"Bush and his friends cannot be punished for crimes they have committed, while others can be thrown in jail without even knowing what crimes they are accused of."-Jane Smiley.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
An article in this coming Sunday’s edition of The New York Times Magazine profiles Howard Dean’s efforts to establish the new “50 state strategy” for the Democratic National Committee, which he now heads – a move which has brought him into fierce combat with some leaders in his own party.
The often critical cover story by Matt Bai is titled: “Is Howard Dean willing to destroy the Democratic Party in order to save it?”
Bai tags along with Dean on a trip to check out the party setup in, of all places, Alaska, then writes, “In just a few hours, Dean had nicely demonstrated why so many leading Democrats in Washington wish he would spend even more time in Alaska – preferably hiking the tundra for a few months without a cell phone.”
Repeatedly the story returns to Dean’s battle with Rep. Rahm Emanuel. The latter favors the usual practice of funneling more national money to battleground states, while Dean wants to spread it around – with key elections coming in November. “I’m not going to be on his holiday mailing list, and he’s not going to be on my holiday mailing list,” Emanuel tells Bai. “But this isn’t about him or me.”
If the Democrats narrowly miss taking over Congress, Bai writes, party leaders will blame Dean and “say that he squandered their best chance” for a comeback in years.
Bai also relates: “Now, at power lunches and private meetings, perplexed Washington Democrats, the kind of people who have lorded over the party apparatus for decades, find themselves pondering the same bewildering questions. What on earth can Howard Dean be thinking? Does he really care about winning in November, or is he after something else?” Bai is skeptical, however, of one theory that has Dean presiding over another failed Democratic run for the White House in 2008, setting him up for his own “grassroots” run in 2012.
The article does give the former Vermont governor his say, and suggests the party, indeed, needs a new outlook, even if Dean is not “the best messenger” to deliver it. Dean declares, “The risk of doing nothing, the same old thing is enormous.”
But the story also contains numerous digs at Dean and his image, noting that while he has many activist fans, “for the rest of the country, Dean is that lefty who howled on national TV. Some Democratic governors and candidates have avoided Dean when he has been in town, for fear that their opponents would portray them as extremists.”
And: “Fairly or not, Dean has come to embody a species of Democrat that a lot of Americans of both parties find off-putting the 60‘s antiwar liberal, reborn with a laptop and a Prius.”
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took a backhanded swipe at Democratic National Committee boss Howard Dean Thursday, saying Dean's long-term party-building efforts should take a back seat to fundraising for the midterm elections.
"The [Republican National Committee] is pouring tens of millions of dollars into races and we're not matching that," Clinton said during a DNC fundraiser in Washington.
"We're doing investments, you know, in ground and other efforts which will be very beneficial, but the RNC has about $60 million to $70 million waiting to drop on our candidates," she added.
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis said the senator's remarks weren't meant to be critical of Dean, calling them "a positive reference to the 50-state strategy and also a recognition that we still need to raise money for Democrats."
"Emanuel lays out Dem strategy"- (Chicago Sun-Times):
After talking about their book, Emanuel and Reed took some questions. A woman wanted to know about the disagreement Emanuel had with Dean. "My staff has recommended that I take my beta-blockers,'' said Emanuel, a line he has been using lately.
The persistent woman was not to be so easily deflected, and who knows, she might have been buying a book, which is why they were there at the bookstore, after all. Emanuel was challenged about the "need to get our feet on the ground.'' He then talked about what he called the "joint agreement'' with Dean.
Key to the Dems' House strategy is picking up a hot political market segment -- drop-off voters. They are sought-after micro- targets for Democrats in 2006. They are the voters who turned out in the 2004 presidential year but may well stay home in November.
"And the entire focus of our effort, God willing there are no reporters in here to make sure the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] hears about it, and that means that is to focus on those people who do vote presidential but don't vote in non-presidential years,'' Emanuel said.
"And our entire resources of mail, telephone, door knocking and person-to-person contact is to that universe. . . . That's what we are doing.''
Infiltrating and defeating terrorist networks requires reliable information; rough interrogation tactics such as waterboarding yield the opposite. We have already seen this play out: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a captured Al Qaeda operative, was tortured and falsely confessed that Saddam Hussein's government provided chemical and biological weapons training to terrorists. Months later, al-Libi recanted all his claims. The real-life consequences, however, cannot be understated: we are in Iraq based in part on bad intelligence obtained via torture.Rowley is an attorney and former FBI Special Agent and Chief Division Counsel who is running for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd District against John Kline, as a Democrat.
And dismissing legal principles which have served America well for over two centuries does not make America safer; rather, it removes the moral authority America once held among nations, and diminishes what it means to be American.
This bill was born out of fear: George Bush's fear of being called to account. He was asleep at the wheel on 9/11. He was wrong about Saddam's ties to al Qaeda, wrong about Saddam's WMD. His ill-conceived invasion of Iraq has been a failure, and last summer, Bush literally fiddled while New Orleans drowned. George Bush knows he cannot keep America safe, so he is illegally tapping our phones, indefinitely detaining those labeled as 'enemy combatants', and ignoring centuries of established legal precedent in the desperate hope that he will stumble on a magical formula for success. He's asked Congress to give him cover for his cowardice, and John Kline and the GOP-led Congress were only too willing to comply. They placed political expedience above the principles that made this country great.
Shame on them. And shame on all of us if we don't stand up and declare that we the people will not be frightened into violating those principles.
This is an ongoing battle between a handful on insiders who think DC and NY knows best, and that the party should focus on a handful of "battleground" districts in a handful of "battleground" states, and pretty much everyone else in the party. This is not a battle Rahm and Schumer and Pelosi are going to win.
In 4-10 years, future chairs of the DSCC and DCCC are going to praise Dean for his efforts on behalf of a national party. We have great bench talent in places like Oklahoma, Mississippi, Nebraska and pretty much every state traditionally abandoned by the party. When those Senate and House seats open up, and our candidates have a leg up because of the DNC's tireless ground organizing, then Dean will be vindicated.
Until then, it's up to us to get Howard's back against those clubby, elitist DC and NY establishment Dems who think the world revolves around them, that they have all the answers, and that rank and file Dems all over the country should STFU.
Markos also has a long quote from Matt Bai's upcoming Sunday NY Times Magazine piece on Dean and his 50-state strategy (no link yet).
Today, the Congress has forever stained its reputation and that of the United States of America. It is now a foregone conclusion that the execrable detainee bill will be adopted without amendment. There will be no filibuster, as Democrat Senate Leader Reid agreed with Senate Leader Frist to allow a vote on the bill after dispensation of the proposed amendments debated yesterday and today. Senator Reid made a terrible tactical decision in making this agreement. These amendments had no chance of passing. They had value in highlighting the outrageousness of this bill and in thus justifying a filibuster. But without a filibuster, the exercsie was an empty one. We admire Harry Reid's leadership but, in this monumental moment, his instincts and judgment failed him. And his place in history will be marked by this terrible day.
The bill’s ultimate passage was assured on Wednesday when Democrats agreed to forgo a filibuster in return for consideration of the amendment. Any changes in the Senate bill, however, would have made it impossible for Republican leaders to meet their goal of sending the bill to the White House before adjourning on Friday to hit the campaign trail.NY Times Editorial: "Rushing Off a Cliff"
Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.mcjoan on Kos: "Filibuster: Stand Up for Americans and Our Rights"
Senator Feingold, Senator Kerry, Senator Leahy, Senator Specter, Senator Chafee: put your colleagues on record. Filibuster this legislation, even if it fails. Make your colleagues register their vote of conscience on torture. Put them on record for posterity.Matt Stoller on MyDD: "Specter Amendment Fails, 51-48"
This was our only shot at stopping the bill, and the amendment failed by a small margin. Senators are stunned at the call volume, and we picked up a bunch of moderate Republicans. Sherrod Brown's vote for the bill in the House allowed his Senate opponent Dewine to vote 'No', and that was a possible pickup. If you want a sense of how the Senate Democratic caucus deliberated, this piece is pretty good. Every Democrat except Ben Nelson stood up for Habeas. Sometimes we lose. That's politics.
If we had another 24 hours we might have won this, but we didn't. There's an outside shot that Rockefeller could get his amendment through (which would force a conference committee, I think), but the Habeas amendment died.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Call 1-800-AMNESTY and our operators will connect you or call the Congressional switch board directly at 202-224-3121 (or lookup your officials info). Let the person on the phone know that you are a constituent, and tell them that the deal President Bush has struck is a betrayal of the America you believe in. Ask your Senator and representative to stand firm in defense of human rights.Booman lists the Members in the House who caved.
After hiding behind the skirts of Republican "dissidents" such as Sen. Lindsey Graham as the GOP debated torture, Democratic leaders have either been silent or signalled they'll accept the compromise that still permits interrogators to torture and abuse detainees, as long as the President gives his okay. As Glenn Greenwald points out, "The apparent support for the torture/detention bill by at least some (and perhaps the majority of) Senate Democrats -- including their Leader, Harry Reid -- is as politically self-destructive as it is unconscionable on the merits."
The shift of budgets from traditional media to more targeted forms of communications is accelerating. Clients seem to be less enthusiastic about mass media overall.
Recent Yankelovich research suggests that consumers are increasingly tired of being marketed to and are looking for new levels of authenticity and openness by the corporations they do business with. Aided by digital tools that allow them to compare products and services instantly, consumers are now in control of the information that leads to their purchase decisions. And this has broad implications for the advertising industry.
Agencies also must broaden their concept of “planning.” Mass-media thinking has dominated how account planning has been conducted. We are moving into an age of micro-targeting and consumer empowerment that changes the nature of the planning function. Needed are people who carefully track the constant movement of markets.
Howie comment: The relevance of these ideas to the blogosphere and political communications is obvious, isn't it?
A currently Recommended Diary states that the author will quit the Democrats if they roll on torture. My response in the comments, amplified in this open thread:
I wish that conservatives in 1964 were this quick to throw in the towel.
Even as Nixon was creating the EPA and OSHA, they fought, and built, and took over their party. Even when Ford beat their man Reagan in 1976, they simply redoubled their efforts.
But that's why they win. Because they never stopped fighting for their cause, no matter how many setbacks they suffered. Our side, apparently, is made of something lesser.
Stop whining. Stop bitching. And keep working to build a Democratic Party with backbone. The guys currently in DC don't have it? Yeah, we know that. That's why we're supporting a new breed of Democrat that isn't afraid of Rove's shadow. That will fight when the DC Dems would rather cower in fear.We have a problem. Obviously. Democrats would rather talk about how they need to be strong, than actually be strong. They would rather talk about "moral standing", than actually, you know, stand for what's right. I know that. You know that. I suspect that even Democrats in DC know that. It's just that they're paralyzed by fear.
That's why we need to work for fearless Dems who won't let themselves be held hostage to fear. And remember, this is a long-term process. Just like conservatives didn't quit politics when Nixon was killing them with new government programs like the EPA or OSHA, we can't take our ball home every time we lose on an important issue.
Be angry. But funnel that anger into positive activities. There are good Democrats running at all levels this cycle, and they'll do so again the next, and the one after that.
Democrats think "looking strong" means bombing Iraq or Iran, when "looking strong" really means standing for something because you believe in it, even if you might not think it's the smartest political play. Whimpering every time Rove says "boo!" is not strength. Caving in to the administration is not strength. Surrendering what should be core beliefs because of political expediency is not strength.
Update: Rereading this, I don't think I was clear on this point -- please do put pressure on Democrats to do the right thing. On torture or whatever. Please get angry when they fail us and core American values. And as Stoller notes, this battle isn't over. What annoys me is when people threaten to leave the party. As though that will somehow make things better.
Howie's Last Word: "The measure also provides extensive definitions of war crimes such as torture, rape and biological experiments - but gives Bush broad authority to decide which other techniques U.S. interrogators can legally use. The provisions are intended to protect CIA interrogators from being prosecuted for war crimes."-(AP). Jeepers, wouldn't that protection extend to our Decider-in-Chief as well?
"MySpace launches voter-registration plan":
The youth-heavy online hangout MySpace.com is launching a voter-registration drive to engage its members in civics. In partnership with the nonpartisan group Declare Yourself, MySpace is running ads on its highly trafficked Web site and giving members tools such as a "I Registered To Vote On MySpace" badge to place on their personal profile pages.
"Senators Propose Funds for Paper Ballots to Back Up Electronic Ones":
Three Senate Democrats proposed emergency legislation today to reimburse states for printing paper ballots that can be ready at polling places in case of problems with electronic voting machines on Nov. 7.
The proposal is a response to grass-roots pressure and growing concern by local and state officials about touch-screen machines. An estimated 40 percent of voters will use those machines in the election.
Never before in my lifetime has America so urgently needed new leadership to take it in a new direction. The ideals enshrined in our nation's founding texts - freedom, liberty, equality, opportunity - or, the timeless values that have made our democracy a role model for other peoples throughout the world, have either been ignored or forgotten by those currently in power.
But there is hope: a revolution has already begun which is challenging the grip of the current administration and its allies on our country. This people-driven, populist movement is built on the most democratic medium for communication ever invented: the Internet.
The Internet has lowered the barrier to political participation and allowed a new civic dialogue to flourish.No longer are traditional, corporate-controlled media outlets a chokepoint on whose voices will be heard; no longer is access to the tools for high-impact activism limited to consultants and political professionals; and no longer are Democratic candidates hamstrung by establishment control over resources they need to run winning campaigns.
The Internet is an incredible medium for democracy. But its future is threatened.
The strengths of the Internet lie in its decentralized, organic nature. It is non-proprietary and open. It is remarkable because it is so democratic, embodying the ideals our nation was founded on.
An essential element of democracy is the marketplace of ideas: the best ideas, well-expressed, will win. The Internet makes that more true than it has ever been before in all of human history. Anyone with an idea and the courage to speak it can harness the Internet to create waves of change.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a fantastic example of that in the Northwest Progressive Institute. By conventional measures of money and corporate backing it wouldn't have had a chance. But it has become a real force in local politics due to the merit of the ideas espoused and the hard work invested. It was founded by someone who, at the time he began, was not yet old enough to vote.
But there are those who want to distort this marketplace for their own advantage.
Some of America's biggest internet service providers, like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, see the Internet as something they want to own for their own benefit and profit.
They think that owning the pipes (or "tubes", according to Senator Stevens) means they should get to control what goes through them.
Defending the equality of the marketplace of ideas is why net neutrality is so important. Sites like YouTube or Wikipedia, which are not owned by huge corporations, would be threatened, and could likely disappear under a tiered Internet.
If we wish to keep the real power of the Internet - its equalizing nature - we need to guard against the creation of a framework that provides special benefits for a privileged few.
We do not want a world where some packets are more equal than others.
Congress has a responsibility to stop this from happening and act in the best interest of the American people.
If I am successful in my efforts to be elected to the House of Representatives, I will work diligently and fight hard to protect net neutrality and put an end the threatened dismantlement of the equal Internet.
My background in technology and my experience in the business world have prepared me to take a unique leadership role on this issue. I expect I may be the first member of Congress to have written code for Unix C and C++ compilers and interpreters. I know not just how the Internet is used, but how it works. And I'm prepared to fight for it.
I am giving this campaign everything I've got. I left my career in technology to do whatever I could to change our course and give my son the kind of future I want him to have. I know that you are pouring your energy into this as well. I am awed by the thousands of people who have come together to support my campaign, and I am deeply honored to be "Netroots Endorsed".
The latest polling indicates that this will be the most competitive race in the history of Washington's 8th District. I am in a dead heat with my opponent - who earlier this month hosted a private benefit with Karl Rove to raise money for his struggling campaign.
We don't have the ability to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in one afternoon from wealthy donors anxious to hear the latest musings of the President's handler-in-chief.
Fortunately, our campaign has something better....the netroots.
I need your help. Every contribution counts, and so does every volunteer commitment.
I am incredibly appreciative for all that you have done for me so far. I certainly would not be where I am today without your generosity and your enthusiasm.
I remain, as always, receptive to your questions, ideas, and suggestions.
My humblest thanks.
A new Web site, ProgressOhio, is launching with a massive e-mail list and an ambitious goal. It aims to be a hub for grassroots liberal bloggers, a clearinghouse for local causes and information, and a link between opinion drivers in the state and an army of activists.
More broadly, ProgressOhio wants to direct the energy of the liberal blogosphere, already a potent force in Ohio politics, to concrete political and legislative tasks.
Yes, it's just another liberal Web site.
But ProgressOhio, set up as a 501(c) 4 organization under the tax code, is the first affiliate of a wildly successful experiment in Colorado, ProgressNow.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Here in Rep. Steve Chabot's campaign headquarters, microtargeting does not seem quite as glamorous as advertised. There are 10 phones arranged neatly on a long wooden table. Nearby sit two stacks of paper, each filled with names, each name assigned a bar code.
Every evening, volunteers file into this room to place waves of phone calls aimed at identifying the people who are most likely to reward this six-term Republican with a seventh. At the end of the evening, the results -- a trove of the likes and dislikes of 1st District voters -- are scanned into a database. It is painstaking work.
But Chabot and his Democratic challenger, Cincinnati City Council member John Cranley, have placed large bets that it will prove effective. Both candidates have spent months combing through voter lists to find "drop-off" voters -- those who turn out in presidential election years but rarely in midterm contests. In a district as evenly divided as this one -- President Bush won it by just 3,000 votes in 2004 -- the party best equipped to find and persuade these individuals to turn out on Nov. 7 will probably end up on top.
"Elections are not rocket science," said Brad Greenberg, executive director of the Hamilton County Republican Party. "They are about identifying voters who are Republicans and getting them out to the polls."
In the past several elections, especially in Ohio, Republicans have won the ground game, building a vast and constantly growing network of potential voters identified less by their formal party affiliation than their church membership or magazine subscriptions.
The more information a campaign has on who lives at a particular address, the more tailored the pitch that will follow. A suburban mom? Make sure she receives material highlighting the candidate's strong stands on homeland security. An out-of-work pipefitter? Let him know that the candidate supports penalties on businesses that hire undocumented workers.
Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and one of the principal architects of the GOP turnout apparatus nationwide, said a top-notch voter identification and turnout effort matters more in a congressional race than a presidential one because there is "much less of a public dialogue" about individual House contests. They get less news coverage and are less likely to be talked about in offices and bars. That means targeted information delivered by the campaigns is potentially decisive.
While Chabot's army of phone volunteers searches for new votes each night, Cranley and his team mine voter lists at his headquarters, the former home of People's Community Bank. (It may be the only campaign headquarters in the country with its own vault.) Cranley says his goal is to reach out three times to every 1st District resident who backed Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004 but failed to vote in 2002 -- roughly 25,000 people. Thanks to heavy commitments by organized labor and national Democrats, Cranley believes he can corral many of these fall-off voters.
But he acknowledges that Democrats were "late to the game" on turnout in 2004. Visits to the two headquarters and conversations with campaign staff members suggest that Chabot's voter identification and turnout operation is more advanced.
One factor in Cranley's favor is that Democratic voters, not Republicans, are seemingly most energized this fall. When he first ran against Chabot in 2000, Cranley said, people regularly told him that they "hated" President Bill Clinton and could not stomach voting for any Democrat. "You could feel there was this motivation of anger," he said. Six years later, the anger is on the other foot. Cranley says voters approach him constantly, vowing to vote against every Republican on the ballot because they are "so angry at these guys."
Anecdotes aside, national polling bears out this trend. While Bush's job-approval numbers have rebounded slightly of late, there remains a wide disparity between the relatively small number of those who strongly approve of his performance and the number of those who say they strongly disapprove. In Ohio, this national trend merges with voter disgust over ethics scandals surrounding outgoing Gov. Bob Taft (R).
Chabot knows that angry people vote. That helps explain his unrelenting focus on illegal immigration, an ire-inducing issue for conservatives, in this year's campaign. Chabot has run three television advertisements attacking Cranley as a backer of amnesty for illegal immigrants -- and, by insinuation, weak on terrorism. "This is an issue that is very concerning for people in our area," said Chabot spokeswoman Jessica Towhey. "It is not just illegal immigrants but terrorists who are able to exploit our borders."
Cranley has responded with an ad of his own that asks why the incumbent has done nothing about the problem of illegal immigration during his 12 years in Congress. He dismisses Chabot's attacks as feeble attempts to frighten voters. "They are trying to scare up votes on it," Cranley said.
In a district that takes only 25 minutes to drive from end to end, undecided voters will have plenty of chances to sound out the candidates' views on immigration and other issues between now and Election Day. If polling is any indicator, even a few hundred votes could tip the seat one way or another.
While Democrats are confident, they are haunted by memories of 2004. That fall, Democrats were certain they had met all their turnout goals to ensure victory in Ohio for Kerry. On election night, it turned out Bush's campaign had done an even better job of meeting their own goals.
Cranley said his supporters have learned the lesson. "This will be the most targeted field campaign in the country," he boasted.
Matt Stoller finds the love for Darcy:
The first Burner ad didn't have a good narrative arc, being largely a recitation of her biography. This second one is much better, harder-edged, and takes on Reichert on the war in Iraq. It follows the MyDD candidate memo recommendations.
She picks a fight over veterans care, emphasizes her opponent's ties to Bush, and frames her argument in progressive language, starting sharply that sacrifice for the country means that "you will be taken care of." This is a good ad from a netroots candidate who clearly listens to feedback.
Ok, the adwatch over, I want to talk about Darcy Burner and why I think she's an important candidate. I went to a fundraiser of a top-tier Democratic female candidate, and this candidate gave the same stale recitation of a Democratic agenda that could have been ripped out of the 1990s playbook. The reason this person got the nomination is because she's been raising money for Democrats for ten years and is a good loyal Democrat. Unfortunately, inn sitting on the fundraising-power circuit for so long, this candidate had become somewhat bland and unable to get a sense of the important issues at stake in this election. If you've been planning your run for Congress for 10 years, that means you got into politics in 1996, and people who came into politics at that time and on the fundraising circuit don't necessarily have progressive interests at heart. You might want to be progressive, but you probably don't think that grassroots organizing can sustain a political base. For these people, the natural governing coalition is center-right, and though that can be changed, that's where they start from.
Darcy's not like that, she's a newcomer to electoral politics, a post-9/11 Democrat who gets what's going on in this country. She's also incredibly smart, and one of the most exciting candidates this cycle. Now, to be clear, the other candidate is running a good campaign and is a good Democrat, and I hope she wins. I respect the work she did for ten years, and she deserves a shot and the support of the party establishment (which she's getting). But there's a structural turnover going on, and the blogs are on the progressive side of that, since many of us came to electoral politics post-9/11. In some fundamental way, the timing of when someone came into electoral politics explains a lot more about how one sees the route to change. That's probably why the new progressive movement is so powerful on one hand and naive on the other. In these last six weeks, we're going to pull together and work together with the party establishment, and hopefully we can keep moving the party towards the center of the country.
Monday, September 25, 2006
On Sept. 11, 2006, I began a hunger strike, eating no food and drinking only water. My objective: to urge citizens to take back their country and stop this administration on its deadly course to what Dick Cheney called (in the document Defense Planning Strategy for the 1990s, leaked to The New York Times in 1992) "The Plan for global dominance."
Everything that has happened since Cheney & Co. re-took office has had nothing whatever to do with 9/11 and the same strategy re-named "the war on terror." It is imperative that we citizens inform ourselves and act to stop this destructive course. The invasion of Iraq was part of the original Plan, and we are now seeing the disastrous results. Next on the agenda is Iran and Syria; the demonizing of their leadership has already begun.
What you can do: I beg everyone to write a letter a day for the next month, to the White House and/or your own Congressional representatives, to demand that these dangerous actions stop, through explicit acts of Congress that will stop the war on Iraq and begin impeachment hearings for this entire administration. It has become clear that simply expressing our disfavor in polls will never work; these men could care less. They have shown no respect for true democracy, only the pursuit of their own disastrous agenda.
So I have begun a hunger strike, which will last until I see in the national media or hear from you that all their offices are overflowing with letters. Please e-mail me when you have begun to write your letters: firstname.lastname@example.org . Or call me at (360) 678-1562.
Will we go down in history as the people who, like the Germans, did not stop their government from mass killing in the pursuit of their own power? Be worthy of democracy by making your voices heard. Thank you. Patricia Brooks
Today's Seattle Times has this story that tipped to Patricia Brooks' protest.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
DNC chairman Howard Dean is applauding President Bill Clinton for standing up to "Fox News' right-wing bullying and propaganda machine," in a "heated" interview which aired on Sunday morning.
In a statement sent to RAW STORY, Dean declares that "President Clinton did exactly what Democrats need to do in this election. Democrats need to stand up to the right-wing propaganda machine and tell the truth."
"Washington Republicans' attempts to twist history and recast the truth do not help us win the war on terror or bring us closer to capturing Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks," Dean continued.
"President Clinton stood up to the misleading tactics of the right-wing propaganda machine," said Dean.
"As the National Intelligence Estimate that was reported on today showed, the Iraq War and the Bush Administration's failed policies have hurt our ability to win the war on terror," the Dean statement continued. "As President Clinton said, Democrats stand for policies that are both tough and smart and we remain committed to winning the war on terror."
As Democrats drive to extend their power in Congress, holding on to Debbie Stabenow's Senate seat is a must. And the Michigan incumbent is currently ahead in the polls.
But Republican strategists are working hard to upset Stabenow, in part through a low-profile appeal to a group that most politicians rarely think of as a voting bloc — snowmobilers.
And the stealth campaign to woo the thousands of working-class, historically Democratic Michiganders whose cold-weather passion is snowmobiles is just one small example of a technique known as "micro-targeting" that GOP strategists are using across the country as they try to pull off another election day victory against the odds.
By most measures, the November elections offer Democrats their best chance in years. If anti-Republican sentiment turns out to be a tidal wave, strategic and tactical brilliance may not be enough to protect the GOP majorities in Congress.
But if control of Congress comes down to three or four dozen closely contested races, as now seems likely, then micro-targeting and the other technologies that Republicans are using in battleground states could make a difference.
The GOP system — built around a database nicknamed Voter Vault — combines huge amounts of demographic, financial and other personal information on individual voters with the data-mining techniques used by direct-mail advertisers to deliver surgically targeted appeals to voters identified as likely to respond, including many who might be considered part of the Democratic base.
In Michigan, for example, the GOP contacted snowmobilers by mail, telephone or other personal communication suggesting that Democrats' environmental views stood in the way of greater opportunities for snowmobiling.Though details of the GOP system are secret, snowmobilers and other categories of voters are identified from such diverse sources as credit card transactions, product warranty files, magazine subscription lists, consumer surveys, vehicle registrations and other public records.
Going back at least to the 2002 elections, the Republicans' use of technology, coupled with elaborate computer profiles that make educated guesses about individuals' political inclinations, has demonstrated its power in close races.
In the recent Rhode Island Senate primary, the GOP assessed reams of data — from prior voting histories to signatures on petitions — to identify Democrats and independents whose profiles suggested they might support beleaguered Republican incumbent Lincoln Chafee; his victory improved GOP chances of holding the seat in November. In June, the same technology helped the GOP retain the House seat vacated by convicted felon Randall "Duke" Cunningham of Rancho Santa Fe.
Democratic strategists understand the power of the new technology and techniques, and they have scrambled to develop their own micro-targeting capabilities. The Democratic National Committee is deploying a new system in six states, and another system will be available in 20 or so others.
With the November elections only seven weeks away, however, many Democrats concede they are far behind — their efforts hamstrung by a late start, arguments over tactics, personal feuds and divisions inside the party's leadership.
The GOP system was developed by the Republican National Committee with the encouragement of White House political strategist Karl Rove.
In addition to locating potentially sympathetic voters, it proved more effective than traditional get-out-the-vote schemes in 2002 and 2004 in making sure they got to the polls.
In their search for voters, Republican strategists can quickly pull up information not only about voting histories, age, address and marital status, but also consumer habits, vehicle ownership, magazine subscriptions, church membership, hobbies, major purchases — even whether a household prefers bourbon over gin. (Bourbon drinkers tend to be Republican; gin is more often a Democrat's drink).
The data and the profiles, held in a centralized system to maintain quality control and help strategists monitor overall trends, are continually updated and massaged on the basis of contacts with voters.
In Michigan alone, Republican workers are making 20,000 telephone contacts with voters per day; Democrats also have telephone banks, but they are not integrated into a system as advanced as that of the Republicans.
Because both parties shroud their efforts in secrecy, it can be difficult to compare their programs, especially in individual races. Still, the evidence suggests the Democrats are substantially behind in micro-targeting and related technologies.
The Democratic National Committee will have a test version of its micro-targeting models available in only half a dozen states; the basic GOP system has been in place nationwide since the campaigns began.
"We are not where we need to be," says Maren Hesla, who handles voter outreach for Emily's List, a liberal group that is part of a coalition helping Democrats develop more sophisticated grass-roots operations, including micro-targeting, in about two dozen states.
Hesla insists that her party "will have enough going on in enough key states to surprise people about what we are able to accomplish."
The question is whether it will be enough to help Democrats achieve a breakthrough victory.
So serious do some Democratic leaders consider the technology gap that they have begun devising their own separate systems, especially for House and Senate races.
"It's every man for himself," said Donna Brazile, a longtime party strategist who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign and is now working to unite party leaders behind a strategy for translating favorable opinion polls into victories.
Brazile, like Hesla, says she sees positive developments for Democrats, but she also worries that the party is behind.
Although micro-targeting may seem like inside baseball, activists in both parties say that the methods and technology Rove and others pioneered may revolutionize campaigns. They predict the new techniques will become as crucial in future campaigns as opinion polling — virtually unheard of in congressional races four decades ago — is today.
"The revolutionary change here is that Republicans … are going after voters as individuals, as opposed to a census tract or a media market," says Harold Ickes, a Democratic Party strategist.
Campaigns traditionally relied on geography or other broad indicators to target voters. Democrats, for example, would blanket predominantly African American neighborhoods because those populations had historically supported Democrats. Republicans would focus on suburbs, which were historically Republican.
Such targeting was far from precise. And many of the old targeting assumptions are less true now. Some suburbs have become more liberal as jobs spread beyond the central city. And enough African American voters peeled away from Democrat John F. Kerry in 2004 for Bush to retain the presidency.
Now, Republicans nationwide can identify approachable voters inside what had previously been seen as Democratic territory, then deliver appeals to them on issues that cut across party lines.
The system's real power develops when complex algorithms are used to rate how likely individuals are to vote for particular Republican candidates.
Bruised by the power of the GOP system in 2004, Ickes commissioned a study in early 2005 that concluded: "The Republicans are light-years ahead of us. This is not rocket science, and we Democrats will get our clocks cleaned if we don't catch up."
A year later, Ickes launched his own effort to develop such resources with a new coalition of labor and activist groups. His $9-million project, active in two dozen states, is taking a leading role in making micro-targeting and other advanced technology available to Democrats.
Even combining this effort with that of the DNC, Democratic strategists lament that their party remains behind the GOP.
Looking at the technology available to Democrats in Michigan, where the party is at its most advanced, a Democratic coalition strategist said ruefully, "We can't do snowmobilers."
The snowmobiler appeal was developed by state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis. Michigan has a higher proportion of snowmobilers than any other state. Anuzis says the "extreme environmental views" of Stabenow and incumbent Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm have hindered development and use of snowmobile trails.
Anuzis says that created an opening to reach out to snowmobile users — many of whom belong to demographic groups often considered Democratic.
Similarly, Michigan Republicans have sent messages to African American households in predominantly Democratic inner-city Detroit extolling education plans that give parents more choice.
In the hottest congressional race in Minnesota, where the DNC and the Ickes group have developed micro-targeting capabilities, Democratic candidate Patty Wetterling has not yet begun using the technology but expects to start soon.
The campaign manager for Republican Michele Bachmann says the GOP system has proved to be "a critical asset." Using Voter Vault's ability to track voter preferences on hot issues, Bachmann's campaign even identified households where one family member opposed abortion and the others did not. The campaign tailored different messages to different members of those households.
In GOP-dominant Tennessee, where Democrat Harold E. Ford Jr. is running even with the Republican candidate to succeed retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Ford's campaign obtained voter data files months ago from the DNC.
But the campaign had to hire its own consultants to develop the computer models necessary to use that data, while the Republican candidate enjoyed access to the full Voter Vault system that has been massaged and updated for years — a potentially crucial difference in a race that is expected to be decided by the ground operations in the final days.
Surveying the Democrats' effort to close the technology gap, veteran strategist Brazile insists her party is making gains. "Unfortunately," she said, "it's late and last-minute. We're still perfecting drive-by campaigning."
"While much has been made of the RNC’s “72-hour project,” its effectiveness may not be as strong this time around. First, Republicans will have a much harder time motivating their voters to turn out, as the recent polls cited above indicate a shrinking base of support for Republicans. Second, while Republicans are just getting started, the DNC’s efforts began months ago. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman recently touted their 72-hour plan and their 1 million voter contacts. But, the DNC’s July 2006 organizing day already led to 2 million voter contacts. We will build upon this work by holding another national organizing day in October, prior to the election. We have been building a ground operation for over a year through the 50-state strategy and through the combined efforts of the committees and partners we will have what we need to compete this November. We also have an aggressive, national voter protection effort. Furthermore, the DNC’s organizing efforts and technological improvements over the past two years are formidable. The DNC has a state-of-the-art voter file that is being used in 45 states. We have had people on the ground for over a year organizing, engaging in voter contact activities (phone banks, canvassing, etc.) and employing aggressive communications strategies in all 50 states. Through the combined efforts of the committees and our partners, we will have an unprecedented voter turnout effort." (Hotline sources)
A nationwide survey released this month showed young Americans prefer Democrats to Republicans by a 21-point margin, up from 19 percent in April.
That's enough to cost some Republican candidates the race, said Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster who analyzed the survey taken by the nonpartisan "Young Voter Strategies."
He said if young voters turn out in November in the same numbers as in the 2002 mid-term elections, they could give Democrats a 1.8 percentage point advantage, enough to sway any of several razor-tight races this year.
"We can do a better job, as Republicans, addressing the registration of the younger voters," he said.
But Democrats also face a challenge. Although they have a clear advantage in numbers, the poll shows young Republicans are more intensely loyal and likely to vote.
"The Democratic base continues to need work," said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake in Washington. "Young voters are not very engaged."
Hans Riemer, political director of Rock the Vote, is trying to change that. The youth-and-civics group launched its first political advertisements for 2006 on Friday.
The ads will appear on MySpace.com, a youth social networking site with more than 100 million members. "MySpace was a small factor in the 2004 election but it's taken off since then and it's just a different animal now," he said.
Text-messaging with cell phones is another new tool.
Mark Warner, a former Virginia governor who is testing the waters for a presidential campaign, launched a nationwide voter registration drive on Friday targeting young cell phone users.
"Finding young people is often hard, but they always have a phone," said Heather Smith, director of "Young Voter Strategies," an affiliate of George Washington University. Textvoter.org, a new Web site, is speeding the process along.
Much is at stake. The so-called "Generation Y" of Americans born between 1977 and 1994 -- shaped by the September 11 attacks, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina -- in nine years will make up a third of the electorate, or about 82 million people.
Here's fifteen year old Avery Lowery's new video, "Don't Shut Up - Stand Up."
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Wallace: But the question is, why didn't you connect the dots and put him out of business?
Clinton: Let's talk about it. I will answer all those things on the merits, but first I want to talk about the context in which this arises. I'm being asked this on the FOX network. ABC just had a right-wing conservative running their little pathway to 9/11, falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 commission report with three things asserted against me directly contradictory to the 9/11 commission report. And I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say I didn't do enough claim that I was too obsessed with bin Laden.
All of President Bush's neo-cons say that I was too obsessed with bin Laden, they had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say I didn't do enough, said I did too much, the same people.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says this weekend's African-American Leadership Summit is not just about mobilizing the black vote, but also about reshaping the Democratic Party agenda to get more minorities to run for state offices.
He said more than 600 people are expected to attend the program called "From the Table to the Ticket."
"It's not going to be about a place at the table anymore as it was in the civil rights movement," Dean told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday, a day before he was to give a speech at the conference. "I want it to be about a place on the statewide ticket."
Dean said Michigan has done well in getting minorities into statewide races. Convention delegates last month chose Detroit attorney Amos Williams, who is black, over former judge M. Scott Bowen, who is white, to take on Republican Attorney General Mike Cox in November.
"That's the kind of stuff I want to see a lot more of around the country," Dean said. "I think we need to have very diverse tickets because that's what the country looks like and that's what the Democratic Party needs to look like."
Friday, September 22, 2006
I actually agree with a lot of this guy's criticisms, but he -- and to a lesser extent you, at the end -- fell into a really common trap: the myth of "losing" presidential elections. The Dems have won them, four in a row. The electoral majority is already there. The problem is that the last two elections, especially in 2000, the elections were close enough that they could be stolen, and they were. The Dems "lost" those elections like a guy pickpocketed on a subway "lost" his wallet. It has not much to do with whether the Dems can get enough people to vote for them; that's only the start of the challenge any more.
But he's right to criticize the Dem leadership, esp. in Congress. It's exactly what Dean's been up against. Thing is, given the politics of party leaders and the manuvering for the 2008 nomination, and people like Rahm Emanuel already trying to shake down lobbyissts for a Dem version of the K Street Project, I don't necessarily believe a Dem majority in one or the other house, or both, will do very much at all to "restore checks and balances," not unless the Dems are forced into it by an angry electoral mob. Which is where we come in...
Otherwise, the current D leadership jin Congress ust won't want to "rock the boat" heading into 2008 by standing up to Bush in a meaningful way on any but a handful of mostly symbolic issues. Watch and see.
Oliver Willis, with whom I don't agree:
For the sake of America, I hope the Democrats win. In the 5+ years of solid Republican rule, the congress has abdicated its constitutional role as a watchdog. It has become just another cheerleading section for the Republican party and has overseen fraud, waste, criminal activity and the abdication of American values and the abolition of precious liberties.It's kind of a Nader message, and I think that success will strengthen the Dems more than another failure.
A Democratic congress would at least restore checks and balances and throw a well-deserving butt or two in jail.
For the sake of the Democratic party, the party's long-term viability, and America's long term existence I sort of hope the Democrats lose this November. A win this Fall would be an endorsement of the party's ridiculously idiotic posture and would reward its sniveling cowardice with power. A Democratic win would put a rubber stamp on the feckless leadership and push the party to keep it going into 2008, where we would lose yet again for the third time out of the last four elections.
The Democratic Party apparently has no clue. It seems to believe that 1994-present is just a temporal hiccup, and all they have to do is wait for the Republicans to self-destruct and naturally inherit the earth and the congress. The party is like the child who refuses to learn its lesson, even though the results of 2000, 2002, and 2004 show us that simply wishing is not a good enough strategy for winning.
I thought they would learn. I thought they would learn to keep the message simple, repeat it often and repeat it wherever the media was. The Republicans have mastered this. The phrases they come up with are not magic (as folks like George Lakoff would have you believe) but appeal to people's gut instincts, especially with their repetition ("Head On, Apply Directly To The Forehead" is just the latest iteration of "Flip Flopper"). Democrats refuse to aim for the gut and the heart and prefer to aim for the head. So many Democrats and progressives think simply dropping a mountain of "facts" to "refute" Republican arguments will work in the public's eyes. But if you're responding, you are already losing.
Fresh disasters at the polls -- and new evidence from an industry insider -- prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted---
Paper ballots will not completely eliminate the threat of tampering, of course - after all, election fraud and miscounts have occurred throughout our history. As long as there has been a paper trail, however, our elections have been conducted with some measure of public scrutiny. But electronic voting machines are a hacker's dream. And today, for-profit companies are being given unprecedented and frightening power not only to provide these machines but to store and count our votes in secret, without any real oversight.
You do not have to believe in conspiracy theories to fear for the integrity of our electoral system: The right to vote is simply too important - and too hard won - to be surrendered without a fight. It is time for Americans to reclaim our democracy from private interests.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
It's true that the Republicans have an overall spending advantage heading into October.
But will Republicans really have a $50 million advantage over Democrats on Get Out The Vote spending? Maybe not.
In fact, national Dem committees have transferred more than $30 million to state parties since the beginning of the year. The majority of that money will pay for GOTV. Also: the DNC has spent more than $7M upgrading its database of state voter files and adding reams of consumer information. In most competitive states, the party's coordinated committee -- that's the roundtable for election decision making -- will have access to much better data than they did in 2002. The caveat: When we last checked, Republican state parties had about $12 million more to spend than Democratic state parties.
Don't forget the unions. Their goal is to turn out union members for Democrats. The AFL-CIO will spent $40 million. The SEIU, part of the Change to Win coalition, will probably spend in excess of $20 million. Other unions will spend millions of their own money. Also: outside groups. We've written about America Votes members and their multi-million dollar voter modeling projects in several competitive states. If the September Fund, run by ex-Media Fund pres. Erik Smith, ever gets off the ground, it might be able to direct even more
Of course, one lesson from '04 was that quality trumps quantity. The Democrats, America Coming Together and organized labor dumped thousands more volunteers in the competitive states than Republicans. But the person-to-person, neighbor-to-neighbor coalitions model that the RNC and the Bush campaign used in about 16 states was far more efficient.
In all, it's likely that both parties' spending on turnout will be, roughly, equal. But whereas Republicans have mastered the art of microtargeting, Democrats are playing catch up. For Dems, ’06 is both a test run and a full launch.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
"Senator Maria Cantwell is well on her way to being re-elected because voters know she fights every single day to put Washingtonians first and bring a new direction to our nation's capital. From her strong environmental record, her willingness to stand up for Washington state families, and her commitment to holding President Bush accountable and changing the course from a failed strategy in Iraq, Senator Cantwell is providing the strong Democratic leadership we need all across America. That vision is the reason Senator Cantwell drew more than 100,000 more votes last night than her Republican opponent.
Together with Darcy Burner, who also drew more primary voters than the incumbent Bush Republican she is going to defeat this November in the 8th Congressional District, and the rest of the Democratic delegation, Washington State Democrats are going to bring the American people a new direction that puts Washingtonians first."
While the DCCC elites scoffed at Howard Dean for working toward a 50-state strategy, the DNC has been staffing up in every state in the union. Given my obsession with the Mountain West, I decided to check in on Wyoming. The Wyoming Democratic Party Executive Director, Kyle DeBeers, sent in the following report:In Wyoming, the success of the DNC's 50-State Strategy is succinctly summarized by a conversation that I had with a candidate for county assessor earlier this summer. He said, "Now it's my opinion that you run with your party, because they can do a lot for you." There is no doubt that the DNC staffers are delivering tangible results for candidates across our state.
Since they began implementing our grassroots outreach program last fall, the DNC staffers have recruited and trained 681 volunteers around the state. The staff and these volunteers have given the state party a presence in places where it had been almost non-existent for years.
For eleven months, the activists have been talking with their neighbors about the Democratic message and our candidates. This is an unprecedented voter ID and voter persuasion project. And with the vast majority of these folks committing at least two hours of their time on Election Day, we will have an unprecedented ability to get Democrats as well as supportive Republicans and Independents to the polls.
For a grassroots effort like Gary Trauner's Congressional campaign, the 50-State Strategy makes a very real difference. As Gary knocks on doors around the state, he can work with the network of activists that the DNC staffers have recruited and trained.
Today Gary has matched Barbara Cubin's fundraising over the last three quarters while both internal and public polling show that Cubin is vulnerable. When Governor Dean decided to invest in Wyoming, few if any inside-the-beltway pundits would have expected the state's US House race to be competitive. It takes time to build a real grassroots organization, but because Governor Dean committed to compete everywhere, Wyoming Democrats were ready to take advantage of the opportunity that Gary's hard work created.
The 50-State Strategy is making a difference in other races too. Grassroots leaders identified by the DNC staffers are stepping forward to volunteer their time as county coordinators for the Democratic Nominees for State Auditor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction. DNC staffers have helped US Senate Nominee Dale Groutage stage press conferences and deliver his message to state and local media.
In fact, they've worked closely with a number of campaigns to communicate the candidates' vision for our state to the press. In Wyoming, many voters rely on weekly newspapers and local radio stations for news about their community. The staffers played a critical role during the last legislative session keeping our legislators connected with their hometown newspapers and their constituents.
For every Democrat on the ticket - from popular Governor Dave Freudenthal to local conservation district candidates - the DNC's 50 State Strategy has made a difference. Our state party is energized and poised to make gains in November.
The DC elite have a hard time comprehending that places like Wyoming can be competitive for Democrats. They'd rather toss Wyoming to the wolves and spend their millions on high-commission ad buys in six "battleground" states.
But we're working towards a battleground country. And it's a beautiful sight indeed.
Says so right here: Darcy Burner 13105, Dave Reichert 12434. Does anybody know if the results with two unopposed primary candidates are "predictive" of the general election results? Thanks to Susan Hu for reminding me that this may be significant.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Standing against a stately backdrop of American flags -- gone were the flashy visuals that usually accompany his climate speeches -- Gore projected a decidedly more somber and serious persona than the exuberant, almost giddy character we've seen pumping his fists and cracking jokes as he roared around the world on his climate lecture circuit. It was a persona that, if you squinted just right, seemed almost ...
Yes, presidential. Indeed, Gore's protestations that he has no intention of becoming a 2008 presidential contender have been getting weaker. Add to that the recent news that Gore will be publishing a book next May entitled The Assault on Reason -- a meditation on the ineptitude of political leaders paralyzed by their "unwillingness to let facts drive decisions" -- and it's enough to drive the media to distraction.
From Take the Red Pill:
Yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore delivered a major speech on global warming at New York University law school, calling for an immediate freeze on carbon dioxide emissions to fight the effects of global warming.
"This is an opportunity for bipartisanship and transcendence, an opportunity to find our better selves and in rising to meet this challenge, create a better brighter future," Gore said. A new report by the Center for American Progress and the Worldwatch Institute envisions a clean and efficient energy system which would decrease our dependence on foreign oil, increase domestic security, shrink trade deficits, revitalize rural communities, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and curb the emissions that cause global warming. The study cites dynamic growth in renewable energy sectors that should be utilized to "turn abundant domestic sources -- including solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass and ocean energy -- into transportation fuels, electricity, and heat." This growth is "driving down costs and spurring rapid advances in technologies" and opening up the possibility of a decentralized and diversified energy market. The study features policy proposals that would help realize this possibility by "jumpstarting the new energy industries while minimizing the cost to American taxpayers" and reversing outdated policies which subsidize fossil fuels. With nine out of 10 voters supportive of plans to encourage alternative energy, the time for reform is now.
This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue. It affects the survival of human civilization. It is not a question of left vs. right; it is a question of right vs. wrong. Put simply, it is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every generation that follows ours.
What is motivating millions of Americans to think differently about solutions to the climate crisis is the growing realization that this challenge is bringing us unprecedented opportunity. I have spoken before about the way the Chinese express the concept of crisis. They use two symbols, the first of which - by itself - means danger. The second, in isolation, means opportunity. Put them together, and you get "crisis." Our single word conveys the danger but doesn't always communicate the presence of opportunity in every crisis. In this case, the opportunity presented by the climate crisis is not only the opportunity for new and better jobs, new technologies, new opportunities for profit, and a higher quality of life. It gives us an opportunity to experience something that few generations ever have the privilege of knowing: a common moral purpose compelling enough to lift us above our limitations and motivate us to set aside some of the bickering to which we as human beings are naturally vulnerable. America's so-called "greatest generation" found such a purpose when they confronted the crisis of global fascism and won a war in Europe and in the Pacific simultaneously. In the process of achieving their historic victory, they found that they had gained new moral authority and a new capacity for vision. They created the Marshall Plan and lifted their recently defeated adversaries from their knees and assisted them to a future of dignity and self-determination. They created the United Nations and the other global institutions that made possible many decades of prosperity, progress and relative peace. In recent years we have squandered that moral authority and it is high time to renew it by taking on the highest challenge of our generation. In rising to meet this challenge, we too will find self-renewal and transcendence and a new capacity for vision to see other crises in our time that cry out for solutions: 20 million HIV/AIDs orphans in Africa alone, civil wars fought by children, genocides and famines, the rape and pillage of our oceans and forests, an extinction crisis that threatens the web of life, and tens of millions of our fellow humans dying every year from easily preventable diseases. And, by rising to meet the climate crisis, we will find the vision and moral authority to see them not as political problems but as moral imperatives.
What do you get when you send esteemed and erudite New Yorker editor David Remnick around the world with the wildly popular former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, to talk about his life, work, legacy, and not-at-all-controversial-or-in-the-news-lately wife Hillary ? Quite a lot, actually: A massive 23-page story (with photos, poems and cartoons, but still) with anecdotes, frank exchanges, keen insights and some really, really good soundbytes. What you don't get is a link: The piece is not available online. Which means that what you also don't get is any online presence. At all.
Which for a piece like this is saying something. Before I list a few of the gems you'll find if you, too, invest the thirteen hours needed to read it all, I will note one quote from Clinton: "I am sick of Karl Rove's bullshit." Incredibly, one week after publication, a search for "I am sick of Karl Rove's bullshit" on Google will yield one hit: A link to ABC's "The Note" that actually takes you to the wrong link and requires a search through the archives and then moving forward a few pages before a measly excerpt may be had. What does this tell us? It tells us that the New Yorker PR department needs to send their press releasesout more widely online (and make it available the next week somewhere other than Google cache), and that the New Yorker can't rely on Remnick's cachet, Clinton's galvanizing popularity and the tantalizing possibility of Republican trashtalk to bring a 23-page article to life in the blogosphere without a little help.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of nuggets from the piece; those looking for a precis can find one of sorts in the New Yorker PR dept's aforementioned 1,066-word account, as well as a New Yorker Q&A with Remnick here.
Clinton on the Kerry campaign: "Like a deer caught in the headlights."
Clinton on watching the World Cup Final in Berlin: "I'm totally psyched for this."
Clinton on the vote to go into Iraq: "I'm sick and tired of being told that if you voted for authorization you voted for the war. It was a mistake, and I would have made it, too....The administration did not shoot straight on the nuclear issue or on Saddam's supposed ties to Al Qaeda prior to 9/11."
Chelsea on her father's handling of the AIDS crisis after writing a thesis on the subject at Oxford: "I gave you a grade," she told her father. "What did I get?" Clinton asked. "C-plus." Her rationale: "You didn't do nearly enough. But you did more than anyone else in the world."
Clinton on dying: "I've reached an age now where it doesn't matter whatever happens to me...I just don't want anyone to die before their time anymore."
Hillary on that weird NYT story about their marriage: "I'm endlessly fascinated by people's fascination with us, but that's not something I'm going to spend much time on."
Bill on that weird NYT story about their marriage: "I think it got pretty well the response that it deserved."
Apparently, Hillary Clinton loves giraffes; accordingly, her husband bought her a giant wooden one which Remnick estimated was "seven, eight feet tall." (The NYT is no doubt working out the symbolism.)
Clinton on WaPo's Susan Schmidt: "A Xerox machine for Ken Starr."
Clinton on his inaction in Rwanda, which he said was the worst foreign-policy mistake of his administration: "We never even had a staff meeting on it." (Note: Clinton said that was "why I went there and apologized in '98"; he said the Rwandans said he was the only one who had apologized.)
Remnick on Clinton's relationship with Ron Burkle: Apparently, Clinton flies on his plane.
Remnick on Ron Burkle's alleged penchant for models and youthful plane guests: Er, nothing, actually. Hey, 23 pages doesn't give you much space.
Clinton on puncutality, as expressed in being 15 minutes late to meet with Nelson Mandela, per Remnick: "Astonishingly, he will make anyone wait for him, even a global patriarch who is presumably his moral hero."
Clinton on the Bush administration: "It just makes me mad...I just wish I were there trying to articulate an alternative vision."
On the fact that he is not: "You have to bloom where you're planted."
Even as Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington has faced frequent criticism for having voted for the war in Iraq, her re-election campaign appears to be benefiting from a cold dose of pragmatism among many of her fellow Democrats.Thanks to Mr. Goldstein, for passing this along.
After looking east to Connecticut, where another supporter of the war, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, lost the Democratic primary last month, many Democrats here say attacking Ms. Cantwell in Tuesday’s primary seems flat-out foolish because it could benefit the well-financed Republican challenger in November.
After all, unlike in Connecticut, the question here is not whether another Democrat will unseat Ms. Cantwell. Instead, the wild card is whether antiwar opponents will peel away enough support to leave her vulnerable to the Republican opponent, Mike McGavick, a former insurance executive who recently put $2 million of his own money into his campaign.
With a practical eye on that very different political reality, Ms. Cantwell and many of her antiwar critics have moved closer to each other, and the senator’s lead over Mr. McGavick has increased to double digits in some polls.
Ms. Cantwell, who was first elected in 2000 by just 2,229 votes, has strong union support and has won praise from environmentalists for helping to fight oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
With Washington’s history of close elections, both national parties consider the race critical and plan to spend time and money here this fall.
“ ‘Do you really want a Republican representing Washington?’ That’s the question she’s asking,” said Chad Lupkes, a Washington coordinator for Democracy for America.
In July, Ms. Cantwell hired two of her potential Democratic primary challengers, both critics of the war, to work on her campaign. The move drew charges from both sides that she was paying off opponents; one of those hired, Mark Wilson, is paid $8,000 a month. The other person hired was Dal LaMagna.
Mr. Wilson, now a Cantwell campaign outreach director, did not respond to a request for an interview. Mr. Lupkes said Mr. Wilson was far from a sellout. He said it had been “critical” for Mr. Wilson to join the Cantwell campaign.
“The progressives really want to learn how the system works,” Mr. Lupkes said. “You’ve got a bunch of people who say that the war is their top, only issue. Those people are fools. They’re going to vote for Aaron Dixon. Maybe 5 percent of the vote goes for him?”
Monday, September 18, 2006
Habibullah, was captured in November 2002. He was locked in an isolation cell with his hands shackled to the wire ceiling over his head. The report describes how he was literally kicked to death over several days.
The guards found him "uncooperative", and he was given multiple "peroneal strikes" - a disabling blow to the leg just above the knee. "That was kind of like an accepted thing; you could knee somebody in the leg," former Sgt Thomas Curtis told investigators.
A lawyer for one of the guards who kneed Habibullah in this fashion told US investigators: "My client was acting consistently with the standard operating procedure that was in place at the Bagram facility."
When Habibullah started coughing up phlegm and complaining of chest pains, the guards laughed at him. Eventually his dead body was found hanging from the handcuffs that still chained him to the ceiling. A post-mortem examination found that he was probably killed by a blood clot, caused by the leg injuries, which travelled to his heart and blocked the blood supply to his lungs.
Dilawar, a taxi driver, was detained in December 2002 as he drove past a US base that had earlier come under rocket attack. Passengers he had picked up were carrying suspicious items.
Spc Corey Jones, an interrogator, told investigators that Dilawar spat in his face. He responded with a couple of knee strikes.
"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his God," Spc Jones said. "Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny." The report says it became a running joke and prison guards kicked Dilawar just to hear him scream "Allah". "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes," he said.
During an interrogation, the severely injured Dilawar begged a translator to get him a doctor. The translator says he told the interrogators, but one replied: "He's OK. He's just trying to get out of his restraints."
An autopsy found that Dilawar died of heart failure caused by "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities". The coroner, Lieutenant-Colonel Elizabeth Rouse, told a pre-trial hearing that his legs "had basically been pulpified ... I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus."
for the "elimination of all payroll taxes -- including those for social security and unemployment compensation -- and the replacement of that revenue in the form of pollution taxes, principally on CO2."
But Gore said it's up to the American people to demand action.
"When the politicians are paralyzed in the face of a great threat," he explained, "our nation needs a popular movement, a rallying cry, a standard, a mandate that is broadly supported on a bipartisan basis." The former Presidential candidate plans to spend the next year campaigning for the cause.
As David Sirota reminds us, some House Democrats are "bragging about how they are shaking down Big Money interests for cash." And while I agree with Matt Stoller that "it's time the blogosphere begin to focus on organizing problems instead of just our obsession with message," too many people still see no difference in the two political parties when it comes to the corrupting influence of Big Money.
Stoller is also upset about a certain House Democrat in the leadership who is "pandering to Wall Street."
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Cable advertising is just the most visible aspect of a deeper tactic: micro-targeting. This is where a campaign dissects an electorate based on personal preferences that have little to do with politics.
A campaign could look at who reads certain magazines, or who holds certain licenses, or who buys certain products and then send specific literature to them. Many companies will sell subscription lists to campaigns - this is why a decline-to-state voter who takes Field & Stream might get a "Sportsmen for Schwarzenegger" flier in the mail.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Tran has worked for other Democratic candidates in the past and said she will vote -- but not actively campaign -- for Cantwell if the senator wins Tuesday.
Tran is the most vocal antiwar Democrat left in the primary since Cantwell put her harshest critic and primary opponent, Mark Wilson, on her campaign staff for $8,000 a month in July.
"Hong Tran and Mark Wilson successfully raised the question of the war within the party," state Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz said. "But Democrats are solidly united behind Cantwell."
Assuming she wins Tuesday, Cantwell will face two other antiwar opponents in November, Bruce Guthrie, a libertarian, and Aaron Dixon, a Green Party candidate, along with McGavick and an independent, Robin Adair. In a close Cantwell-McGavick race, Guthrie and Dixon could peel crucial votes from the senator.
Bill Clinton supports an army of bloggers growing in strength and confidence---
When historians come to write the definitive account of the rise of the liberal blog in the US, it is quite possible they will identify a small meeting in Harlem this week as a tipping point. The gathering looked unremarkable enough, a group of about 20 men and women sitting round a boardroom table, but it represented something highly significant.
The people assembled were the elite, if that's not a contradiction in terms, of the Democrat-leaning blogosphere. And the man at the centre was Bill Clinton.
Over a two-hour lunch of southern chicken, sweet potato fries, cornbread and cherry cake ("our plates were clean at the end", noted the blogger from Talkleft), the conversation ranged widely across Iraq, healthcare, energy and tax. But it kept coming back to a central theme: the growing strength and confidence of the liberal blogs.
Clinton told the group that over the past two years he had become an avid reader, and that he now included blog posts in his daily news cuttings service. For the bloggers, toiling away in their front rooms, it was heady stuff. "Here I was with a group of my friends and colleagues, meeting with one of our nation's presidents because our small, do-it-yourself political operation had drawn his attention," writes Chris Bowers on the MyDD blog. "I mean, this is largely work I have completed from the bedroom of my apartment in West Philly."Coming of age
To be bathed in the famously energising glow of the former president's attention is an unfamiliar sensation. Ever since blogs took off in America three or four years ago, the running has been made by writers and editors from the right such as Andrew Sullivan, Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds, the law professor behind InstaPundit. Liberal sites were confined to the role of second cousins.
So the Clinton meeting was a much-needed pat on the back. Bill Scher, who edits the Liberal Oasis blog, thinks they are now emerging as real forces. "Right-wing blogs have been very good and very fast at putting out misinformation. What we are now learning to do is to be better than that - to put out good information faster than they do and accurately so that it cannot be rebutted."
Scher's book, Wait! Don't move to Canada, is published next week. It records how liberal blogs first came to public attention when they raised substantial amounts of money for the 2004 primary campaign of the anti-Iraq war Democrat, Howard Dean.
Now they have moved a step beyond that. "We are no longer dismissed as just ATMs for the Democrats - now people have to listen to what we say."
ABC television had to listen to what the liberal blogs had to say this week. It came a cropper over a two-part docu-drama about the lead-up to September 11, The Path to 9/11, which portrayed the counter-terrorism efforts of the Clinton administration in a poor light.
One blog, Think Progress, exposed inaccuracies in the show, or "crockudrama" as left bloggers dubbed it. The site's editor, Judd Legum, became aware of the contents of the drama when rightwing bloggers and the radio host Rush Limbaugh began talking about it. "They had evidently been passed copies of the movie and that alerted us to it."
Legum started investigating the drama about 10 days before it was scheduled for broadcast, identifying the most egregious mistakes and researching and compiling rebuttals. He enlisted the help of the site's army of bloggers and within days he had ignited a firestorm that enveloped ABC and brought Clinton and several of his former aides into the furore. "You could watch it build exponentially," Legum told the Guardian. " First we had seven mentions on cable TV, then 40, then 300, then 400. It just took off."
In the end, ABC was forced to re-edit several of the disputed scenes. It removed passages suggesting Clinton had been distracted from the emerging threat of al-Qaida by his obsession with Monica Lewinsky; it reined in a critical depiction of Clinton's former secretary of state Madeleine Albright; and it cut out a shot of Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser, slamming down the phone on a CIA operative who was pleading to be allowed to attack Osama Bin Laden.
So has the leftwing blog finally come of age?
Peter Daou thinks this week's events suggest that it is moving in the right direction. "The Clinton meeting and the Path to 9/11 both put down a marker."
Daou advised John Kerry during his 2004 presidential bid on how to reach out to bloggers. He has recently taken up a similar role for Hillary Clinton, acting as a go-between in her campaign to be re-elected to the Senate in November. "There have been tensions and growing pains, and at times a lot of elbowing and jockeying for position," he said. "But we are on the way to building a new centre of power politics in America."
With a staff of just five, Think Progress punches well above its weight, as was seen by the impact it had on the ABC docudrama, The Path to 9/11. It is connected to the Washington- based liberal thinktank, the Centre of American Progress, whose director is the former chief of staff under Bill Clinton. It has about 100,000 visitors a day, and its focus is on monitoring rightwing blogs and the mainstream media. It calls itself a movement of "guerrilla fact checkers".
Founded in 2002 by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga and run by him from Berkeley, California. The site now attracts 20 million unique visits a month. The blog is named after the nickname Moulitsas acquired when he was in the army (it rhymes with "dose").
The site by and for young feminists. The executive editor is Jessica Valenti, a 27-year-old feminist writer from New York. Its mission statement says that: "Young women are rarely given the opportunity to speak on their own behalf on issues that affect their lives and futures. Feministing provides a platform for us to comment, analyse and influence."
The blog, edited by Bill Scher, publishes original commentary every morning from Monday to Friday. It carries the motto: "Where the Left is right and the Right is wrong."
Founded by Jane Hamsher, who produced the Oliver Stone film, Natural Born Killers. Its blogger, Christy Hardin Smith, who was present at the Clinton lunch, writes on the site that there is a need for "better messaging and coordination/ cooperation with blogs and the Democratic leadership, who seem to constantly be trying to work at cross-purposes with all of us."
Focuses on US politics, particularly the Bush Administration, the radical right, and gay civil rights. Why turn to it? Because, it says, "at some point you tire of the lies". It is run by John Aravosis, a Washington-based writer and political consultant.
Photographic evidence here.