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February 17, 2006


Debra Shore is a DFA-List Candidate for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

I'm running for the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago because water matters. This obscure agency has a billion dollar budget and handles wastewater treatment and stormwater management for the equivalent of 10 million residents of Cook County—yet few people know what it does.

Today, in the Chicago region, we take clean rain water, mix it with dirty sewage water, and then spend millions to treat that rain water and pour it into the river, sending it downstream to eventually become New Orleans' problem. With smart management and more community involvement, we won't have to treat our fresh water like garbage, but can preserve and protect this tremendous natural asset.

As we find substitutes for fossil fuels over the next 15-20 years, I believe our focus will shift to fresh water, for which there are no substitutes. The eyes of the nation and of the world will be upon those of us who live in the Great Lakes cities, looking to see if we are wasteful with this irreplaceable resource.

For our waters and woods to be healthy in this broad metropolitan region, for rare nature to survive in our midst, we will all be asked to help out. We are the village it takes to raise this child, to nurture it, and to make wise choices on its behalf.

I believe we have a chance here, a rare moment in time, when we can set the course for generations—toward a sustainable, harmonious, healthy relationship with nearby nature—or not. In a very real sense, it is what we do in our lifetimes that will determine whether we have succeeded.

How well we can make a healthy home for ourselves and the creatures around us ­ this month, this year and in the years ahead—will determine the legacy we leave for our children and their children. This is a solemn task—and a joyous opportunity. Won't you help me promote innovative conservation iniatives from the board of the MWRD? h

—Debra Shore

Categories: Blogs

Last week, DFA co-hosted "United against Poverty;" a day-long conference that brought together hundreds of activists from across Vermont and New England to address the crisis of poverty. The event was held on the campus of the University of Vermont. Senator John Edwards gave the keynote address. You can watch the Senator's address here:

And if you'd like to join the follow-up group, please sign up on DFA-Link:

Though the Democracy for America headquarters staff was decidedly in the Howard Dean camp during the presidential primary, we were all excited to meet Senator John Edwards after his keynote at the conference:

DFA staff with Senator John Edwards

Categories: Blogs

February 16, 2006


Shelton F. Lankford is a former Marine, Vietnam veteran, as well as an organizer of Salisbury Democracy for America. His letter to the editor was published in The Daily Times of Delmarva, Maryland.

I want Daily Times readers who condemn liberals and peace advocates for not supporting Bush's war to consider the following.

I recently watched a presentation to the American Bar Association by Benjamin Ferencz, an octogenarian who rivals anyone for mental acuity. Ferencz was chief prosecutor in the war crimes trials the Allies convened after World War II.

He described the reasoning used by the "action groups" who traveled behind the front as the German army swept across Europe to justify the murder of millions of Jews, gypsies and others deemed undesireable by the Third Reich.

It goes as follows: Those murders were done in self-defense, on the basis that Jews were supportive of Bolshevism and would oppose the Nazis. Gypsies were unreliable.

What about the children?

Knowing their parents had been murdered, they would grow up seeking revenge. Pre-emptive self-defense justified all the invasions, death camps and ovens.

They were afraid.

This provides endless justifications that justify nothing. It is eerily similar to justifications offered by Bush and Co. Built on a tissue of lies exposed by the Downing Street papers and statements of administration insiders, it was a war of aggression against a country that posed no danger to us, sold on the basis that it did. Ferencz pointed out the United Nations did not sanction the start of the war. Bush was obligated to take his case back to the U.N. Security Council and, thanks to alleged wiretapping of U.N. headquarters, he knew he was doomed to failure.

This pledge to take the case back to the United Nations was part of the conditions under which Congress supported use of force.

So we became what we fought against in World War II—aggressors motivated by fear.

The moral beacon to the world that wielded righteous judgment on aggressors has become the aggressor. Now we are told by the Bushites we must "stay the course" and not "cut and run"—otherwise there will be dire consequences.

How much more dire than daily circumstances already are in Iraq isn't clear. We "support" the troops by using them to start an illegal war, placing them in impossible situations where success is defined as remaining alive (but everyone wants them to leave) and sending them back time after time. Some support.

A sober decision to reverse what should never have been done in the first place is the only honorable course.

Shelton F. Lankford

Categories: Blogs

Lawmakers Urge White House to Reconsider Sale of Ports

A group of Senators and Congressmen formally asked the Bush administration today to reconsider its approval of a sale giving a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports. "Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. "The administration needs to take another look at this deal." The lawmakers pressing the White House on Thursday included Sens. Schumer, Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, and Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, and Reps. Chris Shays, R-Connecticut, Vito Fossella, R-New York, and Mark Foley, R-Florida.

Rice Asks for $75 Million to Pressure Iran

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked Congress yesterday to provide $75 million in emergency funding to step up pressure on the Iranian government. The pressure will come in the form of increasing radio and television broadcasts in Iran promoting internal opposition to the rule of religious leaders. "The United States will actively confront the policies of this Iranian regime, and at the same time we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their own country," Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the administration's foreign affairs budget.

Democrats Want Gonzales to Remove Himself from Abramoff Probe

Thirty-one Senate Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today asking him to recuse himself from the investigation into the Abramoff scandal. "FBI officials have said the Abramoff investigation 'involves systemic corruption within the highest levels of government,'" the Democrats wrote in a letter to Gonzales. "In light of your previous service as White House Counsel and your close connection to many Administration officials, the appearance of conflict looms large." Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said Gonzales has followed all department guidelines and there is "no reason for him to recuse himself from the investigation at this time."

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs

Join DFA-Lister and future Congressman for the 28th District of Texas, Ciro Rodriguez and DFA Chair Jim Dean for a conference call with DFA members across the country this afternoon at 2:30pm EST.

Over the course of the past week, over 1000 DFA members have donated over $35,000 for Rodriguez's primary election on March 7th. And today, he's going to take some time out of his busy schedule to personally say "thanks" to the DFA community, talk about the upcoming election, his vision for the Democratic Party and answer your questions.

To join the call, visit:

You got the ball rolling, now join the call!

Categories: Blogs

Ciro D. Rodriguez is a candidate for U.S. Congress, 28th Texas Congressional District, and Ralph Miller is the Executive Director of the newly-formed LFA-PAC. Democracy for America welcomes LFA columnists on Tuesdays.

As Latinos, we are often torn between voting for a Latino candidate and voting for a progressive one. When both candidates in a race are Latino, the job of choosing is often harder. But, in the case of the Congressional race in the Texas 28th, where both candidates are Hispanic, the job is not difficult. Ciro Rodriguez is the progressive choice, over his opponent, Henry Cuellar. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ciro yesterday, and asked him about his campaign and why he is the logical choice for progressives. He was remarkably approachable and down to earth.

One of the things that Ciro is looking to propose—and has drafted legislation to promote—is a border health initiative for fighting diabetes, AIDS, and other medical conditions that disproportionately affect minorities along the border area. Working with the African American and Asia Pacific Congressional caucuses, Ciro is hoping to bridge gaps in women's and minority health care through preventive approaches for diabetes. More generally, he believes that we need a national, comprehensive health care plan, especially in light of today's global economy, when companies are shedding benefits to workers to bolster the corporate bottom line, leaving more and more people exposed to catastrophic medical costs. The political climate for change in medical coverage couldn't be better, Rodriguez believes.

Ciro Rodriguez endorses legislation to establish veteran's health centers around the country. He wants to make Veteran benefits permanent, that is, to fund VA benefits directly, automatically, like entitlement programs, not just through a reimbursement process. Currently, a majority of veterans are not taking advantage of VA benefits because the process for doing so is cumbersome. This is particularly important for services to treat post traumatic stress syndrome that is affecting a great number of Veterans returning from Iraq, who come home and need help but for whatever reason, do not recognize or admit that they do have a need when they first get back—but then a year and two later, start to feel the emotional effects of the war. Ciro believes that we need to have the mechanisms in place set up to help nurture these veterans through their emotional trauma. Latino veterans in particular, are prone to discounting the possibility of the syndrome, until much later, when their emotional guard is down.

Another focus of his campaign is Education. Ciro believes that government needs to play a more active role in ensuring quality education for Americans—not only primary education (K-12), but also college—recognizing that since the early 1990s, the demographics of the baby echo (children of the baby boomers), has put greater burdens on our educational system than we've ever had. Rodriguez believes that we need to support higher education with unparalleled vigor if we want to remain a leading economic and intellectual leader in today's highly competitive world.

As far as infrastructure needs are concerned, across the nation, infrastructure is falling apart—roads, bridges, dams. The stories of the Katrina disaster are only too fresh in all our minds. He's quick to point out that America has made this kind of investment in the past, but we are not doing it now. We need to take the lead to making this happen lest we leave a legacy of crumbling decay to generations to follow.

Finally, in the area of immigration, Ciro is grappling with the Real ID Act recognizing those here now and finding a way for people who are here now to become legal, not necessarily as citizens, but not, either, as second-class workers without rights. He thinks it is impractical, if not impossible, to deport the millions of people who are here illegally and quasi-legally, at the same time recognizing that something must be done to stem the flow of illegal immigration. He is quick to point out that we will have serious problems if we let terrorists in. He doesn't like mandatory ID cards, but acknowledges that the reality is that we all carry some form of identification now. He sees the need for a process for naturalizing existing foreign residents and for having a temporary guest worker program, with guaranteed rights as everyone else—with equal protections under the law—not such a foreign concept, if you ask me.

What makes Ciro Rodriguez different? He's a democrat, acts like a democrat and has consistently voted as a democrat. His life has been dedicated to being a teacher and a social worker, not a politician and did not enter politics for money. He is, instead, doing it for all the right reasons—to invest in education, healthcare and our national infrastructure. He believes this effort will result in a stronger person, family and community for each of his constituents, and for America as a whole. Quite simply, what excites him is to make things happen, to fix things that need fixing.

Sounds like quite a few progressives I know.

(As his March 7, 2006, election nears, Ciro's campaign needs volunteers in these final days to help with early voting through election day. If you can take time to help, contact Gina Castañeda, Field Director and Senior Coordinator. There are only 21 days left before ELECTION DAY!)

—Ralph Miller

Categories: Blogs

February 15, 2006


Remember the outrage in the mainstream media over Hillary Clinton's "plantation" comment a few weeks ago? Well Ann Coulter, the well known conservative author and pundit, has made blatantly racist comments that have gone unnoticed by the media, with the exception of bloggers.

Hillary Clinton's remarks were not meant in a mean-spirited, racist manner, they were meant to describe the abuses of power in the Bush Administration. Coulter's comments have no justifications, where's the mainstream media now?

Coulter gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

Referring to Iran, Coulter said, "What if they start having one of these bipolar episodes with nuclear weapons? I think our motto should be, post-9/11, 'Raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'"

These comments are simply unacceptable. What is even more unacceptable is the lack of outrage from the media and conservative politicians. Republicans like Bill Frist and Ken Mehlman spoke after Coulter and said nothing about her comments. Should we assume they support her?

This, of course, is not the first time Coulter has made uncalled for declarations. In January, Coulter called for the poisoning of Justice John Paul Stevens then quickly said, "That's just a joke."

Joke or not, Ann Coulter's comments are irresponsible and dangerous. Americans can no longer stand for drug addicts, sex perverts, and racists preaching about American values. It's time for progressives to standup and show what real American values are like.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs

Chertoff Acknowledges Lapses in Katrina Response

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff took criticism from Senators on both sides of the aisle today at a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing. Committee Chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins said his agency's performance "must be judged a failure." She called it "late, uncertain and ineffective." Senator Lieberman, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, questioned why Chertoff did not go to New Orleans immediately. "How could you go to bed that night not knowing what was going on in New Orleans?" Lieberman asked. Chertoff responded that, "When I went to bed, it was my belief ... that actually the storm had not done the worst that could be imagined."

Cheney Takes Blame

Vice President Cheney said today that on Saturday, when he accidentally shot a Texas lawyer, he experienced "one of the worst days of my life." Cheney also took complete responsibility for the accident. "It was not Harry's fault," he went said. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. It's a day I'll never forget." In response to questions about the day, Cheney said that he had consumed one beer earlier in the day, but that no one in the party was drinking as they hunted. He also said this was the first time he had been hunting with Harry Whittington, whom he described as more than an acquaintance, but not a close friend.

Congressional Probe of NSA Program Seems Less Likely

A week ago a congressional probe into the NSA’s domestic spying program seemed very probable, this week it does not. The White House has carried out a lobbying campaign to win support from swing Republican Senators. The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a Democratic-sponsored motion to start an inquiry into the NSA program. Two committee Democrats said the panel—made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats—was clearly leaning in favor of the motion last week but now is closely divided and possibly inclined against it.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs

Since Friday, you have raised over $30,000 for Ciro Rodriguez's March 7 primary challenge against DINO (Democrat in Name Only) Henry Cuellar.

Because of your contributions, the Rodriguez campaign has been able to produce a powerful advertisement showing Henry Cuellar sitting with the Republicans at the State of the Union and getting a disturbingly warm embrace from President Bush. It will go up on air later this week.

Put this ad on the air

Future Congressman Ciro Rodriguez is going to take some time out of his incredibly busy schedule this Thursday, February 16 to personally say "thank you." I'd like to invite you to join the call:

Ciro Rodriguez is a former congressman with a progressive voting record. He's challenging Henry Cuellar for his old House seat. Why? Because "Democrat" Henry Cuellar:

  • Campaigned for George Bush over Al Gore
  • Abandoned Democrats to vote for more tax cuts for the rich
  • Opposed a bipartisan commission to investigate the government's response to Hurricane Katrina
  • Voted for CAFTA over working families
  • Favored school vouchers which will decimate public education
  • Was endorsed by the far right-wing group Club for Growth
Regardless of what the "powers-that-be" say in Washington, DC, it's time for DINOs like Cuellar to go.

I hope you'll join me on the call to meet Ciro Rodriguez and hear about his vision for the Democratic Party:

When Ciro was in Congress -- from 1997 until 2005 -- he compiled a solid voting record and was someone we could count on. Rodriguez:

  • Voted against the war in Iraq
  • Supported a woman's right to choose
  • Earned strong support from our labor allies
Ciro Rodriguez is a good man. Congress needs him. And Democracy for America is proud to be on his side in this primary campaign. With your help, he can win:

Thank you. Let's win this one!

Tom Hughes
Executive Director

P.S. The call will take place on Thursday, February 16 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. After you sign up, we'll send you the call-in code:

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

Since its inception, DFA has bee the pioneer of many efforts to engage the community in political activism. From citizen lobbying, election reform, and the DFA Film Club to the current candidate forums, DFA continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

Citizen Lobbying: DFA Miami had some great news to report last week. Their citizen lobbying efforts for a bill they wrote was extremely successful. They have secured Florida House and Senate sponsorship for their Ballot Pamphlet Bill, and have strong bi-partisan support in both sides of the legislature. Their efforts prove that citizen lobbying works, and that election reform is on the march!

Movie Nights: DFA Memphis has organized a community movie screening for Robert Greenwald's 2004 film, 'Unconstitutional'. This film highlights the civil liberties and freedoms we have lost since 9/11, and is sure to inspire some fresh activism.

Cobb County DFA and Georgia For Democracy are inviting members and the community to a screening of 'Take It Back' by film maker, Harriette Draper. This is an inspirational film about the groundswell of support that continues today from the Howard Dean campaign. Draper depicts the campaign from the ground up and shows the hopes, frustrations, failures and successes in the campaigns effort to redefine the vision of America. The screening is sure to inspire and re-inspire the vision of bottoms up democracy.

DFA Columbia is having a screening at their local union hall. Their film is a locally produced documentary called 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind' about the Medicaid cuts in Missouri. This film features many state office holders, health care providers, and of course, the victims of the ill-fated Medicaid program.

The DFA Film Club has created an online guide to setting up these screenings, and they encourage every group to use these opportunities to grow their membership and inspire community activism.

Groups from all over the country continue to hold candidate forums, and many are already coming out with their endorsements. As campaign season heats up, DFA will continue to reach out to rebuild the party from the ground up. We are all encouraged to see all of the citizen candidates take to the campaign trail... assured that we are behind them every step of the way.

—Dave Reiter

Categories: Blogs

February 14, 2006


Molly Ivins, as usual, has a forthright take on Cheney's fateful gunshot. While other members of the media are concerned with the delay in reporting the accident, as well as Cheney's lack of a proper quail-hunting license, Molly goes right for the heart of the matter, with a look at the hypocrisy of placing blame everywhere else but on the trigger man:

I was offended by the never-our-fault White House spin team. Cheney adviser Mary Matalin said of her boss, "He was not careless or incautious [and did not] violate of any of the [rules]. He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do." Of course he did, Ms. Matalin, he shot Harry Whittington.

Which brings us to one of the many paradoxes of the Bush administration, which claims to be creating "the responsibility society." It's hard to think of a crowd less likely to take responsibility for anything they have done or not done than this bunch. They're certainly good at preaching responsibility to others—and blaming other people for everything that goes wrong on their watch.

Of course the Cheney shooting was an accident.

But is it an accident if your home and your life are destroyed by the flood following a hurricane? Especially if the flood was caused by failed levees, a government responsibility?

Is it an accident if you are born with a clubfoot and your parents are too poor to pay for the operation to fix it? Is there any societal responsibility in such a case?

Is it an accident when your manufacturing job gets shipped overseas and all you can find to replace it is a low-wage job at the big-box store with no health insurance, and your kid breaks his leg, and you can't pay the bill, so you have to declare bankruptcy under a new law that leaves you broke for good, with no chance of ever getting out of debt? Or was all of that caused by deliberate government policy?

Cheney is much given to lecturing us about taking responsibility. When and where does societal responsibility come in?

While this administration continues to spin lies in response to serious judgement errors on their part, Molly advises us to keep the following in mind about our vice-president: "His head still tilts over more to the right when he lies."

Categories: Blogs

Cheney Shooting Victim has Heart Attack

The 78 year old man who was shot accidentally by Vice President Cheney had a heart attack this morning when a piece of birdshot moved into his heart. Harry Whittington was immediately moved back into the intensive care unit for further treatment and will remain hospitalized for at least another week. Vice President Cheney has remained quiet about the incident, while critics are calling for answers. Senator Harry Reid said, "I think it's time the American people heard from the vice president."

Hussein Announces a Hunger Strike

Saddam Hussein declared today that he and his co-defendants had begun a hunger strike to protest their treatment to the authorities. Hussein told Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman that he has been on "hunger strike for the past three days in protest of the treatment by you and your masters." Hussein did not state any conditions for ending his hunger strike. Asked about the strike, a spokesman for the Iraqi court trying Hussein and his colleagues said the court was looking into Hussein's claims.

Senators Argue Over Tax Cuts

Republicans and Democrats staged an election-year joust in the Senate on Tuesday over the Bush administration's tax cuts for capital gains and dividends. Each side lined up a number of votes that caused other scheduled business to be postponed or cancelled. The battle began when Democrats decided to use a routine procedure that sends the bill into final negotiations to make political points about President Bush's insistence on continuing tax cuts for investors.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs

Jim Dean is the Chair of Democracy for America.

As they say in life: "You gotta take the good with the bad." Yesterday, we had a blast rolling out our Vermont endorsements of Peter Welch for Congress and Bernie Sanders for Senate—two fabulous candidates who understand that the highest political office in our great country is that of the citizen; and who can bring independence and integrity back to Washington.

Today we are deeply saddened by the announcement that Paul Hackett is withdrawing from the race for U.S. Senate in Ohio.

We and many of you supported Paul in the Ohio-2 special congressional election last year. While we had not taken a position in his senate race (in deference to DFA members in Ohio who support Sherrod Brown), we nonetheless were thrilled that Paul had stepped up to run for higher office. The integrity and activism that his campaign embodied were—and remain—critical to a Democratic victory over the Republican incumbent.

Paul has been, and always will be a man of integrity, guts, authenticity, and courage—characteristics that too often don't seem to matter to our Party's congressional leaders in Washington. Whether you agree with Paul's positions or not, his campaign has represented the resurgence of the authentic candidate. One who speaks honestly and openly about his or her values and political positions because it is the right way to communicate with voters, and the ONLY way to gain their respect.

Anyone who has looked at poll results knows that the Democrats have been losing for over 15 years because voters don't trust Democrats on the issues. Paul's campaign gave all of us hope that the Democratic Party can again have candidates who are honest and open about their positions; thereby regaining the interest of the voters.

More importantly, Paul's campaign gave us hope that the Democratic Party has the discipline and drive to innovate by embracing the entrepreneurial competition of ideas and candidates which are so critical to honing our message and preparing candidates to battle the right-wing spin machine.

Our community understands the importance of this, and regrets that we must continue to baby-sit the congressional leadership until they have the maturity, confidence, and discipline to embrace and encourage the kind of innovative campaigns that Paul brought to the Party.

Today that baby-sitting job got a lot tougher. Even after 15 years of losing, too much of our leadership continues to waste valuable time and donors' hard earned money trying to maintain a party machine in second place. They do this by trying to bring new and exciting ideas to heal for the sake of their own second place status, because to them second place in DC is better than fighting for our country, our values and our party.

Thanks to Paul, the drive to take our country back for those who built it continues at full speed.

Paul, thank you for everything you have done. Take some well-deserved time off, but please, please, come back to the fight as soon as you can. You are the future of our democracy. You are the future of the Democratic Party—or the next Party—depending on whether the Democratic leadership in Congress can ever get beyond its remarkably oversized sense of entitlement.

Today they lost, but you kept your word and didn't compromise your values. We thank you for this, hope to see you soon, and wish you and your great family all the best.

—Jim Dean

Categories: Blogs

Paul Hackett is a former DFA-List candidate for the United States Congress in the 2nd District of Ohio in 2005. This year, he took another step into politics with a run for US Senate. This morning, Paul released the following statement to his friends and supporters regarding his withdrawal from the campaign.

Today I am announcing that I am withdrawing from the race for United States Senate. I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign.

But there was no quid pro quo. I will not be running in the Second Congressional District nor for any other elective office. This decision is final, and not subject to reconsideration.

I told the voters from the beginning that I am not a career politician and never aspired to be—that I was about leadership, service and commitment.

Similarly, I told party officials that I had given my word to other good Democrats, who will take the fight to the Second District, that I would not run. In reliance on my word they entered the race. I said it. I meant it. I stand by it. At the end of the day, my word is my bond and I will take it to my grave.

Thus ends my 11 month political career. Although it is an overused political cliché, I really will be spending more time with my family, something I wasn't able to do because my service to country in the political realm continued after my return from Iraq. Perhaps my wonderful wife Suzi said it best after we made this decision when she said "Honey, welcome home." I really did marry up.

To my friends and supporters, I pledge that I will continue to fight and to speak out on the issues I believe in. As long as I have the microphone, I will serve as your voice.

It is with my deepest respect and humility that I thank each and every one of you for the support you extended to our campaign to take back America, and personally to me and my family. Together we made a difference. We changed the debate on the Iraq War, we inspired countless veterans to continue their service by running for office as Democrats and we made people believe again. We must continue to believe.

Remember, we must retool our party. We must do more than simply aspire to deliver greatness; we must have the commitment and will to fight for what is great about our party and our country; Peace, prosperity and the freedoms that define our democracy.

Rock on.

Paul Hackett

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 what seems a lifetime ago, I worked with Vietnam vets with Post-traumatic stress disorder. These men and women—pushing middle age more than a decade past their military service—told me, as a barely twenty something student, about the challenges they faced upon return to the states... the nightmares, the flashbacks, the survival guilt, the relationships damaged beyond repair. Now I'm the one pushing middle age (uh... ok, so maybe not exactly just "pushing" anymore) and new young men and women have the nightmares, flashbacks and damaged lives.

As we debate the larger issues involved in a nation's decision to go to war, too often we lose sight of the smaller ones. The big smaller ones, that is:

Inside that coffin is the body of a man or woman who will never get to live their life to the fullest, yet they bore the total cost so that we could live free. Their soul is somewhere else and all we have is their memory which over time will be forgotten by other events of greater importance. The families of these soldiers have a hole in their hearts that will never be replaced, even though they have pictures and happy memories.

Doug Barber, the Iraq war veteran who wrote those words, was dead—of his own hand—a week later. Barber suffered from PTSD. He struggled with the Veteran's Administration system which identified him as non-service related, therefore, unqualified for help for his condition. He left Iraq but, like so many who came decades before him, the war never left him.

It seems that what we learned then, we have forgotten now. We forgot that these veterans who have sacrificed everything for us deserve every measure of our gratitude upon their return. We forgot that as the controversy of a war increases, so inevitably does the toll it takes on the soldier. We forgot that wounds come visible and they come invisible.

Democratic, Republican. Agree with the war, disagree. Think we should leave, think we should stay. Not one of us should find this acceptable. Not one.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

So, let us strive to finish the work we are in, we must.

Tell someone.

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

Categories: Blogs

February 13, 2006


Congressional Report to Slam Government's Response to Katrina

A congressional report to be released this week slams the government's response to hurricane Katrina. The report calls the government's response a "failure of leadership" that left people in need stranded. The report, titled "Failure of Initiative," gives 90 recommendations for changes in the future. The report is the result of a Republican 11-member House select committee that investigated the response to Katrina at all levels. U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays said the report is "very tough on the president, it's very tough on the Department of Homeland Security. It's a blistering report. But I think it's fair."

Iran Cancels Talks with Moscow

Iran increased nuclear tension today by abruptly postponing talks with Moscow about a plan to enrich Iran's uranium on Russian territory. The plan, supported by the United States and the European Union, was an attempt to avoid international objections to Iran's uranium enrichment program. Under the plan Iran would have shipped its uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched to a level suitable for nuclear reactors, it would then be returned to Iran for use. Iran also began nuclear enrichment activities today – inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency were present.

Dean Says Cheney May Have Broken the Law

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said today that if Vice President Cheney authorized the leaking of classified information he should resign. Dean said, "We don't know if it's true, but he has been accused of it. If it's true, he has to step aside." Senators Jack Reed and George Allen also called for a full investigation into who authorized the leak.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs

Ciro Rodriguez is running for Congress in the 28th Congressional District in Texas. Since Democracy for America endorsed him on Friday afternoon, over 800 DFA members have contributed more than $29,000 to Ciro's campaign. You can contribute at

A Real Democrat


Independence and Integrity. These are two of the characteristics Vermonters value most. That's why Democracy for America enthusiastically endorses Bernie Sanders for the United States Senate and Peter Welch for Congress.

This isn't a year for complacency. And the DFA grassroots movement isn't going to rest until Bernie and Peter win on November 7.

But these races are going to be harder won than any in the last decade or more.

Bernie is up against the richest man in the state—someone with virtually unlimited wealth—who has already given his campaign almost $2 million of his own money. In fact, he is on pace to spend the most money ever—per voter—in a U.S. Senate race in American history.

We've all known Bernie for years, and we know that Washington needs his brand of Independence.

When my brother was Governor, he and Bernie didn't always agree. But they always fought for Vermont. From health care to family farms, to education and the environment, Bernie and Howard worked to make Vermont a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Bernie's opponent is trying to distance himself from Bush but the truth is that he supports the Bush warrantless spying program, tax cuts for the wealthy and outsourcing jobs while he opposes prescription drug re-importation from Canada and raising the minimum wage.

We can't risk another lock-step Republican in Washington.

No one understands better than Bernie what is at stake in Vermont's Congressional race, which is why he—and DFA—are supporting Peter Welch as Vermont's next Congressman.

The Republicans relied on secret meetings to recruit the current Adjutant General of Vermont's National Guard as their foot soldier in this race. Their candidate has refused to give a position on the Iraq war, torture and choice while amassing a war chest from supporters. Even Roy Blunt, of the DeLay-Blunt corruption machine, has sent her money.

The choice in Vermont's congressional race is simple: Send another foot solider that will solidify the Republican grip on power or send a message that change is on the way.

And thankfully, change and integrity is what State Senator Peter Welch will bring to Washington.

Peter isn't a newcomer to the fight for Vermont's working families. He's been serving Vermont with an unwavering ethical compass for decades. He has led the fight for better health care, renewable energy, and fiscal responsibility. He's passionate about exposing the President's misguided policies. And we can count on Peter to follow in Bernie's footsteps as a champion for working Americans on Capitol Hill.

When Vermont's greatest living example of Independence and Integrity, Jim Jeffords, announced his retirement from the Senate last year we knew Vermonters would have critical choices to make this November.

Today, the choices are clear -- Bernie Sanders for United States Senate
and Peter Welch for Congress.

I hope you will join me today in signing up for their campaigns. Bernie and Peter need thousands of volunteers to combat the millions of dollars the Republicans are pumping into these races. They need your support today.


Jim Dean

P.S. We can win these races, even if we are out-spent. But we can't win if we are out-worked. Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch need your help now. Please sign up with their campaigns today:

Categories: Blogs

February 12, 2006


My experience at DFA can be summed up in one word: phenomenal! The things I learned have so far been invaluable to me now that I'm back in Ohio helping the Democratic candidates make an impression on voters.

I had a great time working in the training program, and Arshad (DFA's Training Coordinator) was a wonderful boss to have. I enjoyed staying in contact with the grassroots leaders and training hosts, creating the websites for the trainings and constantly editing them to make sure they were clear. The research on each of the training state locations gave me a lot of insight into how individual states are run. Most were pretty clear, with the exception of Pennsylvania which took a bit of searching. I feel like I gave a lot to DFA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I was also very impressed with the DFA staff. Within hours of landing in Burlington, Arshad made me feel at home, as did my host family Rich Spindler and Mary Canales. The staff welcomed me warmly on Monday and also made me feel at home. I felt like I became part of the family and it was hard to leave. I never feel like I've thanked everyone enough for the opportunity.

I was also very happy on my last day in Vermont. I got to meet Gov. Dean! I was so excited, and pretty red in the face. It was a great ending to the trip along with the training in Montpelier. I had a great time, and can't wait to go back in March!


Categories: Blogs

Take a look at Susquehanna High School in Pennsylvania with journalists from the Times-Tribune of PA. This district is short on good jobs, and considered one of the poorest in Northeastern Pennsylvania—making conditions ripe for recruiters to step in with offers of hefty enlistment bonuses and guaranteed employment after high school.

The closest public college is Broome Community College outside of Binghamton, N.Y., about 25 miles north. Few of Susquehanna's students go there, because they'd have to pay out-of-state tuition, says George Moore, a guidance counselor and former teacher who has been at Susquehanna for 32 years.

Sgt. Ditchey, 36, has been with the Guard the last six years, first with the Army and then the Army Reserve....he spends most of his time in the region's rural districts because that's where enlistments are most likely.

"Up here in the rural schools, you get more acceptance by the school districts," he says. "They realize a lot of these kids don't come from money."

And, with our nation's public school system strapped for cash, time and resources, these recruiters are more than willing to step into other—non-military—roles:

At Susquehanna... the relationship goes deeper. Recruiters are a part of the educational fabric and aim to serve as role models.

Recruiters bring coffee and doughnuts for the staff, make presentations in classrooms and have served as emergency substitutes when teachers were snowed in, principal Michael Lisowski says. [emphasis added]

Most parents in the school are giving the nod to recruiters in the classroom (tacitly, if not explicitly). Luckily for Susquehanna, DFA member Michael Santella is advocating for the students:

"Let's just say hypothetically the Army comes in and says we want to hold an assembly," he says. "Now should you force a student to attend that assembly? I don't think so. If it's serving no educational value or is wrapped up in something educational. … I don't want my child to be involved in it."

Mr. Santella served in the Navy and has organized a Montrose chapter of the liberal organization Democracy For America. The group has 21 members between Montrose and Scranton/Clarks Summit.

He became an activist against school recruitment after President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. The act has a provision that requires secondary schools to release student contact information to the military. If they don't, they lose federal funding. Parents can sign an opt-out form at the beginning of the school year, but many don't.

"It just virtually paves the way to unimpeded military access to our students," he says. "They're ripe for solicitation at that age."

How far has this nation gone down the path of war, when teachers are fired for giving peace a passing mention in the classroom, and Army recruiters are at the blackboard, chalk in hand?

Categories: Blogs