April 30, 2007

An open letter to Senator Durbin

Subject: Sworn to secrecy?

Dear Senator Durbin,

I have wrestled with whether or not I would contact you for a couple of days now. After all, I am technically not your constituent as I am not a resident of Illinois. And yet, I am your constituent because I am a citizen of the United States of America. You work for all of us.

I am writing to express my horror, yes, horror, at your statement last week on the Senate floor regarding the run-up to the Iraq war and how, because you were sworn to secrecy, you could not tell us – the American people, that the information you were seeing in the Intelligence Committee was not the same information that the administration was spoon-feeding the American public and the media.

My first reaction was stunned silence, then shock. And then, anger flowed over me like a wave. And still, these many days later, my stomach turns. Your loyalty to an oath that should have taken a back seat to the one you took to uphold and defend the Constitution is just beyond comprehension. I expect the Bush administration to ignore the Constitution. After all, to George Bush, it’s just a “piece of paper.” And the actions of this administration leave no doubt in my mind that they care not a whit for anything except gaining and maintaining power.

But you? Sir, this takes my breath away.

I simply cannot understand why, given the possibility that we were about to send our fighting men and women into war, where death and injury would be a given, how could you and the rest of the Democrats on the intelligence committee just stand quietly by? Why you did not stand up and shout from the rooftops, “America, what you are hearing on the nightly news is NOT what we are hearing!” is mind-boggling. Lives were on the line. How would those words, sir, have revealed any secrets?

I appreciate your vote against the Iraq resolution. But sir, a no vote was merely the least you could have done.

I just don’t understand. WE don’t understand.

Better Know A Candidate - Big weekend in northern Nevada

Wishing I could be there, but my tenure with the NSDP does not allow me to attend candidate sponsored events, I have done a quick perusal of the blogosphere for reactions to Hillary Clinton's Town Hall yesterday. Reaction has be very favorable.

NevadaDem had a post up within two hours of the event. Myrna the Minx weighs in at Reno and its Discontents. Dullard Mush covers the coverage, as does Desert Beacon here and here. Susan Nunes at Random Thoughts has several posts on the event. Looks like she took incredible notes! Ray Hagar has two posts up at Inside Nevada Politics. NV Mojo has added her two cents at various sites. I hope she posts on her impressions of Hillary's visit.

John Edwards was in town for a fundraiser.

Bill Richardson is spending three days in Nevada. Last night he was at the Carson City Democrats Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Yours truly was in attendance. Today the governor has been to the gym, the legislature, Comma Coffee (sweetie went, I did not - see rule above), and spoke to the students at Carson High School about Darfur. He now heads off to Las Vegas.

Gender typing

Heh. NV Mojo links to this site that says that it can accurately determine a person's gender based on their writing (with an 80% accuracy record). Hmm. Here's what they say about me based on this post (minus the quoted material).

Words: 372
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)
Female Score: 569
Male Score: 713
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Um. Not so much. Reminds me of the "psychic" who told me in 1982 that my unborn child was going to be a boy. Again, not so much.

April 29, 2007

Democratic Leadership Academy

Yesterday I had the honor and pleasure of speaking before the Democratic Leadership Academy in Reno. I was asked to speak on the explosion of technology in grassroots organizing and activism. In my presentation I spoke of the experience I had in the Dean campaign and related it to the tools used by candidates and other issue-oriented groups.

I came away from the session just absolutely blown away at the energy and creativity in the room. The leadership academy has been put together to develop grassroots volunteers and to take them to a higher level of effectiveness. This academy is not for everyone, but it is designed for activists who want to gain knowledge and tools for more effective organizing.

And good news! We have plans to take the Democratic Leadership Academy to the rurals later this year. I met with the leaders of the academy about a week ago and we discussed the challenges and joys of organizing in the rurals, and how we could tailor the training and take it on the road to the rurals. I'm really looking forward to being part of this effort.

April 27, 2007

John McCain on withdrawing the troops ... immediately

My pal Bob Brinkley sent me this link from AmericaBlog. Unbelievable! McCain said:

But the mission which the American people supported and this Congress supported, in an overwhelming resolution, has been accomplished. The American people did not support the goals of nation-building, peacemaking, law and order and certainly not warlord funding. For us to get into nation-building, law and order, etc, I think is a tragic and terrible mistake. But the argument that somehow the United States would suffer a loss to our prestige and our viability, as far as the No. 1 superpower in the world, I think, is baloney.

April 26, 2007

Better Know a Candidate - Debate Night

Don't forget that the first Democratic Presidential Debate of the primary season is scheduled to air tonight on MSNBC. The festivities start at 7pm Eastern Time (4pm-Pacific), so if you aren’t going to be at home, don’t forget to set your VCR or your TiVo to catch up on later. This is our first opportunity to see all of our candidates together at one time.

From the MSNBC web site:

The South Carolina Democratic Party has announced that Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson are all confirmed to participate in the debate on April 26th. The debate will take place at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and will air live on MSNBC from 7:00 to 8:30 pm (ET) and stream live on MSNBC.com. South Carolina NBC affiliates, WIS-TV in Columbia, WYFF-TV in Greenville and WCBD-TV in Charleston, will join MSNBC in airing the debate.

April 25, 2007

Better Know A Candidate - upcoming candidate visits

We've got three candidates in northern Nevada this week.

Hillary Clinton will be holding a Town Hall at Hug High on Sunday.

Senator Hillary Clinton will be in Reno on Sunday, April 29. The Democratic frontrunner for president will speak at Hug High School at 11 a.m. Tickets are free and there are many ways you can get them--in person, by phone or on the internet.

  • Hug High School, 2880 Sutro St., Reno - 327-5600
  • Washoe Co. Democratic Party, 1465 Terminal Way, Reno - 323-VOTE
  • Carson City Democratic Party, 2101 Arrowhead Drive, Suite 102, Carson City - 841-DEMS
  • Lyon Co. Democratic Party, 15 E. Main Street, Suite 5, Fernley - 575-1133
  • You can also RSVP by calling 303-1303.
Online you can register to attend at this link (registration required). You will not receive a ticket using this process, but your name will be on a list at the event per Pam duPre, northern Nevada Political Director for the Clinton campaign.

On Sunday, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton will be speaking at the NEA convention in Reno.

On Sunday, Bill Richardson will be speaking at the Carson City Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at teh Palza Hotel Conference Center, 211 E Ninth Street, Carson City. Reservations are required. Call 841-3367.

On Monday, Bill Richardson will be be at Comma Coffee at 8:30 am.

On Edit (11:32 am): For all things "caucus" check out Nevada Caucus 2008. Sven has a complete schedule of Richardson's swing through Nevada.

Check out the ads Bill Richardson is running in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Get well wishes

Get well wishes go out to Lyon County Commissioner Larry McPherson who is spending a few days at Carson-Tahoe Hospital for treatment of a blood clot.

And to Dorothy North, former chair of the Elko County Dems, who after two weeks of severe flu-like systems has been admitted to the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City. Her condition is very serious.

April 23, 2007

ACTION NEEDED TODAY - Stamp out the rate hike

You may not be aware, but the US Postal Service is considering a rate change that will make rates for small, independent publications higher than those from media giants. This will affect ALL publications such as The Nation (on the left), and The National Review (on the right). This is not a Red or Blue, liberal or conservative issue. This is, once again, big business dictating federal policy for their benefit and to the detriment of the smaller contenders in the marketplace. From the NRO blog:

Postal-rate hikes make strange bedfellows: NR has joined an alliance of opinion magazines, including The American Spectator, The Nation, and Mother Jones, to battle these new rates. There's a congressional hearing coming up to investigate them, and that's good news, but what is truly needed to stave off disaster is for citizens to contact the USPS governors and let them know that this proposed increase will have — to use a favorite term of our friends on the left — a "chilling effect" on political debate in print.

Please sign the petition today. And pass this along to your friends.

Holding our military hostage?

Paul Krugman makes it clear what George Bush is doing.

A Hostage Situation

There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that it’s a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders — the troops — if his demands aren’t met.

If this were a normal political dispute, Democrats in Congress would clearly hold the upper hand: by a huge margin, Americans say they want a timetable for withdrawal, and by a large margin they also say they trust Congress, not Mr. Bush, to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq.

But this isn’t a normal political dispute. Mr. Bush isn’t really trying to win the argument on the merits. He’s just betting that the people outside the barricade care more than he does about the fate of those innocent bystanders.

What’s at stake right now is the latest Iraq “supplemental.” Since the beginning, the administration has refused to put funding for the war in its regular budgets. Instead, it keeps saying, in effect: “Whoops! Whaddya know, we’re running out of money. Give us another $87 billion.”

At one level, this is like the behavior of an irresponsible adolescent who repeatedly runs through his allowance, each time calling his parents to tell them he’s broke and needs extra cash.

What I haven’t seen sufficiently emphasized, however, is the disdain this practice shows for the welfare of the troops, whom the administration puts in harm’s way without first ensuring that they’ll have the necessary resources.

As long as a G.O.P.-controlled Congress could be counted on to rubber-stamp the administration’s requests, you could say that this wasn’t a real problem, that the administration’s refusal to put Iraq funding in the regular budget was just part of its usual reliance on fiscal smoke and mirrors. But this time Mr. Bush decided to surge additional troops into Iraq after an election in which the public overwhelmingly rejected his war — and then dared Congress to deny him the necessary funds. As I said, it’s an act of hostage-taking.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. According to reports, the final version of the funding bill Congress will send won’t even set a hard deadline for withdrawal. It will include only an “advisory,” nonbinding date. Yet Mr. Bush plans to veto the bill all the same — and will then accuse Congress of failing to support the troops.

The whole situation brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln said, in his great Cooper Union speech in 1860, about secessionists who blamed the critics of slavery for the looming civil war: “A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, ‘Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!’ ”

So how should Congress respond to Mr. Bush’s threats?

Everyone talks about the political risks of confrontation, recalling the backlash when Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in 1995. But there’s a big difference between trying to force a fairly popular president to accept deep cuts in Medicare — which is what the 1995 confrontation was about — and trying to get a deeply unpopular, distrusted president to set some limits on an immensely unpopular war.

Meanwhile, there are big political risks on the other side. If Congress responds to a presidential veto by offering an even weaker bill, voters may well react with disgust, concluding that the whole debate over the war was nothing but political theater.

Anyway, never mind the political calculations. Confronting Mr. Bush on Iraq has become a patriotic duty.

The fact is that Mr. Bush’s refusal to face up to the failure of his Iraq adventure, his apparent determination to spend the rest of his term in denial, has become a clear and present danger to national security. Thanks to the demands of the Iraq war, we’re already a superpower without a strategic reserve, unable to respond to crises that might erupt elsewhere in the world. And more and more military experts warn that repeated deployments in Iraq — now extended to 15 months — are breaking the back of our volunteer military.

If nothing is done to wind down this war during the 21 months — 21 months! — Mr. Bush has left, the damage may be irreparable.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

April 20, 2007

And so it begins

I guess the plan is to return to this (NOW) and this (Choice Matters). Warning! Graphic image and disturbing testimony.

9:33 am - On Edit - This was a drive-by post, and I wanted to say a bit more. I want to make this very clear: I don't like abortion. If I had my druthers, there would be no women who felt that this was their only option. But...this isn't the case. In a society where health care is not a right but a privilege, where contraception is often not covered by health insurance plans or prescriptions for said contraception can be refused by pharmacists who oppose it, where single moms are often reviled for (a) living off welfare or (b) working and putting their kids in day care, where young girls are the victims of incest, where women are the victims of rape, where children are languishing in group homes and foster care waiting for someone to adopt them, I cannot see forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. And that IS what we are talking about here: forced pregnancy.

But, on the other hand, I want to have this discussion. But I want it taken to its logical conclusion. If abortion is to become a crime, then we have to determine what the criminal penalties will be for all parties involved. We cannot just lay this at the ob-gyn's feet. What criminal penalties should the women receive as well? For an idea of what this might look like, we only have to look south of the border to Chile. And guess what? Making abortion illegal doesn't stop them. It just drives them underground.

Lidia Casas, a lawyer and professor at Chile's Diego Portales University, in Santiago, says during the 1980s, Chile began a policy of prosecuting women. Between 250 and 300 cases go into the justice system per year, she says, and in 2001, around 50 people were convicted for having an abortion.

"It's mostly poor women who end up going to the hospitals for their complications of an illegal backstreet abortion and some of the doctors or the midwives working in the maternity wards used to report the women to the police right there," says Casas. The maximum penalty is five years in prison.

But despite such legal risks, Latin America continues to experience abortion rates that are much higher than most countries where it is legal.

There are an estimated 4 million abortions every year across the region. Up to 200,000 clandestine abortions take place in Chile every year--twice as many as in Canada, which has 100,000 a year--and Chile has half the population.
So, if we wish to decrease abortions in this country, lets really have a sane discussion about how to prevent the need for them in the first place.

No woman enters into this decision lightly. No woman, no matter how pro-choice she may be, would wear her abortion as a badge of honor. Abortion is the ultimate failure: of contraception, of our medical system, of our society. Women abort when they have no other options.

Let's have the discussion. And let's work toward making sure that abortion is legal, safe and rare.

April 19, 2007

Better Know A Candidate - Response to yesterday's SCOTUS decision

Joe Biden - - No statement on web site.

Hillary Clinton

"This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health. Today's decision blatantly defies the Court's recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito."
I also got quite a good letter from her in my email box that expands on these themes.

The decade of work that the far right has done to chip away at our rights was paid off in this Supreme Court decision. They worked hard to gain the presidency and the Senate so they could shape a Supreme Court that rewarded them by putting a narrow ideology above our constitutional rights. In their ruling, the conservative majority even used right-wing code language, referring to obstetricians as "abortion doctors."
Chris Dodd -- no statement on the web site.

John Edwards

"I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose."
From the campaign I received an email from Kate Michelman, former head of NARAL, which didn't say exactly what Edwards has done on this issue but that he has fought for women's issues for years and she (Kate) believes Edwards "has the strongest commitment to the issues that matter most in women's lives." And then she asks me to get three of my friends to sign on to the campaign.

Mike Gravel -- no statement on the web site.

Dennis Kucinich -- no statement on the web site.

Barack Obama

"I strongly disagree with today's Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman's medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women."
No corresponding email.

Bill Richardson
“Today the Supreme Court took a dangerous step backward in regard to Americans’ rights to personal choice and privacy,” said Governor Richardson. “In doing so, the Court disregarded the opinion of experienced and respected medical professionals who oppose the ban because there are no exceptions protecting women’s health. While not unexpected, I believe this unfortunate decision is a clear signal that the Supreme Court is opening the door to further challenges to personal medical decisions between patients and doctors that should not involve the government.”

Governor Richardson has consistently opposed any attempt to limit women’s reproductive rights, and as a Congressman voted against similar proposed bans and restrictions on a number of occasions.

“I am concerned, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated so clearly in her dissenting opinion, that this vote could be the beginning of ‘an effort to chip away a right declared again and again by this court’,” added the Governor. I sincerely hope that is not the case.”
No corresponding email.

The 9 C's of Leadership

Thanks to NV Mojo at Nevada Mojo Rising for pointing me in the direction of this piece by Lee Iacocca. He gives us a lot to think about as we begin the decision-making process of selecting our next President.

I've never been Commander in Chief, but I've been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I've figured out nine points, not ten (I don't want people accusing me of thinking I'm Moses). I call them the "Nine Cs of Leadership." They're not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let's be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It's up to us to choose wisely.
Iacocca goes on to explain his 9 C's of leadership and ends with:
But when you look around, you've got to ask: "Where have all the leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened. Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when "the Big Three" referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change? Had Enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America. In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some of America's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one thing, it's this: You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a call to action for people who, like me, believe in America. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the horseshit and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had enough

A Young Democrat Speaks

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing Jesse Riehm, a Churchill County Young Dem, speak at the Churchill County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. His topic was, "Why I am a Democrat." After he sat down I scurried over to his table and asked him if he could send me a copy of the speech so I could share it with all of you. Jesse has quite the impressive bio as well. From his email to me:

I am currently a senior at Churchill County High School. I will most definitely be graduating with an Honors school diploma and as a Co-Valedictorian. I am formerly a member of the CCHS Debate team where I was a policy debate captain. Besides the Young Democrats, I currently participate in the Honors Society and I tutor when I can. I will be attending either Colorado College, Willamette University, or UNR in the Honors School as a Presidential Scholar next year.
HIs speech as emailed to me:
My cousin recently asked me why exactly am I a democrat. Of course, I have many answers, as I am sure most of you do. But it is much more than merely being affiliated with the party of great leaders such as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and most great 20th century presidents. It is more than being able to claim the creeds of President Abraham Lincoln and other great proponents of egalitarianism, more than being in the party of ideals such as separation of church and state that advocate the greatest possible liberty. My major reason lies in a certain underlying principle that I believe the Democratic Party is built upon. This is the concept of acceptance.

The Democratic Party is unique in its advocacy of acceptance. While I personally have heard few politicians, democrats or otherwise, explicitly campaign on acceptance, I believe that many of the ideals of our party are at their base acceptance. By this I do not mean “complacency,” as I have heard indicted by people who do not practice our doctrine. I mean not judging our fellow humans based on any external values, such as origin, language, unrequited lifestyle or any number of common foundations for judgment. This means that we, as a party, will support and help others through their most difficult times. We do not assign ourselves to an archaic sense of survival of the fittest that has long been ruled out by political philosophers and by the natural phenomenon of government. This is why the Democratic Party is the party that fathered such great programs as Social Security and Medicare, and why we are currently the party that fights for the rights of members of the GLBT community and the right of choice on abortion and even why we accept those of contrary views on these controversial subjects into the folds of our party. We are willing to accept the weaknesses of others or appreciate their unique traits and to offer them social programs in order to supplement their strengths rather than just rejecting them as unable or unnatural and letting them wither.

We should all be very proud of the progress that America has made in the path towards a universal acceptance. While few people will doubt that there are still pockets of prejudice left in our country, the nation as a whole has become much more accepting. We have gone from being the last civilized nation to maintain the wretched institution of slavery to engaging in civil discourse on how to overcome the remnants of racism. We have gone from women being pushed aside and domesticated to women filling up a majority of America’s universities and colleges. This comes from a growing acceptance among the citizenry for one another, and without whatever catalysts that have perpetuated such social movements then America would merely be a nation of bigots, a nation of strict classes where no advancement is feasible. We still have a long ways to go to overcome these abominations, and it is in the Democratic Party that most of these agents for change currently reside.

I stated earlier that it is not “complacency” because nothing could be more false. As a party we should be and are willing to fight for the rights of others, and in situations of personal right or liberty where no compromise is acceptable, we should accept no compromise. The doctrine I have stated is a loaded one. It means stridently protecting the weak from the strong, protecting against invasions on the personal liberties that we are all guaranteed in the constitution of these United States, such as the freedoms of religion and expression, equality, and liberty. And this is by no means complacency. This is true patriotism, and it is what our great party embodies.
Jesse is the kind of kid every parent would be proud to claim as their own. I'm glad he's in our Party.

April 18, 2007

Wecome Pete McCloskey

This one passed under my radar. Thanks to Bob Brinkley for bringing it to my attention.

McCloskey leaves Republican Party

Excerpt from his email explaining his decision:

I registered Republican in 1948 after reaching the age of 21. We were the party of civil rights, of free choice for women and fiscal responsibility. Since Teddy Roosevelt, we had favored environmental protection, and most of all we stood for fiscal responsibility, honesty, ethics and limited government intrusion into our personal lives and choices. We accepted that one the duties of wealth was to pay a higher rate of income tax, and that the estates of the wealthy should contribute to the national treasury in reasonable measure.

I was proud to serve with Republicans like Gerry Ford, the first George Bush and Bob Dole.

In 1994, however, Newt Gingrich brought a new kind of Republicanism to power, and the election of George W. Bush in 2000 has led to wholly new concept of governance. The bureaucracy has mushroomed in size and power. The budget deficits have become astronomical. Our historical separation of church and state has been blurred. We have seen a succession of ethical scandals, congressmen taking bribes, and abuse of power by both the Republican House leadership and the highest appointees of the White House.
Read it all.

I thought he was supposed to represent us

Rubberstamp Representative Dean Heller returns to D.C. after getting an earful from his constituents.

Heller returns to Washington this week after hearing deep opposition to the war from constituents in Nevada during spring recess. He said he heard similar sentiments in private conversations, in grocery stores and in homes from "some of my friends, neighbors, colleagues."

Heller came away believing that two of every three Nevadans oppose the war - on par with national polls.
So, that means he's going to help end the war, right? Um. No.
But Heller said "at the end of the summer - six to nine months - I'll have to reassess my position."
Oh. I see. Since January of this year, we have lost an average of three American soldiers a day in Iraq (Iraq Coalition Casualties). This month we are averaging four American deaths a day. Basic math says that in six months anywhere from 480 to 720 more American lives will be snuffed out. In nine months? 720 to 1080 more deaths.

All this death and THEN Dean Heller will start to reassess his position? How does he sleep at night?

April 15, 2007

Google Maps - Traveling to Paris

I received this fun little exercise from my friend, CJ.

1. Go to http://maps.Google.com
2. Click on "Get directions"
3. Enter the Start address: New York, New York
4. Enter the End address: Paris, France
5. Read line #23

April 13, 2007

Kilowatt Ours

One of our Lyon County activists is having a showing of "Kilowatt Ours" at her home this Sunday afternoon. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Better Know A Candidate - Contacting the Campaigns

In my travels, I have often been told that candidates have been invited to attend events but that oftentimes there is no response. Well, some of these campaigns may be operating on a shoe-string, others may have a specific contact mechanism that cannot be ignored, lest the invitation fall through the cracks. I've done a little bit of homework and this is what I've found. Contacting the on-the-ground local rep is always your best bet, but if that isn't possible what do you do?

Hopefully this will help:

Joe Biden - Tim Emrich is the regional outreach fellow. His email is temrich@joebiden.com The online contact information for the national campaign can be found here.

Hillary Clinton - Pam duPre is the Northern Nevada Political Director for the Clinton Campaign. Email her at pdupre@hillaryclinton.com or call her at (775) 830-3995. Online contact form for the national campaign can be found here.

Christopher Dodd - No local contact that I know of yet, though he is making swing through southern Nevada. Online contact information (phone, address and online form) can be found here. On Edit: Jack Wood of Nye Gateway has passed along Chris Dodd's Nevada contact. His name is Joe Zepecki. His e-mail is: jzepecki@chrisdodd.com and he can be reached by phone at (202) 445-1517.

John Edwards - Brandon Pinette is coordinating up here in northern Nevada. He can be reached at bpinette@johnedwards.com. Kelly Harlow is the rural coordinator for the Edwards campaign. Contact her at kharlow@johnedwards.com . Online you can contact the campaign using this form.

Mike Gravel - Online contact info found here.

Dennis Kucinich - I know there are some local folks here, but I don't know who's the lead. Online contact form is here. Local Meetup information.

Barack Obama - David Cohen is the Deputy State Director at dcohen@barackobama.com. The northern Nevada contact is Rachel Sigman at rsigman@barackobama.com . If you wish to contact the campaign online, go here. The campaign has specific online forms for specific kinds of contacts. For instance, if you wish to invite Obama to a non-press event go to http://invite.barackobama.com (otherwise your invitation will go nowhere, according to this answer at the Answer Center). Footnote about the Obama campaign: They are conducting a series of organizational meetings in northern Nevada. Go to the my.barackobama.com to find out where and when. Local Meetup information.

Bill Richardson - Michael Tassone is the rural outreach guy for the Bill Richardson campaign. He can be reached at michaeltassone@yahoo.com or at (775) 223-4291. Michael is looking for volunteers to assist at their booth at the Cinco de Mayo celebration next month in Fernley. Online contact form for the national campaign is here. The Richardson campaign will be opening a Reno office next month and if you are interested in volunteering contact them at at at (702) 385-2455 or email them at nevada@richardsonforpresident.com with "Reno" in the subject line.

On a related note: A commenter at the Gravel web site asks a good question and one that the other candidates ought to answer as well. The commenter is trying to find out who the California campaign contact is. Well, why not post that information online? Why can't all the candidates post state contact information online? T'would be extremely helpful!

Note to campaigns: If I have missed something or have posted incorrect information, please leave a comment and I will modify this post accordingly!

April 11, 2007

If George Were King!

I had no idea Catherine Crier did this sort of commentary. Enjoy!

Bill Richardson in North Korea

Wow. Goes to get the remains of six soldiers killed in the Korean War, and helps broker a nuclear deal while he's there. Color me impressed. Video (MSNBC)

Education funding

Desert Beacon knocks another one out of the park.

The right-wingers are right about one thing: Money doesn't solve educational problems. However, they miss the corollary: What the money will buy does help solve educational deficiencies. Up-to-date texts and supplies are expensive. A top quality teaching staff doesn't come cheaply. Computer technology and software don't magically drift down from the heavens. School buildings and buses do not build and maintain themselves.

. . .

The bottom line is that the corporations who say they dearly want an educated workforce want someone, anyone, else to pay for it. And, this brings us back to the starting point. If the corporate and business interests don't want to pay for our K-16 programs, then the "average tax payer" must. But, if the average tax payer becomes less able over time to afford an education for himself or his children, then over time the system will collapse in on itself -- leaving us with a pile of red-painted lumber topped off by the remnants of the cheaply shingled roof.

Pop quiz

Scott Ritter says holding our leaders accountable can only be accomplished when we, the American people, get a handle on what it is we are trying to hold them accountable for:

The fact is one cannot begin to search for a solution to a problem that has yet to be accurately defined. We speak of “surges,” “stability” and “funding” as if these terms come close to addressing the real problems faced in Iraq. There is widespread recognition among members of Congress and the American people that there is civil unrest in Iraq today, with Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence tearing that country apart, but the depth of analysis rarely goes beyond that obvious statement of fact. Americans might be able to nod their heads knowingly if one utters the words Sunni, Shiite and Kurd, but very few could take the conversation much further down the path of genuine comprehension regarding the interrelationships among these three groups. And yet we, the people, are expected to be able to hold to account those whom we elected to represent us in higher office, those making the decisions regarding the war in Iraq. How can the ignorant accomplish this task? And ignorance is not something uniquely attached to the American public. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the newly appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, infamously failed a pop quiz in which journalist Jeff Stein asked him to differentiate between Sunni and Shiite. Reyes has become the poster boy for congressional stupidity, but in truth he is not alone. Very few of his colleagues could pass the test, truth be told.

The task of holding Congress to account is a daunting one, and can be accomplished only if the citizenry that forms the respective constituencies of our ignorant congressional representatives are themselves able to operate at an intellectual capacity above that of those they are holding to account. So rather than issue “pop quizzes” to our elected representatives, I’ve designed one for us, the people. If the reader can fully answer the question raised, then he or she qualifies as one capable of pointing an accusatory finger at Congress as its members dither over what to do in Iraq. If the reader fails the quiz, then there should be an honest appraisal of the reality that we are in way over our heads regarding this war, and that it is irresponsible for anyone to make sweeping judgments about the ramifications of policy courses of action yet to be agreed upon. Claiming to be able to divine a solution to a problem improperly defined is not only ignorant but dangerously delusional.
And then Ritter lays it on us:
So here is the quiz: Explain the relationship between the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Baghdad as they impact the coexistence of Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni populations.

Most respondents who have a basic understanding of Iraq will answer that Karbala is a city of significance to Iraq’s Shiite population. Baghdad is Iraq’s capital, with a mixed Sunni and Shiite population. If that is your answer, you fail.
Ritter then plows through an in-depth explanation of the Sunni/Shiite divide, the rise of Wahhabism and how we, America, fit into it all. It's a long and dense slog, but well worth the read. Ritter ends with this:
The longer the Americans remain in Iraq, the more violence the Americans bring down on Iraq, and the more the Americans are seen as facilitating the persecution of the Sunnis by the Shiites, the more legitimate the call of the Wahhabi fanatics become. While American strategists may speak of the rise of al-Qaida in Iraq, this is misrecognition of what is really happening. Rather than foreigners arriving and spreading Wahhabism in Iraq, the virulent sect of Islamic fundamentalism is spreading on its own volition, assisted by the incompetence and brutality of an American occupation completely ignorant of the reality of the land and people it occupies. This is the true significance of Baghdad, and any answer not reflecting this will be graded as failing.

A pop quiz, consisting of one question in two parts. Most readers might complain that it is not realistic to expect mainstream America to possess the knowledge necessary to achieve the level of comprehension required to pass this quiz. I agree. However, since the mission of the United States in Iraq has shifted from disarming Saddam to installing democracy to creating stability, I think it only fair that the American people be asked about those elements that are most relevant to the issue, namely the Shiite and Sunni faithful and how they interact with one another.

It is sadly misguided to believe that surging an additional 20,000 U.S. troops into Baghdad and western Iraq will even come close to redressing the issues raised in this article. And if you concur that the reality of Iraq is far too complicated to be understood by the average American, yet alone cured by the dispatch of additional troops, then we have a collective responsibility to ask what the hell we are doing in that country to begin with. If this doesn’t represent a clarion call for bringing our men and women home, nothing does.

Scott Ritter was a Marine Corps intelligence officer from 1984 to 1991 and a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He is the author of numerous books, including “Iraq Confidential” (Nation Books, 2005) and “Target Iran” (Nation Books, 2006)

Mortgage delinquency rate

Check out Nevada's ranking on this interactive from the Wall Street Journal.

The mortgage delinquency rate climbed to 2.87% in the first-quarter, up from a recent low of 2.03% in the fourth quarter of 2005. The rate is at its highest level since at least 2000. The rise in delinquencies has been steepest in Modesto, Stockton and Merced, Calif., and the Port. St. Lucie-Fort Pierce metro areas in Florida. On an absolute basis, delinquencies are highest in Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. and Brownville-Harlingen, Texas. — Ruth Simon

April 6, 2007

Nevada Democratic Caucus web site is up and running

Go here.

They've done a nice job!

Check it out

Another "new to me" blog: If I Ran the Zoo

I think you'll like it.

April 5, 2007

Beyond Vietnam: 40 Years Later

Martin Luther King's words are as true today as they were 40 years ago.