Party Leadership and Voter Turnout

To people complaining about the leadership of the Democrats:

This is what we have gotten for staying out of the process ourselves for so long. So many people have had a "hands off" approach to politics. For so many of us, politics has been something for other people to do. Other people set up tables in front of supermarkets and registered people to vote. Other people go door to door in their neighborhoods talking to people about voting and about who they support and why. Other people show up at political party meetings.

Well, that's what politics IS! Politics and democracy are about showing up and voting. What do you think the Democratic Party would be like if the people who voted Green had instead actually bothered to show up and vote for local Democratic Party leadership? That translates into state party leadership, which translates into national party leadership. How many people reading this even KNOW what a Democratic Club is, and how to join the one where they live?

Do you know why so many people don't vote? Because people aren't getting them registered, and then getting them to the polls on election day! That's the old fashioned way -- walking your neighborhood and talking to people and then getting every single one of them to the polls on election day! Voter turnout has dropped because the day-to-day work of getting people registered and getting them to the polls has dropped.

Think about this -- A couple of decades ago the Christian Right started showing up at Republican Party clubs and meetings and events, and look what the Republican Party is now. And THEY are getting people to the polls. It takes some work, and some "foot soldiers." And it brings results. We're living under the results of THEIR organizing efforts, and not liking it too much.

And think about this -- about half the eligible people don't vote, while polls show that more than half of those people see things our way. Well that means there are a lot of people who could be voting our way. If we got off our asses and started going out and talking to people and registering them to vote and then getting them to the polls on election day we could increase the Democratic vote count quite a bit -- at a time when an increase only 2 or 3% would swing the entire congress and Presidency to our side!

Politics takes a bit of work, and if YOU aren't out there DOING that work, then shut up. (Not you, of course, I mean people in general.)

This is one thing that is so great about the Dean campaign! They are reaching out to thousands and thousands of regular people and getting them involved. 75,000 people showed up at Meetups last night and wrote letters to voters in New Hampshire. I was at one of those Meetups, and it was an exhilarating experience seeing so many people doing something like that for the first time in their lives, as well as knowing the effect those letters are going to have! And the Dean people are starting to talk about getting people walking their neighborhoods and all of the things I wrote about above. REGULAR people! If this keeps up it is going to make a huge difference to America because people like US are going to get involved, and get other people to vote, and choose the party leadership and maybe even run for office. Wow!

It is our own non-involvement that is responsible for the kind of leadership we're all complaining about.

This came from something I left as a comment over at Hullabaloo.

Promise Breakers

Great piece over at P.L.A. on breaking promises.

Voting Machines

RuminateThis on voting machines.

Just One More Example

Here's just one more example of the benefits of privatization.

A recruiting firm hired by the Bush administration to hire airport screeners set up "recruiting centers" at posh resorts. For example, "20 recruiters to lived for seven weeks in a Telluride resort in order to hire 50 screeners."

The total bill to the government? Only $700 million.

No wonder the screeners aren't allowed to join a union.

Did They Read It?

Al Gore's speech got me thinking:
"Two years ago yesterday, for example, according to the Wall Street Journal, the President was apparently advised in specific language that Al Qaeda was going to hijack some airplanes to conduct a terrorist strike inside the U.S.

I understand his concern about people knowing exactly what he read in the privacy of the Oval Office, and there is a legitimate reason for treating such memos to the President with care. But that concern has to be balanced against the national interest in improving the way America deals with such information. And the apparently chaotic procedures that were used to handle the forged nuclear documents from Niger certainly show evidence that there is room for improvement in the way the White House is dealing with intelligence memos. Along with other members of the previous administration, I certainly want the commission to have access to any and all documents sent to the White House while we were there that have any bearing on this issue. And President Bush should let the commission see the ones that he read too. "
This made me think about National Security Advisor Rice's excuse for the Nigerian uranium claim finding its way into the President's State of the Union speech:
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other aides pointed repeatedly to the fact that doubts about the intelligence appeared in a footnote, written by the State Department, buried deep in a top-secret National Intelligence Estimate.

That footnote was thus not read by Bush, Rice or other top aides, said a White House official, on condition of anonymity.
So here is my question. We now know that the President's briefing prior to September 11, 2001 stated that al-Queda was going to hijack some airplanes. Did they bother to read it?

Remember, President Bush was on his month-long vacation. He is known to avoid doing his homework. Their excuse for the Nigerian uranium claim was that none of them read the intelligence briefing in depth. Did 9/11 happen because Bush and the people around him didn't bother to read their intelligence briefings? Is this why the Republicans are blocking a serious look at what led to 9/11? They are obviously hiding something. Is it this?

Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Steve Gilliard, who posts at Daily Kos, has a new blog of his own.

Gore's Speech to MoveOn

The text of Al Gore's speech to MoveOn today is here. Excerpt:
"Earlier, I mentioned the feeling many have that something basic has gone wrong. Whatever it is, I think it has a lot to do with the way we seek the truth and try in good faith to use facts as the basis for debates about our future -- allowing for the unavoidable tendency we all have to get swept up in our enthusiasms.

That last point is worth highlighting. Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith, and we're all used to that. I've even been guilty of it myself on occasion. But there is a big difference between that and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty.

Unfortunately, I think it is no longer possible to avoid the conclusion that what the country is dealing with in the Bush Presidency is the latter. That is really the nub of the problem -- the common source for most of the false impressions that have been frustrating the normal and healthy workings of our democracy.

Americans have always believed that we the people have a right to know the truth and that the truth will set us free. The very idea of self-government depends upon honest and open debate as the preferred method for pursuing the truth -- and a shared respect for the Rule of Reason as the best way to establish the truth.

The Bush Administration routinely shows disrespect for that whole basic process, and I think it's partly because they feel as if they already know the truth and aren't very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it. They and the members of groups that belong to their ideological coalition are true believers in each other's agendas. "
And this:
"The administration has developed a highly effective propaganda machine to imbed in the public mind mythologies that grow out of the one central doctrine that all of the special interests agree on, which -- in its purest form -- is that government is very bad and should be done away with as much as possible -- except the parts of it that redirect money through big contracts to industries that have won their way into the inner circle.

For the same reasons they push the impression that government is bad, they also promote the myth that there really is no such thing as the public interest. What's important to them is private interests. And what they really mean is that those who have a lot of wealth should be left alone, rather than be called upon to reinvest in society through taxes. "
Sounds JUST like what I wrote yesterday in Think Tanks!
The right has a comprehensive, coordinated network of advocacy organizations, working to change public attitudes, pushing an entire ideological framework that says there are "market solutions" to almost every problem. (Recently, as you know, they even pushed a market solution to terrorism - a "trading room" in the Pentagon where people would place bets on terrorist attacks.)

The right's advocacy organizations advocate privatization, deregulation, and limiting government. Moderates and progressives need organizations that perform a similar function -- to counter this right-wing ideological marketing effort.


Worst-Case Scenario

Global Warming May Be Speeding Up, Fears Scientist.

This certainly isn't going to "thaw" relations between Europe and the Bush administration.

Rather Provocative!

Brief Intelligence says some rather provocative things in "Connecting the Dots - Part One" and "Part II". Rather provocative indeed! Yes, indeedy! Provocative. Rather. Oh, my!

Even more so if you read those after reading this, as I had just done. (Speaking of connecting dots...)

Think Tanks

This is a replacement of a Think Tanks piece that was posted yesterday by accident.

A good article on right-wing think tanks, reprinted at, of all places, the Heritage Foundation, The charge of the think-tanks.

A key point, similar to one I made before in Don't Blame the Democrats. From Charge of the think tanks:
"The think-tanks' influence is partly related to the intellectual barrenness of America's two main parties. The Democrats and Republicans are little more than vehicles for raising and distributing campaign contributions. They have no ability to generate ideas of their own, and little control over individual politicians trying to burnish their reputations with new thinking."
From Don't Blame the Democrats:
The Republicans have in place a broad "idea development and communication infrastructure" that has successfully moved the public to the right. This involves "think tanks" like the Heritage Foundation supplying position papers, talking points and commentary that goes through a marketing department and are endlessly repeated to the public through so many channels, from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News to the Washington Times. This communications machine has been called "The Mighty Wurlitzer."

After the public has been barraged with the messaging from The Mighty Wurlizter, the Republican politicians step in and harvest the results.
Politicians and parties respond to the public. To change the direction of the country we need organizations that work to change the underlying attitudes of the public. The right has a comprehensive, coordinated network of advocacy organizations, working to change public attitudes, pushing an entire ideological framework that says there are "market solutions" to almost every problem. (Recently, as you know, they even pushed a market solution to terrorism - a "trading room" in the Pentagon where people would place bets on terrorist attacks.)

The right's advocacy organizations advocate privatization, deregulation, and limiting government. Moderates and progressives need organizations that perform a similar function -- to counter this right-wing ideological marketing effort. Moderates and progressives have lots and lots of narrow-focus, single-issue organizations that speak about their specific issues and only their issues - environmental organizations, peace organizations, family planning organizations, you name it - but do not generally reach out to the general public, and when they do it is with a narrowly focused message concerning their issue.

So what about organizations that reach the general public to defend ideas of community, sharing, taking care of each other, working together to solve our mutual problems, and democracy? Without organizations that work to address underlying public attitudes, the work of all the single-issue organizations is undermined.

Let me give an example of what I mean. Recently People For the American Way came out with an important study of the school voucher movement, concluding that the voucher idea is only a step toward privatizing - yes getting rid of, not improving - public schools. The report is "Voucher Veneer: The Deeper Agenda to Privatize Public Education." (There is a short press release describing this report: "PFAWF Report Exposes Disturbing Agenda Behind Attacks On Public Education.")

Well how do you fight this? Do you put out information opposing vouchers? Put out facts and figures, and refute each pro-voucher point? Do you put out information about how public schools are good and necessary?

Here is the problem with this. The school voucher concept and the school privatization concept rest on a larger ideological framework involving privatization, free markets and Darwinian competition. So when you try to refute each of their voucher arguments point-by-point, it just bounces of a preventative shell of underlying ideological beliefs. When a person has come to believe the underlying ideology that free markets are always good, government is always bad, Darwinian competition is always good, privatization is always good, then your anti-voucher arguments are just going to bounce off of that person. The anti-voucher arguments are surface-level arguments that will not penetrate that underlying ideological shell - that framework of concepts that the right has inserted into that person's head. Until that person is exposed to messaging that counters that underlying right-wing ideological crap, you will not have success with surface single-issue arguments.

Whew, that was a mouthful. I'm saying that you have to work on a person's deeper understanding of a framework that ALL the other concepts fit into. You can't argue environmentalism or libraries or public schools or helping the poor to a person who has bought into the free-market, anti-government, "strict father morality" ideological framework. Instead you have to work to counter that programming first, and then you can address your narrower issues. You have to do what school civics class used to do - explain and repeat the concept of the common good, the commons, sharing and cooperating. And you have to do a lot of work explaining and reinforcing the idea that people are created equal, that every person has equal representation in our society, that each person has an equal vote rather than each dollar.



At the AFL-CIO candidates forum today Sen. Kerry said he supports expensing of stock options. I was at a Silicon Valley Kerry fundraiser at the beginning of the year where he said he opposed it.

National Prayer Day

National Prayer Day.

I report. You decide.


Discussion at Eschaton.

There seems to be a concensus that the nuclear bomb saved lives because otherwise we would have had to invade Japan.

My question - why did we have to invade Japan to win? We could have won without invading Japan.

Voting Machines in Michigan

Michigan moves toward uniform voting system.
"Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said Monday that Michigan's system of choice will be optical scanners, the method already used by two-thirds of the state's 6.8 million voters."

"Touch screens didn't make sense, said Land, because the technology creates no paper trail."
Thanks Atrios.

Action In The Voting Machines World!

Scoop: E-Voting Expert Ousted From Elections Conference.

Things are heating up!


We used Napalm on Iraqi troops.

Not a judgement, just a fact. I report, you decide.

3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference

3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference

The Man

Still Sticking It To The Man.


A Crime

We have here an actual crime committed by someone in the White House. And this crime may have jeopardized national security. No question about it.

So what is being done about it? What was done about Enron? What was done about Bush's illegal insider trading at Harken? What is being done about Bush's lies, telling the country that Iraq was working with al-Queda?


If someone sends you a warning message like this - it's for real. There is a new virus out there. This message was forwarded to me, as well as another from another company.

This alert is to make you aware of a new e-mail virus that is spreading globally, and that XXXX employees have been receiving via email in Outlook as of Friday, 8/1/03. The subject line for this email message will say that it is regarding "your account" followed by your internet email address. The body of the message advises you that your email address will be expiring, then directs you to launch the ZIP file that is attached to the message.

I've gotten four of the virus messages already today. Do not open any attachments named "message.zip" no matter who it is from! If you use virus software, update it today!

The Pentagon has some explaining to do

HoustonChronicle.com - The Pentagon has some explaining to do:
"After eight years of Bill Clinton, many military officers breathed a sigh of relief when George W. Bush was named president. I was in that plurality. At one time, I would have believed the administration's accusations of anti-Americanism against anyone who questioned the integrity and good faith of President Bush, Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

However, while working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made.

Those observations changed everything."
Thanks to Whiskey Bar.

Neocon Men

Media Transparency led me to this article -- Neocon men:
The Government Which Governs Least ... Is Doomed to Fail

A similar message was instilled in a group of students who were invigorated by the political philosophy of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago. Strauss, a Jewish immigrant who escaped Hitler's Germany, held an equally suspicious view of the state of American liberalism.

Strauss blamed the liberalism of the Weimar Republic in Germany for allowing the madness of Hitler into the world. Liberalism and egalitarianism eroded the foundation of truth, he argued, giving all ideas equal weight. Such a condition produces a nihilistic moral vacuum, and a society in such a state will eventually welcome anyone who gives it a strong, consistent set of values.

When Strauss came to the US, he saw the same type of conditions erupting, and he feared another Hitler was imminent. His solution to the problem of modernity was the creation of a philosophical elite that could guide the leaders who in turn guide society. He believed the truth was dangerous and should remain hidden from the people. Instead, power should be reserved for the few great men who can handle such truths, while feeding the population a steady diet of fear and superstition to keep them safe and content. "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked he has to be governed," Strauss wrote in a letter to Carl Schmitt (a friend of Strauss' and a legal architect for the Nazis). "Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united - and they can only be united against other people."

There are two effective antidotes to liberalism: religion and nationalism. Religion keeps people united by giving them shared values, and nationalism is based on having a common enemy, uniting people against an "other."

Media Transparency

Is Cursor's Media Transparency on your regular read list? It should be!

Greens Slap Kucinich Down

Recently, Congressman Kucinish wrote an open letter to Greens appealing to them to support his campaign for president.
We all know we will do better if we work together. Perhaps we can find common ground on issues and principles. I would like to open up that possibility. And I would like to ask that you give serious consideration to my candidacy for President. Because a better world is still possible.

Well the Greens slapped that boy right down.

Thanks to Thomas Leavitt.

Vorint Machines in eWeek

Another voting machines article - I think the word is getting out there. Trustworthy Voting in eWeek.

Selling the Parks

Democratic Veteran and South Knox Bubba have noticed that the Bush administration is working on privatizing the national parks.

I have been doing some research into this, to justify a statement to potential funders that the Republicans even want to sell the national parks. It seems that people think I'm a wild-eyed radical nutcase to even suggest that anyone would ever consider such a thing!

Here's my raw notes, except I'll turn them into links:

Privatize public parks:

Center for Free-Market Environmentalism

Embrace Proposal to Privatize Public Lands

Privatized Federal Land Would Yield Better Environmental Quality




How and Why to Privatize Federal Lands

Land privatization plan sets off alarms


The Strategy To Privatize The Public Domain

Privatization of America's Public Lands

Government Proceeds with Privatizing Provincial Parks and Recreation Areas

Light Blogging

Yes, it has been a period of light blogging. I'm doing research on two projects, and hope to share some of this with you. In the meantime, posting that I'm not blogging much often seems to trigger periods of heavy blogging... we'll see.