Sunday, September 21, 2008


Former Labor Secretary (under Clinton) Robert Reich has posted 3 excellent posts on his blog providing key perspective and suggestions for responding to the current crisis:
We tell poor nations they have to make their financial markets transparent before capital will flow to them. Now it's our turn. Lacking adequate regulation or oversight, our financial markets have become a snare and a delusion. Government only has two choices now: Either continue to bail them out, or regulate them in order to keep them honest. I vote for the latter.
Especially valuable right now--as our Congressional leaders rush like a flock of lemmings to embrace in fear whatever the Republican administration hands them, in a new application of the Shock Doctrine to our entire nation--are Reich's recommendations for the basic principles that should be incorporated into the coming Congressional "Bailout of All Bailout" Bills:
1. The government (i.e. taxpayers) gets an equity stake in every Wall Street financial company proportional to the amount of bad debt that company shoves onto the public. So when and if Wall Street shares rise, taxpayers are rewarded for accepting so much risk.

2. Wall Street executives and directors of Wall Street firms relinquish their current stock options and this year’s other forms of compensation, and agree to future compensation linked to a rolling five-year average of firm profitability...

3. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers...

4. Wall Street firms agree to comply with new regulations over disclosure, capital requirements, conflicts of interest, and market manipulation. The regulations will emerge in ninety days from a bi-partisan working group, to be convened immediately. After all, inadequate regulation and lack of oversight got us into this mess.

5. Wall Street agrees to give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary mortgages, so homeowners have a fighting chance to keep their homes. Why should distressed homeowners lose their homes when Wall Streeters receive taxpayer money that helps them keep their fancy ones?
If Congress is truly interested in being responsible to their primary obligations to the American people, instead of doing (as usual) whatever is quickest and easiest so they can get out of Washington according to schedule for their long election vacation, they will avoid passing any Blank Check Mega-Bailout Bill that does not incorporate Reich's key principles.

Indeed, if the Republican administration balks at a bill that adds these provisions, then the Democratic Congress should be committed to keeping Congress in session as long as it takes-- right up to the election, if necessary--to keep this most important of all issues front and center before all the American people for discussion as people consider who they will be voting for in this election.

In this "once-in-a-century" crisis (according to Greenspan), the future of the nation and the world depends on the details of the Mega-Bailout Bill that Congress hands to the American people and the world in the coming days. So we all should not only hope but call our Congresspeople and demand that this time our Congressional representatives put the destiny of the nation and world in front of its own petty interest in getting out of Washington as quickly as possible for another long vacation, while the world's financial system collapses around us.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Call to All Americans: RISE UP & DEMAND "a New Politics for a New Time"


"All across America something is stirring -- Change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time."
(Barack Obama's Nomination Acceptance Speech, August 28, 2008)

While the pundits are for the most part missing this central call to action in Obama's speech, and Juan Williams on NPR today referred to the speech as one that will NOT be memorable (I suspect pundits said the same thing after FDR's early speeches), all Americans who are suffering and desiring a change from the failed Republican policies of the last eight years will beg to differ!

Unlike those media pundits and Republican operatives who are detached from the real sufferings of many Americans, Obama understands the roots of the demand for fundamental change, and in last night's speech finally addressed the call of many to spell out the details of the kind of change he will bring to Washington.

But, as he noted, he can't do this alone. Bringing change to Washington first requires that we make sure he is elected, and will then require that we all dig in to do the work of change, since even if Obama is elected, he will not be able to bring the change we need without the constant and firm pressure of all of us working to push progressive initiatives forward.

So its time for all of us to dig in and get to work. Obama last night provided a stirring call to action. Now we must all rise up to do the work required to get him elected, turn back all the efforts the Republicans will exert to prevent Obama's election--including lies, distortions, and interference with a fair voting process--and then get to work to transform the policy priorities of the nation. For we need not only a new politics, but also new policy for a new time....

Thank you, Barack Obama, for preserving the spirit of ML King's glorious speech 45 years ago, and for calling Americans to action in that spirit. I hope Americans will now prove themselves worthy of your faith and trust.


Text of Barack Obama's Democratic Nomination Acceptance Speech

"The American Promise"
Democratic Convention
Thursday, August 28th, 2008
Denver, Colorado

To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land:


This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now.

So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits.

What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.

This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past.

You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.

Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Progressive View of the Democratic Convention

Streaming Live, During the Day, from the Democratic Convention [See schedule of events below; If embed is not working, you may access the web broadcast directly by clicking on this link:

Event Schedule from Progressive Central, at the
Central Presbyterian Church

1660 Sherman St.
Denver, CO 80203

PROGRAM SCHEDULE (all times listed are Mountain time)

SUNDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 24: PDAs "Progressive Welcome to Denver"

8:00 - 10:00 PM: Community, speeches, and music. Hosted by Mimi Kennedy, PDA Advisory Board Chair. Featuring Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and PDA Advisory Board member; John Nichols, Washington correspondent, The Nation; Tom Hayden, author, activist; Jim Zogby, Arab American Institute and DNC member; Jim Hightower, journalist and PDA Advisory Board member: PDA-endorsed Healthcare NOT Warfare candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald. Music by Dan Reed.



9:00 - 11:00 AM: Tabling and networking
9:40 - 9:50 PM: Jared Polis, Colorado 2nd Congressional District Congressional Candidate
9:50 - 10:00 AM: Bill Moyer, Backbone Campaign and friends.
10:00 AM - 10:30 AM: Stephen Zunes, Middle Eastern scholar and journalist.
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM: The Nation Conversations Series-- Healthcare, Aids, and Africa
Moderated by author and The Nation journalist John Nichols with Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. John Conyers, House Judiciary Committee Chair, and Richard Kim.


12:30 - 1:00 PM: Lunch
1:00 - 3:45 PM: PDA Panels--Healthcare NOT Warfare
Moderated by John Nichols.
1:00 - 2:05 PM: Healthcare Panel:
Rep. John Conyers, sponsor HR 676; Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign co-chairs Norman Solomon, author and PDA Advisory Board member and Donna Smith, star of SiCKO and founder of American Patients United; Dr. Rocky White, single payer Denver healthcare advocate, Geri Jenkins, RN, CNA/NNOC, Jim Hightower.
2:10 - 3:15 PM: NOT Warfare Panel:
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Co-chair CPC and PDA Advisory Board member; Norman Solomon; Kathleen Snyder, Gold Star Mom; Ann Wright, retired United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department; and a representative from Iraq Veterans Against the War.
3:15 - 3:45: Q & A
3:45 - 4:00: Housekeeping and Closing Comments: Tim Carpenter
4:15 - 5:15 PM: Community Conversation on healthcare, moderated by "Be the Change."



9:00 - 11:00 AM: Tabling and networking
9:45 - 9:55 AM: Governor Don Siegelman
10:00 - 10:30 AM: STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE with Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM: The Nation Conversations Series - Out of Iraq
Moderated by John Nichols with Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA), Co-chair Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Jim McDermott, (WA), and Tom Hayden.


12:30 - 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 2:15 PM: PDA Panel--Media Reform:
Moderated by Jeff Cohen, author, and founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting; with John Nichols; Laura Flanders, journalist, Nation Radio and Grit TV; Shireen Mitchell, Digital Sistas; Maeve Conran, Associate News Dir. KGNU Community Radio Denver/Boulder, Chris Rabb, Afro-Netizen.
2:30 - 3:45 PM: PDA Panel--Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections:
Mimi Kennedy, moderator; with Steve Rosenfeld author and election integrity activist; John Bonifaz, legal director of Voter Action, founder of the National Voting Rights
Institute, and PDA Advisory Board member; Bob Edgar, Common Cause; Harvie Branscomb, Colorado election protection advocate; Brad Friedman, Bradblog.
3:45 - 4:00 PM: Housekeeping and Closing comments: Tim Carpenter



9:00 - 11:00 AM: Tabling and networking
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM: The Nation Conversations Series-- Immigration Reform and Economic Justice
John Nichols, Moderator; with Rep. Jim McGovern (MA), PDA Advisory Board member; and Bob Moser, contributing writer to The Nation.


12:30 - 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 2:15 PM: PDA Panel--Economic Justice/Ending Poverty:
John Nichols, Moderator; Rep. Barbara Lee; Rep. Jim McGovern; David Sirota, author, journalist; Lori Wallach, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch; Carmen Rhodes, Executive Director of the Front Range Economic Strategy Center.
2:30 - 3:45 PM: PDA Panel--Global Warming:
Norman Solomon, Moderator; with Medea Benjamin Founding Director Global Exchange, Founder of Code Pink and PDA Advisory Board member; Nancy La Placa, Energy Consultant with Bardwell Consulting Ltd.: Majora Carter, Sustainable South Bronx Director; Dr. Trenberth, IPCC Scientist:
3:45 - 4:00: Housekeeping and Closing Comments: Tim Carpenter



9:00 - 11:00 AM: Tabling and networking
10:00 - 10:30 AM: Vincent Bugliosi, author of "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder"
10:35 -10:50 AM: Leslie Cagan and Judith LeBlanc, United for Peace and Justice
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM: The Nation Conversations Series - Restoring and Maintaining our Constitutional Rights
Moderated by John Nichols with Rep. Robert Wexler (FL), Rep. Keith Ellison and Victor Navasky, publisher emeritus of The Nation.


12:30 - 1:00 PM Lunch
1:00 - 2:15 PM: PDA Panel--Constitutional Law and Congress: John Nichols moderator; with Rep. Keith Ellison, Steve Cobble, Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and PDA Advisory board member; Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator United for Peace and Justice; Jamie Raskin, Maryland State Senator, Law Professor at American University, and author.
2:45 - 3:45: PDA Panel--PDA Onward from Denver, Building the Progressive Movement, Working the Inside/Outside Strategy:
Mimi Kennedy, moderator; Steve Cobble; Tim Carpenter PDA National Director; Laura Bonham, PDA Communications Coordinator; Jodie Evans, CodePink founder and PDA Advisory Board member.
3:45 - 4:00: Housekeeping and Concluding Remarks: Tim Carpenter

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lamont Victory Just the Beginning of Strong Progressive Electoral Movement

Republicans (and Republican fellow travellers, such as Lieberman has become) immediately sought to salve their fears about the rising tide of progressive democratic politics symbolized by the Lamont victory in Connecticut by resorting to Orwellian doublespeak that sought to turn new democratic signs of strength into weakness.

Instead of recognizing what the Lamont victory clearly represents--the growing strength of a progressive democratic resurgence in this country that has clear ideas about how to build a strong America by taking our government back from the corporate sycophants in Congress who have been systematically destroying and continually weakening our country, the Republicans would like to deflect attention from their own terrible weakness and failures of policy by Orwellian games of language that deny the reality of democratic strength.

Too bad for them. Because the more Republicans ignore reality and retreat into their Orwellian logic of doublethink--which does nothing to change the realities on the ground--the more disastrous will be the consequences of their policy failures for families in this country and around the globe who seek to live in stable and prosperous communities.

Because progressive democrats champion policies that build an environment for strong, stable, and prosperous communities, it is democrats who now represent the party of strength and true security for American citizens and families. Meanwhile, the Republicans continue to defend and retreat into an Orwellian fantasy-world that seems to celebrate ever-growing levels of counter-violence and destabilization in the name of a so-called "war on terror" where anything seems to be permissable in the name of the weird language and fantasies of "Homeland Security" (even while the real victims of Katrina, of poor health care, of uninsurance, and of poverty and disease, continue to suffer from tremendous ongoing failures of on-the-ground response within our own country).

And this ongoing disaster is what Republicans now seem to call strength and "staying the course."
Unfortunately, reality on the ground declares otherwise. As we are seeing more and more vividly, at the price of an ever-growing toll of death and destruction: "Staying the course" of a failed policy vision and strategy is staying the course to disaster.

So if we want a definition of strength and strong policy that will lead us to somewhere other than disaster, we now need to look elsewhere, and demand that every person we put into office this November will represent our public interests--and demonstrate clearly that they have the ability and the commitment to understanding strength in ways that will benefit rather than harm the public interests of the people of this country and the rest of the world.

As Robert Borosage, of the Campaign for America's Future, has written:
[Lamont's] victory represents a growing voter revolt against the failed policies and politics of the Bush administration and its congressional enablers, particularly the debacle in Iraq. Until a few weeks ago, Lieberman prided himself on being the president's leading Democratic ally in touting the war. After his defeat, Democrats will show more backbone in challenging the current disastrous course and more Republicans will look for ways to distance themselves from the president.

Lamont's victory was propelled by a rising tide of progressive energy—activists who are tired of losing elections to the right and disgusted with cautious politicians who duck and cover rather than stand and fight. Until a few weeks ago, Lieberman exemplified those Democrats who establish their "independence" by pushing off the causes of their own party and embracing the right's agenda. His voters didn't abandon him; he abandoned them long ago. After his defeat, incumbents in both parties may begin to listen more closely to their voters and less avidly to their donors.
(To read more from Borosage, click here)

In an increasingly insecure and violent world, as represented by today's disrupted terror plot, we need political leaders and representatives who will fight for the interests of everyday citizens and families. We need politicians who will not allow corporate money and influence, and the seductions of war profiteering, to distract them from the primary responsibility of promoting policies that immediately begin to build stable and sustainable communities. In a turbulent world, such policy-building will require strong democratic policy vision and the commitment to fight for the common democratic interests of all citizens against the profiteering and exploitation of the many by the few.

It's time for a new progressive democratic politics, and new progressive policymaking vision in this country, and the Lamont primary victory is a clear sign the citizens of this country are organizing to take their government and their country back from those who have been exploiting both for their own narrow profits--to the harm of democracy everywhere.

So to all who would resort to Orwellian doublethink to twist the Lamont victory into a sign of democratic weakness or leftist extremism, we have this to say in return: It's time to wake up from your delusion and face reality. Progressive democracy is the new center of strength for a secure and sustainable future for all, and it is organizing today to win the future back from those who seek to exploit the many and weaken democracy everywhere for the profit of the few.

Wealth spent in the struggle to strengthen the public good and secure the advantages of true participatory democracy for all is wealth well-spent. But wealth spent in the pursuit of making the wealthy more wealthy and powerful while everyone else is allowed to suffer the consequences of this betrayal of the commonwealth, is also a fundamental betrayal of democracy here at home and abroad.

If Lamont's victory is a sign of how progressive citizens across this country, from the poorest to the wealthiest, are learning to invest and organize their resources to take back their government from those who would use wealth and power irresponsibly to betray the public interest, then this victory is a tremendous and hopeful sign of the growing strength and vitality of progressive vision and politics in this country. Because we are the people, and we are the democratic many, we do not need to remain the victims of those who would exploit our tax dollars, our soldiers' lives, and our environmental futures, for private profit. Through organizing our public power, we can take our government back for the good of democracy everywhere.

Because Lamont's primary victory is only a first step, however, and by no means guarantees a progressive Senate victory in November (since Lieberman has declared he will fight Lamont all the way to election day), we need to continue to organize our wealth of resources--financial, but especially our intellectual and imaginative resources--to create a new politics and a new policymaking vision for this country. Such vision and political power will be necessary not only to support the victory of a progressive Connecticut senator, but to make sure that Senator Lamont will have many other progressive colleagues to work with him in the halls of Congress, and that outside these halls each progressive Senator or Representative will know they have a strong network of public support and vibrant energy to back up their struggles to create and implement progressive policies in the halls of Congress in the years ahead.

Getting progressive candidates elected is a necessary first step, but then we need to make sure we give them the tools and the power they need to create and implement the new progessive policies that are so desperately needed to address the tremendous challenges of global warming, poverty, disease, and growing violence that now (thanks in part to the tragically misdefined understanding of "strength" that has defined Republican policy) face all of us in the twenty-first century.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Senator Specter Preparing Bill that will Allow Congress to Sue President over his Misuse of Presidential Signing Statements

Senator Specter Readies Bill to Sue Bush
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer, Jul 25
WASHINGTON - A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against President Bush's signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue him in federal court.

"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.

Specter's announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to either sign a bill, veto it, or take no action.

Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.

To read more of this article, click here.

US News and World Report Article, "Bar association task force urges Congress to push for judicial review of Bush signing statements" (7/21/06)


More information from the ABA on the Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine

FIASCO: How the Bush Administration Has Gotten Us into a "War" We Cannot "Win"

For extensive documentation of the "fiasco" of the Bush administration policy in Iraq, see the newly published book by Washington Post senior Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks, FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.

From July 23 Washington Post article, by Ricks, "In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam: Early Missteps by U.S. Left Troops Unprepared for Guerrilla Warfare":
The real war in Iraq -- the one to determine the future of the country -- began on Aug. 7, 2003, when a car bomb exploded outside the Jordanian Embassy, killing 11 and wounding more than 50.

That bombing came almost exactly four months after the U.S. military thought it had prevailed in Iraq, and it launched the insurgency, the bloody and protracted struggle with guerrilla fighters that has tied the United States down to this day.

But there is also strong evidence, based on a review of thousands of military documents and hundreds of interviews with military personnel, that the U.S. approach to pacifying Iraq in the months after the collapse of Hussein helped spur the insurgency and made it bigger and stronger than it might have been.

The very setup of the U.S. presence in Iraq undercut the mission. The chain of command was hazy, with no one individual in charge of the overall American effort in Iraq, a structure that led to frequent clashes between military and civilian officials.

Read more of this article here--

This is the first of two articles adapted from the book "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq" by Thomas E. Ricks. Penguin Press, New York, © 2006.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bush Administration Policy of STAY and BLEED in Iraq is Losing the so-called "War on Terrorism": Overwhelming Majority of Policy Experts Agree

According to the overwhelming majority (84 percent) of top foreign policy experts surveyed by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for American Progress, we are losing the war on terrorism.

For further documentation of this point, see the newly published book by Washington Post war correspondent Thomas Ricks, FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.

So now the only question for the Democratic Party is: When will it stop allowing Republican rhetoric about "cutting and running" to continue to cow Democrats in Congress into a defensive strategy? When will the Democrats turn this deceptive rhetoric around and put the emphasis where it should be: ON the fact that the Republican Strategy is one of keeping American Soldiers in Iraq to "stay and bleed" while the Bush administration continues to act without any clear policy whatsoever for decreasing the violence in the Middle-East?

When will the Democrats in Congress go on the offensive and label the Republican strategy what it is: a "stay and bleed" strategy of doing nothing while soldiers continue to die for the completely failed and inadequate policy agenda of the Bush administration?!!

To repeat (in case it's not clear yet!): It's time the Democrats start to speak out more boldly and clearly about the "stay and bleed" policy of the Republican administration and their Congressional lackeys. Until they do, and until our Congressional representatives of both parites get to work to produce a strategy that will either decrease the violence or get our soldiers out of it, US soldiers will continue to die in an ill-concieved, deceptive, and profiteering war created by an administration without vision or concern for the real suffering of American or Iraqi families, and for the increasing levels of violence this failed policy has been producing throughout the Middle-East.

It's time for a big change, and if our current members of Congress are not willing to make that change happen, the people of the United States must put into Congress people who will make that change.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Toward a New Democratic Vision: Common Sense for a Time of Crisis

For a new Vision and Framing of a Democratic Policy Agenda, check out this new version of "Common Sense," published on July 4, 2006: Common Sense for a Time of Crisis, by TomPaine06--

This Framing of a Democratic Policy Vision begins by reminding us of the vision of Franklin D. Roosevelt who--after a Republican policy agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy and do-nothing government had driven the country into the depths of the Great Depression--understood that control of the government of the country needed to be taken back from the corporations and placed into the hands of the people.