Democracy for America

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January 5, 2006


Hey, my name is Chris Broadfoot. I was born and raised in New Jersey and am currently a freshman at Bennington College. Bennington requires students to take an internship for six weeks between the fall and spring terms; I'm doing mine here at Democracy for America.

DFA's support for fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates is what drew me to this internship. My political philosophy is best summed up by what my political hero, Adlai Stevenson, wrote over 50 years ago:

"I am a Democrat because I believe that the Democratic Party has been faithful to the people as a whole, and to the root concept of equal rights for all and special privileges for none. And I believe that over its long history the Democratic Party has been much more alert and adaptable to our needs, be they defense against economic misfortune, or the realities of the uneasy world about us."
Categories: Blogs

January 4, 2006


If you host a progressive weblog, or you post frequently on other group blogs, let us know. Democracy for America is setting up a network of DFA-related weblogs for efficient information distribution and rapid response. Right now, we're looking into novel ways of keeping this group of thought leaders informed about DFA activities, events and issues.

To start with, members of the DFA Blog Network will receive daily DFA-related press clips from DFA HQ's Communications Director, Noreen Nielsen. You may also opt-in to receive press releases directly from DFA headquarters. We have also set up a DFA-Link group where participants can swap ideas, contact information, links to breaking news and more.

The DFA Blog Network DFA-Link group is online now. You can check in with the URL of your DFA-related or progressive blog at:

Categories: Blogs

Israeli Prime Minister Suffers "Significant" Stroke

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was taken to a hospital today after suffering a "significant" stroke today. Sharon had a stroke on Dec. 18, at which time doctors discovered a small hole in his heart. A surgery to repair the hole in his heart was scheduled for tomorrow. Sharon's authorities have been transferred to his vice premier, Olmert.

12 of 13 Coal Miners Dead

Around midnight, the families of the trapped coal miners thought a miracle had occurred -- church bells rang, hymns were sung, and ambulances rushed to the hospital. A few hours later, at 3 a.m. a mine company chief, Ben Hatfield, announced that 12 of the 13 men were dead. Hatfield revealed that within twenty minutes it had become clear that the good news was wrong. The bad news, however, was not announced for three hours because, according to Hatfield, officials wanted to have all the information right first.

More than 40 Killed in String of Bombings in Iraq

Wednesday was the deadliest day in Iraq since the national parliamentary elections three weeks ago. A suicide bomber killed 36 people and wounded 40 others during a funeral procession in Northeast Iraq. Another attack took place earlier in the form of a car bomb near an Iraqi police patrol -- at least five were killed and 15 others wounded. 20 fuel tankers were also destroyed by attackers armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, it was confirmed that one driver was killed; the status of the other 19 drivers is unknown.

Alito Gets High Marks from Bar Association

President Bush's nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor received a unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association. After the rating was determined a letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will begin Alito's confirmation hearings on Monday.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs

DFA is tracking down old friends from the Dean for America and early Democracy for America days. To join our "Where are they now?" series, please email [email protected].

Hi all, "Dean Nut in Sandy Eigo" here!

I first discovered Howard Dean via the MoveOn Virtual Primary in June of 2003, and didn't look back. My involvement first took the form of enthusiastic blogging on Blog for America, but via my Deaniac friends, I found and joined the local Democratic Party activists on the mission of taking our country back.

Over the summer of 2004 I helped register new Democrats in San Diego County, captained and GOTV'd the Democrats in my precinct, and worked for local candidates and John Kerry alike. After the November 2004 election, I helped urge Senator Boxer to sign the Ohio Congressional delegation's protest of election irregularities in that state.

This year, the expected vacation from political work did not materialize. I counter-leafleted at Targets and Wal-Marts next to petition-gatherers for Arnold Schwarzenegger's Wasn't-That-Special-Election, picketed Randy "CunningScam's" new house (and got on local TV news, wow!), worked data entry for the Donna Frye campaign, and once again GOTV'd my precinct's Democrats (who, I noticed, have grown in numbers!) for the fall election.

Now I am volunteering for one of our local City Council candidates, Lorena Gonzalez, who is up for a runoff election on January 10th. After that, it is off to the other set of trenches for our next Congresswoman, Francine Busby! So even though I no longer regularly appear in the comments on the blog, it's not for lack of interest—it's for lack of time!

However, I still keep my hand in for "all things Dean" by maintaining my "Dean Speeches" transcripts archive site, It's intended to be a resource for those who want to see "what this Howard Dean guy is really about."

Sincerely Yours,

"Dean Nut" AKA Barb Parcells
San Diego, CA

Categories: Blogs

Democracy for America features highlights from DFA-Link groups around the country each week. Dave Reiter is a member of DFA Miami-Dade. You can see more local DFA actions going on at

Candidate Forums: To kick off the new year, many organizations are revving up for the 2006 campaign season by inviting prospective candidates for offices big and small to participate in DFA candidate forums. Ft. Worth DFA is hosting a dynamic and energetic speaker David Van Os, who is running for Attorney General; DFA Link Organizer, Jean Yarborough promises that it will be an event to remember.

DFA Miami will have County Commissioner, Katy Sorenson speak to the group about local issues. Long time, dedicated DFA Miami members, Frank Gonzalez and Diane Lawrence will also be at the meeting as declared candidates for 2 US Congressional seats; they will explain why they are the better choice than the far right wing, incumbent brothers, Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Arlington, Texas DFA will be having an important candidate forum this week that will have four different candidates for four different offices. Among them is Capt. David Harris who is running against incumbent, Joe Barton for US House and Paula Hightower Pierson who is running for State Representative.

Arlington/Alexandria, Virginia DFA is having a "meet the delegates' event to share the groups' opinions at the Arlington State Legislative Hearing. Two days later House Representative, Jack Murtha will be speaking about "The Road Ahead in Iraq" at a town hall meeting brought together by Congressman, Jim Moran; Virginia DFA members are looking forward to participating in the discussions. Also in Virginia, Fairfax DFA will be having Governor, Tim Kaine coming to their neighborhood to discuss the northern Virginia transportation problems.

Rate Your Rep.: DFA Orange County and Los Angeles are urging members to visit a website designed to give accurate information about representatives from city council members all the way to the President. So we can make truly informed decisions about which representatives are properly executing their office, RateMyRep allows voters to evaluate every vote a representative makes. Each evaluated representative will be mailed a copy of their own RateMyRep report, to help hold him or her to account…what a concept!

Direct Legislative Action: After the 2000 election debacle, election reform has become one of the most important issues among Floridians. Many election reform coalitions are fighting for everything from anti-harassment to verified paper ballots. While many groups have had many local successes, the Republican controlled legislature has refused to bring any meaningful state legislation to the table.

DFA Miami is working to change that. The group has been reaching out to all Florida DFA organizations, local political groups, and Florida election reform coalitions, to form one united front for election reform. They will be taking their fight to the legislature next week, and have many meetings set up with representatives to adopt a bill that mandates sample ballots and an unbiased voter information guide that they have written themselves. In addition, because of the diversity of groups advocating for paper ballots, they are urging their representatives to write one of their own bills to guarantee the use of paper ballots for elections throughout Florida. DFA members feel that without fairness and accuracy within the election process, the legitimacy of the elections (because of Florida's swing state status, national elections, as well) will remain in jeopardy.

Happy New Year! DFA has been a dynamic organization that has made many advances during 2005, and all have been building for our first big challenge in winning back the House and Senate. Thank you for a wonderful 2005, and may all have a productive, successful 2006!

—Dave Reiter

Categories: Blogs

January 3, 2006


If you follow the logic of evangelists like Pat Robertson, theorizes Christopher Durang, playwright and actor, in the Huffington Post, then it would stand to reason that the recent grass fires sweeping across Texas are the result of some sort of Texan moral lapse.

I've been trying to figure out why God has been sending all those horrible grass fires to Texas. At first I thought it was because God dislikes George W. Bush, and so is punishing Texas.

But then in fairness, I realized that God's time is different than man's time, and it may be that God is having a delayed reaction to the governorship of Ann Richards, which means the grass fires are the Democrats' fault.

Or maybe God doesn't like Molly Ivins and is punishing Texas because of her. Maybe he's having a conniption fit about Brokeback Mountain. Of course, most of the sex scenes take place in Wyoming, while it's only Jake Gyllenhaal's pretend marriage that takes place in Texas. So if God was being more exact, He should send grass fires to Wyoming, not Texas. So maybe it is Molly Ivins.

Of course, Oklahoma is getting grass fires too. I'm not sure what God is saying through that gesture. Can it possibly be he disapproved of the Hugh Jackman British version of Oklahoma, and he thinks only Americans should do Oklahoma?

Take a look at the rest of Durang's post, which addresses the implications of Republicans and a God who has the time to help actors win the Tony Award...

Categories: Blogs

December 19, 2005


Since DFA-Link launched in August, over 10,000 people have attended 3,008 events planned by you and hundreds of others around the country.

It's exciting start, but we have a long way to go to take our country back. Today, we are launching DFA-Link 2.0 to make sure DFA members have the right technological tools to continue growing the grassroots. The new site features a new layout and graphics. It also includes upgraded group pages, with photos, new blog features, and many other new tools. In addition, there is an expanded "My Account" section with information on your past DFA actions, as well as your local elected officials.

Check it out at:

DFA is also working with an exciting new organization called the New Organizing Institute to train the next generation of online organizers. The first step: find 50 talented up-and-coming organizers, put them through an all-expenses-paid training week, and place them on 2006 campaigns where they can really make a difference. The one-week training will be incredibly intensive, and only those who can keep up will be placed on campaigns.

After you're placed on a campaign, you'll be supported by a mentoring network of experienced organizers and technologists. You'll work with other online organizers to figure out what works online and what doesn't, develop new tools and techniques, and share the results so that all progressive campaigns and organizations can benefit.

Interested? Apply online at:

Thank you for everything you've done this year and everything we'll do together in the months ahead!

Categories: Blogs

Liz Herbert is the Editorial Director of the Rapid Response Network. The Rapid Response Network offers guest commentary at Democracy for America every Monday.

..or..."All I want for Christmas is the Fourth Estate"...

Last Sunday The Washington Post's ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote a piece about the difference in staff, readership and ownership of their print edition and It isn't until the end of the article that we begin to suspect why she may have done so. It appears that a bit of a feud is brewing between the two:

Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing," which is highly opinionated and liberal. They're afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter. John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset—our credibility" as objective news reporters.

In fact, Harris feels so strongly that he went on record to say "the confusion about Dan's column unintentionally creates about the reporter's role has itself become an obstacle to our work."

Froomkin responded:

This column's advocacy is in defense of the public's right to know what its leader is doing and why. To that end, it calls attention to times when reasonable, important questions are ducked; when disingenuous talking points are substituted for honest explanations; and when the president won't confront his critics—or their criticisms—head on. The journalists who cover Washington and the White House should be holding the president accountable. When they do, I bear witness to their work. And the answer is for more of them to do so—not for me to be dismissed as highly opinionated and liberal because I do.

So just who is this raving lefty Mr. Froomkin anyway? From the Post:

In addition to writing the White House Briefing column, Dan Froomkin is deputy editor of a new Web site from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University that seeks to encourage more informed reporting by soliciting probing questions from experts.

Nieman Watchdog describes its charter:

The premise of watchdog journalism is that the press is a surrogate for the public, asking probing, penetrating questions at every level, from the town council to the state house to the White House...

Well, no wonder. We can't have that, now can we?

—Liz Herbert (FL)
Speak up. Join Rapid Response.

Categories: Blogs

December 18, 2005


The Acton (MA) DFA-Link meeting was featured in the Littleton Independent this past week:

Tucked away in a small back room of Ken's Cafe on King Street, a meeting of the Acton branch of the political action committee Democracy for America (DFA) takes place on the first Wednesday of every month.

In fact, it is just one of many regional grass-roots groups of DFA that meets at the same time across the country. Their mission, according to their fact sheet, is "to take on important national issues and fight for a better America."

It states unequivocally: "You have the power."

Taking on issues like the high cost of winter living in Massachusetts (this group raised and donated $220 on that night to the Citizens Energy Oil Heat Fund to help heat low-income homes) and who the group should endorse in the upcoming 2006 governor's race, the Acton group is seeing immediate results in their local community. Great job, Acton!

Kate Donahue, from Westboro and a member of the Democratic State Committee, said that because of the nature of the campaign and the amount of work that needed to be done, it was important for the group to endorse a candidate that night because if they waited until January it would be too late.

She made a motion to endorse Deval Patrick, former assistant US attorney general now running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Many were wearing his campaign button, and without much ado, the motion passed unanimously.

Donahue said the endorsement was just the beginning. Next would come the hard work of outreach. She said it was important to "hit the ground running."

Across the country, the next few months will see a flurry of activity as local DFA groups plan endorsements for the 2006 elections. Let us know what your group is working on!

Categories: Blogs

Scott Goldstein joins us for a commentary on Governor Howard Dean and the "gaffes" that have eventually been vindicated by the facts.

Just four years ago Howard Dean was a relatively unknown Governor in Vermont. The Democrats were often his biggest challenge in the Vermont State House. Ask anyone in Vermont and they will call Dean a conservative Democrat. Although the state leans left, there are many very Republican areas, and they have a second term Republican Governor. The NRA endorsed Dean in all five campaigns for Governor, and he balanced the budget 12 years in a row. He supported the Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. If he were ever to run for President, many would never have anticipated him being labeled the most liberal credible candidate.

With a single issue, the Iraq War, progressives catapulted Dr. Dean to the forefront of the Democrats running for President. He became the anti-war candidate, an insurgent. Almost all of his supporters disagreed with many of Dean's positions on capital punishment, guns, and other issues. His supporters were so enthralled by his candidacy not because they agreed with him on all the issues, but because he wanted to change the way politics is done, to rid America of special interests and to restore the role of people in their government. In the past three years he has been prone to what Republicans call "gaffes." He once said that a gaffe is when you tell the truth and somebody in Washington thinks you shouldn't have.

I will prove with research that not only has every Dean "gaffe" been vindicated by either fact or American public opinion, but on nearly every single issue, Dean's policy positions are unquestionably directly in the mainstream of American thought. For all of these supposed "gaffes" not one of them has been proven wrong. Every time, his opponents have argued whether he should have said it, and challenged his tact, even his patriotism. Not only that, but upon a REAL examination of Dean's opinions, they unarguably lie in the mainstream.

After the capture of Saddam Hussein, Dean argued that while his capture is a good thing and makes the world safer, it does NOT make the United States safer. This June 2005 article shows a majority of Americans now think that we are NOT safer for having removed Saddam and the war in Iraq. These numbers have only risen since then.

During the campaign, Dean famously said "White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals ought to be voting with us and not Republicans because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too." The facts back this up as well. First, numbers indicate almost all Southern states rank in the bottom half of education rankings and the same is true for overall health care quality. So surely Dean's point, which is that people in the South who aren't doing so well should vote for Democrats is an accurate observation. Thomas Frank made exactly the same point in his book "What's the Matter with Kansas," which was certainly mainstream, considering it was #1 on the NYT bestsellers list and got great reviews all around.

In July of 2004 a terror alert was issued mainly for financial institutions in New York City. Howard Dean on Late Edition on CNN made the claim that "I am concerned that every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism." The administration went crazy, the Democrats once again tried to distance themselves from his remarks; and yet just a couple days later the New York Times reported that the information used to issue the terror threat was in fact 3-4 years old, and there was no particular reason to issue it at that time. Except of course, Bush's lowest poll numbers and trouble over Iraq.

To more recent comments as DNC Chair, in a string of these supposed "gaffes" Dean commented in a radio interview that the Republicans are "pretty much a white, Christian party." For days afterward the Christian Coalition went nuts, Republicans called it a slur, and for his part, Dean said "I myself am a white Christian," but Democrats as a party are much more inclusive of different kinds of people. It is a simple fact that most Bush voters were white and Christian, and of course so are most Americans. But 72 % of non-whites voted for Kerry, and a recent poll showed Bush's approval among blacks at literally 2 % (+/- 3), so Dean's point that the Democratic Party is more inclusive is based in fact. Many pollsters and analysts said Bush won 2000 and 2004 largely because of the "white, religious vote", but when Dean points out the same thing, it's a gaffe.

Another statement was that "he wondered who could expect voters to work all day and then stand in line for eight hours to vote." "Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives." In full context he was saying that the people in Ohio who rigged things such that there would be only 1 voting booth in a ghetto but 10 booths in white suburbia, many of the people setting up the elections don't make an honest living. And of course it is NOT an honest living to spend your days figuring out how to skew election results by disenfranchising minorities. The quote about voters (especially in black neighborhoods) waiting 4 to 8 hours in line to vote was absolutely true and verifiable, and the point Dean made was taken badly out of context. Headlines in the following days read "Dean says Republicans don't make honest living" and "Dean: Republicans don't work hard," which are of course far from his point that those who made people wait in line for 4 to 8 hours have never made an honest living in their life.

Most recently Dean said in a radio interview that the idea that the U.S. could win the war in Iraq was unfortunately "just plain wrong." As of now, all polls reveal that a majority think that we should not have gone into Iraq in the first place, that the administration isn't giving the public the truth, AND a new poll finds 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. ought to cut our losses and withdrawal from Iraq. Republicans called his position defeatist and treasonous, saying he represented a fringe idea that any "grown-up" would not agree with. Dean in the same interviewed laid out the Democratic plan on Iraq, but the media didn't listen to that part, because they have a story line. Their storyline is: The Republicans are screwing up but the Democrats aren't doing anything about it and have no ideas. They don't look for news, only stories that fit their storyline. The facts however are once again on Dean's side, and his view represents the mainstream of American public opinion.

Categories: Blogs

This Week (ABC) - George Stephanopoulos sits down with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), for an exclusive interview on torture, Iraq and a possible run for the White House. George Stephanopoulos travels to Illinois to interview Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq War veteran who's declaring her candidacy for Congress. Also, comedian Albert Brooks on his controversial upcoming film "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World."

Face the Nation (CBS) - Topic: Iraqi Election; Patriot Act. Guests include: Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Armed Services Committee and Thomas L. Friedman from The New York Times.

Meet the Press (NBC) - Large numbers of Iraqi voters cast their ballots for their first constitutionally mandated government on Thursday. What will the new Iraqi government mean for the people of Iraq and American troops in the region? Joining MTP in the studio to answer those questions is the Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

And, what is the Democratic Party's plan for Iraq? We will ask the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), in an exclusive interview on this Sunday's "Meet the Press with Tim Russert." We then turn to the politics of Iraq, immigration, and the economy in our journalist roundtable featuring Gwen Ifill of PBS' "Washington Week" and John Harwood of the "Wall Street Journal." And, in our "Meet the Press Minute," a look back at the life and legacy of former Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI), who died this week at age 90.

Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Guests include: Kathleen Parker, -Tribune Media; Joe Klein - Time Magazine; Andrea Mitchell - NBC News; and David Brooks - New York Times; The Newshour. Topics include: CAN THE PRESIDENT ACHIEVE SUCCESS IN IRAQ IN THE POST-ELECTION WEEKS AND MONTHS? COULD IRAQ ALLY WITH IRAN? WAS BUSH RIGHT TO OK WIRETAPPING IN THE U.S.? PLUS, IS CONGRESS CRACKING DOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?

Fox News Sunday (Fox News) - Up to 15 million Iraqis - including large numbers of Sunnis, who boycotted the January elections - voted in historic parliamentary elections Thursday to establish a permanent democratic government amid only scattered violence. What does the election mean for Iraq's future and America's role there? We'll ask the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Plus, Democrats press their case that President Bush has no plan to win in Iraq. We'll examine the Democrats' case in an exclusive interview with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV). Then, Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, explains his revolutionary approach to health care. And, how will the good news out of Iraq impact the political fortunes of President Bush and his Democratic critics? We'll get powerful political punditry from Brit Hume, FOX News Washington managing editor, and our panel of FOX News contributors Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of National Public Radio, and Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard.

Late Edition (CNN) - The vice president’s wife, Lynne Cheney talks about the war in Iraq, her husband's health, and her new children's book. This week's guests include: Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice president; author, "A Time for Freedom"; Rep. John Murtha, (D-PA); Kanan Makiya, Brandeis University; founder, Iraq Memory Foundation.

60 Minutes (CBS) - THE BRIDGE TO GRETNA – Ed Bradley reports on the incident in which hundreds of mostly black Hurricane Katrina evacuees were prevented from crossing the bridge from New Orleans into Gretna, La., by shotgun-firing police officers. RENDITION – 60 Minutes investigates this alleged CIA practice of handing over terror suspects to countries whose interrogators are known to use torture. Scott Pelley talks to Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen now suing the U.S. government for his alleged rendition to Afghanistan. MORGAN FREEMAN – Mike Wallace interviews the Oscar-winning actor.

Categories: Blogs

December 17, 2005


Building a New Progressive Majority

Mark Naccarato is the Chairman of Democracy for Tennessee.

Coalition-building is another way DFT is helping build the progressive infrastructure. In addition to our teamwork with the Tennessee Democratic Party on the Root Camp series and through our participation in the Party's Leadership Summit (thanks in no small part by Chairman Bob Tuke and the hardworking staff at TNDP headquarters), we've also reached out to other state and local progressive groups. We helped advocate for election reform in Tennessee with the grassroots organization, Gathering to Save Our Democracy. We're a partner in the Tenncare Saves Lives Coalition, which has been instrumental in bringing our state's healthcare crisis into the national spotlight and has demonstrated Bill Frist's failure on yet another issue!

Building a coalition, though, isn't just about preaching to the choir. We will never achieve a permanent Democratic majority if we don't tip the scales on an evenly divided nation (and state). Locally, the DFA chapters are building their own bridges into Tennessee's city councils, county commissions, school boards, and churches—reaching out to new people with our ideas. DFA groups were proud to sponsor screenings of Robert Greenwald's groundbreaking documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" in Tullahoma, Oak Ridge, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and in the state capital, where DFA Nashville raised over $1000 with a panel that included national leaders from UFCW, SEIU, and NOW. Another wave of Wal-Mart screenings is scheduled over the next month and there are plans to create the DFA Film Club, which will screen rarely-seen political films on a regular basis (if you are interested in being a host in the DFA Film Club, click here).

Change for Tipton County, located in the heart of "Red Tennessee",
hosts a nonpartisan Town Hall meeting on the Tenncare crisis.

Effective outreach also happens through town hall meetings and discussion panels and DFA groups across the state have been asking questions and listening to answers. In West Tennessee, Change for Tipton County organized a Tenncare Town Hall meeting, drawing dozens of people from across all racial, gender, and political lines along with a team of great panelists who examined all aspects of Tennessee's healthcare crisis. In Crossville, citizens from both sides of the aisle attended Democracy for Cumberland County's forum on election reform—an issue that should concern every American.

Democracy for East Tennessee takes to the streets
in Oak Ridge to support our troops—
by bringing them home from Iraq!

Our other outreach efforts also include talking about our progressive values to radio listeners. In Chattanooga, DFA supporters took to the airwaves on the new Air America Radio affiliate and interviewed Jim Dean! In Nashville, I have appeared on WRVU's "Liberadio" and "The Progress Report" on Radio Free Nashville—the only progressive radio station in the country to get a license under the new FCC low-power rules. And what's outreach without a bit of good, old-fashioned visibility? That's exactly what the DFA group in Oak Ridge did when it got media coverage protesting the Iraq War and in Clarksville, where DFA presented the Downing Street Memo to Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn (and yes, Marsha insists on being called Congressman).

But all the training, coalition-building, and outreach in the world won't matter at all unless we close the deal by working on issue and candidate campaigns. DFA Nashville scored a victory on the Leave My Child Alone campaign when Metro Schools finally publicized the opt-out option in the report cards after DFAN's letter-writing and phone campaign.

New candidates for national office have addressed
DFA groups across the state, including Vietnam veteran
and candidate for U.S. Congress Terry Stulce and
U.S. Senate candidates Rosalind Kurita and Harold Ford Jr.

And as for candidates, Democracy for Tennessee is off to a great start—with solid victories for our endorsed candidates in Tullahoma (Susan Campbell) and in Lebanon (Kevin Huddleston). Tennessee's local DFA chapters have sponsored Candidate Forums that have featured progressive candidates like David Stricklin who are running for local office and we've hosted speaking events for federal candidates like Terry Stulce for U.S. Congress and Senate contenders Rosalind Kurita and Harold Ford, Jr.

For the 2006 elections, Democracy for Tennessee has a bold plan to recruit, train, fund, and campaign for progressive candidates. It is a program that has never been tried before in Tennessee and we believe that it will be a model for all DFA groups to look at. Stay tuned for more on our candidate initiative in the coming months.

It is a good time to be a progressive activist, with possibilities for new policies, new organizing tactics, new technologies, and new ways of doing politics. Now is the time to build upon the infrastructure of 2004 and begin working towards a new progressive majority.

The grassroots never sleeps and neither do the Volunteers from Democracy for Tennessee!


Categories: Blogs

Rich Kolker served as a volunteer in the Dean campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire and Burlington as well as campaign Co-Chair for the 10th CD in Virginia, and is former Chair of the Loudoun County (VA) Democratic Committee.

I wanted to open with my old traditional greeting because I've decided to move forward with an old BFA blog idea and I'm asking each of you to contribute.

As the Dean campaign was winding down, there was talk of writing a book about the volunteer experience—all we had done and experienced in our home towns at Meetup and tabling; the experience of going to Iowa or New Hampshire (or Wisconsin) and sleeping on somebody's floor before going door to door "sharing Dean;" Sleepless Summer and the bats and the blog and volunteering in Burlington.

The book never happened (somebody may want to write about how that occured), so I thought what we all might do is contribute to a common Wiki which would hold our history of the Dean campaign as we remember it.

As you know (maybe), a Wiki is a set of web pages writeable and editable by anybody. Wikipedia is a famous one, but Wikis are used all over for all kinds of purposes.

For our purposes, I've set one up at

You can register and login (if you want credit for your writing) or contribute anonymously. Volunteers and staff members and even the Governor if he feels so motivated are welcome to join in. The goal is to create a common memory of the campaign from many vantage points.

Please feel free to share this with friends who were involved with the Dean campiagn, other blogs, your email lists and anyone else who you think might contribute.

—Rich Kolker

Categories: Blogs

Public Forums: Falls Church DFA is mobilizing its members to attend a town hall meeting on the Iraq war early next month where State Representative, John Murtha will discuss his plan for American troop withdrawal, and hopefully solicit questions and comments from local DFA members. In California, DFA Orange County is organizing its group to attend a public forum to discuss the Orange County Sheriff's strategy on immigration law enforcement; the event is sponsored by the local ACLU, Anti-Defamation League, South Asian Network, and Los Amigos of Orange County.

Last week, Candidate for State Representative in district 146 (Texas), Borris Miles, spoke with Democracy for Houston to gain support, endorsement, and volunteer efforts. Many members will be joining the candidate's efforts this weekend at a local meeting place.

Generous contributions were made to San Francisco for Democracy during a highly successful fundraiser last weekend... congratulations, SF!

Direct Action: Also in California, DFA Pasadena, in conjunction with the local Coalition for Civil Liberties, has orchestrated a successful write and call-in campaign to let their representatives know how they feel about the Patriot Act. One member confirmed that liaisons from both Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein's office had affirmed that they were receiving numerous calls for them to filibuster the reauthorization of the arguably unconstitutional law.

Coastal Empire DFA includes a summary of candidates and election dates on their site. This month, they are taking initiative, as they gather signatures for a petition to protect voting rights in Georgia; they will be working with other state and local advocacy groups to gather the signatures and present to their legislators in order to assure that integrity and access to the voting process is unthreatened.

Progressive Summit: Brunswick, Georgia has its hands full this month, as they are organizing and hosting the 2006 Georgia Progressive Summit. At this event, activists from all over the state will benefit from a weekend of training on issues such as advocacy skills, networking, and action planning. There will be many speakers at the event ranging from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, to Air America's radio host, Mike Malloy. This event is sure to educate, entertain, and turn out some dedicated activists... have fun, Georgia!


Categories: Blogs

December 16, 2005


Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act

Today, in a clear message to President Bush and Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats stopped the passage of a new Patriot Act

In a stinging defeat for President Bush, Senate Democrats blocked passage Friday of a new Patriot Act "falling well short of the 60 votes needed to bring the act to a final vote and leaving it in limbo for the moment."

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the panel, urged rejection of the bill in its present form. Yes, he said, there is a threat from terrorism, but "the threat to civil liberties is also very real in America today."

No Torture

Two of the foremost human rights groups are pleased with President Bush's decision to finally reverse his position on congressional legislation banning torture. "Human Rights Watch said Mr. Bush's support of a ban on torturing anyone in U.S. custody sends 'a powerful message of moral clarity.' Amnesty International also welcomed the move, but expressed regret that 'the legislation was necessary in the first place.'"

Novak Gravitates to Fox

Robert Novak, announced today that he has left his job as a commentator for CNN and will move to Fox News, starting in January. "For many reasons, I thought it was a good time to terminate, and they thought it was a good place," Novak said. "I don't want to work that much anymore."

Categories: Blogs

After weeks of intense negotiations and a threat of a presidential veto, the torture ban legislation led by Senator John McCain was passed on Thursday. The agreement reached by McCain and President Bush, which the House passed by a vote of 308 to 122—a veto-proof majority—prohibits the inhumane treatment of suspected terrorists in U.S. custody.

Hats off to all of you who supported this and thanks to the tens of thousands of you who signed DFA's "No Torture" petition last month. You helped in leading the fight to protect human rights and showed the White House that torture is not an American value and should never be the policy of the United States of America.

Categories: Blogs

All I want in 2006 is... to take my country back!

If you're reading this, I know you feel the same way.

More than anything, I want change in the leadership in this country. I want to do whatever I can to build up the new leaders of tomorrow.

I want to give voice to truth and reason—and expose this administration's "flawed policy wrapped in an illusion." (Thank you, Rep. Murtha).

If you're reading this, I know you feel the same way.

But you can't get if you don't ask. So this year, why not ask your friends and family to help you get what you want? A gift that's lasting.

Send this DFA holiday card to friends, family, colleagues and ask them to make a gift to Democracy for America. Whether you are new to DFA or have been around since the Dean campaign, it's time to reach out to new people.

Ask them to support what YOU have worked so hard for and are committed to.

Together we've built a real, growing community. And we will continue to speak up for what we believe. Our voices have power—let's show it.

2006 is going to be a big, big year for all of us.

This holiday season, ask for what you want. Please send the holiday card today.

Click Here!

—Dina Wolkoff
DFA Finance Director

Categories: Blogs

Teri Mills is a longtime Democracy For America community member. Her guest column on health care appears on Blog for America on Fridays and she blogs at

Hundreds of Oregonians gathered on a cold, chilly Friday evening to support Nick Lampson in his quest to become the next U.S. Representative of the 22nd Congressional District of Texas. (Yes, this is the district presently held by Tom DeLay—everyone say boo all together.) DeLay has another reason to begin taking an anti-anxiety agent as it was learned this week that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to the hotly disputed Texas redistricting plan engineered in 2003 that handed Republicans six extra seats in the U.S. House of Representatives under his leadership as House Majority Leader.

Nick Lampson and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
proudly sporting a University of Portland soccer sweatshirt in recognition
of the women's first place NCAA finish this month.

Sponsored by the Committee for a Livable Future (the 3rd largest environmental PAC in the nation which was founded by Congressman Earl Blumenauer D-OR) and the Democratic Party of Oregon, the event featured a bluegrass band with a crowd sing-a-long to Bye Bye Tom DeLay—just where DeLay ends up going is anybody's guess, as long as it is not back to Congress. It is noteworthy and commendable that Congressman Blumenauer, who has been very supportive of Democracy for Oregon activities and was a keynote guest at our summit last May, also made a substantial contribution to help assure that Lampson is elected in 2006 and the event raised over $50,000.

Both Blumenauer and Lampson are staunch advocates of the Patient's Bill of Rights, which ensures that all Americans enrolled in Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) receive the highest quality of care. They also believe it is a priority of this country to improve access to affordable and quality health care. And Lampson, like Blumenauer, understands the benefits of Social Security as his father died when he was 12 years old. Blumenauer was instrumental in helping to ensure the success of the Democratic Party of Oregon's house parties to save social security and was a guest on the conference call.

Lampson is fortunate to have Melissa Taylor as the newly appointed Director of Party Administration of the Harris County Democratic Party in Houston, TX. Taylor is a long time Democracy for Texas member and with her help and the help of friends like Congressman Earl Blumenauer, we will take back our flag, our democracy, and our country.

—Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP
Democracy for Oregon

Categories: Blogs

December 15, 2005


Building a New Progressive Majority

Mark Naccarato is the Chairman of Democracy for Tennessee.

This month's Nation cover story reveals that the infrastructure built by progressives in the run-up to the 2004 election not only survives, but is growing. Organizations like Democracy for America continue to cultivate a new generation of activists and organizing tactics. Even in the so-called "red country", the seeds of the progressive grassroots are in bloom.

That's certainly the case in Tennessee. Over the last few months, Democracy for Tennessee has continued to help build upon the 2004 infrastructure through trainings, coalition-building, outreach, and organizing.

Over 80 activists get campaign training in Cookeville...

...and Jackson, TN

Over the last two months, DFT has held intensive, daylong campaign trainings in parts of the state that don't always get the amount of time, money, and attention from the Democratic Party and from candidates that they probably should. As a result, there is a newfound energy and hope in both reliably Republican areas like Jackson or in traditionally Democratic areas that have begun to "bleed red" like Cookeville. With a comprehensive training that covers developing a message, working with the media, phonebanking, and a door-to-door roleplay (everyone's favorite), our "Root Camp" grassroots training sessions have been a breath of fresh air for Tennessee's progressives. There will be more trainings in 2006 in every part of Tennessee and our goal is to train 500 activists across the state, all of whom could potentially be able to run a small campaign themselves.

Mark Naccarato (third from left) speaks for the
Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party
at the Party's Leadership Summit

Coalition-building is another way DFT is helping build the progressive infrastructure. In addition to our teamwork with the Tennessee Democratic Party on the Root Camp series and through our participation in the Party's Leadership Summit (thanks in no small part by Chairman Bob Tuke and the hardworking staff at TNDP headquarters), we've also reached out to other state and local progressive groups. We helped advocate for election reform in Tennessee with the grassroots organization, Gathering to Save Our Democracy. We're a partner in the Tenncare Saves Lives Coalition, which has been instrumental in bringing our state's healthcare crisis into the national spotlight and has demonstrated Bill Frist's failure on yet another issue!

Building a coalition, though, isn't just about preaching to the choir. We will never achieve a permanent Democratic majority if we don't tip the scales on an evenly divided nation (and state). Locally, the DFA chapters are building their own bridges into Tennessee's city councils, county commissions, school boards, and churches – reaching out to new people with our ideas. DFA groups were proud to sponsor screenings of Robert Greenwald's groundbreaking documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" in Tullahoma, Oak Ridge, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and in the state capital, where DFA Nashville raised over $1000 with a panel that included national leaders from UFCW, SEIU, and NOW. Another wave of Wal-Mart screenings is scheduled over the next month and there are plans to create the DFA Film Club, which will screen rarely-seen political films on a regular basis (if you are interested in being a host in the DFA Film Club, click HERE).


Categories: Blogs

Novak: Bush Knows Plame Leak

Bob Novak said this week in a lunchtime address to the John Locke Foundation, that President Bush knows the source of the Valerie Plame leak:

Novak said that "I'd be amazed" if the president didn't know the source's identity and that the public should "bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is."

Feel like "bugging the president" about the leak source, as well as his 2004 statement that "anyone involved in the leaking the name of the covert CIA operative would be fired"? Go ahead: 202-456-1111

NOLA Rebuilt

Though the White House would not commit to building levees that would withstand a Category 5 hurricane, today they did say that "President Bush is requesting $1.5 billion more to help make the levee system in New Orleans stronger than it was before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast." At the same time, reports have surfaced that pre-hurricane, local levee inspectors were not up to snuff. "When you say inspections—and I don't really know and I couldn't even answer to tell you—how do you inspect levees other than if you see seepage?" said former commission president James P. Huey.

Bush, McCain agree on torture ban

With a handshake photo op, President Bush agreed to Senator John McCain's torture ban. "On Wednesday evening, the House voted 308-122 to urge negotiators to include McCain's torture ban in the final version of a defense spending bill." You can view the list of yes and no votes by Senator on this issue.

Categories: Blogs