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quote of the day

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Bono when asked if he liked George W:

"Yes. As a man, I believed him when he said he was moved to also do something about the Aids pandemic. I believed him. Listen, I couldn’t come from a more different place, politically, socially, geographically. I had to make a leap of faith to sit there. He didn’t have to have me there at all. But you don’t have to be harmonious on everything — just one thing — to get along with someone.

Harry Belafonte, one of my great heroes, an old-school leftist, told me a story about Bobby Kennedy, which changed my life — indeed, pointed me in the direction I am going now politically.

Harry remembered a meeting with Martin Luther King when the civil rights movement had hit a wall in the early Sixties: “I tell you it was a depressing moment when Bobby Kennedy was made attorney-general. It was a very bad day for the civil rights movement.

“Bobby Kennedy was Irish. Those Irish were real racists; they didn’t like the black man. They were just one step above the black man on the social ladder, and they made us feel it. They were all the police, they were the people who broke our balls on a daily basis.

“Bobby at that time was famously not interested in the civil rights movement. We knew we were in deep trouble. We were crestfallen, in despair, talking to Martin, moaning and groaning about the turn of events, when Dr King slammed his hand down and ordered us to stop the bitchin’.

“‘Enough of this,’ he said. ‘Is there nobody here who’s got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?’

“We said: ‘Martin, that’s what we’re telling ya! There is no one. There is nothing good to say about him. The guy’s an Irish Catholic conservative badass, he’s bad news.’

“To which Martin replied: ‘Well, then, let’s call this meeting to a close. We will re-adjourn when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that, my friends, is the door through which our movement will pass’.”

Well, it turned out that Bobby was very close with his bishop. So they befriended the one man who could get through to Bobby’s soul and turned him into their Trojan horse.

Harry became emotional at the end of this tale: “When Bobby Kennedy lay dead on a Los Angeles pavement, there was no greater friend to the civil rights movement. There was no one we owed more of our progress to than that man.”

Whether he was exaggerating or not, that was a great lesson for me, because what Dr King was saying was: Don’t respond to caricature — the left, the right, the progressives, the reactionary. Don’t take people on rumour. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause."

Full Text of Bush Amnesty International Statement and the Response

Amazing to watch Bush not really answering the question of detainees being held outside the reach of law, and shifting the topic to prisoner abuse, which he minimizes and then blaming the Amnesty International report on listening to "people who hate America." Also I added the official Amnesty International Response below:

QUESTION: "Mr. President, recently Amnesty International said you have established, quote, a new gulag of prisons around the world beyond the reach of the law and decency.

I'd like your reaction to that, and also your assessment of how it came to this -- that that is a view not just held by extremists and anti-Americans, but by groups that have allied themselves with the United States government in the past, and what the strategic impact is that in many places in the world the United States these days under your leadership is no longer seen as the good guy."

BUSH: "I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation.

The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

In terms of, you know, the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees.

It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of and the allegations by people that were held in detention, people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble, that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is."

AMNESTY INTERNATIONALPRESS STATEMENT

May 31, 2005

Statement of William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, In Response to President Bush(Washington, DC) –

Today Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, released the following statement in response to President Bush:

"What is 'absurd' is President Bush's attempt to deny the deliberate policies of his Administration, which has detained individuals without charge or trial in prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base and other locations. What is 'absurd' and indeed outrageous is the Bush Administration's failure to undertake a full independent investigation, and that completed reports into human rights violations in these prisons remain classified and unseen.

The network of secret detention centers operated by the US around the world must be opened to scrutiny by independent human rights groups and those responsible for torture, no matter how senior, must be held accountable. It is also worth noting that this administration never finds it 'absurd' when we criticize Cuba, China, or when we condemned the violations in Iraq under Saddam Hussein."

New Abortion Rate Data: Rate Did Not Increase Nationally Under Bush, but Decrease Rate Slowed

Good news and good newer numbers to work with on the abortion issue.

"A new analysis from The Alan Guttmacher Institute shows that U.S. abortion rates continued to decline in 2001 and 2002, although the rate of decline has slowed since the early 1990s. The Institute estimates that 1,303,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2001—0.8% fewer than the 1,313,000 in 2000. In 2002, the number of abortions declined again, to 1,293,000, or another 0.8%."

And in the report they note that: "Between 1992 and 1996, the annualized decline was 3.4% per year, while between 1996 and 2000, it was 1.2% per year. The annualized decline between 2000 and 2002 was 0.9%"

So good news in those numbers for I'd think anyone on all sides of the abortion issue. But clearly still too high. The study also points to some evidence for why those who have abortions are doing so, and it clearly point to economic pressures as a partial factor: 2/3 of women having abortions say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner. Black women are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2 1/2 times as likely.

As I've posted before, I think Christians can do better by bringing a focus on political action that helps decrease the actual abortion rates versus focusing on criminalization. This study is now the most definitive numbers on where we are as a nation in this regard...

Late last year, Fuller Professor Glen Stassen made estimates based on earlier data suggesting an increase in the overall abortion rate during the Bush years. His study was abased on the available data in 16 states, the new AGI study is based on 44 states.


This better data shows a slowing of the decline in abortion during the Bush years, and covers up until 2002. The study is careful not to speculate in the cause of the abortion rate decline, nor of the slowing of this reduction rate.

Afer this new information, Professor Stassen wrote this in repsonse:

"On May 19, 2005, the Alan Guttmacher Institute released a study of abortion rates in 2002, apparently in response to the opinion editorial that I published seven months ago in numerous papers in October, 2004, and the widespread interest that it has stimulated. That op ed has called forth widespread national attention to the stall that has occurred in what was the dramatic reductions of abortions in the United States in the 1990s.

Upon releasing the study, The AGI said:

"Demands for more recent data, resulting in part from media reports, opinion editorials, and public speeches speculating that abortion has increased as a result of Bush administration policies, have prompted the Institute..." to speed up its research of the question and make this report.

I am pleased that we were able to draw national attention to focus on the actual results of the policies. As AGI rightly says, it will take a few years to be sure what the impact of Bush administration policies will be on numbers of abortions. Now the nation will be watching to see what the policies actually produce in the next few years.

It is clear to me that undermining the financial support for mothers, undermining the availability of medical insurance, and increasing the jobless rate for prospective mates so that they are less likely to marry, has a bad influence on abortion rates and infant mortality rates.

The data show that the dramatic decline in number of abortions of the '90s to 300,000 fewer abortions per year has now stalled almost to a stop. My initial study thought it had actually reversed. We will watch to see what happens in the next few years.

In the data from the Center for Disease Control, abortions as a ratio of all births actually increased slightly in 2001 (CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Sept 26, 2004, page 16), while AGI estimates the ratio to have neither declined nor increased in 2001. The small difference is within the range of likely error, and thus the two reports do not actually contradict each other. The AGI estimates that the ratio declined very slightly in 2002, by 0.3 points from 24.5 to 24.2. This, too is within the range of possible error, especially if all 50 states and the District of Columbia were included.

I commend the honesty of the AGI study: They tested their methods by seeing how well these methods would have worked for estimating the data in 1997 based on the 1996 data. The result was an error of 1%. This is larger than their estimated decline in abortions for 2002 of 0.8%, and larger than their estimated change in abortion ratios for 2002 of 0.3. This amounts to a stall in the dramatic declines that happened in the 1990s, and is consistent with the slowing of the reductions in abortions ever since Aid to Families with Dependent Children was abolished and poor families have received much decreased financial security — now even further decreased under Bush policies. The Roman Catholic bishops warned at the time that this undermining of financial support for mothers would probably halt the decline in abortion rates or even cause them to increase. I believe they were right in their warning.

I based my estimates in October on the sixteen states whose data I could find then. Now, seven months later, and with their extensive data-gathering ability, AGI bases their results on 44 states. They say their results are only estimates, projections, but I believe their results are significantly better than what I could have obtained seven months ago. I affirm their methods and their study, and am grateful for their effort.

They excuse the size of their error in estimating 1997 based on 1996 data because the abortion decline in 1997 was about twice as steep as now, a decline of 1.9% then. This symbolizes what I have been saying: the decline in abortions is clearly stalling in 2001 and 2002 by contrast with the 1990s.

Other factors besides the rise in unemployment rates were also involved in the decline during the 1990s, such as more effective contraception methods and a moral climate less approving of abortions. These factors were still operating in 2001 and 2002, but their ability to reduce abortions withered for some reason.

The AGI report notes that from 1994 to 2000, the abortion rate actually increased among poor women and women on medicaid. This supports my conclusion that the financial condition of mothers is one important factor in their having abortions.

It also fits the CDC data showing that the infant mortality rate shockingly increased in 2002 for the first time ever in their reports since the reports began in
1940. When the financial condition of mothers declined, and the number of persons without medical insurance increased by several million, and many neighborhood clinics and emergency rooms closed, infant mortality rates increased. We will be watching to see if this also happened in 2003 and 2004.

AGI concludes: "It takes time for political decisions to be reflected in the statistical data, so it is too soon to tell what the impact of Bush administration policies will be on U.S. abortion rates." I agree. Now we will be watching.

We already know that abortion rates in Belgium and Holland, which have a strong social safety net, are around 6 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age, while the rates in the United States are around 23 or 24. I contend that we have something to learn from Belgium and Holland's more just support for mothers and babies, and their healthcare insurance for all citizens. We don't have to wait three more years for another study to know that.

Glen Stassen
May 25, 2005"

(conservative) quote of the day

"Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly.

And those who hate us can take solace in the fact that they aren't subsidizing Bill's bombast; we payers of the BBC license fee don't enjoy that peace of mind.

Fox News is, after all, a private channel and our presenters are quite open about where they stand on particular stories. That's our appeal. People watch us because they know what they are getting."

Fox News' London bureau chief, Scott Norvell, as quoted in the May 20 Wall Street Journal Europe edition

Anne Lamott at TPMCafe

Another reason to like it: Anne Lamott is blogging at Talking Points Cafe also...Here are excerpts from her first post....

"I was so honored when Josh asked me to be part of the TPM Cafe, but have been trying ever since to get him to toss me overboard. Believe me, I do not fit in at all: I am a Christian, which if you ask me, is right up there with people who believe in pyramid power. Also, I have little college education or ability to frame political arguments in ways that might be useful or galvanizing; and furthermore, menopause has not helped my clarity and focus as much as I had been hoping.

However, I do feel passionately about a couple of things right now, so I'll just share those things.

One is Jesus, and his message of peace and love and kindness and taking care of the poor: I cannot reconcile my faith with that of the theocrats in the White House, because I think they have gotten it so wrong. For instance, I read the New Testament nearly every day, and yet cannot find anything about handing out guns to everyone, especially to the angriest and most bigoted Americans. Also, I cannot find anything about tax cuts, imperialism, or destroying the forests. But then, I do not claim to be a good Christian, and in fact, have been referred to in the press as being a crabby believer, and this is true. However, I do know that Jesus always, a hundred percent of the time, stood up for the least amongst us, not just the stock and bond traders.

Jesus always maintained that hitting first was the mark of evil, and yet, our country and Iraq are both being destroyed by America's pre-emptive war. Hasn't this administration ever heard of the word 'karma'? And I've said this way too many times already—but not to you, so maybe it is—but you KNOW that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people that you do. Yet Jesus didn't hate anyone.

I can actually say that after 4 1/2 years of therapy and intense spiritual healing, I no longer hate George Bush. But at the same time, I have committed my life to his overthrow. I mean 'overthrow' in a loving, Christian way: I believe there are some perfectly good jobs out there to which his unique talents and interests are uniquely suited. But this President thing is not working out.

This brings me to a second point about which I care passionately: How does a nice Christian girl like myself help foment revolution? My son is two years away from draft age, and I am wondering if it will take a reinstatement of the draft for the anti-war Movement to roar back to life. Nixon—who seems like such a nostalgic simple cloth-coat kind of despot now, compared to Bush—was smart when he ended the draft. Demonstrations stopped about an hour later, because two thirds of the young were suddenly off the hook. This is one reason there are not mass demonstrations on college campuses now—also, because it is not in students best interests to rise up, what with gigantic school loans and terrible job prospects ahead of them. So if they aren't going to lead the movement, who is?

... But where are our leaders? There's Move-on.com and Codepink, but where are the loud voices from the Senate, like that ethereal poet, Eugene McCarthy? I cried for days when Wellstone died—he was my guy, and Feingold may become a great leader, but is not electric yet. And where are our Berrigan Brothers? Our Dr. King?

People after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 said the most frightening thing of all was the deafening silence afterwards, and that is what's most chilling now. The right has terrified so many good and brave people into submission and silence, into caring about Mark Petersen and Terry Schiavo and the finger in the Wendy's chili. But as we Christians like to say, Now is the day of salvation. It is really time to begin anew; now. "

Amen.

Poverty Is Expensive

Everyone should go check out the new TalkingPoints Cafe site, grown from the blog Talkingpointsmemo.com.

It went live today, and looks like a great resource... A guest blogger kicking things off is former Senator John Edwards. He writes a section called "Poverty is Expensive..." Here are exceprts from Edward's post:

"David Shipler, who recently joined me on a panel at UNC, tells a striking story about a single mother he met while researching his book, The Working Poor. She had no savings and low earnings, so she had to live in a drafty wooden house. This exacerbated her son's asthma. That led to two ambulance rides to the hospital. Those trips led to ambulance charges she couldn't pay. Those charges damaged her credit report. And so then she was denied a loan to buy a mobile home.

That meant she had to stay in that drafty house—the house that contributed to her son's asthma attacks. And she had to buy a car from a sleazy dealership that charged her 15 percent interest. As one little boy David met told his mother, “Being poor is expensive.”That boy was right on.

The Brookings Institution recently released a fascinating study demonstrating how low-income families pay more for all sorts of things. They pay more for groceries and gasoline. They pay more for furniture and appliances. They pay higher prices for insurance and for utilities. And—something that has troubled me for a long time—they pay more for financial services, whether it’s cashing a check or getting a loan.

Here are a couple of examples: In Philadelphia, where the study was conducted, the annual cost of insuring the exact same car and driver, with a perfect driving record, is over $400 more in a neighborhood where the average income is less than $30,000 than it is in a neighborhood with a average income over $70,000. And even in Pennsylvania, a state with a payday lending ban, providers of short-term loans exploit loopholes to charge annual percentage rates over 450 percent.Why is this so important?

To quote the authors of the Brookings study:
“When low-income working families have to pay higher prices for everyday goods and services they have less money to invest in savings, education, homes and home improvements, their retirement, and their children. This holds these families back.”

The good news is there are steps we can take to close the unfair price gap and put money back in the pockets of hard-working families. In my upcoming posts, I’ll talk about some of these steps. For now, the Brookings report is filled with stunning statistics and promising ideas for reform. I encourage you to check it out."

US Rethinking Anti-Terror Policies

Sunday, May 29, 2005
Interesting Post story on the US having to come to terms with how Al Queda has morphed, and also how the war in Iraq has produced a "new piece of a new equation" in the War on Terror, as "hundreds or thousands of Iraq-trained jihadists" stream "back to their home countries throughout the Middle East and Western Europe." Here are excerpts:

"In many ways, this is the culmination of a heated debate that has been taking place inside and outside the government about how to target not only the remnants of al Qaeda but also broader support in the Muslim world for radical Islam. Administration officials refused to describe in detail what new policies are under consideration, and several sources familiar with the discussions said some issues remain sticking points, such as how central the ongoing war in Iraq is to the anti-terrorist effort...

"There's been a perception, a sense of drift in overall terrorism policy. People have not figured out what we do next, so we just continue to pick 'em off one at a time," said Roger W. Cressey, who served as a counterterrorism official at the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. "We haven't gone to a new level to figure out how things have changed since 9/11."

Much of the discussion has focused on how to deal with the rise of a new generation of terrorists, schooled in Iraq over the past couple years.

Top government officials are increasingly turning their attention to anticipate what one called "the bleed out" of hundreds or thousands of Iraq-trained jihadists back to their home countries throughout the Middle East and Western Europe. "It's a new piece of a new equation," a former senior Bush administration official said.

The review may have been slowed somewhat by the fact that many of the key counterterrorism jobs in the administration have been empty for months, including the top post at the State Department for combating terrorism, vacant since November, and the directorship of the new National Counterterrorism Center. "We're five months into the next term, and still a number of spots have yet to be filled," Cressey said. "You end up losing valuable time."

quote of the (memorial) day

Saturday, May 28, 2005
Happy Memorial day...From Gen. Westley Clark in this weekend's the Democratic Radio address:

"Good morning, I'm retired United States Army General Wesley Clark. This weekend across the country, we take time to remember those who fought and died in our Nation's wars.

For me, Memorial Day is very personal. This Monday, I will be remembering those in uniform who served in World War II and Korea and inspired me to enter military service in 1962.

Like many others of my generation, I will also be remembering the many times I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. I will remember those who selflessly gave their lives and paid the ultimate price so that we could live in freedom.

And I'll be remembering the names of so many other friends and school mates who fought alongside us. Together we kept our country free.

Today, America continues to face national security challenges. And as Democrats, we are resolved to meet those challenges and defend America from danger.

This starts with making sure that we have the right men and women in service and then equipping, training, and organizing them to be the most effective fighting force in the world.

That means our men and women in uniform should be paid fairly and they and their families should be taken care of while they are fighting overseas or serving at home. We should be spending every penny that they ask for on things like body armor and armored vehicles to keep them safe.

Our Armed Forces today are an institution that we can be proud to be of. They stand for so much of what we can believe in as Americans: for courage and honor, integrity and public service.

We as Democrats want to ensure that Americans in uniform receive the benefits they deserve. We insist that Reservists and National Guard members receive health insurance for themselves and their families through TRICARE, the military's health care system, just as the active force does.

And just as importantly, we have got to keep our promises to veterans and provide them the medical care they need. That means fully funding the Veteran's Administration system.

As Democrats, we stand for a strong Armed Forces and we stand for a strong foreign policy too. We believe in using every means at our disposal to protect our nation and to advance our values. That means using diplomacy, international law, allies, our economic might and yes, as a last resort, we'll use force. But when we do so, we'll do it the right way.

We'll go in with a plan that works from start to finish and that gives us the power to prevail on the battlefield and after.

As Democrats, we know that we need to expand America's active duty forces by tens of thousands so we can effectively fight the war on terror and meet other challenges as well. And, we're committed to do so.

When it comes to taking care of men and women in uniform, I often read that some Members of Congress complain that the budget is too tight. But budgets are always tight and that's no excuse to neglect the needs of those who serve; their families or America''s veterans.

It is just a matter of priorities. What could be more important for government than taking care of the men and women who keep our country safe and strong? I believe as Democrats, we have our priorities right.

And so on this Memorial Day, when the country comes together to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, let's say our prayers for the families and the loved ones of those who lost their lives in answering their country's call.

Especially now, with our nation at war, I'm asking each and everyone one of us to reach out to these families across America. Tell them we honor their sacrifice. Tell them we stand with them. Tell them we love them. And, if it's right, pray with them.

And then let's do more. Let's resolve this Memorial Day to do all we can here at home.

Those in uniform are bonded with is across this nation. That's why we honor their sacrifice on Memorial Day and we should be resolved not to let them down.

Thank you for listening."

MSNBC: "Reid takes control of Frist's Senate"

Friday, May 27, 2005
Snippets from today's MSNBC article on Reid, Frist and the Senate this week:

"In the Bolton battle, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid proved that the Democrats can run the show — and they are running the show — with only 41 out of 100 senators.

Reid seems to have become Frist's Dementor, the frightening creature in the Harry Potter saga. According to one reference work, "Those kept in the company of a Dementor for too long are often driven insane" and it wouldn't be surprising by week's end if Frist felt he was succumbing to that fate.

...In the Senate, a majority leader can not govern with 55. He needs 60. This raises the stakes in next year’s key Senate races such as in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, where endangered GOP incumbents are trying to retain seats, and West Virginia and Florida where the Republicans are trying to win Democratic-held seats.

Earlier in the week, a bipartisan group of 14 senators (including Landrieu, Pryor and Nelson) had taken the initiative away from Frist by designing a deal that allowed three of Bush’s judicial nominees to get up-or-down votes while putting two others in doubt.

More importantly, the deal allowed the Democrats to retain the right to use extended debate, the filibuster, to block future Bush nominees.

Especially galling for Frist was that seven Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, put their signatures on this accord, preventing him for now from calling for a vote on lowering the debate-ending threshold from 60 to 51.

Looking back at the shambles of a week for Republicans, Democratic analysts gloated.

“Bill Frist lost today. Badly,” said a Tuesday afternoon e-mail from Hillary Clinton campaign aide Ann Lewis. “Frist's right-wing allies are furious that he could not deliver on his promises…. Frist needs the right-wing power brokers on his side to win the 2008 presidential primaries. His hopes for victory just took a serious hit."

quote of the day

Thursday, May 26, 2005
"As of this month, more time has passed since 9-11 than the time between Pearl Harbor and the defeat of Japan. During those three years and eight months – sixty years ago – we invaded North Africa and Normandy. We freed people from the Philippines to France. Hitler lay dead and Tojo was in chains. We had defeated fascism around the world and had begun to build the new United Nations.

But today Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, our homeland is still not secure, we’re still not energy independent, and – in many ways – Americans are less safe than we were before 9-11."

- Sen. Reid

CBS Poll: Bush at 48% Disapproval; 60% Say US on "Wrong Track"

Excerpts from the most recent CBS News Poll:

"Four months into his second term, President Bush is increasingly viewed as being out of touch with the American people, according to a CBS News poll.

Six in ten Americans say the president does not share their priorities, while just 34 percent say he does – the lowest numbers for Mr. Bush since the eve of his first inauguration. If there's any solace for Mr. Bush, it's that even fewer people, just 20 percent, say Congress shares their priorities.

Overall, slightly more Americans (48 percent) disapprove of the job the president is doing than approve (46 percent).

Asked to name the most important problem facing the country, 19 percent of those polled cited the economy, 19 percent the war in Iraq, 7 percent terrorism and 5 percent Social Security.

Although he's spent months on the road campaigning for Social Security reform, Mr. Bush still gets only a 26 percent approval rating for his handling of the issue and the public remains skeptical about his signature plan for private Social Security accounts.

In a troubling sign for the president, those who have heard a lot about his Social Security plan are the most likely to say it's a bad idea.

Approval of the president's handling of Iraq remained virtually unchanged at 38 percent. But after another violent month, a majority of Americans, 57 percent, again say things there are going badly for the U.S. in Iraq; 41 percent say things are going well.

Overall, Americans are pessimistic about the direction of the country with 60 percent saying the U.S. is on the wrong track and 34 percent saying it’s on the right track.

It's been more than two years since a majority of Americans said the country was heading in the right direction. The last time that happened was March 2003, at the onset of the war in Iraq."

Culture of Life Disconnect Over Death Penalty

Read the latest Slate article comparing the Bush stance on Stem Cell research to his stance on the Death Penalty. Some example of how does Bush square these two "culture of life" related statements?

STEM CELL RESEARCH:
"Dr. Zerhouni shares my view that human life is precious, and should not be exploited or destroyed for the benefits of others."
—Bush, March 22, 2002

DEATH PENALTY:
"During the course of the campaign in 1994 I was asked, 'Do you support the death penalty?' I said I did, if administered fairly and justly. Because I believe it saves lives."
—Bush, Oct. 17, 2000

STEM CELL RESEARCH:
"In this session, the U.N. will consider a resolution sponsored by Costa Rica calling for a comprehensive ban on human cloning. I support that resolution and urge all governments to affirm a basic ethical principle: No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another."
—Bush, Sept. 21, 2004

DEATH PENALTY:
"I happen to believe that the death penalty, when properly applied, saves lives of others. And so I'm comfortable with my beliefs that there's no contradiction between the two."
—Bush, April 14, 2005

Dems in Senate Force Delay of Bolton Vote

Good news again.... From AP news:

"Democrats forced the Senate to put off a final vote Thursday on John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador, the latest setback for the tough-talking nominee President Bush has called strong medicine for corruption and inefficiency at the United Nations.

Democrats contended the White House had stiff-armed the Senate over classified information on Bolton's tenure in his current job as the State Department's arms control chief, and demanded more information before the Senate can give Bolton an up-or-down vote.
Republicans needed 60 votes to end the Democrats' procedural delays and move to an immediate final vote on Bolton's confirmation.

But the vote to halt the stalling was 56-42, four shy of that threshold. The final Bolton vote will probably not take place until early June, after the Senate returns from a Memorial Day recess."

Bolton Showdown Likely Tonight

From MSNBC, on the last final push against the Bolton nomination. On this one, the best thing you can do is call your senators pretty much immediately:

"WASHINGTON - In a last-ditch effort, two Democratic senators, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, worked Thursday to round up the 41 votes needed to stop President Bush's nomination of John Bolton to be U.S. envoy to the United Nations.

The Senate is set to vote at 6 pm Thursday on a motion to end debate and then would proceed immediately to a straight up-or-down vote on Bolton’s nomination.

If Bolton loses the cloture vote on ending debate, his confirmation would be delayed for at least a week, until the Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess.

"It'll be very close," predicted Biden Thursday afternoon."

Voinovich’s Behavior Should Be Encouraged

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
From ThinkProgress:

"Voinovich’s Behavior Should Be Encouraged

On Tuesday, Senator George Voinovich circulated a letter to his colleagues urging them to vote against the Bolton nomination. While Bush has called Bolton a “seasoned diplomat,” Voinovich laid bare the truth that Bolton would be a “controversial and ineffective ambassador.” Voinovich wrote in his letter, “In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation’s ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective ambassador to the United Nations.”

It is understandable that ardent partisans still hold grudges against Voinovich’s decision to allow the Bolton nomination to proceed through the Foreign Relations Committee without an up or down recommendation, but for those of us who are seriously concerned about Bolton becoming the next ambassador to the UN, we should be encouraging Voinovich’s most recent act of dissention. The truth is it will take bipartisan members of Congress to overturn Bush’s nomination. Voinovich, who has been described as someone who “really cares about public management,” will necessarily have to lead that effort if it is to be successful. To criticize him now throws up the white flag before we have engaged in the battle; it is cutting the legs out from under the leader who is putting his political capital on the line.

The vote of the committee is over. The vote on the Senate floor is not. If senators who are inclined to demonstrate their independence for justified and conscientious reasons are treated as “cowards,” I don’t imagine that many of them (who are increasingly showing their independence) will see the benefits of turning against Bush. Voinovich has stayed true to his promise that he would fight against the Bolton nomination when it went to the Senate floor, and as for me, I’m right behind him because there’s too much at stake and Bolton is most certainly “unfit to serve.”

Churches Issue "Statement of Priciples" for Social Security

I missed this when it was issued last month, statement of principles on Social Security written by the Evangelical Lutheran Church and signed by over 16 other organizations including the Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist US leadership. It's really good, here is the full text:

"Social Security
Statement: To Preserve and Strengthen Social Security: Religious Organization Statement of Principles
APRIL 26, 2005

We the undersigned religious organizations come from diverse religious traditions, yet our communities speak with one voice on the importance of providing compassionate care for the elderly, widows, orphans, and persons with disabilities. It is the birthright of each person to live a life with dignity and with access to the basic necessities of life. It is because of our deep moral concern for the most vulnerable in our society that many of our organizations actively supported the creation of the Social Security system in 1935 and many of its later improvements.

Today, we celebrate the tremendous success of the Social Security system. For over sixty years, it has provided the foundation for a compassionate society by providing basic economic security for all participants. Its present overall structure--universal, compulsory, an earned right, wage-related rather than means-tested, and protected against inflation--has served our country well. In 2004, the combined programs of Social Security provided benefits to 48 million people B including retirees, survivors, and eight million people living with disabilities. Survivor benefits supported more than five million children. Without this basic income security, over 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men over age 65 would likely be living in poverty. The Social Security system has demonstrated the positive role that government can play in advancing the common good. Future generations deserve nothing less.

It is our common concern for the economic well being of future generations that brings our nation to its current discussion of the future of the Social Security system. It is a timely and appropriate discussion. It warrants careful reflection concerning the basic principles upon which the present system was founded and the moral values which bring us together in common purpose as a nation. We seek to contribute to this discussion by offering the following principles, informed by our moral beliefs and religious experience, as a basis for evaluating proposed changes to the Social Security system.

Compassion. As citizens and residents of this country, we have a collective responsibility to care for one another. The federal government should continue its important, effective, and efficient role promoting a compassionate society through the Social Security system.

Economic security. Social insurance should remain a basic part of our society. Disability and survivor insurance must be maintained. Security for the elderly, survivors, and persons with disabilities should not be left to the vagaries of fragile family support systems, voluntary charity, or economic cycles.

Equity, fairness, and progressivity. The present overall structure of the Social Security system --universal, compulsory employee and employer contributions, an earned right, wage-related rather than means-tested, and protected against inflation--should be preserved and strengthened. Overall, the costs and benefits should be distributed progressively in proportion to each person=s ability to pay and level of need. Care must be given to assure that segments of the population are not systematically disadvantaged due to gender, race, or marital status.

Savings and pensions. Social Security is intended to be the third leg of a three-legged stool, the other two legs being personal savings and employer-provided pensions. Congress should encourage personal savings and employer pensions in addition to (not as a substitute for) the current system, and, especially, it should explore ways to help low- and middle-income households save more for their future.

Stewardship of the public trust. Congress has a moral obligation to fulfill its trust responsibilities to those who have contributed through their payroll taxes to the Social Security trust fund. Congress must also assure that future beneficiaries will receive benefits sufficient to meet their basic needs, that trust fund revenues and expenditures balance over time, and that future generations will not be unfairly burdened by this generation=s debts.

We believe the strength of our country is measured best by the compassion we show to one another in our times of greatest need and vulnerability. In the months ahead, we will continue to look at new proposals to modify the Social Security system through the framework of our moral beliefs and religious experiences. We will seek to engage with members of Congress and the public to help discern the best way to strengthen and preserve the Social Security system so that future generations may continue to benefit, as we do now.

Organizational sign-ons as of April 26, 2005

African Methodist Episcopal Church
Call to Renewal
Church Women United
Episcopal Church USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of the Churches in Christ in the USA
National Council of Jewish Women
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society"

Partnering with a New Generation

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I absolutely agree with Dean's statement on the need for the party to deeply partner and learn from the African American progressives. If anyone can recommend good African American progressive bloggers/authors send them my way....Here this is from the AP news story:

"Taking black voters for granted is a long-standing problem for the party that dates to the 1960s, said Dean, who promised changes in strategy even as he cited diversity at the top of the Democratic National Committee.

"African-Americans are annoyed with the Democratic Party because we ask them for their votes four weeks before the election instead of being in the community now and that's a mistake I'm trying to fix," he said.

"There's a new generation of African-American leaders and a new generation of African-Americans. We can't go out and say could you vote for us because we were so helpful during the civil rights era."

House Passes Stem Cell Research, Challenging White House

I'd be curious to hear what TalkingDonkey readers would think about this rare challenge to the President, that could set up the first Presidential veto.

Key questions abound in this space and it seems to be the rare issue that crosses party lines and even pro-life pro-choice lines as you can see by the support of pro-life advocates like Spector and Strom Thurman.

The Post wrote: "The bill includes what would be the first federal ethics rules for human embryonic stem cell research. Scientists could study only cells from embryos created for fertility treatment and donated by the parents, without compensation and with full knowledge of how the cells would be used.

The bill would not allow federal funding of research on embryos made expressly for research by cloning or any other means, a far more contentious issue."

I have my own opinion, which I'll share later, but first I'd love to hear folks who have links to good on-line arguments both for and against the research...

Here is the full story on the Times:


"The House of Representatives voted today to ease restrictions on federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, thus setting up a showdown with President Bush, who has vowed to veto the measure because he says it would promote destruction of life.

The 238-to-194 vote in favor, far short of the 290 needed to override a presidential veto, sends the issue to the Senate, where an identical measure is pending. Stem cell research has considerable support in the Senate as well. Its chief sponsor is Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who heads the Senate subcommittee that controls federal financing for medical research.

Most Democrats in the House voted in favor of the bill today, and most Republicans against. The House's action, and the likelihood of approval in the Senate as well, sets the stage for the first veto to be cast by President Bush, who reiterated his opposition this afternoon to the current legislation.

Proponents of the research, including the former first lady Nancy Reagan, argue that embryonic stem cell study could lead to cures for such diseases as Alzheimer's, which afflicted President Ronald Reagan, and Parkinson's and even spinal cord injuries.

The legislation that Mr. Bush has vowed to veto would reverse the president's ban on using federal money to conduct new embryonic stem cell research. The embryonic stem cells, the starting point for every tissue in the human body, would come from live human embryos scheduled to be discarded at fertility clinics. The co-sponsors of the bill are Representatives Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware, and Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado.

House passage of the embryonic stem cell bill was a rare direct challenge to President Bush, who has consistently threatened to veto any legislation that tried to widen federal support for research using stem cells from human embryos."

(Conservative) Quotes of the Night

"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.

Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed."

-- James Dobson

"Finally, and most importantly, the president probably will be unable to get a Supreme Court Justice confirmed this session unless he appoints a moderate. And barring Republican gains in 2006, he probably will be unable to appoint a conservative Justice at all."

-- Powerline blog front page comments

"Everybody should be ashamed of this deal. It dishonors the Constitution; it ignores the mandate of the 2004 election. It’s a horse trade of the worst kind. The White House has suffered a significant loss. The presidency is diminished as it relates to the Senate."

-- former Sen. Frist aide Manuel Miranda

quote of the night

Josh Marshall on the anti-nuclear agreement:

"Having said all that, the whole tenor of the Republican ultras on the Hill today is to demand unimpeded power, to push past conventions and limits, to go for everything. And here they got turned back. A sensible Republican party might be satisfied to have gotten three of its nominees -- numerically speaking, they did fairly well. But this whole enterprise was based on wanting it all, on not accepting limits, on rejecting government by even a modicum of consensus with a sizeable minority party. They got stopped short. And the senate Republican leadership is undermined.

So this isn't a pleasant compromise. But precisely because the Republicans -- or their leading players -- are absolutists in a way the Democrats are not, I think this compromise will batter them more than it will the minority party, which is after all a minority party which nonetheless managed to emerge from this having fought the stronger force to something like a draw."

It's Off (for Now)

From Sen. Harry Reid:

"There is good news for every American in this agreement. The so-called "nuclear option" is off the table. This is a significant victory for our country, for democracy, and for all Americans. Checks and balances in our government have been preserved.

The integrity of future Supreme Courts has been protected from the undue influences of a vocal, radical faction of the right that is completely out of step with mainstream America. That was the intent of the Republican ³nuclear option² from the beginning. Tonight, the Senate has worked its will on behalf of reason, responsibility and the greater good.

We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message: Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our founding fathers¹ vision, and one we hold dear.

I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside there differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy and the Supreme Court make-up cannot be decided by a simple majority.

I am grateful to my colleagues who brokered this deal. Now, we can move beyond this time-consuming process that has deteriorated the comity of this great institution. I am hopeful that we can quickly turn to work on the people¹s business. We need to ensure our troops have the resources they need to fight in Iraq and that Americans are free from terrorism. We need to protect retiree¹s pensions and long-term security. We need to expand health care opportunities for all families. We need to address rising gasoline prices and energy independence. And we need to restore fiscal responsibility and rebuild our economy so that it lifts all American workers. That is our reform agenda, the people¹s reform agenda.

Together, we can get the job done."

Dean (Part II)

Monday, May 23, 2005
From an email sent out by Chairman Dean, and it speaks to the need for the party to have meaningful support on the ground not just every 4 years, but in what amounts to a perpetual campaign at every level:

"We're ahead of schedule.
New party leadership took charge a hundred days ago with a mandate from you to grow our party everywhere, and grow it from the ground up. Since then teams have visited half the states already to listen and learn what it will take to make that happen. The answers vary from state to state, but one thing is clear: there is no substitute for hiring trained organizers who are local to the area.

So we're going to put several of them on the ground. They will be on the national party payroll and accountable to the same mandate you've given me. Their job will be to recruit local leaders and organize volunteers in every single precinct -- channeling grassroots energy into a permanent, sustained movement for change.

Today I can announce that, thanks to small-dollar donations from across the country, we have the resources to expand into a second group of states: Nevada, Mississippi, Wyoming and Nebraska. You have kick-started the program months before anyone expected.

The timetable is still in your hands. The budget forecast has organizers heading into new states over the next several months. But if Democrats across the country can put an additional $250,000 into the program by this Friday, another state can be added to the list and start hiring right away. Will you make a donation to bring another state online this week? This is your party -- it's up to you: http://www.democrats.org/challenge

Here's what has happened so far: the program started in North Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri. Organizers have started work already -- leveraging resources to beef up infrastructure and reaching out into the community to connect people with the local party. In some cases it\'s the first time the national party has ever interacted with leaders at the precinct level.

These organizers are having two immediate impacts. First, they are a crucial bridge between the local, state and national parties. They have been asked to tie everything together -- to bring our existing resources to bear in new ways. Their job is to take the long-term view -- building not only for the next election but for the next decade. In the four states they have been at work, we are already doing more -- and doing it more efficiently.

The second immediate impact of these organizers: freeing up other resources for the state parties. In Missouri, the resources you put on the ground helped take the state party to the next level. The result: the Missouri Democratic Party is now adding an organizer of its own and sending them into the field.

Today I can announce that, thanks to small-dollar donations from across the country, we have the resources to expand into a second group of states: Nevada, Mississippi, Wyoming and Nebraska. You have kick-started the program months before anyone expected.
The timetable is still in your hands. The budget forecast has organizers heading into new states over the next several months. But if Democrats across the country can put an additional $250,000 into the program by this Friday, another state can be added to the list and start hiring right away.

Will you make a donation to bring another state online this week? This is your party -- it's up to you: http://www.democrats.org/challenge

We have to be everywhere. We can't afford to run seven-month campaigns in a handful of states -- we need to build a permanent infrastructure to elect Democrats at every level of office. Developing that deep bench of leaders and active citizens is the only way to reshape that red and blue map we see every four years."

Last Chance

Here are excerpts from a Reuters news bit on the increasingly shrinking opportunity for moderates on both sides to avert the "nuclear option." This really is at a last chance stage. Hope sanity can win out, and I offer deep respect to those on both sides that are trying.

"Key lawmakers on Sunday said it was still possible a deal could be reached to avert "the nuclear option," a Republican threat in the U.S. Senate to end the ability of Democrats to block President Bush's conservative judicial nominees.

But these lawmakers, among a dozen largely moderate senators in search of a bipartisan compromise, acknowledged time was running out.

"We'll be meeting again tomorrow evening and that will be our last opportunity," Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, told "Fox News Sunday."

Others said talks could stretch into Tuesday, just before potentially climactic Senate votes following a scheduled all-night session.

"We're all grown men and women and we're behaving like we're in the third grade. Yes, it's very doable if people of good faith will come together," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, told CNN's "Late Edition."

Dean on "Meet the Press"

Sunday, May 22, 2005
Excerpts from DNC Chairman Dean's on Meet the Press:

On moral values and the Democratic Party:


"I'm not going to be lectured as a Democrat--we've got some pretty strong moral values in my party, and maybe we ought to do a better job standing up and fighting for them. Our moral values, in contradiction to the Republicans', is we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night. Our moral values say that people who work hard all their lives ought to be able to retire with dignity. Our moral values say that we ought to have a strong, free public education system so that we can level the playing field. Our moral values say that what's going on in Indian country in this country right now in terms of health care and education is a disgrace, and for the president of the United States to cut back on health-care services all over America is wrong."

On abortion:

Here's the problem--and we were outmanipulated by the Republicans; there's no question about it. We have been forced into the idea of "We're going to defend abortion." I don't know anybody who thinks abortion is a good thing. I don't know anybody in either party who is pro-abortion.

The issue is not whether we think abortion is a good thing. The issue is whether a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care, or a family has a right to make up their own mind about how their loved ones leave this world. I think the Republicans are intrusive and they invade people's personal privacy, and they don't have a right to do that.

Let me tell you why I think we ought to--why I want to strike the words "abortion" and "choice." When I campaigned for this job, I talked to lots of Democrats. And there are significant numbers of pro-life Democrats in the South. And one lady said to me, you know, "I'm pro-life. I don't like abortion. I would never have one. I would hope my daughter would never have one. But, you know, if the lady next door got herself in a fix, I'm not sure I should be the one to tell her what to do." Now, we call that woman pro-choice, but she thinks of herself as pro-life. The minute we start with the "pro-choice, pro- choice, pro-choice," she says, "Well, that's not me."

But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is "Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets," then that pro-life woman says "Well, now, you know, I've had people try to make up my mind for me and I don't think that's right."

This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds: the politicians or the individual.

Democrats are for the individual. We believe in individual rights. We believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. And that debate is one that we didn't win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.

We'd like to make abortion rare.

I think it is time now for pro-life Americans and pro-choice Americans or Americans who believe in individual freedom to get together, and we have common ground. The common ground is we'd all like to reduce the number of abortions. But put aside the rhetoric, the difficulty and let's work to reduce the number of abortions. That's something we can agree on. I don't think we're going to get there with abstinence-only education. I don't think we're going to get there if we condemn contraceptions or condom use and all that kind of thing. But let's see what common ground that we have. There are a lot of very reasonable Americans who call themselves pro-life. There are a lot of very reasonable Americans who believe in individual choice and personal responsibility. I think we can work together. There are not many of us who want to see the abortion rate continue to go up as it has under President Bush."

On his own faith:

"I consider myself a deeply religious person. I consider myself a Christian. And I don't--you know, some of the other Christians would dare to say that I'm not a Christian. Frankly, it's what gets my ire up. We get back to the Rush Limbaugh stuff. I am sick of being told what I and what I'm not by other people. I'll tell you what I am. I'm a committed Christian. And the fact of whether I go to church or not, people can say whether I should or shouldn't, I worship in my own way. It came out in the campaign that I pray every night. That's my business. That's not the business of the pharisees who are going to preach to me about what I do and then do something else.

You know, I care about values a lot. And one of the reasons that I care a lot is because of my upbringing. And it was a--I grew up in a Christian household. Now, because I grew up--I'm a congregationalist. People say, "Well, those are liberals." Well, since when do Christians get tagged liberal or conservative? You either believe in the teachings of Jesus or you don't. I do.

And I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I don't go around wearing it on my sleeve. And I think that's a private matter. And I'm happy to talk about it. I've been through a political campaign. There are a lot of folks to whom, you know, that's very important. I respect that. But I'm not going to be lectured to about my own private morality and my own private business by people who don't have the moat taken out of their own eye."

Ron Sider: On Getting Our Own House in Order

Excerpts from a Ron Sider essay at Beliefnet:

"Evangelical political activists are all over the media these days...
However, before evangelical political activists develop grandiose plans to transform America—or liberals succumb to fears of some new Dark Age—we need to ponder some painful facts.

n spite of a strong evangelical commitment to strengthening moral values in American society, evangelicals are often simply not practicing what they preach. In Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, I cite poll after poll that shows, as one evangelical leader noted, “that evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general.”

Evangelical political activists talk a lot about protecting and restoring marriage (and I agree). But numerous polls show that evangelicals and born-again Christians (a somewhat broader category) divorce at the same rate as--or slightly more often than--other Americans. And, according to pollster George Barna, 90% of all born-again folk who are divorced did so after they accepted Christ!

Evangelical political activists promote abstinence programs to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancy (and I agree), but the sexual behavior of evangelical youth is not a lot different from the rest of the society. In the last ten years, several million of the most devout American evangelical youth have signed the “True Love Waits” pledge to abstain from sexual activity until marriage—but a massive recent study found that 88% had broken their promise.

Evangelicals have enthusiastically endorsed President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative to allow faith-based organizations equal access to government funds to run social programs that empower the needy (and I agree). But year after year for more than thirty years evangelical giving to their churches to fund and run these faith-based social programs has dropped—even as their annual incomes have grown larger and larger. Only six percent of born-again Christians give the traditional tithe of 10%. The average for evangelicals is a mere two-fifths of a tithe.

And when it comes to racism, Lord have mercy. In a Gallup poll survey on how people respond to having a black neighbor, evangelicals were more racist than everybody else.

As a card-carrying evangelical, these stats make me weep. And also urge repentance and humility at this moment of alleged political clout. The first thing we must do is put our own house in order. It is a farce for evangelical leaders to ask Washington to legislate what we cannot persuade our own church members to live. We need to embrace the biblical teaching: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” Unless we undertake a massive discipling effort to recover biblical lifestyles and practices, our political activity will be both ineffective and hypocritical.

Evangelicals must also rethink the priorities for their political engagement. There is too much truth to the charge that we have been pro-life only from conception to birth. The sanctity of human life also pertains to people dying from hunger, AIDS, tobacco smoke, and capital punishment.

The tragedy is that many evangelicals have listened more to clever political operators rather than to the Bible we claim to embrace when defining the public policies that shape our votes. Presumably a Christian political agenda ought to be decisively shaped by what the Bible says God cares about. If the hundreds of biblical verses about the poor mean anything, God cares about the poor and oppressed as well as the sanctity of human life. God cares about racial justice and creation care as well as the family. If evangelical political activists want to embrace a biblically balanced agenda, they will have to care about a lot more than abortion and family.

The Bliss Institute at the University of Akron has discovered that less than half of all evangelicals (48%) are what might be labeled the “Religious Right.” More than half of all evangelicals (52%) are centrists and progressives. More than half of all evangelicals want the government to spend more to fight poverty even if that means more taxes on the wealthy (55%) and favor environmental regulations even if that costs jobs (52%).

White evangelicals do represent 26% of the American population and they do have substantial political influence today. But given our frequently one-sided political agenda in the past and our scandalous failure to practice what we preach, this is no time for triumphalism. What we need is honest admission of failure, humility, a readiness to listen carefully to those with whom we disagree, and a new resolve to let the Bible, not the Republican (or Democratic) Party determine our political agenda."

"It's a White Protestant Thing, You Wouldn't Understand"

Saturday, May 21, 2005
From Ruy Teixeira on the latest Gallup poll:

"It's a White Protestant Thing, You Wouldn't Understand

What is the relationship between church attendance and party ID? The conventional wisdom is that those who attend church most frequently lean heavily Republican, while those who attend least frequently lean heavily Democratic. A new Gallup report, based on 30,000 interviews conducted during 2004, confirms this perception.

According to the report, a "macropartisanship" measure tapping the Democratic leanings of a group (defined here as the percentage of Democrats in a group divided by the percent of Democrats plus the percent of Republicans in that group) has a value of 40 among those who attend church once a week, 45 among those who attend almost every week, 54 among those who go once a month, 56 among those who seldom attend and 61 among those who never attend. That indicates a pretty strong and uncomplicated relationship between church attendance and Democratic leanings.

But among important subgroups of the population this relationship is considerably more muddled. Among blacks, for example, the relationship is considerably weaker and more erratic, going from 88 to 92 to 94 to 95 and back to 94, as you go from highest to lowest attendance. And among white Catholics the relationship is also quite weak and even more erratic, going from 49 to 47 to 46 to 57 to 54, as you move from highest to lowest levels of church attendance.

Given this, what's driving the strong relationship we see in the overall data on church attendance and partisanship? It's all about white protestants: at the highest level of church attendance, macropartisanship is 25, rising to 32, 41 , 47 and finally 52 at the lowest level of church attendance.

So when Democrats worry about the relationship between religious observance and voting Republican, they should focus that worry on white protestants. Among other groups of voters, it's just not that big a deal."

(Conservative Writer's) Quote of the Day

Andrew Sullivan has written some of the best work I've seen on torture and it's use in our war on terror. Here is his latest:

"THE SPIN ON TORTURE: It has gone chronologically something like this: "It's not true. It's not true. It may be true but it's not torture. Okay, it's torture, but isn't official policy. It may be true and official policy, but we changed the policy and we uncovered the abuses ourselves. It may be true, it may have been widespread, but we've punished the culprits. It may be true, it may have been widespread, it may still be happening, but all these reports are old news." Well, give these guys points for effort. How about: it is true; it should never have happened; the people responsible for the policy as well as the criminals should be punished. Ah, but that would mean taking responsibility, wouldn't it? And we don't do that in this administration, do we? Even at the expense of hurting the war effort and staining the reputation of countless great soldiers in a noble cause."

It's On (Part II)

Friday, May 20, 2005
From ABCNews:

"Senate Republicans set the stage for a showdown next Tuesday over the filibusters blocking several of President Bush's judicial nominees, a historic vote that could determine whether an out-of-power party can stop a president from placing like-minded jurists on the nation's highest courts.

Unless compromise-minded centrists can strike a deal before then, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will force a test vote Tuesday on Texas judge Priscilla Owen's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Under the expected chain of events set in motion Friday:

If the nomination doesn't garner 60 votes the threshold for overcoming a filibuster Frist then will have the presiding officer, expected to be Vice President Dick Cheney in his role as Senate president, declare that filibusters are illegal for Supreme Court and federal appellate court nominees."

quote of the day

Thursday, May 19, 2005
"When Matthew, Mark, and Luke talk about the Kingdom of God, it's always closely related to social justice. It's not just personal and eternal, as the conservatives say, and it's not only social and historic, as the liberals tend to say. The Kingdom of God integrates both sides -- personal and social, private and public, secret and visible, spiritual and political, historic and eternal, earth and beyond. It's about character and love, which are personal and individual and hidden, and it's about justice and peace, which are public and social and visible."

Brian Mclaren

Full Text of Calvin College Open Letter to Bush

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Tip of the hat to Ichtus for this full open letter to W, from +100 Calvin College faculty members:

"An Open Letter to the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush

On May 21, 2005, you will give the commencement address at Calvin College. We, the undersigned, respect your office, and we join the college in welcoming you to our campus. Like you, we recognize the importance of religious commitment in American political life.

We seek open and honest dialogue about the Christian faith and how it is best expressed in the political sphere. While recognizing God as sovereign over individuals and institutions alike, we understand that no single political position should be identified with God's will, and we are conscious that this applies to our own views as well as those of others. At the same time we see conflicts between our understanding of what Christians are called to do and many of the policies of your administration.
As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort. We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq.

As Christians we are called to lift up the hungry and impoverished. We believe your administration has taken actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor.

As Christians we are called to actions characterized by love, gentleness, and concern for the most vulnerable among us. We believe your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees.

As Christians we are called to be caretakers of God's good creation. We believe your environmental policies have harmed creation and have not promoted long-term stewardship of our natural environment.

Our passion for these matters arises out of the Christian faith that we share with you. We ask
you, Mr. President, to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy, and we pray for wisdom for you and all world leaders.

Concerned faculty, staff, and emeriti of Calvin College"

Seperated at Birth?

Bolton and Wally Walrus (Star of the 1945 comic short "Chew Chew Baby, The Dippy Diplomat"): Seperated at birth?

It's On

The process of kicking off the senate Nuclear option is on....Repubs just kicked it off....

Calvin College Professors: "Evangelical Christianity "A Much Broader Spectrum" Than the Religious Right

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Kudos. Nicely done:

"One-third of the professors at an evangelical Christian college in Grand Rapids, Mich., are taking out a large ad in a local newspaper Saturday to protest President Bush's commencement speech.

"As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort," the ad will say. "We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq."

The 130 signatories, which include 20 staff members, work at Calvin College. Founded in 1876 as a school for pastors of the Christian Reformed Church, it now is one of the nation's flagship schools for a Christian liberal-arts education.

"No single political position should be identified with God's will," says the ad, which also chastises the president for "actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor."

Christians are to be characterized by love and gentleness, it adds, but "we believe that your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees."

Moreover, says the letter, set to run in the Grand Rapids Press, the Bush administration's environmental policies "have harmed creation," and it asks the president "to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy."

"Some think we should be honored to have the president here," religion professor David Crump said. "We're excited by the opportunity to show people that evangelical Christianity is represented by a much broader spectrum of opinion than is depicted by the religious right and the media."

"We are not Lynchburg," he said, referring to the more conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. "We are not right wing; we're not left wing. We think our faith trumps political ideology."

(Conservative Writer's) Quote of the Day

Monday, May 16, 2005
Andrew Sullivan on the fillibuster crisis:

"Like an increasingly bitter family argument, neither side seems able to do what they used to do: come up with less polarising nominees or agree to let some candidates through, while quietly ditching the others. In the past few weeks, several deals have been floated to avoid a drastic piece of legislative precedent. But none has endured. It has become all or nothing.

And so the pressure builds. What’s remarkable is that nobody knows quite how the battle will play out. To make matters more dramatic, the Democrats are threatening essentially to shut down parliamentary debate on legislation if the judicial filibuster is abolished. And looming behind all this is the prospect of two Supreme Court vacancies that could open up as early as next month.

If the judicial filibuster is abolished, Bush may have the option of nominating far more conservative justices than he might otherwise have — and the entire future of America’s culture wars could be resolved in favour of the religious right. So the fight could affect American politics for decades."

DNC Primary Reform

This is a key issue for the party, and to me reform here is clearly needed. I'm educating myself on the different proposals and will put up what info I can find. Here is an overview of the issue:

"A commission set up by the Democratic National Committee to study the primary system met in Chicago to discuss whether New Hampshire should continue to be the site of the first primary. A trio of Democrats from Michigan led the attack on the New Hampshire primary, saying the state has a stranglehold on the process and forces candidates to sign the New Hampshire pledge to keep the first primary in the state.

The Michigan critics said that they want a new system that starts with smaller states and then crescendos to a big finish in big states, with New Hampshire not playing any significant role.
"Retail politics does not justify the monopoly by Iowa and New Hampshire," said Tina Abbott, vice chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party.

Michigan Democratic Party member Debbie Dingell said that New Hampshire's priorities don't reflect the rest of the country.

"Their issues are not ours, like the issue of manufacturing and urban issues," Dingell said.

A separate group pitched a separate reform that would divide the nation into four regions with a rotating primary, but New Hampshire and Iowa would stay first.
"The reasoning is tradition, " said Leslie Reynolds, of the National Association of Secretaries of State. "They do it well, and we should improve the process without being too radical."
Two New Hampshire members are on the committee, including former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Commission leaders said that their key goal is to get a strong Democrat nominated for president.
The DNC will make a final decision on the primary system by February 2006. Any change will affect the 2008 primary schedule."

Kerryfish.com

http://www.kerryfish.com

Oh, wait, nevermind. False alarm.

More on BushFish

A few more quick thoughts on the BushFish.

one: Jesus Junk is junk after all, and shouldn't be taken TOO seriously. And it's not like folks haven't tried to sell the Fish as a symbol of America before. Or the cross for that matter.

In essence, I echo the Slacktivist blog's comments that the Bushfish fridge magnet doesn't quite qualify as "the abomination that causes desolation, standing in the holy place."

two: That said, it is a cultural artifact of sorts, and even if the fine folks at bushfish were just involved in a bit of not well thought through "product development" in the ever growing christian fish marketplace, it still points to a troubling fact that they percieve that there is a marketplace for what in essence combines a "political campaign bumper sticker" with what is or was a historic family crest and proclaimation of Christ that predates the cross or the crucifix.
And if you question why folks both inside and outside the Church are concerned about a theocratic mixing the State's authority wrongly over and with the Church's authority...then check out the language at the Bushfish site that spells out what the Bushfish symbol merely illustrates: "God belongs in government"...or that "the Lord" Himself should have a place in our "public institutions." At my most charitable, I'd say that is messy, blurry langugage designed to incite passion and a magnet sale...rather than anything more serious.
Mark Borowitz described the fear this language also evokes:

"SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE VANISHES, REPLACED BY NEW ENTITY CALLED STURCH

The separation of church and state, long considered a hallmark of American democracy, vanished early Sunday morning, replaced by a new institution called sturch.

While the exact shape and dimensions of the new church-state entity, sturch, remain to be determined, President Bush today installed as its official leader the Reverend Bill Frist (R-Tenn), the star player in this week’s “Justice Sunday” broadcast.

At a formal swearing-in ceremony at the former White House, now called the Big White Cathedral, Rev. Frist said that jettisoning the wall between church and state would benefit all Americans “except those who are anti-faith, and they know who they are.”

He added that by combining the two traditionally separate institutions, sturch would allow congregants to seek salvation and motor vehicle renewals on Sunday without leaving their pews."


Of course this satire, and the actual fears behind "Sturch" are mostly just fears not reality, BushFish doesn't help calm anybody's nerves on the whole thing.(On the other hand, my more conspiracy minded friends keep reminding me about the Monty Python adage that "Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition")

And if the Bushfish folks every deciede to branch out into HilaryFish, or ObamaFish I'd be the first ones to picket them, and remind them what ICTHUS stands for.

National support for Gay Civil Unions

As cited in the Boston Globe, ecent polling continues to be against gay marriage:

"Nearly a year after same-sex couples were legally allowed to marry in Massachusetts, 50 percent of respondents said they opposed recognizing same-sex marriages from Massachusetts ''as legal in all 50 states," and 46 percent favored it. The respondents also said they disapproved of ''gay and lesbian couples being allowed to get married" by 50 percent to 37 percent."

However there is hope as a majority of people in this same survey would support civil unions:


"Forty-six percent of respondents backed civil unions that would give gay couples ''some, but not all, of the legal rights of married couples" while 41 percent said they were opposed. Vermont and Connecticut have legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but Massachusetts remains the only state that has legalized same-sex marriage."

To me both democrats who support gay marriage, and those who do not, should unite and focus almost all of their efforts in this issue at creating a well crafted models of what civil unions can be, how they can help protect the civil rights of gay couples, and work to implement them as broadly as we can. I am curious what others think, and if anyone has seen good strategic thinking on the civil unions front?

quote of the day

"When I wrote it, Iraq didn't exist. We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that point.

In terms of evil, one of the original concepts was how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship.

"The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."

George Lucas, on Star Wars and Iraq

Good Questions

Sunday, May 15, 2005
Brian Mclaren on a narrative understanding of Scripture and asking quesions of our present story we find ourselves in...

"When you have a sense of the Biblical narrative, you stop reading the Bible so much as a source of proof-texts for a systematic theology ... and you read it more as a conversation taking place in an unfolding story.

As well, when we enter the narrative imaginatively, we start asking, "Why would Jeremiah say this? Why would Jacob do that? Why would an editor include this story in this way, in obvious tension with the way the same story was told in that other version? What was Habbakuk trying to get his readers to feel, do, think - in their specific historic/political/religious context?" That's when things - for me, anyway - get even more interesting.

Of course, all of this brings us to look at our world - Darfur, Congo, North Korea, the Religious Right, the global economy, Bill O'Reilly, American Idol - and ask the right questions here and now. What dangers do we need to expose and confront? What sparks of hope or virtue do we need to fan? Who is suffering and forgotten? How does God want us to respond?"

Quote of the Day

Friday, May 13, 2005
"Jesus did not come to make good men better, he came to make dead men live."

-- John Wesley

Product of the Day: The "BushFish"

As we talked about before the idea that “civil religion” can almost instantly become heresy, I offer as evidence the cultural artifact that is the BushFish ™

From the site Bushfish.org:

Do you Believe God Belongs in Government? Do you Believe that President Bush is Doing the Lord’s Work?

Then Show Your Love for God and the USA!

If you are tired of secularists telling you that The Lord has no place in our government and our public institutions, then show them that you disagree.This symbol, this site, and this car magnet have been created for the millions of Americans who support the President and his vision for a government that embraces religion, morality, and family values. It shows worship to the Lord, respect for the President, and hope for all.”



http://www.bushfish.org/index.html

Telling a Big Story - "This is My Father's World"

From the latest day of the online conference on Progressive spirituality at the Rockridge Institute site...here is a post in their online discussion from Peter Sawtel that I really like. The general topic of the day is framing, and how it applies to religious and political discussion. Here is what Peter wrote:

"Larger Frames

I absolutely agree that "Framing Faith more broadly in terms of stewardship for all living creatures and ecosystems on earth is necessary."

In my work with Eco-Justice Ministries (www.eco-justice.org), I've found lots of positive response when I point to two contrasting faith frames as defined by children's hymns. "This Is My Father's World" ...starts with a creation-inclusive perspective where all things are in relation to God. "Jesus Loves Me" is inherently personalistic and individualistic.

If a person or congregation generally lives out of a "Jesus Loves Me" frame, then ecological or social justice concerns are always marginal, or even incomprehensible.

The "Jesus Loves Me" churches can be grounded in either grace/nurture or punishment/"stong father" perspectives -- but in either case they see the faith relationship as a personal thing.
The "family" metaphor is powerful, and the "nurturing family" frame certainly opens up the most progressive options. A lot depends, though, on how broadly the "family" is extended -- does the family include other species, or natural systems? Those extensions are not automatically evoked from the family model.

In my Christian faith context, God not only can, but must stretch the social models of family metaphors. That is how we get to inclusive notions of "the creation" as encompassing humans and other-than-human, and of "stewardship" as a form of responsibility for what we don't own.

The size of the frame -- personal or communal, human or cosmic -- has to be considered along with other dynamics of framing."

Quote of the Day: "On the Verge"

"I just think we are on the verge now of a complete breakdown of any remnants of civility left in the United States Senate. I really do. I tell you, I’ve been watching Washington for a long time and I think the atmosphere is poisonous and it’s bitter and it’s only going to get worse."

Tim Russert, May 13th, 2005

Bush's Motives on Social Security

People continue to see this for what it is:

"The Wall Street Journal reports: "Most Americans don't trust President Bush's motives when it comes to overhauling Social Security, a recent Harris Interactive poll shows.
"In fact, only 36% of all adults say Mr. Bush's comments on saving and strengthening Social Security are his real motives for changing the program, while 49% believe his real agenda is to dismantle it."

Quote of the Day Part Two

Thursday, May 12, 2005
Urelated to the Quote of the Day Part I, but too good to pass up.

As found by David Sirota, who comments: "President Bush, a Texas oil millionaire, is trying to
abolish social security as we know it, starve unemployment programs, weaken labor laws, and gut rural/farm programs."

Here is the quote:

"This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, 1954

Quote of the Day

With a tip of the hat to PoliticalWire, and the New York Daily News:

"They're in the business to beat us. When they come out after you, it is a contact sport. Get better tactics. Don't wuss around. And quit saying, 'They're so mean and vicious.' They only do it because it works. When they don't do it anymore, we can go back to a more civilized way of doing business."

- Bill Clinton, on how Democrats can win against Republicans

Bolton: What Happens Next

From Think Progress:

"Ordinarily, there would be a vote to send Bolton’s nomination to the floor with a favorable recommendation. Since Sen. Voinovich said he would vote against that, it would fail, 9-9. Sen. Lugar may not even bother.
Lugar will likely have a committee vote to send Bolton’s nomination to the full Senate without recommendation. Voinovich said he would vote for that. Assuming everyone else sticks to party lines, this will pass 10-8.
Bolton’s nomination will then go to the full Senate. Sens. Chu ck Hagel (R-NE) and Voinovich are likely to vote against the nomination. If all Democrats vote against Bolton that means there are 47 votes opposing. Four other Republicans would have to persuaded to vote against Bolton to block his confirmation.
Or, there could be a filibuster."

"Setting off the God-ar"

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
From Mark Joseph's posting over at the Huffingtons Post blog, via Jesus Politics:

"My rejected 2000 piece noted that Gore had essentially tried to fool devout Christians with God-talk-using phrases like "I am a child of the kingdom"-language that is basically a secular person's idea of how a religious person might talk and instantly recognizable to the latter as phony.

The same phenomenon re-appeared in 2004 when John Kerry-perceived rightly or not as a northeastern secularist-tried out his own God-talk. With complicated explanations of why his Catholic faith animated his politics in some cases (war and poverty) and not in others (abortion and gay marriage), reminders that he was once an altar boy, and lengthy quotations of Scripture, Kerry tried and failed to convince devout churchgoers that he was of their tribe or even understood them.

For Democrats the lessons of 2004 are there to be learned if they want to win. Americans are deeply religious, very sophisticated and able to figure out when they are being conned. Forget Gay-dar, they have God-dar, and a candidate who tries to fool them does so at his own peril.

God-dar also applies to media types too by the way. When a reporter uses the term "offered prayers" instead of "prayed," or refers to a denomination within Christianity as a "religion" (e.g., 'the Baptist religion') the God-dar is set off as well.

Immediately after the election many pundits seemed shocked at the revelation that for many voters the top issue of concern was not the economy or the war in Iraq but moral values. Shocking? Hardly. Confronted with issues like gay marriage and partial birth abortion, many devout churchgoers decided things had simply gone too far.

But there are at least two options left for people who Schieffer might describe as "religious in a secular way:" The most effective would be to suspend disbelief in God and pray for a Left-Behind style rapture wherein all true believers are taken up into heaven leaving America looking more like Europe, and ready to vote in a Kerry or Clinton II administration.

Or they might consider adjusting to the obvious reality that America is a deeply religious nation and elections are most likely to be won by Democrats who aren't religious "in a secular way," and don't set off the God-dar."

"The stakes in politcs are about to get a lot higher"

Snippets from E.J. Donne on current and near-term events:

"The stakes in politics are about to get a lot higher.

The partisan battles in the coming weeks -- on judges, Social Security and the future of Tom DeLay -- are part of a larger struggle in which Republicans are seeking to establish themselves as the dominant party in American politics. Essential to their quest is persuading Democrats, or at least a significant number in their ranks, to accept long-term minority status.

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a leading figure in both the DeLay and Bush political operations, chose more colorful post-election language to describe the future. "Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans," he told Richard Leiby of The Washington Post. "Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they've been 'fixed,' then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful."

If you wonder in the coming weeks why Democrats are so reluctant to give ground, remember Norquist's jocular reference to neutering the opposition party. Democrats are neither contented nor cheerful over the prospect of being "fixed." Should that surprise anyone? "

Tell Sen. Chafee: "No on Bolton!"

"Barbara Boxer has launched a 24-hour advocacy blitz to urge Senator Lincoln Chafee to change his mind on John Bolton's nomination as UN Ambassador. Senator Chafee may well be our last chance to stop this terrible nomination in the Foreign Relations Committee, before it advances to the Senate floor.

Please join Senator Boxer and me in this critical action by visiting this link..."

New Think Tank: The New Poltics Institute

I have hopes for a new progressive political think tank that was just announced, The New Politics Institute. I have great respect for Simon Rosenberg, Joe Trippi and blogger Markos Moulitas among it's other impressive founders. And I clearly believe in their focus on the role of the Internet and what political action looks like in the post-broadcast era. Here is their press release:

The New Politics Institute (NPI) has been established by people from across the country and across the political spectrum to help progressives succeed on the dynamic new battlefield of 21st century politics.

The New Politics Institute is a think tank for politics. Working like a conventional policy-oriented think tank, NPI will assemble some of the finest minds in progressive politics, the non-profit world and the private sector to study, master, incubate and promote new strategies, technologies and techniques for the rapidly changing politics of this new century.

NPI’s staff and Fellows will focus on three developments which are fundamentally transforming the daily practice of progressive politics. They are:

The rise of the conservative movement – Through the shrewd investment of billions of dollars over a generation, the conservative movement has built a powerful 21st century political machine that has transformed American politics and culture, among other things ending the 100-year-long dominance of progressive thought and politics. NPI will help progressives better understand this new machine and offer strategies for taking it on each day.

The emergence of a different America – Rapidly changing demographic, socio-economic and attitudinal trends are forging a 21st century America very different from the 20th century America around which progressives constructed their long and successful majority coalition. Building on the path breaking work of The New Democrat Network’s New Majority Coalition Project and its Hispanic Project, NPI will help progressives develop modern strategies for understanding and reaching the coming America of the 21st century.

The end of the Broadcast era, the arrival of a new age of media, marketing and communications – The aggressive march of the Internet, broadband, digital recording devices, mobile technologies and modern databases is profoundly transforming the average citizen’s relationship to information. For over forty years American politics has been organized around the Broadcast model. That model – from one to many – is giving way to a new, dynamic and evolving model that is little understood and not commonly practiced. This new era of media, marketing and communications is already very different from the Broadcast era, and will be more personal, more intimate, more participatory, more iterative, more decentralized, more real-time and increasingly multi-media. Helping progressives understand and master the strategies, technologies and techniques of this new era will be one of NPI’s highest priorities.


NPI will have its primary offices in the Bay Area and Washington, DC, but will draw on a network of Fellows from across the country. Staff and Fellows will attempt to modernize the practice of progressive politics through presentations, private and public briefings and commentary in the media. NPI will hold its first conferences this fall in the Bay Area and Washington, DC.

NPI’s founding team includes Sergio Bendixen, Jamie Daves, Gina Glantz, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Mark Penn, Cecile Richards, Simon Rosenberg, Joe Trippi and Theo Yedinsky. President Bay Area philanthropists Andy and Deborah Rappaport have provided NPI a substantial start-up grant. NPI is also pleased to have The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as a major partner in the start-up phase of this exciting new venture.

NPI’s first several projects will include a new report on the Hispanic electorate by NPI Fellow Sergio Bendixen, a new major report on building a new majority coalition by prominent pollster and strategist Mark Penn and a report on the future of progressive media by NPI Fellow Jamie Daves. NPI will also be showcasing the internet television technology of a new start-up, Participatory Culture (www. participatoryculture.org).

More on NPI can be found at www.ndnpac.org.