Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bev Harris in Seattle, March 7th

"Who Did Your Voting Machine Vote For?" Seattle's Progressive Talk, AM1090 invites you to find out. Attend a forum Tuesday, March 7th, 7pm at the Seattle Labor Temple(2800 1st avenue) on Computerized Voting Machines and hear from the experts, including Bev Harris from Black Box Voting. With the 2006 election upon us, and Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia Voting Machines recording and counting our votes...you can't afford not to attend. Sponsored by Seattle's Progressive Talk, AM1090, 36th Legislative District Democrats, Backbone Campaign and Code Pink."

"Searching for the Democrats - Telling the Truth"

Excerpts from Part II of Bob Burnett's series:

Democratic loyalists are upset by what they perceive as the ineptness of Party leaders. What they don't understand is that they are witnessing the consequences of a backstage fight for the heart of the Democratic Party. Ironically, Iraq, the Economy, or any other hot issue will not decide this fight; it will come down to values. Which of two sets of ethics will the Democrats embrace? One morality is advocated by the Clintonista wing of the Party that argues that winning is everything, that the ends justify the means. This is Republican lite, a position based upon tactics that shift as the perception of the mood of the electorate changes. The other morality is advocated by a loose coalition that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. This argues that Dems positions must stem from their values; that the ends do not justify the means when they conflict with historic Democratic values. The former position places great emphasis on polls. The latter emphasizes principle.

The reality is that the tactics-based wing of the Democratic Party--the Clintonistas--represents a minority of Democrats. But, it's extremely powerful, represented by the Democratic Leadership Council, the campaign of Hillary Clinton, and the role of Rahm Emanuel as chair of the DCCC, among others. Therefore, tactics-based Dems have a disproportionate impact on Party decisions, which explains actions that enrage the rank-and-file: the muddled stance on Iraq and the choice of Governor Tim Kaine to deliver the SOTU rebuttal, to name only two. At least 75 percent of the Democratic rank-and-file are values based; they expect their Party's positions to be based on principle, not on expediency.

The most result Gallup Polls indicate that Americans are deeply concerned about corruption in the Federal government. However, these polls also indicate that voters see very little difference between the two Parties with regards to their willingness to do something to clean up government. Honesty in government should be a wedge issue that Democrats can use to cleanly differentiate themselves from Republicans. If they were to establish themselves as the Party that can be trusted, this would provide Dems with a platform from which to talk about vital issues such as national security.

The practical problem is how to do this. In an era where many Americans regard all politicians as crooks, where they make little distinction between Democrats and Republicans, how do Dems develop a distinct identity?

The Democratic Party needs to take two actions. The first is to diminish the influence of the tactics-based, Clintonista wing of the Party. Of course, this is much easier said than done as Clintonistas have infiltrated every Party organization. The most prominent candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President will be Hillary Clinton--a major proponent of tactics-based morality.

The second action would identify a Democratic Party spokesperson that, in the public eye, is a person of unmistakable integrity. Dems need someone who can stand up and say, "If you want the truth, vote Democratic." The only national Democratic that has both the reputation, and the charisma, to take this role is Barack Obama. He has succeeded because of his integrity. A skinny, mixed-race kid with the name Barack Obama would not have become a US Senator if he didn't have a good rep.

The Dems recently selected Obama to be their point-person on the issue of corruption. It's only a small step from that assignment to becoming the standard bearer for honesty; to the position, "Those of us in Washington need to tell the truth. The public needs the truth about Iraq, the state of homeland security, and America's economic future. Reinstate Democratic control of the Congress and we promise to conduct the hearings that will let you know the truth."

Obama can pull this off. The Democrats need values-based leadership and Barrack Obama can provide it. He can be the point-person for a revitalization of FDR's Party based upon telling the truth."

-from The Huffington Post.

"A Night at Arianna's: The Dems and the War"

"At a Democratic Party fundraiser hosted by Arianna Huffington in Los Angeles recently, Howard Dean and Barbara Boxer laid out strategy for the upcoming Congressional races, with lots of strong talk about retaking the House next fall -- and, on Dean's part, one stunning silence: Iraq.

In Arianna's grand living room, Dean said the Democrats would never win back a majority in Congress by running only on their traditional issues--health care, Social Aecurity and education. He said "we need to learn from Karl Rove, and attack our opponents where they are strong--which means attacking them on defense."

"Here's our strategy for 2006," he said. "We need to argue that Bush has failed to get bin Laden; after five years in power, he's failed to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program; he's failed to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program; and he's failed to provide adequate security for our ports. We need to argue that the Democrats will do a better job protecting the nation than Bush has. We promise that we will kill or capture bin Laden; with the help of China and Russia, we will shut down the North Korean nuclear program; we will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power; and we will protect our ports."

Notably missing from the list: "we will end the war in Iraq."-from Jon Weiner in The Nation.

Howie opinion: It's going to take some fancy footwork to do this.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Crooks and Liars Salutes Howard Dean

Glenn Greenwald started a little blog swarm with his post yesterday, "Whose judgment on the Iraq War is entitled to respect?"

Here is the section about Howard Dean:

"when one reviews the pre-war arguments made by Howard Dean as to why the war was ill-advised, it is glaringly self-evident just how right he was -- at a time when few others recognized it -- about virtually everything. Here are excerpts from a speech Dean gave on February 17, 2003 -- just over a month before we invaded -- at Drake University which reflects the prescient warnings he was making back then:

"I believe it is my patriotic duty to urge a different path to protecting America's security: To focus on al Qaeda, which is an imminent threat, and to use our resources to improve and strengthen the security and safety of our home front and our people while working with the other nations of the world to contain Saddam Hussein. . . .

Had I been a member of the Senate, I would have voted against the resolution that authorized the President to use unilateral force against Iraq - unlike others in that body now seeking the presidency.

That the President was given open-ended authority to go to war in Iraq resulted from a failure of too many in my party in Washington who were worried about political positioning for the presidential election.

The stakes are so high, this is not a time for holding back or sheepishly going along with the herd.

To this day, the President has not made a case that war against Iraq, now, is necessary to defend American territory, our citizens, our allies, or our essential interests.

The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled.

I, for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.

As a doctor, I was trained to treat illness, and to examine a variety of options before deciding which to prescribe. I worried about side effects and took the time to see what else might work before proceeding to high-risk measures. . . .

We have been told over and over again what the risks will be if we do not go to war.

We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.
If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration's assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.

I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic.

I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.

It is possible, however, that events could go differently, . . . .

Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.

Anti-American feelings will surely be inflamed among the misguided who choose to see an assault on Iraq as an attack on Islam, or as a means of controlling Iraqi oil.

And last week's tape by Osama bin Laden tells us that our enemies will seek relentlessly to transform a war into a tool for inspiring and recruiting more terrorists.

There are other risks. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."

"Using the standard rhetorical tactic of Bush followers, Dean was caricatured and falsely accused by Republicans, some Democrats, and an easily manipulated media as being some sort of radical pacifist subversive who should be mocked rather than listened to. That was achieved only by distorting his views. As Dean made repeatedly clear, he favors fighting wars which are truly necessary to defend the United States from imminent threats, but he believed there was no persuasive evidence demonstrating that Saddam constituted a threat which justified the war.

And those who claim that there was nobody before the war who doubted that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs which compelled our invasion ought to read this passage from Dean's speech:

"Now, I am not among those who say that America should never use its armed forces unilaterally. In some circumstances, we have no choice. In Iraq, I would be prepared to go ahead without further Security Council backing if it were clear the threat posed to us by Saddam Hussein was imminent, and could neither be contained nor deterred.

However, that case has not been made, and I believe we should continue the hard work of diplomacy and inspection. . . .

Secretary Powell's recent presentation at the UN showed the extent to which we have Iraq under an audio and visual microscope. Given that, I was impressed not by the vastness of evidence presented by the Secretary, but rather by its sketchiness. "

"Can anyone dispute that Dean was right about virtually every prediction and claim he made, every warning that he issued about why invading Iraq was ill-advised and counter-productive? Compare this outright prescience from Dean to the war supporters’ declarations of cakewalks, predictions of glorious victory celebrations, promises that the war would pay for itself, Purple Finger celebrations where they insisted that democracy was upon us, errors regarding the number of troops needed, inexcusable failure to anticipate or plan the insurgency, and shrill fear-mongering about Saddam’s non-existent weapons."
Greenwald followed this post with another one on "The troop withdraw debate":

"The post I wrote earlier today regarding Howard Dean’s accurate pre-war warnings about Iraq was followed by an interesting debate in the comments section about whether we ought to withdraw our troops immediately. Some argued that there is something corrupt about Howard Dean’s position because, having opposed the war in the first place, he is opposed to immediate withdrawal now. The argument was made that anyone who opposed invading Iraq in the first place must now favor immediate troop withdraw. Unfortunately, the issue isn’t that simple and the moral issues aren’t nearly that clear.

Regardless of whether one favored the invasion, the reality is that we invaded that country, removed its government, and smashed the (corrupt and murderous) regime which ruled the country with an iron fist, maintaining relative social stability. There is chaos in Iraq because we created the chaos. It is incredibly irresponsible to just casually demand that, having done all of that, we simply leave because we changed our mind about the war and just don’t want to stay any more.

We have an ethical responsibility to do what we can -- if there is anything -- to help Iraq regain some semblance of stability and peace. We have no right to simply leave the country engulfed by a civil war and drowning in anarchy because we grew tired of our little project or changed our minds about its morality. If we are achieving any good at all with our military occupation – or if we can achieve any good – we have the obligation to do so. The sovereign elected government of that country does not want us to leave because they fear that our troop withdraw will severely worsen the instability and increase the violence in their country..."

Return of the ''Aspen ski bum''

Two from Aspen:
"Coming soon to a congressional election near you -- something akin to the Republicans' Contract with America.

As outlined by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean in Aspen on Saturday, the preliminary points to cover in the agreement will include:
* A raise in the federal minimum wage;
* "Real" stem cell research;
* A balanced federal budget;
* Ethics legislation;
* No selling of public lands "for corporate benefits."

Earlier in his talk, Dean said opinion polls show the people of America are ready for a change from Republican to Democratic national leadership. "So we have to position ourselves as a clear alternative to Republicans," he said.

Dean -- a physician, former governor of Vermont and 2004 presidential candidate -- was the guest of the Aspen Institute and was in town to fundraise and meet with Democratic Party leaders. He started his remarks by telling the audience he moved to Aspen in September of 1971 and his first job was pouring concrete. Later, he washed pots and pans at the Golden Horn from 4 p.m. to midnight, and skied during the day. "Season passes were $250," he said. "I skied 80 days."

The former Aspen ski bum made rapid fire points from start to finish, and started by saying the Democratic Party lacked grassroots organization for the past six or seven presidential elections, but is now better organized in all 50 states.

"We want to run a permanent presidential four-year campaign," he said.

Several times, Dean referred to Republican Newt Gingrich's successful election strategies in the early 1990s, and indicated it's OK to emulate them.

"But there has to be a clear difference" between Democrats and Republicans, he said.

Later, during the question-and-answer session, he said, "If you want to win elections you have to be different from the other guy."

To do that, Dean is working with the Democratic leadership to draft a "value statement" to articulate the party's vision. "We haven't seen this since the 1950s ... and it has to mean something."

Dean didn't spend much time on President Bush, but did say the Katrina Hurricane response was the biggest blow to his presidency. Dean said people around the world always thought the U.S. could adequately respond to a disaster, "But America was exposed" as the government's response "fell apart."

As for the war in Iraq, Dean personally agrees with a strategy that others have voiced that includes: bringing home the National Guard and Reserves, stationing 14,000 special operations forces in a Middle East country near Iraq, sending 20,000 troops to Afghanistan for "a fight worth having" and bringing home the remaining 10,000 troops by 2007.

"We need to take the targets off the backs of Americans," he said.

During the question-and-answer session, Dean said the Democrats must work harder to get their message out, and then pointed to a recent success. He said after the Democrats started referring to the Republicans' "culture of corruption" polls showed the American people believe by a 2:1 margin it's a Republican phenomena, and not Democrat.

So to get the word out and to break through, Democrats must "be concise, clear and repetitive on how they are different from Republicans."

-excerpted from the Aspen Daily News. The Aspen Times also covered the speech, but I like this one better.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Searching for the Democrats - Blue Clues"

Bob Burnett describes the Democratic fault lines here. Some excerpts from his latest commentary on The Huffington Post:

"It's become the political mystery of our era. Why is the Democratic Party unable to take advantage of the incompetence of the Bush Administration? The answer is that on key issues, Democratic leaders are divided and, therefore, unable to come up with a coherent position. As a result, the public sticks with Bush; they may not agree with him, but at least they understand what he stands for.

Many Democratic loyalists are very upset with what they perceive as chronic ineptness. What they don't get is that they are witnessing the consequences of a backstage fight for the heart of the Democratic Party. Ironically, Iraq, the economy or any other hot issue will not decide this fight; it will come down to values. Which of two sets of values will the Democrats embrace? One set is advocated by the Clintonista wing of the Party that argues that winning is everything, that the ends justify the means. This position takes refuge in tactics that shift as their perception of the mood of the electorate changes. The other morality is advocated by a loose coalition that includes House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid. This position argues that Democratic positions must stem from their values; that the ends do not justify the means when they conflict with historic Democratic values. The former position places great emphasis on polls. The latter emphasizes principle.

This deep division arose in the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election. Democratic leaders were traumatized by what they saw in the exit polls. Remember that John Kerry won both the Democratic vote (89 percent) and the Moderate vote (49 percent). However, he lost the election because Bush did a better job holding his base (he carried 93% of Republicans). What chilled Dems was their analysis of the vote by ideology: 34 percent of Americans self-identified as Conservatives and they went overwhelmingly to Bush (84 percent). Only 21 percent said they were liberal. The remaining 45 percent said they were moderate (54 percent favored Kerry).

Some Democrats read these results and concluded, "Screw the liberals. We have to get more of the moderate vote." This has led groups within the Party, such as the Clintonista-dominated Democratic Leadership Council, to take what they perceive to be "moderate" positions on key issues. Rather than call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq they argued for "benchmarks for success." They emphasized tactics.

The values-based position, advocated by Congressman John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, and a majority of the House Democratic caucus, says that principle is important--in this instance that our policy in Iraq should not be based upon what spot polls show, but rather what is best at protecting America.

Looking at Democrats from the standpoint of their beliefs has profound implications for the Party. It implies that the tactics-based wing of the Dems--the Clintonista wing--represents the minority of Democrats. Since many seculars congregate in Washington, DC, this also explains why that aspect of the Party is at odds with values-based loyalists in the rest of the country.

Looking at Democrats from the standpoint of the deeply held values held by the majority suggests that the Party should make substantial changes in its outreach to voters. More about that in the final column in this series."

I was surprised to see where he puts Pelosi and Reid in this conflict.

''Frame Up''

Brian Morton, writing in Baltimore's City Paper, says the Dems better "frame" the rovians now, before it's too late. His idea: "You can’t trust them."

Here's his analyis of the headstart the rovians already have:
"Now that we are only two years away from the next presidential election, the Republicans are already beginning to ramp up their putative master narrative for the next election, and it’s pretty clear who’s in their sights. At the start of February, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman trotted out the idea that Hillary Clinton “seems to have a lot of anger,” and that “I don’t think the American people, if you look historically, elect angry candidates.”

Boy, that was subtle. Sort of like Barbara Bush not wanting to say what she thought of Geraldine Ferraro, but that it “rhymes with ‘witch.’” Republicans like their male opponents to seem like women, and they want their female opponents to come off as lesbians, hence the “angry” test drive."

Tipped by The Smirking Chimp.

''Bloggers at the Gate''

Here are some excerpts from Ari Melber's review in The Nation of "Crashing the Gate," by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga:

"Writing with the outrage of outsiders and the access of insiders, the two bloggers analyze a Democratic Party they find oddly complacent despite its losing record and tarnished reputation. They argue that the party's most consequential problem is not branding but its sclerotic leadership, quarrelsome coalitions and anachronistic fundraising methods.

Armstrong and Zúniga characterize the party's coalition structure as more of a "gaggle" of single-issue constituency groups than a coherent movement. Primary campaigns are dominated by "single-issue dogmatists" who place "too much emphasis on what the party can do for them and not enough on what they can do for the party."

This charge is leveled against environmentalists, labor unions and even the dejected prochoice organizations that just lost two Supreme Court confirmation battles. Channeling Hillary Clinton, the authors call on Democrats to simultaneously protect legal abortion and "acknowledge that abortions represent a failure" requiring "viscerally disturbing procedures." Since so few Democratic leaders publicly challenge the prochoice movement's strategy, even when it fails, this argument is constructive.

Yet many people will resent being told to soften their language in defense of a fundamental and constitutional right. While it is hard to prove which language is most persuasive, Crashing the Gate also makes a compelling case that single-issue groups' purist demands on Democratic candidates have a tendency to backfire, sidelining viable progressive candidates and insuring Republican victories.

The authors tout this "netroots" success as a sustainable way to engage more supporters and liberate the party from moneyed interests, but they also deliver a stern warning for the establishment: Donations will evaporate if Democrats continue to hire worthless consultants, shirk accountability and lose elections. In this model, netroots activists and grassroots donors are essentially shareholders--they demand transparency, accountability and decent returns on their investments.

Some have criticized bloggers like Zúniga for concentrating on money and strategy at the expense of public policy; a recent Washington Monthly profile even belittled his "obsession with tactics" over ideology. But such criticism ignores the civic benefits of the new fundraising landscape. Democracy functions better when donors push politicians to win campaigns based on their defining issues, instead of using financial pressure for policy changes, favors or special access. Unlike traditional mega-donors, most of the netroots activists ask very little for their donations. Many have no business interests, they don't want special access and they could care less about photos from a ballroom fundraiser. They just don't want their money wasted.

Armstrong and Zúniga call on activists to challenge political and media elites and demand the Democratic Party purge its well-connected loser consultants. These steps will, in turn, create opportunities to develop the intellectual and communications infrastructure to compete with the conservative machine. They note much of this work must happen offline, in the real world, but the netroots are an integral part of the game plan.

Their plan is not unrealistic; no serious political initiative would launch today without a strategy for online fundraising, blog engagement and netroots activist recruitment. But technological advances are not inherently empowering, progressive or egalitarian. Much of the online audience is richer, more educated and less diverse than the rest of America, according to an October 2005 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Crashing the Gate does not sufficiently acknowledge these inequities in technological access, or explain how they can distort online opinion and activism. Progressive bloggers should not only write on behalf of the members of America's underclass but also empower them to join the discussion.

In the end, Armstrong and Zúniga have written the rare polemic that focuses more on fostering innovation than defending a particular worldview. They decline to outline a progressive policy agenda and humbly reject attempts to anoint themselves leaders of their website communities, let alone the netroots. Instead, they are trying to develop a decentralized progressive movement that draws strength from its members and has no traditional leaders to be co-opted. It is an admirable vision of "people-powered politics," and one that the Democratic Party sorely needs."

Howie question: Without "leadership," how the hell do we kick the crooks and liars out with this "decentralized progressive movement"?

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Podcasting Liberally. Episode III"

"That’s right! Episode III of Podcasting Liberally is now available on-line!

Once again, I was part of a panel of liberals (who all happened to be bloggers) for an hour of fun political conversation. This week, our regular host, Goldy, couldn’t join us. But, Belltowner from Pike Place Politics did a great job hosting—so good, in fact, that Goldy was inspired to invite Belltowner on a quail hunting trip. Hmmmm….

Other panelists were The (liberal) Girl Next Door, Carl Ballard from Washington State Political Report, thehim from Blog Reload, Daniel from On the Road to 2008, and Gavin at Gavin Shearer.com.

Many thanks to Gavin and Richard for making it happen."-from Darryl at Hominoid Views. Darryl's an anthropologist, so that's why his blog has that particular name, I assume.

''National Journal Ranks WA Delegation''

The next time you want debate who's "more liberal than who" in this state's congressional delegation, you'll find this resource very handy.
Murray (81.3-18.7)
Cantwell (77.3-22.7)
McDermott (95.8-4.2)
Inslee (80.5-19.5)
Smith (72.2-27.8)
Larsen (71.0-29.0)
Baird (71.0-29.0)
Dicks (69.5-30.5)
Reichert (45.0-55.0)
Hastings (24.3-75.7)
McMorris (21.3-78.7)

Average: 64.47% Liberal - 35.53% Conservative
-from the National Journal via Brenda at Washington State Political Report.

''Impeach The Bastard Already!''

I'm weary of taking stock of the latest crimes and lies of this president's government. I think the most important thing to focus on is electing Darcy Burner and at least 14 other new Democrats to the House so we can gain a majority there, and go on the attack. Here's a blurb from the post by The (liberal) Girl Next Door that inspired this post and that I first tried to put up while I was on vacation, but couldn't:
"Well, if lying our country into a war isn’t grounds for impeachment, what was the use in hammering away at the lesser crimes of this administration? But hammer away we did and as luck would have it, we were handed another blatant crime in the NSA domestic spying scandal. What luck, two impeachable offenses uncovered in little over a year, and this one didn’t get stuck in the newsrooms, well, sure the New York Times sat on the story for a year, but after they finally let the cat out of the bag, the rest of the MSM picked up the ball and has been running full steam ahead with the story ever since. Surely impeachment is just around the corner, right?

Yes, it is true that the Republicans control the House where articles of impeachment must originate and yes, Congressional Republicans are scared shitless to do anything to piss off Karl Rove and yes, every single talking head on television thinks that impeachment is a non starter and a losing proposition for Democrats, but so what? We have a President who broke the law. It is our duty to impeach him, regardless of what the pundits say."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not to Whine, But....(UPDATED)

Can't reply to email or post on Booman. I return to the mainland late Thursday. This is my message in a bottle.

Update: Can't do a new post here either, but am sneaking this in below:

Dean draws crowd, hits GOP
"LACEY, Thurston County — Washington Democrats greeted Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Monday night as if it were early 2004, when his presidential campaign was igniting liberals in the party.

A record crowd of more than 1,200 Democrats packed the party's annual crab-feed fundraiser and gave Dean a series of standing ovations, screaming their support for his condemnation of Republicans.

Dean indulged himself in a little nostalgia. "If only we started out in Washington state and not Iowa," he said about the race for the nomination he lost to U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

Since becoming chairman of the party, Dean has said he won't run for president in 2008. Instead, he says he's working to broaden the party's support in the country. In 2004 the party had presidential-campaign operations in only 20 states, he said, and Democrats can't be a national party without a 50-state strategy.

He cited recent Democratic wins in statewide and local races in solid Republican states as a sign the party can win converts.

"If we can win in Mississippi, if we can win in Alabama, if we can win in Utah, Democrats can win everywhere in America," he said.

Dean is the former governor of Vermont. He ran an insurgent presidential campaign in 2004, setting records for raising money online and exciting large crowds across the country. But he did poorly in the primaries and caucuses and eventually dropped out when Kerry appeared to secure the nomination.

Dean found early support for his campaign in Washington state. The state party chairman at the time, Paul Berendt, was the first state chairman to endorse Dean.

Dean gave Monday's crowd an updated version of his stump speech. On the question of budget deficits Dean said, "You can't trust Republicans with your money."

Dean said recently that America can't win the war in Iraq. He was an early and ardent opponent of the war, but Monday night he kept his comments in line with the Democratic mainstream, saying President Bush and Republicans have not told the truth about the reasons for the war.

"They have not told the truth, and it is time for them to go," Dean said.

In the past, the most Democrats have raised at their annual event at St. Martin's University was $43,000. State party Chairman Dwight Pelz said this year's event raised at least $70,000.

There were distinct state and national views of the party on view.

"The Democratic Party rules Washington state," Pelz said in warming up the crowd. The party holds the governor's office, most of the statewide offices, a majority of the state House and Senate, a majority of the U.S. House delegation and both U.S. Senate seats.

But U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, reminded Democrats that Republicans control Washington, D.C.

"We are living under the hand of George Bush and his junta," he said to great applause."

Update II: Back on the cold hard ground, here's more of what I couldn't post or send after my lap top went local in Hawaii:
"Dean inspires fundraising, fans--LACEY — Democrats credited both President Bush and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean with bringing people to Saint Martin’s University Monday, as the state Democrats raised a record amount of money at their annual crab feed.

“There’s a culture in the Republican party of corruption back in Washington, D.C.,” state chairman Dwight Pelz said Monday night, just before the buffet dinner. “There is going to be a higher turnout (tonight) because of Dean.”

The Democrats and their message “haven’t been clear for a while,” Saint Martin’s University student Lennon Bronsema said.

“It’s been in the mud. It was a bad thing to be called a Democrat.”
“It’s turning around,” he said. “The Republicans are shooting themselves, and more people are listening to what the Democrats have to say.”

About 1,000 people registered for the day’s events, and at least 200 more showed up for the crab feed, raising about $70,000, said party spokesman Viet Shelton.

He said a previous record of around $43,000 was set in 2004.

Dean was the featured speaker at the annual event. He was joined onstage by Gov. Chris Gregoire, State Auditor Brian Sonntag, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, all six Democratic congressmen and, from the state Legislature, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown.
Former Gov. Booth Gardner also made brief remarks.

Dean, addressing the crowd, said the party’s new “50-state strategy” of campaigning in all states, not just swing states, already is paying off. He cited recent Democratic wins in local elections in traditionally Republican states.

“If we can win in Mississippi, Alabama and Utah, Democrats can win anywhere in America,” he said. “We’re not going to win in 2028 if we don’t go and stand there right now.”

‘Telling the truth’

Dean, addressing the perception of a lack of focus in the Democrat’s message, described a multipoint platform for Democrats, including a commitment to developing the renewable energy industry, a universal health care system and rebuilding national security by “telling the truth to our allies.”

“We will restore honesty and integrity to the United States of America,” he said, echoing George W. Bush’s promises to restore “honesty and integrity to the White House” during the 2000 campaign.

Though many Democrats in attendance mentioned their anger at the White House and Congress over issues including the handling of the Iraq War, the budget deficit and the recent eavesdropping controversy, many came to see the former presidential candidate, who rose to prominence in 2004 with a grassroots campaign and his stance against the Iraq War.

Grassroots still was his answer to people who approached him in a receiving line, where women kissed his cheek, men shook his hand, and a few handed him memorabilia to sign.

“It’s still about getting the vote out,” Dean told one well-wisher, who gave him a hug. “It’s not about big TV. It’s about knocking on doors.”

Sherri Goulet of the Thurston County Progressive Network said she and several others wearing “Dean for America” T-shirts primarily appeared to see the former presidential candidate, who she said brought many progressives to the Democratic party, along with presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Swaying the skeptics

She said that having a strong progressive wing helps include people who are skeptical of Democrats, saying it adds strength to the local party.

“In Thurston County, we have a terrific Democratic party,” she said.
Dean also met privately with party leaders and with state College Democrats and Young Democrats.

Walker Lindley, a student at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, said he was energized by Dean’s address to younger Democrats.

He said the speech and question-and-answer session were equal parts pep rally and practical advice.

“I feel like the Democrats have been sitting down and taking it for so long,” Lindley said.

Martin Moore, a political science junior at Saint Martin’s University and founder of his school’s Democrat Donkey Club, said young party members were excited “that a national figure is right here in front of us.”

Moore said the school’s young Democrats were equally excited two years ago, when they were visited by Theresa Heinz Kerry, wife of presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.

“Someone that you see only through the newspaper, you have the ability to talk with them,” he said. “We young people don’t get the chance to do that often.”

“I think by taking the time to talk to us, he showed us that our opinion matters,” said Crystal Saili, the club’s president.

Training sessions

The event also featured training sessions for the precinct committee
officers, who organize on a local level.

Longtime precinct committee officer Vernon Huffman of Everett, who said he is a lifelong Democrat, said he was excited about new resources available, especially a voter database that would help local campaigners.

“We’re working with the data in a way that we never have before,” he said. “We’re well-organized this year. It’s better than it’s ever been.”
-from The Olympian (WA).

Thanks to Dina Johnson for some great photos of the event.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I'm sitting here in Hawaii in my shorts and flip flops...

...and all I can think about is how the rovian empire is cracking and "we" don't seem to have exciting leaders to take them down. Then I see this post. Now what? Here's your free pupu (Hawaiin for appetizer):

"The need for leaders to carry the message of liberals in this country has reached its pinnacle, but who those leaders will be is yet to be determined. There is a democracy of ideas that is growing on the net with so many lefty bloggers putting out new ideas and the readers of the blogs who give right back. It is a marketplace that is growing every day and the products being sold are hope, ideas and an opportunity to have your opinion heard. It can’t be long before some smart upstart is able to capitalize on the vitality and passion that is ripe for the picking and free to whomever chooses to harvest the best ideas and whittle them down into a cohesive platform with populist appeal."
-from my new best-friend Seattle blogger, the (liberal) Girl Next Door.

Deceiving Tim Eyman (UPDATED)

Ran into Tim at the airport on my way to paradise (Hawaii) the other day. His wife told me an autograph wouldn't be a problem, "if you can ever get him off the cell phone." I did. I told him my name was "Dave," in tribute to Mr. Horsesass. So when I return to the land of wet and cold, I am eager to present this little souvenir to Goldy.
"Dave--Great to meet you at the airport. (signed) TIM EYMAN, The Initiative Guy."
Then he threw in a plug for his latest caper, a rerun of the "30 Dollar Car Tab." He just couldn't restrain himself, I guess. He was on my flight, and every time we ran into each other again, he dutifully remembered my name, "Dave, which island are you going to?" Very friendly, to a point. Didn't want to blab about taxes with me and another passenger, though.

Update: Actually, I never told him my name was "Dave," I just said to make out the autograph to "Dave." Unfortunately, the dictionary definition of "deceive" is closer than the one for "mislead" for my action. I always feel more comfortable misleading someone, rather than flat out deceiving them. I don't know how these distinctions might play out in any future impeachment proceedings, but I feel some obligation to fully disclose my own actions. I also think a full discussion of these various shades of deception is instructive, nowadays.

''Party faithful eagerly await visit by Dean'' AND Karenna Gore Schiff, Too!

"LACEY — College students will get an opportunity to talk with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean when he visits Lacey on Monday for the annual state Democratic Party Crab Feed.

Saint Martin’s University Democratic Donkey Club and College Democrats of America are hosts for the event in the college’s Student Union Building.

The event is aimed at college-age Democrats, although the public is invited, said Damien La Vera, spokesman with the Democratic National Committee.

“We are ecstatic about it,” said Democratic Donkey Club President Crystal Saili, a Saint Martin’s senior. “We know he didn’t want a podium, so I think it’ll be more of a conversation. He wants us to get pumped up for politics.”

The political community at Saint Martin’s sees getting the national figure as a coup, said Saili, a community services major.

“Even one of the Republicans asked if they could do anything,” she said. “They didn’t believe we got Howard Dean.”

Dean, the former governor of Vermont, rose to national prominence as he campaigned to become the Democratic nominee for the 2004 presidential race. A vocal critic of the war in Iraq since 2003, Dean gathered grassroots support, although Sen. John Kerry eventually won the nomination.

The following year, Dean was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, where he has emphasized fundraising and campaigning for all 50 state parties.

“It’s pretty cool that the national organization is investing in the next generation of the party,” said Andrew Austin, president of the College Democrats of Washington.

While some young Democrats had planned to attend the Crab Feed, a training and strategy opportunity for the state party, more showed interest when they heard Dean would address the students, said Austin, a senior global studies and religion major at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

Austin said he expected attendance from young Democrats at PLU, the University of Washington and Washington State University as well as recent graduates.

“A large part of his presidential campaign was ... to energize the grass roots,” Washington State Democrats spokesman Viet Shelton said. “So he’s excited to talk to the young people.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire, five Democratic congressmen and others also are scheduled to appear."-from today's story in The Olympian.

EVENT #2: Pam Eakes passes along a note about another political tourist coming our way:

"Karenna Gore Schiff¹s first book, "Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America", is out and she will be in Seattle this Monday, February 20th at Elliott Bay Bookstore.

Her new book profiles nine courageous trail-blazing women who put themselves on the line to combat racism, cruelty to children, pollution, disease, bigotry, poverty, and to challenge the limits put on women as public leaders. Behind some of the most important political movements in 20th century America were some of the most outstanding women in our history - Ida B.Wells, Mother Jones, Alice Hamilton, Frances Perkins, Virginia Durr, Septima Clark, Dolores Huerta, Helen Rodriguez-Trias, and Gretchen Buchenholz.

If their names don¹t ring a bell, you are not alone. Even though their work changed the course of the last century, they remain out of the mainstream of important historical figures and Karenna hopes to change that. She tells their personal stories, often filled with trauma and loss, and how each of them recognized injustices, embraced marginalized groups and pushed for reform.

Karenna would love to see you there on Monday night! Hope to see you!

Monday, February 20th @ 6:00PM in Seattle's Elliott Bay Bookstore."

Friday, February 17, 2006

''Orwell wrote Bush's script''

When a member of the Blethen family, the rather Republican-(not-rovian)leaning family that owns 51% of the Seattle Times writes something like this, if you live in Seattle ya gotta sit up and take notice.

Summary statement:
"The Republicans have made no secret about what they will run on this year. A recent Pew poll showed that Americans believe the Democrats could lead the nation better on every issue except national security. Bush aide Karl Rove has given speeches about national security and the president skips across the nation talking about the importance of spying on Americans to keep us safe.

This strategy works only if the electorate is fearful that a hostile world is ready to overrun America. Bush's fear-mongering resembles a version of INGSOC's Two Minutes (of) Hate, in which party members watch a video of legions of the enemy army marching behind a bleating political enemy.

American democracy has buckled under the weight of Americans voting scared, a weak press diluted because of consolidation by mega-public companies, and no real political alternative.

It does not matter that the administration and, by extension, the Republican Party are only doing what is needed to hold on in November and again in the 2008 presidential election. Their actions are beginning to eclipse our civil rights, potentially reducing freedom to a dim flicker."

Could somebody please talk to Uncle Frank and tell him we're in a bit of "hurry up" here. We need him to turn the paper over to young Ryan before our fucking country is down the drain. Maybe RYAN Blethen will be motivated to do something about the information he is sharing with us here. Some minimizing and discrediting comments here on The Smirking Chimp.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dwight Pelz on Cheney, Rovians

State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said Washington voters will not buy Republicans as reformers.

"They control Congress. They control the White House. They've made the decisions that led us into scandal," he said. "How can they claim they are going to reform themselves?"

Pelz also disagreed with Mehlman's argument that Cheney's hunting incident was a "private accident."

"When you shoot somebody, you give them medical attention and then you call the police," Pelz said. "He failed to do that, and it's special treatment for the vice president."

Pelz compared Cheney's actions in Texas to those of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who has been criticized for swimming away from a 1969 car accident and leaving behind a young woman who drowned.

"Quail-gate is Cheney's Chappaquiddick," Pelz said. "He didn't swim across the bay. He got in his Hummer and drove back to the ranch."-from today's article in the Seattle Times.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Paul Hackett on Air America's Randi Rhodes Show, 8-9PM on AM1090 in Seattle

Hackett is on during the third hour of her show, on the radio in Seattle, AM1090.
Update: (WRONG, IT'S 9-10pm!!) Update II: WRONG AGAIN!!!. He was on at the end of 8-9PM hour after all. Said he was asked to step aside by the same leaders, Reid and Schumer, who asked him earlier to get in.

Update: Howard-Empowered People has what you might call "wall-to-wall" coverage of the Hackett story, with multiple interviews by Renee in Ohio with the man himself.

REMINDER: You are invited to join the WA State Congressional Delegation...

If you want to help take back the House, and have some spare coin:

"Please Join

Congressman Brian Baird -- Congressman Norm Dicks

Congressman Jay Inslee -- Congressman Rick Larsen

Congressman Jim McDermott -- Congressman Adam Smith

For a fundraising reception honoring


Democratic Candidate for Congress WA-08

Saturday, February 18, 2006

5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Hosted by Ken Alhadeff at the
Broderick Building Atrium
615 Second Avenue
Seattle, Washington

Suggested Contribution

$2100 Sponsor
$1000 Co-Host
$500 Supporter
$200 Guest

Please RSVP to McKenna Hartman at (206) 364-2344 or by email

For more information - please visit this page.

If you can't attend, you can still contribute by visting this page."

Paid for by Darcy Burner for Congress

I am heading out for a family vacation tomorrow, so I will not be able to attend. Expect light posting for the next week.

Dean: ''Skullduggery'' Caused Hackett Ohio Senate Bid Withdrawal (UPDATED)

"Skullduggery" ---"unfair and dishonest practices carried out in a secretive way in order to trick other people."-from the AP story.

Many in the blogosphere agreed:
"Hackett would have probably won this seat," David Nir, one of three founders of the liberal Web site SwingStateProject.com, contended in a blog posting Tuesday. "It's much harder for me to envision the 'northeastern Ohio liberal' Sherrod Brown breaking the 49-percent barrier, particularly with DeWine moving to the center."

Not everyone agreed in the world of Weblogs, or blogs, but there was plenty of anger and many threatened not to help Brown. Matt Stoller, a leading voice on the liberal blog MyDD.com who wasn't involved in the Ohio Senate race, said Hackett represented a failure by bloggers to compete."
-from another AP story. Stoller also said, "Don't follow Paul Hackett's example." Also, MoveOn.org is asking "Should we take on right-wing Democrats?"

Howie opinion: We have our divisions and conflicting agendas, like everybody else, and I don't have all the answers. But I do believe it's a good idea to avoid the temptation to DIVIDE BEFORE WE CONQUER, whenever possible. Lively discussion here, on Booman Tribune.

Update: Fellow Seattle blogger Mollie Bradley-Martin (no relation!) observes:

"There is a silver lining to this mess though, and that is that Sherrod Brown is not a centrist Democrat, he is a progressive with a long record of supporting the issues that we care about most. He voted against the war, against the Bankruptcy Bill, against re-authorization of the Patriot Act and led the fight against CAFTA. However badly the situation was handled, the end result is still good. This is not a case of a DINO winning out over a progressive. This was an ugly intra-party feud that never should have happened. It was handled badly by everyone involved, but it is by no means a loss for progressives. While the top down dictation by party leaders in selecting the candidate of their choice is a problem we must all be willing to go to the mat in order to fix, this particular race, In the end, was a choice between two great candidates so we could hardly lose.

Progressives should wash the bad taste out of our mouths and get behind Sherrod Brown. He may lose, as he doesn’t have the crossover appeal that Hackett had (and those damn Diebold machines are still a problem), but he will surely lose without our support and regardless of how we feel about the way he entered the race, his record is one we can be proud of. This is a high-class problem for those of us on the left, two good candidates rather than the one bad one we’re so used to. If Brown will stay on message, take a lesson from Hackett and not only push hard a progressive agenda that benefits working Ohioans but shout it out at the top of his lungs, he’s got a very good chance of winning. And Paul Hackett should help make that happen, regardless of whether or not he was personally treated badly by the Party. There is no rest for the weary and this is going to be a long struggle. Like he said, “we must have the commitment and will to fight for what is great about our party and our country”. Don’t waste too much time licking your wounds Mr. Hackett, we need you on the frontlines."
More comments about her post here, on The Smirking Chimp.

''Deadeye Dick's Gun Club'' (UPDATED)

Courtesy of Susan Hu on Booman Tribune, here's something on a lighter note. I am allowing myself a brief chuckle at the rovians's expense, in the spirit of Howard Dean's oft-repeated stump speech line about having a few about The Big Chimp. We now return to my deadly serious political content: This incident is just another example of this man's dangerous, violent behavior that has tragic consequences.

Dow Jones Newswires has "White House Livid About Handling Of Cheney Incident:
"According to CBS News, the source said the issue was no longer Cheney's view of press management but rather about Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and a range of other issues that play into the public's view of the administration's arrogance."
Update: "Cheney to have Fox interview at 2 p.m." --Not live, it will be a pre-recorded fake interview which will allow the VP to get messages out without facing the skeptical press corps that has chewed up Scottie.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

''Taking Back the House in 2006''---Support Darcy Burner

Chris Bowers on MyDD has put up his First Comprehensive 2006 House Forecast, Part II:
This part in the series focuses on eight districts where I believe Democrats have everything in place for a pickup but where we are getting shredded in the money race. For that reason, I also think that these are eight districts that the netroots should seriously consider offering their financial support. Add eight to twelve, and suddenly you have enough seats to take the House.

"WA-08. Dem: Darcy Burner. Update: Randolph Ian Gordon has dropped out.
This was an open seat in 2004, which Republican Dave Reichert won with 51.5% of the vote. This is clearly highly vulnerable to a Democratic challenge in 2006 if the primary winner can get some more money. Reichert has $580K cash on hand, while Gordon and Burner combine for $165K (most of that is Burner's). Like every other race listed here, the only thing that is separating this one from becoming top-tier is money."

Thanks to Lynn Allen at Evergreen Politics for the heads-up.

Frog March the Duck Hunter

I finally received my "We Won't Rest Until They're Frog Marched Out" bumper sticker yesterday. It's a little fundraiser ($5.00) put out by our friends at Booman Tribune. It reminded me that amidst all the jokes and details about hunting stamps, delays in notification, etc. the real goal should remain to bring justice to this cast of characters in the White House. The TM (can we use that instead of "traditional media" now?) just loves this buckshot story and I pray it is softening up the Vice-President's persona for an encounter before a criminal court, or at least a harsh penalty in the court of public opinion.

In our current info-mational society, this story seems to get more sympathetic play than the boring ones about intelligence leaks for political gain, wars and billion dollar crony contracts. Maybe this is a Valentine from The Higher Power to the American people.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dean: ''If Cheney Leaked, He Can't Remain in Office'' (UPDATED)

Appearing on Face the Nation today, Howard Dean made the following comments:

"(The) President promised two years ago that he would fire the leaker.
He hasn't kept his promise. Karl Rove is not only still working in the White
House, but he has security clearance. Now it turns out that the vice
president of the United States may have been responsible for those leaks for
political reasons. That is the kind of thing that has not been done to my
knowledge since Aaron Burr was vice president.

I don't think the vice president has any credibility on national security whatsoever, and I think he's in deep trouble. If it turns out that Scooter Libby, who said this
week that his superiors ordered him to leak the information for political
reasons, then this vice president may not be vice president very much longer.

If that's true--his superior is Vice President Cheney. If that is true, Vice President Cheney cannot remain in office."

-from CBS News' Face the Nation. There's a short video clip here. The Secretary of State was also on, but I couldn't make myself look at it.

Update: Barrett Zinn points out in his post on Kos that:
"Elizabeth Bumiller and Bob Shieffer both seemed taken aback by Mr. Dean's forthright acknowledgement of the elephant in the room (no pun intended), but rather than challenging his presumption, they both asked simply whether the VP should step down or be impeached. Dean kept his cool and insisted that it was too soon to say what the proper course of action would be in response to an unproved allegation.

The transcript isn't up yet, but this is the first time I've heard reporters accept without skepticism the notion that Cheney may have commited treason."

Today's Democratic Talking Point

"Howard Dean yesterday blamed President Bush for the deaths of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims - prompting a swift rebuke from Republicans.

Appearing in Boston before members of the New England Press Association, the failed presidential candidate sharply criticized Bush for failing to respond to the disaster.

“Michael Brown is testifying that he had direct contact with the (president’s) chief of staff - as the levees were breaking,” Dean said, referring to the former FEMA head’s testimony before a congressional committee yesterday. “Thousands of people died in New Orleans because the president didn’t pay attention and denied that he knew about it. . . . it turns out that wasn’t true.”-from the Boston Herald story.

If you require additional evidence of the truth of Dean's comment, see "GOP panel blasts U.S. response to Katrina," from today's Washington Post, with the headline courtesy of the Seattle Times.

Executive Summary:
"...leaders from President Bush down disregarded ample warnings of the threat to New Orleans and did not execute emergency plans or share information that would have saved lives, according to a blistering report by House investigators."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

''Howard Dean: Bush administration ''more corrupt'' than Nixon's''

"BOSTON -- Howard Dean raised the specter of Richard Nixon Friday, calling the Bush White House "more corrupt" than Nixon's with even more dire consequences for the nation.

"When Richard Nixon mislead the nation and obstructed justice he was harming the system of justice and the respect for the presidency," the Democratic National Committee chairman said. "But this administration has done more than that. They have leaked military secrets in a time of war in order to fulfill their political agenda."

Dean said Bush was "not truthful" about the extent of his knowledge about the levee damage in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also said Bush had much closer ties with fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff than he has acknowledged and ignored intelligence warnings in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion into Iraq.

"This is not about a third rate burglary of the Watergate. This is about undermining the security of America and it is about misleading the American people," Dean said in remarks to the New England Press Association.

Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz, said Dean's comments show the Democrats have run out of ideas.

"While this administration is focused on a positive agenda, Howard Dean's party lacks ideas and any direction," Diaz said.

Nixon resigned in August 1974, facing almost-certain impeachment for helping to cover up the break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office building in Washington."-from the AP story.

You noticed, no doubt, how the rovian conveniently overlooked the numerous fear and smear attacks by Rove, Cheney, et al.

''Podcasting Liberally'' in Seattle, WEEK 2

If I was modest, I wouldn't mention that yours truly makes his radio debut here. There is a lot of giggling and silly comments with some good political discussion thrown in from time to time, if you are looking for 45 minutes of free audio entertainment.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cantwell on MSNBC at 7pm PT Tonight

Since you're reading this, you've probably got nothing better to do than watch Maria on cable, if you have cable. I don't so--- tell us about it in the comments on www.howieinseattle.com. thanks. Click here for the details, courtesy of On the Road to 2008.

Today's Democratic Talking Points (UPDATED)

1. A DEMOCRATIC BUDGET WOULD BE MUCH BETTER AT CONTROLLING THE FEDERAL DEFICIT: "In federal budgeting, what is said and what is done can be very different. Past talk of spending cuts by Republicans has not panned out. A comparison of Bush policies, judging by performance to date, suggests that a Howard Dean Administration would be doing much better with regard to control of deficit spending.

Polling data suggest that much of the electorate favors a winding down of the U.S. mission in Iraq, the continuance of domestic spending programs, and better control of deficits. Some popular commentary holds these goals to be mutually exclusive. This chart compares two illustrative fiscal scenarios, one based on the current policies of President George W. Bush, and the other based on a fictitious Howard Dean Administration. (All estimates were prepared by staff of the Congressional Budget Office.)"-from the Economic Policy Institute's "Economic Snapshots" series.

2. SECRETS DO NOT EQUAL SECURITY: "Don't just say 'spying'...-Despite the spreading concern over the NSA domestic spying scandal and the PATRIOT Act, President Bush and his cabinet are winning the political debate. When Americans of all political stripes protest the 'violation of rights,' the President and his team respond that these programs have 'saved American lives.'

It is time for all of us to stop tiptoeing around the issue and use better words to frame this debate:


Secret Police ("...Bush has brought secret police to America...")

Chilling Vision ("...Cheney's chilling vision reminds me of East Germany..."

Fear Spreading ("...fear spreading to every corner of America...")

Crack Down ("...threatens to crack down on ordinary Americans...").
-excerpted from Jeffrey Feldman's post on FRAMESHOP.

3. OUR TEN WORDS: HEARTLAND PAC's website is soliciting and collecting submissions that "can spark our imagination." This is a place to be part of the effort to find better ways to exchange all of our ideas. Some recent examples:

"1. We must unite nationally, lest we fall behind globally.

2. Tell the plain truth and trust the people to understand.

3. Freedom and Security for a United America

4. Democrats represent REAL security, for our country, for our people!

5. Invest in the productive capacity of our people

6. Honest,truthful,open government with single payer health care

7. Economic security, universal healthcare, educational excellence, safe sustainable renewable energy

8. American Leadership, Broad Prosperity, Social Responsibility, Accountable Government, Personal Privacy

9. Shared responsibility, civil liberty, strong defense and diplomacy, honest government

10. Strong Active Responsible Conscious Patriotic Thoughtful Sure Growth-oriented Community Real."

Submit yours here.

Update [2006-2-10 23:54:10 by howieinseattle]: RNC Chair Ken Mehlman gets his message out tonight, "GOP chairman questions Democrats' ability to protect Americans." This reminds us why we need to keep working on ours and find ways to disseminate them, which is yet another challenge. While Mehlman gets to play the "terror card" in the "traditional media," Howard Dean's interview on Good Morning America is ignored.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Howard Dean Frames the Issue on Good Morning America Today

"GIBSON: There has been a lot of discussion in Washington in recent days about the warrantless wiretaps that have gone on. The President says this is necessary to fight terrorism. Do you think this is a winner for the Democrats?

DEAN: Many in his own party disagree. Wiretapping is certainly necessary and the Democrats certainly approve of as much spying on Al Qaeda as we possibly can. What we don't approve of is breaking the law in order to spy on Americans. The present law is very adequate and the White House itself said so four years ago. All we ask is that we not turn into a country like Iran where the President of Iran can do anything they want at any time. The reason the constitution of this country has lasted as long as it has and this country lasted as long as it has as a real democracy is because there is a check on presidential power. Now, there's not a big check on this one. We just ask the President to go get a warrant after the fact if he thinks there is an emergency. But there is no reason this President shouldn't obey the law. And, we expect him to obey the law while defending the country."-excerpted from the DNC transcript.

The print press hasn't found this interview newsworthy, so far.

"Put up your dukes, Democrats"

More advice on how to "fight back," this time from Elaine Kamarck, who was a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a senior adviser to Vice President Al Gore.
"Some Democrats are so freaked by the past they are arguing that members of the party should stay away from one of the biggest issues of the day: the Bush administration's domestic spying operations.

This is a mistake for two reasons. First, if the Democratic leaders stay away from this issue, the activist left will fill the void. The left wing of the party frequently manages to sound weak on defense and weak on terror. Nothing could play more into Rove's hand. He wants this debate to be about eavesdropping on al-Qaida, familiar territory on which they win.

Second, if Democratic leaders can't question an issue with profound constitutional importance, a great many Americans will wonder - as they did in the past two elections - whether this party believes in anything at all."

Then she gets down to how the Dems should state their case:
"And so the challenge is to get the debate onto Democratic grounds. Here's where not to go. Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that a majority of these questionable wiretaps led to nothing at all. So what? One good lead could save American lives. Democrats ought to be in favor of all leads that could break or at least interrupt al-Qaida.

Second, it is oh so tempting to compare the case of a president who lied about his girlfriend and got impeached with the case of a president who lied about violating the laws designed to protect Americans' privacy and didn't. Don't go there. It looks like sour grapes.

The questions Democrats ought to be asking are simple: "Why, Mr. President, was the existing law (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) not sufficient to protect us?" The answer is likely to have to do with the new technology of communications, an answer that does indeed have some merit.

So the next question is: "Why, Mr. President, didn't you seek to update our laws so that they are in keeping with the new technology?" The answer is likely to be that going to Congress would reveal the program to the enemy. But every year Congress passes an intelligence budget that is not revealed to the enemy, to the public or even to the rest of the government. Surely there is a way to do this.
If Democrats get sucked into a debate over tactics in the war on terror, they will lose. But it's hard to see how they lose if they wage the debate over the rule of law and if they show their willingness to amend the law to strengthen the war on terror.

Most important of all, however, is that they take strong positions, grounded in strong values. So how about this for a start, provided to me by my colleague Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution: "We believe that the conduct of war is consistent with the rule of law."
That's too long for my bumper. How about this:"Fight Terror, Not the Constitution."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Making Lemonade (UPDATED)

A quick review of the blogosphere this morning gives us some hope for an improvement in the fortunes of those of us seeking to "fight back" in order to "take back" our country.

1. The push-back on the NSA spying story is becoming more bi-partisan: "Republican Who Oversees N.S.A. Calls for Wiretap Inquiry."

2. Some Dems are starting to figure what's not working: "Some Democrats Are Sensing Missed Opportunities." My favorite quote: "Democrats said they had not yet figured out how to counter the White House's long assault on their national security credentials."

3. John Murtha! The blogosphere's favorite Democratic Hawk is getting hugs and kisses from Arianna and John at Crooks and Liars.

4. We're thinking about strategy NOW for the 2006 national elections: "Our Message In 2006: Republicans Control Congress," from Chris Bowers.

5. Two Words: Helen Thomas. I know it's asking too much from Helen to be responsible for regularly kicking the Scottie's ass, but until she gets more help from her colleagues, let's be very appreciative.

OK, I know I may be accused of being overly optimistic, but I am trying to overcome my normally cynical tendency to focus on the "tunnel at the end of the light." Have a great day!

UPDATE: We have a #6 tonight: "Sen. Clinton Urges Democrats to Speak Up --- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday accused Republicans of "playing the fear card" of terrorism to win elections and said Democrats cannot keep quiet if they want to win in November.

The New York Democrat, facing re-election this year and considered a potential White House candidate in 2008, said Republicans won the past two elections on the issue of national security and "they're doing it to us again."

She said a speech by presidential adviser Karl Rove two weeks ago showed the GOP election message is: "All we've got is fear and we're going to keep playing the fear card."

It is always gratifying to see your own sentiments expressed by a member of the US Senate. Now all we need is a card of our own. Arianna suggests that card is Jack Murtha.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Howard Dean Comes to Washington State--Presidents' Day, 2006

WHAT: Washington State Democrats ANNUAL CRAB FEED

WHEN: February 20th, 5-8PM.




''Ex-governor backs initiative to legalize assisted suicide''

Booth Gardner was an early leader in Washington state's Howard Dean for President campaign. My personal connection is that I worked on his lobbying campaign for education funding in 1988 and he hosted my then girl-friend (now wife) and I at a lunch in the Governor's mansion after that effort. I even have a picture of us all together there. As I age, I empathize with his current circumstance:
"OLYMPIA — Former Gov. Booth Gardner said Monday night he'll head up an effort to legalize assisted suicide in Washington state through a citizens initiative.

Gardner, 69, who has Parkinson's disease, also told the crowd that he will undergo brain surgery to try to reverse the neurological damage of the disease. Gardner had symptoms of Parkinson's during his final year in office, which was 1992, and has been taking the maximum amount of medication to control the symptoms.

According to The Associated Press, Gardner said he plans to have innovative brain surgery in a few weeks to implant a type of pacemaker. He said doctors tell him he has about 8 percent of normal control and that the surgery should give him at least five productive years of life, with half the medication.

Gardner said he knew the issue would be unpopular among some, but said, "This is how I feel."

"I don't know if I'll make it, but I'm going to make that effort," he said of the initiative.

He said that in his life he has always made the tough choices for himself, even as a child deciding whether to study hard. He thinks he should be allowed to make the tough calls at life's end as well."
-from David Postman's story in today's Seattle Times.

Monday, February 06, 2006

"How do you confront the fear-factor?" (UPDATED)

I have said the rovians use the "fear and smear" tactic, when it comes to discrediting their opponents on the "terror" issue. And I have suggested that the Dems need to develop some messages and a "frame" to contest this tactic, as we know it is going to come. I also believe we need to identify some credible messengers and begin to put them forward now to enhance their credibility and stature in the months ahead. As we do this, Joshua Holland presents a dilemma:
"If we acknowledge that it was the fear factor, not the culture warriors' immoral "moral issues" that swung the last election, aren't we playing into the GOP's hands by reinforcing that sense of imminent danger? On the other hand, given the political culture we've been dealt, aren't there a lot of good reasons to hit the security issue and hit it hard?"
But then he acknowledges that he's of two minds:
"I can't tell you how refreshing it would be to hear someone channel FDR by standing up and saying, "Look, of course terrorism is a real threat, but no nation has ever been brought down by it. Our enemy is small in number and widely disbursed. We're the most powerful nation in the history of the world, and we've suffered two terrorist attacks by outsiders in the past 15 years. Many societies have dealt with far more frequent attacks. We pay taxes that buy an enormous army and a huge national security infrastructure. Let's keep this thing in perspective; we should have dealt with this from the start with law enforcement, intelligence and, where necessary, Special Forces operations.

But wouldn't saying such a thing be political suicide? Wouldn't the right broadcast it everywhere as evidence that progressives don't take security seriously?

And didn't Sun Tsu say that you should hit a weak enemy (like a GOP Congress holding a 34% approval rating supporting a Republican president with the approval of 42% of the public) at his strongest point?"
What say you?

Update: Just got tipped to this little gem by Annie Robbins:
"Rove counting heads on the Senate Judiciary Committee: The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings. Over the last few weeks, Mr. Rove has been calling in virtually every Republican on the Senate committee as well as the leadership in Congress. The sources said Mr. Rove's message has been that a vote against Mr. Bush would destroy GOP prospects in congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.

Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.

So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove's tactics.

Some have raised doubts about Mr. Rove's strategy of painting the Democrats, who have opposed unwarranted surveillance, as being dismissive of the threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists.

"Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican."
We can guess one name on the list. Arianna says, "So far, the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have adopted a strong tone with Gonzales. But Democrats have an ignominious recent history of coming out of the gate hard, then quickly sounding retreat as soon as the White House cries "soft on defense!"

This time, they need to stay on the offensive, making the case every chance they can that our national security is being undercut by Bush's lawbreaking and lies."


''Failure to stop Alito is not Maria Cantwell's -- it's ours. Cantwell, like every other Democratic senator, really only heard from anti-Alito constituents in great numbers for two or three days before the final vote. That level of frenzy should have started on Halloween, the (appropriate) day Alito was nominated, and never let up for an hour until Alito withdrew his nomination. Nothing of the kind happened, and that's our failure. Not Cantwell's. Ours.

Progressives like to piss and moan a lot about being unrepresented in the political process, and that's true. It's also true that the deck is stacked against our participation in many different ways. But difficult is not impossible. It's up to us to build the coalitions, energize the constituents, and field the campaigns that will win us respect and influence when it comes to impacting public policy. That means more than laying out critiques and alternatives and mounting protests and position papers and expecting the world to salute. It means organizing, and it means listening to others and incorporating their concerns and ideas, and it means packaging our issues and candidates attractively and organizing more, and then organizing again, and again, until the world is forced not to salute but to get the hell out of the way of the fast-moving train."-from Geov Parrish's post today on WorkingforChange.

I like the way Parrish gives us the power to achieve our political goals, rather than relying on beseeching or pleading with others to follow our suggestions.

Update: Goldy from Horsesass.org has Geov's back on this one:
"If we want to start electing more progressive candidates to Congress, then we’re going to have to follow the lead of organizations like Progressive Majority of Washington, who are out there recruiting, training, and supporting progressive candidates at the local level, so we can build the farm team from which future political superstars will rise.

80 percent of first-time congressional candidates who win, have previously won elected office. So if we want a better shot at electing a strongly progressive US senator, then we’re going to have to elect more strongly progressive council members, commissioners, and state legislators.

The reality in 2006 is that we desperately need to put more Democrats in the Senate… any Democrats. And any dissension in our ranks this late in the game only serves to help the Republicans."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

''Iraq War is the Best Gift to Our Grandchildren'' (UPDATED)

"John Boehner, the new Majority Leader talked with MTP and responded to a question about corruption in Iraq.
'It may not benefit our generation, but for our kids and theirs, this maybe the greatest gift we give them.'

-via Crooks and Liars, with video from Boehner's appearance on "Meet The Press" Sunday.

Here you have this rovian leader attempting to use our shared value of a concern about the legacy we are leaving our grandchildren, to sell a present day disaster. Progressives could use this frame to talk about the costs of this policy (financial, political and spiritual) to our future generations.br>

Update: The Huffington Post now has a longer quote as well as a link to the full MTP transcript. You can see how Boehner gets his frame right up there in his first few lines, when he is asked about the "morass" in Iraq. You also see how he has a subtext going about "sacrifice" in there: It may look really bad now, but it's a good thing, in the long run.

"Fear of framing"

"Challenging the popular notions of what this buzzword is all about: investigating why some progressives are resistant to the concept of framing in general.

Reframing pokes at a number of sore spots for people on the Left. Some of those spots include:
1. Our insistence that the Facts Alone Will Set Us Free.

2. Our resistance to ideas that feel like marketing and "selling."

3. The challenge that we might be fundamentally mistaken about how things operate.

4. The idea that framing is some kind of "magic bullet" to fix our problems. (Though no one is suggesting that it is."
-from Deanna Zandt's post on AlterNet, where she also discusses Peter Teague's earlier comments in "Suitable for Framing?" Teague says:
"Genuine re-framing is the hard work that progressives will have to do if we are to have any hope of offering a serious challenge to right-wing domination of American politics. It is the work that must precede message framing: Message framing without deep conceptual reframes is like hanging pictures in a house in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward right now. Without exposing the mold and the rot, taking things down to the foundations where necessary, and then framing new walls, windows and doors, we're not going to build a home that will last."
Zandt says it a little differently, arguing we need to connect with our audiences on a deeper, emotional level by starting with our shared values: "we have to dig deeper and examine closely just what those values are, and how we tap into them. Her advice:

"Reframing is the difficult, and often scary, prospect of admitting what doesn't work and rediscovering our fundamental core. We've pointed fingers at those who give in to their fears, but maybe it's time for us to stop being afraid as well."

This was cross-posted on Booman Tribune, where some very lively discussion ensued.

Friday, February 03, 2006

''Lessons Learned from the Alito Fight''

Cenk Uygur, one of The Young Turks, has this on The Huffington Post. He argues that as long as the Democrats neglect to deal with the issue of agreeing on a "message" and "framing" their positions, the oppositon will defeat them every time, even though they have persuasive points of view on the issues.

Executive Summary:

"1. There is no organization on the left side of the political spectrum. None. If the Democratic politicians, the old established DC groups and the liberal media (blogs and radio shows) don't come together, they will continue to lose every single fight.

2. The reason they will lose every fight is because every issue is settled the minute it is framed.
The framing happens immediately on the Republican side. The White House and Fox News Channel coordinate (as they are on the NSA warrantless spying scandal right now). Then every other conservative host, "journalist," and commentator follows suit. Once the frame is set, it's game set and match.
The Republican frame in Alito was that he was a well-qualified, mainstream, devoted and hard working judge who would interpret the law and not make it. The Democratic frame was ??? Nada. Zippo. No response whatsoever.

3. Once the Republican framing goes unchallenged, the media repeats it as if it is fact. If you do not counter attack in the media, you have no chance in persuading the public. Do the Democrats think the voters are going to get their point of view by telepathy?

4. The easy next step is to do a poll (sometimes by completely biased polling groups like Rasmussen and sometimes by legit polling organizations). The poll will show that the public supports the Republican position by a slight majority. It's amazing that it is only a slight lead on most issues when the other side hasn't even presented its case (and often times the Democratic position will win despite all these problems). Could you imagine if there were trials where only one of the lawyers spoke? Which side do you think would win more often?

5. Then comes my favorite step. Shove the poll in the Democrats face and tell them that they have no hope of winning and that the public is against them. Even more importantly, that they will lose their elections if they don't run to the "center" by supporting the Republican position instead. They will claim that the poll is definitive evidence that the public does not support their position so they better get on board with the Republicans otherwise they'll do to them what they did to Tom Daschle.

6. Then the most pathetic part comes. When the Democratic representatives start to cave in, quiver and repeat the same talking points used against them (Biden and Obama last weekend were the perfect examples as they argued forcefully against a filibuster they were going to vote with). They internalize the Republican messaging, start to panic and then, finally, turn against each other.

7. At which point, the base of the Democratic Party -- otherwise known as the people who voted them into office -- gets pissed. The normal people who vote Democratic but aren't intimately familiar with DC, can't understand why their elected representatives won't represent them. They are left constantly confused as to why their leaders sound more and more like Republicans and won't fight for their principles. So, they send angry responses to their politicians demanding them to actually stand for what they promised they were going to stand for.

8. Here comes another funny part. Then the Republicans point disapprovingly and tell the Democrats that their own base is crazy, radical and can't be trusted. If they "pander" to their base, they will lose all the mythical Republicans who vote for them in red states. Aren't the Republicans so helpful? They just want to help a brother out. Meanwhile, they keep appealing more and more to their base. I wonder why they don't worry about losing the "center."

After the Republicans convince the Democrats that their constituency is the "loony left" or the "far left," the Democrats derisively dismiss their own voters. Thereby making their base even angrier. And on and on the cycle goes.

9. Final result is that the Democrats have been sorely outplayed. They have switched positions in the middle and criticized their own stance and their own voters. So, when the elections roll around, the Republicans say the Democrats are "flip-floppers" and "wafflers" and "weak." They convince the electorate to vote for them instead because they are strong and mean what they say.

10. Democrats sink further and further into a hole and come out convinced they have to work harder at appealing to the "middle" in the next elections. And this whole charade is complete when the Republicans get together privately after an election and laugh their ass off at how incompetent, weak and clueless the Democrats are."

Your Choice: ''Maria is not The Enemy'' (UPDATED)

I just received the following from Dwight Pelz, our newly elected Washington State Democratic Chair.
"Re: ''Maria is not The Enemy''

The Right Wing Republicans that control Washington DC are committed to eliminating the Middle Class in America. They want to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, pensions, and our employer-based health care system. They do not believe in public education, or access to higher education for low income students. They do not believe in building mass transit systems, or in repairing roads and bridges. They do not believe that Global Warming is a problem, nor that clean air and clean water are an amenity to our quality of life. They oppose a woman's right to choose, and civil rights for all Americans. They have judges like Alito lined up like Seahawk fans seeking Super Bowl tickets. They wage a senseless, immoral war in Iraq, while needlessly provoking international tensions in countless other locations. They are pursuing a titanic shift in income allocation in America from the middle class to the very rich, and they intend to saddle generations with mountains of debt.

They hope that Maria Cantwell is defeated in seven months.

Your Choice.

Dwight Pelz"
Update: Goldy from Horsesass.org looks at Cantwell's voting record as well her current opponent's recent political history and chimes in from a different angle, with the same recommendation.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

''Thank You from New State Party Chair Dwight Pelz''

"Dear Washington State Democrat,

I am writing to thank you for the tremendous honor of being chosen Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party. It was a hard-fought campaign, but also one in which we had a constructive discussion on the future of our Party.

Over the past six weeks I have had the opportunity to travel to over 20 communities, meet personally with hundreds of Democrats, and speak on the phone with many more Party activists.

I heard stories of what divides us as Democrats, but learned far more about what unites us. We are all concerned about the future of our country – a country which appears to be turning its back on the middle class.

Democrats in Washington support health insurance for our families, pensions for those who were promised them, college loans for our children, and Social Security and Medicare for all retirees. We know that these investments are critical to 90 percent of the families in America – that to cut them is to cut our middle class. We know that America is wealthy enough to afford good roads, good bridges and good schools. We challenge a war with no strategy and no end in sight.

We are committed to re-electing Sen. Maria Cantwell and confident that our grassroots troops will defeat their millions of dollars of advertising funded by out-of-state interests. We are determined to expand the Democratic majorities in the State House and Senate this year. We will challenge Bush cheerleaders McMorris, Hastings and Reichert with excellent candidates and excellent campaigns.

Thank you again. I will be traveling the state deliberately and frequently in the months ahead so that we can meet once more.


Dwight Pelz"

-from the Washington State Democrats.