Our Weekday Hosts
Peter B. Collins
Active forum topics
Democracy for America
The Official Democracy for America Weblog
Last update1 week 20 hours ago
March 15, 2006
Voter systems that are easier to use shouldn't be harder to trust. That's why we've put together a new flash movie about the importance of paper ballots. Watch the movie and sign the petition to help protect your vote today:
In an age where technology has become a staple of our day-to-day activities, we all know the power and convenience it holds. Yet, we've also all experienced that dreaded "blue screen" at least oncewhen our computer crashes, everything is lost and data corrupted.
Without paper ballots this loss is exactly what can happen to our vote our fundamental right, our voice. Think of paper ballots as the "back-up" for our elections.
Join the fight to protect every vote today, watch the movie and sign the petition:
Once you've watched the movie, help spread the word. Forward it on to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers and explain why paper ballots are an essential part of a healthy democracy.
All Americans deserve to have their voices heard and paper ballots are the best voting system to ensure a secure, honest and accurate election process. The more people we can reach with this movie, the more people we can educate on this issueand the closer we come to making sure that every vote that is cast is counted accurately.
It's pure, simple common sense. Horse sense.
March 14, 2006
GenerationDFA leaders are busy people. Organizing for students is often difficult due to students' heavy course loads, jobs, internships, and other activities. Trying to balance all of this with a social life and (occasionally) rest is sometimes out of the question! However, being over-involved has its benefits. Students take with them the experiences they gain in college forever. New York University student and GenerationDFA leader Daniel Ferris recalls the shaping experience of spending the semester working one-on-one with a Legal Aid attorney:Before signing on, we had to face the severity and reality of the upcoming semester. No matter what, we represent our clients and fight like hell to have their cases thrown out and to convince juries of "not guilty." There are no exceptions.
I was quickly placed with a lawyer and mentor, for whom it is not uncommon to have a workload of more than 150 cases at a time. The large case load results partially from agreeing to represent a large number of defendants during arraignments, and partially because we do not take many plea bargains from the District Attorney.
When the Supreme Court extended the right to counsel in Gideon v Wainwright (1963) to include the indigent, New York City decided to pay an established private organization, the Legal Aid Society, to provide counsel in criminal cases to all who could not afford it. While political support for the organization has fluctuated since the landmark decision, Legal Aid's role has not changed.
For my first trial, the evidence looked damaging against our clientsa mother and daughter accused of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. I thought the defendants should take a plea bargain of felony probation with no accompanying jail time. They insisted on their innocence, however, and we began to work on finding holes in the prosecution's case. While executing a search warrant, the NYPD found forty-four glassines of heroin in a crack above the basement door in a hallway leading into the defendant's apartment. In a closet on the top shelf behind a ledge, the NYPD found four small boxes filled with glassines similar to the ones above the door.
We reviewed the case file repeatedly. We now had grand jury testimony and could visit the two-family house with an investigator. In addition, we could speak to the landlord with a better idea of the direction of the case. The defense was a flexible work in progress throughout the entire trial. We selected our jury and started hammering away at the prosecution. We argued that the door where the NYPD found the drugs was not part of the defendant's domain. We questioned why the police, after taking multiple photographs at the apartment of the defendants, did not take any photographs of the recovered evidence.
The landlord argued that between the time the previous tenant had moved out and the defendant had moved in, he inspected the top shelf of the closet. We tore his testimony apart by asking how he could check behind an obscure ledged shelf in a small closet yet not even keep accurate billing information about the defendant. The fact remained, however, that the NYPD found drugs and glassines in the defendant's apartment while executing a search warrant. After closing statements, we returned to the office to catch up on backed up cases and to wait for a verdict.
After two false alarms, the jury arrived at a decision. As some jurors walked in, they looked directly at the defendants and seemed to give a sympathetic smile. They were the same jurors who listened to our closing statement attentively and seemed to nod in agreement. However, just as many jurors who seemed more enthused during the prosecution's summation seemed to enter looking straight ahead.
Bush defends Medicare's prescription drug benefit program
President Bush defended Medicare's new prescription drug benefit program today as a good deal for seniors and taxpayers, but acknowledged that the program has been plagued by problems. "Anytime Washington passes a new law," Bush said, "sometimes the transition period can be interesting." Since older Americans account for a large share of the electorate, especially in midterm elections, the the political stakes are high in the debate over prescription drug benefits.
Bush approval rating at record low
Good news for Democrats is that the public's growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq has driven Bush's approval rating to a new low of 36%, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that was released yesterday. Nearly half of those polled said they believe Democrats would do a better job of managing the war.
US newspapers moving mad cow story off front pages
News of the first case of mad cow disease in the US doesn't seem to be front page news, as leading newspapers around the country placed stories on the inside of today's editions. The move from the front pages appears to support the US beef industry's claims that, as consumers learn more about the disease, they gain confidence in the safety measures taken by the industry, and that they are not as concerned as they had been that the disease is a threat to the food supply.
This past weekend, New Jersey for Democracy held a candidates' forum in which the state organization formally endorsed Assemblywoman Linda Stender to challenge Rep. Mike Ferguson for the 7th CD. Linda was introduced by Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6) and was also endorsed by former primary challenger Matt Linfante, clearing the field for the nomination. Linda is the best chance we've had yet to unseat a strong ally of Bush and DeLay, giving us one of those 15 seats we need.
You can see what one of our live bloggers from Blue Jersey posted from the room:[Congressman from 6th district, Frank] Pallone is introducing Linda Stender. Linda receives a loud, warm welcome from the crowd and takes the stage.
"We're going to change the direction of this nation. The stakes are just too high. It's time to Bush back against the Bush agenda."
"We desperately need a change in Washington. This administration took us to war based on a lie. It is an outrage that the Bush administration has dishonored our soldiers who with their service are giving of themselves for all of us." She says that they've been sent into battle without the body armor, and there are groups that are raising money through bake sales for body armor.
Linda says that the GOP's Medicare D, stands for "disaster". She says it's laughable that Bush is all of a sudden worried about our relationships with countries in the Middle East. "Where has he been all these years?" *crowd laughs*
"As the only woman running for Congress in the state of NJ, I am unequivocally pro-choice. We are going to fight like hell to make sure that our freedom of choice is protected."
You can read more from the event, as well as the question and answer session on the Blue Jersey site.
Check out yesterday's article in the Boston Globe highlighting the DNC's accomplishments since Howard Dean took over the Party:As Dean's mini-army of more than 150 DNC-paid operatives have fanned out across the country, many rural and conservative-leaning Democrats are nodding with approval. "I've never really been a Dean guy," said John Wertheim, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. "But I've really bought into his program. Is it risky? Sure. But I think it's a darn good investment."
In Albuquerque, four energetic young staff memberstrained by and drawing paychecks from the DNChave divvied up the map of New Mexico, a state that was more closely divided than Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.
The article discusses Dean's efforts to strengthen the party for elections to come by building at the local level, a strategy which has won over its skeptics.
March 13, 2006
Feingold calls for presidential censure
Senator Russ Feingold, a potential presidential candidate, introduced a resolution today calling for President Bush to be censured for his domestic wiretapping program. Feingold said that a censure would "send a clear signal" that Bush's actions were "wrong." He also told CNN that the surveillance program is illegal and that he will fight against the "intimidation campaign" that the Bush administration has launched to defend it.
Bush puts positive spin on Iraq war
Just ahead of the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Bush has set out to counter suggestions that Iraq is plunging into civil war. Today, Bush delivered the first of three speeches timed to coincide with the war's anniversary. Picking through the recent reports of chaos in Iraq, Bush offered "a carefully constructed account of progress toward a unity government in which Shiite and Sunni Muslims are already working together to defeat militias and other insurgents promoting sectarian violence."
Former White House aide arrested
Claude Allen, former adviser to President Bush, was arrested in Maryland last week, charged with swindling two department stores out of more than $5,000 in a refund scam. Conviction on these charges can result in a 15-year prison sentence. Allen was accused of going to stores on more than 25 occasions and buying items, taking them to his car, and then returning to the store with his receipt, selecting the same items, and returning them for a refund.
Senator Feingold is introducing a resolution in the Senate today to censure President Bush for wiretapping American citizens without a court warrant. You can hear Senator Feingold introduce the resolution live on CSPAN2 at 4:00 p.m. EST.
Use the comments to discuss Feingold's speech.
Liz Herbert is the Editorial Director of the Rapid Response Network. The Rapid Response Network offers guest commentary at Democracy for America every Monday.
March 12, 2006
New Hampshire State Representative Marcia Moody, frustrated by Senator Reid and Nancy Pelosi's interference with Governor Dean's 50-state strategy at the DNC, sent off a strongly-worded letter to the Senator and shared it with DFA. Read the text below and view the original here.
Dear Senator Reid,
I am writing to you to express my extreme displeasure at your interference with Governor Howard Dean's administration of his duties as Chairman of the DNC and his distribution of DNC funds. Governor Dean was elected by the people of the states, the voting members of the DNC. He was neither elected by nor appointed by you. You and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi can dictate and do as you wish with the DLC and the DCCC. However, you have no jurisdiction over the DNC, its administration or its administrator.
Governor Howard Dean is the most forward thinking man of our time. The reason you and Congresswoman Pelosi are Minority Leaders and not Majority Leaders is exactly the reason why the Democrats have been losing election after election. You have consistently ignored all but 18 states in the election process. You have allowed the Republican party to take over state after state that used to have a majority of voters that traditionally were members of the Democratic Party.
Only Governor Dean has had the foresight to realize that Democrats will continue to lose elections unless the Democratic Party is rebuilt from the ground up and is present in every state. Governor Dean ran for the office as Chairman based on the promise that he would invest time and money in all 50 states and the 8 U.S. territories. Unlike any other politician, either past or present, he has fulfilled every single campaign promise he has ever made either as a State Legislator, Governor or as Chairman of the DNC.
In the one short year he has been in office, Governor Dean's remarkable accomplishments as Chairman have been well noted by public and the voting members of the DNC. It is not your duty nor you [sic] business to even suggest much less attempt to coerce the Chairman of the DNC to deviate from his elected purpose and break his promise to the people of those 50 states who elected him. I find your and Congresswoman Pelosi's interference reprehensible, unprofessional and indicative of just what is wrong with politics on Capitol Hill.
Late Edition (CNN) will feature Gov. Howard Dean weighing in on the controversial Dubai ports deal, as well as Sens. John Warner (R-VA) and Carl Levin (D-MI) giving their thoughts on the blocked proposal.
This Week (ABC) - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will talk about national security, port security and '08 presidential politics. Donna Brazile, Jay Carney, Claire Shipman and George Will will come together for a roundtable discussion.
Face the Nation (CBS) - CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer will be speaking to Sen. Barack Obama about ethics reform legislation, US port security and the war in Iraq.
Meet the Press (NBC) - This week on "Meet the Press," Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), two key senators from the Foreign Relations Committee, will talk about the civil unrest rising in Iraq and the implications for U.S. troops in the area. The authors of the book, "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq," Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent for the New York Times, and General Bernard Trainor (Ret.), will be on the program.
Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Chris will be discussing the overexposure of Hillary Clinton, the Dubai ports deal and the possibility of a Mormon presidential candidate with Kathleen Parker from Tribune Newspapers, Clarence Page from the Chicago Tribune, Kelly O'Donnell from NBC News and Howard Fineman of Newsweek Magazine.
Fox News Sunday (Fox News) - This week, Fox News Sunday will be talking to Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) on scuttling of Dubai port deal, as well as Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).
60 Minutes (CBS) This week's 60 Minutes tells the story of when "terrorist insurgents led by Al Qaeda took over the Iraqi town of Tal Afar, the U.S. military had to devise a way of retaking it. Their methods have become a blueprint for the war on terror."
March 11, 2006
Friday marked DFA Executive Director Tom Hughes' birthdayand the DFA HQ staff in Burlington just couldn't resist a little early morning surprise:
The office was filled with approximately 300 balloons, but what was probably most disturbing to Tom was finding Deputy Technology Director, Luigi Montanez, hiding under his desk with a camera.
It's not all candidates, trainings and elections around here, you know...
Preparations for the Third Annual DemocracyFest are underway and the agenda is getting more exciting each day. I hope you will join me and progressive activists from across the country in San Diego from July 14 through 16:
DemocracyFest 2006 promises to feature some of the best that San Diego and the progressive grassroots movement have to offer. Event, meal and lodging tickets are available for purchase at a discounted early-bird rate until March 15th. Get yours now before the regular prices take effect:
DemocracyFest organizers from DemocracyFest Incorporated and San Diego for Democracy have a fabulous program planned for youa weekend where you can trade ideas, learn new strategies, and get energized for the hard political work ahead.
It'll be a great celebration in San DiegoI look forward to seeing you there.
In last year's city election, DFA members played a pivotal role in the defeat of an incumbent regressive conservative city council member. First he was forced into a runoff and then against all odds and conventional wisdom he was defeated by an 88-vote margin.
Like the undead this same candidate came back this election cycle, with the full support of the Republican and business establishment to contest an at-large seat on the council. In addition to his powerful backers and their money, he had name recognition and an established campaign machine. Again conventional wisdom anointed him the favorite and the local newspaper gave him their endorsement.
During the intervening year DFA/Gainesville had been hard at work. With the support and participation of the county's Democratic Executive Committee we brought in DFA training, attended by 120 grassroots and party loyalists. This proved so successful and popular that a few months later we brought in Steve Ybarra to fine tune our GOTV strategy. Out of this grew a Precinct Action Network.
Our first test came this week. Our candidate was an impressive young woman, well credentialed but untested with little name recognition. The grassroots and the DEC went to work to target and get out our voters. The local political pundits still gave the edge to the opposition, but by election eve they were conceding the race too close to call.
The results on election night proved that DFA training and hard work can pay off. Our candidate, Jeanna Mastrodicasa, had won her seat with 54.7% of the vote and with a turnout 3% higher than predicted. Now we're on to November!
March 10, 2006
A new social networking community is spreading through college campuses across the nation. Like Facebook, Friendster and MySpace, this community allows students to send private messages, create profiles and add buddies. But unlike those other sites, this meeting space has a greater purpose... taking our country back. DFA-Link is this new, hot gathering spot for young activists on campus:Tyler [Jaeckel] could be a freshman girl gushing over her first pair of Uggs:
"It's, like, going to change the way I do everything," he says.
But he's not talking about $150 boots. Instead, Tyler is speaking to a crowd of 50 Northwestern students about DFA-Link, a new online organizing tool for progressive groups. Even more charming is the way that the crowd in University Hall hangs on his every word. It's 10 a.m. on a Saturday, folks.
To unite his 21st century approach with 21st century technology, he is taking advantage of a new online community, Democracy For America (www.dfalink.com). On the NU page, Jaeckel easily updates the site with information on events, links to blogs, and issues of relevance.
"It's like Facebook for political organizers," Jaeckel said.
Interior Secretary to resign
Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced today that she will resign at the end of the month, citing that she wants to return home with her husband as her reason for leaving. Norton is a former Colorado attorney general and guided the Bush administration's initiative to open Western government lands for oil and gas drilling. One of four of Bush's original cabinet members, she was a controversial cabinet nominee due to a background of working for logging and mining interests.
Bush renews Patriot Act
After battling with Congress, Bush signed a renewal of the Patriot Act yesterday, one day before 16 major provisions of the law were to expire. Bush claimed that the Patriot Act is vital to win the war on terror and recalled the horrors of 9/11. Debate ensued in the House for several months over how to balance Americans' right to privacy with the need to prevent potential terrorist attacks, and Bush's signature came less than 48 hours after the House had passed the final legislation.
US faces 'no greater challenge' than Iran, Rice says
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told Senators yesterday that the US faces "no greater challenge from a single country" than it does from Iran. She told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the Iranian government seems "determined... to develop a nuclear weapon in defiance" of the international community, and called the regime a "central banker" of terror. Rice's appearance was in support of an emergency spending bill seeking $68 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and includes $75 million to promote democracy in Iran.
In anticipation of the March 21st Democratic primary race between candidates for U.S. Representative 6th Congressional District, the Downers Grove Sun has published a snapshot of all three candidates in the race. Each candidate was invited to give not only their basic biographical information, but also talk about the top three issues which are important to them. Our own DFA-List candidate, Christine Cegelis, highlighted her stance on education, the economy and health care:
Issue 1: Education: A good education should be accessible and affordable for all. Our economy cannot sustain growth until we prioritize education and the retraining needs of our workforce. Expand Head Start, which has been proven to make a positive difference in the preparedness and performance of children. Fix and adequately fund the No Child Left Behind Act, stopping the unfunded federal mandates that have caused property taxes to rise but have not improved our schools. ... Without additional federal funding, our students and our workforce are increasingly ill-prepared to take on complex jobs.
Issue 2: Economy and Jobs: America's economic stability rests on the strength of hard-working, middle-class Americans. At a time when we are competing with ever-increasing numbers of people around the world, we are weakening middle-class America. Gas prices, taxes, college, rent, health care; the costs of living for the average American are increasing while job security is falling. ... Work to create jobs through small businesses, restoring funding for the Small Business Administration and the SBA loan programs. Target tax cuts for working Americans, not the richest few.
Issue 3: Health care: I believe that health care is a human right, and I will fight to secure that right for all Americans through a universal, high-quality, affordable, single-payer national health-care system. Patients would still choose their own doctors and hospitals, but overall costs would be significantly lower; and the maze of HMOs, PPOs and other plans, forms and rules would be simplified so doctors and nurses could concentrate on treating patients instead of doing paperwork.
Teri Mills is a longtime Democracy For America community member and she blogs at nationalnurse.org.
Thanks to the leadership of Lois Capps, a nurse herself, and also the Representative of the 23rd district of California. Teri Mills, Terri Polick, and Alisa Schneider, the National Nurse Team is seeing their vision to improve the nation's health become a reality.
Representative Lois Capps introduced HR 4903 into the second session of the 109th Congress on March 8, 2006. Capps is also the founder and chair of the 91 member House Nursing Caucus.
"Establishing an Office of the National Nurse is a way to improve public awareness of health issues and the role of nurses in improving health care. A National Nurse would be a tremendous advocate for nursing issues at a time that our profession faces growing demands for its skills and an increasing shortage of qualified personnel to meet those challenges. I hope that Congress will embrace this concept so we can raise the profile of nurses in our public health debates and improve the quality of public health in this country," says Representative Capps.
The National Nurse Team agrees with Capps, The most important responsibility of the National Nurse will be to carry out activities to promote the public health, including encouraging nurses to be volunteers in projects that educate the public on achieving better health. To read the language of the bill in its entirety, please visit
The intent of the Office of the National Nurse is not to duplicate services already in place. The Office will educate Americans on ways to live healthy and prevent disease. The Office will implement health care policy through collaboration with other members of America's health care team, including the Surgeon General, HHS Secretary, the CDC, and leaders of the nineteen national nursing organizations. The Office will address the general population instead of targeted groups. Finally, the Office will utilize research already in place to promote health.
There is a lot of work to be done, and many ways you can help.
Visit www.nationalnurse.org and click on the links that provide specific instructions on ways to effectively convince your elected officials to support HR 4903. The phone and letter pictures will lead you to a sample phone script and letter you can use to contact your US Representative or Senator. Click on the US Capitol to find out who these individuals are including their emails and phone numbers or call any of these toll free numbers: 1-877-762-8762, 1-888-723-5246, 1-800-426-8073.
The National Nurse Team needs your financial assistance to return to Washington D.C. The team has prepared a letter that you can send to your friends, family, co-workers, or organizations who may want to help. Encourage your co-workers, friends, and family to submit their email to receive the newsletter. This is the best way to stay in touch with the latest news about the bill and our efforts to move it forward in Congress.
Consider purchasing a button or bumper sticker at www.cafepress.com/nationalnurse If you know a graphic artist who would be willing to donate services to update merchandise, please have them email [email protected]
The National Nurse Team continues to speak at business meetings and conferences across the country. Let them know if you are interested in having them speak at your engagement.
To receive a complementary flyer that you can post at your workplace, email [email protected]
A special thank you to Democracy for America, the blogging community and Chairmen Howard and Jim Dean for their ongoing support.
Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP
March 9, 2006
We at DFALA have been endorsing in key races up and down the ballot for the 2006 primaries. Why endorse? We do it to offer the candidate our good name to help them win. And we stand behind our name with action. For that reason, we have decided to endorse only the Magnificent Seven this electionto endorse seven efforts that are truly exceptional and worthy. We want to emphasize the merits of those campaigns to our membership and to encourage our members to focus their energies on any or all of these seven campaigns. Thus far, we have endorsed a ballot initiative, a secretary of state candidate, a gubernatorial candidate and a school board candidate.
To put a candidate up for endorsement:
The endorsement committee will research and evaluate all nominees and make a recommendation within three weeks of submission of completed questionnaire, or sooner if the campaign requires it. If needed, the DFALA endorsement committee will conduct candidate interviews as well. The DFALA candidate questionnaire can be retrieved by anyone in our files section on DFA-Link. Nominators should love their candidate enough that they are at least willing to volunteer to work on the campaign themselves and ideally be willing to help organize other volunteers.
Endorsements currently pass by 60% majority of active members. Eligibility to vote to endorse is based on participating in at least three DFALA events in the last year. A "no endorsement" option will be available for all races.
Once the candidate has submitted the completed questionnaire, the DFALA endorsement committee makes a recommendation to endorse. Then the members of DFALA vote at our monthly meeting or on line to endorse or not.
The DFALA endorsement committee is still rather new, so we are developing our policies as we go. However, we have made some specific decisions, and I hope they will help everyone else.
Help Needy Monterey Families and Children
Children's Services International is a unique and wonderful local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income families and children throughout Monterey County.
Call to participate 3-6pm PT:
Center for American Progress
Prog. Dems of America
Democracy for America
Daily Kos Blog
The Nation Editors' Picks
The Nation's Weblogs
NY Times Political Reports
MSNBC Political Reports
Log in or create account
Click here: Log in or create account.