Achieving parity

Jerome over at MyDD has a great little history of the Democratic netroots, i.e. the disparity between the Freeper community and the liberal netroots community during the 2000 election and the massive inroads we've made in 4 years. But he makes the point -- and it needed to be made -- that we've only just drawn even on that score and that there're so many areas where we have work to do if we're to push a progressive agenda as aggressively as the Freepers push their own.

We're headed for a Netroots Throwdown and it's time to start getting our hands dirty.


Target acquired, fire at will.

I've been following the Swift Boat Shitheads for Political Gain "story" (again, my appreciation to the blogosphere for saving my sanity because the media suck-diddily-ucks, Flanders). They may have gotten their lies out there like they were an actual story to report, but the blogs haven't let a single thread drop, driving the debunking of every aspect, from the medal "controversy", to the question of enemy fire, to the whole Cambodia Holiday angle.

I've been listening to everyone wail about Kerry getting caught by surprise on this, being too soft, not getting his rapid response team out there soon enough, yada yada yada. But as I said during the weekend of VEEP leak, this team strategizes like a chess match, thinking several moves ahead, and I've suspected for a bit that there's a reason for Kerry's delayed response to the Swift Boat veterans thing.

Seems I'm not the only one:
Oliphant: "Phase 2" of Kerry Counterattack To Begin

I've said it before, I'll say it again: if it's possible to squee over a political candidate, I'm squeeing, baby. Steve Gilliard has been blogging this, too.

Not sure exactly what the 2nd phase is gonna be, but I have my suspicions. Namely, the TANG/AWOL business. I suspect Kerry knows where some bodies are buried, or knows the people who know and he's been waiting for just the opportunity to drag them out for full view. The beauty of it, especially if it really is about Bush's military service, is that Bush et al are about to be bent over like an inmate in a prison shower after talking smack about their non-existent ass-kicking powers in the exercise yard. I mean, I'm not a fan of slash, but for this, I'd make an exception.

The other side of the coin

An absolute MUST READ, via Brad DeLong:

Jill Gabrielle Klein Talks to a Ph.D Student from North Africa

two especially difficult excerpts:

So what is the utility of studying? What the utility of knowledge or of science? Humans at 2004 are not more human than humans thousands years ago. The
government of the most advanced country is a group of liars, and criminals. The soldiers of this country are the most savage ones (I have watched many documentaries about their barbarisms in Iraq). What is the advantage of science if it’s not to advance ethics, and what is the importance of advancement without the thics?


In fact, you, Americans you are softer with animals than with humans when they are Arabs and Muslims and from the third world.

I really envy you.

You know, I really don’t think to be a mother in the future, I want to protect my son or daughter from this life by not letting him come...



And my friend Tony wonders why I nearly snorted my drink through my nose when he said "conservatives are for the little guy".

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?


Friday the 13th

Don't know how you spent your Friday the 13th, but Sal and I spent it at Waterfront Park. For the Kerry rally.

With 50,000 other people. Yeah, you read that right. And I've got the pictures to prove it.

We got up early to get in line -- gates opened at 10 AM. We arrived at the Delta Park MAX Station at 8:30 AM and even then, there were 9 or 10 other Kerry supporters waiting, too. You could tell because everyone was wearing pins or hats or shirts. We all rode in together and got off at 3rd and Oak (I think). Which meant walking the length of Naito Parkway to The Bowl at the South End. (To the non-Oregonians, it's naturally formed bowl-shaped slope at one end of the park that runs along the western waterfront of the Willamette.) But it was beautiful outside so the walk was lovely.

There were dozens of people walking with us, all of us just following the general migration, and as we got closer, the dozens turned into hundreds. We crossed Naito Parkway at the Hawthorne Bridge onramp where a line of people 4 or 5 deep stretched onto the ramp and the bridge and were told the end of the line was on that bridge. So we walked along the sidewalk, concentrating on not falling into the roadway because the bridge wasn't closed at that point. So it wasn't until we'd almost reached the end -- I am not kidding -- that we also reached the end of the line. That's when we started to realize how big this was going to be.

It was a good chance to snap a few pics of downtown, though, because the view from the Hawthorne is really great. And we were only in that line for about 45 minutes before it started moving and pretty soon, we were back on the west side. They'd closed down the on-ramp from Naito by then and then Kerry volunteers were asking people if they had tickets (we printed ours online); they told us to go to the next traffic light (Columbia) and follow the signs to the entrance that said white tickets/no tickets. Guess it didn't matter if we'd printed it off or not, just that we got there early enough.

Anyway, we staked out a spot where we'd at least get a glimpse or two of the stage from time to time, even though we were out in BFE. But it didn't matter. We were there for the experience. And we were surrounded by people of all kinds -- old, young, families, hipsters, college kids, punks, veterans, firefighters, union workers, goths, soccer moms -- just to our left was a Sikh man and woman, behind us, a single dad and his two kids. There were three college guys right in front of us, a biker couple on our right, a row of people in blue shirts that identified their union local on the front, a couple of high school girls right behind us (one of whom was wearing the best shirt ever; it said: "Democrats are sexy...nobody talks about getting a good piece of elephant").

All kinds of people.

We were in place by about 9:30. The event wasn't scheduled to start until noon. No one complained, we all just hung out and talked amongst each other and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Sure, it was a little hot (and holy cats did we ever get sunburned), but nothing serious. Although thank the gods Sal remembered to bring a big water jug. A lot of people didn't get in -- the bridge was lined with people and I heard/read later that it went all the way to the east side of the river, not to mention several other lines of people around the city blocks in the immediate area.

There was a whole range of speakers...the Governor and the most Democratic portion of the Oregon delegation (Wu, Blumenauer, Hooley, and Wyden; DiFazio wasn't there and Gordon, of course). Then a little later, Leonardo DiCaprio spoke about environmental issues (big response on that in this city) and he was surprisingly good. After him was Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, who did some very impressive accoustical versions of "Living on a Prayer" and "Dead or Alive", which totally dates Sal and I that we know the words but whatever, we were in high school, it brought back memories, bite me.

Some more waiting, then finally, the Kerry bus pulls up (we couldn't see it, just heard everyone start yelling) and then it pulled into the park itself and right up to the stage. The entire crowd went absolutely apeshit. Kerry and crew came out, which I didn't see, but could tell just from the huge volume increase. Then Andre Heinz spoke and introduced his mom, then Teresa, who we adore but she did take awhile. (Found out later she was stalling for time because the local networks were too busy covering the Shrubbery's speech across town while he smugged his way through an appearance in front of 1,000 hand picked supporters. Oh, and in other news, the local media sucks like Hoover showroom.)

Then it was Rassman, the Oregonian veteran Kerry saved, who spoke for about 5 minutes, and then finally it was the man himself.

The speech itself was a variation of his DNC speech, but no complaints because that was a great speech, number one, and number two, he did a lot of local/regional appeal changes (environment and economy and science, all of which got huge responses) and some awesome digs on the Rethugs.

We stuck around for about 45 minutes after it all ended so we wouldn't have to push through a bunch of people, but even then, there were just people everywhere. And we planned to walk up to Pioneer Square and then to Good Dog/Bad Dog for a late lunch, and all the way up, the sidewalks were full of Kerry supporters. (And while we were waiting for the MAX later on, had the most surreal moment of all when a guy asked us to sign the petition to allow Nader on the Oregon ballot and when we refused, practically begged us, saying, "It's his constitutional right to be on the ballot", to which I responded, "Doesn't mean he's entitled to my signature on that petition.")

Like I said, not everyone got in. The fire marshall closed the gates around 11:30 but people just stayed on the bridge and the streets. I've read accounts all over that people were lined up so far away that they couldn't even hear the sound from the speakers (which were loud, but they could sure hear the crowd) but they stayed lined up anyway to show their support. And it showed, because the fire marshall later gave an estimate of 50,000 people -- 25,000 within the fence lines and another 25,000 lined up along Naito, the Hawthorne Bridge, and down Columbia, Clay, and Market streets.

So I saved the best pictures for last. Because Bush can speak to all the screened audiences he wants. This is what 50,000 looks like.

Lots more pictures on our website .


For all my Republican friends

One of the things I find the most enraging, frustrating, and demoralizing about the political climate today is the state of the two major parties. Until recently, Democrats were might as well have had "doormat" imprinted on their collective foreheads for all the abuse they took, and though they've finally begun growing a spine of late, it might be too late for this election season. My gut tells me that this newly emerging vertebrae will be enough -- barely -- to push Kerry into office and in some of my more optimistic moments, possibly take control of the Senate. (Though I admit than when I dream about actually taking the House, too, I'm downright delusional.)

But playing the role of aggressive to our passive, the Republicans make me, literally, ill. Most of the time, I can't even advocate open-minded discussion of dissenting views -- me of the constant moderation and willingness to see more than one side of an issue -- because we're the only ones playing by those rules.

On any level, any issue, any measure you want to name, Democrats are constantly challenged by the GOP to prove not only that they're not liberal, but that they're true citizens, true patriots, true parents, true heroes, true whatever. The score never starts at zero points for both sides, it's zero points (or more often, positive points) for the Republicans, and negative points for the Democrats, the degree of the negative depending on how useful they are at any given moment on a particular issue. We're running constantly not to win, but to break even.

Don't believe me? Look at Kerry. To run a political candidate that's got any chance at all, the Dems have to run a military superhero to counterbalance all the unpatriotic stereotype crap the Republicans have been spewing about them since the 60s. Nevermind that it's all bullshit, that the GOP has never and will never have a lock on what and how to to be a patriotic American. Just to be viable, our guy had to be so incredibly, amazingly heroic that not even G.I. Joe himself could accuse him of being unpatriotic. And yet even when the Democrats manage to find just such a candidate, the Republicans do exactly that: accuse him of being unpatriotic. In the vilest, most dishonest, calculated way possible, no less.

It's that level of intellectual dishonesty -- no, intellectual delusion -- that makes me so indescribably angry. Until the Republicans, whether from within or without, turn away from this destructive game plan, until they start pushing the extremists in their party back under the rocks they crawled out from instead of putting them in charge and singing their praises, I have to wonder about those who choose to vote with them, who proudly proclaim to side with them, who say with a smile that "yes, these people represent me".

To my Republican friends out there: read this article. Just read it. Put aside whatever Rush, Hannity, Coulter and the rest have filled your head with these days. Suppress the instinct the right wing has instilled in you to chant "oh, that liberal media". Read it. Think about it. Think about what I'm saying, too. Formulate your own thoughts, your own ideas about it. Then come talk to me, and we can have that honest discussion of dissenting opinions we used to enjoy so much.

"Perverse Polarity" by Paul Glastris

Democrats, by the numbers

This is just for my own reference, so I can cite numbers when someone starts spewing a bunch of made-up numbers or stats they got from Limbaugh (but I repeat myself). Carry on.

Pandagon: Economical Mastery

Yeah, that Kerry...he's not patriotic at all

Digby over at Hullabaloo reminds us that while the Chimpster was or was not snorting various substances that may or may not have been cocaine in whereabouts unknown (at least as far as the US Military was concerned), Kerry was being a big loser. Or something.


"If you have sovereignty, you're sovereign"

On Thursday, Kerry stands and delivers at the Unity conference, sounding, oh I don't know, presidential, for which CNN et al. cut the live broadcast short for a "breaking news" announcement (see previous post). On Friday, it was the Shrubbery's turn in front of the same group of minority journalists.

So I just have this simple question for all my Republican friends out there: sure you wanna hitch your wagon to this guy's train?

"sovereignty is, well..."

(Sal heard the the news snippet on Air America on Friday, but I only heard the last little bit -- and I missed where they all laughed at Jr. -- so I've been searching for it ever since. Obviously, though, I wouldn't expect it to show up on any of the major newscasts. It's not like he told a skeezy reporter for a rightwing-nutjob-funded whackbar newspaper to "shove it" or anything.)


The Rose City Rocks...Er, Talks!

See, this is what I totally love about living in Portland.

Yeah, those terror warnings aren't political. Whatever.

We were listening to Kerry's speech this morning on CNN to the Unity 2004 Conference when they cut in with a "breaking news" announcement about the arrest of some Islamic suspect in upstate New York (I think they said he was an Imam, but I'm not sure). An al Quaida muckety-muck, you say? Feh. They were pretty vague about exactly why he was being arrested or, more to the point, what about the arrest merited a "breaking news" interruption. In fact, I can't even find anything about it on the main page of their website.

But apparently, it warranted interrupting the Democratic candidate's speech to a group of minority journalists about, among other things, what Kerry would've done had he been sitting in that Florida classroom on September 11th, but it wasn't important enough to get a mention on their website. And before Kerry's speech, CNN had been broadcasting W's speech to [insert name of fawning syncophant group here] about his usual "terrorist, terrorist, terrorist...9/11, 9/11...god bless America". In full. Uninterrupted. Uncut.

Fucking assholes.

Kicking ass and taking names

We went to a convention party last Thursday and short of actually seeing the candidate in person on the campaign trail, it was one of the best things we've done this whole political season. Seriously. There were probably 50 people at this guy's house, most of whom didn't know each other (we certainly didn't know anyone), crammed in a small living room around two tiny TV sets and cheering so loud we couldn't even hear the crowd on TV when they started cheering. I don't know, there's just something about being in a room full of like-minded people who're all so focused on one goal: getting this guy elected. We are so going to kick this administration's ass in November, kick him so far out of office that he'll bounce all the way to Crawford.

Missed Sharpton's speech, though I hear it was a real barnburner. Kerry's was fantabulous, though. He's no Clinton or Obama (who, by the way, blew our socks off) or Edwards, but he didn't try to be. He's a good speaker in his own right, he has a compelling message, and this country would be well-served by him. This was what rooted me firmly in the pro-Kerry camp, versus the ABB camp. Well, I haven't been just ABB for awhile, but Kerry finally made himself my guy.

A note on Obama: have been keeping watch on him and his race ever since Kos started championing him way back in March (?) (too lazy to look it up), but this was the first I'd actually gotten to hear him speak. I'd read about what a gifted speaker he was -- that he was talented enough to take the mantle from Clinton, even -- but you always take that kind of talk with a grain of salt, 'cause it's easy to get wrapped up in the moment when your guy's on deck and think he's the best thing since, well, Clinton. But they were right. Obama's all that and a bag of chips. So now that I've already gone out on a limb and predicted an Edwards ticket in 8 years, I'm going to go further and predict an Edwards/Obama ticket. And an Obama/? ticket eight years after that...? Hmmm...maybe, just maybe, the Rethugs have managed to burn enough bridges to ensure a progressive agenda for the first quarter this century. Which would be the only good thing those bastards have done in the last four years (or more).

Anyway, back to the convention party. Had lots of fun and some great discussion with all kinds of people. Stood next to a guy during the speech who was all about the snark, and he was good at it, too. And next to him, a nice older lady who volunteers for the Kerry phone banks once a week and cheered for all the environment and education stuff. Met a Kerry campaign representative who did a good job recruiting and encouraging people to do more of these house parties. (And in fact, we'll be doing at least one, we've decided. Possibly for one of the debates, if we can swing it. Also one on election night, depending. I'll post news about it here so stay tuned.) Visited with a couple who voted Nader last time and learned their lesson. Later, got into quite a discussion with a lovely lady originally from Pakistan and a guy who declared himself a Marxist. Talking with him was fine, though he wasn't very well-informed on the issues he brought up and didn't have a lot of in depth knowledge, so it was more debate skill exercise. Still, always worthwhile to hear a different point of view.

It was actually the lady from Pakistan that I was trying to talk to. I wanted to know her perspective on this whole thing -- the election, the American media, American politics in general, and of course, the current Administration. She'd originally been in Canada for awhile until the company she worked for transferred her to the states, so she also had an additional perspective (especially on the media) that I found quite interesting. In fact, I could probably write a very long post about some of the things we talked about if I had the time. But the thing that struck me about her, though, was that here's this foreign national who won't be able to vote in the upcoming election and yet, she came alone to a house party to celebrate the convention speech of the Democratic candidate (something most people weren't even watching, let alone celebrating), knew no one, yet sweated and cheered along with the rest of us who actually can vote. That's how much this election matters.

Our host was a guy named Zach, who's starting a great new website called 99percent.org. The idea behind this is that most people have too much going on in their lives to do a lot of political activism but they really want to be involved. So rather than leave them with a choice of all or nothing, Zach's idea is to give people easy things they can do to help out. Sign up on a website like MoveOn. Donate $10 to johnkerry.com. Put a bumpersticker on your car and pass them out to your friends/neighbors. Tune in to AirAmerica. Host a house party. Read a book or watch a movie (he even provides a handy list of reading/viewing material to check out). It's a really inspired idea to get people involved. By understanding that people want to do something, even something small, we give everyone a chance to make a real difference because I've said it before and I'll say it again: together, we are mighty*.

*That's from Firefly, by the way, which, if you haven't heard of it...well, get thee to any one of a hundred sites (mine is a good place to start; you'll find links to other sites from there) and then go buy the DVDs. I'm not kidding. I mean it...GO!