Monday, February 20, 2006

Unsurprisingly Digby

Democrat Libre


The grassroots of the Democratic Party see something that all the establishment politicians have not yet realized: bipartisanship is dead for the moment and there is no margin in making deals. The rules have changed. When you capitulate to the Republicans for promises of something down the road you are being a fool. When you make a deal with them for personal reasons, you are selling out your party. When you use Republican talking points to make your argument you are helping the other side. When you kiss the president on the lips at the state of the union you are telling the Democratic base that we are of no interest or concern to you. This hyper-partisanship is ugly and it's brutal, but it is the way it is. [more]

Poll: Jesse Jackson, Condi Rice are Nation's Top Black Leaders

Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2006
By: Will Lester, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice get the top support among blacks asked to name the nation's "most important black leader," according to an AP-AOL Black Voices poll. Next come Colin Powell and Barack Obama.

Many blacks question whether any one person can wear the leadership mantle for such a large and diverse group of people. At the same time, two-thirds in the poll said leaders in their communities were effective representatives of their interests.

When blacks were asked to come up with the person they considered "the most important black leader," 15 percent chose Jackson, a civil rights activist who ran for president in the 1980s, while 11 percent picked Secretary of State Rice, 8 percent chose former Secretary of State Powell, and 6 percent named Obama, a freshman Democratic senator from Illinois.

About one-third declined to volunteer a name.

Two of the four mentioned most often -- Rice and Powell -- are from a Republican administration that is unpopular with most blacks.

Less than one in five of those polled, 18 percent, said the current black leadership is doing a "very effective" job of representing the black community. Half described black leadership as "somewhat effective."

"I'm kind of disillusioned," said retiree John Manning, who says the leadership is somewhat effective. The Democrat from Port Charlotte, Fla., added: "They seem to be going in different directions, there doesn't seem to be a cohesiveness."

The answers to the open-ended question about leadership were divided among a number of well-known black Americans, a sharp contrast to the 1960s when Martin Luther King Jr. was recognized as the leading voice among many prominent civil rights leaders.

Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan got 4 percent; talk show host Oprah Winfrey received 3 percent; King, who was killed in 1968, got 3 percent, and former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton got 2 percent. Some 14 percent picked somebody else.

One in five, 21 percent, said they were not sure whom to name among current black leaders and 13 percent chose no one. A few in the poll, 1 percent, named themselves.

"What is 'the most important black leader?'" asked Thomas Miller, a 59-year-old political independent who lives in Philadelphia. "You have to lead your own self, don't put that on anybody else. Putting faith in somebody else is blind."

At the height of the civil rights movement, the need to rally behind individual black leaders was more clearcut.

"In the days of segregation, when blacks were limited to certain neighborhoods, you could look around the black community and identify who the leaders were," said Roger Wilkins, a history professor at George Mason University and a former Justice Department official involved in the civil rights movement.

There have been dramatic changes for blacks, who have closed the income gap considerably with whites over the past few decades.

"There's been an extraordinary expansion of the black middle class and a shift in the locus of leadership," said Michael Eric Dyson, an analyst of racial politics and author of "Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster." "A more diversified black community doesn't find it necessary to have one voice."

For Karissa Ayers, a 25-year-old Democratic-leaning mother of three from East Moline, Ill., the most meaningful comments about Katrina's disastrously slow recovery effort came from a popular hip-hop performer who blamed racial bias.

"I liked everything Kanye West had to say about the hurricane and everything he had to say about President Bush," Ayers said. However, blacks say by a 2-1 margin that hip-hop artists are a negative influence, rather than positive. Younger people were more likely to say they are a positive influence.

Galvanized by the images from Katrina news coverage, black activists and elected leaders around the country are considering new strategies for making gains for blacks, both politically and economically.

The changing of the guard in leadership in black America was highlighted by the recent deaths of civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader.

"The old has passed away," Bernice King said in her mother's eulogy last week in a church in the Atlanta suburbs. "There is a new order that is emerging."

The AP-AOL Black Voices poll of 600 black adults was conducted by telephone from Jan. 9 to Feb. 3 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

New Thread??

Enjoy the Coffee Break!!

How scary is this?

I regulary receive email from Tony Perkins and his Family Research Council (keep you friends close, yada yada yada). Today I got this in the email:

Let Only Americans Stand Guard
Today is Presidents' Day and that wisdom from our first President, George Washington, is worth considering. General Washington gave an order at Valley Forge: "Let only Americans stand guard this night." The Bush administration would do well to heed that order. The administration is wrangling with Congress over a plan to let Dubai Ports World (DPW) run American ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Miami. Chairman Peter King (R-NY) of the House Homeland Security Committee raised questions about DPW's hiring decisions. DPW is based in the United Arab Emirates, the region from which many terrorists have been recruited. King asked: "How are they going to guard against infiltration by al Qaeda?" Leading Democrats have also jumped on the issue. Secretary Michael Chertoff has tried to reassure critics, saying that the U.S. Coast Guard will continue to handle all sensitive security issues at the ports. Wrong answer, Mr. Secretary! The Coast Guard is understaffed and overworked. Do we really want foreign nationals intimately involved in a whole array of cargo handling and inspections? Do we want them to become thoroughly familiar with some of our nation's most sensitive security procedures? Given the threat that America now faces, we should not have to question the loyalties of the watchmen.

Oh my Goddess...I actually agree with these people? I realize that not everyone in the Middle East is a terrorist, I really do. But this is kind of on a par with, oh, I don't know....having China build our military equipment. There's just certain things you don't friggin' outsource!

I wonder if the Religious Wrong have finally realized what a LOSER they backed.


From the Marine helicopter crash in Africa.
1st Lt. Brandon R. Dronet
Sgt. James F. Fordyce
Lance Cpl. Samuel W. Large
Sgt. Donnie Leo F. Levens
Cpl. Matthieu Marcellus
Sgt. Jonathan E. McColley
Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Sovie
Capt. Bryan D. Willard

Air Force
SrA. Alecia S. Good
Staff Sgt. Luis M. Melendez Sanchez

Semper Fi

Getting better at pics

Pirates and Emperors

Ok, I mentioned this in a comment yesterday, but wanted to emphasize it a bit more. Plus, wanted to practice this posting of pictures voo-doo I've never really mastered.

It's a 6 minute video, in the style of School House Rocks, using the sentiments of Noam Chomsky. Worth the time, I promise!

A friend needs our prayers

Over the weekend, Amanda's partner Rob suffered a heart attack. He appears to be on the mend, and should come home today...but if you are prone to pray, perhaps today would be a good time to mention Mr. Rob. I have met him and he is an extraordinary person, full of life and love and is far more courageous than most. Just FYI.

Monday Moanin' Thread

30 Years After Black Political Convention, Activists Returning to Gary

Date: Sunday, February 19, 2006
By: Michael H. Cottman

A new generation of black elected officials and civil rights activists will meet in Gary, Indiana next month to discuss a national strategy for black economic empowerment 34 years after the National Black Political Convention, where an unprecedented group of black leaders convened in Gary to initiate political change.

A coalition of black leaders will gather again in the city from March 9 to 12 to create a long-term economic plan for all black Americans, regardless of income status or political affiliation.

"The gathering in Gary affords the opportunity to return to the site of a historic gathering to create another moment in the journey of our people," Bruce S. Gordon, president of the NAACP, told last week. "Focusing on economic equality is my priority. Any attempt to establishing an agenda for action is worth the trip."

In 1972, more than 4,000 black activists assembled in Gary for what became one of the largest black political conventions in U.S. history. At that time, according to organizers, only 16 blacks were members of the U.S. Congress, less than 900 were state and city officials, and there was no national strategy for gaining further political empowerment.

Today, there are more than 16,000 black elected officials, holding office at every level, in almost every state. In the past 34 years, Americans have witnessed one black elected as governor of Virginia; three blacks elected lieutenent governor; two elected to the U.S. Senate; 47 newly elected members to the U.S. House of Representatives -- and numerous big-city mayors, state legislators and county and regional elected officials.

Organizers say confirmed conference participants include political activists such as Harry Belafonte, Dick Gregory, former U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former SCLC leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rev. Al Sharpton, SCLC President Charles Steele and Mary Frances Berry, former Chair of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights. Others include General Motors Vice President Roderick Gillum, Joseph Leonard, executive director of the National Black Leadership Forum, and Mary Coleman, chair of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

The conference comes as some blacks are questioning the role of today’s black leadership mega-meetings and whether such grand-scale conferences resonate with blacks who are struggling to make ends meet, particularly those who are still displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Some say smaller, manageable neighborhood meetings are more realistic strategies for addressing the black community’s tremendous needs.

But Ron Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland and an organizer for the meeting in Gary, said the gathering in "this historic venue" has broad implications for black Americans.

"It could service the mobilization for the coming mid-term congressional elections and beyond, and give another push to the response to the Katrina disaster," Walters told

Next month’s convention, which will likely draw several thousand participants, was organized by Bill Lucy, one of the leaders of Coalition of Black Trade Unions and the international secretary-treasurer of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.

"The broad aim of this convention is to bring together the collective wisdom, creativity and resources in our community, to map out a bold economic agenda that will unite us in communities of color across the nation," Lucy said in a statement.

Lucy said many leaders in the labor movement and the Democratic Party have taken black workers and black voters for granted, while denying them access to resources to fully mobilize their communities. "We must think nationally and act locally," Lucy said.

Donna Brazile, a Democratic political consultant, told that "if this convention helps to establish principles for black political unity, I will strongly support it."

Some black conservatives say they embrace the concept of next month’s gathering, but said the conference should be more politically inclusive.

"There is some merit to these types of meetings in that they promote inclusion and unity among leaders of different organizations, who in theory, can go back and mobilize the black community," Alvin Williams, president of the conservative Black America’s Political Action Committee, told

"One concern with many of these gatherings is that they are inherently partisan in nature and scope," Williams said. "For true unity and to maximize our political leverage, a conference of unity should be inclusive of African-American elected officials and leaders from across the political spectrum."

Craig Kirby, director of the office of the Vice Chairs for the Democratic National Committee, told the meeting is "a great reunion" for black leaders, but questions whether the event will actually uplift disadvantaged black Americans who are trying to improve the quality of their lives.

"I’ve never seen a mass meeting do anything for a movement," Kirby said. "I’m not taking anything away from these people or their accomplishments because I’ve worked for some of them, but I think we’re better served by going back to basics with neighborhood block meetings. If you can get 15 people on your block to do something, that’s better than 400 people doing nothing."

Organizers say the "Back to Gary" movement underscores the role of black labor that has historical ties to A. Philip Randolph’s call for a national march for jobs in 1963. Randolph’s efforts, according to organizers, resulted in the historic March on Washington in 1963.

"This meeting presents a rare opportunity for us to talk among ourselves," former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher said in a statement. "The shocking disaster of Hurricane Katrina is a sobering reminder that poverty and racism still takes a deadly toll on our communities."

Despite Hike in Young Voters in 2004, Rock the Vote May Close Doors

Date: Thursday, February 16, 2006
By: Monica Lewis,

A slew of celebrity participation and the intention to increase voter turnout amongst young people might not be enough to keep Rock the Vote rocking on.

The 16-year-old nonprofit organization, founded in Los Angeles, has downsized its staff from 20 to two in recent years and has recently disclosed that it is $500,000 in debt.

A staple on MTV during presidential elections, Rock the Vote used star power to get teenagers and young adults interested in the political process. According to its website, Rock the Vote registered 1.4 million voters during the 2004 presidential race, making stops at college campuses and producing star-studded ad campaigns of today’s hottest music and Hollywood personalities.

The organization’s director, Hans Riemer, told the Associated Press earlier this week that Rock the Vote will solicit donations to stay afloat and will likely reorganize. Calls made by to the group’s Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles offices were not immediately returned by press time. However, the organization did release a letter to the Los Angeles Times stating that it used all of its credit to finance activities surrounding the 2004 presidential campaign, citing an anticipated surge in voter registration amongst young people.

The spending was approved under the administration of Jehmu Greene, who was president of Rock the Vote from 2003 to 2005. Under the leadership of Greene, who is black, Rock the Vote’s membership grew from 1,500 to 1 million. Attempts to reach Greene, who served on the Democratic National Committee’s Commission on Presidential Timing and Scheduling last year, were unsuccessful.

G. Terry Madonna, a professor of political science at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., said while their efforts are admirable, organizations like Rock the Vote, for the most part, will generally find they have huge hurdles to clear.

“One of the problems we have is sort of sustaining young people’s interest in elections,” Madonna told, adding that Rock the Vote’s target demographic -- people ages 18 to 24, generally have the lowest voter turnout.

“I’ve always found that there are some periods when young folks get invigorated or interested in certain issues, but then it’s very hard to sustain that momentum,” Madonna said, citing the upcoming mid-term elections as a perfect example.

“I have not seen anything in the last year or so that really indicates there’s some tremendous interest by young people in these elections,” he said. “When you focus on a presidential election, everyone is pretty excited, but what do you do about a young person in a state where they may have a gubernatorial race, but none for U.S. senator? Or, a person in a southern state where a candidate’s reelection is a lock. It’s hard to motivate people to care about these types of elections.”

Amaya Smith, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said Rock the Vote has offered candidates a great forum to address young voters new to the election process. She hopes that the organization can survive and continue reaching out to young people, including black voters.

“They were effective and vocal in mobilizing people, including young African-Americans,” Smith told, adding that today’s younger voters may not be as indifferent to the election process as some might believe. With the number of controversies surrounding the Bush administration, including the war in Iraq and drastic cuts in student aid, young black voters have a vested interest in who is elected in all levels of government.

“Young people are talking and blogging about the current president and his policies. And a lot of them are discontent about the war, which they feel directly affects them,” Smith said. “When you’re in the midst of a war and many of the casualties are young people, this will motivate a lot of people.

“The message we’re trying to send,” Smith continued, “is that these mid-terms elections help to determine the state of the presidential elections. Congress and House seats are very important because they often are the ones who make key decisions about things like going to war or student aid.”

Regardless of what the outcome of Rock the Vote's woes are, Madonna believes it will be hard for such groups to match or better the voter turnout of 2004, in which 70 percent of registered voters made it to the polls.

“You’d have to go back to 1960 to find anything close to that. The excitement and zeal of young voters seems to dissipate over time,” Madonna said. “With or without Rock the Vote, it will be difficult to keep it up.”

The Religious Right Ten Commandments

1-Thou shalt exalt wealth and power before me.

2-Thou shalt make unto thee graven political images to bash Democrats with

3-Thou shalt not take the name of George W. Bush in vain

4-Remember the Sabbath day is great for pitching GOP policies and talking points

5-Honor the GOP and the conservative movement above thy mother and father

6-Thou shalt not kill unless it is a death row prisoner

7-Thou shalt not commit adultery unless you are a GOP legislator or a defender of 'family values'

8-Thou shalt not steal unless it is an election or you’re working for a company that supports GOP candidates

9-Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor unless you work for Fox News, a Republican politician or are a right wing talk show host

10-Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s unless it is their oil reserves


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