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March 4, 2006


Mark Naccarato is the Chairman of Democracy for Tennessee.

Last month, Democracy for Tennessee activists from all across the state came to Nashville to meet with Tennessee's Governor Bredesen to propose a progressive policy agenda that we would like to see be taken up in the next legislative session.

DFT's Steering Committee had compiled what we called a "Five-Point Plan" of policy issues that we believe are supported not only by progressives, but also by independent voters and even a few moderate Republicans. By advocating for these policies using the bully pulpit, we were hoping that Governor Bredesen, not the Republican Party, could help frame the issues in 2006.

Here are the five issues that we presented to the Governor and his reaction to them:

1) Local Taxation Authority

We advocated for the ability for local governments to raise certain types of local taxes at their discretion, based on their own community's need and support. Right now, local governments - cities and counties - have to go to the Legislature and "ask permission" to raise certain types of taxes, even if their communities support the idea. Speaker Naifeh said back in September that he had planned to introduce this type of legislation to "get the state out of the business of local taxation" and the subject is being studied by the Tennessee Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR). We urged the Governor to support broad legislation to allow municipal governments more local taxation authority.

In response, the Governor indicated he is generally supportive of local tax authority. He was concerned, however, about the temptation for communities to over-use "free" taxes that their local residents do not have to pay (like rental car and hotel/motel taxes). He said that while those are painless to current citizens, they can have a chilling effect on potential future residents and businesses when overdone.

2) Eminent Domain

In light of last year's Kelo ruling of the SCOTUS, we advocated for legislation banning the use of eminent domain authority for any use by private developers and to make sure that any loopholes that gut environmental laws were closed (see this article to learn how conservatives are twisting the meaning of Kelo to thwart current EPA and other good regulations).

Bredesen actively supports legislation to limit the application of eminent domain in Tennessee. He could not recall a specific case when eminent domain had been applied in his time as Mayor/Governor, but did not rule out having used it in a limited way in the course of arena/stadium construction. Regardless, in the context of Kelo he voiced solid support for our position.

It should be noted, too, that Governor Bredesen has had a fairly impressive record on environmental and conservation issues during his term, including a recent conservation initiative. We are hopeful that progress continues in that area.

3) Election Reform

Advocating for the recommendations made by the grassroots group "Gathering to Save Our Democracy" and our own national flagship, Democracy for America, we pushed for verifiable election machines and provided the Governor with extensive documentation on problems with voting machines/vendors. Reminding the Governor that election reform is a non-partisan issue, mandatory recounts in selected precincts and the use of cheaper and more reliable optical scanner voting machines were also proposed. It was also noted that the major voting machine vendors were large Republican donors.

Categories: Blogs

Carol Marin, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times has some high praise for DFA-List candidate, Debra Shore:

At 53, she is many things: an environmentalist, the founder and editor of Chicago Wilderness magazine and a longtime activist in efforts to conserve and manage public land and water.

In the upcoming March 21 primary, Shore is one of nine candidates running for three open commissioner slots on the MWRD. It's a race that usually generates little interest and absolutely no excitement.

There are $1 billion reasons why it should. That's the 2006 budget of this little-known unit of government. And, this being Chicago, where there's money, there are contracts and jobs.


Shore, who looks a little like the actress/comedian Lily Tomlin, is making her first bid for public office. She has lined up lots of lakefront liberal support, including Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and former 43rd Ward Ald. Martin Oberman. She's gotten the backing of the Sierra Club, which hasn't made an endorsement in this race since it backed Joanne Alter in the mid-1980s.

But what's more interesting is the alliance she's forged with the distinctly-not-lakefront-liberal set.

She has joined forces with Frank Avila, who has the backing of 33rd Ward boss Dick Mell. And with Patricia Horton, who comes out of state Sen. Ricky Hendon's West Side political organization. Together, they have fashioned a 21st century rainbow coalition because Shore is Jewish and gay, Avila is Hispanic, and Horton is African American. Each is campaigning in the others' strongholds to broaden their base.

You could argue that this coalition looks more pragmatic than progressive for someone like Shore. And it is. Then again, I think back to when Alter was running in the 1980s. A feminist and a progressive, she nonetheless had to kiss the rings of party regulars from time to time to stay in office.

Debra Shore is, above all else, an environmentalist. She's a water policy wonk. She even has a water-y sounding name.

She's got my vote.

She's got our support too—read more abour Debra, and lend a hand to her campaign.

Categories: Blogs

March 3, 2006


Francine Busby will deliver the nationally broadcast official Democratic Party response following the President's Weekly Radio Address this week.

For listeners in Busby's district in San Diego, the response will air on several stations, including KOGO AM-600 radio, and is broadcast live at noon, PST. The radio station's website includes a live streaming audio capability so you can listen from anywhere in the country. Click here to listen live.

Our DFA-List-endorsed candidate will provide an alternative to the president's plan to allow US port operations be taken over by a United Arab Emirates-owned company. Busby will emphasize the importance of protecting all of America's ports from terrorism to a national (and international) audience.

The response will also be broadcast on stations across the nation and around the world, including ABC, AP, AURN, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, American Forces Radio, Voice of America, BBC, and CBC.

You can also log onto the Democratic Party's official website and hear audio of recent Democratic Weekly Radio Addresses, as well as read transcripts of the presentations. Busby's address should be posted at the site by late Saturday afternoon. Click here to visit the Party's "Democratic Radio Address" webpage and click on the link with Busby's name, which should appear at the top of the page once available.

—Meredith Adams

Categories: Blogs

A message came down from on high yesterday from an American living off the interest from his millions to those of us who turn down the thermostat a few degrees and put on a sweater when heating oil prices creep upwards.

Vice-president Dick Cheney, having run out of friends to shoot, is now taking aim at the portion of the American public who live paycheck to paycheck. At a Washington, DC conference, he "urged Americans... to do a better job of saving."

"The American dream begins with saving money and that should begin on the very first day of work," Cheney told a conference here exploring how to encourage people to boost savings and be better prepared for retirement.

Too often, workers are living paycheck to paycheck and are not saving sufficiently, Cheney said.

Cheney then re-loaded and took a shot at tinkering with Social Security:

"There will always be a wagon load of excuses for ignoring the problem of entitlements," Cheney said. "But Americans have a right to expect more out of the nation's leaders, especially when it comes to Social Security and other defining national promises."

Only a Republican, with their Strict Father model of conservative politics would imagine that the right way to help Americans prepare for the future is scolding us into saving more. How are we to begin when many of us already have what we consider to be "good jobs," but we still anxiously await the first and fifteenth of each month?

A few members of the DFA community replied to the vice-president's exhortation:

Demetrius: "Can... they... *POSSIBLY*... be that out of touch? In other news: Fox Scolds Henhouse For Record Loses To Predators"

Tom Bearse: "The vice president has a point. It’s hard to understand why others don’t simply become Defense Department Secretary, authorize studies for the privatization of military functions like feeding, security, and entertainment, take over as CEO for the corporation that provides these services and see that these contracts are conveniently funneled over to it. That will kick up your net worth by tens of millions and, voila! Your days of worrying about making it to your next paycheck are over."

vb: "Not everyone has the luxury of receiving deferred payments from Haliburton. I doubt Cheney has ever lived paycheck to paycheck in his life."

Mike*in*Raleigh*NC: "And Dick, why is that my dad, a simple factory worker could support his 5 kid family and 2 in laws in the 1960s and we lived comfortably in a nice area of town.. all on less that $10k a year, and me and my wife who make a combined 10x that amount approx live "paycheck to paycheck as you say.............and we are very frugal and i dont belong to a country club or golf every weekend..."

See the rest here...

And finally, *lindab asks a very pertinent question, "Do people still retire?" Maybe not, Linda. But in happier news, by the time we're ready to retire, the U.S. Army will have relaxed its entrance requirements enough that 75-year-olds with no savings can "be all that they can be" during their golden years. I've still got about 40 years... maybe we'll be in the "last throes" of the insurgency for real by then.

Categories: Blogs

Marla Camp, Nick Lawrie, Glen Maxey, Mark McCulloch, Teri Sperry and Fran Vincent are members of the Democracy for Texas Steering Committee.

It's not often that you get to have two genuine stars at your DFA-Link meeting, but those attending the March 1 meeting in Austin got a real treat. While DFA Grassroots All-Star John Courage has been a fixture at our meetings for some time, we were honored to also be joined by John's long-time friend, Ciro Rodriguez. Ciro's race has really caught fire, and he is rapidly closing the gap in the polls against DINO Henry Cuellar.

John Courage and Ciro Rodriguez

Following an inspired introduction by Latinos for Texas' Executive Director, Mario Champion, Ciro talked about his stellar record when he was in Congress and his plans for the future. Ciro clearly understands the needs of his constituents and will work for them in Congress. The contrast with his opponent couldn't be clearer. After his speech, a number of people signed up to travel to San Antonio this weekend with the Latinos for Texas contingent to help get out the vote for Ciro on March 7.

Last but not least, Democracy for Texas' political director, Glen Maxey, announced that he is a candidate for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. Glen is responsible for bringing many new people into Democratic Party politics and for keeping us engaged when the going got tough. Since the Party Chair is elected at the state convention in June, Glen, DFT, and thousands of people are spreading the word that everyone needs to attend their precinct convention on March 7, their county convention on March 25, and the state convention in Fort Worth in June. We're willing to bet that there will be a reversal of the usual sparse attendance in an off year!

—Marla Camp, Nick Lawrie, Glen Maxey, Mark McCulloch, Teri Sperry, and Fran Vincent

Categories: Blogs

I just hopped a flight to San Antonio to help mobilize DFA members in the TX-28.

With just five days until the polls close, Ciro Rodiguez's campaign is white hot—and gaining ground on Henry Cuellar. Just this past weekend, a poll showed that Ciro trails by just 5 points—with 19% of voters still undecided.

Here's the bottom line from the pollster:

"Cuellar's drop, Rodriguez's gain and the eventual outcome of the election are all explained by one fact: the more of these Democratic primary voters that find out Cuellar has been taking Republican stands on issues, the more they support the true Democrat in the race, Ciro Rodriguez."

Voters in TX-28 want to send a real Democrat to Washington—and it's up to us to make sure they know who's who on the ballot. DFA turned this race on its head a few weeks ago with the critical support Ciro needed to prove this race is winnable. Now it's time to finish the job. Please consider volunteering in the final days of the campaign.

58 votes—that's all that decided this election in 2002. Here in Texas, I'll be working with DFA members on the ground to get out the vote in the critical final days. The bottom line is that we've got five days to make a difference. Let's make it happen:

This is going to be an exciting week for Ciro Rodiguez—and it could be the watershed victory for DFA in 2006. I'll continue to post updates throughout the weekend.

Thank you for everything you do.

Categories: Blogs

March 2, 2006


The days of making one's own medical decisions without government interference have ended for the women of South Dakota. Last week, the state legislature passed a bill that bans nearly all abortions in the state—even in the case of rape or incest.

Imagine if your wife, sister or daughter was raped by a convict, she not only has to deal with the emotional and physical toll of such a horrendous action—but also has to bear the child because the government has told her so. The sole thought of this is disturbing enough; just imagine the emotional toll it will take on both the mother and child.

This legislation is so out-of-step with the mainstream that it's heart wrenching. And to add salt to the wound, numerous "Democratic" South Dakota legislators voted in favor of this bill. We can't stand for this type of disturbing intrusion any longer. We must voice our disdain loud and clear. Below is a list of all the "Democrats" who voted in favor of this bill along with their contact information. Call them now.

Julie Bartling
605-775-2937Frank Kloucek

Gil Koetzle
605-334-2772Jim Peterson

Gary Moore
605-665-3294Dan Sutton

David Gassman
605-523-2423Margaret Gillespie

Mary Glenski
605-332-3926Dale Hargens

Michael Kroger
605-428-4573Gerald Lange

Kathy Miles

Categories: Blogs

Serial killer gets 11 life sentences

Charles Cullen was sentenced to life in prison, parole out of the question, and made to listen to two dozen accounts from relatives of the 22 people he pleaded guilty to killing in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Cullen, a nurse, had administered lethal doses of medication to his patients. Cullen claimed that he had been trying to end their suffering, but the judge rejected that idea, saying the court "would not countenance the characterization of these crimes as acts of human compassion."

Candidates to challenge New Orleans mayor

Yesterday, candidates began signing up to challenge Mayor Ray Nagin in an election that will most likely focus on the incumbent's handling of efforts by the city to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. There are about a dozen candidates who have said they'll run against Nagin, including two who filed within an hour of the opening.

Government was warned about Katrina

A video released to the Associated Press details warnings received by the government of the disaster to follow Hurricane Katrina. The government's failure to respond highlights their lack of preparation for such devastation.

—Meredith Adams

Categories: Blogs

A video tape of a U.S. government briefing on Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005 has been released, raising new questions about the Bush Administration's response, or, rather, lack thereof to the disaster.

In the video, a hurricane expert voices his "grave concerns" of imminent danger and destruction that the storm will bring. Another warning was voiced by Director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center Max Mayfield. "I don't think any model could predict whether it'll top the levees, but that's obviously a grave concern," Mayfield said.

Several days later, after the hurricane struck, Bush went on television toting a deer-in-the-headlights response to the destruction caused by the hurricane. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," he said.

Also on the tape, former FEMA chief Michael Brown voiced concerns that emergency officials would not be able to adequately respond to all those who might end up in places like the New Orleans Superdome. "I'm concerned about…their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown said. "We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but in the nation, to respond to this event."

Bush is heard telling state officials that "we are fully prepared."

Except they weren't. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had blunt words about the tape. "From this tape, it looks like everybody was fully aware," Nagin said. "I have a sinking feeling in my gut right now."

Of course, the White House is downplaying the significance of the video. "I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing," presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said.

—Meredith Adams

Categories: Blogs

The following comes from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's office.

The 2000 election shook our nation's faith in the electoral process. In 2004, inaccurate exit polling raised doubts about electronic voting machines without verifiable paper records. We know that these electronic voting machines can be manipulated to change, lose and corrupt our votes, and we must take action now to protect the security of our elections.

On Thursday, March 2, Governor Bill Richardson will take a bold step toward guaranteeing that every vote will count. He will sign legislation that will transition New Mexico to an all paper ballot voting system. The machines will provide speed and efficiency while the hand-marked paper ballots serve as the ultimate record of the will of the voters.

This legislation makes New Mexico a leader in ensuring fair, accurate, and verifiable elections. Governor Richardson proudly holds New Mexico up as a model for the rest of the country and urges citizens and officials from every state to work together, as they have in New Mexico, to protect the gift of democracy.

We hope you will join the Governor, concerned citizens and legislators as the Governor's signature moves New Mexico forward by ensuring that our democracy continues to flourish. The live webcast will begin at 11:00am MST (1:00pm Eastern) and can be viewed at:

Please watch the webcast, take a moment to look at the Governor's proposals, and sign the petition to get your state, and the rest of America, to make every vote count.

Categories: Blogs

February 21, 2006


Nathan Gonzalez is the Political Director of Latinos for America. Democracy for America welcomes LFA columnists on Tuesdays.

Latin America has been moving toward the left, and many establishment politicians in the United States are weary. But if our interests in this hemisphere are to ensure stability, should we really be that concerned about Latin America's populist shift? In the days of Henry Kissinger, the "stability" argument was often used as an excuse to plough over democratically-elected officials and support right-wing militias and military dictatorships in the region. While many have argued that the Cold War justified our support of terrorist actors in Latin America, the same line will not hold 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We've learned many lessons since the Cold War, the most important of which is that just because countries adopt economic policies that don't mirror our own, it doesn't mean they pose an immediate threat to our economy, security, or way of life. In fact, as we've seen from President Bush's trickle-down approach to cutting taxes, easy money in the short-run doesn't always translate to real economic success. So, while American business interests might consider leftist Latin American leaders a threat, we must not let their fears drive our foreign policy back to the dark days of the Cold War.

To be sure, it is important that Democracy be allowed to flourish in Latin America. The people who elected Presidents Evo Morales in Bolivia, Nestor Kirshner in Argentina, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, know full well what is best for their economies. They have witnessed failed economic policies, some on the part of the left, some on the right, and they are aware of the choices they have to make in order to move forward politically and economically. Latin America is not the United States, and what works here doesn't necessarily work there, and vice-versa. Mexico, recovering from a post-NAFTA economic recession, kidnappings and record hunger, is about to take a leftward turn of its own. If President Fox's conservative PAN party and the former ruling PRI don't succeed in derailing Andrés Manuel López Obrador's front-runner campaign, Mexico is bound to put the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) in power for the first time. This prospective left-wing government is making many in Washington nervous. But given our history of bad advice and atrocious meddling in the region, and given our nation's concern over the flow of poor-stricken immigrants into this country, isn't it time to take a step back and let Latin America take control over its own destiny?

—Nathan Gonzalez

Categories: Blogs

Jim Dean is on Wisconsin Public Radio today at 10:00a.m. CST.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 10:00AM CST
WPR Ideas Network - with host Kathleen Dunn
Guest: Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America

You can listen online at: Click on the Ideas Network or Kathleen Dunn's show.

Categories: Blogs

February 20, 2006


Garrison Keillor on Salon (free day pass requied) took a look at the Bush presidency—marked by mediocre incompetence and a "just enough to get by" attitude:

Washington is the perfect place for the slacker child who flubbed his way through college and flopped in business and whom friends and family kept having to prop up—find him a government job. Government service is a broadening experience. It certainly has been for Mr. Bush. He has traveled to China and Europe and other places that never interested him before. He has come into contact with the poor people of New Orleans in a way that never would have occurred to him in his earlier years. He has met opera singers and jazz musicians and journalists. This is all good.

And he has met the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and visited with young people horribly wounded in the war, which would be a soul-searing experience for any commander. To see a beautiful young woman who must now live without an arm as a direct result of decisions you made -- who could see this and not scour the depths of your conscience?

And to suffer pangs of conscience even as you exhort the public to have confidence in you—this has to be an interesting experience. Your mistakes are responsible for terrible suffering, but you stand among your victims and urge public support for your policies as a sign of support for the people those policies have injured. This is a plot worthy of Shakespeare.

So why does he still seem so small, our president? In his presidential library, he'll be portrayed as Abraham Lincoln after Chancellorsville and FDR after Corregidor, but to most of us, the crisis in Washington today stems from a man intellectually and temperamentally unequipped to rise to the challenge. Most of us sense that when, decades from now, the story of this administration comes out, it will be one of ordinary incompetence, of rigid and incurious people overwhelmed by events in a world they don't dare look around and see.

And just the like the c-student he was in college who just managed to scrape by, "so long as he refrains from perjury and tax increases and doesn't wear a dress to the Easter Egg Roll, he will probably slide along OK."

Categories: Blogs

Only three Senators had the courage to stand against a "cosmetically" changed Patriot Act. Senator Feingold, who has been fighting against the intrusive law since its inception, was joined by Senators Byrd and Jeffords in calling for more time to consider the bill. The extra time they were voted for would have allowed the Senate to consider amendments proposed by Senator Feingold. "We still have not addressed some of the most significant problems with the Patriot Act," Feingold said.

One of the amendments Feingold proposed would have set a four-year expiration date on the use of National Security Letters—demands for records issued by administrators—under the Patriot Act. Another would have required the government to notify the subject of a secret search within seven days or obtain court permission to maintain the secrecy for a longer period, rather than the 30-day requirement in the legislation being considered. Senator Feingold argued that without these changes the Patriot Act "will still allow government fishing expeditions."

On the Senate floor Wednesday, while calling for a thorough investigation into possible violations of intelligence law and the Constitution by the Bush Administration, Senator Byrd asked:

"Is this where we are heading in the land of the free? Are secret government programs that spy on American citizens proliferating? The question is not, 'Is Big Brother watching?' It is 'How many Big Brothers have we?'"

Senator Byrd went on to denounce the "culture of secrecy" that has emerged in the United States since September 11th:

"The culture of secrecy which has deepened since the attacks on September 11 has presented this nation with an awful dilemma. In order to protect this open society are we to believe that measures must be taken that in insidious and unconstitutional ways close it down? I believe that the answer must be an emphatic 'no.'"

Senator Jeffords also had strong words against the new and "improved" Patriot Act. Jeffords said in a statement that this version of the act would "fail to move us closer to the provisions that the Senate forwarded to the House last year."

Republicans have already moved quickly to attack these Senators, when in reality they should be praised. Senator Byrd faces a tough campaign this fall and needs all the help he can get. Republicans will take this truly courageous vote and spin it into a form of cowardice – we cannot allow that to happen. Senator Jeffords' seat will also be open this cycle due to his retirement. DFA has already endorsed his successor, Congressman Bernie Sanders, but continued commitment is essential. We need more elected officials, like these three Senators, who will stand up for what is right without fear of political repercussions.

—Chris Broadfoot

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.

In these last months, the issue of electronic voting security—simmering under the lid as it has for years—has reached a full rolling boil. And it isn't pretty. Pressured by deadlines in the Help American Vote Act, cities and states across America are wrestling with how to comply with its provisions without risking the most fundamental concept in a democracy, the certainty that - like the election results or not—when power is given our elected officials, it is by the consent of the governed.

In Maryland, the debate over Diebold is raging with Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich calling for paper ballots:

"In light of these recent national decertifications [of Diebold] and the Maryland General Assembly's decision to override my vetoes, ... I no longer have confidence in the State Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006."

The Election Supervisor shot back that changing the system would be a "catastrophe:"

"We've spent a lot of money on the system, and we're literally going to be throwing it all away," Lamone testified at a hearing on legislation that would require vote verification technology for the upcoming election. "I think you are asking for a catastrophe if you try to change."

In my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida, where the Election Supervisor Ion Sancho raised the profile of this issue by attempting to hack his Diebold optical scanners, things are getting rough:

Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho got a grilling Tuesday from Leon County commissioners, who are upset over the loss of $564,421 in grant money because he didn't buy voting equipment for the disabled by a January deadline... Leon County is the only county in Florida that doesn't have either the equipment or a contract in place to get it.

Yet, even as the tension rises, as the ultimate outcome is unclear, there is something profoundly democratic about the difficulty, fought as it is over the very vehicle by which we exercise our freedom. As the voice of citizens grows stronger, as debates are had, as disagreements crescendo, ultimately this is the stuff of our democracy. It is what we fight over, it is what some of us die for. It is these very tensions, when they are fought publicly, when they are written about in the pages of our newspapers, that lets us know that our form of government may be a bit imperfect and a bit ugly when you see the parts up close, but—ultimately—it's still working.

For now, anyway.

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

Categories: Blogs

February 19, 2006


Caroline Vernon, Alta Price, Karen Metcalf, and Bev Strayhall were each originally inspired to action by Governor Howard Dean. After his presidential bid, we have remained steadfast in following his lead, in an effort to take our country back! We look forward to hosting DFA Training Academy in the Quad Cities on April 8th and 9th.

On February 7th, many health care advocates from across the state came together in association with Democracy For America, Democracy For Iowa and Iowa For Health Care for their first joint Health Care Lobby Day.

Among those in attendance from the Quad Cities were none other than yours truly, Caroline Vernon, Alta Price, Karen Metcalf, and Bev Strayhall. Although we are each connected to the larger groups mentioned above, we are also active members of Progressive Action for the Common Good Health Care Forum. Like Iowa For Health Care, our main goal is to promote quality, affordable health care for all.

Although we did not address the larger goal of obtaining good coverage for everyone, the purpose of our visit to the Statehouse was to engage our legislators on three very important pieces of legislation:

Increase in the cigarette tax:

Research shows that increasing the tax by $1/pack would stop 4700 young people in Iowa from starting. This translates into better health and substantial savings in health care costs from tobacco-related illnesses.

We found broad bi-partisan support for this proposal, particularly if the revenue generated by the tax is allocated specifically to health care. While the Senate last year approved a cigarette tax hike, the effort has been blocked in the House because House Speaker Christopher Rants, (R) - Sioux City, says he won't allow debate.

Rants sponsored a political organization, Iowa Leadership Council, that received more than $60,000 from tobacco companies. The "Rants For Statehouse Committee" also received over $4,000 from big tobacco and yet Rants insists these generous contributions have nothing to do with the fact that he refuses to allow this proposal to come to the floor for debate! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the "culture of corruption" has come to Iowa! Evidently, Rants really expects folks to believe this nonsense!

During our early morning press conference, Sara Swisher of Iowa For Healthcare declared, "Speaker Rants needs to answer to the people who provide health care and he needs to answer to Iowans. He should kick the habit and kick it now instead of taking big bucks from tobacco." Sara was joined by the group mascot, Mr. Buttman, who was weilding a fistful of  "Tobacco Bucks for Speaker Christopher Rants".

Categories: Blogs

This Week (ABC) - Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will speak to "This Week" about a scathing Congressional report on his agency's handling of Hurricane Katrina. Then, the report's author Tom Davis, (R-VA) and Sen. Joe Lieberman, (D-CT) discuss how to do better in the future. Also, NBA star Shaquille O'Neal discusses his sideline -- protecting children on the Internet.

Face the Nation (CBS) - CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer will be joined this week Sen. Bill Frist, Majority Leader (R-TN), Sen. Barbara Boxer, Foreign Relations Committee (D-CA) and Elizabeth Bumiller of The New York Times.

Meet the Press (NBC) - Please Note: Due to NBC's coverage of the Olympics, Meet the Press will air at special early times in several local markets -- including 9:00 am in Washington and New York City. The Government Accountability Office, the Homeland Security Department's office of inspector general, and a Republican-led congressional panel all recently released scathing reports detailing the Bush administration's failures in planning for -- and dealing with -- the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now, nearly sixth months after the hurricane devastated the Gulf region, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will join us on this Sunday's "Meet the Press with Tim Russert" to respond to the criticism and discuss plans for reforming the Department's emergency response capabilities. What has he learned? Where do we go from here?

Then, Washington is still buzzing about Vice President Cheney's accidental shooting of his hunting partner. Did he handle the situation properly? Is the intense media coverage warranted? We will ask former Cheney counselor Mary Matalin, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory, and the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot.

Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Chris will be asking the question; "Who is calling the shots in the White House -- Bush or Cheney?" and whether or not the current administration will annoint a Republican successor for 2008. Guests include; Gloria Borger, CBS News; U.S. News and World Report, Howard Fineman -- Newsweek Magazine, Julia Reed -- Vogue Magazine and Michael Duffy -- Time Magazine.

Fox News Sunday (Fox News) - FNS has not posted their guests/topics at this time.

Late Edition (CNN) Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff will talk about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and preparedness for future emergencies. Other guests include; Sen Saxby Chambliss, (R-GA); Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jane Harman, (D-CA); Intelligence Committee, David Manning: British Ambassador to the U.S., Wolfgang Ischinger: German Ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte: French Ambassador to the U.S. and Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton: U.S. Army; Former Cmdr., Iraqi Troop Training.

60 Minutes (CBS) This week's 60 Minutes will include the following stories. Bob Simon reports from Denmark, where the furor over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad began and talks to the man responsible for spreading news of the offending pictures worldwide. Scott Pelley goes to the top of the world where the evidence of global warming is most dramatic. Philip Seymour Hoffman, the man who is up for the best Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote sits down with Steve Kroft.

Categories: Blogs

February 18, 2006


You can see more local DFA actions going on at

Redistricting Success: Gainesville DFA has been successful in their signature gathering efforts to aid the passage of the Florida state redistricting initiative. The initiative takes the task of redistricting out of partisan hands in order to provide a fair and equitable representation of Florida voters. Currently, 56% of Florida registered voters are Democrats, yet the State House holds a 67% Republican supermajority. If this Constitutional Amendment passes in November, it is hoped that the redistricting that would ensue would result in districts that actually represent the make up of the states voters. Way to go Gainesville...let the campaigning begin!

Activism: UCSD Gen DFA and San Diego DFA are working with the UCSD Dems to stage a HUGE anti-war rally on March 3rd. The event will include a concert, speakers and impressive peace activists, including Cindy Sheehan, and culminate in a panel discussion about how to end the war at the end of the night. Activists will be traveling from all over the country to attend this event that will be sure to attract much media attention.

A number of states are under a lot of pressure to purchase questionable voting machines to meet the Help America Vote Act deadlines. House Resolution 4666 has been introduced to allow states more time to adequately test and qualify voting machines in order to secure the funding guaranteed by the act. Henderson DFA is urging all DFA members to support this bill so that states are not rushed into a decision before they are able to properly certify the prospective voting machines. They offer this link to help us support their efforts.

Arlington/Alexandria DFA is providing training for their group on how to effectively lobby their representatives. At the meeting, they will address talking points and letter writing tips on how to support a given position to convey to Councilmen, State Reps. and Senators, as well as US House and Senate leaders.

GOP Infiltration?!?: According to new So. Cal. For Democracy member, Howie Klein, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees (DCCC) has been infiltrated by its chairman, Rahm Emanuel. Klein alleges that, "(Emanuel) has been systematically using all the power and resources of his office as DCCC Chair to undermine and root out all grassroots activists, all progressives, and especially, all anti-war Dems...In some cases he has gone so far as to recruit actual Republicans, get them to change their party registration and try to pressure the real Democrats to get out of the race for hthe sake of the party'." There have been similar instances of this leadership behavior reported all over the country from the DLC to the DEC and everything in between. What are we gonna do about it? Take back our party!

—Dave Reiter

Categories: Blogs

This past weekend, Jerome Armstrong from MyDD and DailyKos, took some time out of his schedule to offer the keynote speech at the DFA Training Academy in Elizabethtown, Kentucky—which was expertly organized by Change for Kentucky. The text of his keynote speech is below:

Thank you Change for Kentucky. This is what's happening in Kentucky—People-Powered Politics. And not only in Kentucky, but in other places as well, especially among the so-called Red States.

Last year, I spent a lot of time traveling with my co-author Markos Moulitas doing research for our soon to be released book, Crashing the Gate.

Last summer, we were down in Texas for DFA's blogger breakfast. DFA Texas now counts 40,000 members.

I just got an email the other day from Democracy for America saying that DFA groups have held over 50 candidate forums in cities like Memphis TN, Grand Rapids MI, and Charlottesville NC.

It's impressive. And so are your numbers here in Kentucky.

So, let me tell you what you are in for today; what we are going to discuss, and where this all is going.

As we approach the 2006 mid-terms, what's the layout of the land, especially as it concerns the party that we want to win, and the party that we want to defeat.

As we state in our book, Crashing The Gate:

"We are at the beginning of a comprehensive reformation of the Democratic Party—driven by committed progressive outsiders.

Online activism on a national level, coupled with offline activists at the local level, can provide the formula for a quiet, bloodless coup that can take control of the party.

Money and mobilization are the two key elements of all political activity, and if the netroots have their way, the financial backbone of the Democratic Party will be regular people."

Well, what's that mean? Let's get down to the specifics here about what the problem is with business as usual.

The reality today is we live in a nation under conservative rule. At the federal level, they've whooped us good. But this isn't just about elections.

LOOK at what we've lost. Consider the problems whose solutions haven't been addressed:

Healthcare — Bush-Cheney promised during their campaign to solve our healthcare problems. Six years later, millions more Americans are uninsured.

Energy — Last year Bush passed an energy bill that gave tax breaks and record profits to the oil companies. Last month he called us out for being addicted to oil.

Jobs — Our manufacturing based jobs continue to go overseas, being replaced by the Wal-Mart economy.

It's with issues like these that the results of the elections manifest. And what has the Democratic Party establishment in DC done, how have they responded?

They continue to operate much as they have for the past several decades, undeterred by their repeated failures, refusing to acknowledge the changing media and political landscape.

And you know what's worse — I don't see – in DC — the impetus to change. With the 2006 midterms approaching, it's still business-as-usual, with the same tactics and strategies.

Let's look at three ways the Democratic Party needs to change.

Interest Groups, Consultants & Battling on their Turf

What is it about interest groups that goes wrong? And how are people going to change it?

Now, why would interest groups be a problem? We all have our favorite issue. The problem occurs when we place our own narrow agenda ahead of the movement's.

Let me give you a historical example:

You just heard Bush tell us we're addicted to oil. "You're addicted." The Oil Commander-in-Chief is saying we are addicted to Oil?

Next thing you know, he's going to be introducing a Rehab plan.

That speech, if the Republicans meant it, should have been given two, even three decades ago...

Categories: Blogs

February 17, 2006


House will Hold NSA Inquiry, Senate will Not

The House Intelligence Committee announced yesterday that it would open a Congressional inquiry prompted by the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. The agreement to conduct an inquiry came as the Senate Intelligence Committee put off a vote on conducting its own investigation. There has been a disagreement among Republicans in the House Committee over the scope of the inquiry. Representative Heather A. Wilson, a Republican from New Mexico, called for a far reaching investigation, while the committee chairman, Peter Hoekstra, said the inquiry would be limited in its scope.

Man Shot by Cheney Discharged from Hospital

The Texas lawyer shot by Vice President Cheney was released from the hospital today. The 78 year old Harry Whittington wore a suit and tie as he gave his brief statement outside the hospital. "We all assume certain risks in what we do, in what activities we pursue," the Austin attorney said. "Accidents do and will happen." The Kenedy County Sheriff's Department closed its investigation of the shooting on Thursday without filing any charges. The department released an incident report that supported accounts from the ranch owner and Cheney.

Pelosi Calls for an Ethics Probe of Deficit Bill

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded an ethics investigation yesterday into deficit-reduction legislation that she said was defective because it cleared the two houses of Congress in two forms. "Republican leaders chose to ignore House rules, precedent and even the Constitution itself" in sending the legislation to the White House, Pelsoi said. Republicans went back over a century to justify the act, citing an 1894 court precedent, saying that the measure is valid because top House and Senate leaders put their own signatures on the bill before it was sent to the White House.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs