Saturday, December 31, 2005

The 90 Minute Experience

(This is a first draft)

30: Team Building

- Introductions
- Personal Stories
- What was your past month like? What will your next month be like?
- Say one thing about you noone on the Team knows, if anyone knows it, you have to say something else
- Invite people to sign up for the Team Blog on the spot, have a computer with internet access ready

- Snacks
- $2 Donation for Snacks

60: Political Talk

Break into two groups

- National Politics
* Each person submit your 10 point program for 2006
* Synthesize
* Thoughts on Dean 2008

- State and Local
* Identify races and candidates of interest to team members

- Democratic Party
* Did you buy Democracy Bonds yet? It is just $10 a month.
* At 20, we split like amoeba, the group size stays at 10
* Train the next LinkUp host
* When we grow to 10 LinkUps, we have a Level 2 Meeting for the 10 LinkUp Organizers
* When we have 10 of those, we organize a Level 3 Meeting, and so on.
* The sky is the limit.
* Each Meeting has its own Team Blog.


- Arrange to have many pictures taken and posted online
- Arrange to video blog as much of the meeting as possible
- Arrange for at least one person to take the minutes of the meeting

We have a national audience.

Motto: The conversation never stops.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Presidential Primary Reform

I was just reading an article in the Washington Post on the topic. The current system sure is skewed. So I proceeded to google the stuff a bit.

Presidential Selection: A Guide to Reform ..... evidence suggests many Americans are turned off by the way in which the parties choose their candidates ..... found the public complaining of campaigns being too long and feeling disenfranchised, echoing sentiments of "my vote does not count." ...... The structure of the nominating calendar has made the inside baseball game decisive in presidential politics, with fundraising and early endorsements critical to success. ..... this increasingly closed system ..... troubled by the prospect of alienating vast pools of citizens so early in the process ..... Sabato's plan divides the nation into four geographic regions, each having approximately the same number of electoral votes. A few months prior to each election season, a lottery will be held to determine the order in which the regions will hold their nominating contests........ The states in each region hold nominating contests in March, April, May, and June, as determined by the lottery.....
MyDD :: Primary Reform and the California Plan ..... This system features a schedule consisting of ten two-week intervals, during which randomly selected states may hold their primaries. This 20-week schedule is the approximate length of the traditional primary season....... In the first interval, a randomly determined combination of states with a combined total of eight congressional districts would hold their primaries, caucuses or convention. This is approximately equal to the total number of congressional district in Iowa (5) and New Hampshire (2), thus preserving door-to-door "retail politicking." ...... Any state or combination of states amounting to a total of eight congressional districts could be in the first round of primaries and caucuses. This could include such ethnically diverse jurisdictions as American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, and Maryland....... The widest possible political debate would be fostered by this system ......

Looks to me like the good ideas are already out there, as they often are. What has been lacking is the political will and skill to bring these ideas to some serious debate and implementation. I particularly like this so-called California plan.

The best ideas are "scientific" in character.

The American Plan

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Spectrum On Gender

When I drew up the spectrum on race (The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power), I hoped one or more of the power women at DFNYC will perhaps chalk out one on gender. I waited and waited and waited. But perhaps either my blog is not that widely read, or the spectrum concept did not fly. So here is my first attempt.

(10) You are the Buddha of gender relations.

(9) You are capable of relating to women in their numerous roles as members of families, and workplaces, as friends, as activity partners. As soldiers, as astronauts, as CEOs, presidents and prime ministers. You do not inherit, create and sustain glass walls and ceilings that keep women away. You can recognize them when you see them and are vocal about them. You do not differentiate between women of different cultural/ethnic backgrounds, or women in different age groups. You are extremely comfortable around women. You value their opinions, you seek them out.

(8) The women in your family, workplace and friends circles are mostly liberated women who can feel your liberation. You empathize with women who are internalized sexists.

(7) You have a female boss and you are okay with the idea. She feels it too. You are not in a sexist marriage. You share in the domestic responsibilities. Your wife is an equal decision maker in all aspects that touch upon your marriage.

(6) You are well rehearsed in workplace issues as they affect women, and you can sing all the right tunes. When it comes to policy, you are a woman’s friend.

(5) You are pro-choice. You are okay with career women to an extent. You still can not imagine them as soldiers or as people in major leadership positions. You have never had a female boss. You don’t want one either.

(4) You are anti-choice. You think women belong at home, cooking food, raising children. Careers are not meant for them.

(3) You subscribe to all sorts of negative stereotypes about women so as to justify your thinking of them as lesser people. You practice strange, exclusive acts of male bonding.

(2) You practice hate speech against women. You routinely talk against them as a group, and put them down as a group.

(1) You commit hate crimes against women. You killed your wife. You are a rapist. You habitually beat up your wife/girlfriend. You beat up women.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Pan American Desi Caucus: Brown Is Beautiful

Madhesi Jagaran has been about the Madhesi identity in Nepal for me. Democracy For Nepal (DFN) has been political work to do with Nepal. Democracy Forum: Americana has been to do with Dean 2008. But on the American scene it is about the Desi identity, the larger South Asian identity. The idea would be to build a pan American Desi caucus.

Reinvent the Democratic Party: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

It would be about immediate Desi pride and empowerment. But I think it would be more to do with the idea of spreading and strengthening democracy in South Asia. It would also be about helping America better celebrate its diversity.

Politics At The Speed Of Thought
Social Progress: Show Me The Money
Superpower Talk, Infrastructure Talk
DFNYC, 100,000 Strong, Scalable Organization
Pentagon, Hexagon
Blacks, Hispanics At The Core Of The Democrat Rainbow Coalition
The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nepal Message To Top Democrats

Mero Sansar: December 2 Protest Rally In Kathmandu (video)
Reinvent the Democratic Party: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7
Sign the Nepal Democracy petition

The Democratic Party is so totally out of power. The White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court. It has been a total sweep by the George W, Karl Rove machine at the federal level. They even have a lock at the state level. Although that tide might be turning.

They now got the Supreme Court for a generation. That is why we need to take over the Congress and the White House for a generation starting with the Congress in 2006. The goofy white males who founded the country referred to it as separation of powers. We progressives need a fundamental rethink. Like when Bill Clinton brought the Democratic Party out of the wilderness in 1992, and Tony Blair did it for Labor in Britain. But they can not be copied. Times have changed. New thoughts are needed.

Strong on defense is key. You can not cede the foreign policy debate to the Republicans and expect to win. The American voters are smarter than that. Strong on defense is first about understanding the War On Terror is the same magnitude as the Cold War. The Cold War was the same magnitude as World War II. Each time it has been about spreading democracy. First it was Japan, Germany, Italy, rest of western Europe. Then it was the Soviet bloc and Eastern Europe. Now it is the Arab world. A total spread of democracy in the Arab world is the only way to win the War On Terror. There is no other way. And we have to offer a progressive way of spreading democracy. The neocon way has been in Iraq. You go in with a false claim, and once you are in, after the original reason for going in no longer holds water, you stay in and invent new missions along the way. In the process, you spend 200 billion dollars, over 2100 American lives, and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and counting. That is the messy, neocon way. It is expensive, for one.

You also have to ask, what after the Arab world? The answer is so obvious. China is one big landmass with no democracy. But it would be foolish to think in terms of a hot war with China,, utterly foolish, unthinkable.

There has to be a progressive way to spread democracy, and the goal has to be to proactively spread democracy all over the world, all the way until the spread is total. And I believe there is a ready laboratory in Nepal. Nepal is the answer to the progressives all over America. Our Iraq is Nepal. One of the poorest countries on the planet has a vibrant pro-democracy crowd busy like a beehive. Nepal has to be adopted by the Democrats in America. Extend total, moral support. Have all the prominent Democrats in the country issue statements of support. Pump in a million dollars through private sector effort. Provide logistical support. Draw media attention. Nepal needs to be hitting the world headlines and soon. The crowds are out in the streets.

Nepal is how you become strong on defense. Becoming strong on defense is how you snatch back national power. So get behind the democracy movement in Nepal.

We need to do for the Democrats what Newt Gingrich did for the Republicans in 1994. We need a clear 10 point program that all could rally around. That by summer. But Nepal can not wait. Nepal needs your attention now.

Democratic National Committee Chairperson Governor Howard Dean, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, President Clinton, and all other prominent Democrats need to be issuing statements. Five minutes of your time could make all the difference back there in Nepal. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat of Vermont, and Senator Tom Daschle who have gone out of their way to extend their total support to the people of Nepal. Senators, thank you. You are now part of Nepal’s history books for what you have already done. We are so very grateful. And thanks are also due to other members of Congress from both parties who have extended their ears and their helping hands to the cause of democracy in Nepal. Thank you and please continue for the movement has now entered its most decisive phase.

The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power
Obama Was In Town And I Missed It
Bill Clinton Had Icecream For Lunch
Jesse Jackson On Martin Luther King Boulevard
I Am Running For Dean 2008 Campaign Chair
Soaking In Howard Dean
Dean Was In Town Yesterday
To: The Good White People In The South
Dean-Hillary-Obama Ticket
Democracy For Nepal, DFN

Logistics To Bring Down The Regime
Every Sunday 11 AM Union Square
40 Reasons Why The Three Forces Should Come Ar0und To My Proposed Constitution
Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont
Rajeev Goyal Talks Up Caste
US Congress Writes To Secretary Rice
Seven Party Forum In Jackson Heights
Timi Sadak Ma Utreko Dekheko Chhu (Poem)
What's Going On In Nepal
For The First Time In A Decade, Permanent Peace Feels Possible
Email From Madhav Kumar Nepal (Prime Minister in waiting)
September 16 Protest Rally
Bharat Mohan Adhikari Is In Town (Former Deputy Prime Minister, deposed in the 2/1 coup)
Power Woman Protest
Moriarty Going The Bloomfield Route
Alliance Gathering At Queens Bridge Park
Senator Leahy To US Congress On Nepal
Keith Bloomfield
2005 Young Republican National Convention (US) Resolution 1 On Nepal
Tom Daschle
The Road To The White House Goes Through Nepal
Getting Interviewed By A Cornell University Student
Op-Ed Piece Sent To The New York Times
Email From Arzu Rana Deuba (Deposed and jailed Prime Minister's wife)
Gagan Thapa Arrested, Deuba Re-Arrested
To: Benazir Bhutto
To: George Soros
Prime Minister-Elect Prasain: "You Have The Power!" (My high school roomie of three years)
Democracy: The Third Wave
Deputy Prime Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari's Daughter Speaks Out

Michelle Bachelet: Yet Another Woman

This Is What I Am Talking About

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lampson, Mistry, Dance-a-thon, LinkUp


Nick Lampson is running against Tom DeLay in 2006. He was in town. I went to his fundraiser last week. There were all these white men in formal attire. I was in my jeans and totally enjoyed working the room.

"Excuse me, it was nice meeting you, but I got to work the room."

And I took my jacket off, and a colorful shirt came up for air.

There was this one woman, maybe there were two, otherwise it was a white male crowd.

I struck a conversation with this lawyer who had offices in both DC and NYC. I teased him he had turned lawyering into a franchise concept. I ended up saying I was new in town, six months.

"That's new. Where did you move from?"


"That's a step up."

"It sure is. Indiana was too white for me. I appreciate the diversity in this city."

He looked like he wished he had a tan.

There was this one guy, amazingly happy, cheerful, almost bubbley, who was running for Congress from somewhere near Westchester. He said he used to work on Charlie Rangel's team and had his "blessings." He was part of DL21C. The founder of that group was in the room, and was pointed out to me.

I asked the candidate guy if he knew Jimmy.


"Yeah. He is running for the State Senate from somewhere in Long Island."


What a stupid thing to have asked. It is like when Colin Powell joined the army, and he would meet white folks who would know this one black guy, and Powell would get asked if he knew that guy.

Met this one guy from Texas. He got real comfortable and he related this story of having hired this woman for real cheap. "We are totally overworking her." Was that supposed to have been a male bonding moment! Beats me.

Lampson gave a great speech. He gave a brief talk spot on "foreign students." I think he might have noticed my colorful shirt.

Nick Lampson for District 22
Nick Lampson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


I showed up for Abhishek Mistry's Research and Advocacy meeting. Quite a lot of the talk there goes over my head, but I show up anyway. I might build an Indian caucus some day.

There was this Jewish guy who showed up. He gave a talk on something called a dollar van. And then he gave a very alternate view on the Taliban. It was refreshing what he had to show. He had some UNDP charts he showed to make his point. Some people rudely interrupted his presentation. I did not like that. After the program ended, he told me he had an uncle who had lead the UNDP in Nepal at one point in time. I was like, no wonder I liked you, I must have known there was something to you. If we had more Jews talk good about Arabs here in America like he did, that could lead to peace back there.

One woman, and one guy took turns going after what it looked to me like India. What is the reference to calling centers and outsourcing? I geared up to respond. Mistry must have noticed. He said discussion on that topic was over. But I went to meet both afterwards. She claimed her ire was up on the multi-national corporations. He talked China and Walmart.

Abhishek Mistry


It was between a fundraiser for Nepal by the NYU Rajeev Goyal and this AIDS Dance-a-thon fundraiser that Merle was egging me to go to. Merle had showed up for the Nepal rally on September 16. So there were these two non-Nepali Nepalis pulling me. I donated $15 online to Rajeev's effort, and showed up for the dance. Cost me $75, not something someone in my income bracket can afford. But swiping a credit card can feel painless, and the event was loud and fun, though not as much fun as hip hop. But overall great.

And I ended up the only DFNYC person there. The number one group had raised $16,000.

At the entrance thing, the lady who checked in asked if I needed a pink wrist band if I wanted to drink so I don't have to show my ID. I have taken to combing my hair recently. When I do that, I look younger. But that young?

AIDS is a big deal in Africa, it is a big deal in NYC.

The crowd was huge. The place was next to the New Yorker hotel.


Showing up for a LinkUp can feel such a disconnect. I do Nepal work round the clock, it feels like, and it is a movement, and there are real possibilities of loss of lives, and then you show up for a LinkUp, and it is such an anticlimax. It is winter, it is a political off season. I don't have time right now, at least not much for US politics, but I have a few ideas I would like to cultivate.

I might do some video blogging to reach a potential national audience with my ideas. The DFNYC framework is not the best venue for it. And there is this group that if it gels, I might try and experiment with some ideas in that small group setting: Does Hell Have A Kitchen?

Looks like the next month or two will be real slow with DFNYC. And the next two months are going to see some major action in Nepal.


Friday, November 25, 2005

DFNYC Socializing Is Circle 3 For Me

Social Concentric Circles

People have their own ways of seeing things. I have drawn this diagram that throws light on my idea of social reality.

Privacy is important. To me. It is very important.

At some level I am a loner. I have to spend a lot of time on my own. I have to read and write and listen to music. On my own. I have to surf the web, on my own. I am more like an artist than a politician that way. Or maybe I am a different kind of political worker than the stereotype allows for. My emphasis is not on shaking many hands. Although meeting people is sheer joy. But I think I am selective. I do it for the joy of it, not to please people. So I skip when I decide to skip.

And if you are someone I meet in circle 3, I am not going to pretend I am meeting you in circle 2. Circle 1 is out of bounds. Like Amitabh Bachchan once said when asked about his marriage, "And why am I discussing that with the world?" Some people can talk about their private life, or at least parts of it, like they were talking about the weather. I can't. That's just me.

This is important to me to explain. Because some people in circle 3 wrongly assume getting "close" means you try and invade the guy's privacy. There is this urge to force open the circle perimeter. You lose your space in my circle 3 that way. You move to the "wedge," or you move to a further, outer circle, or you plain disappear.

As DFNYC expands, and Dean 2008 takes off, most people I will be meeting will be in the outer circles. Circles 5, 6 and 7.

At some level, this is about honesty. It is also about being effective. It is also wisdom, I think. The detachment this model offers is also emotionally healthy.

This is not to say you are cold to the people in the outer circles. It means you don't pretend to be closer than you are. And you actually relate better, because you know the rules of the game are different in the outer circles. You communicate more effectively. You relate more effectively. You suffer from fewer illusions.

A Few Diagrams

Mumzee's Kitchen

I just bumped into this blog: Mumzee's Kitchen. More specifically its latest blog entry that was posted at another site: Howard Dean And The Demo Money Problem.

She has some great stuff to say. And she is not exactly under 30. Here are some samplers.

..... there were many of us "small people" who were willing to dig into our very shallow pockets to donate whatever we could spare ..... The progressives among us became understandably gun-shy. We are holding our fire and keeping our little bits of money in our pockets until we are sure that it will be used on behalf of those policies which we espouse ..... The great majority of us who are at the bottom of the human food chain have had enough of the same old "kiss the rich and screw the poor" choices that we have had for the last 24 years! We are sick and tired of being required to choose "the lesser of two evils" on election day, of holding our noses as we mark our ballots. We want to support someone who can think constructively, who will restore our democracy to "one man, one vote, and actually count the votes", who will stop spending our grandchildren's money on a needless and un-winnable war, and who will concentrate on rebuilding our national economy with real jobs by restoring our neglected super-structure and salvaging whatever is left of our damaged society ...... We need a candidate with guts, who will speak truth to power, a real barn-burning ass-kicker who is not afraid to tell the American people the truth about the liars and manipulators who have held our very existence in their hands for much too long ...... We hear our corporations complaining that the pension plans for long-term employees are crippling them financially. There is an answer to that problem and they should be made to understand what that answer is. The cap should come off the Social Security contributions to allow that program to grow as it once did and that pension expense would no longer be necessary. When they cry about the cost of maintaining employee health insurance, they should be reminded that universal health insurance, with an administrative expense of only the 2% cost of administering Medicare would relieve them of that responsibility. Those who complain about the taxes that would be necessary to pay for these programs should be presented with facts and figures on what they currently pay for private insurance compared to the taxes necessary to fund universal health care and learn that their own financial situation would actually improve ......

Some of the points on retirement and health insurance are great pointers. Got to crunch a few numbers.

Lee Metcalf Is A Naderite

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Soviet Health Care In America

The proof is in the pudding. If the health care sector in this country were driven by market forces it would be at the forefront of adopting information technology. But it is dead last. Even the pizza industry, especially the pizza industry, is ahead of it in that adoption race.

Health care reform in this country has to be about introducing market forces into the sector. Costs have to be brought down for all participants.

Expanding insurance coverage has to start with children. Once you can make sure it is there for all children, and while you work it, there will open up ways to see how it can also be expanded among the adult population.

There are many ideas out there, many good ideas. The sector is such a huge chunk of the economy, any reform effort necessarily has to be a rather large conversation. A large, inclusive conversation that is also near transparent, that is the model I have in mind.

The last good effort was Hillary's but it did not fare well on the transparency part. She also drew a lot of flak as a woman steering policy. So a political fight against sexism has to be part of health care reform. And Bill Clinton was not sufficiently invested. For a president this has to be top priority.

And of course a culture shift from an illness-focus to a wellness-focus.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Politics At The Speed Of Thought

I think it was in 1995, Bill Gates came out with a book called Business At The Speed Of Thought. It was before he discovered the internet, so right now I don't know what that book was about, but I think my recent blog entry DFNYC, 100,000 Strong, Scalable Organization can be called Politics At The Speed Of Thought. The proposal quickens the pace of progress. The productivity goes up.

Race: A Volatile Topic

It is a volatile topic, for sure. But is has to be dealt with. It has to be talked about. Avoiding discussions makes it harder, not easier. We can start with the gentle topics in race. Heck, we could start with our hilarious experiences in race. I have quite a few, some of them are predictably to do with Homeland Security. Do I look Arab? Like I was in this office setting in Lexington, Kentucky, a few month after 9/11. And I overheard this guy in this next cubicle relating to someone on the phone in a toned down voice: "There is an Arab in my office!"

Pyramid Of 10

At first look the DFNYC, 100,000 Strong, Scalable Organization idea might look like an invitation to 100,000 people to stare at the computer screen for several hours each week. Screen time is part of it, but I believe the real story is Face Time.

You end up building a social unit.

Meetings I have gone to so far have tended to focus on mostly political talk. And then there is this undercurrent. Over a period of time you get to know a few people a little better. But that is hardly the focus. It is just supposed to happen on the side.

The ground rule is you can not make people do things. You can only suggest. But within that I think there should be a conscious decision to insert ice-breakers, and team building exercises, and get to know each other social exercises as part of the meetings.

I have not had a chance to think about this a whole lot. I hope I will do it more down the line. But let me go do a few Google searches.

Ice Breakers & Energizers
Educational Icebreakers
Ice Breakers - Exercises To Get Things Started!
Leadership - Icebreakers, Warm-up, Review, and Motivators Activities
Icebreakers to Inspire Communication : Eslflow webguide
Teacher Ice Breakers

If we are political activists, we should think ourselves as a sports team. Those teams do warm up exercises. We do ice breakers, kind of.

Team Building Exercises and Icebreakers
Fun Team Building: Team Building Exercises & Activities | Staff ...
Team Building: A Complete Guide
Team Building Games - Exercises & Activities - Teambonding - A ...

Something along those lines.

There will also have to be developed a mechanism to handle other scenarios. Some are to do with race, some to do with gender, some just plain interpersonal chemistry, some to do with miscommunication. When you bring people into groups, you end up with issues here and there.

There can be guidelines, suggestions, manuals, with the emphasis on creative approaches. Again, I have not thought a whole lot about this.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Social Progress: Show Me The Money

The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power

America is the richest, most powerful country today because it is the oldest democracy. Nepal is two years older than America, but it is one of the poorest. Democracy creates wealth. Democracy is social progress.

After slavery was abolished in America, the country started out on a major industrial trajectory.
After women were granted voting rights, there was another industrial shift. The country took to the air and to the roads. The automobile industry got launched.

The end of segregation brought forth the second industrial revolution.

Bill Clinton's progressive thrust brought forth the dot com boom and the longest peacetime economic expansion in history.

Social progress has to be made on all fronts: race, gender, class. Every time a major leap is taken, it is like breaking a sound barrier. A whole, new positive reality emerges.

That is why we have to figure out the least disruptive ways of making social progress. For me it is almost like the efficiency concept in the world of business.

And it literally is about money, like the guy says in the movie Jerry McGuire: "Show me the mo-ney!"

Social progress benefits both the oppressor and the oppressed. The trick is to show them that is the case. The trick is to show them the money, the promise of it.

And this goes beyond race and gender. This also applies to education, health and free trade. This applies to feeling good about China and India.

I believe I have offered the basic framework: The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power.

Lee Metcalf Is A Naderite

I had a rather long conversation with Lee Metcalf at the DFNYC Mixer the other day. This was his first time at a DFNYC event. Some friend of his emailed him the link to the event at the organization's site, and he decided to show up. He is a Ralph Nader guy. Go figure.

I started out not knowing a whole lot about Nader, and that was in 2000. Then I made it a point to learn. A lot of my good friends were really into him. One friend of mine was on Nader's statewide committee for Kentucky in 2000.

What does he stand for? I find few things I disagree on in terms of basic policy. But I lose him on political reality.

Gore is not the greatest guy maybe, but who would you rather have protecting the environment, Gore or Bush? To me that is what it boils down to.

Lee and I honed in on two Nader issues: (1) Public financing of elections, and (2) Universal health insurance. I can not disagree on either. But both are statements of fantassy. What exactly is the policy you are offering?

As in, start by describing the reality as it exists on both today. Then tell me where you want to go, what do we end up with. And then show me the roamap. The Nader crowd does not do any of the three. Because as soon as they looked at the roadmap, they will realize solidly voting Democratic is how you go about it.

It is a choice between, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Nader prescriptions are good, the Democratic prescriptions are bad, according to the Nader crowd, and the W prescriptions are ugly. They are so mad we can't have the good, they give us ugly.

The conversation is hardly over. And I hope Lee will keep coming to the DFNYC events, and will bring more people along.

He emailed a link to this article earlier: Stand With The People.

And I kind of like it that Nader is an Arab American. That is a freshening difference from the crowd of WASPs. So I got Nader, but on entirely something else.

Howard Dean's Anti War Email From Yesterday

Dear Paramendra,

Shame on them

I want to tell you about John Murtha. He's a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania. He's also a combat veteran and retired Marine Corps colonel.

Murtha spent 37 years in Marine Corps, earned the Bronze Star, two purple hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. And for the last thirty years he's been one of the most respected voices in Congress on military issues -- universally respected by Democrats, Republicans and military brass alike.

Until now.

Republicans have disgraced themselves by viciously attacking John Murtha with such disrespect that not only veterans, but every decent American should be angry.

What did Murtha, a decorated combat veteran, do to draw fire from a White House led by a president and vice president who evaded service in Vietnam? He questioned their management of the war in Iraq. Here's part of what he had to say:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region. ...

For two and a half years, I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. ...

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

Shameless Republicans immediately went on the attack. Dick Cheney, who has said that he had "other priorities" and collected 5 deferments while people like Murtha served in Vietnam, called Murtha's comments "irresponsible" and regretted that "the president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone." The White House spokesman, who has also never worn the uniform, pronounced himself "baffled" that Murtha, who volunteered for two wars, wanted to "surrender to the terrorists". A Republican Congressman said Murtha and others "basically are giving aid and comfort to the enemy".

Shame on them. Every one of us -- right now -- needs to let Jack Murtha know that we respect his service, respect his leadership, and respect his right to speak the truth. This man has spent his life serving us. The very least each one of us can do is let him know that no matter what dishonorable smear campaign Republicans wage we will be there with him.

Send Congressman Murtha a note telling him that you will not be silent while he is attacked:

I will deliver your message to him personally, along with my own thanks for his service to our country and his continuing courage in the face of threats.

Lies and manipulation characterized the Republican case for war, and lies and manipulation have been the primary weapon against anyone who questions their failed leadership.

First it was Senator Max Cleland, who left limbs in Vietnam, being savagely attacked in 2002. Then John Kerry, who received three purple hearts, being smeared in 2004. The history of this war has shown that Republicans value political posturing more than the service of America's veterans.

Republicans don't want a serious debate about Iraq because they know the American people are simply not with them. They cannot respond to the substance of Murtha's criticism -- or any criticism -- because they are wrong.

Jack Murtha is already fighting back. When told of Cheney's comments he reminded people where Cheney was while he was in Vietnam: "I like guys who got five deferments and have never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

But Jack can't beat this back alone. Show him that Americans know that Republicans should be ashamed of themselves:

Enough is enough -- we cannot allow another veteran to be smeared by George Bush's cronies.

Thank you for taking a stand.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- Here is the full text of Murtha's statement yesterday:

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

"General Casey said in a September 2005 hearing, 'the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.' General Abizaid said on the same date, "Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is part of our counterinsurgency strategy."

"For two and a half years, I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait - the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction - but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

"We spend more money on Intelligence that all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

"I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

"The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We cannot allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

"Much of our ground transportation is worn out and in need of either serous overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." We must rebuild out Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

"Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

"I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the condition on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included to Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have not received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects have been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American causalities have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

"I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won 'militarily.' I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are untied against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraq security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United Stated occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a "free" Iraq.

"My plan calls:

  • To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
  • To create a quick reaction force in the region.
  • To create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines.
  • To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

"This war needs to be personalized. As I said before, I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

"Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our obligation, to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out.

"Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home."

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Thanks David For Bringing Me Back To DFNYC

A Piece On DFNYC

I am glad at least someone associated with DFNYC is willing to discuss race as a topic. If you go to three DFNYC events, that is like a total of nine hours out of a month. That is not the major part of a month. So I guess it can be hip hop plus DFNYC plus the city plus Nepal plus other stuff. I guess I will keep my options open about showing up for DFNYC events.

David Michaelson

There is Abhi's Research Advocacy meeting in 10 days, and a LinkUp in 17 days. I guess I will keep my options open. I might or might not show.

Oh, and I just found out, there is some kind of a A five-hour Dance-a-thon benefiting GMHC, Also benefiting Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP). Last night I went to Webster Hall, and I could only go on for two hours, maybe a little less than two. Then I kind of just sat and took in the music, for hours.

I mean, I went to the Mixer Thursday evening, and it was great fun. As usual.
  1. The concepts I cultivate at this blog, it is very much work in progress. I feel like I am building a mathematical model. That is the first step. As for the application, I have said it is open source. There is no diktat. It is not like I am going to come up with this grand proposal and hold DFNYC hostage to it.
  2. DFNYC is not a major time commitment.
From: "David Michaelson"
Subject: RE: A Piece On DFNYC
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 09:42:34 -0500

Interesting piece. Race is such a major issue in NYC, and not just white vs. minority. Hatian blacks and "Southern" blacks go at it all the time. Various Hispanic groups don't get along. Etc. DFNYC does a lot better than the average NYC progressive group in reaching out to minorities and minority candidates. But race is a big issue for NYC progressives and one that is not often addressed.

My current poliitical group has been focused quite a bit on good candidates of all races: Norm Seigel, Margarita Lopez-Torres, Freddy Ferrer, Chris Owens, Tish James, Norm Titus and Paul Wooten in particular. Only one white in the crowd. I was kind of proud when I realized that our efforts had focused on so many minorities. Often Democratic groups do not focus on this. That is one of my complaints about Independent Neighborhood Democrats. Their slate tends to be pretty white. Hard to fight the local Dem machine when you show a solid white face.

Chris Owens wrote an excellent piece on race in Brooklyn politics. It was part of a private email discussion among political organizers and was in response to something I wrote. It was not intedned for public circulation but he has given us permission to pass it along if we feel it appropriate. I will point out that several DFNYC organizers were part of this dicussion and were very responsive to Chris' statements. You might be interested in it:

"David is correct, of course. We need a 50-state strategy (and/or ongoing revisions to 50 state strategies) and we certainly need a 5-borough strategy for progressive advancement here in New York City. Staten Island does indeed represent an area where the common economic concerns and common concerns about education, health care and affordable housing provide political pontoons for Democrats that could become real bridges.

However, since we are having an open and honest discussion here, I wish to highlight an important issue that is uncomfortable for many people but which can really impede our ability to move together -- race.

As African Americans (particularly those with Southern origins) decrease in NYC's population, the level and intensity of racial sensitivity and concern regarding political empowerment will increase. This process has already started. Unfortunately, tension between Black and Hispanic political leadership simmers below the surface. (Ferrer's ascendancy is a crucial step in dissipating some of the tension. But, should Ferrer lose, will the 2009 Democratic Primary pit Billy Thompson against Adolfo Carrion and Anthony Weiner?)

And the more conservative cultural influences within the African-American, Caribbean-American and African populations are very powerful. On this front, the ideological tension between these communities and liberal white communities is clear and there has been too little effort on either side to overcome this.

As the Latino population -- as divided as it may be -- increases its political clout there will be exponential increases in the intensity of concerns regarding political empowerment. There will also be significant growing pains regarding practices that traditional "progressives" abhor but may have to endure and/or overlook to sustain coalition-building.

The Asian community's political situation is similar to that of Hispanics. The primary growth areas are Brooklyn and Queens. Empowerment issues are emerging here as well, particularly now that John Liu has provided a tangible role model.

Conservative whites, particularly the orthodox Jewish communities, are increasing in number and, in Brooklyn, the percentage of the voting population. Leaders in these communities are admirable -- actually role models -- in their ability to deliver services and influence the political system.

Progressive whites, and progressives in general, are a floating minority in this demographic soup. We are actually good at getting attention, providing policy leadership, and keeping the New York Times and Village Voice, for example, to the left of the spectrum. But the competing racial empowerment dynamics will create serious issues within the next 20 years.

There will certainly be a Latino and Black candidate in every Mayoral election going forward. And there are those who say that the age of the white Jewish liberal candidate (at the citywide level) is over, for example, and that the profile of successful white candidates going forward will be much more moderate.

Finally, to be that much more real, we must acknowledge the power of money. If there is one force that will regulate the race-based clashes of New York's future, it will be the mutual desire on the part of all community leaders to have "access" to power brokers and to "make money" off of politics. New York City will become more and more like Washington, DC -- more similar to the way in which the Congress is treated by lobbyists and interest groups.

This is the real battle that progressives must confront: racially-charged political struggles addressing public policy influenced by those willing to spend money on the politicians. Racial and ethnic "fiefdoms" will emerge and be bought, sold or pitted against each other by those seeking power and exploiting needs. The Atlantic Yards experience is a harbinger of things to come.

In fairness, there are efforts being made -- including work by the New Democratic Majority and several political clubs in Brooklyn. Ironically, some of the more liberal clubs have been LESS successful at creating a good racial mix in their membership. Why is this? Because our system of political representation includes the creation of political jurisdictions that promote racial segregation. This is a by-product of the Voting Rights Act's application to our state's politics and, frankly, I am not sure how to change this. Again, some things are simple -- like clubs meeting in areas more likely to encourage participation by many who don't normally participate. Sustaining interest, however, is much harder. I know because I have been there.

(Remember, New York remains a very segregated city in so many ways. I often wonder if the truest expression of equality would be when the number of white nannies walking the streets of Brownsville with Black children in strollers equals the number of Black and Hispanic nannies walking the streets of Park Slope with white children. There are few more dramatic statements of where we are and where we need to go than this one.)

We also need to advocate for policy changes that will force political leaders to talk to everyone, rather than segment the populace like radio markets. The use of Instant Runoff Voting in our Citywide and/or Statewide primary elections, for example, would both save money and promote greater unity. Yes, the end result may be more conservative than you or I may want, but we will not be carved up as we are today based upon our political "bloc". The other institutional change is to move our primary elections back to June. This would allow voters real time to consider differences between the parties and diminish the focus on differences between Democratic candidates.

Finally, there must be boroughwide and citywide efforts to transcend the boundaries at the local level and pull people together in a different way. The same hard work and respect needed to bridge the blue state-red state gap is needed between racial and ethnic groups here in New York City. It is my hope to build a political organization, New Brooklyn Leadership, that will move in this direction -- boroughwide with local chapters.

To be continued ...


David Michaelson 1