21 February, 2008

Deck Chair Anyone?

We can win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people with a few thousand more of these friendly patrol vehicles. Each one is specifically designed to encourage Iraqis to come out and meet our soldiers and develop a long lasting relationship with the occupation. After all, we’ll be there for a hundred years, might as well make the best of it!

But seriously, these MRAP vehicles cost upwards of $500,000 each. I agree with protecting our troops, but wouldn’t these funds be better spent bringing them home?

12 February, 2008

Why I Can't Get Exited about Obama (or Clinton Either)

For those in the netroots, we are all too familiar with the disappointment we feel about Jim Web’s vote for to allow telecoms immunity for facilitating warrantless spying on all American citizens. See Aaron’s darkly humorous snark below about Senator Diane Feinstein and how annoyed we are in California. But she doesn’t even pretend to be progressive, so it’s not a big disappointment, just a source of ongoing frustration.

Many of us from all over the country worked our asses off and donated money in 2006 to get progressive candidates into the House and Senate. One such “win” was Jerry McNerney, who has kicked us in the teeth by continuing to support the occupation in Iraq.

So how does this affect my ability to support Obama and Clinton? I’ve wanted – very badly – to be as excited about a candidate as some of my friends and family. Why can’t I? Because they will both let me down – plain and simple.

Neither one has a good health care plan. Both have plenty of corporate ties. Neither is talking seriously about the economy or ending poverty. Neither is willing to take on this weird new conventional wisdom that we shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Gee, I guess schools, roads, bridges, fire fighters, police, the courts, the FDA, the CDC, Medicare, Social Security, the FDIC, USDA, public parks should all just crumble to dust because I should be able to keep *my* money. Shit, I’m going to have to pave my own sidewalk with toothpaste if this keeps up. If I fall through a bridge, or if my apartment washes away because a California levee breaks, my mom and my mother-in-law should divide up the three cats. Take good care of ‘em.

Where’s the audacity of my hope? It doesn’t rest with a good orator who makes people swoon without telling them much. It rests with me. To steal a phrase that he stole from someone else, I need to be the change I want to see. I’m skipping Presidential politics this year (except for my vote). My energy and money will be going to progressive candidates who are challenging centrist (spineless?) Democrats in primaries**. I’m building a pipeline of people who inspire me by what they do, rather than what they say, so that in 10 years, I can be the one swooning.

** (Donna) Edwards unseats incumbent Wynn in Maryland Congress race From the San Francisco Examiner: BALTIMORE (Map, News) - Rep. Albert Wynn of Maryland became the first incumbent to lose his seat in this year's round of primary elections, as lawyer and activist Donna Edwards upset the eight-term Democrat in the suburban Washington district.

Edwards seized on voter dissatisfaction with some of Wynn's votes in Congress tied to
Iraq and the housing crisis, giving her a win in her second bid to unseat Wynn in Maryland's 4th District. In 2006, Edwards lost by just three percentage points in the majority black district that borders Washington.

DiFi Stands Firm with Telecoms

I couldn’t believe the news. Diane Feinstein has displayed strength and resolve in the face of overwhelming pressure from the worst special interest group…the public. I wish we had more Senators that could find the courage to stand up to this motley group of “constituents”.

A few months ago, Oakland DFA Meetup had a letter writing campaign that targeted Diane asking her to block Telecom immunity. I hand delivered the letters to her office. I can’t help but wonder how many letters she received begging for Telecom immunity. It must have been a tsunami of letters.

Methinks it’s time to censure Diane Feinstein. Oh, and California always loves a good recall election!

11 February, 2008

Organize a Community / Run a Campaign

The unconscious democracy of America is a very fine thing. It is a true and deep and instinctive assumption of the equality of citizens, which even voting and elections have not destroyed. - G. K. Chesterton

If you're looking to get the best hands-on training in the country for how to run an electoral campaign, join our friends from Burlington, Democracy for America, in Berkeley on March 1-2 (yes, the national organization is coming to our neighborhood, including DFA Chairman Jim Dean and Executive Director Arshad Hasan!).

Jerry McNerney Beat Richard Pombo in 2006 to win the 11th Congressional District seat with a tremendous grassroots-powered campaign. Did you know it was DFA training in Stockton that fired-up and organized those grassroots, and DFA’s then Training Director Arshad Hasan who ran the Get Out The Vote campaign with 1,000 volunteers on the ground?

Matt Lockshin (of the "Say No to Pombo" blog) sure does. He attended that training, then ran Abel Guillen's campaign for a seat on the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees using a page-by-page plan he developed from his DFA Training Manual. Abel and Matt ran a local grassroots-powered campaign and won that race! (Matt is happy to discuss campaigning with you and can be reached at 510-495-7206 or emetbloom@hotmail.com).

You have the power, now learn the skills! The Democracy for America Training Academy is coming to Berkeley for two days of exciting campaign training.

How many votes will it take to win in June and November? How do you find the perfect message and get it out to voters in your district? How will you raise enough money to pay for it all?The DFA Training Academy will help you answer these questions and more.

At the DFA Training Academy, top campaign consultants with decades of experience give you the skills to run a winning campaign. Topics include: field planning, voter contact, fundraising, communications, volunteer recruitment and more.

Attendees will also get to hear directly from some of the most exciting 2008 candidates in their area and get a copy of the DFA Training Manual packed with over 180 pages of campaign info.
Refreshments will be provided throughout the day and a social event will be organized Saturday evening so you can mingle and network with other activists in your area.

If you harbor a dream of running for office yourself one day, know someone else you'd like to recruit to run and support, or if you just want to be the most effective political activist you can be, this training is for you!

10 February, 2008

Getting the Hell Out of the Taxi to the Dark Side

I won’t make this a movie review, although I will say that Taxi to the Dark Side is a powerfully moving film on how we came to be a country that not only tortures, but seems to think it’s ok – necessary, even.

Once the film was over, I felt a wide range of emotions from rage to despair. Like Forrest Gump when he starts to run, I felt a compelling need to just walk. To clear my head. To put what I had just seen into the context of my life. Luckily, my movie companion didn’t question my need to just move my feet and struggle through what I had seen.

Which brings me to the idea of getting out of the Taxi before it erupts in flames and engulfs all of us.

On my inaugural post here, I’m not posting any answers. In fact, I don’t even have the time this afternoon to go into much more detail. But I wanted to take a minute to launch this blog today in order to provide a forum to collect these thoughts, direct my thinking, and seek some concrete alternatives. Join me, if you wish, and let’s channel this into something productive if we can.