Friday, August 31, 2007

Ah, August in Budapest

Two of our Miami-Dade Republican representatives in Congress are enjoying a tour of the central European capitals looking for backers for their obsolete Cuba policy. Here’s the story in the Miami Herald of Friday. Don’t you wonder why Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart have to travel so far find friends now?

Could I suggest they try a town hall meeting? Back in the district? I’d be glad to show up and talk to them, and I’m sure many Cuban-Americans would, too. Anyone remember the last time the Diaz-Balarts and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had a truly open town hall meeting in their home county? No wonder they’re so out of touch.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

SunPost interviews Joe Garcia

Here's some good exposure resulting from the Barack Obama event: the chairman of the Democratic Party here, Joe Garcia, gets a great long interview in the SunPost. The vibrant Miami weekly clearly likes Joe, and the thought that Raul Martinez would wipe the floor with Lincoln Diaz-Balart in '08 gives the writer a thrill.

Say, Joe, was that a little slip about the poll?

UPDATE: The lively blog Stuck on the Palmetto is widening the spread of the SunPost interview with this post.

Dennis Kucinich at DFAM fund-raiser Sept. 8

The Ohio congressman and presidential contender is the star at Democracy for America-Miami-Dade’s Sept. 8 fund-raiser – the day before the Univision Spanish-language debate at the University of Miami. The event is at 6:30 p.m., at the Howard Johnson Plaza Miami Airport, 7707 NW 103rd St., Hialeah Gardens.

Contact Barbara Walters for tickets, 786 287-7027, or

To see what Kucinich says about the Florida primary-date problem, this link will do.

Republicans not reporting for Univision Spanish debate

They used to say they were interested in the Hispanic/Latino vote. Now they can’t be bothered. They must see our wave a-rising. What’s this about? The Univision debate that was to let the presidential candidates appeal to a Spanish-speaking TV audience will not have a Republican forum. The Democratic candidates will all be there for their Sept. 9 debate at the University of Miami, but the Republican event scheduled for Sept. 16 has been called off. Only John McCain had confirmed to attend.

This Miami Herald report mentions our local effort, as well as the national drive run through NDN to build a national Hispanic strategy to win elections.

I say chalk all this up to a victory of our think tanks over their think tanks (if they’re still thinking in this stage of collapse).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crash: Ex-mayor and judge in his divorce case

Only in Miami. Check it out.

Trickle down? It still doesn't work

The other day the Miami Herald posted a jolly headline on the front page about fast-growing incomes in the county. Hooray! The detail, however, didn't show a great deal of progress, and here's the followup editorial in the NY Times pointing out that the current economic expansion is the rare one that hasn't let personal incomes reach the peak of the previous cycle.

War or anti-war. The question ...

This is a link to a short video about a right-wing ad campaign that tries to lobby members of Congress to support the war in Iraq. The counter-campaign asks us to petition CNN and Fox to stop showing the commercials. I sent off a message asking those two nets to stop taking blood money. Have a look and decide for yourself.

Barack Obama: Cuba policy

Here is an excerpt from Sen. Obama's speech on Aug. 25 about his Cuba policy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The Argument" on my bedside table

Here's another one of those books that says we Democrats are struggling to define our program for the future. Reviewed in the NY Times on Tuesday, "The Argument" by Matt Bai is my current political reading. The subtitle is "Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics."

Bai was a co-moderator of the presidential debate forum at the YearlyKos bloggers convention in Chicago early this month, and is clearly well-versed in the short history of the netroots world and its impact on politics. Those of us who saw Simon Rosenberg's presentation last spring on the dawn of the new politics will be pleased to see that he had an important role in getting concerned people together and leading them toward the Howard Dean wing of the party.

Not too far into the book yet, I'm dubious about Bai's comparing the Democrats to General Motors in the '70s. Seems like apples and oranges to me. Bai is afflicted with the NY Times writer's problem with inapt connections, such as Tom Friedman's "The World is Flat." No, Tom, even if you say so, it's not.

But there seems to be plenty of good history and analysis, and I'm plugging ahead. Sometimes I wonder if this incessant demand that we postulate a new philosophy is a way to keep us from concentrating on analyzing the world and deciding how to fix it. Philosophize, or act? Is that the question?

Coral Ridge church to de-emphasize politics

While we're pondering the impact of this development, let us remember that DNC Chair Howard Dean asked us months ago to keep the new churches in mind as we seek to expand our reach. When Dean talked to Miami-Dade Democrats at Parrot Jungle, he pointed out that progressive politics may be welcome at some of the new mega-churches. Good values include caring for the poor and sick, I seem to remember from Sunday School, and that's an area where we stand out from the neo-conservatives.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chairman Garcia's speech at Barack Obama event

Joe Garcia, left foreground, watches Sen. Barack Obama and the crowd at Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

Here are the remarks Joe Garcia, chair of the Democratic Executive Committee, made before Sen. Obama's speech Saturday Aug. 25.

Today, we gather to celebrate the beginning of the end of the Bush era in American politics.

So much has gone wrong in this great nation of ours....

Despite hundreds of billions spent, thousands of lives lost and our standing in the world diminished ---- we are not safer.

Our people are struggling harder to get ahead....

and in our capital we've seen more greed, more incompetence, more lying than perhaps any time in our history...

the nation is crying out for a new and better politics, one that tackles the great challenges of this emerging century, and one that brings us together rather than tears us apart.....

We are here, today, in the thousands, with people of every race, who came here from many countries, from many backgrounds to celebrate the dawn of a new politics for America, a new day, a neuvo dia.....

a day of hope -- not fear....
of prosperity -- not struggle
of security-- not adventurism....

and on an issue close to many of us here in Miami, we are also to celebrate the dawn of a new day for the Cuban people....

The end of the Castro era offers hope, and just as the possibility of freedom begins to dawn, all the Bush administration offers is more of the same.

For too long our policy has been one that reacts, it asks us to turn away from the suffering of our family and friends and simply hope for change.

The administration’s policy on Cuba, as on the rest of the challenges our nation faces, is more bluster than Courage....

We thank Senator Obama for his coming to Miami and challenging the politics of status quo at this important time.

By letting the Cuban people lead the way he makes the possibility for a peaceful and just transition more likely...

Obama coverage

Missed Obama? Here's a chance to see a little video of the Illinois senator in South Florida. And since if comes from the Sun-Sentinel, it was new to me to see the newspaper's website offering TV coverage -- sort of. Take a look.

And at the Miami Herald, Beth Reinhard had a fine story, and there's a link beside it to a video of an interview with Barack Obama, but it never finished loading, so I haven't seen it. If you get it to load, please add a comment to this post.

And a link here to the coverage on CBS 4.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Guess who was suspected of dying or being dead. Starts with C, ends with astro. Here's how the AP handled it on Friday.


Thank goodness for technology. We have our ways ... wasn't that a line that Peter Lorre would utter in the old black-and-whites? Ve haf our Vays ... Now we have our ways to catch sneaky Republicans trying to white-out the truth. Truth lies in Wikipedia, and now there's a scanner that shows who made changes in this user-edited, on-line sorta encyclopedia.

A few months ago we learned that our Republican lieutenant governor in Florida, whose name no one knows, erased embarrassing info about his past. Eine kleine Skandal ensued.

Today we learn that a Republican congressman's office erased the same sort of stuff. And here's the link. Note the money from disgraced Republican Rep. Mark Foley, to Rep. Adam Putnam, R-FL. Wow, news like this is the kind of thing that brightens an old guy's dateless Friday night spent at the overheated keyboard. News of sneaky Republicans caught in the act.

Now let's hold our breath until the Miami Herald prints news of this kleine Skandal.

UPDATE: Browsing to figure out where Adam Putnam is based (Tampa area), I came upon the Polk County news blog, with an astounding photo report on a high school that's putting up a $400,000 scoreboard for the football team.

UPDATE II: With an assist from (who else) Ken Quinnell, who knows where everything is, I now have the link to the watch blog that cares for Rep. Adam Putnam. Those uncertain about Wikipedia will learn much at this site.

UPDATE III: This topic also relates to my recent post on watch blogs, of which we do not have enough in Florida. Volunteers, in other words, are wanted.

Turn up your speakers

Saturday's rally starring Barack Obama will have musical punch, and you can get a preview by going to the singer's website and turning up the volume. Oh, yeah! Lost my vote, wowo ...

Ellen Bukstel, you've testified!

She's not the only music on the program. The Northwestern Senior High School Band is primed to test the strength of your eardrums. And you'll be permitted to sing yourself, too.

Prepare for a fantastic political and musical experience!

The other thing on Saturday

Yes, there will be Democratic news Saturday beyond the fund-raiser that Barack Obama stars in. In Washington, the Democratic National Committee will be considering Florida's perhaps illegal scheduling of the primary election on Jan. 29.

It's been a while since I've seen so much gnashing of the teeth.

Here's a post by Kos on DailyKos that tries, in Markos' infinite wisdom, to cut through the groans of despair.

Earlier, my inbox registered an appeal by the state Democratic Party to back party chair Karen Thurman as she heads to Washington to argue the case for keeping Florida free of sanctions -- such as losing delegates to the national presidential nominating convention next year. Here's the way the Miami Herald summarized it -- more groans: why are we fighting the national party?

Thurman herself broadcast her views by email, and then a further appeal went on DailyKos with a diary posted by the state communications director, Phil Perry. The comments below the diary are truly anguished. If you go into them, don't miss Floridagal's worry that we Dems might be unleashing the Feds on us for an investigation.

This is a very disheartening topic. Politics can be so nasty. And that's why we need to get Republicans out of the majority all over the place and get back to rational legislating and governing. Like good Democrats, right?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the Republicans give

As we write our checks to the fund-raiser with Barack Obama -- It benefits us, the Miami-Dade County Democrats, not the candidate -- here's some news to ponder, thanks to the Eye on Miami blog, which often is a provocative read. What have the Republicans given here in the county?

Since the first of this year it has been $84,213, "Geniusofdespair" reports on the blog.

I haven't looked up our corresponding number, but I hope after the fund-raiser that we will be up in the Republican league.

Obama on Cuba travel

Barack Obama is for easing two important restrictions on human relations between the United States and Cuba. In an op-ed essay in Tuesday's Miami Herald, the Illinois senator wrote that he would grant "unrestricted rights" to Cuban Americans to visit relatives in Cuba and send remittances.

The Herald also published a news story on Obama's position, noting that he is the only one of the top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination to opt to ease these restrictions. Hoever, Sen. Chris Dodd is on record, as a commenter reports in this blog's previous post on Cuba policy. The Herald has relegated Dodd to the also-rans, though on this issue he's running ahead of the pack and favors abolishing all restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Only four days until Obama will be in Miami for our fund-raiser Saturday afternoon. Do you have your tickets?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bravo! Down with Cuba travel restrictions

More than Bravo may not be necessary. Here's what the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party issued as a policy statement this weekend:

MIAMI - Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia issued the following statement today, August, 18, 2007, on behalf of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee regarding existing restrictions on travel to Cuba:

"We support real family values, not policy that only further damages families already divided. The travel restrictions that prohibit Cuban Americans from visiting family members in Cuba more than once every three years must be eliminated. The Bush administration cannot purport to tell individuals who they can or cannot consider to be immediate family members, nor how often they should visit them."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Watch blog, anyone? Here they come.

This will be two days in a row that I'm touting work by Ken Quinnell, but here goes. During the YearlyKos convention of bloggers in Chicago, one new wrinkle that came up was called a watch blog. It's a blog that focuses on a politician's actions and analyzes them. More likely, it focuses on an office-holder and points up his/her foibles.

Suddenly, we've got a bunch of watch blogs in South Florida -- all over the state, in fact, aimed at Republicans in Congress and state government.

Look at Target is U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, District 18.

Or Target is U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, District 21.

Or his brother Mario Diaz-Balart, at Mario Diaz-Balart is U.S. Rep. for District 25.

The three are the Republicans who, thanks to having redistricted so many Democratic-leaning voters into the two other congressional districts in Miami-Dade County, are re-elected with comfortable majorities. The two Democrats representing the county in the U.S. House, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meek, are re-elected unopposed -- in effect wasting many thousands of Democratic voters who could topple one or more of the three Republicans.

These three watch blogs are signs that the Republicans won't have it so easy in 2008. The docile mainstream Miami media (dmMm), which doesn't bother to cover Congressional races and then wonders why Congress is so little respected, will have grassroots contention. The people want respectable representation, along with the good government that might ensue.

Thank you, Ken Quinnell, for creating the three watch blogs and all the others that offer chances to post news and analyses that the members of Congress would rather not hear. He also created watch blogs for the Republicans in the state Cabinet, and Sen. Mel Martinez, as well as the other Republicans in Florida's U.S. House delegation.

Now it's up to local activists to announce themselves to Quinnell, declare their Democratic credentials, and start posting news and analysis as it becomes available. Check those blogs: they have clear directions on how to get started.

Is it difficult to be a blogger? Not especially, though it's new and there are some technical tricks to master. Anyone who can do email and word-processing can handle blogging.

For an example of how the watch blog can step beyond the starting gate, click on the link for the one that watches U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, of Florida's 9th U.S. House district. This watch blog has been in existence for quite a while.

Here's a link to a fine analysis on one of Quinnell's new watch blogs -- one on U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, former speaker of the Florida House. It's called the Feeney Alert, and the first post goes into the confusion Feeney tries to spread over his vote to kill the SCHIP program for children's health. The first post was written by Eddie Schwieterman.

UPDATE: Clint Curtis is running against Feeney in '08, and his manifesto is posted on DailyKos as of today, Aug. 17. The link is here.

There's a post on DailyKos that was full of tips for amateur blogging. In other words, to be a blogger you don't have to be a pro -- as this blog shows every day that I post.

Does anyone out there want to run a blog watching our South Florida members of congress? I'd be glad to work with someone toward that goal. Just send an email to this blog -- address along the right column. And if there's already something in the works, please let us know here.

It helps if there's a vigorous political blog run by local established journalists, like the Melbourne-based Florida Today's Brevard Watch that provided basic material on Tom Feeney's pronouncement. Do we have that in the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog? Remains to be seen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Conservative blogs in Florida

My friend Ken Quinnell of the Florida Progressive Coalition relays data from the conservative side of blogging. Here's a link to the Sunshine site where the editor counts less than 20 conservative blogs in Florida -- against the 100-plus that Quinnell finds on the progressive side. There's an assumption of greater energy on the progressive side that is somewhat belied by my current vacationing state of mind. I hope to do better next week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bad government: an example

When people say they're against big government, I try to convince them that the foe should be identified as bad government, not big government. Here's an example, as worked up in the Orlando Sentinel and analyzed in this link at the Florida Kossacks blog. Blame this on our "sainted" former governor Jeb Bush, who somehow remained popular despite such actions.

And as to big government, take that ideology and stuff it. Give us government of the right size, to act efficiently to carry out tasks decided upon by fairly elected representatives.

Monday, August 13, 2007

CORRECTION: NOT Bill Richardson

There's a Bill Richardson campaign event this
evening, but it was a mistake to say the New
Mexico governor would be there. Instead, attending
the event will be Patsy Trujillo, his national
campaign surrogate in his campaign for the Democratic

As before, it will be held at the Versailles
Restaurant in Little Havana, 3555 SW 8th
St., Miami, at 7 p.m.

Sorry for any confusion.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Don't let this make you complacent

Read down in this Miami Herald story far enough, and you'll see that the Republicans are about to redouble their efforts to hang on to Florida. They are in deep trouble, but not giving up. Our side most likely is in danger of getting complacent. So your blogger is issuing a call to backbone: do not underestimate the other side. Stand fast and keep working.

Our county leader, Joe Garcia, is quoted in the last paragraph saying the math is all on our side. Yes, indeed, and that will be true next week and next year if we don't let up.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More on YearlyKos

There was a lot of reporting going on at the YearlyKos, and much of it went up on blogs. Via the Florida Democratic Party, here's a link to reports by Alison Morano, head of the Pasco County Democratic Party, on the convention.

Bob Graham analyzes the presidential primaries

Here's a link to Bob Graham's NY Times op-ed on the primaries. Let's change to yet another scheme, he suggests. Credit Naked Politics for putting this one up early.

New round on insurance coming?

Interesting item from the Orlando Sentinel on how the only Democrat in the state cabinet may have a better idea on our state's insurance mess. Alex Sink is our chief financial officer and a good example of the way Democrats can add competence -- gold-star competence in her case -- to government.

Wise words on Cuba

Don't you wish that those in charge in Washington would talk about Cuba in new ways, wise ways? And what might they say? Here's an example, in an interview with our chairman, Joe Garcia, who's on a media blitz these days.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Don't miss Barack Obama on Aug. 25

You're marked your calendar. Have you bought your tickets? Have you sent the news to every politically inclined person in your Rolodex, your email list, your grocery list?

This is the time to help your Miami-Dade Democratic Party and boost attendance at the Aug. 25 fund-raiser starring Barak Obama.

Click here for the party website, and buy tickets there.

Raul Martinez to run?

A juicy item from the Miami Herald, with perhaps a prediction of a race for Congress next year. Here's the link. It is time to be working up candidates, for sure. There comes a time when even the dynasty-like Republicans in Congress will be low-hanging fruit. Think ahead. Reach and pick.

Analysis of YearlyKos

Sorry for the break in posts to the blog. I'm on a road trip visiting friends and not always able to access the internet. Here in Ohio with rain on the roof and wireless access, some info is pouring in. Friends relayed this nugget from the Washington Post. I'll do some scoping around myself and hope to add other links here later to help analyze the YearlyKos meeting.

Meanwhile I can report from many more hours listening to the right wing on the car radio that their hatred of the blogosphere (which they now conflate with the Democratic Party, or perhaps vice versa) is not diminishing with the passage of a few days since the YearlyKos ended. We are accused of hating the United States, of "wanting to lose" this war. Hannity seems to be leading the charge on this, along with O'Reilly. No need to shut our mouths -- just be aware of incoming fire. It's further proof of the impact of the blogosphere.

And as to analyzing the impact of YearlyKos, what better than to see a report on the bar at the convention center hotel: hardly any beer left! With photographic evidence in this link. That's Markos himself in the photo. We had fun while upsetting the wingnuts.

UPDATE: One of the unexpected turns of YearlyKos, to my mind, was the strong link with the Teamsters Union that showed up on Saturday afternoon. Here's a link looking at that event and the next step that could be taken. Question: are our Miami-Dade schoolbus drivers unionized?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Primary on Jan. 29

This tops the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog Sunday morning. Mark your calendars for Jan. 29 -- primary day.

New Name for YearlyKos in '08

It was the second YearlyKos, and the last. Surprise, surprise. About two thousand people heard it from the lips of the founder Saturday evening and stopped breathing for a second – Wait a minute! We’re having the best time of our progressive lives at this convention of bloggers/netroots activists, and never again?

The Kos of Daily and YearlyKos, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, was giving the closing keynote address to the meeting, and he laid the news out in the first words of his speech. A feeling of drama rose and then was resolved in the next sentence: The name will change. Next year it will be the Netroots Nation Convention.

This may not help the wider world comprehend what’s going on. New language, my friends. New actors. Remember, this is life out here, political life mixed in with technological life, and all aspects of it are changing. Last year at the first YearlyKos in Las Vegas, one top Democrat turned up; this year in Chicago seven of the eight Democratic presidential contenders spoke at a debate forum before a crowd that had not been constrained at all by no-applause rules. Need a standing ovation? This is the crowd to give it.

You may still be trying to figure out what Kos means, and next up is netroots. I can tell you that Kos is just short for Markos, and that the founder is 35, born in Chicago, raised partly in El Salvador, back in the U.S. and into the US Army after high school, educated up to a law degree, founded the website in 2002, married with two kids.

Netroots is some combination of the Internet and grassroots, and there’s a big component of activism in true netroots. In Florida there’s a network of people trying to grow awareness and effectiveness of statewide netroots, and I try on this Miami-Dade Democratic Party blog to dip into and learn about the Florida netroots. Coming to Chicago and the YearlyKos was part of my education. I’m not sure whether I’m getting an A or a C in this course, so I’m going to stop pontificating here and let some of Markos Moulitsas’ speech roll out. (Don't forget for more news.)

“… we’re activists. We don’t do silence. …

“I’m given a great deal of credit for our movement’s success. But let’s be brutally honest – what I’ve done is... build a website.

“Let me say that again – my chief accomplishment the past five years has been building a website.

“I simply provided a safe haven for progressives to meet ... and then a beautiful thing happened.

“Without my planning or prodding, You started organizing.

“You started talking to each other and deciding, on your own, to take charge of your politics.

“You began a conversation about the direction of our country. …

“You decided that it was no longer enough to watch a 30-second political ad, or simply to hit the polls on Election Day.

“You realized that our nation wasn’t going to fix itself. We couldn’t depend on our Democratic Party to save us.

“The media was AWOL.

“We shared a common disgust at the irrelevance of our once proud party and its allied organizations. …”

“Then technology changed everything.

“Whether it was blogs, or podcasting, or social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, or MoveOn, or YouTube, people quickly adopted myriad communication technologies emerging from the web and turned them to political purposes.

“Millions did so.

“And while individually we were still nobodies, together, we became ... somebody. A very important somebody.

“And that makes some people very uncomfortable.

“Like David Broder. Joe Klein Robert Novak. Bill O’Reilly

“Echoing what so many of his colleagues think, Bill Kristol on Fox News was outraged that anyone would take us seriously. He called me a “left-wing blogger who was not respectable three or four years ago.’

“And he was right. In their world, I wasn’t ‘respectable.’ None of us were. …

“As our good friend Atrios likes to say, We weren’t "very serious people."

“You see, we weren’t stupid and gullible enough to fall for the administration’s lies on Iraq.

“Those ‘respectable’ people couldn’t stop praising Bush for being "bold," and "resolute".

“They fueled what has now become the biggest foreign policy debacle in American history. …

“They said us crazy bloggers were pushing the party to the left, and that our increasing influence would doom Democrats to electoral defeat in 2006 and beyond.

“David Brooks in The NY Times wrote in 2005 that thanks to bloggers – those rabid flying venomous sheep - Democrats would be sure to carry just Berkeley for decades to come.

“Many Democrats nodded along in agreement.

Did we listen? No. …

“Of course we’re not going to listen.

“We learned to tune out the likes of David Broder and Joe Klein years ago. But what’s amazing is that we’re no longer alone.

While we were once lonely voices on the outside, people on the inside have discovered that we’re not so scary after all, that they don’t need to fear us.

“We’ll get our hands dirty. We’ll deliver results. And they’ve learned that, quite frankly,
We tend to have a habit of actually being right about things.”

“Still, there’s a lot more to this movement than being right. The hallmark of this movement is the leaders it generates.

“It’s a movement that continuously refreshes itself, taking advantage of its democratizing infrastructure to give anyone with the right idea and passion a chance to change the world.

“It’s a world in which the gatekeepers in the traditional media, political and activist establishments can be easily bypassed.

“It doesn’t matter whether the elite think we are respectable or not. They have no right to judge us.

“It is those leaders – YOU -- who are changing your country.

“Me? I’m just a guy who built a website.

“Just a year ago, we were a freakish curiosity. I stood before you at the first YearlyKos conference and declared that we had arrived.

“People snickered and mocked me. Those reporters at the back of the room. They were laughing at me. They were laughing at us.

“But then Ned Lamont kicked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party.

“And how about people-powered Jon Tester and Jim Webb?

“We helped recruit them into the race, helped them win tough primary races, and pushed them over the finish line.

“It was fitting that their early-morning razor-thin victories – those victories that the netroots fueled -- gave Democrats control of the Senate.

“In the House, dozens of candidates with strong netroots support won their races, others came shockingly close.

“In Massachussetts, the people-powered movement helped elect the state’s first African American governor, Deval Patrick.

“And suddenly, we were no longer a curiosity. We are effective.

“We delivered victories that were born of our passionate political conversations.

“And now?

“We are a full-fledged partner in the progressive coalition.

We have gathered here in my hometown, Chicago, to celebrate not just with ourselves,
but with our allies in the labor movement, our friends in the issue groups, and our party leadership. …

“Earlier today, we had a conversation with the next president of the United States of America.

“Like any movement, we are maturing. We threw stones, got people’s attention, and
perhaps a bit surprisingly, they listened.

“That early hostility – based on substantive differences – is now giving way to new respect and trust.

None of us in this new coalition – the netroots activists, the issue groups, the party officials – None of us can win on our own. And we don’t need to. We have each other.

“And yet, seeing all that we’ve accomplished, I still can’t believe that this all started with a bunch of frustrated progressives hacking away at computer keyboards.

“I’m often asked if I knew what I was doing when I first started Daily Kos.

“Of course not. I’m not that smart. This was never my intent. It wasn’t some brilliant master plan.

“I had no idea that our country was full of natural leaders, all looking for a way to get involved.

“I simply built a website. It was you who built the netroots.

“And together all of us will build a true progressive America.”

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vietnam Vets also convening in Chicago

Eugene Cherry, war resister, expresses gratitude to VVAW members.

Too much going on to do any real live blogging, so here is a link to the New Yorker’s blog on YearlyKos.

One of Hertzberg’s posts there ends with a lament that there’s no revolution in the air at the YearlyKos convention in Chicago. I had a different experience by getting away from the grand McCormick Place convention center where the Kossaks are meeting. Being a Vietnam veteran in addition to blogging, I spent Friday evening with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. (Let's stop here for a second to warn Bill O'Reilly that there are some rude words in this report, but we learned them in the US Army.) It’s the VVAW’s 40th anniversary meeting, and on Friday night a happy crowd of old and young vets enjoyed Vietnamese food at the Thai Binh restaurant in an Asian neighborhood north of the Loop.

Here the atmosphere was more to the revolutionary mood unfound at YearlyKos. The “open mike” format for speakers was perhaps more liberating than the formal VVAW sessions scheduled for Saturday at Roosevelt University; present were not only the around-60 age group of Vietnam Vets, but also the young generation of Iraq veterans, including resisters.

Eugene Cherry, 24, stood at the microphone and expressed gratitude for the help he’d received from VVAW and like-minded anti-war groups as he fought to get discharged from the Army – the Chicago native is finally free as of July 13. Click here for background on his case.

Others from the younger set wore T-shirts with “Support War Resistance” on the chest, and some of the youth fashions would have pleased Hertzberg’s desire for something more defiant that the bloggers’ look.

“Remember to reach out to other veterans,” one speaker said. (Do you hear that, Kossaks?)

A Vietnam vet led a cheer-leader’s chant: “Give me and F! Give me a U! Give me a C! Give me a K!” A big “FUCK” roared out, and what’s it for? “Fuck You!”

And who’s that for? The answer came from Carl Rogers of Los Angeles, the first vice president of VVAW when it formed in 1973. He recalled the event back then when so many Vietnam vets threw away their medals earned in that war, and said it was the perfect “fuck you” gesture of the day. His lament for our present circumstance was that we’ve yet to find the perfect “fuck you” gesture for the Iraq war.

So there was some defiant, revolutionary atmosphere to be had in Chicago. Just not at McCormick Place. Where we’re blogging like crazy – and maybe that will turn out to be the factor that helps turn this country against another wrong war. Without all the misery of revolution. Nor homeless veterans in the streets.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Day One of Yearly Kos (ignore O'Reilly)

I am not going to let Bill O’Reilly set the frame for the YearlyKos. No, his vile attack on DailyKos, our wholesome Internet forum, shall not overwhelm the positive and uplifting message that emerged on the first day of the convention in Chicago.

The reader may deduce that my plan to lay out a straightforward report on Howard Dean’s inspiring keynote speech was stopped in its tracks by the misfortune of having Fox News erupt on my hotel-room TV as I was preparing to write.

It’s true that it was hard to ignore O’Reilly’s hectoring of Sen. Chris Dodd. The TV instigator (moderator not the appropriate word) demanded that Dodd condemn a stupid year-old cartoon from DailyKos depicting Joe Liebermann kneeling before King George’s fly, and while I was trying to marshal my thoughts, their argument boiled back and forth in my hearing. Well, why doesn’t he call just it a putative blow job? I wondered.

Not to be deterred, I plunged ahead searching my database for the notes feverishly taken from the fast-taking Howard Dean. But I had to struggle to ignore bloviating from “comic” Dennis Miller, whom O’Reilly called in to bolster his dislike of the Daily and YearlyKos (“There are hookers who put an embargo on that convention,” Miller postulated). O’Reilly himself said there is hate -- “Maybe even murder” -- on the left wing of the Internet. It was nigh impossible to keep to my mission of portraying the event in its natural colors and tones.

In fact, sad to say, I could not stay focused on a reasonable reportage mission when so much hatred of the event I’m covering was blasting into my eyes and ears.

Solution: change the channel. Now the Braves and Astros are in extra innings, and life is good again. The American pastime wins, and Bill O’Reilly can take his hatred into the soundproof chamber on the far side of the remote control. At home, thank goodness, I do not receive O’Reilly or Fox Cable News on my primitive TV. All the right-wing hating that I can tolerate is on talk radio. Here in a hotel room I am tempted by the wider selection on the cable. At home, never.

But, back to the Howard Dean speech. Let me count the standing ovations: a lot! Here was a happy crowd of 1,400 Americans (actually, I also met a Croatian and a Frenchman on Thursday among the attendees), a generally well-educated and hard-working collection of saints … and, no doubt, some sinners, too.

The Democratic national chairman said some new stuff, as far as I can tell, and the crowd responded with applause as he reaffirmed the 50-state strategy and went on to announce a “prospective policy” of searching through election laws and practices everywhere so that potential problems will be known months ahead of election time.

As to the Internet, Howard Dean has a different view from the “fair and balanced” views of Fox News’ guru.

“It has re-democratized America,” Dean said. “There has been a shift in power.”

He said the YouTube debate was “sensational” in giving ordinary people a chance to question presidential candidates. “What a surprise the Republicans don’t want to do it,” he said. He recalled YouTube’s contribution to the 2006 election result, saying the Democrats would not have a Senate majority without what YouTube did.

The advent of the Internet, he said, had changed much in politics. Where politicians used to announce policy and await reaction, now “we listen to you before we start talking. … It means real two-way campaigns so the views of Americans have influence on the candidates.”

“It is an extraordinary evolution,” he said. “It means politicians have to acknowledge that power is loaned to us. We don’t own the power, and we need to earn the power every two years.”

Dean said every election now has to be about young voters, because they are increasingly voting Democratic, and that habit must be continued. He said surveys show that young voters from all ethnic groups vote at about the same rate, meaning that their civic habits are coinciding, and they accept the same vision of America.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Report from Chicago, eve of Yearly Kos

Now called Millenium Park, no longer smells like tear gas.

Chicago is such a fine city! O, city of big shoulders, hog-butcher to the world, where I got tear-gassed repeatedly in 1968, and other erotic pleasures. After checking into the hotel today I stashed my car in an underground garage, and rode up in the elevator – only then to realize I was in the lobby of the Prudential Building. Lord, in 1963 I proposed to my true love in the penthouse bar of that very building. She said yes, but, lucky girl, she got away anyway. Must have been the Singapore Slings.

Now, Yearly Kos starts Thursday AM. I hope to be posting daily on what strikes my fancy, so thrills await you. All the good Democrats contending to be the nominee for president will be there, plus our Joe Garcia, Miami-Dade party chairman, who’s a session speaker this weekend, and many Democratic progressives from around Florida, the founders and practitioners of political blogging.

The blog is supposed to be like a diary, so I’m going to whack you with the serendipity that struck me as I drove up I-65 through Indiana this morning. I tuned around the AM dial to find WLS, once my favorite listen. Now, like so many others, it bleats the far-right tune, and Jerry Agar was holding forth when I captured WLS around mid-morning.

Lo, Agar was raving about the Yearly Kos. I was driving and couldn't take notes, but he said we’re all “hard-core leftists,” which equates us to “Communists” in his playbook. Hey, it made me feel like I was back home in South Florida.

Then he and a co-conspirator named Laura, I believe, began ripping into Barack Obama, who’s from Chicago and thus more of a local star/target. They’re still riding the hobbyhorse of his comment about meeting foreign leaders who are on the “axis-of-evil” list, and they were eagerly awaiting the speech he was to give this morning about foreign affairs.

They were going to broadcast it live – at least when it got interesting.

After quite a lot of their prepping with predictions that Obama would put foot in mouth, the senator got into foreign affairs and WLS went live with his voice, just as he described the 9/11 attacks. To my mind, this was not what Jerry Agar had hoped for, since he kept saying Obama was going to declare war on Pakistan; instead, WLS listeners heard at least 10 minutes of Obama’s finely honed and thoroughly logical case condemning the Bush administration for failing to finish the assault on Bin Laden in Afghanistan and launching a disastrous war in Iraq. “What would Barack be willing to pay for all this free airtime on an opposition program?” I wondered. Talk about earned media!

Finally the senator got to what the WLS host was seething for: (I paraphrase Obama’s words) If we have good intelligence on the terrorists and Pakistani President Musharaf refuses to act, I will.

Immediately, Agar said Obama was willing to declare war on Pakistan, to launch an attack on Pakistan. And after he opened the phone lines to callers, he kept saying the same falsity even as the callers said that striking at terrorists in Pakistan wasn’t the same as declaring war on Pakistan.

Well, fellow hard-core lefties, this is what we’re up against. Gross mischaracterization – and shouted as loud and as often as possible.

I took a look at Agar’s bio on the WLS website. Appears he’s done little in life except talk on the radio. Check it out. He has a nice, loud radio voice.

So then, dear friends, I crept through miles and miles of construction sites to reach the hotel in the loop, and I got a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times. Though Rupert Murdoch hasn’t bought that newspaper yet, its Wednesday edition had a wonderful example of what’s known as “fair and balanced” elsewhere in his empire.

Two articles were critical of Obama, and on the other side of the scale, one article slyly praising Fred Thompson for having a young wife. Now I tried to put links up here to the three articles but was unable to find them on the Sun-Times' website. Do computers work differently in the Windy City?

I rest my case for the day. Time to go out and have a look around.