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Thursday, April 01, 2004

The Politics of Empowerment

Looking for some grassroots D.I.Y. political action? What other type is there you ask? Well look no further than your local Meetup or Democracy for America group. The Nation recently wrote an article titled "The Deaning of America".

[W]orrying about the lack of a strong center may not matter, as emergent self-activating and self-organizing people may find equally valid ways to knit themselves together. And the bottom-up Dean experience may have taught a whole cohort of activists that politics is more satisfying when you're in the driver's seat. Chris Finnie, a Californian active in a group of several hundred self-described "Dean Leaders," says that having seized the tools and opportunities the campaign presented them with, few are willing to go back to just coughing up money for various causes and candidates. "We've discovered we can do more than that."

As always, usted tiene el poder. The night thread is a great time to smooth it out and ruminate.

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 09:13 PM
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In Tribute

Today our hearts go out in support of the families and friends of Americans lost yesterday in Iraq. Through their courage and resolve, they strove to secure and develop freedom for citizens of all nations. As with every American life lost selflessly protecting our freedoms at home, and securing liberty for our friends in Iraq, we grieve deeply for their passing. In solidarity with their families, and the nation they served, we pay tribute to their sacrifice.

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 05:59 PM
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The Integrity to Answer

The American people deserve better than good intentions and unfulfilled promises. The American People deserve honest answers about the security of their nation. Testifying in front of a 9/11 panel, Richard Clarke had the courage to apologize to the American people, and take responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

"Your government failed you," he said, his voice close to breaking. "Those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you."

Yet in the face of Clarke's countless warnings, he should not be the lone voice apologizing for insufficient counterterrorism efforts. Especially since President Bush and his Administration failed to take adequate measures after countless warnings -- because "didn't feel that sense of urgency". The Bush Administration owes the American people public accountability for its failed leadership and inept counterterrorism policy. It needs to justify its policy of inaction which ignored repeated warnings against the threat of Al Qaeda.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has refused to take any responsibility. Rumsfeld said of the Department of Defense: "[it] is oriented towards external threats. This was a domestic airplane that was operated by people who were in the United States against a United States target, which makes it a law enforcement... issue. The Department of Defense's task is one that deals with external threats coming in to the United States." Recapping: Donald Rumsfeld has claimed that the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which killed thousands of Americans, should be dealt with by the police and are not an issue of national security worthy of attention by the United States Department of Defense.
Condoleezza Rice shrugged aside the notion that the Bush Administration should apologize to Sept. 11 victims' families for not preventing the attacks by saying, "It's important that we keep focused on who did this to us." She maintained that "we are safer today than we were on September 10". "[A]l Qaeda is not more dangerous today than it was on September 11" She noted, "The world is a lot safer and the war on terrorism is well-served by the victory in Iraq." When enlightened with national security data that there have been more terrorist attacks in the 30 months since Sept. 11 than in the 30 months prior, she replied: "That's the wrong way to look at it."

President Ronald Reagan took ultimate responsibility for the 1983 terrorist bombing of an American military base in Beirut which killed over 200 American soldiers. He stated, "If there is to be blame, it properly rests here in this office and with this president." President John F. Kennedy came before the American people and publicly apologized for the Bay of Pigs. These American Presidents had the courage to personally accept responsibility for protecting American lives in good times and in bad. In doing so, they show respect for the American people, and integrity in the office of The President of the United States.

To take oath as the President of the United States is an honor and privilege. It is a solemn pact of the highest order to serve the American people. It is a contract with our nation, enshrined by the highest civic principles. Clarke had the courage to admit that the senior offices of the White House are more than just jobs. They are a responsibility to the American people. Policies created in closed door conferences are not empty memos, they are upheld with American courage and sacrifice, and their failures come at the heavy price of American lives. When the government of most powerful nation on Earth will not justify decisions that risk American lives, American lives are in careless hands. And every second of their silence is weakness and duplicity... paid for in the lives of American parents, siblings, and children.

Every day Americans uphold and answer to the government of The United States. Will its Executive leaders not do the same? American patriots everyday make the well-being of their fellow Americans their personal responsibility, and they answer to that responsibility. Our soldiers, teachers, doctors, and other millions of American do this everyday. Do our highest leaders deserve lower standards than the American public?

With its silence, the Bush Administration dis-honors itself, insults the American people, and tarnishes the integrity of the office of the President of the United States. Bill Frist has stated that Clarke may have "lied under oath". Mr. President, when will you have the courage even to fulfill an oath? Frist desperately continues that Clarke "can and will answer for his own conduct". He has Senator Frist. Mr. President: when will you? A leader takes responsibility for his or her actions. Where is your "leadership" in "changing times"?

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 03:23 PM
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Morning News Roundup

The Associated Press this morning covers Governor Dean's remarks last night at the 21st Century Democrats 2004 Annual Dinner in Washington D.C. Giving the keynote address at the Annual Dinner last night, Governor Dean continued to lead the Democratic Party in pulling no punches exposing Bush's widening credibility gap and inept record on national security, protecting American lives, and fighting terrorism.

Dean told a gathering of progressive Democrats that Bush failed to act on warnings from Richard Clarke, then Bush's counterterrorism chief, that al-Qaida posed a threat to the United States. [...]

"That is the legacy of this president who did not tell the truth to the American people," he told about 150 people at the annual dinner for 21st Century Democrats, a political action committee that places activists on progressive campaigns.

Dean said he thought jobs, health insurance and economic security would be the biggest issues of the presidential election. But now, "the credibility of the president of the United States is the biggest issue of this race," he said. [...]

Democrats need to "focus their message in a laser-like way," he said, to oust the Bush administration.

A poll released yesterday by the nonpartisan Council for Excellence in Government, found that about half of Americans surveyed were worried that terrorists would strike near their home or work. The Washington Post reports that of those surveyed, seventy-three percent identified themselves as anxious or concerned about terrorism, and 26 percent said they were calm. The recent poll mirrors sentiments worldwide that seemingly imminent terrorist attacks could threaten their lives.

The idea that potential terrorist attacks may be home-grown are causing Britons to take a different view of security. "The profile of the potential terrorist is having to be rewritten," writes Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph. "He no longer necessarily comes from North Africa or has attended Afghan training camps or even has any connection with other networks. He is just as likely to have been born, bred and raised in Britain."

In the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced Tuesday that security forces had arrested four members of the militant Islamic group Abu Sayyaf, seized 80 pounds of TNT explosives, and foiled plans to bomb trains and malls around metropolitan Manila.

In Thailand, a Bangkok daily, the Nation reported that "anxiety gripped the Kingdom yesterday after a group of armed, masked men thought to be Islamic militants" stole a large quantity of explosives in southern Thailand on Tuesday night. Authorities said that at least 1.4 tons of ammonium nitrate, 56 sticks of dynamite and 176 detonators were taken in the 20-minute raid.

And in more evidence of the Bush Administration's incompetent, mis-guided, and impotent non-attempts to combat terrorism, the Washington Post reports that on 9/11, rather than focus on terrorism, Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to deliver a new missile defense policy speech. The glaring bit of tragic irony enforces the fact that the Bush Administration's defense focus was far from combating terrorism. The mis-direction evidenced by the 9/11 speech, scheduled for the same day as the most devastating domestic attacks on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor, is telling of the Bush Administration's complete ignorance of the growing terrorist threat right on America's doorstep, and its self-serving priorities which extend far past just domestic security.

And Slate reports on the hypocrisy behind C.I.A Director George Tenet's attacks on Clarke's credibility.

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 11:21 AM
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Backbone Acknowledged

The Boston Herald's story about the Democratic Unity Dinner focused on Democrats praise for Governor Dean taking early shots at Bush.

When the biggest Dems gathered last week to fete U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry [related, bio], they made clear it was not Kerry but rival Dean who deserved credit for giving them an opening against President Bush [related, bio].

"Howard Dean was the first person who legitimized it for all of us to say we don't like what's going on here,'' former President Bill Clinton told a cheering crowd at the Democratic National Committee's Unity Dinner.

Clinton said Bush and his administration tried to push the country "far to the right'' but that Dean was the one who stood up and challenged them.

"I want to thank courageous Howard Dean for drawing a sharp distinction when it wasn't the thing to do,'' added former President Jimmy Carter

Posted by Alison Stanton at 06:38 AM
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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

March 31st is Cesar E. Chavez Day

Today Americans in seven states celebrate the life, work, and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez through continued political activism. The following excerpt is re-posted from The Cesar E. Chavez Foundation website at www.cesarechavezfoundation.org.

March 31st is a day of service and learning, a day to Educate, Celebrate, and Serve the legacy of one of Americaís great heroes. Please use this biographical and curricular information to teach and learn about the life and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez. This Chavez Day Toolkit includes a biography, reading lists, classroom activities and assignments, Chavez service-learning project ideas, and much more, to not only facilitate learning about Cesar E. Chavez, but to encourage people to honor him by conducting service in their communities. Follow our suggestions on how to Educate, Celebrate, and Serve in honor of Cesar E. Chavez.

Cesar Estrada Chavez was ďone of the heroic figures of our time.Ē In learning about Cesar E. Chavezís life and values, students will learn about history, self determination, help for the needy, and actions that promote equity and justice. They will develop a sense of what it means to contribute to society and how they may make a difference. Students will also identify ways in which they can incorporate these characteristics into their own lives and become leaders in their community.

The Cesar E. Chavez Foundation has identified service-learning as an excellent vehicle for engaging students both in and out of the classroom. The following elementary, middle and high school toolkits include information about Chavez service-learning with the hopes that educators involve their students in a Chavez service-learning project. By doing so, students will not only have an understanding of who Cesar E. Chavez was, but they will experience what it means to follow his example by volunteering time to address local issues in their community. Service-learning allows young people to actively live out the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez, rather than just learn about it.

In the spirit of getting young Americans involved in local and national politics, the Cesar E. Chavez Day of service and learning provides service learning toolkits for young people of all ages to contribute to their communities through leadership and social service. The Chavez Foundation is based upon building civic repsonsibility in the promotion of social equality and justice through service-learning.

"The end of all education should surely be service to others." --Cesar E. Chavez
Posted by Tanner Brooks at 10:24 PM
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Standing With Our Friends in the Progressive Community

Governor Dean will appear tonight as the keynote speaker at the 21st Century Democrats Annual Dinner at 7:30 pm at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Following his recent announcement regarding the creation of Democracy for America and its partnership with the 21st Century Democrats, Governor Dean will talk about the mission of our new organization and the stakes of the 2004 election. On March 18th the 21st Century Democrats formally announced the new formation of a strategic partnership between Democracy for America and the 21st Century Democrats

"Governor Deanís campaign essentially changed this country for the better," said 21st Century Democrats Executive Director Kelly Young. "He set a progressive agenda and dialogue for the country. I could not be more pleased to join forces with him and Democracy for America. Governor Dean proved that, by focusing on a progressive agenda, you can bring active, energized Democrats to the table. By focusing on that same progressive agenda, 21st Century Democrats and Governor Dean are going to change the face of the Democratic Party and send George Bush back to Crawford, TX."

21st Century Democrats and Democracy for America will work together to recruit, train, and place activists on campaigns in targeted races around the country. During his campaign for president, Governor Dean created a grassroots network of over 640,000 people.

21st Century Democrats has built a reputation for supporting progressive candidates at every level. They have trained and placed more than 4,000 activists to date and helped to elect nearly 100 Democratic candidates. Additional details about the partnership between the PAC and Democracy for America will be announced at the 21st Century Democrats Annual Dinner on March 31st. Governor Dean will attend the dinner.

"This partnership is really a perfect fit," added Young. "Governor Deanís goals and our mission fit together hand in glove. He has a proven record of bringing energetic, motivated Democratic activists to the table. We have a record of effectively training and placing activists on targeted races around the country and winning those races. Itís going to prove to be a very effective, winning combination."

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 07:22 PM
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Web Chat with Governor Dean

Governor Dean will be participating in a live web chat (right now!) at 5:15 pm today on WashingtonPost.com where he will be taking questions and discussing his recent announcement on the creation of Democracy for America and its partnership with 21st Century Democrats. You can submit questions and comments before and during the chat here.

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 05:06 PM
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Afternoon News Roundup

The New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post all lead with reports on Condoleezza Rice's bow to demands that she testify before the 9/11 commission under oath. The White House further compromised accountability in our leadership through the bargain which protects President Bush and Vice-President Cheney from giving testimony under oath.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney will not testify under oath. But they will submit to a joint, private interview with all 10 members of the commission, with what commission officials said was no predetermined time limit. The White House had insisted that only the chairman and vice chairman of the panel conduct the interviews and that there be a one-hour limit on the questioning of each man.

"We want to hear from Dr. Rice about the development of policy in the first eight months of the Bush administration," Mr. Kean said at a news conference. "We want to talk about the threats and dangers that were apparent to her before 9/11. We want to talk about the day of and the immediate response of the White House."

With the President's public statement on the decision, he characteristically described his hopes, but took no questions. Yielding to demands he previously dismissed as a violation of separation of powers and assault on constitutional principle, the President retracted principle stating it was "necessary to gaining a complete picture of the months and years that preceded the murder of our fellow citizens on Sept. 11." The New York Times links to the defensive White House statement. The New Republic argues that the President's un-substantive, symbolic concession to testify only offers Rice as a sacrificial lamb shielding Bush and Cheney from any substantive scrutiny, and the public from learning any relevant information.

Slate offers a link to NPR's Day to Day with detailed background on National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's capitulation to testify under oath before the commission investigating the 9/11. And Move-On hit the Bush Administration with new TV ads criticizing their duplicity on 9/11 accountability.

Today Governor Dean will be the keynote speaker at the 21st Century Democrats Annual Dinner at 7:30 pm at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Following his recent announcement regarding the creation of Democracy for America and its partnership with the 21st Century Democrats, Governor Dean will talk about the mission of his new organization and the stakes of the 2004 election.

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 02:17 PM
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Air America Radio Premiers Today!

Consider this a wake up call for balanced political debate in America. Today at noon Air America Radio will begin broadcasting in:

  • WLIB- 1190 AM in New York
  • WNTD- 950 AM in Chicago
  • KBLA- 1580 AM in Los Angeles
  • KCAA- 1050 AM in Riverside and San Bernadino, Calif.
  • KPOJ- 620 AM in Portland, Ore
  • And nationally on XM Satellite Radio- channel 167
  • A San Francisco station is expected to be announced in early April

Premiering today featuring shows such as "The Majority Report" with comedian Janeane Garofalo and "The O'Franken Factor" with Al Franken, Air America promises to add balance to the right-wing saturated political debate in contemporary American media. It has also launched its own website.

ABC NEWS and The New York Times cover the Air America roll-out. It intends to create a counter-weight to Fox News and other predominantly conservative media outlets. Through the airwaves, Franken has stated he intends to challenge the hegemony of conservatives on commercial talk radio.

Governor Dean will be a guest on Garofalo's show "The Majority Report" this Friday night between 8-11 pm.

Update: Listen Live

Posted by Tanner Brooks at 11:53 AM
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Proposed New Rules for Non-Profits

Last night, MoveOn.org sent out an email about Republicans efforts to radically change how non-profits operate.

The Republican National Committee is pressing the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") to issue new rules that would cripple groups that dare to communicate with the public in any way critical of President Bush or members of Congress. Incredibly, the FEC has just issued -- for public comment -- proposed rules that would do just that. Any kind of non-profit -- conservative, progressive, labor, religious, secular, social service, charitable, educational, civic participation, issue-oriented, large, and small -- could be affected by these rules.

Under the proposed rule changes non-profits could be transformed into political committees and be forced to deal with the related fundraising restrictions. Those changes would result in fewer educational conversations on public policy. Here's why: all affected non-profits would have to cease all communications - from emails to posters to door knocking - until they raise enough money under the new fundraising restrictions to retroactively pay for all the communications they made that criticize or commend any federal candidate since the beginning of 2003. There would also be a 4 year "look back" rule - so any organizations that praised or criticized a federal candidate (presidential and congressional candidates) since 2000 would be changed to a political committee.

What information would not be shared, or not be disseminated as widely, as we approach election day if these rules are enacted? Not only would the proposed rule changes threaten the financial existence of many non-profits, not only would they cut off important sources of information in public policy discussions, not only would have an effect on the constitutional rights of due process and free speech, they would - most convienently for the Bush Administration - obstruct, if not silence, the organizations that Americans count on to provide them information on vital issues in the middle of an election year.

Posted by Alison Stanton at 08:19 AM
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