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July 30, 2004

94 days to 2004 Election

Dear Friend -

Well, the suspense and mystery are over ... it's Kerry/Edwards on the ticket! ;-)

Ok, well it may not have been a mystery.  But one thing is over: Kerry has entered the federally financed part of his campaign and can't take more contributions.  So that means we all have to
- take actions to ensure victory in the next three months and
- accelerate funding the other candidates AND causes critical to success in November.

We've done a great job energizing ourselves, raising money, getting together in house parties, etc. to help each other see we aren't alone in our views of how great America can be, to make sure funding is there for our candidates, to make sure we have a shot at winning and pitching in on campaigns.  And yet that's only the beginning!  Now we put that energy and unity to work as never before.

Our challenge is not only to “Boot Bush”, but also to set the stage for the next 10 years of work it is going to take to really re-take America from the right-wing machine that has been building its position for 30 years!

And I think we have a great opportunity this fall: in my bones, I feel we are in a position not just to eke out a win for Kerry, but rather to win solidly and REPUDIATE the last four years!  Here's why:
- most Americans are actually more closely aligned with the progressive agenda
- progressives haven't had good get-out-the-vote machine in years, perhaps
decades
- plenty of Republicans don't want Bush as President, but have trouble
breaking ranks and admitting that the Republican Party isn't the party they
joined  years ago
- polls of “likely voters” aren't going to capture some of this context,
just as they missed the build-up to the 1994 Republican Contract On America
though we could feel it coming

John Kerry's message of there being a “Divided America” has just the rhetorical hook he has needed, especially since it builds on the obvious: America is divided.  Just like the Republican use of “tax relief” is more effective than “tax cuts” because it implies a tax *burden* to be lifted, “Divided America” implies the lost unity to be reclaimed ... and it can be used a segue to most issues of importance in this campaign, not just the Republican politics of division, but the declining income for middle America vs. tax cuts for the rich, great healthcare for Senators but not for the voters that put them in office, etc.

“Kerry ... [has] Jujitsued the Vietnam metaphor. Vietnam is now a liability for the Bush-Cheney Republicans, for it undermines (or, at least, neutralizes) their claims to personal toughness and symbolizes what happens when wartime commanders-in-chief do not tell the truth....  Kerry found an appropriate and compelling way to enlist Vietnam in his campaign against Bush.  Kerry signaled he is indeed ready for the brutal political combat to come and that he is up to the fight.”
D. Corn, The Nation

It's going to be hard work, but today and without let-up, we have to take action repudiate Bush and the fundamentalist Republicans!
- first: HELP GET OUT THE VOTE.  There are several organizations already at
work, so pick the ones that match your interest, such as:
. http://www.envirovictory.org/ (knocked on over 200,000 doors already!)
. http://actforvictory.org/
. http://www.americavotes.org/P
- second: HELP YOUR REPUBLICAN FRIENDS HAVE THE COURAGE OF THEIR CONVICTIONS
TO VOTE FOR KERRY, not just to not vote for Bush.  They know how bad Bush
is, help give them the confidence that Kerry isn't the boogie-man Karl Rove
is trying to paint him.  Kerry will never be as radically left as Bush is
to the right.
http://www.johnkerry.com/index.html
- third: VIGOROUSLY SUPPORT YOUR ISSUES AND CANDIDATES, for example,
. David Wu (who's opponent is getting national fund-raising help from Cheney
et al) who wrote me a very strong, very good letter responding to my
concerns about Bush's unconstitutional power grabs (some of which the
Supreme Court has turned back, but others haven't been litigated)
. The Take A Closer Look committee which badly needs help to get out their
message if we are to preserve Oregon's land-use system against an
initiative that sounds reasonable on the face of it so will be a very hard
battle for us to win, or whatever your key issues are
- fourth: MAKE YOUR VIEWS PUBLICLY KNOWN by writing letters to the editor and
op-ed pieces and representatives and help turn back the tidal wave of
misleading right-wing propaganda that flows continuously over the op-ed
pages of our local papers and makes it falsely appear that most people
believe evolution (and the rest of science) is a hoax, for just one example.
Submit editorials to the Oregonian
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf?/opinion/oregonian/howtosend.frame
Submit letters to the editor of The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/opedsubmit.html
Submit an op-ed to The New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/opedsubmit.html
Write your US representatiave:
http://www.house.gov/
Write your US senator:
http://www.senate.gov/
- fifth: if you're in a state currently run by Republicans, get training and
go MONITOR THE ELECTION at your precinct to be sure people aren't
disenfranchised, so that our get-out-the-vote work isn't wasted!  The
rampant corruption in Florida is the new Chicago machine -- blatant in it's
corruption of our most fundamental right, the right to vote.  We can't
just hope that things will be OK and someone else is watching out for us.
As one person put it: “unless we do something now -- and it may very well be
too late - Florida is headed toward being the next Florida”.  See
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/opinion/27krug.html?th
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/28/politics/campaign/28vote.final.html?hp
http://www.lawyerscomm.org/projects/votingrights.html

In addition to giving and fund-raising and worrying, here are some examples of things my friends and colleagues and I are doing right now, please join us:
- friends are leading the Take A Closer Look campaign
- I go down and make calls to get canvassers for Environmental
Victory Project -- goal to talk to over 100,000 Oregon households
- at least one has published op-ed pieces
- one of the three house parties I was involved in brought in quite a few
younger, newer voters
- my sister and I regularly write letters to the editor of national and local
papers
- veterans standing up for Kerry's principled world view
- leading the Tillamook 50-50 campaign
- a couple others are giving large sums of money to the Take A Closer Look
- one is considering developing his own ads for November

Pick your issues.  Pick your actions.  Make sure you win this November!

If you didn't catch all the convention, you can read complete transcripts and watch the videos at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/26/politics/campaign/26TEXT-SPEECHES.html

I highly recommend: Carter
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/26/politics/campaign/26TEXT-CARTER.html
and Gore
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/26/politics/campaign/26TEXT-GORE.html

And if you didn't get the “Obama Buzz”, you've to watch the video to see what you missed:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/politics/campaign/27TEXT-OBAMA.html

Want an update on the progressive agenda?  Here are some good stops:
http://www.americanprogress.org/ (very good email newsletter)
http://www.thenation.com/
http://www.ariannaonline.com/
http://www.democracyforamerica.com/
http://www.bushgreenwatch.org/
http://www.misleader.com/ (very good email newsletter)
http://www.peer.org/ (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

Good research: http://www.brook.edu/
See the 9-11 Commission's work: http://www.9-11commission.gov/
Taguba Iraq prison abuse and more: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/index.html
Look up donors: http://www.fec.gov/citizen-guide.html

Bush, our flip-flopper-in-chief:
http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=42263
Debunking right-wing claims:
http://www.americanprogress.org/site/apps/custom/cap/findorg.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=45294

The US Constitution and more: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/constRedir.html

July 28, 2004

Re: Theory of evolution stumbles over ghosts", (News-Register July 24, 2004)

(New-Register - Published)

A recent reader letter ("Theory of evolution stumbles over ghosts", July 24, 2004) made the claim, to paraphrase: evolution is immoral, that if ghosts are real then evolution is false, that the bible says man is spiritual, that since ghosts are spirits thus evolution is false, that Democrats and the ACLU believe in evolution ... and so they are immoral and society's problems are their fault!  (Oh, and by implication: only Republicans are moral and christians.)

Fascinating.

As one of the millions of people accused by that reader of being immoral and a liar, I would like to respond.

Such public castigation of people belonging to a different political party (Democrats) or patriotically supporting the civil rights of the US constitution (ACLU members) does more to show the true moral bankruptcy of such religious demagoguery: their ideology trumps the very christian values they claim are theirs alone (sowing division in the country by insulting others is not really a very positive christian value, is it?) as well as the American values of our country enscribed in the constitution (respect for those with different views).

It shows by contrast the greater moral values and generosity of spirit displayed by the christian founders of America and authors of our constitution when they wrote this (and only this!) about religion into the constitution:

In Article VI: "... no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

In the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

It would seem to me that more effort spent incorporating the morals of Christ's teachings into actual interactions with others, as the founding fathers did brilliantly in the constitution, and less effort devoted to using the bible as a tool to, in the end, promulgate mean-spriritedness towards others might be a truly christian thing to do.

July 22, 2004

More Republican mischief: Defense of Marriage Act

Maybe you all were better informed than I, but I didn't really understand what was behind the "Marriage Protection Act" stuff going on in the House in H.R. 3313 until i read "A Constitutional End-Run" at the Center for American Progress.

i jumped to look at the text of the bill, to see what the article was referring to and the bill actually says in its entirety: " `No court created by Act of Congress shall have any jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, section 1738C or this section.'." (referring to the Defense of Marriage Act)

Thankfully the Senate won't take it up and it seems constitutionally indefensible, but would no doubt waste years of time and money and energy having to challenge it up through the courts.

July 18, 2004

Fwd: Things you must believe to re-elect Bush and Cheney

i've seen parts of this before, but thought i'd pass this along anyway, for a lighter take on the bush hypocrisies.

Begin forwarded message:

Things you must believe to re-elect Bush and Cheney:

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can't find Bin Laden” diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're  conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.

You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10, or hundreds other people, we're likely to be stuck with Bush for 4 more years.

July 15, 2004

Book: The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity

Joseph Wilson: The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's MemoirJoseph Wilson: The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir

In his own words, an American hero (acting Ambassdor in Iraq during Gulf War I who spirited thousands of hostages out of Iraq and Kuwait from under Sadam's nose) who was then smeared by the Bushies for telling the world that Bush's State-of-the-Union claims about Iraq getting Uranium from Niger were known to be false when Bush made them -- the CIA had sent Wilson and others to investigate long before and found the claims were false. Great read for the value of diplomacy and engagement for expanding democracy in Africa in his 25 years in the foreign service.

Book: Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

Richard A. Clarke: Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on TerrorRichard A. Clarke: Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

A valiant inside-the-beltway intelligence warrior through many administrations (R and D) and America's first "counter-terrorism" czar (thanks to Clinton) whom the Bushies ignored until after 9/11, provides an inside view of the battle against terrorism and the treasonous Bush behavior before 9/11 and then Bush's deplorable treatment of this American hero afterward.

July 09, 2004

Re: Bin Laden Is Said to Be Organizing for a U.S. Attack (NYT)

(NYT - Unpublished)

You reported that "Bin Laden Is Said to Be Organizing for a U.S. Attack". Let's imagine how we might have more usefully used the resources spent in Iraq: 140,000 troops .. arrayed along the 1400 mile Afghan-Pakistan border would be 100 troops per mile or one every 53 feet. $20 billion on Iraq reconstruction could easily instead have bought tens of thousands of infrared security cameras hooked up to WiFi systems to monitor every inch of the border.

Maybe we'd have Bin Laden et al by now if we had had presidential leadership focused on fighting terror instead of making a boogie-man out of Iraq, where more Americans have been killed or wounded than died on 9/11 and where we've killed more Iraqi civilians than everyone who died in 9/11.

July 03, 2004

Re: Al Jazeera: Out-Foxing Fox

(Email comment to N. Kristoff, NYT re: Al Jazeera: Out-Foxing Fox

Although the abysmall situation in Irag was certainly a failure of intelligence, it wasn't so much a failure of intelligence gathering and analysis. The CIA intelligence team, as opposed to its political team, for all it's weaknesses, was generally the one saying that the various administration justifications couldn't be well supported - they'd debunked Niger uranium, collaboration with Al-Queda, etc. And hey, ordinary people could tell from watching Secretary of State Powell show those fuzzy photos to the UN, that no one could be certain that those smudges were mobile bio-weapons labs.

The administration was just looking for "plausible excusability": they had already made up their minds to go to war they, they just needed some plausible indications they could claim were the reasons to the rest of the world. So they used what some have called "faith-based intelligence" -- they had faith they were doing the right thing, so any plausible excuse would do. This is part of why they created separate intelligence reporting outside of the CIA in the pentagon: so that they could circumvent the normal scrutiny that the CIA would impose on each claim they produced.

The administration has shown no interest in understanding what's actually going on. Consistent with other idealogues through the ages, Iraq was faith-based war-mongering, not fact-based.

July 01, 2004

Re: Christians must vote their values, change politics (Oregonian)

(Oregonian - Unpublished)

David Crowe's uncharitable castigation of those who don't share his religious beliefs, shows by contrast, the optimism and deep insight into humanity the framers of our constitution had when they wrote this (and only this!) about religion into the constitution had.

Devout christians, the founders of our country recognized the difference between religious beliefs and how you constitute government with legitimacy to govern ALL its people with their diverse beliefs.  In particular, they recognized that no one religious view is accepted  by all people, and thus no religion can be selected for preferential treatment or that decision will in itself create conflict -- a government without tolerance creates oppression and conflict.

It really makes you sit up and think when you realize that such a christian group as the framers of the constitution included just TWO references to religion in the constitution.  First, it says that,

“No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

And second, in the first ammendment, it says that,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

That's it!  But what is also of major significance here is what is NOT said.  Not even in the preamble is there any reference to god, christianity or any other religion, not even in general terms like “the creator”.  Given their religious devotion, it must be noted that the founders EXPLICITLY made sure NOT to reference god or religion in any form, or what was in the body of the constitution would not have been valid.

Crowe and much of the Republican party may not like it, but the US constitution is a secular, not a religious, document.

However, many of the values embedded in the constitution can be traced to numerous positive christian values, although chrisitanity has by no means exclusive claim to them.  To take perhaps the most obvious: the invention of democracy itself and its values, created by the greeks thousands of years before Christ even appeared on the scene.  Greek history is important in informing how the constitution got where it is, but it doesn't give those who believe in the greek gods a special position to make laws for the rest of us!

Many traditions and religions informed the making the constitution; none has exclusive claim on it.

In contrast, Crowe made the claim that, “Our founders understood that America's future depends on our recognition that only those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord”.  Claims like this by fundamentalist Republicans make entirely false implications that their christian god is embedded preferentially in our government.  You can see the falseness of these claims by reading the constitution.

It is telling that such a devout group as America's founding fathers made no reference in the constitution to god except to ensure that he would not be used as a means to exclude others and give them second-class status, which is exactly what the self-righteous, intolerant christian Republican right is doing.

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