand count of all 150,000 ballots in the Busby-Bilbray race.”

Friedman called on the DNC to provide funding to support the local efforts to fight for accountability in the election, and by San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas: “We need help now,” he implored.

A fund to pay for a recount and possible legal action in the 50th Congressional race has been set up. Donations will be accepted at NOsleepovers or

San Diego’s registrar has informed a citizen who requested a hand count that his office will charge a dollar a vote ($150,000) for a full hand-count. By contrast, neighboring Orange County charges just 14 cents per vote to hand count ballots, Friedman noted. He also criticized the Registrar for failing to make public the results of a mandatory 1% audit of the election.

“On behalf of these citizen patriots here who are holding off a tsunami, we call on California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to start investigating and hold someone accountable,” said Friedman, who has reported in articles at BradBlog that sending voting machines home with pollworkers for days or weeks at a time violates security provisions required by California law, decertifying the machines.

“Our Constitution is not built on trust. It is built on checks and balances,” added Friedman, who noted that a registrar in Monterey, California was arrested last week on 43 criminal charges.

The California 50th District race was counted primarily on Diebold optical scanners, with a limited number of Diebold touchscreen machines also used. Speaking at an election reform panel earlier in the day at DemocracyFest, Debra Bowen, Chair of the California Senate Elections Committee and Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, noted that Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson “didn’t ask the Legislature if it was okay to certify Diebold, even though it runs interpretive codes and runs 16 programs with security holes."

In Iowa, hand counts overturned results in seven races where Diebold optical scanners identical to those in San Diego were used, said Friedman. In two of those races, popular Republicans who lost according to the voting machine counts were discovered to have won -- in one case, moving from tenth place to first.

“We have a crisis of democracy,” Bowen told attendees at the DemocracyFest panel.

Friedman agreed. “This vote has never been verified,” he said, adding that San Diego voters may need to take to the streets “like Mexico or the Ukraine” to urge that votes be counted accurately. “It is kismet that this event [DemocracyFest] was held here in San Diego.”

Dean pledged a nationwide precinct walk July 29 to mobilize support for Democrats to take back control of Congress. Summing up “things to do to win” in November, he concluded, “Count the votes is the first one. Next is to get out and talk to people.”

Activists are also mobilizing forces to attend a July 18 meeting of the San Diego Supervisors to urge that the Board hold the Registrar accountable, investigate the June election in the 50th Congressional district, and take steps to improve voting security before November. The League of Women Voters of San Diego County also plans to speak to Supervisors about concerns over electronic voting machines, RAW STORY has learned.

Dean did not comment on election reform advocates’ request for DNC funding to pay for a hand count. The DNC leader did, however, criticize Bilbray for voting in favor of offshore oil drilling along San Diego’s coast and for voting against an increase in the minimum wage.

“I think the third time’s the charm for Francine Busby,” he concluded, joining with Busby onstage. ‘Francine Busby’s district was a Republican district - but no more in November.”

Monday, July 17, 2006

Radio Update

howieinseattle to podcast liberally:
I have been summoned to Seattle's "Drinking Liberally" Tuesday night at the Montlake Ale House. I am to participate in a podcast as a "Baby Boomer Blogger" at 9 o'clock. My wife keeps telling me I am two years too old to be a baby boomer. I will report back afterwards.
David Postman on "The David Goldstein Show," via blatherWatch:

According to Postman: "Gingrich said that public opinion can change "the minute you use the language" of World War III. The message then, he said, is "'OK, if we're in the third world war- which side do you think should win?"

Re-branding, marketing, and PR is what the Bush administration shines at in lieu of governing, and though it's doubtful they'll start yelling any time soon about WWIII, we can expect them to otherwise paint the Democrats with their broad brush of patriotic correctness as wimps, wusses, and weenies. (Exactly what, please, is the difference between a wimp, wuss, and a weenie? Maybe some of you neocon readers could write in and parse those for us).

Postman commented on the Times' report Sunday that Darcy Burner has beaten Dave Reichert in fundraising for the 2nd quarter in a row, despite that it was in the very quarter President Bush visited for a fundraiser.

Postman said he was surprised- "It should have been the best quarter Reichert could have expected."

Have Republicans been taking Darcy seriously enough? They might be now, says Postman, but they're probably not panicking because they still have more money in the bank than Burner. But we can expect them, he says, to "up their activity," which is Postman's nice, objective reporter's way of saying: they're going to get nastier.

Meanwhile, the job of the insurgency campaign of Darcy Burner is to make Sheriff Dave a surrogate for George W.Bush, which won't be hard since, despite his elegant poses as a moderate, his voting record is in the 90 something percentile with the incompetent, damaged president.

"Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading..."

Some comments about Geoffrey Nunberg's book by readers on Amazon:
Robin Orlowski, "political activist" (United States) :
Liberals won both the Great Depression and World War II. We fought against Joe McCarthy's witch hunts--well against everybody--We stopped segregation against African American men and all women. This is a very impressive rap sheet which most Americans approve of.

However, we discounted the power of base emotion in politics and it's affectivity in winning elections. While we were being 'intellectual' the far right honed their 'fear' and repacked it into appeals to the 'average American'.

So, ironically while they were closing up factories and shipping those same jobs overseas for cheaper labor--and CEO benefits, Republicans could pretend they were the blue collar worker's new best friend. That it was the opposite mattered little as long as their preferred image came across and voters were not doing research to double-check.

The voters who did not do that double check were not stupid. Like all people hurting, they simply were going towards whatever was promising to make things better. If we actually do want things better in America, we liberals need to understand how to sell our policies in everyday terms.
and Bart King (Portland, Oregon):
A scholarly expose of the linguistic nuances of political doublespeak could prove deadly boring. But in TALKING RIGHT, Geoffrey Nunberg proves himself an able and funny commentator and educator on the topic. He traces and annotates the evolution of political and media euphemisms, lingo, and nomenclature in the U.S. with a gimlet-eyed stare. Yet even with the brio that Nunberg brings to his theses, one wonders: Is the failure of liberals (or "progressives," if you prefer) really an inability to get a good motto on a bumper sticker? Or is it simply that since Clinton, there has not been a compelling leader to take charge of the Democratic Party?

Anyway, regardless of your party affiliation, if you're politically aware and/or enjoy thinking about the meaning of words and/or have an interest in American history and current events, you will get something from this book. (Did I leave anyone out?)

SIDELIGHT: With a book that deals with linguistics and meaning, one hopes that the author is an expert in his field. Impressive academic credentials aside, Geoffrey Nunberg chairs the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. That's good enough for me. (Imagine the rousing discussions they have in that group!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"The David Goldstein Show" tonight on Newsradio 710-KIRO
9PM: Seattle Times political writer and fellow blogger David Postman calls in with a battlefield report from the 2006 midterm elections. Did Sen. Maria Cantwell blink? Is Rep. Dave Reichert in trouble? Are we really in the midst of World War III? Here’s your chance to get your questions answered by a professional journalist.

Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"Burner outraises Reichert...again!"

Goldy ...again:

This is huge… simply HUGE!

The official second quarter results are in and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner reports $590,561 in contributions compared to GOP incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert’s $569,077.

What with a nearly unprecedented presidential visit and numerous other high profile fundraisers, I had just assumed Reichert would significantly outraise Burner in the second quarter, and to be honest, I was all prepared to spin a good second-place showing by Burner into a rhetorical victory. Now that I don’t have to, I’m virtually speechless.

I’ve just cross-posted (somewhat) to Daily Kos. Please recommend so that we can get Burner’s impressive accomplishment as much national recognition as possible.

One Video, One Radio Ad

DCCC: "The New Direction on Minimum Wage" (audio)

Freeway Blogger: "How to Reach 100,000 People for Under $1.00" (video)

More Media Crapping on Cantwell (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Goldy gives us "the straight poop" on Mark Wilson with this indepth interview:
“It takes more than a few bucks and a slap on the back to run a Senate campaign,” Mark Wilson told me Friday afternoon, expressing frustration at charges that he was somehow “bought out” by Sen. Maria Cantwell.

“Maria didn’t need to offer me a job to get out of the race,” he bluntly explained. “I was done. The only thing missing was the funeral.”

Wilson said he sank about $20,000 of his own money into the race, but more significantly had sacrificed about $80,000 of income over the past 16 months. He had also begun to question whether his quixotic campaign was doing more harm than good, and he did not want to play a role in helping Republicans cement their Senate majority with a McGavick victory.

“That would be a tragedy,” Wilson told me, arguing that Democrats need to keep their eyes on the “big prize.” Wilson said he went into the race with eyes wide open, never expecting to have much of a chance of defeating Cantwell, and always publicly promising to enthusiastically endorse the Democratic nominee. A year and a half ago he thought he’d stick it out through the primary, but in recent months he started to fear that his campaign had not only become electorally futile, but counterproductive towards his larger goals.

And if lightening struck and he somehow won the nomination? Well, Wilson said, “that would have been a disaster” too. For as vocal as some of Cantwell’s critics have been they simply haven’t put their money where their mouth is. After 16 months of campaigning Wilson said he would be surprised if he had raised more than $40,000 total.

“That’s gas money,” a clearly exasperated Wilson exclaimed. “I didn’t raise enough money to run for City Council.”

For all the words of encouragement and slaps on the back he got throughout his campaign, Wilson exited the race with zero cash and almost no organization. With only 6 weeks between the primary and the general election, Wilson recognized that a victory over Cantwell would have been Pyrrhic, virtually guaranteeing a win by a well-oiled, well-heeled McGavick campaign. Likewise, a bitter and divisive primary battle would have left little time for Democrats to come together before the November election.

Wilson is thankful for all the support he did get, and says he comes away with “no regrets” from this “enriching and enlightening experience.” But he does think that some progressives are simply unrealistic about what it takes to have a real impact on the political process, saying that if progressives wanted a nominee that more closely reflected their values they should have started organizing in earnest two years ago. He feels privileged to have had so many people open their hearts to him, but considering how few opened their wallets he seems somewhat taken aback by the vehemence with which a handful of former “supporters” have turned on him in recent days.

“I was out of resources. If people wanted me to keep going they should have put money into it… I wasn’t going to take any more food off my family’s table.”

As for the $8,000 salary, Wilson said there was no premeditation and no negotiating. He went into his meeting with Cantwell aware that his campaign was all but over, but came out an enthusiastic supporter. “What can I do to help you win?” he asked her at the end, to which Cantwell replied “Come work for me.”

A few moments later, after Cantwell had left the room, a top aide asked Wilson what it would take to bring him on board full time, and Wilson said he couldn’t afford to continue neglecting his business and his personal finances. The aide asked how much Wilson earned from his business. Wilson said $2000.00 a week. The aide said “done.”

At first the Seattle P-I editorialized their concern about Cantwell paying Mark Wilson and "keeping his salary just between themselves." Now the Cantwell campaign has told us the salary and today the Seattle P-I quotes the opposition to question the amount he's being paid. Let's wait and see how they try to keep this story line alive, rather than actually covering the race.


Bernie Sanders:
"We are putting together a strong coalition to win this election and I think the Democrats understand, as I do, that we're up against the most reactionary, incompetent and corrupt political leadership here in Washington in the modern history of this country and that we have all got to come together to take these guys on," Sanders said.

DNC: “manual count” of all 150,000 ballots in CA-50 needed (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Greg Palast rips the Dems a new one: "Either the Democrats demand that all votes count, or the Democrats will count for nothing." I would be remiss in my duties if I did not remind Mr. Palast that in the state of Washington, we counted all the votes last time. Several times.


For several weeks since the June 6th Special Election in California’s 50th Congressional District there have been reports of election irregularities. The DNC Voting Rights Institute (“VRI”) has been monitoring the developments since Election Day and has raised a number of concerns regarding new and disturbing information.

First and foremost is the fact that any election where there are allegations of machine tampering, break downs in chain of custody, security breaches and other such irregularities must be taken seriously. There are several facts in this race that raise very deep concerns.

On the facts:

We know for a fact that San Diego County election officials have admitted that a number of the voting machines were taken home in violation of the federal security regulations and guidelines and that a number of the machines showed evidence of tampering (broken seals, which should also have immediately disqualified those machines from use according to state laws implemented in just the last several months in response to new severe vulnerabilities discovered Diebold's optical-scan and touch-screen voting systems.)

We know that under state and federal guidelines, any such breach of security seals or the new "secure storage" requirements for these machines and their memory cards should have immediately disqualified those machines from use in the election for the reason that they became effectively decertified for use upon such security and chain of custody violations.

We also know that both the Diebold optical-scan and touch-screen (DRE) machines have been proven to be vulnerable to tampering in test after test by industry experts, including a team of computer scientists and security experts convened by California's Secretary of State in response to recent revelations concerning the hack ability of Diebold voting systems.

We know that serious security issues and efforts by Diebold to obfuscate problems with their hardware and software led California’s former Democratic Secretary of State to decertify Diebold touch-screen systems in 2004, only to have the Republican Secretary who succeeded him reinstitute the machines over the objections of scores of computer scientists and experts and hundreds of election integrity advocates.

The San Diego County election official responsible for administrating post-election manual vote counts has given three different arbitrary cost estimates for conducting the hand count. The quoted fees are as much as six times the costs estimates for similar hand counts in surrounding counties. The estimates portray the expense of a manual vote count to be cost prohibitive.

This is no longer about whether or not Busby or Bilbray won the election on June 6th. This is about the importance of verifying the facts related to election and voting machine irregularities in this race and the need to ensure an accurate count of all votes cast in this election so that the electorate may have confidence in the announced results in future elections.

The VRI will continue to monitor facts as they become available and will call for a swift and verifiable “manual count” of all 150,000 ballots cast in California’s 50th District’s "bellwether" June 6th special election in order to ensure the integrity of November 7th general elections and the overall integrity of our country’s voting systems in this still-untested age of computerized voting.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Another Seattle Blogger Crashes the Gates (AM Radio Dept.)

Geov Parrish, lefty Seattle Weekly columnist, Eat the State founder/editor and blogger will fill-in today (Friday)for vacationing Ken Schram on "The Commentators," (KOMO, m-f, 10a-12p) debating John Carlson on, he says, "just about everything." Parrish has long done the conversational commentary, “Eat the Airwaves” segment of Mind Over Matters, at 8:30-9a Saturday morning' on KEXP, with MOM producer, Mike McCormick. Parrish has been in both commercial and non-commercial radio in Chicago, Houston, and Tillamook, Ore. before coming to Seattle in 1990.
Howie prediction: It's just a matter of time before Geov gets a regular slot somewhere.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Are things getting really really weird, by which I mean "facism"?
From Ann Wright:

On July 11, day eight of a fast to bring the troops home, I was arrested in the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the confirmation of William J. Haynes II to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

I was wearing an orange Guantanamo jumpsuit (with two others in Gitmo orange) in the hearing room to remind the Senators that Haynes was a critical player in the development of the Bush administration’s torture program at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. As a retired US Army Reserve Colonel with 13 years on active duty and 16 in the Reserves and a 16 year US diplomat, I felt I had to voice my professional military concerns to the Senators on the Judiciary Committee that Mr. Haynes has done extreme harm to the US military and to the country during his tenure as the Department of Defense General Counsel and should not be confirmed with a life-time appointment as a judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter vigorously banging his gavel precipitating the Capitol Police removing from the committee room and arresting me. I was charged with unlawful conduct.

As the Department of Defense General Counsel (chief civilian lawyer), Haynes ignored the advice of the two-star Judge Advocate Generals of the US Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy to continue to use the provisions of the Geneva Conventions to provide protections to the combatants captured by US forces in Afghanistan and other places throughout the world. His role was so obvious and blatant that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that Haynes contributed to the “legal confusion” that provided an atmosphere in the military that fostered the torture at Abu Ghraib and the harsh conditions at Guantanamo. Some of the low ranking military responsible for implementing the policies have been court-martialed and a few high ranking have seen their careers stalled. No civilians at the policy making level have been reprimanded. Instead they have been promoted. The Bush administration sacrifices the lambs and protects their wolves.

Haynes ok-ed the “Bybee memo” that narrowly defined torture and suggested it would be legal to subject some al-Qaeda prisoners to "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment. The memo also said that a president could ignore international and domestic prohibitions against torture in the name of national security. The author of that memo was Jay Bybee, a Department of Justice lawyer, who was nominated by the Bush administration and incredibly confirmed last year by the Senate as a judge in the Federal appeals courts.
I deeply feel that we must stop the Senate from confirming another architect of illegal and immoral policies into our federal judicial system. The Bush administration’s legacy will continue for decades if we do not put tremendous pressure on the Congress to refuse to hand stamp the creators of the disastrous policies that have broken US laws and have put the United States in the doghouse of the world.

My small protest in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings was a way to express the outrage of huge numbers of American military and civilians to the individuals who created the policies of the Bush administration that have placed our country in greater danger rather than making it safer.

It is up to us the people to hold the Congress and Administration accountable for their deeds. I firmly believe that protest and arrest, if necessary, are honorable steps in this accountability.

About the Author: Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserve Colonel who served 13 years on active duty and 16 years in the Reserves. She also served 16 years in the US diplomatic corps, and was Deputy Chief of Mission, or Deputy Ambassador in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan (briefly) and Mongolia. She resigned from the diplomatic corps in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War.

"John Dean on the Daily Show"

From The Third Path:
Stewart: Do you consider yourself, if you were to classify yourself in that manner, a "Goldwater conservative"?

Dean: I do. On most issues, I still find myself a Goldwater conservative, which now puts me somewhere left of center.

Dean: Jon, I found — I went down a lot of alleys where I didn't find anything, but I did find a body of academic material that really has never been shared with the general public, the voters, and what have you. It's studies that started after World War II about authoritarian personalities. Why did the people of Italy and Germany follow Mussolini and Hitler? That's where it started — could it ever happen here? Well, the unfortunate —

Stewart: If it does, you will call me?

Dean: I'm trying to give you —

Stewart: I have a bag packed, but I just want to have a couple of days.

Crooks and Liars has the video.

"Ava Lowery Knows Peace Takes Courage"


BuzzFlash: Getting back to the CNN interview, this reporter seemed to be trying to make you out as though you were biased or something, and particularly about the Baby Jesus video. She almost implied that that’s not fair to play that hymn with the images of the Iraqi children dying and being wounded. I think many people were quite surprised at her stance. You were very poised -- much more poised than many adults in response. What do you say to people who imply, like she did, that somehow you’re representing some sort of biased viewpoint? She even implied that this was unfair to the troops and insinuated it was propaganda. There was a lot of insinuation in her questions. What do you say when people say something like that to you?

Ava Lowery: Well, if you consider the truth to be propaganda, then I guess so. You see, we’re angry also that the media isn't talking about the truth. I have an uncle in Iraq right now, and I have another uncle who has been to Iraq. To say that I don’t support the troops is completely opposite of how I feel. Supporting our troops is not just sticking a yellow ribbon on the back of your car. It’s supporting them -- you know, keeping up with what's happening to them. It’s a lot more than what they’re trying to make it out to be. To suggest that I don’t support the troops is completely wrong.

"Will Hillary be the Humphrey of 2008?"

There is no way a politician as savvy as Bill Clinton could be this clueless about just how seismic a division Iraq is for Democrats, so I can only assume it was the guilt talking -- the former president trying to make up for the wrong-headed advice he's been giving Hillary about adopting a Bush-lite, "centrist" stance on the war. A stance that means she has to keep assuming, in the face of all evidence, that everything will turn out okay in Iraq -- an assumption that with each passing car bomb explosion and sectarian massacre becomes more and more divorced from reality and puts Hillary, and all those who agree with her, on the wrong side of history.

I find it amazing that Clinton's comments on Iraq didn't cause more of an uproar. Indeed, they were nowhere to be found in the mainstream press, relegated to a single paragraph in a story in the Aspen Daily News.

If you want a better understanding of the importance of Democratic differences over the war, just look at what happened in 1968. The presidential campaign was all about the battle over how to deal with Vietnam. In the Democratic primaries, first Eugene McCarthy and then Bobby Kennedy took courageous stands against LBJ's prosecution of the war, eventually leading Johnson to announce he would not seek re-election and causing a massive rift in the party. Before RFK was gunned down following his victory in the California primary, the race was shaping up to be a showdown between the anti-war Kennedy and Vice President Humphrey, who was standing behind Johnson's handling of Vietnam.

Can you imagine someone in 1968 telling Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey that they "ought to be whipped" for fighting over their views on Vietnam?

In the end, Kennedy was assassinated, and Humphrey (backed by the party bosses) prevailed over McCarthy to win the nomination. In the general election campaign against Nixon, Humphrey continued to defend the war, alienating the Democratic base and prompting anti-war protests at almost all of his campaign appearances. Five weeks before the election, trailing Nixon badly in the polls, Humphrey finally made a speech distancing himself from Johnson and calling for an end to the U.S. bombing in Vietnam. The move turned his campaign around -- but not in time to overtake Nixon. There is speculation that if Humphrey had come out against the bombing even one week earlier, he might have prevailed.

So, 40 years later, the question becomes: will Hillary be the Humphrey of 2008?

"Election 2006: Price is right" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Good analysis earlier this week from Steve Zemke and from Goldy this morning.

I stumbled over to my computer this morning and cranked it up, only to be confronted with an editorial in this morning's Seattle P-I that delivers a little stink bomb about Mark Wilson's recent support of Maria Cantwell. They begin by allowing that "it was a bit of a shocker to see Wilson, who was so critical of Cantwell's Iraq war stance, hire on with her." But what really upset them is "they also insist on keeping his salary just between themselves."

Now I am hardly an ethical purist, and I am certainly not an apologist for Maria or Mark, but I am having a hard time working up a lather over this political marriage. Does the P-I forget about the countless primary opponents who make up and go steady, at least until the general election has taken place? The salary? I really don't care.

If you are looking for a primary candidate who looks unscathed and unblemished at this point, check out Hong Tran, but I would prefer you "come home" in November and vote for the likely Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Maria Cantwell.

Why? Our nation is being run by war criminals and thieves and they belong to the Republican party. What say you?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"How Does a Progressive Spend a Saturday?"

From DemocracyFest:

Saturday night begins with DemStock where attendees will rejuvenate while listening to the spirited Flying Other Brothers, who are back by popular demand. "DemStock" is described by San Diego For Democracy Chair Charlie Imes as "our own version of Woodstock, only with no mud, much better food and bar service." Immediately following DemStock is the Beach Party Blowout, with Air America Radio talk show host/humorist Al Franken as the Master of Ceremonies.


This weekend, hundreds of "ordinary" citizens will stuff more education and celebration into a Saturday than they ever thought possible. They'll come from across the country to gather again for DemocracyFest(TM), an annual event that shows ordinary citizens how to gain influence in American politics. The 3rd annual DemocracyFest is a 3-day festival, which will take place at San Diego State University, on July 14-16.

On this special Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to learn from political strategists such as David Sirota, author of "Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government - and How We Take it Back." They'll ponder questions such as can we secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through global debt cancellation with Nobel Peace Prize nominee Wahu Kaara. At night, they'll laugh with Air America Radio talk show host Al Franken, boogie to the Flying Other Brothers and Gary Hoey, and be inspired by such prominent political leaders as Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. Chairman Dean's speech will be open to the public and free of charge.

Riverbend: "Why don't the Americans just go home?"

From Editor&Publisher:
Here is a large portion of Riverbend's latest blog posting, from last night. Once again, a friend has been killed. She not only comments on the latest violence but also addresses the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl which led to charges against several U.S. soldiers. While she once expressed divided feelings about the American occupation, she now simply asks us to leave.

It promises to be a long summer. We're almost at the mid-way point, but it feels like the days are just crawling by. It's a combination of the heat, the flies, the hours upon hours of no electricity and the corpses which keep appearing everywhere.

The day before yesterday was catastrophic. The day began with news of the killings in Jihad Quarter. According to people who live there, black-clad militiamen drove in mid-morning and opened fire on people in the streets and even in houses. They began pulling people off the street and checking their ID cards to see if they had Sunni names or Shia names and then the Sunnis were driven away and killed. Some were executed right there in the area.

The horrific thing about the killings is that the area had been cut off for nearly two weeks by Ministry of Interior security forces and Americans. Last week, a car bomb was set off in front of a 'Sunni' mosque people in the area visit. The night before the massacre, a car bomb exploded in front of a Shia husseiniya in the same area. The next day was full of screaming and shooting and death for the people in the area. No one is quite sure why the Americans and the Ministry of Interior didn't respond immediately. They just sat by, on the outskirts of the area, and let the massacre happen.


We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?

In the news they're estimating her age to be around 24, but Iraqis from the area say she was only 14. Fourteen. Imagine your 14-year-old sister or your 14-year-old daughter. Imagine her being gang-raped by a group of psychopaths and then the girl was killed and her body burned to cover up the rape. Finally, her parents and her five-year-old sister were also killed. Hail the American heroes... Raise your heads high supporters of the 'liberation' -- your troops have made you proud today.

I don't believe the troops should be tried in American courts. I believe they should be handed over to the people in the area and only then will justice be properly served. And our ass of a PM, Nouri Al-Maliki, is requesting an 'independent investigation', ensconced safely in his American guarded compound because it wasn't his daughter or sister who was raped, probably tortured and killed. His family is abroad safe from the hands of furious Iraqis and psychotic American troops.

It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings.... I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes -- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them -- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed -- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.

Hong Tran: "I'm not withdrawing from the race." (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Bev Marcus passes along Geov Parrish on this subject in The Weekly:
(snip)In a letter to supporters Saturday and in a Sunday press conference with Cantwell, Wilson said, "I have had a deep and personal one-on-one conversation with Senator Cantwell. I came away convinced we are on the same path when it comes to solving the crisis in Iraq and the potential crisis with Iran." This raises several obvious questions. What is that "shared path"? Since Cantwell claims her position has been consistent, did Wilson share her path during the 16 months he blistered her over Iraq on the campaign trail? If not, when did Wilson change his mind, and why? Or did Wilson just need a job?

Wilson also claimed Saturday that part of his campaign's purpose was "keeping those Democrats opposed to the war engaged in the process." What process? Supporting a futile campaign the candidate himself wasn't committed to, as opposed to, say, organizing against the war? Or lobbying? Or any of a half dozen other more productive tasks? It's a bewildering statement.

Wilson's withdrawal leaves only one antiwar challenger to Cantwell in the September Democratic primary, former federal low-income-housing attorney Hong Tran. Tran, who says her office is being "bombarded" with calls from former Wilson supporters, says Wilson called her a week before his announcement, told her of his decision, and urged her to withdraw as well. Tran minces no words: "He's lying now[about his stance on the war] or he was lying all the way along. His supporters should be angry." And, after Wilson's previous campaigns as a Libertarian and a Green, she says she's not surprised by his jump to the Cantwell camp. "People shouldn't be surprised if tomorrow he registers as a Republican and goes for [Mike] McGavick's campaign."

Neil Modie in the Seattle P-I:

Sen. Maria Cantwell's only remaining Democratic primary election opponent wonders if the senator is trying to eliminate her rivals by putting all of them on her campaign payroll.

Hong Tran, who is opposing the senator largely as an anti-war critic, said she was urged to join the senator's campaign Monday by Dal LaMagna, who until last week was a vocal Cantwell critic and potential election opponent but now is a Cantwell campaign co-chairman.

LaMagna's invitation came a day after Cantwell silenced another primary opponent and harsh critic, Mark Wilson, by announcing she was putting him on her re-election staff at a salary that neither her campaign nor Wilson would divulge.

LaMagna "said something to the effect that 'We want you to come on board, too,' " Tran said, recounting their telephone conversation. In the context of their discussion and Cantwell's hiring of Wilson, Tran said she interpreted it, too, as a campaign job offer.

LaMagna, reached by telephone in Maine, refused to discuss what he said to Tran. But Michael Meehan, Cantwell's chief campaign strategist, said: "We would love for Hong Tran to join our campaign. She has not been offered a position on our campaign," but merely was asked to support the Cantwell candidacy.

Tran, a lawyer, said LaMagna offered to have her meet with Cantwell, but that she told him if the purpose would be to persuade her to join the Cantwell campaign, "You can just save your time because I'm not withdrawing from the race."


Tran, 40, a legal services lawyer, said she quit a job she loved -- as advocacy coordinator for a non-profit organization that provides free civil legal services for the poor -- to seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate.

She said LaMagna previously told her he was thinking of running in the Democratic primary himself but said "what a marvelous candidate he thought I was and how he wanted to do everything he could to support me." She said he was going to run against Cantwell until he met with the senator and came away with an unpaid role as her campaign co-chairman.

Unlike Wilson, Tran has Democratic Party credentials. She was host of a fundraising party for 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, went to Florida to register voters for Kerry and gave money to Democratic candidates. Wilson ran for the Senate on the Green Party in 2004 and for Congress on the Libertarian Party in 2002.

Meehan, the Cantwell campaign aide, said Wilson agreed to be hired by the campaign Saturday, two days after he told the Seattle P-I that he definitely would run against her.