Friday, June 30, 2006

"John Edwards courts tech crowd in Seattle" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Ray Minchew passes along this comment:
Seems odd to have a bloggers' conference in Seattle, with Edwards and Gore making appearances, and nobody from the local blogosphere present. All the bloggers mentioned are what I call 'corporate bloggers', folks using the medium to pitch themselves and/or their products and services. In other words, not the influential bloggers, but 'bloggers' seeking to use the medium to increase their influence.

My $.02, anyway...
Howie opinion: I didn't see any reference to Gore being in attendance, but Ray's point is still a good one.

From the article in Saturday's Seattle P-I:
John Edwards, the former U.S. vice presidential candidate, sought common ground with bloggers and other hard-core techies in Seattle on Friday -- conceding, among other things, that he's sometimes too polished for the unvarnished Internet age.

"I'm trying to retrain and recondition myself when I get asked a question to actually answer it -- to not say what I've been trained to say, to not say what's careful and cautious," said the former U.S. senator from North Carolina, widely considered a likely candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

"Back to the geek issues, please," organizer Chris Pirillo reminded the crowd when the discussion strayed from technical subjects such as Internet infrastructure to political ones such as the future of the Democratic Party.

One recurring theme mixed the two areas. Several in the audience stressed the importance of authenticity in politics, and the potential for blogs and other technology to give Americans a more accurate view of campaigns and the legislative process by getting closer to what's really going on.

Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, are already blogging, offering digital videos and using text messages as part of the anti-poverty initiatives they're now leading. Other politicians and campaigns also have embraced blogs, following Howard Dean's early success with that strategy in the 2004 presidential primaries.

But one Gnomedex attendee pointed out that the human voice so fundamental to blogs contrasts with the practiced messages delivered by many politicians.

Edwards agreed, and acknowledged his own shortcomings in that regard, saying that he can often sense when he is slipping into that mode.

"The problem is that we're so trained and so conditioned over a long period of time that being normal and real and authentic requires you to shed that conditioning," Edwards said of politicians. "It is not an easy thing to do."

Edwards then alluded to the next presidential election.

"My own view is the next president of the United States, or certainly the one after, is likely to be the single candidate who doesn't sound like a politician," he said. "I want to tell you on a personal level, I'm trying every way I know how not to do it.

"We've been trained to do the wrong thing," he concluded. "That's the problem."

During the appearance, Edwards adhered to a core principle of the blogging world, offering brief comments and then taking questions and leading a discussion.

New Washington State Strategic Vision Poll

"19. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the candidates were Maria Cantwell, the Democrat or Mike McGavick, the Republican, whom would you vote for?
Maria Cantwell 47%
Mike McGavick 43%
Undecided 10%"

There's more about Iraq, Gregoire, Bush and a straw poll of Washington state voters on the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination.

McGavick Social Security Contest Rules (UPDATED)

UPDATE: David Postman has "McGavick on Social Security" today on his Seattle Times blog:
Mike McGavick's position on Social Security has become the issue, or really the question, of the week. Getting an answer has even become a contest on one of the most popular political blogs in the country.

I can understand some of the curiosity because McGavick's campaign material doesn't say much about his position. On his Web site he says there should a system that allows people to give back Social Security money they don't need.

But I just finished a lengthy interview with McGavick about Social Security and he has a much more expansive platform. Here's his main three points.

1. He supports means testing, voluntarily at first but if people don't turn back enough money he'd support making it mandatory and creating income limits for benefits.

2. Benefit levels must be guaranteed for people at or near retirement age.

3. He wants a phased-in system of individually controlled, privately managed retirement accounts that could provide a higher yield than the government-run system, but would come with a lower guaranteed payment.

Does this mean he supports what President Bush proposed last year?

"I do not think the president's program was that well designed or that well promoted. But I think something like this with some hard bipartisan work could create a lasting solution for a problem that has cyclically dogged us for decades."
-the rest of the story here.

Josh Marshall is giving away a tee-shirt (and a special place in his new TPM Hall of Social Security Heroes) to whoever can get a straight answer from Mike! on Bush's plan to privatize Social Security.

Full contest rules later today.

"Where's the Plan, Democrats?"

This and other questions from Ari Berman at The Nation:
Dean says the DNC has two plans, short-term and long-term. His long-term plan is to rebuild the party by hiring full-time field organizers in all fifty states. Dean and his supporters, including recent convert Bill Clinton, contend that Democrats must do that if they hope to command an electoral majority in the years to come.

But the question of the moment is: Where and what is the DNC's plan for 2006? A number of top party operatives believe the DNC should take the lead in building a strong get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation for November. That means identifying probable voters, persuading them to care about the election and getting them to the polls November 7. Thus far, the operatives say, the DNC has failed to prepare adequately for the coming ground game, causing concern that Dean's long-term strategy is squandering the Democrats' best short-term opportunity in a decade to retake Congress.

Dean's immediate focus in Busby's district, as he explained to me, was to target people who voted in 2004 but not in 2002. Yet Republicans out-hustled and out-mobilized Democrats on the ground in Bilbray's victory, spending twice as much money, making six times as many phone calls to voters and airlifting in 100 staffers from Capitol Hill. "There was dramatically lower turnout than we expected," said one Democratic operative in the district. Busby got half as many votes as Kerry, and only improved upon Kerry's 44 percent take by less than 1 percent.

"That was a tough district any way you look at it," says DNC executive director Tom McMahon. "But the people we targeted turned out." (snip)

Although you can't read too much into the results of a special election in a heavily Republican area thirty miles from the Mexico border, the Busby race demonstrated that--despite all the current anti-GOP kinks in the electoral environment--Republicans are better at running the machinery of politics: raising money, working together, harnessing new technology, motivating the base, exploiting hot-button issues and getting voters to the polls.

In an off-year election, when voter participation is generally 15 to 20 percent lower than in a presidential year, turnout is critical. For Democrats that means the party has to excite its base, pursue the "dropoff voters" (who voted in 2004 but not in 2002) and court independents and disaffected Republicans. Polling suggests that the public would prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress. But politics has a lot to do with mechanics--especially when control of the House and Senate will turn on a few dozen contests come November.(snip)

After running one of the most impressive grassroots campaigns in recent memory, Howard Dean was elected DNC chair in 2005, promising to make the party competitive again in every state. It sounded simple, but the "50 State Strategy" was a radical idea for a party accustomed to organizing only around election time, in toss-up states. Dean delivered immediately, giving each state a minimum of two to three field organizers. In places like Mississippi, that was more staff than the party had previously employed altogether. "I'm basically trying to rebuild the infrastructure of a party that doesn't have any," Dean says. With a few exceptions, state DNC chairs rave about him. "I couldn't be more impressed by the DNC," says Chris Redfern, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. "We're way ahead of the curve," says Dan Parker, Indiana's Democratic chair.

But the 50 State Strategy faced resistance from some key party operatives, who worried that Dean's spending on the states would sap resources needed for the '06 election. Fiery Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chair Rahm Emanuel directed an expletive-filled tirade at Dean in May, demanding more money for TV ads and wanting the DNC to take the lead on GOTV so he wouldn't have to. "We need the DNC on the field in this election," Emanuel later told the Washington Post. (Spokespersons at the DCCC and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee [DSCC] declined to comment for this article.)

"There's frustration inside the Beltway because I want to do things differently," Dean says. "But if we don't do things differently we'll be extinct as a party." Dean stressed that while Emanuel and the DSCC's Chuck Schumer must focus on '06, he's planning long-term. Dean's grassroots supporters say Emanuel and Schumer never respected Dean in the first place. But like it or not, Dean will be judged on how the party performs in this mid-term election.

An organized progressive movement, however, is no substitute for a strong Democratic Party. "People in DC need to understand that the ground game has to be a permanent game," Dean says. "That's why the Republicans are so good at it." A centralized, top-down Republican Party in 2004 out-organized a Democratic operation with many moving parts. Officials at the DNC talk about stealing the Republican playbook. But in reality Dean is performing a difficult juggling act, devolving power to the states while trying to win respect for his long-term vision inside the Beltway. "The number-one sport in Washington is to take shots at the DNC chair," the Democratic operative jokes.

Dean's 50 State Strategy could be the blueprint for his party's revival. But winning elections--particularly this November--would help, too.

Can we assume the "party operatives" are friends of Rahm? Still, the questions are worth considering now, not after November and the full article is worth reading.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Al Gore on the Daily Show"

Three minutes and forty three seconds of video from last night's show, via YouTube.

"Al Gore 3.0"

From the introduction to the interview in the new Rolling Stone:
It's not unreasonable to hope that Gore runs, but the dream of a Gore candidacy also underscores the pathetic core of today's Democratic Party: It has become so unusual to hear a mainstream Democratic politician speak from a sense of conviction that when one does, people practically start begging him to run.

But Gore really does seem to have put politics behind him. Whereas his one-time partner Bill Clinton clearly loves the game, Gore speaks of the political process as "toxic" and frames his arguments in purely moral terms.

"50-State Strategy: Washington - Meet Darcy Burner"

From the DNC (the whole thing):

I talked with Darcy Burner early this morning. Darcy is running for Congress in Washington's 8th Congressional District. She called me before the sun rose in her part of the country, so I knew right off the bat that she is running to win. We immediately started chatting about the blogosphere and the netroots, as she has been chosen as one of a handful of netroots candidates this cycle. Darcy had nothing but praise for the bloggers and blogosphere saying:

I am very very fortunate to have such an active and on top of things local blogosphere that are working to do what they can to help us win. We might just have the best local netroots community in the country. There are a huge number of people doing blogging on a regular basis. The quality of information is exceptional. They interact with each other so it is a community, and they have built all of it themselves. It's pretty amazing.
I didn’t know much about Darcy before we started chatting. I knew three things: that she used to work for Microsoft, that she was a new Mom and that she was running for Congress. So I asked her what made her decide to run.

Well after my son was born, I did what a lot of new parents do; I took a step back and said how do I give this helpless little creature the best possible world? I asked the normal questions everyone asks, ‘What do I feed him?’, ‘What school should he go to’? ‘Does he need a nap?’. I was responsible for giving him a better life and the more I looked at it there was no way to give him the kind of life I wanted him to have by just my individual decisions.
Our country was headed so much in the wrong direction that I decided we had to chance the direction of the country. So then the question becomes, ‘How do we change the direction of the country?’ and I came to the conclusion that I had to give 100 percent of myself to make it happen. I knew we had to take back the House and that we needed 15 seats to do it and I believe it is going to take Washington State to make that happen. This is a critical junction and something I can do to make a difference.

It should be noted that by this time in the conversation she’s won me over. Now of course, I’m biased towards her already – she’s a young female Democrat running for office. (What’s not to admire?!?) I asked her what is was like being a first-time candidate and how she started off her campaign.

This is the 1st time I've run for office. I've done local things of course, I was the President of my local Homeowners Association and I was involved in community organizations. I ran the women’s organization at Microsoft, but this is the first time I’ve ran for political office I started laying the groundwork after the 2004 elections. I had left Microsoft in Fall of 2004 knowing I was going to do whatever I could to change the direction of this country.
In January of 2005 I started talking to people about the feasibility of running for office. Six months later in June of 2005 I filed to run for Congress and I have been campaigning full time ever since.
I have been fortunate to have been given terrific advice at every state of the game. Early on a former Seattle Council Woman, Sue Donaldson, told me that the learning curve for this was huge, that I needed to hire a professional who knows what they are doing very early. I did that and it was a profoundly good piece of advice. A year later we have assembled a terrific team. I think we have the best campaign team in the entire country, but I may be biased.

Most of the interviews I’ve done with candidates have been with candidates running in places that most would consider “red” states or districts. I didn’t think of Washington that way, maybe because they birth the progressive meeting haven Starbucks, who knows. But I wanted to know more about the district she wanted to represent and the people, specifically the Democrats, who live there.

The 8th is a District that went for Clinton, Gore and Kerry. At this point more than half the state legislators are Democrats. It's a district that is particularly willing to elect Dems. For a longtime there a Republican incumbent in office, but she retired before 2004. Last time around the race was pretty close.
The Democrats locally are very engaged in doing what they can to try and take back the Congress this year. That means mostly two things - one of those things means electing me. The other is helping make sure Maria Cantwell returns to the Senate. There is also increasing interest in 2 other districts in Washington State, both Republican incumbents are being challenged by Democrats, but those are tougher Districts, but if we have a big enough wave it is entirely possible we will send more than one Democrat to the House from Washington State.

I asked Darcy to share 3 things that we wouldn’t know from reading her lit pieces or her website. You may not know that:

She is a complete “book-o-holic”:

My husband laughs at me and thinks I should seek treatment. In every house we have lived in we built in floor-to-ceiling bookcases and filled them up. I love reading but don't have time to do it these days.

She knows how to rock:

I am an amateur musician. I play piano, guitar, bass, and the drums. I don't have time for that these days either. When my husband and I were first dating we played together in a rock band. I'm not saying it was a great rock band, but it was fun.

She also knows how to find a bargain online:

In my campaign office we have tons of phone lines coming into the office. Most campaigns can’t afford fancy and expensive phone system, so they make due with what they can find. I knew we should install PBX system, so I went to eBay and got a system for a few hundred dollars. After the end of last quarter I installed it myself. I'm a fan of eBay for campaign purchases. We purchased our really nice copier off eBay for a fraction of the price. It's the geek approach to life.

Darcy Burner is turning heads and picking up major steam. A week ago EMILY'S List endorsed her. Her Rubberstamp Republican opponent has been lagging behind so badly he needed President Bush to make an emergency visit to help him fundraise before the end of the quarter. Darcy Burner is the real deal, she's on her way to Congress and Washington is lucky to have her.

"We Don't Have Any Answers as to Why We're In A War"

Video, via RAW STORY:
In a interview with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart Tuesday, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas said of the White House press corps, "They rolled over and played dead after 9/11," and added, "they retreated and they let the country down.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"A Single Person Could Swing an Election"

And they're not talking about one voter. From the Washington Post:
To determine what it would take to hack a U.S. election, a team of cybersecurity experts turned to a fictional battleground state called Pennasota and a fictional gubernatorial race between Tom Jefferson and Johnny Adams. It's the year 2007, and the state uses electronic voting machines.

Jefferson was forecast to win the race by about 80,000 votes, or 2.3 percent of the vote. Adams's conspirators thought, "How easily can we manipulate the election results?"

The experts thought about all the ways to do it. And they concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome.

The report, which was unveiled at a Capitol Hill news conference by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice and billed as the most authoritative to date, tackles some of the most contentious questions about the security of electronic voting.

The report concluded that the three major electronic voting systems in use have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. But it added that most of these vulnerabilities can be overcome by auditing printed voting records to spot irregularities. And while 26 states require paper records of votes, fewer than half of those require regular audits.(snip)

At yesterday's news conference, the push for more secure electronic voting machines, which has been popular largely on the left side of the political spectrum since the contested outcome of the 2000 presidential election in Florida, picked up some high-profile support from the other side.

Republican Reps. Tom Cole (Okla.) and Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, joined Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) in calling for a law that would set strict requirements for electronic voting machines. Howard Schmidt, former chief of security at Microsoft and President Bush's former cybersecurity adviser, also endorsed the Brennan report.

"It's not a question of 'if,' it's a question of 'when,' " Davis said of an attempt to manipulate election results.

It may have already happened. Thanks to Annie Robbins who tipped me to this diary on Kos.

"The Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds"

From Truthdig:
Three years into an occupation of Iraq replete with so-called milestones, turning points and individual events hailed as “sea changes” that would “break the back” of the insurgency, a different type of incident received an intense, if ephemeral, amount of attention. A local human rights worker and aspiring journalist in the western Iraqi town of Haditha filmed the aftermath of the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians. The video made its way to an Iraqi working for Time magazine, and the story was finally publicized months later. The Haditha massacre was compared to the Vietnam War’s My Lai massacre, and like the well-publicized and embarrassing Abu Ghraib scandal two years earlier, the attention it received made it seem as if it were a horrible aberration perpetrated by a few bad apples who might have overreacted to the stress they endured as occupiers.

In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.

Al (and Tipper) on TV

"On Wednesday, Al Gore will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at
11:00pm EST / 10:00pm CST / 11:00pm PST. Please be sure to double check your
local listings and tune in to Comedy Central to watch.

On Thursday, Al and Tipper Gore will appear together on The View at 11:00am
EST / 10:00am CST / 10:00am PST. Please be sure to double check your local
listings and tune in to ABC to watch."-from my Gore mole.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"The netroots conspiracy"

It all started quietly enough, with Jerome deciding to stick with the consulting biz and work for his favorite candidate in the race, Mark Warner. But the relationship was blown wide open in Vegas as Warner made a huge splash. People tried to imply all sorts of quid pro quos between me and Jerome and the Warner operation, but they were missing the real conspiracy all along.

Because under the radar, things have been moving nicely according to plan.

Bill Richardson hired great-guy Joaquin Guerra, an old friend, and made a last-minute decision to hit YearlyKos. That earned my praise.

Wes Clark hit YearlyKos too and has been an avid netroots denizen the past couple of years. I have had corresponded on and off with Wes Jr. over the past few years, and greatly respect the whole Clark family. Cue the praise.

John Edwards rolled out a community scoop site built by Rusty (an old friend, business partner of mine and Jerome who literally built Scoop) and does podcastings that MoveOn's Zack Exley, another friend, loves. Not to mention, Elizabeth Edwards is rumored to be a heavy participant on this site under a pseudonym. And one of my best friends inside the union movement is a HUGE Edwards backer. Praise.

Hillary Clinton hired two friends of mine, bloggers Jesse Berney (formerly of the DNC blog) and Peter Daou (formerly of the Kerry campaign and the Daou Report on Salon). Praise?

Evan Bayh has Chris Smith who I met during the book tour and seemed like a really cool guy. And his operation is aggressively blogging and wooing bloggers.

And suddenly, foot soldiers in the people-powered movement have infiltrated most of the top campaigns, exposing our real goal to all.

It's not to try and win my "endorsement". As I've said before, you are all thinking people and can make up your own minds on who to vote for. You don't need me to tell you. And you wouldn't let me (which is what's so cool about this joint).

The reality is that we have conspired to have people help power the process to pick the next president.

Imagine that.

"Democrats vow to block pay raises until minimum wage increased"

A week after the GOP-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased.

"We're going to do anything it takes to stop the congressional pay raise this year, and we're not going to settle for this year alone," Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at a Capitol news conference.

"They can play all the games the want," Reid said derisively of the Republicans who control the chamber. "They can deal with gay marriage, estate tax, flag burning, all these issues and avoid issues like the prices of gasoline, sending your kid to college. But we're going to do everything to stop the congressional pay raise."

Feingold on MTP

From the transcript:
MR. RUSSERT: You said some Democratic senators told you privately they felt intimidated to vote for the war. Why?

SEN. FEINGOLD: They may not have used that exact word, but they certainly indicated that they felt that there was enormous political pressure. Because the White House has done a terrible job of running the fight against terrorism. A terrible job in Iraq, but they’ve done a brilliant job of intimidating Democrats. Somehow Democrats are afraid to say, “Look, not only was this a mistake, but it continues to be a mistake and it’s being run in a mistaken way.” And I cannot understand why the structure of the Democratic Party, the consultants that are here in Washington, constantly advise Democrats not to take a strong stand. This election could turn on this Iraq issue, in fact, the 2006 election, and maybe even 2008. The party that says we have a reasonable plan to bring the troops home by, by this date and to refocus on the anti-terrorism issue is the party that will win. And I believe that my political instincts tell me...

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, you only have 13 votes for your resolution.

SEN. FEINGOLD: Yeah, that’s not the American people. The 13 votes...

MR. RUSSERT: But that’s the Democratic Party.

SEN. FEINGOLD: No, it’s not.

MR. RUSSERT: It’s less than a third of the—in the Senate.

SEN. FEINGOLD: The Democratic Party of this country is the people of this country. And I have been all over Wisconsin, all 72 counties, to 12 different states. I can tell you, the one thing I’m sure of, Tim, is the American people have had it with this intervention. They do want a timetable for bringing home the troops. And the fact that the United States Senate doesn’t get it shouldn’t surprise you.

MR. RUSSERT: So the majority of the Democratic Senate is out of touch with the American people?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Yes, it is at this point. Those who vote against bringing the troops home don’t get it. They’re not out there enough. They’re not listening to the people. Frankly, they’re not even looking at the polls. I saw two or three polls, Tim, in the last week that showed that a majority of the American people favor a timetable. So it is to our—you know, we lost in 2000, we lost in 2002, we lost in 2004. Why don’t we try something different, like listening to the American people?

"Appeals court vacates ruling in Boehner v. McDermott"

Goldy boils it down:

...the issue at stake here is really much more fundamental; it is about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I for one receive unsolicited information all the time – sometimes anonymously – and I can never be sure of its provenance. If McDermott ultimately loses his case it means I could be sued or prosecuted for publishing information that may have been obtained illegally, even if I had no part in, or even knowledge of the crime.

Wanna put me out of business? Slip me an illegally obtained legal document and then sue away. Imagine the chilling effect if journalists, bloggers and private citizens risked financial ruin for passing on information of vital public interest.

Here’s hoping that both McDermott and the Constitution prevails.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Peter Daou Hooks Up with Hillary

From Daou Report today:

Closing the Triangle with Senator Hillary Clinton: Since launching the Daou Report in December 2004, I have written extensively about a ‘triangle’ comprised of the traditional media, the political establishment, and the blogosphere. I have argued that “closing the triangle” (i.e. enhancing the connection between the three entities) is imperative for the Democratic Party and the progressive netroots. My thinking on this issue is informed by my experience directing blog outreach and online rapid response for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Working out of the Washington, D.C. headquarters, I viewed the political landscape from two distinct perspectives: as a blogger and as a political consultant. Living in both worlds exposed me to the tensions on either side. In the year and a half since the campaign ended, I’ve learned more about the media side of the triangle, working with Media Matters and others to highlight conservative misinformation and false narratives in the press. My aim has been to seek ways to build bridges between the Democratic establishment, the media, and the blog community.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post: I have been offered – and accepted – what I believe is a unique opportunity to help close the triangle: joining Senator Clinton’s team as a blog advisor to facilitate and expand her relationship with the netroots. There are endless possibilities for Clinton-netroots collaborations, from Net Neutrality to the Privacy Bill of Rights to voting reform to so many others critical issues. Digby, one of the progressive blog world’s sharpest writers, said this: “Last week Hillary introduced what I think should be a primary plank of the Democratic Party: A Privacy Bill Of Rights…. Hillary said in her speech the other day: ‘privacy is synonymous with liberty.’ This is correct. We give it up far too thoughtlessly in our culture and its going to come back to bite us if we don't wake to the fact that big powerful forces are poking into our lives in unprecedented ways and will use the information they get to force us into little boxes they design.” (snip)

(A personal note to Daou Report readers: since its inception, the purpose of this site has been: 1) to offer a diverse, unfiltered sample of online political discourse, 2) to probe the ideas, passions, and perspectives that give rise to our current political divide, 3) to examine the relationship between blogs, the political establishment and the traditional media. In surveying the left, right and center blogosphere, I have worked diligently to separate my personal opinions and my consulting clients’ interests from my desire to present an unfettered view of the political debate on blogs and message boards. I will continue to do so. I’ve been very fortunate to work with a Salon team who has trusted my judgment. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

"About Peace Takes Courage"

"Peace Takes Courage is a project by Ava Lowery. Ava is a 15 year
old student and peace activist from Alabama. In Mid-March 2005,
she created her first animation. Since then she has made over 70
animations, many of them about the war in Iraq. In April 2006,
Cindy Sheehan wrote an article about Ava and her effort to
promote peace through this website. Ava has been featured on
Progressive Magazine online,,,, and other sites."

Here's her latest multi-media work.

"Can Daily Kos Control the Dems?"

I wouldn't count on it. But it might not be a bad thing for it to happen, somehow. Newsweek:
As in 2003, when he rose to prominence filling Howard Dean's Internet piggy bank, he's funneling followers to sites where they can give money to candidates online; only now he has several hundred thousand more readers to hit up and a better network of informants in battleground states. At the same time, he's taken on the task of party-loyalty enforcer, backing candidates who wear their partisanship proudly and assailing those who seem too cozy with the other side on a range of issues.

"The bottom line is that the Republicans don't have a plan"

" 'Stay the course' is not a plan. Saying the problems in Iraq will be left to the next President, is not a plan."-Howard Dean, from the Democratic Radio Address Saturday.

Howie opinion: They do have a plan. Install a puppet government and stay there for the forseable future.

More from Chairman Dean:
The parallels between the mistakes being made today in Iraq and the behavior of our government a generation ago are striking. Troops are sent to fight by an administration that refuses to listen to the advice of military leaders. The Administration decides it's ok to conceal information from the Congress and the American people. Promises like "stay the course" "Peace is at Hand" or "the insurgency is in its last throes" are made by an increasingly desperate Administration.

A majority of the American people don't believe the President is telling the truth, while the Administration and its supporters question the patriotism of veterans who disagree with them, accusing them of "cut and run".

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Al's Not Running, Right?

While many Nashvillians prepare to see Al Gore at his book signing and movie premiere in Green Hills today, a group of people has alternate plans. members will be protesting Al Gore from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today at the Green Hills Mall during the book signing at Davis Kidd Booksellers, also in Green Hills. is an online group that supports the running of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 presidential election.

Ellie Stevenson of Hendersonville, a member of the group, said protesters will gather peacefully because they feel Gore is the only person who could block Clinton’s nomination in the 2008 election. Stevenson also said many protestors are upset because of the war in Iraq.

“If (Gore) had stood his ground in 2002, America would not be in the mess we’re in now,” Stevenson said.

However, protestors are not protesting against the movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," which opens today.

“I completely support cleaning the environment,” Stevenson said. “We think he’s a great person in trying to protect the environment, we just feel he’s not the best Democratic candidate.”

Do they know something we haven't been told?

Friday, June 23, 2006

On Helen Thomas and Karl Rove

Helen Thomas asks
Are the Democrats going to be such easy prey again, neutralized by phony wedge issues and neglectful of the real issue, which is the administration's flagrant use of falsehoods to justify a war of choice?
Ed Walker responds
Rove and Helen share more of a perspective than I thought they would. He understands her points completely. Today, the roll-up of what appears to be a hapless group who could not afford shoes, camera memory cards or a plane ticket to Chicago. Tomorrow? We will certainly see there is more to come until elections. The in-our-face lie is elegantly simple. Cheney in Chicago is so obvious it will most likely work again. It does not matter, I fear, that it all appears so obviously staged. The gut reaction of "we got them this time before they could hurt you and your loved ones" will be what is recalled by most. I assume that the Fox crowd is premptively attacking the spineless fools who will, again, not grasp the mortal danger we constantly face from all possible sources of threat. As Satan's Prince says, "it is not the quality of our analysis but our response to any possible threat." They are good at this.

Their unrestrained brashness recalls a scene in a Dallas episode where J.R. Ewing was dining with someone whose reputation, career, marriage and finacial security he had destroyed in order to remove him as a potential obstacle to a business venture's success. When the victim asked in choked voice, "How could you do this to someone who posed no real threat to you or your can you live with yourself?" JR replies, as he raises a bottle of very expensive wine, "It not as hard as you seem to think. Once you get beyond integrity, the rest is a piece of cake. More wine?"

This is only the opening volley. "Home-grown terrorist" is now already in place in case there is a troop reduction sufficient to soften the public mood about Iraq. And, it is better than the color coded alerts that were effective for awhile.
I first met Ed Walker over thirty years ago, when he was a student at Sonoma State College (CA). A Vietnam-era vet, Ed is a shrewd and articulate observor of the political scene.

"Democrats need a new script"

Helen Thomas promotes John Murtha and John Edwards:
Are the Democrats going to be such easy prey again, neutralized by phony wedge issues and neglectful of the real issue, which is the administration's flagrant use of falsehoods to justify a war of choice?

It could happen again. The leaderless Democrats, speaking in a cacophony, are being outgunned by the conservatives and members of their own party representing the Democratic Leadership Council who are at heart "Republican lite."(snip)

As Bush prepared to visit Europe this week, Die Zeit, a German weekly, declared that Americans have "lost their moral credibility in Iraq."

The newspaper also said "America's entire Iraq policy is out of control."

That's what the Democrats should be saying.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Murray's Iraq speech echoes Darcy Burner"

From David Postman's Seattle Times' blog:

The U.S. Senate, as expected, has rejected two Democratic resolutions calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Washington's Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray voted for the Levin amendment, a non-binding resolution that called on the Bush Administration to begin withdrawing troops but with no specific deadline for withdrawal. That failed on a 60-39 vote.

John Kerry's plan for a July 1, 2007 withdrawal failed 86-13.

As I watched the debate on C-Span Wednesday I was struck by these comments by Murray:

"The men and women of our military have done everything we have asked them to do. We've looked for weapons of mass destruction and found none. We got rid of Saddam Hussein. We helped the Iraqis hold elections and set up their government and security forces.
"So what is our mission today? Right now our nation's policy on Iraq is adrift. Instead of addressing this head on, the administration and this Congress continue to build on miscalculations and incompetence of the past and are dismissing any serious discussion of the challenge the American people now face."

That rang a bell. It sounded similar to what Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner says. I heard Burner at the Democratic State Convention earlier this month and was struck by the cogent summary that allowed her to criticize the Republican leadership of the war while at the same time showing support for the troops.

Here's what Burner said in Yakima:

"We asked our men and women to go take out this government that we told them was a threat to us. And they did it in less than three weeks. We asked them to ensure that there were no weapons of mass destruction and they did that. We asked them to maintain stability in the region while the Iraqis adopted a constitution and elected a new government and they did that. "And now they are sitting over there getting shot at because the Republicans in control in Washington, D.C., cannot figure out what their plan is to finish the job and bring them home and that has got to stop."

I am not suggesting plagiarism here. It's not anywhere close enough for that. But was Murray influenced by Burner's take on Iraq, was Burner influenced by someone else, or was this a passage from a Democratic talking point?

Burner's spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, said Burner has always used that approach in talking about Iraq and it did not come in some Democratic guide for talking about the war. "We were not fed that by anybody," Smith said. "It is probably a good way to communicate the frustration people are feeling," she said, adding that Murray and others may have found that it "is an effective message to pick up."

"We're happy to share with Patty," Smith said.

Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass said the senator focused on the theme of the troops having accomplished their goals by going back and looking at the original 2002 Iraq war vote that laid out what Congress was authorizing. It was clear, she said, that what the troops had been authorized to do had been done and the question became, "did we authorize them to do what they're doing there right now?"

UPDATE: I just spoke with Murray. After reading what I wrote above she said I should have been listening more carefully as she's traveled around the state in recent months.

"You have not been with me. I have been saying that for some time now," she said. Murray said she's met Burner but has not seen her speak. "I don't think it's surprising that we are saying something very similar. ... I think that's a reflection of what a lot of people are saying."

Murray said people tell her, "I don't understand why we are there now."

Murray voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq in 2002. But she has supported the supplemental appropriations for the war and occupation. While she was an early, and somewhat lonely at the time, Democratic voice against the war, she says the Kerry plan for a specific withdrawal date is the wrong approach.

"I had to work my way through that. I clearly understood that a date-certain could put our troops in jeopardy, simply by telling our enemy 'hold your breath we'll be out of there.' "

"Edwards' Big Idea" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Here's a video that Edwards has produced on his idea. And Bloomberg covers his latest speech on the issue.

Kos promotes John Edwards today:

"See, this is what vision looks like. This is the kind of big ideas that can help revive the Democratic Party:

Ex-Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), evolving his pitch ahead of an anticipated presidential run in 2008, will propose to cut poverty by a third in 10 years, eliminate it in 30, and put in its place a "Working Society " where Americans are rewarded for hard work with a livable safety net of health and welfare incentives.

Edwards advisers describe the speech as a "major policy address," which means they want the national political media and activist Democrats to pay attention to it.

Notably, the speech advances beyond Edwards's "Two Americas" concept. One aide described that phrase as his identification of the problem -- a society where the wealthy are rewarded and the poor are ignored. This speech inaugurates a new phase -- solutions -- and a new phrase -- a "Working Society."

Now is focusing on the "poor" rather than, say, the middle class a political winner? I don't know. But I like ambitious plans and goals. I like a plan to move America forward rather than just treading water (or worse).

And I do know that the Change To Win unions (SEIU, UNITE-HERE, Teamsters) are really gearing up to back Edwards with all they've got making Edwards a major player in the 2008 sweepstakes."

"Washington Senate: Cantwell (D) Slide Continues"

From the poll by Rasmussen Reports:
Thanks largely to her support for the war in Iraq, electoral support for Senator Maria Cantwell (D) has slipped once again—for the fifth survey in a row.

In the latest Rasmussen Reports poll of an increasingly competitive U.S. Senate race, Senator Cantwell now leads former Safeco CEO Mike McGavick (R) 44% to 40%. She led by five points in May, eight in April, thirteen in March, fifteen in January.

Cantwell is viewed favorably by 53% of likely votes, unfavorably by 42%. However, just 25% view Cantwell Very Favorably while 20% view her Very Unfavorably.

McGavick is viewed favorably by 46%, unfavorably by 35%. The Republican is less well known than the incumbent he is challenging and fewer voters have firm opinions of him—just 16% say they have a Very Favorable opinion of McGavick while 12% hold a Very Unfavorable opinion.

Cantwell attracts slightly more support from Democrats (82%) than McGavick does from Republicans (80%), but 8% of Democrats now say they would vote for another candidate altogether given a Cantwell-McGavick match-up. Only 1% of GOP voters feel that way.

In addition to her pro-war stance, Cantwell provoked the ire of some Democrats by being one of the few Democratic senators to oppose an attempt to block the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Still, she is viewed favorably by 87% of her party, with only 9% reporting a Somewhat Unfavorable view, only 2% a Very Unfavorable one. However, her numbers among unaffiliated voters are evenly divided between Favorable and Unfavorable.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of likely voters approve of the job Christine Gregoire, the Democratic Governor, is doing; 45% disapprove.

When asked about presidential prospects, a plurality of voters say they prefer a Democrat as our next President. Nonetheless, likely Republican candidates are viewed a bit more favorably than likely Democratic ones. But the discrepancies are not as wide as in some other states we've surveyed about the 2008 presidential campaign.

"The Press Derides Dems on Iraq; The Public Praises Dems on Iraq"

Eric Boehlert:
It's been a head-scratching spectacle this week to watch Democrats in the Senate debate war resolutions that would press the administration to begin bringing troops home--to force the White House to "submit to Congress its plan for continued redeployment beyond 2006"--and then be depicted in the press as the likely losers in the unfolding political battle. Losers because Democrats are "divided" (New York Times), "struggling for consensus" (Washington Post), and "squabbling among themselves" (Knight Ridder), as opposed to Republicans who appear unified behind Bush's 'stay the course' Iraq policy. (Democrats weak and confused, Republicans strong and resolute. Does the press ever got tired of that manufactured storyline?)
Sometimes I wonder how certain newspapers manage to ignore the facts and report things that are supportive of the "company's" party line.

"Hardball Double Standard"

Hardly shocking but still worth noting, from Peter Daou's The Grit:
Media Matters:

"A day after interviewing Howard Dean, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell sat down with his Republican counterpart, Ken Mehlman, affording Media Matters for America the opportunity to make a direct comparison of the two interviews....
In contrast with Dean's interview, during which O'Donnell adopted misleading Republican talking points and attacks on Democrats -- even going so far as to criticize Dean for not conceding one of those talking points -- O'Donnell did not adopt the other party's talking points or attacks in her interview of Mehlman. Moreover, she followed Mehlman's dubious connection between the Iraq war and the "3,000 people we lost" on September 11, 2001, with: "I hear what you're saying." Further, O'Donnell afforded Mehlman ample opportunities to attack Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and suggested that President Bush pardon former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was indicted in connection with the ongoing CIA leak investigation. A Media Matters review of the interviews also found that O'Donnell asked Dean a higher percentage of challenging questions."


From Riverbend:
So now that Zarqawi is dead, and because according to Bush and our Iraqi puppets he was behind so much of Iraq's misery- things should get better, right? The car bombs should lessen, the ethnic cleansing will come to a halt, military strikes and sieges will die down… That's what we were promised, wasn't it? That sounds good to me. Now- who do they have to kill to stop the Ministry of Interior death squads, and trigger-happy foreign troops?

"Cantwell's lead over McGavick nearly gone"

The headline from the P-I story that everyone is linking to and everyone will have opinions about. Do you?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Horse's ass radio: darcy burner, ron sims, larry phillips, joel connelly, king kong, godzilla, bambi and david goldstein's mom"

Michael Hood listens when we don't have the time:
Darcy Burner spent far too little time on the David Goldstein Show (KIRO Sundays, 7-10p) Sunday, but it was Father's Day and she's a mother, if that makes sense.

Burner certainly makes sense, though; she's all about policy. She's all about specifics. Quite a contrast with her opponent, the platitudinous Dave Reichert, the incumbent the Republican haircut who brought President Bush, his political mentor and spiritual leader leader on Friday to Mercer Island's Millionaire Row for a funder that snagged him some 700k.

Reichert has been trying to pass as a GOP moderate, (is there really any such thing anymore?) since the plunge in popularity of the failed president. But that got a whole lot harder to pull off when Sheriff Dave was pictured on page one of both Seattle dailies arm & arm debouching Air Force One with the faux-ney cowpoke we must call Prez for another year and a half.

Reichert is counting on that this is early enough in the campaign and that the public's memory will be too short to remember this trip by the President to shore up his fundraising.

As JDB asks in a comment string, "If Dave Reichert is campaigning for the 8th, and he has the President in to fund raise for him, why isn't he willing to appear in public in the 8th and have a rally with him?"

Good question- the answer would be that he doesn't wants his increasingly Democratic district to know about his go-along/get-along voting record in such lock step with the prez.

The GOP, while poo-pooing Burner out of one side of their mouth as a 2nd tier candidate is clearly threatened by a campaign that beat Reichert in fundraising last quarter, and is raising a daunting profile in the district. And the polling is flaccid for Reichert.

Burner raised the money with the help of the net roots, and is the first net roots endorsed candidate, whose Republican opponent has drawn out the president

Reichert is from blue collar South King County and was able to wrest those votes from his opponent in 2004, KIRO talk host, Dave Ross, a Cornell-educated New Yorker, whom they were able to paint as an effete Mercer Island/Bellevue-ite.

Burner is from a blue collar, Army brat background, self-propelled through Harvard and into the management strata of Microsoft. She'll be harder to paint as elite and aloof- especially with her innate communication skill and personal identification with working people.

She's a political natural; and her candidacy is a principled long-shot. But her fight's a fair fight. And energy and brainpower are her distinct advantages over the bland, hackneyed ex-Sheriff.

For local political junkies and bloggers, Goldstein's show could have been like King Kong vs Godzilla tonight- Stefan Sharkansky phoned in while County Exec Ron Sims on the line talking about all-mail voting.

But for all the flaming in the two activists' shared past, (they sort of invented each other) everyone on their best behavior. Sharkansky was kind of timid when in the room with the big guys and Goldstein' had his hand on the dump button. Sweet.

In Goldstein's short time on the radio, the conservatives and David's many detractors have been so cowed that there's a smart-mouthed local liberal partisan with a microphone and a dump button they haven't called.

We're happy to see that's changing and hope that Stefan will become a regular. Also Orb from Orbusmax- we're sure he was itching to get on the show.

The caller of the night: Goldstein's mother from Florida. We've finally found the one person who exists in the world who can shut David up. If Stefan doesn't watch it, Goldstein could turn her on him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"The Press Plays Dumb About the Bush Bounce"

Eric Boehlert:
The mainstream media's incessant, excited chatter about a looming Bush Bounce represented just the latest embarrassment in an endless parade of journalism missteps during the Bush years. The depressing puppet show--senior White House aides announce things are great, conservative 'news' outlets echo the spin and then MSM journalists gamely play along--has become annoying, tiresome and transparent. Yet the MSM won't stop embarrassing themselves.

Two problems with the contagious Bush Bounce story: a) the Bounce was all but non-existent, with three of the last four national polls (USA Today, WSJ-NBC, CNN) showing no statistical movement whatsoever for Bush following last week's wildly hyped "wave of good news" (AP).

And even more importantly, b) when it was eagerly misleading news consumers about how Bush was about to enjoy a big bump in the public opinion surveys, the press provided virtually no context regarding exactly where Bush stood in the polls. Yes, some journalists noted in passing that Bush's job approval ratings had vaguely fallen during his second term. But notice what is not reported and discussed in polite Beltway company--that Bush is an historically unpopular president. Period. (Fact: If Bush doesn't post an approval rating gain soon, he'll trail only Richard Nixon in establishing the longest sub-40 job approval rating streak in modern American history.) Journalists routinely refuse to put Bush's sorry standings in any sort of perspective. Instead, they go to extraordinary lengths, as they have throughout the last two years, to avoid spelling out the obvious--it would take an hydraulic lift to get Bush's approval numbers back into the realm of respectability, let alone popularity. i.e. Bush would need a 25-point spike to equal the lofy heights President Clinton reached during his second term.

"Politics 101: Broadcasting Indecision & Disunity Loses Elections"

From David Sirota:
Call me crazy, but I just do not understand how the Washington Democratic Party establishment can publicly say that in advance of the 2006 elections, there needs to be no Democratic Party unity on the Iraq War - the most pressing national security issue of the day. To make such a claim, you have to be either dumb; totally out of touch with the majority of Americans who want an exit strategy; deliberately dishonest because you are embarrassed you supported the war in the first place; disdainful of voters' intellect; or all of the above. But, incredibly, that's what Democrats in Washington are telling the media, and consequently, broadcasting to the American people.

"No time to play it safe!" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Two news stories have now appeared on this. From tomorrow's New York Times, "On Iraq, Kerry Again Leaves Democrats Fuming" and the AP story tonight, "Possible White House hopefuls unite on Iraq."

From John Kerry and Russ Feingold:
We need you to stand with us -- and we need you to do it now.

In the next 24 to 48 hours, we will go to the Senate floor to press for passage of the Kerry-Feingold Amendment calling for the redeployment of U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by a deadline certain. Our country desperately needs a new vision for strengthening our national security, and it starts by redeploying U.S. forces out of Iraq so we can wage and win a more effective war on terror and give Iraqis the best chance to stand up for a stable Iraq.

Tell your Senators: support the Kerry-Feingold Amendment on Iraq.

Our troops have served valiantly in Iraq. Under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, they've done their job. Now, it's time to put the future of Iraq where it belongs: in the hands of the Iraqi people and their leaders. And it's time to listen to General George Casey and acknowledge that the indefinite presence of large numbers of U.S. combat forces in Iraq will weaken chances of defeating the insurgency and weaken our ability to fight the global terrorist networks that threaten us today.

In recent days, we've seen Republican leaders in the House and Senate shamelessly reject the opportunity for a genuine, meaningful debate on Iraq. They've resorted to a Karl Rove strategy of blindly endorsing President Bush's failed "stay the course" policy in Iraq and challenging the courage and patriotism of anyone who dares to point out the disastrous consequences of their failed approach.

It's time for every Senator to reject the lack of wisdom in their Iraq policies and the lack of decency in their Iraq politics.

Tell your Senators: support the Kerry-Feingold Amendment on Iraq.

We have to reject calls for an unquestioning, open-ended endorsement of George W. Bush's endless commitment of U.S. troops in Iraq. And we have to reject the "play it safe" conventional wisdom, inside D.C. punditry that would have Democrats stand on the sidelines without doing everything in our power to change policies that we know are deeply flawed and dangerous.

We urge you to tell your Senators that it's time for a new direction. Ask them to endorse the Kerry-Feingold amendment calling for the redeployment of combat troops out of Iraq by a hard and fast deadline. Tell them to act for one simple reason: it's the right thing to do -- for Iraq, and for the United States.

Tell your Senators: support the Kerry-Feingold Amendment on Iraq.

Act now to add your voice to tens of thousands of others from around the country who are actively supporting the Kerry-Feingold amendment. We'll see to it that your letter gets delivered to the Senate.

This is a critical vote on the most crucial issue facing our country. It's time for every member of the Senate to send an important message that we must change course. And it's time for you to demand leadership from those you have sent to Washington to represent your views.

We urge you to act immediately -- and we thank you for standing with us on this critical issue.


Russ Feingold and John Kerry

Howard Dean on The Ed Schultz Show Yesterday

"Click here to listen to Big Eddie's take on Karl Rove and Cheney's comments and DNC Chairman Howard Dean's response to the GOP attacks."

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Access of Evil"

Amy Goodman reminds us why Bush can get away with murder:
If President Bush had stood on the steps of the White House with a megaphone when he set out to sell the Iraq War, he might have convinced a few people about the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein. But he had something far more powerful that convinced far more people: He had a compliant press corps ready to amplify his lies. This was the same press corps that investigated and reported for years on President Clinton's lying about an extramarital affair. The difference here was that President Bush's lies take lives.

In order to be able to get that all-important leak from a named or, better yet, unnamed "senior official," reporters trade truth for access. This is the "access of evil," when reporters forgo the tough questions out of fear of being passed over.
And Howie Kurtz and Gloria Borger add fuel to the fire in "Anatomy of a Suck-Up - In Their Own Words:"
KURTZ: Gloria Borger, are journalists suckers for this kind of secret trip to Baghdad stuff? Bush was there in less than six hours but got an avalanche of mostly positive coverage.

GLORIA BORGER, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": I think we are suckers. Particularly if you are the one that gets on go on the pool, Howie, and gets to travel with the president on the secret trip to Baghdad. We do like these secret trips.

Believe it or not, we kind of like to be surprised but if you're a bureau chief in Washington you may be asking gee why didn't we have more information and when you ask that question the answer you will always get from the White House is because this has to be shrouded in secrecy because this is a matter of presidential security. So we can't tell you more about this in advance. So you know you're being used but in a way you kind of like it because it's good pictures.

KURTZ: We enjoy it.
Both quotes courtesy of The Grit.

"RFK Jr. to bring lawsuits against Diebold and other e-voting vendors! "

From Jimbob's diary on Kos:
That's the title of a DU thread I ran across last night. The thread references radio show Ring of Fire, hosted by RFK (Bobby Kennedy, Jr.) and Mike Papantonio, which airs Saturdays on Air America..

One DUer posted:

Mike Papantonio's law firm, and RFK Jr. will be bringing lawsuits against Diebold and other electronic voting machine vendors in the coming weeks. Said they've got WHISTLE BLOWERS from Diebold & others.

Jimbob's diary :: ::
Another added:

I heard it, too! RFK Jr. explained the law they are using...which dates back to Lincoln and the Civil War. About actions not done in the best interest of the public. Something like that, I'm no lawyer.

And how if people have spoken about things in public, they can't be used in a suit. A whistleblower must testify first and only then can come forward.

So, apparently RFK Jr. has whistleblowers and the suit can go forward. Even though much of the info was common knowledge because people had spoken out, they couldn't do anything until they found whistleblowers (people who hadn't spoken publicly already).
While listening to part of a rebroadcast on Sunday, I also learned that:

1) The suits being filed are called qui tam suits;

2) Qui tam suits provide for triple damages;

3) The attorneys intend to put some voting-machine companies out of business; and

4) They intend to depose notables such as Chuck Hagel, Katherine Harris, and Kenneth Blackwell.
Thanks to Annie Robbins for the catch.

Returning to "06 cr 128"

Truthout's Marc Ash updates the story:
What will follow will be a rather frank discussion of our reporting of and involvement in the Rove indictment matter. If you like simple answers or quick resolutions, turn back now. This is our report to our readership. Our primary sources for this report are career federal law enforcement and federal government officials speaking on condition of anonymity. This report was developed under the supervision of all of Truthout's senior editors, which should be taken as an indication that we view this matter with the utmost seriousness.

For the record, we did reach Kimberly Nerheim, a spokesperson for Patrick Fitzgerald, and asked her these questions: Did a grand jury return an indictment of Karl Rove? Did Patrick Fitzgerald send a fax to Robert Luskin similar to that described in recent press reports? Is Patrick Fitzgerald's probe of the Plame matter still ongoing? Her response to each question was identical: "I have no comment."

The Rove indictment story is way beyond - in terms of complexity - any other story we have ever covered. In essence, we found out something we were not supposed to find out, and things exploded from there. We were not prepared for the backlash.

On Tuesday, June 13, when the mainstream media broke their stories that Karl Rove had been exonerated, there were frank discussions amongst our senior editors about retracting our stories outright. The problem we wrestled with was what exactly do we retract? Should we say that Rove had not in fact been indicted? Should we say that our sources provided us with false or misleading information? Had Truthout been used? Without a public statement from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald we felt that it was premature to retract our report.

After spending the past month retracing our steps and confirming facts, we've come full circle. Our sources continue to maintain that a grand jury has in fact returned an indictment. Our sources said that parts of the indictment were read to Karl Rove and his attorney on Friday, May 12, 2006. Last week, we pointed to a sealed federal indictment, case number "06 cr 128," which is still sealed and we are still pointing to it. During lengthy conversations with our sources over the past month, they reiterated that the substance of our report on May 13, 2006, was correct, and immediately following our report, Karl Rove's status in the CIA leak probe changed. In summary, as we press our investigation we find indicators that more of our key facts are correct, not less.

That leaves the most important question: If our sources maintain that a grand jury has returned an indictment - and we have pointed to a criminal case number that we are told corresponds to it - then how is it possible that Patrick Fitzgerald is reported to have said that 'he does not anticipate seeking charges against Rove at this time?' That is a very troubling question, and the truth is, we do not yet have a definitive answer. We also continue to be very troubled that no one has seen the reported communication from Fitzgerald to Rove's attorney Robert Luskin, and more importantly, how so much public judgment could be based on a communication that Luskin will not put on the table. Before we can assess the glaring contradiction between what our sources say and what Luskin says Fitzgerald faxed to him, we need to be able to consider what was faxed - and in its entirety.

What appears to have happened is that - and this is where Truthout blundered - in our haste to report the indictment we never considered the possibility that Patrick Fitzgerald would not make an announcement. We simply assumed - and we should not have done so - that he would tell the press. He did not. Fitzgerald appears to have used the indictment, and more importantly, the fear that it would go public, to extract information about the Plame outing case from Rove.

Yes, it does appear that Truthout was used, but not lied to or misled. The facts appear to have been accurate. We reported them, and in so doing, apparently became an instrument. From all indications, our reports, first on May 13 that Rove had been indicted, and then on June 12 when we published case number "06 cr 128," forced Rove and Luskin back to the table with Fitzgerald, not once but twice. They apparently sought to avoid public disclosure and were prepared to do what they had to do to avoid it.

The electronic communication from Fitzgerald to Luskin, coming immediately on the heels of our Monday morning, June 12 article "Sealed vs. Sealed" that became the basis for the mainstream media's de facto exoneration of Karl Rove was, our sources told us, negotiated quickly over the phone later that afternoon. Luskin contacted Fitzgerald, reportedly providing concessions that Fitzgerald considered to be of high value, and Fitzgerald reportedly reciprocated with the political cover Rove wanted in the form of a letter that was faxed to Luskin's office.

Our sources provided us with additional detail, saying that Fitzgerald is apparently examining closely Dick Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame matter, and apparently sought information and evidence from Karl Rove that would provide documentation of Cheney's involvement. Rove apparently was reluctant to cooperate and Fitzgerald, it appears, was pressuring him to do so, our sources told us.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation is a unique chapter in American history. The probe has managed to shed light into the inner recesses of perhaps the most secretive presidential administration in US history. His mission is not political, and he will not allow it to be.

However, we call upon the Special Counsel to consider the right of the American people to know what has happened. Nothing, we believe, is more important to the survival of democracy than the light of justice, and nothing more damaging than the curtain of secrecy that today surrounds the highest office in the land.

Joe Lauria and The Washington Post's Attacks on Jason Leopold

We are well aware of the Lauria article and the series of attacks The Washington Post has launched against Jason Leopold and Truthout. As always, we will carefully consider all information and then publish a thoughtful response. In this case, we will publish our response on Wednesday, June 21, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

Support Lt. Ehren Watada this Saturday at Ft. Lewis

Me and my family were fortunate to be able to spend some time with Lt. Watada who is resisting "just following orders" and will not participate in an illegal war, an act of aggression which goes against the United States Constitution. He is not a conscientious objector as he feel it is his duty to fight to defend the Constitution and America. He is not going absent without leave. He is standing up and resisting.

I will be laying in the street outside of Ft. Lewis main gate. He is very worried that the people wanting to shield him will be hurt. He has asked that anyone who can attend will bring video cameras so that the Citizens who feel responsible to defend his rights won't be harmed. I am going to be setting up alerts and asking other groups and the "media" to attend this Saturday as I try to help an Officer who refuses to be a war criminal for Bush.
-Damnit Janet on Booman Tribune. I will post more information as it becomes available.

Al Gore on Keith Olbermann, Anderson Cooper and Charlie Rose TODAY!

"On Monday, Al Gore will appear on the shows listed below. Please be
sure to
double check the times in your local listings and tune in.

Charlie Rose on PBS
1:30PM or 11:30PM EST in New York City
11:00PM EST in Washington, DC
1:00PM CST in Nashville
11:30PM PST in Los Angeles

Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC
8:00PM EST
7:00PM CST
8:00PM PST

Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN
10:00PM EST
9:00PM CST
7:00PM PST"

-from my secret mole in the Gore community.

Listen to Jason Leopold LIVE now on KIRO710 (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Can anyone tell us what he said?

Dave Ross has Leopold as his guest right now. What little I've heard seems very sympathetic. Listen on 710AM or online here now, or it may be podcast later.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"Keeping America Scared"--

Media Messaging 101: Mini-soundbites from our opponents.
Two minutes and twenty three seconds of video.-from music for america.

"The Cocktail That Saved Karl Rove's Ass"

Arianna breaks it down. There are more twists and turns in this than I can follow, but I'm sure some of you are more awake than me. Leave your sound bite in the comments:

It's been a week since Patrick Fitzgerald decided that he couldn't make the case against Karl Rove, and I'm amazed that more hasn't been made of the role Viveca Novak played in Rove's narrow escape from indictment. She was his human stay-out-of-jail-free card.

For those of you who don't remember this blip on the Plamegate radar, Novak was the Time magazine reporter who, over drinks with her old pal attorney Robert Luskin in the summer or early fall of 2004 at Washington's Café Deluxe, let it slip that his client Rove had been one of the sources who'd leaked the lowdown on Valerie Plame to Matt Cooper.

By the time Novak spilled the beans to Luskin, Rove had already appeared before the grand jury once and had told federal investigators he had no recollection of talking to Cooper. Novak's unconscionable blabbing about a colleague's source led Luskin to thank her and to do an email search which turned up a document noting that Cooper and Rove had indeed spoken. As the Wall Street Journal put it earlier this week:

But the issue of whether Mr. Rove genuinely forgot this conversation or purposely lied wasn't settled. A key sticking point for the prosecutor was how Mr. Luskin could have known that his client was a source for Mr. Cooper if Mr. Rove hadn't told him. Had Mr. Rove lied about not remembering the conversation?

Then, last October, Mr. Luskin's media relationships and his rapport with Mr. Fitzgerald bore fruit. During a pair of meetings with the prosecutor just before he was set to seek indictments, Mr. Luskin explained that he heard from Viveca Novak, who then worked at Time magazine, over drinks at a Washington bistro one night that chatter around her newsroom indicated Mr. Cooper considered Mr. Rove a source for information about Ms. Plame.

Mr. Fitzgerald then took testimony from her and had Mr. Rove return to the grand jury room to discuss this new information. Perjury cases are notoriously difficult to win because a prosecutor has to prove that a person willfully made false statements under oath. In this matter, legal experts say Mr. Luskin's discovery of the Hadley email and revelation of his discussion with Ms. Novak may have created enough reasonable doubt.

After loosening her lips to Luskin, Novak zipped them shut, saying nothing to her editors at Time while continuing to cover the Plamegate story. Making matters worse, in the fall of 2005 she appeared before Fitzgerald and still did not tell her editors at Time and still continued to cover the case. Eventually she acknowledged to her editors and Time's readers that she had played a key role in Rove's defense. Earlier this year, she quietly took a buyout at Time and now works for the Annenberg Center assessing, of all things, the honesty of campaign ads.

The sad truth is that Novak's perfidy did more to stymie the indictment of Karl Rove than anything else, and while it would be nice to believe that Rove may yet face criminal justice for his actions, it's unlikely that he will.

But even if he's never charged, Rove still confirmed the identity of a covert CIA operative to Bob Novak who then published it. He leaked it to Matt Cooper who, unlike either Novak, tried to expose what the Bush White House was up to. Rove then lied about being the source of the leak for a year, in the process hanging Scott McClellan out to dry by letting him tell the press and the American public that Rove had assured him he had no involvement with the leak.

And, even if you believe Rove's improbable tale that his conversation with Cooper had somehow slipped his mind, he was reminded of it by Viveca Novak via Luskin by the spring of 2004 and could easily have ended Cooper and Time's prolonged fight to protect him as a source and told the president that he had been one of the leakers (saving his boss from the embarrassment of vowing to fire anyone involved, then pulling back on that pledge once it became clear that that would mean cutting loose his beloved Turd Blossom).

But Rove kept his mouth shut, preferring swift boating and rousing the country to the threat of gay marriage. For all these reasons, Rove should not be allowed to remain a part of the administration and Bush should not be allowed to keep him on without shame.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"Frank Rich: Karl Rove beats the Democrats again"

"Karl Rove beats the Democrats again," writes Frank Rich for his weekly column slated for Sunday's New York Times, RAW STORY has found.

Rich notes that even though Iraq has been a "loser" for the Bush Administration, the Republicans have been able to capitalize politically on it since the Democratic Party has been unable to come up with a "stirring narrative that defines their views."

"What's most impressive about Rove, however, is not his ruthlessness, it's his unshakable faith in the power of a story," writes Rich. "The story he's stuck with, Iraq, is a loser, but he knows it won't lose at the polls if there's no story to counter it."

"And so he tells it over and over, confident that the Democrats won't tell their own," Rich continues. "And they don't -- whether about Iraq or much else."

"The question for the Democrats is less whether they tilt left, right or center, than whether they can find a stirring narrative that defines their views, not just the Republicans," Rich writes.
Howie opinion: Rich puts down in writing what my gut has been telling me.

"Iraq is Over"

1. No WMDs. 2. No link to Al Qaeda. 3. Democracy installed. 4. Regime change accomplished.

Iraq. Check.

What's left? What are we still doing over there?-Cenk Uygur on The Huffington Post.

I didn't take notes, but as best I can recall, this was Darcy Burner's basic message on Friday in Westlake Park.

Peter Daou: "Media Use Coulter to Suggest Blogs Are Impotent"

From Daou's guest blog on Crooks and Liars:
Anybody who watched Ann Coulter's June 14th appearance on the Tonight Show had to realize that it was a watershed moment in the war between the establishment media and the progressive netroots, a community fresh off the successful YearlyKos convention. It was also a signal to Democrats that liberal ideology can be denigrated with impunity. Had the words "Jew" or "Christian" or "Conservative" been substituted for "Liberal" we'd be waking up to a national scandal.

Never mind that Jay Leno and George Carlin sat like trembling lambs while Coulter spewed gutter-level invective at millions of Americans - we've already seen the same obsequiousness from Larry King, Matt Lauer (who ended his faux-debate with Coulter by saying "always fun to have you") and others. The larger issue here is that despite an uproar from the progressive netroots, NBC saw fit to give Coulter a platform to continue her liberal-scapegoating and to slander women who lost their husbands on 9/11. (For the record, many rightwing bloggers denounced Coulter and several Democrats attacked her, but their focus was the substance of Coulter's words, not a criticism of the media outlets who continue to provide her a national forum.)

It's hard to deny that Coulter's words border on incitement. What she says is neither amusing nor smart nor humorous nor factual nor worthy of airing on a major media outlet. It treats a substantial segment of the population as sub-human, as creatures deserving of public scorn and worse (She said Jesus would say that "we are called upon to do battle" on liberalism). Careful not to violate Godwin's Law, I'll refrain from the obvious comparisons, but what we're dealing with here is a dangerous inflection point in American politics. When this kind of opprobrium is peddled by major media outlets, it's high time that the Democratic establishment and the larger progressive community understand that this is a make-or-break showdown with the media.

"The Burner Rally"

More photos and two short quotes from The Stranger's Blog (Slog):
Burner cast herself as the candidate who would stand up to the president, rather than stand with him. “Together, we are going to stop George Bush,” she told the crowd. State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz was there and, as usual, he was good for a rabid quote: “This administration is nothing but a second-rate, jewlery store smash-and-grab robbery.”
"fanatical: very enthusiastic about an idea, belief, or activity, often to the point of being blind to other opinions, beliefs, or preferences."
I beg to differ with Mr. Sanders: I think Dwight's description is perfectly reasonable and accurate.

The Occupation of Iraq Will Continue

"On our side: Feingold, Harkin, Boxer, Kennedy, Kerry, and Byrd.
On their side: Hillary Clinton and the other 92."-from the post by David Swanson, "Senate Rejects U.S. Troop Pullout in Iraq" on The House did the same thing.

"Poll: Majority wants Iraq pullout date set" from CNN underscores the point.

"Karl Rove Targets the Netroots"

David Goldstein's new commentary on The Huffington Post:
Though it will likely pass by most pundits unnoticed, President Bush will make political history today when his limo rolls into the pricey Seattle suburb of Medina: the ensuing well-heeled fundraiser will mark the first time uber-advisor Karl Rove trains the full force of presidential firepower against a "Netroots Endorsed" challenger.

Local Republicans expect the President to raise a stunning $800,000 today for Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-08) who is struggling to win a second term in the face of a surging campaign from Democratic newcomer Darcy Burner. That the GOP would attempt to gain an overwhelming financial advantage is not surprising, but that they feel the need to bring in the POTUS against an un-recruited, until recently unknown challenger in a district the Democrats have never won should say something about our changing political landscape. Unlike some of the more high profile Netroots Endorsed candidates like John Tester and Ned Lamont, whose local campaigns quickly caught national attention, Burner rose to prominence on the shoulders of local bloggers. But now that national blogs like Daily Kos and MyDD have added her to their short list of endorsed candidates, the GOP has taken notice.

If there was any question as to whether the Democratic establishment "gets" the growing power of the netroots it was put to rest by the flattering attention lavished on bloggers at last weekend's Yearly Kos convention. President Bush's trip to Seattle to campaign against Burner now confirms that Rove "gets it" too.

Last month Rove told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that conservatives should read and fear "Crashing the Gate"; clearly Rove has and he does. We are witnessing the emergence of a powerful new force in American politics, and we should expect Rove to do everything he can to crush it before it gets off the ground.


"Obviously the president is generating money for me as well," she said, pointing to her own Internet appeals that feature the visit. She loved seeing Bush and Reichert in the same photo frame, saying that subliminally ties them together and undoes Reichert's effort to create distance.

"This clearly shows what we have been saying all along, that Dave Reichert is a Bush Republican," Burner said. "Reichert is a rubber stamp for the Bush agenda and if people don't like the Bush agenda, they don't want to vote for Dave Reichert.

"That will clearly be one of the big issues of the campaign. People are clearly unhappy with the direction of the country."-Darcy Burner, from the story in the Seattle P-I.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"Hard Sell"

From Garance Franke-Ruta, Senior Editor of The American Prospect Online:
Warner flops with the Kossaks, gets a bounce with the MSM, and learns that courting the Democratic netroots is no simple thing. Post-keynote, Warner met with a handful of carefully selected bloggers in an upstairs Riviera Hotel & Casino skybox. It was a surprisingly D.C.-centric crowd, featuring netroots regulars like former lobbyist and Clark volunteer coordinator Howard Park; owner Bob Fertik, a Yale-educated proponent of impeaching Bush; labor lawyer Nathan Newman, also Yale educated, now a policy director at a legislative advocacy group and a TPMCafe regular; and Adam Bonin, the round-faced Philadelphia attorney who represented DailyKos founder Markos Zuniga Moulitsas and others before the Federal Election Commission earlier this year as bloggers defended themselves against possible regulation.

Even the outside-the-Beltway bloggers who made the cut for the exclusive sit-down were part of the more establishment crowd. Joan McCarter, 42, a.k.a. front-page writer McJoan on DailyKos, used to be a legislative aide to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, and her father chaired the Idaho Democratic Party during the Frank Church era, while blogger Natasha Celine of Pacific Views cut her teeth interviewing presidential candidates as one of the girls on the bus during Howard Dean’s Sleepless Summer Tour in August 2003.

Warner, a low-talker, and the bloggers discussed everything from labor policy to the Iraq War in soft monotones, but as they did so it became clear that the starry-eyed idealist in the room was the candidate, not the activists, whose deep cynicism about the political system caused them to question Warner’s belief in the willingness of Republican legislators to engage in bipartisan collaborations on such matters as health-care reform. “I’ll just tell you, I think you’re wrong,” Warner told one blogger who said he thought counting on Republican goodwill was a mistake.

A commitment to bipartisan legislating and to a politics that’s neither left nor right might have been a necessity for Warner in Virginia, a southern Red state where he faced a a Republican legislature, but it made some bloggers think he is naïve when it comes to the national scene. “Anyone who believes that if they become President and reach out to Republicans the Republicans will respond nicely is an idiot,” said Duncan Black, a.k.a. Atrios, 34, the laconic economist with floppy bangs who runs Eschaton, one of the top liberal blogs nationwide, over drinks later that day.

“He’s a nice guy with a positive record but he didn’t grasp the gravity of the times,” chimed in Cenk Uygur, the Wharton-educated host of The Young Turks radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. “Right now is panic time.”

For people drawn into politics by the tough talk of Howard Dean and Al Gore’s impassioned speeches, Warner seemed like a relic from the Clinton era, not a voice for the future. “Feingold,” said Uygur. “I love Feingold.”

That was a common sentiment at YearlyKos, and it belies Moulitsas’ frequently stated sentiment that the netroots are nonideological and committed, above all else, to winning.

Not everyone was negative on Warner. “I thought he was stiff but I also thought he was very generous,” said Feldman of Warner’s “Bar Mitzvah,” as some bloggers took to calling the glitzy bash. “The catering didn’t hit the bulls-eye but there was a lot of buzz in that room. Even though people were criticizing it, they loved it.”

Others felt Warner was being condemned by a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude. “I heard a couple of people complaining that it was too excessive, but personally I think he’s in a no-win situation with that, because bloggers always say, ‘Pay attention to us!,’ and then when they do they say, ‘Stop pandering!’” said Hunter, 38, a corporate Internet consultant from Mendocino Country, California, who blogs on the Kos front page and prefers to remain pseudonymous. “I feel for him.”

So did many of the less politically plugged in conference attendees. Indeed, multiple interviews revealed a pattern that would seem to bode well for Warner’s prospects outside the blogosphere, in that the less people knew about him in advance, the more genuinely positive their reaction to his speech was. Attendee Helen Brown, a 50-something housewife with four children from Massachusetts, told me she thought Warner was “sincere, intelligent” and “speaks the truth,” while Diane Palmer, a retired boomer and “gymnastics mom” from Tempe, Arizona, said: “I liked what he had to say. I learned stuff about him. The only other impression of him was that horrible New York Times cover of the magazine.”

Still, all the griping was clearly having an impact on Warner’s internet strategist Jerome Armstrong by Sunday morning, who dismissed the snipers as “ideological” and “pretty left wing.”

“It wasn’t going to be a love-in to begin with,” Armstrong sighed as the final brunch session of the conference wound down. “This was a great opportunity for bloggers to meet Warner. But also, the whole blogosphere and broader press was focused on this event. Coming here was a no-brainer.”

"Horse's ass radio to feature burner, sims, phillips, connelly"

From Michael Hood at blatherWatch:
David Goldstein (KIRO Sundays, 7-10p) is racking up great guests for this Sunday's show.They include 8th district candidate, Darcy Burner; County Executive Ron Sims, King County Council President Larry Phillips; and Joel Connelly, veteran Seattle PI political pundit.

Burner is all over the news today because her fledgling candidacy has so put the fear of god into Republican haircut Dave Reichert that he risked being associated with President Bush, who flew in today for a big bucks fundraiser on posh Mercer Island.

This from this morning's NY Times:

Democratic hopes of retaking the House, party strategists say, could hinge on places like Bellevue, a city of 107,000 just across Lake Washington from Seattle. Here, a fast-growing Asian population and an influx of empty-nesters and singles living in new residential complexes have helped to make this the kind of district that, while continuing to send a Republican to Congress, has turned increasingly Democratic.

Eli Sanders at Slog reports that not only is Bush unpopular in the 8th, (he lost there to Kerry in 2004) but Reichert's numbers are wobbly in the district, despite his attempts to distance himself from the failed presidency. Read all about it here.

Bets were lost all over town, today that there wouldn't be a photo released with both Reichert and Bush. The Seattle Times took one of the two at the door of Bush's plane- expect it soon in Burner ads.

Burner will be on Horses's ass radio at 8p.

At 7p, Goldy will talk to Phillips about what's going to happen with vote-by-mail, now that Dean Logan is leaving. Ron Sims will join them and take calls from listeners.

Bloggers Molly Martin from The (liberal) Girl Next Door and Will Kelley-Kamp of Pike Place Politics will join Goldy in the last hour for some fun and jolly scorn, at the expense, no doubt, of conservatives.

"A picture says a thousand words"

This is the money shot of Reichert and Bush. At Westlake today, the weather was kinda questionable, but cleared up and got sunny just as Darcy began her rip roaring talk. Immediately after she finished talking, the skies poured down rain. A good omen.

Andrew from Northwest Progressive Institute has photos of Darcy's rally.

The Seattle Times, P-I, KING5, and KOMO have stories.


Go to Westlake Center today for a rally for Darcy Burner. It starts at 11:30 AM.

"Bush/Kerry proxy rematch in the 8th"

From David Postman's Seattle Times blog.
On the same day President Bush goes to Medina to raise money for Congressman Dave Reichert, his 2004 opponent in the presidential race, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, will be in San Francisco raising money for Darcy Burner, Reichert's Democratic opponent.

Burner flies to San Francisco tomorrow (Friday) to appear with Kerry at a fundraiser. Already, Kerry has used his national e-mail list to raise more than $27,000 for Burner, according to Burner campaign manager Zach Silk.

"He's just been incredible," Silk said of Kerry.

The S.F. event, Silk said, is at the home of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and is part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red to Blue program, which gives targeted help to Democratic challengers.

Bush can raise more money tomorrow. But in the 8th District, Kerry was a bit more popular than Bush in the 2004 election. Kerry got 51 percent of the vote, while Bush got 48.