Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Defects From GOP

Chris Cilliza, at The Fix, has the story. Arlen Specter just announced that he is switching his party affiliation and will run in 2010 as the Democratic candidate. Specter was facing a stiff challenge from his party’s right, from former conservative representative, Pat Toomey. Toomey was leading Specter among Pennsylvania Republicans by 10 points in early polls. Adding to the precariousness of Specter’s political prospects is the fact that Pennsylvania has become a Democratic leaning state over the last several political cycles. Specter, a long time pro-choice moderate, has been increasingly marginalized as the Republican Party has drifted ever rightward, and this year he was one of three senators who broke with his party’s leadership to vote in favor of President Obama’s $787 billion bailout. Toomey used the right’s dissatisfaction with that vote to launch his challenge to Specter.

Specter issued the following statement
"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

He added: "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
President Obama, who was informed of Specter's decision at 10:25, immediately expressed his support for Specter and said "we are thrilled to have you."

The other obvious fallout from Specter’s defecting to the Democrats is that they are fast approaching a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Once Al Franken is seated, they will have the 60 seats necessary to invoke cloture.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Faces Behind EFCA

Below are the faces and voices of the real flesh and blood people behind the Employee Free Choice Act. These are your neighbors, friends, and relatives. They go to your churches and synagogues. They are the people who serve your needs in stores. Here they tell their stories, far better than I could, about why they need a union.

They speak about low wages, the inability to afford health care, and the intimidation they face when they attempt to join a union. Companies certainly have a right to tell workers their side of the story and to persuade them not to join a union. But what Wal Mart does goes far beyond that. Wal Mart engages in illegal intimidation of its employees. It is not the only large corporation that does so, but it is probably among the worst offenders.

I will let these employees speak for themselves because they are articulate, compelling, and inspiring in their quest for simple human dignity and a better life for themselves and their families.

The Employee Free Choice Act is not in danger in the House of Representatives, where it will probably pass easily. But it's going to be an uphill battle in the Senate, where any piece of progressive legislation - actually where any Democratic legislation - requires a 2/3 majority to succeed. We need to get 60 votes to prevent cloture in order to pass EFCA. Business and trade groups, as well as conservatives, are bringing tremendous pressure on Virginia's two sentors, Jim Webb and Mark Warner, to vote against it. Last year, Jim Webb was a co-sponsor of EFCA. This year, we are not sure how he will vote on it. If you support the rights and dignity of workers, please call Senators Webb and Warner to let them know you support EFCA and you will support them if they vote in favor of it.

You can reach Mark Warner here and Jim Webb here. For your convenience, below are their Washington, DC addresses and phone numbers.

Mark Warner
459A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-2023
Fax: 202-224-6295

Jim Webb
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-4024
Fax: 202-228-6363

Please drop them a line to let them know you support this important legislation

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Netroots Gubernatorial Debate Thread

Next Wednesday, April 29, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Virginia gubernatorial candidates, Brian Moran, Terry McAuliffe, and Creigh Deeds will take questions at Virginia Tech. The debate will be hosted by Not Larry Sabato, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, and the Collegiate Times.

All questions will come through the new media. You can submit your question to You Tube and then drop an email to the organizers, You also can Twitter your question, or simply leave the question in my comments section and I'll get it to the organizers.

Please make sure you include your city and state so organizers will know where the question is coming from.

The debate will be carried on C-Span, with live feed.

McAuliffe and Espionage - It's A Stretch, Even for Amy Gardner

Well, as I promised yesterday, I’m going to tackle what’s wrong with Amy Gardner’s hit piece linking Terry McAuliffe to an unfolding scandal involving one of his top donors, entertainment mogul, Haim Saban; AIPAC; and California congresswoman, Jane Harman.

As a disclaimer, I support Brian Moran, McAuliffe’s opponent, in the primary. So, you’d be right to wonder why I’m bothering to step into this defense of McAuliffe. It’s because I don’t think sloppy journalism should be given a pass, especially not for a professional reporter who writes for one of the nation’s top newspapers. I’ll explain why it’s sloppy journalism later, but first the facts surrounding the scandal.

This story was first reported by Time Magazine on October 20, 2006. It’s been revived because CQ Politics website is reporting that they have uncovered new facts surrounding the case. Jeff Stein reported on the existence of NSA wiretaps of Harman and an unnamed, alleged Israeli agent discussing an espionage case. On the tapes, the agent asks Harman to intervene on behalf of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former AIPAC employees charged with conspiring to receive classified information that they were not authorized to access and passing it on to journalists and a foreign government, Israel. In return for Harman’s intervention, she was promised that a prominent donor would pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into appointing Harman as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. That important donor with deep pockets was believed to be Haim Saban, a Hollywood entertainment mogul.

Now, if these allegations were true, obviously Harman would be guilty of illegal quid pro quo - or pay to play. She has, however, denied the charge and challenged the NSA to produce the tape.

At the time that this was first discovered, back around 2006, the Justice Department believed there was enough evidence to begin a criminal investigation of Harman. What CQ Politics and The New York Times report is that the criminal investigation against Harman was quashed by none other than Alberto Gonzales, then the Attorney General, because he needed Harman as an ally to persuade the New York Times not to print an article exposing the extent of the government’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. Harman helped the Bush administration with this, and has been one of its most ardent supporters of warrantless wiretaps. The New York Times ultimately published their article on the wiretaps, after a year delay, and was denounced by both Bush officials and Harman, who remained their ally on this issue.

Right now, there are as many questions about this incident as there are allegations. For starters, it’s unclear whether Harman actually followed through and intervened in any way on behalf of the former AIPAC employees. Certainly, any threats by Saban to withhold funds from Pelosi fell on deaf ears. In fact, they appeared to have the opposite effect. The Speaker appointed Texas congressman, Silvestre Reyes instead of Harman to the coveted top spot on the House Intelligence Committee. As for the trial of Rosen and Weissman, it appears to be on track for June.

That could, however, change. As the Washington Post reported, the trial may not go forward and not becuse of any intervention from Harman. Here's how the Post described it:

The government's case sparked controversy because it was the first effort to apply the law to people who did not work for the government and who were engaged in an exchange of information that many consider routine in Washington.
So, in the end, this might be much ado about nothing more than Jane Harman's poor judgment for speaking to Israeli agents and involving herself in the matter. But it's not even clear that she ever actually intervened to gain leniency for Rosen and Weissman.

Meanwhile, Amy Gardner, back in the local Metro section of the Washington Post, wanted to put a little Virginia spin on the story. She probably also wanted to show her editors that she too could do investigative reporting, which, in her case, consists of looking up VPAP online, just as bloggers do. So, without fleshing out any of the details of this complicated story, she wrote the piece pointing out that Saban has contributed a large sum to McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign. Gardner also spun this as a possible huge embarrassment for McAuliffe. I’m not sure why it’s a problem right now for several reasons.

The first reason is that Saban may have done nothing wrong. His involvement, so far, seems to be peripheral, so until we all know more, we probably shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions. The second factor to consider is that Saban contributes to lots of campaigns for many different reasons. I doubt very much that AIPAC or Israeli interests are a big factor in Virginia politics. But because McAuliffe was head of the DNC and was a longtime Democratic fundraiser, he probably knows Saban personally. This could simply be a matter of a friend contributing to his campaign for personal reasons. Should there be more to Saban’s involvement in the Harman-AIPAC affair, then McAuliffe might want to reconsider and return the funds. But until clear evidence emerges that Saban was involved in a pay to play scheme to help Harman get a coveted chairmanship in return for intervening in an espionage trial, everybody should withhold judgment of McAuliffe, whose only connection is through a mutual donor. That donor, by the way, has contributed to many other major Democratic campaigns since 2006.

At the same time, I would give the same advice about holding one’s powder until we find out what’s there to VA Blogger, who ran with Gardner’s story.

I can forgive VA Blogger because he’s a partisan and an amateur citizen journalist. A blogger, who probably isn’t experienced at professional journalism. What he does for his side is as admirable as what any of my colleagues on the left do for our team. But Gardner is supposed to be a trained, unbiased reporter without a team in the game. Yet too often, her biases are like a small boat, tilting so far in one direction that it threatens to capsize completely. Even though she’s not in the big league, on the front page of the national section, she needs to do a better job of gathering facts, analyzing what she’s got and not violating such basic rules of logic as leaping to false conclusions, guilt by association, and misuse of evidence. That may be a lot to ask of a blogger, but it's not too much to ask of a real reporter.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

That Ugly Anti-Semitic Canard Raises Its Head Again

I like Ben Tribbett a lot because he's one of the most entertaining people I know, but I think he went off the deep end with this accusation. To be sure, I don't agree with VA Blogger's conclusion in one of his posts on Too Conservative. But that's because I believe he's over simplified an extremely complex issue, where the facts are actually still unfolding. Some of that, though, is the fault of Washington Post writer Amy Gardner, whose on-line article, implicating one of Terry McAuliffe's donors in a possible scandal involving California congresswoman, Jane Harmon and AIPAC, provided the basis for VA Blogger's post. I'll write about what's wrong with Gardner's piece tomorrow because it deserves a detailed analysis of where it is factually incorrect, makes logical leaps that aren't there, and reaches what may be baseless conclusions. Let's just say, this wouldn't be the first time Gardner has disappointed those of us who expect real journalism from the Washington Post.

To return to Ben's charge that VA Blogger's post was an anti-semitic rant, it has to be challenged. But to do so, I want to remind people of a similar accusation thrown at Democrats a few years ago, which I also condemned.

For those who remember, back in the 2006 Democratic primary, a very funny trickster, Joe Stanley, designed a campaign flyer for the Jim Webb campaign, making fun of Webb's opponent, Harris Miller, a former lobbyist for ITAA, who supported the off shoring of high tech jobs to places like India, privatization of federal jobs, and H1-B guest worker programs, which have depressed wages by flooding the market with foregin It workers. The flyer portrayed Miller as a greedy lobbyist who was selling out American workers and Jim Webb as a populist hero, standing up for working people, especially those in the IT field who were losing their jobs because of Miller's efforts.

Unfortunately, because Harris Miller had very Jewish looking features, some GOP bloggers tried to claim that Webb's campaign was anti-semitic. They made parallels between the portrayal of Miller, in that particular cartoon strip, and the anti-semitic posters and art work that were so prevalent in 1930s Germany and throughout Europe during the rise of Nazism.

In retrospect, it was a dumb cartoon. And none of us in Webb's campaign picked up on the stereotype or the awful implication, which was incredibly embarrassing because so many of us are Jewish. That should tell you, though, how far from anti-semitic the actual intention was. We simply used an accurate likeness of Miller and were attacking what he stood for, certainly not his religion or ethnicity, which we in fact shared.

The only reason I'm bringing this all up again, probably to the embarrassment and consternation of many Democrats, is because, at the time, I argued that real anti-semitism, like racism, is such a serious charge that it should never be trivialized. As I stated at the time, especially to those Republicans who were so eager to tar Jim Webb with that feather, if you trivialize the charge of anti-semitism by throwing it around when it's not true, you desensitize the charge and rob it of its true impact when it really is accurate.

As a matter of conscience, therefore, I have to speak out again.

Ben is a bomb thrower. It's why I read him. It's why I socialize with him. Usually, his bombs are funny and most people know when to take him seriously - when he does his wonderful precinct by precinct election analysis. Why does he give that to us for free when it's worth a lot of money? We're lucky, but the truth is somebody should be paying for that numbers crunching.

On the other hand, when he puts up the pictures of Gerry Connolly in the hooker's costume (also courtesy of Joe Stanley's many talents with Photoshop) or he throws out an accusation in glaring 40 point font, with the promise that more is coming (and it never does), most people know to just laugh. It's a joke.

But charges of anti-semitism are never a joke. And even tongue in cheek, it's not an accusation somebody should throw around, because when the real David Dukes show up and we call them anti-semites, we need to be believed. And the public needs to be alarmed, not lulled by all the false charges. We simply can't afford to cry wolf because the risks are so great.

VA Blogger is no more anti-semitic than Jim Webb or the rest of his campaign was back in 2006. As a matter of fact, he's no more anti-semitic than was Jim Moran, who also attacked AIPAC. And come to think of it, I also defended Moran back then, when others accused him of anti-semitism.

All this needs to be said before the real issue, which is Amy Gardner's Washington Post on-line story can be tackled. And that's for a different post, hopefully, tomorrow.

Gerry Connolly on Earth Day

I'm a day late in posting this, but I hope it doesn't come up short.

Here's a statement from Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11th CD) for Earth Day. As many of my readers know, Gerry Connolly has been an environmental advocate since his service as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, when he initiated the Cool Counties initiative and advocated for smart growth and high density residential buildings clustered near metro stops. Connolly also supported one of the most innovative affordable workforce housing programs, which unfortunately the current Board of Supervisors appears to be back tracking on in the name of faux consensus. Nevertheless, Connolly has been an innovative leader, fighting for the environment and working people, so his floor statement on the environment and its link to the economy comes as no surprise to me.
House Floor Statement of
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly
April 21st, 2009

I rise to speak tonight, on the eve of Earth Day, with respect to the most critical environmental crisis that this nation has ever faced: climate change. As daunting as this challenge is, I am proud that this Congress has done more in the past two months to combat climate change than the previous Administration accomplished in eight years.

With passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we invested over $70 billion in clean, renewable energy. This important legislation will save or create over three million jobs.

In the area of clean, renewable energy we will put people to work weatherizing homes of low income Americans. The previous Administration proposed eliminating all funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program. This stimulus legislation will invest $5 billion dollars over two years, which will weatherize at least two million homes. A wide range of studies suggests that weatherization is the most efficient way to save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With the stimulus legislation, we are off to a great start.

The stimulus also invested $8.4 billion in transit and $8 billion in high speed rail. Communities around the nation, including my 11th District of Virginia, are suffering from congestion that threatens to constrain economic growth in some of the most productive communities in the nation. These transit investments will give commuters choices, reduce congestion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They will spur economic development while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The stimulus invests $2 billion in advanced battery research. This field is essential to develop the next generation of plug in hybrids and to store solar energy. With solar companies creating jobs throughout our region, we must make the investments in innovation that will continue to grow the green jobs sector. America invented the photovoltaic solar panel, yet Germany, China, and Japan now lead us in solar panel production. With these investments, in addition to loan guarantees, we will once again have the opportunity to lead the world in production of green energy. By investing in the development of a smart grid, we will ensure that we conserve energy at home while enabling the transmission of renewable energy.

Although we are already seeing benefits of the stimulus, whether it is repaving potholed roads or creating green jobs, we know that we cannot rest while carbon emissions continue to rise in America, China, and India. We must lead by passing comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction legislation that reaches 80% reductions in emissions by 2050, with aggressive but achievable shorter term targets. Without this legislation we will not be able to bring China and India to the table to develop binding goals for those large carbon emitters.

I look at greenhouse gas legislation as an opportunity. For a quarter of a century, we have accepted dependence on foreign oil. For a quarter of a century, we have accepted dramatic declines in mining jobs even as our communities are devastated by acid mine drainage and mountaintop removal. For a quarter of a century, we have lost market share in auto sales as we clung to production of gas guzzling dinosaurs.

No more will we accept the constraints that accompany an unwillingness to innovate. We may look forward to greenhouse gas legislation that sends a strong market signal to invest once again in America: in efficient automobiles, in wind turbines, in solar panels, in weatherization, in transit. These investments will not only protect our climate, and thus our coastal communities and agricultural heartland, but also lay the groundwork for a new age of industrial expansion founded on technological innovation.

The environment cannot sustain further increases in carbon emissions and neither can our economy. We must act now to pass greenhouse gas reduction legislation that protects our climate while unequivocally redirecting our economy toward a clean energy future.
It's precisely because of statements and sentiments like this that I am proud that I supported Connolly in the general election!

Jon Bowerbank's Jobs Tour Kickoff in Burke, VA

I want to thank my friend Bryan Scrafford for providing this video of Jon Bowerbank kicking off his jobs tour right in Burke at the VRE station. Although I couldn't be at the kickoff because I actually go to work in a carpool with my husband and a friend, the kickoff was less than a mile from my home. I have used the VRE many times, when Dan is traveling or attending conferences, or during snow days.

It's a great means of transportation and I believe we need to invest more in our transportation infrastructure. So, kudos to Jon for picking my favorite railroad station in Burke to begin talking about transportation, jobs and the economy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Weekend of Events and Fighting Talk

This past Saturday was a busy time in Fairfax County, with all kinds of charity as well as political events going on. I got up at 5:30 in the morning to help a service club host one such charity event, a pancake breakfast at the Lincolnia Methodist Church (although the church was gracious enough to allow us to use its facilities, it was not a Methodist-related event). I won't mention the charity here because this is going to be a political post, and this service organization (like most of them) is distinctly non-partisan and not political. So, out of respect, I don't want to drag their name into a partisan diary.

Anyway, because I spent the better part of the day helping to serve pancakes and then clean up the fellowship hall, I only got to Dave Marsdens' kickoff and not Brian Moran's Hometown Kickoff. After Marsdens' event, I went home and pretty much crashed.

But Dave Marsden's kickoff was well attended and enthusiastic. Both David Bulova and Brian Moran spoke up in support of Marsden, urging Democrats to work hard to send back this valuable ally to the Virginia House of Delegates. Although Marsden is currently favored to win, he has opposition this time. The audience was urged by all the speakers not to take victory for granted.

Other local electeds in attendance included Chap Petersen, and Ilyrong Moon. I know Sharon Bulova planned to attend, but if she got there, it was after I had left. I did see her at the charity event in Lincolnia.

Blogger Kenton Ngo was there, with far better coverage than mine and gorgeous photos. He put together a slide show on New Dominion Project that is worth checking out.

Meanwhile, I regret missing Brian's event, but you can get coverage of it over at Left of the Hill, where Bryan Scrafford has put together video of Brian's speech. It reminds me of why, despite all the unnecessary shenanigans of some of his campaign staff, I am proud to be supporting Brian. The populism rang true in his remarks.

Remember, I was a long time hold out for John Edwards in the presidential primaries. Not that I'm comparing Brian to Edwards; Brian is his own man. But I think that in this economic climate, where citizens have seen the blatant double standard in the way Wall Street has been treated in the bailout, there is palpable anger.

Although much of the bailout was designed by Hank Paulson in the Bush administration, Obama's Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, and Connecticut senator, Chris Dodd, hurt the Democrats with their decision not to block AIG's bonuses to the same top executives who caused the meltdown in the financial markets. Most people easily saw that these top executives neither deserved a reward for their performance, nor needed an incentive to be retained. In fact, they should have been fired. You and I would have been axed for far less in the way of failures.

I think John Edwards would have gotten that. I suspect Brian would too. Don't misunderstand me, I like both Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds, but Brian seems to be the most willing to fight for ordinary workers, women, gays, and blacks. He's the one who appears most comfortable truly standing up for the dispossessed in society. That doesn't mean he's never taken money from wealthy donors or large corporations, every successful candidate probably has, including John Edwards and even Barack Obama. Nor does it mean that he's never voted for something I disapprove of. Heck, I even disagree and disapprove of some of my own husband's opinions. Humans can't agree on everything.

But of all the candidates in this particular election cycle, he is the most progressively populist.

McAuliffe and Deeds are right to keep the focus on jobs. And Terry has a million creative ideas, some of which might even work. But we need more than just jobs. We need well paying jobs and a commitment to laws that protect workers from unsafe environments, unfair labor practices, and punitive laws that prevent them from organizing. We also need laws that protect the environment, promote green jobs, and protect the rights of gays, minorities, and women's reproductive freedom. Again, Brian is unambiguous in his pledge to do so and to fight for those who often can't fight for themselves.

The zeitgeist might be against fighters. But frankly, too much centrism and too much moderation could actually endanger the progressive agenda. Right now, it's allowing conservatives to tap into the populist rage and get out in front it to lead people in the wrong direction. That's something I'll have more to say about in future posts.

Of course, people are angry at the bailout, which, so far, they perceive as helping the fat cats. Meanwhile, the little guys are nervous about losing jobs and falling behind. They don't see relief for themselves just yet. It's coming, but by the time it gets to them, the narrative could already be set and the winds could be in our faces rather than behind our backs.

That is essentially what happened in the Clinton administration when Newt Gingrich was able to tap popular anger and turn it against the Democrats. In 1994, the economy was turning around, after the Bush I recession. But because jobs are always a lagging indicator, both going into and emerging from a recession, the unemployment rate was still high and people were under the impression that the economy was not yet rebounding. In addition, the Clinton administration had just gotten a tax increase on the wealthy, which helped balance the budget, end the Bush I deficit spending, and give the country a $236 million surplus. But the Republicans exploited that modest tax increase on a small segment of society to convince voters that their taxes too would go up (sound familiar?). Of course, that's a simplified, but accurate, view of what went wrong for Democrats in the midterm election then.

The best way to prevent that kind of midterm loss of Congress is to start aggressively making the case for progressive ideas. Right now there is a historic moment when Republican ideas about the free markets and globalization have failed and everybody can see that failure.

But if we don't press our ideas of economic fairness, wage parity, racial equality, and tolerance, we stand in danger of losing that moment. That's why, this time, I want a fighter to lead the Democratic Party. So far, Brian is making the best case as a fighting progressive.

Bowerbank in Burke on Monday Morning

I think it's great that in a state wide race, Jon Bowerbank has included Burke in his itinerary. And the VRE station holds a special resonance for me because I'd like to see greater public investment in our transportation infrastructure, especially our railway system. There are a lot of good reasons to put more of our resources into rail, including economic and environmental reasons. In any case, if you are able to get out to the Burke VRE to meet Bowerbank, please head there on Monday morning.
Bowerbank to Launch Jobs Tour at Burke Centre VRE

Alexandria, VA - Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Jon Bowerbank will embark on a tour of the Commonwealth promoting his plan to create jobs in Virginia on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 8:30 AM at the Burke Centre VRE. Jon will meet with VRE riders and discuss his plan to build a modern infrastructure system in the Commonwealth that invests and develops our rail and public transportation systems.

WHAT: VRE Meet and Greet and Media Availability
WHEN: 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
WHERE: Burke Centre VRE Station 10399 Premier Court Burke, VA 22015

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Additions to the Blogroll

Updated: I just added two more sites. One of them, Dem Bones, I discovered through my friend Alan Zimmerman's recommendation. Aznew, who is a very fine blogger, himself, has not steered me wrong yet. Drew, who writes Dem Bones, describes himself as a "theological junkie" and a progressive Democrat. He reminds me a lot of me in that respect, but he's a more orthodox Christian (with a small "o" in orthodox). He seems to have something of a universalist bent. Anyway, if you are interested in the intersection of religion and politics with culture, it's a good site to visit.

The second site I put up is in the "Other Sites of Note" section and it's my friend Jim Southworth's Inside Scoop Productions. I think Jim, Mark Levine, George Burke, and Shannon Sullivan do an excellent job of bringing political topics from a progressive point of view to Northern Virginia local cable access television. So, go check their schedule.

A funny thing happened to me over in the comment section of Not Larry Sabato. I got mocked. And when I clicked on Anonymous Is A Vandal's name, guess where it took me?

Since I figure that I better keep an eye on this young wiseguy conservative from PWC, he's on my blogroll. That's because it made me laugh.

Also on the blogroll, on the lefty side, I just put up The Great Blue Heron, which I've been meaning to do for ages. It's a wonderful blog.

So, from two opposite sides and very opposite points of view, welcome to both of you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Will The Third Time Be The Charm for Jeanette Rishell?

I certainly hope so!

According to a press release I received today, Jeanette Rishell reported that she has raised $100,000 in the first three months of her campaign to unseat the ultra conservative Jackson Miller in the 50th District House of Delegates race.

The Manassas Park resident, and one of my favorite candidates, released this video to thank her over 400 generous supporters.

She told viewers:
"Thanks to you, we raised over $100,000 in the first three months of
this year. The economy may be down, but you've shown our commitment to the American dream is as strong as ever."

Former West Wingers Support EFCA

I'll admit I was always a huge fan of The West Wing. I even own the entire seven seasons of DVDs from the show. And it's no secret that, like their progressive TV characters, actors Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Schiff were friends of labor. Below, is a video they shot to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

For more information and to donate to help, please go here. And it wouldn't hurt to contact Mark Warner, Jim Webb and your local congressman.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Progressives Turn Out to Demonstrate On Tax Day Too!

It turns out that Republicans aren't the only ones who will be out demonstrating on tax day. But unlike their ridiculous tea parties, some folks will turn out to counter the rightwing propaganda machine. They will be out at post offices to remind people that the price of a democracy is citizen support for government. After all, it our government, freely elected by us. As Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, "taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. As Julie Blust, the press secretary for the Campaign to Renew and Rebuild America wrote me:
We are holding events at local post offices on tax day highlighting President Obama's plan to close off-shore tax havens and ensure that corporations are paying their fair share. The main thrust of these events would be to ask ordinary Americans to call their Senators and support Obama's transformative economic plan, which calls for more fairness in the tax code.
The thing is ordinary Americans are already bearing the brunt of taxation. The people the Republicans are fighting for are the top one percent, the large corporations, the businesses that have long benefitted from off shore tax havens. If we get all of them to pay their fair share, then you and I will actually pay less and still have that decent society. Every citizen has the obligation to pay his or her fair share.

Here's the information to participate:
WHO: Campaign to Rebuild and Renew America-a coalition of 110 progressive organizations dedicated to supporting the President's budget priorities. See website for complete list organizations www.rebuildandrenew.org

WHAT: Tax day event this coming Wednesday, calling to attention the tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid taxes by setting up offshore accounts and PO Boxes. Obama's budget would stop this practice.

WHEN: 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm Wednesday April 15th

WHERE: in front of Arlington Main Post office, 3118 Washington Blvd Arlington, VA 22201 (Metro accessible)

WHAT WE NEED: Turnout! We need to have a large presence of concerned citizens, activists and community leaders. We will be providing all the materials and will be engaging people as they go into the post office to drop off their returns. We will be encouraging them to call their members of Congress to support the Obama's budget provisions that would stop these tax loopholes. Please come out and join us on your lunch breaks! And spread the word!

CONTACT: Julie Blust 267-242-1752 cell, blust@americansunitedforchange.org (please RSVP so we have an idea of turnout for the media)

Here is a more detailed description of the event:

NOVA Tax Day Event Description

We are holding an event on tax day highlighting President Obama's plan to close off-shore tax havens and ensure that corporations are paying their fair share. The main thrust of these events would be to ask ordinary Americans to call their Senators and support Obama's transformative economic plan, which calls for more fairness in the tax code. This will help frame the discussion of Obama's plan as more than just spending, but also a means to take on special interests who have historically taken advantage of the system.

We hope to turn out between 15 and 100 supporters at the main post office. They will stage such that they can greet taxpayers coming to turn in their tax returns, but potentially also stage along the main road entrance with hand-made signs on our message. These supporters will ask taxpayers to call their Members on their (or our) cell phones on the spot with a pro- Obama's plan message for closing off-shore tax havens for corporations."

Events will happen at noon, taking advantage of the busier lunch hour, possible live feeds for the noon news cycle, and the packaging up evening stories around

Trail Blazing Woman Labor Leader Endorses Brian Moran

Brian Moran just received the endorsement of one of labor's most influential women, Barbara Easterling, who, in addition to her accomplishments in organized labor, is a Virginia resident. She was the first woman to serve as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. It's the number two job in organized labor. Easterling has been a trail blazer for women in the AFL-CIO, having also served as the first woman secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). And in the interest of full disclosure, I've known Barbara for years and consider her a great friend and inspiration. Below is the press release from the Moran Campaign:
Major Labor Leader Endorses Moran
~ Moran Fights for Working Families~

ALEXANDRIA - Barbara Easterling, the first woman ever to serve as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, announced her support of Brian Moran for Governor today. Easterling cited Moran's proven record of fighting hard for the working men and women of Virginia. Moran has proposed an increase in the minimum wage to keep up with rising costs and an economic recovery plan to restart our slumping economy. Easterling also cited recent polling that shows Moran is the strongest general election candidate against Bob McDonnell.

"Brian Moran has made his career fighting for the working men and women of Virginia," said Easterling. "We know Brian will be with us as Governor because he always has. In these tough times, working families are facing real tough choices and Brian Moran understands what we're going through. I know he won't stop fighting until he gets us result and that's what we need as Governor."

Prior to the AFL-CIO, Easterling was the first woman to serve as secretary-treasurer of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). She is currently the President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. Easterling has received a broad range of honors and accolades during her union career. She is the recipient of the International Women's Democracy Center Global Democracy award, the Ellis Island American Legend award and the March of Dimes Salute to Labor award.

"I am honored to have Barbara's support," Moran said. "She is a true leader in our labor community, a pioneer for women, and a strong, steady voice for those who need one."

Easterling is vice chair of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and serves as a Trustee of the National Policy Association (NPA). She also serves on the board of directors of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; is a member of the Spina Bifida Foundation and serves on the executive committee of the United Way of America and its board of governors.

Brian Moran has a 20-year record of fighting for the people of Virginia. He was Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a Delegate from Alexandria City and Fairfax County. Prior to that, he served as a prosecutor in Arlington County.
That is a major coup for Brian to have this savvy woman's support.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Chag Pesach Samech

And also Happy Easter to all my friends and readers. I will be down in Fort Lauderdale celebrating Passover with my 96 year old father.

I wish everybody a peaceful happy holiday. And I'll be back next Monday!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Sunday Story to Inspire

I have long harbored the belief and hope that people can change in profound ways. Today, Great Blue Heron carries an amazing story about the transformation of a racist, former Ku Klux Klan supporter, and violent hater, who acted upon his hatred, into a man humbled by love and faith.

According to Great Blue Heron's post, 72 year old Elwin Wilson, a former segregationist from South Carolina, publicly apologized to Congressman John Lewis, a former freedom rider during the Civil Rights movement, for blocking his way and beating him up at a bus station in Rock Hill, SC during the 60s. Wilson has taken his message of racial reconciliation and his quest for forgiveness into black churches and prayed with former civil rights activists. He has openly embraced black men his own age at the very lunch counters where they sought the right to equal service and Wilson sought to prevent it.

Here's a description of Wilson's transformation and its effects among former civil rights activists from that era:
One civil rights worker called Wilson’s apology “a testament to how the world has changed and how hearts have changed.”

Wilson said he gave up drinking in 1976. He is not sure when he gave up hating blacks.
He might not be sure of the exact time and date. But the important thing is that he gave up prejudice and hatred. It's one more inspiring example that America and the world are changing in positive ways. We have set backs and there are times when it is tempting to give up and throw in the towel. But our efforts do produce change every day in both large and small ways.

So, on a lovely spring Sunday go out and enjoy. But know that our efforts make a difference, sometimes years later and in ways that we never expect.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

AIAW Folds

Since Anonymous Is A Woman has quietly slipped out of town, it falls to me to write about the recent goings on at her blog. At her behest, I will tell you about these developments.

Having failed to solve the mystery of the angry spud and uncover his identity, AIAW has concluded that her investigative skills are simply not sharp enough for her to run a blog. She also is distraught that logic has failed her. So, she will now turn her attention to seeking great spiritual truths.

But this has actually been brewing for a long time. She has quietly been researching the hermit lifestyle and now vows to find a cave, preferably off the island of Patmos, where she will sit, vowing not to break her silence until she has found complete enlightenment (or has lost 35 pounds - whichever comes first) and has something new to say.

Meanwhile, here at home: