Friday, July 25, 2008
Bureaucrash, you got your ears on? IP 126.96.36.199, how about you? Probably the same coward.
Want a link to your website where you spread your foolishness? Fine. Here you go:
You say that "Socialism Kills". So answer me this, genius. How many people has unregulated capitalism killed over the last 50 years? You can't even define socialism, can you. You have no idea, no clue, and no care for what it means to be a citizen of the world.
Start talking to me, Bureaucrash. Start having a conversation instead of doing your best Chicken Little. If the sky is falling, it's because the conservatives have brought it upon us. And if it takes 50+ years, we will not rest until America is restored to our place at the forefront of Liberalism. That's where President George Washington wanted us to be, remember?
Of course not.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
One of the challenges facing the Netroots in creating a progressive movement is the transformation of Netroots activism into grassroots action. This panel will discuss the benefits and challenges in working within the Democratic Party on the state and local level. This discussion will include a primer on how to get involved, as well as a discussion on the resistance one may face “crashing the party.” The goal of this discussion is to encourage more Netroots community members to actively engage in politics on the state and local level.
Panelists: Chris Bowers, Jason Melrath, Dante Atkins, Steve Thibodeau, Brian Keeler
Here are some highlights, and my commentary.
"You can see where this is going. Not a single Democrat filed against the Republicans"
This statement from Steve Thibodeau identifies the first item on our list. A list of the positions that are open in the next few election cycles is part of it. This list needs to be available to the grassroots at all times for a number of reasons. We need to be able to see that our frustration over the actions of our elected representatives have a remedy: we can file against them and take their place in the halls of government. Even if we don't win the seat, by taking a principled stand, and making use of the governmental processes that exist to challenge what we don't like, we encourage others to stand up as well, and eventually someone who stands up will get enough support to win.
One of the important points in the discussion that I want to highlight are the differences among the parties. All 50 states have a different set of bylaws and rules for elections to the state central committees.And it's not just state, but local parties as well. My LD website, which I put together during 2003 and 2004 and have kept building ever since, was the first place on the web to collect the bylaws of the local, county, state AND NATIONAL Democratic Party. Our former chair used to get calls from all over the country because it was the only place that people could find the national level document. Has anyone done the work to collect all 50 states?
"Delaware is a deceptively Democratic state," says Jason Melrath. Considering that two of the three counties in Delaware voted for Bush in 2004 with strong margins, I would have to agree. Representative Michael Castle (R) won all three counties with at least 53% of the vote, winning 57% overall. However, Senator Thomas Carper (D) won all 3 Delaware counties with at least 63% of the vote in each area. It seems to depend on who the candidate is, and you'll find that all across the country at every level of the ticket.
Now, the question becomes, how did I know that? Those numbers came from the State Of Delaware Elections System. Wikipedia helps as well, although if I'm looking for something and Wikipedia doesn't have it, I'll keep looking then come back and add it. There are other places that I use and update, mostly wiki systems, that have some of this information.
Knowing what seats are open are one thing. The next step in being able to win those seats is to understand a bit of history. Election history is the record of what races were run, what candidates ran in those races, and how well they did, broken down in as much detail as you can get, down to the precinct level if possible.
Chris talked about the existing party members when he started getting involved not wanting anyone to get involved in Philadelphia. That wasn't the case here in Seattle. Even though we live in a very blue city like Philly, the attitude that I got when I walked in and asked "how can I help" was extremely positive, from everyone. And the more I do, the more I get called on. I'm sure each area of the country, and probably within states, has a different level of encouragement coming from the current party members. Around the country, various groups have come together to combat it, but I'm seeing a trend that I think we need to think about. With so many stories going around about party members trying to hold onto their kingdoms, it's becoming the "norm" when someone decides they might want to get involved. That can be dangerous to our goals, because while it may be true in some areas, there is no way that we can safely assume that everyone currently in the Democratic Party has the attitude that they don't need us. I don't think that we can assume anything. And the only way that we can find out, and take the next step towards getting progressive leadership and ideas on their way to discussion and success, is to walk into the lion's den and see what happens. Don't be afraid of it. If it doesn't work, that's the time to start doing organizing on your own. But let's not make those assumptions. They can lead to trouble that we don't need.
Internal elections are a big part of being active in the party. When I decided to run for the King County Delegate position from my local 46th District, I contacted every Precinct Committee Officer that I could, mostly via email. This was in 2007 after our success in the 2006 election. Everyone running for the specific positions on the board got no challenges and 100% of the vote. It was too easy. The lowest level of the party in Washington is the Precinct Committee Officer. They elect the local party leaders at the Legislative District and County, including the representatives to the State Central Committee. Every state is going to be different, and we need to determine how it works everywhere.
Jason also describes a failure of representation. Delaware has members of the US Senate and the US House who he doesn't consider to be good representatives of the Progressive voices in the state. I'm sure that's true all over. At this point, I want to give my definition of Activism. Activism is the work of finding answers to three questions:
- What decision is being made?
- Who is making that decision
- How do I/we influence that decision?
You can apply that to just about anything. In this context an electoral vote is a decision being made by the people of a district or state. A legislative vote is a decision being made by a committee, a legislative body, or an executive. How we influence the decision depends on the target, and if an individual continues to make decisions counter to the ideals of a political party or movement, that political party and/or movement needs to stand up and either threaten to, or actually accomplish, a replacement of that representative. That's the big picture, and that's how our system was set up in the first place.
So what are the dream tools that activists would like to see on the Web? I have a list of the kinds of things that I would like to see, most of which I've been slowly building if I can't find them elsewhere. Please comment with your ideas.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The discovery of an evolutionary context radically changes one's relationship to one's own personal experience, with all its ups and downs, challenges and victories. Think about a deep-time developmental context—all the way back to the first moment when something burst out of nothing. As far as we know, fourteen billion years ago there was an empty void, and then suddenly an impulse to become burst forth and became energy, light, matter, life, consciousness. and eventually, you. So putting your own life in an evolutionary context means making the effort to see every aspect of your personal life experience as occurring within this huge process. And even more importantly, it means that you begin to recognize that as the process moves and develops, in order to actually be able to contribute to that development, you need to be aligned with the very edge of evolution itself. Otherwise, you are just going to be following the beaten path, living out the patterns that have been formed by countless others. Without even knowing it, you will simply do what everyone else is doing, and assume that because evolution has blessed you with a very highly developed cognitive capacity that means that you are conscious. But it doesn't necessarily mean you're doing anything new. It doesn't mean you're a change agent. To be a change agent means living on the very edge of this vast process, knowing that it has taken fourteen billion years to reach this point, and actively endeavoring to move the entire process forward through your own transformation. That's conscious evolution.
There is a lot about Netroots Nation that people are covering all over the web. All I can do is present what I experienced. Here are some of the things that jumped out at me during the event.
Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
This was one of the flyers that I saw on the tables, and I picked it up. This is a quarterly journal "dedicated to putting forward big ideas from across the progressive spectrum." $24 for a yearly subscription. The flyer was black & white, one sided, and looked pretty basic. There is nothing wrong with basic. I'm going to check out the website when I get home. Don't know if I'll order the magazine, but I'm mentioning it here because I want to support progressive media in any form.
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy
"The Drum Major Institute regards itself as a netroots think tank." They were one of the Exhibitors, and their goal is to be a resource for bloggers on the issues. They're big enough to have publications on several topics, and they have a few different websites about topics and interactive political media. What caught my attention was the way their white paper on Immigration was structured. They go into a basic description of the problem, define a progressive policy stance about the problem, describe what the netroots has done so far on the issue and the role we should take, then break down a plan of action with several steps that we need to take to push our voices into the debate. It is well written, and well presented.
The Commonweal Institute
I had not heard of this organization until this meeting, but I wanted to mention it because Chris Bowers has been involved for the last few years and he's proud of the work that has been done. I'm glad to hear that, and I look forward to learning more.
Netroots Nation is all about political activism. General Clark in his keynote speech on Thursday mentioned that there are four levels of activism that really make a difference. I don't remember what his description of the grading curve was, but I'll put forward mine.
If you vote, you get a D grade. If you vote and write letters, you get a C grade. If you vote, write letters and organize friends on political issues, you get a B grade. If you vote, write letters, organize your friends and then run for office, you get an A. There were a number of people here at Netroots Nation 2008 that are getting A's, and many of them were handing out literature, speaking on panels, giving speeches, and otherwise showing their support for the netroots and the progressive agenda.
Darcy Burner from our own 8th CD was everywhere, and very well loved by everyone. I don't remember a speech by anyone directly associated with NRN who did not mention her name as a rising star or as someone to support.
Donna Edwards from Maryland's 4th CD, who won a special election in June and was sworn into Congress 30 days before her keynote speech on Saturday night here in Austin, had caught the attention of Markos 3 years ago in 2006, and fought a long term primary battle with Rep. Al Wynn, who turned progressive during the last few years in order to try and fight back. She won. Her speech on the House Floor on the day that she was sworn in shows why.
Charlie Brown from California, who was the winner in the DFA All Star contest where Darcy got 2nd place, spoke to the DFA Caucus on Thursday night, and I was thrilled to learn that he knew about and supported the Veterans Family Fund, something that I'm constantly harping to everyone about at every opportunity.
Those were the only candidates that I really had the opportunity to interact with, although some of the others that I saw floating around were Jeff Merkley running for US Senate from Oregon against Smith, Eric Massa running for Congress from New York, Rick Noriega running for the US Senate from Texas and a bunch of others. I'm sure other blogs might be attempting to get a full list of everyone who was there, but there's really no way.
I want to mention something else as well. The Texas House is 5 seats away from a Democratic Majority, where they will finally be able to start reversing the damage done by the Republican Party over the last few years. Even just being able to stop the Republicans from pushing any further is a great step in the right direction, but we shouldn't ever be satisfied with that. I don't have the numbers on Texas to show what the results were in 2006, but I know that there are a lot of people down here in the Lone Star State that are focused on it. I think I want to focus on getting my maps and history project off the ground to help for the long term, but I'll be rooting for Texas in November!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Here's the video (audio takes a few seconds to start):
The website he was talking about is http://change-congress.org/. Please check it out!
Here's the beginning of the event from ustream.tv.
Nancy Pelosi, Part 2
Nancy Pelosi, Part 2
Here's where Al Gore made his surprise appearance.
Al Gore's speech, Part 1
Al Gore's speech, Part 2
Saturday, July 19, 2008
What I've discovered over the last few hours, now that the event is nearly over, is that many of the panels are being streamed and recorded by ustream.tv. I don't know much about the video website, but they're basic recordings, sound works most of the time, focus is off because they're using basic video cameras, etc. I don't know if this is the first time that they've done this or not, but it can only get better year after year. I see some other events and videos that I'd like to see as well coming up.
Anyway, several things happened that I want to write about. I may have to do this in a few segments, since it's now 10:26, and my stomach ain't calming down, even after hearing the most articulate, and best dressed, speaker of the night go until 10:15. Give it up for Donna Edwards. No, seriously, give it up. She's running again in November, and after that speech if I had the money to max out I would just to her. I just need to save it for this hotel bill...
As frustrating as it is for us to hear Nancy Pelosi basically filibuster the questions about impeachment and holding the criminal traitors in the Bush Administration accountable for their crimes, it's still a thrill to be in the same room with one of the most powerful women on the planet. My personal opinion is that she is doing the best she can. She can do better, but only with more Democrats in the House that don't stop her from being bold. Don't stop being frustrated with her, but let's be understanding on what she needs to push HR 676, an end to the war, No child left behind, etc. She needs the blue dogs to lose primary races. She needs Republicans to lose their seats.
Then a question came up about climate change, and the challenge that Al Gore put out on Thursday to produce 100% of our electricity in the US from renewable sources in 10 years. Many people were in on the surprise, but when Vice President Gore walked out on that stage, I finally found the energy to produce more noise with my voice than what was coming out of my insides. I was in tears. Ok, sure, I'm a Gorite. Whatever. I'm still in tears.
It gets better. After the first round of questions, Jeffery Feldman who was fielding the questions saw my hand. So I was able to ask a question. If I can ever find it on YouTube or C-Span, I'll post a link. ((Update: found a c-span page. Video is not up yet, but this is where it will be.))
But, stomach growling to beat the band, I have a serious high going right now listening to Darcy, Dean and David talk about working outside of the box.
So, that was Friday. I don't want to dwell on it.
However, I want to put out a shout to Lynn Allen, someone that I am going to describe here as the Den Mother of the Washington State contingent here at Netroots Nation. She got an email from my wife asking for help, and left the Energizing America panel to find a drug store so I could get some Pepto Bismol. I asked Debi to contact her because I knew she would follow through. And she did. Thanks, Lynn!!!
The Roosevelt Institution is a nonprofit, nonpartisan national network of campus-based student think tanks. The people behind the table were young guys who could have been part of the LaRouche movement if they had turned off their brains. I'm glad they didn't.
The "Texas Table" was a table where a bunch of Texas nonprofits got together and shared time and space. I think dealing directly with nonprofit organizations is something that the political and activist groups should be doing more and more often.
Thursday for dinner I went back to the Moonshine Bar & Grill, and enjoyed their catfish.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I remember one of the Boston events I was at a few years ago, I think January of 2007, where I was interviewed by someone from the BBC. Just an audio interview, and I couldn't find it online. This time, it was Channel 42, KEYE. A full length interview on what blogging means to me and how it grew after the Dean campaign blog in 2004. I hope I did them proud. We'll see tonight at 10.
Howard Dean is giving the keynote speech tonight, and then there is a DFA Caucus meeting between 9:15 and 10:00. Another late night, I think. I am enjoying this, however.
During the day. At night is another story. I found out that I can't sleep on the train any better than I can sleep on an airplane. It's a 24 hour trip from Seattle to Emeryville, and I think I got about 2 hours sleep. We got in about 8:45, and Sarah gave me a ride to the Oakland Airport. Got checked in and ready to go about 9:30, and waited until 2:40. The wireless was not free in Oakland, so I couldn't access the Internet to find anything. I even tried Clearwire, but no signal. Clearwire outside of Seattle seems to be a bust.
In Dallas, I tried again. Or at least I would have if I hadn't left my Clearwire modem in Oakland. I'm waiting for Lost and Found to get back to me. I finally got to Austin around midnight, and after a little confusion on which Hilton I needed to get to, finally got to the hotel around 2am. Guess what, wireless is not free in the downtown Hilton either. Only in the conference center. Oh well, at least I could sleep.