Saturday, February 3, 2007

"In times like these, we don't need to redefine the Democratic Party, we need to reclaim the Democratic Party"

Straight to you from my friends at PoliticsTV is the video of John Edwards homerun speech yesterday at the DNC Winter Meeting. The title of this post joins the title of my post about his speech at Riverside Church in NYC on MLK Day as favorite lines that really define the essence of the 2008 Presidential campaign. The other line was "It's time for Americans to be patriotic about something other than war." Edwards keeps getting better. He's far better than he was in 2004 and I'm looking forward to following his progress.

Enjoy the video, but I must say, it doesn't do justice to the reaction from the crowd. The cheers were so loud at times, that you couldn't hear what he was saying. When he comes to campaign near you, GO. You won't regret it.

Friday, February 2, 2007

'08 Hopefuls Stump Under Same Roof for First Time

The General Session at today's Democratic National Committee meeting dealt with a little party business. However, the main attraction, which packed the ballroom at the Washington Hilton, was the convergence of the men and woman seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for President.

Every speech given was well received by those gathered. Each speech had its own merits. During my little bit of downtime before another event, I wanted to give you the "highlight" of the Obama, Edwards, and Clinton speeches. And when I say "highlight", what I mean is: what I thought about it.....

Barack Obama was greeted like a rock star. He gave a thoughtful, straight forward speech. He returned to campaign themes that he has used before: "it's not about hype", "our politics are too small", and about "the need for a genuine debate about concrete ideas." His speech contained many inspirational notions, but it seemed to contradict reality. Were it not for hype, he would never be considered a Presidential contender, after two years in the U.S. Senate. While his lofty notions and ideas appeal to the rank and file, they lack the concrete specifics he calls for at the same time. I understand that you can't talk detailed policy in a stump speech, but the main criticism coming from activists is that they're not sure what Obama wants to do for America besides raise the level of political discourse. I hope in the near future, Obama will begin to deliver his ideas on how to get us out of Iraq, how to keep jobs in America, how to provide Universal Healthcare, and on many more important issues.

John Edwards entered to the tune of a country song that I recognized, but don't know the name of. The recognizable lyric was "This is my country"....or something like that. He started out slowly, talking about people in different situations. I wasn't quite sure where he was headed with it, then he brought it all together in a rousing, momentum building rally cry to "Stand with" each of the people whose stories he had just told and to "Stand with America." From that moment on, Edwards was on fire. He spoke to the historical values of the Democratic Party to take care of children, carry the mantle on education, and help eradicate poverty. He talked about working people worrying about losing their pensions and having no safety net after thirty years of work. The unions were mentioned several times and cheered loudly in response. His words about the War in Iraq were by far the strongest in opposition, which was very well received. Edwards' message was populist, inspiring, and incredibly popular. And....he won the standing ovation competition.

Hillary Clinton also entered the room like a rock star. She delivered a traditional stump style speech that was well received by those in the cavernous room. She covered all the right points: Bush's failed leadership, the need for healthcare, the economy, jobs, and Iraq. There was one thing I just couldn't get out of my head, though: the vote she cast to go to war in 2002. I'm very confused about my opinion on this. On one side of the room, Code Pink, an anti-war organization, staged a small protest. They each had a letter on their shirts that altogether read "NO WAR" and with their left hands, held up in peace signs. I know that Hillary has said many things about the vote that she cast to go to war. Today, she even said "If I was President in 2002, we would not have gone to war in Iraq." So, she's danced all around saying her vote was wrong and apologizing for it. I just don't understand why she won't do that. For me and many other party activists, that will remain an issue in the back of our minds. It may end up being an issue that will make room for someone else to gain support. That being said, she also gave a great speech and she's still the front-runner among the establishment.

I'd say each of these three will be well-received around the country. But, each of their speeches were different. As they take their campaigns from State to State and City to City, people will decide which ideas and style they want to represent them in November 2008. Given that each of their approaches is different enough, we may see a narrowing of the field sooner than we all think.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

DNC Meeting: Young Democrats lose quest, but it's okay. Really!

The big activity at this afternoon's DNC Winter meeting occurred late in the day during the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting. The Young Democrats, led by YD President Chris Gallaway of Virginia, sought a change in Party Rules to require State Parties to have goals and timetables for increasing youth representation in the delegate selection process.

According to Phil McNamara, DNC Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection, in the late 70's "youth" was included in a group for which the Party sought Affirmative Action policies to increase their representation in Party Affairs. By 1980, the word "youth" had been deleted.

The Young Democrats' Gallaway correctly contends that the Charter of the Democratic Party includes "youth" in the list of constituencies for which the Party "shall adopt and implement an affirmative action program which provides for representation as nearly as practicable of the aforementioned groups, as indicated by their presence in the Democratic electorate."

Currently the DNC Rules require equal representation between men and women. It also requires State Parties to have goals of representation by African-Americans, Asian/Pacific-Islanders, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Gallaway and his band of young party activists sought to have the Rules changed to reflect the Charter by having "youth" added to this list. They, in fact, believe there should have been no other choice because their position is that the Rules are in violation of the Charter

There seemed to be ample support for the YD's position. However their motion didn't pass. Why? Apparently they missed a date certain that amendments must be filed. They did however get a compromise passed which was offered by DNC Staff and DNC's General Counsel. The insertion of one sentence directly states that State delegate selection plans may "establish goals and timetables for the under-represented groups identified in Rule 7.....Such as the special importance of the inclusion of youth as reflected in the Party's Charter." In other words, they make it optional for States to include additional groups, including youth, to their goals for representation. Confusing enough?

So, they didn't get what they wanted, but it's okay. Here's why: when young people run for Delegate, they win! I've done it twice and there is incredible support among the party activists to provide young people with the experience of attending a national convention.

The problem is that not enough young people are knowledgable about the complex process to become a National Delegate. It begins at local precinct reorganization and ends at the election of Delegates at the State Convention, which is usually several months later. I am convinced that if the Young Democrats make a concerted effort to educate their members about the process by which they can be a Delegate to the National Convention, they will significantly increase their representation with outstanding young Democratic activists.

I hope they are not too disappointed to get to work on exactly that. They can surely reach 20% percent representation and perhaps surpass it. They will find sympathetic Democrats all around the country that will elect them as long as they work for it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is Tony Dungy a Right Winger?

For those of you who don't recognize the name, Tony Dungy is the Coach of the Indiana Colts. And if you don't follow sports, they're headed to Miami for the Super Bowl.

So a fellow blogger, Bill Brown, has posted here about Coach Dungy being honored at a Banquet of the Indiana Family Institute. Reverend James Dobson from Focus on the Family supports IFI as an affiliated Family Policy Council. You remember Dobson, don't you? He's the right winger who thinks that John McCain is a liberal. This guy is probably does coffee with Darth Vader himself.

Why would Tony Dungy want to be honored by such an organization? These organizations exist to "protect the home" and "protect the family". This is what a PR professional came up with to avoid saying that they hate gays and lesbians. In other words, they only want to protect SOME families. There are millions of same sex families in our country. It perplexes me why there is even an argument about whether or not they deserve the same rights, privileges, and protections as other families. Does Tony Dungy support discriminating against them? How about the ownership of the Indiana Colts? We should ask.

What You Need to Believe to Be A Republican

Okay, so I'll freely admit that this came from a bulletin post on MySpace. It may not be ENTIRELY factually true, but, it's clever and shows the messed up logic that is the core of Republican beliefs. I'd love to see some Republicans squirm in their seat to justify all of this.

-Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

-Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

-Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

-The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is
enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

-A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

-The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

-If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

-A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

-Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is

-HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

-Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

-A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

-Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

-The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

-Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

-Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity).

-What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is

-Support hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bush Administration Non-Responsive to Waxman

This is from today's Congress Daily:
Panel Steamed Over Withheld Documents
The Bush administration's incomplete response to a House committee's request for documents related to a hearing today on global climate change is leaving lawmakers and staff from both parties warm under the collar.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Waxman requested documents from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, hoping to use them to underscore the suggestion that the administration has a habit of editing scientific reports to downplay the effects of global warming.

By presstime Monday, documents that were requested as recently as last week and as far back as six months ago had not been provided to the committee.
This is not just mildly annoying. It's completely outrageous. I thought it was outrageous when they ignored Waxman's requests when he was the Ranking Minority Member of the Committee. Now he's the Chairman and that kind of behavior is unacceptable. The nerve of this Administration to ignore requests of the House Oversight and Government Reform is vexxing to me.

One of the largest motivating factors that drove voters to the polls in the midterm election was corruption. While Waxman is trying to find the truth, Bush appointees are clearly trying to stall that pursuit. Perhaps they are hoping they can wait it out for the next two years. Whatever their motivation, it is despicable and disrespectful to Congress.

If I were Chairman Waxman, I would subpoena the head of the White House Council on Environmental Equality and ask him where all of the missing documents are. Then I would tell him that the hearing was finished, that it would be rescheduled, and that he best do what it takes to provide the Committee with the requested documents before he showed his face before Congress again. Otherwise, he should face being found in contempt of Congress.

Enough playing around. This Administration has had a free pass for six years. There's no time for monkey business here. Only time for the people's business. Let's get to it.

Here is a video from today's hearing where Chairman Waxman reviews some of the edits that Bush appointees made to the environmental reports issued. I love the part where he points out that the Chief of Staff that suggested many of the edits was not a scientist, but a former lawyer for the Petroleum industry. Classic Bush.

More McCain Flip Flops

In an earlier post, I highlighted some of the flip flops of John McCain. This new video, produced by Robert Greenwald at Brave New Films is pretty hard hitting on McCain. It's a part of an educational website they have launched:

Congrats to Robert and his team on such a creative video. I hope people take notice that the Straight Talk Express has has a derailment of massive proportion. It's actually pretty sad to see how embroiled he has become in so much double talk that he doesn't seem to remember what he believes in anymore.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Jane Fonda, Fox News, and the Partridge Family

Fox News anchor John Gibson just had child star Danny Bonduce on his show to talk about Jane Fonda's presence at the anti-war rally and march in Washington on Saturday. What a crock to give this guy a microphone! Did anyone catch his reality show "Breaking Bonaduce"? I hope you didn't waste the time to hear his countless, endless drunken rants.

Check out this video. I should say up front that I don't know anything about The Resistance Manifesto or the guy interviewing him. But, about a minute and a half into it, Bonaduce loses it. But then again, it becomes instantly clear why Fox News puts him in front of a camera.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

March in Washington

Yesterday, I participated in the Rally/March against the Iraq War. It's really only the second March I've participated in. The first one was the March for Women's Lives in 2004. So, it's been two and a half years since my last one.

There were a couple of differences. First, the dynamic was different. The March for Women's Lives was much larger and much more professionally done. Given, they had more time and a larger budget with with to stage such a large event. They had about a million people. If I had to guess, there were about a hundred thousand at the march yesterday. And, that is a great turnout. I don't mean to compare the turnout for the two. Yesterday's march was organized on a shoestring budget by a handful of dedicated activists in the span of a few weeks. By all accounts, it was a huge success.

But, I want to say a couple things about it. First, it was definitely full of speakers from the far left. Maybe the middle left folks weren't invited to speak. There has been some criticism that no Senators showed up and only six or so Members of Congress. But, at the same time, the speakers included some clearly anti-Israel folks. That threw me for a loop. I know we're largely pro-Israel in this country and there is probably a lack of point of view from the Palestinian side. But, to give a prominent speaking voice to someone so clearly anti-Israel bothers me. I just wanted to say that.

I'm a novice at anti-war demonstrations and will probably remain a novice. Hopefully, anyway. But, I think it's a bad idea to let smack be talked about Israel unless you're going to allow someone to talk about all the grievances that they have against the Palestinians. Then 'bout we just let the discourse remain on how America is involved in a war we have no business being in? That's probably a better idea.

The criticism being said, I had a great time. The most striking thing that I noticed was the diversity of people present. Young and old, rich and poor, all kinds of races and cultures, and liberals and moderates. Heck, maybe there were even a few Republicans present! (I did see a fur coat!) These are the faces of our progressive movement. We are like herding cats, yet we always manage to come together for a cause. Not everyone there had the same opinions on the war. We didn't all agree with every speaker. But, we all agree on one thing. We need a change of course on Iraq policy.

Do you realize we went from "Stay the course" to "Democrats are cut and run"? The Bush Administration has put more thought into rhetoric than actual strategic policy. How awful is that?